Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I've got to move it, move it...

I've moved!!

This is the last post you'll see here my friends.  I welcome you to join me in my new location at

http://www.allthiscrazygrace.com

All This Crazy Grace has been a long time in coming but it's finally here...

Friday, May 24, 2013

FMF {The View From Down Here}

The Friday is here.  Let's join the fabulous community of women that writes on Fridays for 5 minutes.  Just five, unedited and whole-hearted...the prompt for today:  VIEW
Source

Go...

I hope this isn't too depressing for y'all but today the view I have isn't so pretty.  I'm at the bottom of a very large mountain.  I've been at the bottom of this mountain for so long.  and I don't like it.

I want to conquer that mountain.

And just when it looks like I might have finally found the path to conquering...

someone moves the path

or creates a detour

or just yells at me to get off the road.

I'm so tired of it.

The word says that I can speak to the mountain and it will get out of the way.  I've not been too successful at that obviously.

My paltry mountain climbing efforts haven't amounted to much.

I know all the right answers I have a mountain climbing plan and equipment to climb it and I know it will take time, because that mountain didn't grow there over night...

So now what?

That's the view from down here and I'm aware that there is a better perspective but I can't see it at the moment.

STOP

I'm linked up at Lisa Jo's where there are probably much more uplifting posts to read!  I would encourage you to go read them.  Thanks for stopping by, don't worry, I'll be in a better frame of mind on another day.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bread

"Bread is the perfect vehicle for eating butter!"

This is one of those moments that I should probably be doing something other than writing or sitting at the computer.  The list is long...

* boys haven't quieted down, their light should be off...I should go take care of that
* there are baskets of unfolded laundry and an empty towel cupboard...I should take care of that
* I made a mess in the living room when I hung up the curtains...I should take care of that
* the floor needs sweeping...I should take care of that
* the new blog needs to be worked on if it will ever launch...I should take care of that
* I cut out the new doll orders today...
* there is mending sitting on the table...
* there is a mountain of paper that needs to be sorted...
* there are pictures to hang...
* the paint is still out...
* the lamp needs to be painted on the inside...

The list is long and all that I can think about is this:

"Mom, why is bread so good?"

My almost 17 year old asked me this as he lopped off yet another slice of my homemade bread.  We go through about 12 loaves a week.

The first thing I thought about was that Jesus called himself the bread of life.

Bread is satisfying.

Bread is filling.

Bread is life-giving, it goes down into the hollow legs.

Bread is comforting - our motto when I was on VTI was, "all we need is Jesus, duct tape and toast".

Since I had to go gluten-free I miss my homemade bread...ALOT!

But I still get the bread of life, and He doesn't make my stomach hurt.

Bread is a staple in our diet.  It gets a bad rap but not many of us are willing to live without it.  We live without Jesus all the time.  I need to remember that He is my bread.

He is satisfying.

He fills me up in all the hollow places.

He comforts me.

And He is gluten-free...in fact He will heal me rather than making me sick.

He is my mainstay, the cornerstone of my life.

He is so good.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Risky Business

It's Tuesday. Time to talk about dreaming.  I'm going to be linked up at www.holleygerth.com with a wonderful group of dreamers...


The little girl's eyes sparkled as she saw the pile of presents before her.  That big shiny one looks like it might just be the doll she'd been waiting for.  She rips the paper open and the box says, "Wendy Walking Tall"...she gasps and reaches for it, but first she has to lay aside the deluxe artist's kit that she had in her hands just moments before...

Can you feel the conflict?  The letting go is risky, it's the part that, for me, is the scariest.  What if you lose that which you were holding on to?  What if what you're reaching for falls short of what you had?  What if it is nothing like you really wanted even if it says so right on the box?  Dreaming is risky business.  To hold onto your dream, you're going to have to let go of something else.


These are the risks of the dreamer.  The desire to go toward the dream has to be great enough that we are willing to let go of what we have right now.  And that is so hard.

To live the dream of kids who are following Jesus with their whole heart
                       I will have to allow them to leave the house...perhaps the province....or the country.

To live the dream of writing a book
                       I will have to let go of distractions. (read Debi's post on that it's great!)

To allow my husband to live his dream
                      I had to give up the house we had just purchased a year before and move into the house where he grew up and become a farmer (one of those things I said I'd never do)

To live the dream of homeschooling all of our kids
                     I have to give up fitting in, face misunderstanding and possibly ridicule.  I will have to give up the few hours of quiet I have gotten accustomed to.

Because we can't see what the full result of our actions we have to trust that this move that we're contemplating will be a good one (not unlike Candy Crush....waiting to make a power move, you know what I'm talking about) and not a crash and burn..(you failed to reach the goal!). I'm so glad God doesn't give us messages like that!  No, He says, "I am for you, who can be against you"  He says, "Nothing is impossible with me."  He says, "I will work this out for good, even if it doesn't look like it right now."  He says, "I will restore. I will redeem."

So, dear dreamer, consider the risk, weigh the outcomes but don't let the fear stop you from grabbing hold of the next present...it might be just what you've been waiting for.
Source




Friday, May 17, 2013

FMF: {Song} - Let My Lifesong Sing...


1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.
And if you don’t have a blog, feel free to leave your five minutes of writing as a comment. And we’ll love on you there.
Today’s prompt is:

Song….

GO
Source

"Let my lifesong sing to you..."  These are the words to the song I sang with some friends last Sunday.  

Lifesong....

"I want to sign Your name to the end of this day, knowing that my heart was true..."

Today God, when I have to go to work instead of being home with my kiddos.  

Today, when my house is a disaster and company is coming tomorrow.

