Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rest is Good for the Heart

A season in life when hands are full, days are busy.

In Chinese, the symbols used to describe the word busy are heart and dead.

Busy = heart dead.

Too busy to stop and enjoy. Too busy to go slow and savour. Too busy to listen. Too busy to seek. Too busy to pray. The result - a dry, aching, empty heart.

This fall has come crashing in on me. A move, with all of its headaches and details to tend to - buy a house, find new schools, move utilities, switch this, research that... A big party to plan and carry out, with friends and family to entertain. A blessing, yet a busy time. A women's event. A ministry fair. A course in Biblical exegesis. A slightly incomplete renovation. Children to tend, love, and feed. A house to keep. A husband working 15 hour days. A million and one ministry details to wrap up and leave in good order for someone new.

And somewhere in the busy, the heart's lifebeat slows.

I have considered hiring a housekeeper, putting the little ones in a dayhome, going back on anti-depressants after five years without, getting help with anything that can be done by someone else. Yet I know that none of that will revive this heart of mine.

The One who brings hearts back to life, who removes the busy and replaces it with peace and joy - He is the solution this heart needs.

Busy = heart dead.

Rest in Him = true life, full life.

Find rest, o my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. ~Psalm 62:5

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend in Review

We had a wonderful weekend filled with family, friends, and fun!

Friday night we threw a surprise party for my mom's birthday. Though she had a few suspicious thoughts along the way, she really was surprised. Especially once she saw her sister from Florida, her sister and brother-in-law from Manitoba, and her mom (also from MB). In-laws from around the province were also in attendance.

Christine helped me pull off the most awesome gluten-free catering, with waaaaay too much food. The extra food ended up being a helpful thing, as almost no cooking was required during the weekend. My sister, Jen, created a fantastic video of mom/ for mom (from a bunch of photos I secretly stole from her albums) - everyone loved it! For mom's big birthday gift, she received two weeks (free) in a time share in Kona, Hawaii and money towards flights! (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a wee bit jealous.)

For some family fun, we decided to gather at a nearby corn maze on Saturday afternoon. Out of ten stations, our team (the girls) managed to locate three. We also got stranded in the middle of the maze, huddled under a small bridge, while being pummelled by rain and hail. My leg muscles still ache from following the teenage staff sent to rescue us - after all, I was wearing flip-flops, walking on mud, carrying a soaked and shivering 7-year-old.

We didn't let a little bad weather ruin our fun, though. The BBQ plans moved indoors and more fun was had (after clothing changes all around).

My aunties and uncles are some of the most hilarious, ridiculous, foolish people on the planet. Needless to say I enjoyed hours of the best medicine on earth. Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated 50 well-spent years. You totally made my weekend! (And, I think, mom's.)

On a side note, I felt a "release" from God on Friday night as far as my fast. I took great pleasure in sipping my uncle's homemade blush wine and tasting all the dips and treats at the party. I thanked the Lord for each morsel, and stopped when I felt full. Unfortunately, I continued my "break" over the entire weekend and exercised much less self-control with each passing hour.

Today's early-morning hours were spent seeking to be brought back in line with His will. (Sadly, I knew I was out-of-line by Saturday afternoon and chose to ignore that fact and wait until Monday morning to return to my fast.) So today I begin again, in repentance and receiving His forgiveness - and I will set aside my desire for all foods fatty and sugary. My desires that grow so strong so quickly that it takes but a day for them to overtake me. My desires that I willingly (and repeatedly) allow to take precedence over my desire to be obedient and fully submitted to the will of God.

I expect this week to be difficult. A week spent on my knees in prayer for the deliverance of someone I love, each time I crave the junk I cannot have. A week of new beginnings, fresh starts, and His Presence.

I might even go to the gym and exercise this week. Not because this fast is about losing weight. And not because I sense Him calling me to exercise. But because I know that moving my body and getting my heart pumping will get the junk out faster and cause me to crave the good stuff. And because my girlfriend invited me - and one should never pass up the opportunity to visit with a friend while being productive. And because I've got child care hours there that need to be used up before we move. And because the hormones have been pretty wacky lately and I need to do something to get my mood back under control. And, well, because maybe it will help me both look and feel good. So why not?!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Special Day for a Special Gal

Today is my Mom's birthday. She's at the tippy-top of the hill now, just about to go over - but not quite!

I feel like a tool because I slept in this morning and didn't get my happy birthday post up. But late is better than never, right?


