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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Outside the box

Enthusiasm for life is not something that comes naturally to me. I tend to be complacent with a tendency toward inaction. I often crave quiet. So when our fourth child, Luke, was born I was not ready. He entered the world loudly. With only his head emerged Luke's cries could be heard in the birthing room, down the hall, through a fire safety door and into the waiting room.
 One of my nick names for Luke as a child was Mr. Happy. He didn't always wake easily in the morning but once he was up he was really up. He would wake with a song and I think he still does.
Luke had a few minor problems as a child but those things never got him down for long. Once when he was about three we had to rush him to the hospital with a severe case of the croup. He spent the night in a croup tent, singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
One of the difficult things for me as a mother was sending my kids off to school. I always worried about them the first few days. With Luke my worries were very short lived because he found such joy in being there and in learning.
For the past several years we have only had one child at home at a time and so our house has become a quiet place. When Luke comes home for the weekend he bursts through the door and pops the quiet bubble.  During his first weekend home, his first year of university Pete and I had just gone to bed and were quietly reading when Luke flung open our door while playing guitar, dancing and singing In the Jungle. He jumped onto our bed and continued to sing and dance causing Pete and I to laugh.
Luke is not always making noise but when you can't hear him you can be assured that he is either asleep, creating something or doing his philosophy homework. He is creative and sometimes asks the oddest questions.
Every one of my children is precious to me, every one different, each one adds something wonderful into the mix and every one of them has taught me something. Luke brings energy and laughter. You never really know what to expect. He challenges me to think outside of the box, find joy in small things and have some fun too.

Florida or Bust.

About a week ago Pete and I drove to Florida for a week with three of our kids and two friends . We rented a large three bedroom house with a pool. We also invited three of Luke's friends to stay with us. That made the total of ten people staying in one house. Most of the ten people were under 25. Young people love to move, make noise and experience things, they are not content to sit around the pool with a drink in one hand and a good book in the other.  We went shopping, visited multiple beaches, took a road trip cross country to the other side of Florida, played games and laughed a lot. The week was busy, noisy and a lot of fun! But I must admit that the Monday after we returned I crashed and didn't move much.
Out of the ten people seven were men and six of those men were under 25 so I had ample opportunity to observe. One of the things young men seem to like to do is lift people off the ground. There were lifting competitions at the beach, the outlet mall and on the lanai with one older woman saying "Please, don't drop him on his head!"  When young men play games they play to win even when you are not keeping score, they love their drinks be it pop or beer and the bigger the waves the better. 
Men this age seem to do everything with gusto they talk loud and laugh even louder. They tell stories with enthusiasm and argue like their life depends on the outcome. It is invigorating to be around them.Florida was not the vacation I thought it would be, it was better.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Our true Home

This blog is called The Only Story I Can Tell because it is my story but I am not the author of this story.

 I make choices everyday.  I am proud of my accomplishments but should I be? Jesus said, "you cannot make even one hair white or black."  What if I'd been born in abject poverty or in a place where women are held down and must be hidden away? What if I'd been born with an extreme handicap or mental illness?  Let's face it I've won a lottery that I didn't buy a ticket for.
What if the questions I asked in the last paragraph were true? Would my life still be worth living? Would I still be of value? This is what Jesus had to say about our worth,  "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." and "For God so loved the world he sent his only Son." (paraphrase John 3:16)

