Posted in Mental health, Parenting

A Little Break from the Psalms and Personal Update

It’s difficult for me to believe that we are already one week into the “Praying the Psalms” series. I’ve been enjoying it, and have appreciated everyone who has either stopped by, left a like or two, or even joined in on the praying or left a prayer request or comment. When I began this series, I wasn’t sure what kind of engagement I would get. Would I be praying all by myself? Would I be annoying my followers by suddenly inundating their feeds? Would they find it to be too much religion and unfollow me?

Whatever the case, I knew it would be a worthwhile exercise, even if it were all-by-my-lonesome. But the modest engagement I have seen is such a blessing. So, thank you.

It did occur to me, however, that too many of the same kind of posts all at once may start to feel a little impersonal. I don’t want my blog to sound like a computer-generated algorithm. So I thought I would take a little break and update you on what’s been going on in my tiny section of the very cold world we have found ourselves in here in Manitoba.

The week went by fairly quickly, partly because of doing this series, and partly because of an excursion I took with my boys to my sister’s place. Her property is on a particularly quiet section of the Lee River. The shores are rocky; the waters are deep, cold and clean (and presently frozen, of course); and the evergreens are tall (by Manitoba standards, anyway). While we were there, the temperature rose for a couple of days to the range of -14 to -17 degrees Celsius, which feels warm compared to the steady -25 to -35 range we have been seeing in this latest cold snap. So we were able to spend some time outdoors, which we mostly spent sledding (aka tree-dodging) and keeping warm by the fire.

While there, my boys were unusually calm. I’m not sure if that was because of the fires to build, dogs to pet, and trees to collide with; or just the change of scenery from home; or some combination of those things. But they seemed content.

And then we came home. And they were back to their rambunctious selves. 😉

As for me, I’m doing fairly well but continuing to struggle at times with the question of purpose as I see my boys growing older. I also continue to mourn the loss of my former career and contemplate whether to attempt going back, or try something completely different. I have been looking into the field of bookkeeping and what it would take to get an office job like that. Since I have my writing and piano playing as creative outlets, and ministry opportunities through bringing up my own kids and volunteering at church, I think it would feel good to do practical, concrete tasks that aren’t always face-to-face with clients. Maybe it would be fun to do math again. (Did I just say that?) I’d also like to feel like part of a team (i.e. be an ’employee’), rather than the lone-wolf life of a contract music therapist (what I used to do).

But for the time being, my day-to-day purpose will revolve around my kids, who are back to remote learning starting on Monday. It’s only supposed to be for a week, but with case numbers in the thousands every day, I’m not holding out much hope that they actually will be back in school on the 17th. So we will do our best to enjoy the extra time together. I just hope I will have the energy and motivation to keep them engaged, active, and out of trouble during the coming week or weeks.

Another piece of news is that my husband has recently begun a new career, as a truck driver. He routinely drives across our neighboring provinces (Saskatchewan and Ontario) and into the northern United States. I’m embarrassed to say this, but as someone who has travelled very little, I find his departures into the US in particular quite fascinating. Those places seem so far away – even though they’re no further, necessarily, than when he goes to Regina. And, ok – I’m used to people talking about North Dakota or Minnesota. But, Michigan? Ohio? Wisconsin? Iowa? Now, that’s the stuff of fantasy! Some kind of other world, where TV shows are set.

Wisconsin!
New York!
Ohio!
Pennsylvania!

I know I have some American followers, so please forgive me if that sounds ridiculous. And of course, not all Canadians are like me. Many are very well-traveled. I’ve just always been content to stay near home.

Although lately, I’ve been thinking that a tropical vacation might be ok. 😉

Image from Pixabay

Anyway, since my husband comes home this afternoon, I will pause the Psalm prayers until Tuesday morning. I do want to keep them going throughout the rest of January, but a little break now and then, I think, will keep me fresher and more energized.

In the comments, I would love to hear what’s going on with you. Are your kids switching to remote learning? How do you feel about it? Also, are you well-traveled, or a home body like me?

Warm wishes, and keep on praying!

Lisa

Posted in Faith, Mental health

Work, Trade, and Purpose

In the evenings, my husband and I usually watch TV shows together. We’ve gone through “The Office” a few times; we’ve watched lots of “Star Trek”; we I watched “Anne With an E” (my husband distracted himself with his phone during this one); we’ve watched all of “This is Us”; and recently, we attempted “Grey’s Anatomy” but gave up on it when we got tired of fast-forwarding nearly entire episodes to avoid the sexual content. Anyway, the show we are watching now is “The Chosen.” You may have heard of it – it tells the story of Jesus from the perspective of surrounding characters. It preserves the biblical account, but with lots of artistic imagination about how the events may have interacted and worked themselves out. One thing I love about the show is how it reminds me that the people of the Bible were real people. They joked around; they got into trouble. Jesus camped. (For some reason, that’s something I hadn’t thought of before.) You know all that time He spent travelling, or in the wilderness? Don’t you think He would have set up a tent and made a fire?

In an episode we watched recently, Jesus is on one such “camping” excursion, when He is discovered by a group of children, who (quite expectedly) cannot keep themselves away from this fascinating, funny, kind, and wise man. As they gather around Him, chatting and listening to His words, He gets them to help with His work. He is making things out of wood – spoons, locks, toys, and who knows what – and they help with whatever menial tasks they can do. He explains to them that He has a “trade,” but He also has a job much bigger than His trade. He doesn’t really say what it is, but we now know that He became the sacrifice to pay for all sin. So that God can be reconciled to humans, so that we can be part of His family. That was His over-arching purpose.

Nonetheless, I was perplexed at how happily and busily Jesus and the children worked with their hands, while discussing all sorts of other things. It got me thinking about this idea of a “trade,” one’s “work,” and how it relates to one’s overall “purpose.” It is something that has always been of dear importance to me, since I was a child, and was one of the most troubling things about making the decision to stay home with my kids. What is my trade? What is my purpose? There was a time when I thought the answer to both of those questions was “music therapy.” Now, I usually don’t know what to think.

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Maybe, because it discusses in depth these very same issues. So I went back to re-read it this morning, and the following two verses stopped me:

“My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIV

In these verses, Solomon says that all of his work – though it felt rewarding for him to do – was meaningless, and nothing was gained by it. I’m sure we have all, at some point, reached the end of a long work day and thought something similar. Perhaps this realization is even more distressing when we’re under the belief that work is the main part of life. Which is what I thought for a long time, until having children taught me the opposite. Because if my kids are not distracting me from the work I think I should be doing, they are creating all kinds of additional work that I didn’t originally want. And yet, they, and all of my time that they use up, are of immense importance. I know it in my bones.

Because although my trade may be homemaking, writing, music therapy, or teaching piano; I also have a job – a mission, if you will – that is much larger. It’s simple, because it’s the same one Jesus had; the same one we’re all supposed to have. Like Jesus, my over-arching purpose is family. My own nuclear family, and the wider family of God. To love them; to serve them; to figure out how to be (and stay) in healthy relationships with them. This must be why Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV).

But what of the “trade”? Is it unimportant or bad? If it were, why would Jesus have worked as a carpenter? Why would Paul have made tents?

Is this a good mantra for life?

We need our trade. Work is a basic human need, right up there alongside food, which is why I think Paul cautioned that “[t]he one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV).

In light of all of this, here are the observations that I glean about the nature of our “trade” during our lives here on earth:

  1. My trade is not the main part of my life. Without an over-arching purpose to go along with it, the work of my trade is meaningless.
  2. My trade is still important. It is a gift of God, and a privilege by His grace, to fill my basic human needs. It is also rewarding, in and of itself.
  3. My trade is enough. I doubt that, as Jesus worked as a carpenter, He beat Himself up about why He wasn’t building something larger or more important. I doubt that either He or Paul lamented having to work with their hands when they were actually gifted teachers. “All in good time,” as they say, or, more accurately – “All in God’s time.” We absolutely will fulfill our over-arching purpose in our lifetime, if only our hearts are willing. The results, however, are up to God.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I am so sorry for getting this whole idea of work wrong. I love that you have given me both a trade, and an over-arching purpose, and I thank you for them both. I ask that you would enable me to be both content with, and dedicated to, the things that you have given me to do. May I not become lazy or negative, in neglect of my trade. And, may I not neglect my true purpose, which is family – both mine and yours – in favor of my trade. Amen.

How do you understand the nature of work, trade, and/or purpose? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Faith

Dead Time – Guest Post on Boondock Ramblings

“Have you ever had that sense of: “You’re done here.” – before you were actually done? A feeling of finality. Like a premonition: the book is going to close. You’re in the last few chapters. Maybe even the final pages. And you know in your bones, it’s going to end, and you will be starting another book. But first, you have to finish this one.”

To read the rest of my guest post, please visit Lisa R. Howeler’s awesome blog “Boondock Ramblings”!  Many thanks to Lisa for hosting me as a guest on her blog.

Warm wishes,

Lisa