Monday, November 27, 2006

Believing Without Seeing

My precious little 5 month old daughter learned to roll over on Saturday. I believe that to be true...even though I didn't actually see it.

I was working in the kitchen knowing that my wee girl was on her mat behind me, laying on her back. The next time I looked, she was on her belly. Shocked, and yet thrilled, I rolled her over and praised her up. Again, in no time, she was on her belly again. I had not seen it happen, and yet clearly the proof is there in the fruit. (and for you sceptics, no her brother did not roll her over!)

Shortly after that I determined that I would see her do it! So, keeping to my work, but with one eye on her mat I did finally see some movement in my peripheral vision that was almost like seeing her roll over....

All this made me think of Job. A passage that has warmed my heart on many occassion is Job 23:8-9. "Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward but I cannot perceive Him; when He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the right, I cannot see Him."

This has been my experience on many occassions; have you felt the same? Like you are chasing God but can't find Him? You are waiting to see Him move but you miss Him each time? The doubt in your heart pulls you to believe that He is not there, that He is not moving in your life. But thankfully Job continues:

"But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (vs.10)

When we don't see Him, we need to look for the fruit of His hands and follow that path. The quiet times of not hearing and seeing the Lord are often times of 'trying' and 'purifying' so that we come forth as gold.

I didn't see my baby roll, but I believe she did because of the visible result of her acting. I may not always clearly see the Lord, or sense His presence, or hear His voice, but as clearly as I see the fruit of His acting I will believe He is here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Dream I Had

I thought I would put down on virtual paper a dream I had several years ago. It was a remarkable dream to me, one that my husband and I are waiting on to fully come to life.

My husband and I were care givers in a home for young men. These young men, I had the impression, had shady backgrounds or inappropriate past lives. They had been brought to this warehouse to be groomed as slaves. (It felt somewhat like a hospital, somewhat like an orphanage. It looked very much like an airplane hangar.) Part of the grooming was a emasculating process where they were wrapped in full body plaster casts. (In my dream it reminded me of the practice of feet binding on young Chinese girls, in ages past, to keep their feet small and delicate.) The men in their casts were lined up, on mats on the floor, row after row. There were likely some 30 or 40 young men.

So these young men were bound to keep them small and feminine in stature and build. Our job was simply to feed them and give them drink through the opening that was left for their mouths.

In my dream, as we were tending to the young men my husband finally snapped. He began weeping and said "I can't take this anymore" and he at once began picking up these young men in their casts and, wrapping his arms around them as if to hug them, squeezed them until their casts broke off. One by one, he picked up the boys freeing them from their casts, giving them the opportunity to develop into who they were meant to be.

We have been praying about this dream for some time now, and we feel we have several ways of understanding what the Lord intended us to learn by it. My husband's occupation lends him opportunities to work with young men with troubled backgrounds, and in part we feel that may be a meaning to the dream. Still we feel there is more.

I share this for many reasons but one stands out to me right now as I type. The Lord created each of us with a specific end in mind. He has a plan to use us for His glory using the gifts He's given us. Many of us (dare I say all) have to some extent let ourselves be put into a cast (or have put it on ourselves) so that we are limited from being the person He fully intends us to be. May we seek the Lord earnestly for the freedom and release to be willing to go to the places He calls us, and to be willing to do the things He shows us.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

My Kids

I asked my girls what I should write about today and one of them said "Write about how we are the best kids in the world."

Well that's easy enough.

Except maybe I'll digress a little from that original point. I really do have pretty amazing kids. I love being at home and being a busy mom. I love homeschooling them. It was an easy choice to have 6 kids close together because they've all been such a delight. I also felt it was very much what God would have us do as a family. What has not been so easy has been to understand what comes next for our family.

My husband and I had very strong feelings about what God had called us to do in terms of having babies at one point. Now that seems a little less clear. Could it really be that God has changed our hearts because His path for us now is changing? Or am I succumbing to the selfish desires of my heart?

When am I allowed to make 'my own decision' and when do I need an obvious Word from the Lord? When we had chosen to trust God entirely for our family size we were in a much more difficult place financially than we are now, and yet we felt the conviction in our heart and had the faith to wait on Him to provide for all our needs in various ways. Now I know that is still true: the Lord will give me the physical strength and emotional energy to keep up with the work; however, I don't feel the same moral imperative (to have more babies) in my heart that I used to.

When is a girl allowed to say, "I'm done...I think"? We have no desire at this point to be "final" about it, but to what extent am I "allowed" to give myself a break? (can you read my guilt gland acting up between the lines?)

I know if the Lord gave us 6 more children right now that I would be as ga-ga over them as I am over the first 6. I also know that He would provide for us as completely as He has up to this point. But does that mean I have to keep going until menopause kicks in? (okay, slight exaggeration. I can hear my parents and in-laws shaking their heads as they read this).

I've always believed that glorifying God with my children had little to do with how many I had, and much to do with how I raised them. So maybe 6 is enough. Maybe He has more for us. For now I am content to think that our family is full until the Lord changes my heart.
Still, I do find myself wondering if I am walking in the Lord's blessing by saying that, or if I am saying no to the blessings He is holding out to me.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

She Looks Just Like Her Father

A very strange thing happened to me this week. On several occasions, as I was looking at my children intently, or while just catching a glimpse of them, I saw something in them that reminded me of someone else.

Oh I know, people always are quick to point out how much a wee one looks like Uncle So&so, or just like her mom. We've all made comments like that and noted those similarities. But this wasn't like that. The similarities I noticed were not familial. That is I wasn't thinking 'Boy she sure looks like Aunt Whosit, I was thinking ,"Weird. She kind of looks like my next door neighbor." On another occasion "Strange. She reminds me of that person I know from class."

Do you see what I'm saying? Really random, entirely unrelated people were coming to mind as I looked into the faces of my children (who really do look similar one to the next). As I thought about how this could possibly be, one answer popped into my head. With all the billions of people in this world there could surely be only so many combinations of facial features that eventually some would duplicate. ('they' say we all have a twin some where in the world, you know.)

But then that still, quiet voice within me said, "Don't leave Me out of the equation. I made man in My image. You don't look like each other. You look like Me."

If I will choose to remember that we are all created by the same loving Father; if I will choose to see His handiwork in all of us; if I can see that family tie in those I meet along the way, maybe then I will understand how to consistently love my neighbor as myself.

And a little more love is a good way to fuel a fire too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I don't really intend on writing twice a day, but I just was walking through my house, room to room and realized that I needed to get something out.

My husband is a really wonderful man.

There I said it. In fact I would go so far as to say that he is the best man in the whole world (our old pastor hinted at that same thing when he was unofficially setting us up).

Let me tell you why I believe he is the best man in the whole world. I cannot walk through a room in my house without seeing his fingerprints. The hand made wooden candlesticks in the dining room and bedroom; the newly finished flooring on the stairs (carefully and meticulously caulked); his photographs in nearly every room (both landscapes and family portraits); his guitar in our living room; his Bible by his chair ever ready to be studied; the toilet that now flushes (!); the trees and flowers planted with care outside; the playground lovingly built for our children with the help of Opa; the pesto and basil-flavoured-walnut oil in my fridge that he let me buy at an expensive store on the anniversary weekend he wanted us to take;...I could go on.

Still the point is this: some of the fingerprints speak to his creativity, some to his practicality, some to his extravagant love for us. He leaves no stone unturned in trying to meet all our needs and to paint a picture of Christ for us.

At our wedding, the same pastor, mentioned above, reminded my husband that although he'd likely never have to take a bullet for me, he would be given the chance to lay down his life for me in the little things every day. This he has done beautifully. Don't get me started on all the things he loves and excels at that he has set aside for this season of life. And then I could write another whole page on how I see his fingerprints (and by that I mean Christ's through him) all over our children!

Now if my husband reads this he would want me to put a disclaimer in saying "he's not perfect". So let me tell you: he's not perfect.

But about that last bit, you can't believe everything you read online.


too slow

Do you ever have that dream where you really need to run fast, because, I don't know, something's chasing you (usually in my dreams someone has stolen my children and I am desperately trying to get them back). And no matter how desperately hard you try, you just can't run fast enough? (sometimes in my dreams I use my hands on the ground too, gorilla style...very attractive).

Today I'm just feeling like my spiritual life is kind of like that. I see where I want to be, need to be, and I just can't run fast enough. I'm not talking about trying to speed through life so that you miss out on 'stopping to smell the roses'. I'm talking about being held back by ''stuff'. Sin. Doubt. Misunderstanding. Circumstances. Sometimes you don't even realize that you are running slow until someone passes you.

