Friday, May 27, 2011

The Ministry of Motherhood

What does it mean to be a mother? I mean a godly mother?
"The wise women builds her own home, but the foolish one tears hers 
down."  Proverbs 14:1 
After reading this verse in my devotions yesterday, I began 
thinking about what it means to "build."  It's a verb-an action word. 
(I've just finished teaching verbs to my grade 3 students).  So...
to be wise is to be doing something, taking action, taking steps to 
build up my kids. 
As a godly wife and mother, my actions need to be purposeful, 
thought-out and planned.  In light of the ministry of motherhood, 
as a godly mother, I need to be thoughtfully taking action to 
nurture my kids and mold their characters to be like Christ. 
Isn't that what being a mom is all about. 
We are called to be mentors to our kids, displaying for them an
authentic relationship with Jesus and using every opportunity to
build up their knowledge of who God is and build up their faith. 
As godly moms, we are building a foundation for them-hopefully one of 
faith. "The wise man builds his house upon the rock."  Who is our 
rock?  Jesus Christ should be the foundation.  We need to set our 
kiddies up for success by building them a strong foundation. 
What kind of planned actions do I need to build into my day? 
One thing my husband and I do is a Bible reading with the kids 
at the supper table, and we discuss the lesson, modelling for them
how it applies to their lives.  Now my kids are 3.5 and 18 months, 
but they love it and are eager every night to get to it-a great 
motivator for them to finish their veggies. 
It is part of our routine now, and reading this passage this morning
reminded me that it is a valuable practise-one way we are "building 
our home." 
Don't just wait until bedtime to do a Bible story, show your kids 
devotions are a priority and try to incorporate it throughout the day.
Teach them about the heroes in the Bible and look for examples/
lessons in the Bible that will apply to their lives in that moment. 
Another thing we do is play worship music for them throughout the day. 
I found a great cd at the christian book store that puts bible verses 
to music, and my kids fall asleep at night listening to it.  I think 
it is a great way to get God's word in their minds and hearts. 
One last thought...if we are not proactively building our household, 
we may be tearing it down, which is not likely our intention.  Today, 
I will be pondering other ways I can build a strong foundation for my 
kids and point them towards Christ.  Any suggestions for me???

Be blessed!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Am I fat?

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Weight!  Isn't it crazy how everyone is obsessed with this!  Whether it is tv commercials or magazines, our society is weight crazed!  Pills, shakes, herbs, exercise programs, diets, cleanses, reality tv shows, eat meat, don't eat meat, skip the dairy, la la la....  

We read about it.

We watch shows about it.

We chat about it.

We are a society focused on the outward appearance.  There is so much pressure on women to fit into an unrealistic mold.  We put skinny women up on a pedestal and say "she's beautiful."  

But, is she really happy?  

Will being stick thin bring me deep lasting joy?  

What kind of message does this send to our little girls?

I know many skinny, fit women who are not happy.  True joy is not dependent on weight.

After 2 babies and several love marks (stretch marks) later, I definitely find myself thinking about my weight.  I do believe it is important to be healthy and within a healthy weight range, but....

As a christian, should my mind be focused so much on myself and how I look?  

Does God want me to be spending all my time worrying about the number on the scale?

Is God's plan for me to be unhappy and depressed because I don't fit society's ideal?

Is it okay to have an extra ponch in the front? 

Is my value as a person dependent on my size?

As women, we are bombarded with so many unrealistic images and messages about how we should look and what size we should be.  Sometimes there is even pressure from family members to lose weight which can be especially hurtful.

God loves and values you because you are you. 

You are His beautiful creation.  

He loves you regardless of your size. 

In a world, where I am constantly seeing and hearing these messages that I don't measure up, I have to remind myself that God's love for me is so much deeper and wider than I can even fathom.  

God sees me, not my size. 
God loves me, not my size.

