Friday, December 11, 2015

The Distracted Light Man


I need a wake up call...a gentle, festive face slap...to refocus. Maybe more people than I do as well. The Deceiver is up to it again...His game of distraction! He'll do anything to keep our eyes off of Jesus. One of the things He likes to do most is get us focused on our niceness, our works, or our "people" rather than on our Saviour. It's a crafty trick, since Christmas is all about giving, helping, family, friends, strangers isn't it? Yes, it is...but not primarily. We are such creatures of indulgence and unbalance, that this season is a particularly easy one to distract us from the Truth and Joy. 

Remember the Nativity scene? It's all over facebook pages, now, for reasons other than the gospel. Humble Mary, Selfless Joseph, rejected, homeless and afraid? Even they would not want us to shine the David star light on them rather than the babe. Christmas pageants can quickly loose their meaning and purpose if the well intended light man gets his cues mixed up and spot lights the wrong characters and scenes.  Yes, it's true, we should be hospitable, to love the stranger and to give till it hurts, but the light is shining on the babe. Of course, I see the parallel of current affairs to the manger scene, but the light is shining on the babe. The Light...it's shining...on the babe. He is the center of the scene. All other people and issues are peripheral and should be kept there, because none other is deserving of the glory. The Nativity is being hijacked and we need to keep the focus...the Light on the babe. 

We throw around the "love" word so carelessly. Referring to making people feel good, Doing what is considered the "right" thing, when the world is obviously very confused about what that is...to the point of war. We can't love each other without the babe, His Word and way. We've tried for centuries. Something close to love happens, for awhile, then it usually falls apart and makes a worse mess than before. The divorce rate, job dissatisfaction, substance abuse and ya, war, are kind of proof. No matter how many times history repeats itself, or how many Christmas pageants try to spotlight the babe, we still insist on focusing the light elsewhere. He IS love. Not the food banks, the wrapped gifts, the hugs and visits. By all means, love by giving, but love in the deserving order...

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 22:37-39


If you had none of those wonderful things, you still would have true love...total joy and satisfaction...one that lasts much longer than December 25. There is no boxing day with Him. No post Christmas blues, no January depression and no countdown to the next magical moment. You can live supernaturally "happy", free from circumstantial dependence and smothering from the past. But you have to keep focus, refuse distraction to other good things and put your hope in that one Person...as unlikely and unimpressive as His circumstance was...He is Christmas

"It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them."
Ecclesiastes 7:18






Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Our Own Secret Annex


Caught between being a planner and an "in-the-moment" home educator. 
The security and tidiness of schedules gives my heart peace but the wow, the power punch and depth of teachable moments cannot be passed by. I tend to call is Spirit led education...when God guides and provides the learning, the curriculum, without much of my own effort. Often, it's just an experience to hook the knowledge onto...something to make it unforgettable.

November largely centers around Remembrance Day. We watch old war movies, attend the services and read about heroes. This year we've been into The Diary of Anne Frank. The kids really like it, a little to my surprise. Even with the reading challenge it is for them, with all her Dutch interjections and old, unfamiliar sayings. Upon getting to know Anne and playing the role of "Kitty", we are engaged in journaling for ourselves too. They've picked names for their friend notebook and tried to model Anne's ways. It was an honourable attempt, however, deep talks with Kitty turned into narratives about Pokeman and comic strip pictures of ball gowns. I guess that is ok too...just roll with it...teach proper letter writing and punctuation. 

Timely, is our upstairs home renovations, so our main living area will be out of commission for 2 weeks. We'll be cramped into a small spaced basement, with little light and make-shift cooking  appliances. I think this opportunity will help all of us understand a little better what Anne experienced in the Secret Annex. Maybe we can feel her frustration a little and become more grateful for our freedom, space and abundance of  resources. When the two weeks are over, we will ascend to the bright and fresh living...and intentionally remember that it never happened for Anne. Her end was far from the comfort and joy of ours. May this lesson make Christmas more meaningful and others focused.

I mostly appreciated Anne's honesty in regards to competing feelings of gratefulness and self-pity. On one hand, she felt unworthy to be safe in their hideout, and at the same time, angry that others get to live the way a young girl passionately desires. It was nice to share that with her and to be pushed toward the gratefulness again.Whether in war or in peace, inside, we battle the same flesh. The war He won for us by total sacrifice...comfort, family, honor and glory...He gave them all. 

Notice the moments, the opportunities, to really teach. Information is lost easily unless it is attached to an experience. The knowledge coupled with something to form a relationship with will last and create character. Follow His educational leadings and learn well. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bring on the Gifts!

(birthday party, likely in grade 4, based on glasses and hair)

I'm 45 today. That means that I have received at least 45 birthday presents in my time. I remember many of them because I really like presents. This epiphany came to me awhile ago and made me feel materialistic and greedy. Upon further reflection and investigation, I have happily accepted my inclination and even see it as absolutely godly...bring on the gifts :)

One  symptom of being "gifty" is heart failure when a gift doesn't arrive "on time". When I am buying for others, I simply won't order anything that might not get here for the occasion. That just seems unacceptable for some reason...like a dud firework failing in a sky of expectation. Another is getting a gift that has no relevance to you as a person. I will even override my "on time" rule if I can't find something that is just right for that person. I think this has to do with the value I place on expression and wanting to acknowledge the value of who a person really is. It says "I know you, what you value and want to please your heart". The opposite is just a rushed token of obligation...I can't seem to do that. A difficult fact to accept for a gifter sometimes, is that others often don't even want a gift, truly, they don't. I'll never get that. So, for those, I will often make a donation to a loved charity in his name. I did that once for my husband and it brought tears to his eyes. Perplexed but challenged, I learned that day.

My parents never missed a beat, and still don't, on this note. In fact, the wrapped treasure held even more weight from Mom and Dad because of the quality and thoughtfulness always put into the gift. Often, they presented me with hand made, energy and love filled things...dresses,  jelly cupboard, bed-spread, doll house, bed spread...I could go on for 45 years. Things I still treasure, either in my attic or in my heart. I don't know if these gestures formed my thinking or if they just fed it, but I understand and use this knowledge to love others the best I can. Their influence has also taught me that gifting is not materialistic or greedy. My most  treasured gifts often didn't cost a dime, like the wooden picture frame my son made for me when his chubby hand could barely hold the hammer or the shoebox full of Barbie Doll clothes my mom made from scraps. Homemade can hold more value than anything Mastercard can.

My poor, energy and creativity challenged husband now has to deliver. What an act to follow! It took a couple of decades for us to realize the hurdle and then to start to deal with it. First, he had to learn to think ahead and pay attention...to the oncoming occasion and to what I like. Secondly, I had to realize and accept that thoughtful gifts and timely presentations don't say "I love you" to him, so not to get my knickers in a knot when he forgets to gift me...or when he is not over-the-moon when I give him gifts. Eventually, we started to get it. His effort to change and expend himself in this unnatural way  is beautiful to me...love. Now, I don't waste my time and money on a gift for him, necessarily. All he really wants is me to clear my schedule to be with him and to shower him with affection. I can afford that...although it is still REALLY hard to restrain myself from buying him the world on his day. To make matters worse for him, it seems that I'm not at all slighted if anyone else fails to give me a gift...just him...so I am not expecting birthday gifts from all of my blog readers...the expectation lies totally on him. Talk about pressure. I'm trying to lighten up while still coaching him on to become more like Christ and give me wonderful gifts. It's the least I can do to help in his sanctification :)

 If God asks us to give to Him, even in tithes and offerings, then there must be something important to this way of giving. He obviously doesn't need it, nor is He ever materialistic or greedy. I think it's the desire and act of gift giving taking priority over holding money, or time and energy for that matter, for yourself. Being willing and able to part with money easily is a godly trait. He knew we'd need practice with that, so requires it regularly. The magi brought valuable gifts to Jesus and he was too young to really care. Maybe the gifts are more for the benefit of the giver than the receiver? For these reasons, I will embrace the love of gifts, firstly, the giving of them and secondly, the appreciating of them from others. 

Gift memories:

The "All things Garfield birthday"...


The "red nylons and matching ruffle blouse" birthday...love the 80's...


The " lace-up wedge shoes" that made me feel like a woman.
Shoes were cut off, but I remember them so well.


Gifts for others even made me giggle...I can see the excitement in my whole body here...short one on the left.


She was a gift I spent most of my birthdays with  :)



 "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11


There are some things I want for my birthday. No longer do red nylons nor parties in my honor top the list. I have a few good "things" of eternal value I've been requesting. Maybe today will be the day for one of them. That would be something to really celebrate.



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Professional Indulgence



Time flies when you are having fun. 
Emm and I left our children and homes yesterday...just for a day. Not even an entire day, but most of it.
Fifty-five other moms did the same. Some, in vans together, driving an hour or two to get to the special place. 

That's actually a big deal for a home-educating mom. Together, that meant that child care was arranged for 178 or so kids (can't remember the exact number), many dads took the day off and some hearts of mom/toddlers were separated in a willing, but uncomfortable way. It's one of the drawbacks of home-educating. We aren't great at being away from home for very long. It's not a weakness, it's a beautiful fact. However, there is a time for everything under the sun, and for this 57, it was a time for refreshment and mind stimulation. 

Five or 6 of these women worked extremely hard at making the day an experience worth the effort. I think that's because they know exactly what is needed sometimes. They were doing what they would desire others to do for them...golden. How clearly does homemade soups and cheesecakes, gourmet salad and coffee, fresh fruit, goat-cheese, hemp hearts and dried cherries say "I love, understand and appreciate you"?? I got it...loud and clear. Our experienced and passionate session leaders brought their hearts and minds to us on a silver platter. Our opportunity to pour out our souls to each other brought tears of relief and echos of laughter among the sea of leather boots, colorful scarves, jean jackets,  fresh hair-do's and even some makeup. We just cannot deny our femininity and love of beauty...and rare occasion to publicly don them. We unashamedly celebrate our divine design and wiring.

A little deeper though, under the skin of beauty and a little higher than the hearts of emotion, our minds were fed...mine for sure. I crave challenging and growing my mind in the things that I am passionate about. I could talk and listen all day about home education, learning issues and family...and that's what I got to do! All day...with like-minds...similar vision...similar challenges...common loves. Sharing discoveries, note-taking book titles and websites, planning networks and getting questions answered. It sparked a fire in me that was smoldering and up I got, early this morning, chasing the ideas online. Mind food...satisfying education...developed in my profession for sure. I'm pretty sure we were there for 6 hours, but I could swear it felt more like 1 or 2. How blessed I am to love my calling so much and to have so many others to journey with in it.

Sometimes, it can get a little, or a lot discouraging, in this job, when you cannot see the big picture and the loooonnnnggggg term results that it produces. Like the depression prone Elijah, we think we are the only one left. God wakes us from our escape sleep, feeds us and directs us to action...sometimes a couple of times, and reminds us that we are not alone. Our Professional Development Day did just that...woke us, fed us and moved us forward. I pray that the organizers and those who made great effort to attend know how redeeming and fruitful their efforts have been already. 

I've been craving and satisfied with nourishing food...mind, body and soul. 
It won't last forever, but God sustains and provides for the future. 
Grateful.

...and hoping my reputation was not severely tarnished by my "Full House", public confession ;)



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Just Justin


The morning after the 2015 Canadian federal election.
I am not going to rant.

I decided this morning that I'd better get to know my new PM, Justin Trudeau, on a more personal level, and so started a little research on who he and his family are. Upon googling his wife Sophie and being blocked by NetNanny for "nudity", initial frustration set in.  I need to get a grip. I need to be helpful and hopeful.

Although every fiber of my being does not want to do this...I will.

I will support my new Prime Minister in ways I can.

I will respect him and his position.

 I will not hate the color red.

I will put away my fear for our future.

