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Archive for June, 2015

 

It’s Monday … did you get yourself to church on the weekend?

The image and quote, above, remind us not to go to church, but to be the church, in order to achieve change in our world.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you will know that I do hold to that belief. You will know that I do not see church as a social club, where people attain a group of friends who they spend all of their recreational time with. You will know that I believe that we need to also spend time with those who might not darken the door of a church, who have been hurt by life, by the church, as sharers of the light of Christ.

But …

I do go to church (and not just because I sleep beside one of the pastors there), and I do believe the habit of going to a church, being part of that community, using our gifts to contribute to the body of believers, together worshiping one God, studying the Bible as a group are all vital contributors to my growth as a believer in Christ.

You see, going to church might not change the world, but …

it changes me.

Sure, I could study the Bible on my own (actually, anyone who has studied the Bible to teach or preach from it will tell you that personal study is the best study), I could give my resources of money and time to Christian community work, I could spend time with Christian people,

but …

if I am not practicing the habit of going to church to experience corporate worship, prayer and learning, I am a deficient Christian. I am deficient in my soul’s need to know I am not alone, to know there are others who believe the same things, pray for each other and worship together.

“But it is you,
a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked among the worshippers.”
Psalm 55:13-14

 

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Our final staff meeting of the school year ended with a prayer, but before that, a poem:

“There is a day
when the road neither
comes nor goes, and the way
is not a way but a place”
Wendell Berry

For me, summer break began today. The joys and delights of rest, recreation and refreshment are now at my fingertips. Time is on my side, as living for the clock has been replaced with living for the sake of living.

As we all know, these times of vacation, and the delights associated with them are not an indicator of displeasure with our life’s work, but a need to change perspective so that we might have fresh and clearer focus when we return to our jobs, our professions, our work.

I have such plans for this summer …

refinishing furniture and selling it

tending my garden, my roses, each morning

more exercising

cleaning closets

painting bedrooms

finding more furniture to refinish, to sell

I am feeling tired just writing my plans …

But …

“There is a day
when the road neither
comes nor goes, and the way
is not a way but a place”

Maybe my plans, your plans, need further consideration. Maybe our plans for down time ought to actually include down time. Maybe the road we should consider traveling this summer is one without destination (or accomplishment). Maybe the only direction we need is to breath, to be still, just for a little while.

He says,
be still and know that I am God.”
Psalm 46:10

 

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In the deli of life, I am the deli meat.

My parents, they share the middle with me … they are the fixings.

My children, they are one end … one slice of bread.

My grandparents, they are on the other end … the other slice of bread.

As I look at the lifetime of my grandparents, I see a life that was marked by waiting … for everything! If they wanted strawberries, they had to wait for summer. If they wanted to hear a certain song on the radio, they had to wait for it to play (if they even had a radio). If they wanted to purchase something, they had to wait until they had earned the money needed to pay for it. If they wanted to connect with their family members in the ‘old country’ they had to write a letter, mail it, and then wait for their response. If they wanted cut flowers in a vase, they had to wait for them to bloom, and if it was winter, there were no cut flowers.

Waiting was the norm in the lives of my grandparents.

As I look at the lives of my kids, and those of their generation, I see everything and anything as instant.

If they want strawberries, they can drive to a store, pay with a credit or debit card (even if there is no credit available, as there is always overdraft), and be chowing down on their hearts desire in about ten minutes. If my kids want to connect with their cousins on the other end of the country, they send a text, an email. If they want to hear a certain song, they search for it on the web and listen to it.

Waiting has not been the norm in the lives of my kids.

My kids are not alone, and they have missed out on an important understanding, that waiting, or to wait, is a verb … it is an action word. Waiting is not a time of nothing, but a time of preparation, of anticipation.

As a mom of young adults, and one who works in a high school, I have noticed a switch in thinking from the generations before. Those who have been brought up in this society of instant fulfillment, instant gratification, have a gap in their learning, for they have missed the value of waiting.

Disclaimer …
If you are reading this and you think I am simply pointing my finger at a younger generation in that stereotype way that older generations have been known to do, please know that my finger is pointing back at myself (and my generation). We have grown up in the middle of wait and no wait. We have become the generation who needs Weight Watchers, debt consultants, and divorce lawyers … we/I have problems too!

An area that seems to be, frequently, not waited for is intimacy.

This is not unexpected in those who do not profess a faith and life in Christ, but there is a very real shift, among Christians, to just do it.

The good thing is that (unlike my generation, who tried to hide it) this generation is doing it, and are not hiding their actions.

