A Shift in Momentum

Day two of summer vacation.  I thought day one was going to do me in.  It wasn’t pretty.  The noise alone was enough to kill.  I’m serious.

But His mercies are new every morning and today was a different day with a different attitude.  As Ben reminded me tonight, after his father said it must have been a good day since we were all in good moods, it “started out a bit rough.”  It shifted momentum and that’s what I’m looking for.  A shift in momentum when things aren’t necessarily going in the right direction.  It happens when we decide to change something.  Usually our attitudes, sometimes our physical location.  I did both.

It turned into a great day.  A visit to the farmer’s market got the veggies I needed.  Then a trip to the Lego store got the inspiration the boys’ needed.  I let them linger and look and take their time instead of rushing them.  There was no fire to rush home to.  We rested in the moment and enjoyed the experience as well as each other’s company.

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My usual MO is harried.  No fun for anyone.  I’m trying to change it.  Today the momentum shifted and we all had fun.  We all got what we needed.

On my mirror, Deuteronomy 6:5-7 posted.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

I want this to be my MO (method of operation/modus operandi).  I want my boys to know what their Heavenly Father is really like because I mirror Him.  I want to talk about Him with them but more than that, I want to act like Him so when I do speak about Jesus or God, my boys’ are open to listening.  Because they recognize Him in me.  As James says in his book, faith without actions is useless.  The same goes for witnessing. Words without actions are worthless.  Lack of words is not my problem.  A lack of action is.  Was.  It’s turning around.  There’s a shift in momentum.

What’s your MO?  Is it the one you want to be known for? Is there one you’d rather be recognized by?  What are some of your secrets for shifting momentum this summer?  I’d love to hear about them!  There’s gonna be days this summer where we are all going to need help!

Being Called Out of the Cave

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After a fifteen year absence, I went back to a writing conference this past weekend.  People asked me what I’d been doing in those fifteen years.  Mmmm.  We moved three times.  Major moves.  Once across two provinces.  My children were born.  I was too tired when they were really little to write much more than the alphabet.  Ten years of severe sleep deprivation is not conducive to a writing career.  I usually didn’t even have to get past saying I had kids and the person was already nodding.  They understood.

These are the excuses I hid behind this past weekend.  It’s the truth just not full disclosure.  Fear held me back.  Fear of not being good enough.  I had already failed once attempting to be a writer, a journalist.  I let it define me as a failure.  I would never be a writer.

Ann Voskamp in her bible study, One Thousand Gifts, talks about how fear makes us live small lives.  Stops and makes you think, doesn’t it?  I have lived small for fifteen years.  What about you?  Is there any area where you live small?

In the past year, my fog cleared.  I’ve been running from a writing project for a long time.  It’s not that I wasn’t passionate about it or felt called to write it.  I just didn’t feel good enough to pen it.  I worked on it when it fit into my schedule.

Circumstances this past year, dictated I get it done.  Hemmed in, with only one option out, I sat down and clicked away on the computer keys.  A sense of purpose filled me and the final goal was attending Write Canada.

Don’t you love conferences?  It’s one of the best ways to learn because there are so few distractions!  It’s awesome when a theme becomes an echo for the entire weekend.  Totally unplanned by the speakers.  That’s when you know you’ve discovered something special.  Both Mark Buchanan and Ted Dekker, the keynote speakers, spoke about the pitfalls of success.  Publishing, the pinnacle of success in the writing world, means nothing, if you aren’t engaged in a relationship with God.  If that relationship is right then the rest falls into place.  Whether you’re a writer, accountant, teacher, whatever you do, this applies to all of us.  It’s a key to life.  All the money in the world, success as the world says it must be, is zero.  It will leave you empty if you do not have a relationship with the One who created you and gave you the desires to create, crunch numbers or whatever.

The conference was also a calling out for me.  A summons out of the cave, where I’ve hid for fifteen years.  Confirmation that the call to be a writer was not my imagination.  A gift, not to be hid, buried in the dirt like the talent in the parable of the Ten Talents, but used and multiplied. (Matthew 25)  It doesn’t just apply to writing.  I’ve been stomping down a number of things over the years.  Fear to be, to do.  Life in the small lane.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to become some mega extrovert overnight.  Say yes to every request.  Not at all.  It’s not a call to go be “busy for God.”  He doesn’t need that.  It’s an adjustment of attitude.  As Mark Buchanan reminded us this past weekend, are we available when God calls?  He’s looking for someone who is ready and willing to go.  I want to be able to raise my hand. “Here I am Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)  Maybe I’m not the most talented but He’s more than able to fill in the gaps.

What about you?  Where have you been the last fifteen years?  Have you been hiding?  What’s your cave?  I’d encourage you to listen for God calling you out of that cave.  He needs workers who are willing and ready.  He knows you.  He’s calling you by name.  Won’t you join me as we ditch life in the small lane?

10 Things I learned at a Writing Conference that had Nothing to do with Writing

I attended a writing conference this past weekend.  Information was on overload.  My brain tried to absorb as much as it’s spongy mass could hold. By the end of the conference it was saturated.  I was torn between,  “OOh I did that right!” and “Ugh, I totally messed that up!”

Apart from the writing aspect, there were other lessons on the table to be picked up, examined and memorized.  Here are a few of them that I found especially compelling:

1.  For many of us, our calling whispered to us at a young age.

2.  We will one day have to answer for how we used our gift.  Are we hiding it away, thinking we’re not good enough?  If we are using it, are we spending it wisely?

3. People who have succeeded at their craft but have not bought into their success are refreshing to be around.  They teach us so much.

4. Having all your meals prepared for three days and not having to think about picky eaters is equal to taking a week long vacation.  This is truth. Believe it.

5. Handing out business cards is as thrilling as I always thought it would be.  You can think I’m lame but if you’ve worked at home and the only business “cards” you ever handled were dirty diapers, dirty tissues or a gross sippy cup, then you totally understand what I’m talking about.

6.  There are some business cards that are pure gold to the receiver.  They remind me of the tickets that Nigel and Mary on the show, So You Think You Can Dance, hand to the dancers if they make it to the final auditions.  It’s a ticket to possibility.

7.  “Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing.  But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.”  Mark Buchanan highlighted this quote from the movie, Cool Runnings.

8.  Stepping out of one’s comfort zone can be quite exhilarating.

9.  Driving alone in silence with the wind blowing through the windows is restful.

10.  Who knew that one could meet so many pastors’ wives at a writing conference!

Why We Need to Play

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A friend gave me a book a week ago.  I just about jumped out of my seat!  I had been wanting to read this book!  I was waiting for it to come out.  Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray.  I’m a little more than half way through.  Wow!  So good!  It’s reinforcing some things I’ve been learning this year through another course I’ve taken to help me with my anxiety.  Like taking care of myself.

I love Gray’s book because it puts into pictures for me what I’ve been trying to learn.  I know the words but I’m a visual learner and in some cases, this book has crystalized in picture form what I need to do.  Sounds weird?  That’s okay.  It probably is unless you are a visual learner too.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it’s just me!

Taking care of myself is one of those things.  I know it.  I still don’t do it.  When did we start telling ourselves we weren’t worth it or deserve it?  Maybe when our kids were small.  Maybe it goes back farther than that.  There are countless reasons.  I have to ask, When did we start believing that lie?  That we weren’t worth it.  Didn’t deserve it.

I remember even in my counseling sessions years ago, my therapist telling me I needed to take time for myself.  She asked me what I did for myself.  I told her I was taking Friday mornings off to write while my husband was home on his day off with our teeny boys. And I curled one evening.  I must have felt guilty because she said to me, “That’s all you take off?  A morning and an evening?”  She pointed out that wasn’t much since I was on call seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.  She was right.

It’s been worse these last two years.  Moving changed everything and routine, well it’s taken two years to even get one!  Friendships are forming but it’s been lonely as we had to make new friends.  Start over.  All of us.  It’s taken time to find out where to go to curl or play soccer or find a special coffee shop.

Since my kids are bigger and in school all day, I felt I should be able to have any me time, through the day.  But that often gets hijacked with lists of things to do, bake, clean and purge.  Honestly I never take the time to do something for play.  For me.  And that is what Gray has brought out into the light for me.  Play.  Do we take the time to play for ourselves?  The answer is NO.  I don’t.

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I remember when we moved, one of my friends found out I used to paint and I liked watercolours.  She gave me, as a parting gift, a pad of water colour paper and some watercolour paints.  I was thrilled.  I loved it.  I’ve used it once.  Why?  Because there is never enough time!  I’m running here and there.  I’m gulping for air.  I can’t stop and do something so unproductive!  Will it put dinner on the table?  Will it make lunches?  Will it clean?  NO!  The accusations go on in my head.  I do nothing.  My inner self wilts even more.