I will put away frustration with Christian blindness and apathy, voter ignorance and media deception.

I will remember that he is just a man in a God-given position.

He needs me.

He needs me to respect and pray for him. He is just a man with a wife and three sweet children. Even though I will never support his beliefs, platform, nor his vision for our Canada, and may have to speak and stand against these ideas, I have an obligation to see him and his party as Christ does. He created them, died for them and gave them this power. I am powerless, but serve an omnipotent God, who hears my prayers for my country, its unborn, its God-fearers, its responsible, humble and its selfless. Being frustrated, afraid and angry won't help anyone.

Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better.

If you are experiencing the same political hangover I am, remember:

He is just a man,
But God can change him,
if he wants to,
I guess.

(to the tune of the Red Green motto..and a little more confidence)

  GOD is in control.

Deal with the hangover...
My cold shower:

 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

My strong coffee:

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."  Ephesians 3:20-21






Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gravity

If the original sin was pride, then the original solution must be humility. Sure. Humility. Probably the most difficult solution and posture imaginable...humanly speaking. 

Only Jesus, fully God and fully human...200%...could do this rescue for us, then lead us into His likeness. 

I've been dropping things a lot lately. Vegetables I try to dice, books for school, laundry to the bedrooms, everything. One might think it was a symptom of a sickness. I think it was just a reminder of gravity. It forces me to think about how hard it is for me to get down low. My body just cries at the distance between my hands and that floor these days. It seems light-years away. After a tiny groan of "not again", I decide on squat versus golfer, then brace my core and get low. The ride up is harder than the one down. I'm thinking about wearing a tool belt for things, to avoid the dreaded lowering of myself. These pains always mean a lesson for me though. So I thought about gravity and pain.

Wouldn't it be just like our creative Teacher to use earth science and midlife to remind us of the importance of getting low, humility? The more I drop things, the more I remember to be humble...painfully humble. My soul constantly yearns to express itself. What I think, what I prefer, who I am, even what I think others should think or do. That's pretty proud, when you think about it. It's not always wrong to do, but to yearn for it? 

This election has brought my expressive tendencies out. I have refrained from posting my thoughts about it simply because it seems pointless...except to gratify my flesh like shooting myself up with a dose of Rant, Vent or Ardent. There is already too much of that out there. Too many armpits, smelling up time and space. Facebook is all about expressing yourself. I'm trying to be careful about that. Good and bad things sometimes need to be expressed, but the person of few words is usually the one that is listened to...most influential and helpful. So for today, I'll express my opinion on expressing my opinion. 

Maybe it's best to hold my tongue, or fingers, unless some outside source obviously invites me to do so. And if I do, may it be in the humblest of manners. This takes practice, because I am proud. My heart, mind, blood and flesh are proud by birth...and I am passionate. That can sting sometimes. Constant lowering is great exercise for this malady. The thought direction, the bracing, the strength, balance and discomfort are healing to the sick peacock. Every time I have to lower myself, I have to mutter thankfulness instead of groans of remorse...because that's a critical part of the exercise. Thankfulness sets the mind on the right course, fills the body with health and exalts the King of Humble. Identify with Him and the lowering becomes a privilege. Worthy to suffer with Him and enjoy the fellowship of the lowering. 

It doesn't matter to you who I will vote for, or what I think about guns, cannabis or tax allocation. No one is asking me. If they do, I have a responsibility to answer, and I will. In the meantime, I'll ponder all of these things in my heart, teach them to my children (because it's my job to tell them), continue scrolling past the endless posts of others' addiction to expressiveness and learn to enjoy the humility of silence. 

Gravity is good for me. It's a good force and direction. When I want to float through life, the moon reminds me of the strength I need to develop...the strength to get low.

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:10


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sitting Still



"Be still and know that I am God."

This is the verse that haunts me. 
It perplexes me and challenges me.
I'm not good at being still and I'd rather feel something than know something...by nature.
Illumination is happening though and I think I'm starting to get it, starting to do it. During the crazy rain storm Wednesday night, as I struggled, sick with constant nose blowing, headache and negative thinking, I sat alone on my bed. I opened the window to let the fresh wind and mist into the room and on my face. No music. No audio sermon. Nothing. Just the mist and wind. Repeating the verse over and over, I asked God to help me understand it. 

"What is it exactly that you want me to 'know' about you here...now...that I need?" 

Of course there was no audible voice or external revelation, because I opened my Bible and read Him, in my orderly, chronological way of Bible study:

"Know that the Lord Himself is God, it is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." Psalm 100:3

Just because you study the Bible in an orderly, chronological way, doesn't mean that He can't speak to you in a creatively and supernaturally. I asked Him what He wanted me to know about Him and He answered exactly. That is a living Word.

So then, I sat in the mist and pondered knowing about who He really is and who I am...our stable, victorious relationship...and all the implications of that to my problems. I had much good to THINK about then and it led to FEELING better. I've just had it backward...wanting to feel good first, then to translate that into some truth to live by. In reality, I run to God's truth first, know it, live it, then receive the good feelings it graciously imparts on my thrashing, ravenous soul. But I have to start by being still,...then just know something true. He created the whole world out of nothing, so why wouldn't he create good feelings...joy out of nothing but stillness and quiet too. Let Him speak into that stillness through the scriptures...He has so much to say...so much healing....so much hope. 

God made me an intensely feeling person. I'm not trying to change that, nor do I wish to. But we intensely feeling people need to direct and master our emotions for Christ's sake. Unchecked, they'll destroy, but mastered, they can change the world...or at least just your own.




Friday, September 11, 2015

Heart Education High

 
 
My husband and I each have two or three fancy pieces of paper adorned with our scripted names, gold seal, "credible" institutions' and professors' endorsements. I think they are sandwiched between some very expensive, hard covered textbooks in my dusty loft somewhere. They represent something. They tell people something. Usually, they hang behind your work desk on a wall to remind others that you know stuff. Stuff they don't know. You've done things. Things they haven't. So, they had better listen to you, or at least think highly of what you say. We perpetuate this value by dressing very young people in gowns and strange hats, solemnly parading them across a stage to hand them the scrolled paper, then fist lifted into the air with cheers and victory claps. Many, probably most of them according to recent statistics, don't yet even know how to read, analyze or think and express those thoughts well. For the Christian, the greater question is do they know wisdom? Have they met wisdom and are they intrigued to get to know her better? 