In honor of her birthday, here are 50 reasons I love my Mommy...

1. She never gave up on me, even during my rebellious phase.

2. She sings my kids the same lullabyes she sang to me.

3. We share a love for reading.

4. I enjoy hanging out with her.

5. She cleans my bathrooms almost every time she comes over.

6. She's my best friend.

7. She is fiercely loyal to her family.

8. She's a super Bible study leader.

9. She's the bestest, most full of energy Grandma in the whole world.

10. She makes us dinner every Sunday night.

11. She doesn't mind that I call her 14 times a day at work just to visit.

12. She puts up with my husband's wise-cracks.

13. She mows my grass almost every time she comes over in the summer.

14. She loves to babysit.

15. She will say "no" to babysitting when she needs to.

16. She's not afraid to look foolish in the name of fun.

17. She likes to dance.

18. She's a good singer.

19. She's pretty.

20. She's smart.

21. She's patient (have I mentioned that I have some hormone issues?).

22. She's forgiving.

23. She's generous.

24. She will sacrifice her own desires for the people she loves.

25. She helps me prevent drowning incidents at the beach and pool.

26. She is brave enough to take my kids camping.

27. The kids get to learn about gardening because of her.

28. The kids' faith is supported and cemented in her home.

29. Even if she doesn't like it, she always supports what I do.

30. She has painted in every house I've ever owned.

31. It's fun to watch her drive her new "sporty" car with a big grin on her face.

32. The kids are allowed to play and be kids at her house.

33. The kids are disciplined if they misbehave at her house.

34. She jokes back with her smart-alec son-in-laws.

35. She loves all of her kids with her whole heart, regardless of who gave birth to them.

36. She raised her grandson for 13 years.

37. Even though she dislikes it, she bums around home improvement stores with her husband.

38. She honours her marriage.

39. She honours God.

40. Family is everything to her.

41. She drags me out in the cold of winter to take the kids sledding.

42. Her dragging makes me do things I am too lazy to do on my own.

43. Her dragging makes me have fun!

44. She never got mad when I borrowed her clothes without asking.

45. My friends went to her for help and counsel.

46. Some of my friends still go to her for help and counsel.

47. She is wise.

48. I love her freckles.

49. She is an overcomer.

50. She doesn't want a big deal made about her big birthday. :)

Now, what does one buy as a gift for a Barbarian Princess???

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The LORD is There

This morning I was talking to God about my sadness at leaving so many special people. I love my sisters here so much, and when they shared news of our move to the group of women at Friendship Factor (our women's coffee break) yesterday, we all got a little choked-up. For a moment, the excitement of things to come took a back burner to the sadness of letting go and saying good-bye.

So this morning, I thanked God for those sisters of mine, I lifted up their families to Him, I asked Him to bless them, and I told Him how I was counting on Him to fill the empty space in my heart that belongs to them.

He reminded me of a special gift I received in the prayer room at She Speaks. The conference organizers spent time praying over each of the names of the attendees, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit placed our names next to one of the Names of God. My name was beside Jehovah-Shammah: the LORD is there.

He whispered to my spirit this morning:

When you are in a new land, I AM THERE.

When you feel sad and are praying for a friend, I AM THERE.

When your heart longs for the familiar of what was before, I AM THERE.

When tears of loneliness pour from your eyes, I AM THERE.

Wherever you go, when you go in My Name, you go with My Blessing, you bring with you My Presence, and I AM THERE.

And with His promises held tightly in my heart, I will go with Him. But my sisters, I sure will miss you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Do You Have a Plan?

In Sunday's service, we were encouraged and inspired to be intentional in teaching our children to know God, to love Him, and to live His way.

We say grace at meals, we pray bedtime prayers together, we talk about how Jesus wants us to act (usually in situations when the behaviour hasn't been at its best), we pray for people in need, we talk about how God has provided all the things we have, and we share when He provides something extra.

But when it comes to the Word of God, we're not doing so hot at teaching our children.

They attend Sunday school and a Christian school. They are learning the Bible stories. They bring home memory verses that we help them with.

But as a family, we should be studying God's Word together. I absolutely believe this.

I need a plan. I am a 'plan on paper' kinda girl, and if it's not written out and scheduled into my Outlook chances are it won't get done. Problem is, I'm not really sure where to start! This is where you come in. I need to know what you do to teach your children from the Bible. Do you have a plan?