Ephesians 3:17 says "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and how long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

How about you?  Do you struggle to overcome society's crazy messages about weight?  

My prayer today:

God help me to see myself the way you do.  Help me to embrace your unconditional love for me, the kind of incredible love that led you to the cross for me and my sins.  Help me to focus on the things that matter to you-my character, how I treat my family and students, how I act when no one else is looking.  Guard my mind and my heart from negative messages that are contrary to your word.  Help me to take captive every thought and focus my energy on being a positive example for my kids, living a healthy lifestyle that pleases you.  Thank you Jesus for your love and strength today.

This is one of my favourite songs, very appropriate with Easter approaching.  Check it out:  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Love letter to my love

Marriage is like a work of art!  I can't remember where I heard this quote, but 10 years into marriage, I am starting to understand it.  The marriage relationship can be so deep and fulfilling, but also challenging.  A good marriage doesn't just happen.   A master piece isn't just created overnight!  A master artist is very thoughtful and purposeful as he creates his work.  Every stroke, every colour, every line is chosen with care.  A marriage takes work too!

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (following Christ's example)
SELF-CONTROL (especially when it comes to holding your tongue)
SERVING (Oh, a tough one I know)
COMMUNICATION (tricky for guys sometimes or maybe us gals just need to be quiet and listen)

Two imperfect people coming together to share a life.  Along the journey, there are sure to be valleys and bumps that can cause strain.  Seasons of  joy and, diapers, inlaws, financial stress, job stress, diapers, dogs, sickness, diapers...

We met in youth group and I was smitten with his gentle voice and sweetness!  But, I was very focused on my studies.  He pursued me and actually stole my car keys and refused to give them back until I agreed to go on a date with him.  Very persistent!

I remember that first date.  My little sister tagged along too with the encouragement of my father.  "Make sure you have her home by 10:00,"  my mother called as we walked towards the door.  "3 hours should be enough time to have dinner and watch a movie," added my father.  We dined at a really classy, fancy restaurant.  Ever head of  Swiss Chalet?  Some things never change. LOL!   It's still a family favourite today.  We watched Father of the Bride.  How fitting!  And so the romance began....

We dated for just over 4 years right through my university years.  The plan was for me to finish Teacher's College and then we would get married.  So, I was completely surprised when he popped the question on that chilly December day, way ahead of schedule.  His little poem was so cute and he kneeled down ever so gently.  The last line of his poem read "will you marry me?"  Of course, I exclaimed "yes!"  We held hands in excitement, hearts pounding, and our engagement began....

I remember that sunny July day when we were wed.  We were young-22 to be exact.  "Too young to get married,"  some chided.  The ceremony was worshipful.  We wanted to acknowledge the one who brought us together and would keep us together. 

We sang.  We prayed.  We vowed.  We kissed.  We walked into the church as individuals and walked out joyously as one!

My favourite part of the day was the horse and buggy ride through the city to the mountain brow.  It was a slow, peaceful ride to the escarpment, and we sat excitedly just the 2 of us, planning the rest of our life together.  The rest of the day seems to be a blur, but I hold that carriage ride dear to my heart.  I remember every part, every soft tender word spoken so vividly. 

This is my love letter to my love. 

After 10 years of marriage (this past July), this is my top 10 reasons why I love you babe!

#!.  I love the way you gently hold my hand in the car, in the church pew or walking through the mall.  You are the perfect combination of strength and tenderness.

#2.  I love your chocolate chip pancakes on Sunday mornings (and so do the kids)!  You can keep those coming!

#3.  I love your laugh,  Hearing it makes my heart smile.

#4.  I love that you put your family first.  Leaving a job you love so you won't have to travel anymore shows your sacrifical heart.

#5  I love how hardworking you are.  Thank you for getting up every day at 5:00 a.m. to provide for our family.  I know the commute can be stressful and the days are long.

#6  I love how playful you are with the kids.  It's so sweet to see you playing dress up, making towers, shooting basketballs, colouring, and having tea parties with our kiddies.  No dad has ever been loved more than you.  The kids adore you!

#7  I love that you are a faithful, loyal husband.  I don't have to worry about you having a wandering eye or being unfaithful.  This makes me feel secure, desired, and loved.

#8  I love that you are wise with our money (we won't bring up all those bikes).  You make careful decisions and are a good steward of what God has given us.  What peace in that security!

#9  I love that you are a man of character.  You are trustworthy, a man of your word.  I know you always do what is right.

#10.  I love that you drove all day and night to come to Washington to rescue me when I was pregnant, stranded, and all the flights were cancelled for the next week.  You are so thoughtful, and you make me feel safe.

#11.  I love that you are a man of conviction.  In a generation where so many men are lowering their standards, you remain steadfast.  You have kept our standards high e.g. not drinking, not watching inappropriate movies.  I appreciate the boundaries you have set and consistently live by.

#12  I love that strong arm (inside joke) that holds me and keeps our little family safe!

#13  I love the thoughtful surprises e.g. muffins from Tim's, spontanteous back massages, trips to the spa.  You make me feel so loved and special.

#14  I love the way you support me in raising, loving, and discipling our kids.  It's great to have a partner to share this mighty undertaking with.  We make a terrific team!

#15  I love how you have stepped up to be the spiritual head of our home.  I am encouraged when you pray for me, our kids, and our future.  You are investing into the kids when you lead the family devotions.  Thank you for your steadfast godly example.

Wow!  That is more than 10.  You sound like a saint.  You are as close to perfect as they come baby!

I love you Jeffy!

 your baby doll

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Scary "I" Word

Wow!  I feel like my life is on speed dial!  Where have the last 3 months gone?  Well...I have survived getting back into the swing of things-balancing home and teaching, illness, report cards, Christmas, marking, illness, school changes, life in general.  Did I mention illness (it has really hit our home this year with one cold and flu after another)?  Unfortunately, I have had little time to write; though many things have been on my heart lately.

Today, I wanted to write about a sensitive topic-one that most people don't often talk about.  At least, I didn't want to discuss it when I was going through it.  It is scary, heart wrenching, and unfair!  What is it, you ask?  Now I have your attention....I want to share some thoughts on infertility-a word that carries such fear and uncertainty for both women and men.

Many people probably don't know about my infertility journey.  It is not something you bring up in casual conversation or share with just anyone.  But, God has brought me through this valley and now that I am on the other side, I thought my story may encourage some of you who may be having your own infertility issues or other problems completely unrelated to fertility.  Whatever you are going through, it is my desire that you will find hope from my story to tackle what you are dealing with.

The journey to have a child was not an easy road for us.  We were married young and decided to wait a few years before starting a family.  Then, we had difficulty getting pregnant and when we finally saw a specialist, we were told that it would be challenging for us to conceive, as I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome-of which the only real symptom I had from the list was infertility).  I know now what a blessing that was!

Upon getting the diagnosis, we were devastated and I say "we" because I think often men are just as shocked and upset, but do not always get the support they need.  I felt angry that God would allow this to happen to us.  I felt empty, alone, and helpless. My husband was so supportive and loving, but I still felt like a failure.  Was I being punished?  Why was this happening to me?  I felt so guilty that I couldn't get pregnant.  My dream had always been to have a big family with lots of kids, but now, my dreams were shattered and I was left feeling numb.  Infertility was not part of my plan!

Until someone has walked through this journey, they don't truly comprehend the pain of infertility. Well-meaning friends and family don't know how to respond and often say "insensitive" things.  Every new precious baby that is born is a constant reminder to you of what you lack.  You see babies everywhere and your heart longs for a baby of your own. But dear friends, God sees those tears and I believe he bottles them up.  Though I couldn't see past my pain and frustration, God had a plan.  I just needed to learn to trust Him in a deeper way.  I have never had a miscarriage, but I know of many friends lately who have and it is a deep loss that cuts deep.

