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Archive for May, 2014

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Wow! The month of May is almost done!

The gift of summer is just around the corner!

And speaking of gifts, the most viewed post of this week was Diamonds or Days Together.

Also this week were :

Freedom
(spring reminds us of freedom, but do we get it?)

Joy When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
(can we have joy even when life is unfair?)

A Different Learning Environment
(how a field-trip made a learner of me)

Renovations of Summer Past-Part 2
(my pièce de résistance of this renovation)

Blessings on you this day,
Carole

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A few days back I introduced you to my renovation project from last summer.

Today I will introduce my personal favorite part of the bedroom and bathroom (part of our basement suite) that I renovated for our university-aged daughter.

Instead of starting with ‘before’ pics, I thought I’d start with the ‘after’ pic.

20140529-064231-24151920.jpgI had been dreaming of creating this built-in bookcase for over a year, and I am thrilled with how it turned out.

Unfortunately my ‘before’ picture disappeared from my phone, so do your best to imagine that, originally, there was a poorly-painted bi-fold door covering this space. Behind the door was a crawl space that is under our U-shaped staircase.

The upper part backed onto the drywall of the staircase, and was about seven inches deep. I framed up three shelves and installed them (from an old wooden shelf that was falling apart … aka. it was free).

20140529-064233-24153309.jpgThe lower part took a bit more … prayer.

I knew what I wanted to do, but my funds were limited, and my skill level that of a beginner.

Thankfully, it was garbage day while taxiing my son somewhere. Thank goodness for people who put usable items out with their trash (with a ‘free’ sign on them). There, on the side of the road, was a small white bookcase. I slowed, and as soon as I started to turn, my son (who knows me SO well) said, “do you want me to put it in the back for you?” Gotta love a young man who can read your mind!

Once home I was delighted to discover that it was the PERFECT size for my space! I then went to a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (a great place to find usable building materials for cheap) and purchased four wheels (for about $4, total) to attach to the bottom of the shelf.

20140529-064230-24150199.jpgThe only thing I had to scratch my head about was how to cover the unsightly bottom. That was easily fixed by cutting the baseboard to perfectly fit the opening, then add a backing that would cover the space between the baseboard and the shelf, so that it looks like it is part of the shelf (see below and to the right of the shelf).

And that is my pièce de résistance of this renovation.

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20140528-072035-26435100.jpgRecently, one of my daughters was having a conversation with a friend who has autism.

Apparently she had asked him, “do you know what girls like?”

To which he replied, “diamonds, all girls want is diamonds.”

Not a bad generalization, for one whose diagnosis would tell us that this is not a cognitive strength.

It is a generalization that many men make, that many people make. The generalization that what people really want is something expensive, shiny, flashy. But, is that what people really want? need?

To look at life perspective, I often look at the end of life.

With a hubby whose life work is that of pastoring, I hear of deathbed experiences on a regular basis. I hear of what is desired most, what is appreciated most, what is sobbed for the most. Never has hubby come home and shared that someone died dreaming of diamonds, of fancy sports cars or expensive homes.

What they speak of is relationships.

Times spent with loved ones. Memories of vacations and dinners around the table. Memories of working on gardens and homework. Memories of Sunday drives, and a God who didn’t only mean something on the Sabbath.

What do we want to give to those who we love?

What memories do we want most to leave?

Diamonds? or days together?

“We don’t need more things.
We need more meaning.
God. is. here.
The meaning unfolds in the ordinary.
Wow. Thank you. Yes.”
Ann Voskamp

 

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Leaving the school grounds, with students is something I love to do. You see, like their ‘typical’ peers, students with special needs behave so much better off school grounds than on them. It is as though all know that school is not ‘real’, but an artificially-created society which is not reflective of life on the ‘outside’.

So, my colleague and I asked if we could go.

The school said “yes”

The parents said, “yes”

The students said, “yes”

And off we went, riding public transit into the city of Vancouver for the day.

Once out and under the sun, we wandered a bit of the city, purchased tickets and attended an educational presentation, then headed to another area to seek our lunch, wandered a bit more, then started the process back to our suburban-rural school

Our students were fully present in every point of the day.

They communicated with their mouths as well as their eyes.

They made purchases, politely, without a reminder to do so.

