Posts tagged ‘Christian’

Seeking Joy in a Sad, Dark Place

Last year, I shared my “word” for the year, which was Presence. I really wanted to focus more on being in the Presence of my Savior, as well as being totally in the presence of my children and friends. I always have so much on the go, I felt very scattered. I learned a lot throughout 2014, and I know much more about my shortcomings, believe me.

This year has started out rough in our province. In December alone, there were over 30 people that died in car accidents. In our area, there were so many back to back that every time I hear sirens, I literally run through attendance in my head as to where everyone is. Children died. Parents died. Friends died.

One of the ones close by was a lady my age, from my town, driving an SUV. It puts a lot in perspective when you get numerous texts from friends finding out if it was you that lost your life. In small towns, you know everyone, or at least know someone who is grieving. Although I was not deeply and profoundly impacted by any one accident, I think we were all affected a little by each.

Life is hard. Winter is long. Things don’t go how we plan. Our dreams don’t always become reality. What we want is not always what we get.

But I serve the One. The One who knows. The One who sees how all of this makes sense. How the dropping oil prices, the lay offs, the deaths, the attacks, the miscarriages, the fights, the destruction, the sick babies, all of it is according to Plan.

And we have choices. Not in what happens, but how we react.

This year, I choose joy.

Not in a Pollyanna-look-on-the-bright-side nonsense. Some stuff has no “bright side” and it’s offensive to those in pain to try and find it.

But I will choose to be joyful in a quiet, faithful way. One foot, in front of the other. I will cry, I will lose my temper, I will get it wrong, but I will choose to joyfully accept His grace and forgiveness. I will joyfully start a new day each morning, I will show my children that pain will happen and the world will fall apart, and yes it affects us, and it hurts us, and it wounds us, but we know.

We know who’s in control.

We serve Him.

He loves us.

He’s on our side.

He’s got this.

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“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

And my prayer for all my friends and family this year:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ” (Romans 15:13)

Not that you will have happy circumstances. It’s easy to be full of joy then. But that you will be filled with joy from its Source.

What about you? What are you focusing on this year? Do you do resolutions? I’d love to hear from you!

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A Letter to Myself

When putting away the Christmas clutter decorations, I wrote a letter to pack along with them and open next December. I know it will be new again, and I won’t remember writing it, because I wrote a grocery list last week and I didn’t remember anything on that by the time I get to the store.

Dear Me,

You’re looking well.

It’s all over. Another holiday season, another chapter, another year. Your tree was pretty bad. Seriously. Lights on half the tree is not better than “none of the tree.” It’s not usually a choice like that. I know that lights go on sale for 50% off on Boxing Day, but then you bought two packs of lights. If you would have just bought one box of lights three weeks before, you wouldn’t have as much stuff to put away now, and people wouldn’t look at you all sad when they see your tree.

I’m glad you took the whole month off school. It was busy enough! I’m glad you took them to do a few service projects, so that they can be a light to others (not 50% of a light, like your tree) and to teach them the world is much bigger than they are. Metaphorically and literally. They won’t forget that. Now try to be as courageous as your kids- people might not call you “so adorable!” but they may listen and you can be a light too. (Again, a WHOLE light. Not half.) It’s easy to hide behind their cuteness, but make sure you model evangelism and a “fear not” attitude. They will catch on one day, when you are always in the background. They will follow.

The gifts went well. Three each is enough. Every year you get all worried that it’s not enough, that other kids get more, blah, blah, blah. THEY LOVED IT. The gifts were thoughtful, in budget and you didn’t hurt yourself on the sewing machine. Well done.

The Christmas books, movies and activities were fun. You didn’t do all of Truth in the Tinsel, but your kids do not all like crafts, and don’t like them every day. It’s a beautiful thought to make a Christmas ornament each DAY of Advent, with part of the story to go along with it, but you have four kids. Four children X 24 Days= 96 ornaments in total. Are you really just trying to make up for the lack of lights? Either way, they had fun with what we did. Maybe next year you’ll do a couple more. Who cares? Not them.

The family Advent went WAY better than you thought. Special Sunday dinners, reading a litany and lighting candles in your wreath was something all the kids looked forward to. But the way you introduced it to your handsome hubby (Remember? “Hey! We’re going to do this.”) left a lot to be desired. If you have something you want to do as a family, present your ideas thoroughly and don’t get absolutely furious if he doesn’t love them as much as you in the first ten seconds. Good grief. Give the guy a break. Your homemade wreath was fun to make, even if it doesn’t look as nice as you wanted. I’m just proud you didn’t spend any money, and used stuff from around the house. Maybe next year you can find a special one to keep from year to year (and remember, November 30 is NOT the day to start looking!)

