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.