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Archive for October, 2019

I love my job as an educational assistant, I love seeing the students have those aha moments, those lightbulb moments when some bit of information just clicks in their brain and they get it … and they know it and you know it and a moment of mutual celebration is had …

because, for some, learning can be so hard.

and sometimes the teaching, the assisting can be so hard too.

In the work I get to do, it is so easy to get frustrated when a student’s light bulb is not flickering, when there are more uh oh than aha moments, when their academic discouragements have reached beyond their brain and into their very souls.

Recently I met a student. He entered our classroom life with the distractibility of a dog when a squirrel crosses it’s path, a body that moves constantly to the music of his mind, little verbal impulse control and a disdain for pencil to paper unlike any I have seen in sixteen years in this field.

Usually, such a student is discouraged, hates school, equates learning with failure, knows administration better than classroom teachers and their soul is irreparably crushed.

Not this dancing bear of a fourteen year old young man!

He entered our classroom moving to his own beat, with a relaxed saunter, a quick smile, a gentle heart … and his soul intact.

He seems to know that school is … just school,
it’s not the main stage event.

Now that knowledge may drive those of us who work with him rather batty, but … he has been a beautiful teacher to me, this year. It is as though God is using him to remind me to slow down, to take breaks, to allow unexpected interruptions from the subject at hand, to listen to the beat in my own mind, my heart.

Two verses, when put together, describe perfectly what I feel that God is saying to me through this gentle, distracted, ever-moving, thoughtful teenage boy:

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15) … for … “his way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” (Psalms 18:30)

In those verses we are reminded to not let discouragements over battles that are in God’s hands get to us. That there is a plan, but it’s God’s plan, not ours. That he will protect us, if we would just trust him.

This student is not ‘my’ student, he is a child of God. I am required to help him learn, but not at the cost of a crushed soul.

So as I guide this young man through math, God is using him to guide me through gentle waters. It’s like the light bulb is flickering and I have had my aha moment.

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Being a mom is hard, being a mom to littles is exhausting, being a single mom to littles … I can’t even imagine. I really cannot imagine, for theirs are shoes I have never worn, never walked in.

I recently bumped into a sweet lady that I hadn’t seen is quite awhile. She was with her kiddos … in public … you know, where the pressure is on to be the social media perfect momma.

As we sat and reminisced, with kiddo-queries in the midst, she shared that she was now single … but I already knew. I knew, not because of a (so common, it seems) social media post, or because someone else had shared the news, but because God had whispered it into my heart, months before.

To that mom, that now single mom, who I bumped into, seemingly by chance (and any others out there, single dads too, who I don’t know) …

You’re gonna make it.

You are doing the toughest job there is and you are doing it with the handicap of doing it, day in and day out on your own …

but you are not alone.

Your heavenly father is at your side, silently overseeing you and your children. He is protecting and directing you, as you face each day. He never sleeps, but stays alert at your side, while you sleep, work, fulfil all of your parenting responsibilities, your financial responsibilities … all of it.

Don’t let discouragement and exhaustion and loneliness win …

“He Who created you, and He Who formed you: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.”
Isaiah 43:1-2

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This little light of mine …
I’m gonna let it shine …

My faith in the future of followers of Christ (of all genders) has been recently bouyed from an unexpected situation that initially brought darkness like a sucker punch to the gut.

So, a situation occurred where one Christian leader (who happens to be male) made a comment about another Christian leader (who happens to be female), that she should “go home”.

It was a sad, unfortunate, unnecessary and head shaking comment that made the souls of many mourn for the darkness that fell with the words.

In my mind, I kept hearing these Jesus words:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  • life as we know it is not fair … to expect anything else is to be living in a false reality
  • Jesus has already won the battle of good vs. evil, of love vs. hate, of joy vs. sadness, of light vs. darkness

We cannot forget …
life is not fair and
Jesus has won the battle

… then the responses began … responses of support for the woman (for all women), responses of a call to action, but also responses of a theme of victimization and hate.

