Thursday, March 13, 2014

january :: february

January 2014: snow, snow,snow; not one full week of school the whole month (!) due to cold/snow days and scheduled days off; training as a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) Children's Leader for me; huge snow piles; visits to the pond at Dad & Mom's to feed the ducks and geese; Dave entering his second year in the Master's program; continued work on the house rehab; many times of feeling anxious and overwhelmed balanced by lots of sledding down hills and some cross country skiing

January 2013: It's hard to believe that a year ago, Dave started the Master's program full time and we only beginning to prayerfully consider whether to sell our other house. I remember praying that we would move by the end of February, but am so thankful God didn't move us until July!

finding beauty in the sunsets despite the frigid temperatures

this was after one brief thaw - the massive snow pile gave the kids a leg up for climbing the tree

a skating party?


February 2014: more snow and cold; squeezing in some more sledding; winter hikes on a river bed, sliding down steep hills on our bottoms, walking out on the lake, the kids learning the joys, and dangers, of tunneling into snow banks - this was the first time in years we had enough snow to even make a snow bank!; traveling to celebrate Nan's 90th birthday with a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the way home; Brie, Reese & Luke starting Tae Kwon Do; looking back at the pictures, it's hard to believe how much snow we had!


February 2013: We began preparing the house to move although we 100%  "there" on selling it; I was preparing for my first mission trip into the city and learned so much about urban missions; God was really using the BSF study we were doing on Genesis to speak to my heart about this new adventure He had us on of a major change in direction for Dave and moving homes.

And to think God washes us whiter than snow!

ready for another run

apparently, a toppled tree makes for an amusing shelter :)

I've heard of giving bunny ears in a picture, but this is a little ridiculous ;)

I've got cabin feveeeeeerrrrrr!

Nan & Moses on our walk at Crawford Lake before the birthday celebration

C'mon Jack

cousins sitting on a lizard

my first time seeing Niagara Falls frozen like this - it reminded me of meringue

and the American side view

Reese who? (taken at the Hershey store at the Falls)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

snow and the beach

Here we are nearing the end of February and we still have snow on the ground. It's been here since New Year's-ish (I'm not counting that one 40 degree day when most of it disappeared ;) ). A record by far.

And am I complaining about it? No way! Our kids have finally discovered the joys, and been warned of the dangers, of burrowing into snowbanks. As one who grew up knowing the delights of playing in the snow, I never thought I'd need to teach this to our children. 

With another day off school yesterday, I decided to take the kids to the beach. I think this was a winter first for me. :)

a view from up top..see how far the lake is frozen?

really? so disappointed. we brought our towels and everything 

walking on water...just like Jesus...well maybe not exactly like Him

usually we're up to our knees at this point

and so begins a game of piling on one another...

fun, right?

lots of smiles?

not exactly. there's always a few tear. do you think Brie & Ben will be happy I captured this on camera?


I find it hard to grumble about snow. The way it silently falls to the ground transforming the world in a wash of white. It's a transformation that reminds me how Jesus washes us whiter than snow when we believe Him for His sacrifice on the cross to cleanse us from all impurity caused by our sin.

And when the sun shines, it dazzles and I find it much harder to be depressed on blueskysnowwhite days.

However, I did grumble about the lack of full school weeks we endured when I felt like I did just before we put the kids back into the school system after a stint of homeschooling (not that this should deter any of you who are considering homeschooling, it just wasn't where the Lord wanted us to be so He challenged us to rethink the public school system). I also find it easier to grumble in the winter we're used to having. Days of damp, dingy, slushy streets with teases of snow or spring but never lasting long enough to give full reprieve. 


 It's all about to end soon though with a mild, rainy forecast...



Monday, August 26, 2013

find me not here

...but here.

For this season of life, this old blog of mine feels more in keeping with the words inscribed on my spirit.

See you there?

Friday, August 23, 2013

returning

Well, we've moved. We're in. And has it been almost a month already? It seems ages ago.

Despite our much smaller living accommodations, I'm grateful we're back in the same flat (the European word for "apartment".... "apartment" is a clunky word. "Flat" sounds sophisticated) we started out in when we were first married. The shadows of our old rhythms and routines greeting us and helping us to settle in.

