Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Moving Day

Today, I have some exciting news!

No, no, no. I am NOT pregnant. Very funny.

Maybe I prefaced that wrong... I have some news to share that is very exciting to me. I have no idea whether it will turn your crank.

After much labor (pun intended) on the part of a couple very special women, my real, live, grown-up web site is ready to go!

E. Tyler Rowan

You'll notice that my website is .ca - that's because I'm Canadian. :) But, you'll also find it if you use .com. Go ahead, try it! Cool, eh? (I know. My adolescent excitement is a bit much.)

I do hope my giddiness hasn't scared you away from coming along with me on this interwebby move!

Technical Details:

If you are a regular reader here, and you get blog posts by following, through RSS feed, or via email, I'd love it if you headed over there and subscribed to the new feed!

But, if you're like me (lazy), you don't have to. From now on, when you come here, you'll get sent there. And if you subscribe through my feedburner feed, I do believe you'll get forwarded. Dontcha just love it when you don't have to do any work?!

However... If you do not get a post delivered to you tomorrow through whatever feed means you use, please remember me and subscribe to the new site! (You never know when those technical glitches will affect things.)

Just to make sure they get their props:

Thank you so much to Holly of Crown Laid Down Designs. She is responsible for all that you see on the new site, with the exception of the words. Holly has spent many hours over the past two weeks dealing with my constant emails asking to switch this and tweak that. She is incredibly patient and detailed, and she was not satisfied until I was utterly in love with every detail! If we met in person, I just know we'd get along fantastically!

And a special thanks to my friend, Louise, of real life, Facebook, and Twitter, without whom I wouldn't have even begun to try. Louise patiently sat with me for hours (in a hotel room with sketchy wifi access), holding my hand through the process of starting up a wordpress page, cheering me on every time I wanted to cry and give up. Her confidence and creative genius convinced me that "I can do it!" I love you, Louise. Not just for all your help, but for who you are.

And to my old friend Blogger... I thank you for making it easy for me to get my thoughts out there onto the world wide web. And for being free. And for being easy to use. In spite of your limitations and technical difficulties, I will forever have fond memories of you.

So, what're you waiting for? Go check it out!

1. My blog was imported over there a while ago for testing purposes, so it's missing a few posts. It will be totally up-to-date by tomorrow morning when my new post is up.
2. Also, if you're like me and you hate the "click to continue reading" thingie, you'll notice a tab for Blog along the top of the page. To avoid the "click to..." and to not see my little "welcome window" (as I fondly refer to it) every time you visit, you can either subscribe (via RSS or email) or add the blog page to your favourites. Does that make sense?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pouring Out

We've all heard it said, "We can't pour out until we're filled up."

It's our way of saying that, unless we're close to God ourselves, we can't really bring His love into the lives of others.

Or perhaps it's our excuse to delay sharing His love with the world until we feel perfectly prepared and equipped.

Here is a statement that I believe to be more accurate...

Until we empty ourselves, pouring out in service of others, there's no room for God to pour into us.

Think of mixing a pitcher of juice. The pitcher starts out empty and is filled. But even before that initial filling up, the goal is to empty the pitcher. The juice is poured out, cup after cup, until the pitcher is empty. We don't try to keep the pitcher in a perpetually full state. And if we try to refill it when it's only partially empty, the result is often juice that is either too sweet or too weak. But if we fill up cups until the pitcher is empty, it is in the perfect state to be refilled with fresh, cold, perfectly-mixed fruity goodness.

Perhaps we just need to begin emptying ourselves and loving others, regardless of how "filled up" we feel. And through the act of pouring ourselves out, we will discover the true refreshment that comes when God fills us back up.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I recall a few times in my life when I was truly 'others focused.'

I thought about how I could bless someone else before I thought about what I wanted. If a friend was in need, I would sacrifice my own desires in order to be there for them. I was open and listening to the nudgings of the Holy Spirit, even though adjusting my own plans was an inconvenience.

I had a heart to serve others. But it appears I had an undiagnosed heart attack along the way.

These days, serving others seems to be the exception to the rule.

The rule: Convenience, comfort, my plans, my timeline... Self.

My schedule is pretty full, so instead of dropping the housework in order to join a friend at the playground we fumble around trying to schedule a coffee/play date in a gap in our calendars. I don't have any $1 or $2 coins handy - only the $50 bill I've set aside to put in a wedding card - so I tell the man humbly begging for money in the grocery store parking lot that I'm sorry. I've grown weary and discouraged of being the sole initiator in a couple relationships, so I just gave up and let go.

Sure, there have been moments mixed in there... Moments of generosity, of self-sacrifice, of offering up my time and resources to serve others. But having spent great lengths of time in a culture of 'giving life' to others, I'm no longer satisfied with moments.

The occasional generosity lesson won't teach me all that God wants me to learn; I need full immersion.

The longer we walk with God, the more willingly we serve and obey Him, the less satisfied we become with a life that is anything less than radical.

We grow restless when we feel 'settled,' because we've experienced the Holy Spirit inspired rush that comes with living a life of sacrifice. We are dissatisfied with mediocre, for our hearts have lived the passionate outpouring of full-out serving God and others.

So as I seek (once again) to live a life that leaves me unsettled but inspired, self-sacrificial but passionate, uncomfortable yet wildly blessed, this verse thrums in my spirit...

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
~ Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing...nothing...not even one thing. Value others above yourself. Do nothing - no, not a single thing - with selfish motivations. Nothing...

It's a challenge issued to us - believers. A challenge to "up our game." To serve wholeheartedly rather than half-heartedly. To be willing to give up some self for the love of others.

I've decided to accept the challenge. Will you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dinner Table Chatter

At the supper table last night, Pat was asking each of the kids about their day. He came up with the idea of asking them if they had done something loving for someone else.

A couple of the kids named things like playing with the new student in class and sharing a toy. A couple of them couldn't think of anything.

Tables turned, and the kids asked us if we had done anything loving during the day. Pat replied that he hadn't, but he would work on it.

I was about to voice the same sentiment. I worked, I came home, but I wasn't especially kind or thoughtful to anyone.

But before I finished speaking, Shea piped up, "You got me a drink!"

Megan shouted (if you know Meg, you know that nothing she says is particularly subdued), "You made supper!"

Abbey, Braeden, and Kai all named things, too. They spoke at the same time, so all I heard was, "You clean/laundry/help/dishes/cook/bathrooms [garbledegook]!"

They were mostly naming my jobs around the house, so I felt compelled to correct them. I think it was the guilt - because I do all those things, but not necessarily with love in my heart.

But when Shea proclaimed, "Wow, Mom! You sure do a lot of stuff!" everyone's laughter would have drowned out my objections.

Don't you just love those family moments filled with laughter?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Everyday Offering

Take your everyday, ordinary life -
your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life -
and place it before God as an offering.
~ Romans 12:1 (Msg)

I often feel like I need to offer God something big. That if I don't make a massive sacrifice, I'm not really loving and serving Him.

But I'm beginning to think that this way of thinking is actually more selfish than self-sacrificial.

The grand gesture is...well...grand. It's an event. It's notable. It often brings us glory. Oh, look how willing they are to serve God! It's, dare I say, easier.

Easier than...

...choosing not to call the driver who keeps braking for green lights an idiot.

...turning away from the dishes to make eye contact with a child telling you an nonsensical story.

...taking time to talk to God before sitting down with email, Facebook, TV, etc. - daily.

...thanking your husband for all that he does and choosing to hold your tongue on those things you wish he'd do differently.

...heading to work with joy in your heart and on your face, even if (or especially if) your job stinks.

It's easier to go on a big diet for a month than to change your eating habits every day for the rest of your life.

But God isn't satisfied with our crash diet acts of service. He longs for our everyday, our ordinary. The daily laying down of our own wants, our bad habits, and our selfish attitudes - these are the offerings He desires.

This is the hard stuff, the true sacrifice... An everyday offering.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Musings of a Working Mom

Sitting in front of a computer for five hours each day brings with it an inexplicable sense of exhaustion.

Not only is it difficult to cook supper after working, it's next to impossible to decide what supper should be!

Children really do thrive when given responsibilities, and will usually rise to meet your expectations.

When your work is all at the computer, you lack any desire to sit in front of the computer at home.

Suddenly, your husband's need for a few minutes of "alone time" right after work makes a lot more sense.

Sometimes, a movie marathon weekend is the best idea for family fun.

Packing lunch the day before is vital if one wants to eat during her half hour lunch break.

If you can't do laundry daily (or even every few days), you better pray everyone has enough clothing to keep them going for a week.

