Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Happy New Year's Eve! For this special, forward looking edition of Wow-ful Women Wednesdays, I thought it would be rad to look back a couple of decades and celebrate the Wow-fulness of three Sirens from the 80's.

I should tell you: my 10 year old, when I told her this idea, said, "Won't all those ladies be dead by now?"

Nice.

That's coming out of her (non-existent) allowance....

Now I did pick 3 today because really there are so.many specimens of excellence. But I'm starting with the "weakest" of the 3 I picked. This is also the newest, which could say something.

What I want you to notice about this video is the excellent amount of overacting as the Roxette girl (oh no she didn't pick Roxette! Oh yes I did) reaches the climax of the song. I think I'd get kicked off the stage for that. But Roxette boy (do they have names?) is so cool just sitting there on the couch with his spiky hair and guitar at his side. sigh.



Now my final two are really hard to pick between as to "the best". I'm fairly confident that this video I'm putting in second place has a WAY COOLER story to its video. I mean, the costumes, the sound effects, the fire, the angels....well, you better let Bonnie Tyler just show you because "WOW!!"



And last but not least...

This video is just so poetically beautiful. Her make up is remarkable, her voice, the lyrics, the children's choir and waterfall...love it. Although when picking a Pat Benatar song (aren't you just GIDDY with excitement waiting to get to the video!?) there are so many options. I nearly picked Love Is A Battlefield, obviously, but this one I seem to remember crying to a bunch as a kid so it stuck.



Wasn't that the most excellent walk down memory lane? Love it. Now what I should do is make you all comment with your age at the times each video was released. I know that We Belong and I Need a Hero were released in 1984. It Must Have Been Love was released in Sweden in 1987 as a Christmas song, but internationally in 1990 (so it really just squeaks in). Any takers? Any memories of listening to these songs?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Long Time No Post

Holidays are like that, yes? All the things you mean to do and want to do get set aside for the urgent. Not that the urgent is bad altogether. Just some things, like blogging, come up a little low on the priority list of church and family.

Allow me then to set a little bit of my current train of thought out here as a intro to 2009.

I intend to read a whole lot more this year. I really love reading all types of books and I often feel guilty for liking it so much. As a busy mom/wife/homeschooler, shouldn't I be doing something "productive" with my time? I shouldn't give myself the luxury of reading. If I enjoy it, isn't it surely wrong?

Fie on that logic!

From here on I will give myself the freedom to see reading as a vital aspect of my spiritual life (so long as my author selections are more often one way than the other: Sophie Kinsella has her place, but not really in the edification department). Our pastor talked on Sunday about the necessity of 'Walking with the wise" through books and I am seeing this as part of what I am missing. Therefore I will be trying to figure out how to include a "books I've read" list on my side bar (no it likely isn't that complicated, but you need to realize my husband just told me today what "ftp" stands for...I'm a little slow on the uptake). If I find a particular book particularly recommendable, I may even just post a review here. Wow. Book reviews. Cool. (Daunting...)

A few themes running continually through my head that will find themselves on these virtual pages are Gratitude, Worship, and Defeating Fear. Stayed tuned!

But of course, I will not disappoint my readers. I will certainly be posting Wow-ful Women Wednesdays regularly. Do forgive my lack of a post last week. CBM assures me that I can be allowed to skip on Christmas Eve, but that I better pick a really good one this week to make up for it :-)

All in all, I hope you are having a peace-filled, hope-full, loved-out Christmas season. And as the New Year stretches out before us, I hope you will join me in looking forward to being a more sold-out, wholehearted, intentional lover of Jesus.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fixer-Uppers

Five and a half years ago we bought our very first house. We were pretty thrilled to be home owners. We knew that as we were just starting out that we didn't want to be crazy and overextend ourselves with a massive mortgage. So we bought a fixer-upper.

And so for the last 5 and 1/2 years we've lived with painted concrete floors waiting for carpet, carpeted floors waiting for laminate, finished floors waiting for baseboards, bathrooms waiting for refinished tubs, ceilings waiting for tiles, doors waiting for casings, doors waiting to be hung, a kitchen waiting for appliances and then cupboards, and an exterior waiting for eaves et al. We are getting there. We still aren't done.

It has been, truthfully, a whole lot of fun. As much as I love the idea of an "Archetecture's Digest meets Martha Stewart" kind of dwelling, I do also love looking around and seeing my husband (and Father-in-law's!) completed handiwork and work in progress side by side. There is something immensely satisfying about living in a space for a long while trying to figure out how it ought to really be used before jumping in a making changes I may regret later.

We picked a house with a good foundation and lots of potential, then shaped and changed it and improved it to meet up with what we needed and wanted out of a house. We are making it work.

And you know what? I'm just seeing the parallel lately that my husband married a fixer-upper too.

Having grown up in a Christian home and making my "decision" at a young age, I figured I was 'always'saved. And I probably was. But my faith made precious little difference in how I lived other than making me feel guilty when I acted in a way that I knew I shouldn't. I'm not even sure I could say that, like my house, I had a good foundation. It became strikingly apparent, once I began attending my new home church while at University, that my foundation was needing some reinforcing in some areas, and some total demolishion in other areas. My hope was built on Jesus Christ, yes. But the pillars of my life were far from the plumb line of His Word and His love and His expectations.

What to do?

Worse, what to do now when I look at my life and realize I'm still a work in progress? And somedays it is hard to see any improvement at all. Somedays the facade is spotless. You know, just like the lovely, seamless wallpaper that, when you remove it, reveals chipping, moulding plaster waiting to crumble in to an impossible mess. Yes, somedays are like that.

Not to say that the Lord isn't working in me. Not to say I am a hopeless case bound to be declared condemmed and uninhabitable. Not at all. More like that horrible moment when, in the middle of a project, every surface in the house is covered in drywall dust, the table is full of painted baseboard waiting to dry, the painted plywood floor is giving you slivers and now the baby needs a diaper change and supper needs to be cooked and you wonder if these "home improvements" are really helping anything. Progress? Really?

But then the next morning when the mudded walls are painted, the baseboards are hung, and the laminate has been laid, then, well, then you could host a party for 45, including Martha Stewart, while nursing the baby and toilet training the toddler, and somehow in the middle of it, feel the weight of the world floating off into the distance. Sigh. All is right with the world.

And this is where I am lately. In my rational moments, I do see that the Lord is making progress in my heart. And in my actions. Without giving an itemized list here, suffice it to say that there are layers of sin that I have felt scraped off like so many layers of ugly vinyl floor. There are attitudes that have been chipped away like so many ugly shower tiles. I have experienced freedom in many areas that I had previously assumed impossible to unchain. That comes from time in the Word and a focus on Christ with eyes looking to the Cross.

However, the closer I get there to the Light of His Word, and the more I turn my face to His, the more clearly I see the areas still needing attention. The "Honey Do List" of my heart is still as long as it once was as I add to it new revelations of spaces that need renovation.

The "done date" of our house is in the not too distant future. We can see our list of projects shrinking, and one day our house will be ready to sell. Not to an editor from "House and Home" but to a family who does not want a fixer-upper.

I, however, will be a work in progress until I die. I often hoped that I would get slightly more perfect every day of my life until one day the Lord would look on me and say "Well, tomorrow she will be perfect so we better have her breathe her last tonight so perfection stays in Heaven only".

Pretty sure that is not how it works.

So for now, if you know me for real, allow me to put out the same disclaimer I might give if you came to my home:

"Pardon the mess. There are a few things being rearranged. I see that messy bit over there too and I'm working on it. And those items out of place? Well, I'm just trying to decide if they fit in here or if I need to put them out to the curb. I have a really excellent Craftsman working on that bit over there, and I'm sure that soon it will be a more useful, workable piece. While the work is being done and things are kind of in upheaval, I will try to keep you as safe and comfortable here as possible. If you get hurt because of some of the projects on the go here, I really am sorry. And I'm trying to get it all cleaned up as quick as possible. In the meantime, let me serve you and welcome you into my life as best as I can. I do hope you don't mind spending some time here, even if it is a fixer-upper."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I am horrible to go to concerts with. I mean, a nice Steve Bell quiet acoustic concert: that I can do. I know to sit quietly and not wreck the moment for everyone around me. But get me to a loud, light show, lots of guitars kind of concert...bad news. It's like I'm in my university apartment all over again with the stereo too loud singing into a hairbrush.

really.loud.

