Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Words of Wisdom for the Weekend: Unlocking the Secrets of our Hearts




“In a sense journal keeping is a form of prayer;
we are ‘searching our hearts’ in God’s presence
and asking Him to ‘know our thoughts’.” 
~Luci Shaw ‘Life Path’

 *****
{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 
For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Minute Friday: In Between




Life hangs right there on the line.

Some days flapping in the wind, other days soaking in the glorious sunshine, and, or course, days when we are hanging limp from being left out in the storm.

But, this is it! This is the life that is being woven  into a beautiful tapestry.

And living in the moment is the in between.

It is the weaving.

It is the small thread of time to reflect on the past, reach out for the promise of the future while taking hold of the present to live life to its fullest.

There is something about nearing the end of the second half of this third decade of life. It is like the in between. A somber feeling that I've lived a substantial part of my life, but also a splendid feeling like I'm just setting out on this journey.

I'm right there in the in between.

Aren't we all?

The place where you get the chance to make life make sense, make life count, and make life a piece of art.

We will not hang up our own tapestry.

But, we are the yarn that does the in between living.

***


Reflecting and writing on the word prompt given here for Five Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo's place. This week the prompt is: In Between

Officially, the rules are:

Five Minute Friday1. Write for 5 minutes  {To be honest, I usually break this rule ;) }
2. Link up at Lisa-Jo's  and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...


Monday, June 24, 2013

Make Sure to Take Hold of the Moments {because moments slip through our fingers}

My fingers linger over the keyboard. Absolutely still.

I should be working on preparing thoughts on journalling to share with teens next week, but I seem to be procrastinating. The house is actually quiet--which doesn't happen very often, especially before 9:30 at night or after 6:45 in the morning, anyway--and I check the email, flip open Facebook, skim over a few blogs. {Bad idea}.

I find myself completely under-qualified and inspired at the same time. I've been reading a slew of books, soaking up wisdom from others who have been at this craft for a very long time and have so much more to offer.

I have much to learn. I realize that it is the same for everyone, however. No one arrives at knowing it all--as much as some may like to think or may like others to think about them.

How rewarding to admit it and reach down into the vast experience of others and be challenged to never stop learning.

It's true, there is nothing new under the sun. And it is there for all of us to unwrap.

There is much to discover about this amazing world.

There is much excitement to walk out into the unknown to make it known.




But don't miss that there is so much joy, and hope and peace to discover who we are and whose we are.

This is what is so rewarding and exciting about journalling: getting to a safe place to write to release our feelings and emotion, to really think about what we believe, and dare to chase our dreams. We get to scribble out what we don't know and piece it all together and be known.

It is too easy in this fast paced world to let life go by without taking hold of the moments and living abundantly. We only have these moments to live. If we don't stop to take notice, we will live without really living at all. Writing it out makes us slow down before it slips through our fingers.

Dare to surrender, slow down, savour life; taste and see that the Lord is good

and give thanks for all things.


~~~

Funny, now that my fingers have started typing, I seem to have found some inspiration to share.

That's what they say: get your fingers moving and the muse will come.

It's also not so funny that the house is not quiet anymore.




Saturday, June 22, 2013

Words of Wisdom for the Weekend: Travelling into our Stories



"The more authentically we travel into our own lives and our own stories, the more we will lay claim to God's image deep within us. This is both the beginning point and the destination. The more deeply we immerse ourselves in the story of God, the more our lives are filled with the love of Christ . . . And the more we are available we are to God, the more available we are to truly love ourselves, one another and the world. This is my prayer for all of you . . . that you might 'comprehend, with all the saints, what is
the breadth 

and length 

and height 

and depth, 

and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.' (Ephesians 3:18-19)."

~ Helen Cepero, 'Journaling as a Spiritual Practice'  [emphasis added]

*****
{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 
For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When you Need to Push Through to Finish {Homeschool Edition}


I stand on the sidelines at a community race. Runners cross the finish line with enthusiasm and relief. I snap a few photos and catch the sheer determination written all over their bodies to finish strong.

The first runner, a young man under 20, crosses the line in under 17 minutes. His parents quietly cheer him across the finish line. By the look on their faces, I see they are proud of their son and a little astonished. I'd like to know how he ran 5 kilometres that quickly. I ask his parents and they admit they did not even know their son was quite that good.

After the first runners in have caught their breath, I hear other spectators point out runners who are struggling. They are still in the race, but they really have to work at finishing. Their determination is in every step forward, but they need encouragement from their family and friends to get to the end of this race.

I am a bystander at this race. I'm here to cheer when my friends finish first in their categories and I stand and clap for the ones who fight their way to the finish.




There are times in life when I finish strong and there are times in life when I limp to cross the line.

Times when I need to be encouraged and times when I need to be the encourager.

Times when I am ill prepared for parts of the race in life and others have come along beside me and times when I can say to someone else, 'Come on, you are doing a great job!"



It is a bright balmy day in June and we are limping across the finish line. My children are finishing up math lessons and polishing piano pieces and tightening up technique for the exam just days away. We are coming to the end of our geography and history books for this year.

But, I've texted and sputtered to friends, my sisters, and mostly to my husband, "I really can't do this anymore. I can't be mom and teacher anymore."

I am exhausted, I'm worn out. I'm tired of directing my kids to their math manipulatives and piano practices and language lessons. There are lists left undone and laundry mounting. Suppers are simple and bread is store-bought and the gardens only have garlic growing in them this year.

A friend reminds me that for the last several years in May and June I have had big yellow school bus envy. I've read online about all the moms that are dragging at the end of the school year.

As a home school mom, to admit that I am tired seems to equate failure. I must claim the worst homeschool mom ever.



I've had my kids around me 24/7 all year and coming to the end of the school year doesn't really change a whole lot. Except, I won't lay in bed at night worrying about all the spelling and grammar that still needs to be taught, how I am probably failing my kids, and who am I to think that I could do this in the first place. Those kinds of thoughts always increase as I lay my head down for the night. So I preach to myself--do not be anxious about anything--before I can find sleep.

I can be defeated or I can finish strong.

Sometimes looking back to where we've come from can help. My kids have learned lessons, and worked on character, and shown compassion. We've read many books together. We've discovered fascinating things about God and His world. We have learned that God answers prayer and when we are weak, He is strong. We've memorized scripture, and filled pages in journals. They've spent hours playing inside and out, hiked, biked, swam, sang and slept out under the stars on the trampoline. We have strengthened friendships, served, slowed down, and lived a full life this past year.

Of course, I still focus on what still needs to be done, and the handwriting that is still too sloppy, and the scales that are not even, and the math facts that need constant review, but aren't being reviewed regularly enough, and the words that are spelled phonetically--not according to the English dictionary, and the grammatical errors in speech as well as in print. I can easily trip myself up while I am comparing with others and with feelings of inadequacy.

But, this is the thing, we need to look ahead to finish strong. I didn't see any runners looking behind them as they ran to the finish line. Some sprinted in with the extra they had held back, some gave out a cheer for themselves, some smiled, some panted the wee little bit that they had left, but they kept breathing.

I'm struggling to move forward. I want to keep saying, "I can't do this", just like I did when I got to 10 cm and had pushed for over and hour and a half, without an epidural and the doctor told me to keep pushing. I really didn't think I could do it anymore, but somehow I did!

It's our eighth year homeschooling and every year we get winded and we wonder how on earth we are going to get to the end, but when we do we know we will take a breather and jump back on the track refreshed.



When you use life to learn lessons and not the classroom you know that you are never done. Learning doesn't end in June and start back up in September. We are life-long learners and some years the race will feel more intense, the hills may be steeper, but we always must look toward the finish line.

We learn that we don't quit, even when we are tired and want to throw in the towel.

The thing I am learning is: I can't do it alone! I need someone to come along side or stand as a bystander and cheer me on.

And I've been learning this because I did not have to do it alone.

We all get to take turns being the encourager and being encouraged.

Run along side someone else and cheer them on.

