Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Lesson In Boundaries

My Grandma's old kitchen cupboard beside her fridge held folded linens of lace and cotton, embroidered napkins, table cloths and draperies. When I was a little girl, I slept over at her home frequently and I loved that she let me pull them out and wrap myself in them whenever I wanted to play dress-up. I instantly became a bride or a princess simply by draping the pieces over my head and shoulders. She would laugh and take my picture. My throat aches and tears sting as I write these words, thinking of her. I miss her. She allowed me, as a child, to imagine and play without restraint. It was at her home, I felt I could be almost anything I wanted.
I sometimes find myself restricting my children's play or art by my need to keep it tidy. It's funny how this photo reminded me of my Grandma (Mama). She loved seeing the kids dressed up. It was her favourite thing. Now when I look back, I realize, she had a grasp on the fact that they're only young for a short time. Just as she allowed me to have unfettered play, she loved to see me giving my children the opportunity to be silly and to have fun without such rigid boundaries.
I don't want my children to remember how they were hurried, how they were "reined in" just when they got a great idea for their artwork. I do want them to remember how their mom gave them liberal opportunity to just be kids. They love dressing up, especially as animals, so when our church was planning our annual Fun Fall Fair, my children were imagining what they were going to be transformed into for that night. Of course, there were some regulations on the dress code, as there should be, but the memories will be sweet for my little frog, penguin, lion and angel.
As my mind turns heavenward, I'm assured we'll see Mama again, but for now, I'll follow her example, slow down a little and remove some of the boundaries around my kids' playtime. One day, after years of imagining, experimenting, and just plain having fun, I will turn around and realize... they've grown up.

After I wrote this, I came across this inspiring little post from another blogger... :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Unwrapping The Gift of Fall

It seems that just as we unwrap His gift of creation's vibrant clothing, the trees shed their beauty and prepare for their cold, cold slumber. We untie the last ribbons of colour in the fields near our home by running through fading goldenrod while the woods offers its final farewell by drifting her confetti of leaves who've finally let go of their birthplace. It's here we feel most comfortable. It's here my children beg to visit as reward for finished work. I willingly oblige as I know it's in this place they will grow closer to Him.

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth." (Psalm 8:1)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Keeping Company With Jesus - The Comfort of His Word

She writhes in frustration, her body contorting, her face in anguish. She squeals out her four year-old noises of feeling misunderstood. We, the misunderstanding ones, gaze dumbfounded upon this little person so tormented. My mind quickly searches for the answer, some meaningful and wise way to deal with her pain. She cries and her words, (barely deciphered by us, the confused ones), seem to point to feeling unloved and unheard.

She runs upstairs and I let her because I am lacking a solution. It was "out of the blue" and I feel that we are, this time, guilty as charged. Moments later, I humbly seek my little lost lamb. I find her staring out the window, trembling arms clinging to our kitten. She's found some solitude and some comfort. Still sniffling and a tear glistening in the window light, she turns to me. I bend down and wrap my arms around the heart-broken girl and her soft, purring companion. This little animal, unaware of fault, simply offers her affection and soothes the hurt with her unconditional love. Her purring, a remedy for the one who cannot seem to make others pay attention.
Another morning, I groan as my first thoughts of wakefulness take me to places I don't want to dwell on. Sweet dreams allow escape for only a short time and then the reality of the pain of circumstances beyond my control surface. I shake the thoughts away, searching for answers in my own file of solutions. That's when memorizing His word takes its place where He promised, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32). My thoughts go running to Him, the only One who can make it right, settle the misunderstandings. But He, knowing where the fault lies, offers comfort regardless and extends grace beyond what my heart can comprehend.
I rise, thankful for the Word that keeps me even-keeled and able to face the world without fear of tomorrow. What if I didn't hide His words in my heart so that they could surface right when I need them? I shudder to think. He's there, ready to be my company, my light. He's as close as the mention of His name and as close as breathing His soothing, healing words.
holy experience

Monday, October 26, 2009

1000 Gifts and Beyond

I may not always get around to writing down my "Multitude Monday" blessings but I am ever aware of these daily gifts from God that make this journey of life a little easier. My previous post about my daughter's art is the number one thing that gave me joy today. Just walking by that precious little sausage-type person makes me smile. Here are some others...

*thankful for others who are thankful! What a wonderful name for a store!

