Posted in Friday Rambles

Hindsight’s 20/40

((Today’s “Friday Ramble” is less of a ramble, and more of a poem.¬† I had some metaphors and words rolling around in my head, and thought they would fit better this way.¬† I love the succinctness of poetry!))

 

Looking back, I see shapes

And not the little details

Overall trends, and in-the-ends

While finer lines have blurred

 

The way I was raised,

How others behaved,

Near misses and near hits.

My own mistakes, humility

Driving me to this:

 

Losing my vision, forgetting the things

That put me on my high horse

Far-sighted eyes, the gift of age

Compromise, to set the stage

For “West from East,”

Far side of the sea –

Forgiveness, they say.

The very best way.

 

A little bit blind

A lot forgetful

Far sighted, and deaf, and possibly dumb

After it all, I’m thankful

 

What about you?  As you get older, do you find yourself losing your hearing, vision, or memory Рliterally or metaphorically?  Is it becoming easier or harder to forgive?  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Monday Meditations

Papa’s Delight

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?¬† The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?¬† When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.¬† Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” Psalm 27:1-3

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.¬† Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37: 4

Sometimes, it feels like the odds are stacked against us.  Circumstances, or people, are standing in the way of good things happening in our lives.  Do we dare even hope for anything?  Or do we just hang on as best we can until we get to Heaven?

Yes, the Bible promises that we will have trials and hardships in our lives.¬† But it is also biblical to hope for the goodness of the Lord, “in the land of the living” – that is, in¬†this life.

God has made us with unique desires.¬† He knows what it is that we are longing for, and has the keys to our true fulfillment.¬† One of these keys is offered in Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

How may we delight ourselves in the Lord?  One way is to believe that He truly loves us, including our specific qualities, which He has designed.

To do this, we may simply ask God in prayer: “What do you love about me?”

Perhaps something will pop into your mind.  If it does, try not to judge whatever it is, and simply jot it down.

Here is an example of what came to mind for me: Creative energy.

The second question I asked Him was, “How may I use this for good?”

And the answer came: Prepare for Christmas Рshop for gifts; wrap gifts; bake cookies; decorate.  And keep writing.  Anything and everything.

This answer came with an addendum: Do it for me.  I imagined God as a proud Papa, beaming over something His child had created or done for Him:

Look at this!  My daughter made it.  She made it for me.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.¬† It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

It is so easy for us to forget, when circumstances and people come against us, that God loves us deeply, as a good Father loves His kids.  But it is tapping into this love, and what it means for us personally, that will fill our lives with the joy that we long for so deeply.

Response

Heavenly Father, please forgive me, for doubting that you love me and desire good for me.  Help me to find joy in doing the things you made me to do.  May I present them to you, that I would see you beam with love for me.

Thank you for affirming me, Lord, and helping me to delight in you.  Amen.

Posted in Friday Rambles

Moms are People Too!

Recently, I took a break from household and childminding duties to watch an educational video about music therapy.¬† It felt like a breath of fresh air.¬† Not because of any ground-breaking content, but because it had been so long since I was in my ‘element.’¬† So long since I had heard someone speaking my language – talking about the area I had studied and worked in.¬† I felt a scholarly and professional comradery with the video-taped members of the audience, despite my vast removal from them, as a stay-at-home-mom who no longer works in that field.

After watching the speech and taking notes on it, I felt as though something had come alive in me again.  Something I had been ignoring.  But why had I neglected that part of myself for so long?

Having unique interests, and allowing yourself time and freedom to explore them, is a part of what it means to have healthy personal boundaries.  A person with healthy boundaries will also:

  • Have their own opinions, without fearing what others will think – and will respect the rights of others to do the same.
  • Have a unique identity (sense of self) that is not consumed by any one particular role, or person.
  • Know that their value is innate, and not dictated by what they do or how other people view them.
  • See their personality as valid and overall good, rather than berating themselves (for being too shy and quiet, perhaps; or, too loud and exhuberant).¬† They will also enjoy and respect the personalities of other people.
  • Be aware of their own feelings, and take personal responsibility for them.¬† (See this post.)

