September 29, 2016

The Jesus-Way

Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.  So He went to her, took her hand and helped her up.  The fever left her and she began to wait on them.    Mark 1:30-31

It’s obvious that this little snippet in scripture shines the light on Jesus as The Healer, and we see a practical example of how, when we let Him do His work in us, we are freed and given strength to turn around and serve others.

I’ve been thinking a lot on how the Body of Christ must act in this dark world in order to bring glory to God…to shine as lights in the darkness…to be the hands and feet, ears and eyes, and mouth-piece for Christ. His way shows up again here, in this brief story. Jesus calls us to love each other, that by our love, the world will know we are His. Showing God’s love in the world begins in-house. In the family. Loving and serving the Body of Christ.  It is only when this is in tip-top shape, that our love can go sincerely and authentically outward – into the world.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34,35

We are surrounded by battle weary Christians. Soul-tired believers. Discouraged and hurting sisters.  Maybe the waves of their crisis are raging high and the winds are gale force. Maybe it’s the heartbreaking grief of loss.  Perhaps it’s a coldness that has slipped in unaware, and the scriptures seem dry--the Lord’s voice inaudible. Maybe it’s a deep gaping wound of betrayal and hurt.  It could be burnout from serving others and feeling unappreciated.  Maybe it’s the loneliness, the waiting…feeling forgotten.

So He went to her, took her hand and helped her up.

My heart responded. THIS. This is what we need more of. This is the Jesus-way. 

You can continue reading here, where I have shared with the Anchored By Grace community...

May 11, 2016

Moments Worth Capturing

While the sweetness may not have lasted long, these moments made my heart a little mush... 

Since I didn't agree to his first wishful sleeping arrangement, he moved on to try big brother's bed... 

April 28, 2016

Handing Down A Heritage of Compassion

I was recently asked to present on the topic of handing down a heritage of compassion from my personal experience, and while this is far too long for a blog post, it's the only thing I've written in ages so thought it should have a home here. 


Home… where the neighbor alcoholic wasn’t turned away from our kitchen table (or our piano!) with his longwinded stories… where the neighbour mother who suffered from a nervous breakdown and had an alcoholic husband was seen with compassion and dignity, her sons – our playmates; where family drives took us through native reserves dreaming of children’s meetings to bring hope to these seemingly forgotten communities; where a teen who tragically lost her dad found refuge and friendship; where a newly divorced mom felt safe and supported; where the lonely and insecure found a patient listening ear at our kitchen table; where the doubters, addicts, disenchanted, depressed, discouraged and all variety of social misfits found compassion and friendship.  Some, whose lives crossed ours briefly, while other relationships resulted in years of serving with kindness, compassion, faithfulness and patience. 

Whenever our travels took us to a city, we always had to tour the “underbelly” where we would hear without fail,  This would be a perfect place for children’s meetings!”  When I made my first trip to Vancouver, it was while my father was having gospel meetings there. The highlight of my trip wasn’t one of the many impressive tourist attractions, but a tour of Union Gospel Mission – a busy refuge for the homeless.  My parents did their best to teach us to SEE the individuals and not hide them in a sweeping generalization of labels. Yes, these were the project areas of the city… the troubled ones in the community – at least the trouble that can’t be hidden or masked… but these were souls whom God dearly loved.

Am I here to brag on my parents? A resounding NO, though it’s my biggest fear that you’ll think that.  I’m here to try and paint a picture of how it may affect the next generation if we live lives of compassion. To do good works with the right motive -- putting hands and feet, hearts and ears into action through the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit. To live out the love of Christ and point others to the only One who matters for this life and eternity.

You see, my parents were both raised in homes with open doors and open hearts… lives lived generously and compassionately…always seeking opportunities to share the Gospel and show God’s love.

My mother’s father had no time for racial lines or social class distinctions or limitations… he was ahead of his time.  He did not tolerate any kind of gossip or stories that could be seen as “negative” toward someone else – no matter who they were. He was a humble servant of God, virtually unknown outside the Maritimes, and they lived trusting God for all their needs.  The stories I’ve heard over the years are countless. The family car packed with children for children’s meetings, gospel series, conferences; the family meals that were rarely ever JUST family; my grandfather guiding his children to include those with limited capacities, the socially awkward, disabled, lonely kids – the “outcasts” of the popular groups; loving and befriending families on social-assistance; groceries bought and delivered to others when their own cupboards weren’t overflowing.

Without knowing the bigger picture – the God-centered, gospel-driven purpose -- it wouldn’t always make sense. Like the time my grandfather gave away my mom’s bike to another kid because he thought they needed it more… he saw a “need” and met it!  While I reacted strongly to that story, it’s just a vivid example of how he was always seeking to build relationships… to ease burdens and share pain… to show kindness and love… in order to open doors for the gospel.

Thankfully I think my mother was more understanding in that situation than I would be!

Over the years my grandparents have had at least 25 boarders for a variety of reasons – very few for income purposes. Some for just a few weeks, others for months, and yet others for years! My grandmother still, at 85, lives in this hospitable way. She only recently resigned from driving children home after children’s meeting because of declining night vision, but still has booster seats in her car for picking children up in the daylight! She currently offers her Wi-Fi daily to a new-to-the-area lady and drives her around for errands with the desire to win her to Christ. She has driven to a different town to pick up ESL students for gospel meeting. Her phone is constantly ringing from people looking for a listening compassionate ear. Her home is known around the Maritimes as a stopping place for a quick visit, a meal and sometimes a comfy bed. If there is a grieving family within reasonable driving distance, they can expect a casserole and likely homemade rolls from my grandmother. She picks up “older ladies” for conferences and funerals, and checks in on them if she hears they aren’t well… I think she’s in denial of her age!

My father’s home also had this welcoming vibe despite my grandmother being rather private and not much of an extravert… that was my Grandfather’s role! They had their share of longer-term visitors, sharing their family space and family time with those in need.  I’m not sure my grandmother ever knew how many she was going to feed from meal to meal when my grandfather was home. Once he brought home a man who had just a little too much to drink, to give him a warm safe place to sleep it off.  When my father started traveling around, he heard countless stories from people in their 50’s and 60’s; stories of my grandfather shaking their hands at the end of the church meeting and pressing into their palm a $20 bill to help them in school.  Most good deeds come to light when someone passes away, and it was no different at his funeral. Story after story of his compassion, but even more so, his generosity. They weren’t rich. My Dad often tells the story of eating corn every day one autumn until his mother cried, “Albert! We can’t have corn AGAIN today!” There was also green bean season and clam season, though the last one wasn’t too much of a hardship.  PEI is a small community, and a few salesmen have told that when buying a car, my grandfather would do the normal thing of asking for the best price they could reasonably offer him… and then he would always pay them more. Generous. Not trying to rip anyone off. Compassionate, seeing the salesmen for who they really were… souls loved by God.

Some may pass this compassionate-style of living off as a personality strength and I’m sure in some cases it is. But I come from a long line of real introverts. The kind that avoid the phone like a plague and are most happy at home with a book or alone on the beach… the kind that loooove getting to a coffee shop alone.  I have a relative who can only take so much, and then turns her phone off and hides for a couple of days because she’s had enough. This same woman has taken the disheveled smelly man pushing the shopping cart around town, into a restaurant for a hot meal… sitting WITH him and chatting while he ate.  She has delivered bibles with a caring note to the hotel rooms of the Rolling Stones’; she hosts (with her husband) the young people every week for a bible study and offers them a safe place to hang out.  She is one of the best listeners I know and empathizes so well.  She openly shares her own struggles in order to reach out and help overwhelmed young moms, or someone struggling with depression or anxiety or spiritual questions and doubts.  She is a true confident and friend to those trying to pick up the pieces of their lives in various broken stages.

What compels her to go against her natural introvert tendencies to open her home… her wallet… her time... and her heart?

It is the love of Christ. His compassion. His kindness. The strength and energy to love supernaturally comes from Christ alone!

As I have witnessed my parents giving their energy and love to many needing compassion and kindness, they also grew up watching THEIR parents live out the truth of Proverbs 3:27:  Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

And for that heritage of compassion that I have received, fueled by generations of prayer, scripture and a deep love for Christ… I am indebted and so very thankful.

As the Psalmist says, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.”

Merriam-Webster defines compassion and its synonyms in the following ways…
·    the  “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress, together with a desire to alleviate   it”…
·    “the act or capacity for sharing the painful feelings of another.” 
·    It “implies pity… together with an urgent desire to aid or to spare.”

Scripture has its own description in Isaiah 58… where God shares the kind of fasting He desires in our lives:
This is the kind of fasting I want:
 Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you.
 Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry,
 and give shelter to the homeless.
 Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. 
 Then your light will shine out from the darkness.

Does this back up extending your hand and your heart in compassion? This is not just for unbelievers to win them to Christ, but we are commanded to care for the Body of Christ -- our brothers and sisters.

We know Matthew 5:16 well:  “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

This life is not about gaining approval from our family and friends… from the elders in our gatherings.  It’s not about getting pats on the back or whispers of our good deeds.  No – this life is about pouring ourselves out for the praise and glory of our God.  Can the watching world see His light in us? His love? When they see the hurting, the grieving, the homeless and the “least of these” in the world, does it make them doubt there is a God?

Or can they see us – God’s people – doing the little we can to show compassion,  to alleviate the pain and hopelessness in someone’s circumstance? We are to love because God first loved us.

Has this been done perfectly in our family? Oh my goodness, NO! There have been many times of dodging conversations or hellos to avoid the “relationship work” that might come out of it.  Many times of NOT answering the phone.  Times of being selfish and self-serving. Sometimes letting fear win over love. Falling into the trap of groupthink and seeing someone as the label assigned to them by society – addicted, dangerous, hopeless, or different.  Sometimes seeing people as projects instead of who they are – loved and valued by a gracious and compassionate God.

Are there dangers to living a life extending love and compassion to those around us? If not done wisely and in step with the Spirit’s guidance, I believe yes. There are dangers of crossing inappropriate boundaries… of co-dependency. When I NEED someone to continue to NEED me.  When I’m too emotionally involved to see the warning signs. When I may ignore the warning signs and advice from loved ones and continue to think of my latest “charity case” as a victim and a project, and not give them the freedom to grow, heal and move on – to be strong and enabled without me.  We can get used to someone depending on us and feed off their need but God places us in a life to give a helping hand, to guide them to the ONE who can meet all their needs. We can’t “fix” people – that is God’s role.  And some of us can easily forget that and get addicted to trying to fix.

What has stood out to me about trying to see the world through a compassionate lens – to try to see people as God sees them? We know from Scripture that Jesus saw people differently that you and I would naturally. His love was extended to everyone – the poor, sick, lepers, beggars, widows, immigrants, mentally ill, sinners, traitors, the powerless… Roman Authorities, religious outcasts, murderers, women… scandalous women.  As Jen Hatmaker says, “He loved all the unsanctioned people.”

I’m going to paraphrase Jen Hatmaker for a minute, because she said it so clearly and it’s what I saw in my parents and grandparents in how they loved and continue to love those we may call “untouchables”.  When we look at the life of Jesus on earth, He shows us how we are to love others… He loved with His touch, with His presence, with proximity and with dignity. Never an “us and them”.  Never with condescension.  No shame.  No “look at me”.  No, He loved and He called them FRIENDS.  I think that’s a pretty good place for us to start!

So, I am a third generation believer who comes from a line of such faithful servants of Christ. I feel the weight of Luke 12:48 – From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.  How can I pass this “Heritage of Compassion” on to my children, or at least lay the seeds and pray for fruit? My kids are still very young – 4, 3 and 1. But it’s the little things that start building a foundation, that start to shape their worldview -- their God-view. These few simple things that happen in our home may give a taste of what it can look like to start pouring into the next generation:

·     When we pray with the kids at night, they share someone they want to pray for, and we usually end up with a list! Some that are friends; others they know only by name from conversations in our home. We have prayed daily for a little friend who is very sick, whom my son has never met in person until recently, and he was so excited to SEE him at a church service. Praying for this little boy and his family has created a connection, without my son even knowing this family personally.

·     We have a sponsored son in Rwanda, and talk about him and pray together for him.

·     When delivering a meal, our kids are included and that always involves discussion on how privileged we are to be able to help meet a need in this small way.

·     We encourage them to ask us and others about how their days have been and to think beyond themselves

·     We have done Operation Christmas Child with them for a few years now, and it is definitely a hit!

Those are just a few simple ways we have started… but most importantly, they must see this life lived authentically and joyfully in me. So my time in prayer and scripture is vital, as it is to any life wished to be lived full of God’s compassion, kindness and love. 

You may have a similar background, or maybe you are sitting here thinking that you missed out because this isn’t what your family lineage sounds like.  Well, I want to remind you that you have the best heritage you could possibly have as a Child of God. Our Father is a God who is gracious and compassionate… slow to anger and full of love.  Isaiah 63 says, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us…according to his compassion and many kindnesses.  

Yes, He is a good, good Father… and we are a part of His heritage.  What more could we ask for?!

So as Hebrews 10:24 says, Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works… Let us take up the baton that God gives us to carry out His works of love and compassion here in the time we have left. Let’s hand down a heritage of compassion to the next generation.  And we will give all the praise and glory to our God.

June 19, 2015

I don't want to forget...

I don't want to forget...

the way your little body curls around mine when you nurse
the way your toes push against anything in a constant rocking motion when you're nursing and super hungry
the way your eyes glaze over when you're sleepy and satisfied
the way your hands kneed me when nursing
the way your hands reach up to touch my face and grab my nose or mouth when you're happily nursing
the way you fall asleep but suddenly launch back on if you sense me about to get up to put you down
the way you talk or give half laughs while you're alert and happy to be eating
your soft little foot resting up on me as you make yourself 100% comfortable
the way I am all you need right then.

I don't want to forget...

how your face lights up when I walk around the corner and you see me
your lightening speed crawl to get to me as fast as you can
the way you intently watch your brother and sister play
the way your crawl over to join in whatever they are doing
the way you laugh at their silliness
the way you loudly "talk" to be a part of their play
the way you don't back down when they try to stop you from doing something
the way you crawl off and find something to get into and play contentedly by yourself
the way you giggle at peek-a-boo
the way you pull the blanket down yourself and giggle as we say "boo!"
the way you wriggle at the slightest tickle
the way your big bright eyes smile before your mouth
the way you so easily smile and brighten my day
the way you have been so proactive at crawling, standing and moving
the way you almost hyperventilate when you see me taking a drink of water

I don't want to forget...

the way you rub your eyes when tired
the way you keep crawling over and pulling yourself up to touch me as if saying "Please mom! I'm tired!"
the way you push your face into mine to briefly cuddle
the way you give your rare but so special wet kisses
the way you don't really want to go to bed
but how you roll over onto your stomach, ready to sleep
the way you get so excited when I walk in to pick you up once your sleep is over
the way you chatter "da-da-da-daaa"
the way you pull yourself up and play at the various bins of toys like you're a big kid
the way you are such a happy little guy until you're ready for your next sleep

I don't want to forget how small and precious you are.

I love you littlest man. My heart is full.

May 7, 2015

Coming up for air... :)

Where has the time gone?

I certainly didn't intend this blog to go dormant for so long... but wow... so much life has happened! I think I'm finally coming up for a little air with that last major update that should have happened 6 months ago... poor little guy! ;)

This busy little boy, who didn't stay still his whole time in utero, is continuing his active lifestyle. ;)

Not quite sure how he went from this:

So much love.

My three boys

To this, so quickly!
One of his first warm outings this spring... sitting at 4 months.  He snuck it in at the tail end so he could claim sitting so early. Just a week shy of 5 months ;)

And then on the move... at 6 months!

Third kid... hence the pink hat ;)

The first video claiming "the crawl"...  this mother might be a bit of an exaggerator. 
Honest moment here, because I don't want to pretend like it's been easy in case someone else is in a similar situation... we tend to show the highlights online and leave the impression that life has been full of enjoying this season.

Not so.

It's been a challenging few months to say the least. I knew having three this close (3.5 years old and under) would be tough, but the reality has been much, much harder. We didn't count on MJ being as "busy" as she is (that's a whole other story...!!!!) or having a newborn who cried most of the time, didn't sleep for more than two hours at a time on average, and would not nurse if there was even one tiny distraction. For five months.  It's been hard... I cried more from desperation than any other time in my life I think. I had zero patience and truly thought I was going to lose my mind and snap. I felt isolated and a tad bit alone, since my evenings were spent with a screaming baby who at any point MIGHT nurse to sleep... so I was on duty. I don't believe I had PPD... just needed much more sleep, less crying and umm... a tiny bit of obedience and lack of mischief from our older two. I felt completely out of control of my emotions and family. My days started at 5:45 most mornings (after 1.5 hr intervals of sleep at a time all night) and felt like they spiralled out of control at oh, about 5:56am...  because of my exhaustion and trying to nurse what felt like 99% of the time because he was so picky about it, it was very hard to be consistent with the older two. And we all know how that works on behaviour.... sigh. While the baby cried, struggled in my arms (I believe he had silent reflux) and pulled the tiny hairs at the back of my neck (argh!!)... one of the older two (I'll let you guess) was getting into the toilet, dumping cheerios, smearing toothpaste on the couch, writing on the walls, and well... just about anything else you can think of. Oh, and climbing. EVERYTHING.  And the other? I felt like I was in a courtroom debate most of the time. "They were just adjusting to having a baby in the house..." you might say. I don't think so -- I think they were just hitting their next "stage" but I seemed unable to be on top of it properly.  Thankfully, while all this has been going on, they have been completely in love with their baby brother and I have seen not one ounce of impatience with him (even with *all the crying*!!) until recently... and that's just because he's now on the move and touching their towers and such ;)

Why am I "documenting" this? Certainly not for sympathy... but so I remember a tiny bit of how horrible it was and maybe have more sympathy for someone else in a similar situation down the road when my hands might be freed up a bit. Because, really, we do quickly forget. Already, since things are much better on the baby end of things, those first 5 months don't seem as dark as they did at the time. And that's only a few weeks ago... I understand now why I feel many moms of older kids don't quite get the stage I'm at... because, THANK THE LORD, we do mainly remember the highlights!

I wish I could say that I have been counting my blessings (need to get back to my gratitude journalling and numbering my gifts from God!), and that I have zeroed in on spiritual lessons taught and learned during this season. I have a friend in a similar season who is amazing at doing this, and I have been helped by her blog posts! But, that hasn't been my story. 

I am getting much more sleep now and little man is so much happier this past month... really, he's so cute and smiles very easily! The older two haven't change much (since they ARE still 2 yrs and almost 4 yrs old!), but I feel like I'm just in the crazy busy stage -- not necessarily in the dark. I think I'm crawling out of "the dark" and into a season of enjoying my littles again... even with the daily craziness... thank you Lord!

I'll leave you with this cute video from this week :)

PS. He needs an online name -- his initials don't really work! Any suggestions?? ;)

May 5, 2015

Baby Introduction!

So... 6 and a half months later, let me officially introduce our newest family member: Nathan Albert!

Born on October 18, 2014 at 8:19pm after 1 hour and 20 minutes of labour (apparently... since that's what is written on paper).  He weighed in at 8lbs 12 oz and was 22 inches long.  Nathan dropped 4 oz by day 3 but than gained 8 oz in the next 2 days to weigh in at 9 lbs on Day 5! He likes to eat... a family trait of ours. 

MJ and AJ are in love with him and adjusted very quickly. MJ was definitely the most affectionate -- dangerously so! ;) 

It seems that the more children you have, the less quality photos you take, and I'm already noticing the difference. I have very few hospital pictures (I guess we weren't there that long!) and that bothers me... but can't be changed now! Once AJ and MJ woke up Sunday morning, the pictures were a little chaotic with Nathan's life often in danger!  So, what you will see in these pictures is about the best we have from his first 24 hours!

We're so thankful Nathan arrived safely and healthy... we love our little man so much!

Leaving for the hospital at supper time... I had to call my man and AJ in from flying a kite to say it was time to go! I wasn't in tons of pain but learned my lesson from MJ's labour that when I started wondering if it was the real contractions, then we better get moving!

He's here!!

He cried more in the hospital than I remember AJ & MJ crying... 

Daddy's newest love

Tried wearing this lovely gown earlier but it was MASSIVE!!!! So they tried to give it to me again to wear afterward, but it was just too hilariously big...

My 2 midwives that had the honour of being on-call for my unorthodox delivery. Keeping details to a minimum: I'm in a beautiful new birthing room in the new maternity wing of our hospital, and..... little Nathan was born in the only room I was "comfortable" hanging out in -- the bathroom. Lovely. Classy.

Finding out all the birth stats

Getting ready for the trip home. He wasn't happy about being dumped into a seat, but fell asleep in the car thankfully.

Meeting Nana at home just before midnight.

So beyond thankful for this baby whisperer! 

Sunday morning -- the kids getting a glimpse of their new brother for the first time!

AJ: "Is THAT our new baby brother????!"

MJ: "Baby! Baby!"

So much love...

Introduction to Grandpa and Grandma via Skype -- little boy still nameless

Nathan's name is special for me.  Albert was my Grandfather's name and I pray that Nathan will grow up to be a man after God's heart and to live a life of generosity and hospitality right to the end... like my grandfather. He was a big man with a big personality and he gave every inch of his life to serve his God and to tell others of His Saviour.  Nathan was his father's name, so it's very much a family name! :)

May 3, 2015

One on One Time

I found this little post in my drafts and am so thankful to have this reminder of MJ almost a year ago! Not sure why I didn't post it... but posting it now for my own recollection in the future. She was 17  months old.

I try really hard to time their naps together in the afternoon… but on the rare day that it doesn’t work I’m reminded how special it is to have one-on-one time with a happy child… I usually get that with AJ in the mornings while MJ has her first nap, but rarely with MJ. Today because of morning fun with friends (I made it into the pool for the first time), her nap kind of happened over lunch, so she woke up minutes after AJ went down for his afternoon nap… at first I groaned, but then embraced our little one-on-one time… and it’s been so fun to enjoy her happy little self with out her big brother’s distractions! She’s enjoying all his toys outside without having to share and has the kiddie pool to herself… not to mention the cute little “conversations” she and I are having!

I don’t know if finding out that our next child is a boy has had anything to do with it, or if she’s just reaching that “more fun” stage… but I’m enjoying my little girl so much – big personality and all!  Sure, she does more drama crying and drama screaming when not getting her own way (we’re cracking down on that)… but I find her hilarious and she doesn’t even have words yet. She’s a big tease, imitator and loves to have fun. And music gets her moving every time… even if it’s not true music, like the um, smoke detector. Seriously… our oven and smoke detector have compatibility issues when the oven is heated past 350 if the fans aren’t on and windows open… it went off yesterday and MJ started bopping to the rhythm of the “beep”!

I just hope that when we’re back East, she’s her happy self so you can get to know the MJ I know too!