Today, on the day when I celebrate 21 years of saying "I do" to the gift of grace you've given me in Kelly...but I'll maybe see him for 20 minutes or so...

Today, when there is seed going in the ground and he's working hard to provide for us and eating dust for lunch...

Today, when my boy wakes up grumpy because I wouldn't let him play on the computer....

Today, when the 'tooth fairy' has to think up a sneaky way to get the money under the pillow when that little girl is already awake...

Today, when I have to leave the painting of the third coat until tonite when those littles are in bed and the big ones are at youth group with their dad...

As I serve my community at the post office and love my kids from a distance and my husband out in the field...

Let my life still sing to You today...let my heart be true and let Your name be on my lips.

STOP



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two Worlds Collide

I'm fulfilling two assignments at a time today.  I signed up to be a blogger for Compassion and this is the first assignment that I'll be doing for them.  And for the last several months I have been part of the God-sized Dream Team with Holley Gerth and about 100 other women...we've been sharing on Tuesdays little bits of this dreamy life we're called to live.

Today these two paths merge.

The GSDT assignment is to write about our favourite non-profit organization and Compassion happens to be mine.  Compassion's assignment is to imagine life as a mother in another country...so here goes.

A few years ago we had the opportunity to visit Compassion International's headquarters in Colorado.  We loved the time they spent with us showing us what they do and how the money we send them every month gets used to make life better for our sponsored child in Ecuador, Jordy.

With Mother's Day already a memory I have been pondering what my life would have been like had God decided to plant me somewhere besides this affluent society I happen to be a part of.

I wouldn't have as many living children as I do.  All of my kids have needed intense medical intervention at some point in their life.  Josiah couldn't get out on his own, there's a possibility that both of us wouldn't have made it left on our own.  Abby would probably be okay. Sam would have died due to the complications associated with his heart condition.  Sasha would have survived birth but probably not the burst appendix.  Elizabeth was premature and required neo-natal care, she, too, probably wouldn't have survived.  I'm certain I would not have considered raising a stranger's child who also had plenty of medical issues and would have succumbed to croup early on.

In my imaginary world I have only one child to care for and that child needs medical attention for heart problems she has recently developed.  But I probably wouldn't be as concerned about that as I would be about making sure she had a good education, food, water, clothing and shelter.  These would be my main concerns.  I no longer have a husband because he, too, died for lack of medical care.  It is common in our village.

Her job would be to collect water from the village well, if there was one.  Together we would try to coax the dirt into growing something that we could eat.  Our entire existence would be one in which we look for and try to find ways to gather food and resources.  She would not have the option of ballet or jazz, piano or guitar.  She could sing, but perhaps she wouldn't feel like singing.

I have dreams for my daughter.  She is smart and beautiful.  She could get out of the cycle we live in.  She could have a store or go to the city and work for someone.  I do not have dreams for myself.  Maybe I did once, but that was long ago.  I can dream for my daughter.

As a mother in poverty I watch carefully over my daughter.  I have been approached more than once to sell her, but I will not do that.  Many daughters have disappeared and never come back.  I know that evil men are making money from the bodies of these young girls.  I watch her carefully, she does not leave my side or go off on her own, it is too dangerous.

There is a school that missionaries have set up in our village, she is safe there during the day and she loves to learn...oh how she loves to learn.  Some foreigners explain to me one day that my daughter has been sponsored.  That means she will be able to continue in school, she will have clothes and food.  Our village will have a clean well.  I am weak with relief.

My daughter teaches me things that she learns in school.  I learn how to make jewelry that I can sell.  She is able to get the medical attention she needs.  My life and my daughter's life are changed because of sponsorship.  We write to the foreigners and try to explain in a few words how thankful we are.  My burden is lifted. My daughter will have a better life than mine and that is all that I want.

Sponsorship does not require that much in our western world.  $41/month is a small percentage of my grocery budget a month.  Less than what I spend on milk per month.  Less than one pair of shoes.  But it does so much.  Consider sponsoring a child today and help make their dreams come true.



Click HERE to help rescue Babies and Mothers from poverty.  Your gift can do so much.  I am linked HERE, see how you, too, can be a Voice For Mothers.

Click HERE to join our GSDT team and links to their favourite non-profit organization.



Help make a difference in the lives of children in need. Now is the time to sponsor a child.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Why We Do This Homeschool Thing...

Why bother with home education?

What is wrong with the public school?

Why would you do this to yourself?

I could never do that...

The decision to home educate our kids has been over 20 years in the making.  The story goes like this...

Way back when I was in University, studying to become a teacher in the college of Education I had to write a paper on the pros and cons of public, private and home education.  At that time I was completely unfamiliar with home education and probably had the same misconceptions that the majority of people do.  However, through my research and the classes I was taking I began to see how individual each of us is as a learner.  All of us have a way in which we learn best. 

I also realized that in order for a student to realize their full learning potential their learning needed to be structured to fit their learning style.  Montessori schools do a great job of this and is the basis of their education system.  I got to sub in a Montessori school for a little while and was so impressed with what I saw there.

In the process of writing that paper I was convinced that home education was a valid option and one that I would consider when I had children of my own.  My husband and I discussed it at length, prayed about it and decided it would definitely be an option sometime in the future.  It would be a long time before we needed to make any decisions about education for our kids.

I remember the day the decision hit us in the face.   I was at the local supermarket and ran into a friend who knew about our desire to home school.  Josiah was in kindergarten at the time.  I remember her looking at me and saying, kinda out of the blue, "So, why aren't you homeschooling yet?  What's stopping you?"  Of course, that got us thinking...and praying.

For the last nine years we have prayed every year over each of our kids to discern what the best mode of education should be for them that year.  Here are some of the ways God has met us in our home-education and public school decisions.

