Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Reason To Dance

We find our way to our seats in the dimly lit auditorium, wave to a few familiar faces and open our program. How many years have we done this now? Nine? Ten? I sit low and heavy in my flip-down theatre chair and sigh a good, long satisfied sigh. We made it. Another recital, another year over. Now it is time to relax and enjoy the fruit of our daughter's labour and our hard-earned money.

I'm taking pictures but still I gaze adoringly at the once chubby arms, now long and lean, stretching with gentle elegance. She and her fellow dancers are trained to smile but there's something behind hers that denotes more than just obedience. She's right where she wants to be. The stage, the costume, the dance, this is where her mind takes her on days that are long and weary. I had become cross with her a few times this year when she forgot her dance bag or when she was late again and made us all wait in the van. But as she glides across the stage, spinning and then poised just so, I am overwhelmed by the shear blessing of being able to provide this path for our daughter and the rest melts away.
We go for ice cream later and we hang up the tu-tu for the summer. It's June again and I don't know how we got here or how she grew into a ballerina. It all feels like we were just laughing and twirling together in the living room, pretending she was a "real" dancer. My husband and I have always told this girl that we pray she would use her gifts for the Lord, who gave her the ability in the first place. We're beginning to see this come to fruition as she would wake up the next morning and perform a worship dance for Father's Day in our church. And as our girl grows in her physical skills, we are ever aware that her spiritual connection to her heavenly Father is growing as well. Joining the two is honouring her Creator. And that is a very good reason to dance.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Man Who Leads

We're clamouring over steep rocks at the end of the trail and all the while my little boy is warning his sisters to be careful. He's telling them, "Hold onto the branches and don't slip", and "I'm okay, Mommy, you don't need to hold onto me." When we finally reach the end, the girls beat him to the path and begin to run. My desperate boy cries out, "Wait! I want to lead!" I have to call them back and as he runs ahead I give a quick explanation. I tell them that their four year-old brother is beginning to sense his God-given responsibility to take care of the girls in his life and that we should allow him opportunity to do that. I tell them it's good for them to lead too, in different areas of their lives, but with him being younger than all of them, we must look for times we can let him practice. A competitive spirit is not the same but it's pretty obvious to all of us he's feeling like a protector today.

Why is my son eager to lead his much older sisters? Because he watches his Daddy. My husband leads our family as a man of integrity. He loves to involve our children in his activities from fixing something to gardening to golf. He trains them by teaching them things step by step or by disciplining them. They feel secure in his love and in the boundaries he's set for them. His girls know they're protected and his son recognizes that one day this same role will be his.

On this Father's Day, I honour my husband who leads me to be a better wife and mother. And as the words of the song below state, you do lead us with strong hands. And it's all because you rely on your Heavenly Father for your strength.
Happy Father's Day, Babe!
...and to all the Dads who are leading their families with the Lord's strength.

So Long, Spring

Monday, June 13, 2011

Christian Women And Beauty

(Mama and her girls)

She finishes painting my last toe and we continue talking as she motions for me to lie down on her cozy, pillowed aesthetics table. She begins to apply warm wax to my eyebrows while I recall an experience I had earlier. As I share, she erupts with genuine, belly laughter and I try not to, just in case I mess up the wax on my face. 

I come to visit Rebecca because she has become my friend and she is a Christian, but I wrestle with being a spa-go-er. I tell her I'm "low-maintenance" and that she probably won't be seeing me here for awhile since I don't "keep up" with my beauty treatments on a regular basis. She asks why and I stand dumb-founded with partial Scriptures running through my mind about not adorning the body and focusing on "self", etc., etc. But at the moment, standing there with my friend, they don't seem to be adequate. Rebecca uses her aesthetics business as a ministry and prays over and for each client, boldy proclaiming Christ. There is no doubt that God has called her to her little practice for such a time as this, for the women who frequent her spa. But, if she is called to minister to women through beauty treatments, "what makes it wrong for Christians to receive those beauty treatments?" Rebecca appeals to me. "My non-Christian clients will pay double the money to come here than my Christian clients. I don't understand. What makes it wrong for a woman to take care of herself?"