* for play-dough love

*for new skills

*for autumn harvest

*for dinner-time fun

*for "The Rock"-a wonderful musical in Shipshewana, Indiana

*for my "peeps"-awesome in-laws who make me laugh till my sides hurt

*for special treasures that once were hidden

*for recess time

And beyond...

*candles that smell like baking

*the smell of actual baking

*giving gifts

*little girls playing "store" or "house" or "zookeepers"

*a little boy whose cars each have their own personalities in his play

*a husband who is willing to homeschool while I'm away

*cold autumn turned warm :)

*oldest daughter's girls' group-much laughter and learning

*friends who are good accountability

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...

holy experience

Versatile Art

Emily's drawings have transformed this past year, especially her people. Where sticks once held up a large, over-sized "pumpkin" head, a body takes it's place. Arms have substance and fingers are thicker. Toes are now attached to legs, as well! Backgrounds are vividly coloured in and precious care is taken in creating her life-like people. She even looked in the mirror to find out where the ears go :) But what is even more amazing is the versatility of her art. This particular drawing was given to Daddy, with love, and he was told it was a picture of him. Later, when I needed a lift, the portrait was gifted to me with the assurance that it was indeed a replica of me. I suppose if we're off to the grandparents' house in the next few days, it might also resemble them :)
Oh, to hold on to these days of my little ones forever!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Quiet Life

This week, I visited Shipshewana, Indiana with my parents-in-law and sisters-in-law. We soaked up the countryside view and marveled at the Amish community. We stood in awe and respect of this people of simplicity. Their deliberately quiet life wooed us. We were strangely drawn to them, like a moth to candlelight. We observed, with reverence, a group who chose to shun the speed, the busyness, the chaos. They chose a gentler life, certainly not exempt of hard work, but gentler on their sanity.
While we dragged around our purchases, filled our bellies with restaurant food, watched a little television, impatiently calling on our cell phones for a vehicle pick-up, they steadily, routinely, took their place in town to buy groceries and trotted home before dark. Not that I would trade my life but the contrast causes one to consider the loss. Have we lost ourselves in the busyness? In the fast lane? What would our world look like if we all slowed down and lived simply? What would our homes look like? Our hearts?
Lord teach me to apply these things to the measure You require of me, in the life I have been blessed with. Thank You for Your abundance of blessings and help me to live simply and quietly so that I might hear Your voice a little more clearly.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Recognizing Inspiring Sisters in Christ

In the past few weeks I have received two blog awards from my new sisters in Christ. The world of blogging has inspired me tremendously and I praise God for the relationships that have begun through this method of writing by women. We have encouraged each other to grow deeper in our walk with Jesus, persevere in our homeschooling, become better photographers, mothers and wives and just plain laugh ourselves silly. The few minutes I take in the morning or evening to peruse a few sites is worth the time. God definitely speaks through the words and lives of His daughters.
I'd like to thank Pure Perseverance for this award. The honesty with which she shares her story is courageous and real. She inspires me incredibly. I'd like to return the award to her as well as, pass it along to a few of my favourite blog sites, which you will love!

A Holy Experience -Ann Voskamp's words will intrigue you and draw you to God

The Well-Rounded Mama -She'll make you laugh and her photography is great

Ordinary Inspirations - Traci is very involved with her readers and is so talented

Life With My 3 Boybarians - You'll love her humour and her photos

Hear I Am -Annie's words will make you love your family even more

Running The Race -Anna will show you how to relate all of life back to the Creator

Back To The Good -Holly (my sister!) muses about life with twins with humour and wit

SGM -My friend Sandee writes so beautifully but her blog is open by invitation only-I still wanted to honour her!

Dancing Princess -This award is for the most creative daughter in the world! I love you! Her blog is also by invitation only

Thanks, Sisters in Christ, for all you share!

How To Accept This Award...

- Copy and paste the award on your own blog (if you wish to display it on your blog).

- Link the person who nominated you.

- Name seven things about yourself that folks may not know (if you wish)

- Nominate seven Kreativ bloggers

- Post links to the seven bloggers you nominate

- Leave comments on each of the blogs letting them know that you have nominated them!

So... here are seven things about me you may not know...