We got his heart back.

When we started home schooling Josiah we noticed that we no longer had his heart.  He was turning away from us, stuffing his disappointments and fears and becoming more withdrawn.  In spending quality and quantities of time with him each day we got it back.  We enjoy a close relationship with our introverted son to this day.  He has home-schooled for 6 years out of the 12 he's been in school so far.  He has chosen to graduate at home and will be starting grade 12 in the fall.

We noticed a learning disability.

We took our second son home when he was starting grade two.  He had had some issues in grade one but according to the teacher all was well.  However, at home he didn't seem to be able to read.  When I looked through his school papers I saw that he hadn't done much of the work and the work that was done had had a lot of 'help'.  We went to see our homeschool coordinator who also happened to be a resource teacher and asked for her help in assessing the issues at hand.  There was a process started that continued on when we moved to the community we now live in with the public school.  It is through the amazing patience of an educational assistant and the work of the resource teacher here that helped him actually learn to read.  In our opinion they were miracle workers.  His only home schooling has been parts of years, not a whole one and he has done really well in the public school system.

She could let her wings spread out and soar.

Our oldest daughter was in a French immersion school and absolutely loved it when we moved.  She was in grade one at the time.  She came into an English-speaking classroom and was actually kind of bored.  She was used to being challenged in ways that she needed to be.  She came home at the start of grade two.  She is a very quick learner and loves doing things at her own pace. She loved studying countries she was interested in and pursuing interests that you might not be able to access in a regular school day. She went back into the public school at the end of grade 5 and we realized, because she was in a combined classroom that she had already completed all the grade 6 requirements.  She was able to move ahead a year with no problems at all.  She stayed in public school for grade 7 and then asked to return home so she could study things that really interest her.

These are some of the benefits we've seen.  We don't really fit into the home school conventions because we aren't hard-core homeschoolers.  We don't fit into the public school community because we aren't 100% committed to that mode of education either.  Who knows, the son who is in the process of determining his education path for next year may end up in a private school, we don't know the answer to that yet.  We do want our children to know that they have choices in how they learn and don't need to be confined to one way of educating themselves.  I pray that they learn they are in charge of their learning and that they continue to love learning like they do now.

I hope that helps to answer some of the questions that we've encountered or perhaps helps you along the way to determining education options for your children.  I'd love to hear your responses!

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Harsh Realities of Living Out a Dream

Last week I told you that we signed some papers and slid that commitment through the slot at the post office.  Those papers were to enroll five of our six kids into Progressive Discover-e, a cyber school that my friend Ann Cook is the principal of who has grown this dream of hers from a seed into the successful government-funded, provincially recognized home-education resource it is today.  We are pretty excited about it.

Ann's dream is allowing us to walk into one of ours...home-educating all of our kids.  But, you say, you only enrolled 5.  Yes, that is true, the jury is still out on number 6 because we and that child are still discerning the best form of education for this next year.  We do that every year.  We don't go into a new school year without going through that process.  We go before the Lord with each child and ask Him what the plan is.  As they get older they join in on that process.

For those of you not familiar with a cyber school...well, I'm not either, we haven't done this before, but I will try to explain it as it has been explained to me, or you can go visit their website and it will probably tell you more...the link is HERE.  The majority of the classes will be online with real teachers at the other end who mark and assign their work.  Art and Phys Ed are my responsibility - we log the hours and activities and submit those.  My job is to supervise their work, their job is to do the work!

I am pretty thrilled with this for a few reasons...
1.  It isn't costing me anything.  The school is government funded.
2.  I don't need to worry about counting credits for my high school students, they will make sure they've got everything they need to graduate according to our provincial guidelines.
3.  I don't need to go through the headache of choosing curriculum...even though it's kind of fun..but not really.
4.  I am not doing the marking, sometimes it is hard to be objective.
5.  There is someone else besides me holding them accountable.
6.  It's a Christian school, so I do not need to be concerned about content that could prove to be objectionable.

And then there are the harsh realities:
1.  My kids will be home all the time (I love them but sometimes it is really nice to see the yellow school bus, especially Monday mornings)
2.  I will have to plan for three meals a day for the whole fam, not just two.  The four of us that have been home this year have a pretty mellow thing going on at lunch time...no longer.
3.  I will have to be disciplined about making a schedule and keeping it - they will each need time online and off, piano lessons, the art and phys ed time logging, etc.  Yes discipline - it could fit in the four-letter word category, but it doesn't.  Do you think maybe God knew this was coming down the pipe when He gave me the 'phrase' for the year, Grace-full Discipline?  I will definitely need a cup full of grace every day!
4.  There will be a togetherness-attitude that will need to be conquered.
5.  There will be lots of bumps to iron out as we learn this new rhythm.
6.  I will need to learn to say no and be kind to myself about things that I think I should be doing but won't have the energy for.
7.  There will be people who don't understand why we would do this to ourselves, like it's a punishment or something...we don't see it that way.
8.  There will be people who will be mad at us for taking our kids out of the school.  Our decision is NOT a reflection of our school.
9.  Some people will get us to try and feel guilty that we're doing this...not sure why this happens, but it has.
10. My kids who have not homeschooled before are going to be in for a shock...they will have to work, contrary to popular thought.
11.  My kids will have MORE chores to do not less.  Not sure who that will be harder on.
12.  It's not going to be easy.
13.  It WILL be alot of work.
14.  We will not enjoy every day.
15.  There will be days when I question my sanity.
16.  There will be days when I will want to send them all away.

And for those who are wondering:
1.  No, we don't hate our public school, in fact, we love our school!  There are great teachers and we have a very positive relationship with them.
2.  No, this doesn't mean we are moving.
3.  No, we may not do this for the rest of our days...like I said before we take it one year at a time.
4.  No, we are not crazy - well, that might be debatable!!

