Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where I am

I am hiding in my basement, listening to my youngest pick out one of his favourite songs on the piano. The older two are giggling and laughing in the hallway beside me. I have a headache, which has been slowly creeping on all morning. I suspect the energetic stomping/dancing that I heard earlier contributed to the throbbing I now feel.

I am tired. I remember days when I sat down at my keyboard to write and my mind was full of exciting things to share. Today is not one of those days. Today (and for many days, recently) things are different.

The first difference is that I feel less confident in sharing what I am learning... Not that I don't have good things to share, just that I have been humbled lately in attempting to “teach” others. Those who teach will be judged more strictly, after all. (James 3:1) So I am sitting back and gleaning from others more these days.

Beyond that, though, I have this pervading feeling of weariness. I don't know if it's this everlasting Winter O' 2015 or something else, but I just don't want to do anything. I'm tired of answering questions. I'm tired of meal planning. I'm tired of shopping multiple times a week. I'm tired of listening to people's whining (and I'm not just talking about kids here.) I am weary.

I stood under the spray of the shower this morning and imagined something that I only think about in my weakest moments - an extended period of time away from everything... Cars, stores, internet, people, teaching. In that ever-so-brief moment, it sounds delightful.
Curling up in the fetal position and sucking my thumb was my go-to, years ago


Yet, I know that I have a purpose here, right now.

And, I know that escape is neither healthy, nor useful.

But in those moments, I find it hard to remember that I do have a purpose.

But.

I have heard it said that when someone speaks the word, “BUT...” it really means, “All that stuff I just told you? Forget about it.

Your hair looks great today BUT you have food in your teeth.”
I know you told me not to tell you any more church gossip BUT you have to hear what so-and-so told me.”
“I want something better for my children BUT I'm not willing to make any changes.”

You get the idea. What you read before the “BUT” means nothing, really.

So, all that stuff up there? BUT...

BUT God has put me where I am so that I can shine my light, even when it feels like I'm on my last drop of oil. I am reflecting the light of Jesus to my family, to my church, to my friends, and to people I meet at the store or library or swimming pool.

It's not about me.

It should never have been about me.

I try to make it about me far too often.

So, I will persevere. I will get over myself when I am feeling used up and worn out, because the Lord has satiated the weary soul! (Jeremiah 31:25)

If I am not letting God build this family into what he wants it to be, my work is all vain. (Psalm 127:1)

And how quickly I forget the last part of Psalm 127, where God tells me that my children are a heritage and reward to me. Thank you, Lord, for that reminder. They truly are.

My heritage and reward...  Awesome.

I will not grow weary in doing good. I will reap my reward, one day. (Gal 6:9)

Today...  And every today to follow...

This is my prayer - That I can let my light shine before men, so that they may see my good works and GLORIFY my FATHER in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

So I am here, sitting at my computer, listening to the noises of my family and resolving to continue doing good. After all, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26) It doesn't get better than that, right?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Super-Man

Originally written November 16, 2009.

My husband is stretched out on the Lazyboy right now, "watching" MNF with his eyes closed. I take him for granted very often. He's not the most romantic guy in the world and he doesn't always say what I want to hear, but I can't help loving him anyway.

Do you know that he gets up every morning at 6:15 so he can get to work on time? And he never complains about it. He doesn't even try to make noise to wake me up. He lets me sleep until 7:30 when he's heading out the door, at which point, he wakes me with a kiss, EVERY MORNING, and says good-bye. The kids, who he's been holding off until that moment, rush into our room and ask if they can get breakfast. Let me expound... He makes his own lunch each morning (a feat among husbands from what I hear), gets dressed in our dark room, and absorbs the kids while I doze for another hour and fifteen minutes.

And then, THEN! he gets his gear on (coat, hat, mitts if needed) and bike helmet on and rides his bicycle to work. In the rain. In the snow. In the extreme heat. In the cold. It is a very rare day when he accepts my offer of a ride in the morning.

He gets to work on time every day... No wait - he gets to work early every day and makes decisions on his workday based on his morals and ethics, not on what his boss is expecting or what will be easiest.

