Fire Chasers

I love travelling on the weekends with sports!  You get to form close bonds with people and learn more about other families.  There is nothing like spending a weekend in a hotel with a family to get to know them better.  This past weekend, I was fortunate to spend my weekend with two lovely families and get to know them both better.  This past weekend, I also learn that growing up in the country is a total different experience than growing up in the city.

Why you may ask?

There are many reasons, but one is that in the country we aren’t as aware of things that are going on around us.  My closest neighbor was about a 5 minute walk away.  In the city, the homes are much closer and it is easier to communicate with one another.  If something happens in our little community in the country, nobody really knows about it.

I also while growing up in the city, that if there is ever a fire, the city folk go and watch the fires burn.  Why did I learn this, you may wonder?  You see, there was a fire in the place we were staying and one of the family members was extremely excited to go and watch this fire to see what was going on.  I found it quite hilarious, but to others, I was the odd duck.  I never went and watched a fire.  By the time we found out there was a fire, we would still have to drive for fifteen minutes or more to get out of the country just to get to the fire.  By that time the fire would be out.

It was very amusing listening to their stories of the fires that they did go and see.  One place stored vehicles and boats for the winter, and they explained that you could hear the gas tanks exploding one by one as they heated up from the fire.

As I thought about these stories later, I thought how this is much the same as gossip.  Once the story heats up and gets to the height of its momentum they explode and keep on burning.  Until of course something else bigger and better comes along and then that one explodes and adds fuel to the gossiping fires.

Everyone knows that gossiping is wrong, but it is entertainment.  We are all born curious and want to know what is going on around us, that is human nature.  Social media wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for curious people.  The one that gets me is the celebrity gossip television programs and magazines.  Growing up in the country I only had one channel.   This made me have no interest in TV or the celebrities that come with it, nor what they choose to do with their lives.  I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own life.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am as guilty of gossiping as the next guy, but it is a personal issue that I am really trying to improve on.  It’s hard though!  I’m trying extremely hard to put the fires out instead of adding fuel to them and participating in them.

I love Proverbs 10:18-21, because it reminds us what we should be doing with our words.  “Anyone who hides hatred is a liar.  Anyone who spreads gossip is a fool.  The more you talk, the more likely you are to sin.  If you are wise, you will keep quiet.  A good person’s words are like pure silver; a wicked person’s ideas are worthless.  A good person’s words will benefit many people, but you can kill yourself with stupidity.”

That gives us a great outline of what we should be doing with our words.  Talking less is the hard part for me, but I am really trying to work on it.  Instead of throwing fuel on the fires of gossip, I am trying to smother it by keeping my mouth closed, and that way, I will be less likely to sin.  I can see how a small spark can set an entire forest on fire!  Jump on board with me, and try smother the fire, instead of adding fuel and try to stop the gossip at a spark.

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Back to Work

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I’m zonked!  This back to work thing is super hard on a person!  Especially if they have been schedule free for the last eight weeks.  Bam!  I’m right back into the thick of things on my first day back.  Work all day, frantically trying to get a classroom set up, meetings, and then home to quickly cook supper and then out the door again at 4:20pm to head to gymnastics for another four hours of coaching.

It’s exhausting and it starts all over again today!  Another full day of work, and another four hours of gymnastics.  But.  You know what?  I love it!  I love being this busy.  I almost prefer to have my life scheduled right down to the minute, because then I get more things accomplished than if I have a free day with no schedule.  I guess I am a person who needs a schedule.

Did you ever find that?  The day that you have a lot to get done, it all gets done, but on the days that you don’t really have much to do, the day lingers and you feel like nothing gets done.  Maybe it is just me, but if I don’t have to do certain things, other things will come up to distract me and then my day is over and I feel totally unaccomplished.

That is why I have to do my spiritual time first thing in the morning as soon as I get up.  If I don’t, life happens.  The same is true for my runs.  Many times I will plan to run after supper but one of my kids will throw an unexpected visit to a friend’s house that I have to drive them to, or I have unexpected company arrive and this list of interruptions is endless.  Life just gets interrupted…unless of course I’m at work.

You have to set your priorities when you are super busy, and building a relationship with the Lord should be at the top of your list.  If you are trying to build a relationship with anyone, you have to make them a priority.  Do you remember when you first met the love of your life?  How all of a sudden your girlfriends weren’t your priority.  You would almost drop everything to be with this new adoration that you found.  Well, the same has to hold true if you are trying to develop a spiritual relationship with your creator.  You have to drop everything and put him as your first priority.

For me, this works best if I wake up early before anyone’s life in my household starts.  That way, I am not asked to do the endless tasks that a mother and wife are usually asked to do.  The phone won’t ring.  The UPS guy isn’t ringing my door bell with my online purchases this early in the morning.  I know at this time of my day, there will be absolutely no interruptions because nobody else is awake.