Friday, May 03, 2013

On the Brink of Brave {Five Minute Friday}

Source
This week I signed papers, slipped them into an envelope with a commitment and dropped it in a mail slot.  It's another step on the way to a dream.  This one step has been brewing for over twenty years and we've stuck our toe on the step for about nine years but never stepped fully on...I wasn't that brave.

It's going to be hard and awkward and require more of me than I will be willing to give.  Maybe more than I have.  But we're finally willing to take that risk because we heard the Spirit whisper that it was time, and we were surprised.  It would be easier to just keep a toe on, but I'm wearing this bracelet on my wrist that says, "Dream God-sized dreams".  This thing is risky.
You can get one here...

We risk being misunderstood and judged and money and time and energy and probably things we can't even see right now...but we have a good God who has carried us through and so we're saying yes.

And when I think of brave I have to ponder the mamas that will be teary eyed tonite here in our little town as they push their babies out of the nest on graduation night praying that they've given them wings to fly.  And we know that pushing is just like back in the delivery room and we have to put a brave face on it because they are so excited to launch into a brave new world that is waiting to crush them but they don't see that now and that's a good thing...

I'm planning to put one of those bracelets on the wrists of the girls who've grown up with us as youth pastor's here...I hope they will be inspired to dream and be brave.

So I take my little step that feels so very scary but this step is all about that launch and I pray that the Word will hold me up as I walk on this path and I pray for those mamas because next year it's my turn to be brave...

This post is a part of a wonderfully brave community of writers who take a prompt and write for five minutes without editing and then go encourage each other in their brave pursuits...want to join us?  Come on be brave, write your BRAVE and link up at HERE.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Letter to You...

Dear Dreaming Friend,

I wish you could come curl up on my new-to-me couch in my messy living room, smell the chicken soup bubbling on the stove and rest with me.  I am tired, too.  The days press in hard with kids and schedules and farm and ministry and trying to walk toward my dream.  It seems like way too much most of the time.

In between loads of laundry and vacuuming and getting kids to practice I remind myself that my life is this and it is more.  In my bathroom there is a little wall plaque that says,

 Dare to make that difference. 
 Take that step. Follow that dream.
 - All things are possible with God. Mark 10:27 
(Dayspring)  

It's right across from the 'great white throne' so I'll see it often.

Maybe you haven't even allowed yourself to dream.  Your core fears of failure and rejection wipe you right over into the corner and you don't want to get up.  Don't let the adversary win!!  You were made to dream.

Your dream doesn't have to be big and fancy.  It doesn't have to look like anyone else's dream.  God is really good at getting that dream just the right size for you.

Do I have great wisdom for you?  Maybe just this.
Start.
Begin.
Commence to proceed.
Do it.
Dream.
Source: Click

I'll be right here dreaming with you, taking little steps forward.

Lani

This post is linked up with a bunch of other dreamers over Holley Gerth's.  We're all part of a God-sized Dream Team and our heart's desire is to encourage you.  Come dream with us!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: The Dance


The Dance was written by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley.  While I enjoyed the story itself; the characters were well developed and the plot line moved along well, I have some a hesitancy in recommending it fully.

The two main characters Jim and Marilyn Anderson have been married for twenty-seven years.  Marilyn is tired of feeling unloved and walks out.  Jim is left dumbfounded, clueless as to what he's done.  That's all in the first two chapters (actually on the back cover) so I'm not being a spoiler.

The pages that come after are primarily about Jim's journey of self-discovery and a formulation of a plan to win his wife's heart back.  In the meantime Marilyn if finding happiness and freedom that she has never felt before.  All of this is really well done, I cried many times reading through the painful revelations.

BUT, I had a profound sense of dissatisfaction after I was done reading.  I know people who are in marriages that are similar to the one described in the pages here. Everything wrapped up a little too neatly in my mind and in too short of a time frame.  The other problem being, that, while there was some excellent advice for any husband who wants to capture their wife's heart...no man is ever going to read this book.  Women are going to read this book and if they happen to be caught in a marriage similar to Marilyn's, they may find it a bit discouraging to see things turn out so neatly for someone in the pages of a book while they are still caught in the midst.

Great writing, great story, I'm just a little confused as to the intent and the desired audience that The Dance is trying to reach.

The Dance has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

Review: the gate


I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book after the first chapter, but I did.  Dann A. Stouten is a preacher, teacher, theologian and storyteller all wrapped into one. The Gate is hard to stash into a particular genre.  I learned along with the main character, Schuyler Hunt, as he had the opportunity to review life changes and circumstances from a very different perspective.

The Gate is not a fast-paced action thriller.  It is not a mystery or a romance.  It is about rest and examination.  It is about understanding and forgiveness.  You will come away from reading these pages feeling refreshed and, perhaps, paying a little closer attention.

Because I don't want to be a spoiler I can't divulge the context in which Schuyler learns all that he does.  However, what I can say is that if you've ever wanted to hear some good teaching on life, heaven and the hereafter then you might want to take a walk through The Gate.

The Gate has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A RAD revelation...

It would appear that there has been ugly stuff happening all over the place.  I could write you a long list of things that have been no fun that we've been dealing with this month...but I'm not going to do that.  I want to tell you today about a revelation that I had that I'm not impressed about.

Every day in our home we deal with something called Reactive Attachment Disorder.  The unfortunate victim of this disorder has usually suffered traumas that cause their heart and spirit to defend themselves against the very thing they long for most - relationship, attachment, belonging, security and love.  They do not trust, they do not feel safe, they have the sense that they have to take care of themselves because no one else will.  It's so hard to watch them suffer when you're holding out to them the thing they want and don't have the ability to receive.