In short, a person with healthy boundaries will respect him or herself, and also be respectful of others.

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Cultivating a healthy sense of personal boundaries is a skill that does not come naturally to everyone.  Perhaps you grew up in an enmeshed family, where these unique aspects of who you are were not nurtured.  Instead, you were expected to change or hide them in order to please other members of the family.

If this is the case, the same tendencies¬†may continue into adulthood.¬† For moms of young children (a role that can be all-consuming), the topic of personal boundaries may be of particular importance.¬† I’ve¬†heard moms say that they have forgotten who they are.¬† I would tend to identify with this statement.¬† Our responsibility to love and care for our children is essential for their well-being.¬† However, it is better (for ourselves¬†and our children) that we also retain some sense of self, apart from being moms.¬† In this way, we will avoid using our kids to meet our own emotional needs.¬† We will also show them the example of a parent who enjoys her life, is able to care about others, and makes unique and positive contributions within the family and beyond.¬† That is an example I would like my kids to follow!

We’re allowed to have individual interests and opinions.¬† We’re allowed to say ‘no,’ and ‘stop.’¬† We can be ourselves: our personalities are valid and acceptable just as they are.¬† We each have failings but are not condemned by them, because we can receive forgiveness and are able to grow in character.

To develop this in my own life, I am becoming more aware of my wants, likes, and dislikes.¬† I even express them verbally from time to time.¬† I’m trying to be ok with standing in a crowd.¬† (Even if I feel awkward or funny looking.)¬† I’m researching educational and career options within the realities of my life.¬† I’m trying not to berate myself for the things I cannot do.¬† Rather, I am focusing on the things I do well.

For whatever reason, God wanted one of me.  So here I am.

What have you lost yourself in?  If you are a mom, how do you retain your sense of identity?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Note:¬† If you are interested in learning more about personal and relational boundaries, I would recommend consulting the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.¬† It is the source of much of what I have learned on the topic.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

 

Posted in Monday Meditations

Freed to Love

((*Note: In the past I shared recipes and printables on Mondays.¬† However, moving forward, I would like to share a meditation from my devotions instead.¬† I will try to post as many Mondays as I can but can’t guarantee that I won’t miss a few!¬† Hope you enjoy.))

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5

Loving others can be hard.¬† Sometimes I don’t have the emotional reserve for it.¬† I’m too tired, stressed, worried, or depressed.¬† The weight of my own burdens is so heavy, that I don’t have strength to even think or care about what other people are going through.

1 Timothy 1:5 gives a clue as to how we may find the strength to love others.  In this verse Paul says that love comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

What is the common thread through each of these points?

Honesty.

A pure heart – An honest heart that is truly and intently focused on pleasing God.¬† A person with a pure heart still won’t behave perfectly.¬† However, they will turn from their sin quickly and humbly repent of it before God.

A good conscience РIf you are honest about your sins and failings before God, He will cleanse you of them.  You will not be weighed down by your sins any longer or the emotional burdens that they cause.  You will be more truthful with other people about who you are, including your weaknesses Рbecause by the grace of Jesus you are no longer condemned or held hostage by them.  A good conscience feels light, and free, and will be given to anyone who asks.  This is nothing short of miraculous.

A sincere faith – Do you actually trust the Lord?¬† Is your faith in Him sincere?¬† Or do life’s troubles bring you to a state of depression and worry?¬† If you entrust your life confidently to the Lord, acknowledging that He will replace your anxiety and sadness with victory and joy, your emotional burdens will be lightened.¬† Then, you will be able to shift your focus to others.

Response

Jesus, please forgive me for not believing you with a faith that is sincere.  For holding on to depression and worry, rather than entrusting my troubles confidently to you.

Lord, I give you my day and all the challenges that will come with it.  I choose to believe that you will bring me victory and joy in place of anxiety and depression.  Please strengthen the sincerity of my faith, that my emotional resources could be freed for love and service.  Amen.

Posted in Friday Rambles

Because it Hurts

The reason it’s hard to take pictures and videos of my kids, knowing the fullness of the moment could never be captured and I will miss something of it by hiding behind my camera or phone.¬† And, the reason it’s even harder to view them later, feeling an acute sense of loss over the passing of time.

It’s the reason that, though I want to write down every moment and record it just as it happens, I can’t bring myself to do it, knowing I will inevitably miss things or record them wrong.¬† And the reason that later, I avoid reading what I’ve written.

Because it hurts.¬† We cannot hang on to the way things were, or even the way they are right now.¬† I’ve heard¬†it said that the only constant in life is change.¬† Perhaps I have become more aware of this since having children, because they (and thus the family’s experience) change so rapidly.¬† There’s no going back; every moment is a fleeting one.

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It’s also the reason, that we keep busy enough to distract ourselves from the passing of time.¬† A decade may be over in a blink, without much thought or reflection.¬† From a short-term perspective, it’s easier this way.¬† Eventually, though, the feelings we have ignored may catch up with us.¬† When the kids move out, perhaps.¬† When we sell the house.¬† Or retire.¬† Or when death approaches.¬† A large, jarring change yanks us from the steady rhythm of our lives, and suddenly, we become aware of 1000+ minor adjustments that have led to this point.¬† Maybe this is partly why we cry at momentous occasions, when we are forced to stop and take notice: graduations, weddings.¬† Births.¬† Funerals.

I used to work with elderly people in personal care homes.  Depression there was rampant, because time had caught up.  Things were not the way they were.

And, no, they’re not.¬† They never are.¬† They never will be again.¬† They are, in a way,¬†lost.

And that, I believe, is what hurts so badly.

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But according to what the Bible teaches, God is outside of time.  He created it, and is therefore not bound by it.  He counts our hairs, and saves our tears, and writes down the times of our lives in His book Рjust like I try to do with my kids.

This softens the blow, when I view a photo or read something from years ago, and feel that sharp pang of loss.  It gives me the courage to continue recording, in my meager way, the history of my family.

Although the joy of our earthly moments may diminish, change, or dissipate the moment we glance away, these moments are also important to God.  And He remembers them all.

They are not lost.  They are entrusted, to the One who gave them, in the first place.

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30

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

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.¬† There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”¬† Revelation 21:4

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16b

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.¬† I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

Do you find it painful to reminisce?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Friday Rambles

On Life as a (Severely) Introverted Mother

“On the last day of a golden summer…”

I remember with a smile those words, which began a Winnie the Pooh video (on VHS) that I used to watch as a child.

As a youngster, the end of summer was an emotionally intense time for me Рfraught with both melancholy and nervous excitement.  Though summer was over, the fall would bring new experiences, responsibilities, and opportunities.

To process these feelings, I would slip away by myself.  I grew up in a house at the end of a long country road, which diminished to a set of tracks beyond our driveway turn-off.  The only ones who ever ventured down those tracks were the farmers who owned the land where they ended, the odd vehicle that had lost its way (or was up to no good), and myself.  If I were lucky, the farmer had made a few hay bales and left them laying around.  They were challenging to climb, and a conquest to sit on.  From the top, I could see across the fields.  The pasture had a few small rolling hills, which were odd and beautiful to my prairie-accustomed eyes.

There, atop the bales, beyond my parents’ property line, I felt independent and free.¬† Free to think, write, or imagine anything I wanted.¬† I loved the solitude.

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Now, at the end of my 35th summer, I wish I could go back there.  Just for an hour or two.  I miss being able to retreat to a solitary place whenever I want or need to.  As a mom of rambunctious boys, it can be hard to deal with my introverted nature.  The inescapable, dawn-to-dusk clamour of children, as wonderful as it is, has the potential of driving me to madness.

Today I have mostly sat, drunk coffee, watched my children play, broken up fights, prepared their meals, and fetched things for them.¬† Somewhere in between, I put in a load of dishes and helped to pick up toys in the basement.¬† I read a chapter of the Bible, broken up into several sections of about 5 verses each (because of constant interruptions), and journalled a short prayer.¬† I have not been industrious in any way.¬† I’ve done the minimum.

It sounds like I’m being lazy.¬† But in my mind, I’m just trying to stay sane.¬† Sometimes when I have work projects on the go, I need to stop every 2-5 minutes to tend to something with the children.¬† Hours or days of this will leave me feeling frazzled, at the very least.

So every once in a while, when I feel that I’m starting to get batty, I allow myself a day of¬†only just getting by.¬† I complete the necessary duties, and let the others fall by the wayside.¬† In between the children’s events, I attempt to settle my mind, and process my emotions.¬† I know that at any moment, my stillness could be disturbed – and that needs to be ok.¬† However, each interruption will delay my ability to switch back into “work mode.”¬† (I suppose this is why it usually takes an entire day.)

As an adolescent, a friend once told me that I “think a lot.”¬† I tried to explain by likening the process to cleaning out our desk drawers at school.¬† After sorting them through, organizing them, and throwing out the junk, we are able to work more efficiently.

And that’s what I’ve been doing today.¬† Writing this post, actually, is a part of it.¬† As I complete these paragraphs, I experience a sense of relief.

Can anyone relate?  Are there other severely introverted moms out there?  How do you cope?

I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Friday Rambles

The Night the Sky had Eyes

“Has eyes,” he said to me in his lispy, somewhat garbled, 2-year-old speech.¬† I leaned on the side of his air mattress and peered up through the screened ceiling of our tent, trying to gain his perspective.¬† Tree branches arched overtop,¬†and¬†twilit sky shone through their leaves, producing a mottled effect.¬†¬†Two or three¬†stars¬†began to wink as the daylight faded.

“What has eyes, honey?¬† The sky?¬† The trees?¬† The stars?¬† No, they don’t have eyes.¬† I have eyes, see?¬† And you do.¬† But they don’t.”

“Has eyes,” he repeated in a whisper, tilting his head.

Whatever it was that ‘had eyes,’ it was sufficiently worrisome to prevent him from going to sleep.¬† And so it was decided, between my husband and I, to head outside and put the fly over the tent.¬† The air may have been perfect for a breeze, and the sky for gazing, but we would sacrifice them to avoid¬†having to deal with¬†a sleep-deprived toddler in the morning.

Throughout¬†the camping trip, it was apparent that our young son had a decidedly unique way of viewing his experiences.¬† On the way to the campground, the old Ukrainian orthodox churches we passed, with their onion-shaped steeples, were ‘castles.’¬† The distant silhouette of¬†trees against the horizon, appearing to move backwards as we drove past, was a ‘train.’

And perhaps the most surprising event came later on, at the beach.  I was pulling him to the shore after holding him up in the deeper water, when his feet brushed against the sandy bottom of the shallows.  He immediately flew into hysterics, screaming loudly and pulling his knees to his chest.  His facial expression and the calibre of his voice portrayed a terror that could not have been simulated.

“It’s okay, put your feet down!¬† That’s just the shore!” I called above the clamour he was making.¬† However, my words, to him, were empty.¬† The squishy, yet firm and somewhat slimy surface he had bumped into was most assuredly, in his mind, some horrific entity.¬† A giant fish, perhaps.¬†¬†Or a sea creature.¬† It was going¬†to eat him…or worse.

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We couldn’t help but laugh about¬†our son’s¬†reaction to something as harmless as a sandy shore.¬† And yet, I wonder if I am much different.

Like a scared child, I bump up against things I don’t understand.¬† I imagine things that aren’t there.¬† I over-estimate the power that they have.

Life is terrifying.  Am I the only one who thinks that?

But a voice, like a parent, calls above my chaotic thoughts.¬† Though I can’t always hear Him above my own screams, He holds me up when I’m too afraid to put my feet down.

I reach for this presence, when I cannot see the end of some enormous threat.¬† His sight is clear, and His demeanor is calm.¬† He doesn’t fault me for my silliness, weakness, or even my lack of trust.¬† He won’t drop me, just because I act like the toddler that I am.

Who or what do you reach for when you’re afraid?¬† I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa