Friday, December 31, 2004
Having 5 children and running a business sometimes makes itdifficult to spend time one on one with our kids. At first we thought we would just take them out once in awhile. Unfortunately,we found that without a concrete plan those dates didn't really materialize. We decided that we needed to do something a little more deliberate. We plan a particular event to do with each child each month. We set a limit on the amount of money spent (if any) and also decide who will take them on that particular date. Obviously Dad gets to do some of the more 'guy' things to do with his boys. Fortunately for us our boys also like to do artsy things so mom gets to do those kinds of things with them. This year we will also be employing a new twist with our oldest son who is 8 1/2 - gentleman lessons! Dad will take him out and help him plan out a 'date' that he needs to execute, it will involve planning, budgeting and escorting mom out to some kind of activity. Dad will coach him through the various aspects of how to treat a lady, good manners and chivalrous behaviour. Then he gets to practice on mom. We figured that the sooner he gets good at treating the female gender with respect and courtesy the better. We'll see how that goes.
Now we weren't perfect with getting every single date in, some ofthem were very weather dependent and our weather wasn't so great this year. But over all the kids figured it was the best present they got last year and we enjoyed it, too. It was a gift that kept giving all year and they are eager for this year's dates. As I said earlier, this could easily be adapted to fit for a spouse, or a friend, you just need to change the events! Here are some ideas of dates that you could use!
movie and popcorn
breakfast (or any other meal)
picnicplay time at a park (with just you)
breakfast in bed
pony ride (if you know someone who has a horse)
tea party with all the fixings(dressed up really fancy, too)
we have a store here where you can make beaded jewelry so each of thekids got to make a necklace with their name in it
I am a member of a scrapbooking store - we'll be making trips there this year
spray parks in warmer weather
maybe there is some special entertainment that is appropriate that you could work in if you know it in advance
special request dessert or meal
If any of you have other ideas that could be added to the list add them into the comments. If you don't have a blogger account, you can comment using the 'anonymous' button.
Friday, December 24, 2004
In my contemplation of that line I reviewed all of the things that God takes away from me that I am really glad He took away. Here’s the beginning of my list – I’m sure there is more to be added to it.
God takes away:
- my sin
- my guilt
- my shame
- my loneliness
- my blindness
- my tears
- my pain
- my sadness
- my incompleteness
- my imperfections
He gives me instead:
- His joy
- His peace
- His completeness
- His freedom
- His Son
- His perfection
- His love
- His gifts
- His Holy Spirit
As you give gifts and as you take some away this Christmas, remember that our loving heavenly Father gives and takes away, too. Sometimes those losses are painful, but not always, we have much to be thankful for. I have tried to teach my children that we need to keep focused on what we have, or what we can do not on what we don’t have or what we can’t do. In all of those circumstances let our hearts choose to say, “Lord, Blessed be Your Name.”
Friday, December 17, 2004
A friend and I were talking this past week and she was wishing that God would just show her what 2005 would look like because she wasn’t too jazzed about what 2004 had been. I said to her that I was pretty sure she didn’t want to know. At first she was a little puzzled but then I explained to her what I meant. If I had been able to see into the future a few years ago I would never have gotten out of bed. If I would have known what a roller-coaster beginning your own business is, that I would have a child with serious health concerns, that there would be difficult issues to face in my family, I would not have signed up for my life. At the same time, when I look back and see the changes that God has made in my life and the positive ways that I have been strengthened and encouraged through all those difficulties I wouldn’t change one thing.
Another friend, the one who is helping us with getting our time frames in order was also over this week and working with us. What a blessing it was to look forward and see what we would like to accomplish in the next year and how we’re going to work toward that. I’m guessing that 2005 may be a little less bumpy in our business and home than 2004 was. A dear lady that I have gotten to know through the wonder of the internet has written a little book called “The Treasure of Careful Planning” (Donna Kauffman, the book is available through her website http://djkauffman.com/). Careful planning is just that, a treasure. Seeing what lies before you and laying out the steps to get to where you want to go gives you a path to run on. Proverbs 15:22 says that plans fail for lack of counsel and Proverbs 20:18 says to make plans by seeking advice. We aren’t islands and we need to look ahead.
Back to the other hand, we can make all the plans we want but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). Even though we don’t see what’s going to come in the midst of all our planning we can trust that God, the very most careful planner has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future when we seek Him with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:11). So now we see it (the plan) and now we don’t, but rest assured God is in control of all of it and will not give us more than we can handle, even though it might feel like it at the time! When you look back and see what God has done you will find that there are precious gems that have come to light in your life that were probably just rough rocks before. He’s polishing us up as jewels in His crown. Plan ahead and look for the Lord’s plan at the same time, they may seem to be in conflict with each other but they aren’t. As we are fond of saying in our church, God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Another new family member that I didn't mention in my last post is:
Gage - my brother's foster son
Friday, December 10, 2004
Shoko - is a Japanese exchange student living with my sister for this year!!
Rachel Dara Joy Braun - was born to Kelly's younger sister Sonya and her husband Rod on October 12
Cody Wade Larry Wanner - was adopted by Kelly's older sister Tamara and her husband Bill on December 9
Christopher gives us plenty of opportunity to practice on theparenting balance beam. He has become an expert at pleading formercy, asking for the 'second chance', not only for himself but forhis siblings, too. It makes for some interesting conversations inour home as we have to explain why kid #1 is experiencing judgementright now because of their actions and kid #4 is getting mercy. Wetry to extend mercy when we can and one day Christopher tookadvantage of it. He figured he had gotten away with whatevermisdemeanor that had occurred and was gloating a little over it. Hewas pushing the envelope a little far and suddenly Kelly told himvery sternly, "Don't take my mercy lightly." We were all a littlestunned by the impact of that statement.
Later as we unpacked the situation we were overcome by our Daddy'smercy towards us that we take so for granted. God has extended mercyto us far beyond where we deserve. He is holding back His judgementbecause of His huge heart of compassion to see that change of heartin each of us. His mercy is extremely costly to Him, a very valuableand precious commodity. As we approach the time of rememberance thatwe set aside for celebrating the gift of Jesus, let's take time toremember what this gift actually cost. Remember mercy.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
After my 'spiel' on stuff-mart I thought that it might be a good idea to give you some ideas for low cost/clutter free gift ideas.
A couple of websites that speak to these issues are:
www.buynothingchristmas.org (think it's obvious what they're about)
www.flylady.net (lots of clutter-free gift ideas)
Here are a few that I've gleaned or come up with on my own. Feel free to comment and post some of your ideas (if you don't have a blogger account - post under 'anonymously' you can include your name in your comment).
1. For the kids - Dates!! - truly the gift that keeps on giving. We just started this last year for our three oldest kids and they told other people it was the best present they got. We planned dates that were age/gender/weather appropriate that they would get each month with either mom or dad i.e. bike rides, picnics, swimming at the pool, going out for breakfast, etc. The anticipation for each month has been great and it's been a lot of fun taking them out. We'll be adding #4 boy to the dates this year and the kids are eagerly anticipating a new pile of them.
2. Family coupons - make sure whoever you're giving them to actually uses them. We've loved receiving coupons for babysitting, tickets to the theater or some other event, housecleaning - use your imagination and make sure it's applicable to the person who's getting it.
3. For all those teachers - get (or make) a gift for the classroom rather than individuals. This was the teacher isn't getting yet another bottle of something or other or another ornament. I've seen pretty storage boxes given, coupons for the local learning store, encouragement cards that the teachers can give out to students, maybe a welcome sign for their door - take a look around and see what is truly needed.
4. Write a letter of appreciation for your child's teacher and give it to the principal of your school.
5. If you have a particular gift or talent why not make that your gift. My husband and I have a music school, are musicians, etc. one of our gifts this year will be the recording that we just completed. Another gift will be recording time for one of my husband's sisters - yes it will cost us time but you're also building relationships. Maybe you sew, clean, are good with cars or home repairs - think about what you do well and give it away.
6. Here's a fun idea for pre-schoolers that I got from our pre-school teacher. It's for a 'fleece-board'. Get two pieces of strong cardboard (the sides of a banana box work well). Duct tape the two together on the long sides so that they are hinged and fold up like a book. Poke two holes about half way up on each side and thread some yarn or string through leaving the loose ends up. Purchase about a meter of plain colored regular fleece. Lay the cardboard'book' on the fleece with the loose string ends up. Fold the edges of the fleece over the cardboard and duct tape it down securely. Flip it over and draw your loose string ends together tying them where it will make a good tent. Get some felt and cut out shapes, numbers, letters, etc. A good way to do that is to draw out your stuff on the dull side of freezer paper, iron it onto the felt and it will be very easy to cut out, when you're done just peel off the freezer paper - you can re-use it a couple of times before it won't stick anymore. Tada!! you have a two sided 'fleece-board' and pieces that your pre-schooler will love.
7. Rather than buy a bunch of presents, take your family on a 'night on the town' go to a hotel, eat out, or do whatever you love to do together as a family. Our kids opted for this this year, they are getting only one present under the tree and we're going water-sliding at a local hotel.
8. I heard this one on the radio. You would want to do this a little in advance. A lady took out a single portion serving and set it aside in a freezer/microwave container and froze it as she prepared meals for her own family. Then she gave all those meals (about a month's worth) to her elderly grandmother making sure they all had wonderful gourmet names on them. Grandma got lots of healthy, home-cooking for a whole month.
9. Do baking for people who don't. (Like me for instance :)!!)
Hope that gets you inspired to do some thinking before the day arrives.
Merry Christmas Lani
Friday, December 03, 2004
I began to feel physically ill as I listened to my daughter's cry. I was sorry I had taken her out. Of course, I didn't think that things would go this way when we went out. However, on a previous errand run that week she had wanted everything in site and we had a similar experience (except that time she got absolutely nothing). I told my husband about feeling ill, telling him that what she was saying was just making me sick. He turned to me and said something very profound. "This is the cry the God hears over our nation every moment of the day - we have exported that noise all over the world. How it must grieve His heart." I had to agree. While I ran an errand he started praying over this matter and by the time I returned to the van my little girl had been restored to a grateful, thankful heart.