You can read more about RAD here.
And I realized that the above paragraph was describing me.  My heart has been traumatized by dealing with RAD for the last twelve years, even though we didn't know what it was until two years ago.  We've been hit with all sizes of difficulties and problems that I am not going to list.  Suffice it to say that it has been tough slugging lately.

My revelation was that I have been doing the same thing that my son does. In Romans 1, Paul talks about Christians who exchanged the truth of God for a lie.  Here I am, doing the same thing.  Thinking that somehow I can fix all this, that I can do it on my own, that I am somehow capable and strong enough to get through these difficulties on my own.

And I ignore the very source of strength I really need.

I don't worship.

I don't cling to the Word.

I run away.

I hide.

I let depression's gray cloud cover over me.

I quit meeting with encouragement.

Source: The Neon Dove 
Psalm 119:32 says, "I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free." If you were at Allume perhaps you picked up the Journible that was in the prayer room focused on Psalm 119.  I have to admit it was a bit of a struggle for me to get through it.  I couldn't understand how David (talk about someone who had a long list of negative things going on...) could go on for so long on loving God's commands/teachings/instructions.  Now I'm beginning to see.  The TRUTH will show you what the lies are.  If we know the truth so well the lie will have a hard time getting in there.

But here I am rejecting it, running away from it.
We are built for relationship.  God designed us to long for it.
We will attach to something because we have to.
So if I'm not running toward the truth then what have I been doing?
Exchanging the truth of God for a lie

Silly, silly girl.

Today I'm asking God to take down my defenses. To help me let go of my own paltry strength so He can come in and do some housecleaning.

I pray that today you will take hold of the truth.
He IS our strong tower. (Proverbs 18:10)
He surrounds us with His strength. (psalm 32:7)
He does have the whole world in His hands, including you and me and my long list of negative things...
Source: Seasoned Joy
Can I pray for you today?  God, you are my strength and the strength my dear friend reading this needs today.  Sometimes we're a little silly and push you away thinking you don't care, you don't want to be bothered and that we must carry this heavy burden ourselves.  That isn't true.  Jesus, help me live today like I believe the Truth.  The Truth of who you say You are, and who You say I am.  A child of a King.  Help me rest in the beauty of your love and see the problems I am facing through your eyes, today.  And help me and my friend to live in grace...to live like someone left the gate open!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Introducing the planet's newest 13-year old!

In a week peppered with loss I am so thankful to be posting about something sweet and light and joyful!
My daughter, Abby, turns thirteen today.
Her full name is Deborah Abigail, named after two amazing women of the Bible, two of my favorite women of all time.
Deborah was the only female judge of Israel, she was a wife, a mother and a godly, wise woman.  She could understand the heart of the Lord and the hearts of men.

When I was praying and waiting and hoping to have another baby I was at a conference in Kelowna, BC and they revealed a painting that an artist had rendered of Deborah.  The Lord had whispered into my spirit that I would have a baby girl and she would have the eyes of her Father, just like Deborah.  I purchased a reproduction of that painting and about two years later that word came to pass.

My prayer for my girl is that she would see what her Father sees.  I pray that she would be wise and compassionate and about her Father's business.
Abby is on the right, showing off Christmas presents made by her friend Esther.

Her second name is Abigail.  I think Abigail is one of the more interesting women that I've 'met'.  She broke a lot of rules in order to save her household, keep the peace and honor the soon-to-be king.  She went against the wishes of her husband, approached a man, took from her household to feed the soldiers and spoke against her husband.  She was savvy, smart and the Bible says she was beautiful.  I hope my girl will be that, too.
Getting her hair done at her birthday party when she was about 8.

Deborah means 'bee' and Abigail means 'fountain of the Father's joy'.  Her name means be a fountain of joy, and she is...most of the time.
At the quilt show with mom.

This sweet girl has been homeschooled for most of her education so far, mostly because she chose that for herself.  She works diligently, most of the time.  She wants to work in an orphanage one day.  She wants to adopt children from around the world (just like her daddy).  She loves music and dancing and art and a great pair of shoes.
Birthday gifts at 11.

She cares about her friends and her family and is excellent with children.  She's been on several missions trips and wants to go on more.  She is a great comfort and help to me in times of trouble.
Contemplating the changes coming her way...

Happy Birthday sweet girl, I'm so thrilled to be your mom.
Deborah Abigail - Christmas 2012.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

He infiltrated my 'to-do' list...

I have much to say at the moment and yet my brain is not helping me make coherent thought.

Yesterday was Tuesday which means I was supposed to be writing about God-sized dreams.  Our assignment was to spend some time with God, listening for His voice in regards to our dreams.  I am not opposed to quiet times or listening to God our writing about it but I have to admit that the assignment felt like a heavy weight when I first read it.  It felt like a 'have-to'...and I am so weary right now.

This has been an arduous week. (you do NOT have to read all of this...)

Wednesday morning:  beloved Auntie goes to be with Jesus, the world is not so bright without her
Wednesday evening:  sister-in-law and I travel through ridiculously ugly roads to get to a conference
Thursday: sit in conference learning why my RAD son is the way he is
Thursday afternoon:  run to the mall to help my husband wrangle kids while one of them is at the eye specialist, decide to keep the two girls because yet another 'spring' storm is making it's way through the province and my wise husband doesn't think I'll make it back to use the symphony tickets we bought for the girls for their birthdays Saturday night
Friday: keep girls busy while still attending the conference
Saturday: pleasant day hanging out with old friends and attending the Disney symphony with my girls - a wonderful oasis in the storm but NOT at home with my grieving family
Sunday: my family makes an extra drive of about four hours to get me from the city so we can go to join the rest of the family for the viewing, funeral, etc.
Sunday afternoon and evening: viewing, crying, hugging and another night away from home
Monday: graveside service, funeral, more crying, hugging and travelling back home
Tuesday morning: lead Bible study I am totally unprepared for (thanks to my gracious friends, that was all good)
Tuesday afternoon : our dog goes missing
Wednesday morning:  our daughter has another episode of racing heart and shortness of breath...

