Saturday, December 31, 2016

OUT WITH THE OLD

Another year, coming to a close.

*sigh*

Usually that would be a sad sigh, as I ponder all of the good times, the memories we made and I think about my children that are growing too quickly. This year that is a sigh of "it's finally done". No excitement but relief that we can move into a new year.

These yearly words of mine are not quite adding up to what I envision at the beginning but they are definitely growing me.

2015 - REST - a crazy busy year with a federal election that ended in the ultimate rest for me - the loss of my full-time employment and the loss of half our household income.

2016 - CONTENT - I anticipated peaceful, sunny days of reading and time with my children, finding fulfilling employment, and having purpose.

2016 became a year marked by loss. Loss of work, loss of people. Waves of discouragement. Lots of tears.

This year, so many people died. Others have told me that it is just the age we are getting to, our parents are reaching the end of their life, so death will become more prevalent. I know this is true but I don't think anyone is ever ready to lose a parent. So many friends have lost one of both of their parents in 2016.

 But, this year I experienced the loss of many who were so young. We aren't guaranteed tomorrow.  I know that is truth but, the loss of peers and one of my sixteen year old daughter's best friends is more than one anticipates. It feels like God is calling people home in greater numbers.

I believe that God has numbered our days before our birth.Though, I have hope in this and my faith carries me through, being CONTENT this year has been a challenge.

I think I embraced my word in many ways but had to remind myself over and over, to be content no matter what my circumstances. And this year circumstances were hard and contentment is a choice. A learned behaviour.

On the cusp of a new year, I can choose to be CONTENT. And so I do.










Saturday, August 27, 2016

ANTICIPATING BABY

My lovely sweet Lauren is expecting. Sweet baby will be arriving soon. I was honoured to share a few words at her baby shower.


"Well, Lauren, I would like to say that this whole situation is making me feel extremely old, even though I know that I have been one of your “moms” for a number of years.  I remember shy, little Lauren sitting quietly in the corner of the couch in the farmhouse, preferring to fade into the background rather than jump into the spotlight. I was honoured to capture precious moments of the day you said “I do” and I am privileged to stand here today and say “Welcome to Motherhood”!

From the day you learned you were expecting this sweet little peanut, until, well... forever, your life will never be the same. You have added a distinction and a responsibility. You are a mother.

I have been pondering Psalm 139:13, a fair bit lately. It says,

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

We often focus on the beginning of the verse but I would like to take a moment to focus on the last three words. “My mother’s womb”. Not any mother’s womb. My mother’s womb. The Creator of the Universe has knit your son together in YOUR womb. He purposed that this boy, should have YOU as his mom. What an awesome trust (and I am sure a bit overwhelming). Motherhood is an incredible journey. A blessing beyond what you can imagine.

But as a mother, there will be THOSE days, (don’t worry, we all have them) when you feel unfit, unworthy and like you are totally screwing this up. In the midst, do not forget that GOD handpicked you to be his mom.

When the enemy whispers lies like “you can’t do this” and “you’re not good enough”, remember that God did not make a mistake. You are not perfect but you are  the perfect mother for your son. There are things that you need to teach him and there are things that he needs to teach you!

We have this mistaken idea that children are born as a blank slate and everything about them is learned behaviour and under the influence of environment and circumstance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”

God not only formed us, he KNEW us. He knew your son before he was formed! He isn’t a blank slate, he is a child who was and is known by the Creator! He has been formed with a distinct personality and with talents. God has a plan and a purpose for him. Things that only he can bring to your family. Things that only he can do in this world. He comes with 9 months of womb experience and though we minimize the importance of these months for emotional and mental development, it is during this time that he begins bonding with you. Being intimately in tune with your body’s rhythm and recognizing your voice and moods and stress levels.

Charlotte Mason, an English Educator, liked to say “Children are born persons”. I like that. We need to respect the personhood, of every human even a baby. Remember “A person’s a person no matter how small!”

Psalm 8:2 says “Through the praise of children and infants
   you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
   to silence the foe and the avenger.”