Go ahead and leave nice, long, six paragraph comments! What do you do at home to teach your children to know God, to love Him, and to live His way?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Morning Time Learning

Sin causes us to look at life through the lens of entitlement - that we deserve salvation without repentance, wealth without work, accolades without self-denial, health without personal discipline, pleasure without sacrifice. Biblical truth reminds us that, in reality, we deserve hell...

Every small laugh, each tiny expression of joy, a simple meal - any momentary reprieve from the ongoing agony of hell - truly is an undeserved gift. When we add the assurance that the completed work of Christ guards our eternity, our lives should radiate not merely joy (though there should be an abundance of that) but wonder and astonishment at how good God truly is.

~ Gary Thomas, Holy Available: what if holiness is about more than what we don't do?, pp. 58

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The God Chronicles - 09/18/09


Have you seen the hand of God in your life lately? Joel 1:2-3 instructs us to tell the next generation the stories of God's faithfulness in our lives. That's what The God Chronicles is all about. I would be honoured if you joined me. Just write your own post for TGC, link to this post in your writing, then come back here and add your name and your post's URL to Mr. Linky at the bottom.

Here's how TGC began.

And here are a few instructions for those who like to follow the step-by-step.

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For this one, I am going to need to take you back a ways. Right to the beginning of this year, when I prayed that the Lord would unsettle me. I knew it was a dangerous prayer, but I was wildly ready for anything He might toss my way.

And somewhere in that first part of this year Pat shared with me that he was sensing a change on the horizon. We attended the BreakForth conference together and came home expecting BIG things.

Then we went about our lives as usual.

I remembered my prayer for the new year when it was convenient, but mostly I let myself forget about it. You see, I don't actually do well with change. I like consistency, stability, predictability.

A few short weeks ago, God reminded me of my desire to be unsettled. He said, "You don't want to have all this normalcy, do you? It's so....boring. Why not come on an adventure with Me? Why don't you show people that your faith isn't just something you say, it's something you do."

I replied, "Um, no thanks God. I'm good. I'm not bored at all. Life is so perfectly settled right now; I'd rather not change."

The moment those words came out, I head the phrase "unsettle me" echoing in my soul.

Our family will be moving soon. Not just to a new house, but to a new city with new schools and a new church. We are brought there by a new job, one that promises a whole new life for our family. At this new job, Daddy will be home every.single.night for supper. He will have a long weekend to spend with us every.second.week. He will not be called to work out of town for weeks on end - in fact, he will not be called to work out of town EVER.

Today we are in the midst of the sloppy business of moving forward, with the excitement and adventure of the new ahead, and the sorrow of leaving so much good behind. Man, does it ever hurt to let go of GOOD things! The only thing that helps is to know that when God asks us to do that, He already has even BETTER things on the horizon. And there is comfort in knowing that rather than just leaving all this love behind, we will actually end up with two homes where we are loved. A new one and the old one. A double-blessing.

In this process, God's handiwork has been evident in a million small and large ways:

- the peace we had with making a very fast decision; the encouragement and words of affirmation from other believers

- the fact that I asked God to show confirmation for this decision by making it possible to keep our house here and rent it out, and He did

- the first house we looked at was not only good for our family, but it had a whole bunch of features that Pat and I had only dreamed of (three living rooms, a den/office, a large attached garage, a veranda, an eat-in kitchen and a dining room, a fireplace, oodles of bathrooms, a jet tub); honestly, at first I felt that we should not even consider this house because it was so much of what we wanted, that I was certain we didn't deserve it - funny thing about God, though, is that He likes to give good gifts to His children just because

- we closed the deal on that house tonight, and though the steps along the way were not bump-free, they were relatively quick and easy

- finding a Christian program within the public schools that is totally FREE

- knowing that the ministry I love - my baby - is in the best hands of the most amazing, competent, Godly, visionary team of women

- and many more.

I don't know why God is moving us. But I do know that He is answering a decade-long prayer of ours for Pat to have a job that provides well but doesn't have him away. And I am certain that He has a plan for friends, schools, a church family, a home (not just a house), and more. I believe that sometimes God calls us to do really difficult things so that we are stretched and moved closer to Him, and so that our faith in His goodness and His provision can grow. I fully trust Him to take care of us, our friends, our family, and our ministries - and I believe that He even has a BETTER thing in store for each of them.

