Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review, 2009

I began 2009 with this goal in my heart.

Here's how I learned His ways, His paths, and His truths throughout the year...

I asked the Lord to shake me up, keep me from becoming too comfortable, unsettle me.

I asked God to reveal His agenda for my daily schedule and "to do" lists with my time experiment.

I was learning about Believing God and persevering when victory demanded my all.

God used our difficult trip to Disneyland to remind me of something that I find easy to forget.

The Lord provided peace when I submitted to His will for our special needs son.

God used an old post and an anonymous comment to encourage me. Interesting how re-reading those words just spoke to my heart all over again...

Our family settled in to enjoy the snot-nosed, dirty-faced, sweaty-kid days of summer.

I had the amazing experience of attending the She Speaks conference, and many thanks to Lysa who inspired me to begin my fast food fast.

An answer to those prayers of mine - the ones to be unsettled... God nudged, we listened (albeit reluctantly).

In the midst of preparing to move, God called Pat to take a short walk in the mission field. His heart is forever turned toward the people of Haiti.

I spent some time trying to refocus my prayers and praises.

A month spent glorying in the new lifestyle of our family, but sadly neglecting other important things (such as writing - for my book or on this here blog).

It surely was a Jesus year! I asked and sought and God showed my His ways, taught me His paths, and spoke to me about His truths. My world was rocked more than once. Adventure was had. Much time was spent on my knees. And some people say that following Jesus is boring...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Traditionally Speaking

Traditions are the glue that holds a family together, separate and unique from other families. Some traditions become such a part of the daily routine that we may not even recognize them as special, such as praying together at night or talking about the day's high and low points over dinner. Christmas traditions, though, are special.

Do you read the Christmas story together? Open stockings? Have a turkey dinner feast?

Last year, our family began a tradition that I'd like to continue. Together, as a family, we found a way to give to others. The tough part (which was also the most blessed part) of the giving was that it was sacrificial.

I don't think our kids are old enough to understand going with a "giftless" Christmas where we give all of our gift money to a worthwhile project. But there is no age limit on learning to be a blessing, to offer something that may mean you need to have a little less for yourself.

A couple other traditions that have bloomed over the years:
- Each kid gets a new ornament every year, and they hang their ornaments on the tree. (There is a slim chance that I missed a year along the way - baby brain - but I'm going to make sure each kid is all set for next year.)
- On Christmas Eve, the kids get to open a gift (pre-selected by moi). It's always new pyjamas.
- Santa fills the stockings in this house and leaves a gift (typically something that everyone can enjoy together). Of course, we always leave out milk and cookies for the jolly fella.
- At my parents' house, one of them will read the Christmas story before we devour the turkey and trimmings. Sometimes it's direct from the Bible, sometimes a version from a children's book.

I should share a little trick I came up with a few years back that seems to help with any sibling issues that occur around gifts (you know, no matter how you do Christmas and how much you try to focus on Christ and not the gifts, there is almost always one child who ends up whining to play with something that someone else received - this makes me crazy!). For any and all gift-giving occasions, a gift received by a particular child belongs solely to that child for a full 24 hours. After that day is done, the treasure is now for sharing. The exceptions to the rule are clothing and items that they choose to put in their special box. (The special box is a shoebox-sized Rubbermaid container, which the child keeps in his/her room. No one else is allowed to take items from the box. This little trick helped me deal with the child who was "hoarding" everything in piles on and beside the bed.)

Now, given that time is running short, I need to figure out what we're going to do as a family to be a blessing this Christmas. Pat and I have already come up with one thing, but it didn't involve the kids...

What are your family's traditions around Christmas?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lazy Days

In case you wonder (or even if you don't), you may find it quiet around this little internet space over the holidays. I plan on being very busy lazing around in jammies, drinking entire pots of coffee, watching a million family Christmas movies, reading a couple novels, and maybe even attempting to do something fun with the kids (though we'll have to change out of the jammies to do that).

