Tuesday, April 1, 2014

little lambs

Once a little lamb was born and the Shepherd could tell it was a feeble little lamb who would easily be led astray - who would not readily know the Shepherd's voice. So He slipped a bell around the neck of another little lamb; her sister, born only the summer before. This lamb would know the Shepherds call and would guide the little one in the right paths through the lush valleys and steep mountains. As time went on, the bell became a burden to the older lamb, but she bore it gladly because of her love for the little lamb. Only the Shepherd ever knew how effective and necessary was that bell. One day, when both lambs had grown into wise old ewes, the younger one realized what a gift the older one had been to her and how she had carried an extra burden for all those years, just for her. And she wept at the beauty and importance of the gift.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

whose sin?

John chapter 9 begins with Jesus and his disciples walking along together when they see a man who had been born blind. I assume they know this because they are familiar with the man - in any case, they are aware that he was born that way. Jesus' disciples/students are curious about the current issues facing such people and are trying to figure it all out using the leading theories of the day. Since, in their minds, it was a given that disability was a result of sin, they were curious as to whose sin caused this disability. I mean, it only makes sense that it wasn't the baby - he was born with the problem and could hardly have sinned before birth. And if it were the parents, why was their child struck with the disability, and not themselves? They knew just who to ask - Jesus was so wise and would be able to solve this issue once and for all. But that's not how it happened. Jesus hardly answered their question. They gave him both options - it wasn't a yes or no question - it was an "either/or" question, but Jesus' answer: "No, it wasn't." And then he went on to talk about God's work being displayed and about being the light of the world. Hardly the answer they were looking for. Sure, this man's blindness might have been just so Jesus could do a miracle, but what about all the other people who had disabilities? Jesus healed many, but he didn't heal everyone. And what about those people's sin? Surely that had to be addressed.
 The more I think about this story, the more I realize that Jesus said more by what he didn't say than what he did. When we give God a multiple-choice question, we rarely get an answer. We now believe that disabilities, whether someone is born with it or develops it later, are not a direct result of that person's or anyone else's sin. So we can see the foolishness of the disciples' question. But it wasn't foolish to them, and it was many years before those thoughts about disabilities were changed. This all makes me wonder what multiple-choice questions I am putting to God - not even aware that it is my thinking that needs to change. I believe Jesus' answer displays his infinite wisdom. He simply says it is not because of sin. He doesn't give an intellectual formula that explains all the sickness in the world. Rather, he shifts their focus to things they do need to know and understand.
 There are many things I don't understand - many "current issues" that I would love to sort out and have a simple answer for. Then I could easily state my beliefs and pick a side of the issue and take a stand against the wrong side. However, it's not difficult to see where that would lead. No, Jesus would just tell me, "No, you haven't figured it out. But remember, I already told you what was most important: Love God and love your neighbour."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 plans, in list form; and thankfulness for the year that was

general plans

Learn to cook basic meal recipes
Teach the kids to cook basics
Daily crunches and push-ups
Floss more
Write a blogpost every month
Write at least 6 poems
Write an old fashioned letter to a friend/loved one each month
Push my family towards an active lifestyle - even my lazy teenagers :)
Embrace the early morning and learn to enjoy its quiet
Find the hidden mysteries in Matthew 13 & 14
Write favorite passages from the Bible in my own words
Pray aloud
Run and walk as part of my weekly routine
Sing

Reading list

The Daily Reader by Fred White - selections of great prose and poetry to inspire a productive and meaningful writing life
I am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis (the author of The Breadwinner)
Survivors. Children of the Halifax Explosion by Janet F. Kitz
A secular history book on the Roman customs and culture during the time of Jesus (I'd love suggestions)
A book recommended by my dad
Something about the Irish potato famine - again, suggestions welcome
Bible sections on my horizon: the 7 churches in Revelation; Matthew; the differences/similarities between God's revealing Himself via the Law and via Grace
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Gift by Lewis Hyde (actually, to finish reading this, as I've been reading it for a couple of years now)
Oh, I hope to read so much more than this, but these will get me started.

