Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nothing Like an Ice-Cold Lemonade

While we were away recently, I received an email from Sarah. She said, Hi~ Love your blog, and just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Lemonade Award on my blogs . I appreciate your content of being a Christian and striving to be a woman of God. Thanks so much! Sarah In case you didn't notice, Sarah said "blogs" because she's got a few - 8 Muddy Boots, Beautiful 2 God, and Lake Women's Ministry.

In the world of blogging, it can be difficult to keep ourselves from turning it into a popularity contest, based on how many comments we receive, how many followers we have, how many hits we get each day. I know I'm not the only blogger who has looked at sites like Pioneer Woman's and wondered how in the world she accomplished it - and if it's possible for anyone else (ahem, self) to attain such internet fame.

It's so important to remember why. Why did I start blogging? To grow in my faith, to share my faith, to be real with other women, to keep a record for my children, to express myself... Interesting that achieving fame, hits, comments, and so on are not on my list.

Thank-you, Sarah, for reading the things I ramble on about here, and seeing who I am, "a Christian striving to be a woman of God." No amount of comments could replace the feeling of knowing that someone out there gets me.

I'd like to pass the blessing on to some other bloggers who are on this walk with me - in real life.
Christine at Passionate Homemaking...Becoming P31,
Karalee at The Andrus Family,
Shauna at Shutterbugg Mom - That's Me,
Nadine at Daughter of the King,
and my only male reader (with the exception of Pat) Jordan Polson.
I almost missed someone (perhaps because she hasn't posted in FIVE WEEKS), but here's hoping this will get her inspired words flowing again - Stacy at my simple walk.

There are some "rules" for the receipt and acceptance of this award, but you may notice I really didn't follow the rules. So make your own rules if you like, just make sure you share the linky love with the one who bestowed (isn't that a great word?!) the award (ahem, me) and those you are awarding. That is, if you feel like accepting the award. I promise not to get all bent out of shape if you don't.

1) Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post
2) Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude
3) Link to your nominees within your post
4) Let the nominees know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog
5) Share the love and link to the person from who you received your award

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Time Management Works for Me (Usually)

*This is a re-post from February of this year.

Have you ever wondered, "how will I ever get it all done?"

We have so much to do in each day, so many activities and obligations packed into our weeks. It's a symptom of our ADD, over-stimulated, immediate gratification society. Some would argue that we need to remove ourselves from society's mindset, but I'm not sure that would solve the problem. In fact, if we aren't keeping up (in our work, ministry, family life) with the rest of society, we're likely to encounter other problems.

So how can we live IN this world (and function at the level required to do so), without becoming OF this world?

I believe the first distinction is how we establish our priorities. I have found, by trial and error, that setting my heart on God and His ways first thing each morning has the power to alter my entire day. If I start out taking time with Him, the many other things that require my time that day tend to get done. If I start out my day on my own strength, though, I spend the next fifteen hours feeling as though I am one step behind.

Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. Taking time each morning to renew my mind helps establish His priorities for my day, rather than my own.

This week I am taking an experiment in life. Each morning, after my coffee time with Jesus, I am going to make a list of all the things I think I need to accomplish for the day. Then I'm going to ask the Lord to show me what to keep, what to move to another day, what to toss altogether, and what to add. Once I have turned over my list into His (much more) capable hands, I am going to ask Him, "Lord, what do you want me to do now?" At the conclusion of each activity, I'll ask that question again. I can't wait to see how He uses my time!

Click to see my time experiment in action.

Visit We Are THAT Family for more WFMW tips.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another Birthday (edited to add photo)

Dear Megan,

Six years ago today you entered the world with a wail. It was music to this mother's ears.

In typical third child fashion, you learned how to wait your turn - you were the best baby ever. I brought your bouncy chair everywhere, and people would just marvel at this little baby sitting so quietly and watching the world around her. I sometimes wonder if you spent so much time in silent observation so that you could figure out the best way to get what you wanted in life.

Now, my funny girl, there's not a trace of that quiet infant. You take the world by storm...kickin' butt and taking names. And though our strong personalities often clash, I know that your strength of will is a blessing. I don't believe we will ever have to worry about your peer group talking you into doing something you don't want to do. In fact, you'll probably be the one doing all the talking!

Meg, your smiling eyes and contagious giggle captivate the room. You are one of the most fun people I get to spend time with. And girl, you sure can dance! When you are rockin' out to the Cheetah Girls or Hannah Montana everyone in the house wants to join in, because we want to have as much fun as you're having.

I love you, Megan Christine - middle daughter, middle child, centre of my heart. Happy birthday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hmmmmm

Remember this list? The comments left on there were (sadly) accurate. We got more snow. For several days. It has been cold!

Luckily, because I've lived in Alberta for almost 20 years now, I was aware of our utterly ridiculous fun spring weather patterns. I did NOT pack away the winter gear yet. General rule of thumb: never pack up winter gear until May long weekend has passed.

I may be used to it, but that does not mean I like it. It will help if you feel sorry for me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What am I doing this weekend?

Why, thanks for asking!

I was going to sit at home and pout over the fact that my sweet husband is away (for longer than expected), and give away our tickets to this:



Instead, I decided to be brave and attend it with my mom (her date for this event was also unexpectedly called away for the weekend). If tonight was any indication, this was a very good decision.

If you still want to join in on The God Chronicles, Mr. Linky is waiting. :)

The God Chronicles - 04/24/09


It makes a girl feel good about herself when others encourage her. You can encourage me in this journey (life, blogging, etc.) by participating in The God Chronicles.

Click here to get the backround story of TGC.

Click here to get the details on how to join in.



For a number of years, we struggled financially. Many of our struggles could be attributed to living beyond our means. I was beginning to feel hopeless and helpless, that creditors would never stop calling.

I had prayed about our finances before, but it was always more of a "rescue me" prayer filled with hope that God would provide through a surprise source of funding. And many, many times He did. But this time, my prayer was one of repentance. I was desperate for God to change our financial situation in a permanent way, and I knew that would require sacrifice.

God provided me with a friend who had experienced "being broke" in a way I could never understand. She was (and is) incredibly wise in money management and budgeting. She took many hours of her time to build me a budget that worked - within our means - and had me paying off the debt we had accrued over the years. Though I felt we couldn't "afford" it, I had her build in a section for tithing in that budget.

Some of the rules of this new budget included making a meal plan, NEVER eating out, praying over every purchase, shopping several stores, paying bills first and groceries last, using cash only for things like entertainment and beauty. It wasn't easy, but it was what I knew God had called me to do, and I was finally ready to obey. Thanks to frugal living and following the rules, we dug ourselves out of the hole. And because of God's miraculous provision for months on end, even though our budget showed a red $800 at the bottom of the "estimated" column, with all bills paid the "actual" column each month showed a beautiful black $0!

We decided this financial obedience thing had something behind it. So when God called us to pay for a friend to have a sitter once a week for a few hours, we created a new budget line for that expense. The red number grew bigger, yet the black number held steady at $0.

Next step - move from "giving" to the church when there was extra to "tithing" to the church and considering the rest our extra. The red number grew. I kept on with the crazy grocery shopping in four stores and saving money for three months to get my hair coloured. The black number remained.

Then, the most unusual thing happened... A man who we barely knew took my husband to a quiet corner of the church one Sunday and handed him a card. It was a fuel card. No - NOT a gift card for fuel, but a credit card for fuel. He and his wife had been praying about who to bless, and God brought us (near strangers) to their minds. The credit card, he said, was ours to use for the next year. Wow, God, you are wild! Given the vehicle we have, changing our fuel costs to zero brought that red number waaaaaay down. I am not even surprised that the bottom of the page still reads $0 at the end of the month. So humbled, thankful, and blessed, but not surprised.

God's love is so extravagant. He provided a blessing to help us out of a nasty situation that we deserved to be in. The definition of grace.

Let me just say, when we feel that gentle nudging to provide for someone else's needs, whether it be money, a meal, coats, childcare, prayer...we have learned to stop and listen. Not every thing we do is rewarded in turn. Not every dollar we put out is replaced. In fact, sometimes we sacrifice what we want and what we think we need in order to obey. But never, ever have we suffered, because it's impossible to suffer when you have the joy and peace of being in the centre of God's will.

