No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. 1st Corinthians 10:13

Oct. 3, 2012

When it seems that there is trouble all around me I all too often rely on my own vain efforts, to the point where I am under such tremendous pressure that I finally break.  Why?  Is it pride?  Oh sure, there are desperate pleas for help.....but more often I am too burdened with my own shame, guilt and just an overwhelming feeling of unworthiness to "go boldly" to Him.  During these times my focus isn't on Him, but on myself.
 
My problems.
 
My circumstances.
 
My feelings.
 
Me, Me, Me.
 
There is a tension in being honest about where I am and how I feel with God (He knows all of my stupid thoughts anyway) and counteracting those typically negative thoughts and feelings with truth. 
 
This morning I read in Psalm 18: 
 
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.


16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
 
 
A few years ago the ladies lifegroup I was a part of read The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg.  
 
"When God really wants to get your attention, he doesn’t just say something once, he echoes. He speaks through a Sunday sermon, a chance conversation with a friend the next day, and even a random email. The same theme, idea, impression, or lesson will repeat itself in surprising and unexpected ways until you realize that maybe, just maybe, God is at work.  As God’s voice echoes to us, we are invited to echo back to him in prayer. We are invited to be persistent and tenacious not only in the things we ask but also in our desire for a relationship with him."
 
I was reading in Psalm 118
 
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they went out like a fire among thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard,[a] so that I was falling,
but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
16 the right hand of the Lord exalts,
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”


Isaiah 41:10 says   fear not, for I am with you;
                                  be not dismayed, for I am your God;
                               I will strengthen you, I will help you,
                                  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


 

There is no "me" in there, except as a receiver of God's help. It is not up to me to fix or to solve; it is up to me to"fear not" and to trust in I AM.   In fact each of the scriture passages I've shared echo that truth.  
I started off this year recognizing a need to transform my thinking. It has not been easy and though there are days when I fail, I recognize that this process of transformation does not come quickly or easily; what refining process does?  That "old man" (or in my case perhaps it should be "old woman") nature needs to be beaten back daily, and there are some days we are on all too familiar grounds. 
 
Fortunately, when I call upon the Lord, He is there
 
He does strengthen. 
 
He does help. 
 
He does rescue.  
 
He does delight in me.     

Sep. 1, 2012

Sweet, Sweet Summer

It happened again.....I blinked and the summer slipped away.  Summer:  the slightly irresponsible younger sibling to Spring who gets away with more than he ought and melts hearts with his warmth.  It's the take-me-as-I-am, schedule-free, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants season.  I love it! 

Since I was a kid, this time of year has always brought with it a bit of melancholy and recently I`ve taken a look back at all this summer held for us; man, it`s  been a full one and quite a roller coaster ride.  By the end of the first week of July, we'd packed up and left our rented home-along-the-river and moved back to "The Palace".  After being away for three plus years, it was good to be ome where I`ve been reminded of the MANY little things we take for granted:  toilets that flush, water that is hot, lights that turn on......  It's been interesting to say the least. 

There isn't anything that has gone on around here that Meagan hasn't been in the midst of.  Whether it was readying the Palace for the move while keeping clients happy, being a bridesmaid in one wedding while a maid of honour in another yet to come.  In the midst of it all she managed to squeeze a trip to Spain in there to witness the nupitals of friends she met while in the Czech Republic.  She has been...correction, she IS invaluable.  I don't just speak of what she does, but as I pause and take a look back I see that it was in the midst of it all that she has lived out who she:  one who gives of herself and puts others needs before her own.  She sets a standard for all of us.  I admire her. 



 
On July 27 Brad and I celebrated the arrival of another beautiful daughter and our kids, a sister when Ben wed his lovely Buhle.  Though I may be a bit biased, it was a spectacularly beautiful day, perfect in every way.  In the days leading up to the wedding, I would picture my Benjamin as he once was, my beautiful, blond- haired, brown-eyed boy.  I watched this young man end his single life when he made a covenant before many witnesses and God to love, honour and cherish the woman whom he has chosen.  Ben's journey in finding his bride was not an easy one, but I greatly admire how he allowed God to refine him in throughout the process in order to prepare him to be the man Buhle would need.  I believe she is his reward for some tough but well made choices.  



Carleigh graduated from highschool in June and completed her high school career.  She worked hard and received her first year tuition free at Trent University, which is a huge blessing!  I know this summer has been bitter-sweet for her.  I understand the emotions that she feels as she says goodbye to friends.  I see the look in her eyes when she leans in to speak to Tess, Rhys and Declan and grabs a kiss or a hug.  She's the only one of the original 5 that has lived continuously with her younger siblings.  When Declan was a baby, Carleigh took on bathtime....and she's done it ever since.  I admire her discipline and steadfastness.  It's the end of an era, but a new adventure awaits and today we loaded up her belongings and sent her on her way.  