Psalms 148:3 encourages, “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

We all want this steadfast love.  We need it.  Or at least I do!  Take the time before anyone else in your world wakes up, and give some of your day to the Lord.  Even if it is five minutes in the morning, you will feel prepared for your day, and ready to face all the disruptions that are going to be thrown your way.

Once you start this relationship, trust me, like any first relationship, you will crave so much more and your five minutes will stretch into 20 or 30.  Especially when you see yourself developing as a person and becoming aware of what part of yourself needs to develop and blossom through our Savior’s word.

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Road Construction

Road construction.  Does it give you road rage, like it does me?  My life is very scheduled, and time waiting at a construction site really throws a wrench into my travel time and definitely tests my patience.  Why do they have to make so many changes to the roads?

We’ve been away for the last four days, and on our way home, we came to a road that has been under construction since the spring.  To our surprise, in our absence, it was fully paved.  As we sailed across the fresh black pavement, my husband spoke up and said, “You know what this is a sign of?”

Of course the children bit and asked, “What?”

“The end of summer!” was my husband’s quick response.

How true is that?  We travelled this road at least once a week for the last 8 weeks and witness the transformation from a dirt patch to a beautiful paved highway.

At first we honestly didn’t know what they were doing.  The road seemed fine just the way it was.  Eventually we figured it out that they were straightening it out and trying to make some of the turns not as sharp.

It was interesting watching the transformation every week and to see the beautiful finished product that it is now, but my husband’s statement is very true.  Summer is over.  It’s time for another season.  As much as we might not like to admit it, time ticks on.  The eight weeks of sunshine and relaxation was fantastic, but another journey in our life awaits us.  Fall!

It’s time for children to start their new chapter of their lives, and a new school year.  It is time for the leaves to change color and make the landscape breath taking.  It’s time to reap our harvest from our gardens and enjoy the fresh vegetables.  It’s time for us to get our lives ready for the colder months that lie ahead, and finish off the last four months of this year 2016.

Adjustment and change are hard, but exciting at the same time.  I hear my daughter wondering lots of different things about her new school year.  Who will be her homeroom teacher?  Where will her locker be this year?  The unknown always leaves many questions, and we can let these changes and questions overwhelm us, or we can just trust in the great divine to help us transition from one season to the next.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Just like this road, I thought it was perfect the way it was, and wondered why they had to tear the entire thing apart and give me road rage all summer over it.  But now, I look at this beautiful new, straighter road, and think, “Wow!  I’m glad they made this change!  This is going to be much safer for winter driving.”

Many times we are faced with changes and we don’t like it.  Maybe your child is moving off to university, or another page in their lives, and you are hurting on the inside.  Or could you be moving on to a new job, or a new page in your own life?  Whatever it is that is changing and making you anxious, sit back and relax.  God has a plan that is going to unfold in your life, whether you want it to or not.  Find the good in the change, as I now see in this new strip of highway.  At first I couldn’t understand why, but now it is so evident that changes needed to be made.

Let God be the construction worker on your road of life, and let the changes happen.  In the end you will understand why the changes needed to be made, and understand that if you lean of Him for strength and courage when you are going through any change in your life, your anxiety will lift and you will leave the fears with him.

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Nationals

My favorite part of summer is the end of August.  Why, you may wonder?  Well, because with the end of August, you get to attend the National Baseball Championships.  We all know that I love baseball, and coming together as a county and having the ability to represent your province at this event is phenomenal.  All the best players competing for the title of National Champions is just something that thrills me in any sport.

I’m fortunate that this is my son’s second National Championship for baseball, and I’m loving every minute of it.  The Opening Ceremony, the games, the cheering crowds, the players chatter, the flags waving in the wind, the memorabilia…just everything!

Unfortunately, our little province of New Brunswick is in a tough division this year and is up against Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec. Talk about some great baseball though.  Our first game was up against the huge province of Ontario in Game 1.  I’m not making an excuse for our team, but the pool of athletes in Ontario is much greater than the pool of athletes in New Brunswick.

The population in New Brunswick is 754, 000 people…the population of Toronto alone is 6 million.  How do we compete against that?  They were unbelievable, but they also had sort of a, we-are-better-than-you attitude.  Maybe it was just my impression of them.  We run across people like this in our day-to-day lives all the time.  People think they are better than others because they have more degrees, money, friends, good looks, faith, etc..  Have you ever been made to feel this way by someone or some group of people?

“Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up” are the words of James 4:10, and are very wise words.  These are words that I try to embed in my children’s hearts and souls every day.  We are all created equal, and we all have our gifts, but we also all have our faults.  Nobody is perfect.  Nobody is superior to anyone else.  There is only one superior being and that is our Lord and Savior.