Thankfulness for 2013

I can't even imagine God having more gifts in store for me in 2014 because 2013 was so FULL of gifts!! Some of the gifts that stand out are: Health - finally, finally feeling healthy and not experiencing pain every day. This gift is huge and I feel like having it at the top of my thankful-list is appropriate.
Peace - the restaurant is doing well...not so well that I'm not on my knees regularly, but I am able to see it as a huge gift and hold it with open hands.
Ministry - I finally, after a lifetime of wanting to feel useful to God, feel that He has me in places of use to Him. Mostly, I feel as though I have a front-row seat to watch Him work. And who doesn't want the front-row to the greatest show on earth, and arguably the universe. :)
Rescue - 2013 was the year of my own Red Sea crossing experience. And I am blown away by God's love and faithfulness to me.
People - my life has been filled with the gift of people. Amazing family and friends have surrounded my, often difficult, journey. Last year I was blessed with amazing co-workers who gave energy and beauty to my days as well as helping me see myself in new ways. They will always be one of my favourite 2013 blessings.
Study - in the fall, I was so blessed to be part of a Beth Moore study - Esther - at my Mom's with some amazing women. I learned a lot from the study, and a lot from the women.
Support - I am so incredibly blessed with parents who love and support me and my family, even to their own hurt. I am thankful that they are still modeling for me that true love that never withholds even when loving hurts.
I know there are more - thousands of them. Thank You, Maker of the universe, for Your fingerprints all over my story.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

january

sweet month of beginnings
of reflection
and new hope

for me, a month of lists
of thanksgiving
of fresh starts

365 days of possibility
of tiny changes
of baby steps

who have I become?
who will I be?
hope - in list format

Monday, June 3, 2013

she stands

she waits

her heart and flesh cry out for the Living God
she has tasted and seen that He is good
that He is worth waiting for

her soul feels swallowed up in darkness
but she knows what feels isn't what is
she waits

admitting her fear, she cries out for mercy
and clings to the One who gives life
she waits for the fresh green of Spring to awaken her soul

she has planted these seeds before
knows they must be buried in earth
she waits

waits for the tiny green seedlings to push up through the black earth
the seedlings will renew her hope
but her hope is not in the seedlings

she hopes in the Maker, the only One who gives life
who creates from nothing all that is
she hopes in Him

she trusts
in the endless time between the planting and the harvest
when all signs of hope have hidden themselves

where does this trust come from?
experience has done the good work
she remembers His unfailing love

when the darkness is thick and the time is long
trust and hope will fail
she feels the weakness of her own self

all that remains -
knowledge of His goodness and love
intellect and words without the assurance of feeling

like David, she feels the depths of her own weakness
and repeats to herself the truths
truths she has known from her youth

she stands
with no strength to trust, hope or wait
she recites the words of truth she has learned

and stands

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

surrounded by courage

So many things are swirling around in my head these days. On Mother's Day, my heart was touched with vulnerability shared by a man at church. Yesterday I cried listening to a woman on the radio tell about re-connecting with her own body after a childhood of being molested. Last week my spirit recoiled at a greasy, gross comment by a man, a grandfather, who had led me to believe he was a sweet old man - who, I can now see, had ulterior motives all along. And I felt like such a fool. And I felt like a child, tricked into a trust relationship by someone who had a different thought all the time. I am not that little girl anymore. I am a 36 year old woman. Yet I had to come home and envision myself rocked to sleep in the cupped hands of God. And the next morning, when I had to walk by him again, I could feel 2 massive angels on either side of me, giving me courage to prove to him that he didn't make me feel vulnerable and gross. It was not such a big deal; so why did it make me shake all over? I'm not completely sure. But I know that women, girls all over the world are made to feel this way every day - just because they are female. And they succumb to it. They believe the lies of the disgusting way they are treated. God sees this. He cares. I know this because He DID rock me to sleep and walk beside me to face that creep. He gave me REAL courage. His presence surrounded me like a cloud. And I don't know why I experienced this or feel a kinship with the trampled, degraded women of the world. But I do. And I am certain that degradation of women is one of those things that will be thrown head-long into the lake of fire at the last day. And I am praising God that Jesus defeated this terrible, evil sin when He defeated sin and death on the cross. That means that we get to live in the good of His grace NOW! And we can spread the good news. I'm not good on tangible, step-by-step plans. I am better at feeling my way along and listening to the Spirit's leading in the quietness of my soul. So I will be listening for Him to call me to show God's perfect Love and Grace to women, using this experience to enable me to hear that strain of His call. God's love is safe and good and empowering. He created us with empathy and care and tears. I will cry them for you, fellow women. I will have courage for you.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