By the time I got home on Monday night I was emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted.  However, on Tuesday afternoon I sat down to read for a little while because I have a book I need to review and I needed to rest. I figured I could cross both things off my to-do list at the same time, very efficient of me, yes?

In the midst of the pages of this story God so graciously spoke to me of dreaming and not settling for something less.  He spoke to me of understanding where I am so that I can know where I am going.  He spoke to me through a story that my dream IS important, that I shouldn't settle for anything less than what He has dreamed for me, even if it might take work and I might not see results for awhile, and it may be in the midst of difficulty, all these things make me more of me.  These storms will help to shape and define and bring greater clarity into the dreaming.

Dreaming is important enough to Him to include it in the pages of a novel that I need to review to remind me that He was thinking of me, even though I wasn't thinking about Him. He knows that I learn better through stories, that I can hardly wade through a 'teaching' book. Reading that novel was on my to-do list and He wasn't, but He got in there anyway and I am in awe of His care for me...

This post is written as part of a community of God-sized Dreamers.  We hang out with Holley Gerth and link up on Tuesdays for encouragement and engaging the community in dreaming big!


ps.  I'll post a review of the book later this week!  It's called, The Gate.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Living in the Fishbowl of Ministry

This post is being written for the (in)couraged flock, a community of ministry wives through (in)courage, please feel free to join in the discussion.

While I have only been a pastor's wife for six years, I have been in ministry with my husband from the day we met, literally!  On the day I was introduced to my husband-to-be we were both in our first year at University, I was on my way to a Baptist Student Ministries lunch, even though I'm not Baptist, and invited him to come along.  At that meeting we were both asked to become part of the student leadership and there we stayed for the next four years.

In the meantime we got married and joined a church plant as the church we had been attending closed it's doors.  We were part of the leadership there, too.  Over the years we have almost always been in leadership of some kind or other; small groups, worship, children's ministry, etc. and then for the last six years in a paid position at my husband's home church where he grew up.

We have lived in the fishbowl of ministry for our entire married life.  Sometimes that's been a good thing and sometimes not so much.  We know that our journey of faith has been encouraging to some as they've watched God at work in our lives.  We've been pretty open with where we're wanting to go, sharing our dreams and desires and allowing people to walk alongside us.  Our friends and church family have access to our struggles and our joys.  With this comes a double-edged sword.

Being out in the open seems to invite comments.  I can't think of many other professions where your personal life is open for discussion in a performance review.  Media stars and politicians are certainly even more open to public scrutiny but I don't know that actors/musicians' job is on the line by the way they parent their children.

I also realize that the scriptures state that those who are called to be teachers are expected to live to a higher standard.  There in lies the struggle.  We are called to this place and a higher standard, we are open to public scrutiny and comment and the persons who are doing the performance review are given freedom to speak into our lives on every subject.  None of these things are necessarily a bad thing, however, sometimes it seems unfair to me that we don't necessarily get to comment back.  Maybe that's just my inner brat coming out and I need to mature a little more.  What do you think?

I will admit that I am humbled, thrilled and freaked out all at the same time by this.  I am so thankful that other people are encouraged to in their faith by the way we walk...which also humbles me and freaks me out.  I am humbled when someone notices that my kids have an issue with respect.  My invitation is then to please come alongside us and pray with us, we have very unique and difficult challenges in our home that most people do not understand unless they live with a RAD kid.  And in that light I am devastated when I am judged without understanding, which makes me want to crawl into a hole and never come out.

How comfortable are you with the public scrutiny of every aspect of your life?  How do you deal with it?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

For Auntie Diana...

Source
The piano keys on the baby grand will be empty now.

Some of my fondest memories of my Auntie Diana are when she was playing the piano.  She breathed music in and out like air.  She made it look effortless and always beautiful.

One of my early Christmas's after I had married into this family where I met Auntie Diana we all sat in her living room and she was at the piano.  It was time for some singing.  My family is not so musically inclined as my husband's so I thought this would be a real treat.  Only, they didn't pass out hymn books or song sheets, they passed out the score to Handel's Messiah...and we sang it...with all the parts...and we could...it was breathtaking.

I remember when four of the sisters, there are five and they all play, decided to do a two-piano, eight hands piece.  I can't remember the occasion it was for but I can remember the beauty.

She was one of the gentlest people I know.  Her only daughter was born with severe disabilities.  I only met Rhonda after we were married, but she was almost always at family functions.  She always seemed to be able to handle the difficulties her daughter faced with such grace.  We had conversations about that, living life when life hands you something difficult.  She loved well.

And then there was the laughter.  Those sisters know how to laugh.  I love that they have such fun together and made each gathering such a good place to be.

Those sisters know how to listen and encourage and be involved not only in the lives of their own children and grandchildren but in the nieces, nephews and their kids, too.  My kids know who Auntie Diana is and they will miss her.

It is impossible to imagine the five of them without their middle.

The glory of it all is that she is free now from the cancer that has ravaged her body and eaten away at her.  The glory is that even though she isn't her now, the melody that she has played will keep on singing it's way through the lives of those who have heard it.  It was the most beautiful of melodies, filled with harmony and feeling.
Source

We will miss you Auntie Di.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Dear Chihuahua of Fear, I Surrender...