My stomach lurched, my head shook, the darkness grew.

Christians were posting, and blogging, and preaching …
anger, and frustration, and defeatism, and victimization.

But …

Christ was not one to cry out poor me for the injustice he was experiencing, he was not a whiner, he was not a hater. When he was arrested and his follower Simon Peter retaliated and sliced the ear of a high priest … and how did Jesus respond?

“Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

Jesus went to the cross, because that is what he had to do to save the souls of his people … that was his calling, handed down by his own father.

And our calling is to follow in his footsteps … and guess what it’s gonna be messy, it’s going to hurt, we are going to be victimized, we are going to have trouble … that we are guaranteed in his word and in his practise.

BUT, we are also
more than conquers.

While other Christians have now spoken about the pointless words and of her gender-related victimization, she (the one who the comment was directed toward) has responded in confidence of her calling and in grace, remembering that our calling is to “honor God, (and) let’s move on.”

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.” John 1:9

She just kept doing what she does, focusing on the goal, focusing on the calling, focusing on the prize … as is our example in Christ as women and men who follow his leadership.

“The enemy taunts us with whispers like, ‘You’ll never be free. You’ve tried a hundred times. You go back every time. You’re hopeless. You’re weak. You’re a failure. You don’t have what it takes.’ Every one of these statements about you is a lie if you are a believer in Christ. You do have what it takes. You have Jesus – the Way, the truth, and the Life. But you can’t just believe in Him to be free from your stronghold. You must believe Him. Believe He can do what He says He can do. Believe you can do what He says you can do. Believe He is who He says He is. And believe you are who He says you are.” (from Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Prayer).

Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine

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Every day that we awaken with inhaling the breath of life in a new day is worth celebrating. That breath (every breath) is a gift worthy of celebrating. Now when that breath comes on the day of one’s birth … it’s time for a party.

Today our family gets to celebrate our first born daughter, for today is her birthday.

As I think of who she was as a baby, a toddler, a child and who she is today, there are so many similarities. So, baby girl, let’s walk down memory lane …

As a very young child, you were always looking to see if we were looking at you, watching your actions and antics. You cared then and you care now how others see you. Perhaps this comes from that first born, people-pleasing personality. Perhaps it is an innate human need to hear someone say, “well done.”

From a very young age, you were a defender of the marginalized, from your preschool days of sticking up for a kid being excluded by others in a restaurant play area to working with street intrenched youth and women with addictions. You are one who cares for the “least of these.”

I remember the day I changed the curtains in your bedroom, when you were at preschool (you knew this story was coming). You were not happy, not comfortable with this change of decor. Appreciation of consistency, of ritual is part of who you have always been. This unique trait helps you in your work to train teen to be leaders … consistent leaders who do not change with the season, but who hold fast to foundational habits that grow integrity, trust and responsibility. You are like “a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.”

Here’s the thing, baby girl … don’t forget that your value isn’t in perfection, or what you do for others, or consistency …

your value is who you are,
because you are
a real, living soul …
dreamed and created
in and by the God of your soul.

There is nothing to do, no one to do for, and no expectation of following a prescribed method that will increase or improve your value. You are and always have been a child of God.

You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do, or what you have done, but simply because you are.” Max Lucado

Happy birthday, baby girl, we love you so very much and pray that this is the beginning of a great new year for you.

“For the Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty
gives me life.”

Job 33:4

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I awoke with a song in my heart …

and it played within me, drawing me into it’s persistent, whispered message until I couldn’t help but sing along.

When this happens, I ponder how it got there. What dream world had I emerged from that morning? What parts of life were being sifted in my mind overnight?

Was the song planted, with purpose, by my Father-God?

I cannot think it to have originated from any other.

As I allowed that song to continue to play, I absorbed it’s message to me. It is a message of praise to the king, but also of confirmation of the love that is available to us from the king of kings. When I ponder (or have it play in my mind and soul, on repeat) how amazing it is to be loved by the Creator of absolutely everything … how can I keep from singing?

