Long Weekend Wishes

It’s a long weekend this weekend, and it’s always a very special weekend to me.  Not only is it my brother’s birthday (Happy Birthday D!),  but it is also my anniversary weekend.  Two reasons to celebrate!  The birth of my brother, and the start of a life-long commitment with a man I chose to spend the rest of my life with.

In all honesty, I have to say marriage has been the most difficult job I have ever faced.  At first it was incredible!  Spectacular, actually!  We had three blissful years travelling the world, doing things that we enjoyed to do as a couple as well as individually, and had so much fun together.

Then the day came when we decided to have children.  Wow!  Nobody can prepare you for what this brings to a marriage.  Marriage is a tough job, having children is a tough job, now throw in juggling it all and you have a recipe for disaster!  All of a sudden this incredible little human being who is completely helpless enters your world, and your priorities take a different route.  You feel obligated to give your 100% to this miniature creature and have nothing left to give to anything.

After a year, I found out to my surprise I was pregnant for another child.  Eeeeeek!  How was I going to handle this?  I couldn’t handle being a wife and a mother, now I am going to be a mother of two.  Stress city!  Thank goodness for my mother, convincing me that I could handle it all, and that God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle.

As the years passed by, I will have to say, I did catch onto the mothering thing, but I also have to admit that I let my relationship with my husband take the back burner so to speak.  He just didn’t seem as important to me in my list of priorities.  It wasn’t until life started crumbling around me that I realized this was an area that I might have to start focusing on.

Woman have such a different perspective on marriage than men do.  I think we spend much of our time believing that fairytales exist and that everyone else’s marriage looks so much better than our own.  Facebook can really play tricks like this on people’s minds.  In reality, everyone’s marriage is going through the same struggles and turmoil, some people just like to sugar coat theirs and let the world think everything is great.

If you read any of my blogs, you are familiar with the fact that I use failure in my children’s lives as great teachable moments and try to give them strategies to deal with them.  The same holds true with our marriages.  We are ALL faced with difficulties in our marriages, but again it is what you choose to do with these struggles and failures that will determine the outcome of your marriage.

We’re all dealing with it, whether we want to admit it or not.  Maybe you are struggling financially in your marriage—I know how expensive children in sports are!  It could be you are having emotional problems and just not feeling that connection to your spouse anymore.  There is always the disappointment that things are not going the way you imagined marriage to be.  Is your spouse suffering from an addiction of some sort?  Or the worst of the worst, are you trying to push through a situation of infidelity?  Whatever it is that is dealt to you in your marriage, I’m sure it isn’t pleasant but you do have choices.  You can choose defeat, or you can try and fight for your family, your children’s wellbeing and most importantly for something that was once an incredible relationship.

Your first step is turning to our Creator for answers and if you have any questions about marriage, start reading Ephesians.  It has all the ingredients to fix any problem you have.  To me the most important verse is Ephesians 5:21 which states, “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  Why is this so important?  Because if we treated our spouse the way Jesus Christ gave up his life for us many of our problems would be eliminated.

Submitting might be a scary word, but if you try putting your spouse ahead of all your needs and the needs of your children (like I am sure you did when you were dating), you will see your relationship transform.  That is the way God created marriage to be.  Selfless.  Try it for yourself and see the transformation.  God’s word will bring new life to your marriage and maybe even make it better than it was before.

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Complete Game Shutout!

Can a teenager be too busy?  This has been my ongoing battle in my brain lately.  I’m a hardcore parent, and I believe that children should be nudged to help with household chores, be kept on a schedule, have limited screen time and sports or athletics of some sort should be a daily routine.  I feel laziness is a learned habit, and I don’t want to raise lazy children, but some days I think my plan may backfire on me and my children are too busy.

I have two very active and talented children.  They are both elite athletes in their sports of choice, but my son had the chance this summer to play at a provincial level for two of his favorite sports.  We were thrilled with this opportunity, but at the same time we didn’t know if he could give 100% to both sports, but we agreed to let him try.

This one weekend he was scheduled to play the both sports and planned to juggle them both.  Luckily we were in the same city which made his juggling act obtainable.