God has trusted us with His money, and nothing gives Him greater pleasure than watching us give it away. Just try it, and bask in the warmth of His delighted smile.

The God Chronicles Participants

1. Bobbie

2. Judith

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Already Four (edited to add cake)

I may have mentioned that I've been a wee bit brain dead since returning home. I failed to commemorate a very special event... Please pretend this post was written on April 13.

Dear Shea,

Today, you are officially no longer a "toddler." You are a walking, talking four-year-old. A big girl.

For the entire year that you were three, I can remember you telling me at least once per month, "I miss being two. I want to be a little kid again." I worried that you would always want to be the baby girl.

But from the moment you blew out the #4 candle on your Barbie cake, you have embraced your four-ness! Nothing is more fun than listening to you tell us (and everyone who will listen) all the things you can do, "now that I'm a big girl."

Since you were little, I've sang "You are my Sunshine" to you at bedtime. You really are my sunshine! Your smile, your giggle, your wide blue eyes - they brighten every day.

Thanks for being my girl, and for letting me be your mom. I love you! Happy birthday, Shea-babe.



Sadly, I don't have a photo of Shea blowing out the candles on the aforementioned Barbie cake. In my brain dead-ness I forgot my camera for her party, and I must wait for Grandma to send the shots she snapped over my way.


Fantastic, amazing, exciting Barbie cake created by my BFF, Christine. How sad is it that this is the last 4-year-old Barbie cake she will need to make for our families (her daughter and all 3 of mine were recipients of variations of this special Barbie cake on their 4th birthdays)?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring has Sprung

Glorious signs that spring is upon us:

- the children are only in the house to eat and sleep

- the baby is filthy dirty from head to toe, and he brings rain boots filled with sandbox sand into the living room six times per day

- the dog's feet are muddy

- the batteries from the assorted Power Wheel devices (yay for garage sales) are being charged nightly

- the question, "where is my bike helmet" is a refrain sung out a dozen times each day

- the furnace is off and the windows are open (except first thing in the morning, because brrrrrrr)

- I am experiencing an odd desire to begin exercising

- no matter that the weather is still nearing zero degrees in the morning, the little girls are insistent about wearing their sundresses

- it's too bright at bedtime to fall asleep (thank goodness for black-out shades)

- the snow is GONE!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Setting of the Sun

Don't let the sun go down on your anger.
~Ephesians 4:26b (HCSB)


My perspective on these words was changed last night.

I had always assumed that the Lord was instructing us to "make up" before the day ended. So anytime I needed more time to process and cool off, anytime the other person was unwilling to talk, anytime the problem was not fixed before bedtime brought guilt and shame. I felt like a failure as a Christian.

But what if that is NOT what this verse means? God knows that it is unlikely for selfish and flawed humans to resolve their issues in a day. Especially where great hurt has been inflicted. What if He is really just telling us that, before this day ends, we need to bring our anger (and hurt, resentment, frustration, etc.) to Him?

If we go to Him and pour out our hearts, "Lord, I'm so angry! I need you to take my pain and my rage - bear it for me - because if I hang onto it I will surely collapse," isn't He faithful to take our deepest emotions and heal our brokenness?

Don't go to bed angry. Turn it over to God and let Him work.

*credit goes to Beth Moore and "It's Tough Being a Woman" for my new revelation

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On another note, it seems that the time has just FLOWN by since we got home. I've lost all track of my days. I missed the 20th for The God Chronicles! Ack! But I can't just skip this month (especially since Bobbie told me she's got something for it, Christine is finally blogging, and my ever-faithful TGC participant Hope is probably wondering what's up), so we will just postpone it by a few days.

For this month, please join me in chronicling God's work in your life on Friday, April 24th.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This Week

As I prepare for a busy week with Pat away, my prayer is this:

His peace in my home (Matthew 10:13);

His joy in my heart (Psalm 4:7 & Acts 14:17);

His love for my family (1Corinthians 13:4-7).

Your prayers are a blessing that will buoy us up.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Little Rays of Sunshine

Stealing the idea from my friend, Bobbie at 40 Shades of Pink... Today I am thankful for:

- spring weather

- Grandparent's day at playschool (and Great-Grandma is here for it!)

- freshly cut and dyed hair with no more roots

- a tidy house

- emails from friends

- Dr. Pepper slurpees (I'm right on top of the healthy eating today)

- Fruit Loops ohmygoodness, I just now noticed that they are actually called Fr00t L00ps (seriously observant, people, that's me)

- healthy children at school

- home renovation projects that go on forever, because I am so glad I have a home I love

- the smell of fresh paint

- babies taking afternoon naps

- the last day of swimming lessons

- and yes, Advil

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nip Bickering in the Bud

We have implemented a new technique for dealing with sibling rivalry, and so far have experienced great success with it!

We hear the bickering, give it a minute to see if the kids can work it out, and if not we call the culprits to us. Then we instruct them to say things they love about the other person (anywhere from one thing to five, depending on how out-of-hand and unkind they were being). We have them take turns, and they cannot repeat what their sibling just said about them. Then they each need to say "I love you" in the most dramatic way possible (we've done opera style, robot style, with a giant fake smile, etc.).

Nine times out of ten, both parties are in fits of giggles by the end of this exercise. Away they go, topic of contention completely forgotten about.

For other WFMW tips, go visit We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Top Ten Moments

From our trip...

#10 - The night we realized that it was much better for our sanity to splurge and get two adjoining hotel rooms.

#9 - Arriving at our condo in Anaheim.

#8 - Cooking (and eating) spaghetti at the condo.

#7 - Choosing valet parking at Universal Studios and receiving a free car wash and vacuum while we were in the park.

#8 - Discovering the unusual abundance of snails in the grass behind our condo, and watching Kai pick one up and toss it like a ball. (Don't worry, the snail survived.)

#7 - The Shamu show.

#6 - The "It's a Small World Ride," which was both fantastic and annoying.

#5 - Discovering the Coral Pink Sand Dunes National Park.

#4 - Mickey Mouse ears.

#3 - Getting zillions of autographs from all our favourite characters.

#2 - The Disney Dance Party (it's the new parade).

#1 - Playing in the fantastically warm outdoor pool of our hotel in San Diego.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coming out of the Desert

If you read here regularly, you've probably noticed a couple things:
1 - my writing is often a direct reflection of where I'm at with my personal spiritual walk;
2 - my writing has been fairly infrequent and non-spiritual lately.
Since this blog is not about pretending to be who I'm not, where I'm not, or what I'm not I'm just going to come right out and name the obvious... I have found myself in a spiritual "dry spell" during the past month or so.

If you've never had a time like this, you will be utterly baffled by that statement. Here's my best shot at describing it for you. It is not that I have changed, so much as what I feel is different. Where I can often feel the presence of the Holy Spirit around me and with me - even in my day-to-day life, I have not felt Him lately. When I can usually recognize God's hand of providence actively working in my life with ease, these days I am needed to make a conscious effort to look for and acknowledge His work. Of late, my sense of the Lord has been more head knowing than heart knowing. Does that make any sense?!

This isn't new to me; I have been here before. The difference is that the last time I found myself feeling far from God I was desperate. I fell hard and fast, and desperately clawed my way out of that pit of the empty soul until I found Him again. This time, I arrived here simply though a slow process of drifting and shifting. It was so gradual that I didn't even realize I had moved.

A combination of factors likely jumbled up together to cause this gap. Busy in life, busy in ministry, lack of sleep, changes in routine, being away, etc. The contributing factors aren't really all that important, though. What is important is my relationship with my Lord and how to get it back to where it should be.

I've taken some steps that I know will help. I've returned (as of this morning) to my 5:30am scheduled appointment with God and His Word. I'm returning to our women's Bible study group, doing Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman by Beth Moore (and Bethie always gets me deep into His Truth). I'm creating another prayer calendar so that my prayer life becomes intentional again (it's really handy for those times when you just don't know what to pray about).

