Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What Happened on the Way to Sign Language Class (or: Why I'm Glad God's Timing Is Perfect)

Monday nights I drive to our local college for Sign Language Classes. I've been really enjoying the drive these last few weeks as I get to actually leave during the remaining day light, instead of the pitch blackness of deep winter.

Last night I left a few minutes earlier than usual. And I do mean minutes. Maybe even 45 seconds. But it made all the difference.

We live on a dead end street with 2 stop signs before you reach the main highway that goes through our small town. As I approached the first stop sign I saw a van driving towards me from the 2nd stop sign at a high rate of speed. So fast in fact, that when he reached the top of the hill at that 1st stop sign (right where I was coming to a nice full stop) he actually caught air. That's right: this GMC Safari actually had all four wheels off the ground. I watched in amazement through my rear view mirror as the vehicle landed, skidded and swerved, and, with some difficultly, came to a stop. They then turned around and drove back out to the highway where I saw them race though town, passing me in the process. As I followed them (at a distance now, because of their speed) I saw them enter the parking lot of our local Tim Hortons. I stopped at the Petro Can across the street and called 911 on the pay phone to report the reckless driving I witnessed. Whether or not the police were able to follow through on the call, I don't know. The van left TIm's before the Police arrived. And as I expected, they drove exceedingly fast towards the city down the highway, and disappeared into the darkening night.

What struck me is two things: 1st, how angry I was and indignant at the audacity of these young men, going for a joy ride in such a reckless way. 2nd, how thankful I am that I left just those few seconds earlier. Had I not, I would have been in the middle of the road as they were trying to gain control of their vehicle after their short flight. It would not have gone well for me, I'm sure. This led to a thought of "What if the neighbors were out on the road on their snowmobiles, like they sometimes do in the evening? What if the neighbor was walking her dog? What if my children were on the edge of the road playing in the piles of snow left by the snow plow?...."

And then I was even more angry. People often say "It only affects me, so who cares" about all kinds of behaviour: smoking, reckless driving, even homosexual relationships. Society is such a self-centered, individualist mess that there is no sensitivity or considerations of others. In a world where tolerance and acceptance are preached (meaning 'anything goes') all I see is an increasing lack of concern for how one's actions affect others. This boys thought they were having fun; they could have killed someone. Maybe they did. Maybe I'll find out that later that evening they were involved in a serious car accident. Who knows.

What I do know, is that I'm thankful for the Lord's timing and protection for me and my family last night. "The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more." Psalm 121:8

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Humbled, Again

My wee 4 year old princess came to me today and with great enthusiasm and affection said "I love you Mommy". I made the foolish decision to ask "Why do you love me, honey?" How thrilled I was with the first part of her answer: "Because you are smart, and you know things" then the sweet pause, then "Don't you?" Hmmmm. Do I?

It was like my life flashed before my eyes: Of course I know things. I make brilliant homemade soups and entrees, quite often with no recipe. I now know how to bake really healthy bread from scratch, and I've learned how to cast on and off in knitting. I used to be a University student, I am now studying Sign Language at a College Night course. I can fix nearly any boo-boo that comes our way, not to mention recite nearly every nursery rhyme ever penned. I have sonnets memorized by both John Donne and Shakespeare. I even took Calculus and Algebra in my last year of high school, and took French right into first year of University! Whew! Let me tell you, I know things.

Of course, the humbling quickly comes when I realize that seriously none of that matters one wit.

The Word says that "The foolishness of God is wiser than men" (1 Cor. 1:25) and that He "has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise" (1Cor. 1:27). So what do I care how un-knowing I am? What profit is it for me to have gained any wisdom, unless it furthers the Kingdom of Heaven and makes my Father Glorious?

My desire is that someday when my dear princess tells me she loves me, her reason why will be because I have led her closer to the foot of the cross. And hopefully that will be all I cling to as well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Can It Really Be True?

Several years ago I managed to sneak away to a Ladies' Retreat with my church just weeks before my 4th child was to be born. The highlight of these retreats was a beautifully laid out half day of prayer. We were given a booklet full of scripture, aids to prayer, aids to confession, devotional thoughts, praise lyrics and the like to fill our 3 hours of solitude with the Lord. I looked forward to this part of the weekend more than the escape from daily life, more than the meals I didn't have to cook and the dishes I didn't have to clean. Just a time to really be with the Lord and to hear from Him and to get right with Him again.

I suppose it was the "getting right" part that I expected would take centre stage. I spent the first 2 hours of my time alone trying to find that "thing" I needed to confess: That one benchmark sin that I had been holding onto, or hadn't 'fully' confessed to date. I dredged up things from my past, I fine-tooth-combed my present issues, and then extrapolated to what sins might come up in the future. And still, I felt no satisfaction, no reconciliation, no real sense of having met with the Lord.

And then Isaiah. My eyes stumbled on a passage that I'm sure I had never seen before:
"I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgression for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins." Is. 43:25
What? Could this really be true? I mean I knew He forgave my sins, I figured He must overlook my sins, but to think He wouldn't remember my sins...entirely earth shaking. I always imagined standing before the Judgement Throne with Father looking at me and seeing - remembering - all my sins, but loving me anyway because Christ was there covering me. I never imagined He would actually 'not remember' them.

But I couldn't stop there. What about me? Is there a way, Lord, I begged, that I too could 'not remember' my sin? I was led to turn to Isaiah 53:4
"Fear Not, for you will not be put to shame; Neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more."
Yes! This is what I was longing for. I prayed and thanked the Lord for this revelation and asked that He would burn the truth into my heart so that I would not forget it.

As I returned home, my thoughts stayed with these insights, and as I meditated on these passages I found out even more beautiful aspects of these truths. The word 'remember' as used in the first passage I mentioned implies "Calling to mind, Looking at, or Considering" Ahh, release. Now I knew that when the memory of those sins came to haunt me I could in all honesty say "this is not from the Lord. I have confessed this, it is forgotten. He has wiped out my transgression and will not remember them or call them to mind." In fact He has turned His gaze from them and has stopped considering them as part of who I am.

All of this certainly gave me a deeper, more beautiful understanding of Isaiah 1:18
"Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool."
This is not just a painting over or a covering up. This is not just a glaze that can be scratched away or seen through. This is a new beginning with the past erased. Thank you Lord for such a gift. I pray You will enable me to walk in it daily.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Should Know This By Now

At Church on Sunday, our Pastor gave a very helpful sermon. While I'll spare you all the details, I will share with you the two points to mull over. Here's the final two points to go home and mull over:

I need to love God more and more.
I need to care what people think about me less and less.
Sounds easy. Looks beautiful. Hard to master. The good part is is that apparently the two go hand in hand. The more you love God and live like you do, the more you will need to care less about what people think, because it could start to be unfavorable. Mind you, the less you care about what people think, the more inclined you'll be to just love God more and more.

Funny though, I'm pretty sure that I've been working through this for some time now. Particularly the 'caring less' part. As I mentioned in a previous blog (Christmas Story, Daily Truth) I am fairly driven by fear, particularly fear of man. So this lesson from this sermon is a bit of a trick for me.

Still, Lord, I believe You are calling me to it. I believe the life you are asking me to lead will cause (or is causing) many to think I'm a fool. Yet, with faith and eyes fixed on You help me to press ahead into Your will and Your ways. For only then will I be truly satisfied.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Noses...Why the fascination

This will be short today.
Why do children insist on shoving small objects up their noses?
And why do they do it when you are already feeling like maybe we should just close shop for the rest of the day?
And why do they have to be round things that spin when you try to pinch them with tweezers?
And why do they never do it when Daddy is home?

I'd love to hear your "up the nose" experiences. I'm sure you all have one (a story, that is). We have two.
If you can find any relavent scriptures that I can find wisdom from today regarding noses I'd like it. The closest I can think of is this paraphrase: "It is easier to get a gold shiny bead out of a 3 year old nose than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." I came up with that myself. Not bad.

Friday, February 9, 2007

A Shocking Realization

I have recently come to a most shocking realization. Maybe you have discovered this for yourself already. Maybe you haven't, and you really need to. Are you ready? This is life changing for me.

My children actually like me. And your children actually like you.

This may not seem to be a staggering truth at first glance, but let me explain the sheer magnitude of this fact.
First, I've given them lots of reasons to not like me. You know, like saying "No" to them for no reason other than that to say yes would make a mess for me to clean up, make my work take longer, or in some other way interrupt my life.
Second, I've been more rude to them, on occassion, than I've been to complete strangers. For example, the snapping and pointing and waving them away when I am on the phone; the rolling of the eyes when I need to repeat myself. Is this familiar to any of you?
Third, I just don't find myself terribly fun to be with. In our house there have been days when Daddy comes home from work and the house erupts with laughter and I realize: "I don't think any of us have laughed all day until just now." Sad.

These are just some of the supporting evidences for why I am shocked that my children actually like me. I so often parent in a way that protects myself from getting hurt or feeling rejected. I expect them to not reciprocate the love I have for them so I play disinterested so that I won't feel as snubbed. You know, just like walking into the High School Cafeteria, trying to sit at the 'in' table, realizing that they don't want you and walking away saying "Who cares? I didn't really want to sit there anyway." (nice cover up.)

But I heard the other day that the person of greatest influence in a child's life is the same gender parent. The second greatest influence is the opposite gender parent. So, I can influence my wee ones positively by believing and living as if I am someone they like, or I can influence them negatively by living as if maybe they really don't like me. Can you imagine the pattern of rejection I could set up in my dear daughters and sons if they pour their interest and affection on me and I respond coldly as if to say "oh you don't really mean that."?

Lord, I love my children dearly. Please strip me of the self-centered attitude that worries that "maybe they don't like me", and help me to be more focused on loving them and showing them what healthy, safe, trusting relationships look like. The mother-child relationship is no place for me to be shy and intimidated. They like me. They really like me. (maybe I don't get why, but they do). Lord let me live so that they know I REALLY like them back.

Monday, February 5, 2007


Okay, so apparently mothers aren't supposed to brag on their children. It is supposedly only in the realm of grandmas and omas to do that. But since neither of my moms have blogs, it is up to me to tell you something truly outstanding about my children.

Last night they both ate 2 pieces of my homemade lasagna.
Now before you cry "foul" and say that does not make them outstanding, let me clarify: I make a mean lasagna. This was a truly divine dish. We are talking "serve it at a posh restaurant on an oversized plate with a garnish of watercress coulis and a side of exotic mushoom saute" divine lasagna. But you might not think so having just heard the ingredients before you took a bit. In fact, I dare say some of you grown ups out there may not even be so brave as to take a bite knowing only the ingredients. But here is the list of delicacies in my divine lasagna....

Whole wheat noodles, spinach, roasted eggplant and zucchini, and (drum roll please) tofu.
And yes, my children are all 8 and under. And yes they really did all have 2 pieces. And yes we really will fight over who gets to enjoy the last 3 leftover pieces (easy answer: me, me and me). I mean, seriously, who eats like this? How many kids do you know who will even eat green beans, let alone the things I feed my kids? (Don't even get me started on how my children feel about brussels sprouts). It just really struck me last night how blessed I am by these little foodies.

If any of you feel inspired and would like to try out my divine lasagna on your own children, email me and I'll be happy to share my original recipe with you. If nothing else it is fun to astound the produce manager at the grocery store with your cart (it really helps to have my 4 year old daughter in tow saying "Are you buying eggplant?! I LOVE eggplant!!" It turns heads everytime.)

And by the way, for her birthday lunch today my 7 year old daughter requested French Onion Soup and marinated cream cheese on baguette. Seriously....how cool is that?!

Friday, February 2, 2007

I Hear You

I've been blessed this year to have had the freedom of time and finances to enroll for Sign Language Classes at our local College. I was shocked to realize at my first lesson that the teacher was not going to open up a text book and teach. My teacher is deaf. For some reason that possiblity never entered my mind. So as I sat, reeling under the new pressure and fear I placed on my self, I prepared for the worst...an impossible class with no chance of connecting with this teacher, not being able to really understand him or where he was at, and not to be understood in return.

As typical I entirely underestimated God. The Lord is so big and so gracious, and so able to calm and blow away my every fear. Tony, our teacher, is a gifted instructor. He has been more than able to communicate with us with humour, gestures, and yes, our new, fledgling attempts at signing.

But today I really "heard" him. I think for the first time I felt like I fully connected with him even though our communication is limited. Our homeschool group has brought him in to teach at our Co-op, and he is doing an amazing job of reaching these children ages 5 to 17 (not to mention the moms who flock to the class to learn too). As I was talking to him at break time, he told me that he has been teaching for 25 years; still, there are times when he is stressed out worrying about what to teach each class and how to best convey what needs to be expressed. But then he said that when he gets with our children he makes them laugh, and they make him laugh and he can just relax. Then he said "I love teaching. After 25 years I thought maybe I would have had enough; but I still love teaching."

I really heard him. I'm so there with him. Sometimes teaching my children is stressful. Sometimes I think I can't imagine one more day, that maybe I've already had enough. But the underlying truth is that I love teaching my children. And that when I am functioning in the Lord's gifting and strength (instead of my own attempts and abilitlies) I can relax and thoroughly enjoy it.

What a blessing to have my children taught by such a gifted educator. But more importantly, what a blessing to have an opportunity to connect with another person in spirit, if not with words.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Another Answer to "Why Homeschool?"

Opening the Word to Psalm 1 this morning, I see another part of the blessings the Lord grants when we homeschool. Hear this Word and its promise:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whaterver he does he prospers.
What I see here is an encouragement to keep my children away from certain types of people and certain types of structures that would be classified as wicked, sinners, and scoffers. This of course includes my own home. As a family we need to foster the opposite traits in our home: wisdom, righteousness, truth.

But then there is also the encouragent to teach my children to delight in the law of the Lord and to teach the discipline of meditation. It is not enough to not fill them with junk; I need to proactively fill them with the Word and a deep love for it.

Then comes the promise: as I am faithful to homeschool in such a way as to meet those conditions and to create that kind of environment, the Lord is faithful to produce in my children steadfastness, fruitfulness, courage, and prosperity. This is my goal as a homeschooler. I don't merely want 'smart' children; I want mighty oaks that stand out amongst the barren twigs of this world. Make it so, Lord. More of You in our home and in our lives. Help me to have this end as my focus, not simply academics.