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Archive for June, 2013

Normally, when I feature a guest post I spend more time introducing it than it’s content lasts.

Today is different.

I will only say that when I started reading I had not noticed who wrote it. All I knew was that I was captivated by this post … and thought that you might be too:

““I don’t have much time left, really.”

My father’s voice on the other end of the line reminds me of my grandfather’s.

It’s been nearly ten years since I heard that voice. I’m making beds. I can see Dad at his breakfast table.

“At best, maybe fifteen years. I’m on my last chapter.” He pauses and I let the empty space beckon answers.

Grandpa died at eighty. Dad will turn sixty-three this coming year.

“I need a plan. I don’t think I’ve had one.”

I pull the sheets up, smooth out the bed’s coverlet in coming light, then wait, listening to Dad think.

I’m hesitant to say anything. Best he find the way.

But I’m still, just standing here, knowing that we are moving out into hallowed ground. I wait. Then venture into the space with only a question.

“Well, how do you want that last chapter to read, Dad?”

“I want to end happy.”

I sit on the edge of the bed, sunlight warm on my back, and ask slowly, “And what do you think brings happiness?””

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Anyone who knows me knows that I

HATEdecal-no_country_music

DETEST

DESPISE

country music … So I apologize, because the song I am about to introduce is … country … heck, lets just call it folk music (somehow calling it ‘folk’ music makes it sound better to my ears).

The song “Come to the River” would seem to be inspired by John 4:13-15 …

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.””

As I’d heard the song over and over, the lyrics started to penetrate my mind, and I found myself singing along (sans twang). It certainly is a catchy tune … I almost want to line dance!

Rhett Walker is not a man who has always had his ‘stuff’ together. As a sixteen year old, who frequently got into fights, used drugs, and had a pregnant girlfriend, he had to make a choice to either keep on the current path or step it up.

“He stepped up. “It was like, Man, what am I doing?” he remembers. “I’ve still got my senior year left, but I’ll have to leave this religious school where I’m high most of the time anyway. My girlfriend’s having a baby, and I have no job. I finally sat down with April, who is now my wife, and said: We’ve done everything wrong that we possibly can. Let’s do everything right from here on out.” Rhett and April got married. He rededicated his life to God, and she accepted Jesus for the first time. He got a diploma, and she made their $300-per-month apartment into a home. They welcomed a daughter, Rileigh, and became active in church where Walker began leading worship.” ( http://www.rhettwalkerband.com )

The realities of his life, his mistakes, and the redemption that he received from Christ is expressed in a very real and tangible way through his folksy music.

… and thirst no more …

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Cleaning and purging the other day, I came across this picture of a young girl who we supported through a child sponsorship program. I smiled when I saw it, for that picture of that darling girl brought back memories of blessing and sorrow.

Since before we met, my hubby has had a child who he supported monthly. We continued with child sponsorship throughout our marriage until we had our own personal financial crises in the early years of the new millennium, and had to discontinue sponsorship while we got our financial house in order.

It was not an easy thing to discontinue that sponsorship. We took our responsibility seriously, and felt the weight of letting down the child we had been sponsoring.

A few years later, our situation had improved greatly, and our financial foundation was more solid. Hubby and I had discussed, one night, the possibility of taking on another child to sponsor. So it surprised me when, just days later, a call came to our home from that same child sponsorship program.

The call went like this:

“Hello Mrs. Wheaton (this is usually a good time to hang up, but the caller had already identified herself as from this familiar humanitarian organization), we had in our records that you had requested that we call at this time to see if you would be in a position to re-join our child sponsorship program?”

Me: What timing! Yes, we would love to support a child again.

“Do you want to support a girl or boy?”

Me: The gender does not matter (how can the gender matter? I had no choice in the gender of the children God placed in my womb, I would not prefer one over the other to sponsor).

“Okay, we have a little girl here. Her name is Felicite Daigue, and she is from the Republic of Chad (a country in the center of northern Africa).”

Me: I am just curious, what is her birth date?

“October 10, 1995”

This is where my knees buckled.

Dates have always been an area of significance for me, nothing ‘magical’ just meaningful. This particular date, October 10, 1995, had great significance for me. It was on that very date that our last pregnancy loss occurred. An ectopic pregnancy that also reduced our chances of conceiving again (and yet, two children were born following this event).

