Monday, 20 July 2015

Why Community Matters

 
I dropped off almost 60 thank-you notes at the post office today… and there were tears welling up in the corners of my eyes as I wrote each one.  We were overwhelmed, literally overwhelmed, with the support we received from friends and family in the weeks following Teli’s accident.
Honestly? We would have made it through these past six weeks.  I can see that now.  We would have made it home from the hospital that awful first night.  We would have found sustenance without meals being dropped off.  We would have filled the hours without the movies and toys we were blessed with.  But the fact that we didn’t have to was perhaps the greatest gift we could have ever imagined – and yet never known to ask for.  Community is one of the most precious gifts our father in heaven has given us.  And He shows us how much this matters to Him when he tells us “to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
 
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say even if you don’t know what to do – do something.  Because showing compassion is never the wrong response. And it matters.  I had one friend who messaged me almost daily and told me she would pop in when I was ready.  She knew that I probably needed some space to figure things out.   She was right.  And I appreciated it.  I had another friend who just showed up on three different occasions and told me to leave the house I had otherwise been confined to while she watched my kids.  She just showed up - because she knew I would never ask for this.  And she was right.  These were completely opposite responses and yet both were bang on. It doesn't matter how we respond to suffering - just that we respond. Because each unique response fills in a gap and weaves together a beautiful tapestry of God's provision for us.  The master creator still at work, in His perfect time.
 
I, personally, will probably never again say the words “Let me know how I can help” because now that I have been on the other end, I know that sometimes help is hard to ask for.  Sometimes you just scream at your spouse across the entire acre of your property because you haven’t slept well in 10 days and you feel like you are about to snap.  You don’t know how anyone else could help so you don’t ask.  But when you realize that you have a community around you that truly cares… it changes everything. 
 
  Something amazing and beautiful happens when love becomes a verb. 
Loneliness dissipates, facades crumble, hearts knit together, the sun shines a little bit brighter,
creation responds with new life and the entire host of heaven applauds.
 Everything we do matters… but love matters most of all.
 
So, I will say it again, from the bottom of our hearts - thank you for loving on us.  Thank you for reminding us that we weren’t alone.  I hope the ripple effect of your “love-in-motion” reaches all the way around and back to you.  And, most assuredly, our family plans to be a part of that ripple. :)

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Grace Enough

So... this happened.

I've finally given up on sleep for tonight... because my heart hasn't stopped racing yet... and for the cries that break the silence every 45 minutes as my not-even-three-year-old exits a sleep cycle and remembers again, the fall, the fear, the pain, the immobilization...

Deep, deep breath momma.

He's not even three.

He will eventually forget... even if I never do.

But maybe, if I write it down. Right now. I'll think back and instead of the gory details I will remember that which is truly and always most important...

Grace.

The kind of grace that says this is nobody else's fault and there is no room for guilt here... not even a little bit. 

Grace that allows a spouse to handle the stress and fear of it all however they need to. It doesn't have to mirror mine, it doesn't have to make sense.  It just has to happen... hopefully without the next world war breaking out in ER room A7.

Grace from the paramedics, nurses and team of doctors that put my son back together again.  Truly, they were so gracious with us.

Grace from the friends and family who showed up in some way. We love you.

Grace that reminds me it could have been worse... thank you God that it wasn't worse.

Grace that heard the gut-wrenching cries every 45 minutes and got up to soothe him back to sleep.

Grace to bury my head under the pillow to drown out those cries after I realized I wasn't helping.

Grace all around.

And thank God...

There's enough.



Thank you for your prayers... seriously.  Thank you so much. Telis is in a cast for the next 4-6 weeks and we won't be able to leave the house at all.  It's going to be rough, but... there's grace for that too. He would love some visitors. He also loves Thomas... and Veggie Tales ;)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Remembering Daddy's Soup

A fresh pot of homemade beef barley soup is in on the stove and the kitchen is clean again... finally, a contented sigh and I can sit on the couch with my little guy.  He watches Thomas, and my thoughts drift back to cold and windy days that I would walk home from school with the knowledge that the second I walked in my front door, wafting aromas of daddy's soup would welcome and warm me.  He would make them daily at the restaurant and bring some home for us; tomato vegetable, chicken noodle, turkey with wild rice or beef barley.    He would be napping by the time we got home so we usually scavenged the cupboards for cookies or chips instead.  More often than not, we didn't even touch the soup, but it was there every day, just in case.  And looking back now, I know that was what mattered.  I did eventually reach an age where I appreciated the warmth, health and care behind this simple act and I suppose that's why it's so important to me to make it now.  I suppose, that's why I do a lot of things. 