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If I don’t make the time there will never be the time to do it.  If I don’t stop the lies going on in my head, I will continue to wilt.  I need truth.  I am worth this.  I deserve to take the time to paint if I want to.  Because it would fill me.  It would give me rest.  It would make me a better wife and mother.  It’s part of the whitespace Bonnie Gray talks about in her book.  Take the time to enjoy something for yourself.  To play!  To meet Jesus there in our play!  If we continually give out but don’t fill up then we are no use.  To anyone.  Even ourselves.  Because eventually our inner selves will revolt.

You can only run on empty for so long.  You know this.  I do too.  Maybe we can start practicing it.  Today.

 

What do you do for yourself?  What is play to you?  Do you see Jesus there in your play?

The Consequences of Following Plan B (which is not Plan B at all)

Plan A that turns into Plan B which was really just His Plan for our lives.  Yeah that about sums it up doesn’t it?

I wrote about our plans for our boys’ schooling almost ten months ago.  We are in the final days of school, just three weeks left.  Let me just say this; BEST DECISION EVER!!!!!

I am so grateful that God took us down this road.  Every day I drop the boys off, I am so thankful they are attending this school.  It’s been a great school year!  I’ve choked up attending the assemblies because we pray before they begin!  There is a sense of peace around the place that transcends all else.  It’s a great starting point for two kids who have been jostled around in life, enduring chaos that comes from upheaving them from everything they know.  Kids who, like their mom, like routine, security and did I mention, routine?

Was it a struggle to start again at another new school?  Sure it was.  The boys had to start from scratch again.  Most of these kids have been with each other since kindergarten.  It took some time to make new friends.  Thankfully, in our oldest son’s class there were two other new kids and the three of them became fast friends and have gradually made other friends in the class.  The child that was bullied at the other school, now has a whole posse.  They like him for who he is and for his cleverness and imagination.  His teacher fuels his unquenchable desire to learn.  He’s no longer bored at school. I n fact, his mind is tired at night and so he sleeps!  (It’s worth the tuition for that alone!)

Our youngest, who even a year ago, was crying about leaving Windsor, has amazed me the most.  He’s been mad at us for moving him and mad at God too.  Sometimes he doesn’t like all the God-stuff and that’s okay.  He’s got to work it out for himself and he’s coming around.  He experienced much anxiety in the first couple of months because he was once again the new kid and he didn’t know what he was supposed to do.  This stresses him a lot.  His teacher and a resource teacher worked with him, teaching him coping methods when things got difficult.  We had a meeting with both teachers so we could work together, both at school and home.  It’s been great being able to partner like that.

He’s come a long way.  I spoke with his teacher last week and she is so pleased with his progress this year!  He’s a different boy.  He still has his anxious moments but they are improving.  He’s made some good friends!  It makes a huge difference!  He’s gotten involved in activities at school which has given him more confidence in himself.  We continue to work on it at home too.

But the icing?  He’s gone back to playing like he used to at our old house.  He stopped playing certain games when we moved.  He was mourning the loss of his old stomping ground.  This spring He’s gone back to his old games that he used to play.  I see the old B combined with the new!

And then?  He said to Mark and I just last week, “I like this house better than our old house.  I’m kinda glad we moved because if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have gone to this school and I wouldn’t have met my friends.”  He named off a few chums.  I almost fell off my chair!

Is this a perfect school?  Not at all.  It’s still a school made up of real people and real kids.  There is still “stuff” that goes on.  Kids are still kids.  What I do love is the way the school communicates with both the parents and the students.  Parents are welcomed, not told to go away or made to feel they are intruding.  We are back to partnering with school, which is what made school so successful in Windsor.  And fun.

I realize that some of this change also comes from time.  Time to mourn, time to heal.  Time to move on.  Certainly the new school has helped to do this. I honestly don’t even want to imagine what would have happened had we stayed doing the same thing that just wasn’t working.  God’s timing is always perfect.

 

Finally, that old nagging sense of angst that used to underlay everything while school was on since we moved here, is gone.  It never came back this school year.  What seemed impossible a year ago when Mark and I toured the school, God made possible.  This will be an act of faithfulness that will be told repeatedly in our family history.  How God was faithful to us, to our boys, and took what we thought was a Plan B, and made it plain to us that it was His plan all along.

What plan B turned out to be THE PLAN all along for you?  Please share in the comment box.  I’d love to hear about it.