Quote for Contemplation

The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work & prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks our wisdom, but trembles when we pray. -Samuel Chadwick

Thursday, 24 January 2013

This Morning

I think my blog title came from days like today. I know it's only 0619 but I've already been up for nearly 2 hrs. Do I want to be up? Not particularly. Unfortunately I couldn't get back to sleep when John got up for work. I feel blahhy, blechy, think I am fighting a cough or something. Right now silence reigns supreme in this house but I know at any minute that could change...then starts the daily grind. Daily demands for diaper changes, food, juice & queeries of "is my math marked yet?" and "what's for supper?" Vacuuming, running errands, doing some school, picking up from extra-curriculars. John will likely work until 5 & go to flight school @ 6, so I'm flying solo today!

Sometimes I just want to say uggghhh! I want a day off.

What would I do if I had a day off? Sometimes I wonder......

One possibility is packing up Grizwold & heading to K-Country. Go snowshoeing or something. Take some photos! Have lunch at this neat little healthy type cafe in Canmore (I forget the name of it). Drive home. Either in silence or with the radio cranked. I know it doesn't sound too exciting, but compared with the relative drudgery I find myself facing today it seems an oasis.

Hm....I hear steps. Now I hear a "mama, I want to watch a mooey" and "I want a ju-box" And the pantry door opening. So much for silence reigning supreme.

Or, I could send the kids to school for a day...pack up their little lunches and make sure they looked all cute & crisp & serenely wave goodbye as they head out the door. I would be free to spend uninterrupted time with Jana, I could do laundry, nap while she napped, clean, meal plan, whatever...and have freshly baked cookies & apple slices waiting their return to our humble abode....

But what I really need is to shake my head, re-evaluate my gratitude level for the things I have been blessed with & stop wishing for someone else's life.

I could say, "ughh, I have dishes to wash." Or I could say, "hey, I have dishes to wash! And food that went on them!" I know this sounds kind of laughable, but really. Isn't it laughable that I should think to complain? I am not a refugee from famine, drought or war, I can find gainful employment within walking distance if I need to, I have access to healthcare & don't have to worry if I have a sick child. I have the absolute privilege of educating my kids. I am trying to look at things in a larger perspective. I know my attitude needs some adjustment. I can say that I have been given so much, but like most things, it needs to re-submerge from the surface where head-knowledge lies to resonate with me on a deeper, more meaningful level. It's not that it doesn't, it just needs to stay there. I want to live in a true spirit of gratitude.

I think I wrote a post similar to this last winter. The essence of it was that it's doing the things He has seen fit for me to do at this time with a grace & to the best of my ability. Or, more accurately realize that I can't  do things very well to the best of my ability, to quit trying to "be" a Christian & lay down my life, allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work through me.

Although sitting down & writing this morning was not on my list of things to do, I am glad I did. In writing this I have experienced a change in heart. Now if you will excuse me, there's a toddler on the couch who could use some cuddling. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Decisions, Divine timing & Discouragement

I really struggled for an apt title for this post. I didn't want to paint an all-roses atmosphere in following the Lords leading, but at the same time, don't want to empty the joy of obedience from decision making.....that being said let me speak to the last couple of weeks.....John has a hard job (reinforcing ironworker) which arguably is the most physically demanding work in construction. It takes a toll on his body. Enough said. We suspected at some point his work may have to change, but that raised a new set of questions; doing what? how? schooling? re-location? And, being a family of 6 on a single income how do we survive the transition? So we have talked and prayed off & on over the past few years looking mildly at various options, yet nothing presented itself clearly but more importantly we felt no leading from the Lord. Which in my mind says "stay put!"

Early December 2012 John had an MRI done on his knee. The results? Arthritis, a ruptured ACL, a miniscus that was mush, another headed towards mush & his tibia has shifted to compensate. We weren't altogether surprised, John has been this way since I've known him. We got a referral and the clogs are slowly turning to receive whatever treatment is necessary for his knee.

The last week of December  John & I were talking about a portion of a book I was reading on obedience to God. It was one of those really good, simple, sincere discussions that resulted in our genuine prayer for God's will in our lives & for direction. A good morning.

The next day (Dec 30th) was my side of the family's Christmas get-together. Anyhow, I was mentioning the MRI John had undergone & the forthcoming results to my uncle at Christmas and unbeknownst to me my mom overheard...

On Jan 2nd, the Lord awakened John up at early in the morning & impressed upon him to go for a walk with our dog, Grizwold.  During that walk John received clear direction that he should try to obtain his pilots license. It was also impressed upon him that he need not fear from perceived difficulties.

January 3rd, my mom calls. She said that she had overheard the conversation I had with my uncle & that her & my dad felt strongly that John needed a career change. And they would foot (some of) the bill. Wow! How's that for unexpected. We hadn't breathed a word to anyone about this. I told her about John looking at getting his private pilots license & the money was in our account the next day. Good timing as the next session of ground school offered at the Okotoks Air Ranch started Jan 8th -5 days later. His bosses had no problem with him no longer being available working Saturdays and were actually supportive of him. Amazing!

So now, here we are, January 13, 2013. What a crazy new year! I am starting to feel the extra work-load of him being gone & studying so much. We have discovered that pilots really don't make a lot (and by that I mean I we likely couldn't survive) for the first few years until you get on with a commercial airline. Or move up wayyy north. Both of which you need a commercial license for. ( = ++ $)

 So, not sure what the future holds or why we are being led this way. But we know He hold the future. And that is all that matters.

Friday, 20 July 2012

I want to be the woman....

I want to be the woman who came to Jesus' feet.
Who didn't look at her surroundings, the distractions & the critical peeps
Who didn't count the cost of the purfume or the criticism.
Whose open weeping & repentance showed acute awareness of her spiritual state she was in.
Who was forgiven in full, saved through faith, sent in peace.
A woman who left with riches no one could seize.
A beautiful woman.

Luke 7:36-50 relays the 'story' of this woman, an obviously well-known "sinner" to the religious hierarchy of the day. I read it this morning with fresh eyes & found myself envious of her simple act that is so profound. Today, I am thoroughly weary. I long to just stop. The next act of service & kind word & even genuine prayer doesn't come easily. My heart has been slowly bound by the thinnest threads of resentment, hurt, exhaustion, distraction & complacency. On a day like today, I long to be like that woman who simply falls to the feet of Jesus, giving him everything & arises a new creation. Refreshed, renewed.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Me, Myself & I

It's been a long time since I have posted on here. When I told myself, "hey, even if you don't write more than quarterly it's better than nothing!" Hm. more like bi-annually at this rate. In any case, the last few months has been a roller coaster in many departments. Stress. Stress, stress & more stress. Seems to be a semi-permanent state lately. I know I need to deal with it in a healthy way, but finding that way & diligently adhering to it is another thing all together. I think this is a problem that many people face.

Originally, I thought that stress was simply not trusting in God, taking burdens upon me which simply were His to carry. I think that to a point this is true, but stress is much more than that. We weren't designed to live in a world of continual stimulation -sound, electronic devices, increasingly heavy workloads, alarm clocks that yank us from bed while still dark -and I am really starting to notice the effects that it's having on me.

Balance is another word that typically comes up in conversations about stress. What does that mean for me? I am commencing on a journey right now to see how I can identify stress & limit it in my life. Also, to combat the effects of it I hope to make a list of things that "counter" the effects of it. 

I recently watched a documentary by National Geographic called, "Stress -Portrait of a killer." It talks about how animals only use the stress or fight/flight reaction when in dire situations -for example a zebra being chased by a lion activates this fight/flight reaction, but it turns off when the ordeal is over & the zebra safe. We create psychological stresses  in our minds that keep stimulating us, there is simply no break from them. The long term effects of stress were also looked at in this film, including digestive, cardiac & immune system problems, weight gain, etc etc. There was a study done of caretakers (primarily moms) of special-needs kids & I was surprised to learn that for every year they care for their special needs child, the amount of stress incurred erases approx. 6 years from their life. That's crazy!

I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of the family God has blessed me with. Not a super-spiritual message, but a much needed one -if only to myself!

Friday, 6 January 2012

I am having one of those days today

I am having one of those days today. Well actually my day started to go south last night. My oldest was caught with her light on & reading not once, but twice. Hmm…not a big deal you initially think –and rightly so. However it’s occurring with increasing frequency & really affects her school the next day. So, I decide fine. She wants to stay up, she’ll be exhausted & sleep late and not get her school done in time to visit with her best friend who just returned home after 2wks away. She will see direct consequences of her actions.