Noah turned 22 yesterday and in two weeks our family will celebrate yet again when he marries his "high school sweetheart" and he and Casey will begin their journey together as husband and wife.  Though we already consider Casey to be one of ours, on September 15 she will officially become an Allison and will be another welcome addition to our ever-expanding family.  The excitment around here is building as the final plans are being put into place.  I've watched these two over many years as their relationship has matured.  I admire Noah's loyalty; his love for people is genuine.


Brad and I just returned last evening from the aproximately 2400 km trip to Muncie, Indiana (not the end of the world, but I think you could see it from there).  Following a disappointing first game loss (it would appear that our defence didn't get on the bus) we spent 5 cherished minutes with Cam. I can see the maturity he has gained from the tough lessons he has learned.  Cam has inspired me on many an occasion.  Though to look at him no one would be surprised to learn he plays football, that  doesn't mean there haven't been challenges along the way.  In spite of them, Cam holds fast to what he knows is God's plan for him.  I admire his courage and perseverance.  Football is not just a game to Cam but he's come to view it as his worship to God.  What an amazing place to be!




And then there's the "expansion pack"....some days I wonder what will be left of Brad and I by the time these 3 start University and get married!  Oh dear.....though we see glimpses of each of the older kids in them, they are each uniquely themselves.  Declan is his father's son; a thinker with a quick tongue and a dry wit.  I think if I had to compare him to a bible character, he'd be Paul.  He is not fond of crowds but values his relationships.  Rhys is his opposite - a boy with a sensitive soul who whispers his love and gives the best kisses despite bearing the weight of the world on his brow.  Fortunately for him he is developing a great prayer life!  I think he's like David.  Tess....I don't know how to put her into a few words.  She has many people fooled with her seemingly quiet, tiny self but don't let that exterior fool you.  She's a fireball who isn't afraid of anyone or anything that we can see.  Remember Jael?  She was the woman who drove the tent peg through Sisera's temple?  That's my girl.   When she's 12, if we survive til then, I'll start farming her out to her older siblings!  I'm kidding.....we'll play it by ear.
























Jul. 21, 2012

Wha'dya do when Hope slips? You give it a hand up.


Hebrew 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

We’ve been back home for two weeks now.  Alex first coined it “5 star camping” and I’ve been using that term ever since.  We’ve got all we need; our power is by generator and intermittent; our hot water is courtesy of a kettle or the black tubing Brad has put on the roof.....we're thankful it's summer!  Bathing is “a la sponge bath” or, for some who’ve been able to take advantage of it, via the said black tubing on the roof…..or via the goodness of a kind friend.  In the evening during our down time, we run the generator so we can watch a movie; no cable, no satellite but we’ve survived!  Actually I would say we’ve done more than just survive.  Hydro, we’re told, will be hooked up on Monday and though I will welcome the regularity it will bring, there is something that’s been thoroughly enjoyable about "roughing it" these past couple weeks.  This is a summer we will never forget; not just for the wonderful events we will be celebrating as a family with Ben and Noah’s upcoming nuptials (no, they aren't marrying each other.....there are girls), but the memories we are making together as we work side by side, through the frustrations that come when working together on a challenging task.  We do it pretty well; we've had some practice!

10 years.  In April of 2002 we purchased this place we call home.  It’s not an ordinary home, but then again, we’re not your ordinary family.  We moved in just in time to celebrate Canada Day when  our first guests come to stay with us.  I’m not sure if we actually had our beds moved in as yet but we had lots of mattresses that did the job just fine, thankyouverymuch.  "We had a dream"......and moved here with all of the excitement that a new adventure brings.  Of course, new adventures come with all sorts of other things, too; they rarely, if ever, go according to plan and you fairly quickly learn that the dream that so inspired you at the beginning can become much less enchanting as time wears on.....   

We fairly quickly learned that this place was much larger than we could handle on our own.  That point was brought home when the cheques from the “new job with the promise of big money” starting bouncing.  This was something new and the beginning of a season that brought with it a lot of conflicting feelings and yes, excitement.  The everyday miracles…….the many little things that happened daily and showed us that though we felt out of control, God was very much in control.  Tires that went flat in the driveway after driving to and from Ottawa to pick up the kids after school, rather than on the side of the 416 while doing 120.  Gas tanks that ran far below empty and groceries that showed up at the door.  Winning concert tickets for Noah’s birthday and watching him get to meet Steven Curtis Chapman was amazing!  Experiencing the generosity of a church family at Christmastime…..as well as on other days was great and huge boosts for us.  There were other things, though, that showed a deeper change as a result of the journey.  My children showed themselves to be givers; though they had little, they gave abundantly of what they had.  I’ll never forget Cam coming home from school and making a bee line for his room, lugging back his favourite stuffed tiger and his much loved bed cover.  They had received a challenge at school and he took it seriously.  Meagan actually said that she wished her friends could experience what we had.  For my part, I enjoyed the best Thanksgiving that year and at Christmas, Brad had an idea and we threw the doors wide open, invited everyone in and had a spectacular time making some of our greatest memories as a family.  