How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

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A mum cannot separate her adult son, travelling halfway across the world, from the little boy who stole her heart a million years ago (okay, so maybe more like twenty, but … you get my point).

Though I wrote this post days before his departure, I know that on Friday, as he walked through the departure gate, ticket boarding pass in hand, my heart was struggling to not leap from my chest. I know that, because, as I write, I am already feeling the lump form in my throat and the tears … they slide down my cheeks.

And today (Saturday) you will touch down … Down Under.

“I am so excited for you” (I am already missing you).

“How exciting that you get to go to New Zealand” (could you choose a location farther away?).

“This will be a life-changing trip” (you will come back changed).

“You will have so many great experiences” (you won’t be with us this Christmas).

“I am going to miss you” (I am going to miss you).

Through all of my selfish thoughts and feelings, though, I cannot look at my adult son and do anything but encourage him to go and have this experience. I prayed for opportunities like this one … opportunities to stretch him, to take him to far off places, opportunities …

to know God
and to make Him known.

That is what we hoped and prayed, for him, when he still was that little boy, manipulating my heart.

So, we stay here at home, while he does what we dreamed for that little boy … that he go his way. And in his going, he will come back again to share his discoveries and joys with us. Our role now, as parents to the adult son, is to support and encourage him.

Go with God, my boy-man son.

“So now go with the wind at your back
And the sun on your face
With a song in your heart
And the promise of grace
Go in peace and in truth
And let love lead your way
Go with God”

Carolyn Arends 1999

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“Too much pride can put you to shame.
It’s wiser to be humble.”

Proverbs 11:2

We can know what it is to be humble, we can even desire it yet still our pride wins in the tug for our behaviors, our lives, for our very souls.

I learned, yet again, the truth of the numerous proverbs on humility recently (will I ever just learn it for good?).

I turned on a social media site this summer and there it was, staring back at me … pride.

Actually it was a rather serious picture of our son, sharing his plans of an education/missions trip. He shared about it, about how the first three months would be at a school and the second would be at an outreach destination to apply what he learns, in a cross-cultural experience.

Now, I am a mighty proud mama of this homebody son of mine, and his choice to go away (almost literally halfway around the world) for six months is pure sacrifice on his part (and mine …). He loves God, but this program will challenge him in ways that neither he, nor his parents, can yet imagine.

But (there’s always a but) …

I’ve gotta say I cringed when I saw his GoFundMe. I hated that he asked for money … because …

because, well …

I am proud,
(and arrogant too)

It is ridiculous for me to feel this way. I love supporting others in their choices to be brave, to go and do the challenging. I get excited to provide financial means of support to others in their willingness to go and do what I have not done, what I have not been called to. I love being able to be the encourager of that young person who is getting out of their comfort zone, to do the hard things.

So, why do I struggle when my own son asked for support?

Pride

There is no other answer by pure, human pride.

Just a few hours later, God provided a corrective for my pride. I looked at his GoFundMe and saw that people actually donated to him. People who I knew, but also people who I had only heard of or had never heard of before. He has since received supportive, encouraging and joyful contributions.

And how do I feel each time there is a new one?

Humbled … in such a good way.

My pride could have gotten in the way of my relationship with my son, my pride could have gotten in the way of those who gave, my pride could have gotten in the way of seeing how God works through his people, my pride could have gotten in the way of my learning to be humble.

In all of this, I am humbled, thankful and I know that, when we let our needs be known, God will work through the hands and feet of his people.

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Each week hubby and I are among about a dozen people, who meet one evening to discuss questions pertaining to the previous Sunday sermon, pray and enjoy time together.

This small group in our church is the first in over twenty years that hubby and I have attended together, after years of children’s schedules, ‘his’ or ‘her’ small groups, hubby leading groups or ‘we’ just not making it work we get to attend (not lead), together. It has been amazing to attend and participate in this group, as group members, not as leaders.

Sometimes people attend church for many years (like over twenty) and they don’t make the effort to attend such a group. I guess ‘they’ (we) think that they get their fill of spiritual input on Sunday, or that they (we) don’t have time.