Through this trial, God was faithful and walked this journey with us.  We began seeking fertility advise and began some medication with the full knowledge that it often doesn't work.  The waiting game is a hard place to be where fertility is concerned.  The appointments, uncertainty, stress, and basically the unknown is overwhelming, especially when you approach it without God.  At first, I wanted to blame God for allowing this to happen, but I certainly didn't want to pray to Him.  Why would He cause this to happen?  I was a good person after all!

We met with doctors, had numerous appointments, gave vile after vile of blood, and shed many tears.  Desperate for some encouragement, I began reading the Bible all the time and I started meditating on the words.  I strongly believe it was the words of life I was reading in that old Bible that began to change me, not my circumstances!  I was still childless.  But, I felt hopeful, not angry.  My heart was learning to trust God and have peace, even when I wasn't seeing any results.  My view of God began to change, as I stopped blaming Him and started leaning on Him for strength.  Being content and at peace despite the situation you are in is really what God desires for us.

Many people, especially my family, were faithfully praying for me during this time and I am so grateful for that.  I began to pray too...not just for a baby, but that God would guide and direct us.  I knew God placed a desire in my heart for a baby, but maybe there was a baby out there that needed to be loved.  Maybe God had a different plan for our family that He was working out.  My prayers changed, and I started asking God to prepare me for whatever He had planned and I started to seek His will/plan for my life, rather than my own.

I continued taking the meds and following the doctor's advise.  I was busy teaching, going to doctor's appointments, and praying for God's will.  It all became part of my routine.  It's funny that you kinda forget what you are trying to achieve in the busyness of life.  I was shocked to receive a phone message from the doctor one day in December that said "I was pregnant."  Really!  I was overjoyed and filled with thanksgiving.  I listened to that message at least 10 times.  If a person's heart could burst, mine would have.  It was a feeling I will never forget! I hung up the phone and wept, tears of joy and elation!  This was not the way I had planned to get pregnant, but God had blessed me with a baby, growing inside of me.  When you experience infertility, getting pregnant is like God hand picking a baby for you.  At least, that is how I always viewed it.  I felt so loved and special to God that He would entrust me with a little miracle.  Finding out I was pregnant was the best Christmas gift ever!

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” James 1:17 

The birth of Jax has been a tremendous blessing, one greater than we could ever have imagined.  Jax has brought incredible joy to our home!  His little life is a constant reminder to us of God’s faithfulness, favour, and grace.  We called our little bundle of joy Jax Jeffrey Richard.  This unique name-Jax means “God is gracious and has shown His favour.”  What a perfect name, considering the circumstances around his conception!  Our second little angel was born in October, and we found out we were pregnant with her on Valentine's day.  Jaidalyn Joy is kind- of a made up name, but it means "precious jewel of God" and "refreshing spirt" when you put Jaida and Lyn together.  She has definitely filled our home with a joyous energy that refreshes us everyday! 

I couldn't imagine my life without these two precious little gifts!  When I look into their faces every day, I am reminded that God is real.  To those who do not believe in God, I don't have to argue scientific facts with you e.g. Darwinism (which is actually being challenged by the greatest scientific minds right now).  I simply present my little miracles to you.  They exist because He exists.
God has taught us many things through this season of our lives.  We have learned to trust Him in new and deeper ways.  We have faced many challenges over the years including my car accident and kidney stones while pregnant, gestational diabetes, and Jeff’s knee surgery and car accident. God didn't cause these problems, but He used them to change us.  Our faith has grown, as God has been faithful in every situation.   

We now believe strongly in the power of prayer, and we know that God is a miracle working God who cares for us.  No matter what the problem or how desperate or discouraging the circumstances appear, we have learned that God is powerful and capable of intervening in our lives in amazing ways we can’t even imagine.   