Dear friends, this is the season that 'stuff-mart' takes over more people than any other. Let us not give way to the perceived 'need' to give or collect more 'stuff'. As Madame Blueberry learns in the Veggie Tales show, "A thankful heart is a grateful heart and has everything that it needs." There are many websites with ideas for focusing on the season and the people rather than the stuffI would encourage one and all to check them out.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Friday, November 26, 2004
they don’t know they have an invitation
they chose not to respond
the invitation never arrived
other concerns pressed in and they weren’t physically able to respond
they didn’t understand what they needed to do
their computer did something weird which interfered with communication
I know many of you anticipate Friday morning to find your flowers but I decided to wait as long as I possibly could to give as many as possible the chance to respond. As I lay in bed praying about what to send and feeling sad that the group isn’t as large as the invitation list, I couldn’t help but get a little glimpse of what God might feel like. He is always extending invitations to us, invitations for salvation, to follow, to submit, to choose life, to love our neighbour, to avoid temptation, to climb higher, to go deeper. Yet much of the time we don’t respond, for whatever reasons: we didn’t understand the invitation, maybe the wires got crossed and the person that God chose to deliver the invitation got delayed, the cares of life pressed in and we didn’t want to look at what God was saying, we didn’t realize what the invitation was and ignored it, we were simply too busy doing our own thing. Now, I am quite aware that an invitation to join this little group is nothing compared to what God calls us to but I couldn’t help noticing the similarity. He holds the door open for us as long as He possibly can, but there comes a time when He says, “I must go now, if you aren’t coming now, I’ll have to move on without you.” It’s a hard thing for me to move on without many that I know enjoy receiving flowers. Yet I am not able to withhold them from those who answered the call because of my commitment to you.
A dear friend (my pastor’s wife) wrote these words in a beautiful song (used with permission):
Words and music by Wanda Froese
When you hear the voice of the Lord
Do not turn your heart away
He will call on You today
If you listen
Just answer the call and
Come drink from my fountain
Come let’s run to my mountain
Come draw from my well
Just answer my call, and come
The other little piece of this puzzle is this. I can’t answer the invitation for you or anyone else, neither will God answer for us. We must choose to answer and follow His direction. Choose today, to answer His call and receive whatever He is calling you to today.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
I can’t help but think that I’m glad God isn’t like me. As I survey my relationships and the ‘domain’ I serve I mess up on a regular basis. If the world depended on me to get it right every time, you’d all be in BIG trouble. You can use your imagination to find instances in your own life where the issues below show up. Today, I don’t think I’ll tell you how I managed to accomplish each of these. So here we go, I’m glad God isn’t like me because…
When I ask Him to forgive me, He really does, totally, completely, never brings it up again.
Psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”
He never accuses me falsely. He is completely just.
Psalm 9:8 “He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.” (there are quite a few verses in this psalm that pertain to the Lord’s justice)
He never loses His temper, even when I persist in being rebellious and stubborn.
Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
He remembers and keeps every promise He ever made.
Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
He perfectly matches the job with the maturity level so that we can succeed. He never sets us up for failure.
Hebrews 13:20, 21 “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
He doesn’t procrastinate, make excuses for a task undone or show up late (or not at all).
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
II Peter 3:9a “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.”
He knows when I need encouragement, a comforting word or a kick in the pants and doesn’t get them mixed up.
II Corinthians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,”
Proverbs 3:12a “because the Lord disciplines those he loves,”
All of Psalm 139
As you’ve reflected on these things and added a few of your own to the list, aren’t you glad that God isn’t like me (or you). Let’s rejoice together that God is who He is.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
I'm looking for your Tips and Quips! These are the little bits and pieces that I use as 'filler' in my bouquets.
Tips are all those helpful little ideas that every one should know.
Quips are all those funny little stories that make us laugh.
The best Tip entry and the best Quip entry will receive a 'fresh flower' book/journal.
To enter comment on this post (DON'T be anonymous) or e-mail me at email@example.com and put "flower contest" in the subject line.
By entering you give me the right to use your tips and quips in subsequent 'fresh flower' writings. (Don't worry I'll give you credit where credit is due!!)
the flower lady
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Sometimes it just isn’t any fun growing up. At least that was my eldest son’s point of view a few mornings ago when he came up against the startling reality that his favourite jacket, one I had made him by request, was too small and he had to relinquish ownership. This occurred of course in the process of getting ready for school when he realized that his younger brother was wearing his jacket. “It’s still mine!” he hollers.
“No it’s not, it’s too small for you, it’s mine now!” retorts the younger.
“Take it off!! Just because it doesn’t fit doesn’t mean it’s yours!” (getting ready to physically remove it if necessary)
“Mom said I could!” (getting ready to defend his territory – doesn’t matter that his own jacket that looks very similar still fits and is lying on the floor at his feet, this one is now his and Josiah is not getting it back)
“Mooooooooom!” (in unison)
My poor son got a little life lesson in handing things on while my husband and I received a flower straight from heaven. We explained to him that there would be other jackets, great jackets that he would outgrow and when he was all done growing that he probably wouldn’t have to give up his jackets so quickly. Reluctantly, still pouting, he dons a different jacket (one that fits) and heads to school.
