Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All Dressed Up

Only a month later, I figured it was time to post a few pictures of the kids in costume for Halloween.
Who wouldn't give these kids candy?!

Shea, aka Sharpay (High School Musical)

Meg, aka Rock Star Girl

Abbey, aka Angel

Kai, aka Bumblebee (Transformers)

Braeden - "I'm too old to trick or treat!" and "Don't take my picture!" (Thankfully, he did let us get him in his Air Cadet uniform.)

Monday, November 29, 2010


One of the biggest criticisms that other folks have of church folks is that we are hypocrites. I have two things to say in response to that assertion:

1. They're right.

Unfortunately, there are many Christians who don't act very...Christian. Have you ever accidentally upset another driver, had them wave their hands (or flip the bird) angrily at you and whiz past, only to see a Jesus fish on their rear bumper? Or maybe that fish-toting vehicle is yours (or mine, *cough*)? This is just one small example, but I'm sure we can all name hundreds more.

Sadly, when some Christians demonstrate actions that oppose what they claim to believe, they give the whole lot of us a bad name. Worse, they give God a bad name. Worst, I'm pretty sure I'm one of those someones all too often.

As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to do our best to live like Him in all aspects of our lives. If we preach the gospel of love and forgiveness, we should actually love and forgive others. Our walk should match our talk.

2. They're wrong.

Often, people who aren't familiar with faith in Christ get the (incorrect) impression that all Christians think they (we) are perfect. Thus, when we fail to behave as perfect people, we prove their case. We're no better than them, our faith is no better than theirs, but because we think we are and it is - we are hypocrites. But this reasoning is false.

I don't know about you, but I don't claim to be perfect. I don't require the people around me to be perfect either. What I do claim is that Jesus Christ is perfect, and with my whole heart I want to be as like Him as I possibly can. Messing up doesn't necessarily mean I'm a hypocrite; it just means I'm human.

I love how James M. Reeves, author of Refuge: how "hospital church" ministry can change your church forever and founder/pastor of Celebration Fellowship puts it, "The church has to be a safe place for people to tell their secrets and have a safe process for people to experience spiritual and emotional healing." Reeves asserts that, rather than holding to the popular view of church as a place for "good, Christian people," we need to begin to view church as a hospital, where people of varying levels of illness and disease come to receive care.


So what are we to do? How can we, as followers of Christ, show the wold that the church isn't full of judgemental hypocrites?

I think we can:

1. Be real. We don't need pretend to be perfect, flawless, or sinless to the church crowd. We don't need to pretend to be important and successful to the world crowd. We need to be who we are - the same person - with everyone we encounter, both in front of others and behind closed doors.

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than to pretend to be somebody and have no food. ~ Proverbs 12:9

2. Be holy. Jesus is perfect. He is holy and righteous, and His ways are true and right. We are not and cannot be as perfect as Jesus, but we can try to be like Him in as many ways as possible (and not just at church!).

Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week. ~ Alive Walker

3. Be honest. When we mess up and don't act like Jesus at all, the most Christ-like thing we can do is to confess and seek forgiveness.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ~ James5:16a

4. Be love. We need to love people. Loving others means being kind to them, welcoming them, accepting them without trying to change them. Our job is not to point out for others their sinful ways. Our job is to point them to Christ. He'll take care of their hearts.

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." ~ Tolstoy

Basically, we need to be people of integrity. What we do should live up to what we say. And if when it doesn't, we need to be truthful about how who we are doesn't always match up with Who we want to be like.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Just a Yeller...

An anonymous friend posed a really great question last week that I've decided to tackle this morning. I don't really want to talk about anger today because, well, I've been feeling pretty pi#%ed off with my kids all week. Which means, as much as I don't feel like talking about it, I probably should.

Our friend asked, When and how did you discover that you were angry, and not just doing what Moms have to do - yell at our kids to get them to do anything?

Can I be to-the-gut point-blank honest here? For me as much as for you? Thanks...

The fact of the matter is, we moms do NOT have to yell at our kids to get them to listen to us. While certain circumstances will require a raised voice (safety concerns, a massive brawl of 14 children that needs to be stopped, a generally loud situation), if it seems as though every circumstance is one of those, we need to take that as our first clue that something is amiss. A raised voice should be the exception, not the rule.  If we are yelling regularly, we have a problem.

