Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
About two years ago, my husband's dad (F) had a stroke. He stayed in the hospital for a few days. As a result, we all spent a bunch of time in the hospital, too.
The morning following his stroke, the immediate family gathered in a meeting room just down the hallway from where F was to spend the next few days. We were met there by a doctor who shared with us F's condition and progress. We were also met there by a pastor who sat with us, asked questions of us, read the Bible with us, and prayed with us. We trusted that God was a good God, a loving God, and a God who had the power to heal F. We trusted that this "suffering" was going to somehow manifest itself for His glory.
A few days later, my father-in-law went to his eternal home. And while we thanked God for F's arrival to a place of no more suffering, we spent a bunch of time grieving for our loss. And we spent time thinking about God, who is good, loving and had the power to heal. We thought about how this could possibly manifest itself for His glory.
At his funeral, those who attended were given the opportunity to write down memories of F to share with his family. At the end of the service, a huge basket of folded pages was collected. Later on, we gathered again with the immediate family and read over some of the memories people had shared. What an incredible gift it was to hear their experiences with someone we loved so dearly. We laughed and cried together and remembered the man God had graced the world with for less than 60 years.
One particular memory stood out for me. I do not recall who wrote it, and when my husband and I were copying some of these stories into a memory book for his widowed mom, we couldn't find it. I believe it was written by a man from a local recovery home who has recently become friends with F. In their few conversations and in the different projects they had worked on, this man noticed something quite different about F—something he wished he had. Talking to F and recognizing his involvement in the church, this man went to seek out this God that my father-in-law believed in. This bold move to find out more resulted in his salvation. This man shared that he knew where Frank was now and rejoiced in that hope.
When this memory was shared aloud with the family, I quietly knew our prayers were answered. God is a good God. He is a loving God. And He is a God who has the power to heal and save. In light of this situation—or any situation when we are left to grieve a loss—all those traits of God are sometimes difficult to comprehend. I don't claim to understand God's plan of salvation and redemption, nor do I understand His thoughts or ways. I can admit to that two years ago, and still today I often cry out to God because, in my sinful state of being, it appears to me that He is not doing it right! But by His goodness, love and power, I can see that God allowed this suffering to manifest itself for His glory. I can see God at work in F's life. I now see that there will be one more celebrating in our eternal home.
Today I want to thank God because He let us see a glimpse of what He is doing in our lives and in the lives of others. I am thankful that God is in control of everything and that I am not. I am thankful for God's goodness, love and power. I ask for forgiveness in those times when I challenge this truth and when I challenge God's ways. And I ask for continued strength as I try to live in a way that will allow God to work out His redemptive plan through the things I do and the lives I touch.
Isaiah 55:8-13 (from BibleGateway.com)
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed."
"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."
Here is another update. . .it is after supper--and the fries were a flop!!! I'm so embarrassed to admit it! The reason they were a flop. . . my BBQ ran out! So. . .guess where I need to send my hubby tomorrow? :)
Monday, July 27, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I have two little stories that brought me joy this week:
1. We are planning a camping trip—of which my son can hardly wait—and there have been a bunch of times today that he kinda got "ignored" as I was finding things and doing some packing. Tonight as I was putting him to bed, we prayed about keeping our family safe on our trip and Eli added, "And God, I sure hope you come along with us too—like so I can see you this time." How precious! We talked after about how even if we can't see God, He is still coming along with us. Eli just looked at me and said, "Mom, I know that! I just want to play with Him for real tomorrow."
2. A few days ago I was putting Ally to bed and we were doing our list of "Thank you, God, for. . ." Now you have to understand that she is just barely two, and while she prays and listens to Bible stories, she hasn't really ever repeated any of them to us. Vocalizing any of this has not yet happened. She likes to answer "Yes!" to most questions, but I have never been sure if she really knows what she is saying yes to! One of our prayer lines was "and thank you for Jesus." Suddenly her eyes lit up and pulled my face close (too close!) to hers and said "Jesus in the manger!"
Why are these two stories so precious to me? Because my kids are seeing God! They are getting it! They are learning about their Heavenly Father and their Saviour! Each story is a little encouragement to me, saying, "You're doing the right thing! You're doing the things you promised when you had your children baptised. You are doing your part as a Christian parent!" On those blah days—you know, the ones when you seem to be exercising your vocal chords more than any other muscle in your body and any noise you are making is just going in one ear and out the other. When no amount of interceding can help your kids understand the word "cooperate" or "share" or "take turns." When even one TV program doesn't stop the decibel levels of you children from exceeding the household maximum? When you wonder if any amount of discipline or the method of your discipline is even being the least bit effective? On those blah days, it's nice to be able to hold on to stories like these. It's nice to have evidence of the effort you've put into it all: reading bible stories each night, praying regularly, going to church and church programs, loving each of your children in a Christ-like manner, treating all the members of your household as God's precious treasure—all the effort you have ever put into those things (and things like it) are rewarded when a child "professes" their faith.
Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
1 John 5:2 "This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands."
Prayer for today:
Today I just want to thank God for giving me the gift of those stories to remind me that I am doing His will as my husband and I raise our children. I want to thank God for giving me encouragement through these stories, especially when those blah days come. And I want to thank Him for my children, who are drawing near to Him and helping me to draw near to Him at the same time!
More verse to look up: Matthew 18:2, Proverbs 20:11, Psalm 127 (esp. verse 3)
Monday, July 20, 2009
Yellow top and capris (I have a pair of yellow shorts, too, but they are not pictured)
Simplicity 5982This P.J.s set--I just love the detail on the pant! See how it goes up? And I love how she added the lace to the bottom edges! It makes the outfit very girl-y!
New Look 6446
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Our church is studying the Psalms for the summer. We were encouraged to read the psalms at home as well. So I thought it would be neat to try read over a few and write a little devotional on a psalm. (Being a teacher, the connection between home and school learning is huge, so obviously studying what I am learning at church at home should be a good idea right?) The idea doesn't sound too difficult. So I gave it a try.
But this turned out to be a bigger study than I expected!
I figured that since this devotional would be for July 15, I'd go read over Psalm 15. Then I would just write a few thoughts on that, and my devotional would be done. I'm feeling kinda under the weather, so this should be an "easy week."
But, I read Psalm 15—a whole 5 verses written by David—and decided that yes, everything he said was true. And they are things I should be doing. And I'm failing miserably each day, but it IS how I WANT to live. And oh, how I want to be worthy to be in His sanctuary and to live in His presence.
So then I thought, maybe I need to do a little research—see if there is anything I am missing (which those few verse are packed with some good visual pictures and contradictions to the Near East rituals and beliefs, setting believers in Yahweh apart, but that discussion can be for another time). My research led me to read over a few of the surrounding Psalms (try reading Psalm 10 or13 and contrast it with Psalm 18!) and then to the book The Bible Jesus Read, by Philip Yancy (Zondervan Publishing House, 1999).
Mr. Yancy has a whole chapter in his book dedicated to the Psalms, and he wrote something that spoke to me. It made me look at the Psalms I was reading in a new way. He said this: "More than any other book in the Bible, Psalms reveals what a heartfelt, soul-starved, single-minded relationship with God looks like" (p. 115). He compared reading the Psalms as if you were reading someone's (in many cases, David's) personal journal or hearing his personal conversations with God.
After reading that, I reread Psalm 15. And 10 and 13 and 18! It made me think of all the things I don't realize that God sees. I believe in an all-powerful all-knowing God, but sometimes my fallen side forgets. On one hand, I wish I could express my joys in Him as eloquently as the authors of all these wonderful pieces of poetry. On the other hand, there are things I want to hide from God. All the thoughts that I know I shouldn't be thinking because that is probably not the response God is looking for. It's not the right thing to do. All the mistakes I've made. All the things I just don't understand about Him. All the questions. . .