I realize that my blogging has been awfully intermittent lately, with the move and all. And I thank you for sticking with me in spite of my randomness. I'm sure some part of my New Year's Resolutions will involve a commitment to writing better material with more regularity - which means you can likely count on that to happen for a good two weeks. ;)

But really, I hope that you, like me, will just enjoy the slowing of pace that comes with the Christmas holidays. Be with family and friends, and take a little break from the routine. And most importantly, spend some time reflecting on the amazing gift God gave us in His Son...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On the Loose

I am almost off for an evening away with a girlfriend. By the time you read this I will be off (she doesn't know where she's going or who she's meeting, so I scheduled this to pop up after I know she's gone -you know?). As soon as I get home tomorrow, Pat and I are sneaking off for a night. We'll go to his work Christmas party, then enjoy the luxury of sleeping in the next morning. (Yay, Grandma! Have fun at 6am.)

So far this morning I have:
- washed, dried, folded, and put away three loads of laundry
- had my chimney cleaned (unrelated, but it was scheduled for this morning)
- grocery shopped for snacks and quick foods
- packed for one night, stacked packing for the next night
- put tonight's dinner in the crock pot
- fed two children lunch
- taken out the garbage and recycling
- cleaned up 400 mounds of dog doo
- paid bills
- and paced anxiously waiting for the sitter to arrive (who, as I write this, is not yet due for another hour).

If you've never taken a night away with a girlfriend, you totally should. It's almost naughty how free you feel!

If you've never taken a night away with your hubby, you should do that one first. :) Just 24 hours of escape from the day-to-day can bring month's worth of refreshing to a marriage.

And if you ever have the blessed opportunity to do both in one weekend, be sure to thank the Lord and not take one moment for granted. Because time away - it is a blessing.

Anyone know how it is that on any normal day it would take every waking moment to complete that list of tasks? Really, getting away is good for the whole family - they've never had such a productive Mommy! :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Moral of the Story

One of our children has an iron will. This child will dig heels in deep and not budge - ever - on whatever the issue of the day is.

Since school began this year (even before the move), this child has not been participating well in class. I don't know why, but I suspect it has to do with:
#1 - not wanting to look foolish doing silly actions and movements;
#2 - not wanting too much focus to be turned toward the child;
#3 - needing to be perfect and have things mastered before being willing to do them; and
#4 - a little bit of stubbornness deep down in this child's heart.

Said child came home a couple days ago proclaiming that there was no happy face in the agenda from school because the class was doing yoga and my darling wouldn't do it. To be honest, I was so proud of this child that I cannot even tell you - we have had many discussions about yoga and why our family believes it is best not to participate in it at all.

I began drafting an email...

Later, with some digging from Daddy, it was discovered that the child did not, in fact, refuse to do yoga, but simply refused to join in on the doing movement (you know, bend down and touch your toes, now reach up to the sky, etc.). Yoga was not for today, but they would be learning it later on, said the child. Perhaps this should have been my first clue that things were not all as they appeared?

I began revising the email... I had Pat read the email... I re-read and re-revised... And then - I hit send.

Yesterday I received a phone message from the teacher. As I did in my email, the teacher first addressed the child's issue and some solutions that had been brainstormed. Then the teacher addressed my concern and request that they not do yoga in school. The teacher informed that there has never been, nor would there ever be, any plans to practice yoga at school. Ahem.

The information my child had given us was incorrect, and no one has any clue where that information may have come from.

This morning, I drafted a new email. If email came with a picture, my face would be very red and my eyes averted. How incredibly embarrassing - to have written an email convincing the teacher of my reasons for opposing yoga in school FOR NO REASON. Oh, how foolish of me.

There are three morals to this story:

First, never jump to conclusions.
Second, when you learn information that upsets you the first thing you should do is ask, "is it true?"
And third, never, ever, ever take what a child says at face value!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The View from Up Here

Not too long ago, we were having a bit of family fun swimming. Abbey was having fun jumping off the diving board, but she suspected that the high board (5m) would be even more fun. Twice, she climbed all the way up that ladder, then climbed right back down.

Seeing a teachable moment about conquering our fears, I gave her a mini lecture/pep talk encouraging her to take the leap. When I finished, Abbey asked me, "Mom, have you ever jumped off that high board?"

As far as I could remember, I had not taken that plunge. You see, I have a small issue with heights. I'm not technically afraid of being up high, nor am I afraid of falling (because I know that they don't let people continue to go up on high things if someone has fallen from it). But there is a physical reaction that occurs in my body when I look down from a high vantage point. And in all my years, the best I've been able to do is breathe deeply, cling tightly, and tell myself I won't fall - every once in a while this actually helps me. Most times, though, I have done what Abbey did - turn around, climb down, and back out.

