Family · Parenting

The Dreaded Month of May

Ahh….May.

The month of spring and growth. The month of celebrations and birthdays. The month of warmer, longer days, of beautiful sunsets and green grass. The month of sports, warm days and cool, comfortable evenings. The month I was born.

You may be wondering by this point if you misread the title of this post. I assure you, you did not. And the party crasher of those blissful would-be moments is….my schedule. My busy, lose-your-mind-completely, schedule where I resemble a frazzled mom who lives off two showers a month and whatever crumbs I manage to scrape off the floor of my van on my way to the next practice, recital or…who knows where I’m headed next but I count on my kids to wildly shout from the backseat if I turn in the wrong direction.

Gone are the early motherhood days where I sat on the couch beside my husband, wondering who we should call to get together with and show off our new baby to. Gone are the days when I made healthy freezer meals a month in advance so I could put supper in the slow cooker when I got up and stroll about the day in my pjs, book in hand. (This is where you roll your eyes at me, because I am now making up memories that don’t exist in my adult life…freezer meals?? Ha! I’m lucky if I get supper on the table each day!)

I kid you not, I just left mid-post to clean up the barf of not just one but two boys who are feeling sick. I’ll spare you the scene I just witnessed as I don’t want to loose all of my followers in one post, but let’s just say that my husband told me that if I wasn’t around to clean up that mess, he would’ve lit a match and walked away. True story.

Deep breaths. Deep Breaths.

Where was I going with this post again? Oh yeah. May is terrible. And hectic. But every year I look forward this crazy month until I’m in it…then I hold my breath until is over. Today is the last day and I can now triumphantly say, “Yes! I made it! It’s the last day of May!”

Hold that thought, clean up duty calls again…

Is it June yet?!?

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Faith

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

Such a question has been all too common in my life.

When others like me, I must be likeable. When they hate me, I must be a difficult person to love. When they compliment my talents, I must be admirable. When they insult me, I am worthless.

Or am I more than the sum of what others think of me?

When I feel happy, I must be successful. When I feel down, a miserable failure. When encouraged, I am bright-eyed and promising, the next moment discouragement makes me a hopeless case.

Who am I? Certainly more than what I’m feeling from moment to moment!

Yet it’s a question that haunts me and in my most honest moments I’ll admit that the fact that I’m asking the question in itself shows the depths of my insecurities and wavering character.

I’ve been reading a lot of biographies lately. I’m inspired by the stories of real people who’ve walked before me.

My current selection is Bonhoeffer.

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Living during the times of World War I & II, this book tells the life story of a German pastor who stood up to the warped society of his day, becoming a spy and eventually a martyr. Real hero material right?

What won my heart was his poem, written in captivity that echoed the words that have become commonplace in my journals and poems. In fact reading his words, I felt like I had stepped into my own story:

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How can two different people from two totally different times become so connected by three simple words: Who Am I?

That is the frailty of humanity. We grasp at strings to find something, anything to define ourselves by. But as I think these things over, a hint of a smile creeps to my lips. And I can’t help but wonder if God has a of a sense humour, knowing this about us. Didn’t he introduce himself to the Israelites as “I AM”? He doesn’t need to add anything to his title because he just is.

I may not know who I am, but I know the I AM, maybe that’s enough.

Faith

A Life Worthy of His Calling

We all have a Choice.

Some would see this as radical Christianity, it isn’t. It’s Christianity as taught in the Bible.

The Choice is simple: To live and die by the flesh, or live and find peace by the Spirit. 

The flesh and the spirit are something we are all born with. They do not work in sync with each other because of the fall.

The flesh wants comfort, pleasure and ease. It is always thinking about itself and how to fulfill its own desires.

The Spirit simply wants to do the will of God.

The flesh hates God’s will – for it is often difficult, self-sacrificing, messy and painful. It requires humility, absolute obedience and above all, TRUST in the Father. It requires faith that moves without seeing the future. This is living in the spirit.