I was thrilled to have been given Flelicite to support with our money, and with our prayers. I felt as though God had hand-picked she for us, and us for she … perhaps even the day she was born.

Then, months later, we received a letter from the organization through which we sponsored Felicite:

“We have recently received some sad news about Felicite Daigue that we wanted to convey to you personally. However, we were unable to reach you by telephone to share the information given to us by our overseas office. According to our staff in Chad, Felicite has passed away. The project reports that she died as the result of a snakebite. he was taken to hospital but the treatment was unsuccessful.”

At the young age of just eight, Felicite’s life here on earth was ended.

But final months of her life were ones that were filled with hope. Hope from another part of the world, from people who she would never meet, hope through an organization whose vision is to give hope to the hopeless, the forgotten, the injured.

I believe in child sponsorship. I believed in it before Felicite, I believe in it even more now. The following is an article out of Christianity Today (June, 2013), written by Bruce Wydick, professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, who researched the impact of child sponsorship.

“What can an ordinary person like me do to help the poor?” When people find out at parties and social gatherings that I am a development economist (and yes, we economists do attend such events), often they ask me this question. For a long time my response was the same: “Perhaps sponsor a child?”

I suppose I gave this answer because I myself sponsored a child, and if I was supposed to know something about helping the poor, I should encourage people to do what I was doing. After all, child sponsorship makes sense: By focusing on youth instead of adults, it aims to nip poverty in the bud, providing children in the developing world access to education, health services, and, in some programs, spiritual guidance. But over time my autopilot response started to annoy me. The truth was that I hadn’t the slightest clue about the effect child-sponsorship programs had on children …”

Continue reading Want-to-change-world-sponsor-a-child

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Sitting at a wedding recently, the ‘love chapter’ was read.

1 Corinthians 13 is a pretty common passage read at weddings, after all a wedding is all about love, and this passage certainly fits the bill.

There is a portion of the reading that always catches my ear, my thoughts …

“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”
(v. 4-7)

Whenever I hear those words read at a wedding ceremony, my ‘experienced’ married brain of twenty-three plus years, thinks, ‘they have no idea what love is, no idea how difficult it will be to keep loving.’

Now I don’t mean to be so negative at such a special event. It’s just that … well, after twenty-three plus years in the marital trenches I understand that soon the firing will start and both of those individuals who ‘love’ each other will be experiencing what it is to be shell shocked.

Let’s unpack this!

“Love is patient,
Other than the fashionably late bride, has there really been much practice of patience before they say ‘I do’?

love is kind.
Being kind might be more difficult when he is sick, and she is PMS’ing (so I’ve heard).

It does not envy,
What happens when one is experiencing great success at their career, and the other is experiencing a time of stagnation?

it does not boast,
Sometimes this is heard in phrases like, “my mom makes much better turkey stuffing” or “my dad always filled the gas tank for my mom.”

it is not proud.
“my chair,” “my remote,” “my chocolate,” “my money,” “my body” … just put ‘my’ in front of it and you’ve got pride.

It does not dishonor others,
They have not had time to tell their private stories, of the other, to their girlfriends, their guy friends.

it is not self-seeking,
Lets face it, in the beginning, a relationship is truly born out of self-seeking. They meet the needs of each other, and it is in the meeting of needs that their attraction for the other grows. The difficulty is that we often ignore this part of the passage, as soon as it is said. When, in realty, it should be on our lips, and in our minds from sun up ’til bedtime at night. I really believe that if we can drop self-seeking in the early days, we might have a better chance of staying together. How many couples, years (or months) after the marriage say, “but, they don’t meet my needs anymore …”?

it is not easily angered,
On the wedding day, it is easier to not be easily angered … there has been no anniversary to forget, or in laws to insult.

it keeps no record of wrongs.
This is sooooo much easier in the beginning, when there has not yet been enough time to have wronged each other, when there is so little baggage to make you say things like, “but, you always do …”

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
At the beginning of a marriage both individuals are filled with hope for the future (otherwise why would they do it?), they are not anticipating the negative, the nasty.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”
These are the optimistic four! Can the couple keep protecting, trusting, hoping … can the couple persevere through all of the stuff of real, honest to goodness living together … ’til death do them part?