David was noted as a man after His (God's) own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He was chosen specifically by God to lead His people for this very reason. On one hand, David had a gift with words and music. He could calm a troubled king with his harp and songs. On the other hand, David had a bunch of things that God saw that didn't make Him happy. David had some things that he wanted to hide from God. He responded in ways that God did not want him to. But David laid out his personal life for God. He laid out his joys in creation, his certainty in walking in the right path, his confessions of sins, his anguish over the dismal turns life was taking. When things were good, bad or ugly, David cried out to God through the psalms he wrote. He might not have been completely correct in everything he said and did, but he chose to take his emotions to God first. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds me that we might look at the outward appearance, but God always looks at the heart. Yancey put it this way (p. 123): "Instead, I am continually amazed by the spiritual wholeness of the Hebrew poets, who sought to include God in every area of life by bringing to God every emotion experienced in daily activity. One need not "dress up" or "put on a face" to meet God. There are no walled-off areas; God can be trusted with reality."
Reading the Psalms this past week didn't teach me anything significant about the landmarks, the historical setting or story taking place, or any Hebrew words or phrases that might shed new light on old meanings. (Don't get me wrong, all those things are great for further study!) This week I did learn again that God wants me to come to Him with my life. He wants to be an active part of my life, not someone I call on in times of need but hide from when things are spiralling downward. I want to dwell in His sanctuary (Psalm 15:1). But in order to do that, I need to be someone after God's own heart—someone who is working towards bringing God every daily emotion and every daily activity.
One last thought for the week (s) to come . . .Yancy quoted C.S. Lewis as saying that "ideally being a practicing Christian 'means that every single act and feeling, every experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, must be referred to God'" (p. 132).
And. . .I found this site that had Psalm 15 written in a kid-friendly manner.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
A while back we re-did our play room and with kids occupying the house, offices/rooms/junk storage spaces slowly disappear! Anyway, one area that needed cleaning and fixing was all my scrapbooking/crafty stuff. My area is now in a "corner" of the playroom. My old way or organizing was having one of those stacking rolling carts with the see through drawers. When I moved my daughter into her room, instead of making my hubby build shelves in her closet right away (that part will come. . .), I used those for her clothes. My craft stuff was disorganized and not working out there anyway. Then I had some paper boxes as temporary storage, but I could never find anything I wanted. One of my good friends had a little desk and shelves in her office to work on her cards and scrapbooking stuff. That was a pretty inviting idea. I was also blog-hopping and found this site. . .phew! I'm not lucky enough to have my very own scrapbooking room, but hers is amazing! But in the end, this is what I did. . .
Here was my way of organizing all my embellishments, ribbons and odds and ends. I had my hubby go find a metal (magnetic) strip. He primed it and rounded the corners and drilled some holes in it. My mom picked up some of those magnetic spice cans at the thrift store for a dollar (I did have to go out and purchase 3 more--see my lonely one on the bottom row? ($2 a piece @ WM)). Then my mom had this "rod/dowel" hanging around at her house that I took off of her hands. I wanted to have all (all the ones that fit anyway) the ribbon hang on it. I bought some BIG hooks (again, $3-4 at WM) that I screwed in the wall. And for fun, I have a few fun magnets hanging around.
To give you an idea of where my little "Scrapbook Nook" is, here is our playroom. (Yes, this is how regular playrooms look--I didn't clean it up for you!) The area where I have my little desk is around the corner on some laminate flooring (great idea in the playroom to get those Hot Wheels racing like crazy!). This is my view from my spot.
This is my little desk. We originally bought it to fix our ugly kitchen--I mean the lack of counter space and so forth in our kitchen, but then we did a few renos in there and this desk was put in storage. Now I found a great way of using it again! The desk part of it rolls out, so I can mostly hide everything away from my kids when they are playing, need more space, or I'm not around (see below). I also put hooks into the wall to hang long, thick ribbons on where I can clip my finished products or other "stuff" I will run into. (I haven't gotten that far yet). I do have a few (or so) Scrapbook Storage Totes in a nearby cupboard. And. . .that blank canvas. . .that is another project I am still pondering over a little. In time you will see what I came up with. . . but I needed something creative up there to hide a plate (from a junction box). White makes a statement, right? :)
Monday, July 13, 2009
Tuesday-Tropical Fruit Chicken, rice, salad
2 cups fresh blueberries (500mL)
Friday, July 10, 2009
and I am still thinking about school stuff! I was doing a little exploration around on the 'net for the use of Postcards in the classroom. Of course, there is always the typical social studies project where you try to collect postcards from all the cities, provinces or states (or maybe even different countries around the world) and match them up to a map. That is a great idea, but I was looking for something different than typical . . . and maybe something that involves reading or writing!