But NOT to you!!  Didn't see that coming did ya?

My husband has been reading to us out of a book by Gordon Dalbey, called Fight Like A Man.  One of the points that Dalbey makes is that in order to truly win a fight you must first surrender to God, the One who decides the outcome of the fight, and then, there's no way you can lose.

Do I have fears?  Unfortunately, I might be accused of running a puppy mill if all my Chihuahua fears were real little dogs running around my heels.  My fears are huge, they are scary and they are many.

But there is One bigger than all of them combined, and I trust Him, therefore I can surrender myself, my dreams, my hopes, my disappointments and my fears to Him.  

He's got me covered.

Chihuahua of fear you might sound all fierce, and you might even think you're really a big dog.  But you're not!!  You will do as you're told and get on into your kennel like a good boy.  I know that you're going to stick around and even bark really loud but guess what?  I'm the boss of you and the boss of me is REALLY big.

So there!!


Sincerely,
A dreamer of dreams and a daughter of the King!

This post is written as part of the God-Sized Dream Team Tuesday series that Holley Gerth hosts.  All of us Dreamers were prompted to write a letter to our fears today.  You can read more about God-sized Dreaming in Holley's book, You Were Made for a God-Sized Dream.  Please join us by talking about your fears and putting them in their place, then come link up at Holley's site, we'd all be glad to have you! 

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Line - A Fight for Peace

Source
We drew a line yesterday.

Not in the sand because we don't want it washed away.

When we were much younger parents we were so careful about what we allowed our kids to watch and playing online wasn't much of an option.

However, years of dealing with trauma after trauma can wear a body down.  It gets easy to just try and keep the peace at the expense of your standards.  But it hasn't been the peace that Christ speaks of.  It's been the peace of laying down and giving up.

We know it will be a fight.

But we want our kids to get a perspective on life that isn't oriented around a screen.

We'd like them to put violence away from them as an answer to taking care of the world.

We want them to grow up knowing that s*x was meant for a husband and wife - after the vows are said, that it isn't cheap.

Ironic isn't it that we have to fight for peace?  That's what my wise young daughter said.

The fighting started last night.

Four of the six embraced the new regime with only a little pouting.  Two of our kids have overly fond attachments to their screens.  One of them has embraced violence with his whole-heart and to him this means we've taken everything away from him, there is nothing left in life.  His life story didn't begin the same way as the others so we knew it would be a tough thing for him.  Violence and dis-engaging are his way of coping.

I have to admit that there have been days when the fight to hang on to grace, to stay at rest in the middle of the storm has been lost.  There have been days when we've just wanted to abdicate all authority and hide in the corner.

There have been many desperate days.

There will be many more.

We all have to learn this grace-full discipline to extend our lives into the world on this side of the screen, mom and dad included.  We need to remember what to do when we're all together.  We need to remember how to imagine and dream and play. We want to encourage creativity and building and life-giving pursuits.

We love those on the other side of the screen and we will continue to participate in the ministries that have developed because of our online life.  But the beast has to go into it's proper place.

We will not let it have control of us.

It will become our servant.

We will win...

or die trying!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Five Minute Friday - {After}

It's Friday and it took me awhile to get to the computer to write but we're finally there.  Five Minute Friday is a generous community of people who simply take five minutes to write on a suggested theme, without worrying or editing or thinking too much about it.  Then we all link up and encourage each other.  Want to play along?  Our prompt for today is:

AFTER...

Go...

After we cleaned up yesterday and had everything de-cluttered and vacuumed and looking fabulous we decided to mess it up again in the very best of ways.
My legless dolls..we named them all Leg-o-less!!




We had a crafty day and even one of the four boys joined in because there were no electronics today and won't be for awhile...so imaginations are beginning to unfurl as they disconnect from screens.

Ephesians 2 tells us our before and after in vivid detail.  We were sinners. After the tree, after the garden was closed to us, God had a plan that gives us the most amazing after.

He's always cleaning up our messes and we're always making new ones.  He cleans up after us with a cross and an empty tomb, sweeping away the mess we've made.
Grandma came over, too!

The timer is almost up and I can't concentrate because the kids are after me to make supper and let them have pop and giving me suggestions and asking questions and I guess the timer is going off and it is now after five...

STOP...

Then you link up at Lisa Jo's and go encourage someone else by reading their post and commenting...that's all for today.

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Elastigirl vs. Distracto-Bunny

LOVE THOSE BOOTS!!

I love Elasti-girl.  I would like to be Elasti-girl.  Ever since "The Incredibles" showed up on the big screen she has been my super-hero of choice.  What mom wouldn't want to be able to 'snap' back into place no matter how much her body has stretched. Not to mention that you could be the super fun mom when your kids can use you as a raft or parachute.  Of course my favorite bit would be that I could reach them no matter how far  away they were...oh yes, you can't outstretch the MOM!!!

**sigh**

Unfortuately, I look a lot more like Distracto-Bunny.  No there isn't a cool picture of her, because she is ME!!

My abilities include:

*Juggling half-finished projects
*leaving a load of clothes in the washing machine until it gets THAT smell because I keep meaning to go change it
*buying too many craft supplies for my various interests
*Forgetting to pick up my daughter
*dropping everything when my phone says, "Woohoo, you have a text message!"

This is the sorry truth my friends.  I know that I will never be:

1. Ann Voskamp - beautiful, put together (at least in the pictures), well-mannered, intentional kids, beautiful photography and deeply spiritual writing
2. The Nester or Emily Jones (from Jones Design Company) - because until my kids leave home, simply keeping it clean enough to live is my goal - no magazine is going to come photograph my 37 year old linoleum (and thank heaven for that! cause it would be some rescue magazine or nasty reality TV thingy that someone nominated me for)
3. ProBlogger - cause I don't care about it all as much as he does

And guess what?  I'm okay with that.

