Sunday, October 31, 2010

Days Twenty-Eight -- Thirty-One (of 31 Days)

Little did I know that in the very last days of October, the last days of writing about "drawing close" to God, that He would send me on a retreat called, "Hearing God's Voice". As I, and a few friends headed home on the four hour drive from this place, my mind swirled in delight with all that I had learned about drawing close effectively. I'm blown-away, amazed, speechless. I have much to share and don't know how to begin. I will write soon. And, yes, this is how the landscape looked this weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Four Children And A Funeral

To take or not to take children to a funeral... that is the question. Since we have the very real hope in Christ that death is not forever and that souls are present with the Lord, we can explain, with joy, the passing of loved ones. The pain may last awhile but the comfort God offers is a peace that passes all understanding. However, children are in the process of trying to figure this all out.
Meghan immediately burst into tears when I shared with our four children that Great-Papa had died. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and she was close to this old man who had touched her heart. Molly responded by shrugging her shoulders and Emily and Oliver just stared. I knew that their reactions were simply a part of their initial understanding and that they would begin to make connections between the other losses we have experienced in the past year and a half.
The funeral day came and we chatted on the ride to the service all about what we might see. Since it was to be a closed casket, we didn't feel the need to explain what Great-Papa might look like. However, as it turned out, a family member had changed that small detail. Oliver and I went into the crowded viewing room to find my mom and step-dad and when we approached the casket, I realized this was going to bring on new questions. I had a conversation with Oliver while Terry shared with the girls what they were about to see. Emily was apprehensive but after mustering up some courage, she exclaimed to my mom, "He looks better than the last time I saw him!"
Upon exiting the room, Oliver pointed his thumb back over his shoulder and announced, "He's dead in there!"
So far, so good.

Meghan, being eleven and more in touch with her emotions in all of this, clung to her "conjoined twin" cousin, Brooke, and cried some more. She shared with me later that Brooke had explained a little of the embalming process. Alrighty-then.
It was a beautiful celebration service, laced with hymn-singing and a couple of anecdotes about Elwood. He had lived a long and full life, even to the last hours. My husband sang, "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin and my sisters and I sang back-up. I had to keep my eyes down as we sang because each time I looked up, I caught my sobbing niece in the corner of my eye and began to feel the tears well up.

Upon the conclusion of the service, my husband and a few other pall bearers slowly carried this dear man's soul-empty body out the side door of the building. Oliver, who was in my arms, had full view and began to cry, "Don't take Great-Papa away! I NEED to see him! Don't take him away!" I tried to calm my flailing boy but he became louder and family and friends gathered around, each becoming emotional over the passion of my son. I assured Oliver that we would go outside and see him again in the "box" at the place where they were taking Great-Papa and that is what calmed him. A granola bar in the van, a change of scenery, and the reminder that we'll be with him forever in heaven, was all he needed to return to a happier mood.
We drove to the cemetery and the dreary, cold weather matched our thoughts. The pastor spoke a few words, sang a hymn and prayed. It was lovely. The funeral director pulled flowers from an arrangement nearby and handed one to each of us to lay upon the casket. Molly must have been bothered that a few of them were falling between the casket and the concrete box that it had been lowered into, because when it was her turn, she leaned way down into that box to retrieve those flowers. Her short little arms didn't quite reach easily and to my dismay, my eight year-old girl, laid sideways over the casket, head between the boxes, one foot in the air. Yes, indeed, she saved those flowers from being lost forever in the crevices and stood with a look of accomplishment on her face. She had done her part.
Later, during refreshment time, my aunt saddled up beside me and shared that she had just finished a very interesting conversation with my two youngest girls all about skeletons. Emily had been explaining to her wide-eyed great-auntie that skeletons don't normally have blood and skin on them, that those parts come off and the bones are left. Molly demonstrated that the face is then left to look like this... and she made a toothy, hollow-faced expression. Well, my aunt was convinced that the girls were describing some creepy Halloween scene they had encountered. But then Molly matter-of-factly stated, "Great-Papa isn't a skeleton yet and it doesn't matter that his body will go down into the ground anyway because his soul is in heaven."

Oh :)

So, taking children to a funeral means responding to something new around each corner but I think it's just what we needed in order to fully grasp death and eternity and all the love in between.

Good-bye, Great-Papa, we'll see you soon!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day Twenty-Seven (of 31 Days)

"Don't stop Mommy!" Oliver calls from the backseat, "roads are for races!" He's quite bothered that I'm slowing down to stop at a light. I explain that I have to obey the law for the safety of everyone on the road and he mumbles, "Oh, why do we have to have stoplights in this world?"
Sometimes I don't want to stop and draw close to God. I want to keep going and pull off this thing called life on my own. In the back of my mind, wisdom whispers gently that for the safety of all involved, I'd better get on my knees. Many stupid mistakes have led me to know that unless I'm approaching His throne for advice, wisdom, rest and empowerment, I'm headed down a path that seems good to me but at a moment's notice, it can turn ugly. Worse yet, over time, it can turn ugly.
Stoplights are for our own good and for allowing us to wait on opposite traffic to take it's turn. When I barrel through those amber lights, which are warnings that the red is inevitable, I don't always see the oncoming danger. Stopping to hear God's voice gives me a better view of my day, my life and essentially where I'm going and what's in the way. Drawing close this month has had it's amber-light-fly-bys and I want that to be more consistent. Have you been able to stop at the lights to listen and assess?
Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day Twenty-Six (of 31 Days)

