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

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.