Though it was funny to think of me sitting at our dining table 12 years ago, addressing our wedding invitations. Never did I think we'd be bringing four children back to the same place, eating at the same table. And I would never have imagined Dave and I making the sun room our bedroom with its nine (!) windows or that our old bedroom would house two of our energetic boys in a new-to-us bunk bed.

We've returned. Older, larger in family though smaller in frame, and, happily, knowing God is at our side - He was a relative stranger when we first left.

There are some other things I wish I could return to. Like the years when my grandparents were both alive and living in their duplex on Northfield Dr. I find myself missing them greatly and I'm not sure why exactly. My Grandpa died more than 12 years ago and my Nan 3 years ago. Does missing loved one really grow stronger with age or is it something else?

Perhaps I'm missing is the simplicity of childhood and early adulthood. The times where I couldn't exactly do what I wanted, but I didn't have to pay the bills or prepare the meals or be responsible for keeping the clean. I miss the days of someone else caring for me instead of me caring for me plus four other precious souls who need their bodies and spirits fed.

"Sit on my knee and tell me all your troubles?" An invitation my grandpa often extended when we visited. And I would smile and giggle to myself because very rarely would I have any "troubles" to share. I miss hearing that now - when I really do feel burdened at times with the decisions and doings of being a full time mother.

I have a sneaking suspicion is using this dull-grief-ache to remind me how fleeting are the years of childhood and how I am to make the most of them right now. Not mine of course, but those of our four dear arrows.

As Brianna approached her 10th birthday it stunned me to think we already were approaching one decade (!!!) as parents. Ten whole years with the next ten threatening to zoom by in a flash. Will we be able to make the most of them? To squeeze in enough kisses and cuddles and laughter and stern words of correction to train them in the way they should go. To press into the challenging times of whining, complaining, arguing, tantrum throwing and blatant disrespect when really, I'd rather bury myself in a book, the bed covers or chores or just plain walk out the door in search of a new job description.   

And I've now run out of any creative ways to wrap up this post, save to ask you a question: Is there any time or place in your life you find yourself wanting to return to? What do you think God might be speaking to you through this desire?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

when God moves you

Fifteen years ago, God laid a dream on my husband's heart. Last December, He made it quite clear now was the time for David to pursue that dream.

Two years ago, I began praying that we would move - a desire placed there by God, whispers of greater dreams to come. Tuesday, this was planted in our front yard.
 


And the emotions swirl.

Excitement. Apprehension. Sadness. Joy. Gratitude. Plus many times of questioning our sanity...if we're doing the right thing.

Because for the past nine years, God has blessed us with a beautiful home with a made-for-kids backyard on an idyllic street. A home which has accommodated our growing family and changing interests and comfortably welcomed in many, many family and friends over the years.



It's hard to shed the second skin.

It's harder when you are shedding that second skin for a much smaller one. (At least, we think it will be much smaller. We're waiting for the final word from God on that one).


But when God moves you, the skin which once fit so well begins to chaff.

So we shed this skin in faith that God has a better one in store. Skin more suited to these God-sized dreams we've been dreaming. It may take a little getting used to, but we can trust our Maker - the One who is in the business of trading our fig leaves for cloth designed and wrought by Him.

Monday, April 22, 2013

urban mission trip revisited

Two months out and I'm finally ready to recap my urban mission trip experience. :) Speaking about the experience at church on Sunday gave me the push to put pen to paper and capture the thoughts swirling 'round my brain since experiencing our city in a whole new way.

Since it's been so long, here's the recap, though if you really want a refresher here's the link to the series I did preceding the trip.
  • I've wanted to go on a mission trip ever since my parents began leading teams down to the Dominican Republic   
  • The trip was three days - Friday evening to Sunday afternoon
  • It was in the city next to ours which equaled 15 minutes from home
  • It was $150
  • It was clear there was no reason to not go
  • To prepare for the trip, we were required to attend an urban poverty seminar where we learned about the differing perspectives between the lower and middle classes and the daily challenges faced by the urban poor  
our bunks

Here's what I did...

Friday: After choosing our bunks at the mission house, we ate dinner and play games with teen girls who were refugees from Liberia followed by a discussion about the future of urban missions

Saturday: Work day. There were several projects available. I had the opportunity to bake with and read to children in the city's worst neighborhood and learn how that ministry was lifting up the community in so many ways. That afternoon I helped sort clothes for a homeless ministry - a ministry that began with bringing spaghetti to homeless people in the downtown area. After dinner, we learned more about refugees, immigrants, student visas and the "undocumented and discussed the challenges generally faced by any non-English speaking person trying to integrate into American life.

Sunday: We worshiped at an urban church, had lunch and then learned about an Arabic ministry out of the nonprofit which partnered with the church for the mission trip.

baking cupcakes for the kids to take home to their mothers

Throughout the trip, we worshiped, prayed and sought God's heart for the city. It was a whirlwind of a trip and I would have loved to spend a much longer time working among the poor and foreigners among us. And perhaps some day I will.

But for now, while motherhood is my full time ministry, I'm asking God to continue pressing upon me the lessons He's been teaching me for months now and used the urban mission trip to solidify. And it's this:

I used to content myself with giving money or my stuff and thinking that satisfied God's call to help those in need.

But it doesn't go far enough.

clothes stacked and sorted for the homeless ministry

Yes, it will feed the hungry and clothe the naked - for a while. But it doesn't address why they were hungry or naked to begin with. And it does nothing for me either.

Because I believe that God asks us to minister to the "least of these" not just to meet their needs, but to meet our needs to. I believe He loves us so much He wants to see us changed for the better spiritually as much as He desires circumstances of the poor  improved physically.

I have witnessed this change in myself and I've seen God's glory in new ways and the good news of the Gospel has become that much clearer.

And here's the interesting thing and something I learned in the urban poverty seminar: relationships - the giving of our selves - are the very thing the poor value most.

Relationships are the currency of the poor.

So all of us have this amazing opportunity in our own backyards. Not only can we feed the hungry and clothe the poor, but we can build relationships with them. And when we do this "extra-mile" giving, our lives can become as transformed as the ones we serve.


If you feel the tug on your heart to explore urban ministry opportunities and are not sure where to begin, leave a comment with your email and I'd be happy to help you find resources to get you started.

Monday, April 1, 2013

lately

So I know I still haven't posted on what happened on the mission trip. And I will get to it...soon. I think I'm still processing through how it is impacting my life. It's really easy to be all fired up and raring to go coming off a mission trip. But I'm learning that the deeper, God-impacted ways often take a little longer to settle in and take on definition. And I want to share about those lasting imprints and not just the superficial ones. So I wait a little longer...

And the things that have been on my heart often these days revolve around urban ministry, relationship building, learning about the hurts of this world, giving the religious spirit in my life the boot, pressing into my calling as a mother, praying for financial peace and desiring joyful, Christ-contagious living.


Because I'm a reader, I find myself seeking out reading material to give greater definition to my rattled thoughts and to hear God speaking in new ways.

If you're reading this, I'm assuming you too enjoy a good read, so here are some of the books I've consumed lately to accompany these themes:

Urban ministry & relationship building: How to Hug a Smelly Guy by Jeff Johnson

Learning about the hurts of this world: In Land of the Blue Burqas by Kate McCord and God Grew Tired of Us (we watched the movie last night )

Giving the religious spirit in my life the book: God Without Religion by Andrew Farley

Pressing into my calling as a mother:  Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma - I haven't started this one yet. I just learned about it today as Amy is hosting a book club starting April 18. But it fits with this growing theme for me.

Praying for financial peace: Total Money Makeover & Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey - which ironically also brought on anxiety but I'm trusting God to show us the way as let some of these money lessons settle on our hearts

Desiring joyful, Christ-centered living: There's only One source for that - the Bible. So I'm grateful for the BSF study on Genesis and John MacArthur's study on Acts that I'm doing with our Life Group.  

Any other recommended reads for these categories? How has God been speaking to you lately?