Breath! Keep going! Give a cheer for what you've done! Finish strong!





Monday, June 17, 2013

Children with Compassion: Growing in Grace ~ Giving it Back







We've been thinking about the poverty in Guatemala for a month and here I am at a barbecue out in a meadow. All afternoon the sun dances with the leaves in the trees towering around us.

I'm sitting on a campfire chair eating watermelon and spitting out seeds. I toss the rind aside when I feel that I've had enough. Someone comes around and gathers up the garbage while I am talking with a woman who spent 4 years in the Sudan with her husband and six boys as missionaries. She is still eating her piece of watermelon; practically gnawing on it. There is not a hint of pink left.

Someone else points out the rind with pink still on it; conspicuously piled on top of the plate heading for the garbage. Now, all the ladies turn their heads in my direction. Scolding me with their mere glances. Yes, I admit, it was my piece.

I confess that I have never stared at poverty in the face and I take this abundance of food for granted. I shake my own head and hang it down. This woman who has spent years in the Sudan tells me of how hungry they are there. The children will pick up a mango pit from the ground that has already been chewed to see if they can suck anymore from it. She calls herself 'juicy' now that she is back in Canada and there is this overflow of food.

Days later, I am scraping our plates after dinner. I'm throwing away heads of asparagus just because of the sand that didn't come out when I washed it and it was gritty between our teeth. My hand stops scraping and I'm disgusted with myself and wonder how I can just toss it away so flippantly when there are children starving.

But, I have never seen it. My heart is so cold to the reality of how children suffer with stomachs protruding because of malnutrition. My heart does ache for them, but what will it take for me to get to the point of feeling like I've been hit in the gut with compassion.

I don't know why we have so much here that we fill up our garbage cans because we feel full and there they pick scraps out of the garbage to fill their bellies that feel hunger gnawing.

But, I do know, whether we have seen it or not we can't keep living like it doesn't exist.

Poverty does exist. There are mothers who desperately want to give their children healthy food to eat, a warm, safe place to sleep, and clean water to drink.

And there are mothers working to end poverty. Children, too, who want to make a difference in other people's lives.

***

Weeks earlier, I read this post by Kristen and watched the video she linked with my children hovering over my shoulder. We were moved and inspired and we started to dream together.

We know we can't change the world, but we can do a little to make a difference. We started to plan a benefit concert for home educated children to present their various gifts and abilities to raise money to rebuild a home for a family in Guatemala.

***

For six weeks we plan. We ask another family to come along side us with the planning, we hand out invitations to friends, family, and neighbours to come to this "Children with Compassion: Growing in Grace ~ Giving it Back" concert, they practice, and pray.

The children pray with child-like faith that enough will be raised for Compassion Canada to rebuild at least one home for one family suffering in poverty in Guatemala.

The day before the concert I feed my children porridge for supper and for 22 hours I don't eat and my stomach knows a wee little bit of what it is like to go without food. I think of those mothers who often go without so their babies will have something to eat; mothers who are living in unsanitary conditions and can't do anything about it. When I feel the pangs of hunger, I pray that God will hear our prayers to help.

And God pours out His blessing and He answers the children's prayers beyond what they even asked or imagined!

Because, yes, that is what He is like. That is how He works; how He answers prayer. People are moved with compassion and give more than enough for one home to be rebuilt, but also a quarter of the way to have another home rebuilt, too!

We have been given so much and how can we not dig deep and give back out of the abundance and the riches of His grace.

When children want to help other children in need we will stand back and see God work and be amazed at His grace.

And the next time I eat watermelon I will be sure I don't leave a wink of pink on the rind and pray that God will continue to make my heart bleed for the least of these.

***



{Shown here is a video we showed at the concert to share what life is like for some people living in poverty in Guatemala. (For email subscribers, click here to view video.)
Compassion Canada is helping families in Guatemala that have lost homes due to hurricanes and major storms in recent years. They are reaching out to help children in the name of Jesus. For further information or to sponsor a child you can go here if you live in Canada or here if you live elsewhere.}


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Words of Wisdom for the Weekend: Rest




"Real Sabbath, the kind that empties and fills us, depends on . . . complete confidence and trust. And confidence and trust like that are rooted in a deep conviction that God is good and God is sovereign . . . There's no rest for those who don't believe that. If God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called to his purposes, you can relax. If he doesn't, start worrying. If God can take any mess, any mishap, any wastage, any wrecked, any anything, and choreograph beauty and meaning from it, then you can take a day off. If he can't, get busy."
" . . . I waver between . . . my experience of God's sovereignty and my need to take hold of it afresh. One minute I am declaring that I do rest in him, the next exhorting myself that I can . . . [Thankfulness] allows us to discover the rest of God . . . thanksgiving becomes a declaration of God's sovereign goodness. Even more, it trains us in a growing awareness of that sovereign goodness. You cannot practice thankfulness on a biblical scale without its altering the way you see. And the more you do it, the more you find cause for doing it. Inherent in a life of thanksgiving is an ongoing discovery of God's sufficiency, his generosity, his fatherly affection and warrior protection."
" . . . practice, mostly through thankfulness, the presence of God until you are utterly convinced of his goodness and sovereignty, until he's bigger and you find your rest in him alone."
~Mark Buchanan, 'The Rest of God'


*****
{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 
For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}


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