What draws you to the Father? It's humility for me. Just the other day, my oldest wrote me a letter stating that she had figured out why God had placed her in this family; it was to help me to be more organized :) At the moment I read the letter, I felt a sense of gratitude but also a sense of defensiveness! Thankfully, I chose to take this acclamation to God and ask Him what He wanted me to do with it. Yes, mothering and homeschooling and life in general, keep me humble, and if I had no where to take my humiliation, I would feel overwhelmed and helpless.
I love that Paul declares he had a thorn in his side. Whatever it was, it makes us more aware that it's only in our weakness that God will show His strength. If we are full of ourselves and walking independently, drawing close would seem unnecessary. Dare I say, with Paul, praise God for our thorns? Think about it, what draws you to the Father?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day Twenty-Five (of 31 Days)

A frail and lovely man who was strong in spirit and in his love for the Lord, drew as close to God as he could last night. Elwood Holloway, Grandpa and Great-Grandpa took his last breath at ninety-one years of age and is in the presence of His Saviour.
Just imagine it! Imagine a life that has walked with God, trained his children and grandchildren to follow Him as well, leaving a legacy, now joins his wife in heaven. This tender-hearted farmer bowed his head at a moment's notice to lift up his loved one's before this God he now embraces. How difficult it can be, at times, to draw close here on earth but still, rewarding. Picturing it from Elwood's perspective now... oh, the elation! So, imagine your God today, dear friends, when you come before Him. Picture the reality of who He is and what will be at the end of your journey here on earth. Draw close today with that in mind.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day Twenty-Four (of 31 Days)

He walked the dusty sod with twelve men, gathering crowds, healing the sick, embracing the people. He came from a small town but His message of His Father's great love spread around the world and became written down. Although this Word met opposition, to the point of mass burning and confiscation, lovers of the Word hid it in their homes and in their hearts to preserve it. It will never die. It will be completely fulfilled.
Our pastor has been digging deeply into Scripture with our congregation and we've trodden where the the seven churches have walked. To know that time and all it's qualities and trials is beautiful and eye-opening. However, I've loved imagining Jesus being born into our time. What would that have been like? He is the same yesterday, today and forever! He came at a specific place in history but He is eternal. God's plan is astounding.
Dig into New Testament history and watch it come alive for you. Feel what the early churches felt, hold their dreams of deliverance and hope with them as they sacrificed their freedom and even their lives to carry out their Lord's will in a difficult time. This week, draw close by studying the history and geography surrounding Jesus' mission while He was here on earth. It will come alive for you and get you excited for His return.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day Twenty-Three (of 31 Days)

When you can't draw close and it's all you want to do... talk to Him.
I photographed a wedding today. God was there. I love weddings where the Lord is welcomed. It was all day and evening and I just returned home at 11pm. I wanted to have quiet time with God today but since that was impossible, I talked to Him on the run. It's overwhelming for me to fathom that I serve a God who is right beside me, at all times, while He's right beside you at all times too. My finite mind can't grasp this. But I trust it. Because I trust it, I spoke with Him a lot today as I faced the emotions of anxiety, peace, apprehension, joy, and confusion at various times and for various reasons. When no one was able to help me and I had to remain in control and smile and take charge of the wedding party and family, Jesus was there. I could whisper to Him with all assurance that He was listening because of previously drawing close. Isn't it true that when you know someone because you spend time with them, you know they'll be there for you when you need them most?
I encourage your continued relationship building with your Creator so that His strength will be obvious to you in the times when you have nothing to do but cry out to Him.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reviving The Fun

Remember this?

My sister found this for me one day after I reminisced with her about this game. Ah, thrift stores... we love you :)

My kids have been enjoying it thoroughly, but not in the way that you might expect.

Oh, they put the pieces in as fast as they could to beat the timer a few times...

until they discovered that putting their faces on the popping platform was way more fun.

The laughing and the screaming over those little pieces hitting their cheeks, thrilled their hearts for quite awhile.

Yes, it doesn't take much to make fun around here.