So I found a few that looked interesting to me—ones that I would try in the classroom. So. . . here they are for you. (Please note that I am looking solely at the idea given to either use as presented or to change to fit my setting. I have not researched the entire sites, and am not promoting any of them. Just a small qualifier!)
Learning with Postcards—lots of ideas centring around the social studies/geography theme, and also on the postcard itself (art, creation, etc).
A lesson plan about making postcards reflective of concert music, but many good pointers about the writing style used.
This is an interview with a man who wrote a graphic novel based on some postcards he found. This sight is probably for older students, and the books is DEFINITELY for older students (HS, even?)
This site is about the writing and writing style that goes into making postcards, as well as some reflection on the artwork of postcards.
Grade Two lesson called, "Postcards from the Planets." This one is a keeper!
Some templates for postcards can be found at http://creativity-portal.com/
Arthur's friend Buster has a "postcard blog" site that is updated weekly about the travels Buster is doing and the people he is meeting. Very informative, and lots of additional activities to do during the week!
And. . .here is an idea of my own. Well, actually, it is my take on an idea from an old colleague of mine! (Thanks Kristi!)
An African Visitor is a project that I used during an
I named my little elephant stuffy "Kidogo" and found a book about elephants in
I liked this activity because it gave students a "real" context in which to write (hopefully making the ideas to write about much easier!). The writing was personal (it was about what they did!) but factual (it did not require imagination in the writing). It connected learning (Theme study,
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
We sang the song, Blessed Be Your Name, in church this past week. While I was singing it, I realized there are so many blessings we have in life: It was a hot, sunny day. It’s summer, my favourite season. I have a house, clothes, good food to eat, a wonderful family, great friends—all in all, I was feeling pretty blessed.
But my mind also drifted (as it does in church at times—oops!) to the many things that I was annoyed at or upset at or that are just a plain injustice in life today. Quite the contrast from my opening sediments!
And that brought me to wonder if I can really say, “Blessed be Your name” with integrity. Like I said, it’s easy to see God blessing me in the good times. When my husband and I got married, we were reminded of this verse from James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from heaven above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights. . .” On our son’s birth announcement we used the verse, “Children are a gift from God. . .” (Psalm 127:3). And at the basis of my faith is Romans 6: 23b says, “. . .but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I am surrounded by gifts from God and can’t help but echo the psalmist’s words, “My mouth is filled with your praise. . . I will praise you more and more.” (Psalm 71:8, 14)
But what about those not so good times? I know it is then that I am in desperate need to remind myself of God’s goodness to me. I need to surround myself with scripture, songs, and encouragement that tell me how God is in control—and that that in itself deserves praise. Even though things don’t seem so good now, or even if things don’t seem so good to me, God is still a good God, worthy of all praise and glory.
And what about those times that I just feel all these “gifts” are owed to me? Yep, I admit it. Sometimes I look at the lack of fairness (in my humble opinion, of course!) in my life—my home, my workplace, my church, my social circles, my community, my everything—and think about how I really deserve more; I deserve better; I deserve something!!! And sometimes I even question God. How could you do this to me? How could you allow this to happen? How can you just let so-and-so get away with that? How can you stand to watch such-and-such unfold?
And that is when a song like this can cause me to be “sweetly broken.” Because yes, I can bless God for all the gifts that I recognize—for the plentiful land, the abundance, when life is just as it should be. I can take every blessing he pours out and turn it back into a praise to Him.
I am learning how to boldly say that, yes, I can praise God when I’m in a dessert place or when the darkness is closing in on me. Even when there is a pathway of suffering, to say these words, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name” (Psalm 103:1). Yes—ALL my inmost being must praise His holy name, even during these times.
