People I Wished Lived in My House

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Some days I wish certain people lived in my house.

Like the time the boys came off the bus with all kinds of questions about sex.  Apparently some kid on the bus had been talking on the bus.  He had told them all he “knew”.  Which left my seven and nine year old with more questions than answers.  It wasn’t the first time.  This time though, the questions were more concrete.

I told them to let me think about it and then I tore up the stairs and frantically pulled out my Kevin Leman book, A Chicken’s Guide to Talking Turkey to Your Kids about Sex. (written with Kathy Flores Bell).  I flipped through that book looking for anything that would help me.  Thankfully I had already been reading it.  I quickly patted myself on the back for doing a couple of things right (yes!) and then flipped some more until I found some help.
I wished Kevin Lehman lived in my house that day.  I know it won’t be the last time I wish for that.

I wish Betty Crocker, the Sneaky Chef Missy Chase Lapine or Oprah’s chef, lived in my house.  I hate the daily decision of “What’s for supper?”  Which in my house is almost rhetorical because my two picky eaters won’t like it anyways.  I think they should ask, “What am I going to hate tonight?” instead.

If Betty or Sneaky Missy or Oprah’s chef lived here, I could just pass that tedious little stressor off on them.  It’s one of those things that if you don’t know at the top of the day it’ll nag at you.  All.Day.Long.  What are you having for supper?  What are you going to do for supper?  On and on.  It’s poking me as I write because quite frankly I don’t know what we are having for supper and I wish I didn’t care!  Betty would whip up something quick.  Sneaky would fill it with pureed goodness and Oprah’s chef would not only make it look good but it would taste divine!  The boys would wolf it down.  Maybe.  But it wouldn’t matter to me because I didn’t make it!

I wish a personal trainer lived in my house.  Better yet, I wish the dancers who did the New York City Ballet Workout lived in my house.  Then I could dance and work out.  I wouldn’t be able to put it off because they’d be herding me to the back of a chair turned barre, even though I have twenty-million things to do!

I wish a pastor lived in my house.  Oh yeah…he does.  Scratch that.  So where is he when all the questions come?  Because the questions invariably come when he is not at home.  It’s like my children know that all the theological questions must surface once daddy has left the house.  Although this is a slight exaggeration, some days I feel like it is truth.

Like a couple of nights ago.  And just to be fair, the pastor may have been in the house but he wasn’t with me as I was putting my youngest to bed.  The lights were out and I was all ready to retreat to some peace and quiet.  And out popped “I’m not sure God is real.  He doesn’t answer my prayers.”

I was tired.  I was on the verge of freedom.  My eyes started to roll and my knees sagged.  Thankfully it was dark.  But the question hung in the air.  It needed attention.

I asked why he thought that.

He had been praying for something and he didn’t see an answer.  I thought about all the theological answers to this age old question.  Started to go there only to get silence in response.  I backed up.  Pleading with God to find an answer a nine year old, who is trying to understand faith and God, could understand.  And then it came to me, divine inspiration.  “You know how sometimes Mommy and Daddy want whats best for you?  That sometimes we say yes, no or wait.”  A nod.  “Well it’s the same for God.  Sometimes he says yes, no or wait depending on what is best for us.  Do you understand?”  Yes he did.

I wanted to say so much more.  To make him understand that God hears his prayers.  I didn’t.  I felt the divine nudge to leave it for now.

Sometimes I wish God would live in my house.  Then I am reminded that He already does.  I just need to open the door and He willingly comes in.

What Defines Me….

I’ve been thinking, after last post, about not letting a moment define me.  The obvious question is: what should define us, if anything?  If we leave that question unanswered something will fill it because obviously we are going to be defined by something or someone.

Maybe it’s a role of some kind; spouse, parent, single person.  Military wife, pastor’s wife, widower.  Maybe it’s an illness or disorder; cancer, autism, infertile.  Or maybe it is a moment from our past; failure, survivor, loser.  There are all kinds of things that we can be defined by.  But they are all secondary.  Some are lies.  They all lie in the fact that they define our worth of some kind.

Our worth does not lie in what we are, what we’ve done or who we are.  Our worth is defined by whose we are.  We are daughters and sons of the King of Creation.  The fact we were thought of before time began and loved, gives us worth.  Our worth was already validated before we were born.

“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Eph 1:4-8 NLT.

We don’t have to do anything to earn it.  We don’t have to perform.  We don’t have to work our way up some scale that gives us points for doing this or that.  Thankfully, we don’t have to achieve perfection.  We don’t have to do a single thing yet we are still loved.  Still worth the cross in Jesus’ eyes.

This is who defines us.  I’m glad it’s him – Three in One.  I’m only starting to really get to know Him.  God’s own Son who gave up everything in Heaven; his home for starters.  I don’t think we even come close to understanding what He gave up for us.

He put on flesh and came to earth to bring us salvation, redemption and love.  The more I get to know this God-Man the more I’m drawn to Him.  He is perfection but totally approachable.  Crowds crushed around him.  They travelled miles for His healing touch.  He was radical and what he said they had never heard before.  He had compassion for everyone from a grieving mother to a Samaritan woman by a well.  Thousands followed him from place to place.  He has not changed.  He is the same today as He was back then.  Still approachable.  Still waiting for us to come to Him.

He treated everyone with dignity, compassion and love.  But He is God and no push-over.  He has no problem calling a spade a spade.  He is majestic and holy and righteous.  He wants us to be who He created us to be.  He is cheering us on.  It may take some painful pruning.  That’s a guarantee.  It hurts but like any good Father, it’s applied with a loving hand.  He walks us through it.  He doesn’t leave us to crash and burn in failure.

The offer is good to anyone.  Because in His eyes we are all worth it.  No matter what.

If that wasn’t enough: He died a brutal death because we are worth it.  He defeated Satan and all our sins because we are worth it.  He endured suffering and shame that wasn’t his but ours because we are worth it.  He saw who we were created to be.  He saw our potential.  But beyond that He saw usJust as we are.  Sons and daughters.  Heirs to His Kingdom and He loved us.

I am so grateful that I am defined by this: For God so loved me that he gave his one and only son so that I would not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16 paraphrase mine)

What I Learned from an Olympic Athlete

I had my Olympic moment early on in the competition.  I have to confess I don’t spend much time watching.  I can’t take the drama or intensity.  I just like to know we medalled – preferably gold in curling and hockey.  Curling is my sport.  Hockey is Canada’s sport.  It’s gold or go home.  (Joking. Sort of.) (P.S. Thank you Jennifer Jones!)

I need to take a lesson from one of our Canadian athletes, Kaya Turski.  She is one of the best freestyle skiers in the world, winning gold in Vancouver.  She’s coming off a knee injury and had a virus during her Olympic events, which were held in the first few days of competition.  She fell in both her runs.  Did she make excuses?  No.  Did she whine and complain?  No.  Instead she gave one of the most positive interviews I’ve ever seen.  She exemplified a good sport.   The CBC interviewer showed us the secret to her great attitude.  On her coat sleeve, Kaya had written some positive messages but the one they focused on said, “No moment defines me.”   WOW!  

This wasn’t just talk.  Listening to Kaya Turski speak after failing to even get a chance to defend her gold medal, you knew she lived it.  Was she disappointed?  Yeah!  But there was no shame in her voice.  Her smile was genuine.  I can’t recall her apologizing to the Canadian public.  She had done her best and that day it wasn’t good enough.  So be it.  She wasn’t defined by that defeat.  She obviously knows that her worth is not tied up in  skies and medals.  She knows she is worth so much more.  I’d love to know who taught her that life lesson!