There were moments of doubt.  Times when I thought we should “go back”; everything would be ok if we just went back.  For the Hebrew children, there was safety and a sense of comfort in the familiar, even though it was thebondage and slavery they had cried to be delivered from.  I'm not so different; I could relate. 

One day in particular I was struggling.  I felt stretched beyond my comfort and my mind was racing.  I was visiting with a friend who was encouraging me to "go back" and when she left the room to answer the phone my thoughts turned to what had brought us to where we were.  As I recalled the steps we’d taken my mind stopped racing.  The confusion was gone and I was overwhelmed with peace and knew we were exactly where we needed to be.  We didn’t go back; we chose to cross our own “Red Sea”and go forward, despite what was oftentimes uncomfortable.  That was many years ago.  I’ve certainly not walked in constant peace since then, but I've never forgotten that afternoon.  There have been other times I’ve had to deal with doubt; times when Hope slipped and Faith seemed nowhere to be found……they were still there, though.  Some days they get buried beneath the stuff of life and I have to give them a hand up, wipe the dust off and be reminded again.
This morning I was sweeping up the nails, staples and insulation in the center block.  The fire of April, 2009 did some damage there, however much of it is just surface colour and is salvageable.  The kitchen and back entrance took the worst hit.  Our plan is to put up a second story and a new roof.  This rebuilding, renovation, restoration; whatever you want to call it…..well, it isn't quick and doesn't always go according to the plan, but as I swept up those nails and staples and insulation, I found myself reminded that this place; this Palace, is far larger a job than what we are able to accomplish on our own.  The difference now compared to 10 years ago?  My hope isn’t in the Palace or the dream of what it could or will be.  It's certainly not in the new job with the promise of big money or the mortgage broker or the insurance company.  My Hope is  in God, 'cause my hope is from Him.     

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is IN you.  Psalm 39:7
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is FROM him.  Psalm 62:5    

It’s not gone the way we planned, but we can still see what could be.   It’s not going to be easy, but it IS worth it. 










Apr. 30, 2012

When Desire meets Difficulty

It was 10 years ago today the deal to purchase what we have affectionately come to call "the palace" closed and we took a step in what has turned out to be quite an adventure! I can recall the anticipation and excitement we as a family felt.  The building wasn't pretty, but we saw beyond the ugliness to the potential.  We saw what others either didn't or couldn't see; we had ideas and dreams.....we saw the potential.  As we proceeded to jump through the necessary hoops to make the 11,000 square foot building ours, we were met with challenges along the way, but our dreams outweighed them.  When the listing agent advised that he was expecting an Offer from another buyer, we gathered the kids together to pray as a family and left the outcome to God.  I don't know if the offer was ever made, but we never heard about it again.

We moved to Kemptville just prior to the Canada Day in 2002; I remember because my dad, sister Dawn and her kids were coming to spend the long weekend with us and the kids and I wanted to host them at the new place.  Though I'm sure they thought we were crazy, they were gracious.  I think dad said that there was a lot of work to do and Dawn was quiet as I toured them through room after room after room.....she was likely thinking "better Deb than me"!  I on the other hand was flying high; I was excited and envisioning what would be rather than what was.  It definitely marked the beginning of a faith journey for me; one that is far from over. 

This past friday, April 27, marked the 3rd anniversary of the fire that started in the grass behind our palace on a warm, windy day.  By the time the boys alerted me to it, there was nothing to do but call 911 and grab baby Tess from her crib.  We've learned some things in the 10 years since we bought our palace.....things about ourselves and things about one another.  I can't say that in the intervening time that has passed that I've never had a doubt or wished I were in a more comfortable place, but what I can say is that despite the difficulties and I would dare to say that because of the difficulties, we continue to choose to see beyond the ugliness to the potential that lies within our diamond in the rough.



Mar. 2, 2012

Stories of Old

I decided this year that I wanted to read through the bible Chronologically and Youversion  has some great plans.  I know we're just into March, but so far, so good. I've also been using Rhys Children's,  Bible to read through with the boys; it's written in a kid friendly, kinda' comic book fashion and touches on the main stories.  On most days, the boys are an avid audience and it's been interesting to hear their comments but I'm pretty sure; actually quite sure, that the whole exercise means more to their mother.