Lord give me the freedom to run unhindered. Give me the pace I can sustain. Give me blinders so that I don't compare myself to others or turn to the left or the right.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - What's In A Name?
I remember one time several years ago, when my husband and I were facing many questions and decisions with regards to the direction our family was to take. As I sat down to pray and hear from the Lord, I felt that I was supposed to read 2 Samuel 5:16. At the time it seemed like a strange a book to turn to, but I was hopeful for an answer from the Lord.

My countenance fell as I read the text: "Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet". Three names? That's it? That was no answer. So I closed my Bible believing I had misheard the Lord. But still it wouldn't go away. There lingered a feeling that there was something for me to understand and learn from that passage. So, I found those names in my husband's concordance. What a surprise to find the meanings of those names to be "The Lord hears, the Lord knows, the Lord will deliver".

What a flood of tears as I was comforted by my Father. He did not give me the plan, did not show me the next step. But He did remind me that He had not forgotten us.

Now that is fuel for a good fire.
• Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - Brick By Brick
It didn't seem right yesterday to mention dear old Nehemiah and then not give him a little more thought...

Consider the state of Nehemiah's problem. His people had been in captivity for decades and precious Jerusalem was in shambles. Not only had they been defeated by their enemies and taken away from their homes, but the remnant who were behind in Jerusalem were entirely unprotected: the walls were broken down and the city was burnt out. They were vulnerable to further attacks, and were the laughing stock of those who looked on.

Nehemiah could not sit by and let this continue. He decided the ruins needed to be rebuilt. Now if this were happening today, a lesser man might have written to ABC. The letter would be as follows: "Dear Extreme Makeover, Old Testament Edition. Our situation is dire. Our people are held captive and our beautiful city is destroyed. Please consider us for your show." And if they were lucky enough to be chosen, Ty Pennington and his crew would come and in 7 days they would have a newly restored city complete with plasma t.v.'s in each bedroom....

Reality check. Nehemiah knew that the wall would only be built brick by brick. Stone-mortar-stone-mortar-stone-mortar and so on until the job was finished. That is where they were at when they were ridiculed in chapter 4. A few stones and some mortar does not look like a wall at first. Small beginnings, remember?

That's what I need to remember in my homeschooling and child-rearing. I pray "Lord give us success in our homeschooling" and then hope in the morning I will awake to find my 7 year old has been miraculously changed in to a eloquent young woman graduating as valedictorian from an elite university. Alas, it is not so. The task is hard, the work is long. Part way through it doesn't always look like much. Part way through it is hard to remember that every brick is a critical part of the wall.

Each time I correct a math quiz, each time I sing a History memory song, each time I teach a new skill it is a litte stone, a little mortar. It may only be kindergarten, grade two, grade five, ...whatever. It is nonetheless part of the building process.

Sara Groves sings a song called "Kingdom Comes" and it is brilliant.( Look for this title on the "Add to the Beauty" Album. The lyrics and a sound bite are there.) Do not let your heart be downcast today as you slowly build into your children's lives.

Lord, let me be like Nehemiah: willing to do the work, willing to value the work, willing to not be distracted from the work, and always looking to You for the strength to accomplish the work.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006 - Small Beginnings
Amazing, isn't it, how a fire starts? I mean, I suppose there are several tools you can use: the ancient flint and rock, the utilitarian lighter, the elegant long, wooden matchstick, and perhaps the divine lightening bolt. Still it comes down to a single spark. The tool you use is only considered a success if that spark 'catches'.

And then that wee spark is only as successful as the fuel you add to it. A wet log won't suffice. Neither will a substance that will melt instead of burn. Some things burn too quickly to catch into a full fire. Oh to find that perfectly sized and seasoned piece that will start a long slow burn.

And of course you could entirely suffocate that poor spark if you don't adequately add oxygen. Blow to hard and it is extinguished. Blow to lightly, or not at all, and it too expires. Oh to find the right breath and power to sustain the glow.

Of course this is not a new analogy, and even if it were it is not terribly well presented. Still, my hope is that the spark in our home that has been lit by our Heavenly Father will be fed by our study and understanding of His written and spoken Word, and fanned in to an inferno by the Breath of His Holy Spirit. Nothing else will suffice. Every other way will fail.

Our Lord honours the day of small beginnings (see Neh. 4:1-6). The first spark is lit. Lord, give us the wisdom and the perseverance to fan it into flame.