And I’m learning to understand that I deserve nothing. On my own, I deserve absolutely nothing. But I was graciously given everything as a gift. I was given eternal life with my Lord and Saviour. As a gift. And that is how I must treat it—as a gift. And I must treat ALL of life as a gift. When tings are good or bad, just or unjust, positive or negative, in all circumstances, God game me an incredible gift. I don’t understand it all, but I can still confidently say, “Blessed by Your name” because He gave me this life—my eternal life—as a gift. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
More passages to read: Psalm 103, Psalm 104, 2 Corinthians 9 and Hebrews 11:39-40
Blessed Be Your Name lyrics
So here are the curtains, just up, as well as all the baby stuff piled on the change table that we had to get rid of:
And of course the "big" bed! This was exciting for her, because we let her jump on it to get her excited about it all! But we finally did get the sheets, bedskirt and comforter on it! I personally like how her room is still pink, but balanced with the green and brown of the material! Not supernova-girlie, but just right!
So. . . our little girl is growing up. . . bring on the pink and the princesses!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
First, I'll tell you about the setting. Sue's friend Jane (who was phenomenally hospitable!) owns this wonderful ocean front home. I think "ocean-front" sums up how beautiful and relaxing it was, but her home was equally stunning! Here are a few pictures from her back yard. (Of course, I could have gone snap-happy at her place, but I resisted. You have to understand, I was there with 9 women I didn't know!)
Then there was the food! Wow! If you know Sue, she is one great cook, but I also have to say that all the CD gals made some delightful food, too! Our menu for dinner consisted of artichoke dip and other yummy appetizers, mixed green salad with berries, Indonesian Chicken with Mango Salsa, rice, and Ciabatta bread.
Dessert gets a category all of its own! There was fruit pie and chocolate cake! (And yes, after eating all that wonderful food I couldn't even finish my chocolate cake! What a sin!) Sue makes the best chocolate cake. . .I think that is what made us friends in the first place! I should have taken the picture before cutting, but, oh well!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
But I finally did pick it up again now that I’m officially on summer vacation. Guess how far I got? The first few pages. And then I had to think a little. Well, I had to think a lot.
You see, Mr. Ortberg seemed to be eloquently writing the very thoughts I was thinking as I opened its pages. He started talking about the disappointments he has in himself and his life and his world. Although I don’t echo all of his disappointments, I have a grand list of my own. On page 13 (which is only 3 pages into the book, or rather, the end of his very first introductory section) he asks where all this disappointment come from. They could be equated to self-esteem and self-worth. But he pinpoints it to this one phrase: “The older and wiser answer is that the feeling of disappointment is not the problem, but a reflection of a deeper problem—my failure to be the person God had in mind when he created me . . . to be at home with the Father.”
I have this little problem at times. Sometimes I can agonize over things. Sometimes these things are pretty small. Sometimes they are big. I find myself constantly asking “What is the right thing to do in this situation?” because I am well aware of my own ability to mess things up, to treat others badly, to act selfishly, to bring glory to myself, to sin repeatedly. I am well aware of my ability to deface Christ because I call myself a Christian. I hear those words of that song, How Deep the Father’s Love For Us, go through my mind, “Behold the man upon a cross, my sin upon his shoulders, ashamed I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers.” Yep, in my thoughts, my words, and my actions, I am doing the very things I never wished to do. I feel like Peter right before the rooster made his three calls. I feel like Paul, agitated to be doing the things he doesn’t want to do and not doing the things he desires to do. I’m not doing the right thing in the situation at hand. And that is when I suddenly realize that, yet again, I am not being who God intended for me to be.
As I struggle through my lack of communion with my Creator, I am also reminded of the words from the song, You are My King/Amazing Love, that say, “I’m forgiven, because you were forsaken. I’m accepted, you were condemned. I’m alive and well, your Spirit lives within me because you died and rose again.”
Oh, I am thankful for God’s love and salvation. I am thankful for His forgiveness and grace. And I am thankful that, even though I am not the person God had in mind when he created me, He promises to bring me home to Him where I won’t mess it all up, but I’ll worship Him in word and deed. Where I won’t treat others in a way that disrespects them, but praise God for his diversity and splendor in creation. Where I won’t do things out of envy and selfish gain, but place Him and others above my own wants and desires. Where I won’t seek glory for myself but bring glory to His name alone.