Admittedly, my eyes glaze over and my brain fogs when I reach those verses that lay out who begat who....but now that I'm done Job and almost all of Genesis I'm reminded again of how very.....human.....these people were.  The great men and women of faith are, well, like us, and I find that hugely comforting.  They didn't get it all right.  They did stupid stuff.  They doubted and complained  and yet God's faithfulness wasn't, and isn`t, dependent on what they did, but on His plan to redeem His people. 

Absolutely amazing.

We who call ourselves Christ followers all have our "fleeing Egypt" stories; that first feeling of sweet relief after being released from the years of slavery; can you remember that first taste of freedom when you accepted His gift, undeserved and freely given?

We've all come to our "Red Sea" moments when we've dared to look around at the mountains and and back at the pursuing army, and railed and complained.....actually wished we were back within our comfort zones, esconced in whatever held us captive.   Maybe that's just me.......

What I've loved about reading again these historical events is that I find myself in there.  I find myself and I see God.....and am reminded anew of His forgiveness, love, mercy and grace that know no end. 



       



Feb. 18, 2012

Life....a Spectator Sport?


On Boxing Day this year, we began our adventure to Florida.  We don't fly, we drove; as a large family who enjoys going places, it's what we've always done.  Our mantra:  "part of the journey is in the getting there".  True in road trips and true in life.

11 people (3 under the age of 8), 3 vehicles, 2 days.

You may not believe me if I tell you it was fun and I don't know that everyone who took part would agree, but for me there is something about the getting there that I enjoy.  There's a mindset, a groove....and on this trip we had several vehicles and many drivers which provided us with lots of mobility. 

Though the resort we were at shared one of Disney's boundaries, we didn't "do Disney".  We wanted flexibility; wanted to enjoy what the resort offered, enjoy some family time as well as leave time and room for people to do their own thing.  Brad and I sacrificed a morning and sat through one of those high pressure sales things....the reward?  4 free passes to Gatorland and the balance at a reduced cost.  Kids had great fun. 

One afternoon Meg and I took Declan, Rhys and Tess to a petting zoo.  I know...it's a long way to go to a petting zoo, but this one was on steroids.  Lots of animals, some familiar and some not-so-much.  They offered a hay ride, train ride and pony rides.....the kids even had an opportunity to milk a dairy cow and on our way out Declan, Rhys and Tess got to choose a stuffed toy!  Tess and Rhys took advantage of any opportunity to go into the pens.  Declan, however, wasn't as eager.  He went with me into the sheep pen and he held a baby chick, but he wasn't near as excited as his younger siblings to meet the goats or chase chickens and ducks around despite encouragement from Meg and I.  He told me he enjoyed watching and eventually we stopped suggesting he take part.  He's got a quick mind and a wicked imagination, but when it comes to some things, he seems content to be a spectator.  It bugged me.

I've done that.....not all the time, but all too often I've been content to observe as others live out their dreams, despite huge encouragement to the contrary.  For a long time I believed.....me, myself and I.....that my role in life was to encourage and support others and though I want to be that person, it should not exclude me from pursuing my own dreams and passions. 
Life is definately NOT a spectator sport.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10 ESV) 



 







   

Feb. 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Perhaps it's 'cause Valentine's Day was approaching.....or maybe it's 'cause of all the relationship conversation at church....or maybe it's because I have two boys getting married this summer!!  Whatever the reason, I've been bombarded recently with memories of my own lovely, albeit brief, engagement and courtship to my sweetheart.  We had met at the office; Brad was an associate at the law firm where I got my first job after graduating.  I can remember the very first time I saw him.  It was hunting season and he'd been off but came in one day for whatever reason and we were introduced.  A few months later when his secretary went on mat leave, I took her place.  Brad was easy and fun to work with and we got along very well; a great working relationship quickly became a friendship that equally as quickly was something.....more.  We started dating in November of 1985 and it wasn't long before we knew that we would be married.  Outside of work we spent hours sharing our dreams; talking about family and how many kids there would be (8 wasn't one of the numbers discussed) and in April of 1986, Brad proposed and I happily accepted.  And the wedding date?  June 21, just two months later.   Ah, the joys of "small town", (Island) life!  Wedding co-ordinators didn't exist.  We were married in the church I'd grown up in, surrounded by our family and friends.  

It was a beautiful day; one I'll never forget.
Brad and I had enjoyed writing to one another in those early days of discovering that we were in love.  On the morning of the wedding, while we girls were having photos taken at our home, a wee parcel arrived for me from my beloved, with a letter:

And he's been there everyday since.  Our life together has not always been romance and love letters, but the good times....the good times have far outweighed the difficult times and the difficult times (there were a few), have only served to bind us together, and to provide us with some great stories!  True stories of God's forgiveness, his grace, his faithfulness and yes his favour in our lives.  That's an ongoing story and as I recall what lies behind us, I look forward with great excitement to see what comes next!




    



Feb. 11, 2012

What the Grinch and I have in Common


It's Saturday.

My house is a bit of a mess and I'm still in my pjs; aside from feeding people and going through pictures and memories, I haven't accomplished much at all.  I've things in my head and on my heart.  
Noah was here early this morning; it is rare that we see him without Casey but he was running an errand and didn't want her along......he had to pick up a surprise!  This afternoon they arrived, together and engaged to be married!  It's been quite a journey for them but they, and we, are ready for this next step and are celebrating with them. 
Brad and I skyped with Cam this morning; so cool to be able to reach across the miles that separate us using technology!  To see his face; to hear his voice.....it was good.  His siblings all took the opportunity to chat and to tell him he is loved.....most definitely loved.  We're looking forward to having him home for a break in a couple weeks.

I had coffee with a friend on Wednesday; a new friend!  We met at a Second Cup in the east end of Ottawa but it was packed so down the road to Starbucks we went.  Not only did I get to spend time with a new friend over coffee, but Ben was working and when his shift was over I drove him home.  He has a lot going on right now:  waiting to hear from med schools and planning a wedding.....it's hard for him to wait, but he's waiting well.  Despite our best laid plans, this life offers many unknowns and as his mom I have to remind myself that the best thing I can do is to continue to entrust him and his beautiful Buhle to God.  Not always easy, but God is ever faithful.
 

Meagan is heading out shortly to attend a bachelorette party; not only does she have two brothers getting married, but two friends as well, which has kept her busy with pre-wedding parties for weeks now!  I longed for her before I ever knew I was expecting her and loved her before we met; she is beautiful, both inside and out.  It will take a very special man to capture her attention and heart.  She is quiet and strong; adventurous, yet prefers to be behind the scenes.  She gives of herself daily to God, her family and her work.  She is beautiful, both inside and out.


Carleigh is in her last semester of highschool and actually home today!  She too is waiting to hear back from Universities and, I expect, will be off to the school of her choice come September.  As Meagan was to her, so she is to her younger siblings and Declan and Rhys will miss her, but the one she fondly refers to as "mini me" will especially. 


It wasn't that long ago........

I remember awaiting the arrival of our first baby; such anticipation!  We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl, but long before Meagan Rae arrived we were in love.....and have been ever since. 
As a new mom, it was hard to imagine ever loving another human being as much......as it turned out, Brad and I didn't have to wait terribly long to find out if we could, 'cause before we celebrated Meagan's 2nd birthday, we welcomed Benjamin James into our hearts.  When my gran was still with us, Meagan and Ben couldn`t be in the same room without her telling whoever was within ear shot about how Meagan had been such a beautiful baby.....and her concern about how this next one was ever going to hold a candle to his or her big sister!  When she saw Benjamin she knew that boy would have no problem holding his own. Benjamin was not only a beautiful baby, but he was as close to perfect as any baby ever was and with his arrival I learned that I didn't have to share my love; there was just.....more.
Just under 18 months later, along came our Noah with his cherubic face and twinkling, mischievous eyes.  Once he started smiling, he never stopped.  He would smile through most anything, which  is incredibly annoying when you're disciplining him, but there were other times.....more than I can remember, when his smile made his mama's day better.







Campbell came next, all 10lb 12oz of him.  He was big and beautiful and exuberant, yet had an "old soul" and the most generous heart.  After the birth of #4 was the first time I wondered if our family was complete, but I didn't feel done.  It wasn't until I learned we were expecting #5 that I knew this baby would be our last.  




Carleigh MacKenzie arrived on Remembrance Day, 1994; another beautiful baby girl to help balance out all that testosterone and the long-awaited, much prayed-for sister for Meagan.  The family was complete; we were a "millionaire's" family a couple times over and I was done.   Though we were still living on Manitoulin, we had Carleigh in the Sault 'cause mama was having a 'lil post-birth surgery.  Our home, and hearts, were full. 



Well anybody who knows us knows I changed my mind; it is, after all, a woman's perogative.  That is an entirely different story, one better left to another day.  I will say, though, that God heard not only my prayer for more, but Carleigh's, and He answered.....abundantly.

 

Love, real love, doesn't subtract or divide; it adds and multiplies and makes room for more; for so much more......and so I say I'm like the grinch 'cause I'm sure my heart is AT LEAST three times what it used to be.



Alex and Marissa aren't mine biologically, but they are a special part of our lives and I love them. 


     





Feb. 6, 2012

Grumpy mom and grace

This past weekend was one of celebration for us; Saturday was Ben and Buhle's engagement party as well as Tess' 4th birthday, which we all gathered to celebrate on Sunday.  I was happy to crawl into bed a bit early and awoke around 4 a.m., sweating. It could have been the hormones, but more likely it was because the little blonde one had crawled inbetween her dad and I and we were jammed.   I carried her back to her bed.....and after a couple more visits didn't see her again until morning.....which was later than usual for me 'cause of the interuption!  So I had a late start, did the breakfast thing and then  went directly into school stuff with the boys in the moning followed by office stuff in the afternoon. I spent most of my day in my pjs waiting for enough hot water to shower and had a good grump on by bed time. Mostly tired, but I was dragging around some stuff too.  I tried to pawn off tucking the kids in and realized it was 'cause I didn't want to pray with them.  Well it didn't work.
Oh snap.
I was a wee bit watery-eyed when I went in. I got down on my knees beside the bottom bunk and laid my head on Tess' tummy....Dec was quiet; he figured mom was mad at them. Rhys asked what was wrong and I told him I was just tired and grumpy. Tess rubbed my head and told me how much she loved me....and then Rhyser prayed; he prays in a whisper voice to "God, Jesus and Holy Spirit". I love listening to him; he told them each much he loved them.....and his mom. 
The love of a child....there is little else on this earth that comes closer to the unconditional love that God shows us.  They don't count the number of times I raised my voice today.  They didn't have to agonize over whether or not they were gonna forgive me, they just do.
When I grow up, I wanna be just like them.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14

Jan. 24, 2012

I was texting with Cam this morning; he's heading off on a Men's Retreat this weekend and asked me to help get him registered.  I was pleased to see that the retreat was being held at Cedar Campus; Brad introduced me to this place many years when we had the priviledge of attending as camp counsellors together. 
In the course of our conversation, I asked Cam how he was doing; asked him a couple times and after a lengthy pause he answered.  He's been fighting (in a spiritual sense) and he's tired...... There have been times when one or the other of my children have come to me, laden with one weight or another.....sometimes I've been in a place myself where I just felt overwhelmed by my own stuff and panic.  Other times I've tried to just deal with it on my own strength.  What was so cool today was that I found myself in a place where I was able to encourage Cam to "faint not".  (Okay, I didn't say "faint not!" .....that just came to me and I thought it sounded cool.  Call it creative license.)I know what it's like to feel weary and overwhelmed and like I'm in a fog.....I think when we're honest we all have those times but that's one of the really cool things about being part of something larger than ourselves.  
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Cor 1:4 (NLT) 
So we talked.  There was no stumbling or bumbling about for words.....those just came and not just words, but truth.  When we were done, I didn't feel anxious or panicked or burdened about what my boy was experiencing.....I felt at peace.  Rather than keep it to myself, which is my tendency, I called a friend and we stood in agreement and prayed for my boy.  It was AWESOME; not a word I use lightly.  So simple, yet so wonderful.  I'm excited to see what God has in store for Cam this weekend! 
This was happening over the course of the morning; I`d been working with Rhys and then was making Swiss Steak for supper.  Ever had it?  It's a great way to use a cheaper cut of steak.  I floured the counter and was using the edge of a plate to pound the meat when Alex happened by.....
"You know it's dead" she said, and we both chucked.  She's just too funny...... 
I love a good analogy and as I was pounding away, I was mindful of my conversation with Cam.  I explained the process to Alex; once I'd pounded the meat to my satisfaction, I would fry it so it was nicely browned, season it, toss in a couple sliced onions and a can of tomatoes and then cook it long and low for the afternoon.  The result?  Meat so tender it falls apart when you touch it.   
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  James 1 2 - 4

Jan. 21, 2012

Stinkin' Thinkin'

So I'm sitting with Rhys a few mornings ago and he's writing out his alphabet.  Sounds simple, eh?  He knows his alphabet and knows the sounds each letter makes but he struggles with recognizing some of the letters and writing the alphabet out takes him a while.  So while he's doing it, I'm sitting there beside him, trying to spur him on but I`m noticing that everything coming out of the boy's mouth is negative.  Everything.  He wasn't just whining about having to do it, he is saying stuff that was just....wrong! 


Though it wasn`t the first time he's complained about having to do school work (an academic he isn`t) and it wasn't the first time he's spoken negatively about himself (we call him Eyore) the effect it had on me was a first and I felt.....helpless.  I didn`t know what to do.  I knew I couldn`t do what I usually did and so I started to write:
"God, I see myself in Rhys.  The frustration and negativity.  The self-deprecation to the point where he doesn`t even want to try.  He`s lying to himself....but when he's encouraged, he beams!......He needs me; he needs me to encourage him.... He needs me to build him up......Thank you, Father; thank you for eyes to see. Help me to speak life."
Sometimes as a mom, God gives me one of those "teaching moments"; I love that. More often as a mom, God has given me "student moments".  Opportunities when He is showing me, reminding me of things that I am talking to one of the kids about.  In the past few weeks, I have watched as my children have shown courage, discipline, love, loyalty, forgiveness....to people in their sphere of influence, of which I am one, and I have been challenged to my core. 

While I'm writing, I'm crying.  I turn to my boy and say "Rhys, you're lying to yourself honey....don't believe those lies.  You are not stupid.  You are not an idiot.  You are a smart boy and you do like to learn.  I see you smile when you read; I see you smile, Rhys.  Sometimes it's hard, yes, but it is worth it honey.  It's hard now, yes, but you can do it, Rhys, and it will have been worth it!"

I don't know if I've communicated this well at all, but it was like someone flicked a switch; not only in my head (or more correctly in my thinking) but in my son and the little boy who was spouting such.....crap.....barrelled through his Word Building and then was on to his math, alternating between telling me how easy it was, and how much he loved me.  

"Can we do more, mom?" 

Yes Rhys; we can do more.  There is always more.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts
on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and
admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 
Phil 4:8 NLT



Jan. 13, 2012

Everyday, Ordinary.....Life

This morning I was working with Rhys.  He’s such a sweet boy and I love him to distraction however he does have a couple annoying little quirks. Though I'm quite sure that as he matures, these things will work for him rather than against him, right now they are mostly a huge pain in my patootie.  (I didn’t think that was a work, but whad’ya know, I found it here:  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=patootie)
Rhys.  Sensitive, caring, loving….and one of the best little kissers in this world!  This is the boy that tells Jesus he loves him "more than gold".  He is also the boy who lives to be entertained; by the tv, the computer, xbox, smart phone, kindle.  You name the electronic device, he’s played on it or watched someone play on it.  From the moment his eyes open at approximately 6 a.m. until the moment his sweet head touches his pillow, he’s pestering somebody to let him play, watch, play while watching or watch while playing…..you get the idea.  It’s not just that he enjoys doing these things, but he is persistent beyond belief when he asks to do these things.  Drives me crazy BUT I’m SURE that as he matures, his perseverance will pay off.  Though I wouldn’t wish a sales position on anybody, people would say yes to Rhys just to get rid of him.  He actually talked his sister into paying him the other day, just so he’d be quiet.  What an entrepreneur. 
The other little thing that irks me is his ability to not remember anything.  At least, that’s what he’d love for me to believe.  This particularly irksome habit arose this morning while we were working on math.  He’s learned what we call the “buddies” of 10….1 and 9, 2 and 8, 3 and 7….and so on.  I was showing him how he can use his buddies when he’s subtracting and one number is greater than 10, but less than 20.  I’m not sure why I’m going into such detail here but bear with me.  So for 2 pages I go over 3 steps with him, and he gets the answers right virtually every time, but when I ask him to do one by himself, he can't.  When I tell remind him to use the three steps, his response is  “I forget”. 
I’m 46 years old and pre-menopausal; I work from home with my husband, a defence lawyer, and our beautiful daughter.  We were blessed to have 8 children, the oldest, Meagan, is almost 25 and the youngest, Tess, is almost 4 (but thinks she’s almost 25) and I home school the 6 and 7 year old boys. It's a busy house and by the end of the day, this mama's tired.  Aside from that, I do recognize that my patience is not what it once was and can run thin at times.  This morning was one of those times and as I walked away from my sweet boy, I suggested to him, strongly, that he could sit there all day until he finished the math.  Well, that doesn’t really work with Rhys…..'cause he has no problem just sitting there and that's exactly what he did. 
Flummoxed, I sat down and looked at him.  “What do you mean, you forget.  We’ve gone over and over this, Rhys; it’s three steps.  How can you not remember three steps?  You have to think, ya know; you don’t just sit there and hope the answer drops into your lap…..you have to think about what you’re doing”. 
And then it hit me.  That’s me…..I do that.  I repeat, often without thought, the same stupid things over and over and over again.  Bad choices resulting in bad behaviour and often consequences that I hadn't thought of.  In that moment I could only imagine what must be God’s frustration.  He’s obviously not pleased with me.  I thought about how it must hurt him deeply.....and yet it doesn't keep him away.  Rather than feel God's frustration or his condemnation, as his daughter I only know his patience, forgiveness and grace.  I struggle away from him for a time, but when I turn and look for his help, He’s there.   
And so was Rhys.  Right there, just asking for a little more help and the least; the very least I could do for this sweet boy that I love beyond distraction, is to give it. 
Romans 12: 1, 2 The Message
1  So here's what I want you to do, God helping you; Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life- and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.  2  Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking, Instead, fix your attention on God.  You'll be changed form the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 