The bad thing is that there is much that is missed by not experiencing the action of waiting.

And this is so NOT just for girls! For guys are missing out too.

Sexual intimacy and relational (that’s the heart type) intimacy involve more than just the body, mind and heart. These forms of intimacy also involve the souls, and are best experienced in a covenantal relationship. A covenantal relationship is one where there is mutual agreement, mutual responsibility. In regards to the covenantal marriage relationship, it is intended to be safe, mutually beneficial, healthy and ended only at death.

Though I am not sure how to turn the tide of Christian singles choosing to not participate in the action of waiting, I do believe we need to somehow convince this generation that vintage is best when it comes to our bodies and souls.

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First off I want to say that I believe that moms of young kids (birth to the beginning of kindergarten) have the most difficult job in the world. They are at the mercy of their children when it comes to sleep, exercise, eating and taking a shower. Their job is 24-7 with rarely a bathroom break, let alone vacation.

As I look back, those were the most difficult, the most tiring, the most stressful parenting years so far.

So, as you read what follows, please keep what is stated above, in mind.

When generations before me, were moms of young children, and we had one of those days, we would debrief with another mom, our hubbies, or our own moms. That debriefing was, and is, an important survival tactic when our children are young. We need to talk it out, seek solutions and maybe even simply gripe about our really bad, horrible, no good day, so as to purge it from within ourselves. That is a good thing.

The moms of today have another means of debriefing from the difficulties of child rearing … social media, and, specifically, FaceBook.

The exception of a bad day (or week, or ever phase) can lead us to seek the easiest methods of getting the tension, the frustration and the heartache out of our systems, and FaceBook can be that quick and easy method of purging.

Unfortunately, what is easy to forget, when we are posting our frustrations with our kids (or husbands, or other family members, or bosses) is that what we post today, is forever in print.

Let me repeat that:

what we post today, is forever in print.

Imagine your now cranky toddler, one day a grown teen/adult searching your name on the web … what words will they see, written by mom (or dad) about them? What message will they receive? What legacy are you leaving them?

Please know, I KNOW how difficult parenting can be, especially in those years of vomit, toilet training, items being flushed down the toilet, sleepless nights, bad attitudes, and embarrassing things repeated back to just the wrong person at just the wrong time. But, moms (dads), do we want our temporary frustrations to draw a word picture of how we feel about our kids to be interpreted by our child when they are adolescent? teen? young adult Psychology student (now that is pressure)?

You’ve got the most difficult job in the world, but I know you don’t want the temporary frustrations of today to shadow the beautiful relationships with your kids in years to come … that’s the prize for the struggles of today 😉

May those of you, who are struggling in the trenches today, have someone you can call, text, email or private message, to unpack the frustrations you feel. And may you know that it really doesn’t last forever!

 

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A love story should never be a love triangle.

I never knew, when she and me met, that she would be the third point, creating a love triangle.

I knew her first, and, though it began as a selfless love, it did not take long for my affections for her to come between he and me. He rejected her, despised her, refused the affections she had for he … and he for she.

Despite the fact that she loved he, she seemed to do so many destructive things which only increase the hatred he felt for she.

His rejection of she, I saw as a rejection of me. Thus it was difficult to be we when there was she.

I felt so torn, so disappointed, so hurt. How could he not appreciate she, knowing that, for me, she was so important. 

She felt the rejection of he, yet patiently, never holding a grudge, it was he who she loved most.

What was I to do with she? I could not send she away, as she needed me. I could not send he away, as I was bound to him.

And so, for many years, I walked a thin line, danced a difficult dance, feeling torn between my affections for he and she.

Recently, though, the health of she has been in decline. She struggles to walk, to eat, to sleep through the night. Her youthful beauty has faded into signs of aging in every part of her body.

And now, as she struggles with most functions of living, he has softened towards her.

She has now been invited into places of our home, previously banned. She has even been invited into our bedroom, often sleeping at his side.

He now shows signs of kindness, of affection, as he takes her outside to enjoy the fresh air, as he works in the garden.

And sometimes, he even pets her head, her face, as she looks lovingly up at him.

Now the tension of this love triangle is reduced, and we three can simply care for each other.

This is a love triangle I enjoy.

  
 

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eyeThe game of road trips for generations of families is still the best … “I spy with my little eye something that is …”

Our eyes are said to be the gateway to our souls … that which goes into them also shows out of them … love, pain, strength, weakness, tragedy and delight.

As I look at the image of my own eye (above) I am remembering a post I wrote about a year ago, Getting a HANDle on Aging. In that post I wrote of how the aging-related changes to my hands are changes that are taking some getting used to, as they are, truly, the most accurate declarer of my true age (and today I am thirty-nine with FIVE years experience … yikes).

