Sunday, December 27, 2009

Because He Lives

It's because He was born that we do this thing called Christmas. It's because He died and lives that we find meaning in our journey and hope for our future. It's because He cares for us that we find guidance when we've lost our way. It's because He loves us that we find comfort when we don't understand life. These are the reasons why we teach our children about God's Son, Jesus.
This Christmas week, we will have had two funerals to attend. Untimely deaths to our understanding and yet so timely for focusing on the One who gives life and who calls His saints home. We remember these dear people as we celebrate the One who now reigns in heaven and to whom our loved ones are now worshiping in person! Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Young Examples





The actors have spoken, the choir has sung, the angels have danced and, in this play, the live ornaments have found their purpose. The baby is born, the baby whom it was all about. As we tuck our tired children in their beds, hair still full of sparkle spray, a little voice whispers, "I hope people will be saved, Mommy." She is mindful of those in the audience who, for various reasons, have come to observe Christmas in this way. My daughter's theme verse is "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." I Timothy 4:12
I continue to learn from her.
Lord, use these precious children and their efforts by drawing people to You this Christmas. Let our little ones, who are learning to care for souls, see the harvest and may it grow their faith.


121. So thankful for children's Christmas presentations
122. for bumps and glitches in the program that keep us humble
123. for my little girl's new bravery--she danced in front of everyone!
124. for the prayer that helped my other little girl not to be nervous
125. for holidays (we get to have my husband home more often!)
126. for knowing that the death of His saints is precious in the sight of the Lord
127. for the ability to buy our children Christmas gifts
128. for sweet inventive spelling
129. for my husband who is just returning from the Toronto Maple Leafs game (Go Leafs Go!)
--the kids always pray for his safe return
130. for Addison Road
131. for Tetley's Earl Grey Vanilla tea
132. for a 2 year-old boy who, upon hearing someone use the Lord's name in vain said, "No! Jesus!"
133. for nativity figurines, felt board pieces, books, and His word, which all remind us of His coming
134. for Mrs. G stories!
135. for a loving ballet teacher
136. for meeting new friends in our large church who've been there for a few years already!
137. for Mr. Sketch smelly markers... mmm!
138. for little girls in colourful tights
139. for digital photography--oh, the joy of deleting!
140. for older teachers who remember you when they're purging their supplies
141. Lights, lights, and more Christmas lights!

Thank You, LORD!

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Little Town of Bethlehem


Our church's cantata is over, our children's program will be performed this weekend, our gift exchange with friends is complete, we continue to check off the list. All the while, Bethlehem remains in my mind. I'm relishing in the festivities, taking in the joy, but this evening takes my mind to another night. The little town is almost visible to me as I gaze out my window into the darkening sky.
I close my eyes and try to feel her labour, her shivering, her fear. It was Mary's first birth experience and the lack of shelter would certainly bring a nervousness for how this would all take place. She was young, trusting Joseph to find somewhere adequate for them. Oh, how the pain must have scared her. No longer a mother at her side, she was becoming a mother. And as she was visited and gifts were brought and her child was worshipped, she pondered all these things in her heart. I have a video and photos as memories of my births and yet, the story of her child, born in this little town, remains with me today through His Word. I sometimes ache to sit and meditate on this for much longer, perhaps all of advent.
Bethlehem, you're on my mind tonight. You must be on my mind. If I don't allow you to infiltrate me, what is my list worth? What is this season worth? Would Christmas ever be the same if I let go of the parties and gifts and just sat at His feet? It's tempting. Having had even more changes in my heart this month, I wait for the celebration of His birth with renewed anticipation. Oh, little town, my hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Our Home Is Lost"


He's been in the van, making stops, running errands and paying visits to family. His little two year-old mind and body are tired and he cries out to me, in the front seat, "Our home is lost! We can't find it anywhere!"
We do eventually end up finding our home :)
This season begins early and continues on, long past Jesus' birthday. I race to gather what I need from stores and little shops. I've set a goal to avoid the mall and purchase gifts elsewhere. I'm trying to maintain the joy this Christmas and to me, it ends in those long, busy hallways. With all the hustle and bustle, I keep returning to focus on Who it's all about. If I don't find Him daily during this season, I will undoubtedly fall prey to the stress that can be related to it all. Our home will be "lost" in the busyness. So, Little Man, it's when we fix our eyes on the real Meaning of the holidays, that we will never lose sight of our home.
(And so, it is with this focus, I continue my list of gifts from above...)

101. thankful for Friendship Club (for the developmentally disabled)

102. for still receiving snuggles from "big" kids

103. for gentle snow that leaves a light dusting

104. for cookie exchanges

105. for vast differences in my children's personalities

106. for family traits

107. for homemade skating rinks

108. for vanilla bean hot chocolate (with whipped cream)

109. for honest friends

110. for kodakgallery.ca !