When laundry is only done weekly, it is an all-day marathon.

When do working moms wash bedding?!

Date night at home becomes more appealing than date night out. (At home you can wear exercise pants and sprawl on the couch.)

You are awe-struck by the working moms who do it forty hours per week. Especially single moms. Wow. Heroes.


On a little side note... So far, I am really enjoying my job! There is a lot to learn, but I feel like I'm "getting it." I've always loved planning events, so the fact that we're all working towards one big event is highly motivating.

Through a series of God-ordained circumstances, I am actually working in a different position than originally planned; I am the Speaker/Artist Coordinator. My job is to help find speakers and musicians for the conference, then to keep in touch with them and their needs. How cool is that?!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Malakai's Birthday Blessing

A birthday blessing for you, my baby boy. The one we named with God's purpose and plan in mind. (Malakai means "messenger of God.")

Malakai, I pray that you will know and do all that the LORD requires of you.
And what does the LORD requires of you?
To act justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. 
~ Micah 6:8 (NIV)

* I have decided to find a verse of blessing to pray over each of my children this year. On their birthdays (or - ahem - this Christmas), I will give each child his/her verse in a frame to hang above his/her bed. Have you ever done something like this for your kids?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potty Training Boys 101

Okay, I've only potty trained two boys, so I may not be an expert in the matter. But I have potty trained five kids total, so I'd say I'm well-versed in the subject of potty training.

I want to give you one simple tip that will help your little man "get" potty training faster.

Let him pee standing up.

Some of you are thinking, "Duh. Of course." But I know that when I had my first boy, I was convinced that all children must first learn to pee while sitting. After all, their aim is a little precarious at the age of two. I'm making an assumption that I'm not the only Mom who believed in the 'sitting to pee while potty training rule.'

Anyway, change your rule. Let him pee standing up. And if at all possible, let him see other boys standing to pee (Daddy, big brother, etc.).

If he's not quite tall enough, buy a little step stool.

If his aim is terrible, drop a couple Cheerios in the bowl for him to aim at.

I assure you, this little tip will make potty training way more fun for him! And boys are all about the fun...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Counter-Culture Decisions

courtesty of squidoo.com

In the spring, Pat and I spent some time re-evaluating what our family does and why we do it. We had gotten so very busy - overwhelmingly busy - and needed to figure out how much extra-curricular involvement was really necessary.

When we first moved here, we enrolled the kids in sports. Gymnastics, soccer, skating, karate... We felt that having an activity to engage in would help the kids "feel at home" in our new community. Our hearts were in the right place.

The results, however, were not at all what I'd hoped for. Rather than finding that one thing, each of our kids wanted to try a smorgasbord of activities. When one activity's eight-week cycle ended, the next would begin. We were all over the place, practically every day of the week.

So we began to ask ourselves what really mattered to us...

Building a close connection with a small group from our church.

Investing in others in our church and community, through acts of service and good old friendship.

Learning to love the people in our family deeply.

Having time to read the Bible and pray together as a family.

Being a family who is active and healthy.

Having lives of peace.

Interestingly, none of our goals included driving around every night of the week, being frenzied and impatient because we always have somewhere to go, training up Olympian gymnasts and black belt karate experts.

We made a tough decision in May - we decided that we would take a break from extra-curricular activities, with a couple exceptions. (I insisted that Pat continue to play hockey, as most games are later and don't interfere with family time and I believe in the importance of him having an outlet and some "guy time." We also chose to keep Braeden (13) enrolled in Air Cadets. We've seen a marked change in his level of independence, confidence, and attitude, and as such saw value for our whole family if he continued.)

But the other stuff that had us going like crazy people all week - it's gone. For now.

Last night, we spent some dedicated time as a family reading God's Word and praying together. This is the second time we've done so since school started.

Before that, the kids were out riding bikes, getting exercise and having fun together. They've been able to do that almost every day.

Once everyone was tucked into bed for the night, I commented to Pat on how much time we have this fall. Then I smiled, because I felt peace in my heart.

Later, Pat and I talked about our plans for small group this year, and sent an email off to the other couples about our start date. Rather than dreading the weekly commitment, we're excited!

I won't say that we're done with activities forever. But I can't say that I'm eager to sign anyone up for anything anytime soon.

Going counter-culture isn't easy, but sometimes it's the only way to set things right again. Kinda reminds me of our TV and video game decision...