I asked Abbey, in perfect teenage fashion, "If I do it, will you do it?" She grinned and nodded.

The climb up the ladder wasn't bad. Deep breath in, step-step-step, deep breath out, step-step-step. The walk on the first half of the diving board was manageable. Deep breath in, hold it, cling to the railing, steeeeepppp, steeeeepppp, steeeeepppp. But there is a point on every diving board where the railing ends and you are left to take those last few steps on your own.

I froze. My pulse hammered at my throat. The walls and pool seemed to shift and move, rocking with the twisting of my stomach. My legs literally trembled. I felt like a blob of jell-o on a plate that someone had just flicked to make it dance.

I took another breath, let go, and stepped. No! I stepped back and grabbed the railing. The board and I danced this way three times. I thought to myself, "I can't do this." I started to turn back. No! I told myself, "You can do this. Your little girl is down there, counting on you to do this. She is watching you, and will take her lead from your choices. Do not let her down!" My legs of gelatin cautiously carried me to the edge of the board, and I stood with hands extended to hold my balance. One, two, three, breathe, plug nose, and jump step right off that board. Victory!

It took a full half hour for my queasy stomach to relax, longer to feel as though my legs could hold me upright. Abbey proceeded to leap off that 5m high board a dozen times.

I could draw a million (or three) parallels and metaphors on how this relates to our relationship with God:

#1 - Sometimes faith is scary.
#2 - There are lots of times that we must simply step out in obedience, knowing the truth that God is with us even when we feel terrified and uncertain.
#3 - Someone is always watching what we do, and making choices about their own faith based on our actions.

But mostly, I just wanted to tell you because it's a darn good story. And hey - I jumped from the high board! Nanananana!

Monday, December 14, 2009


I read some words this morning in my quiet time that brought tears to my eyes and a lump into my throat. They resonated with truth and made me feel so encouraged that I just had to share them. Both of these quotes are from Gary Thomas’s “Holy Available” (pp. 124-125).

“Have you ever realized that God purposely sets up our lives to reveal His glory? Speaking of one man’s healing, Jesus told His disciples, ‘This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me’ (John 9:3-4).”

One thing I noticed about this story when I looked it up in my Bible was that this man was blind from birth. He was blind forever, for his whole life. He suffered a long time. Yet God healed him at just the right time that would bring glory to His name. It makes me think of things in my life that seem to be constant battles, going on and on. And I feel encouraged knowing that when God’s hand of deliverance comes for those issues, it will be at just the right time to bring His Name glory.

“God has a purpose for you, and He’s working to make this purpose come true. And because it’s His purpose and because He’s doing it, it’s never in doubt. It’s going to happen. God knows that it is so.”

Just before this statement, the author has shared that God put on his heart a passion to write a certain book. He wrote this book and received, consecutively, 150 rejections before it was picked up for publication. And through the whole experience, he continued to feel God pushing him to pursue it. So he did. I know that I often feel God has put a dream in my heart for something, but the longer it takes the more I begin to question it. Was that dream really from God? Maybe I made it up in my own head. Perhaps it’s time to give up. For me, these words were a good and timely reminder to “stay the course” and trust that God will do His thing in His time.

I hope that something in these words gives you encouragement as well.

Friday, December 11, 2009

From Dishonour to Freedom

Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. ~Isaiah 25:8-9 (NRSV)

In just two short weeks we will celebrate the birth of the Messiah, the One who removes our disgrace and wipes our tears.

Don't you just love that phrase, "He will take away our disgrace?"

Disgrace (n) - shame, dishonour, discredit, scandal, humiliation.

Disgrace (v) - bring shame on, bring into disrepute, tarnish, stain.

The coming of the Christ child was not just a promise to forgive our sins, but to remove the scandal of those sins, so that our names (and His) could not be brought into disrepute.

Do you find that you sometimes go to God seeking forgiveness, yet you continue to allow the sins you have confessed to stain your own view of yourself? You allow the shame of the sins to linger? I know I do. I'm truly sorry for the wrong I've done, but it never leaves me; it's always in the back of my mind. I can't share the gospel with this person - I'm too messed up. With my background, I should never be in public ministry. I can't possibly serve God in that capacity! I'm a liar, a failure, a hypocrite. Anyone who knows me will know the truth about who I am and what I've done...