If you were a fly on my wall, you would likely listen in on the odd conversation between Pat and I where one of us is asking, "Why do we have to yell at the kids to get them to listen and obey?" It's one that we revisit more regularly than I'd like. Really, though, we both know the answer... If we need to yell at our kids to make them listen and obey, it is because we have taught them that they don't have to listen or obey until/unless we are yelling.

I assure you, I am the last person who will ever pass judgement on another mother! I know how hopeless it feels, how impossible it looks. I am the queen of yelling and swearing, and I often catch myself thinking, "I am never going to be able to NOT yell!" So as you read my gut-honest words, do not feel condemned. Everyone has their issues...anger happens to be ours.

If you think you may have anger issues but are not totally sure, here are seven questions you can ask yourself:
1. Have I ever told myself or someone else, "I'm a yeller. That's just who I am."?
2. Have I ever had the urge to hurl an object across the room in frustration?
3. Whether or not I speak them, do I think curse words in my head when I'm frustrated?
4. If my child(ren) does thinks like slamming doors and shouting, "I hate you!" am I tempted to respond with those same words and reactions?
5. Do I frequently find myself feeling annoyed with my children's constant interruptions and requests?
6. Do I sometimes react in ways that are disproportionate to the situation? (For example, feeling truly angry about a spilled cup of juice.)
7. Am I a different mother behind closed doors than I am out in public?

There's no magic formula, no points system, but if you found yourself answering "yes" to a few of those questions, it's probably time to get alone with God and ask Him if you have a problem with mommy anger.

And you know that hopeless, impossible thing? For the record, that's a lie. It's a big, fat, ugly lie that Satan wants us to believe so that we don't even try to overcome this struggle. Victory is possible. I believe it with everything in me. If I didn't, I wouldn't be out here on the World Wide Web (and hopefully, eventually in book format) publishing all my shortcomings for the world to see. The only way it's hopeless and impossible is if we try to do it on our own.

For nothing is impossible with God.
~Luke 1:37 (NLT)

Because I hate to leave you hanging here with a bunch of unanswered questions, here are some posts that I hope will help...

Seven Steps to Stop Anger in its Tracks - help for the heat of the moment

How to Help an Angry Mom, parts three and four - help for the parent who doesn't know what to do instead of yelling

What to do When You Mess Up - help for those times when we "fall off the wagon"

Why I'm Writing About my Anger - to answer your other question, Why do you want to write a book? (specifically this book)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving starts right here

What comes to your mind when you hear the word "giving?" Do you tend to think of feeding the homeless, sponsoring a child, and the like? While I believe this type of generosity is absolutely vital, I believe there is another form of giving that many of us neglect.

Giving to the local church. I'm not referring to tithing here (though we should all do that), but to the offering up of our time and talents. Do you serve within your church? In a capacity that makes use of your spiritual gifts?

We worshippers tend toward one of these two mindsets: "I have done my time, it's someone else's turn," or
"If I don't do it, nobody will." I propose to you that both of these thought patterns are flawed.

Everyone should serve in a volunteer capacity.

Yes, everyone. Those who are paid staff of the church should find a way to serve elsewhere that is unpaid. Full time mothers with fifteen small children need to find a place to volunteer. Hard working men ought to seek out a ministry to get involved with. Every single person in the church body has a vital role to fill, and without me, without you, the church is merely functioning - not thriving.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many...

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. As it is, there are many parts, but one body...

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

~1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-20, 24b-27

Each person should use their God-given gifts in service.

When I had small children, I volunteered in the nursery. Because I "should." Those nursery Sundays were the most mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining 90 minutes of my life. I would get up in the morning dreading it, and would leave exhausted and short-tempered with my family. Until I discovered my spiritual gifts, one of which is administration.

Have you ever thought about how much work goes into the oversight of the church nursery? Creating spreadsheets and name tags, writing newsletters, keeping track of sign-ins and clearances. (If you're from a smaller church, perhaps this list of "need tos" has you shaking your head. All I can tell you is that large church culture is different and requires more extensive security precautions.) Needless to say, I discovered that there were ways to give my time to the nursery ministry that used my spiritual gifts.

God doesn't call us all to fill the vacancies in church ministry (although, I won't dare say never...sometimes He will ask us to do something completely stretching), He calls each of us to serve Him in a specific way. In a way that He has equipped us to serve, to give.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
~Romans 12:4-8 (NLT)

Just give!

Giving love, money, and time to the needs at home and abroad is necessary. As is giving time, talent, and effort in our local church. Doing one without the other is like...well, I don't know, exactly...incomplete. Like baking bread without yeast.

Scratch that ending - you tell me! I need a good metaphor, simile, or analogy. Go ahead and fill in the blank (in the comments). :)

holy experience

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to be Superwoman (or not), part two

I'm still answering a question posed to me last week. If you haven't yet, go ahead and read part one. Then when you hop back here it won't seem as though I'm starting in the middle of a thought.

Step Three: Make time.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1

We've all heard it said that people make time for what's important to them. It's true. Writing is important to me, so I tackle it early in the morning before doing much of anything else (besides getting the kids off to school). I won't even start a load of laundry before writing on my blog, because I know that I am far too easily distracted.

I used to give myself "Facebook time" while I ate my lunch, until I realized that I was allowing myself to waste an hour (or more) every day doing nothing! Instead, I now watch BLAST* teaching videos while I eat my lunch. (Just a note, on weekdays I don't eat lunch with the kids. I feed them, and once they're done and into quiet time/nap I sit down for mine.)

Not only do we need to make time for the important stuff and get rid of the time killers, we really need to allow ourselves to become okay with leaving some things undone (whether for today or forever). There are times when my house looks like a sty and I make the kids pull out the "cleanest" jeans from the dirty laundry pile. There are times when my desk looks like a hurricane victim and I will actually choose to throw away some things that could/should be done. I have only been parent helper at school once so far this year, and probably only two or three times last year (whereas some moms - the really good ones who I want to be like when I grow up - are there twice a month). And I have not placed a photo in an album since Megan's birth more than seven years ago. So yeah, I don't do it all! Not at all.

Step Four: Find your own super power.

Each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. ~1 Corinthians 7:7b
Do not neglect your gift... ~1 Timothy 4:14a

I just need to say one more thing about how I get done all that I need to... It's all about personality and giftings! I like to be busy, I thrive on a full schedule, and I function best with my hands full. It's a fine balance between really busy and too busy, but I'd like to think I'm self-aware enough that I usually pick up on the signals that I'm doing too much fairly quickly.

The fact is, I'm a deadline girl and I always have been. Homework assignments, exams, pumping gas, waitressing - all were done best when I was under pressure. Recently, as my schedule began to fill up with Heart to Heart stuff and Logos society things, Pat told me he was excited - excited for me to finally be busy because he knew he'd be fed yummier meals in a tidier house, all while I was actually (finally) getting to work on my book.

Maybe it's not even that I thrive on being busy so much as I am too lazy to be allowed to be idle.

If you're not built like me, then you'll never be the kind of non-Superwoman I am. Each of us needs to find our own super powers. If you do best with the slow and steady method, that is your super power. Work with it. Embrace it. And for goodness sake, tell me how you always seem to be so calm, cool, and collected!

Lynne, Bobbie, does this answer your question? I know I didn't include a daily schedule for you Bobbie, but I'm hoping this gives a pretty clear picture. Does it? Thanks for asking! (I can feel my brain beginning to click again.)

* If you are pursuing a ministry in speaking and writing, and BLAST catches your interest - definitely DO IT! The learning has been invaluable. And if you register, make sure you let Shannon (Ethridge) know I sent you, and she'll give me a bit of a discount on my tuition. ;)

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to be Superwoman (or not), part one

In my Just Ask post last week, Lynne posed the question:
How do you get everything done for your family, not neglect your relationship with God, and find time to write too?

Bobbie's question was similar:
I have a general question but want specific answers.... How do you do it all? I mean, really, HOW do you do it all? What practical things do you do every day to fit in all that you've got going on? What does a few of your daily schedules look like? Do you use the crock pot to cook dinner a lot? Are you super organized? I need tips to be more productive in my own life!

So I figured it would be helpful share my four-step tutorial on How to be Superwoman (or not). Because I prefer to use more words than necessary, I'll split this into two posts. You'll thank me later.

Step One: Never neglect time with God.

I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word. ~Psalm 119:16
Okay, that's not to say that I never neglect time with God. But I shouldn't. And neither should you. Know what I mean?

In my world, experiencing quiet time cannot occur if children are awake. And given my bent toward complete and utter couch vegetation after they're tucked in for the evening, the twilight hours are ruled out. By process of elimination, I've found that my relationship with God is best fostered in the wee hours of the morning.

A number of years ago I started rising an hour before the kids so that I would have enough time for coffee, prayer, listening, Bible study, Bible reading, Scripture memory, and worship. No, I don't do all of those things every morning! But I do probably tackle each of them once or twice over a two-week period.

I also don't view my quiet time as my only time of day to be in relationship with the Lord. He and I converse throughout the day. If I'm unsure about making a certain purchase while out grocery shopping, I ask God. If I am running late for an appointment but make it on time anyway thanks to low traffic and lots of green lights, I thank Him. If I have six million things on my "to do" list that day, I ask God where to start, and what to do next all day. Whatever doesn't get done, I trust is something that He didn't need me to take care of that day.

If you ever hear me being frazzled, flustered, or stressed, you can pretty much be assured that I've forgotten step one. The tough thing for me is that all of my secrets are revealed in my writing. Although, the knowledge that you will be able to tell when I'm not in close fellowship with my Abba is a pretty good accountability tool!

Step Two: Schedule, schedule, schedule.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. ~Proverbs 31:27
I like to feel organized. I didn't say that I am organized, but I like to feel as though I am. One thing that helps me is to schedule everything that I can.

Social life - While building friendships is very important to me (and also one thing God has called me to do), I tend to be very particular about how I make and take time to do so. If we're going to have coffee and a visit together, we will often email back and forth a few times to schedule a date and time - frequently up to two weeks away. But when I make these dates, I commit to myself to keep them (I really, really try not to cancel). Things like girls' night out, home parties, and so on only happen for me a couple times a year. It's worth saying that I have great friends who understand my priorities and my calling. I pray that they can say the same of me.

Marriage - I book a date night roughly every second weekend (on paydays). This has been an integral part of our marriage for several years. I also try to schedule my "work" during the day, so that my evenings are free to hang out with my man. I like to sit on the couch reading a good book next to him as he watches the hockey game. (Really, there is only so much hockey a girl can take! Even a Canadian one.)

Household duties - I used to try to get all my housework done on one day of the week. A grueling five-hour day of utter exhaustion. This house is too big for that, and the laundry far too demanding! We've recently begun doing the house cleaning as a family on the weekends, and I am really enjoying it! We tend to be homebodies on the weekends anyway, so it's not cutting into anything, and everyone seems to enjoy working together. I haven't fine-tuned the laundry thing yet, but so far it seems to be working well to simply toss in a load whenever I pass by the machines. The kids all put away their own laundry (well, put away is used very loosely).

When it comes to meals, I do best with a meal plan. Having a monthly meal plan helps me know what are the essential purchases, what meat to pull out of the freezer in the morning (or the night before), and how much prep time I'll need. Planning meals means I can decide which days require crock pot cooking in advance (activity nights) and which days I can do something bigger. I must confess that I have been lacking a meal plan for months now. The unfortunate solution has been too much eating out and too many dinners of kid fare (mini pizzas, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc.).

Family time - Busy or not, it's hard to get quality time together with a family of seven. So we try to get our time where we can... Family movie night, swimming, skating, walking the dog, going to the playground (neither of those last two really happens for 8 months of the year).

Pat and I also try to take individual dates with each child once or twice over the course of the school year. What works for me is to "blitz" them - I email Pat with four occasions (we don't really need to take Kai out yet) that all occur within two weeks. I try to combine our date nights with things that need to get done anyway. For example, I'll take someone for dinner and then we'll grocery shop together.

Pop back here tomorrow, and I'll conclude my answer to Lynne and Bobbie's question with steps three and four on How to be Superwoman (or not).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Feast, 11-19-10

I can't believe that it's already been four weeks! Four weeks of encouraging each other to "taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8) I don't think I want it to end. The accountability has been good for me. I fear that my eating disorder may not yet be cured... (Maybe, if there are a few of us who want to keep going, we should continue. Let me know what you think.)

This week was a good one for me. The sermon on Sunday was inspiring, and my resolve to seek out God daily was renewed. I was in the Word every day this week (not yet this morning, but I'm on my way).

But I seem to be in an unusual season, in that I don't really feel as though I'm hearing much from Him. I know He's here, I know He loves me, I sense His presence and His desire for me to seek Him. Yet He is strangely silent. My times of listening prayer are fuzzy (like static on a radio), and I'm lacking new revelation when I read my Bible.

Maybe that's why I don't want to stop our weekly get-together. I know that my tendency is to let myself drift away when God is quiet, especially if I am only accountable to myself. I am also aware that these times are the ones when it is most important to remain.

How did you do this week? Did you dine on the Bread of Life? Did God speak to you or give you a new revelation from His Word?

Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.
~ Luke 14:15b

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Ask

Want to know the #1 lesson I've learned about being a writer?

Writers write.

Complex, I know. :) But this simple message pushed me to move from being a once-in-a-while blogger to a 4-ish times per week blogger. While I might not have time to work on my book every day (and frankly, there comes a point when seeking publication that it's better not to write much more; publishers like to see enough to know that you can do it, with enough work remaining to be assured that they will have some say in how the book develops), taking time to jot down 500-1000 words a few times each week is good exercise.

Have you ever worked out at the gym diligently for a couple months and then taken a week-long hiatus? Returning can be a bit painful and difficult, and you essentially have to re-train your body in doing all the exercises. Taking a break from blogging is kinda like that.

Last week, with the kids all home on break, I slacked off here. This week, I am retraining my mind. Want to help me get back in shape?

Here's what you can do (please, please do it!)... In the comments of this post, ask me questions. Lots of questions. Any question you ever wanted to ask. You can ask about my personal life, about anger, about ministry, about raising kids, marriage, or any other topic that strikes your fancy. I'm going to take your questions to build up my muscles - some answers may be entire blog posts, some may get answered in a Q & A style post.

Okay, so who's gonna help motivate me to get back in shape? Fire away!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Change the World

The needs of this world are great. Sometimes, the idea that my little bit of help can't possibly make a difference discourages. We can't all go on missions trips, and even those of us who can may wonder if what we've done can truly change lives in the long run. We can't all volunteer at our local shelter, and for those who can, they must sometimes wonder what it will take to stop seeing the same faces in the lunch line, day after day, week after week, year after year.

But our God did not call us to fix all the world's ails, He simply calls each one of us to obedience. Imagine every single person listening and doing the one thing He asks of them. What might the impact be?

It was a bitingly cold February morning, and the four of us walked the downtown sidewalks between our warm, comfortable hotel and the luxuriously equipped conference centre.

At the halfway point, about two-and-a-half frigid blocks into our trek, we ducked into the coffee shop to soak up some warmth and drink down some fortitude. Armed with steaming paper cups, we ventured out for the final couple blocks. I opened my lid and sipped burning liquid into icy cold lips while we tromped the snowy concrete.

There he was, up ahead, hunched forward against the piercing wind, clothed in heavy coveralls designed for snowmobiling. All his life's possessions carried over his shoulder in a black plastic trash bag.

He must be so cold. I really should give him my nice, warm coffee. But I already drank from the cup. Too bad. Lord, bless this poor man who is without his own four walls of shelter, without a bed, without hope.
The morning worship was moving, the speaker inspirational. I think. I can't be sure because the whole time my heart was distracted. I heard His voice whispering to me, "You could have been his hope, his blessing. Oh how I wish you had listened to Me. Don't worry, someone else will hear my prompting and obey, and he will experience the soul-deep joy that only comes from obedience. He will know that he is making a difference."

Over lunch (convenience food served in under five minutes, purchased with pocket change, consumed in the heated food court of a shopping centre rife with opportunities to spend more) I shared how I felt compelled to give away a cup of love and how I ignored the voice of God. My story was met with the echo of three voices sadly confessing, "Me too."

No, our obedience would not have given world peace or brought an end to world hunger. Armies from many nations try to bring peace and fail. Organizations pour out missionaries to feed the hungry from here to the ends of the earth, yet people starve. All that our meagre gift could offer was hope for a cold and lonely man who had none. Perhaps changing the world is about giving what you have, when you have it, when God tells you to do it. The cure to all that ails this earth might be as simple as a little cup of hope.

A few days later, when I heard His voice again, I listened.

What do you do to change the world?

Today, at A Holy Experience, we're having a conversation about giving, how we give, and how to give thanks.

holy experience

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good Fruit: Patience

"Hurry up!"

"Come on!"

"Let's go!"

Phrases I exclaim to my children daily. More than daily.

I often think of patience as having less of that. Less rush. Less hurry. Less "go, go go." When I pray for patience it is usually because I have been dealing with discipline issues impatiently. I want to feel more patient, be more patient. Somewhere along the way, we have come to understand patience to mean serenity and calmness.

What if we've got it all wrong, though? What if the word we use to define patience isn't really what God meant in Galatians? Perhaps that type of patience (calmness) is really more of a self-control issue, and God had something else in mind when He used Paul to exhort us to have love, joy, peace, patience...

I looked up patience as it is in the context of the letter to the Galatians, and it is defined as: endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, and slowness in avenging wrongs. Am I the only one a little bit surprised to find that patience actually means staying power, persistence, and lack of vengefulness?

Can you think of a time when you exhibited this type of patience? Go ahead and share it in the comments.

Frankly, I'm a little relieved. No more striving to feel calm about everything! Well, until I get to tackling that self-control thing...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday Feast (on Monday), 11-12-10

Oops! In the chaos of having everyone off school for a week, I completely missed our date on Friday! Please accept my apologies. :)

So how 'bout we pretend it's Friday, and talk about how we've been filling up on the Word of God in the last week. (November 6-12)

My week was...um, passable. Again, I think I was 6 for 7 (Seriously, what is it about that one day per week I think it's better to sleep?!) but if I'm honest, only 2 of those were of any quality. Four times I opened my Bible to read a chapter of Exodus with kids already awake, and if you asked what I read I probably couldn't tell you. I did it because I knew I had to report in here. But then I couldn't honestly just give you numbers and pretend I had such a good week...

School days, with the routine and the schedule, are so much easier! I need to figure out how to stick to my commitment to spend time with the Lord and reading His Word on weekends and holidays. Because frankly, those are the days I most need His strength! Any tips?

How did you do this week? Is there any passage that spoke to you? How about you share it (I'm sure there is someone here who will be encouraged by it).

This week, I am excited for a fresh start! Our Pastor delivered a stirring sermon about prayer and fasting, and I am all fired up for some deep times of fellowship with the Lord!

In case you're wondering, Friday Feast is our own little group of accountability, encouraging one another to feast on the Word of God daily. There are no rules. Join in any time (or re-join). We're here for each other!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Morning of Character-Building

I sometimes wonder why God saw fit to bless me with five children. Children who I feel utterly unequipped to raise, teach, train, and even love.

It's silly, but at moments like this, I wonder what Beth Moore would have done. Were her girls kind and gentle, always obedient and loving to one another? Maybe. I'm sure there are a few kids out there like that. But if they weren't, if they had sibling rivalry moments - where one child destroys another's artwork, and child two retaliates by kicking in the gut, and when reprimanded the first child is unrepentant and disrespectful to the mother (hypothetically, of course) - how did Beth deal with it?

My discipline strategy this morning was to send child one to the bedroom for half an hour of reflection, to be followed by a letter of apology. Once disrespected, the consequence was doubled to an hour in the room. Child two was sent for a time out and will also be writing a letter of apology.*

Here's the thing... I didn't lose it. No foul words escaped my lips, nothing I will later regret was spoken. While my voice was raised to be heard over the yelling of the disrespectful child, I would not consider what I did to be yelling. Essentially, dealing with this blowout was a victory for me. Yet, I feel far from victorious. Rather, I feel weary. Confused. At a loss.

There are mothers out there who are so good at this. They see it as a challenge and an adventure. Wouldn't one of those mothers be better? Better at this job? Better for these kids?

I know that these feelings and questions are unwarranted. I'm pretty sure that, no matter how Godly she is, Beth Moore probably felt some of these same things. In fact, if I weren't so darn sure that about 99% of mothers struggle to some degree, I wouldn't even dare to write about my own struggles. When I wonder if God made a mistake by entrusting me with the physical, spiritual, and emotional upbringing of five people, I know that I am believing lies whispered by the enemy.

As I push back against the liar, I make room for truth.

I cannot do this job in my own strength. That's why I so desperately need Jesus. With Him, in His strength, I can be a good mother for these children.