On our drive home from town yesterday, my 12 and 14 year old kids had a great conversation with me. They talked of their childhood...yes, they are 12 and 14...talked of how they were introduced to Jesus, the reality and tragedy of Hell and how grateful they are for salvation and their earthly lives. I mostly listened, noticing how they formed their thoughts and sentences, and their passion. I made note of their questions and uncertainties as I made mental plans for furthering their education...how they thought and how they expressed it. A classroom. We have chosen to educate our kids in this kind of way. One that reflects God's priorities, both academic and personal...both the head and the heart.

It boggles my mind that Christians, especially those who have had formal education, place such value on head education. The head taking priority over the heart. True, our head is above our heart and much more prominent, but the heart supplies the blood...the life to it. Head Ed does have value, don't get me wrong, but not the kind most think. I would do it all again in a heart beat. It was good for me. The twenty years or so that followed my degrees, however, have taught me something else. Something far more valuable than the textbook ever did. Once I set down the textbook, picked up the Bible, walked along the shore with fishermen, ate with the forgiven, suffered with the seekers and played with the humble, I began to really understand. Living the Word, not just knowing it, made my mind blossom and my heart full. Being able to see the difference between the world's ways and God's is an enlightenment so precious, no paper or ceremony could ever do justice. I still value education highly, it's still my "profession". I've just redefined it for myself and put it in it's proper place...it doesn't define me.
 
I mourn the lack of this kind of "education" among believers. A heart education rather than a head one. How do so many Christians not see and understand Jesus? They say they do and in some things they are experts....they things they "get" and enjoy about Him...but what about the rest of Him? We hold high things he made low and spend extravagant amounts of time, energy and money on things He didn't even give a second glance to and even condemned. We sacrifice the sacred for the common.

A few facts we often ignore is that Jesus was not highly educated. He Chose men of low degree to lead His church and followers who were of importance and success, like certain tax collectors and Pharisees, counted their accomplishments as loss, left all of success's benefits and enrolled in the school of Unimpressiveness and Hardship. These are the ones we are implored to listen to and follow, even thousands of years later. Listen to those who open and point to the Word of God, who walk in His footsteps in nasty places. Do not be impressed and influenced by those who place more value on knowing things, and doing things in a status quo, easier or man-pleasing kind of way. No degree, no accomplishment of any kind can compare to the reward of pleasing God and chasing after His Kingdom. Find out what He valued, it's not hard to find out, but so many people ignore it. Re-prioritize you own based on His.We need to give our stupored heads a shake and let our priorities fall into His places.




Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Readiness Gem



Twenty four years ago on Monday, I made a vow. A sacred, holy binding vow. Did I know what I was doing? Yes, sort of. Knowing something in your head is not the same thing as knowing it in your heart though. Probably most people know in the head what their vow means and what it will require, but only those who may have seen marriage difficulties in their childhood have a glimpse of the heart knowledge of the vow...and I really didn't.

It was trial by fire for the first couple of years of our marriage. Only the grace of God kept us together, because I certainly wasn't prepared for the hardships of young marriage. My wonderful and soft life of 20 years didn't equip me for what the vow would require and the fact that both of us were still in school, full time, made financial stress as well. Our sin nature put a damper on the young romance as well...go figure. By worldly standards, our marriage looked pretty awkward, I'm sure. Our ducks were not lined up pretty in a row, our plan was long and we were living on love...the tough brand of love rather then the tender sort. Some would say we were too inexperienced and young to be married. Our life and marriage could have been easier had we been older, more experienced and “set up” financially. That's probably true.

Easier and more comfortable is not what God was going for. It's what I would have enjoyed, but looking back, I see providence and wisdom in His ways. My son was in a church skit one time about such a topic and the stressed out, young married couple being portrayed gave the punchline, “Marriage is not to make you happy, but holy”. Holiness. A couple set apart. A picture of Jesus and His people. The purpose of marriage sheds light on my issue and the disease our modern marriages are suffering from.

If marriage was designed primarily for our pleasure than maybe God might have gone back to the drawing board. But He didn't, because that is only marriage's second purpose...the after effect. The primary purpose, according to the Bible, is the same as everything else in a Christian life...for His Glory. He is glorified in a marriage that mirrors His love...suffering and sacrifice which leads to death, then power, ressurection, new life and glory!! That pretty much desribles the 24 years of my marriage...we had to suffer, sacrifice, die to oursleves, then God intervened as we lay face down in the muck. He lifted us, cleaned us, fed us and poured His power into our hearts. We trusted His word with that power and feasted on His wisdom. A new way led to a glorious relationship, one that could never have been born in comfort.

Yes, I was young...young hearts are better to train, teach and guide in righteousness. We went through the fire together. The trials endured together mold two people in a way that is not easily broken. That's what we need...marriages not easily broken. This kind of love making requires two hearts set on Jesus' holiness and cross carrying, I guess that would be the readiness criteria for marriage rather than age. There are plenty of older people in the world with unprepared hearts who would not pass the readiness test for marriage.

My oldst son is 21 in January and his fiance will be 20 on the day they marry. The numbers mean nothing to me. They will face hardship. They will not be comfortable all the time. They are not “set up” quite yet. They understand and are committed to the true purpose and plan for marriage though...and that is rare...like a Red Beryl, 1,000 times more valuable then gold, mostly hidden from the world, but seen and treasured by God. Understanding is all they can have at this point. No one is ever really "ready". They could wait a little longer and be a little more "set up", but for the Christian, this wait is a gamble for the loss of another precious gem the world does not see the value of too. It will be hard to watch them in the fire of young marriage, I'm sure, but I know the truth. I know what God is doing and I have to trust that, not their abilities and years. His Word and my own experience have led me here.