111. for little knitters during read-alouds

112. for the children's pastors and staff at our church (we love you!)

113. for a God who still performs miracles (we've experienced it!)

114. for clementines without seeds

115. for boys and girls who still act their ages and play like children

116. for a fresh slate every morning

117. for giggling, whispering sisters in their beds at night

118. for cousin sleep-overs

119. for the "Challenge Novels" by Carolyn (ask me about them!)

120. for the way God speaks to me through my children (Meghan, stay open to His Spirit!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finally!

Advent: a season of waiting. We've been reading about the coming of the most amazing person in history and, at the same time, watching the window for a sign of snow. Finally, the snow arrived and the kids bundled up and threw fall-apart snow balls and made angels with just a touch of grass peeking through. They didn't mind. The waiting had been satisfied.
But I've been wondering how to truly get across the importance of the birth of the Ultimate Sacrifice. We've been reading, making ornaments, praying, talking about His coming, but I wasn't sure if it was getting through to them. They are happy to focus on Jesus and not on commercialism and Santa but is His coming penetrating their hearts? Is it really penetrating my heart?
This morning I told them a story about a little girl who went to school without breakfast. I shared with them that although she was hearing about Christmas, she would not likely be experiencing it because of the financial situation of her family. We talked about the many families in our area who will be in the same predicament. How can we share God's love? We decided that they would do special jobs to make extra money for gifts for at least one family. We talked about how Jesus dwells inside of us and forgives us and we need to share Him. Molly began to cry and said she had felt sorry for things she had done and she confessed them to God. It was a touching moment when she realized this God, the One who forgives her, is the One who loves these people and sent Jesus for them. Slowly, the reality of Him began to move them and I knew we were all finally getting the picture just a little clearer. O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Table Talk

"God holds the world in His hands."

My husband is attempting to explain God's size and power to our children on this rainy Sunday evening. Amidst candlelight and a fruit dinner I can almost see the "wheels" turning in their little heads. We crack walnuts, pick out seeds from the clementines and see who can make the biggest "pop" sound with their grapes. Emily's mind is still on the earth's Caretaker. She interjects," The whole, entire world? That might be so heavy for Him!"
Heavy on His heart, heavy on His mind, but not heavy for His hands, my little one. You're getting the picture though. When it seems too big, even for your imagination, that's how big our God is.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Everyday Reminders


It's absolutely astounding how many rainbows God has shared with us this season. As we're reminded of His great love and protection, we marvel at these stunning paintings in the sky.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dump Trucks Are NOT Toilets!

"Mommy, can you do my pants up?" I looked down to find my two year-old son pulling at his jeans.
I bent over and proudly exclaimed, "Oh, good boy! Did you just go pee by yourself?"
"Yes!" he replied, beaming.
Suddenly it dawned on me that I had seen him come upstairs and not from the direction of the bathroom. "Oliver, where exactly did you go pee?"
A huge grin spread across his face. "In my dump truck!"
I groaned as he led me by the hand to share his accomplishment. Thankfully, he has good aim as the dump truck was full and not a drop was on the carpet. I admonished him for his poor choice of location and shared the little secret that dump trucks are NOT toilets!
With the previous post of the muffin incident, so far, this day is going well :)

A Lesson in Fractions

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the use of everyday situations for immediate application to schoolwork. Thus, baking muffins became a lesson in fractions. Little did I realize that as I left my daughter to carefully write down the ingredients to Camille's muffins, she would assume that 1 3/4 cups flour meant #1--3/4 cup flour. Needless to say, after attempting to remedy the situation, this is the concoction she ended up with. Not necessarily the look and taste we were aiming for but after her siblings picked out the chocolate chips to eat, we were sufficiently satisfied. In this family, chocolate chips equal at least 1/4 of anything baked anyway :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blanket Forts and Fall Weather

It's Monday again. Here's my Gratitude List. Wow, thinking about it regularly certainly keeps me ever-thankful!




91. so thankful for homemade blanket forts (also a favourite past time for my husband and I when we were young!)

92. for a little girl who must change into a dress as soon as she comes back into the house

93. for warm weather in late fall

94. for a sweet gum tree that refuses to let her leaves go

95. for worship music to lift my spirit (finding new stuff on other bloggers' sites--thanks!)