God doesn't make mistakes. Each one of those children was soul-matched with me, by the Creator of the Universe, for His good purposes.

Walking where God has called us isn't usually easy to do. Typically, it involves hard work and a high level of dependence on Him to help us.

Sometimes, parenting is less about raising our kids than it is about building our character.

I'm not sure why I wrote this today. I often need to write out life's experiences in order to process them and let them settle in my soul. But I'm also pretty sure I wrote it for you - one of you, two of you, more? Please don't worry about filling the comments with words of encouragement for me (I'm okay :)). But if you needed to hear about my morning, and if the truths God reminded me of are truths you needed to hear, please let me know (either in the comments or by email). Because I want to spend my day praying for you. And hey, feel free to do the same for me! A week off school is enough to undo even the most energetic of mothers.

* In the process of writing this post (which, incidentally, took nearly two hours!) I also asked each child to find a Bible verse that applied to the situation. That verse was not only to be written in the card, but also on an index card for memory work. Child 1 needed a bit of guidance (I pointed to a page and said, "Try reading in here.").

Child #1's verse: Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people's wrongs.  ~1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Child #2's verse: Jonathan and David became close friends. Jonathan loved David just as he love himself. ~1 Samuel 18:1

P.S. Now that it's all said and done, I am actually feeling a little victorious.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Do You Know Him?

In doing some prep work and research for a message I'll be sharing early next month, I re-discovered this powerful message.

Of all the descriptors Dr. S.M. Lockridge uses for Our King, which one speaks to you the most and why?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Think reading the Bible is a waste of time?

When you carry the Bible, the devil has a headache.

When you open it, he collapses.

When he sees you reading it, he faints.

So let's read the Bible - every day - so that he keeps on fainting.

(Maybe one day he'll have a stroke and never wake up.)

* As sent to my by my girl Bobbie. Author unknown.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Feast, 11-05-10

For previous FF posts, click here.

Did you stick with me this week? With your commitment to spend time in God's Word daily?

I was 6 for 7 this week. I missed Saturday morning (because I forgot to bring my Bible along when I went to pic up my hubby).

One day I had a particularly special time with the Lord that I wanted to share. I felt Him nudging me to spend my time reading the (few) memory verses I have from this year. As I was reading through them, then reciting them, the Lord prompted me to pray His Words to Him. So I spent a few minutes on each one of my verses, personalizing and praying the Scripture, and I had one of those moments where the Lord felt so near. It was like He was across from me on the other couch, hand reached out to hold mine as we fellowshipped over His Word.

What about you? Did you have any special moments with the Lord? Or perhaps in your reading this week there was a verse that spoke to you in a new way?

I also had a question last week that I thought I'd answer here...

Q - I tend to be a "night person" and am pretty good about reading my Bible in the evenings. But mornings are a struggle for me. Do we have to have our "feast" time in the mornings?

A - Nope. Like I said at the beginning, this is a rule-less challenge. Read as much or as little as you feel God leading you to read. Do it when you feel Him calling you to do it. I mention the mornings a lot in my posts, because that is the time of day that God has called me to spend with Him.

Let's keep at it, friends! God's Word never returns void. It will always be worth our time investment. Sit down at the banquet table and dine on the rich fare. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Today is the Remembrance Day ceremony at Braeden's school (because next week is fall break). He received special permission from his CO (Commanding Officer) to wear his Air Cadets uniform to school for the ceremony. (One day I'll have to tell you how the whole Air Cadets idea came about and God's hand in it all. You'll probably have to remind me.)

Here is my young man in his dress uniform.




My mother's heart can barely handle all the pride and joy I feel when I admire my oldest child in his uniform. He's growing up. And he looks darn handsome doing it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why ask for Prayer?

One of the things I teach (that God spent years teaching me) in my speaking sessions on the topic of Mommy, why are you Angry? is that Secrets are the Enemy. What I mean by this is that we must stop keeping our struggles hidden, confess our sins to a trusted person (preferably two or three people), and seek out both prayer support and accountability.

Why isn't it okay to keep our private struggles, well, private?

I like to look at hidden sin like food. Let's say a piece of fruit, just for kicks. If you have an apple or an orange hidden away in the dark, what happens? Mmmm-hmmmm. The smell. That fruit rots and grows mould and it stinks! The smell of that hidden piece of fruit will eventually give itself away.