This is just another life thing that requires me to “not lean on my own understanding”, not to listen to worldly wisdom...the wisdom of man...which leads to a ridiculous divorce rate and countless unfulfilling marriages. Nay sayers just aren't going for the same thing in marriage as we are. If they understood that, maybe our silly ways might make a little more sense to them and quell their frustration a bit. Even so...

Soli Deo Gloria.

Happy Anniversary Guy...my beautiful Red Beryl.



Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Staycation

It's been awhile. Spring probably the busiest time of the year for me...and it's over :) Thought I would show a few highlights of my "staycation". Enjoying the little things, the peace and quiet and taking time to think about good things.

Finally! I got to read a book! Almost through a second one too! Business has slowed enough to rest my mind and think about good things. My choices for this summer, so far, are:
 


The first book, by Dr.Leaf is not a mystical-mind-self-help book, but a scientific, God-centered approach to healthy thinking. I really liked it. Her whole premise is that science is just recently catching up with the Bible...that there is a physical basis for being "transformed by the renewing of our mind", "taking every thought captive" and "whatever is good and perfect...think on these things". Being a science student, loving Biology and the Bible, this was a great read...and hopefully, will help my mental and spiritual health! It also has great ramifications for education...going to implement these principles in school this year.  





Loving the challenge of sacrificial living, closer relationship with Jesus and understanding His holiness in this book. If only we realized just how much He really loves us and how we should love Him and others in turn. When you love Him wholeheartedly, you can look crazy...perplexing to the world...but it offers joy to a hurting world. 

Denial. I think the world is in denial. Constantly convincing itself that it is happy. Working tirelessly to continue the charade of success. As more and more "successful" people commit suicide and spend thousands on therapy, we keep insisting that happiness is found in self-fulfillment, comfort, money and doing good things. I have to remind myself of this lie EVERY DAY. These two books help battle the lie by saying 1) I need to think like God, not like man and 2) He needs to be my first love...not my husband, not my kids, not myself.

So, thank you Caroline and Francis, for spending some time with me this summer and ministering to my soul. Iron sharpening iron. 

The paint has brought me some joy too recently. Only one canvas so far, but it was a great fun for me:



My "work" lately is keeping up with the garden. I actually love weeding. It's quiet, productive time outside, among the soothing elements, sun, earth and breeze. 



A generous lady neighbor gave us permission to tent on her beach one night last month. I just wanted to hear the river, cook over an open fire, float and be still for 24 hours. It...was...amazing :) My daughter fished while I fried bacon, had coffee and let the others sleep in during sunrise.





Another highlight is our "new" bedroom! Updated after 20 years! I'm SO enjoying the Grant Beige, carpet-be-gone and the scent of crack fill and paint. Is there a candle scent called "renovations" yet? There should be.




None of the above happenings compares with the overwhelming joy of this day. My son and some dear daughter-types diving into the Saint John river in Baptism! As a dear church lady said last night at prayer meeting, this doesn't mean they'll get everything right, but it's a good beginning...a good decision :)





Looking forward to a few more weeks of being home during beautiful weather without a rigorous schedule. The best part is that Fall is right around the corner. Better than summer :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Gender Reassignment in the Church...the Gateway Drug


In case you haven't noticed, I am female...and that matters. It is a sacred assignment, planned, created and sustained by One far more wise than any given breath. This fact holds much more significance than just the color of my baby blankets, the shape my clothing takes or the washroom I am directed into. According to the Bible, it dictates much, much more. Yes, dictates. My desires and dreams do not direct how my body and mind function. A car is made to be driven on a road, no matter much it might want to fly in the sky, it's parts and manual clearly speak the intention of it's creator. I'm sure, with the tenacity and ability of man, it may end up soaring through the air, but it could no longer be called a car. It has thrown off the beautiful dream of it's maker and given itself a new name, purpose and activity. It has become it's own god. 

The gender issue that we the church are now dealing with will make or break the first commandment. If we the church decide that gender matters are for individuals to decide, then we have dethroned God, the creator of our being and the author of the manual. These issues don't emerge overnight. They slowly creep in, in less obvious and alarming ways, like a gateway drug. I am afraid the church has been smoking pot.

  It seems to me that many pastors and other church leaders who are standing firm Biblically on the issue of homesexuality or gender have not noticed the inconspicuous door that was left ajar to let it in. If a person's gender does dictate how he or she should function in marriage and family, why doesn't it dictate how they should function in church roles as well? If I am wired and built to nurture children and so directed to do that, why is not my wiring and build directed to a certain, different role than men in the church? We proclaim calling equality for the genders in the church, while ignoring our divine make. It seems inconsistent to me, certainly less obvious, but virtually the same issue. Gender directs our behavior and calling...and neither calling, male nor female, is less vital than the other.

Once we opened the door to women taking on male leadership roles in the church, the gender issue on sexuality and marriage had a trail blazed for it. The hard work was done and it's sliding through fast and furious. We seem shocked and appalled. How could this happen? Isn't it obvious? Well apparently, my unique and important design wasn't sacred enough to hold it's place on the issue of role, so why should it matter now? We shouldn't be shocked. In fact I know many a complimentarian who have been waiting for this day for quite a while now. Some people seem to be given a great gift of discernment and those of us who haven't would do well to heed the warnings of the former.  

The inclination to be offended by our lack of maleness is perplexing. Everyone knows I love males...I have a few...but I embrace my Biblically communicated gifts, abilities and calling. On a less obvious, but just as blasphemous note, gender reassignment in church roles is highly offensive and saddening to me...and the angels (1 Corinthians 11). Every time I see a woman leading and teaching men in the church I want to cry for the Creator. His beautiful plan is rearranged...the church becomes a eunuch...powerless and sterile. We wonder why the Spirit is not moving powerfully and why we are not multiplying. I believe it is because we have castrated oursleves. Yes, pray for revival, but maybe we should follow the directive of 2 Chronicles 7:14 so our prayers won't be hindered:

 "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Dear Eve...total submission to the Word of God on our life role is freedom. Don't let the Deceiver sway you from His Word...like he did Eve..."Did God REALLY say?" Genesis 3:1
Dear Adam...please embrace your manhood and protect us from the Deceiver. No longer stand  by and watch us eat that tempting fruit and accept it yourself.


In all areas of life and church...gender matters.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Word War 3:34am

 
 
Taking every thought captive...again.
Writing seems to help do that. It's the funneling and sifting of  thoughts into a coherent, semi-organized expression of a flickering light bulb hovering above the mind. A twist of the bulb that allows the flickering to become steady and bright. So then, the writing becomes the tangible evidence that I actually think something. I have an opinion or a morsel of truth to hold tightly to in this storm of ideas. Solomon warns of too much writing though..."Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body." Blogs and articles might well fit this category.

The internet has really shaken up the thought snowglobe. Flakes of a million issues scrambling around, trying to land peacefully. What should I eat? What should I buy? What should I get mad about? What should I applaud? Whose opinion is true and what picture is real? For doubters and skeptics like me, this is a nightmare. I'm surprised I even continue to be a part of the worldwide web....but daily business is much more difficult to conduct without it...so I am pulled into the world of "experts" and I end up quoting Socrates..."All I know is that I know nothing". The music makes it all worth it though. When I start to get dizzy from the swirling flakes, there is a world of worship on the web to yank my thoughts back to a healthy state of motion. Then I can see through the storm long enough to direct myself to true wisdom. The wisdom to know when to turn it off. 

Stay standing...click on...get that recipe...answer that email...scroll quickly past a few unreal images of happiness and worthless comments...resist the temptation to open a new tab...click the play button back on the praise or the preaching and walk...away.

I can feel the relief. The three dimensional, textured, surround sound of real life. The forced slowing of my thoughts. Another emotional crash avoided. The weight of my Bible, it's crinkling pages with thin gold trim. Those familiar underlined conversations and names of friends...Paul, David, Mary, Peter...these steer me to the only expert I need. I don't have to doubt and wonder about Him. It's simplicity and clarity are refreshing. If I go back to that web, it'll try to make me doubt. The flakes will fly again. It is a trap of sorts...a web of deceit. Tread lightly, carefully and don't linger long. Don't let the web trap your thoughts, keep them for yourself and entrust them to God alone. 

There is no phone in the convenient side pocket of my purse yet. Instead I have a little red Gideon Bible...about the same size...so in those waiting room moments, I can quickly snap a chat with a Friend. No opinion of my own or comment is required, just a listen, just a learn, just a comfort.

This writing is largely for me, as a way to take my own thoughts captive. Sharing it on the internet, I think, is a small gesture of courage...a rising to take my place in the world...in the web...hoping, maybe that it might help another whose lightbulb might be flickering and is in need of settling the flakes. So when I wake at 3:34am, in a dizzy snowglobe, I write...I battle...to take captive those thoughts, and then share my bloody battle with you. Strange but true.

Web + log = blog
Joe Bloggs = British slang for "any hypothetical person" like our Joe Blow

Interesting.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Not My Choice Alone







For  brief moment in time, I share my body. Whether I intentionally did so or not, another human body and soul is totally dependent on mine. They cannot communicate their desires and needs to anyone, yet innately have them. We know them. We are an intelligent people. Both human instinct and technology continue to hold this truth in front of our waffling eyes and hearts. It must be some sort of denial that causes one to ignore or explain away such an obvious truth. Even countless testimonies of first hand eyewitnesses to the pain and regret of such atrocities are ignored. The judges...from aware officials to impressionable little girls, must be taking bribes. Offers of vain freedom, ease of life and false righteousness. It's the only explanation I can think of for such a genocide to be happening. 

We have been given a small gift. Our wayward country still makes provision for us to peacefully demonstrate our opposition to any of it's policies. All we have to do is go and stand. It's not very difficult. I've done it on the cold rain and the warm sun. When those in power look out over their kingdom, will your face be there? We are not standing for our own rights, but for those who cannot speak...or think...or breathe on their own.  It is not my body alone, when they are there. Not my choice alone.  Greater love has no woman than to lay down her life...for 9 months...for a friend. 


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Life Giving Death

 
Broken.
Sounds like a terrible word. Sounds sad, painful, helpless and weak. The thing about this word though, is that it has much hope. Broken things don't always stay that way. With imagination and determination broken things can be redeemed. Creativity and power make new things. This word needs to have a new connotation. The image of throwing away anything broken needs to be rid of. Images of new life, freshness and purpose should come to mind with this word. What do these things have in common?
tamed horses
planted seeds
olives
Jesus

They all have to be under pressure...broken...in order for their glory to be displayed. A powerful horse is of no use unless it submits to the guidance of it's master. A beautiful, life giving tree cannot exist without the breaking of seed in a hard, dark, cold ground.  Olives provide the healing power of it's oil only after it is pressed and emptied. Death could not have been defeated unless the perfect, selfless, all wise and humble God-Man offered Himself to be broken. 

The glory of God's eternal life, extended to us, had to come by His submission to the ungodly behavior of man for a time. Then came the breaking and burying of the Seed. The healing of our own souls through forgiveness would not be possible without the painful crushing of His soul that good day. 

He showed us, with blood, sweat and tears, how to be broken. He wants us to follow and fall on Him...let yourself be broken, so He can put you back together in a resurrection. Stop fighting to keep it together, to be strong and in control. Trust the Cornerstone to break you carefully, for the purpose of glory...His and yours. A new foundation...a beautifully designed structure...with a plan and purpose. It's better than the alternative. Without the surrendering to Him and with the choice of being your own god, comes an eventual destruction. Destruction...this word has no hope. It has no redemptive meaning. It's final and sad. Broken is better than destroyed. 

"Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed." 
Matthew 21:44

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair." 2 Corinthians 4:8

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you." 2 Corinthians 4:8-12

I'm learning to be broken, to stop trying to save myself and to embrace the discomfort of suffering. It inevitably happens to us all, so I might as well use it for His glory and my good. 