The baking. There’s something special about filling the house with yummy smells, and mixing cookie batter with the kids. Flour on their noses, accidentally spilling the chocolate chips in the bowl. Christmas music in the background; making up beautiful platters to bring to all your parties. What are you even talking about?! That didn’t happen. You used a hand mixer once, but other than that, there was not a square/cookie/snickerdoodle/chocolate yum yum to be found in your house. Who cares? Use the excuse that you’re trying to eat healthy or something. No one cares. The kids didn’t, and you were actually a little more peaceful than last year.

The decorating (other than your tree) was fine. Definitely mediocre at best, but you don’t care about that anyways, so why pretend like you do? It took way less time to put it all away in the end.

The date night with HH for dinner and the last bit of gifts was awesome. Do that again. Don’t forget to make his Christmas fun and special too (even if he doesn’t jump up and down like the kids do.)

All in all, I think this year went well. You took time to prepare Him room- in your heart and in your home. The little things either happened, or they didn’t, but they were little anyways. You bulldozed your way through a few things it would have been better to ponder in your heart, but that’s what it’s all about. He came for you just as much as He came for your babies. Accept His grace, His mercy and start fresh again. Marvel over the fact that a baby has saved you.

If I can give you any advice next season, while I am still fresh from this one:

  1. *If something is pushing you or pulling you along, and it’s not Jesus, cut it out.
  2. *If you are staying up late to make something magical the next day, you will just ruin it with your fatigue and lack of energy. Don’t do it.
  3. *Pick a couple things and do them well, and with love. It’s better than a lot of things rushed through and done with impatience.
  4. *Smile more.
  5. *Don’t be embarrassed when you cry through the Christmas songs. Your soul has felt it’s worth!

Love always, your biggest enemy your friend,

Me.

P.S. Buying all your gifts online so that you only went out once- DO THAT AGAIN.

Sandra

How about you? What did you learn (maybe the hard way) this year? What saved you time or heartache? What is the most important thing to remember about Christmas with little kids? I’d love to hear from you!

Conflict: God-Style

 

Sunday, my mind was BLOWN.

I saw a fight. There were two sides to the story, heightened emotions, children involved: the whole nine yards.

It was beautiful. It was epic. I’ve never seen anything like it.

See, I’m tired of being involved in drama. Who isn’t? We all say it, we all post it, yet we all contribute. And we can all cover it up in “good” ways.

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We vent.

You know what I mean. We just HAVE to talk to someone, because we’re upset, and we might say the wrong thing if we talk to them right now, you know? Well, it’s a cop out. It’s gossip, pure and simple. I even take the really high road, and vent to my cousin in ON. I don’t name names. . .  it’s a totally innocent way to get out what I’m feeling. But wait. The Bible doesn’t say not to gossip so that the other person doesn’t hear it, it clearly states: do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building people up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29). There are three people we hurt when we talk and vent about others: the person we are talking about, the person we talk to, and ourselves. And obviously Jesus, because He is the Father of those three people. We must speak life (a favourite expression in our home right now, thank you Toby Mac.)

We ask others to pray for the situation.

This one is a gooder. We are so thankful for our personal Savior King. And then sometimes we just want more of a corporate group, right? Whether we are asking for prayer for ourselves or the other person, if we reveal too much about an issue it can be nothing more than thinly veiled gossip. Not cool. If you’re going to do something, just do it. We can’t let our “holy attitudes” make it seem like it’s a better way. He is your God. Pray to Him, alone.

We stew. We sit. We ponder.

I hate this one. As a matter of fact, I came across a little gem in my Beth Moore study this morning, “Constantly thinking little of ourselves is still constantly thinking of ourselves.” Whether you’re meditating on how you wrecked a situation, or on the fact that the other person is a lousy wet noodle, the answer is the same. The world does not revolve around us. Our thoughts are supposed to be on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Anything short of this hurts us and our Maker. Obviously, we can’t do this. Or at least I can’t. My HH will testify to the fact that this is something I greatly struggle with. If I think someone doesn’t like me, or is angry with me, it can often consume my thoughts and energies. I’m being very personal, here. I will sit and think on, “Why did I say that? Did she think I meant it in a different way?” This can, and has, consumed my energy. I MUST STOP. This is not the victorious life that God has set out for me. I could go on and on about how we must guard our hearts, and what we are dwelling on, but if you think this is something you are struggling with, ask the Holy Spirit (or your hubby!) and He will reveal it to you.

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Then when the time for battle comes:

We bring out past hurts.

‘Nuff said. We can validate our pain with their prior offenses, bring up anything and twist it till it causes the other person to hurt the same way. This does not bring God glory: making someone else hurt doesn’t make our hurt any less.

We run.

We have a chance to work things out, to bring the other person to task, to clear up a misunderstanding: but instead we bury it down, not forgiving, but just hiding it. Or we run, for real. Leave churches, leave community groups, quit the situation that brought about the injury. This doesn’t give us a chance to see God’s redemption, grace and mercy. This only shows ourselves, and often our children, that when the going gets tough, we check out. There is a place for this. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that can be done, and God calls us out. But if it is a one-on-one hurt, as opposed to a group issue, we have to pray about whether the relationship was ever worth it. It almost always is. If it wasn’t, why the heck were you wasting time with that person in the first place?

We refuse to own our mistakes.

I make them. You make them. We all do. Why are we so afraid to just say sorry? Even if the other person saw it in a completely different way, often we can own what we did in a situation. It saves time, hurt, bitterness, resentment and pain, to just SAY SORRY. Even if you have an excuse. Even if you couldn’t help it. Thank you Jesus for your mercy, new every day! Hopefully tomorrow I won’t hurt anyone by accident, or on purpose, because either way, they were hurt.

This is what happened on Sunday:

There was hurt. It was spoken of. Both women were ready for battle, God-style. They both were so busy trying to understand what the other was feeling, they weren’t as worried about themselves.

 

They walked through the whole situation, letting the hurt show.

There was apology.

There was forgiveness: Spoken, and lived.

There was grace.

Next time, maybe instead of praise and worship at church, they could reenact it.

Who doesn’t want this? Who doesn’t want real relationships with room for grace? Where if we mess up, we can trust the other to forgive, and forgive ourselves? Where our relationships get STRONGER, because of the obstacles we’ve overcome?

This is Jesus living, pure and simple.

And it starts with me, and you.

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THAT Year

Well, we have a couple more weeks of school, and then we’re done our first real year of school (I don’t count Kindergarten, because we didn’t have to do it. It was still a lot of work though! That stuff didn’t come naturally to me.) Our Clever One went from slowly, painstakingly, precisely printing a line of A’s, to writing a story that has a joke in it. Always. He can read. The thought makes me cry: Reading is SOOOO important to me, and I was able to awaken that in him. The world is now open. Even if I forget to tell him something about life, love, or the Aztecs, he can open up Google on his own, and search for it. We are currently working on some Internet blocks and filters.

It was a great first year. We went from working around a newborn, potty training a 2 year old, and playing Magic School Bus with the 4 year old, to making our own way of school, where we are all involved. We’ve spent hours in our school room. I am actually quite impressed that he was able to focus as well as he could. He can currently finish a page of math questions with a baby crying next to him, and not skip a beat. We made crafts, though not as many as I’d like. We played. Played. And then played some more. We had tons of field trips including rock climbing, the Rocky Mountains, and we will be going on a train ride soon.

But I know from talking to lots of homeschool moms that this was an “easy” year. I know, because there is always talk of THAT YEAR. You know.

THAT YEAR when the hubby lost his job.

THAT YEAR when we were all sick for months on end, catching every virus and cold that went around.

THAT YEAR when hubby worked for weeks on end, and Mom was alone for days, cooped up all winter, day and night, with the kids.

THAT YEAR when the new baby spent his first few weeks in the hospital, and Mom was away for over a month.

THAT YEAR when Mom lost her daddy unexpectedly, and had to travel out of province to take care of details. Her fifth baby was just recuperating from having pneumonia, all within the same two weeks.

Unfortunately, I know real life moms who have went through all of this, this very year.

It says, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

He gives us time, although we don’t know how much. For some it’s years and years, and for others it’s over before it starts. But His plan is so good. If we are alive for 70 or 80 years, we can count on some years being hard. Some years will seem longer than the others, more painful, more breaking. But we will look back on these years. Some will still hurt, some we’ll laugh at what we thought were trials at the time, and some we may not remember as they were lost in blissful monotony. But all the years are important and on purpose, for us and our children.