My husband habitually asks me why I have a vegetable garden, can dozens of salsas, sauces, jams and jellies every year and batch cook meals every week.  It's a lot of work and a lot of mess. Truthfully, I am only a decent cook and a horrible baker, but I do love spending time in both the garden and the kitchen.  I love working with my hands and anticipating the fruits of my labour.  I love all the different aromas and the contentment in knowing the meal I provide required a bit of sacrifice for the people I care about.  But probably, most of all, I love the nostalgic feeling of daddy's kitchen.  It's always there in the background, mixed in with the repetitions and the sights and smells of home.  And then there's the knowledge, that we had this in common. That this is a language of love, passed down from generation to generation.  Even in the busy-ness and high demands of our current culture it is something that is impossible to forget.  I suppose that's what I too am aiming for...








Monday, 15 September 2014

Marriage, Parenting & Dying to Self


Tensions build.  Communications fade.  Insecurities take root.  Stalemate.  Roommates. And the sudden realization that this, left unresolved and compounded by a year or two, could be marked as the beginning of the end.  Except I have already vowed that will never be an option.  And even in this day and age where everywhere I look divided families are managing a new way of life, that vow grips my heart.  Something needs to change before that becomes our story.  Someone needs to change.

So I pray.  I pray for God to change him. Of course to no avail. But then He whispers in my ear,  "the real question is not who needs to change, but rather who is willing to change."  Am I willing? Do I trust in my God enough to lay down my own life for my husband, knowing that would require a part of me to die? The part of me that is selfish.  The part of me that needs to be right.  And sometimes even, perhaps, that part of me that has nothing left to give.  I don't even know if I can do this. Dying to self hurts! It doesn't seem fair.  But in a moment I am reminded of just how much of my life isn't deserved, and the voice of self-pity is silenced.  So I will cling to the conviction that at least this kind of pain leads to life. 
 
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:24 

Each marriage is a story all it's own; full of different chapters, conflict, character development and resolve.  Our story, was actually quite pleasant for the 7 years we had together before these tricky, plot-changing, all-consuming characters (our kids) entered the picture.  Before they came along we could hide the fact that we really weren't teammates.  We could sweep this and other issues under the rug of our perfectly clean house and have a ton of fun in the meantime.  No responsibilities.  Time for friends, time for us to pursue dreams and utilize our gifts... time for everything!  All that changed with the addition of one new heartbeat. Then, as if on cue the curtain dropped and we became painstakingly aware of how incapable we are of accomplishing anything together.  We can agree on where we want our life story to go, but not on any single determining factor that will get us there.  Perhaps our problem has always been that we are so similar.  Strong-willed, motivated and highly opinionated...  We have both been employers for much of our adult life, each of us used to calling the shots and exercising our own perfectionistic and obsessive compulsive tendencies.  The fact that we didn't agree on anything was mostly just a joke to those who knew us... until having a family made the need for us to be on the same team more than just a necessity. 

I have been trying to grasp the concept of submission for some time.  I wonder what our marriage would look like if I was one of those women that came by it easily.  But I am not... it is not my nature.  I never saw it modelled and my husband has even told me if I was the submissive type he would be less attracted to me. However, I know that there cannot be two heads of one household for "a house divided against itself cannot stand." And yet I yearn to experience the kind of marriage that actually functions as a team. I don't believe submission looks the same on every person.  I just still haven't figured out what it should look like on me.  I have wondered if perhaps it looks less like the wife I know I can never be, and more like a trust in God to fill in all the gaps apparent in both husband and wife.  And that doesn't start with a "change him" prayer.  Maybe this house cannot have two heads, but it can have one head and one heart. I think I'm beginning to understand God's purpose and design in that.  The point is not who needs to change but rather who is willing to change. That is a prayer; a heart that God can work with in a situation such as this.  And in truth, if I knew how to change the things I don't like about myself, I would have done it by now.  I don't know how.  I need the unconditional love of my father and creator to work through my walls of insecurity and pride and remind me of who he created me to be. 

Marriage is not easy.  Throwing children into the mix does not make it any easier.  I firmly believe that couples, especially in this day and age, should know that any area of the relationship that has problems, will be magnified when kids are added.  Children are a blessing. They are beautiful and incredible and... they bring out the worst in us! They demand the entirety of our attention and reflect all the ways we fall short every single day.  But for some reason it is still easier to lay down our lives for them than it is for our spouse. Unfortunately, I think all too often, it ends there. 
 