What side of the fence are you on? Pro activities? Anti-activities? Somewhere in the middle?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Protection? Or Presence?

Last week I mentioned a couple difficult situations that my children (and I) are walking through...

I've been thinking and praying about those things on behalf of my kids. A lot.

God's been answering me, speaking to my heart about life's struggles. What He's been saying surprised me. For example...

I asked Him for help for Malakai. I prayed that drop off time at daycare wouldn't be so difficult for him, that he would be less sad and afraid. I asked God to be with him, protect him, and comfort him. I asked God to turn Kai's experience around, so that he would be excited about the fun days he would have.

At first, I heard what I expected to hear from the Lord...

Tyler, I love your little boy even more than you do. I have his best interests at heart. I am always with him, protecting and comforting him. You can trust Me with him.

But then, God started saying (not out loud, but into my heart) things that took me by surprise.

Just as I use every situation - especially the difficult ones - to shape you to serve Me, I will use this trial in Malakai's life for My Kingdom purposes.

Do not think that your children will be exempt from hardship simply because you love and serve Me. If their faith and strength and character are "by default," they will be weak. But a faith in Me that comes from truly needing Me will be their own. Yes, daughter, even in their preschool years I am already shaping them for My service.

Imagine the great things that a child named "Messenger of God" can do for My Kingdom. Then multiply that by 1,000. Those are the kind of plans I have for Malakai...and for each of your children.

But just as you needed to walk through hardships, grow in faith, allow yourself to lean into My strength, and become mature in character in order to serve Me - so will they. If I protect them from these trials that come their way, they will miss out on something greater I have for them.

Trust Me.

As God and I had this conversation, and I wanted to argue with Him about what was best for my children, I was reminded of how Beth Moore prays for her daughters... She has often mentioned praying along the lines of, "Lord, please do not protect these children from that which will bring them into Your Presence." (Not a direct quote. But if someone has her exact words handy, please share!)

I've often thought how wildly brave that prayer is, and how cowardly my own prayers for my children seem in comparison. I ask for His protection for them, but fail to ask for them to experience the reality of His presence in their lives.

And that begs the question... What would I rather have for my children - His protection or His presence?

Have you ever prayed that wildly brave prayer for your children?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life Isn't Fair

Do you remember proclaiming this truth as a kid? Anything and everything that didn't go my way was met with a whining, "It's not fair!"

My kids say it all the time (annoying). The funny thing is, they usually complain about how unfair I'm being when, in truth, what's happening is completely fair. For example, no snack right before dinner. I repeat the same line five times over, as each kid requests a snack. At least a couple of them reply with, "But Mom, that's not fair!"

My response to their proclamation varies (depending on my mood, I think). Sometimes I just ignore it. Other times I chuckle and inform them that it is fair. And periodically I let them know that, "Life isn't always fair. Get used to it." Don't you hate that?! (I hated hearing it when I was young, but now that I know how true it is, it seems I can't help myself from saying it.)

The thing is, I can easily tell my kids that life just is not fair when it comes to rules and discipline and expectations around the house. But when the unfairness is brought on by someone or something other than me...

My little man's breaking heart when I drop him off at daycare in the morning - it's not fair.

My kind and sweet daughter being picked on by a couple less kind and sweet girls in her class - it's not fair.

My special needs son being refused funding that he is eligible for based on illogical reasoning - it's not fair.

Somehow, in these situations, my standard response seems cold and uncaring.

What I want to tell them is that they deserve better. I want them to know that I will fight for them. I want to promise them that everything will be okay.

But I can't.

Because life isn't fair. In this world, you will have trouble.

My inner Mama Bear can't come crashing into a situation and make it all better for my cubs. It's not possible for me to protect them from all of life's unkindness. So what's a Mama Bear to do, when her cubs are hurting?

Offer them the only thing she can...the only assurance she has... But take heart! [Jesus] has overcome the world!

As I deliver my "baby" to daycare, I can rest in the peace and assurance that my Jesus is there with my boy, and I can pray God's blessing and protection over him.

When my girl spills out tears and heartache, I can remind her of the Help that she has to lean on and the promises He gives: plans for her, a hope, a future, peace that passes understanding, comfort, and more.

When my young man is unable to experience an opportunity, I can assure him of the equality that will one day come, of the abilities his mind and body will one day have, of how precious he is - today - in the eyes of the One who created him.

