Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Things that keep me awake at night...

And I don't mean my husband or my kids....

Have you ever lain awake at night with your mind whirling processing stuff? Then tried to remember what it was in the morning, because it was really good stuff? That's where I am.

There was something about Paul...

Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

I wondered, being the language freak that I am, whether that word "of" might also be translated as "is". As in: the secret is being content. Have we spent so much time wondering what the secret is to being content that we forget that we can just choose to be content? On the other hand, as I read this morning, perhaps the secret is in verse 13. Being content comes from knowing that the one who gives me strength is bigger than the circumstances. Hmmm....

I think I was also running around the whole idea of suffering again...

When we're young(er) we tend to find ourselves in an idealistic mindset. Not a bad thing. But we come to God with full commitment of our hearts/selves. We wholeheartedly tell God that we want to be like Him (in character), with perhaps a few ideas of how that might happen, but not usually a firm grasp on what the process looks like. I think it looks like suffering. I think it doesn't look like the plans we make - even if they look like good ones.

Here's what it's looked like for me...

  • I met a guy and fell in love just before shipping off for a year to spend on missions. (hard)
  • I didn't go to the country I thought I was called to originally, but came back to work in the Canadian office and did work that was not what I was led to believe I'd be doing. (disappointing)
  • I had the roommate from Hell, and was basically told by my leaders to just take it. (disillusioning, and really hard)
  • My dad died before I got married. (hard) But he got saved a few months before that .(amazing!)
  • My mom didn't know to follow us to the wedding pictures and blamed me. (stress)
  • We've dealt with infertility for nearly 15 years now. (devastating)
  • We miscarried 4 1/2 years into the process. (rip out heart, stomp on it, question everything)
  • We adopted (YAY!!!) and discovered the unique(?) challenges of raising a special needs kid.(streeeeeeeeetchinnnnnggggg)
  • We added another one. (exponential stress)
  • We had an adoption fall through because the woman wasn't even pregnant. (questions....)
  • We've had housing changes and job moves, and all the insecurity that comes with them. (stress)

So... is God good? There was a time in there that I was actually arguing out of scripture that He wasn't. (Don't ask me what I was using.... I cannot possibly remember now). Now.... well,.... I'm fully convinced that all this was/is meant to serve a purpose in my life. It's one thing to say "Though you slay me, I will trust you Lord...", but another thing when the rubber actually meets the road. And something else completely when the road has gone on for so many years and He is still silent... I'm probably only just beginning to learn what it means to be slain - to die to all I thought I was/was going to be, to release expectations for my life, not to mention expectations of how He works.

I know that my roots go deeper now because my faith has been tested (that is - put to use, as opposed to seeing if it's there) and tried by fire. I have questioned - and am still questioning - and I know that He is not only big enough to take it, but welcomes the fight to make this faith my own. There have been times when I've had to step back from worship team because my wrestle didn't allow me to sing songs of his goodness with integrity. And I think He's honoured that.

He cares more about my character than about my comfort. And that's why I can look at the hard times and say that God is still good. Still? He is so good that He lays out my life with blessing and struggle. He makes me weak and strong at the same time. He is not so simple as to make things easy for us who believe and hard for those who don't. And does not only use tough times as a consequence of poor choices. Sometimes it's hard just because He loves us. He wants more for us than we can see. He calls us to maturity, and then lays the path for us to achieve it almost in spite of ourselves.

You can call me crazy if you want. You won't be the first. But I know of a young couple who recently had a serious change of plans. They were headed for something good because they want more of God. Now they are unable to follow that plan, and instead have something that looks like a bad thing, a struggle, to deal with. And while we do pray for release from this thing that looks bad (and it may be), I have a sneaking suspicion that what God has for them is really exactly what they were after. Just a different path. God is taking them deeper in ways they probably couldn't have gone by following the original plan.

Isn't He good?....

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Proud Mama

Another day of swimming lessons down, and I could just about burst with pride for my boys!

Yesterday their teacher was trying to get Matt to put his head under water and open his eyes. He hasn't really liked to get his face wet at all. He told her that he would try it tomorrow, and she said OK and left it.

Alright,... first you have to know that it is impressive that he was even able to find the words to tell her what he was thinking. I was blown away by that. People tend to think he's stupid because he doesn't answer questions right away - especially when he's not expecting them. So I can see that he's built up some trust in this teacher.

Which brings us to today. Today Matt followed through with what he said. He very gently lowered himself into the water and opened his eyes! We all praised him, and you could tell that he was SOOO proud of himself. On the way out of the pool he begged for us to go swimming tonight (which we did) just so he could show his dad what he could do...

Kelvin is doing so well that he should have been passed into the next class already (I think). Not bad for a kid who's never taken lessons before. He always wants to be the one to demonstrate skills, and if Matt's not sure what he's supposed to do Kelvin comes up and says "like this, Matt..." and demos it for him. My little fish-boy is such a neat kid!

Yep. I am one proud Mama.

Monday, August 22, 2005

New Look, New Name

Whooooooo Hoooooooo!!!!!

I'm tellin' ya... that Yvonne is some kinda artist.....

I found a picture I wanted to use here, and she made it into this incredibly beautiful new skin for me. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

However, the name "Chicken Stew" didn't really go with the new pic. So.... now I am taking you Down the Garden Path... or am I.... you decide....

Gotta run! Swimming lessons are calling!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Swimming Lessons

My boys are currently on their first round of swimming lessons. The interesting question would be who is learning more, me or them...

Kelvin is a water baby. He LOVES to be there. He gets distracted, but he tries everything his teacher asks. He just automatically believes he can swim since he can manage to dog paddle his way back to the side.

Matt hates to get his face wet. He is slow to transition. He's always turning around to look at me. He refuses to try anything that MIGHT involve getting his face wet - stating matter-of-factly "I can't".

Am I surprised? Well,....... not really. What surprises me is how annoyed I still get with him because of it. I know he could learn this stuff if he were willing to try. And I really believe he would enjoy being at the pool more (if that's even possible) if he had the skills to do stuff without his lifejacket on.

So.... my lesson? I'm not in control. I can't MAKE Matt try. I can't MAKE Kel acknowledge his need of instruction. I can encourage and remind, but I do not control them. They make their own choices. They are going to choose and live out their own consequences. My job? Teach when there's an opening. Repeat, repeat, repeat - but without that "*sigh***** I've told you this a hundred times already" tone in my voice. Pray hard. Validate them. And stop attaching my OWN value to their behaviour - aka results.

*Whoo!* I'm musing some of this stuff as I write here....

Hmmm.... Is God any less when I mess up? Uh.... nope. So.... when my kids are taking their time learning stuff does that make me less? Uh.... nope again. So....if I'm going to measure something, it should be my own response to their particular learning curves. That is something I actually can control. It's my response, right?

So the tricky question is.... how can I respond in such a way as to encourage the attempt, without forcing the issue, or appearing to force the issue?



Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Say What?!

I wish I could, but for the last three days I have been vocally challenged. My skills at charades have improved vastly, but my voice remains silent. And perhaps that's a good thing. For if I had my voice today I might have regaled Matthew with one of my favorite quotes from the immortal Apu Nahasapimapetalon :

"I can't believe you don't shut up!!"

Which is far more applicable than "Banana Bread! What were you thinking?!"


Now, I realize that my kid has some interesting wiring going on inside his head. I do try not to be overly subtle with him, or he'll miss the point. But some days even the direct "be quiet!!!" or "stop saying that!!!" is met with simple defiance. Even as he watches the time out minutes piling up while we're out for lunch, and even when he's serving that time after we get home, he still doesn't get it. Some days a simple 1-2-3 count is pretty much all it takes to stop bad behaviour, but not today. Today he sits in a restaurant and spits at me. He even threatened to bite me. When he is corrected he laughs and yells out to the world "My mom is a stupid mom! The one with the red shirt on! Hey everybody! My mom is stupid!" ( I wasn't even wearing red today...) What are you gonna do? You can't very well smack his bottom or duct tape his mouth shut. Not that it would work if you did....

No, you take a deep breath, search madly for the Advil you know you have somewhere and hope it will release you from the pain of the huge vein throbbing in your forehead. You decide that perhaps ordering in while you visit with an out-of-town aunt tonight would be better than going out. You pray for more grace. You give him the time out - knowing that he will likely fall asleep during it, and hope that he will have more control when he wakes.

And you come to the computer and blog all the stuff that your mouth is unable to say...

Do you think he'll ever get the idea that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?...