When we are born again, or saved, we receive God’s own Spirit in our hearts. Yet, somehow, we still have to choose daily… which will I follow? The comfortable flesh? Or the somewhat uncomfortable, yet deeply- rewarding Spirit?

There are many Christians who love the thought of this spirit-led life. They watch all the faith building movies and love to read stories of others who have walked before them. Stories of courageous men and woman who have left comfortable lives to walk dangerous paths, who’ve witnessed to drug lords, who’ve stood before unreached villages and people groups; people who have been mistreated, tortured and martyred. They love to get their emotions stirred, to hear about God’s mighty hand in the lives of others.

Yet…never once do they step out of their own comfortable homes and take hold of this lifestyle for themselves. It doesn’t have to look the same, maybe it looks differently in your life… Sharing Jesus with your coworkers. Having unbelieving neighbours over for dinner. Striking up conversation with a discouraged stranger. Fostering a child who needs a loving home. Stopping and praying for the beggar. Yet although these things are possible for any one of us to do, most Christians simply aren’t doing them. They are far too comfortable in their own lives to look outside and see the needs around them.

A Christian who is inspired by the faith of others but is unwilling to go out and walk by the same faith themselves is a Christian who is still living in the flesh.

Reading a book about martyrs no more makes you a saint, then watching “Captain America” makes you a superhero.

Walking in the spirit requires action and faith of the most difficult kind: A kind that gets out of the pews to walk the broken streets.

We have been given everything we need to live the spirit-led life. The question is, are we willing?

Faith · Family · Parenting

Don’t Forget the Good

This is a repost, but today I thought it was an important reminder for me to stop and see the good in others.

I mentioned a few posts back that I’ve been sifting through old journal entries. A lot of the entries focus on my frustrations, my failures, my kids failures.

But then there was this one, a complete gem, that made me vow to start keeping track of the good as well. This entry was so touching that it had me sniffing back tears and smiling all at once:

Date: Aug 16, 2012

Yesterday my children put me to shame. I heard of an orphanage being built in Ethiopia that would house abandoned babies. It is already being built in faith that the needed funds will come in. But until the house is completed they are by law unable to take in any of the babies that are left in the wilderness to die. The government has strict rules on this so they need the money desperately – lives are at stake. Innocent lives. I had already had it in my mind to give $500, which is already $200 more than we usually give every month. As I wrote out a check, my eldest son, Isaiah, asked me what it was for. I told him the story of these babies and he ran to his room to get his piggy bank. He pulls out EVERY bill, toonie and loonie, only keeping a few cents for himself. It came to $75 – his entire life savings. Then, my next child (Bella) saw this and pulled out her piggy bank and the next child (Jonas), giving over half of their own money. Together, out of their own will, they gave all the money they have been saving from their birthdays, Christmas’ and other earnings. It came to $105. And here I am sitting on a big savings account. God, bless the tender, giving hearts of my children! It will take them years to save this money again! Isaiah is only 6, Bella 4, and Jonas 3…and already they are being generous for you. I wrote out a new check to cover their balance and have it in my mind to secretly put their money into the bank for them. Thank you for kids, who continue to teach me lessons that completely amaze me.

 

Often I just see the things that need to be changed in my kids lives, and quite honestly, the lists of behaviours and irresponsibilities they have completely overwhelm me.

What can I say? They’re kids…and there’s five of them.

BUT then, I read this and step back to actually see my children. And the truth overwhelms me: In many ways they are FAR more sweet, pure, forgiving, compassionate and gentle than I am.

And I am instructing them??

I shared this journal entry with them one morning asking for forgiveness. For too often focusing on the bad. For too often overlooking the good.

They are GOOD kids.

They are obedient, sweet, unselfish, and I often feel the opposite about them because I get stuck on teaching what needs improvement, forgetting that the most important thing in a teacher is the ability to see the good in their students and call it out.

In doing this, we don’t try to make our children become something they aren’t, rather they begin to see who they are and flourish into a mature version of that. When I am told I am good at something, it pushes me to try even harder, to learn even more. But when I am told I’m terrible, or a failure, it makes me want to give up and not try at all. Teaching my children, has taught me this in a very sobering way.

I think God has a sense of humour, because I see myself as their teacher, but quite often they are mine. 

About Me · Parenting

It’s My Birthday…

From childhood, birthdays have been so special to me. I guess that’s a result of having great parents who always made a point to make the day an extra special one for me.

I’m not one of those super mature Mom’s who quietly lets their day slip by unnoticed. Nor do I hate the extra attention and no, I’m not embarrassed about my age because getting older to me is (and I hope will always be) a blessing! So we celebrate!!

In fact, being a homeschooler I have quite literally declared my birthday to be a holiday from school!

“Hey Kids, guess what?? There’s no school today and you know why that is? Many many years ago a VERY special and most important person was born…do you know who that is??”

And while my younger children hop up and down shouting out the answer as if they’ve won the lottery, my older three smirk at each other and roll their eyes… “Mom, it’s not a Holiday…”

“WHY OF COURSE IT IS!!” I reply. “Why else would school be cancelled today?!?”

“Because you don’t want to teach and you would rather have the day off?”

Errr, ummm….they know me too well.

But do I let their lack of enthusiasm spoil MY day? No! I most CERTAINLY do not! I grab a slice of my all time favourite, grocery store strawberry shortcake, for breakfast, I turn up the “Greatest Showman Soundtrack” and dance with the littles like I’m 14 again.

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Or, at least that’s what a will be doing. I’m still in bed at the moment. And I’ll probably be back in bed after pulling a muscle from dancing. I’m not 14 anymore ya know.

How about you? Do you hate/love your birthdays?

Depression · Faith

Mental Health: Are We Choosing our Own Chaos?

I don’t do random.

If I start something new, it almost always has a purpose. Sometimes the roads I travel start with a purpose but only lead to a dead end, or they get so rocky and dangerous that I turn around.

But I never just carelessly walk down random paths. I’m far too predictable, to safe, to orderly for risky adventures. However, I have to admit that I always seem to find myself on these precarious streets…

Like the time I chose to keep my baby at the age of seventeen. Or when I chose to get married before I graduated. A few months later, I chose to pack up a bag and live at the hospital while my baby boy suffered for almost a year, before witnessing God’s amazing healing hand.

I chose to finish my high school diploma with 3 kids under 3, even though my body begged for extra rest and I had no desire to do homework when they were finally sleeping at night.

Later, I chose the lonely road of homeschooling, though I’m not a great teacher and I feel unqualified.

I chose to leave a church full of friends and family that I had attended since my childhood to help start a church that ended up being the most painful and wounding experience of my life so far. I also chose to walk in forgiveness and healing, believing the best of people.

We left a job my husband loved, to buy into a company and build it into something, which has been painfully difficult.

And my newest path is the choice to send my five beloved children to public school next year.

I wish I could see the future but I can’t, so I try to walk as close as I can beside the only one I know who does: my Heavenly Father. He’s known by so many to be a rock. A shelter in the storm. The hiding place. He’s a foundation. He is a strong tower. Our refuge in times of trouble.

That is my God.

The choices above may seem difficult, but no matter how those around me viewed them, they all brought a sense of peace and although there has been hardships and inner turmoil around me almost constantly, I rarely have felt that sense of chaos within me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have felt inner turmoil. In the past I felt a lot of it while dealing with depression and anxiety. In fact this month I’ve been feeling a lot of it.

I can tell almost immediately when I’m in “overwhelm” because I become unable to slow down and just be. My downtime moments are filled with distractions.

This is why I feel like having a daily time of devotions and reflection is so important. Other than connecting with God, if I wasn’t used to quieting myself nothing would seem wrong! I would feel anxious and upset, but I wouldn’t realize it until panic attacks and anxiety would start kicking in.