It’s a choice and it is mine; to lay down my wants and petty expectations for his… and trust that whatever needs I have that are not being met in this season by an imperfect man will be covered by a perfect father in heaven. My older sister once told me not to expect that my husband and I will ever be putting in 100% of the effort at the same time.  There is a give and take (when one is giving, the other is taking!) If we do find we’re in a season where we are both contributing, sacrificing and serving the other… well, that’s marital bliss (and it’s not impossible.)  But, it would be unwise for me to expect it.  And if I'm brutally honest with myself, I've most often been the taker. He is a good man.  It's time for a change... a change in heart.  

         





 


 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wilderness






This…  wilderness.  Where God’s people wandered aimlessly for 40 years before they were fit for the promised land.  Where John the Baptist exercised his devotion and complete surrender to his creator.  Where Jesus was tested for 40 days before he set out for ministry.  And the season of life in which the apostle Paul had to re-learn every thought pattern and belief that had previously defined him. All of these happened in a wilderness.  And that sums this up perfectly… for this is mine. 

Deserted.  Uncomfortable - painful even.  Confused.  Empty-handed.  Alone.  Even still… If I had the choice, I would choose this same path again.  I may have kept my convictions to myself in the process but… we all learn our lessons in our own way.  And I still would have had to come alone. 

Conviction: a fixed belief.  In other words - it’s not changing (even if sometimes I wish it would.) The only thing that is changing is me.  I can’t be the same na├»ve people-pleaser that I used to be.  Nor can I continue living as if my actions don’t have power to build or destroy.  Because they do.  I’ve had my seasons of misguided self-sufficiency.  I’ve had my seasons of insecurity.  But this season I am in, (be it a wilderness) I have irrefutable clarity on who God has created and equipped me to be.  I have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:15, Phil 2:5)  I have the power of life and death on my lips. (Prov 18:21)  and I can move mountains. (Mark 11:23)   Every decision that I make and every word I speak causes ripple effects.  Whether I like it or not I AM changing the world around me for better or worse.  And if anything matters, everything matters! I sometimes wish I just knew how to be something in between all or nothing… but I can’t.  I can’t just succumb to the matrix of this life.  I can’t chase after the American dream while the rest of the world suffers for it.  I don’t buy into the lies that what I am searching for can be found in anything this world has to offer.  The joys of simplicity and the miracle of the moment beckon me.  I just want to be where He is…  


the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life -

is not of the Father but is of the world. 

And the world is passing away,

but the will of God abides forever.”

John 2:15-17 

 So… Here I stand in the stillness of this desolate place.  Where the influences of man and the distractions of my own plans are nowhere to be found, and I can truly hear His voice.  It comforts and guides me. And suddenly I don’t care if it takes 40 days or 40 years… I know the one who led me here and I trust Him.  I asked for a change of heart and I got it.  My soul craves something different, something deeper. I know that I will find it here… and just knowing that enables me to embrace this season more fully.   

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,
for we know that they help us develop endurance. 
And endurance develops strength of character,
and character strengthens our confident hope…
and this hope will not lead to disappoint. 
 For we know how dearly God loves us,
because he has given us the Holy Spirit
to fill our hearts with his love [through this trial].
Romans 5:3-5

Learning to Like the "F" word



It is a word that society teaches us not to say out loud.  It instils negative connotations.  It is aptly used as an expletive when things go really wrong… And yet something about our comprehension of this word is strangely amiss.  What four letter word am I talking about?





Today’s reading is brought to you by… an expert failer! Seriously, I could probably host my own weekend seminar.  I could call it “How to Fail - Successfully.”  But don’t sign up.  I can‘t guarantee that it wouldn‘t be a huge flop! :) Besides no one I know would actually take such a course.  No one sets out on anything with an intent to fail.  No one posts even a single failure on their timeline.  We just try to hide it, forget about it and move on.  Except that big `F` word is stamped over our heart and for some of us, we know we will never truly be able to dream the same way again.  In my 30 years I have dreamed big dreams.  I have worked my butt off to get them.  And I have failed miserably. 

Did you know that there I a difference between a failer and a failure? We are all inevitably failers.  We can't avoid failing.  It happens to the best of us. But a failure is something that none of us have to be.  Let me explain.  A failer believes that their lack of success is due to a lack of effort.  They either didn't work hard enough or they haven't kept at it long enough.  They believe that by changing their effort commitment, they will eventually succeed. On the contrary, a failure believes that their lack of success is due to a lack in and of themselves.  They don't believe that they have what it takes.

I used to believe that I wasn't capable of success.  I have struggled with this wrong belief for most of my life.  I was so convinced of this in high school that despite the fact that I was ranked as one of the best high jumpers in all of Canada, I never actually won a medal or achieved my dream of getting a scholarship.  I jumped a national ranking height once in a low-level track meet and then I could never do it again.  It got so bad that I would run up to the bar at a height that I could have done in elementary school and I would hit the bar on purpose with my hand.  It couldn't have been more obvious that my belief was wrong - I had done it before! But that was what I believed in my heart.  So if you feel like you believe something stupid about yourself that you know you shouldn't... I feel you. 

