Uncategorized

It’s Been Quiet Around my Blog Lately…

Yes, it’s been quiet.  I know.  To go from faithfully posting once per week, to not writing in almost an entire month, may seem strange.

I’m under no illusions about the size of my following, but if I have left anyone hanging, I want to offer my humblest apologies.

I’ve been taking some time to sort things out in my own heart, and I’m not sure how long it will take.  I am still writing, but am not publishing anything right now and have left Facebook.

I’m still here, checking WordPress intermittently, if anyone wants or needs to chat.

Otherwise, I’ll continue my quiet season for as long as it takes, and do my best to enjoy it.

Drop me a line, if you like, and tell me how you’re doing!

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1a

Advertisements
Articles

5 Reasons Why I Blog

write

It has been four months now, since I published my first posts on this blog.  However, I have never taken the time to explain the reasons for its existence.  In doing so today, I hope to help my readers understand what they will find here, and why.

Here are 5 clear reasons that immediately come to my mind when I ask myself, “Why do I blog?”

  1. As a creative outlet

Before I began blogging, I was experiencing a great deal of frustration.  I felt as though I would quite possibly crawl out of my skin, if I did not find a creative outlet to punctuate my days.  In the past, I had played piano, crocheted, or done macramé.  However, all of these pursuits had ceased to satisfy.

It occurred to me, one day, to take my problem to the Lord in prayer.  If He cared, after all, about every detail of my life, wouldn’t he care about this (even though I thought it to be trivial)?  And if we are made in His image, and He is Creator, would He not understand my deep desire to also be creative?

Immediately, as I began to pray, the idea of writing popped into my head.  And not just writing, but also a direction: to take the raw material in my old journals – scriptures, and things the Lord had impressed upon me – and explain them in a way that would engage and encourage other people.  At once, my feelings of dissatisfaction were replaced with joy and excitement.  Blogging has been the endeavour that finally scratched my creative itch.

  1. For self-care

The second reason I am listing flows out of my first.  It is not for lack of work to do, that I pursue a hobby.  It is to fill a need that I have to be creative.  In doing so, I feel more content, and am better equipped to complete the other tasks that beg for my attention.  I’ve heard some women say about a day spent at the spa: “This makes me a better mom.”  Writing, for me, serves the same purpose.  It relieves and energizes me, thereby increasing my ability to be patient and kind in the rest of life.  At its best, self-care is not about being selfish.  It is about helping yourself, so that you can help others.

These days, it seems rare for anyone to have ‘spare time’ on their hands for things like hobbies.  We are very skilled at filling our schedules.  However, if self-care is never a priority, a person will eventually run out of steam.  This may result in emotional outbursts, depression, or exhaustion.  I know this from experience!  (You probably do too.)

self care

  1. To minister to others

A big motivator for me in creating a blog, is the possibility that others may benefit from reading it.  Having a positive impact on another person makes life worth living.  There are many things I cannot do for others, but writing is one thing I can do.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35b

My experiences and the things I write about may be unremarkable.  However, I believe that someone, out there, needs to read them.  There have been times of struggle in my life, when I would have loved to hear the stories of people in similar situations.   Much can be learned from those who have walked a path before you.  Knowing that others have experienced similar feelings as you can help to defeat loneliness and hopelessness.  Although in my past I had searched for this kind of resource, it was very difficult to find.  If my blog can be that for even one person, it will be worth my effort.

Any experience or hardship in my life can become a story to engage and encourage another person.  A source of common ground – though our paths may otherwise be different.

holding hands

  1. As a form of worship

God has done amazing things in my life.  His fingerprints are everywhere, and my blog is a witness to that fact.  It is not uncommon for me to cry tears of thankfulness as I put the finishing touches on a post.  As I write, I am reminded of God’s powerful ministry in my life, and the impact of His thoughts towards me becomes more deeply settled upon my spirit.  In taking the time to record these experiences, I am filled with greater love for Him.

“How precious to me are your thoughts, God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.”  Psalm 139:17-18

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.”  Psalm 66:16

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

  1. To work towards a dream

As crazy as it may seem, one of my girlhood dreams – ever since devouring all those L.M. Montgomery books – has been to one day write and publish a book.  Blogging provides a great experimental arena in which to toss out material and see how readers respond.  What do they like?  What are they looking for?

Another great thing about blogging (and online writing groups) is that I don’t have to write alone.  As a teen, I was the only one I knew with this weird hobby.  Now, however, I can engage in discussions with other writers, read their work, and have them read mine.  I can give and receive feedback, and hopefully improve my writing.

Although the Lord has taught me to hang on to dreams such as this one loosely (you can read about that here), He hasn’t told me to stop dreaming altogether.  Dreams give your life a sense of momentum.  They inspire growth.  They always lead you somewhere!  Even if it isn’t where you thought you’d end up.

"Follow Your Dreams"

These 5 reasons guide my writing and shape the content that you will find on my blog.  It will not be of interest to everyone, but if it is of interest to you, I invite you to come along, drop me a line, and connect with me in one way or another.

Why do you blog?

How do you do self-care?

Where is God leading you?

What is your dream?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Articles

God Loves Moms (Even Scary Ones)

chocolate bar
My chocolate bar was almost this big.  But I wasn’t wearing lipstick, and my nails weren’t nearly this pretty.

Recently I had what I would call a “scary mom” day.  Those of you who are moms may identify (I can almost see you, nodding grimly).  My family was in the process of moving from one house to another, and both were basically in shambles.  Nothing was where it should be, the dishes were stacked high, and the clothes were either dirty, piled in laundry baskets, or abandoned in displaced drawers stacked loosely on the floor.

My boys squabbled all morning, and my oldest refused to board the bus.  This is an issue we’ve been dealing with for a couple of years now.  As I yelled at him from the garage like some kind of crazy woman, and later attempted to wrestle him onto the bus while holding my toddler out of traffic, I wondered why I couldn’t think of a better way to handle the situation.  I also imagined the thoughts of my new neighbours.  Oh well.  May as well let them see the real thing, sooner rather than later!

I drove my seven year old to school and came back home.  Emotionally drained, I put my two year old in his bed for an early nap, and hit the bath tub (my remedy for anything that goes wrong, ever).  It relaxed me somewhat, but I needed more.  I hauled out the yoga pants, and stretched them comfortably around my mummy tummy.  Almost there.  But if I was to survive the day, I needed one more thing.  I knew exactly what it was.  It nagged at me from the back of my brain in a visceral kind of way.

Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Normally, coffee was my fuel, but today I needed an extra little zap.  So I could drive back to the other house, and fill another carload.

The thought of the chocolate energized me.  I fed my two year old his lunch, tossed a few empty boxes into the car, and we made our way to Superstore.  I worried that, in this smallish community, I’d bump into someone I knew.  They’d see me – frazzled, frizzy hair, yoga pants, and all, canvassing the candy aisle for the largest Dairy Milk bar I could find.  Maybe I should just sneak into a little gas station.  (Ah, but Superstore’s so much cheaper!)

“Oh well,” I thought.  Just let them ask me what’s up, and I’d gladly explain that my survival, and that of my family, hinged desperately upon the chocolate bar I was about to purchase. Maybe I was finally old enough to stop caring about what other people think.  Or maybe, I had just been a mom long enough.

I purchased the chocolate, carried my son to the car, and strapped him into his seat.  As I sat down and put the car in reverse, I glanced in my rear view mirror.  There was a well-groomed man walking toward the store entrance.  His hair looked like it had been cut days ago.  He was dressed in a fine-looking, well-tailored, and stylish suit.  Probably on his lunch break from work.

“Must be nice,” I thought sourly.  Here I was, jealous even of the men who spent more time and expense on their appearance than I did.  I thought about my sad, ugly, (and downright scary) state as I drove away, chewing on giant chunks of chocolate.  I thought about how, years ago, I would get up in the morning and get ready for work.  I would put on some decent clothes, and makeup.  I had a nice haircut.  I’d put mousse in my hair and blow-dry it so it would look curly.  Why did I only give myself a right to those things if I worked at a job with a paycheque?

I gulped coffee from my travel mug, drowning out the wave of sugar.  The Dairy Milk was hitting a little hard.  But I liked it.

Settling deeper into my seat, I wondered if I should turn my thoughts to something more positive.  Immediately, three words sprang to my mind, as if they had been waiting in the wings and finally been given permission to come out.

“God loves moms.”  I had written it in my journal, a couple of years ago.

Hmmph.  I snorted.  Did He even love scary moms?  Like the one I had become?

Thinking back, I recalled the verses that had prompted me to journal this little revelation:

“How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!” Matthew 24:19

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11

In the first verse I quoted, Jesus is describing people fleeing from their homes in the end times.  This may seem a strange place to go for encouragement.  However, what had struck me about the verse, is that the first people Jesus worried about were the moms.  The moms of young children.

In the second verse I quoted, the prophet Isaiah describes God as a shepherd, and His people as sheep.  Special mention is made of the young lambs, and their mothers.  They have a unique place in the Shepherd’s heart.  He carries the babies, and gently leads their moms.

For me, discovering these verses had been like mining gold.  Because, it can be hard to find relatable stuff in the Bible when you’re neck deep in the grime of daily life, trying to figure out how to handle your child’s tantrums in a godly way.

I arrived at our old home and filled the car to its roof.  By the time we were ready to leave, my toddler had colored his nose and cheeks all over with those scented markers that were strewn all over the floors.  I smiled.  How could he resist?  They smelled SO good!  His hands were covered in something black and oily from outside, so I washed them up at the sink.

We got into the car and pulled away.  My thoughts wandered back to the stuff in my old journal, and I tried to think of other moms in the Bible.  There were Rebekah, and Hannah, who had been barren, but the Lord had compassion on them and gave them children.  There was Ishmael’s mom Hagar, who wandered in the desert alone with her son, after being given the heave-ho by Abraham and Sarah.  (What a blotch in biblical history this mom got to be a part of!)  But there, near death, she encountered a divine visitor who saved their lives and guaranteed a future for Ishmael.  Then I thought about the widow, whose son was raised from the dead by the prophet Elijah.  And if I were to search more in those ancient pages, I would find other examples of all kinds of moms, all of whom God loved and provided for.

“Yes,” I concluded, “God loves moms.”  All kinds of moms.  Good moms, bad moms, barren moms, single moms, married moms, widowed moms, divorced moms.  Even scary moms, like me.

“Momming” can be hard.  But if I’m really honest, I do like it.  Even with the frizzy hair.  And I know that the Lord sees me struggle.  He worries about me; He carries my babies; He leads me gently.  He can open a barren womb.  He can give a good future to people who feel hopeless.  He can even raise the dead.

I unloaded the car, and picked up my seven year old at his bus stop.  He’d had a decent day, after all.  And so had I.

“She (Hagar) gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'” Genesis 16:13

Articles

Have You Been Hurt by God?

woman_staring_into_distance_thinking_pondering_theorizing_miniRecently, I took my boys on our last walk through the forest trails that used to form our backyard.  As they thoughtfully explored their surroundings, I fought a lump in my throat.  A few tears may have even dropped.

20180825_173450

Since that day, we have moved to a different home in a small city.  Although we now see God’s timely provision in our circumstances, and things have turned out well, it was very difficult for me to leave our other home.  It was more than just a house.  It was the fulfillment of our dreams – a gift, we felt, from God.

But in the five and a half years that we lived there, things changed.  We grew in our walks with God and even became happier.  The funny thing is, however, that although our spiritual riches increased, there was a downturn in our earthly riches.  We came to realize that financial concerns would push us out the door.

We asked the Lord, “Why did you give us this wonderful home in the first place, if you knew we wouldn’t be able to afford to stay?”  To be quite honest, I felt hurt.  Wounded, even, by God Himself.  And it wasn’t the first time in my life that I felt this way.

I don’t think I am the only one who has felt hurt by God.  In fact, I know that many, many people – to whom a simple change of address will seem trivial and benign – have experienced far greater pains and disillusionment than I.  What’s worse: God has allowed this pain.  He doesn’t seem to be doing a thing about it.

We could find several examples in the Bible of people who could identify.  Job is an obvious one.  However, another that springs to my mind is John the Baptist.  Of him, the Lord required imprisonment, and a brutal and pointless death.  This, after he had spent his life preparing others to receive Jesus’ ministry.  In the end, he barely got to see a glimpse of it.  I can hear his disappointment in the following message sent to Jesus from prison:

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matthew 11:2b

In response, Jesus sends a report of what He has been doing among the people: giving physical healings, raising the dead, and encouraging the poor.  And then He says:

“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” Matthew 11:6

Basically, his response to John is – “Everyone else is benefitting right now, but you are not.  I hope that you will stay true even though I’m not giving you what you expected.”  It’s not that Jesus didn’t value all that John had done, or that He didn’t care about him.  In the verses that follow, He commends the man for his prophetic ministry (Matthew 11:7-19).  And after He hears about John’s death, His first inclination is to withdraw “by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13).  I believe that He would have felt immense grief over the murder of John, His cousin.

Sometimes, the Lord requires us to make a sacrifice.  While it is happening, the reason may not seem clear.  All we know, is that God requires it.  And as Abraham, climbing Mount Moriah with his son Isaac, “reasoned that God could raise the dead” (Hebrews 11:19a), we remember that God is larger than our finances, our houses, our health, our very lives.  We rely on our history with God, our knowledge of His goodness, and our experiences of His love, when He requires things of us that we do not understand.

In my life, I feel God’s presence most keenly during times of sorrow.  He is close to the brokenhearted.  As I walked those trails with my boys, I was sad, but I also felt deeply comforted.  The Holy Spirit was so near, I could almost feel His arm around me.  It was as though, if I turned quickly enough, I might see Him there, walking beside me.  He is good, and He loves me.  If it is for His sake that I give up a dream, my answer is yes – 1,000 times yes.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Have you been hurt by God?

Has He asked you to give up a dream?

Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Turing Test” by Emmaline Smith

turing-test-cover2

One of the experiences I’ve been pleasantly surprised by, since I started blogging, is finding a vibrant online community of people who love literary things, just like me.  One such person is Emmaline Smith.  She recently gave me a sneak peek at her new book entitled “The Turing Test.”  I enjoyed it at my desk, coffee in hand, during my son’s nap.  It read smoothly and briskly, with several story threads that seemed to weave themselves together nicely as the book progressed.

The main character, Eden, is given an opportunity through her workplace to program an artificial intelligence personality named Jessie to be as life-like as possible.  Though she is unaware of the malevolent purposes for which it will be used, she eventually discovers this by accident.  Nonetheless, she ‘teaches’ the computer program words, phrases, facial expressions, and other tactics by which it can cause people to feel connected and listened to, all with the goal of manipulating and exploiting them.  As the story progresses, we realize that Eden, following in her now-absent father’s footsteps, is a pro at these very same things.  Just like Jessie, the computer program, Eden uses her knowledge about people to influence them in a robotic sort of way.  Her relationships with others are not authentic, or genuine.  Rather, she is preying on weaknesses in order to increase her own success, appease people, or get what she wants.  As the book comes to a close, Eden’s carefully scripted life is starting to unravel.  Her love interest sees through the façade, and wants nothing to do with it.  Her attempts to leverage the unethical situation at work to her advantage are failing, and she may be in real trouble.

The book leaves off at a cliff-hanger moment, and I felt that another few chapters could have been written to bring it to a more satisfactory close.  It left me wanting more!  I wondered what would come of Eden, how she would handle the various situations she had found herself in, and what decisions she would end up making.  However, Emmaline has suggested a sequel, so I’ll look forward to reading that.

I think this book would be enjoyed by younger women, and perhaps teen girls as well.  The plot moves with momentum, and touches on a variety of relevant themes in an extremely non-preachy way.  There is enough romance to add interest, without it becoming sappy or encompassing the entire story.

I would have interest in how Emmaline may develop one particular theme, which was suggested by a passing encounter between Eden and an old high-school friend who has unexpectedly had a child.  Although they studied math together in the past, they now lead sharply contrasting lives – the friend working as a waitress to support her child, and Eden experiencing the success (and stress?) of career and the freedom (and loneliness?) of singleness.  Might they rekindle their friendship?  What could they learn from each other?

Many thanks to Emmaline Smith for sharing her story with me and making my coffee break significantly more interesting.  She is a gifted story teller and I look forward to reading more of her work!

Poetry

Boxes

Close-up of a young man's hand holding a cardboard box

I dreamed of nights, watching stars

Boys building forts in woods

Wandering late, outside with friends

Coming and going, children on bikes

 

Tell me again, you’ll like your new room

Tell me again, you like the green walls

Don’t forget the hours we spent

On the roads, in the woods, in your old room

 

Tired from morning’s play

Grilled cheese, a nap, a bubble bath

Impromptu concerts, dance parties

Paints and sparkles and mopping floors

A snack at the counter, waiting for Dad

 DSC_0259

Tell me, moments, not captive by walls

Or locked away by closing doors

“It’s just a house,” it’s not a box

Of dearest things: dusty pictures, quiet dreams

 

If they could stick, I’d carry them

Bring them please: I may forget

They do not fit, in my boxes and bins

Misplaced, with things outgrown

Hold them for me, if I must let go

 

Building lives

Between green walls

Filling boxes, to empty and fill

With dusty pictures, and quiet dreams

 

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.'” John 14:1-4

“Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll – are they not in your record?” Psalm 56:8

Articles

The Point of Purity

Recently, as I perused writing blogs, I stumbled upon a short story and thought I’d give it a try.  The writer had a vivid, engaging style that kept me reading.  Eventually, however, the content got a little racy.  But I was hooked, and read it to the end.  I wish I hadn’t.  It was like that disturbing movie I know I should turn off, but keep on watching…who knows why?  Then, it haunts me until late at night, and I can hardly sleep.

Many people would call me sheltered.  My parents taught me biblical morals, and I grew up going to church.  However, there comes a place in life where remaining on this path becomes a personal choice.  There were times when I could have gone a different way, and didn’t.  There were times when I did, and then regretted it.

No matter what home you grow up in, you will likely be tantalized with substances, sex, and many other things from the time you are barely old enough to comprehend them.  They infiltrate school yard conversations, social get-togethers, the workplaces, and even the classrooms.  Media sources – television, internet, billboards, movies, books, music, and the like – are laden with them.

And besides, it often looks like fun.  So why would anyone want to pursue purity, anyway?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

It was my seven year old son who, inadvertently, clarified my answer to this question.  I’ve often quoted a little phrase to him: “Garbage in, garbage out.”  Meaning, if you feed your brain garbage, it will affect what you do, what you believe, how you talk, and who you are.  And the reverse is also true: if you feed it good stuff, good things will come out of you.

garbage_in__garbage_out_by_red_peril-d4t36j8

One day, however, he gave me his spin on the concept.  “No, mom,” he said confidently,  “it’s the other way around.  It’s ‘garbage in, good stuff out.'”

It took me a few moments to comprehend what he was saying.  But when I did, I realized his words were packed with wisdom.  The more we fill ourselves with the impure, the less room there is for the pure.  They are opposing forces.  They can’t live together.  They repel each other, like the similar poles of two magnets.

magnetic-repulsion-300x148

“For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14b

If the impure drives away the pure, and we want our lives to be inhabited by the Holy Spirit, it makes sense that we would do our best to eradicate involvement with the things He cannot stand.   Moreover, as you grow to love the Lord, the things that bother Him, will also begin to disturb you.

God cares about right and wrong.  He does not tolerate shade after shade of grey until what you are dealing with is outright evil.  He will not live in a filthy house.  This is why, in Moses’ day (before the atoning work of Christ), there were so many stipulations about what was clean and unclean, and in certain situations people were sent outside the camp until they could become ceremonially clean again.  I can’t help but chuckle as I read the book of Leviticus.  Sometimes I wonder, were there more people outside the camp than in?
'Don't jump to conclusions, Mom... looks can be deceiving.'

“For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’

‘“Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord.  “Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”’  ‘“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.’

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Corinthians 6:16b-7:1

However, no matter how long you’ve lived outside the camp, or how far you’ve gone down the other road, you can still turn back to God.  He will meet you where you are.  He knows that you are not perfect!  That’s what the blood is for.

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29 (emphasis added)

And you won’t be kissing your good times good bye.  If God created you, then He created you in all the fullness of your deepest longings, feelings, joys, and desires.  So don’t throw the baby out with the murky bathwater!  Seek Him for pure answers to your needs and wants.  Because His desire is that we have life to the full and joy that is complete (John 10:10; 15:11).

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8