Yet we are promised not only that we will be forgiven, but that our disgrace will be taken away. The redemption of Christ means that the stains on our lives are completely removed.

You know those laundry commericals? The ones where the "testers" grab someone in a grocery store and rub all sorts of goo and gunk onto her white shirt? Then they treat the stain with their special formula stain remover, wash the shirt - in cold, icy water, no less - and it's like the stain was never there.

It's the same when Christ erases our dishonour - like it was never there.

So don't let past sin hold you back. If God is calling you to teach a Bible study, to speak in front of a group, to share the gospel with your neighbour - do it! Your old junk doesn't matter - it was never there. Don't hold onto shame that Christ has already removed. It is the very fact that you are imperfect and you have a past that will bring glory and honour to the Name of Jesus. The fact that our tarnish has been brought to a shine is a demonstration of His greatness and grace.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. ~Romans 8:1-2 (emphasis mine)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Shoulders are no Longer Hunched over by the Weight of the World... or some other witty title that captures the intent of this post

When we decided to move, I knew that having Pat home every night would be special, wonderful, and a blessing to all of us. Because God has made it clear that we are to leave our families and cleave to our spouses, I knew that He would bless this decision. In spite of the heartache moving away from our extended family, friends, ministry, church, and overall support network, there was not a doubt in my mind that this was the right thing to do. (Lest you think that by "moving away" I mean we went far, we are only a 90 minute drive from our old home!)

You know what I had no idea about, though? Just how much difference it makes in life to have a second pair of hands around on a regular basis! I am not the only one on call in the middle of the night. I don't have to wrangle up friends and grandparents to assist with getting all the kids to activities. I am no longer chef, bus girl, and dishwasher for virtually every dinner. I'm not the only cog in the bath time assembly line. I don't have to do loving and teaching and discipline and homework all tangled together - on my own. Until I experienced the joy of having my husband home nightly, I had no clue how overwhelmed I was without him.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like Pat was never home. But he was away and working late just often enough that I settled into a comfortable (if not slightly harried) groove of doing it all. I didn't realize the weight of that burden until it was lifted from me.

Sure, we've gotten into a few squabbles along the way. I had a good system, but Pat employs different methods. Sometimes I forget that the end result is more important than the methods and I try to remind him that I know how to do things best. Thankfully, he understands the "planner" part of me and can help me loosen my grip gently.

You know what else has surprised me a bit? The simple fact that I really do like Pat! I can hear you chuckling... It's not that I ever didn't like him, but that I was worried that we might get on one another's nerves and grow tired of each other's company after so much "togetherness." But we're not! Well, I'm not; I guess you'd have to ask him if I'm getting on his nerves. :)

I like talking with him, hanging out with him, fighting over the remote control with him, planning out our week together. It's like we're dating again and don't want to be apart for any lengthy period of time - and I love it! All these gooey feelings kinda make a girl want to do something as an expression of all that maybe make a baby. Nothing says "we're madly in love" than creating life together. Whaddya say, honey? Should we explore the possibility of going for #6?

Just kidding... Sort of.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Tree

Last night, we finally decked out our little tree with lights and ornaments. It is now a gloriously unsymmetrical mess of homemade ornaments.

As we decorated the tree and bee-bopped to some Christmas tunes, my mind wandered... Why do we decorate a tree for Jesus' birthday? This morning I asked my trusty friend, Google that very question. The answers were many and varied - many completely inaccurate, I'm sure. But I found a couple explanations that resonated...

The triangle shape of the tree represents the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The top of the tree points Heavenward.

The colour of the tree, green, represents life. Evergreen means eternal life.

The needles of a tree grow upward, like hands raised praising God.

The lights on the tree glitter and glisten like the streets of Heaven.

And the giving of gifts is an act of love and charity; a reflection of the love Christ has for us.

Looking at the tree, beautiful and shiny, brought to mind another tree. A tree that was roughly carved down, limbs and leaves and bark stripped away, ugly and bare, made into a cross.