96. for the smell of the fireplace from outside the house

97. for little arms that wave goodbye to friends as they leave the driveway

98. for family who are not really family ("aunties and unclies" :)

99. for intercession

100. for the fact that my every move for the rest of my life is known by my Lord and His mercy endures forever!

holy experience

Train, Don't Try

As Christians we try, try, try and pray, pray, pray for God to change our situation, our habits, our hearts. Our Pastor shared I Timothy 4:7 with us yesterday and encouraged us to train ourselves to be godly. All the trying in the world will get us nowhere. Which are we feeding, our flesh or our spirit? If we're training ourselves by reading the Word, coupled by fasting and praying, the spirit will begin to win over the flesh and the things we've been so desperate for will one by one become clearly defined, answered by the Lord, or discarded by us.
So many times I've thought I was "waiting on the Lord", but in reality, He was waiting on me to be obedient to His Word first. What a waste of time. Now my prayer is, Lord, am I trying on my own strength, while "desperately praying" to You OR am I training myself to live according to Your will and to know Your ways so that I may clearly see what Your desire is for me. As we sang yesterday, "For it's only in Your will that I am free!" Train yourself to be godly, stop trying.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Home Again

He's home again. After a well-deserved golf trip, I get him back. In keeping with our long history, I found a letter under my pillow the night he left and I received phone calls and emails every day. Absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder. Life can resume as normal... and... Mommy gets a little break too. Yay! pancakes for breakfast :) Thank You Lord, for safe traveling for my Beloved.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Small Ones Loving Smaller Ones


If there's one thing that can make us all melt into mushy puddles of love, it's kittens. My sister has a hobby farm and we just can't take the sweetness of the kittens. It's fun to visit the other animals but there seems to be a draw to these tiny balls of fur that scamper all over the yard before they look big enough to walk. I want to photograph all of them! I found this little white one in the top of the barn sitting in the warmth of the sun that was shining through the upper window. I just wanted to squeeze it. This is how we ended up with Clementine, who is our little dolly at home. Two of us are even mildly allergic to her but we suffer through it. My sister laughs at us when we spend money on her or coddle her--one of so many litters of barn cats. My children are simply showering affection on one of God's creatures and growing in responsibility and compassion at the same time.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hiding His Word In Her Little Heart

video

We're ALL hiding His Word in our hearts! (Psalm 119:11)

Four year-old Emily reciting Psalm 23.

holy experience

Hanging Out Your Dirty Laundry


No one wants people to know their dirty little secrets. No one wants anyone to know they have a dark side. No one wants to come down from their pedestal and admit they are a coward, a fool, a sinner. No one wants this until... they experience godly sorrow. If you've received this gift from the Lord, you'll know what I'm talking about. Godly sorrow is true repentance, a deep and utter grief that you are faced with when you realize how you've broken the heart of God. It's a sick feeling that comes when you are enlightened to the magnitude of your sin and it's effect on yourself and others around you--even in unassuming ways. It's the shame you discover when you finally see the hypocrite you've become. It's the urgent desire to snatch others from the enemy's hands--and quickly.
Hanging out your dirty laundry is not always necessary in full, but when you have been humbled by godly sorrow you will have so little pride, that the foremost thought you will have is to share with others that you aren't as righteous as the facade you've purported. The exposure of your weaknesses is key to helping others see the truth and that the Truth will set them free as well! You will strongly desire to shout from the mountain tops that taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and bringing sin into the light removes all of that sin's power! Oh, it's difficult, at first, even scary, but there's no better place than to be walking in the light. Joy, peace and freedom can belong to you when you take the mask off and begin to allow God to deal with your "dirty laundry".
Once this has happened, you can walk without shame and begin with a "clean slate". Asking the Lord for an accountability partner will also be the staying power you need to maintain your walk in freedom. He will send someone in due time whom you can trust. The Bible says, "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed..." James 5:16

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Striking a Deal


My husband is a businessman. He takes his job seriously and even somehow sneaks deal-making into other areas of our life, for instance, the creation of Duplo block towers. Thankfully, my son is the cautious type and does not fall for these deals hook, line and sinker. He methodically weighs the options and often says, "No Daddy". He's actually learning business sense by this building and trading. It's one of the many ways my husband is training him in "the way he should go". It seems like small preparation but every minute of quality time is vital to our children's future. It's a good thing learning can be so fun :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Joy Medicine

Living with His joy is the medicine for depression. Do we have to be diagnosed to have "gray days"? No, we all suffer, don't we? Ann Voskamp shares today how to break free of the demons by being thankful. And so, with gratitude, I continue my list...

70. for creature-seekers

71. for leaf-rompers

72. for yearly pleasures we can count on

73. for "new" big girls :)

74. for creature-instinct and intelligence (check out that architecture!)

75. for "the last of the Queen Anne's Lace for the summer" (Anne of Green Gables)
76. for cascading falls (right on my in-laws property--so blessed)

77. prickly things turned soft and beautiful

(keep working on me, Lord!)