Jan. 12, 2012

Stuck


I’ve been stuck.     Call it a rut, call it negative thinking, fear.....call it sin. In as much as my desire is to live in relationship with God and others honestly, I find I have worked myself into a corner where I am anything but honest. Here I hold people at arm’s length. In this place, my life revolves around me, rather than others. In this place I make bad choices and live with a victim mentality and I take steps backward rather than press on. I can relate at a certain level, but not at the level that I want to. Not at the level that want to. Not at the level that I know God wants me to.

I’ve been challenged, encouraged and convicted recently. I have had several people who have made themselves vulnerable to me and opened up and shared their ugly. I count that a privilege....truly. It isn’t easy to let someone into the midst of your mess and I deeply admire those who can be transparent with someone. Not only do I want to be willing to hearing those who come to me, I want to open myself and be honest with those I'm in relationship with, too.

Recently Cam shared with us from his own experience. That took a lot of courage and as I listened to him I had to tell the mother side of my head to be quiet and just listen. What he said challenged me, and I have told him so. He was shown something and rather than deny it, he acknowledged it for what it was. His experience has drawn him closer to God and he has made himself accountable to those who he knows will be both supportive and unafraid to challenge him.

After Rhys was born, I was dealing with what I thought was postpartum depression and it may well have been, however there was a lot going on in our lives at the time.....but when I found myself with my back against the wall, I made a decision and chose to use the opportunity to be honest, not just with myself, but with those I was in relationship with.

Every once in a while I get an email from Dr. Larry Crabb; a well known psychologist.  I received one of those emails this morning; this paragraph grabbed me:
"For many Christians, denial has become a habit. Chronic denial as a means of coping leads to a stiffness and rigidity that may for a time masquerade as emotional stability. People who are neither excitable nor moody can look very spiritual. The evidence of their immaturity is unmistakable, however; people who deny how they really feel typically are unable to enter and touch another person's life deeply. Because they have sealed off deep parts within themselves, they can neither discern nor properly deal with deep parts in others."
That's not the person I want to be.

I was encouraged this Christmas, as I have been for a few years now, to make time to write. Despite that encouragement, over the past few years I’ve actually written less and it got me to wondering why. When I started back in 2007 trying to be intentional about it, I did it for me. I found it cathartic; if someone else benefited in some way, great, but that wasn’t my focus. It wasn’t always easy trying to communicate my thoughts, but I always felt better after I had done it. I liken the experience to the Psalms.....particularly those written by David. In many of them he starts out complaining, and “woe is me” but by the end , his focus has changed from himself to his God. As time went on, I think there was a shift and I spent more time focused on what others thought of what I wrote. I was looking for the pat on the head and rather than open myself up to what I perceived to be rejection, I just stopped writing.....after all, I’m busy. Busy, busy, busy. I would love to get to a place where people’s opinions matter not, but I’ve a ways to go.

In our house, we often acknowledge our human state to be like “twisted pieces of human wreckage” BUT no matter how twisted I am, God loves me and on the days when I don’t understand why, I will choose by faith to accept that he does.

Jan. 11, 2012

My Goal


I homeschool Declan (7) and Rhys (6). Please don't confuse what I do with what many home schooling mom's do; I simply order material from ACE in the States and supervise....most days. I struggle to be consistent and some days wonder if I'm doing them any favours at all.....then I remember doing the same thing with my eldest 3 and they did just great.

Anyway, the beginning of each new PACE starts with "My Goal". It's good to have a goal but despite knowing that, I've not been great at making goals. Meaningful ones. I am a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" kind of gal and that serves me well much of the time and explains why I'm still sane but in the past few weeks I've been thinking I need to change that. If you feel a sudden draft, it's because my husband and children are collectively breathing a sigh of relief.

So, I'm working on breaking some old habits (ugh) and replacing them with new ones, trying not to do too much at once so that I have half a hope of actually seeing some real change. Earlier this week I read Isaiah 58....and read it again. It's a great chapter with lots in it, and there were a few things that stuck out and then I read it again using The Message and something leapt off the page:

8 Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. 9 Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.' A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places.

A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places. I love that.

So how do I achieve this lofty goal?

"If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people's sins, 10 If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. 11 I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places - firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. 12 You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.