Ask Sheryl. I wonder if she remembers me loudly singing along to every.song at the Steven Curtis Chapman concert...still feel badly about that one.

See the trick is I think it is so loud that no one will hear me singing the harmonies or the great hook in the chorus. However, if you wanted to hear me butcher Avalon you could just come to my house and listen to me wail.

So in that vein (or is it 'vain'?), let me put out a general apology related to today's Wow-ful woman. If you attended the Sarah McLachlin concert at the Western Fair in 1994 (I think?) I am sorry for singing so loudly. One lady sitting near me actually said to me "Wow. It's like hearing the concert in stereo" which was not a complement to me, I think.

I kept hoping that Sarah's background vocalist would fall off the platform or get electricuted by a bad wire and then Sarah would look out into the crowd for someone who knew all the words and all the parts. And of course the lady I just deafened beside me would say "Well this girl sure knows it all". And then I could drop out of university and fulfill my dream of being a background vocalist.

sigh.

Without further ado, here is Sarah McLachlin (who I think looks remarkably like my friend Kate, actually). And I will sing as loud as I want watching this because no one but my kids have to suffer through hearing me today.

Monday, December 15, 2008

So Much to Say

Well, it is Monday. I have so.many.things. to blog about and yet my thoughts are still so muddy that I need a little time to straighten out what I want to say in a way that will make sense to more people than just the other tired moms out there.

In the meantime, while I process here is something that I think is entirely funny. Now you must realize I'm going out on a limb here. This is true vulnerability. A person's sense of humour says alot about them, and what if after you see this you think "Wow. That girl is seriously warped".

Or maybe, just maybe, you will be so glad you woke up this morning and checked my blog because I have just introduced you to a whole category of humourous videos you never knew existed. Now I should as a disclaimer say that I cannot vouch for whatever related videos pop up here. These two guy are named Rhett and Link and they have multiple songs that crack me up. Really not intending on defiling anyone today with some link gone bad...yikes.

What makes these guys funny to me is that they are actually writing catchy songs, with excellent harmonies. The subject matter is bizarre which is the funny bit. If they weren't talented, this would likely just be annoying.

Alright too much lead up. Must stop talking and just let you laugh. (oh please tell me you laughed....)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Learning to Read

Shockingly, my post on spelling curriculum garnered 4 whole comments. Really? Barbra Streisand only got 2. So there.

My friend Lindy asked if I had any opinions on teaching a pre-schooler how to read. Well, of course I have opinions! What's a homeschool mom without opinions :-)

Having said that, I do hope you know that I don't believe there is one and only one way to teach your child to read. This is what I have done and maybe it will work for others too. But perhaps you'll find a different resource that I'll have wished I knew about.

Okay, enough disclaimer-ing. Here is what we have used.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons



In 20 minutes a day you can work through simple phonics lessons to teach your child to read. By the end of the 100 lessons, your child is supposed to be reading at a Grade 2 level. I started this with my oldest 2 when they were around 4 respectively. The 1st born never finished the book because she "just got it" one day and was indeed reading at a grade two level. My 2nd born didin't finish the book either. She also "got it" but was reading more at a grade one level. Good enough for me. Both are doing great with their reading still.

My 3rd and 4th borns liked this book a bit less. Maybe I started them too early for their personality or maybe I had just lost my patience a few too many times.

So I switched to these little gems:



I must say I was awfully skeptical when I first saw these. They are so ridiculously simple (illustrations included) but the tag line on the book says "Your child will be amazed and say "I read a whole book all by myself"."

Whatever.

So I finally cave in and buy them and sit down with my then 6 year old. She picks up the first book in the set of 12 per box...reads the whole thing....looks at me with pride all over her face and says "I read a whole book all by myself".

Whatever!

So we are liking them despite my desire to not like them (I get like that sometimes).

Once they are underway in the reading department I get them to read Pathway Readers.



These start out as simple as Dick and Jane readers but are not nearly as annoying. They are put out by an Amish company and so the tales are all lovely and moral and agrarian. Plus they have workbooks to go with them to work on comprehension, spelling, and more phonics rules. Overall pretty nice. We quit this series by grade 3or so because by then the kids want something 'real' to read.

How helpful is that? Plus what I would say to all the moms out there who are ready to sign up for the "worst mother in the world" award: Relax. Not every child will read at age 3. I did. My kids have not. Does that mean I stink as an educator? No. Read lots to your children. Have lots of books around. And let your kids know that if they read the stop sign that counts as real reading! Two of my girls thought they 'couldn't read' because they couldn't just pick up any book in the house and read it cover to cover. Praise them for the little words they recognize. Let them know that beginner readers are "real books" and help them to slowly expand their library.

And nothing, NOTHING is better than the first time you hear them read the Bible. My April one day sat at Family Worship and read part of the Genesis account of creation. I was bawling and she looks at me with tears of joy in her eyes and says "Wow, I guess I can read!" Only the most important thing in the World... incredible.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

HOW COULD I FORGET THIS?!

Oh my stars. A couple weeks ago I gave you some homework: remind me of the Wow-ful Women I haven't posted yet but should. My dear friend Jessica commented reminding me of this dynamic duo. She and I used to sing a pretty brilliant rendition of this ourselves while driving in the cool girl van up to Teen Ranch. Yes I was the geeky youth leader and she was the cool teenager, so I tried to win the kids over with my knowledge of angst ridden chick music. (stay tuned for a post on Jewel...).

Without further ado, Tell Him by Celine and Barbra. Celine gets bonus points for being Canadian, but Babs loses a few for poor name spelling. Still they blow most vocalists out of the water so they deserve to be here. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Heard At My House: The Husband Edition

Setting: Chris laying on the couch being sat upon by our 10 and 8 year olds. The question of 'where to put our Christmas orange peels' is asked.

Chris: Right here. (patting his belly)


Me: Yes, on Daddy's Washboard Abs


Chris: (chortling) Yes, there is a Washboard there somewhere....Underneath all that laundry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I'm sure you've all seen this before. It has circulated quite a bit, but I felt like it was time to bring it out again.

So for all of you who are a mom, or if you've ever had a mom of your own, here is the Mom Song:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

a Brilliant Homeschool Spelling Curriculum

I am in love.

Any moms out there who enjoy teaching spelling?

(insert crickets chirping)

I loved spelling in school because it was so easy. No one needed to teach me the rules and exceptions regarding vowel sounds and consonant doubling. It just made sense to me. I just 'got it'.

Fast forward to today: I assumed that since my kids are good readers that spelling would just come naturally to them too. And in the basics they have. But some bits were eluding them. So I decide to "teach spelling".

Oh poor me.

I had a few old "real school" spelling text books that seemed like a good place to start. What I found were a bunch of randomly chosen words that did not connect to each other in anyway except that they all contained a combination of letters that my children knew.

I also thought I'd try to make vocabulary lists from books we were reading but again, besides being relevant to our current study topic, they were just random words. I still like to do this for vocabulary building and dictionary skills, but as a means of learning how to spell in general, it was useless.

So then I thought we would re-emphasize some of the phonics rules as laid out in their reading program. So many rules to memorize with not enough practice on them ...highly frustrating for the kids. Too many tears.

Then (insert clouds parting and angels singing) I heard about AVKO Sequential Spelling.

What a breath of fresh air! This program teaches spelling by word families instead of random rules or lists. It starts so painfully simply which is encouraging to the children but by focusing on the word family and adding certain suffixes and prefixes, one advances quite quickly.

Today we began Level One. I started with my 3 oldest girls (10, 8, and 7). The 10 year old is an excellent reader and a decent speller; the 8 year old is a bit of a reluctant reader and a pretty good speller actually; the 7 year old is a new reader and has very limited spelling skills. (wow. That was somewhat humbling to type. Tell me I'm not alone...)

The first "spelling test" the book administers is the spelling of their name on the top of the page. And everyone gets a gold star :-) The girls thought that was funny and instantly wanted to do more.

The second thing they had to do was spell "Beginning". I didn't tell them if they had it right or wrong. I told them that apparently only 60% of 8th graders can spell it correctly. I do really hope that is a false statistic.

Then their first lesson began. They had 4 words to spell.

in
pin
sin
spin

That was it. The older two laughed at how ridiculously easy that was. The 7 year old struggled with spin for a bit, but then quickly figured it out. She said "Even *I* can do this test".

Then they all begged to do another lesson. So we did. 8 words: I, pins, win, sins, spins, kin, skin, twin.

My 7 year old posed the intelligent question "I wonder if kin starts with a k or a c, because sometimes they both make that sound". Very clever. She guessed right.

The words continue to build like this so that by lesson 5 they should be able to spell beginning properly and see how far they have come already.

Then they all begged to do another lesson. The book is laid out to be used once a day for the year. Or for those who want to fast track they say you can do up to 4 lessons a day and finish 4 levels a year. There are 7 levels to the program in all. I'm guessing we will be fast tracking to some extent.

Now granted, this is our first day using it, but it is so clear and fun and incremental and useful and quickly advancing and....we love it! If I change my mind I'll let you know.

But I can't imagine.

You can also purchase it through my favourite Canadian Supplier: The Learning House.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Playing with Barbies

Is it just my children that play with their Barbies like this?

1. A "free" shelter for people who need a place to live. And it should be fancy so that even poor homeless people feel special for awhile.

2. Said shelter has free medical care. Every Friday the Doctor comes in and gives everyone a check-up.

3. Then of course there is the church service on Sunday where Greg (our only Boy 'barbie') preaches. The song they chose this morning was Blessed Be Your Name, because some hurting people needed to hear those encouraging words. His sermon text was John 3:16.

4. Afterwards Pastor Greg and his wife Michelle ride off in to the sunset on horseback for a date night. (my favourite part).



I mean this is some good imagination! Meanwhile my poor son is playing with Lego in the corner. He really either needs Daddy to get home from work or his baby brother to grow up ultra-quick.

Good times. Good times, indeed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

If I show up with my hair cut short one of these days, this is why.

Oh how I love this lady's voice. I remember quite clearly thinking she was brilliant (even though I didn't know half of the lyrics to any of her songs). I was heartbroken forever in teen years (which in real time converts to about 45 minutes) when 10,000 Maniacs split up and Natalie Merchant went on a solo career. But that is awkward because she sounded just the same either way so I was never really sure if I was listening to Maniacs or just Natalie...complicated.

I also remember loving that she was in a relationship with REM's Michael Stipe for awhile. That is the cultural equivalent to Fredic Chopin and George Sand or Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley. I mean really? Two such incredibly talented artists together? Just like everyone assumed that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would have beautiful kids, we assumed then that Stipe and Merchant would make beautiful music together.

So here is one of those "feel good songs". From the first beat at the beginning of the song I go "oh yeah. I love this song!" Enjoy.

(Oh read the p.s. at the bottom of this post. I have some homework for you).





These Are Days -- 10,000 Maniacs

These are the days
These are days you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you
Are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you’ll remember
When May is rushing over you
With desire to be part of the miracles
You see in every hour
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you are touched
By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days
These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It's true
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking
To you, to you


P.S. If you have any Wow-ful Women that I am clearly forgetting feel free to leave a comment and let me know. You may very well remind me of a favourite of mine!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Random Thoughts and Apologies

It has been nearly a week since I last posted. I'll blame it on the snow. Wait; that was almost a song title. Except I wasn't really singing. I was just lip-typing.

Okay that wasn't funny. Do any of you even know what I'm referring to, or am I just that much older than you all?

In other news, I am marvelling at how entirely different it is teaching my son his letters than it was the girls. Perhaps it is just that I've forgotten how long these things take or how it comes in bits and pieces. Or maybe I really have so many children I don't know what to do....

nah. can't be that.

On top of that I am toilet training my 2 year old. I think knowing that you need to eventually toilet train a child is one of the best methods of birth control around. Can't stand doing it. There are so many things that are easier about parenting than that.

Also, I've decided that Facebook can be a tool that satan uses to defeat me and amplify the lies that he has been speaking to me for years. Isn't that crazy? Stupid Facebook can become a foothold for the enemy. Lame. I won't even bother explaining how because it will just sound pathetic. And it would make a weird Status, so I thought I'd just mention it here so you all know what bizarre things I pray about... not even making this up.

Alsoly also, I think I would be willing to put up with a really good stomach flu to break my weight loss plateau. One weekend of feeling yucky for the chance to get down to the next weight-loss milestone? Sounds fair. Or I could just start exercising more regularly.

nah. Can't be that.


So maybe I shouldn't have blogged today. This is getting weird.

Let me redeem myself by saying I watched the most excellent sermon on Sunday. I was home with sick kids and so watched Mark Driscoll's sermon entitled Worship: God Transforms. Yikes. And here comes the 'apologies' section of this post.



I do hope you watch more than just that clip. The rest of the sermon is brilliant. Especially the part when he asked a question that reminded me that I still have my poor husband on a pedestal and worship him. I look to him to be my mediator, my judge, my sanctifier, my functional heaven and functional saviour. This is not okay. To him I apologize. To the Lord I apologize. More to pray about to be sure. Watch the sermon and find out what false idols you are worshipping.

And have a lovely day. I promise to be less random tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

And now for something totally different:

I just realized it is Wednesday. And I do not have a video selected for today. Shameful.

So with my daughter beside me (happy 10th birthday yesterday sweetie) I log on. She suggested that I look up the following video for my selection today.

The quality of this video is lacking; still, I am posting it for a very good reason. As I was watching it with my two eldest daughters they were singing along, and one was doing the actions. Typical of my personality, I welled up with tears with the realization that my daughters, all 5 of them, are on their way to becoming seriously Wow-ful Women. They have a headstart on their spiritual walk that I certainly didn't have. They have a passion, a sensitivity, and a desire for the things of the Spirit that is so remarkable for ones so young.

Therefore, in honour of our Supernatural God who gave Jesus for my Daughters, and in honour of my Wow-ful Women in training, here is today's video.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow

How predictable that I would post on snow today given the blanketing that we got over night and that is still wrapping itself up around my porch like a turtleneck fresh out of the bleach.

And trust me, now that I feel a great obligation to be funny on a regular basis for Andrew, I do have things to say about the "counting it all joy-ness" of getting 7 kids winter-dressed and into the van. What a great math lesson: how many pairs of boots do we have, subtract the number of boots that still fit from last year, multiply by $30 per new pair needed equals how much leftover for the Christmas Hampers we hoped to buy?....

Thank goodness for a good budget that allows for all these things.

But I, as usual, digress. I'm not feeling funny today. Sorry Andrew.

I went out this morning to shovel the driveway clear so that we could go to the store to buy toilet paper. Trust me; had I needed any other item I would have let it wait until the plows came and spring was around the corner. For toilet paper I have walked through the heat of summer and driven in the dead of winter. There comes a point where the kleenex box is empty and using a baby wipe just isn't appealing for a grown up. So out we go.

My darling man had begun the job for me before he left for work at 6:45am and said "It would be great if this was clear when I got home. Get the kids to do it. They'll think it's fun".

And he's right. They were chomping at the bit to help out. I would have none of it though. Somehow it just seemed like my responsibility. I should clean up a mess like that.

So out I go. Now you should know that despite the procrastinating sloppiness that dictates other areas of my life, shovelling snow gets to be a bit of an obsession for me. I know there is sidewalk and driveway under here and I intend to bare it. All of it. Without a speck of fluffy whiteness to marr its complexion. This is very difficult to do when you go out while it is still snowing. Working for 20 minutes and then turning around to see a Hallmark Card dusting over the part I just cleared is frustrating to say the least. Determined to clean up and make it right I begin to tackle the rest of the driveway before I fix the sidewalk, again.

Then I hear it. My neighbour's snow blower. Then I hear this "Hi there Barbara! How about letting me do that for you? I could be done it in 4 passes."

Now here is a funny thing. I say no. Huh? say what?

No kidding. I try to get him to not do it because, I say, "There is something peaceful and therapeutic about doing this on a crisp day like this". And I'm not even kidding. That was serious.