They cleaned their lunch garbage after eating.

They did not lose their transit passes.

They did not lose us! Or we them.

They did not make a scene, say a rude word, or pass gas loudly (not to say they did not pass gas).

The best part of the day was when one young man was making a purchase, and the final price required counting every cent in his wallet. The store owner gave him a discount on the price, to which the student said, “thank-you, that was so kind of you.”

No, the best part was sitting on a bus, two rows ahead of the teens, and hearing the two of them having a typical teen conversation.

No, the best part was hearing the two giggle with abandon.

No, the best part was all four of us running to catch our water taxi.

No, the best part was …

being away from school,

and seeing these teens, with special needs, thriving outside of those learning walls,

so that we could be the learners for a change.

 

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Working in a Christian school means each week begins with a devotional and prayer with my colleagues. There are two that have stood out to me, and their messages quite diverse.

For one, the message included the sharing of stories of really tough, bad and unfair circumstances in the lives of people dear to the one speaking.

I could relate to that devotional! Haven’t we all had times of wondering what on Earth God was thinking in allowing travesties to occur to the innocent, the unaware? Haven’t we all looked heaven-ward with more questions than answers? Haven’t we all had times of wondering where was God?

The other devotional was focused on joy, and how joy is something we can experience, on the inside, even when the circumstances of life are negative. I believe it is what the Bible refers to as “the peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

The two, for me, fit together perfectly.

The first is representative of the reality of living in this sin-filled, imperfect world.

The second is the reminder that, though our circumstances may be bad, Christ offers joy. Not a silly, trite, just put a smile on and be happy sort of joy, but a joy that we can have because God does understand the big picture. We can cry our tears of sorrow, and sadness over unfair circumstances, while still knowing that God’s hand is on every detail of the canvas of our lives.

Henri Nouwen, in his book “Here and Now: Living in the Spirit,” said it well of joy :

“Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing — sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death — can take that love away.

“Joy is not the same as happiness. We can be unhappy about many things, but joy can still be there because it comes from the knowledge of God’s love for us. We are inclined to think that when we are sad we cannot be glad, but in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn’t easy to understand, but when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience. Often we discover the joy in the midst of the sorrow. I remember the most painful times of my life as times in which I became aware of a spiritual reality much larger than myself, a reality that allowed me to live the pain with hope. I dare even to say: ‘My grief was a place where I found joy.’ Still, nothing happens automatically in the spiritual life. Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.”

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I have something to admit …

please don’t read this wrong,

please don’t read into this,

just be patient,

and I’ll explain it fully …

So, here is my admission …

I do not wish for my kids to get married.

(did I just hear music from the movie Psycho?)

Now, here is the explanation …

I am happily married,

I am glad that I married,

I am committed to my marriage,

but I do not believe that one has to be married to be

happy,

joyful,

fulfilled,

or live a life with purpose.

Purpose comes from the one who gave us breath,

gave us life.

And anything that comes after Him

is simply EXTRA icing on the cake of life.

I hope for the ‘princesses’ (and prince) in our home to hold on to the encouragement of the letter below :

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Now, all that said, I do dream that if they marry, one day, it might be to someone who is already dreaming of them.

(music from Psycho yet again)

This guest post is a video (below), and it is directed towards females, though, I hope the same of my son, and for my son. I hope that if my three marry, they would marry someone who has been loving them, anticipating their entry into his or her life from before they met. To love from the position of knowing that God is the Lord of perfect timings, and IF marriage is something in their future lives, that the primary qualifier is a mutual trust in God.

And, if marriage is not in their future, that their future can still be perfect, because every moment, of every day, is still in the hands of God.

 

 

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Truth can hurt, but, truth spoken in love can be therapeutic, healing.

In the most viewed post this week, Words Spoken into my Heart that is what I have shared about.

Also this week were :

The Sheep and the Shepherd
(hiding our burdens rather than bringing them to the light where they can be lightened and healed)

Pushing Through to Finish Well
(as summer is anticipated, we need to keep our focus on finishing what had already been started)

The Holly and the Axe
(who would have guessed that destroying something could be so uniting?)

Say Yes
(the blessing of saying yes to the opportunities that come our way)

Blessings to you this day,
Carole

 

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