30.11.09

prepare


A week or so ago, I was chatting with a friend who expressed that she missed Lent.  I knew what she meant.  She was saying that she longed for a 'good reason' to give something up.  A strong motivation to exercise a deeper level of displine.  I knew what she meant because I have been feeling the same way.

The Advent season officially began yesterday, and I've been reading SO much about it.  Mostly because I'm always looking for ideas that will add to and enhance the worship experience at our church, but partly because I long for this year to be different.

I long for more meaning - or I should say, more recognition of The Meaning - this Christmas.

In my travels on the world wide web, most of what I come across is the type of thing I would expect, or have seen before.  But today I learned something new!  Have you ever heard of Nativity Fast?  It was mentioned in passing in an artcile I read and it so intrigued me that I looked further for more info.

wow.

If you read down in the wikipedia definitions, you'll see the rules of it our quite strict!  But here's a quote regarding the Nativity Fast that caused me to stop:

For most of us, we are anxious to get to the feast — we want the days to rush by. Our preparation usually consists of shopping and decorating, not to speak of the endless parties that we are invited to attend. Here is where the notion of waiting comes into play. We must discipline ourselves through self control and patience. We are to read the Scriptures, specifically the prophecies that speak of the coming of the Messiah. We are to turn our focus to a Godly way of life that calls for sacrificing and almsgiving (acts of mercy). Antiochian.org/1294

What can I do for the next 25 days that will enable me to be ready - in my heart and soul?  How can I practice this notion of waiting, of discipline? 

What will the Lord call me to give up in order to have the time, which seems to be in such shortage?

"Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you...
You will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy...
The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory!"
Isaiah 60:1, 5a, & 19

19.11.09

building character

I have to share the most amazing website I've recently come across!  First, of course, you must know the backstory....

In the last while, I've been convicted about how and what I'm teaching my kids to live as followers of Jesus.  Two of the three have made professions of faith, but I wondered if I was giving them the right TOOLS for christian living - was I being a strong enough example, was I showing enough of Christ to them.....

I read in the Duggar book about the homeschooling material they use that also introduces the child to character traits of Jesus.  This lead me to (for the first time EVER) wonder about homeschooling - just to get this material!

Not 2 weeks later, this magazine appeared in my mailbox:


did you get it too?

On the inside of the front cover, there's an ad for a brand new website put out by Focus on the Family that was like an answer to my prayers!  CHECK IT OUT - it's an amazing resource for families with lessons, memory verses, fun ideas and charts to help build Christ-like character into the heart of a family!  It begins with a lesson and scripture study for mom and dad, so even those of us who don't 'have it all together' can learn with our children.  I was so thrilled and excited by this website that I emailed FOTF to tell them so.  I was even MORE thrilled when they replied and said they were encouraged by my comments and excited with me!

So the first character trait we downloaded the stuff for was contentment.  We decided that would be the best place to start given that the holiday season is rapidly approaching and the littles have already formulated their LONG lists of 'I want's.  The first night we tried some of it out, we began by asking our eldest to choose the verse that we should memorize as a family - the one she felt best applied to our situation.  Out of the list of 18 verses she chose Hebrews 13:5 (and I was pleased to see it wasn't the first one on the list...she really read them all and chose carefully!):
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and 
be content
with what you have,
because God has said, 'Never will I leave you;
 never will I forsake you.'" 

We took a family trip to Fargo/Minneapolis last weekend and spent some time talking about this verse and encouraging one another to practice and sow seeds of contentment.  It was such a blessed time!

But - and why exactly does there always seem to have to be a but? - today I found myself in the downward spiral of "I wish I had ______like _____" humph!

Praise God, the word "contentment" quickly blazed across my mind!  I'm a visual person, so I google-imaged the word contentement.  What a mish-mash of pictures!  I leafed through the pages of images until it struck me that none of these pictures spoke of contentment to me.  

I decided to look through my own photo albums intead.  The picture that lept out of the book at me was taken about 2 1/2 years ago in one of our favourite family places, Niagara Falls, ON.  This time we were there with my brother and his family (Teresa took this beloved shot!), but we spent many lovely Saturdays there just the 5 us.  Hand-in-hand, spending time together doing something we all loved.  This is when I feel most content.  This is why we took the weekend road trip to Fargo - to be together, with no distractions, no one vying for our attention or for an answer to this or that... This is one of the reasons we've considered missions to a far away place....

On the list of verses from the Kids of Integrity website is one that I think I'll have to put to memory on my own is this:

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." Proverbs 14:30

Nothing anyone else has - not even the most lovely or wonderful thing - means more than the gift the Lord has given me of these 4 souls to love and be loved by.

thank you, Lord.

12.11.09

first things

Having a four year old in the house is an endless source of amusement.  The baby of our family is everything they say a person in that role should be - funny, easy-going, outgoing and creative.