These gifts are blessings and we have to cherish them as such, not frown upon people who might not have the same fortunate circumstances.  Just like our little province making the best of the talented baseball players that we have.  Ontario is very privileged to have many, many more athletes to choose from and that is a fantastic advantage for their province.  But stay humble and enjoy that blessing.  There is no need to make anyone feel inferior in any situation.

Each and every one of us have many blessings in our lives.  Realize your blessings and instead of thinking you are better than another person, spread your blessings.  We are here on earth to make it a better place, not to frown upon others and make them feel inferior.  Take time today to spread your blessings.  Feed a person that is homeless.  Donate your time to a group.  Give a monetary donation to a non-profit organization.  Visit the seniors’ home or a lonely neighbor.  Make a meal for a friend with a busy life.  Babysit for a single mom for free.  There are many ways to spread your gifts and make someone feel special.

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Spiritual Parenting

I am self proclaiming the title of “The Queen of the Parenting Books!”  When it comes to a parenting book, I have either, read the reviews and decided not to read the book, or I’ve read the book.  Once I had my children, I didn’t trust my own instincts and I truly value education.  I took it upon myself to educate myself in every area, and every stage of my parenting journey.  Obsessed might be a word one might use to describe me…but that is being kind.

The other day I stumbled across an entirely new way of looking at parenting.  Spiritual Parenting.  Have you ever heard of it?  I saw this video on the outer boarder of another video I was watching and my old parenting OCD set in, and I just had to curb my curiosity.  It was a video from Wanderlust called, “Spiritual Parenting: Evolving your Lineage” by Elena Brower at Wanderlust’s Speakeasy Conference.  It was a very different way of looking at parenting than I have ever read before.

Her point of view was that we have to learn to love and accept our own parents before we can ever become good parents ourselves.  If we don’t face the things that bother us about our parents, we will continue to do these actions ourselves, and history will repeat itself.  How often do we see that happening?  Even the things we don’t like that our parents do, all of a sudden we find ourselves doing the exact same thing.  Eeeek!

Her philosophy is, we have to learn and accept that our parents loved us and did the very best they could with the tools they had.  As the old saying goes, “You can’t give what you don’t have.”  This holds very true when it comes to parenting as well.  If you don’t know what love is, and you’ve never experienced it, how do you give it?

Her recommendations were to interview your own parents about their relationship and thoughts on their parents.  She suggests that we write down all that they tell you, and it is also a great record to have of your parent’s view of your grandparents.  Eager to try this out, to make myself a better parent to my own children, I started interviewing my parents.  They have just conformed to my craziness and know it is easier to play along with my hair brained schemes.

To their surprise, I think they really enjoyed reminiscing about their late parents, and reliving their childhood memories.  My mother, in her wise ways, stood strong with her belief that her mother did the best with what she had and I now see exactly what my mother means about my grandmother.  This only took about 40 years to accomplish.

My father on the other hand had such lovely things to say about both of his parents.  One of his comments really stuck in my head.  He remembered that he never seen his mother sleep.  Can you imagine that?  My dad explained that she would go to bed after him, and would be up earlier that anyone else, and she never napped.

Instantly, my brain went to the coveted Proverbs 31 Woman.  My idol.  Proverbs 31:15 “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.”

My grandmother was what I inspire to be.  History is repeating itself!  The woman that I try so hard to mimic every day of my life, only to fall short every day from what I plan.  Then to hear my dad say these words only solidified what I need to do.  Keep trying to be a better person than I was the day before.  That’s all anyone can ever do, or bad history will continue to repeat itself.

Someday I will reach this goal of mine.  If not today, or tomorrow, or a year from now, I am not going to stop trying until I do.  The first step is realizing that our parents did the very best they could with what they had, and now the rest is up to us to improve on.  We have to stop blaming others for the way we are and start stepping up for ourselves and use God as our strength to help us change what needs to be changed.

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Drunken Personalities

I have the best family!  My mom is such an angel, and well…my dad is my mom’s assignment here on Earth.  All joking aside, my mom is a true angel.  She sees the best in everyone and rarely shows a bit of anger…unless of course, my dad is being my dad.  She’s entitled to that.  But really she is just a saint, and I have learned so much from growing up around her.

Her mother, sadly, was a bad alcoholic.  My childhood memories of her mom weren’t the best.  I couldn’t understand at the time, why my mom just took what her drunken mother dished out.  Patiently my mom tried to explain to me that alcoholism is a sickness, but this is hard to understand at a young age.  Of course I was protective of my mother, like every child is, and wasn’t fond of someone being mean to my mom.

As I got older, and started to dabble with alcohol myself, I still couldn’t understand my grandmother’s actions.  First of all, how could someone stay drunk for more than one day?  The after effects hurt way more than the worth of the night of fun.

My friends and I would laugh as we reminisce, “You were so hammered and stupid!  Do you remember doing this?”  And many times, my friends of course didn’t remember doing these foolish acts, because they were drunk.  I think we can all say that we’ve been there before…at least once in our lives.  You may have changed since your younger, promiscuous days, but I’m sure you still remember.

Whatever the reason of a person getting intoxicated, you have to admit, when they do something stupid and totally out of character for themselves, onlookers will have the reaction of, “Man, you are really drunk.”  They might even laugh at the person and look past their horrifying actions, knowing that this isn’t the usual person that lives inside their body.  They understand that alcohol has created them to act in this totally foreign manner.  It’s easy when you know the cause of why people act the way they do, and we cut people slack due to their alcohol intake.

When in reality they should be asking, “Why are you being so stupid?”  There is no reason to act like this, but instead we comfort the person because we understand why they acted that way.  These foreign chemicals changed them and we can easily wrap our heads around this concept, because most of us have experienced doing things we didn’t want to do because we were also under the influence.

Did you ever think of people in your life that you have a hard time with, either connecting to them, or finding the good in a certain individual, might be the same as that drunk person?  Not all of us behave the same way, but there could be a really good reason some people act the way they do.  It could be due to their home environment, past traumas, inherited traits, religious beliefs, serotonin levels, lack of sleep, misinformation, chemical imbalances, past experiences, lack of self-worth, and the list is really endless.  All of these things flow through us, just like alcohol.  Instead of getting upset at these people, step back and think that this person is probably trying to be their best selves with what they have.  We all have our bad days, and we all act inappropriately from time to time.

Luke 6:37 tells us, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Next time, when a person is rubbing you the wrong way, or you think they might be being rude or disrespectful, chances are there is a reason why they are acting this way.  They are drunk in their own internal problems.  Nobody is perfect, and we have to show a bit more patience towards people.  Just like me not understanding my grandmother, like my mother said, she was sick.  We all have our own sicknesses of one sort or another, and we all have our stories.  We all act the way we do for a reason.  Next time, instead of getting upset, realize that they are just acting the best way they know how, with what they have, in the situation they are in.

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Life Changes Everything

Don’t you love summer and all the company that comes to visit?  From relatives, to old neighbors and friends, summer is the time for travelling and catching up with people from away.  Our community had a tough time a few years ago when a major mill was shut down and it forced many families to pack up and move out west for work.  Luckily summer rolls around and these people return for visits every so often.

This past week we had to joy of meeting our old neighbors.  Eight years have come and gone, and in eight years life can bring many changes.  To the naked eye, not much has changed in our neighborhood.  We still have a load of boys playing whiffle ball in the side yard, the girls are all still jumping on the trampolines, and the parents are still on their patios relaxing with some music and laughs around a fire pit.

When you are living in your life, you don’t actually see the changes very much.  If I was to sit and list all the changes that have happened, just in our life alone the list would be super long.  Time changes many things, whether we want it to or not.  In eight years my children have been through many changes, and so have my husband and I.  From work, to school, to sports, to our home, and even our finance have all changed.  Some great changes and of course, some not so great changes.

Life changes for a reason.  It is to change us.  It is to put us through tests and help develop our character.  Just like a child develops from a baby, to a toddle, to a child, then and adolescent into an adult, life is all about growth and development.  Spiritually we need to grow this way as well.  We need to go through life changing events to help transform us spiritually.

I love the teaching in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

This part of the scripture is very reassuring.  We might be getting older physically, but spiritually we are becoming renewed by our day to day life lessons.  We are to be evolving and learning from our mistakes in our lives that should eventually leads us all back to our Divine Creator, his word and his spirit.  Life sometimes gets incredibly hard, and too much “stuff” happens that we can’t handle on our own.  Thankfully God reassures us that these are only temporary troubles that will eventually bring us tremendous eternal glory, much greater than any change.

The first night the neighbors from eight years ago arrived, we were sitting on our patio watching the boys in a big game of whiffle ball, just as they would have been eight years prior.  Immediately, I thought to myself how they are going to think, absolutely nothing changed here.  How untrue this was!  Maybe on the external sense it looks like nothing has changed.  It is still the same people in the neighborhood, doing the exact same things, but internally so much has changed.  In reality, that is what needs to change.  Your spirit.  Your love for others, and your love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you think back over your life in the past eight years, has anything changed?  Externally or internally?  If nothing has changed internally, start your venture now.  It is never too late to let the changes of life direct you to your spiritual Savior!

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