Puurrrfection :)

Day Twenty-Two (of 31 Days)

We have super heroes at our house. I saw two of them whiz by me yesterday, draped in tea-towels and masked in stickers. With fists punching the air, they shouted their intentions of saving the world, especially, kitties. They jumped on beds and flew down off of them, which, thankfully, my kids didn't see since that's against the rules of our home ;)
And, I saw bigger super heroes later, here on my beautiful friend's blog. These are the kind I deeply desire my children to model themselves after. They are the Gleaners and they work hard, humbly and quietly, making nutritious, dried soup mix for hungry people around the world. My friend will be taking several bags to Ethiopia soon, as she and her husband go there to receive from God their long-awaited baby, Deborah. She is also a super-hero to me as I witness how "drawing close" has helped her to be patient and to trust God's timing, when she could have otherwise been distraught over the many roadblocks they've faced in this adoption.
So, let your children play super-heroes, but be inspired by the real heroes and help them to know who their examples should be.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (I Corinthians 15:58)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day Twenty-One (of 31 Days)

Last night I purged my heart to a dear friend and mentor and she encouraged me to soak myself in worship and listening to God's voice. I was to wrap myself in a blanket and lie down (after the kids were in bed) and be still. She told me to play some praise and worship and to just listen. She knew I needed this.
Well, I couldn't wait until the munchkins were asleep so I could draw close in the way she suggested. I played on my computer and laid on the couch, covered in a warm blanket. I was determined to have this time with the Lord to wash away the day and all it's yuckiness. In the first few minutes I was crying; the words of the worship music were powerful and effective because they were full of Scripture. A little while later, I fell into a peaceful sleep and awoke to worshiping some more. My on-going list I had been rehearsing all day, began to fade and slowly I became more restful and relaxed. The Lord was reminding me of His importance and His rightful place in my priorities.
Won't you take some time out to drench yourself in worship and in listening to His voice? Perhaps even tonight, if you are able. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Art Attack!

If we could incorporate art into every subject, we would but sadly, time does not allow for it. Paint, in particular, is something my children adore. If I had them paint their big toes, they'd be happy! They also love working with chalk and oil pastels... or basically, anything messy. Here is our latest Art Attack... (bird painting idea from this fantastic site).

Meghan's parrot

Molly's prancing peacock



autumn scene
self-portraits (Meghan)

(Oliver... hello, Bert!)



Can you see the resemblance with these kiddos? ;)

Thanks for viewing our art gallery.

Playing Natives

They collect chestnuts and bark pieces; they make "dinner" for their families and place it on a hosta leaf. Scampering up a tree, jackets are left behind as the play raises temperatures.

They call for me to sample their cuisine, these natives, and I oblige. I duck under the Japanese Maple where there's a waiting stool and lean in close to the chef. Her hair smells of fresh, autumn air and dirt has already embedded under her fingernails. There is much hollering to one another from across our yard and my youngest cups her hand over her mouth, running and making a deep, ha-wa-wa-wa native sound.

They incorporate their learning into imaginative play and their draw to the lives of the earliest Canadians is strong. I smile when I think that neighbours, who hear war-cries through open windows, must feel like they're stepping back in time. I'm grateful that toys are a distant desire when all four of them put their heads together in their outdoor fun.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day Twenty (of 31 Days)

Have you ever gotten ugly before God? I mean, full exposure, make-up-smudging, hair-matted, on your face kind of pleading? The pleading for healing, for change, for forgiveness? The broken and contrite ugliness that's so lovely to Him? It's in that ugliness He can work in us to make us beautiful. I love the email forward I received from my mom today. It explains how we are a large part of the action that's required for the change we desire.

God Said NO

I asked God to take away my habit...
GOD said, No.
It is not for me to take away,
but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole...
God said, No.
His spirit is whole,
his body is only temporary

I asked God to grant me patience...
God said, No.
Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;
it isn't granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness...
God said, No.
I give you blessings;
Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain...
God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from
worldly cares
and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow..
God said, No.
You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things
that I might enjoy life...
God said, No.
I will give you life,
so that you may enjoy all things.

I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me...
God said... Ahhhh,
finally you have the idea..
Author Unknown

Day Nineteen (of 31 Days)

Do you feel like a failure in the area of drawing close to God? We all do, at times. This journey means there will be valleys, but also high mountains with the Lord. If it seems like you're unable to find the time to draw close or you just aren't feeling the drive, I encourage you today to pray for a way out of the dry desert and into the oasis of His Living Water. Only HE can cause you to pant for Him like a deer pants for water. We need Him to love Him. I'm so grateful He understands this.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baby Itch

Can someone please send me their baby? I need one for awhile :)

Day Eighteen (of 31 Days)

photo by Meghan

Drawing close today by thinking on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:6-8). HE is all these things and I can settle for nothing less when the enemy comes in like a flood. No "happy thoughts", no positive thinking, no "oneness with the universe", can melt my anxiety like leaning on the Everlasting Arms. Do you ache for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, to guard your heart and mind today? It's only possible through Jesus. Replace all negative thoughts with His truths and whisper His name.

Nature Walk on the Bruce Trail

Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord. Psalm 107:43

501. for siblings who love each other

502. for this story-writing, store-making, adventure-seeking girl

503. for gorgeous, not-yet-crunchy leaves underfoot

504. for this organized, inspiring girl

505. for puppy-love

506. for a mom who drives over half an hour just to take a walk with us

507. for His light that makes the darkest places beautiful

508. for this word-writing, crown-wearing, squishy-hugging girl

509. for this observant, gentle-but-energetic boy

510. for stark contrasts in nature that catch our eyes as we walk

511. for the miracle of the mighty oak

512. for craggy rocks and soft pine needles

513. for plenty of space to run

To quote Ann, "If the heavens declare, then let's get out there!"

holy experience