We hug goodbye and I make my way to my car, cautiously stepping over stones in the parking lot, as not to smudge my nail-polished toes peeking out of flip-flops. I'm left to think about why I, as well some other Christian women I know, feel we don't deserve? need? desire? should? take care of our bodies in a way that makes them beautiful. Barring the cost of aesthetics, what are other reasons why Christian women wouldn't have ugly old skin removed from their feet, or their faces cleared of impurities? If a woman is not into coloured fingernails, what would be so wrong about having her nails cleaned up and protected with a good clear coat? As Rebecca mentioned, money is not an object for many of her Christian clients so she desires to have a defined answer for why "God's Girls" can't look beautiful, clean and well taken care of. Aren't we His temple? Would the world want to join the "family" when so many of us are unconcerned with how we're being viewed? Of course, inner beauty is of utmost importance, and outer beauty shouldn't be an idol, but how are we Christian women coming across to the world? How does it appear that God is taking care of His women? These questions loll through my mind as I turn up the street to my home. I know that I have just a bit of the attitude that Rebecca is talking about. 

I curl up in a favourite chair with some popcorn and begin to think hard. I remember lying on my tummy as a little girl, on my mom's bed, chin resting in my palms as I watched her getting ready for a date with my dad. I was mesmerized by how she applied her make-up just so, and how she curled her hair with that butane curling iron that didn't need a plug. She wore a criss-crossy, wrap-around, floral dress that was very flattering and lovely to me. She sprayed herself with perfume and I knew that when I grew up, I was going to make myself gorgeous for my husband too. On Sundays, my mom would adorn my sisters' and my braids with satin ribbons and she would paint our nails once in awhile. On Saturday nights, she would wrap and clip sponge rollers in our hair and we'd sleep ever so stiffly, as not to pull out our precious curlers before morning. She often dressed us alike and everywhere we went, people commented on how cute we looked. We felt so feminine when my mom spent time showing us what to do with our long locks or dirty-from-playing fingernails.

Everyone knew my mom was a godly woman and they told her often that she took such good care of her girls. To my knowledge, no one thought she had put too much effort into herself or us but instead, they appreciated the loveliness of her outward beauty, as well as her true, inward, love and concern for people. At a time in our lives when our finances were not an issue, my mom would make regular manicure and hair appointments. My dad liked it that way.

So what happened in my mind? Somehow, at some point in my life, I began to believe a Christian woman should not spend money to take care of her personal self, at least by a professional. I say that this is a belief, because I actually do get my hair cut and my husband loves to gift me with the odd manicure or pedicure. But I had convinced myself I was visiting the spa in support of my friend rather than doing something to beautify myself. Rebecca's question plagued me and I began to pray and ask the Lord what His thoughts on the matter were.

Before I continue, I'd like to hear your voice on the matter... and so would Rebecca. What do you think? If money were no object, would beauty treatments be a part of your weekly/monthly/yearly regimen? For those who already visit aestheticians, what are your reasons? As a woman who loves to be in bare feet year round, get very few haircuts, rarely go to the mall, and (gasp) let my brows grow in, I began to take pride in how "low-maintenance" I was. But was I just not caring about myself? Was my lack of care reflective of my inward thoughts of myself? What message was I sending my daughters?  Hmmm.

Please share, even if you haven't before :)
To read Part Two of Christian Women and Beauty click here.

Gratitude... because it's Monday and because every subject can be used for thanks :)

831. for non-judgmental friends
832. how God cares about providing answers when we ask genuinely
833. discovering new things about ourselves
834. an aesthetician who provides services for free because she says she wants to bless me
835. differences in women and no matter what the outcome of the above question, we will remain beautifully different.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

End Of The Year Project Day

As much as each of our home-educated children love reading and sharing their projects with one another, what comes later is what they're really excited about...
Water fights...
tadpole and fish catching...
just being together.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Obedient Children--Is It Possible?