It won't be easy. Change is difficult, scary even. We will be like foreigners in a new country. It could end up feeling a bit like a desert for a while. So as we walk I will tilt my head to the sky, and I will follow the Pillar of Cloud that goes ahead of me, showing the way.

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What about you? What is He doing in your life these days?

Two Things...

First, a quick reminder of The God Chronicles tomorrow.

Second, have a great day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Place

Abbey (7) was in a soapbox derby race this weekend. She took over her brother's race car when he retired. I just have to tell you - the girl was awesome! Focused and intent for the whole day, she just held those wheels straight and steady to tear down the hill. Her top speed was 37 km/hr.






Our racer girl placed first for her age group (6-8)! We were so proud of her, not only because she raced well and won, but because she was a good sport and had lots of fun. Way to go, sweetheart!



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Somebody's Two

Two is one of the best birthday ages. Malakai was right into his gifts this year.


The whole time we were working on our basement, Kai was helping by running Daddy's drill (until the battery died each day). This set with his very own drill got the best reaction ever. "Yay, yay, yay, yay!" exclaimed while jumping up and down. Man, I wish I had the video camera turned on for that.

While my little man turns two, his Papa has a special day as well. And it just occurred to me how foolish I was to pitch in for his birthday gift - after all, the gift of a grandson on your birthday pays off for a lifetime of birthdays...

Anyway, back to my Kai guy. Malakai, I sure do love you! Your eyes alight with mischief at every turn, your quick grin, and the way you dive right into everything without an ounce of fear - these little bits of you are reflections of your Daddy. You bring me a whole lot of joy and laughter, as well as your fair share of headaches. You're totally living up to your age. And since it's my last time to celebrate this age with one of my babies, celebrate I will. Love you, little buddy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

When 40 days becomes for-ever

First, a reminder that The God Chronicles is back for the fall! I will post on Friday the 18th, and you have until the 20th to participate by writing your own blog post sharing how you've seen God working in your life and linking up. :)


A few of you have been asking about my fast food/ junk food/ processed food fast. Okay, actually, only people I know IRL (in real life) have asked, but I know you're all wondering. Right?

Day 40 was Saturday the 12th. And I am still fasting. The following are some questions I've made up that you would ask me if you were asking...

Have you lost weight?

Yes, I believe I have. Clothes are fitting differently, the muffin top spill-over effect is lessening, and a couple people have commented. (Although, I was again asked if I was expecting, so I must not have lost too much. Sheesh!)

Have you weighed yourself at all?

No. I felt that God wanted me to stay away from the scale during this fast, so that my only motivation for fasting and praying would be obedience to Him. I cannot tell you how difficult it is to not step on that scale!

Why did you start this fast?

Well, I think it all came down to my lack of self-control and discipline in several areas of my life. God showed me that by willingly sacrificing something I love and enjoy (mmmmm, potato chips, slurpees, McDonald's) - by denying my flesh - I would be giving Him more room to work in my life and to speak to me. He was right!

Why didn't you stop the fast at 40 days like you planned?

There are a few reasons for this. First, I just feel as though God has more for me to learn and He needs more time of me being submitted in this area. Second, my cravings for those foods have not diminished much in 40 days, and I believe that if I don't stay in this state of self-denial I will end up right back where I began - chubby, unhealthy, over-eating, feeding my feelings, and just generally icky. Third, one day I was praying for someone in my life who is struggling with an addiction, and I felt God telling me that I needed to continue to fast and pray on this person's behalf.

How much longer will you go?

Until God says, "okay, you can stop now." I believe that He'll provide a couple of signals for me. One, that I will look at junk food and not be nearly undone by my desire for it. Two, that the person I know will be addiction-free to the point that it no longer feels like a struggle. I think it could be a while....

What do you eat?

I enjoy dairy, meat, veggies, fruit, and whole grains. I still enjoy a small amount of dressing or other sauces, but in moderation. I am trying to eat well from all the food groups, roughly based on the guidelines from the Canada Food Guide. I am no longer eating cookies, cake, white flour, potato chips, slurpees, chocolate bars, sour candies, fast food hamburgers, french fries, and most things I love to gobble down. Until I gave it up, I had no idea how much of this junk I was eating on a daily basis.

Have you "cheated" at all?

There are two answers to this question. Have I cheated by eating things on my "no-no" list? No. Some days the temptation feels unbearable, but I don't feel that I can afford the consequences of not walking in obedience in this. So when it's hard and it hurts and I struggle, I pray like crazy and get busy. I also eat endless raw veggies until I feel so full I'll burst.