For me, the really ironic thing, was the whole interview was done by one of my favourite CBC reporters, Adrienne Arsenault.  A woman who I used to kid was living out the life I once wanted.  But I let a failure, a moment, define me for way too many years.  I let it tell me what I could and couldn’t do.  I wish I had Kaya’s coat sleeve a few decades back. 

What happens when we let moments define us?

We live in either past glory or past failure.  Neither is good.   As soon as you’ve achieved it or failed at it, it’s in the PAST.  Everyone else has moved on, except you.  You are a slave to that particular moment.  You cannot escape it.

We continue to live out that moment in a very warped way.  In the case of defeat or failure, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I failed once, I will again.  I can’t becomes part of everyday language.  

Or it can make us so driven that nothing can stand in the way of erasing that particular failure or repeating past glory.  Whatever the case, all our worth is tied up in that one (or two) defining moments.

What happens if we choose to live like Kaya, and not let any one moment define us, good or bad?

We can move forward into the future, free of any strings pulling us back.  A slave to no one or no thing.

Our worth is not tied up in our performance.  A mistake is a point of learning.   

We know who we really are.  We know our true value as a person.  And we are free to discover who we were created to be because there is nothing holding us back.  We are open to all possibilities beyond our wildest imagination.  

I can say that I have moved on from that one moment.  It no longer defines me.  I want to think and believe like Kaya:  “No moment defines me.”  I am worth so much more.

 

The Cost of Serving: Moving and Grieving


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We’ve been fighting sickness in our house.  Hence no blog so far this week.  Having a child home sick means that I’m probably not going to get much done, especially anything that takes concentration.

So I did a few things around the house that required almost no thought.  One of which was ironing sheets.  Before you start to judge, let me explain myself.  I am not in the habit of ironing sheets. I hate ironing.  My husband loves it.  He does his own and anything I might happen to give him ahead of time.  (I know right?  Lucky girl!)

However I had bought a set of sheets, unbeknownst to me, that wrinkle like crazy.  Since I had some time I pulled out the ironing board and ironed them.  Why?  I didn’t want the sheets to look ugly on the bed.  I’m trying to make our house a place of sanctuary, a home.  Ugly, wrinkly sheets on that particular day was not meeting my goal.  So I ironed.

We moved a little over two years ago.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  Being a pastor’s wife, I had already moved many times.  I had moved provinces even!  I thought I had it all figured out.  Was I wrong!   I had never moved with children who were old enough to understand what was going on.  I had never moved from a place where we had lived for longer than three years, where we had roots established, schools attended and my twin sister living nearby.

I totally underestimated this move.  Do I think we made the wrong choice?  Not at all.  Both Mark and I knew that we were following God’s call for our family.  We didn’t doubt that.  I always felt that it wasn’t just a call for Mark and me, but also for the boys.  God was calling our family to this new city and ministry.

What I misjudged was the cost of service.  I never thought that my children would pay that price.  We knew they were going to have a difficult time leaving their school and church.  We didn’t realize how difficult.  Everyone tells you kids are resilient.  Maybe in their families.  Certainly not mine.

One word describes that first year post move: BRUTAL!!!   During that year, a friend gave me a copy of the book, After the Boxes are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In, by Susan Miller.  It was a priceless gift.  Miller helped me understand that moving equals loss.  Grieving is a natural process.

Our boys have mourned the loss of everything they ever knew.  Looking back, all the stages of grief came and went.  I saw anger, depression, bargaining, denial.  These are not teenagers but boys.  Acceptance has been a slow journey, one that’s not yet complete.  One child still wistfully hangs on to the past.  My heart breaks as I see his pain.  Nor did I expect my own grief.   So the book was a balm.

Miller writes not only about the mourning process but also about moving on into the new life.  One way to do this is to make your house a home.  I realized I had to want to live here if we ever wanted the boys to feel at home.  I had some work to do.