Life isn't fair. Thankfully, this life isn't all that we're here for. I just pray that this truth will imbed itself in the hearts of my children...and their Mama.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Love My Kids, But Do I Like Them?

I recently listened to a commentary on Titus 2 that honed in on the phrase, "teach the younger women to love their husbands and children." I heard something new, something that I had never considered...

The word "love" in that passage is translated to the Greek word "philos." Philos refers to friendship.

As I listened, I wrote a note to myself, "Am I a friend to my kids? Do they feel as though I like them?"

My kids know I love them. I have no doubt of that. But do they feel liked by me? Do they feel as though I enjoy spending time with them? Do we have fun together? Do I tell them that I like them for who they are? Do I treat them with the same care and respect I do a friend, or even an acquaintance?

Sadly, I can't be sure.

But this is something I need to be sure about. So here are a few things I think I can do to let my kids know I really like them:

- Really listen and respond when they have something to tell me. Look at them and pay attention.

- Be willing to set aside my duties in order to do something fun.

- Say yes more often than no.

- Laugh more.

- Smile more.

- Tell them the things I like about them. Every day.

On the first day of school, the kids and I played a board game together when they got home. We had grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, and the dog hair never got swept up, but I'm pretty sure everyone crawled into bed with a smile that night.

And you know what I realized? I really do like my kids!

What do you do (or could you start doing) to help your kids (or husband, or parents...) see that you really do like them?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strength for the Weak

GROW STRONG IN YOUR WEAKNESS. Some of My children I've gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty. Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day. I am developing your ability to trust me, to lean on me, rather than on your understanding. your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when. My preference is for you to depend on Me continually, trusting me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. This is how you grow strong in your weakness.

James 4:13-15; Proverbs 3:5 (Amp); Isaiah 40:28-31

~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Devotions for Every Day of the Year)
When I read these words from Jesus to me last week, I folded the corner of the page down, knowing I would need them again soon. Perhaps I saved them for you, too. Where are you feeling weak today?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Today's List, with Commentary

1. Get kids ready. (This is usually a bit of a chaotic gong show for the first month of school.)

2. Get kids on bus. (Good news - the girls no longer have to be at the bus stop by early o'clock am! They gained 35 minutes this year...and a new bus.)

3. Get self ready. (Sometimes, even moms need to shower.)

4. Take Kai to day care. (This is likely to be the most not fun moment of my day until after Christmas. He is a cryer. However, they assure me he settles in nicely and has fun all day.)

5. Meet with school board folks about Logos program. (Yes, the school year has begun!)

6. Buy furnace filter. (Sad, sad day... September 1st and I needed the heat on this morning.)

7. Go to training appointment at Curves. (My "new year" begins in September. Thus, another new year's resolution.)

8. Organize my dresser drawers and closets. (I finally caved and bought myself some clothing that fits my larger-than-ideal body. But there's no room for any of it due to all the space being taken up by the imgonnafittheseagainsomedaysoibetternotgetridofthem wardrobe.)

9. Pick up Kai. (I expect that he'll be smiling and having fun, but ready to go home with his momma.)

10. Greet the thundering herd at the door. (No matter how hard I try, I am unable to train the children to enter the house without hollering and door slamming. What can I say? We're just a loud bunch!)

11. Feed the masses. (Darn. What am I supposed to make for dinner tonight? Bonus points to anyone who suggests something that requires pretty much no prep.)

12. Bathe the masses. (Yup, sometimes the kids need cleaning up, too.)

13. Tuck in five children, making rounds of prayers and bathroom and water and hugs and kisses, up the stairs and down the stairs. (Our kids are actually phenomenal at bedtime. But there's no way to speed the process up!)

14. Collapse in a heap and watch recorded episodes of So You Think You Can Dance? and America's Got Talent. (I'm not really a reality TV junkie, but House doesn't start back until October! Sheesh!)

Missing from today's agenda:

A. Help from the hubby. (My man is off in the mountains with quads and guns and other big boys. He's been looking forwad to it for a year. I don't get it, but I'm sure they're having a great time not talking to each other. lol)

B. Work. (No, I didn't quit or get fired or anything dramatic. After popping in for a couple hours this week, we decided that it will work best all around for me to "officially" start after the long weekend.)

What's on your to-do list today?