This particular Saturday, he woke up early, and hit the gym to play for his province in basketball.  Immediately following this game, we popped his sweaty, exhausted body in the vehicle and drove about 20 minutes to his next game of the day.  Baseball this time.  He was sent out to pitch and to his dismay he pitched the worst game of his life.  My heart broke for him, but at the same time my positive parenting kicked in.  Failure is always a teachable moment, and I love these days in my children’s lives because failure is a part of every day life and I want my children to have strategies on how to deal with failure for their future as adults.

As we drove back to the basketball courts, I had a devastated teen in my truck but I gently reminded him on how he always deals with a poor performance in any area of his life; sports, education, etc.  He said honestly, “I get upset for about 45 minutes”, which is exactly what happens.

Then I asked, “Then what?”

“Then I throw up”, was his next honest answer and how true that is.  For some reason it is his way of stress relief.  An inheritance trait from my father, and he has been doing this since he was a toddler, but he is slowly growing out of this, with much work on coping strategies again.

I probed again, “Then what?”

He muttered under his breath, “Then I work hard again and better myself.”

That was the exact response that I wanted him to acknowledge.  He knew in his heart that this was the kick in the butt he needed to become a better baseball player.

As we hustled back to the basketball court for his next provincial game, his focus started to shift from the baseball field to the basketball court, but I knew that we would see a change in him when it came to baseball, because that is how my son works.

Sure enough, a week later he was in a tournament, and with the help of his great teammates, this kid pitched a complete game shutout, only throwing 73 pitches in seven innings and had seven strike-outs.  That was what I knew he would do from the lesson learned on the pitcher’s mound the week before.

We are all going to pitch some bad innings in life.  We are going to experience many ups and downs, it is what you do with your bad pitches that determines the outcome of your game in life.  Romans 5:3-5 is one of my favorite verses, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

As horrible as it might sound, rejoicing in our sufferings is a part of life.  We have to give thanks for the good and bad times, because it is the bad times that build our character and give us our life lessons that we can learn from and make us stronger.  As horrible as it may be to bear at the time, once you make it through a bad game and push forward, you will come out a stronger player than you ever were before.

Give thanks today for your hard times on the pitcher’s mound, and remember, your complete game shut-out is just around the corner too.  Just hang in there, and fix what needs to be fixed!

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Miracle Maple Tree

Weeding—Yuck!  It is definitely one of the draw backs to summer, and all that is beautiful about it.  It’s never ending.  I live in an area that is very abundant with Maple trees and I had no idea how much they spread.  I have these little tree sprouts popping up everywhere.  I hate to classify them as a weed, but when you find them sprouting in flowerbeds they have to be pulled.

You would never believe where I found my latest Maple tree growing!  In a tiny space between where the floor of my garage meets the pavement of my driveway.  Obviously these trees don’t even need soil to grow they will pop up in cement.

To me, this is a little miracle tree.  If you aren’t educated on the reproduction of a Maple tree, you must have at least seen a little “helicopter” before?  These helicopters contain twin seed pods that are dispersed by the wind before they germinate where they land.  This helicopter must have landed in the crack between my garage and my driveway and somehow, someway took root.

Isn’t that fascinating?  I can’t bring myself to pull the little thing.  I feel that if it fought its way through all odds and no soil, and still was able to grow and thrive, this little dude deserves to live!

How many of us, witness the same kind of miracles in our own lives every day.  Even against all odds we end up with blessings that are only from the mercy of God.  Some people might call it luck, but really it is the hand of God blowing the wind in your direction and landing that helicopter in your grasp so that its twin seed pods will take root in your life.

Looking at my own life, I feel that way about my two children and my husband.  My husband was born in another province and his parents moved here when he was two—my miracle seed blew all the way over across an entire province and germinated in the city that I was raised in.  If it wasn’t for that seed that blew many kilometers, I wouldn’t have met my husband which in turn wouldn’t have given me my two incredible children.

This is just an example of one of my helicopter seeds that took root in my life and brought me the miracle of my two children and an extended family that is just as incredible.  I could list many others, but today, I want you to think of all your helicopter seeds that landed and took root in your life.  Think of all the blessings that over time grew into bigger and bigger miracles and if the wind hadn’t of blown in your direction your life could be totally different.