Though it’s only been a few weeks, I’d love to share what I am learning about small groups:

  • the discussions can broaden your understanding of the Bible
  • praying for each other, even if you just met them, is such an honor
  • being prayed by others, even if you just met them (maybe especially so), is so humbling
  • it is mentally, spiritually and socially challenging and nurturing
  • it is an opportunity to experience what is meant by “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17)
  • they may be ‘small’ but they are not without value

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another …” Hebrews 10:24-25

What a joy to have re-discovered the enjoyment of attending a small group. To be in a place, with a group of others who just want to mutually learn, challenge, encourage … to spur each other on … there is truly nothing small about that.

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Thanksgiving … noun or verb?

As I was reading up on thanksgiving I was disappointed that it was a noun … simply a thing, a subject, a day. Then I came across the word in french, action de grâce. which translates, action of grace … except that it would be more like the act of giving thanks. Sounds like a verb, an action, to me … yet it is still a noun.

I’m an out-of-the-box kind of thinker, so today I am pulling thanksgiving out of the grammar box and identifying it as a verb.

This weekend, as Canadians celebrate this day (noun) we cannot do so without the action (verb) of giving thanks.

We who live in a county of freedoms (be thankful for what we have, for our apathy might lead to our loss), who have homes to live in, food to eat, jobs to work, families to love, studies to learn, recreation in which to play, health with which to live, a God to worship.

Look at all those noun-verb combinations! It is like they were meant to be together!

Fr. Sean Mullen has said:

“I believe that I can continue to try to adopt thanksgiving in my life as a verb and not a noun. This seems like a simple project, but I know it will not be: to make thanksgiving something I have to offer, not take; something I have to do, not something I merely get to enjoy. But the more I become a pilgrim of thanksgiving – journeying on that pathway from noun to verb – the more I have the sense that I am surrounded by the astonishing beauty and generosity of God’s creation.”

Maybe that is what I am trying to communicate … that the adjustment from Thanksgiving as a day (noun) full of family, and turkey, and pumpkin pie to an action (verb) that directs our mindset throughout the year away from what I get to what I do for others.

We are thankful for our homes and food, therefore we help to house and feed those who do not.

We are thankful for friends and family, therefore we invite the lonely into our lives.

We are thankful for the sacrifice of Christ for our souls, therefore we …

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
― attributed to Teresa of Avila

Let us be the action of thanksgiving in our world.

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If I think back, I can remember the moments. Answers to prayers prayed in the early hours are those memories of holding you on the sofa, by the pitch black night sky, listening to you drink your fill, smiling at your soft-skinned face, your infant head cupped in my hand. I remember saying to our Creator, begging of him, please burn this moment into my memory,

please do not let me forget this babe in my arms, when he grows up.

Scraped knees, after school snuggles, swims in the pool, football games, too many superhero movies to count, thousands of Lego pieces (all over the house), stinky teenage boy smells (yours and all your friends), shared love of chocolate and sushi, a week each summer together at camp, deep theological talks and here we are … twenty years since those feedings in the early morning hours.

Twenty says adult like no other birthday. It says it even more loudly when the birthday boy is making adult decisions … on his own. Owning up to those decisions … whether preparing for a big trip or paying a big bill.

And that is what you are, my baby boy … an adult. Gone are the days of cries for mom, gone are the days when I was the go-to for your every earthly concern … and that is just as it should be.

I am thrilled and proud of how you are adulting. I am particularly pleased that you are learning to make no promises of perfection, but you are owning up to the mistakes, the struggles, the challenges. Mister, if you could master this early in your adulting, the rest of your years will be so much richer.

I will cherish those memories with you as a babe, but I cherish even more who you are choosing to be, how you are choosing to live.

Other than I love you (I love you, I love you), there is no better message to leave you with, this birthday, than the one that haunted me throughout my entire pregnancy with you:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint
.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

Now, adult son, go run that race.

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