We contemplate, over a cup of tea, all that we just said. As we grow up we have to let some things go that don’t fit anymore, sometimes that’s easy and sometimes it isn’t. There is more joy in willingly passing on something than having it be taken from you. In our early years that change over happens more often. Children physically grow and mature, constantly having to give up what fit last week to make room for what fits now. Our Christian journey is very similar. As we ‘grow up’ into maturity we go through many stages, we have to leave behind a lot of stuff, some of it needs to go in the garbage and some of it gets passed on.
Think of a jacket as an area of a service or a responsibility given by the Lord. As we mature these ‘jackets’ may change frequently as the Lord builds character into us. Once that seed has grown He moves us on and we relinquish that area to take on another, handing that ‘jacket’ onto another believer that is less mature who needs to grow in that area. The Lord fits you with a new, bigger ‘jacket’, one that you may need to grow into over the course of time. As we reach maturity those ‘jackets’ don’t seem to change quite as often, in fact some of them may not change again as we walk this earth. Think of Paul and his mantle of apostleship, once he came into that mantle he kept it for the rest of his days. Your mantle or ‘jacket’ will come with the responsibility of showing someone else how to wear their ‘jacket’, how to clean it, care for it and how to show yet another generation how to wear it. God has designed His kingdom with hand-me-downs and hand-me-ons. 2 Timothy 2:2 says, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Thursday, October 28, 2004
I was working diligently in the kitchen when I heard the sound of splashing water. Knowing that only myself and Sasha (our 10 month old) were about I figured I better investigate, especially since I knew he wasn’t having a bath! Sure enough there he was happily playing in the toilet. “Yuck!” I exclaimed, “That’s yucky, you don’t play in there!” I explained as I washed his hands and took him out of the bathroom. Of course, he’s 10 months old he doesn’t seem to see the disgusting side of the situation. I found the situation to contain a little flower.
You and I would never consider playing in the toilet, it holds absolutely no appeal to us whatsoever. Even my 2 year old knows now that playing in the toilet isn’t a good idea because he’s getting the picture of what goes in there. It isn’t pretty. However, little boys seem to have an interest in exploring the intricacies of the white throne, even my slightly older ones get overcome once in awhile. A little maturity however, helps us see what it is we’re playing in.
Okay, now for the hit home. Sometimes I find myself playing in a ‘toilet’. Oh not the literal one, a figurative one. I rarely watch television, mostly because I simply don’t want to give any time to it. There are some shows I enjoy, like the last few episodes of Canadian Idol and the decorating challenge shows. I also have a very intense imagination, once an image is locked in there I tend to dwell on it and it takes me a while to get on to something else. Hence, I’m pretty careful of what I put in. However, the other night I found myself watching a popular science/drama/crime show and was intrigued by the investigative procedures and all that. One story line was very interesting and the other just plain evil. I learned things that I didn’t need to know, saw images that I wish I could erase. I was playing in the toilet – and I knew better, but that other story line was so interesting, but I was still in the toilet. A bad tree can’t bear good fruit. There is no cleaner that can make a toilet okay to play in, it is still a germ-infested environment.
Now the other side of the coin is this. My 10 month old doesn’t realize that the toilet is a yucky thing. He has no discernment yet for that. Sometimes we don’t know that we are playing in a ‘toilet’ because it seems like the same water that is in the bathtub, clean and refreshing, but it’s not. Discernment comes with maturity, experience, listening when people say, “Hey, that’s a toilet you’re playing in!” Wash your hands of the things that you know are infecting your mind and heart. Luke 6:45 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” We all know what an overflowed toilet looks and smells like. We also all know what a beautiful fountain of clear, gushing water looks like. Choose well.
Dear flower children,
‘fresh flowers’ is launching into a new meadow!! Get your own 'hard copy' of fresh flowers by picking a bouquet from the Flower List below. Once I receive your order I will put together your customized bouquet of flowers, fillers (tips and quips) and green stuff (journalling pages). The front cover will be a one-of-a-kind creation just for you. I'll accept payment by check or money-order (your bouquet will not be sent until payment is received - one day I'll get set up on PayPal). The price is (for now) $1/flower and then $8 for shipping, etc. [a 12 flower bouquet would cost you $20].
Any questions, just e-mail me!! (firstname.lastname@example.org) Happy picking!