Have I cheated in other ways? Sadly, yes. There are some times when I feel the struggle and I know I'm supposed to be praying that I choose to busy myself instead. There are some foods that I've felt uncertain about eating (such as home-made potato salad) that I know I should not eat if I don't hear a clear yes from God, and I eat some without hearing that yes.

Don't you think you're making this food thing a little overly-spiritual?

Maybe. But my thinking is that if the whole of mankind can be messed up by what a woman chooses to put in her mouth, what I eat is most certainly of spiritual consequence. So I'll risk having some people think I'm spiritualizing too much.

I can't believe how many questions y'all had for me! Oh, that's right, those were my pretend questions. Oh well. :) Hopefully you have some answers you were never looking for.

And here's the moral of the story...be careful what you pray for, because He is so faithful to answer us!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Time Experiment Revisited

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!

* This is an archived post from February, 2009.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Doughnut Shop Theology

I'm not generally one who finds lovely little analogies in everyday moments. But today, I saw something that simply begged for me to tell it.

A little girl and her grandma sat down in Tim Horton's for an afternoon treat. One must have been about seven and-a half (my guess based on the two-tooth sized gap at the bottom of her smile). The other, sixty years older or so. The little one was a tow-head with straight, fine hair past her shoulders. The older one, gracefully coloured hair in a beautiful shade of auburn. The young one had pale, unblemished skin, the older had dark spots of age smattering across her hands. The contrast was so striking.

Grandma opened a bag containing two long johns covered in chocolate, each with a dash of sprinkles on one end. In typical zest-of-youth style, the girl dove into her long john sprinkled end first. Grandma started at the other end, apparently saving the best for last. I watched them enjoying one another's company, chit-chatting about their weeks, nibbling away until their doughnuts were less than half their original size.

Then the grandma reached out to her grand-daughter, and offered to trade doughnuts with her. The girl seemed a bit confused, but quickly accepted the trade once she realized that she would have the pleasure of eating BOTH of the sprinkled ends.

Their exchange reminded me of the Christian walk.

When we are "young" we tend to dive in to "the good stuff" as quickly as possible. We don't want to wait even one moment for those delicious sprinkles. We don't hesitate or waste any time.

As we get "older" we take things more slowly. We tend to wait, hoping to save the best for last. We savour every single bit that takes us closer to the sprinkled end.

Neither approach is wrong, nor right - just different. Sometimes it's wisest to go slowly and methodically, waiting for the good things God has in store. Other times we should hurry and do what He asks quickly, with all our hearts and energy.

The true beauty, though, is what happens if we do the "wrong" thing. Perhaps sometimes we jump in, full of fervour, not thinking of the consequences. We rush ahead of God's plan and push our way through. We eat the sprinkles first, when we should have saved them for later. But God, in His ever-patient and understanding way, seldom lets us end that way. He doesn't like to leave us empty and disappointed, having gobbled down the sweet sprinkles too quickly. Rather, He extends His hand of grace and trades doughnuts with us. He lets us have the delicious reward at the end of the journey, in spite of our own impulsiveness.

We sit there, confused. Knowing that we did nothing to deserve such a sweet reward. That's the perfection of God's grace - He is ready to hand us the end with the sprinkles on it, even before we ask.

* This is an archived post from September, 2008.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I've Still Got It

Last night Kai started fussing just before 11pm.

We were in already in bed (getting old, I know), chatting about our days. I looked at Pat and said, "Your son is crying. You should go take him a bottle." Yes, he's still waking in the night. I'm just too tired to tough out the crying required to get him sleeping through. Sigh.

Pat laughed and challenged me to a game of Paper-Rock-Scissors for the duty. One, two, three - rock, rock. Again - scissors (Pat), paper (me).

I insisted that PRS is always best of three.

One, two, three - rock, rock. Again - paper (Pat), rock (me).

He smirks and rolls over, making some smart comment about how I should bring him a drink of water when I come back. So I did what any self-respecting woman would do - I whined (with a flirtatious smile on my face, of course)! "But honeeeeeey, I always have to get up with him in the middle of the niiiiiight. The least you can do is take him a bottle when you're still up." (insert the batting of eyelashes)

So my sweet, darling husband rolled out of bed and took his baby a bottle. When he came back to bed I was giggling. He gave me a long-suffering patience kinda look. I decided it wise to keep my smart mouth shut. But honey, here's what I was giggling about...

The moral of the story is - even when I'm wrong, I'm right; even when I lose, I win. From now on you should just do what I want right from the start and save yourself the humiliation.

LOL!

* This is an archived post from September, 2008.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Got busy?

Ever feel like you're simply too busy? Too much to do, not nearly enough time. Clean the house, cook the meals, help with homework, spend time with hubby, have coffee with friends, drive from here to there 40 times a week, take kids to soccer/ballet/art class, do ministry work, do service projects, go to Church, Bible study, life group...

It's weird, but I often go from one extreme to the other. One day I'm so busy I can't even think straight, the next day I'm bored out of my mind (not usually for lack of something to do so much as lack of motivation to do anything). When I'm sitting at either end of the spectrum one thing is consistent - I find excuses to skip out on my time with God. Too tired, too busy, I deserve a rest, taking the day off, other very important Godly things to take care of...

The funny thing is, any time I skip out, my whole day suffers. I feel either rushed or completely lacking in 'get up and go;' I am either frantic or frustrated; I feel angry, sad, cranky, lonely, irritated - all at the same time! I want to be left alone, but hate feeling isolated.

God has called me to spend time with Him each morning. (Morning might not be everyone's time, but I do know that He wants time from each of us, whether morning, evening, mid-day.) It seems counter-intuitive, but the days where I'm up at 6:00 or 6:30am are my best days. Even if I was up with a baby 14 times that night. Even if I have 6 million things to do, plus errands to run, plus misbehaving children. Although, I've even noticed that the kids' behavior is better on these days (or maybe it's just the mom's disposition).

* Here's a quote I read today that spoke to my heart:
It's so easy to be caught up with the busy things of life that we overlook tending our inner lives. Then we often find chaos in our heart and mind and wonder why God seems distant. During those times we will most likely find our Bible starting to gather dust. God's Word is nourishment for our souls. ~ Gail Rogers

It's crazy! I would never risk not eating the food my body needs for survival (and enjoyment, lol). I don't risk driving without my seatbelt (and my cell phone in case of emergency). I can't imagine hopping on a motorcycle without a helmet (okay, if you know me I know you're thinking, "come on, Tyler, you would never get on a motorcycle to begin with!" true). So why do I take risks with the very ESSENCE of my life?! Nothing is good without Christ at the heart of it. My best intentions at life - parenting, housekeeping, ministry - none of it is worth anything if I've done it on my own. My very soul cries out against it!

"Keep God's Word at the very core of your life. As a Christian you simply cannot risk living otherwise." ~ Gail Rogers

* This is an archived post from January, 2008.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Whoa, Nelly!

As per my ambiguous post last week, I have some things to get in order around here. Not only in life, home, ministry, but in my thought closet.

In order to dedicate some time to prayer, as well as to the ordering of life, I will be taking this week off. No blogging. No reading blogs. No commenting.

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves in the comments, or enjoy the archived posts that will appear here for the rest of the week.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Morning

Bet that won't win any awards for most original title...

Lots going on in our little world right now. Many things to pray on (and spend many nighttime hours pondering). Your prayers would be so appreciated. Details to come on the 20th with The God Chronicles.

Speaking of TGC, I sure would love to have a few more friends join up and link up! So here is your two week warning. (I will probably put my TGC post up on Friday the 18th, and leave it over the weekend for linkies.) If you're new around here, the short version is that TGC is my way of recording God's activity in our lives so that I never forget the stories of His faithfulness and I can pass them on. I've invited my cyber-buddies to join me in chronicalling our journies. For the long version, read this.

By the way, it's raining today. Chilly, cloudy day + very tired girl + a bus that keeps arriving two minutes earlier each day and impatiently honking the horn = a good day for a nap. :)

Love ya.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

School Days

The first few weeks of school are a juxtaposition of feelings in our family.

Mommy is relieved for a break after a long summer. Kids are excited for change. We all need to get back into routine.

But returning to routine is hard work! Lazy days become long days for little ones, and emotions run high.

Here is a sampling of my past couple of days, from the after school hour...

Why do we have to be at school for so long?

I'm tired!

* tears

I'm not tired!

Leave me alone!

* shoving

Moooooom, she's in my spot!

Moooooom, they won't leave me alone!

* door slamming

I just want some peace and quiet.

Get out of my room!

* tears

I'm hungry.