However now I can tell things are wrong just by assessing my quiet times. I just want to distract myself! Turn on the Netflix. Get out the iPhone. Scroll through the news articles!

There’s no desire to reflect or think about my own personal life and the “whys” or the reasons for my behaviours.

This is overwhelm: Avoiding reality. Avoiding the hard questions. Avoiding true connections. This leads to small talk, which leads to shallow and unfulfilling relationships.

It’s a constant disconnected feeling and general discontentment in life.

Sound familiar? This constant state of busyness and distraction are common place in our world, but should not be common place in the Christian life. It feels weird when I get like this because I’m not used to it. It’s like running in a random direction just for the sake of running.

Busyness is often like that, isn’t it?

We sign up for this and commit to that, not having a reason for it but simply because that’s the way the rest of the crowd is headed. It feels wrong to turn off onto a more lonely (albeit simpler) road. But in my experience that’s the path that usually brings the most meaning and peace.

Not that important lessons aren’t learned on the main roads…but with high traffic comes stress, chaos and accidents.

This is where quieting ourselves and learning to ask the hard questions becomes so important. Without reflection, life becomes too difficult to navigate so we instead turn to distracting ourselves from the busyness which leaves us disconnected with our own emotional state. Cue the sleeping drugs, anti anxiety and depression meds that studies say about 1 in 6 Americans are now dependent on.

1 in 6!! Let that sink in for a moment!

No I’m not saying that there’s never a reason to take medicine for mental health issues. Not at all! There are many legitimate imbalances in the human brain that require medical intervention. But do we really believe that 1 in 6 people need to be on meds? Or is there something else going on that we’re not willing to face?

These are uncomfortable questions and thoughts, I know. Necessary ones though.

Are we willing to face them?

Am I?

 

About Me · Family

My Computer Hates Me

It sits there, white screen of death, mocking me. Daring me to try fixing it again. Well not me, but my husband, who loves me ever so much as to put up with such requests.

It knows me well.

Coming from a Mennonite background, I just can’t bear the thought of throwing out anything that may just have a tiny bit of life still left in it. If I can sell it, yes, then I have no issue parting with my junk, because who doesn’t like to trade junk for cash?!? Or give it to someone in need, even better! Self help…sure!

But this hellish computer isn’t sellable. Or gift-able. It is garbage. A $2000 piece of iMac garbage.

It still looks brand new but the face itself hides the disaster within. I know full well that it fries it’s own hard drives within 6 months of replacing them.

The computer was a lemon when we got it. A toss away from a friend who wisely went on to a new and better relationship.

But being who I am. Could. Not. Chuck. Mr. FryMac.

My husband is a near genius when it comes to fixing technology. So with a hairdryer and some other tools he took the cursed thing apart and melted parts together, moved pieces around (I’m sure this description is precisely accurate by the way). And VOILA! I had me a brand new looking iMac.

A new hard drive was ordered and the thing worked beautifully for 2 full years. And then one day.

GONE!

All my writing, my saved files and documents!!! (thank goodness photos are in the “cloud”)

Most people would shrug and say at least I got two more years out of it… Not me!

I insisted that he fix it again (at which point he looked at me like I was from another plant and told me that it would just do this again)… to which I, knowing nothing about computers but fully believing in miracles, replied that surely Mr. FryMac would last three years this time.

So my ever patient husband shook his head and fixed it one more time telling me that he wouldn’t do it again. Oh and he recovered all my files. Because he’s amazing.

Now, four months later (practically to the day) everything’s gone.

He told me so….four short months later I’m in the same situation again and one would think I’d learnt my lesson already, but alas, the thought comes to me…maybe just one more time??

It’s either Mr. FryMac or back to good old Windows 7 **Shudder**

Well…which would you choose?

I’m leaning towards taking my chances with the FryMac.