One of the creative things she does almost daily is taking pictures.  She finds the digital camera and will take endless pictures.  This bothers my husband....something about 'what if she drops the camera and it breaks'....but I love it.  I love seeing what is meaningful to her, and how she sees the world around her. 

Most of all, I love her on-going study of self portraits.  Here's one of the bunch she took this morning:


Sometimes it's a close-up of a mouth or eye (and often a shot of her foot in her new red shoes), but this time, it was practicing expressions.  What does this face say to you?  It makes me smile because it's the face she gives me when she doubts what I say is true or she simply doesn't want to believe what I say is true!

After she showed me her array of pictures, I suggested to her that maybe she would be a photographer when she grows up.  I'm pretty sure she gave me that look, as in, "and why exactly would I want to do that?"  (I think it bothered her that I might be suggesting something other than her aspirations to be a fairy princess.)  The fact that this is something that she spends many hours a week on was beside the point.  How could that be any indication of what she cares most about?

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21


Today this makes me think - the things I spend the most time on are the things I value most.

I desire to have my life be a reflection of my core beliefs about who I am in Christ and what He has called me to do.  This isn't done by talking about it (alone).  This is doing.  People around me and my kids will know what I value by how I spend my time.

cleaning?

talking on the phone?

surfing the web?

reading a magazine?

playing a game with them?

prioritizing time with my spouse?

prioritizing my time with the Lord?

These things are NOT in order of importance! ...and I don't think any of these things are bad... it's a question (for me) of what comes first.  Where is my treasure?  Where do I want it to be?  Is it evident by the reflection of my heart (aka - my deeds?)

"People may think their ways are pure,
but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do
and He will establish your plans."
Proverbs 16:2-3 
(TNIV)

There's a verse in the song "Reign in Me"  that is my prayer for today:

Over every thought
Over every word
May my life reflect the beauty of my Lord
'cause You mean more to me than any earthly thing
So won't You reign in me again!

4.11.09

pre-tween

There were two of us and we were happy.
We started to talk about adding one more....
"Let's wait awhile", he suggested.
I may have pouted a little....
"If we try in the spring, you'll get the new 1 year maternity leave," he reminded.
Reluctantly, I agreed.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

Valentine's Day came and went.
A few weeks later, we finally decided to buy THE test.
We sat in shock for an hour.
Laughing....
followed by long stretches of pondering silence.

She was born on the 4th of November after a quick and loud delivery.
We held this priceless, pink bundle and wondered who she was and who she would become.

NINE years later.....
Abigail Elizabeth Anne Hall

She is a gift - an absolute delight.
Many people remark that she is destined for greatness...
Her kindergarten teacher wept when we took Abbey back to Canada with us...
She is warm and funny,  responsible and kind.
She is an excellent artist and a creative author.
When she grows up, she hopes to be a writer and a mother.

She's a pre-tween, we like to say, and that means she struggles with her share of
questions,
doubts,
concerns.
She doesn't take everything at face value and often needs proof.
I worry sometimes that this will hold her back in life,
but really I think it will propel her all the further.

We love her and pray God's best for her.
We pray that her love for the Lord will grow and grow - that she will use the many gifts He's given her to spread His love and the power of His salvation.

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have the power...to grasp 
how wide and how long
and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17b-19

28.10.09

two way street



Have you ever noticed that when God is trying to teach you a lesson, or give you an opportunity for growth, your "problem" surfaces in more than one place?  Sometimes it seems that what was an issue for me in one area, suddenly is smacking me in the face in another area.  Sometime it's that there are "answers" to my problem coming from a variety of sources - usually not all good.

Today I'm thinking about life as a 2 way street.  That's what they say, right?  I think what they mostly mean is that you give and you get, neither all of one or the other; or what you give is what you get.  But today that brings me to a question:

Is that a distortion of God's Word?  In particular, I'm thinking of the verse in Matthew that says,

"Do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12)

Am I the only one who grew up taking this as some kind of guarantee?  That if I treat people a certain way, they will kindly reciprocate.  I would take it one step further, in all honesty, and say that I've thought they might not even be aware or willing, but that it would be a super-natural force pushing them to respond to me in kind.  I have turned this portion of a verse, the wisdom of Jesus, into a promise.  I have taught this verse to my children.  We even made posters one time that said "treat others the way you would like to be treated", and only now is it suddenly dawning on me why my eldest took the poster down shortly after it went up.  I think, I think, she may have thought it was false advertising!

What is my motivation for "doing" for others.  WHY should I treat others the way I want to be treated?  To get back that same lovely behaviour?  What happens when that doesn't happen?  Worse yet, what happens when I'm all the wiser, and I KNOW that it won't be reciprocated?   .....human response:

why bother?

why try to change things, to improve things when I'm the only one working at it?

what's the point?

can I really let them off the hook, not hold them accountable?

what about all the junk in the past that brought me to this hard-hearted place?

what about ME?

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:18-19

I want a new thing.  I want a new name written on a white stone (Revelation 2:17).  I want to overcome my hurt feelings and loneliness. I want a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26)!  It has to happen within me, where the Holy Spirit lives - I can't expect this to happen because all my expectations of others are finally met the way I think they should be.

With Your help, and by Your mercy, O Lord.

26.10.09

is this thing on?


So today I'm doing something kind of new.  It's something I am, most appropriately put, anxiously awaiting. (Meaning: I'm a little anxious about it and am waiting to get it done!) 

Tonight I'm giving "the talk" at a Ladies Evening at the Maples Community Church.  The theme for the evening is "Reaching Out" which I felt was one of those 'God has a sense of humor' kind of moments given my blog from last month.

I'm not super-keen on public speaking, which probably seems silly given my job as a worship leader...  Though to be fair (to me!), this is a little different.  Rather than a sentence or two to provide a connecting thought between songs, or rather than sharing a five minute devotional, which I've done a few times, this is a little more.  A little more of myself, my heart, my view of the world and the Bible.

I prepared what I felt God would have me say over a week ago and have been practicing sounding natural - now that's an oxymoron!  In the last few days, I've started to doubt my material.  What if this isn't what they meant by 'reaching out', what if no one can relate to or understand what I'm trying say?

No coincidence, I'm sure, the verse I will be ending the talk with tonight is the one I need to hear on this afternoon leading up to it....

"For God did not give us a spirit of TIMIDITY, but a spirit of POWER, of LOVE and of SELF-DISCIPLINE." 2 Timothy 1:7

I've been praying for a long time that the Lord would use me in whatever way He sees fit, and have often wondered if an opportunity like this would present itself - and if I would be able to do it.  I guess I'm about to find out!

I think I'll go practice sounding natural one more time....

17.10.09

what's in a name


As I drove down Portage Ave on Thursday after lunch, the van was quiet.  Cassidy and I both deep in our own thoughts, until the question came:

"Mommy - what did your name used to be?"


I was pretty sure I knew what she was asking, but requested clarification, to be sure.

"I mean, what did other kids call you when you were little?"

As I tried to explain to her that they called me the same thing my friends today call me: 'Becky', it struck me how far into my new name I've fallen.

MOM.


If I am remotely within earshot of any one of my 3 kids, every question, thought or statement begins with those three little letters (and a questioning tone).  M-O-M-?

I remember when my first born was around 8 months old and all day she would say 'da-da-da-da-da-da.'  I would repeat back to her 'ma-ma-ma-ma-ma.'  I was so anxious for the day she would look at me and say it with full knowledge of my name: Mama.  Months later when it rolled off her tongue so easily, she reached her pudgy arms out to me with tears on her sweet cheeks and she called out that name, my heart almost burst - could it be?  Am I really Mama?

Almost 9 years have gone by and I've had the joy of teaching 2 more little souls my name.  But truth be told, there are days when it's not the easiest name to be called.

"Mom, what's for dinner?"

"Mom, you know that girl at school...."

"Mom, Ethan's driving me crazy..."

"Mom, where's my..."

"Mom, is it true that....."

"Mom, where are you?  Mom?  MOM?"

"Mom, I'm just getting a drink..."

"Mom, do you want to hear a blow-by-blow description of the movie I watched at school today?"
[the answer to that is almost always: 'no, thank you.' and 'why are you watching movies at school anyway?']

I love my kids - and I'm so thankful that I'm able to be a mom.  I don't underestimate the value and privilege that is.

But if that was my whole identity - where would I be when the kids aren't around?  When they no longer need to say that name a hundred (thousand) times a day; when they've found there own calling and are going on their (hopefully) God-led journeys?

I would be lost!

The Good News is that I have another name.

Christian.  


Here are some of the other names I claim as I follower of Jesus:


My role as Mom has changed a bit over the past 9 years, and I'm well aware that it will continue to change.  I expect one day I'll hear my given name much more often than this name I've heard dozens of times already today.  I'm quite sure that I eventually I'll be wishing to hear my kids say my name - to tell me all the things that are on their hearts.  Oh, Lord - may it be so!  But I praise God that the name HE has given me will never change!

"In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory."  Ephesians 1:11-12

16.10.09

puzzling: part 2


Lessons from puzzling - part 2:
Puzzles require ALOT of patience!



I was so gung-ho, thinking about the lovely time I could spend each evening calmly putting pieces into place....preventing me from the never-a-good-idea evening snacking....relaxing me until I took myself to bed for a peaceful slumber.....

not so.

If one doesn't watch oneself, one can become rather agitated while trying to put together a VERY DIFFICULT and CHALLENGING puzzle.

I'm not going to lie - after one evening, I almost put it away.  I know, that's so pathetic!  That's my perfectionism rearing it's ugly head once again.  If I can't do it swiftly and excellently - why bother?

Forced to face my limitations, I had a decision on my hands - give up or persevere?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  James 1:2-3

We're not talking about puzzles anymore, are we?

Life so often feels like a puzzle - how will things come together?  what will the final picture look like?  where does this piece go??  Each day is another piece in place, another step in faith, another opportunity to walk in loving obedience.  Some pieces slip right in, almost without thinking.  Others require searching, trying it here or there, patience.

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."  James 1:12

No short-cuts, just a slow steady walk toward the promises of God.

Toward Jesus!  

12.10.09

puzzling



So, it's the end of the Thanksgiving Day Long Weekend, and the end of a very busy week for me.  After we got home from the second day of family festivities with my in-laws, I started to think about what I could do to "treat" myself and really relax!  Gavin had already made plans to go to a movie (I wish I could say I was thrilled for him instead of bitter....), so I knew I had to think of something at home.  

I finally settled on doing a puzzle.

Maybe that sounds lame to you, but I really enjoy puzzles but haven't done many over the past years because if you have little ones around all the time, it can get rather frustrating to have them "help" or undo what you've accomplished. 

The kids had "enjoyed" each other enough for one long weekend and hit the hay a little early.  I made myself a cup of tea, opened a box I had gotten quite a while ago for just such an occasion and started flipping and sorting the pieces.

It got me to thinking about what I like about puzzles....puzzles are constant - the rules don't change, the picture doesn't alter and even if you walk away from it for days, it will stay locked together (provided there aren't any 'helping hands' around).  Also, there is a basic formula for puzzling that never fails: sort the pieces into straight-edgers and non, assemble the frame, move on to bigger, solid-coloured objects and fan out from there.  The third thing I like about puzzles is watching the picture come into focus.  The  puzzle I'm putting together is call 'The Tea Room' and looks like a photo taken in small town France (at least that's what I've decided!).  This puzzle has 750 pieces and each is pretty small, so you can't really identify the small wildflowers on each piece, but as they begin to interlock, you get a clear image of the bigger picture.

What does this say about me?  I'm smiling as I write this, because you can probably seen right through my enjoyment of puzzling and are now looking at my heart.  How my fallen nature would love to have this kind of control over my life...not to mention the lives of those I love.  How I would love to live in a world that was predictable and simple, where the basic formula always worked and you could gaze at the picture on the outside of the box, knowing always how each piece would come together to create something beautiful!  

But where would God be?  Would I need Him?  Would I even want Him?

If I could look at my life and see each step that is laid out before me -  and I could see where these many steps would take me, why would I need faith?  Would it make the really hard times easier just because I knew they were coming?  Knowing myself, I'm pretty sure I would end up doing everything possible to avoid the yucky stuff - but how would I grow?

"Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done.  
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; 
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."  
Psalm 40:5

I choose to trust that God has a plan for my life that will challenge and bless me, fulfill me and cause me to become a beautiful woman in His sight.  I believe that when my days are through and I look at the finally completed puzzle of my life, I will be blessed for having walked by faith, not knowing but trusting.

7.10.09

all things to all people


I'm knee-deep in the middle of a very busy week and I'm fighting the strong inclincation to feel
discouraged
I have forgotten a coffee date
I have hurt the feelings of a friend - unintentional but....still hurt
I spent a lunch with friends on an emergency call that probably should have waited
My attention has been so divided
I'm having trouble focusing
I wish I had know about birthdays that were today
I wish my kids lunches were more normal and full
I wish my kitchen floor were clean and I'm wondering when my laundry will get done
People are telling me I look tired-
I wish I could take that as concern and not an insult
I can't help but wonder if my job will bring the results I'm praying for

I am fighting to keep it together.

Gavin knows I have a bit of a fasination with the Duggar family (you know, the ones with 18 and counting kids?), so he brought home from the library the book they published about their life and show on TLC.  Now there's a busy bunch!  The book has a nice lite-read kind of format, which is perfect for brain-drain weeks like this, and part of that means there are responses to popular questions they get asked.  Of course, scheduling is always a big one! Michelle (the mom) writes about having goals for each day, but realizing the life happens and you need to go with the flow.
"As the parents of all these children, we've gotten over
 any perfectionist tendancies we might once have had."

Am I going to have to go ahead and have 20 kids to release my tendancy to want to be all things to all people - to let go of my desire for earthly perfection?  I love my kids, but 3 is plenty at this point! 

What about today?
What about this crazy week....month?
What if life doesn't slow down?

"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach..."
really? something even I could do?
"It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, 'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?'"
then where do I go to get this command?
"Not is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, 'Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?'"
no delivery date?
"No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it."
I already have everything I need!
"Love the LORD your God,
Listen to His voice, and
Hold fast to Him.
For the LORD is your life"
Deuteronomy 30:11-14, 16

Oh Lord, enable me to live by Your Spirit, to be guided by Your wisdom in seasons of busy-ness and times of rest.  Let your love lead me so I can walk confidently through each day.  amen.

3.10.09

pick me up!

video

I'm sure most parents have videos like this in their collection, but I couldn't resist. If this doesn't make you smile.....

Have a blessed day!

2.10.09

invasion

Today I have to share what I learned in my bible study homework last night - yes, more Beth Moore!

We're continuing to move through the book of Genesis, and we're just approaching God's promise to Sarah being fulfilled (I read ahead a little last night!). Yesterday's lesson was a discussion about Abraham claiming to the king that Sarah, his wife, was his sister - again!

If you'll indulge me (and I hope it's not illegal) I would like to quote straight from the lesson book, so we don't miss the message. We'll pick up where she begins a discussion on the Greek word HORME.

"According to the New Testament Lexical Aids, 'Horme is an impulse or urge, a strong and forceful movement toward something, and connotes the ideas of thrusting, propulsion, and suddenness. It is not unlike a sudden thought, whim, or dictating inclination.' After praying that God would invade every part of my thought life, I added this new dimension to my prayers: ' God, fill me so completely with Your Holy Spirit that even my reactions and sudden impulses are godly!' I want to be like Peter when he saw Jesus on the shore and impulsively jumped in the water and swam to Him with all his might! (see John 21)........ You might say the circumstance propelled [Abraham and Sarah] with the dictating inclination of deceit as illustrated by the Greek work horme. We have defaulted to old patterns as well. Under stress or sudden crisis, our first reactions at various points may be fleshly and selfish. What if we began attentively and repeatedly praying for the Holy Spirit to invade and renew us so richly and deeply that even our impulses were godly?" (Page 62-63 The Patriarchs, Beth Moore)

What difference would this make in my life? One word? AMAZING!

~on a worship note: as I wrote this entry, Cassidy wanted music so I put on the Chipmunks soundtrack.....As I wrote Beth's words, the song "Only You" came up. Worship with the Chipmunks? Today I say "yep!"


1.10.09

today

Today I have a choice. I can focus on the concerns that weigh my heart down - hurt feelings and unanswered questions- or I can focus on the Lord. I can look at the confusion that often comes from being in human relationships, or I can let my gaze fall upon perfection in the One who will never change His mind about me. The choice isn't always easy, but today I choose Him. I choose to:
"set my mind on things above, not on earthly things."
(Colossians 3:2)


Feel the freedom!

My friend, Sherri, posted this link on Facebook a couple of days ago and when I watched it, I was moved to worship. Is that a little weird? likely. One thing that struck me was the way the bodies moved and the way movement spread. Go with that concept in your own mind as you will. The other thing that got me was this overwhelmingly positive attitude. I wish I could say that I'm a person who is naturally optimistic and upbeat, but I don't think that it would be truthful! I seem to more easily see the empty half of the glass.

But while I watched this video over and over, the Spirit spoke to me, telling me that I could have this kind of life by choice. I could begin my days with the Lord and an attitude that says this will be a good day!

At this point I should make the disclaimer that this song advocates a lifestyle I certainly do not! But praise the Lord that we can worship through all kinds of avenues, not just typical worship music! When the Black Eyed Peas sing "fill up my cup" I'm pretty sure (tongue in cheek!) they mean with alcohol. When I sing it along, I'm praying that the Lord will fill up my cup for this day - with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control! Oh Lord, let it overflow!

I gotta feeling....that today's gonna be a good day! That today's gonna be a good good day!

29.9.09

into the world

Mark 16:15
[Jesus] said to them,
"Go into all the world
and preach the good news to all creation."
Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I often have a hard time going into the world. Truth be told, it's not like I've got my Bible in one hand and gospel tracts in another, hoping to convert the lost. I'm just going about my daily life when the world seems to be coming to me, rather than choosing for myself to head out.

I talk about how I'd like to open up the world of my children, so they're not completely oblivious to the kind of reality that face so many people even in our smallish city. Gavin and I have talked and prayed about doing missions with the kids and we've taken them down to Winnipeg Harvest, to encourage a philanthropic mindset.

Here's the problem: it is often very difficult for me.

Last spring, Cassidy and I took the city bus home from a field trip downtown for her preschool. [Let me spell it out a little more clearly so you can fully appreciate the irony. Cassidy's Montessori program took a trip to the Winnipeg Art Gallery and when I picked her up (after a lovely break at Starbucks) we took the bus home. ] On that very short bus ride, a young woman got on and sat directly across from us with what seemed to be 4 foster children. These kids were probably about 2, 5, 8 and 9 years old and the girl with them seemed to be in her early 20's. She talked alot and very loudly, so we got a pretty clear picture of what life was like for these little kids. It was the girl's mother that was the primary care giver, I guessed, and she didn't seem to be too happy to be toting the charges around. Two of the kids had very obvious 'baby bottle mouth' and the 5 year old was not potty-trained (as the girl loudly announced). The youngest in the stroller stared hard at Cassidy as she munched on organic crackers and drank from her colourful, BPA-free SIGG bottle. I felt a tightness in my chest, and even now as I relive the moment my eyes well up with tears.....

Last week Gavin was looking for some very rare and specific films on DVD that prompted a trip to MovieVillage on Osborne. Cassidy was with us again and had to make a potty-run, so we popped into the Starbucks that is in the same parking lot. Of course, since I was there, I treated myself to a latte and got a smoothie for the sweetie! We sat on a low ledge outside and waited for Gav to finish up. As we sipped, a man in an electric wheelchair came out of the coffee shop and wheeled over to us. I guess he had MS or some other illness that caused him to be unable to walk and slurred his speech. He stopped in front of Cassidy and greeted her, so we said hello and I tried to make some conversation about the weather. After several moments of awkward silence he wished us a good day and rolled on....

Today I had to take the van in for brake repairs and while we had 2 hours to kill, Cassidy and I walked over to Giant Tiger to wander about. Having had 2 big cups of coffee already, I had the pressing urge to visit the rest room, so I asked for it to be opened. I was told someone was in there, so just wait. I waited....and waited.... I was getting a little concerned for myself when the door finally opened. I looked straight into the eyes of a man in our area that is homeless. Oh, how I need more of Jesus in me because my first thought was to forgo using this restroom and run to Tim Hortens's. He held the door open for me and I thanked him. As we closed the door behind us, the overwhelming aroma homelessness caused my stomach to lurch. "Why does it smell so bad in here?" Cassidy questioned.....

Perhaps you wouldn't struggle with these scenarios. Perhaps you would have offered organic crackers to the children on the bus or been better at making conversation with the man at the coffee shop. Maybe you would have had a better answer for the bad smell. I hope I will get to that place. For now I'll settle for still going out, even when I'm tempted to stay home, or stay in places I know are "safe" - I'll be thankful that my heart is moved.

...and I'll pray for opportunity to grow in love and mercy, and to serve in ever-increasing ways.

23.9.09

the right tools

This morning my alarm went off at 7:15am (I've been trying to get up earlier) and I knew my coffee had also just started brewing. I laid in bed trying to get myself to move when I suddenly thought, "I guess I don't need to get up quite this early - I could sleep for another half hour..." I reset my alarm and I suppose I went right back to sleep because I found myself fairly 'alarmed' when the beeping went off again at 7:50am! Once again I learned why you should just get up when your alarm goes off the first time....now I felt worse.

7:51.....7:52....7:53....7:54 - wait a minute - I'm supposed to bring part of the snack for bible study this morning! I had completely forgotten. I spent roughly 40 seconds trying to decide if it were even possible to stop and pick up muffins when I had to drop the kids off at school at 8:50, pick my mother-in-law up at 9am and get to bible study for 9:15. Thankfully, the Lord brought to my mind the big carton of buttermilk I had in the fridge, so I quickly decided to make scones while the kids ate breakfast. Miraculously, it all got done and I wasn't even (too) late for the study!

On the way home from the church, Cassidy asked if she could have a scone for lunch. Of course, the ones I brought for the ladies were all eaten up, but I thought I could quickly make her some before we headed off to preschool. As I measured out the ingredients for the second time in 3 hours, I started to cut in the margarine with my pastry blender. Now maybe it's a little unusual to get excited about kitchen gadgets, but as I pulverized the margarine (to the size of a pea!) I thanked God for this little tool. I had one for years that never really worked very well - especially after the handle broke - so a couple of months ago, I finally cracked out the $4 to get a new one. It's such a delight to use a good tool for it's rightful purpose!

As I've mentioned, the bible study I'm working on with a group of women from the church is The Patriarchs by Beth Moore. Beth has a passion for instructing (particularly women) on the Word of God and a passion for the Word like you don't see every day. She calls women to a deeper walk with God - to invest our lives in what God is already doing around us. To move from knowing about God to knowing God, without forsaking learning more about Him.... wordy to say, but Truth my heart needs to hear!

This is what I want!

When I first began this blog, I showed a picture of a stack of books beside my bed. I love books! But sometimes this love of information and fresh, clean pages of a new book can be my downfall. I like to read the latest author and their take on what Scripture says about life, parenting, marriage, walking with God....

huh? Do you see where I'm going with this?

" 'Everything is permissible' - but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissable' - but not everything is constructive." 1 Corinthians 10:23

Is this an odd verse for this subject? Not to me! God in His great love and grace has given me the only tools I need for growth and a life of devotion to Him: His Word and His Spirit. If I look first to the opinions and knowledge of others and to the Word second (or not at all) I will never know my Saviour in the way that I long to know Him. I will trust in people - not the Spirit, to guide, teach and counsel me day by day.

Of course, I'm not about to clear off the three large bookcases of other people's study that sit behind me at this desk - but I will read discerningly, searching the Word and trusting the Spirit to show me more.

"His divine power has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."
2 Peter 1:3

Praise the Lord for the right tools!

17.9.09

rememberies

The other morning Cassidy and I went through some bins in the shed in an effort to collect things for a garage sale at the church. Along with several pairs of hand-me-down knee socks, we came across a collection of 'Little People' (to add to the large collection already in the house).

I guess they had been away long enough that Cassidy didn't really remember ever playing with them. In her mind, the were new toys!

As she told the story of Noah and I sorted laundry, she said, "These are sure some great rememberies!"

Yesterday morning I watched the introduction video to "The Patriarchs" - a bible study by Beth Moore. I love Beth! She's so dynamic and has such a powerful way of communicating the message of the bible. In the intro, she basically outlines the lineage of the primary characters in the book of Genesis and gives hints on the things that we'll be learning. She talks about the importance of Names - particularly the names of God.

I must confess that while I like the idea of history - I don't really enjoy studying it. As I left the church yesterday, I knew I wouldn't stop going to the study (that's just not my style), but I wondered if I would look forward to going each week.

But something about the word 'rememberies' really struck me.

I want to fall deeper in love with the Lord Jesus. I want to know more about God and the way He thinks, so that I can try to think like that too. But how can I rely on memories that I don't have? I need to remind myself (through the study of the Word) who God is and what He's done if I want to have memories to remember.

rememberies.

I hope I don't forget this precious word.....a gift from my Saviour for today.

11.9.09

whatever...

"Finally, friends, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Philippians 4:8



...the unending love of the Lord....


...my husband, my best friend....


...three children who love me and reveal what love truly is...




...my family - a heritage of faith and fun...

...friendships that last and impact my life for good...


...salvation, joy and hope for now and forever.

31.8.09

new fall's resolutions

It's (near) the start of a new day and I feel energized! The kids are playing/fighting upstairs, there's a load of laundry swishing itself to cleanliness and my coffee is hot. I have high hopes for the day. With this kind of energy, who knows what I might accomplish...

I have high hopes for the coming season too.

Yesterday as we drove home from a day by the lake, I asked Gavin if he had made any "new fall's" resolutions. Maybe this concept is weird to you, but I LOVE fall and I love the feeling of a fresh start, a new routine.
So why not resolve to do a few things differently? Why not take the time to prayerfully consider the ways the Lord might be calling for change?

Even though Fall is officially a few weeks away, I decided TODAY is the day to try out my new goals. So while the kids were busy setting up a fort in the girls' room, I pulled out my journal and Bible. I turned to the Psalms (always a great place for me to start!) and flipped to #144. I love the verse in there that says, "I will sing a new song, to you, O God;" The only problem was that as I listened to the kids fight, I couldn't focus. Plus, my mind was whirling with my many "to do" items for the day.

Help me focus on You, Lord.

My eyes drifted over to Psalm 145. It's all about the greatness of my God! I read it in the NIV, then felt compelled to read it in Cassidy's bible (International Children's Bible), so I read it out loud to the littles....in hopes of....something. I went back down to the computer and headed to my fave biblegateway.com to see how some other translations would say it.

As no surprise to me, the Ampified version is what impacted me the most! If I were one to embroider verses onto pillows, this would be one (though I've never seen a pillow with this many brackets....);

"Every day [with it's new reasons] I will bless You [affectionately and gratefully praise You]; yes, I will praise Your name forever and ever." Psalm 145:2

Yes, there are new reasons every day to be affectionate and grateful to the Lord. Some days it will be harder than others to find those reasons, I know it well, but if I can just keep looking, I know the Lord will be glad to show me more of His love and goodness.

27.8.09

something new

About a week and a half before we went to camp, Abbey got her ears pierced! We had talked about it for many months, but it always came down to the same thing:

she was too scared!

However, when I requested her presence for a quick trip to the mall, she decided today is the day!

We ran our errands first and ended up at Claires for the deed to be done. My only concern with getting it done that day was that we were going to be at camp for almost 3 weeks, and would that affect the healing process? The girl at the shop assured us that if Abbey was willing to clean the earrings after every time she went in the water, it should be fine.

"That's a big commitment, sweetie," I warned, "It could mean cleaning them up to 5 times a day!"

Abbey said she was ready and it was time - she would be responsible for taking care of them.

Minutes (and no tears!) later, she proudly walked through the mall with her sparkling new earrings!

I admire alot about my firstborn, but that day I marveled at her commitment. When she is ready - she has amazing follow-through!

Coming off several weeks at camp, I've had quite a bit of time to consider my relationship with the Lord, what it looks like now and what it could look like with some tweaks to my spiritual practices. I've made some decisions about how I'd like to take my walk to a higher level, a deeper connection.

I am ready.
Lead me, Lord, and I will follow.

I want the follow-though that I witness in Abbey. I praise God for her example to me - it's awesome that it can work that way!

"And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint." Galations 6:9 (Amplified Bible)

6.8.09

a work in progress

So yesterday I snuck out for an hour to "run some errands" (which my husband clearly understands as "window shop").

I popped into to FabricLand in a seemingly unending pursuit of material to use for a slipcover for my livingroom sofa. As I browsed the clearance bolts I found the CUTEST fabric for the chair in my rec room that is also in desperate need of a new cover.

The material has little roosters embroidered all over (which won't do a thing for my continuing insistance that I don't collect roosters!) and is trés french country!

I have a million things to do before camp, but I couldn't resist getting started on the cover.

I pinned and sewed...

pinned and sewed...

pinned and - whaaaa??? Oh yeah, I don't actually KNOW how to sew!

I know that will seem falsely humble as you're looking at the picture of my chair, but there are too many times that I get to a place that I have no clue how navigate the next stitches. It's sew frustrating! (bah-hahaha!)

On a separate (yet in my mind, completely related) note, today I attended the first day of sessions for the 2009 Leadership Summit. I wondered how "into" it I could get, considering it was a simul-cast, but was it powerful!

One speaker in particular spoke on Spiritual deadness/transformation based on the story of the Prodigal Son. It wasn't the first time I've heard this type of message, where they look more at the role of the Elder Son, but this time it was like it was just for me! He spoke of how to know if you are "the elder son" (check, check, check....) and why it separates you from the Father (hello, perfectionism, my old friend), and how to combat it! He described how to get to a deeper level of faith through repentance.

Repentance.
Not only for the wrong I do,
But for doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Do I serve, obey and attempt to discipline my life in order to gain God's favour, thus putting Him into my tidy box and waiting for my "just" reward?

the right thing for the wrong reason.

There were so many other things that spoke into my heart and life that I had to repeatedly remind myself of my new motto-cum-blog title: a little bit more.

baby steps
small changes
bit by bit

Like my slipcover, I too am a work in progress - but thankfully my God knows exactly how to handle the next stitches in my heart; and what it will take to make my life in to what will hopefully one day become a lovely heirloom quilt. A legacy.

"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

25.7.09

girls

Today I returned home from a week at Girls Camp. I had a fun time learning and working in the kitchen, watching (from afar) my eldest daughter enjoy the camp I loved as a little girl.

The theme for the week was about being a Princess (a child of the King!). There were princess songs, games and crafts; a princess tea party, talks on royalty (Queens) from the Bible and tiaras on every plate at the closing banquet.

Being in the kitchen was new to me, and I didn't get many opportunities to interact with the campers but I made one (fairly obvious) observation:

Girls are very unique and diverse.

Some of the girls didn't need instruction on how to behave "royally" or which pink would look best on their toes.

Some of the girls played hard at sports, ate hearty dinners and kept their nails clear.

Some girls studied hard to memorize the daily scripture verses (and bonus verses) and were always the first to answer the quiz questions - for the joy of achievement.

Some girls cooked in the kitchen!

There are so many things that I love about being a woman, and about having daughters, but I am also concerned about what the world tells us about being female. So many mixed messages. And how does the church counter or contribute to challenges we face?

Don't get me wrong, I'm no feminist - I love many of the things that defined the 50's wife and mother: taking loving care of her husband and children, baking, sewing, creating a haven of peace and rest for the family. I also loved being able to take my daughter to a camp focused on girls and their specific needs as part of the family of God.

I guess there are days, though, that I long for the Kingdom to be as Paul described it in Galatians 3:26-28

"You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

I don't think that means we will be genderless, but that we will no longer fight against being the complete woman God has called us to be, and we will no longer feel like we need to fight for our "rights." The curse given to Eve in the garden and passed down to us will permanently be lifted and we will each enjoy our unique version of femininity, exactly the way God intended.

Until then, I will continue to bake and teach my children how to put their napkins in their lap at dinner. I will love my husband the way he wants to be loved, not the way I feel like showing it. I will serve the Lord in my church and community.

And tomorrow afternoon, I'll even sew a new blankie for my youngest - just because I can and she asked nicely!


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