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 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 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...

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 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.

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!!

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

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 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 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...


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


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!!!


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.