If you are in THAT YEAR, see it as such. It was too hard. It was too much. It wasn’t fair. See it for the trial and tribulation it is. And show your kids that we can choose to rejoice, even when you have no reason. That we can choose to have hope, when no one else would. And that we can love, even when our natural love is gone.

Romans 8:36-39: “As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

You’ve got this, Mama. Whether you’re homeschooling, working, staying at home, or your kids are gone, let this be the year that you conquered the trials, through Him and His love. No matter how the year went, let’s end strong. Life is hard, and seldom fair. I am so thankful we can have hope for the future.

Quick! Your Tolerance is Showing!

Sometimes the ones that preach tolerance the most, actually are the quickest to judge and condemn.

Oh, do I love Facebook. It is, literally, my only outlet to the outside world on most days. Like, where grown ups are. I don’t know if your newsfeed looks like mine, but sometimes I get so angry, I have to get off of Facebook or I’ll say something. Would that be wrong? Would it be wrong to discuss opinions, beliefs, research, news, etc?

In a word. 

YES.

This is because some people post with only the goal to wound and hurt. They are not looking for discussion: they are looking to get a rise. To judge. To press buttons. If you even ask for a “why” as to what they have posted, or “why” they have a deep rooted bitterness against a whole establishment of people, or “why” they only accept evidence or news from biased news sources, you know what will happen.

You will be unleashing a toxic stream of words that will just go further than the original post, which is already offensive to hundreds, if not thousands of people. The black sludge of their accusations will be like none you’ve heard, and based on complete ignorance. You will be the one to stand in the gap between that anger, that condemnation, that judgement and usually, that error of their belief or opinion. And is it worth it?

I ask myself every day.

Is it worth it, to feel the brunt of their fury at whole groups of people and take it on yourself? Is it worth it, to raise your hand and say, “Hey! I’m kinda one of those people you hate! I know we’re ‘friends’ and all, but what you are saying, well, it is a complete slander against me and my family. And like, it hurts my feelings, you know? So, do you want to talk about what I believe, and where you are kinda relying on wrong info there? Or do you want to just resume hating ‘me’, because, I kinda have just as much evidence about what I’m saying as what you’re saying? Either way, it’s cool, yo’!”

It isn’t worth it. Nine times out of ten, it’s not. 

Now that’s “friendship,” in the year 2014. You have the right to post whatever your heart desires, to completely judge thousands of people with a single picture and then get mortally offended, angry and hurtful if someone so much as questions the validity of your stance. 

Please. Teach me how to love, respect and be tolerant to all people. I’m just not getting it.

Some say Facebook is a smokescreen of what real people are. That you can’t know what someone is really like down deep in their hearts based on their “likes,” posts, or “shares.” 

I beg to differ. Sometimes, I think you can see exactly who people are. And sometimes, it’s ugly.

Trans Fats, Conspiracies and Provision

I’m tired. I have been trying to switch our family over to whole foods, as quietly and calmly as possible. I don’t want to hear a lot of whining, complaining or arguing: that’s why I don’t talk to myself anymore. But as I do this, I am fighting the “rules” that I’ve been fed for years by the media. I’m starting to not only trust that butter is better for you than margarine, and that maple syrup and organic honey are better than white sugar; I’m beginning to put my money where my mouth is. Slowly. But it makes me tired. I can’t trust anything. Every other Facebook post is about a conspiracy engineered by big Pharma/GMO’s/Obama.

*I can’t trust doctors. They are out to make us sick, so that they can heal us.

*I can’t trust the GMO’s. And they make everything.

*I can’t trust the government. Ever. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, they are out for their own gain.

*I can’t trust the “systems.” Welfare, criminal, social, school, etc. Basically, if it has the word “system” in in, and it’s not DOS or Windows, don’t trust it.

There is officially no establishment outside my little home in rural AB that I can trust that will not hurt me or eat my children. This has been backed up by research that they are hiding from us. I definitely believe that there is credence to parts of it, but maybe some is reaching. You have to give the conspiracies that are made up a lot of credit. It requires an amazing imagination to come up with some of this stuff. They even falsify Amber alerts. For what purpose? Almost every “share” on facebook can be researched on Snopes to show that it is nothing but a crazy rumour that someone made up.