Do you know that he takes a lunch to work every day? He doesn't spend our money on such frivolous things as pizza and chips or salad and a sandwich. He would rather spend the time making his lunch in the morning. And yes, it is our money, even though I sleep in until 7:30 and the hardest thing I have to do on any given day ranges from unknotting knotted hair to deciding who gets the last blueberry yogurt.


My husband is a superhero! I could go on about how when he bikes home from work he settles in to play with the kids and gets them to clean up before dinner, or how he reads with at least one of the kids almost every night after dinner, or how he chats with me about his day and listens if I feel compelled to complain about mine. (At this point, I'm wondering what there ever was to complain about!)

No, I don't need to tell you all that. Nor do I need to go into how he patiently taught me to understand and appreciate football, or how he goes to concerts with me even though he really would rather not spend the money on the tickets and babysitter. You get the idea without me going into all that.

I am married to Superman. He may appear to be Clark Kent, but he's Superman underneath it all. I'd say that makes me Lois Lane, but I think I'm somewhere closer to Amelia Bedelia. So I just keep thanking God for blessing me with my Aaron and hoping that he doesn't realize he's sorely mis-matched.

And as I finish typing this, he wakes from his peaceful slumber, passes gas, and flashes me his smile. I giggle. I can't help it. I'm smitten.

A Man at 40

I've kind of been out of words lately.  I haven't had a whole lot to say and I've had even fewer words with which to say things, so I've just stayed away from the keyboard.

But today – TODAY – I have a reason to come back to the keyboard!

Today I celebrate my best friend.  



Today I celebrate the person who makes me laugh more than anyone else in this world.


He isn't afraid to get his hands dirty.


And he loves exploring, 


...with me!


My best friend is also an amazing father, someone who will play games that aren't his favourite, simply for the sake of spending time with people who need his time.


There have been lots of highs with my best friend...  I'm glad to have been alongside him for so many of them.


Today, crack open your ice cream and lift a spoon to celebrate the first forty years of this man's life.

Happy birthday to my best friend.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Keep Doing Something

I wrote this post about three hours after my house caught fire.
 

Today, my husband put some of the final touches on the restoration that we've been wading through since July. It is nice to live in a house that was once whole, was gutted (in spots) as a result of the fire that ate away part of the structure, and is restored to much nicer condition than it was six months ago when this all started.

My motivation for writing that post was three-fold.

1. I needed to get my mind off of my "loss" and move it to a more productive place. Yes, my house was charred on the outside. Yes, I had a flood in my attic, my bedroom, and my daughter's bedroom.

And I was still alive and had breath left in me with which I could turn my "disaster" into praise, giving glory to God.

2. I had been thinking about the people who are mad at God for allowing bad things to happen.  I needed to work through what my response should be to those people and to the bad things that happen.

3. Matthew West's song "Do Something" was wildly popular on Christian radio at that time and I kept hearing it.  I couldn't hear it without, well, doing something.

So here I am, sitting in a restored house, still subject to the ups and downs of this fallen world, but turning my joys and sorrows back to the Creator of it all.

The winner of the charity donation is:

...comment #4, Cheree Moore's choice, Crossnore School. In Cheree's words, "We have friends that work with a Residential Charter School for kids in foster care called the Crossnore School. The school has recently implemented a new home for kids that graduate from high school and go on college but don't have support systems."


$50 donated to Crossnore School
As promised, I have also donated to Amazima Ministries, the organization started by Katie Davis. She is doing an amazing work in Uganda.
 
$50 donated to Amazima Ministries

I'm sharing this with you so that you know what happened with my previous challenge, and to encourage you to keep doing "somethings" that change the lives of fellow citizens of earth.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Mt 25:40




Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gifts

A friend reminded me that the best gifts don't usually cost a whole lot...

My hubby and I were out shopping with the kids when we decided to stop at an inexpensive sit-down restaurant for dinner. (This is a very rare treat for our family.) Hubby and the kids stood around waiting for a table and eventually ordered dinner while I finished up the shopping at one last store.


When dinner finally arrived, the waiter placed a steaming, cheesy bowl of French Onion soup in front of me. I love it but never order it when eating out, because it's so frivolously expensive. My husband ("He Who Does Not Like To Spend Money") knew how much I loved it and just ordered it anyway.


I keep thinking about that small gift; it cost less than $5.00, but it means so much.


It means that he cares enough about me to listen. 