1. The Best Place To Be Is: With Dad – a longing to be with our Father is a good thing
2. A Matter of Perspective – a crisis moment takes on different views depending on which side of the fence you’re looking from
3. You are Outta Here – trying to take over for God can sometimes disqualify us from the things we want to do.
4. Sometimes Help is a Four Letter word – thank God that He doesn’t get exasperated with our ‘helping’
5. Golf Lessons – learning to be a ‘one-thing’ person
6. Green Means Go – trust that the Lord knows when it’s safe to proceed
7. Sanctuary – where will you be found when you’re lost?
8. The Barbie House – building for the next generation
9. Promises Kept – do you have difficulty believing that God will do what He said?
10. Birthing Babies – giving birth ‘spiritually’ is much like the natural process
11. Are We There Yet? – trust the navigator!!
12. Lessons from Mr. SquarePants – keep soaking in the river to prevent ‘drying out’
13. Faith Toast – are you settling for the cold toast or holding out for warm faith
14. The View From Up There – take a look from the Father’s perspective
15. Ask Without Ceasing – sometimes we need to stop asking to see if the answer has already come
16. Follow the Leader – Part 1 – a lesson in submitting to leadership and being a good leader
17. Forgetting what is behind – face each day as a new adventure with Jesus, falling in love with him over and over again
18. breathe – as we live our lives, simply breathing in and out, we can make a difference
19. Don’t just survive - thrive – a few ideas to get beyond just ‘making it through the day’
20. trailing behind – don’t drag the dirt through the clean parts of your heart
21. stand still – stop striving, allow God to bring you what He’s promised
22. the real thing – don’t settle for less than the reality of God himself
23. look up, look way up – where does our help come from?
24. how to make God cry in one easy lesson – God weeps over our pride – don’t let your stubbornness and pride keep you from fulfilling your purpose
25. beauty treatments - the best beauty treatment is hanging out with DAD
26. move-ability - our maturity is reflected in our willingness to submit
27. the quiltmaker's plan - a quilt block refects the master's design
28. what's that on your plate? - learning to be content with where you are right now
29. toilet tales - what will we feed our spirit with?
Thursday, October 21, 2004
A friend and I were talking the other day and discussing what was on our plates. She was telling me about how she was learning to be content with a small plate. This whole conversation got me to pondering my plate and plates in general. First of all I contemplated how when you’re trying to lose weight that you should use a smaller plate to help you psychologically (smaller portions on a smaller plate sort of thing). Then I thought about how people behave at buffet-type eating events. We all tend to take a little too much on our plates because we want to sample everything that’s there. Why do we do that? Is it because we’re fearful of perhaps missing something really good or maybe we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings that brought a certain dish? Then there is the competition that sometimes goes on between teen-age guys to see how many plates they can go through at the buffet, the more the better. Then there are the plate-spinners, decorative plates that exist to hang on walls or be displayed but never used, plates in the earth, plates in our heads and there are probably more plates that I haven’t thought of yet.
What my friend and I were talking about were those kinds of plates that we refer to when we’re talking about activities and what we choose to do with our time. I always thought that my plate must be pretty big because I always put so much on it. However, with the onset of many children, age, and business in our home I’ve found that there isn’t much room on my plate for things outside my four walls and perhaps it’s smaller than I previously thought. There are times when I get a little discontent with the contents of my ‘plate’ because there is such a smorgasbord of opportunities to sample from and I love variety. Maybe I’m fearful of missing out on something really good or disappointing someone who really wants me to try their thing. Or not.
Remember what I said about trying to get a little of everything at a buffet or potluck? Have you ever noticed that some dishes are great and everything you hoped for but that there are also quite a few that are kinda disappointing? The disappointment may come because you were expecting your mom’s potato salad but whoever made this puts something in there that you don’t quite like, or maybe it was supposed to be served hot but someone forgot to put it in the oven. Anyway, the other day we had a potluck thing at church, I fed my kids and made sure they were all taken care of and then went to get something for myself. There were many tasty looking dishes but I did something totally out of the ordinary – I ate soup. That’s it. Just soup, one kind only. I didn’t even try anything else. And it was so good. Nothing else competed for my tastebuds. I totally enjoyed my bowl of soup and was completely satisfied.
Back to my ‘plate’. God is showing me that I can be completely satisfied with the ‘little’ that is on my plate right now (which sometimes feels more like piled high and dripping off the sides). God’s smorgasbord of opportunities is constantly replenished, perfectly seasoned, always fresh, always the right temperature. When it is time to branch out and try something new again, there will be plenty of choices for me. I am continuing to learn to be a ‘one-thing’ person. The world tells me that I should try everything. At this point I believe God is telling me to savour this one dish. Even a bowl of soup is a multi-ingredient event, there’s lots of variety in every spoonful. My kids and I have learned a verse together from Colossians 1:16, “For I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” I’m learning to be content with the content of my plate. I hope you will, too.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Our oldest son loves to play with his two youngest brothers (not that he doesn’t like the other two kids but for today’s purposes we’ll just talk about the two littlest ones). He is usually very willing to get either of them up from a nap. He will be their bodyguard and protect them if he sees harm about to come to them. He is a compassionate, shepherding kind of guy. He loves dragging them around, putting them on or in various containers and giving them rides. He likes to carry Sasha around and gives Samuel piggy-back rides. However, one day Samuel did not want to be shepherded. He had run away from the table yet again and I asked Josiah if he would please go and bring him back. He ran to do as I asked, however, Samuel was less than cooperative. Josiah came back to the table leaving Samuel screaming in protest in the other room, heaved a huge sigh and said, “It sure is hard to move a bigger baby who doesn’t want to be moved.” We had a little chuckle and told him he should be thankful that he wasn’t trying to move me or dad – if we didn’t want to be moved there would be no way he would be able to move us.