a true gift

Each morning, as I reach for my Bible to study; and each evening, as I am reading a book to expand my mind, I am reminded of the beautiful gift given to me by my father. My Dad has four daughters and he has given this gift to each of us. It is the gift of intelligent thinking. You might be thinking that God has given us that gift - after all, He's the One who created our brain and intellect. But I am talking about the empowerment and inspiration to think. When I was young, a simple observation about something would lead to a discussion on why I felt that way. My Dad was always requiring his daughters to think about what we said and intelligently explain it and discuss it. Part of the reason he did this is because that is his personality - he enjoys analyzing things and questioning them. As we grew and began having opinions on what we read in the Bible, it was obvious he expected us to live purposefully and develop our own convictions for what we believed. He was not content for us to just do "the right thing," but we needed to understand what we were doing and why. The gift that he (maybe unknowingly) gave us in all this was the gift of believing that our ideas and thoughts were valid and valued. I don't know many other 14 - 16 year old girls at that time who were having deep discussions about the Bible and life with their fathers. He didn't just let us talk; he listened and asked questions, genuinely involved in the conversation. He held us accountable to our beliefs, too. It was far worse, in our house, to just act without thinking about something than to choose something that opposed my Dad's views. I love that!

The reason I have been so appreciating this gift lately is because of an info session I went to recently with my sister. It was titled, "Raising Preteens in a Sexualized Culture." It was very informative and provoked a lot of thought about the messages that are being sent to our children every day on billboards, tv screens, and toys. One of the messages that I feel is most damaging to young girls is this idea that being sexy trumps everything. You can do anything you  put your mind to, but if you can do it while being sexy, that's better. And the message deteriorates into promoting the idea that being sexy is the goal in life. Young girls are encouraged to aspire to be good at shopping and make-up. If this is what our culture is telling our daughters they can aspire to, what are we telling them to counter that? And as I thought of that question, I considered what it was my parents did to raise four strong, confident-thinking daughters. I'm talking about empowerment to think for yourself and question the ideas that are thrown at you every day. In our culture, that's a lot of ideas; and  a lot of them are destructive. Satan doesn't want women to be strong. He has spent the history of the world keeping women from being in a place of intelligence. In some cultures it is physical - they are not allowed out of the house, or to be seen; they are secluded and repressed physically. In our culture, we do it to ourselves. We buy into this idea that we are not good enough - that, before we can be valid, we have to be sexy. We spend so much of our energy and time on our appearance, that there is little left for intellectual debate or growth. So, what can I do to counter the destructive ideas permeating much of the advertising and teaching in our culture? I can require my daughters to think for themselves. I can respect their well-thought-out opinions and ideas, even when they are different than my own. And I can hold them to a standard of intellect and thought that God designed them for.

Although I think I, as their mother, can have a powerful influence in the way I teach my daughters to think; I am certain that all daughters need to see themselves as intellectually valid in their father's eyes. For some reason, although I am extremely close to my Mom, and need her approval and love, I often find that I view myself the way I perceive my father views me. So, fathers, please have thoughtful, intelligent discussions with your daughters. Prove to them with actions that they are valid intellectual beings.