As I study the book of James, James 1:17 showed me just what I was thinking about this incredible Maple tree that was placed in cement and thrived against all odds.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

We all have many blessings that we take for granted.  It’s God’s will that brings us multiple miracles that we may not realize until they are gone.  Today, take the time to give thanks for everything in your life, big and small.  You might even find your Miracle Maple Tree growing in a place you never dreamed it could take root.  Our Father’s blessings are waiting to germinate for us and to provide even more for us.  Be thankful for what you have and the blessings will continue to grow!

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Religion…Really?

My summer is flying by so fast!  I wish I could slow it down, or make it a tad bit less busy, but I have two very active children who love their sports and this keeps me hopping.  My son is playing on two different teams that has us traveling the province and every weekend we are gone somewhere for something.  Even during the week he has practice for the provincial team in a nearby city which makes me feel like I’m never home.

One time while away for baseball, I had my daughter and two of her friends in my vehicle with me traveling to a place to entertain them for a few minutes while their brothers were playing ball.  I love these girls and they come up with the craziest of conversations.

My daughter was noting that there were many Catholic churches in this particular city, and I explained the French culture is predominantly Catholic.  Two of the other girls spoke up and said that they were both Catholic and high-fived in the back seat.  Curiously they asked what religion we were, and my daughter told them and this lead to them to ask me, what was the difference between religions?

I feel this is a parent’s job because religion can be a touchy subject in certain households, but to the best of my ability, I explained.  I am not 100% educated in the Catholic religion, but I did learn while teaching my grade five social studies program about the Middle Ages that Catholic Church was very dominating and eventually there was some people questioning it all, and people stepped forward to create the Protestant Movement.  I was trying as best as I could to put it into language that an eleven year old would understand without being bias to one religion or another.  I also explained to these girls, that it is all the exact same God, and who knows what religion is right or wrong, it’s just fantastic that they are going to church.

I also explained that my ancestry line held predominantly protestant and their ancestry line stayed predominantly Catholic, which is the factor that gives us our religion.  I had no control over what religion I was.  I was just born into it, and then raised in this church.  Just like these two girls were, and as well my daughter.  It’s hard to change religions when it is programmed into children’s brains from birth.

My daughter went on the state out loud some differences between the two religions that she has learned through her bible study, just like one time as we were reading and studying the book of Matthew, it said in Matthew 23:9, “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”  At the time she questions why the Catholics called their priests “Father”.  I of course didn’t have the answer.  I quickly snubbed that comment in the bud and said, those little things really don’t matter, it’s all interpretation of the word of God and it is not what is important, it is what we do and how we live with God’s word that really matters.

Even though I always take pride in explaining to my children that a person’s religion doesn’t matter, and we do not judge other religions this little bit of prejudice popped its ugly head with my daughter.  I’m sure everyone is proud of their religion and everyone feels their religion is the only way to heaven, but that is not what I am teaching my children because I truly believe that it is not the truth.

Do you have any idea how many religions there are out there?  The largest of religions is the Roman Catholics, but if you look at the statistics and if being Catholic is the only way to Heaven, then only 20 percent of the human race is making it to the Pearly Gates.  I love that people hold their religion in such high regards, and if that is how you feel, that is wonderful.  I just feel that more than one religion is making it to the wonderland of Heaven, and that is what I am teaching my children.

Baptized.  Not Baptized.  Catholic.  Not Catholic.  Protestant.  Not Protestant.  Gay.  Straight.  Black.  White.  French.  English.  We are ALL sinners.  I feel as long as you have accepted the Lord as your Savior, build a relationship with him and asked him to come into your heart you are on the right path—even then, who knows I may be wrong.  I believe it is the heart that is judged at judgment day, not the color of your skin, not your sexual preference, not your religion, not the traditions that are pressed upon you by the beliefs of the church you chose—it is your heart.