It's hot.

* tantrums

I'm cold.

Mooooooom.

* bickering

In the midst of the high emotion and unpleasant attitudes, we eat supper, we clean up, we make lunches, we have baths, we set out clothes for the next day, we have time outs, we talk about being kind and loving, we cry, we yell, we laugh, we dance, we take quiet time, and we fight going to be with every fibre of our being.

Then we rise early in the morning to do it all over again.

The only thing that gets me through those long hours between school and bedtime is the laughter. The laughter at how irrational tired children can be. The giggles over silly over-reactions. The warmth of quiet snuggles (though they last only a moment). The joy of knowing that they really do love school and learning. The faith that, in just a couple weeks, they will all adjust again and life will return to some semblance of normal (that involves less than 482 emotional outbursts in three hours).

It sure is quiet around here with just two kids at home....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Teaching Kids to Pray

I typically like to have a well-outlined plan for everything, step-by-step instructions warm my heart. So for many years I jot down notes about how others teach their kids to pray, so that I can do the same. I don't believe I've ever actually implemented much of what I've made note of, though, and still my children are learning to pray.

Abbey (7) has a tender heart for the things of God. Her bedtime prayers consist of blessings for children in far away countries who have no toys, clothes, or food. (Future missionary in the making?)

Shea (4) can be counted on to burst into spontaneous prayer when it's most needed. Once, we were driving and talking about the kids' older cousin, C, who was having a hard time and making "bad decisions" (best way I could think of to explain things to them), and Shea just burst out in a few sentences of prayer for him.

Braeden (11) and Megan (6) are a bit more reserved, but when a bad dream comes in the night they head straight for mom and dad and ask us to pray - they know where their security lies.

Even Malakai (almost 2) will bow his head and fold his sweet little hands together when we pray, and he gets this look of reverence on his face that makes my heart swell.

So how in the world are these children learning to pray when I haven't been following a plan???

We pray with them at logical times, such as dinner time and bedtime, and we encourage them (but don't force them) to say the prayers.

We let them see us (and join us) in times of prayer throughout the day. For example, if I am praying for someone or something, and a child comes to ask me if I'm sleeping (LOL) I'll invite him/her to pray with me.

They have the opportunity to learn and practice praying at school.

We are always asking God to give them hearts for Him, hearts for prayer, hearts to serve - in spite of how badly we may mess up in teaching these things to them. And He is faithful.

As my children grow up and come into their own, I am realizing that this adage holds a lot of truth:

Faith is caught, not taught.

holy experience

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Ministry of Mothering?

A few of the buzzwords you'll hear in Christian circles these days are Christian service, ministry, servant leader, washing feet.... They come from our Model of how to live and serve others - Jesus. We encourage our leaders to not just be the "boss," but to serve joyfully. We challenge our leaders to find ways to (figuratively) wash the feet of those whom they lead.

Once you establish the mindset of a servant leader, it isn't all that difficult to think of ways to serve those around you. A big part of it is to simply pay attention to their needs and try to meet them. For example, if a woman on my team was ill, I could bring her family dinner one evening; when another ministry is vying for space in the church, our ministry can freely give up some of our space; if I know my husband is tired, I can take care of a job that is normally his....

I can wrap my head around the concept of figurative foot washing when it comes to church ministry, the people I run into day-to-day, events I attend, my husband, friends, even enemies.

Here is a wild and crazy thought, though, that I just cannot wrap my head around. How can I wash the feet of my children? As a mother, these children are my primary ministry. My job is not simply to tend to them, but to minister to them in love and show them God's love. I think one of the reasons I can't "get it" is because my job with them is already serve, serve, serve. I cook for them, clean up after them and with them, bathe them, teach them, discipline them, cuddle them, and on it goes.

But do I do all these things out of the love of my heart to serve them and bless them, or are they merely things I do because it's my job to do them? Am I a servant leader to my children, or a dictator?

To be honest, I have never before considered my children my ministry. Raising them is my job - being a mother is my role. So I do what I have to do, often begrudgingly, with irritability and impatience. But if I led my children the way I lead my ministry, with passion and purpose and a vision, it would become God's work. That would be ministry. That would be servant leadership. That would be foot washing.

I think Jesus and I need to spend our time together tomorrow morning talking about how to wash the feet of my children. We'll probably make a list. Jesus and I LOVE lists!

What are some things that you do (or could do) to figuratively wash the feet of your children?