Friday is over and Resurrection Sunday is right around the corner. Christ is proclaiming victory in unseen places in the meantime. You can't see it yet, but it is here. The time between the breaking and the building. The time to trust.

Footnote...I love it when He speaks by bombarding me with the same theme. These verses, then this song on the way home from town. Yes, I hear the message:

"Blessed and Broken" by Nicole C Mullen





Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Snake in Your Eden

 

 It was just a simple question.

 The most crafty of all the creatures God made, the serpent, plants the evil seed in our thoughts and our flesh does the rest. He simply asked Eve when he saw her desiring forbidden fruit:

"“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?

Wow. That's all He had to do. Make her question God's words. Once she did that, her desires took authority, her actions placed her on her own throne and pain, regret and death resulted. The taste, texture and rush of the fruit were quickly forgotten. 

All the enemy has to do to us is question God's Word. Our own desires will then take over and history repeats itself, over and over again. Is it no wonder that our society, and dare I say the church has done the same. God's Word is so questioned, twisted and disregarded that we have dethroned God...and Adam stands by silently watching. 

Then the serpent says:

“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

He lies to us. He tempts us to think that God has bad intentions toward us and that WE can be God.  Master our own destiny, have control and live a fake freedom. I don't know about you, but I believe I would prefer a world under Jesus' rule than the one we have experienced for the past 7,000 years or so. 

Are you questioning God's word? Explaining away the clear reading of His words? Eve did. It didn't end well. Are the varied words of mere men and your own thoughts  more secure than God's? Every belief needs faith, the question is, who are you trusting in most?

"So surrender the hunger to say you must know
Have the courage to say I believe
For the power of paradox opens your eyes
And blinds those who say they can see" -Michael Card

Thank you to Paula for helping me understand this truth. I treasure the humble, honest and faithful teachers (and doers) of the scriptures.



Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hold Your Brushes Close




They want our children. Who is "they"? People in high, authoritative positions, who honestly think they know better than the average Joe, what is best for kids and society. Of course, I think I know what is best too, but I do not dictate nor manipulate to that end. I have no visible power to turn the tide of current thinking...or do I?

Studying history with my kids, as a homeschool mom, has opened my eyes to many things I never really knew before. The people who changed the world for better and for worse, how they did it and the echo of those actions on centuries to follow. The cyclical pattern of history, repeating unnecessary pains for lack of hind-sight. There are still WW2 witnesses who warn us concerning the making of a monster, the slow, molding of a nation to think a certain way...by having authority and influence on our young children. 

 “Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man” -St. Francis Xavier
We seem today to be somewhat unaware of this repeating pattern. When I paint, I have a plan. I have an image in my mind that I try to create. I attempt to produce the exact colors, texture and values. A painting is "done" only when I sense a satisfaction in what I see. It never looks like what I imagined exactly. Many times, I make mistakes that end up looking rather interesting, unique...irreproducible. My art teacher has a painting on her wall that she changes every so often depending on her mood, so in a sense, it's never "done", but always on display. Our kids are like a canvas that a Divine image waits to be displayed upon. For some undeserved reason, we are given the brushes and paints to be life-givers of the masterpiece. Only we have the passion and vision for each canvas. We can hand it off to someone of lesser motivation, but what emerges will never be as good as the original intention.What kind of man or woman might our child become if we do not hold the brush of color and hand it over to someone of contrary thinking?

I have been in situations where I HAD to hand the brushes over to someone else for a time. It was out of my control. God provides in these situations and shows us that He is the most loving parent and can get by fine without us if he so desires. We are meant to depend on one another and to entrust all things to His leading, His people. Sometimes I do let another of kindred spirit, make a mark of their own on my canvas. Adding something I didn't think of that enhances. I have the God given control to do that and pursue the wisdom to know when, where and who to let contribute. 

All of this painting symbolism to get to  the point of education. I chose to home-educate mainly for this reason. I wanted to hold the brush when I could and as long as I could. Handing the brush to someone else is something I can do, if necessary, but not until then. Why would I? God gave me the vision and passion for His intentions. The process is an experience I wouldn't trade for anything.

When I see governments drawing children farther and farther from the reach of their parents, I shudder. They lure them with worldly ideas of higher intelligence, social acceptability and ease of life. Take them out of the rural settings...basics, simplicity, interdependence, hard work,  family, friendliness, natural learning spaces, individuality and the personal touch. Crowding our young into more centralized, detached learning spaces removes the environment that grows quality and uniqueness. Larger numbers of cookie cutter reprints should not be our goal for the next generation. There is nothing like and original and an original needs a personal touch, time, inspiration and love. Can we not see that this has happened before? It doesn't end well. It started with the taking of our kids' minds. Keep you children close, impart your ideas on their hearts. That is His intention. Be careful who you hand the brush over to. Let God create a totally unique image of His beauty, with the grace of your touch hidden in every stroke.






Saturday, February 28, 2015

Living in Loompaland



"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
The jury is still out on who this quote belongs to....but it is full of truth. I know people mean well, they want peace and love and harmony, and so do I. If we listen, just for a second, to one who has been dubbed in history as the wisest of Kings, a great lesson can be learned and victory over evil won. 

"There is a time for everything under the sun...a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing...a time to love, and a time to hate...a time for war, and a time for peace." Ecc 3

Think about it for a second. All of the "Do not judge"..."No one has the right to judge"...Only God can judge" comments that people say in their pursuit of peace and love are well meaning, but are somewhat unbiblical and clear the way for evil to prevail. Those who say them are also doing the exact thing they are condemning...making a judgement. It's unavoidable and necessary.

We are obviously not supposed to pass judgement on others in a proud, hurtful, uninformed and vigilante kind of way...that is a given...no argument there. God has much to say about our propensity to do that and harshly condemns that kind of behavior. I don't see a need to blog the idea and verses to support that...plenty abound. Does that mean that we must then sit back, do nothing, allow everything and wait for God to clean up evil for us? Heaven help us if we implore everyone to stop judging. You have to examine yourself to see if you are too heavy on the bad attitude side or too heavy on the free love side. As Charlie's Chocolate Factory illustrates, even the good citizens of Loompaland  knew when to put away the childlike fun and admit that it served Mike Teavee right to have been shrunk by the television.

Hitler needed to be judged. ISIS must be judged. Child abusers must be judged. Thieves, bullies, liars and selfish people must be judged. I'm guessing that dealing with a selfish child is much easier to do than to wait until he is a Hitler to deal with. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. It is impossible to do this without making a judgement. We can barely function in a world full of parents, police, lawyers and judges. Political correctness and fear of man allow evil to run rampant. How can we possibly believe that good and peace will prevail in a judgement free world? Mind boggling.

 One little, powerful, crucial verse...

"Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24

I have said it before...know the difference between the words JUDGE and JUDGMENTAL. We must have the first, but never with the latter. Our attitude is the problem, not the act of calling out a truth. Please call out the truth. The world desperately needs the truth, the truth according to the Word of God. Everything else is merely opinion...fluid and formless...insecure and useless. 

Please judge. We desperately need people to judge...but with a righteous judgement. Don't judge with opinion and a self-righteous attitude, with anger, hatred and vindictiveness, but with integrity, compassion and the fear of God. Everyone, from those appointed and sitting on thrones to mothers cradling future rulers, please speak truth while we still have the legal right to...and even after we lose that right. If we stop truthful tongues at the level of the commoner, we will stop it at the top...where the Jews and slaves were freed. It is not always the commoners' right to take action against an evil, that is what we have a judicial system for, but for Heavens' sake, use your voice, use your own life and practices to proclaim truth from a mountaintop. May your loving voice and holy behavior judge "...the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

It is not flesh and blood we are fighting. It is a cowardly, evil force that hides behind and uses our brothers and sisters to do it's biding. Remembering this helps to foster the judgmental free judging we are called to do.




Sunday, February 15, 2015

Two Shades of Pink (sorry...couldn't resist)




Color is very important to me. Not sure why, but it is. I guess that is why I love to paint. I can control and reproduce color harmony to my heart's content! It's an impotent, canvas kingdom I rule...but I love it there. Sometimes, it is too important...like on my wedding day. My bridesmaids' dresses were kind of a denim blue floral (I also have a denim obsession) and I wanted a soft peach color for the flowers. We were VERY clear to the florist...peach, NOT PINK. I also have a bit of a hate on for pink. They showed us samples...they wrote it in bold letters on the order form....they assured this dreamy bride to be with a Obsessive Color Disorder. The morning of my wedding, a garden of uninvited pink flowers arrived...with the exception of the flowers girl's bouquet...a beautiful handful of peach. Did I cry? No. Did I obsess? A little...but I overcame and didn't let the botanical tragedy ruin the day. The pictures have immortalized the visual pain and continue to remind me that this is not my home...there will be no pink in Heaven.

Ironically, my dear husband, when we first began to date, Christmas gifted me with a beautiful angora type sweater. It was pink. Not just one shade of pink, but two!! We were just getting to know each other then. He was not aware of my shadey secrets and for that reason, I wore the sweater with pride and focused on it's soft texture for comfort. Much sweater culling has happened in my closet over the years, and every time I pick up that dusty, rosey gesture of love, I return it to it's proper place...the keepsake part of my closet. Sometimes special things must be treasured in your heart rather than flaunted for the world to see. That's how I justify it anyway.

Yesterday, Valentines Day, my family and I were shopping and my 13 year old son, stealthily bought me a beautiful, single rose to surprise and nurture me. Overtaking the awesome fragrance was it's color...an unbelievably soothing peach. He wasn't at my wedding and I don't think he pays much attention to my nostalgic stories, but my husband was with him when he made the purchase. He knows me well now and his act of love, standing tall in the background did not go unappreciated. I would have loved a pink rose just as much from my sweet teen, but his father's intimate knowledge of my desires and memories was kind of a romantic message. Without a word, he said, "I remember our wedding day...and even your silliest concerns are important to me."

I have a feeling that all those pink roses of yesteryear are being replaced...one by one...year after year...until the bad visual memory fades forever. It's a tough life without a little of your favorite colors :)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Really Know Him

 
We don't know God. We think we do, but we don't. If we did, we'd be content...joyful...passionate. People would notice a difference. I think His church knows Him little better than the world, by the looks of it's fruit. When "Christians" look and act not unlike the rest, you have to wonder. Unsettled believers, I'm beginning to understand, are suffering from a delusion. We have believed in someone we don't really know. Our flesh and the Great Deceiver have successfully bound us in a relationship that isn't real and eventually, the unreal becomes unbearable. If this "Jesus relationship" is supposed to be so powerful, than why am I not at peace? It's because an impotent imposter has taken His place. We thought we knew Him and married the wrong guy. So often we believe what we want to believe. Until the obvious is too painful to continue ignoring. We've taken the word of experience and logic rather than His own Word.

Leonard Ravenhill said, "You can't say Jesus is all I need until He is all you have". We have to lose everything to gain Him. There is no other way. You can try for years, but it'll always come back to that. I'm still clinging too tightly...to something...anything. Why do I fight you for something I don't really want that to take what you give that I need???? Good question, Rich Mullins. The secret paradox of Matthew 10:39, "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

It's a stormy, cold, quiet day today. If you can, you might want to watch this amazing movie. I've watched it twice now...that's a HUGE endorsement. I rarely watch movies more than once. It really helped me understand, feel and wrestle through this truth. It's sort of a dramatic monologue, with a bit of flashback wake-me-ups throughout. I think the climax of the movie is when she lets her hair down. What do you think? She finally gets it. I want to really get it...by my actions. To let my hair down...not just in my mind, but actually.

You can watch it on Netflix.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw7pH_9E3Yc


Hope you enjoy and benefit from it as much as I have.