He will not relent and insists on helping so I can go back and warm up. So what do I do? I smile and say thank you. And then to punish myself for not doing that front bit, I go back and shovel off the patio THAT WE WON'T USE UNTIL JUNE.

Why? What do I mean "therapeutic"? Why did I feel a building resentment that he was doing this work for me? Why do I think Chris would be any happier knowing I had done it rather than the neighbour? Why wouldn't I let my kids do it like a game. Why do I need it to be so perfectly clear?

So the Lord shows me a picture of my state of heart.

"Will you not just stop? You CANNOT do it. You cannot make yourself clean, or good enough, or perfect. You will NOT be done this side of heaven. You cannot get rid of all the sin in your heart. You do not need to reject the support and help and discipleship of others. Just let yourself accept help."

Hmmm. So picture snow as my sin. I try and try and try in all futility to make it go away and look like it is June. Meanwhile there is more and more coming down all around me. Snow won't go until the sun shines down and melts it away, just as my sin won't go until the Son makes me clean and whole.

I feel the need to do it myself, not admit that I need help. I don't want Chris to do it for me when he comes home. I don't want the neighbour to help. I want to be able to fix it. Except it is impossible. There is a simpler solution for me. In this case it is called Faith. And Community. And Trust. Apparently I'm running short on all those things.

Chris is reading a hefty book called "The Politics of Guilt and Pity" by Rushdoony. He talks in there about the different faces of "self-atonement". If I can make myself suffer enough then maybe I can justify myself as well.

That same funny Andrew made a bunch of us cry like girls last year when he shared a story of a life-threatening nature. The punchline of it was as he was nearly drowned he reached his hand out of the water to be pulled up and out to safety by a friend. At the time, and again this morning, I just was struck by how much I need to submit to that. The Lord uses His people to shape and support and change me. Chris is the most incredible husband in this and I am so grateful for his loving, faithful working to present me blameless and without blemish on the last day. With him I can shout "HELP" and know that he will just swoop in like the Knight in Shining Armour.

But this community thing. This is harder. When I come together with my worship arts friends I am struck by how much I need them too. Sometimes I'll need them to come alongside and shovel with me. Othertimes I'm sure they will tell me to go inside and warm up while they carry the burden for me. I don't want to need them. Just like I don't want to need a Saviour.

Funny, that. The most incredible gifts and I'm tempted to say no thanks.

Fortunately for me, I serve a relentless God. He will not let me work my way towards Him. His plans will not be thwarted. Mine? well, that's another story.

So Thank You Lord, for a husband who is one with me and who will not let me wallow in my wrong thinking, who directs me to You and leads our family with love and truth.

And Thank You Lord for a body of believers that I am loving more and more every moment, who I can trust with the details of my life, and who will also give wise counsel, praying for me and helping in practical ways.

And Thank You Lord for your unending, longsuffering, everpresent Spirit who has chased and pursued me, who is dwelling within me, and who is slowly making me more and more like Christ.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Embracing Accusation

The lies of satan are so effect in crippling us simply due to the fact that what he says to us is partial truth. The part that he shares with us are the parts that condemn. The unspoken part is the truth that sets us free. Shane and Shane capture that powerfully in this song:


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gratitude

What I'm thankful for today:

1. That my seven year old still fits in my lap for a hug.

2. That she still wants to sit in my lap for a hug.

3. That my 2 year old has new glasses.

4. That her sisters won't tease her about them.

5. That my husband is brave enough and loving enough to not let me get away with sin and irrational fear.

6. That I know a really great tomato soup recipe, and that I made it today.

7. That it is raining, not snowing.

8. That I get to go to band practice tonight and see some people I really love.

9. That I made 2 (count them TWO) phone calls today and didn't freak out (see #5).

10.That my baby is learning how to wave 'hi'.

11.That the Lord brings new friends into my life when I need them most.

12.That the Lord is allowing me to hold onto old friends too (hurray for Skype).

13.That there are only 2 more weeks of HIGH Day.

14.That some guy in the grocery store yesterday didn't believe that *all those kids* were mine because I was *so skinny* (snort).

15.That Tim didn't laugh at my songs yesterday.


So there you have the first 15 things that came to mind. Are some of them superficial? Yes. But is God in the details? Yes. So I am very grateful that the Lord doesn't read my blog and say "Well, that's just pathetic". But that He knows my heart and hears my prayers and says "You're Welcome".

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

This is my motto for today. Love this song.

This is who I was trying to emulate in my sound check that day (for the few of you who were there).

She has an incredible voice (not to mention perfectly formed lips through which that voice exits).

Holly Cole Trio...delightfully relaxing. And Canadian to boot. Gotta love that. Plus the pianist plays like Steve R. That always makes me happy. Now if only Steve would play on Sundays again...oh but I digress.

Hearing her always reminds me of when I lived with my sister. Back when she didn't think I was judgemental and 'religious' because, well, I probably wasn't.

Here's hoping you have a sunshiny day too. I've decided it is a choice. And I WILL have one. No matter what.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Struggle for today.

I am not enough.

I will never be enough.

I have not enough time, nor strength, nor energy, nor wisdom.

I am entirely lacking.

Yet....

The Lord is all, and more than enough.

He has done it, He is doing it, He will continue to do it.

Show me how to rest in that Lord. Today it is an uphill fight.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Cure for Post-Partum Depression

A lady at church asked me once if I didn't think I was being very irresponsible for not seeking medical attention and prescription drugs as a cure for my Post-partum Depression. She felt I should have valued the "certainty" of pills over the "hope" of the gospel. You may remember from my other posts about PPD that how I was redeemed out of my pit was by meditating on the Word, choosing to believe in the promises of God as laid out in the Bible. The Psalms were certainly my most favourite spot to rest.

I have also said that I am grateful that I have never found myself back in that dark place, and very much would prefer to never return.

However....

There was a closeness and a clinging to my Father that came through that time that I would not trade for the world. I have wandered away from Him and that utter dependence for every breath and every minute of survival. That I want back.

I listened to this sermon by John Piper and thought I would add a clip here as a picture of what my getting through PPD looked like in part, and what the desire of my heart ought to be even now, perhaps especially now, in my time of comfort and relative ease.



So what do you think? How badly do you want God? I know my wanting is, well,....wanting. Lord increase my hunger for you and my desire for you. Restore me to that place of You first and You only as my survival.

EDIT: I just re-read this imagining I was someone in the midst of the grip of Post-partum depression. A point needs to be added here in that case. If you are reading this and are today suffering and desperately looking for a way out, I in no way intend to make light of your state. I in no way mean to make light of your pain. I am still close enough to it to remember. What I would want you to hear from me is that right in the middle of that pit of despair is a Hope and a Freedom. That is what I found only in worshipping and following Jesus Christ. Are there times for medication or therapy? Sure. But even if those means get you out of your depression, they will not fill you the way only Jesus can. That was the true healing I experienced: not merely the removing of my pain and symptoms, but the vast freedom and hope and lightness and joy that only comes from the Father through His Son Jesus, and wanting Him and choosing Him above everything else.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Today I am picking a closer to home lady. Well technically, right now, she is the furthest person away from me. But typically she is closer to home.

This is my dear friend Kristina, who is currently working along side her man, Neal, as a missionary/support worker/teacher lady in Papua New Guinea. (Neal is highly busy too sweating it out digging and building and solving moral dillemas on the base).

She filmed this before she left and likely never actually thought any one would watch... until now, where with the staggering readership I have on this blog, 7 more people are going to see her sing! (*snort* I'm so funny)

This song she sings, "Legendary" by Lou Barlow, I had never heard before (ashamed to say). So after I heard Kristina's version, I decided to listen to the original....guess which I liked better? I could be a bit biased though....

Hope you enjoy it! (and don't forget to pray for her and her husband and boys off in PNG in the sweltering heat and malaria filled mosquitoes).



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Galatians is tricky

Somehow, in my mind, I have always slotted Galatians as the epistle I could figure out. It just sounds happier, less complicated, than say "ROMANS" (as the lightning crashes and thunder rolls). Do you know what I mean? Say some one asks what your cell group is studying. If you answer "Galatians" they'll say, "oh, nice". If you say "Romans", they'll think your cell group is ultra-spiritual for tackling such a heavy book.

But this morning I read Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

I've always found this verse freeing to some extent. Almost like I get to be that passive, irresponsible, "hey it's not up to me" kind of person.

But then I grow up a bit and realize that this is hard. It means dying to self and choosing what Christ would choose over what I want in my flesh. It is being the ultimate in responsible: no more shoddy excuses for bad behaviour because all that sin was supposed to have been crucified. This is getting much more difficult.

Then today, I read Oswald Chambers on this. It just made it worse. He writes:

These words mean the breaking of my independence with my own band and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself. God may bring me up to the point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot put me through it. It means breaking the husk of my individual in dependence of God, and the emancipating of my personality into oneness with Himself, not for my own ideas, but for absolute loyalty to Jesus. There is no possibility of dispute when once I am there. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ.

The line "It means breaking the husk of my individual in dependece of God, and the emancipating of my personality into oneness with Himself..."; that is complicated. So my choosing to do what Jesus wants isn't just enough. I can't say "well I really don't feel like doing this, but I should so here I go to do it anyway because it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me."

The emancipating of my personality into oneness with Himself.

I need to still get to the place where I am freed to not be bound by the lack of desire to obey in my flesh. I need to still get to the place where my very essence has blended so completely with Jesus' that it is a literal oneness. Not I choose His will over mine: His will IS mine.

This is kind of making my head hurt because it seems so incredibly impossible this side of Heaven.

For years if people asked me "what is the Lord teaching you these days?" I would say "Oh, I'm learning to die to self".

And I really meant that. But today I think I just realized that I haven't been putting my self to death. I've been putting self into Time Out.

I have a lot of thinking to do today. How do you go from "being dependent on God" to becoming actually one with Him? How do you go from living "like" Him to living "as" Him?

Help?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesday

Oh what dread! I am holding you in suspense. Here it is, after lunch, and I am just now posting this week's video! I am so sorry. I'm sure you had set your alarm to wake early for the sole purpose of being inspired by a Wow-ful Woman or two...

My apologies.

However, without further ado: today's selection.

When asked "What is the first song you sang harmony to?" I will answer "Blessed Assurance." I recall my mom playing that hymn on our organ (oh yeah. We had 2 organs in our house...) and my sister singing lead (of course) and I singing alto. It is one of my very first harmony experiences.

Yet, beside that is the memory of listening to this album on our record player while doing some form of quasi-step aerobic/ jazzercise routine in our basement with the carpeted pillars (sweet).

These women are wowful. As evidence I direct you to their vocal talents, their hair volume, their eye shadow, and outrageous amount of shiny lip gloss. I was hooked. I was starstruck. If I had any hard feelings towards them, it was that they reinforced my belief that only blondes could be in the lime light. And that brunettes had to primarily be in the shadows (yes, my beautiful sister is blonde...I'll begin counselling someday. snort). I wanted to be the third girl (despite the fact I was 5) in ABBA (wow, too bad I can't make that B backwards...).

Enjoy....this is my favourite of all time:





Of course you knew they'd get 2 videos (my second favourite...highly inappropriate for a 5 year old, but I digress)...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Heard At My House: Two for One Edition

two funny-ish things have been said within hours of each other and it is only 8am. I thought I would share them both.

First:

Setting: 1:59am really windy outside, the first snow of our year is falling accompanied by some sleet.

6 year old daughter, tiptoeing toward our bedroom: "Mommy, I'm scared of the wind. It is so windy it is making my hangers shake in the closet".

"No precious girl. That is the sleet hitting the window."


Second:

Setting: me, noticing the still folded and not-put-away laundry in my children's bedrooms, and knowing that in only a few hours I would be adding to that pile with still more laundry that was washed and dried yesterday.

"You may want to put that laundry away this morning because after breakfast the amount you have there is going to increase excrementally....I mean exponetially."

Friday, October 24, 2008

I am not useless!

Look look! My friend just had her first baby, and I was wanting to give her a beautiful pink something to celebrate with her. So I got all brave and went to Wal-Mart (which as you know has been very difficult for me in the past! If you don't know what I'm talking about, go read this...after you read today's post of course. It hasn't been moved over to my new blog here yet, so don't be alarmed that everything looks different when you follow the link.).

Anyhow, at Wal-Mart I found this entirely gorgeous fabric and made a blanket for the wee girl. This photo does not do the colour justice but trust me when I say that the pink is hot and the check is clean. Lovely to look at.

My sewing skills leave a bit to be desired in the accuracy department, but these blankets are easy to put together in very little time. It was really fun to do, and slowly but surely I am getting better. So if any of you would like to have a baby so I can practice making gifts, I would appreciate it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Watching Movies is Good for You



My darling husband and I have been watching the HBO series "Band of Brothers" lately. I already briefly mentioned a couple benefits of doing this. First, I get to snuggle with him for a whole hour while watching the DVD. Second, I get to imagine my husband being Lt. Speers running like crazy, somehow dazzling the Germans into inactivity, and saving the entire mission by just being that brave. My Chris could absolutely be that guy. He is amazing.

So that's good enough right? Some snuggles and an even moreso elevated view of my husband's excellence.

Now before I go on, I have heard a shocked reply from one of our guy friends at church about all this: "What? Barbara watches war movies with you? Incredible. But does she actually like them or does she just tolerate them to make you happy?"

I truthfully really do like them. Once upon a time I was a history major (a really bad one mind you) and I do find all these war movies fairly fascinating. Lots of character traits to be inspired by and to try to emulate.

And that is the biggest thing I am learning from watching Band of Brothers. How, you might wonder, does a housewife get inspired to improve in her duties at home by watching a war movie? I'm so glad you asked....

Numerous times in the story the men are hunkered down along the side of a ditch or in the relative safety of their fox holes. Some body who is taking charge for the moment does some little hand motions and next thing you know all the men are up and running full tilt. There is no hesitation. There is no second guessing. There is no waiting or counting the cost. All that has been done before they ever enlisted. They are there, in position, knowing what is required and what needs to be done. And they know that if they don't get up off their behinds and run right now, the mission will fail, their friends will die, and they will live with the shame of inactivity the rest of their lives.

So now, imagine me, the happy housewife, sitting on my bed with my laptop on my legs, happily typing this post, or reading yours. I see the mission ahead of me. I have counted the cost of having children and staying home with them and choosing to homeschool. I see the task at hand; the dishes in the sink, the pot of soup to make, and the applesauce to puree. And yet, here I sit. Inactive. Wishing there was another way of getting it all done.

What I need is that drive that says "now is the time to move. So go." What I need is the focus that I am fighting a battle here, not only against my own flesh, but also a battle for my childrens' hearts. My inactivity can be just the thing the enemy uses as the foot hold and the opportunity to weaken them and their faith.

Lord give me the courage and the focus to just get up and do the very obvious things you are showing me to do. I want to not have to convince myself to get up and do the next thing. Give me feet that move and hands that serve quickly, willingly, consistently.

Right now I am holding the line. Things are okay. I'm not retreating. But I'm not advancing either. Lord give me the faith and the character and the desire to conquer the next hill.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesday

I first saw this video on Randy's blog. When I saw it, I (shock) got all choked up thinking about how something like this was supposed to be done by Kristina, and Cheryland I. Then Kris and I tried to sing with Laurie, which was quite lovely, except now none of us live anywhere near each other. Then of course I had the incredible privilege of singing with Joy...oh my word. And yet as nice as it was to sing together (despite her barefootedness!) we are no longer together to sing except for a rare living room experience. Now Kate and I can sing on occassion when the Sunday morning schedule is favourable to us, which is nearly never.

So I wait for my missionary friend Kristina to return so we can sing with Martins tracks that cut out and microphones that sound like spaceships.

I wait to sing with Joy even though we pick "slow songs" instead of "something the women can clap to".

I will try to sing a grace with Laurie this weekend over our belated Thanksgiving.

I will hope for another Kate date.

oh. And I will thoroughly enjoy these Wailin' Jennys. They are delightful.




Beautiful Dawn by the Wailin' Jennys

Take me to the breaking of a beautiful dawn
Take me to the place where we come from
Take me to the end so I can see the start
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me to the place where I don't feel so small
Take me where I don't need to stand so tall
Take me to the edge so I can fall apart
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me where love isn't up for sale
Take me where our hearts are not so frail
Take me where the fire still owns its spark
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Teach me how to see when I close my eyes
Teach me to forgive and to apologize
Show me how to love in the darkest dark
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me where the angels are close at hand
Take me where the ocean meets the sky and the land
Show me to the wisdom of the evening star
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me to the place where I feel no shame
Take me where the courage doesn't need a name
Learning how to cry is the hardest part
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heard At My House: the Grandparent Edition

Setting: At WOW:Surf's Up! (a kids' program at our church)

TL (our Children's Ministry Director): Did you know that our bodies are 70-80% Water!?


My mom: (leaning quietly over to me) "So you mean I'm not fat; I'm just really wet!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook




FOR TODAY... Monday, October 20

Outside My Window... a leaf castle complete with many bedrooms and even a bathroom along with lawn chairs and other stuff that likely should not have been taken out of the garage.

I am thinking... that it is so funny when, at our Christian Homeschool Co-op, our deaf Sign Language teacher talks to me using swear words in front of the students and they have no idea.

I am thankful for... Veggie Tales and the 40 minutes of down time they just gave me as I wind down from said Homeschool Co-op. I *heart* Mondays...

From the kitchen... the call of dishes waiting to go in the dishwasher that I should not have ignored for these last 40 minutes.

I am wearing... a sweater the colour of Kristina's eyes and my favourite trouser jeans.

I am creating... a new set of abs. Can you say "Tae Bo Boot Camp with Billy Blanks"? yikes.

I am going... to not cry with exhaustion the rest of today.

I am reading... way too many blogs.

I am hoping... my husband doesn't have to work late tonight.

I am hearing... my 2 babies not waking up yet. Thank you for nap time.

Around the house... boxes of school books that I should weed through, but can't bear to part with.

One of my favorite things... playing UNO with my kids, and giving them the freedom to be "mean" to me with all their plus 4 cards.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Laundry, painting baseboard and trying not to eat the rest of the Nutella in the cupboard.

A picture thought I'm sharing today: Brothers are Good for Each Other


http://thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 17, 2008

Heard At My House

Background Information:

I have a precious 2 year old daughter named Victoria. We call her Tora or Tori. When she was born we considered calling her Vicki, but it just didn't suit her. So she gets Tora alot. And Victoria, when I'm serious of course. Any how, this wee two year old smartie pants has recently begun pointing at her self and saying "I Vicki". To which I respond, "No, I thought you were Tora". "No, I Vicki".


So, after a brief negotiation, she now says "I Vicki too". She has come to the compromise that she will respond to either Vicki or Tora or Victoria. How congenial of her.

Now onto Heard At My House: The How to Talk to Yourself Edition.


Tora: Aaaachhoooo (sneezing)

Tora: Bless you Tora.

Tora: Thank you Vicki.

Tora: You're Welcome Tora.


Wow. What was that about talking to yourself being the only way to get intelligent conversation?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesday

For Kate. And for me, as I am reminded of the process the Lord is taking me through. I am not who I was. I can be who He is making me. Each moment He is making me a new creature. I will not be like this forever. In a blink He can make me His wholly, completely, entirely. I will be found in Him.




Brooke Fraser singing Shadowfeet

Walking, stumbling on these shadowfeet
toward home, a land that I've never seen
I am changing, less and less asleep
made of different stuff than when I began.
And I have sensed it all along
fast approaching is the day


When the world has fallen out from under me
I'll be found in you, still standing
when the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees
when time and space are through
I'll be found in you

There's distraction buzzing in my head
saying in the shadows it's easier to stay
but I've heard rumours of true reality
whispers of a well-lit way

You make all things new

When the world has fallen out from under me
I'll be found in you, still standing
Every fear and accusation under my feet
when time and space are through
I'll be found in you

Monday, October 13, 2008

Matthew 5:16

I saw it today on the road. Walking through town. It was the temporal image of the converse of Matthew 5:16.

Didn't that make sense to you?

Okay. Let me try to be a little more clear. What I saw today was a pair of maybe 12 year old girls, both quite overweight, both dressed like prostitutes, both with unkept hair and poor physical hygiene, both walking down a busy street in a questionable area of a biggish city, and I said to Chris, "Where are their parents? What kind of mom do they have?"

And that is exactly the reaction I DO NOT want people to have when they see my life and hear that I'm a Christian.

"Wow. What kind of God are you obeying? What kind of faith is that?"

Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men that they might see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven."

I was NOT praising the parenting of those little girls. I should be praying for them rather than my knee-jerk reaction to judge them. I understand that. But the point of the lesson to me is the same as I look at my life. Am I living in such a way that others glorify my Father in Heaven? Do I make God look good? Do I make Him more Glorious by my life, my attitude, my actions,....?

Lord, I do ask that you would give me the discipline and the grace to live in a way that shows what kind of Parent I have. Let it become clear that when I am a jerk, it is the rebellion in my own heart, not a short-coming of Yours. Forgive me for the times that I have given Christianity a bad reputation, and in turn, given You a bad name. I pray that in some way You would give me the chance to make up for that, and instead show the world (or at least the world immediately around me) that you are great and greatly to be praised. That You are good, and a joy to follow.

Give me a light to shine, and let me shine it like crazy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Heard At My House

Setting: 4 year old Son and 6 year old Daughter looking out the window, apparently watching a couple of birds "frolicking", shall we say.

Daughter: *sigh* I can't wait until I get twitterpatted like that.

Son: Wow. I hope he doesn't step on her.

Mental note: boys and girls think differently.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Really really delayed gratification

I may have stumbled upon a wee bit of a breakthrough for myself. (Brace yourself: this is likely not earth shattering. I just tend to be a bit of a slow study.)

Matthew 6:1-6 is no fun to read. It just isn't. Do you know what it says? Not off hand? Okay, I'll copy it here for you.


Mat 6:1 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Mat 6:2 "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Mat 6:3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Mat 6:4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Mat 6:5 "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Mat 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.


See, I bold-ed all the bits that apply to my "revelation" this week. (I'm getting *so* good with my computer skills).

I am realizing that I don't want to wait for the Heavenly reward. I don't want to have delayed gratification of that extent.

Some Sundays I feel like I've really done my best to be hearing the Lord and serving Him in song with His strength and for His glory and I don't hear any feedback. No big deal. I'm working on having faith that so long as no one has kicked me off the team or written to the elders about me that I'm probably okay. I can wait for my 'reward of affirmation' until I see my name on the rotation again next time. I can wait three weeks for that reward.

And sure I may not get a lot of thank you's from my kids some days, but in 15 years when they are having their own kids I know they will come to me with a "Wow Mom. You were amazing to me growing up. I see that now." Okay. I can wait 15 years for that reward.

But there are myriad times that I am doing something, saying something, trying something, that I think deserves a reward RIGHT NOW and I get a big fat nothing. Now see technically I should be okay with that. I should say "That's okay. The Lord who sees in secret will reward me. If I had a reward now, I would have my reward in full and I want the Heavenly blessing more than the temporal blessing so PLEASE DON'T NOTICE ME!!! Just ignore this martyr of a woman here, serving in silence. Don't even toss a grin of acknowledgement my way because I want the reward in Heaven."

But I don't say that. I also don't say "Hey look at me! I'm AWESOME! Somebody pat me on the back!"

Nope. I reward myself.

With a new magazine.

With a cup of tea on the couch.

With another 30 minutes in front of the computer.

With a chocolate bar at the grocery store.

With any food, really, that looks even remotely appealing in my pantry.

With any little 'extra' that I think I deserve to make up for my "great sacrifice".


How disgusting! Really. How pathetic and useless. I'm no better than the fool Esau trading in his birthright for a stinkin' bowl of soup! I am trading in the reward my Father wants to give me for some secret, stolen Snickers bar. Am I that Stupid? How will I feel on that day when I stand before my God and He shows me the treasure I might have found in Him, in this world and the next, had I not thrown my self into these trifling pleasures?

Oh Lord, I cannot see my screen for the tears in my eyes. Don't let me waste this life! Don't let me waste this good work I am actually doing by tainting it with this self-indulgent, "you owe me", "aren't you impressed with me" attitude. This is no sacrifice of praise. This is no offering of true worship. This is self worship.