But the most important thing I am doing to quench my thirst in this dry spell is what Beth Moore tells us she did when she recently experienced this kind of distance from the Lord: renounce the lie. There is really only one way to remove yourself from the presence of the Lord, and that is to choose sin over relationship with Him. If that is not the case (which I don't believe it is with me right now), the distance that is felt is not real - it doesn't exists. He is not far from me, nor I from Him. The distance, the desert, it is a lie.

So in spite of the enemy's greatest efforts to make me feel apart from my Abba, I will live in the Truth. I am going to think, speak, and act as though I can feel His presence in my daily life. Because the Truth is that HE IS RIGHT HERE! Acting in His Truth, renouncing the lie, and believing God, regardless of what I "feel." And trusting that, in His perfect timing, I will "feel" Him again (soon).

*God is who He says He is.
God can do what He says He can do.
I am who God says I am.
I can do all things through Christ.
God's Word is alive and active in me.
I'm believing God!

If you've ever experienced one of these "dry spells," what action did you take to pull yourself out of it and return to God's side?

* Taken from Beth Moore's Believing God (and professed from my very heart).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Suffering and Glory of the Servant

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Photo Montage, as requested :)

God's Grand Canyon - wow!

Pink Sand Dunes

Shamu

"Bye-Bye" Dolphins


We warned him about the power behind those waves...


Heart Princess face paint - $12

Mardi Gras face paint - $15


Hugging Tinkerbell - priceless

Mickey Mouse Ears (times 5) - as they say,

for everything else there's Mastercard Visa!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Good to be Home

No matter how grand the adventure, how exotic the vacation, how wild the ride - nothing feels better than coming home.

Walking through the doors to the familiar settles peace into the soul.

Hello, home. We're back. Prepare for the invasion!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Easy to Forget

It's easy to forget to pay attention to the little details of life, especially when things are going smoothly.

The marriage has been happy and comfortable with no major conflict. Wife feels well loved, husband feels respected. There's nothing to "work" on, so they take a break from working on things and sit back to enjoy the season of contentment.

Children have been well-behaved, obedient, respectful, and loving toward one another. It's easy to let one little incident of disrespect slide...after all, s/he has been so good lately that it seems over the top to discipline that one little slip up.

Finances, spiritual life, friendships - same story. Being good stewards of the gifts God has given us can take a lot of work (it can be downright exhausting), so after periods of hard work all we really want to do is take a rest. During seasons of relative harmony, we let don our guard and become less vigilant about maintaining the standard. It only takes a short period of time before struggles arise. It can feel so sudden - out of nowhere, even.

Imagine that you own a precious, priceless, astounding piece of jewelry. Or an invaluable historical document (think "National Treasure"). You have hired someone to guard what is precious to you, so that it does not get lost, stolen, or damaged. The unthinkable happens. Your treasure is gone!

Understandably upset, you ask your security guard how this possibly could have happened? The guard tells you that things had been going so well...there were no robbery attempts, nothing was amiss, things seemed so peaceful...so your guard simply took the day off. After all, the guard had worked so hard for so long to protect your treasure - a break was certainly deserved.

The logic doesn't stand so well anymore, does it?

God has given each one of us things to guard on His behalf - our marriages, our families, our finances, our spiritual lives. He has charged us with the job of protecting these gifts as the treasures they are. They belong to Him, and we do not have the luxury of "taking a break."

This trip has reminded me of that truth. Our family was in a glorious season that many referred to as "blessed." Peace, contentment, and stability reigned. And after what felt like years of hard work at managing finances/marriage/children, I kicked back on my heels to take a little rest. I let the little things slip - a bit of overspending here, allowing myself to react in an overly-emotional way to something my husband said (that I know was not intended to insult), ignoring a few words of sibling bickering - because they'd been so good, and if I'm honest because I didn't want to put out the energy required to deal with it.

The struggles on our way down here, as unwelcome as they were, have been a blessing. God's wake up call to me. He has called me to do a job for Him, and there are no days off. I am the only one He has "hired" for these specific jobs - there is no relief staff. If I walk away and take a day off, enjoy a little nap, or let just a couple things slide through, the treasure could be lost (or stolen).

Some things can be too easy to forget; thankfully I have a loving Father who helps me to remember.