Sometimes I think of deleting all social networks. So I can live in my little happy place, where no one is trying to kill me and put razors in the baby food (obviously, I don’t use baby food. That stuff is deadly.) I try so hard to do a good job, as a mom, wife, Christian. And yet everywhere I turn, someone is telling me it’s wrong. I’m sure it’s always been that way, but never as passive aggressive, quickly and repetitive as Facebook can be. We can’t even always trust Christian establishments. I know lots of people who’ve been hurt by people in a church (and then turn around and hate the whole church) and obviously the World Vision decision, fallout and reversal, just made everyone hang their heads, for various reasons.

I can trust no one.

But I can trust One.

The One who provides.

The One who heals.

The One who loves.

The One who saves.

The One who has a plan for me, my husband, my children.

Of course, we often pay the consequences of our choices. That’s fact.

But His promises are not contingent on my actions.

I am so thankful for His promises.

 

 

Ordering My Days

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Each day we are given 24 hours, or 1 440 minutes, or 86 400 seconds. I’m embarrassed to say that I have squandered a great deal of them. “Presence” is my theme this year. I wanted to spend more time in Jesus’ presence, and actively participate in the presence of those around me. When you have an extremely analytic mind (like me!), a great deal of your time is spent in the the peace and quiet of your own happy space. I love to just think. About everything. You know that meme about an internet browser with hundreds of tabs open? That’s me. I don’t think any good comes of it, I just think that I overthink. And then overthink about overthinking. Sigh.

Five years ago last week, I quit smoking for good! Yay! The anniversary came and went, because I have been battling another addiction. When I quit smoking, I played a game of Scrabble every night with my HH. It didn’t matter if we were out till 11:00 with youth or activities, we came home and played that game. It was super important. I HAD to play every night. Eventually, the toxins left my body, and the routine changed. Especially as we welcomed our precious second son into the world. I never have cravings anymore, and I haven’t had any dreams of smoking (Waking up in a panic thinking, “WHY??? OH NO! I started smoking again! I can’t believe I did that. Oh my goodness. I’m going to be hooked again. My HH is going to be so disappoi- wait. I’m in bed. Ugh. Whew. I’m safe.”) I can’t believe how much smoking, like all addictions, completely prey on your mind.

Now I’ve replaced it. I’m addicted to social media. I’ve tried a few things. An addiction group on Facebook. It didn’t seem to help. Mostly, because it was on Facebook. Seemed to defeat the purpose. I tried an app for IPhone called Limiter. It will only let you on the site for a certain amount of time per day, or a certain amount of times on the site. But you had to use Facebook through that app, rather than the original. Didn’t work. I tried distraction. You know: housework, laundry. That didn’t work. I didn’t spend a lot of time at once, but I would spend five minutes here, three minutes there. When I started keeping track, it made me mad. Imagine having that time to do something that gave me genuine joy- like scrapbooking, card making, reading, chatting with a friend, etc. And if you’ve been following this blog you know that I have struggled with my phone for over a YEAR. Literally. It’s been a year since I rolled my car and contemplated how much my phone takes over.

So, I had to quit all my fun groups. The ones that involve a lot of debating and thinking. I’m still kinda sad. I also had to get rid of the friends who are interesting. So if you saw this post, congrats! You didn’t make the cut! Just kidding. Actually, the only thing that’s going to help me is good, ol’ self control. I wish there was an easier way. I literally have to leave my phone in rooms I’m not in because I’m not strong enough to resist the urge to check my notifications. I have to schedule my day, so that I know what to do next. Same as with smoking. Sometimes I wonder if I get so overwhelmed by all the things I can’t get done today, I decide to start none of them. Makes perfect sense, right?

So that’s where I am. Right now, the laundry’s done. We ROCKED homeschool today, with lots of experiments and tie ins. It was great. The house is clean, reasonably. Don’t look under the couch or anything, but otherwise, it’s in ship shape. The book, “Large Family Logistics” by Amy Brenneman was so helpful in making a routine to get done everything I need to do each day, week, and month. You know, if I do it. I’m reading a book, for the first time in awhile. I think Facebook feels like reading, so then I don’t. I do miss seeing all the exciting things other people do, but I like that everything that needs to be done, is. 

I’ve been meditating on Psalm 90. Especially verses 10-12.

10 Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I want a heart of wisdom SO bad. I must stop settling for mediocrity in my time, for that is where my life is.

I will rest when it’s time to rest.

I will play when it’s time to play.

I will work when it’s time to work.

I will speak when it’s time to speak.

I will listen when it’s time to listen.

And the time to listen is NOW.