I’m not saying a newly married couple knows nothing of love, just that newly married love is often untested, untried. It is only as the years pass that love will really be defined and purified in how they love each other …

and the greatest of these (faith, hope and love) is

love.

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A prayer for this summer …

Because we could all use a prayer …

to give us hope,
to give us dreams,
to give us direction.

Dear God,
Thank-you for summer …
for it’s heat
for it’s light
For warm nights
and bright early mornings
Thank-you for the unique rhythms of each day
and the bright stars at night
For the days at the beach
and the days cleaning a closet
For the times with friends and family
and for the times with only You
For the meals juicy and tender off the grill
and the marshmallows burnt to a crisp
For the summer parties
and the lazy days
For adventures in places near
and trips to places which are far.
God,
Please great me these things, this summer :
refreshment from my soles to my soul
challenges to make me stretch
memories with my babes
joy with my love
and excitement to start the insanity all over again in September

Oh, and soft rains to fall asleep to at night.

Amen

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As it was past 10:30pm when I sat down to write, and my brain cells were simply comatose I have done what I do not often do … I re-posted a blog post from the past. This one came easily to mind as I had been in communication twice today with moms of kids with special needs. It is these moms who I most admire. Let me explain …

I am a mom, and I am a special education assistant … but it was becoming a mom was what gave me a better understanding of the people I would be called upon to assist … the students and their families.

In my job I am very aware that God has entrusted ‘my’ students:

first, to their parents …

and w a y down the line, to me.

I am also aware, because I am a mom, that I do not know what is best for them … God didn’t entrust the students to me first.

I am not always right … ask MY kids!

I work with ‘my’ students about six and one half hours a day, for a year, maybe two or three … their moms are with them for life.

To be a mom of a child with special needs means living with public scrutiny, public embarrassment and public shame.

To be a mom of a child with special needs means living with a large host of professionals who ‘are better educated’ about your child’s ‘needs’, than you.

To be a mom of a child with special needs means constantly having to hear what is ‘wrong’ with your child.

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.

I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”

Mother Teresa

But …

To be a mom of a child with special needs also means …

being a mom to a son or daughter

who you have dreams for

(what good mother doesn’t?)

who you have fears for

(what good mother doesn’t?)

who you love, with that unconditional love that is called ‘Momma Love’

(what good mother doesn’t?)

PERIOD!

I remember well the day I realized how heavy the weight can be to be a mom of a child with special needs. The mom was bringing her daughter to school, and I asked how the new ‘special’ air mattress for her child was working. The mom’s reply was that she had just had her first full night’s sleep in YEARS. Now I do not mean one or two years … this ‘child’ was about sixteen years old …

Then there is the mom with a child who, as a toddler, would sit still on a blanket when out at the park. And the other moms of toddlers would tell her how ‘lucky’ she was that she didn’t have to run around after him … when, inside, she so wished that her son would need her to run after him.

Then there is the mom whose son is mostly non-verbal, and can be violent and aggressive. She spends most waking hours ensuring that she knows where he is, as he is a flight risk. When her son does express affection, adoration and love it is never to or for her, because her son only has eyes for other males.

Then there is the mom who spent many years doing homework with / for her son, so that he would not be embarrassed that his work was obviously ‘inferior’ to that of his classmates.

Then there is the mom who has taken on the task of raising the special needs child of another woman. And that child’s special needs are the direct result of the actions of the child’s birth mother.

Then there is the mom, whose child has been so discouraged by teachers, leaders and other adults that don’t ‘believe’ his diagnosis, preferring to think that this student is simply ‘lazy’. And this child, so beaten down by the bad attitudes of some teachers, leaders and adults in his life that he has chosen to be viewed as bad over being seen as stupid. And his mom has picked up the phone far too many times to hear the school principal’s voice to tell her of another antic causing harm to people or property.

And then the mom of the child with Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21) who NEVER goes out in public, with her child, without facing strangers staring at her child …

“Hey, keep staring at me and you just might cure my disability.

Then we can work on YOUR social skills.”