Kelly and I had a little light-bulb moment at the same time. Here was a good picture of submission we thought. As young Christians, newly saved, we are easily moved, swayed by teaching, tossed around by doubts and at the same time we are more likely to be moved to submit and follow our leader. The older we get as Christians we aren’t so easily moved, swayed or tossed around (hopefully) and at the same time we may not be as likely to submit and follow. The beauty of a submitted heart is that it makes it an easy job for the person who is trying to move you (the leader in this case). God told us that we should make it a joy for our leaders to lead. We discussed around our table how much easier it is for Josiah to move us by simply requesting that we move (please help me with my homework, for example) than to cry, whine, shove, push, manipulate or silently pout at us, which, unfortunately our children have a tendency to try from time to time. They find us terribly unmoveable and that seems to irritate them.
There are of course times when my rebellion, stubbornness and pride make me want to stay firmly planted to my spot, not moving and not wanting to give in. Unfortunately, when we stay in one spot for too long what happens? We get stiff, sore and uncomfortable. So why do we move at all? Why love of course. What else would propel me out of bed at 2:00 AM except my love for my children – it certainly isn’t the pay-cheque! Christ’s love compels us to move for one another, giving up our rights and privileges to serve one another. If you are finding that someone isn’t moving for you perhaps you need to check that approach (are you whining, manipulating, just being selfish or whatever). It may be that the other person just isn’t willing to move, if that’s the case, go around their immovable-ness, love them up, make sure that they know that you love them. I’ve found that when my children are really sure that I love them they are much more willing to cooperate. What a beautiful thing it is when brethren move for one another. They will know that we are Christians by our love. I pray that my love shows through to my God, to my family, my friends and to my spiritual family – in my move-ability.
Lani Wiens is a freelance writer from Saskatoon. She is the mom of 5, the wife of 1 and a joyful member of Hope Fellowship Church in Saskatoon. Feel free to forward fresh flowers through the internet, however, if you are planning to share them in a public setting please be so kind as to ask for permission first. I would be happy to come and share my flowers with you live and in person! Just reply to this e-mail with your request.
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Thursday, October 07, 2004
I like instructions, I like to have them, I like to follow them (except when I’m cooking). I was really thankful for the instructions for this block because it was a lot of little tiny pieces. When I first looked at it I was quite dismayed by all the little tiny pieces and was quite sure I would screw it up. I wasn’t sure that I had what it takes to put all those little pieces into a pleasing whole. Would it look like the picture did – I said a little prayer and started in. I paid very careful attention to the instructions. I took my mother’s advice who had already done this block and managed to avoid her mistake. One of my little piles got turned the wrong way and at first I thought I could fix it but I couldn’t so I had to rip out a few seams and begin that set again. It seemed at first that I wouldn’t get anywhere and then suddenly the little pieces were making bigger sections which joined to bigger sections and at the end of the afternoon my block looked like the picture and I was quite pleased with the results. I had a few flower moments along the way.
Our church is collectively working on a course. The course is called Transformations – it comes with instructions (the Bible). The ‘picture’ that we’re all working toward is a transformed life (hence the name). Sometimes it seems as we walk the narrow path that there are just way too many little pieces that need to get into place. It’s overwhelming. However, the instructions are clear. We need to believe the truth – if we follow the instructions the end result will happen (God said it, I believe it). We need to have faith that the designer knows what they’re doing even though the task seems too big, too painful, too _________________(fill in the blank). We need to heed the advise of those that have already been there and here words of life that can help us avoid mistakes and pitfalls as we walk. When we mess things up, sew things on backwards or in the wrong place, we must repent, rip out that seam, read the instructions again and start over. Then there is the persisting. Just continuing to do what God has asked us to do. That would be called obedience – persisting in righteousness. As we persist we’ll see those loose pieces start to come together to form a whole. And yet our little piece is only one of many that makes up the body of Christ. God is a master designer, it says in Acts 17 that He has planned that we would be alive at exactly this time, living in exactly this place. He cuts, stitches and presses us so that we can be transformed from a pile of scrap cloth into a beautiful patchwork that is able to bring comfort, warmth and beauty to the world. No piece is too small for a quilter or for God to fit into His plan.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
I was helping a friend get started on a quilt one evening. She had all the proper equipment; a rotary cutter (this is like a scissor with a round blade), a cutting mat, acrylic ruler and her fabric, all the tools needed to get going and have success. (By the way she told me I could use this because she was sure I’d find a flower in here somewhere – I did.) I was helping her cut her fabric into the needed strips and squares. Unfortunately she was having no end of trouble with cutting straight. You need to understand that cutting straight is an integral part of the quilt process and not as easy as it may seem. We made sure she was holding her ruler correctly, lining up edges, that she was using proper technique and even wondered whether or not she was just too short. Finally, I took her cutter and tried it myself – and got the same nasty results. (We ruled the height issue out as I’m much taller than she is). I took a look at the cutter and realized that it was oriented for a left-handed person, my friend is right-handed, there was no way she would ever have any success with the tool the way it was. I changed the blade around and voila, she could cut straight just fine. It was a very frustrating time for her and fortunately we could salvage the material and had enough for her project. There were two flowers in all of this experience for me. One was how important it is to use the tools that are right for you. My friend had borrowed all the equipment from a friend, never thinking about what orientation her friend had. Sometimes we look at what someone else is doing and try to mimic their action, hoping to get the same results and meet with failure instead. The problem may not be that we are doing things ‘incorrectly’, the problem may be that we’re trying to use someone else’s stuff. God has created each one of us with unique skills, abilities, thoughts, ideas – ‘tools’ if you will. He has programmed them to work well especially in our hands and blesses the work of our hands. Even if you follow another’s footsteps, the pathway will have your unique flavour. This is a good thing. We weren’t meant to be clones. God is a multi-faceted being and He has created us in His image. It would stand to reason that we will all have different expressions of His character. May I encourage you to look at what God has placed in your hands. Use the gifts, talents, and skills that He has given you to worship Him. Even if you ‘borrow’ tools from someone else, make sure they work for you – change it up a little, get the kinks out and go for it. Whatever God has created you to do will be a thing of beauty as you surrender it to Him.