I used to think that somehow I chose Christ but the reality is I didn't. I called out to him out of complete desperation that had nothing to do with material possessions. I realized that I was alone, completely and utterly alone. I had friends, family, a boyfriend and yet I was alone, unmoored, adrift. I couldn't help myself out of this situation. So I reached out and grabbed the hand that was reaching toward me. He pulled me out, he took me in, he wrapped his arms around me. He demonstrated his love to me, he showed me the cross and the nails that seemingly held him there. He taught me to know that it wasn't the nails that kept him on the cross or the soldiers or the angry mobs, it was Love. He showed me that I was not meant to be alone. I was meant to be with him. Once he rescued me I saw the futility in hanging onto the floating wreckage of this world; possessions and ambitions, status, education and beauty. Even if I built those things together they wouldn't make a boat. They would be cobbled together pieces that at best made a leaky raft. We can loose our possessions, our status, our beauty even our intelligence. We may never attain our ambitions and after all we end up in a grave, alone. But Christ is more than a boat upon a sea he is dry land. He is home.
I have possessions, I have a job that I enjoy, I have dear family and friends, these things are not bad. But sometimes I forget that all of it can disappear in an instant. I forget that I "cannot add one day to my life by worrying." That I "can't even change the colour of my own hair."(dye grows out eventually) I begin to believe that some of those things are really important, that they make up who I am. I forget that the One from whom all blessings flow "is before all things, and in him all things hold together." When this happens I begin to roam. I don't get very far though he always taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of who I really am and to remember "who I was when God called me. I was not considered wise by human standards. Nor powerful." [paraphrase 1 Cor 1:26] The great thing about having Christ as my home is that He is always there around the next bend in the road waiting for me to realize that.  "Because of what God has done, we belong to Christ Jesus. He has become God's wisdom for us. He makes us right with God. He makes us holy and sets us free."(1 Cor. 1:30)

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals he's waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A Jewel

Hello again! I've said that each of my children has taught me something. I also look at my children and am amazed at who they are. God has made each one wonderfully unique. I love it! So I share another jewel with you.
The first thing that you notice when you meet Anna is her smile. It lights up her face. It is a smile that elicits a smile in response. She is an intelligent woman. She has an honours BA in sociology/social work with a minor in psychology. After graduating from university she spent a year teaching in South Korea. She has an adventurous spirit. This summer she took a road trip with 2 friends with no real plans for accommodation.  They camped in a hippie camp ground, and on a beach, where they were woken up in the night by a sudden storm, and in a guest house owned by a very elderly man.She has a zest for life. She not only dreams of doing things, she does them. I am amazed at her courage. 
Camping on the sandy beach taught Anna and her friends the truth of Jesus teaching about building our lives on a rock foundation rather than on sand!
After spending a year teaching in Korea Anna realized that the thing that gives her the most joy in life is working with small children. She becomes animated when she tells us stories about "her children." She is a great at mimic and makes us laugh at the children's antics. Anna is now doing an intensive ECE program at Sheridan College that is meant for people with a BA in the social sciences.

When Anna was growing up one of the things that impressed me was her determination. We have an old home video of Anna at the beach. She must have been around three and a half at the time. She's built a sandcastle and runs to the ocean with a little cup to fill with water for the moat. She runs up from the ocean with the little cup. When she comes close her Dad asks her "what have you got in the cup." She starts to reply, then looks down at the cup and realizes that it's empty! Does Anna give up, no. She runs back to the ocean and scoops up some more water. This time she walks very slowly, carefully covering the little cup of water with her hand and this time she has water to put in her moat! It was the same when she was learning to ride a bike and then later when she was having a difficult time in a high school  course. Anna does not give up easily. She puts all her effort into things, especially those things that she finds challenging. 

She has had her sorrows. Two summers ago one of her good friends from high school was killed when she lost control of her car and crashed.  This was a sad time for Anna. It is always difficult when someone your age dies young. It doesn't seem fair. You realize your own mortality. It is hard to watch your child grieve. You want to help them in some way or take the pain away, you can't and you feel powerless. All you can do is give hugs, love and pray, pray, pray. Little by little these types of things have taught me to let go. To trust my children to God and to trust my children in their relationship with him.

Anna really cares for people and I think that is why she chose to study social work. She has been a blessing to me. She is understanding and warm, an easy person to talk to. Her approach to life dares me to get out of my comfort zone, to work hard and not give up and to have some fun too!