Anonymous

How many of us, as parents, as moms, have said, ‘I wish my son, my daughter could stay a baby forever’? To the mom of many special needs children, that wish of yours can be like a curse to them. As they might have a child who will never live independently, or have a job, or learn to drive, or learn to count, or be toilet trained.

I like to think that I have thick skin, but I know that mine is nothing compared to the mom of a child with special needs.

For anyone out there who is the mom of a child/children with special needs, may you know that …

I don’t know more than you, about your child

I don’t look at your child as a disability to our society

I don’t look down at you

I don’t know how you feel

… and there are many more, who feel the same way.

All that to say, I just wanted to give you some positive ‘air time’. And to tell you, that if I have worked with your son or daughter, I have respected, appreciated and prayed for you …and may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

“Perseverance is not a long race.

It is many short races one after another.”

W. Elliot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I love receiving gift cards … especially to coffee shops! They just seem such decadent gifts to receive. They allow me to drive-through for a favorite drink, or take one of my daughters out for a treat … and it is free for me. The best thing is, it is the gift that just keeps on giving, because usually there is still a balance on the card to use at another time.

Recently I was reminded of what gift is better than a coffee gift card.

The other day, a student was excited to see me as he walked into the front doors of the school. I stopped to greet him. With a million dollar smile all over his face, he said he had something for me. An end of the year, thank-you card was placed into my hand. It was handwritten by him … “Mrs. Weaton” written in one corner … his Mom did not help with this card (my last name is spelled Wheaton).

I have to say, seeing the misspelling of my name made me more eager to open and read what was inside, but I was in a bit of a hurry to reach another destination, and had already chatted longer than the time I had. We said our good-byes, and I promised to see him later that afternoon.

I could not wait to open the envelope, and read what he had written inside.

When I did finally have the opportunity, his words filled me with pride in how well he communicated, how neat was his handwriting, how specific the events of the past school year he communicated.

His note was full of reminders (to me) of what he and I, and others, had shared this school year. Even though our schedules were such that we shared so little time together this year, we had shared so much with the little time availed to us.

I smiled as I absorbed each word, my heart filling with each deposit.

My deposits to him were born out of a pay cheque … his deposits to me were born out of thankfulness.

My deposits to him came from my strengths … his deposits to me were born out of his weaknesses.

My reason for working with him was his disability … his reason for writing this note was his abilities.

The words of Paul (2 Corinthians 12: 9) came to my mind, after reading this precious note:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

This note, full of memories and thanks, is far better than any gift card … it is truly the gift that keeps on giving … because there is always a balance still left on this card.

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The final chapel for the school year reminded me that it was my final chapel at high school.

In September I will enter the doors of the Middle campus, rather than the high school campus. I will be working in grade 8, helping students prepare to enter high school, rather than helping them prepare to leave high school. I will be looking at students in-the-eye, rather than looking up to them … well, at least in September … by January, I will be looking up at them!

That final chapel seemed so … final. Each face on the screen (it was an awards chapel) reminded me that these students would not be in and out of my every day next school year. Each student in the row I sat … the homeroom of students who I have delighted in … reminded me of the great efforts (and vast amounts of candy) it took to get to know each … in those rare homeroom blocks, in the halls, in the classrooms, to earn their trust. Each memory of this past year refreshed as though I could almost reach out and touch them, as they had touched me.

I was feeling rather melancholy.

Had I made the right decision?

Had I thought this through?

Had I opted to give up too much?

Was I running away?

What would my students do without me?

And it was that last question to myself that was the head shake, the face palm that I needed.

I am SO not indispensable, SO not the only one able to meet the needs in the lives of the students.

I am the hands and feet of learning, of processing, of developing, of advancing and … of God. I am His instrument, His tool, and I work best with students when I acknowledge that I am in His control, and that I am fulfilling His plans … not my own.

I know with certainty that God loves these students, whether ones I work within on my schedule, ones I’ve gotten to know about in my home room, or just ones who I said hi to in the halls. And He loves them more than I do. His good will for them is not dependent on me sticking with them throughout their school years, it is dependent only on Him, and His plan for their life, for their days.

I was also reminded that He has a plan for me too. And that His plan is not dependent on what decisions I make, His plan is only dependent on His will … and I can rest in the assurance that He has the final word on my future.

“Change is in the air.
This change reminds us that we are made and beautifully sculpted
by the same power that orchestrates the change of season.
Let this be the season you embrace and align yourself with this change.”
Steve Maraboli

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It all started with a desire to purge my house of ‘stuff’ we no longer use … and now it is an addiction.

We had this delightful dining table and four chairs. About twenty two years ago I had purchased it at a yard sale for $80. Although I loved it, it got rep20130617-215359.jpglaced, moved to our suite, painted four times, reupholstered twice, then moved to our living room for games and puzzles. I realized we simply were not using it, so off it went (within a day of being posted on Craigslist) to a new home … and I was $80 richer.

Then there were the two chairs that I had bought for $12, to go with that dining table. They were not a perfect match, but with matching paint and upholstery fabric they worked. The same person paid $10 more to take them too.

20130617-214319.jpgThen I sold our ten-year old sectional sofa. I loved its look, but the micro-fibre fabric was wearing very thin in many places, and looking so very ratty! So to Mr. Craigslist I returned, and in days it was gone and I had $100 in my pocket.

On the same weekend that the above items were sold I made a couple of great purchases via Mr. Craig; a leather sofa for $60 and a 7-foot Ikea desk for $60.

Now I am hooked!20130618-214516.jpg

To have gotten rid of the things we no longer wanted, and made money to purchase what we did want has motivated me to keep going (aka. the first part of this summer will be spent purging our household of what we do not need).

Not only do these purchases allow me to purchase desired or needed items at great prices, but the ‘income’ from the sales of our ‘unneeded’ items goes into my ‘summer renovation/home improvement’ savings.

This summer, with my renovation fund, I am hoping to replace flooring in a bedroom of one of our daughters, and redecorate it with board and batten, and a fresh coat of paint.

Actually I would love to replace the flooring in three bedrooms this summer … but Mr. Craig has not been that successful for me … yet!

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A number of weeks back I read an article titled, as this post is titled, “It Matters Who You Marry,” and as I read it I I found my head nodding in agreement with the message it presented.

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Working in a high school I see the budding of ‘love’ down every hallway I walk. I see girls admiring the guys who can entertain a crowd, who have fancy cars and fancy clothes, the guys who are amazing athletes and who are ‘cute.’ As an older ‘girl’ with a few more years life (and fat cells) under my belt, I find myself shaking my head as I view the sights. I wish that there were some way of communicating to these girls that the pattern of their interest in guys now, will create a template for their life partner choice later down the road.

But, I know that for most of us, it is experience that is the best teacher. And so I just hope that they learn it young, and that the experience does not break them totally. I hope too that for each one, there might be a person who will speak into their lives with love, and grace, and gentleness … and honesty.

I encourage you to click on the link, following a portion of the article, written by Rebecca VanDoodewaard (RVD). Maybe it will encourage you to be that person in the life of a young woman, who helps her through the minefield of choosing who to date … and why.

“My husband and I were once with a youth group. There were three kids sitting across from us at a meal: two guys and a girl. The one guy was a computer geek with glasses. The other one was a college student with slightly cooler hair and no glasses. The girl was obviously with him. But while the computer geek was busy serving everyone at the meal, clearing plates and garbage, the college student got angry with the girl for a small accident and poured red juice over her leather jacket and white shirt. She picked the wrong guy, and the juice didn’t seem to change her mind. She is in for some grief if that relationship continues and especially if it leads to marriage.
 
So to all the young, unmarried Christian girls out there, listen up: who you marry matters. You might think that the way he treats you isn’t so bad. It’s not going to get better after the wedding. You might think that he’ll change. It’s possible, but most don’t. You might think that you’ll be able to minister to him and help him. Possibly, but if you can’t now, you won’t then, and you will be at risk yourself. A husband should lead and cherish you, not need your counsel for basic personality or behavior issues.
 
Unless someone married is very frank with you, you can’t understand how much a husband will impact your entire life. Next to salvation there is no other long term event that will change so many areas of your life so deeply. Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living.”
 

Click on The Christian Pundit to keep reading.

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