Throughout this season, God’s word became so precious to us.  It has been our source of strength and hope through both the difficult and joyous times.  Finally, we have learned that God has all things in control.  He has wonderful plans for us, and He is so gracious to bless us with the desires of our hearts in His perfect timing.

We have wonderful family and friends who have supported us throughout this journey.  We appreciate the prayers and words of encouragement we have received.  


Publish Post

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Toothpaste Experiment

The excitement in my class was contagious, as I announced to the class that we were going to do another one of my "crazy" experiments.  The students were bursting with glee, as I instructed them to sit "criss-cross applesauce" on the carpet in front of me.  There was a hush across the crowd of eager faces, as I proudly displayed my purple mystery bag (home to my best kept treasures).

I love to use object lessons in my class.  Lots of kids are visual and kinesthetic learners.  They truly benefit from the hands-on activities.  This lesson was unique.  I told the class that I had a special purpose in mind when I selected this experiment.  I really built it up in their minds because I wanted them to remember....

I selected 2 volunteers to help me, and then I pulled a tube of toothpaste out of my bag.  I asked student #1 to squeeze as much tooth paste as they could on to the plate that student #2 was holding.  The students were so pumped that I thought they were going to explode.  "Seriously?"  student #1 asked and the class began to roar with laughter.  He wasted no time emptying the tube and I thanked him for his assistance.  Then I asked another student to come up and instructed her to put all the toothpaste back into the tube.  I picked a bright, well-liked student, and she tried their best to scoop up the paste with her fingers and cram it back in the tube.  Unfortunately, she was not able to do it.  I encouraged her to try harder!  "You can do it!" I cheered.  The class joined in, but she couldn't seem to get even a little bit back in.  "Well, who else would like to try?"  I asked.  Hands began waving feverishly, as students tried to get my attention.

Several students came up to the front and worked tirelessly to get the toothpaste back into the tube.  I smiled, as things were transpiring just as I had hoped-a big sticky mess!.  Finally one student suggested that I do it because I was the teacher after all.  I explained to them that I couldn't do it either.  Someone else suggested that I should ask my dentist, which made me chuckle.  A bright little fellow piped up "Well, what's the lesson, how do we solve this problem?"

I began explaining how this toothpaste experiment relates to anti-bullying month.  I shared that the toothpaste is like our words.  Once we speak them, we can't take our words back.  Yes we can apologize, but our words are out there.  They can not be forgotten just like the toothpaste once squeezed out could not be squished back into the tube, no matter how hard they tried.  The light began to dawn and big grins replaced the puzzled looks.

I encouraged them to use positive, cheerful words with one another.  Words that were sweet like honey, refreshing and uplifting.  The kind of words that make others smile on the inside.  

Ephesisans 4:29 says "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29).  Another verse that comes to mind is I Thess 5:11 "therefore, encourage one another, just as in fact you are doing."

I explained that when we make mistakes and say things that we regret, especially when we are upset or angry, we can make things right by offering an apology.  I took a paper towel and scraped the tooth paste off the plate and shared how a sincere apology can help clean up the mess left by cruel, cutting words.

Kids can get physical, especially on the playground, but it is often the emotional bullying caused by name-calling or verbal exclusion that leaves the worst scars.  It's sad to say that even adults need to be reminded of the power of their words.  Cliques, gossip, and exclusion can be as destructive as a physical attack, especially for women. 

Proverbs 18:21 "The tongue has the power of life and death." Wow!  Our words do have an impact! 

In honour of anti-bullying month, try the toothpaste experiment.  I know it will have a lasting impact....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Only Truly Free Gift

Wow!  What a crazy past few weeks!  I have hardly had time to shower-let alone write!  Report cards and the dreaded parent-teacher interviews are over!  Well, I actually enjoy meeting the parents of the students in my class and putting a face to the name.  It helps me understand the child in a deeper way once I have met their parents.  For me, interviews are a way of connecting and building a relationship with them.  We all have the same end goal-helping their child to reach their full potential.  Don't get me wrong-some of the interviews can be uncomfortable-who really wants to hear that their precious child isn't perfect and that they do have areas to improve in?  It's not always easy to be the deliverer of that news.