I can only imagine that my ability to serve You, and joy in serving You, will increase as this rotten motivation decreases. Help me to focus on Your reward for me, and Your joy in me. Give me a heart to legitimately serve You without "trumpets".

Forgive me Lord. May this be a day of new beginnings. I want to wait for Your reward. I want to not reward myself. I will wait. I will wait. I will wait. And in the waiting is part of the reward, yes? Finding the ability to wait, (joyfully, patiently) is part of the reward.

So back to you: How do you reward yourself? What do you choose as a reward over what the Lord is holding out to You? What are you willing to trade your Birthright for? Surely I'm not the only one....will you join me in learning to work without reward in the short term? Will you learn to love really, really delayed gratification with me?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Holy Sonnet 74: by John Donne

BATTER my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I've decided to go out on a limb here and post something a little heavier this week. We've been pretty calm and delicate here lately and I felt like showing a whole different kind of Wow today. Really hope I don't lose half my readership over this: having only 2 readers would be sad.


Without further ado, here is Natalie Grant singing "I Will Not Be Moved". It is loud and rocky. The lyrics are brilliant. She is very wow-ful, as is her back up singer. If I had one complaint about this video, it is that the camera work is a little too ADHD for my liking, but this is about vocals, not cinematography so I can overlook it if you can.


I even have a jacket similar to hers that I intend to wear some Sunday. I will not, however, be wearing the fingerless gloves. I'm just not there yet. (she says, stating the obvious).





I have been the wayward child
I have acted out
I have questioned Sovereignty
And had my share of doubt
And though sometimes my prayers feel like
They're bouncing off the sky
The hand I hold won't let me go
And is the reason why...

[Chorus:]
I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

Bitterness has plagued my heart
Many times before
My life has been like broken glass
And I have kept the score
Of all my shattered dreams and though it seemed
That I was far too gone
My brokenness helped me to see
It's grace I'm standing on

[Chorus]

And the chaos in my life
Has been a badge I've worn
Though I have been torn
I will not be moved

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What I learned from my housekeeping abilities (or lack thereof)

There is A LOT to be done in order to achieve excellence in homekeeping. The deficit in cleanliness and orderliness is staggering. I could work all day, everyday, never taking a rest (or at least very rarely) and the work is still never done.

Never. Never. Never.

Not one day in my life have I gone to bed thinking "Well, there you go. I have completed all the work that needs to be done in my home and in my family." There is always an extra project to work on, a gift to make, a meal to prepare in advance, a school unit to write, a report to correct, a shirt to mend....it is never finished.

Never. Never. Ne.ver...

I want desperately for my efforts to be good enough. I want to know that the work I did was sufficient for the job ahead of me.

It isn't. It hasn't been. It won't be.

Ah yes. And now it sinks in.

I will never be good enough for Jesus either.

I cannot work, serve, give, love, believe, hope, try, want, obey, or think enough to be good enough or to pay off the sin deficit that I have, that I contribute to each and every second of my life. No matter how hard I try I will never say "Ha, there we go. I got it all done today. I bet God is really impressed with my effort on this one."

Only, only, only, ONLY through Christ's sacrifice can I be saved. I'm still not good enough. Still can't be. But His blood over me hides all my sin and washes it away.

And you know what? It makes me cry (with Joy? With Relief? With Incomprehension?)when I read that Christ said "It is finished". At least one part of my life is done. Completed. Accomplished.

Sola Fide. Sola Gratia.

Lord let me remember every day that I work in what seems like futility that I cannot do it all. And that is exactly the point. I Can't. But You Have. Thank you.

Now back to my vacuuming...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Great End To the Week

After I felt the love from my comments on the last post, I have been in the mood to count my blessings. So let me share with you the highlights of the end of this week.

The gift from the inlaws started a good thing. Thursday night my parents came to babysit so Chris and I could go on a date night but prior to our departure, Mom and I went to the ladies' clothing store in town where I tried on a cool denim skirt (as opposed to a typical homeschool denim skirt....yes, there is a difference). And here is one of the highlights: I grabbed a size 12 as usual, and (wait for it) IT WAS WAAAAAAAY TOO BIG!!!!

And I mean way too big.

So I tried on a 10 which fit, but was almost too big as well. This is good news. Maybe the reason they were on sale is that the sizes were cut wrong. But even so, it sure felt good to be a small 10.

I wanted to check out to see if there was any good news on the scale when I got home due to my excitement with the size 10 and wouldn't you know, I am down to where I was when I got pregnant with my 5th! Yee haw. It was a number on the scale I haven't seen in over almost 5 years. Now we are into happy happy mode! What a great motivator to stick with the hard work I'm trying to do in the "less of me" department.

Supper and date with Chris were bliss and we both thoroughly enjoyed having an actual conversation about things other than kids: we discussed church life, ministry opportunities, work changes and our hopes for moving closer to church. It was so nice to just sit and talk and hold hands... wonderful.

Then, Friday came and Chris had the day off which is unreal and unusual. We were packing him up to go on the Church's men retreat but before we said goodbye we snuck some time to watch another episode of Band of Brothers, which is the theme of the retreat. How great to steal an hour (in the middle of the day) of snuggling in front of the laptop watching a DVD. Even if it was a shoot-em-up kind of movie. It still works in the 'date mode' because the whole time I am watching these soldiers risking their lives for one another I am thinking "my husband is man enough to do that. I have the bravest, strongest husband in the whole world."

But as Friday wound down to the end of its hours and we had to take Chris to the drop off point for his ride to the retreat the biggest highlight of my day came. I helped him carry his stuff up to Jason's door and with Jason standing there, my husband, the bravest, strongest, most romantic man in the whole world, leaned over and gave me a kiss goodbye....in public. With another guy watching. Amazing. Do you know what that says to a wife? It says "I am not ashamed to be married to you. I think you are so great and I will miss you so much that I will hug and kiss you goodbye even when the guys are watching." That was sexy. Can I say that on this blog?

He tells me and shows me he loves me a million times in a million little ways every day, but that,... that little kiss and hug was just the thing to send me swooning. That guy that made my head spin and my pulse race in 1995 when I first met him still gets my pulse racing today.

And now as I am missing him and waiting for his Sunday return, I am living out the old adage "Absence makes the heart grow fonder". All in all it is a great way to end the week.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A nice little gift I received

My dear inlaws just returned home from a camping trip and wouldn't you know they brought me a lovely little gift.





When I first saw it I smiled and almost got choked up because of how I interpreted the use of the word "Siren".

See I was an English major once upon a time and I read all kinds of Greek Mythology in my studies. So I know about the Sirens. Do you know about them?

They were women, possibly half birds, half godesses who sat on rocky islands singing. They were irresistable to the sailors who passed by both because of their beauty and their voices. So much so that, if I recall correctly, The Odyssey talks about the sailors plugging their ears and putting blinders on their eyes so they would be able to withstand the temptation of these Sirens.

yup. That sounds like me.

(Let's just pause here for a moment while the people who know me in real life now take some time to find a paper towel to wipe up the coffee they spewed all over their keyboard while laughing at that description having ANYTHING to do with me.)


But in all truthfulness, I remember reading about them, even when I was in Highschool, and thinking I'd love to be them. I suppose I'm not so thrilled about the "following their song and being swayed by the Sirens could lead you to a shipwreck on the rocks of their island where you will possibly be cannabalized by the Sirens" bit, but the ravishingly beautiful, mesmerizing singing part I liked quite a bit.

So that is how I first took the play on words on this dear plaque. I am my husband's siren. He is irresitably drawn to me. That sounds like one of the 5 points of Calvinism, don't you think. That would be a fun post: the Five Points of Barbara-ism...I'll work on that.

But I digress: as my father-in-law began chuckling at my reaction to the perceived sentiment, I realized that perhaps it was much more in lines with this image:

Pro 21:9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

What's that? you didn't get it the first time? Don't worry it gets repeated a few verses later:

Pro 25:24 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

Or how about:

Pro 27:15 A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike;

So now I'm thinking maybe he meant that I am my husband's "siren"...you know that loud annoying thing that gets your attention and points out to you everything you are doing wrong....

