Archive | November, 2012

Pots and Pans…and Caribbean Cruises

30 Nov

The voice on the other end of the line said that I had won. After placing my name in a ballot box, I had been selected to win one of many special prizes. All I had to do was come to a very brief presentation featuring a top of the line brand name item. Seemed like a reasonable request to make. After all, there was no requirement to make a purchase, and I was guaranteed a prize at the end. Of course I accepted the offer. Continue reading

Advertisements

Remembering Lola

28 Nov

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”- Psalm 116:15

If you’ve ever had a loved one who’s left home for a long time, you can identify with the joy and excitement experienced at their return. The anticipation, preparation, maybe even plans for a special meal or night out are all part of receiving them home. Well, the reception received in heaven of God’s saints is much greater and more wonderful than any earthly one. One week ago today, my Lola (grandmother) went home to be with the Lord!

In the sadness of loosing her here, I still have such a fullness of joy and peace because I know that she has gone home, and in going home she has finally experienced her faith becoming sight. She is with her heavenly father and He is rejoicing over her. The hope for those of us who know the Lord is that even though we are separated from one another at death, it is only temporary. We will see each other one day, and that day is a day I will look forward to.

I’m so thankful for her life and thankful for the Godly influence she was on all those around her. I probably said it before but I will never forget the way that my Lola prayed. She knew the Lord as her close friend and you could hear it in her prayers. If you ever happened upon her during one of her quiet times, you knew that she was engaged in a solemn conversation, speaking with God, interceding daily on behalf of those around her. If you ever asked her to pray for you about something, you could count on her taking that request very seriously and labouring on your behalf with her prayers. I hope that I will grow to having the same kind of prayer life as her!

I posted this piece about her a little while ago, and I’ll put it up again for anyone interested in reading a little about her life and who she has been to my family and I.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:56

God Tells Her…

21 Nov

I was directed to this video through one of Paul Martin’s tweets and I am so very thankful for it. Please have a listen to what this woman has to say about her hope in living with disability:

http://theworksofgod.com/2012/11/20/gods-beautiful-words-have-changed-my-life-krista-horning/

Lost in the Desert

16 Nov

 I have a tendency to repeat myself. There are some memories I have that I enjoy sharing over and over, and Shady tries to gently tell me “Ah, Dina, I already know this story. You’ve shared it many times.”

Like the time I travelled to Europe with my good friends Sherien and Natalie. We lived on a diet of pizza and ice cream, and I still managed to lose five pounds. That’s a favourite of mine. Who else can boast of losing weight on a high fat, high carb, chocolate filled diet? I say that’s worth repetition on a weekly basis if you ask me.

My father also has a tendency of repeating his stories…but one in particular has been a family favourite for as long as I can remember. Since I was a young child he told us the story of the time he was lost in the desert. Growing up in Egypt, I guess it wasn’t uncommon to be near a desert to begin with, which of course gave the story special appeal to a young girl who’d never even seen one.  He told this story numerous times, so many times that eventually, when we had grown up, we jokingly banned him from repeating it to any of us. Once he would start with “Did I ever tell you about the time I was lost in the desert” we’d reach for our ears, laugh out loud and say “yes, yes, we’ve heard the story maaaaany times.”

When I introduced Shady to my parents, my father was very excited to have a fresh audience who had never yet heard the story. Shady was of course intrigued, someone lost in the desert, that sounds like it could be a great story. But my mother, my sister and I all refused. We hereby declared that my father was not to repeat the desert story. We’d heard it one too many times, we practically had it memorized, we wouldn’t sit through it again!

My poor father…It’s been six years since he’s met Shady, and he still hasn’t been able to share the desert story!

Now, I hesitate to share this because I know my father might read this. But can I be truly honest? I miss the desert story. In fact, truth be told, I can barely remember the details. Was he seven, or was he eight? How did he get to the desert in the first place? I know the story centred on his heroic use of the sun’s rays to find his way home…but I can’t remember how it all fits together. The story that had once been all  too familiar, and consequently abandoned for years, has now become unfamiliar, fragmented, distant.

Unfortunately, the same can be said for many of the stories that I grew up with from the Bible.

I’ve grown up listening to and reading many of the accounts that are captured in the pages of scripture. The time that Jesus walked on water, the return of the prodigal son, the parable of the sower, the the calling of the apostles. The list goes on and on of the stories that I grew up hearing. With time, I regret to say, I began to tune a few of these stories out. They were getting “too familiar”. I thought I knew them well enough. “I already know these stories,” I would say to myself. “They are too familiar. I’m ready for something more.”

And so, even now as an adult, many times I will skip over these stories when I am looking through the Bible. Out of sheer habit of telling myself that I know them too well, I go past them as though I have somehow mastered their truth, and the result is that I am losing the incredible insight and meaning they have for my life today.

The plain truth is that we can never hear the stories in the Bible too often. Why? Because we are told that 12 the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Each time we open the pages of scripture, God is speaking to us. Though we’ve read the words before, He has a message for us.  There is always more to learn, always more insight to gain, always fresh application for our lives, always conviction to be received, always comfort to be granted. God’s words never run dry, never grow irrelevant, never lose their meaning. They are living and they are active.

Besides, even if the lesson is familiar, have we mastered obedience to it so that we do not need the reminder?

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! Romans 11:33

Perhaps it’s been years since you’ve read some of the stories in the Bible that you feel are “too familiar”. Perhaps you read them, but like me, you read them with eyes that claim to have seen it before and a heart that is not widely open to the living truth it provides.  Let’s repent of claiming that we’ve somehow mastered the lessons they provide, and commit to go back, reread the stories we have grown up with, and ask God to show us the truth that he has for is in the pages of His word.

And to my father, when you read this post, I would like to invite you out to lunch where you can finally, with full freedom share all of the details about the time that you were lost in the desert!

Banana Bread, Blankets and Teddy Bears

10 Nov

I’m addicted to the songs from the “Sound of Music”.  Every once in a while I’ll break into my own personal rendition of “I am 16 Going on 17″…. and poor Amanda has endured far too many performances of “Doe a Deer” (If you don’t recognize what I’m talking about, we probably wouldn’t enjoy watching movies together).

I’m not all that crazy about the story line of the movie, but I do love the songs that they sing. Perhaps my favorite scene is when all the children are piled up in Maria’s room; they are scared of the thunderstorm, and to comfort them she begins singing about some of her favorite things. Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm wollen mittens (Okay, when I write them out it does sound a little silly). But I love the idea of having a list of my own favorite things. Things that make me smile and things that make me thankful. So here’s my list. I won’t put them into a song, but if you’re talented that way and want to give it a try, I’ll pay you big bucks!

My Fuzzy Warm Blanket – Each night, after Amanda has gone to bed, after the laundry has been folded and the dishes put away, I grab a snack and head right to the couch to cuddle up under my warm fuzzy throw blanket. Shady thinks I have an obsession with feeling cozy, but I keep telling him that it’s not just me. Every girl loves being cozy (just look at the assortment of warm fuzzy slippers at the mall). When you see him, please tell him you love being cozy too. It will really help build my argument!

My Coffee Mug – Some mugs are uncomfortable. They just don’t sit right. Like an uncomfortable pair of shoes, they just don’t fit and you  can’t enjoy your drink the way it was meant to be enjoyed. But not my mug. It’s the perfect size. The handle was built just for my fingers. When I hold it in my hand…ahhh…my coffee tastes just right. Every morning I look forward to my coffee in my own special, built just for me, mug (You too can experience this, for only $5.99 at Canadian Tire).

My Teddy Bear – I know it’s silly to still value my teddy bear at this age. But if you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know the deep family history that this bear could share. True, he just sits in a basket pretty much out of sight. But when I’m cleaning around Amanda’s room, and happen to catch a glimpse of him, I won’t lie, I still smile. He doesn’t compare with the teddy bears in the market today. You can’t plug him in with a USB, He won’t learn to say your name, and he won’t play your favorite tunes from the tiny speaker in his ear. He’s made of cotton, not LED lights and microchips, but to me he’s worth so much more!

My Rocking Chair – Tucked into the corner of Amanda’s play room is an old wooden rocking chair. It’s not in the best of conditions. One of the rockers is chipped away at the bottom, and it makes a funny sound when you rock back and forth. But I love this chair because it used to belong to my grandfather. I would see it in the corner of his room each time I would go visit him in his nursing home. He sat on it when he would watch television, and lined up next to him were all the pictures of his grandchildren. When I sit on the chair and watch Amanda play with her toys, I feel as though I am somehow keeping his memory alive with me. It is much more than just a rocking chair. I hope that one day, Amanda will hold her little child as she rocks her back and forth on this very same chair.

My Banana Bread – Not just everyone’s banana bread (though I’m sure it’s delicious too), but my banana bread is my absolute favorite. I wish I could remember where I learned the recipe, but I guess it doesn’t matter since I’ve varied it up a a bit anyways. In my personal opinion it’s as close to perfect as dessert can get. I’ve made it countless times. In fact if you’ve ever come over for dinner chances are you’ve also had a taste. I’m not a good baker, I don’t know how to cook a variety of fine foods, and to be honest I really don’t enjoy working in the kitchen all that much. But my banana bread…well, how about I give you the recipe and you can let me know what you think. Here it is:

Dina’s All Time Favourite Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat two eggs, 1/3 cup of oil and 2/3 cups of white sugar for 3 minutes.

2. Mix in 3-4 overly ripe bananas (the riper the better), as well as 1 1/4 cups of white flour.

3. Mix in 2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt.

4. Add as many milk chocolate chips as you can handle (chopped becans are also a good idea, but I don’t like anything competing with the taste of chocolate).

5. Place in a greased loaf pan and bake on 350 F for 55 minutes.

Really hope you enjoy it!!

So what about you, what are some your favorite things? What are some of the things God has provided you with for which you are truly thankful? We can be thankful for the big and the small, the important and the trivial, the material and the immaterial. Share your thoughts!

Psalm 92:1  It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;

Should I Be Crying?

2 Nov

If you’ve been around children for any amount of time (even five minutes will do) you’ll know that falling is a regular part of their lives. I’m pretty confident that if I took some of the tumbles I’ve seen children endure, I’d be out for the week. And yet they get up, keep walking, and carry on, although nothing has happened.

That is of course, unless you give them the look. You know that look. It’s that automatic response we make with our faces that says “OUCH, that must have hurt!” Even if they feel fine, even if the fall was broken by the thick padding of their expensive diapers…the look on your face is enough to convince them that they must be in pain. It is then that they will cry.

It’s a regular occurrance in our house these days. As Amanda has been growing into her walking feet, she has been venturing out into the vast unknown landscapes of the house. She falls. She instantly looks up at me for her next cue. It is as though she is asking me “You saw what happened right? So how should I feel? Should I be crying?”

It’s not the only time that she looks at me with this look of complete dependence . Each time she reaches for something, especially something I’ve already restricted her from touching, she glances at me looking for a response. Wether she’s looking for approval, or checking to see if the rules have somehow changed in her favour, I know that my look and my response will very much determine her next steps.

I’m 34 years old now (I know, I look MUCH younger than my age!). You’d think I know how to react to just about everything by now. But I don’t. I have to confess that there is still in me a very real and compelling need to look to something or someone greater than myself to know how I should react. Each time something happens, a new event occurs, I hear of something in the media, a decision has to be made in my life, I face the same questions that Amanda does as well. Should I be scared? Should I feel sad? How should I respond from here?

What are my options? Where and to whom can I look to accurately diagnose my situation and tell me how to respond from there? I can look to man around me. The experts they’re called. Only trouble is…they so often contradict each other. One day you should do this. The next day, don’t even think of doing that. It’s absolute chaos. The wisdom of man is flawed and cannot be trusted to order the affairs of our lives.

I can look to myself. Trust my instincts. Go with what feels best to me at the moment. To be honest…I’m not sure how that philosophy has gotten as widespread as it has. Trouble is…if I listened to myself I would be in a constant state of panic. If I listened to my self I’d consistently feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Or worse, at times, I would have no reaction what so ever, when in fact God’s Word demands that I take very clear steps in response to the situation.

So where do I look? When life takes a turn and I long to look up for direction, who will fill this need?

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, THOROUGHLY equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

Truth be told, when Amanda looks up at me for direction, sometimes I don’t give the right commanding orders. I accidentally under react when in fact she is hurt. I let her touch something when yesterday I said no. I try my best, but at the end of the day I am a fallen creature, and my “marching orders” will often be flawed.

But God’s word is reliable. It is perfect. It is consistent. It is straight from the breath of God, and is relevant and true for ever occassion, for all of time.

Think how often a child looks to his parent for direction. Is this how consistently and dependently I look to God’s word as the final authority over my every circumstance?