 
Did you know that studies had been done on the brain patterns of some rather fascinating individuals including Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Henry Ford? The most spectacular discovery was that there was actually nothing spectacular whatsoever.  These hugely successful, almost phenomenal individuals just had some regular old brains.  Despite their renowned successes in life, they were each quite familiar with failure.

“I have not failed.  I have just found 1000 ways that won’t work.”  Thomas A. Edison
 
“Failing isn’t bad when you get to learn what not to do.”
Albert Einstein   
 
“Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again,
this time more intelligently.”
Henry Ford
 
Can you imagine failing at the same thing 1000 or more times? If Edison didn't know the difference between being a failer and a failure, we might not have electricity today.  What's even more amazing is that these guys didn't just endure each failed attempt - they embraced them! They knew they were going to learn something crucial to helping them eventually succeed.  THAT is a belief worth changing in your heart.

If you have kids and if you're anything like me, you probably don't want to see your kids make the same mistakes you did.  So how can we keep them from letting their failures define them?  I had terrific parents and I did pretty good in school, but I didn't learn this concept until recently. 

If you want to train your kids to think positively about their failures - praise their effort instead of their accomplishments.

Say stuff like, "I'm so proud of you for working really hard" instead of, "You are so talented." Because not unlike the majority of the population, they just want affirmation.  You train them what to value based on how you praise them. AND buy them lot's of puzzles! Puzzles help them understand that they need all of the pieces to succeed.  They are less likely to expect shortcuts and they value each learning curve.  Children raised this way have a refreshing attitude towards failure.  They do not ruminate over their mistakes.  They simply perceive errors as problems to be solved and get to work. 

Finally, if you want to turn your own failures into stepping stones, develop gratitude about each failure you come up against.  It is teaching you a valuable lesson that you MUST learn before you can move forward.  AND recognize your true worth.  Every decision you make and every word you speak causes ripple effects.  Whether you like it or not, and whether you are aware of it or not, you are changing the world around you.  If anything matters, you matter! And the way you view your failures matters.  

So friends... don't stop dreaming, don't stop trying, and don't stop failing!  

Dear Present Self

I wrote this in my journal on my 1st night home with baby Teli… I try to read it every morning as a reminder.

It is presently 3:45am, Sunday, August 11th and you hold a brand new baby in your arms.  I know that you haven’t slept for 72hrs and you are very much wishing to be elsewhere - in bed fast asleep, or somewhere just beyond this current season of your life where baby has turned your world upside down and needing all - perhaps more - than you have to give. I know that your body is aching and recovering and you have every physical right to not want to participate in the moments right in front of you.  But there are also a few things that I want you to know, that you may think you know, but you don’t really know, or else you wouldn’t allow yourself to feel this way.  So I’m just going to remind you…

In a matter of days… your baby won’t need you to hold him every waking second.  He won’t need to hear the constant beating of your heart in order to feel safe in this world.  He will adjust to life outside of your womb.  He will need you less than he does now.

In a matter of weeks… you will be packing away outfits and booties that he no longer fits in and you will be able to leave him with a caregiver so you can start to get back to the rest of your life.  That precious little baby won’t need you quite as much as he does now. 

In a matter of months… he will be eating solids and walking and talking.  As much as you love to see him thrive you will miss the days you spent nursing him, carrying him around everywhere you went and trying to interpret his cries and coo’s.  He will need you less than he does now.

In a matter of years… his days will be spent studying, playing and working.  He will be in quest of his identity and independence.  He won’t need you as you does now.


In less time than you think… he will be having babies of his own and only occasionally calling with questions. He won’t need you as much as he does now.

I know these things because I am at already at the end of your life…  when your best days are behind you. When that little baby doesn’t need you the ways he does now.  And I know that these exact moments that you are in a hurry to get through are the very moments that your heart will ache for.  So right now, while you are in the midst of midnight feedings, changing dirty diapers and longing to just get past this season of life I beg of you, be present.  Never forget that what you hold in your arms is nothing short of a miracle.  Know that I am here and I am longing to hold his little fingers. I’ll never get those moments back.  So treasure them while you can. Turn off the distractions.  Ignore the voices that try to tell you your fulfillment is elsewhere.  Because right now he does need you. These precious moments that he won‘t even remember, were created especially for you to enjoy.  Be thankful for every moment.  They are among the greatest gifts you will have in life.  Know that I am sitting here at the end of your life… and there is no where in the world I would rather be than where you are right now.





Sincerely,
Your Future self