It's impossible to reflect on the birth of the Christ child without the mind coming to His reason for being born. As we celebrate the Saviour birth, we are reminded of His death. A sacrifice of love for our sins. It seems fitting, doesn't it, that we use a tree to celebrate His birth, and tree to celebrate His death?

(Yes, we can celebrate Christ's death, because we know that it was not the end, but the beginning. God raised Him from the dead, just as His Salvation pulls us up from the darkness of death.)

The Christmas tree...a symbol of the eternal life we have been promised through Christ.

Monday, December 7, 2009

And Again, as I Hop Back on the Wagon

God is speaking to me about my eating again. He's reminding me that He provided me with the perfect "diet" plan - a plan for eating His way. He's showing me that this plan was not intended to be a temporary, short-term suggestion, but a way of life.

I've been plugging my ears and singing, "La, la, la, la!" for a while now. I don't want to sacrifice. I don't want to work hard. I don't want to struggle. There's a little rebel inside of me that doesn't want to do the thing that everyone else is doing (makes sense, doesn't it - refusing to eat healthy and exercise so that no one thinks I'm just trying to be a part of the "in" crowd?).

What I've come to realize, though, is that what I am really choosing is self-abuse. I fill my body with junk that I think tastes good, and I get fatter. I grow more lethargic and lose motivation. I feel queasy on and off all day, I have heartburn at night, my back aches and my feet hurt, I have headaches and feel irritable. All caused by me.

God may not have given me a supermodel's body - thin and willowy, completely flat abs and curves in all the right places. But He did give me this body. He has a vision for how it's supposed to look and feel, and I'm pretty sure He wasn't thinking of this.

Here are some thoughts that I've jotted down the past while as I've pondered this subject:

- Why would God reveal His plan/purpose/calling for me right now, when I'm clearly too fat, tired, unhealthy, and lazy to fulfill it?

- Given the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells within all believers (that includes me), how can I accept giving Him a sub-par, unhealthy dwelling place? Someone once gave me this evaluation for deciding which shows and movies to watch: if Jesus were sitting right beside you, would you be willing to watch it? The same could be asked about what I put in my body.

- When I eat particularly terribly, I have noticed that I tend to be extra irritable and impatient with my children and husband. (And, my acne breaks out like crazy.) I shouldn't be surprised; it's basic math...junk in = junk out.

Quote of the day: Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy... And if we continue to make God's temple our trash can, we are helping the devil accomplish his mission - one meal at a time. ~Sheri Rose Shepherd

Friday, December 4, 2009

Top Ten Signs that You WAY Overindulged at the Olive Garden

10. You needed to undo the button on your pants between the appetizer/salad/breadsticks and the entree.

9. You requested the remainder of your meal to packed up, only to forget it on the table.

8. As you drive away you realize that, in your food-drunk state, you overtipped the waitress a LOT.

7. You and your spouse debate whether you should still go to a movie or simply crawl into bed and explode.

6. When you sit down in the movie theatre you again undo the button on your pants.

5. The smell of popcorn makes you nauseous.

4. You aren't able to hold your bladder through the entire movie because your stomach is putting too much pressure on it.

3. At the end of the movie you are absolutely certain that the best thing to do is crawl into bed and explode.

2. You have odd, unusual, and freakish dreams that keep you in a restless state of half-sleep all night long.

1. You awake at 3am - a full 8 hours after completing your meal - with such heartburn and nausea that you take 4 Zantac, sleep sitting up, consider calling an ambulance because you are certain you're dying, and eventually swear off Olive Garden for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Computer Issues - Warning

Just wanted to warn my friends to avoid all the hype about Google Chrome.

I downloaded it, tried it, didn't like it as much as Internet Explorer (completely different menus and such - very annoying), uninstalled it.

From the moment I unistalled GC, hyperlinks stopped working in my email, in Word docs, etc. I was getting an error message that "this operation was cancelled due to the settings on my computer."

After much searching, someone suggested that this problem is linked to GC's uninstallation - that when you uninstall it, it also deletes essential registry stuff for hyperlinks to work. So I reinstalled. Now hyperlinks work.

Nothing is really more annoying than knowing I must keep a program I don't like and won't use, letting it take up valuable memory space, simply because getting rid of it messes with my system.

Just thought you'd like to know, so if you do try out GC you are making an informed decision.