My sister sent me home from her house with a CD she had found very insightful. I couldn't listen to it in the van on the way home because Jonathan Park was instilling truths about creation in my children as they sat buckled and riveted. It wasn't until I carried a cup of Earl Grey to my computer several nights later, that I was opened up to the world of mom-to-thirteen-kids, Marilyn Boyer. Her message was called, "Obedience From The Heart" and as I listened, all the truths I already knew, just seemed a little more outlined, simple and doable to me. Here are a few of my notes, in case you are also incessantly seeking new ways to create a peaceful environment in your home...

-Obedience is doing what is expected with a willing and happy heart
-There are three facets to obedience: cheerfully, immediately and thoroughly
-If we really love our children, we train their hearts toward obedience
-To obey God is better than sacrifice
-We need to exchange our thoughts for God's thoughts because His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55)
-our view point is so limited but God knows the big picture
-we need to trust Him and our children need to trust us
-home is the training ground for future faithfulness to God
-don't punish childishness or clumsiness, only disobedience (ie: spilled milk, experimentation of little ones)
-handle your children's hearts wisely, don't be a drill sergeant but be merciful like God is with us (the way God deals with us is a picture how we're supposed to deal with them)
-don't raise your voice
-don't correct your children in front of others
-don't give them opportunity to disobey you (ie: "If you don't eat your supper, you're going to be in trouble." They may decide they don't want to obey you. Instead say, "You don't have to eat your lunch but there will be no snacks until dinner.")
-it's better to miss an opportunity to correct your kids instead of wounding them
-how do they see your heart? If they know you have their best interests at heart, they won't be angry when disciplined.
-children were not given to us for our own convenience
-treat them with respect
-let them know they're the most important people to us
-when in training stage, they're learning self-control
-show them opposite qualities to what they're doing (ie: tattling--love)
-have a cconsequence chart so they know what to expect (ie:  if unkind to brother--do something nice for him, if irritate your sister, make her bed, etc.)
-Scripture is the only thing that will bring about true and lasting change and character in your child
-help them memorize verses that coincide with the character traits you're working on
-show honour to others--if we show it, they'll show it.
-expect different responses for different children 
-correct disobedience/defiance, disrespect, irresponsibility (not showing accountability for not following the result expected of them)

Children are in training. If we can remember this, we can relax a little more and be at peace knowing that we don't have to expect them to meet the goal of perfection every day. We don't reach it either and God extends grace toward us.


825. resouces for frazzled moms
826. obedient and disobedient children
827. knowing that I'm in training as well
828. a husband who shares in the discipline
829. learning gentleness (and that His mercies are new every morning)
830. sisters and friends who are experiencing the same journey

Sunday, June 5, 2011

She Turned Nine

I embraced her this morning and I remembered holding her close in that hospital room, nine years earlier. I could hardly contain my joy that this little one belonged to me. I had already become a mommy three years and two months earlier but a miscarriage had separated my two babies born here on earth. Light flooded in through the maternity room window that day and I lifted her sweet-smelling forehead to my face. I pressed my lips to her wrinkly, soft, newborn brow and inhaled her deeply. And now, here she is today, so big and grown up but with the kiss of God still lingering on her forehead. At bedtime, my husband and I still savour Molly's fresh baby smell :)

We enjoyed a birthday party with her two favourite friends, Madison and Emma, as well as, her siblings. The girls decorated the cake and ran through an obstacle course. We sang Happy Birthday many times and Molly, always giggling and full of joy, made us laugh with her addition to the song. She was so gracious with her words as she opened her gifts and my heart was happy even though I desired to hold my baby again :)

God bless you my sweet girl!
Thank you for making our home a place of joy and laughter.
I love you so very much.