Truth, even when given with the greatest intention, can be hard to take.  Their child isn't perfect and never will be.  This is a shocking revelation for some!  Guess what-I'm not perfect either, even though I strive for excellence!  No one is perfect.  God's word says that "All have sinned and have fallen short of God's glory."  Straight A's is really an unrealistic goal.  I wish I could give all my students a perfect report card.  I actually care more about the content of their character rather than whether they get straight A's, but that's an entirely different that I won't delve into just yet. 

I had a few kids tear up in class the other day when I gave my "report card" chat.  I always tell them that I want them to do their best, and if they did their best and did not get the marks on their report card they were hoping for, that's okay.  I reminded them that their value and worth as a person is not dependent on whether they get straight A's-this is the part that struck a chord deep down.  I explained to them that we always want to do our best, but sometimes, even our best efforts do not produce the results we want.  I pointed out that they are still valuable and special to me, regardless of their grades.  I had a little girl come up to me after class and say "I can't believe you still like me even though I got N's (needs improvement) and S's (satisfactory) on my report card."  I smiled at her and we hugged briefly, but inside my heart was breaking.  It is so sad to think that some children grow up thinking that they have to earn love and affection.

When reflecting on the interviews I had this time around, I began to think about Christianity.  It is really the only religion where we can come to God, in our broken, imperfect state.  He doesn't expect us to be perfect and all cleaned up when we come to him.  I know a lot of other religions require good works to get to heaven.  The thought of "striving" to reach some sort of perfection, so I can be "good enough" to get to heaven is exhausting!  I don't have the time or energy to earn my salvation.  I am so thankful that I can come to God the way I am-faults and all (boy do I have a lot of them), and still receive the gift of salvation that He offers for free.  Nothing is free these days!  But, freedom from my sin and guilt is a gift I will gladly receive with open arms! My heavenly father loves and accepts me even if I "need improvement" and behave "satisfactorily" most of the time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Trading in Panic for Peace

Overwhelmed!  That's how I have been feeling over the past few days.  I have only been back to work for a couple of weeks now, but it hasn't taken too long for me to feel like I am drowning in a turbulent sea of work, responsibilities, marking, diapers, planning, cooking, and stress.  At times, I feel like I am a sleep-deprived juggler who just can't let one of the balls drop or disaster will occur (I can be so dramatic)!

I even went to work one day with the contents of my daughter's diaper smeared all over my blouse, and I didn't even realize until I got to my classroom.  I tried to clean it off of course, but I smelled like a dirty bum all day!  So gross!

Everything seems important and everyone needs my attention!  It's easy for me to be so busy and distracted that I don't take time for the most important things.  In the past, spending time with my God and allowing His word to refocus me has been my sanity.  It's amazing how His presence can calm my anxieties and bring me peace, despite my crazy schedule and unending lists. 

This week, I have been reminded once again that what I think or society thinks is most important, isn't necessarily what God thinks.  God values relationships and people.  He cares more about my relationship with Him and my heart-how I treat my students, how I show them patience (believe me-I've got some students this year that push me to the limit), forgiveness, and fairness, rather than how many curriculum expectations I've covered.

My goal over the coming weeks is to be more like Mary (from the Bible) and to soak up the wisdom of God's word rather than to succumb to the "striving" and "Martha busyness" of this world, which can really swallow us whole.  Resting instead of striving.  Peace instead of panic.  Story books and cuddles instead of marking and stress!

My simple prayer tonight:  God help me to spend my time in ways that honour you.  Help me to remember the purposes you have placed in my heart and to stay focused on them.  Give me strength, wisdom, and perseverance to love, as you do, in all situations.