Thursday, March 27, 2008
You see, our fabulous new computer is too complicated for my pea-sized brain. I need my technologically brilliant man to do the hard work. He's busy working. Then we're taking some of his hard-earned funds to Edmonton for the weekend. So, you see how this is taking some time!
The most frustrating part is that the pictures are here - on this computer! But now they won't load to my blogger page. ARRGGHHH!!!!!
Thanks for your patience, my friends. Have a little extra for me, okay? And I'll eventually get it all figured out... :P
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
1. This family that God has blessed me with (it would probably be cheating to list each member individually b/c then I'd only need to think of 4 more things).
2. Tiny Talk Tuesday, which always gives me a smile and a giggle, and has got me thinking about the cute and profound things my kids say each day (thus, taking the focus off the not-so-cute and frustrating moments). This leads me to my submission for Tiny Talk, which is not so much talking this week...
4. My children can and will dress themselves! Meet Shea, almost 3. :) (Don't you just love how she's coordinated the many variations of stripes?! LOL!)
"Look Mom, I Do it My OWN Self!"
5. On that note, I am so very thankful for the new computer. It is a miraculous experience to post on my blog without the computer freezing and losing all my words! It is so fun to have 14 different applications open at once and still be able to navigate through cyberspace. Oh, the joy!
6. The sun is shining and the sky is clear blue! Oh, how I love spring (well, really I LOVE summer, but spring means that 30 degree weather is on it's way)!!!
7. My husband booked his summer vacation time. We get to drive down to Reno to visit his brother, sister-in-law, and 3 great kids - for 2 weeks! Yay!!! Which leads to several other things I'm thankful for, one of which is that...
8. Pat is a hard-working man who provides all that we need and many things we want. I love him more as each anniversary goes by (how is this even possible?).
9. In case you missed it this weekend - Jesus is risen! This isn't some event that happened in history, but a truth of TODAY. Christ lives, and the same power that God unleashed to resurrect His Son is within each of us who call ourselves His.
10. The other part of this weekend - the candy is almost all gone. Which means I can get focussed on my post-baby weight-loss regime, again.
And, since counting has never really been my forte (lol, okay, okay - I simply must add this very important thing I'm thankful for)...
11. I am soooo enjoying this week of no school. The kids and I are just hangin' out, relaxing, having fun. I typically enter into school breaks with an "oh no" attitude, and I am so thankful to the God who answers prayers that He changed my attitude to "I can't wait!" What a joy to have a new perspective.
I am blessed, and I could go on (obviously), but I'll save some for next time!
Blessed are the merciful...
It's pretty easy to show mercy and compassion to some people. It takes little effort to give a homeless man a few coins or a sandwich. It's easy to send money to a global organization for the purpose of feeding an adorable little child. It makes sense to give of our time and money to charities and clubs that have programs for helping those who are less fortunate. Somehow, though, I suspect that Jesus is asking for something deeper, something that's not so easy to give, when He calls us to be merciful. I suspect that this has a lot more to do with loving our enemies that it does with loving those in need. For me, I can sense Him asking me to show love to people who irritate me...well, one person in particular. Someone who (in my mind) seems very self-centred and finds a way to make every circumstance a major dramatic and traumatic event. Someone who gets my blood boiling whenever I am asked about that person or that particular situation. This person needs my mercy, my forgiveness, and my love...
Blessed are the pure in heart...
To be sure I really 'got' this, the concodance in my Bible defines the heart as the centre of one's being, including mind, will, and emotions. My thesaurus gives all sorts of great descriptive words for pure, too: uncontaminated, wholesome, chaste, uncorrupted, authentic. To not allow my mind or emotions to be contaminated or corrupted, to keep my thoughts, desires, and actions wholesome - this is purity of heart. Not simply good intentions, but a chasteness in my spirit.
Blessed are the peacemakers...