There is some serious power that comes through the praise of a child and Jesus uses children to teach us lessons. The boy with the loaves and the fish, the children he healed - from sickness and evil spirits. The children he raised from the dead - the widow’s son, Jairus’ daughter.. The children who joined the crowds and waved palm branches and sang “hosanna” as he entered Jerusalem. The children who ran to him, though the disciples tried to discourage them, Jesus welcomed them.

Your son will have things to teach you. Be willing to listen and learn. But you have the grand privilege to introduce him to the Saviour, to the Creator, who knew him and knit him together.

The most important job you have is to teach him about his sin and the Saviour that pours out grace in abundance, even on little boys.

Introduce him to the Saviour but don’t stop there.

I love the picture of  Psalm 84:3

“Even the sparrow has found a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
   Lord Almighty, my King and my God.”
Set up your nest. You home. Your place near the altar of the Lord. A safe place. A place of worship .A place where the sacrifice for sin is not forgotten but celebrated.

How do you do that?

In Deuteronomy we are encouraged

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

Instill in your home a love for the word of God. Hang it on your walls. Read it out loud.  Sing it. Play it. Pray it. Not just on Sundays and mid week meetings. Not just at meals and bedtime but make stopping and praying a habit whenever there is a need or an opportunity arises to approach the throne of grace. Make worship a part of your everyday. Take opportunities to serve and as your son grows, give him opportunities to serve with you. Even little things are a blessing.

He is your mission field. He is the “nations” of which you were called to preach the gospel and make disciples. Preach the gospel to him. Make sure he hears it and understands it. Live the Gospel with him. Let your son see the passion of your love for the Lord in you. everyday.

But even in the midst of this. There will be THOSE days. When you feel alone and forgotten and abandoned. When no one does anything right and they certainly don’t understand.

Isaiah 40:11 reminds us
“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.”

Remember this. You are not alone. Your Saviour has promised to never leave you or forsake you. He is gently leading you. He knew your son before He formed him. He knew you before He formed you. Nothing in you is a mystery to him. He knows all of your ins and outs, your strengths and weaknesses. And He chose you for this special purpose.

Not to forge out on your own but with Bradley and with Him, along with your little man. The three of you figuring this out together seeking to be led by the Great Shepherd.

So when sleep is fleeting and a shower is a luxury. When using the bathroom without an audience feels like a miracle. When the laundry piles rival Mount Everest and a meal could be eaten from the remains on the kitchen floor. When it all looks daunting and there seems to be no end in sight, remember these words and cling to the truths found in scripture:

You are chosen for this divine purpose by the God who knows you and has fully equipped you.

He walks with you and is leading you with your little mission field, every day.

So build your nest near the altar of the Lord. Dwell in his presence, trust Him and rest in this new role of “mom”.


Sunday, June 05, 2016

PARENT'S BLESSING



my beautiful girl and her best friend at their grade 8 graduation.

The message I gave to the HBC Co-op Graduates and their parents on June 4, 2016.


Well! It is certainly a day to celebrate! Congratulations graduates!! Whether it has been 8 years or 12 years, I am sure that it has been a long haul (or at least it has felt like it at times) BUT you’ve made it! Here you are!


Moms. Dads. Congratulations! You too have made it! But if you are like me, you are wondering where the time went and how you ever managed to get to this point. But here you are. Take a look. This is a group of really great  kids and YOU have had the privilege and responsibility of raising them. Well Done!


It is common, on these auspicious occasions, to speak of the new chapter or ponder that famous quote about the two roads. We often associate, especially a high school graduation, with a new beginning, a clean slate, the start of a story or the beginning of a journey. We mistakenly put significant emphasis that this is when a life really matters; when God will begin to use a person and will reveal His will or plan for their lives.


Can I encourage you that this is not a new story but a new chapter in the narrative of your life. It is not a new journey but a new adventure in the continuing journey of your time on this terrestrial plain.


Your story began before you were born. Even before your parents anticipated your existence, you were known by the Creator of the universe.