The previous move, I had been seven months pregnant and had a twenty-month old.  Once the furniture was moved in, I never moved it again.  In eight years.  I decided that could not happen again.  I had to decorate and make this home a refuge from the world.  It’s a work in progress which leads me to the ironed sheets.  Do ironed sheets make all the pain and hurt go away?  No, they don’t.  Only time, love and God can do that.  I don’t pretend to understand why the cost has been high.  I do trust that God is good and He has the best for not only me but also my precious boys.

But some things I do have control of.  Ugly wrinkly sheets don’t feel like home.  I find no peace in them.  So I ironed.

Things I’ve Learned from Being a Mom

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My oldest son is turning eleven in just a very few short days.  It crept up on me.  Those eleven years.  When he was little and I chased him and his brother, all day long, twenty-four hours felt like eleven years.  Once he started school, those years felt eleven minutes long!

As he’s now becoming a tween and manhood is just around the corner, I find myself pondering some things.  One being; just how HARD motherhood is.  NO ONE tells you this until after the fact.  After having my firstborn, I received cards telling me how hard this job is.  I wondered why no one had bothered to mention that before!  If I hear people say being a parent is easy-peasy, I wonder if they are delusional.  Or else they are from another planet.  Or maybe I am.

Motherhood is not short on teaching lessons – for the mom mostly.  For me.

These are some of the things I’ve learned from being a mother:

1.  I am not perfect.  I can never achieve this goal even though I really, really want to.  I thought, imperfection means dire consequences for my kids, right?  But that didn’t stop me from failing, utterly, as a parent.  What I am learning is my imperfection doesn’t mean I’ll screw up my kids.  Probably perfectionism would.  Instead I’m learning it’s ok to make mistakes.  If I mess up and I will, I go and apologize to them.  Talk to them.  This is better than them having a perfect mom.  The message I’m sending them is it’s ok to make mistakes.  Own them.  Learn from them.  We all become a little more human.  It also makes all of us realize just how much we need Jesus.  The quest for perfectionism voids that need.

2.  I am not in control.  How I would like to be!  How I have tried to control and not in very good ways.  Yelling isn’t going to get my kids to do what I want them to.  Manipulating isn’t.  They have free will and part of my job is to let them go so they can learn to make decisions for themselves.  So they can gain wisdom.  This is so much harder to do as they get older I’m realizing.  There is a lot of bad stuff out there.  There is also much good.  I want them to know the difference.  I want my guys to be able to make good choices for their lives.  To know how to handle responsibility.  To have fun.  To be healthy.  Maybe even decide to eat a vegetable or two!  If I control they will never learn.  I will be robbing them of this very important life skill.  Besides I can barely control my own life, why would I think I could control two more?  (It’s called pride.  Need to work on that.)

3.  God gives us good gifts.  I look at these two boys and I think, “Where on earth did you come from?”   They continually surprise me!  I’ll hear them talking and think, “How did you come up with that?”  Or they use their manners!!!!  They are kind to someone.  I should not be surprised by these things.  We do try to teach them here at home but like I said before, we aren’t perfect.  I guess I’m thrilled that some of it sticks!   Because sometimes when they get in trouble  well, let’s just say I wonder.

4.  I am not alone.  Moms were not meant to be alone, I am positive of this one thing.  When my kids were very tiny, I was involved in a mom group.  Once a week I got my sanity back as I sat and talked with other moms.  I learned tons of stuff as we shared our experiences.  I made some friends.  I learned I wasn’t crazy.  Traveling the road of parenting with others is so important.  At times we really do feel all alone.  Children are bewildering at times, scary at others and joyful mostly.  We need to share our experiences.  Even if there isn’t anyone right available we always have our heavenly Dad who is just a breath away.  He didn’t just send children our way and then run away.  He walks with us every day whether we acknowledge Him or not.  It gives me much comfort to know that he loves my two boys more than I do.  He loves me too and is looking out for me as a mom too.  And when I need to hold someone’s hand, His is always available.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd.  He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.  He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.  Isaiah 40:11 NLT