It means that he cares enough about me to remember. 
It means that he cares enough about me to surprise me with the unexpected. 

This is just a small part of how he shows me he loves me. And that is the best gift... Not the soup, but the love.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We three Kings on Bethlehem's Plain... (Otherwise entitled: And now for something completely different)

We've all seen the scene...  Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, Magi.  Sometimes it's made of plastic, sometimes it's wooden.  Sometimes it's Lego and has cameos by Anakin Skywalker and a Geonosian warrior.


Last night, the church ladies had a rousing discussion about the nativity story. I brought the discussion to the kids this morning, and now I sit down to bring it to you.

The subject: The events surrounding Jesus's birth.

The question: “Where did the Magi visit Jesus?”

Most people know by now that we have no idea if there were three Magi or eight or two. We also know that the Magi were not actually included in the biblical picture of the manger scene, the one with a feeding trough and amazed shepherds.

But where do the Magi fit in? Where did they finally find Jesus?

We dissected Matthew 2 and Luke 2 to see what the time-line of events actually said. I was surprised to discover something new, despite many readings, over the last thirty-cough years, of these two accounts of Jesus's birth.

1. Day 1 - Jesus is born in Bethlehem - Matthew 2:1 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea...


2. Day 8 – Joseph, Mary, and Jesus go to Jerusalem for purification rites. - Luke 2:22 “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord...”

3. Day 33 to 41-ish – Joseph, Mary, and Jesus leave Jerusalem and go to Nazareth. - Luke 2:39 “When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.

(I'm not certain on the timing here, but it was within the second month. Mary had to stay for her own purification rites, according to the Law as found in Leviticus 12:1-4)

4. Anywhere from six months to two years later - The Magi arrive in to Jerusalem and enquire of Herod as to the whereabouts of the new king. - Matthew 2:1-3 “Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.



5. Herod enquires of his gurus, those who studied the Law and the Prophets, and determines that the king was born in Bethlehem. He tells the Magi to head that way and then come back. - Matthew 2:8, 9 “He sent them to Bethlehem... After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” It does NOT say that they went to Bethlehem, just that the teachers of the Law told Herod that prophecy said the child would be born there. The Magi, very wise men, indeed, followed the star, not Herod's advice.

 6. The Magi followed the star to “the house” where Jesus lived. - Matthew 2:10-11 “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Last that we heard, Jesus had moved to Nazareth. (See Point #3)

7. After the visit from the Magi, an angel warns Joseph of the danger to his son, and told him to flee to Egypt, which he did. Matthew 2:14 “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt.

8. Joseph is told he that can return to Israel and is warned to stay away from Archelaus, Herod's son, so he settles in Nazareth. Matthew 2:23 “...he went and lived in a town called Nazareth.

If I'm reading this correctly, the Magi left Jerusalem, maybe headed south because that's what Herod told them to do, and then, following the star, did an about-face and headed to Nazareth, where Jesus was living. What do you think? Am I missing something? Mis-reading the two accounts? Where did the Magi visit Jesus?

I'll tell you this:

Last night, the ladies and I decided that it didn't really matter where the Magi visited Jesus. He was born, the Magi went well out of their way to worship him, and we should do the same. That is the theme of the story of the Magi.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Great is Thy Faithfulness - Let it Snow!

Early this morning I opened the fridge to get cream for my coffee when I noticed the carton of Egg Nog, the first of the season, purchased just two days ago. "We should open that tonight," I thought to myself.

I pulled my sweater tighter around my torso to get rid of the snowy chill creeping into the house when I heard a THUD against the window. I saw two Red-Cheeked Faces gleaming up at me just as the third Red-Cheeked Face yelled through the door, "Mom, you have to come to the window. There's something for you to see."

Before he finished the words, the first two threw their first snowballs of the season, right at the window. I made faces at the throwers, staying there long enough for their target practice to be successful, then went back to pouring my coffee.

I sipped the hot liquid, letting it warm me as I listened to the giggles of glee from my children on this, the morning of the season's first snow fall.

Although I would usually cringe at the cold and mess, today I am reveling in the joy that change brings and the reminder of God's covenant with Noah, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."

While I've been playing Christmas music for the last week or so, you might find me humming this verse of the beloved hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness" today: