Archive | May, 2012

Perfect Peace

29 May

Lately, I’ve been troubled in my thoughts regarding my youngest daughter and her speech development. I’ve basically fretted to the point where I’m convinced she needs therapy and will struggle for life. My husband thinks I’m crazy. For two days now though, my thoughts have been consumed with this. I’ve been short with my other two children as I read article after article on this topic on the internet, and as I keep pushing Madalyn to practice her words.

Peace has not reigned in my home nor in my heart.

The instance above is not unusual as of late. Something or other has been disrupting any peace that I think I might have in a given moment. It may be due to some unnecessary pressure I’m putting on myself, like those photo albums, or perhaps, warranted guilt over my sin.

It may be because my ‘To Do’ list is longer than ever and my time available to accomplish things gets shorter with every passing second. It might be that I’m striving after things that the Lord hasn’t seen fit to give me, or I’ve been stressing about a lack of personal abilities and gifts.

Sometimes I worry about whether I’m doing enough for my children, whether or not I’m being a “good” enough mom. Am I enjoying them enough? Am I feeding them the right foods? Should I make more from scratch? Should we go organic? Should I read to them more? Are they smart enough? Am I shepherding them appropriately?

Other times my mind is barraged with questions regarding my role as wife or with my other household responsibilities.  Am I serving my husband enough?  Am I being financially conscious enough with my spending?  Should I spend more time on the budget and see where we can save more money?  What about being eco-friendly?  Oh no.  I should try making homemade yogurt again so we can cut down on the containers that we waste. I need to help save the earth.

My mind and thoughts have been pulled in a million directions lately, swirling around with questions and potential but inadequate solutions.

Do I sound a mess?  Are you getting a feel for the chaos and frantic state of my insane mind? I just read over what I wrote in this post so far.  I think my husband is right.  I’m most likely crazy.  Maybe I just need to get uncrazy.

Well whether or not I am, I’m definitely headed in that direction, because that’s what happens to us folk who constantly fill our minds with this stuff.

Thankfully, my husband was praying the other night during our small group and he quoted Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

The Lord caused these words to grip my heart and captivate my mind.  Peace, for those whose minds are stayed on Him.  Peace. Not chaos.  Not fretfulness.  Not worry.

In some sense, many of my questions and concerns may seem like legitimate things to be concerned with, especially if I didn’t just list them all at once. After all, I need to be wise in my actions and walk in a manner worthy of my calling. However, my lack of peace clearly indicates a deeper heart issue.  A mind that is not stayed on my Lord.  A mind that is preoccupied with figuring out how to live without looking at Jesus. A heart that ultimately does not trust the author and finisher of my faith.

There are so many things that we can concern ourselves with in this world, so many good causes, so many needs, so many activities or hobbies, so many things we can fear, and we can work ourselves into a tizzy thinking about it all.

In his abundant kindness, my gracious heavenly Father reminded to fix my eyes on Him, to fix my eyes on Jesus.  And when I’m doing this, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind, and all those things that I’ve been so absorbed with “will grow strangely dim”.

Advertisements

Bon Voyage!

28 May

Goodbye Toronto, hello Armenia and France! Yes folks, the Younans are on their way to far-off lands for family time, touring, and fun. I have been looking forward to this family vacation for a while now. My inlaws are very very graciously taking the entire family on a trip. They’re great, huh? You will have to forgive me for missing my post last week, and not having too much to say this week, and possibly having even less to say in the next two weeks, but my brain goes to mush when I have things like vacationing on the horizon. I hope I can get to an internet cafe and post a few pics of our adventures! In the mean time, if you want to buff up on a little Armenian touristy info and history while I’m away, feel free!

Until next week, I’ll leave you with this: Trip Preparation 101

1) Bring a lot of underwear with you: You can never have too much. That sounds weird, and you might ask why, but for some reason, people always underestimate the power of a clean pair of undies and even if you have enough for each day, you never know when you might have a mid-day shower and want to refresh. The same pair after a shower? Yuck. That’s all I have to say about that. And who knows if there’ll be a washing machine wherever you are!

2) Don’t bring unseasonal clothing: Being a Canadian, and always wanting to be prepared for a snowstorm after a hot day at the beach (EXAGERATING, but not much!), I tend to want about six sweaters in my suitcase, even when I’m heading to the tropics. I don’t know, it’s just in my blood I guess? But try to limit the outerwear and coverups when you’re travelling to hotter destinations. Baggage allowances are harsh!

3) Bring snacks: Airfare is expensive. So is the un-free tuna wrap and the $5.00 coffee in the airport waiting area. If you can avoid buying too much, try to have some things to nibble on, especially for a long plane ride with kids. Nothing is worse than hungry babies that need to be bought expensive food to be placated before meltdowns begin to happen.

4) Limit your books: I like reading. For some reason, I become extra ambitious and bring a course load worth of reading material thinking that in my “spare time” I’ll finish them all. One or two are enough. Focus on the peeps your travelling with and if you do have spare time, it probably won’t be enough to get through Atlas Shrugged 😉 .. Lucky for you all, I am three quarters of the way through this 1000+ page book, so I shall be finishing it on this trip!

5) Enjoy your family: This should be number one above the underwear thing, because hey, if you don’t have enough clean underwear but still enjoyed your family and had some sweet times of fellowship, then your trip was a success. The list isn’t in order of importance, but regardless, I think this is one of the top things to think about and prepare for. Remember that you’re going away to be with people, not your phone, or your books, or the sights. Don’t miss out on that chance to connect in special ways with people like husbands who work five days a a week, and don’t get much time away. They’re the ones you want to have fun with, and enjoy conversation and food with. Make relating to one-another a priority.

6) Keep the phones away!: Or at least don’t carry them around? Maybe consider leaving it at home if you can do without it for work or phone calls, but if it’s necessary to bring it, don’t let it have the same place it does at home. Just let it be functional for checking emails occasionally and whatnot. See what it’s like to go without one and use the free time to do more of #5.

And finally:

7) Don’t leave your Bible at home: Vacation from the everyday doesn’t mean vacation from everything that you do or need to do everyday. Spend time with the Lord, and remember that He is always with you wherever you go. That to me has always been one of the most comforting attributes of God- His omnipresence. I love that I know that home is, in one sense, wherever He is. I love that being in an unfamiliar place doesn’t mean that I am alone or that I should be afraid. And remember that whenever you get a chance to see a new place or visit another wonderful part of His world, He made it all for our enjoyment, to His glory.

I’ll be missing home but God-willing will be back soon 🙂 Have a good two weeks while we’re gone!

Stone Cold Face

25 May

I’ve learned a new facial expression.

I’m not claiming that I created it; I know it’s not an original. But it’s new for me. I can’t really describe what it looks like, but I’ve suddenly started making this strange expression with my face, and now it feels like I can’t stop. It’s kind of a mixture between confused and focused….I only sport it when I’m really concentrating on something. Even my mother noticed. The other day she asked “What’s this new thing you’re doing with your face?” I guess it’s pretty noticeable.

When you think about it, facial expressions are incredible. Just one eye roll, smile, look of disgust, raising of the eyebrow…. You don’t have to say anything, and yet you can say so much! In fact, let’s try something…I’m going to say a word, and you express it with your face. If you’re not alone you may want to tone down the expression (unless you don’t care what people think, in which case, let loose!) Ready, here we go:

Angry. Confused. Disgusted. Sleepy. Suspicious. Relieved. Unrepentent.

Yes, that’s right, unrepentant. Don’t believe me that being unrepentant can be reflected on your face? Turn with me to Jeremiah 5:3

“They have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; They have refused to return.” Jeremiah 5:3

The prophet Jeremiah described the condition of sinful Judah. Men refused to receive correction; they refused to return to God. With stubborn hearts refusing to be broken by the truth of God’s words, they made their faces harder than a rock. They had fixed their gaze – and it was not in the direction of God.

I’m not entirely familiar with the  context that led God to make this declaration. But there is one thing I know…I never want to have a stone cold face towards my Lord. I’m not talking about the heart of stone that a person has when they refuse to believe and turn their lives over to Christ. Instead, as a believer I’m talking about the temptation to harden my heart, deafen my ears, and turn my eyes from the instruction that God has for me in His Word. It really is a daily temptation, and without being conscious of this, we too can wear a momentary stone cold face towards the Lord and His loving direction for our lives.

A stone cold face results not only in resisting God’s instruction or refusing for a time to repent of this or that sin. It often appears when we are unhappy with the unfolding of our lives. Perhaps God has allowed a circumstance in our lives that we feel is too difficult, and bitterness and resentment has slowly crept into our hearts. Maybe He has denied us a gift we believe we should have received. He might be “taking too long” to bring to an end a painful trial that we have repeatedly asked to be taken away. Has God dealt us a hand we feel too difficult? May our hearts never house bitterness and resentment towards our God, lest our faces become harder than a rock – refusing to be consoled by the truth of God’s sovereignty and wisdom.

Our stone cold face may not be quite as obvious as my “new facial expression”. In fact it may be so subtle that no one around us notices at first. Perhaps no one will say, as did my mother, “What’s this thing you’re doing with your face?” But left unchecked, a stubbornness towards the Lord, a discontent, bitter attitude will surface in the fruit of our lives. As the saying goes (sorry, I’m not sure who first said it):

“Sin will take your further than you ever wanted to go. Sin will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay. Sin will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay.”

I thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit – and for His promised ministry of convicting, rebuking, and restoring us. If you have the opportunity I strongly encourage you to listen to John MacArthur’s sermon on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, delivered at the 2012 Shepherd’s Conference. It is the Holy Spirit that ensures that our momentary times of stubbornness and unrepentence is just that, momentary. He will convict. He will rebuke. He will restore. He ensures that the good work that God has began in us will be carried out until it is completed. Thank God that it is does not depend on our own effort and will to keep ourselves faithful, but on His promise to keep us faithful. For the believer, He ensures that we will never reach a point where our heart is hardened beyond return.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

May our prayer be that we would never have a stone cold look when it comes to our love for God. Even if just for a moment, how hurtful and dishonouring this must be to our Father. And who can truly know where this stubborn condition will take us in our walk with the Lord? On the contrary, may we be marked by the words of Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

Living Sacrifice (Part 4)

24 May

We are in chapter 3 which Dr. Roseveare entitles With all my mind. I am not going to share any particular story this week but I will note one common thread in all of the stories she shares – the battle to submit herself to God’s ways and not her own.

The battle goes something like this – She wants to use her abilities as a doctor, God wants her to learn how build hospitals. She wants to spend more time sharing the gospel, God wants her to treat sick patients. She wants to interact more with students and patients, God wants her in her office doing administrative work. It’s not that the things she wanted to do were ever sinful in themselves, it was just that she was discontent if she wasn’t doing those things when she wanted to do them. She had a role to play in what God was doing but was consistently discontent with his choice of what that role would be. What she was learning throughout all of this was that true contentment came when she gave God what she had and allowed him to do with it whatever he wanted. It was a lesson that she had to learn over and over and over again. Sound familiar? In principle I am sure that battle sounds familiar to all of us.

Perhaps what contributes to our discontentment – whether we are missionary doctors in Africa or housewives in Toronto – is that we don’t often think of the ultimate purpose in why God has gifted up with certain abilities. First, my mind goes to 1 Corinthians 12-14. God has gifted us all differently for the purpose of building up the church. It is not so that we can glory  in our own gifts and use them as we see fit. We are given gifts (specifically spiritual gifts here, but I think – correct me if I am wrong – that would also mean natural gifts as well) for the common good of the church (12:7). There should be no complaining about what gifts we have been given and how we get to use them, because we are all working together for the same goal, namely, to live in such a way that our Father in heaven receives all the glory.

This shouldn’t discourage us from enjoying the gifts God has given us simply because they are good and enjoyable, but I do think that lasting contentment in using these gifts comes from placing them in the the context of God’s sovereign purposes. That way, when we don’t get to use our abilities the way we want or do the things that we want, we can learn to be content. We can remind ourselves that it is not ultimately about us, and then enjoy the glorious freedom that comes with believing that reality.

Cinnamon Rolls

22 May

These are my most favouritest cinnamon buns ever!  My sister-in-law had the idea to use this buttermilk biscuit recipe as the base for these rolls.  Pure genius.

Since we’ve been doing these rolls, I have seen different versions out there using a biscuit base, so these are not novel, but in case you’ve yet to try them, you should definitely do it.  Right this second. These are probably the best version that exists, in the whole entirety of the entire world.  😉

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2  ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
½ cup butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Using two knives, a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add buttermilk all at once to dry ingredients and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently eight to 10 times. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 10 x 12 inch rectangle, about a 1/3 inch thick.

In a separate bowl combine brown sugar, softened butter and cinnamon until a paste-like, spreadable consistency is achieved.

Spread onto rolled dough.  Roll up like a jelly roll.  Cut into 1-inch to 1 ½ inch pieces.

Lightly grease a pie plate and place cinnamon rolls cut side down into the pan.

Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

GLAZE:  Using approximately ½ cup icing sugar, add enough milk (small amount, it goes far) to make a thin glaze. Drizzle over cinnamon buns when they have cooled a slight bit.  Just a slight.

Enjoy!

Thank You Haley

18 May

While packing and unpacking all of my belongings I came across a book that I had stored away for four years. It’s called “Haley’s Cleaning Hints.” Since my life has been consumed by cleaning up after our move two weeks ago, I’m especially interested in what it has to say. Some of the hints are so useful and practical, others are really bizarre!

Enjoy!

My top ten list of interesting lessons from “Haley’s Cleaning Hints”

10. I’m not sure why, but spaghetti sauce seems to find its way on my clothing only on the days where I’m wearing bright white tops. But, did you know that spaghetti stains can be removed using shaving cream! Not just sauce, but shaving cream can also be used to remove stains caused by blood, chocolate and coffee. Unfortunately the book claims that it only works on carpets… if you’re gutsy enough try it on your clothes (and let me know if it works before I give it a try!)

9. I hate panty hose! But, I look at them in a new light now that I’ve learned that they can be used to buff hardwood floors. So now you don’t have to throw them away when you get a run…just keep them in the linen closet and pull them out when you want to get rid of the smudges on the floor.

8. Here’s an interesting, but perhaps time consuming trick. If you want to get rid of the fingerprints on your stainless steel appliances you can use baby oil! Just remember to rinse it off afterwards with some club soda.

7. For some reason I don’t have a microwave. It’s not that I’m against them, we simply just don’t have one. BUT, if we did, I think I would definitely try this. If you want to get rid of the odour that builds up in your microwave you can place a bowl of water with 3 or 4 slices of lemon inside. Cook it on high for 30 seconds and the microwave will apparently smell like new.

6. Here’s one of those bizarre tricks I was telling you about. Apparently it’s common for people to leave their bread bags near their toasters, and for the bag to accidentally melt onto the toaster from the heat (Is this really that common?) Well, if you’re one of those unfortunate ones with melted bag on your toaster, you can remove it with a little nail polish remover! I’d love to know how Haley’s cleaning team figured that one out.

5. If you like keeping your bread in a bread box (in which case tip #6 probably won’t apply to you), then you can keep your bread fresh longer by placing a box of chalk in the bread box! The chalk keeps the air drier so I it absorbs the moisture that would cause your bread to go moldly faster.

4. Every time I walk through the baking isle in any home store I resolve to throw out all of my baking sheets and start all over. I want mine to look nice and clean like the ones in the store! Well, if I had known this trick, I guess I could have avoided this problem. So, to remove caked on foods on your baking sheets you can soak it in hot water and a denture tablet. . I’m thoroughly entertained by this tip!

3. Warning, you may never think of coke in the same way again. But, if you have stubborn  toilet rings and you can’t seem to get rid of them, pour a can of cola into the toilet. Let it sit over night and brush it well the next day. Wonder what it’s doing to my insides if it can be used to clean my toilet!

2. Ever had people over and watched them place their cups right on your wooden table? What do to? Do you embarrass them and hand them a coaster. That could get awkward. Do you ignore it? Sure, but then you’re left with water rings all over your table. No more embarrassing moments with guests. After they leave, you can apply mayonnaise all over the water mark and leave it on overnight. In the morning wipe it off with a soft cloth and you’ll never know it was there.

1. Ever think about the thousands of dustmites that eventually make their way into your bedding? According to Haley you can put your bedding in a garbage bag and leave it in the freezer for an hour. Apparently that will kill off the dustmites.

Or, you can follow Dina’s Cleaning tips and just put it in the washing machine.

Hope you found this helpful!! Happy Friday!

Haley’s Cleaning Hints (Graham and Rosemary Haley)

Nothing to Say

17 May

Lately I find I don’t have much to say. Writing blog posts has been particularly challenging in light of this. So, I am not going to force a blog post out of myself this morning, but I will post a clip of one of my son’s favourite video right now – he’s so weird!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cFUbybi6zg

Have a great Thursday!!

Tuning Out so You Can Tune In

14 May

Last week, I came across a link to an article entitled “How to Miss a Childhood“. The writer, very persuasively painted a picture of the dangers of being too plugged in to our devices, namely the phone, at the expense of relating to people who are most precious to us, namely our children. I think her points can relate to any device and any relationship. For me, the article provoked more thought on a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot about lately. I’ve noticed my tendency to always want to have something to look at, to read, to listen to, to be entertained by. In any moment of calm, whether I’m riding an escalator, paused at a stoplight (yes, I know it is not legal to be on your phone while driving and this is not something I’m proud of!), or just sitting with family members at the dinner table, I will pull out my phone and look at something. Anything. Twitter, Facebook, quick email check, a perusal of a few sites I regularly read, and then whatever I can find to pass a few moments. Why do I do this? I don’t know. I am still not entirely clear as to what I think I’ll find when I tune out of what’s going on around me. Whatever it is, it has often left me feeling that I am wasting precious moments. The idea that we are bored and therefore need to find amusement at any moment of the day when there’s a lull or break from some activity, is a misleading thought. Rather than use phones, computers, the internet, or TV as momentary and controlled activities that have minimal impact on our time, I find that if I’m honest with myself, they often consume my time!

This thought about how much we’re all tuned in has been hitting me much more over the past few weeks. I’ve noticed how bad I am at conversation. I find that rather than being truly interested in what people are doing and saying, I’m easily distracted. I think I can attribute that to the training I’ve been giving myself in finding quick, easy-to-access information and distractions. What will happen to us if we continue to let ourselves become consumed with our technology? Will we loose out on building important relationships in exchange for meaningless time consumers? Will we forfeit time that we could be using to do things that are more helpful, and more productive? Will we be setting an example to our children and to those around us that what is most important is not people but stuff?

These are just some questions I’ve thought about and want to address, not avoid. We can each assess our own habits and practices and ask the Lord to help us see if there are any ways that we’ve neglected those around us. And we can make choices to not allow our phones, TVs, and internet to consume our time. Just a challenge- would you consider along with me going on a fast from some sort of media? Maybe it’ll just be a day without Twitter, or a week without Facebook, or mealtime without the cell phone, but whatever it is, we can pray that instead of letting the things in our life rule our time, we can resolve to withdraw from them and tune in to what’s going on with the PEOPLE we care about. I know that for jobs and family communication, it’s impossible to completely let go of all our connections, but this is just a suggestion to get you thinking about ways that you use your time. I’m looking forward to getting away from some things and being free from that overwhelming pull to always be in touch with what’s happening outside the home. Instead, it’s time to start making sure I’m tuned in to what’s happening here. Do you agree that we’re all too “plugged in”? I’d love to hear some thoughts, maybe personal experiences of ways that you’ve lost out on opportunities because of things like cell phones or TV, and even stories of successes in drawing away. Feel free to share in the comments below!

On Being Pregnant

11 May

Some women really love being pregnant. I wasn’t one of those women.

I remember one of my coworkers telling me how she never felt better than during the months leading up to her delivery. She wasn’t sick even one day. She had a certain glow. People told her how beautiful she looked. She even suggested that she missed the feeling of being pregnant.

I definitely couldn’t relate.

I was a gigantic pregnant. I really mean it. In fact every month that I visited my doctor, she lectured me on the weight that I was gaining. Every month! At the end of my first trimester I read that the average weight gain should be around 3-5 pounds. I had gained ten. At six months she told me I had gained enough weight for the entire pregnancy. I was convinced she was wrong. I also read you were supposed to gain a pound a week. A week? Are you sure they didn’t mean a day? They must have meant a day.

One particular day at work I barged into friend’s  office and complained that I couldn’t stay at work anymore. I had to go home.  No, I wasn’t sick. No, nothing was wrong with the baby. I had to confess the truth:  “I…I think it’s my pants. They’re just too tight. I can’t breath!!” After laughing at me, lecturing me for thinking I could get away with wearing my normal clothes, and assuring me that no, nothing was wrong with the baby, she insisted that she cover my appointments for an hour so that I could go to the maternity store to buy pants that actually fit.  I still can’t fit into those jeans.

I was also incredibly sick. I don’t mean a little sick…I mean “pull over on the side of the highway” sick. People tried giving me all sorts of helpful suggestions to avoid the morning sickness (a painfully misleading term…who said anything about it being restricted to the morning?) Some told me to try crackers. Cereal. Icecream cones. Make sure you don’t eat too much at once. Make sure you never let yourself feel hungry. Nothing worked. Then my friend suggested that I tried sucking on sour candies. She said that it would make me feel better. So one day as we were driving I asked Shady to stop at a gas station, and we bought every bag of sour candy we could find. It made me feel soooo much better. The next day, I declared that I wanted NOTHING to do with sour candy. I closed my eyes as I passed them to him. “Don’t let me look at them. Don’t let me think of them. I never want to see those again.”

I guess I was slightly dramatic.

Besides being huge and incredibly sick, I was constantly hot. I would look around at people wearing long sleeves and wonder if they were okay. Surely there was something wrong with their body temperature.  And besides being hot, I was uncomfortable. Hot and uncomfortable are too really bad companions. One Sunday I announced to Shady that I just couldn’t go to church that day. Why you ask? I just couldn’t face the chairs. They were so uncomfortable. How could anyone concentrate on anything important when sitting in one of those chairs?  I really couldn’t do it. So Shady did what any loving husband would do….week after week he would haul our dining room chair to church. It didn’t help that since he was responsible for running the sound system that  we had to sit right at the very front where everyone could see my clear display of being high maintenance. I’m sure they wondered who the guest of honour was who got to sit on the big comfy chair.

On the day that I finally thought I was going into labour, I called the hospital in the middle of the night to see if they thought I should come in. The nurse informed me that what I was experiencing sounded like false labour, and that I should take a Tylenol and try to get some rest. False labour? A Tylenol? I didn’t like her answer, so I decided I was calling another hospital. Sure enough they refused to help me; they said they only dealt with patients assigned to their hospital. That was just as useful as being told to take a Tylenol, so that’s when I called Tele-health. I was ready to call everyone on my street until someone told me that yes, this was the moment, come on into the hospital and we’ll take this precious baby out of you, NOW.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen for four additional days. FOUR days of contractions! I’ve heard of one day, two days, maybe even three, but FOUR.  Surely there are medals out there for women who’ve gone through that. And if there isn’t I should inaugurate one. I’ll call it the “Contraction Extraordinaire” award…and I’ll engrave my name on it, and award it to myself.

And by the way, people say you forget the pain of your delivery. People are wrong.

I’m pretty sure I remember thinking that once I delivered,  the difficult part would be in the past. My mother had offered to come over around dinner time for the first few weeks so that she could prepare meals for us. I remember agreeing, but I’m not sure I was convinced that it was really necessary. I mean really, couldn’t I just do it while Amanda was napping? It wasn’t long before we discovered that having our mothers over at dinner time wasn’t nearly enough…I think that realization came after one short night. It was our first night at home. We went to “sleep” at 10:00. We “woke up” at 7:00. In reality Amanda had cried the entire time and I slept for one tiny little hour. I begged Shady to call our mothers. “Shady, wake up! Call your mother. Call my mother. Tell them we don’t know what we’re doing. We need them to come over right now!”

Half an hour later they arrived with bags full of supplies and insisted that we go to sleep and let them take care of things. We woke up a few hours later. The kitchen was fully stocked. Amanda was fast asleep. They sat drinking tea. They had it all under control, and it was obvious that I had a lot to learn from these godly women of experience.

As I write this, eight month old Amanda lies beside me fast asleep. All warm and cozy in her cute little sleeper, tucked under her furry blanket. Her fingers playing in the air while she lay sleeping. Her soft breath gently moving the blanket up and down. I can’t wait for her to wake up so I can receive the smile she gives me when she sees my face.

I think I can honestly say that Shady and I didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. But what a privilege, what a blessing, what a source of joy!  Every pound gained, every side of the road experience, every sour candy that made me nauseous, every Sunday morning hauling our dining room chair to church, and every last contraction is worth the gift that comes from motherhood.

It is oh so worth it!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Count It All Joy

9 May

This week, I thought I’d share one of the many valuable lessons I learned from my mom over the years. My mother is one of the weakest, strongest people I know. It makes no sense right? Allow me to explain. I have seen my mother go through many trials and she always seems to face them with such strength and wisdom. I know my mother is not some kind of super hero, and one of the greatest things she did for us was that she allowed us to see her weaknesses so that we may see God’s strength reflected in her life.

A few years back my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I remember being there with her when she found out and her eyes glazed over with what appeared to be fear, confusion, and uncertainty. She was never afraid to speak her mind and say how she was feeling, and in that, I saw God transform my mother’s life through this very difficult experience. People often question why, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “If God exists, then why would he allow good people to get sick with cancer?” What we know about God, through his Word, is that he uses trials to test, strengthen, and shape the lives of His children.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

I can look back and easily remember opportunities I threw away because of the way I viewed certain trials I experienced. My mother on the other hand, allowed herself to be moulded, strengthened, and renewed through what the world would call “an unfair experience”. Despite struggling through the effects of a difficult surgery, weekly chemo sessions, and radiation, she still managed to count it all joy, even when the surrounding circumstances were the exact opposite of joyful. I remember our weekly wig dance sessions, where we would put all her wigs on and dance around the house. Sometimes she wouldn’t have the energy to dance but she always had the energy to laugh. When we were kids, my mother was always teaching us God’s Word, but more than just teach us, she lives it and we see that through every trial and celebration she goes through. So as I reflect on my mom, and what she has been to our family, I’m thankful to God for his grace in her life and for blessing me with a mother who loves His Word and walks in it daily, no matter what the circumstance may be.  Happy Mother’s Day!