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Holy GPS

With all the summer travelling that I have been doing it got me wondering how did people get from Point A to Point B before the invention of a GPS?  I have distinct, and sometime scarring memories, of my summer vacations with my mother and father arguing quite profusely while using this huge piece of paper that would fold up ever so small and they kept in the glove compartment of their vehicle.  These things were called maps, and they would give you the visual of all the roads, but not the verbal cues that our modern GPS does.

This past weekend, I was in a city in my province that I am not that familiar with, and I lived by the directions of my GPS.  It’s just so easy to listen to someone tell you to turn right in 400 meters and there is nothing more pleasing to hear than, “You’ve reached your destination.”

One time on my travels this past weekend, I was travelling the route that this wonderful talking lady box was telling me to take and to my surprise there was a closed road.  My talking box didn’t realize that the road was closed, but when I turned and went in another direction this amazingly smart woman in my little talking box started telling me an entire new route.  She amazes me.

This wasn’t the only time that she would give me a new route.  Countless times I wasn’t paying real close attention or the kids would distract me and I would miss the turn that she was prompting me to take, and in an instant she was rerouting me.  I find her absolutely fascinating really!  I honestly have no idea how people navigated before these ingenious inventions!

Even though times have changed since my family vacations with my parents over 40 years ago, one thing remains true, and that is the word of God.  He is our Holy GPS, and can navigate us to our destination in life easily, you just have to follow his word, listen to his soft gentle voice and stay on his route, and you will find yourself reaching all your hopes and dreams and you will arrive easily at your purpose in this life.

Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us these guiding words, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

There will be times that, like me, you may not hear the turn that you were supposed to take, or your internal instinct or fleshly desires made you take a wrong turn, but don’t fret.  Just like my amazing little lady in this small box that was guiding me around the foreign city, God will redirect your steps quickly too and get you back on the path that you were supposed to be on.  It might not be the shortest and most efficient route that you could have taken, but a scenic drive is always refreshing too.

Whatever path you are on, just keep trusting in God’s word.  It will navigate you to your grand destiny in this world, and even though you might question the path that you are on stay strong in your faith and trust that everything that is in your path is happening for a reason.  Whether it is to strengthen you, teach your, test you or guide you on this journey, it is happening to direct you on your trip in this life.  Read God’s word, spend time listening to his direction and sit back and enjoy the ride!

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Montego Bay

I’m really loving my summer running.  How I wish I lived in a climate that didn’t give us such cold, harsh winters.  I say that now, but once fall hits and the fresh air has that crisp, clean smell to it, I will be raving and writing about that I am sure, but right now, I am loving the consistency of the heat and nice days that summer brings to my running life.

I love listening to music when I run and this one day I was really struggling during one part of my run, hitting the wall so to speak, and the song that was playing during this time wasn’t pumping me up.  It wasn’t doing its job to get me over my hump, so I pulled out my iPhone and quickly pressed forward on my home screen.  To my pleasant surprise an all too familiar beat started to play in my ear buds.

It was a song that my father used to sing to me at competitions when I was a gymnast.  My father has to be the worst singer in the entire universe, and he knows it.  Tune is something that wasn’t gifted to my father, but comedy was.  He would sing this popular pop hit during the late 80s to all of my provincial gymnastics team to calm our nerves and make us relax, then he would pump us up to have the competition of our life.  That was his gift.

You know what?  His technique always worked.  As embarrassing as it was for my father to be belting out the words to Montego Bay that had no tune to it at all, it made us all laugh and relax.  If you are familiar with the song there are a lot of “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohs” in it and he made those sound like he was a dying chicken, but that was the funniest part.

As I heard the tune of this song start playing I honestly laughed out loud.  People that were driving by me, must have thought I was crazy.  This had become a conditioned response, but all of a sudden the pain that I was feeling from the tiredness of my run, totally lifted out of my body and I had a new bounce in my step.  This song was trained in my brain to relieve my stress and it even worked during my hard times in my run.

I didn’t have much distance left to finish my run, and I am sure I had a smile on my face for the rest of it.  This relieving feeling that instantly took over my body from a trained response that my father used many, many years ago, really got me to think.  Our Father in Heaven does the exact same thing as my father did here on earth.  If we develop the same bond as we have with our earthly father, he can help us deal with any hardship.