But my eyes …

Their aging causes a very different reaction for me.

My daughters thought I had totally lost it, when I asked one of them to take a close up of the wrinkles and lines around my eye. But I knew that it would be a photo I would appreciate far more than one of any other part of my body.

The color of my iris can still be altered by the colors I wear. The lashes still benefit from mascara to provide the illusion of more than actually exists (thanks to an inquisitive mind and a pair of scissors when I was a child). They communicate more clearly than my words. Their ability to see is still functional without specs (although that day is coming quickly). They are able to see what others do not show, do not say, do not share.

What do I spy … with my aging eye?

I spy a life of blessing.

I have seen my parents eyes reflecting pride when I graduated high school, college and got married. Their eyes of loss when hubby and I moved out of town, out of province. Their eyes of delight when I brought home each of their grandchildren.

I have seen my hubby’s eyes as I turned the corner when I walked down the aisle to vow to love, honor and obey … ’til death. His weeping when our first child (and four more later) miscarried, and when our three were born healthy and whole. His shared wonder when God would provide for us, as no human could. His eyes of confusion and frustration when I said and did things that hurt him, disappointed him, frustrated him.

I have seen the newborn faces of our three children. The first steps of each. The looks of wonder as they experienced the world around them. The first times they have been hurt. The many times that they forgave my mistakes (and forgot them immediately). The moments of great childhood successes, and the times of desperate loss.

My soul is blessed.

One day I will look into the eyes of my Savior, my Redeemer, my Lord … what a glorious day that will be!

Eye spy … still the best game of the generations.

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 This past Friday I was honored to speak to the graduates of the school that my kids have attended, and I where I work. The following is (with the exception of memories of specific teachers, replaced with what was omitted) what I said, as I spoke to the grads, on behalf of the staff. I will miss this group SO!

Psalm 40:5 tells us, “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you have planned for us”

And in the words of author Jane Austen, “This is an evening of wonders, indeed.”

I speak to you on behalf of the entire staff of this school; the custodians, administrators, coaches, international co-ordinators, educational assistants, office staff, secretaries, librarians and technicians, and councilors, and each staff member is cheering you on.

With the exception of a certain redhead, whose momma will make her remember, most of you will never remember who spoke at your graduation ceremony, or what they said. Still I am honored to speak to you this evening.

I have always felt a certain fondness for this class. I was there, as a mom, when many started kindergarten. In grades 7-12, I was there as and Educational Assistant, experiencing the learning and boredom of classrooms, hearing your secrets (oh yes I did, and I will be offering those secrets to your parents later … for the right price). Many of you have been at my home, eaten at my table, peed in my pool. I have scolded you, listened to you, hugged you … I have felt more like my job title with you was class mom, than EA.

Just three weeks ago, I sat in chapel, beside my co-worker, and two of my favorite grads, one who turned to me and did the Loser sign on his forehead … because sometimes love comes in the form of a capital L on the forehead. 

I started feeling reflective.

As a grad class, you are athletes (in and out of school), writers, artists, techies, scientists, activists, poets, foodies, mathematicians, musicians, theologians, gamers, historians, dancers, those involved in textiles, theatre, automotive, debating, woodworking, and social causes.

You are all uniquely created, with specific needs and strengths.

For most, if not all of you, the choice to attend LCS was not your own, but that of someone in your life who wanted you … their kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, to appreciate that God is present and interwoven in everything from literature, to sciences, to automotive, to art, to history, as all of creation reflects the Creator.

It is our hope that you leave here with a better understanding of how the sacred absorbs the secular. How making a loaf of bread, acting on stage, fixing an engine, doing work experience, writing a poem, calculating math problems, can be an expression of God within you.

Although you may have been reminded directly and indirectly of the presence of God in our world, the context of school, even a Christian school, is such that you might be ready to walk away from our school feeling that you have received more judgment, than acceptance. If that is the case, this is what I, what we, want you to know.

God loves you.

CS Lewis has said,

“The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.” CS Lewis 

Like the Hound of Heaven (a poem I encourage you to read), God will pursue all of your life, for He who began a good work in you, will continue His work until it is finished.

May you leave here tonight knowing that He loves you, and may you leave here tonight not running from Him, but running the race with Him.

And now, if the grads would please stand, as I offer a blessing to you.

This is the blessing that God gave to Moses, to bless His chosen people:

“The Lord bless you,

and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn His face toward you

and give you peace.”

Amen

 

  

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