The enemy wants us to believe that we will be judged by others if we dared to speak out about our temptations. And he has been busy for years making us a prideful people, so that the last thing we believe we can handle is being publicly humbled. Pride and fear hold us hostage to our secrets, and they remain in the dark. That is, until they give themselves away.

Isn't it better to be open and honest with one another about how we fall short, rather than to pretend we have it all together only to be exposed eventually anyway? And who are we hiding from? Others? Ourselves? God?

He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.
~1 Corinthians 4:5

He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.
~ Daniel 2:22

What good can possibly come from us confessing to one another?

Jesus tells us in John 8:32 that the truth will set us free. In this situation, He is referring to knowledge of the truth (that He is the promised Messiah), but confession of the truth also brings freedom.

Alcoholics Anonymous has understood this truth since its inception. The first of their twelve steps is for the alcoholic to acknowledge that he or she is powerless over alcohol. Step five is admitting to themselves, God, and another human being the exact nature of their wrongs. Step one takes the alcoholic from a mental state of powerlessness toward a mental state of freedom. Taking the fifth step is the alcoholic's way of moving beyond the mental to the practical aspects of becoming free.

The old saying is true, "Confession is good for the soul."

Do I really need prayer and accountability?

James, a man who packs a lifetime of wisdom into five short chapters, pretty much wraps up his teaching with this, "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (~James 5:16)

One of the wisest men to walk the earth, Solomon, is famously quoted for his advice, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (~Ecclesiastes 4:12)

The church in Thessalonica was exhorted by Paul, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up." (~1 Thessalonians 5:11)

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the point. We NEED one another.

Do you yell at your kids habitually? Are you powerless against the lure of pornography? Is it impossible for you to resist sharing that one juicy morsel of gossip? If you are struggling with a habitual sin your life, and you feel trapped and powerless to change, let me leave you with this:

It is not your sin that has you imprisoned, but the lies of the enemy - lies that trick you into keeping that sin hidden.

Secrets are YOUR enemy and mine.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
~John 8:32

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Take Ten?

I am undergoing some open heart surgery this week, and my Abba holds the scalpel. I'm feeling a bit raw, exposed, emotional (I'm sure the PMS isn't helping with the emotions).

It isn't yet time to blog about it...perhaps there won't be a right time. But this song keeps reverberating in very soul, and I can share it with you.

I pray that you will take a few ten minutes, raise your arms, and let the lyrics be your heart's cry and prayer. Perhaps, in offering up your heart, you'll find that some surgery is needed for you, too.

What can I say?
What can I do?
But offer this heart, oh God,
Completely to You.

So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all.

I'll stand
My soul, Lord, to You surrendered.
All I am is Yours.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Respect equals Love

My man was only gone for twelve days, but in that time it seems I found my groove. Apparently I don't like people messing with my groove.

Here are a few notes for myself, based on lessons I'm relearning this weekend.

1. Do not interrupt, interfere, or interject in any way when your husband is disciplining the children. Even if he's not doing it your way. Even if you think he's overreacting.

Your children will benefit more from seeing their parents as a united front than they will from you championing their cause.

2. Do not interrupt, interfere, or interject in any way when your husband is doing household tasks. Even if he's not doing it your way. Even if you think his way won't work.

Your man will not want to do things around the house if he feels criticised.

3. If you mess up and do either #1 or #2 (or both, repeatedly), do be quick to apologize and ask forgiveness. It never hurts to show how sorry you are by offering up a token of love (bring him a snack, watch hockey with him without complaining, give him hugs and kisses).

It is so easy to forget that the best way I can communicate my love to my man is by respecting him. This means trusting him to do things his way and then thanking him for taking care of it. This means practicing the fine art of keeping my mouth closed. This means remembering that we are a team, and he is the team captain.

I am so very glad that he is home! It is a relief to know that there is a partner here to share the burden of parenting and household maintenance. But I fear I did a crummy job of showing that appreciation this weekend. Perhaps I can erase a few of my foolish comments with a yummy dinner tonight. Probably one that does not contain any form of rice or beans.

...and the wife must respect her husband.
~ Ephesians 5:33b

What about you? Is there something you have done lately that speaks disrespect to your man? What can you do to show him that he is respected and appreciated?