My earthly father did a great job training me to deal with adversities.  Sometimes, when we lock horns and have a disagreement, I am sure he wishes that he didn’t train me so well, because I think I am the only person in my family that won’t back down from my father and his strong personality, but to me this is a good thing.  He trained me that when the going gets tough, you keep pushing through.  You don’t give up.  Sometimes I may have to lean on my father for help and strength and guidance.  This should be what we do with our Father in Heaven too.

My all-time favorite verse in the Bible that I have trained both of my children to use is the famous verse from Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  It’s true.  Just like I gain strength through the training and upbringing of my incredible father on earth, our Father in Heaven can train us to be even stronger and do things you never thought were possible.

Next time when you are hitting a wall in life, like I was when I was running, turn to the familiar voice of your Heavenly Father for strength.  He can give you the strength to surpass things that you never thought you could concur.  This verse is a very popular verse for a reason—because it is 100% true, and it works!

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Heavenly Hills

Have you ever trained for a marathon or half marathon?  I have many times, and even though I don’t participate in them any longer, I still enjoy the training program.  It gives a spice of life to any running program and I enjoy the challenge of the hill training as well as the speed training days.  I find it boring if I don’t include these training days into my weekly running regime.

As I was running my hills yesterday, I was proud of the strength that I gained since I started back on a regular running routine.  During my training days, I would do a hill that is just outside my home that is a kilometer down from my house to the bottom and turn around and run a kilometer up the hill.  It is a difficult climb, but back in my hard core training days, I could easily do six kilometers of these bad boys.

I decided when I first started back running regularly that I was going to spice up my routine by adding a hill workout into my weekly plan and set out to do my all too familiar hill.  The run down was easy breezy, but the run up was harder than I could ever imagine.  I pushed hard and tried to stay mentally tough but as hard as I pushed mentally, my body just didn’t have the strength in it to continue running.  I was devastated, I had to walk the hill.

Through my walk of shame on this hill, I couldn’t believe how weak I let my body become.  I broke my foot a year and a half ago, and ever since then my desire to run dwindled and I let it slide.  It wasn’t my priority any more for some reason.

Once my body recuperated enough for me to run again, I continued to push myself one more time trying to finish my run strong.  Again, I couldn’t make it to the top.  Again, I was disappointed in my performance and knew in my head that this hill was going to be my new challenge for the summer.

It’s been four weeks since my first attempt at this hill.  My second week in I was able to finish the hill without walking.  I was so pleased, but nowhere near finished with this challenging hill.  My second week, I did a kilometer down and a kilometer up, then a half a kilometer down and up to increase my work load.  The third week, I repeated this again.  Last night, I finally repeated the cycle twice and completed four kilometers of this dreaded hill.  Still, I’m not done.  I will not be happy until I get back to doing the six kilometers easily as I had before.

Just like I had to start small to build my strength on this hill, we have to start small when we are building our spiritual strength as well, and you have to have the right mind frame and desire to pursue this challenge.  Doing hills can’t be forced on any runner, especially new runners just starting out on their running career, it will make them hate running.  I feel the same is true about spirituality.

I know it says in the bible to spread the word of God, and I try, but my feeling is, you can spread and spread and spread, but if people aren’t in a place in their lives to be open to this, they are not going to listen.  Just like my attitude on doing the hills after I broke my foot when running wasn’t my priority, I feel people go through a time in their lives that they think they don’t need spirituality and it isn’t a priority.  Just like the moment in my life when I realized the muscles in my legs were greatly deteriorating, I finally realized that it was time to do something about these weak legs I have.

It’s the same with spirituality.  Many times, people have to watch their lives crumble and hit bottom, totally deteriorate, before they realize the importance of having a time set aside in their day to grow and strengthen in the word of God and start to live their lives using his word.  Isaiah 40:31 explains, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Whenever you realize just how weak you have become, don’t worry, it won’t take you long before you are back running the hills again.  It just takes dedication and determination.  The same holds true with your spirituality.  If you want to be strong in life, his word is waiting for you to read, learn and apply to your life.  You will be stronger than you ever were before.  Pray about it, and watch the strength develop that you never knew you had.

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