I am sensing a theme here! Again, the first thing that comes to mind is loving our enemies. Making peace the priority, at all costs. Sacrificing the desire to 'be right' in the name of keeping harmony. Not only submitting my own will in order to show Christ's love to those who don't know Him, but submitting in disagreements with other believers. Building unity and trust within the body of Christ... To again quote my concordance, "In so doing, they reflect the character of their Heavenly Father and so are called [daughters] of God." It just struck me that, if I am the opposite of a peacemaker (so basically, I act in any way that does not promote peace), I will also be the opposite of a daughter of God (an enemy of God). Ouch!
That's a lot to digest in one morning... I'm going to go spend some time with my Daddy now, because I know I can't make these changes on my own strength!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
We had our women's retreat, which was super amazing. I wrote a bit about it for the April edition of "The Crossing" (our Church magazine). Since I love you lots (yes, both of you) I've decided to give you a sneak peek into what I wrote. Beware, this is the unedited version (and I'm aware that I lost some flow in the last couple paragraphs - due to the awakening of 2 sleeping beauties and their handsome baby bro). Compliments are, of course, accepted... :) BTW, don't let this sneak peek deter you from reading the rest of the Crossing - we even have a submission from Shannon Ethridge herself!!!
A Bridal Love Story
Written by Moi!
Have you ever been a bride or a bridesmaid? Or even attended a wedding? Take yourself there for a moment. Imagine the night before the wedding, neither the bride nor the groom is getting any sleep. Each of them is restless, excited, anxiously anticipating that moment when they will see each other at opposite ends of the Church aisle tomorrow. She is reviewing each detail of her special day, from getting her hair done to being walked down the aisle, from the processional song to the toasts and first dance. Hoping and praying for each detail to fall into place as perfectly as she’s planned. He is nearly giddy with the anticipation of seeing her glide down the aisle toward him, both nervous and thrilled for their wedding night.
Let yourself be transported for a moment – you are the bride. You wake up ready to be forever united to the one and only man you’ll ever love. Visions of cherubic children and endless laughter fill your future. You stand among your dearest girlfriends and family while they primp your hair and dress. You are about to become the eternal partner of your best friend. Someone slips a note under your door (you know it’s from him – your adoring groom) and you eagerly scoop it up. Suddenly shy, you look around the room at all your loved ones. As only your best friend can, she realizes you want to be alone to savour your love letter in private, and she shoos the girls away. You settle into a comfy chair in the corner, careful not to wrinkle your gown, and delicately open the envelope. Your eyes devour the words of your lover, and you bury his promises deep into your heart, reading them over and again. Your heart is ready to burst, your eyes are welling with tears, there’s a catch in your throat, and your blood is thrumming through your veins. You are going to be MARRIED!!!
You giggle a bit imagining his excitement as he anticipates the moment you arrive. Can’t you just see him? Pacing up and down, back and forth, pulling at his bow tie. His face is flushed and there’s a lump in his throat. His buddies are gathered around him, cracking jokes trying to lighten the moment. But he doesn’t really hear them. All he can think about is YOU. He checks the clock obsessively and asks over and over if you’re limo has arrived yet. Finally, it’s time. He and his groomsmen make their way to the front of the Church. There’s a sea of faces watching him, but he notices no one and nothing – his eyes are fixed on the door that you will come through. The music begins…he shifts from one foot to the other…the bridesmaids make their way slowly down the aisle. Next come the flower girl and ring bearer – he runs ahead of her, and she cries and forgets to toss any rose petals on the floor. Your groom doesn’t notice, he’s still staring at that door. The music changes, the guests rise, and you step into the room on your Daddy’s arm. Your eyes seek out his – he drinks in the full scope of your beauty. The whole world stands still.
This, my friend, is the love relationship your God desires with you! He has eyes only for you. He is wild about you, madly in love with you. He thinks you are the most beautiful creature on the face of the earth! Look up the aisle at Him. Do you see Him, willing you with His eyes to come to Him? You are the bride, Jesus is your Groom, and He longs to feel your spirit married to His for all eternity. Think back…He has written you a precious letter of love. Do you take His Words into your secret place? Do you bury them deep within your heart and soul? Do you let His love wash over you through those words every single day?