I am learning in my middle-aged-ness (is mid-40s middle aged?) that I am getting more comfortable with my introverted self.  I like my crafty, creative side.  I actually like reading my own writing!  I love my kids and my husband and the crazy grace we all live in.

I am, however, in the middle of writing a novel (for real). I am working toward some awesome God-sized dreams. I'm even getting okay with my lumpy bits - after all those extra 'curves' produced some pretty awesome fruit and I can have grace for that (thanks Lisa Jo for that line about having grace for my waist).

This is all a bit random and I'm okay with that, too.  SQUIRREL!!

(did I say the thing about writing a novel out loud?)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Why of My Dream...

It's Tuesday.  That means I'm supposed to be writing about God-Sized Dreaming.  I am part of this dream team that Holley Gerth organized and it's a pretty amazing group of people I have to admit.  May I encourage you to head over to Holley's site and read a few posts and meet some of my fabulous dreamer friends.

I'm dragging my heels a little.  We're supposed to be writing today about the 'why'.  Why is it important for me to pursue my dream.  Why is it worth fighting for?

Why indeed?

I think, maybe, perhaps, pursuing this dream of mine, to have my name on a cover of a book, is more about me learning to trust God with my heart than anything else.

I am not a great finisher.  I am an excellent starter.

I have an endless river of great ideas going through my head.

Writing a book (I have started many and finished none) involves damming up the river for a bit.  Swimming in the pool and allowing what's inside to come out.

That's hard work for a transient soul like myself.

It will involve some trust.

And perhaps a slight kick or two.

But I know that when I am sharing what I've learned with someone I am all lit up inside.  My Sunday School girls get some of the best of me, because they soak up what I teach them like sponges and I love it.

My little girl got a pile of fabric and a quilting book for her birthday.  She asked me to teach her to sew something.  I can't think of a better way to spend my afternoon; teaching my seven year old how to do something I love...bliss!!

Sharing my heart, those things I've learned the hard way, in some story form, because I loves stories, is rather vulnerable.  More than a wee bit scary.  I'm not a fan of rejection.

But it might be okay to trust God with my heart and leave the size of the dream up to Him, so maybe this will all be okay...I think.

Monday, April 01, 2013

I Lost Jesus - No Fooling

I did.
I lost Jesus.
We have this beautiful wooden wreath to countdown Lent and Jesus' path to the cross.
I had all kinds of marvelous ideas about how this year celebrating the Resurrection was going to be different.
I wanted for our family to balance out this Christmas/Easter thing.
So many times we've let Easter go by with barely a blip.

We lose Jesus.

We lose Him in the midst of school holidays, chocolate, bunnies, marketing and plans.

My plans got way-laid by trying to finish last year's books, mission trips and going on a vacation.

I didn't even know Jesus was lost until I got back from that vacation because I hadn't even looked for Him yet.

But last week, my girls said what about Easter?  We haven't prepared anything.  And they were right.

In the past we've celebrated Passover, such a beautiful way to remember...we missed that, it was the same day in the Holy Week when the Pharisees decided that they needed to do something about the Jesus problem, they wanted desperately to lose him.

So my sweet little girl, on her birthday, took down the snowman collection and started digging around.  She found the wreath, we put up a more springy looking wall quilt that reminds me that I'm wanting more than just surviving.  My husband bought daffodils and an Easter Lily.

We bought some special food, we made plans with Grandpa and Grandma.  We attended the Good Friday service which finally started stirring my weary soul into some flame.

And we found Jesus.

She found Him stuffed in the decorating closet and she brought Him out and put Him on the table.

On Saturday I couldn't help but realize that on that Friday so long ago there were women going about their business of cleaning and caring for children.  There were merchants in their stalls and caravans on the road.  These people weren't interested in crucifixions.  Perhaps they hadn't even lent an ear to the gossip and the crowds.  They hadn't lost Him because they didn't even know that He was to be found.  And then their world went dark.

And He died for them, too.  He died in my unpreparedness.  He rose in my hurry and haste. He came to save all of us, to love us whether we'd lost Him or not.

He found me when I was lost.

No fooling.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gluten Free Pastry

** I cannot take credit for this recipe, I found it on a website somewhere but didn't write down the source!  If you come across it please let me know so that I can give proper credit where it's due, because this recipe is amazing!!
nobody had any complaints except the girl I made the pie for, apparently she doesn't like lemon meringue...Who Knew?

Ingredients:
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup potato starch (NOT potato flour)
1 cup sweet rice flour (**I ground regular white rice in my flour mill and that worked just fine)
dash of sugar
1/2 tsp salt
rounded teaspoon of xanthan gum
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1 tbsp vinegar
4 tbsp ice water
sweet rice flour for rolling

METHOD
1. Blend well together the flours, xanthan gum, salt and sugar (flours for gluten free baking must be well-blended - either sift them several times together or I put them all in a zip-lock bag and shake the bag - no dust-method, smile)
2. Cut in butter and shortening
3. Beat egg, add vinegar and ice-water.
4. Stir into flour mixture forming a ball. (Add a little more water if too dry)
5. You may knead this a bit since rice flour crust can stand handling.  Knead until you have a smooth, soft ball.
6. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour or more to chill.
7.  Roll out between wax paper dusted with sweet rice flour.  Peel off top layer of wax paper, flip over onto pie plate and then carefully peel off the other layer of wax paper and fit pastry into pie shell fluting edges -
8. Bake at 375 until lightly browned

makes one double crust pie or 2 single crust.