My plan for effective, non-confrontational discipline started to go awry about 3am, when the dog woke me up because she needed to go out….which led into me hearing Jana (the littlest) crying then deciding to stay up for an hour with me. Being the ever productive sort of person that I am, I try & make lemonade out of it & make John’s sandwich while I am up with her so I don’t have to getup @ 5, when he does. I returned to my blissful state of unconsciousness & awoke @ 8:00! What, 8am? Me? Whose favorite hours are 5:30-7:30 in the morning. Yes, and I am absolutely bagged tired, with a bad headache. I go upstairs & discover Eva (9) bright eyed & bushy tailed endeavoring to bless me with the making of scrambled eggs, toast & cut up fruit.

You know, it’s so hard to be cheery when you see this. I love her heart so much and she is so confident in her abilities –you just can’t buy that sort of stuff. But I groaned inwardly at the excessive bowls & frying pans, etc. used. Cast iron frying pans that I will doubtlessly have to scrub.

So we get through breakfast, my head feels like it has a balloon being inflated inside it, but I try to smile or at least not growl at my wonderful offspring, one of whom insists on rubbing her planter warts on the other kids. I try & pray silently, thankfully, but it’s all static. I didn’t get my God Time this a.m. and that is not a good thing. You see, for me it’s not a matter of me making Him a priority or making time for Him in my life & reading, etc. It’s a matter of if I don’t I am usually doomed (& consequently my kids) to a day of impatience, inverted priorities & ineffectiveness.

I decide to cancel the visit I had planned with another homeschooling families house at 10:00. It is not going to happen. Nobody wants to be around me the way I am and there is too much for me to do to be anywhere close to on time –which I need to be to get back here for Jana’s nap. But I cannot find this ladies phone # to cancel. Anywhere, even 411 doesn’t have it. I spend half an hour looking for it when miraculously, the doorbell rings while I am downstairs & the girls invite in Zoe; the long lost best friend whom Grace was not supposed to see as a “natural” consequence of having slept in because she was up so late last night. Pop! There goes that perfectly articulated bubble. Grace for some odd reason had no intention of sleeping in & all the girls are chatting excitedly as only girls can. The upside to this is that Zoe can run home & get me the phone number I need to cancel. Yay. Everyone is occupied with Zoe’s stories of a faraway land called Florida so I figure I can sneak to me bedroom for some of that much needed God Time. Wrong. As I try reading, focusing my mind, my intentions on connecting with my Maker, attempting to feel the peace that surpasses all understanding Jana comes downstairs just as pleased as punch she has stolen her sisters binoculars unnoticed. She is so proud as she wordlessly climbs on my bed, beaming with her drool & little pigtails half out. Then she chatters, telling me all about how she got them, what it means to her, blah, blah, blah…and the God Time disappears. Poof! Gone! But just maybe He doesn’t care so much right now about me being able to perfectly fix my mind on him, wholly surrendered. Maybe He cares more about treating the child He has entrusted me to raise with love & respect, building her up. It’s hard for me to take this path; I am a very linear person, my mine works in lists, usually it goes: 1. Get God Time. 2. Get me time. 3. Can go out & be a good parent & change the world or whatever.

Maybe He is trying to work that out of me.

Even as I write this I have been peppered with interruptions. My computer has spontaneously printed off this blog @ least 3 times & I have no idea why, kids come to me with “Are you bringing me a monkey back from Costa Rica?” “Can I wear a dress today?” “Mom, she isn’t helping me clean the kitchen!” And just clingy-ness & whining from a Jana who is fast approached tired. Currently I am hearing a song from “Phantom of the Opera” that Grace & her friend are set on perfecting. They are also building some sort of stage upstairs for a near-future performance for an audience of 1 –me.

Laundry is not put away. Office Day yesterday shrank to 15 min of me desperately trying to make phone called & modify my calendar. Kitchen Day…well nothing on the list that day got done. I have the urge to purge but not the time or energy to carry it out right now. Half of the office/rec room where I am composing this is under construction & I have to drywall & paint this wknd. You get the picture…

I am not intending this to be a whiny blog, I am trying to share what I think He is trying to do to me, to my character in this stage of my life. Perseverance & priorities. I was reading Jeremiah last night. I flipped open & started to read & I read about us being clay in the potters hands. I need to remember that I become more like Jesus not through going to church & joining a Bible study (although those things are of value). It’s just plain old me. How I act, what I think and am I still intent on furthering His Kingdom her today when nobody is watching & listening to me but Him.

A couple of evenings ago, my eldest daughter, Grace, had a conversation with her biological dad (who is extremely unstable & has a distorted view of life). It was painful to hear (yes, I did eavesdrop because she was talking so loudly). She was finally honest with him and told him exactly how his actions were impacting her. I have never been so proud of one of my kids I think. She spoke about forgiveness, about everyone she has had to forgive in her messy life, she encouraged him to read, she asked if she could pray with Him. She calmed him down & kept the conversation level-headed when her dad would go off & get angry. She directed him to Jesus. If you didn’t know who was behind that door you would have thought it was an adult. She shouldn’t have to be in that position, but that is the way things have worked out. I couldn’t have articulated with the grace & ease which she did. It was truly a sermon unto me that make me weep & convicted me. My prayers, the years of investing in her as a person –I am finally seeing the fruit of it! And as I think on that this morning, I am encouraged to keep going, keep slogging it out as a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

God; user of the Unlikely

The last few months it has been striking me, in a rather encouraging way, that the Lord likes -maybe I should even say prefers to use the least likely people & circumstances to accomplish His will. I can think of 2 reasons as to why He works like this…first & foremost for His glory & secondly to increase our faith, to separate His people from those who are simply satisfied to accept the common, believe in the mundane & follow the crowd.

The Old Testament is teeming with examples that display this aspect of God; it was Able, then Seth, the younger brothers who found favor with the Lord; Sarai didn’t have children until she was a senior; Jacob (the younger brother) was the one whose sons founded Israel, and of those brothers it was Joseph (the youngest, from a slave to a ruler) through whom God chose to save His people during times of famine. When Jehovah led His people out of Egypt it was through a sea! When they entered the Promised Land it was during the flood season that they crossed the Jordan River. Need I mention the collapse of Jericho & Rahab’s involvement? The downsizing of Gideon’s army? The choosing of David as king? (the youngest bother in a family of shepherds); That it was King David’s underhanded dealings with Bathsheba & her husband through whom came King Solomon & later the Messiah? In the New Testament, Jesus continues with the theme from the start; conceived of an unmarried virgin, hanging out with tax collectors & prostitutes, the unwanted –the unlikely & shunning the Jewish religious authority of the time.

In fact, the only time I can recall when God chose the most likely “path” to unfold was when Saul was anointed as king over Israel. When the time of judges came to an end, the people of Israel cried out for a king –to be like the other nations. 1Samuel 9:1-2 says of Saul, “There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. He had a son names Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites –a head taller than any of the others.” Saul was handsome, the eldest & impressive. Yet, what disaster that ended in!

I think that sometimes we, as Christians, forget that God truly does choose & use the unlikely. We get caught up in the lies that we hear…& the lies we tell & perpetuate about ourselves….that we don’t have enough time, money, energy, we’ll be thought of as crazy, we’ll lose friends, etc. if we should choose to follow the promptings from the Holy Spirit. We must keep focused that those are lies, not what the word of God tells us. If He prompts us to do something, it must be because He has a plan. We forget that obedience is key to spiritual growth. We get so wrapped up in being discouraged, isolated & busy, our focus is so inward that we end up missing the point for much of our spiritual journey.

I know for myself this is true, I am learning to have confidence in Him, not in me. I am not outgoing, well-spoken or particularly attractive. I don’t have extra money, resources or time. I have no high-up connections or otherwise areas of acclaim or expertise. YET, Christ is showing me that I need to step out & follow. It’s not about me; it’s about what He wants to do through me! Whether that be to pray with the person with whom He prompts me to pray or do whatever it is he is asking me to do. The latest in this adventure has been an application I sent out a couple of weeks ago to an organization that aids persecuted Christians. I have applied to be a spokesperson for this organization in my area. Do I feel adequate? Absolutely no! Am I quaking inside? Positively. Do I believe that He has a plan and that this is a cause that truly awareness needs to be raised for? Yes! So, I am trying to plunk along & follow Him….and leave the results up to Him –regardless of what happens.