The year our family lived in North Carolina, I distinctly remember walking out our front door just before Easter, to find the strangest sight.  Little green leaves poking out of the front of our tiny garden.  'What could this be?' this Canandian wondered.

Over the next several days these green shoots blossomed into daffodils!  Imagine my surprise!  Flowers in full bloom -in MY garden, no less- in March! 

(We Canadians tend to roll our eyes at our American friends for questioning whether we live in igloos...and yet...though we certainly live in houses, we do NOT plant our flowers before May!  At least not on the prairies.)

That memory for now is tucked away, and I still have plenty of time to plan my garden, but today I'm so thankful to see the sun again after a solid week of fog and grey skies.  I have felt 'off-ish' all week. 

I'm so thankful for the sunshine that is currently melting the mucky snow in front of our home, but I'm more even more thankful for the beakthrough I had in a very important relationship last night!  The sun is a symbol to me of the Lord's unending grace and warm love.

"See I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?"
Isaiah 43:19


struggling with struggle

We have our three kids in regular swim lessons throughout the school year for one reason: so they can safely have fun in the water when we spend a few weeks at the lake in the summer.  It's not easy on cold winter nights to convince them that lessons are a good idea, that it's 'worth it' to get wet before returning to -25°C weather....

So we remind them, "Summer's coming, and you need these skills to safely have fun at the lake!"

My youngest has been in lessons for the shortest period of time but has done so well that this week she was moved up to the next level.  She no longer would be in the "little" pool, but would begin to learn real swimming skills in the big pool!  She was a little nervous, but the instructors thought she was ready, so we encouraged her to give it a try.  By the time we arrived for the lesson she was ready!

I had brought a book, thinking I would get caught up some reading during the lesson, but I couldn't take my eyes off my child.  The pool was deep, and she clung to the side.  She clung to the teacher at she tried kicking with the flutter board and floating on her back and front.  My exuberant, smiliest  child had a hard frown of concentration.  It was the first time I'd ever seen her look stressed.  I moved from sitting on the bench to pressing my nose against the glass wall separating us.  She saw me and gave me a solemn wave.  She was struggling.  I was struggling.  Everything in me wanted to go in there and pull her out of that pool.

At the end of the lesson I waited pool-side as she jumped happily into the water over, and over.  And while I dried her hair I quizzed her about her feelings during the lessons.  "Was it too hard?"  "Was the water too cold?"  "Did you have fun?"  My 4 year old reassured me that it was fun, it was cold a first but then got warm, and she liked learning to swim.  She bragged that she had been in all the parts of the pool that her big sister and brother go every week!

Of course, this mommy didn't recover quite so quickly!

And as I reflected on how my heart broke watching her struggle, I thought of my Heavenly Father and what it might be like for Him to watch His children struggle.  I wondered if there's a part of Him that would like to swoop down and rescue us as we walk through the valley.  I imagined the tears in His eyes as He notices the look of hard determination in our eyes - we will not give up this time.  And then I could see His smile when we've come to the other side, so pleased with ourselves; the work was worth it!

And we've grown!  We are new and different.

We were never promised an easy life.  But with the Lord as our focus, we can do the difficult and even accomplish what we thought was impossible!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,

 who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat

 down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, 
so that
you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:2-3

Jesus suffered on the cross SO THAT we will not grow weary and lose heart.

Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow....


it's ok to miss church

3 am, Saturday night: my first born woke me with a weak voice, "mom?"
And so began our hourly rendez-vous. Me holding her hair back and her being sick over and over again.  poor sweetie.

As Sunday morning got closer and closer I tried to figure out what we would do about church.  As the Worship Director, I had the choir to lead.... My husband, an Associate Pastor said he could miss, his responsibilities were less.  We agreed I would go for the morning and then come home and tag off so he could go back to the church for the annual meeting.  (These are the days I think we should live across the street from 760 Charleswood Road...)  We also agreed I could leave the other 2 kiddies at home for the morning, to take some of the pressure off (for me).  Then we decided that the Young Families group we normally host on Sunday evenings would also be cancelled, so no other children would be exposed to this flu bug!

So what was going to be a very full day ended up being a very quiet day.  After I got home, Gavin left for the meeting and then went straight to a buddy's house to watch the Olympic hockey game (yay, Canada!).  The kids and I lazed around, napped a little and had more "screens" than we would normally allow.  It was lovely!

Upon realizing that our group wasn't coming over, my son lamented, "I miss church!"

This warmed my heart so deeply because as parents in ministry, my husband and I pray that our children won't see church as "the place dad & mom work and pay no attention to us!"  You hear the many, many stories about preacher's kids going wayward, and I've always wondered if it's because the kids thought the church was more important than they were. 

It made me think that it's not a bad thing to miss church.  Sometimes it takes one Sunday.  For others it may take much longer to really miss going.  But there's something so precious about going to a place where everyone is just like you.  The kids don't stick out for being different than their school friends or neighbours, the adults don't feel under attack for their faith.  The lonely and hurting are surrounded by people who love them and care about them. The rejoicing have someone to tell.

And for one hour (or more!), we worship and learn together.

Members of one body.  United by our love and devotion to Christ, no matter where we are on the journey.  Part of the larger Church spread throughout the world, part of God's Kingdom - in the now and 'not yet.' 

When church operates as it should, needs are met, people grow and lives are changed.  Each of us can take responsibility for making sure this happens in our own faith community!

There have been times where church every Sunday has felt like a burden I had no interest in bearing, but God's Word says:

"God sets the lonely in families."
Psalm 68:6

I'm reminded that I need to let my church be family to me - not to keep people at arms length but to reach out and become invested in others.  To let them become invested in me.

"From [Jesus] the whole body,
joined and held together by every supporting ligament,
grows and builds itself up in love,
as each part does its work."
Ephesians 4:16
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