Betcha none of you spit out your coffee laughing this time!

Except my father-in-law likes me, and I like him. And as far as I know he had no problem with his son marrying me....of course I was on my best behaviour in those days. hmmmmm.

This does remind me of a time when my dear friend Jake lovingly called me "that woman in Proverbs". Let me back up:

This was in the days when my husband Chris and I had just started dating, and he and Jake and I were leading the youth group at our church. Jake and I were both students at Western and I had a break when he was supposed to be in a math class. Every day I sat at the coffee shop (Lucy's, if it is still called that) where he would walk by on his way to class. As he would walk by I would call him over to say hi and then say "Why don't you skip class and join me for a Tim Horton's coffee? You are so smart. You can miss one class. I'll even buy for you. We can plan which memory verses we want the youth to work on this Wednesday. Come on, I'm bored and lonely. Hang out with me."

And one day, as he succumbed as he sometimes did, he said "You know, you are like that woman in Proverbs." And I, with tears brimming and joy overflowing in my heart, replied, "Really! The Proverbs 31 lady? That is just who I am trying to be so that I can be a good wife to Chris some day!"

"No", he said. "Like the harlot of Proverbs 7 calling innocent men away from their life of good intention and causing them to fall into a life of waste and despair".

Anywhoooo, I will hang my lovely plague with great pleasure in my home. It is adorable and it will remind me to try to look pretty, sing nicely, and keep my mouth shut alot more often.

Thanks Mom and Dad! I love it! :-)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

How,you may be asking, HOW has Barbara got this many weeks into Wow-ful Women Wednesdays without posting her favourite woman of all time, Sara Groves?

Well, wait no longer. Today is the day. This video that I picked shows what I think is truly brilliant about Sara Groves. Yes, she has an unbeliveable voice, and yes she is an outrageously gifted lyricist, but she is primarily a woman of the Word. She loves her God and that is so beautifully illustrated here. (not to mention the fact that she sounds just as good singing off the cuff here as she does fully mastered in studio).

Enjoy. (and yes this one makes me cry too).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

How to pick a career: by a 4 year old

"Mommy, you want to know the ONLY reason I wouldn't want to be a fireman?"

"Sure honey. What is the one reason why you don't want to be a fireman?"

"I don't want to slide down that pole."

"Oh, I see. Well, maybe you could just use the stairs. Then would you want to be a fireman? You like everything else?"

"Well, and I don't want to get too close to the fire. That would be dangerous."

"Right, I could see that. So you want to put the fire out from farther away."

"Yah. Like sometimes they put the fire out from ladders."

"Right, that would be great son! Would you like to go up those ladders?"

"Well, the ladders are pretty tall. I don't think I want to go up the ladders either. That might be dangerous because you could fall off into the fire."

"Good point, honey. So you don't want to slide down the pole, and you don't want to be close to the fire, and you don't want to climb the ladder. So why DO you want to be a fireman?"

"I like the uniform and I want to drive the truck."

"Well that is a good basis for a career choice. Well done." (mental note: just be glad he didn't say he wanted to be a fireman because it is a good way to pick up babes...)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mental note to self

When your 2 year old daughter says she is all done her noodles and peas at supper, believe her and do not continue feeding her more bites. Why? She will begin throwing them up around 9 p.m. and keep at it until 1 a.m.

Unless of course you *enjoy* NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT AGAIN...


I'm okay. It's all good. Take a deep breath.....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Today's selection is for my kindred heart, Jessica. I know that she will likely get teary-eyed along with me as I watch this for the millionth time since finding it on youtube. Talk about talent, and beauty, and emotion, and WOW-fulness...

But beyond the mere brilliance of a scene from Les Mis, this chokes me up because of what it reminds me of and what time of life it draws to memory. Let me say it this way:


There once was a playwright named Mike
Who wrote several musicals I like.
When I acted those scenes,
I felt just like Fantine.
My wish? an end to his writer's strike.

There once was a stage at West London
Where a certain young Barbara was undone
by the chance to forget
Who she wasn't quite yet
and the hope that her "new me" would soon come.


It was as close as I ever came to this: (get the tissues ready)

Monday, September 22, 2008

hand me downs

I love words. Good words. Highly percussive words. Rhyming words. Sensical and non-sensical words. Written words. Spoken words. Well-chosen, timely words.

Which is to say, I really do not like it when words are wasted, twisted, and re-interpreted and stolen, forcibly being made to mean things they never were intended to (and yes, I realize my own choice of words is sadly lacking, and I too am guilty of verbicide much too often.)

Which is to say, I am very aware of the phrases that are on the clothes my girls wear and how these words, under different circumstances, would be lovely. But on a t-shirt? They can leave much to be desired. Let me back up a bit:

We have a neighbour girl who likes to give my girls all her hand me downs. This is great because they are hardly worn at all, they are typically very cool which dispells the "homeschool aura" which might otherwise possibly surround my daughters' wardrobe. And apparently it somehow becomes good blog fodder.

I read once on Stuff Christians Like, which is a site that I really can't fully endorse but will admit to reading fairly obsessively, that girls today, who wish to remain pure and modest, need to learn this important truth: Your Butt is not a Billboard. He was speaking in reference to the highly ironic line of sweat pants that had the phrase "True Love Waits" written in bold across the seat of said pants. Talk about conflicting messages!

So back to the post at hand. I, with eagle eyes, peruse the clothing in these hand me down bags for any tacky phrase or highly immodest cut. I thought I would enlighten you to some of these phrases and you tell me if you would let your 9 year old daughter wear them. So without further ado,...

Barbara's Top 10 List of "My Baby Is Not Wearing a Shirt that says THAT" phrases

10. Soccer Girls Kick Butt!

9. Girl Power!!

8. Yes, I do know I'm cute.

7. A Hell's Angels logo rip off

6. I'm a Princess--and princesses are always right!

5. Phat! (especially once I looked up what that actually means!)

4. B.U.M. Equipment (my 8 year old decided that made her feel silly)

3. Girls rule, boys drool

2. A Skater boy broke my heart (on the front) So I broke his board (on the back)

1. Juicy!

So call me old fashioned but I think "juicy" should refer to peaches, girls are supposed to learn to let the boys (meaning their husbands eventually) lead, Hell's Angels are not to be imitated or emulated, and that heart breaking really shouldn't even be a consideration for a girl who is too young to babysit or stay home by herself. yikes. Don't get me wrong: I have not searched the internet to learn how to crochet my own lace collars for my girls' new denim jumpers, but I do think there could be a happy little spot in the middle where my kids are dressed like they live in 2008 but are not advertising their bodies or their snotty attitudes on their clothing.

There. I got it all out. Time to step off my soapbox and go hug my little ones while they are still young enough and innocent enough to think hugging mom is a good way to spend the day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sleepless

First off, let me say that as a general rule, I do not like being woken up at 3:30am and then having to stay up from 4:30am on with a baby. However, there are times when these rare and annoying occurances give a little something that makes me go "maybe *this* is why I was supposed to wake up this morning".

So wee baby boy decided to wake up this morning and not settle back down. As I stand in the kitchen holding him, noticing how lovely he looks at this time of day, feeling the cool of his cheeks and his chewed-on-damp fingers holding my neck, wishing I had remembered to buy milk for the cup of tea that would taste really good right about then, I notice how brightly lit my house is for 4:30am in the beginning of fall. I make the assumption that the back yard is light enough that I could read a book at the patio table (if I wasn't afraid of dewy spider webs and earwigs).

So I try to look at the moon thinking I would like to see a nice bright full moon. But I can't find it out the window. It must be directly over my house, or perhaps off to one side where I have no line of vision. And I marvel to myself just how brightly the moon is shining to light everything up like that.

Then I remember: the moon doesn't shine; it reflects the Sun. The lyrics of a Sara Groves song come to mind and I turn my admiration away from the moon and onto the Lord who is all brilliant and glorious.


You are the Sun shining down on everyone.
Light of the World giving light to everything I see.
Beauty so brilliant I can hardly take it in.
And everywhere you are is warmth and light.

I am the moon with no light of my own
Still you have made me to shine
And as I glow in this cold dark night
You know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to You.