The second flower was that our life needs to be oriented to God. We must come under His Lordship or we will continually make a mess of the fabric of our life. My friend could have chosen to continue cutting with the blade facing the wrong way. To you and I that seems like a stupid thing to do, once you know what the problem is. However, we have a huge tendency to do that every day. We know that the way to peace and wholeness is to surrender to the Lord in every area of our lives and still we try to keep cutting through the muck and mire of daily life with our blade facing the wrong direction. We think that if we just hold this a little tighter, if we stand a little straighter, if we try a little harder, we’ll get it right. I have news for you, you won’t. Turn your blade around, orient yourself to His will and Lordship daily and you will have no problem cutting straight!!
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Anyways, I was watching a TV show one night that was all about fixing outward beauty and in the process one of the characters said that beauty was in the eye of the beholder. The other character responded that no, that wasn’t true, that’s just surface stuff, real beauty is what’s inside. Later on in the show that character told the other to close their eyes so that they could really ‘see’. The character with all this wisdom was blind and had no pre-conceived notions about a person based on appearance. It was very thought-provoking.
We’ve had a front row seat for transformation this summer as our neighbors have been improving their homes. On one side we’ve been quite concerned with the young lady who lives there. She hasn’t kept very good company, is somewhat loud and obnoxious. She plays horrible music, loudly. Has a horrible temper, and hasn’t exactly been a role-model for our kids. However, this summer, her dad has been around, working on the house and hanging out. It has been a thing of beauty to see the change in her. She has become softer, there haven’t been any temper tantrums, no loud music, no obnoxious parties. In fact, we hear her laughing with her dad, working with him, serving him, she jokes around with our kids. She seems more settled, more at peace, she’s not trying so hard when her daddy is around.
Isn’t that the best beauty treatment you could possibly get? It doesn’t cost a dime other than your time. Spend some time with DAD, hang out with Him, work together. He draws the true person out of us. He sees us through different eyes than everyone else – He knows the beauty we really are deep inside. He fills up the empty places, makes the rough places smooth. He’s better than botox. He gives our faces a lift simply by putting joy in our hearts. If you’re in search of a new and improved you – talk to DAD. There is a gentle and quiet spirit in you (and me) and He knows where to find it.
Friday, September 17, 2004
1. Due to things that are happening in my husband’s life I was kind of bummed out that I was going to have to give up a wonderful opportunity to get out of the house and work on my scrapbooks. Because of a glitch in the plan – I immediately aborted the whole idea and evening until my good friend pointed out that quite possibly I could just come late. Hadn’t thought of that. Can’t have it the way I want it, then I might as well just toast the whole plan.
2. My boy wants to ride his scooter to school. After contemplating the risks of taking the prized scooter to school he decided he will do it…until mom reminds him of one little detail. No kneepads, no scooter. He hates the kneepads. Begged for ‘em, got ‘em, won’t wear ‘em. Has he hurt his knees numerous times? Yes! Will he wear the pads? No! Did he ride his scooter to school? No, because he so badly did not want to wear the kneepads he suddenly decided that he didn’t want to ride his scooter after all. That response really ticked me off. He would rather give up his heart’s desire than to strap on that little bit of plastic around his knees. He would rather risk damaging his knees permanently than look ‘uncool’ in his gear.
3. I have some friends who would like to get started in ministry but the fear of rejection has put them in a place time and again where they won’t go forward.