78. all things red

79. light--anywhere (His light, revealing the darkness and removing blinders)
80. our nature walks rank high in my list of gratitude
81. jumper cables
82. visits from old friends
83. while-you-were-out projects
84. laundry (did I honestly just type that?) -speaking words of life here!
85. Bible Study group
86. new revelations from familiar scriptures
87. encouraging Blogger friends--thanks :)
88. opportunities for prayer--bringing me to His feet
89. His grace when I don't go to His feet
90. a crafty mom who's always thinking of her grandchildren
91. friends in far-away places--I miss you
"...a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair." (Isaiah 61:3b)


holy experience

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Want It

I want a heart change. I want to be wise. I want my eyes to be enlightened. I want sweet things in my life. I want great rewards. I want to be cleansed. I want to be innocent.
Psalm 19 tells me I can have it all! All of those things!
Read God's word and discover what's yours for the taking!
Praise Him!
My husband and I watched "Facing the Giants" last week and I am preparing for rain. If you don't know what this means, rent the movie and be changed by the testimony of a man who found God's word to be true.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stitches of Love

It's that time again. The cool weather seems to bring out the crafty side of us. We add in more art and more handiwork in late fall and winter than the rest of the year. Last winter, Meghan practiced her knitting skills which Mama had taught her while she was still with us. I have photos to remember this--a great blessing. This year, Meghan shared her love for knitting with her sister, Molly, who is thrilled to find she picked up the skill quite easily. Emily, of course, would like to be a part of the big girls' knitting club and so I began a tiny square for her, explaining that knitting isn't always simple for little fingers. Not several minutes later, she held it out from her body, remarking that she was done with all this. Perhaps next year.

Our goal last year was to knit enough squares to make a blanket for a homeless person, through the organization, "Blankets for Canada". Since we needed a little more practice, we're hoping to try again. Please check out their website and be inspired and if you're from the U.S., maybe there's something you can do in your area as well!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering the Vision

"These people must be Christians; it says, 'Jesus' EVERYWHERE in here!" Molly exclaimed these words as we walked around a little Mennonite bookstore in Wellesley the other day. Teaching them to recognize who they are in Christ, how to spot others with the same lifesong, and boldly share their love for Jesus, is part of our family's vision. What's yours? Do your children know it?
As we stood for our moment of silence this morning, we remembered not only what our soldiers did for us (and are doing), but what our Saviour did for us. The questions were abundant and I felt so thankful to be homeschooling. I had the opportunity to impart our vision through Remembrance Day ceremonies.

In the midst of math, shopping, obligations, etc., I have a mission field here at home. I try to remember this daily; remember that I've been given four little lives in which to plant a vision so mighty that it will affect the future of our world.

" Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13


holy experience

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Sibling System


They argue and tattle and scuffle now and then, but these siblings, little offspring of mine, know how to connect with one another. When left to themselves, they will organize a game or playtime that leaves me smiling with awe. They create a system that works well and everyone is satisfied. Meghan, the oldest, usually decides how this is all going to play out. Today, she figures, all the vehicles need "gassing up" and her sisters and brother think this is a fantastic idea.

She knows how each member of the sibling team is going to feel, given their particular role in the system of play. If she's in the mood, she implements this perfectly and everyone is happy. This is truly what training them up is all about. As my oldest grows, using her knowledge in this area becomes a choice of obedience. The others, are also learning how to become leaders, but for now, they follow by example. Sharing, cooperating and humbly stepping aside for another person's benefit, are qualities we are practicing. Some days, there's little evidence of this! But by God's grace, we carry on and each day the sibling system is becoming one in which they will draw upon as they relate to and function in the world.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beauty in the Broken

Looking forward to the "Beauty Challenge" put forth by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience, I gathered bits of His creation to display in empty vessels. I treasure the vessels as they are each a gift or an heirloom. I prepared my ladder to hold the gifts not bought, but found and I carefully chose icons of autumn.
Without my knowledge, little hands, with enthusiasm to help, watered and rearranged. I encountered a puddly mess and detached pieces of china by chubby fingers, that didn't expect their own strength. Searching for gentle words when my thoughts were not so gentle, God lovingly chided, "There's beauty in the broken". My mind immediately delivered the message to my mouth and I soothed without anger.

Hours later, as He often does, the Lord washed His ways over me and I began to recall how dashed and broken pieces in my life had woven a more beautiful spirit in me. Would I be where I am today without the brokenness? I shudder at the thought. And so, this Monday of counting blessings, I add pain to my list, for it is only in the experience of anguish, that we can fully know His comfort, His healing, and His beauty in it all.
Lord, fill me, an empty vessel, however You desire, to make me more beautiful to You.

holy experience