For your Maker is your Husband – the LORD Almighty is His name. ~ Isaiah 54:5a
God’s Word is filled with images of His lavish love for His bride, His Church. In our humanness, though, we can be so unfaithful in our love to Him. We give our hearts away daily to our families, our jobs, our ministries. We love the things of this world (like our homes, our cars, our free time) so much that we begin to simply forget how God desires us. Much like an earthly marriage, we begin to take our Groom for granted. We forget to revel in His love letters, we don’t make time to bask in His presence, we just expect that He’ll be there waiting patiently when we finally have the time. Just as neglect can cause our earthly marriages to grow cold, so it can with our relationship to Christ. But we can be thankful that when we seek His forgiveness for our adulterous hearts, He never needs time to think about it. He simply opens His arms up wide and says “I’ve missed you, my darling!”
It may stretch your understanding of God to accept this view of Him as your Heavenly Bridegroom. The Bible is rich with wedding and marriage imagery, but it’s easy to gloss over those parts as if they are not intended for us personally. But if you are willing to let go of your pre-conceived notions of who God is, and open your heart to His lavish love, you can be assured that your life will NEVER be the same again! No more ‘looking for love in all the wrong places.’ You won’t need your spouse, your friends, your children, or your Pastor to fill you up. Their love is just icing on the cake, because your heart and soul will be overflowing from the love of Christ in you!
This is one of the many deep truths we learned on our weekend retreat with Shannon Ethridge (hosted by Women of Worth on March 14-16). We were blessed to hear Shannon speak numerous times over the course of the weekend, imparting wisdom based on her very real life experiences. “She is so real and down-to-earth” was one comment we heard time and again. If you missed out on this incredible opportunity, I encourage you to check out her book and/or her DVD series – “Completely His.” Shannon is also the author of the “Every Woman’s Battle” series (which has now sold over one-million copies in 17 different languages).
As well, I would like to encourage the many amazing women who call CrossRoads home to take the time to experience a women’s retreat – WOW ministry hosts a retreat every year. There is something special that happens in the heart of a woman when she has an entire weekend away to spend with her God. I have not heard of a single woman leaving a retreat unchanged. Time set aside from the busy-ness of our everyday lives, with no responsibilities and no demands. Take the time to rest, to be spiritually renewed, and to experience God’s revelation. Jesus wants to pour out His love over you – will you let Him?
The LORD your God will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3:17
Monday, March 17, 2008
Recently, I turned 30. No trauma, no big deal. Yesterday (March 16), my big boy turned 10! I cannot believe how he's growing up...and I really can't believe how old that makes me - I have a child in the double-digits!
I remember the day he was born. Pat and I were just barely adults. We had a crazy love/hate relationship going on - high drama every day. But we were committed to making our family 'stick' for our baby.Braeden Thomas arrived at 6:21pm, squishy and purple and totally beautiful. They whisked him away for x-rays of his left arm, as it hung limp and flaccid at his side. Determining that nothing was broken or dislocated, the doctors brought him back to me for some bonding.
Specialists galore took a look at Braeden's shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand, offering a variety of diagnoses. An MRI revealed a number of brain abnormalities. The doctors offered a bleak picture - a boy who would likely never walk, never be 'normal.' At age 2 we noticed a distinctive in-turn of his left eye and visited an opthamalogist - you've never seen such thick bi-focals (but they do the trick). At 2 1/2 Braeden had his first complex partial seizure - thankfully, they are well under control now with medication. On Christmas Eve, nearly 3 months before his 3rd birthday, our big boy took his first independent steps! Woohoo!
At age 5, after extensive research, Pat and I suggested that all of Braeden's symptoms stacked together formed a pretty clear picture of cerebral palsy...doctors agreed and we finally had a diagnosis - left hemipareisis cerebral palsy with epilepsy.
There have been many occasions for grieving the differences I see in my boy compared to typical children his age - school, sports, aborted attempts at vacation Bible school, the day they told me he would have more success in a special education classroom, when other children ask him why he drools/drips/slobbers (or whatever descriptive word they choose), hearing the question 'what's wrong with your arm?' and so on.
But the joys are so much greater. The sweet success of toilet training. Hearing a stranger in the store talk to him and realizing that stranger was able to understand Braeden's words. Listening to Braeden answer questions with, "I have palsy. I was born with it. God made me this way," with pride and self-confidence. Seeing typical children include him in their play out of love. Listening to his contagious giggle as he makes a joke - Braeden is the FUNNIEST kid ever! Listening to him read an entire 'Franklin' book without help. Seeing him play with his long-awaited baby brother. Watching him ride his adapted bike around, listening to other kids telling him how cool his 4-wheel drive is. Seeing how his tender heart breaks when someone is sad. Hearing him tell me, "you're pretty, Mom."
This child of mine is a gift from Almighty God. He brings me both joy and pain, love and heartache. He is mine...for a time. He is beautiful, precious, and perfect just the way he is. I love him and he loves me. And it is his special day. Thank-you, Lord, for the gift of my boy...
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ~Jeremiah 1:5
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I'm finally back on track with my little delve into the beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12). It's interesting to me that where I left off meshes so well with my struggle to lose this baby weight. Coincidence? Nah - I don't believe in coincidence.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
I've said it before, but obviously this truth is not yet buried deep in my heart...God cares about my weight loss! He cares because my health matters to Him. He cares because His Spirit dwells within this body. He cares because He knows that food (no matter how yummy) will never fill me up. Him, His Word, living for Him, striving for righteousness - these things will fill me up. If my heart's desire is to be filled by the Lord, food will take it's rightful place in my life. Rather than being the thing I seek when I'm stressed or lonely, food will exist for my nutrition and sustenance. When I'm stressed or lonely there is One who is so much better that can fill me up. The effect will be immediate and satisfying, and it won't add another roll to the muffin top.
I'm sure a few people are curious about my progress, so in the spirit of keeping it real and being accountable - you better get cheering! On Monday AM my weight was 153.8 lbs (down 4.6 in 2 weeks). Wooooohoooo! And what's more important, I feel good. My back pain has really eased - still there more often than not, but I don't have to get up at 4am and walk around my house. (Weird how a few extra pounds can cause such havoc on the body.) Oh, and I can now wear 3 pairs of jeans, instead of that same one pair over and over again. Yay! :)
To see how other are choosing to live well, click the pear picture at the top...
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Heard early this morning, as I called Abbey upstairs to get ready for school...
Megan (4 1/2): Abbey! Mom is calling you to get dressed for school. NOW GO!
Abbey (6), very tired and whiney today: I wannna watch the moooovieeeee....
Meg: Abbey - obey your mother!
The 3 girls (A & M mentioned above and Shea - 2 1/2) were playing out in our green, hauling all kinds of kiddie-sized lawn chairs out there. I watched them set them in a circle, sit in them for a while, then haul them all back to our yard. I asked Abbey (well, I think it was her, but to be honest, some days the girls all blur together) what they were doing out there with the chairs.
Abbey: We were having a meeting, Mom!
Braeden (almost 10): Mom, you're pretty.
Mom: Thanks, sweetheart. You just made me feel so good!
Braeden, blushing: Awwww, Mo-om!
I'm sure there are a million smart and funny things I could share, but I'm still under the fog of daylight savings time and can't recall a thing!
Friday, March 7, 2008
I think in order to make us all feel better about ourselves, Lysa confessed to feeding her family Chef Boyardee Pizza in a Box on a regular basis! God bless, Lysa! Due to her culinary challenges, Lysa is hosting a recipe swap. Yay! I sooooo need some new ideas around here.
So here's what's for dinner tonight (well, by the time I got this posted, the meal was served LAST night - it was deeeelicious): BBQ Chicken Breasts.
This is an easy crock pot recipe for those busy crazy days.
Mix together (in a bowl or right in the crock pot) -
large onion, chopped (I seldom have onions, so I use a generous portion of dried/ dehydrated minced onion)
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce (can I confess that I've never had this and simply add soya sauce to every recipe that calls for it)
1 tsp salt.
Add as many boneless, skinless chicken breasts as you'd like (around here it's 6 for just family or more for guests, and I never need to make more sauce - this is enough).
Cook on high for about 6 hours.
Serve with microwaved baked potatoes or minute rice (mmmm, minute rice is really good for soaking up the sauce).
BTW, I use this recipe for virtually ALL BBQ flavored foods - spareribs, hamburgers when they need to be made ahead and kept moist...
Weight loss - You noticed the lack of a 'Live Well Wed' post? Sorry. I actually totally forgot to weigh in this week! I've been trying to eat well, but not starve myself. And the exercise routine has been pretty slow in developing. BUT, at least 10 women commented that I was looking thinner on Wed, so I'll take that as an affirmative weigh-in. I will totally be there next Wed (hopefully).
Family - Pat has been away for work more than expected, which just throws a loop into life in general. The routine is all out-of-whack, resulting in the kids' behavior getting a little whacky, too. I'm trying to be a not-too-loud and cranky Mommy, but so far I'm averaging about 1 for 5. Boo!
Ministry - I've inadvertently taken on the job of leading our Wed AM women's group. At first, VERY reluctantly (as it's busy enough taking care of the administrative details and relational stuff of leading women's ministry, let alone adding the leading of a weekly event). But God has been working on me, softening me up, and I'm really growing excited about that, too! A few women have approached me with interest in being part of the leadership team for next year - so it seems Friendship Factor may actually have a TEAM next year rather than a couple women. Phew. (But I'll let you in on a secret and a prayer request - I'm kinda beginning to sense that I'll be in the lead position for that ministry area for at least the next year. In addition to my regular 'job' of overseeing WOW as a whole.) Fun. Exciting. Slightly crazy. Busy. But so blessed.
Also, our women's retreat is fast approaching, and the busy factor is rising exponentially! I'm so very excited about what God will do at this retreat, through His servant Shannon Ethridge! This, my friends, is the kind of excitement/stress I live for. And I am so thankful that God provided a beautiful woman to lead this year - I get to enjoy doing the work and getting my hands dirty, with none of the heavy responsibility (nor the constant last minute phone calls, lol).
So, that's it in a nutshell. Better get back to the housework - this place is a pigsty!
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I kept thinking to myself, "Who took that? When was it taken? Did I really let the kids have the camera? NO! It couldn't have been me, they're holding printed pics (in color, gasp) from the computer. That is on the list of not allowed things to do! What is going on here???"
Then, I discovered the true CULPRIT.....
No, no, note the cute 6-year-old posing in front! Try the Grandma standing at the counter! Ah-ha!!!!! Busted.
(FYI, you may have noticed the lack of boys. #1 - Baby Kai cannot operate the camera, not can he pose in silly ways. Either the girls ignored him or he was napping. #2 - Braeden and I were in Calgary visiting doctors. Poor guy had to miss out on all the mischief.)
(And BTW, isn't our tile mosaic backsplash so totally awesome??? Pat does great work. Now if I could just get the ugly cupboards refinished...)
Thanks to the lovely springish weather, the kids have spent many hours out-of-doors this week! Yay! For those not here in Red Deer, you wouldn't know that we live in a large close with a huge grassy space and several little groves of trees - it's about the size of 2 football fields - called a green (in these parts). So, the 3 girls are out in the green gathering fallen branches and dragging them across the road to our front yard (don't worry about the road, it's a close and everyone who drives on it lives in it, and everyone who lives in it knows we've got a gaggle of kids over here, lol). They proceeded to stick the branches in the pile of snow on our front yard. Grandma pulls up and chats with the girls to see what kind of fun they're up to. Meg (4 1/2) tells Grandma, "We're planting the trees. That means we're taking care of God's world, doesn't it?" I just LOVE it when they take the things of God to heart!