  1. I quit my photography business to focus more on homeschooling my kids
  2. I still love Amy Grant!
  3. Cadbury chocolate is a staple
  4. I adore camping!
  5. I'm not fond of shopping at the mall -I know, I'm weird
  6. I don't watch t.v. -again, I know, I'm weird (but there's so much else to do and read!)
  7. Perogie pizza from Boston Pizza is my favourite food

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Slowing Down

At, Ann Voskamp inspires us to slow down as she soaks up "Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions For Frenzied Families", a book by Ann Kroeker. As I take my children on our regular nature walk (this time along Mama and Papa's back woods), we look close, really close at tidbits of creation that amaze us. When we're out in the big, wide world, everything else seems to fade away. God communes with those who slow down, listen and take note of who He is by this awesome general revelation. We truly want to know Him!

Merciful and Gracious

Patterning myself after Jesus is a slow and disciplined process. Every time I feel like the road becomes easy, I get "tripped up" and realize this is a lifelong journey. Thankfully, the Lord is merciful and gracious. I certainly don't deserve His mercy but isn't that what grace is all about? I've been reading about Jonah's anger with the Lord's mercy toward the Ninevites. Have I felt that someone deserved God's wrath and when they repented and God relented, was I, like Jonah, angry too? Oh, how these stories keep pointing back in my direction so I can no longer judge. Yes, the path to becoming like Jesus is difficult, but by God's grace, I'm walking steadily forward.
Lord, make me merciful and gracious, abounding in love! (Psalm 103)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good Homeschooling

I groaned when I heard that familiar whimper coming from the bathroom this morning. I rolled out of bed and padded into the room to find my middle girl begging for a bowl, begging for me to help her, begging for a prayer that she wouldn't throw up. I immediately bolted into action, still rubbing my eyes and yawning all the way. When she was all set up, this little routine we do when she's sick, the bowl, the cloth, the water, the hair elastic, I sat on the edge of the tub and prayed. She still vomited but we talked about how "God has designed your body to get all that bad stuff out of you". I inwardly sighed as I mentally rifled through my file of things I had prepared to do for school today. I had been excited the night before to have a diligent, no-interruptions day. I love Wednesdays because they're activity and obligation free.
Illness interferes with our plans. It causes us to become helpless and to feel out of control. It's frustrating when we imagine what this day could look like and to realize what it is now becoming. Illness isn't the only thing that robs us of our control. There are many hindrances that block our plans. My precious girl, who would often rather play than write out her spelling words, was also looking forward to school today. She whined about not getting to do her work.
These hindrances point us to what is important. They remind us to appreciate the simple gift of a healthy day, filled with ordinary routines. They cause us to cry out to God in our vulnerability, an attribute that we shelf for times of need. I attended to my daughter today and set our work aside for a time. We experienced little intimate connections and affections that sometimes math cannot lend to. These blocks to our plans may keep us from getting a lot of work done, but my daughter and I loved each other today and enjoyed another type of good "homeschooling".

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Upon Observing Girls

Mittened hands clap a timeless chant

Giggling and skipping abound

The laughter of girls has got to be

The sweetest noise around!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

Why is it that children always want to take the most difficult and time-consuming way to travel? Whether it's walking along a rock wall, tip-toeing on the curb of a sidewalk, or splashing through the puddles, they often manage to make the trip a little longer, a little less convenient, and a little more fun :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Made of Apples

My dear friend, Kim, once told me her son was made of apples. She meant that while she was pregnant with him, she ate apples like they were going out of style. He adores apples now too and she makes trips to the local apple farm a regular occurrence. This love for apples stems back to when she was a single woman, working downtown. She would take a bag of the red, juicy fruit with her as she walked along the street. Knowing their nutritious value and sweet flavour, she believed they would be a gift she could offer the homeless people of her city. She sought these needy ones out and cared for them the best way she knew how. Kim is an example to me of someone who reaches out to the homeless and shares with them a little bit of God's love.

We visited the apple farm yesterday with our cousins, and as the littlest girls ran up and down the rows of trees, I was thankful that this simple place held such pleasure for these children of ours. Filling the baskets in our wagons and crunching on the ripe fruit was memory-forming for them. This is a yearly highlight and it beats many other costly excursions. While we talk of autumn and harvesting pumpkins and such, they also hear of how this delicious fruit helped keep homeless people nourished and cared for. I share with them about my friend's act of love. As they get a little older, I will consider following this example by taking them downtown. This is how we will tell the people what we believe, not just with our words. I want my children to know that sometimes, God's love is made of apples.