Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

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!

He Knew

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A little while ago, I had a great concern for my hair. Notably, it stopped growing completely and I would even say that it had shrunk in length. I could barely get a brush through it, and it felt like wire. My diet is fine (from what I’ve researched), I take vitamins, and I was still nursing at the time, though since, the Precious One has decided she prefers other menu options to mine.
Finally, after about five months of this, I headed to the doctor. I had my blood drawn, everything is fine. It was simply stress. I was kinda surprised: I might look like I have a busy, stressful life, but I really don’t feel like I do: I love my days, I love my work at home, I love my life. Then the doctor mentioned that it can take a couple months from the date of a stressful experience, to when it shows up in your hair.

Oh.

In November last year, I took our precious one in to get immunized. She had a reaction. We have always done what we thought was best, and immunized our children. I was late on the ball with her: for her first ones I was two months late, and her next set took place at about eight months old. The nurse who vaccinated her was very concerned because she had not grown at all in about four months. At the age when I took her in for this last set, she was still nursing many times a day, and eating food on her own. I had started her on meats, as I believe that this best for her little body’s iron stores. She loved eating. Everything. She fed herself with great enthusiasm, loved mealtimes. There was no reason for her not to have grown at all. The nurse administered the shots, and sent in a referral to a dietitian and pediatrician.
Well, we got home and the girl that I knew was gone. She screamed. And choked on her food. Smokin’ high fever. She wouldn’t eat (maybe because she kept choking on everything) but she would nurse the first day. The second day, I had to start encouraging her to nurse. I knew something was wrong: There’s something wrong with my baby.
Finally, I called the nurse. She mentioned she might have a cold, but that I should bring her to the hospital just to rule out an allergic reaction. I packed up all four kids at dinnertime, in -30 degrees.
Arriving at the ER, the beautiful, helpful nurse in triage decided to enlighten me on how babies can get fevers from their vaccinations; this is normal. She may not want to eat, but she looks pretty happy, right? Did I not get a pamphlet with this exact info on it, in writing, to peruse at my leisure? (Apparently, some mothers find it fun to outfit all four of their children under the age of five in snow pants, winter coats, boots, hats and mitts; pack snacks and activities to do in a boring hospital to prevent mutiny, and venture 40 km to spend their evening in a waiting room, only to be told they should read more pamphlets. We must stop this.)

But my baby hadn’t grown, absorbed any of the food I had given her in months, and now she had completely stopped eating, and drinking. I put my foot down.

There’s something wrong with my baby.

Eventually, my handsome hubby came and picked up the other kids, so it was just me and the Precious One. She had chest X rays, two rounds of blood work. Finally the doctor came in.

THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR BABY.

I have never seen a doctor so worried. He mentioned cystic fibrosis, failure to thrive. I was to feed her hourly, all night long, come back in the morning to weigh her. He expedited the pediatrician appointment. 

Everyone was praying for us. My pastor called, a friend stopped by with nutritious groceries, I got texts and love from many friends. Everything went well: we got into the specialist within a week. But there was so much fear here. I was scared for my little girl, and the pain of tests. I was scared for the many trips to the city, when I knew we didn’t have gas money. I was scared to listen to the opinions of everyone (“She’s fine, you’re paranoid.””It’s because you vaccinated her.””You’re not feeding her the right things.”)

And I didn’t pray once. Well, I sorta did. The only thing I could even say to my Father, the One who created me, who knows me and my family, who loves them all more than I do:

You know. 

I felt like if I actually prayed, I would lose it all. This is not to say that I went through this with grace and composure and a smile, this simply means that there was a scream in the back of my head that was very close to coming out. But I knew He knew. At the time, that was all I needed. 

Romans 8:26: In the same way, the Spirit helps in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 

Now, it’s all passed, hopefully. The wisdom of the specialists and doctors is that our baby girl is small in stature. 

Duh.

And now, eight months later, I’m losing my hair.

It’s just a reminder to me that our bodies can be a window to our hearts. If we go through periods of stress, fear, anger, resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness you better believe that this will show. We can pretend to have it all together on the outside, but what’s inside will eventually surface. It is so important what we eat, and to exercise, to take care of the temple we’ve been given. But we also need to keep a constant check on our hearts. Are you afraid? Are you angry? Your Father already knows, the Spirit is intercessing on your behalf. Sometimes, time in His presence is all you need to receive strength, but most of all clarity. Spend time with the One who knows, and allow Him to show you. Your health may depend on it.

Intentionally Easter

Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that we can add so much to our day. When five or six subjects are done in less than two hours, it guarantees that there’s enough time for fun, extra learning, and life skills. So we got into Easter. Hands, feet and noses deep. We did this beautiful Bible Study, called “A Sense of Resurrection.” It’s a 12 day deal, from the maker of Truth in the Tinsel (a super fun Christmas activity e-book). The daily activities weren’t long, so it can still be done with kids who are in school. Every day we used a different one of our senses to experience what Jesus did, in the days before His death. We tasted, smelled, felt, seen, and heard experiences that they will remember, (and me too!) in the months ahead. If you follow me on Pinterest, I pinned the link. I was super excited because we just finished up a unit on Senses in science, so this fit right in. You can do this with kids of all ages; we will do it again next year because I know they will get more out of it as they age.

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Making windchimes that reminded us of the noise and excitement when Jesus came through the city and the people yelled, “Hosanna!”

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Washing each other’s feet.

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Our little Pentecostal. She mostly danced and sang along to the music we listened to during our activities. 

This was so much fun. Normally when I find great ideas, it’s too late. I love Pinterest and Facebook, but I don’t think about holidays until the day before. This year, I felt like I nailed it! We started three weeks ahead of Good Friday, and did the activities on our normal school days (not weekends.) You could do them all in a day or two, though. For Easter weekend, we also followed some ideas the creator of the program had blogged about on her site, called “UnEaster baskets.” I was soooo excited about this. We had the kids take their baskets outside, and collect rocks. Image

Next, we wrote some sins that we are struggling with on each of the rocks. Some examples were, “When I throw things,” and “When I don’t clean up the basement. And don’t short that, Mom, I have the biggest rock, so it will all fit.”

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We covered it all with a red towel, thanking Jesus that He covers and paid for our sins with His blood. Image

The kids went upstairs with Daddy to watch “What’s in the Bible, Volume 10” with the kids.** I got to work! I took out the rocks and put them in their own shopping bag (obviously the boys had an attachment to their own, specific rocks) and filled up the baskets with some treasures I was so excited about! Image

After the movie, we brought the kids down again. We are so thankful that Jesus takes our brokenness, our ugliness, and makes it into something beautiful. I am so thankful for the Cross. My ridiculously handsome hubby had the amazing idea of throwing the rocks as far as we could, as far as the East is from the West, just like Jesus does. Jesus is alive. I am so thankful that I can speak these truths into our children’s lives. Again, none of this was my idea! I found it online, and loved it! Check out ohAmanda.com, as she is the one who came up with these activities! **The “What’s in the Bible? With Buck Denver” is an AMAZING series from the creator of Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer. The whole series chronicles the Bible and even which books were chosen and why. My HH and I often joke about taking notes; we learn so much. If you are interested, we bought the whole series (the kids don’t know! We give them one each holiday) for a discounted rate from a homeschool site. I can get you details.

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.