Sweet little Shea (2 1/2) is definitely two, with a vengeance! The child cries and screams with hysteria about practically everything. Her feelings are going through a very tender phase. Early this morning (ridiculously) I hear her shrieks from downstairs in Abbey & Meg's room. I run, imagining the worst (dresser fell on her, someone is trying to murder her, etc.). Arriving downstairs, I see no blood or broken bones - a good sign - and ask Shea what's wrong. "Abbey, Meggie, no be my friend! Waaaaaaaa!" Oh. My. Goodness. I am going to lose my ever-living mind if this craziness doesn't end soon!!!
Everything that Braeden (almost 10) had to say this week involved a scowl and a growl. Bad mood, bad attitude. No fun at all. Suggestions? Yes Mom, I know I need to look for the positive, and I'm sure there were some great and funny things (because Braeden is the funniest kid I've ever met), but I just can't recall anything but the grouchy mood that dominated.
Abbey (6) is in Kindergarten at our local Christian school. Their most recent class project was to adopt a polar bear. While we were praying at bedtime one night this week, Abbey pipes in, "please take care of the bears that live in the icy lands, because soon there will be no more."
Kai (almost 6 months) has been learning to shriek lately, which is both hilarious and painful on the eardrums. Hopefully I can catch him on video for next week. Oh, and can I just ask - how old were your kids when they started crawling? The girls all started around 8-9 months, Braeden was obviously later - 2 1/2 - due to cerebral palsy, but this little man is totally trying to crawl already! Is this normal? Or insane???
Monday, March 3, 2008
Every Saturday, Mom gets the job of cleaning the cage of the
This Saturday, task completed, said Mom wanders around the house in search of said rodent in pink ball...only to discover this:
(notice the plate with hamster food and penut butter - I heard they like it - strategically placed to lure Tink out of her hiding spot)
Dad was laughing, but with the uncanny ability that all mammals have, Tink could smell his fear. She was NOT going down without a fight. Dad and the kids were sent away, and Mom patiently (and oh so quietly) waited... Ta-da!
Now that's one adventure to go down in Tink's journal!
I know that when we mourn and grieve, the Holy Spirit comforts us. But I also know that we are not supposed to wallow in mourning (after the loss of a loved one, for example) because those who love Jesus get to be with Him. For the past couple days I have been mulling this concept about in my head...why then, does Jesus seem to be encouraging us to mourn? Yesterday in Church we sang a song with the words, "Break my heart for what breaks Yours." I tend to think that the blessing (in this case, comfort) is given when we mourn for those things that Jesus mourns for: lost souls, broken relationships, starving children, aborted babies, people full of bitterness and hatred.
Blessed are the meek...
Isn't Jesus the funniest guy? Like really, He just keeps telling us to be different! Our world gives honor to the strong, powerful, successful...Jesus tells us to be meek! In my mind, this word meek is equated with 'wimpy.' Not just physically weak, but in personality too. You know, that person who stands and lets another berate her - tear a strip out of her - and simply looks at the floor and takes it, a doormat. I had to dig a bit to see if Jesus was really asking me to be a doormat.
The concordance in my Bible defines meek as 'humble before God.' Humble is a word I understand a bit better. To be humble is to not take all the glory for yourself, even if you deserve it. To be humble is to be truly repentant when you do something wrong. To be humble is to strive to do good for the sake of doing good, rather than seeking recognition.
Proverbs 11:2 says with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 3:34 tells us that [He] gives grace to the humble. Psalm 18:27 tells us that He save[s] the humble. Don't we all desire wisdom? Don't we want, no need, grace (forgiveness)? Is there anyone who doesn't want to be saved, to be rescued? To experience these blessings here on earth, all we need to do is put Jesus first and ourselves last. We don't need to be doormats, weak and pathetic. In fact, we need to be strong enough to turn praise and glory away from ourselves and lift it up to God, who truly deserves it.
Phew, God doesn't ask much of us, does He (LOL)?! These heart attitudes, these ways to be, they can sound so simple on the first reading, but with a little exploration I am realizing that I require a total attitude overhaul...