4. Because I’m feeling sorry for myself I don’t ask for the help I really need and give up some great opportunities, assuming of course, that no one wants to help, yadda, yadda, yadda…
Have you seen the common thread? Have you figured out what makes God cry? Here’s one more illustration right from the Bible, Jeremiah 13. God tells Jeremiah to go buy a new loincloth, to wear it, then bury it, leave it and then to go and dig it up again. The loincloth is of course soiled, mildewed and falling apart, completely useless. God tells Jeremiah that He wants to be as close to His people as a loincloth (or underwear as we call it) is to our bodies. That is a very intimate picture of God’s desire for closeness, intimacy and relationship with us. However, God says, His people have followed the stubbornness of their hearts and in the same way that the linen cloth was ruined, so He will ruin the pride of Israel. God’s heart breaks over our pride, our refusal to submit to His will, or to the Lordship of Christ or those who He has put in places of authority (if you don’t like that word – try ‘those who we have given the right to speak into our lives’). Jeremiah 13:17 says, “But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive.” Don’t make God cry. Bend your stubborn heart to His desires. Listen to His heart for you. He longs to be as near to you as your underwear is right now. The result of giving into pride is captivity, uselessness, ruin and being cast away from him like a filthy rag. Whatever is making you hang on to your pride is not worth the consequence that awaits. Yield.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
I had given the kids instructions about getting ready for supper, trying to get them to work as a team, help each other out, family unity and all that sort of thing. The problem was they each had their own agenda and unfortunately for my little girl, she was just too short to accomplish her goal. So what did she do? Turned on the water works and let out some fierce howls while we all gazed in wonder that such a delicate and fragile flower could create such a terrible noise. Meanwhile we all carried on preparing for our repast. She continued her noise. Finally she stopped for a breather and we managed to find out what the problem was. She wanted her older brother to put the cups she was holding on the shelf that was out of her reach. Problem was, she hadn't asked him to do it so obviously, he didn't. She just made noise and lots of it, feeling sorry for herself and expecting the rest of us to drop everything and fix her problem. I was finally able to help her understand that if you want someone to do something for you because you genuinely need help, you've gotta ask. Out loud. With words. Preferably with please and thank you in the sentence.
I have to admit I've been pretty sensitive to this particular issue after just having put to death a lengthy pity party at the end of which God said, "Repent." I did. The view changed tremendously. I lifted my eyes up to the mountains from where my help comes and there it was. It was called grace.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Thursday, September 02, 2004
I’ve always been a little bit leery of preservatives, my body doesn’t particularly like them and quite frankly, they scare me. How things that go bad in my fridge after a day or two can last on a store shelf, unrefrigerated, indefinitely, is something that should make all of us quiver. My personal opinion…those pudding things are by far the worst.
My husband is a bit of a pushover when it comes to buying treats for the kids. He tries to be tough but when they all say please he is putty in their hands. So, he bought these highly preserved jelly thingies as treats. They would each get one of these delectable treats for dessert. They could hardly wait to get through the meal. The real food that particular evening included a plate of fruit, which my #2 son was enjoying with great zeal. Then came the treat. I read the list of ingredients looking for something recognizable, aahhh there it is ‘contains real fruit juice’ – what a drop or two so they can say it on the label? How can it survive in that sea of chemical? I located the jelly with the least amount of red food dye and handed that to Chris. Everyone else was a tiny bit deflated because green was the sought after colour. They opened their packages of slime and dove in. The other three consumed their preservatives with gusto but I noticed that Chris was not exactly eating his but rather playing with it and had a funny look on his face. I asked him what the trouble was. His pained expression caught at my heart, he obviously wasn’t enjoying the ‘treat’. “It doesn’t taste good,” he says, “maybe I’ll try it again later.” And he left the table.
My husband and I mused on that a little as we reflected back in the ensuing quiet that happens for a few seconds after the kids leave the table. Then a flower bloomed. He had just consumed a wealth of the real thing, honest to goodness fruit with the peals on and everything. There was no way that artificial colour and dye could compare to that. No wonder it had tasted so foul to him. It was a good kick in the pants for me as I realized that too often I settle for the artificial, the glossy package, the eye-candy gospel, the label claiming, ‘just read this – contains real Bible verses’. I sometimes forget what the REAL thing is all about – the blood of Jesus, the pureness of His obedience and devotion and worship of His Father. I forget how truly satisfying it is to just be with God, how refreshing, how healthy, how vital. Just the bare, unvarnished truth that God loves me and really believing that truth is more healing, more life giving, than anything I know. If I truly want to thrive I will need to be fueling that spirit-man of mine with the real stuff, the word of God, true worship, honest prayer. I cannot settle for less, my health depends on it.
Would you like an orange with that Psalm?
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Sunday, August 29, 2004
My two year old is just beginning that glorious stage of life called potty-training. He has become aware of the fact that from time to time he is in need of a change and will come to me and tell me all about it. On one of these particular occasions I was up to my elbows in something or other when he came and pulled on my leg with the request, “Mommy, need change, NOW!” Reluctantly I stopped what I was doing and gathered together the necessary equipment to precipitate the procedure, you know, the ‘agents of change’ – after all he was pretty stinky. I got down on my knees and called for him to come. Instead of coming for the requested change he ran off laughing. I have to admit I was not in the mood for this and just put my head down on my knees and asked the Lord, “Why does he do that? I hate it when he runs off like that, it’s so annoying.” I got a reply back that I wasn’t anticipating, “Yeah, I know, I hate it, too.” Well that got me thinking a little. How often do I go to God pleading for Him to change me, He says, “Okay, let’s get on with it.” And I run away, laughing even.
My dear friends, change isn’t always a fun process. Nor do we particularly like it – but in the end we are happy with the results of those positive changes. May I encourage you to weigh carefully your intention and reaction before you breathe that prayer, “Lord, change me.”