Jeremiah 11:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”. Now, I realize that these words were spoken to Jeremiah but I think that throughout scripture we find that God knows and cares about each one of us individually. You matter to Him. So much so, that He has the hairs on our head numbered! Your details matter to Him.


In Psalm 139 David says “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I know that this is one of those verses that we hear so often that we almost tune it out or we whisper along with the speaker because we know it so well, but we miss the message. Today,  I’d like you to take some time to ponder this verse with me.


Have you ever seen someone knit? Or maybe you knit. You may have noticed, knitting doesn’t just happen. No one just sits down with a pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn and begins to knit. Even the most experienced of knitters has a pattern they follow (even if they made it up themselves and it exists only in their mind). 

Knitting is a two handed process with a purpose. And what does the psalmist say? “You knit me together in my mother’s womb”. The two hands of God knit YOU!!! You have God’s hand-prints all over you! How awesome is that?!


Not only did He knit you together, but He knit you in YOUR mother’s womb. Not just any mother’s womb. We don’t always understand the “whys” of our life but the truth is that whether you were born or adopted into the family, God’s hands were all over your life and circumstances. God hand picked your parents specifically for you. They are not perfect. They are far from it, but they are perfect for you and they are YOURS.


And do you know what else? God may have  decided that your family was complete with the addition of you.  But if not, God  hand picked each and every sibling, just for you. It was not an accident when they arrived in your family. You were not an afterthought. At the arrival of your brother or sister, God was not taken back with the thought of “oh no! I forgot about Rachel when I gave the Palmer’s Andrew What was I thinking?!?!” Nope, there was none of that. God had a plan and a purpose before the beginning for you. Something that only you could bring to your family. Something that only you could teach your parents and siblings. AND Something only they could bring to the family and something only they could teach you. Don’t miss out on that.


God was very intentional in placing you here in this time and place in history. Here in Canada. In Essex County. Even in our Harrow Co-op. He has things for you to do.


Maybe you are not aware, but there is significant sacrifice that parents make when they have children, and homeschooling is a huge undertaking. Being responsible for raising children is huge, being responsible for their education and feeling responsible for their future success, takes it to a whole other level. There is a popular saying, “Behind every great kid is a mom who’s pretty sure she's screwing it up”. I am pretty sure your mom feels this and maybe your father does too.


“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”


Robert Frost’s poem got me to thinking. Your parents, in recognizing that God has a plan and a purpose for you life and in raising you as a follower of Christ, have started you in your journey on “the road less traveled.”


And though, as parents, we have a variety of reasons for choosing to home-school our children, that choice has allowed you to continue on “the road less traveled”. You have been blessed to have time with your family that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. Most of you have had the opportunity to participate at co-op and learn things your parents couldn’t teach you(or wouldn’t) like dissection (thank you Betsy for taking THAT on) And you’ve had the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships.


Jeremiah 12:5 says “If you have raced with men on foot
   and they have worn you out,
   how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
   how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”


You have been given a safe place to grow and prepare for this next adventure. The gift of “safe country” that your parents have provided is priceless. I hope you have taken the most of every opportunity you have been given to train and grow. For some of you, your new adventure is taking you into the “thickets by the Jordan”. If you haven’t yet taken full advantage of the “safe country” take your summer to truly enjoy your family and prepare yourself. You have a race to run. God is ready and willing to equip you. Are you ready and willing to go?


God has plans for you today and everyday until He takes you home. He has given you gifts and talents to do exactly what He has called you to do. 1 Peter 1:3 promises that “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”


Henry Blackaby is known for saying “The reality is that the Lord never calls the qualified; He qualifies the called”.

This next chapter of your life is set to open. The latest adventure in your life’s journey is about to begin. He has called you, he has qualified you. Like Peter, you need to keep your eyes on Jesus and in faith, step out of the boat and walk.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Week 13 - High Key Portrait

I had never heard of a high key portrait until this challenge. I did a lot of research. Found a lot of opinions on what this means and how to shoot high key. I shot quite a bit of my dear daughter over two different session and ended up with a couple of portraits that made me smile....




and one that I absolutely love!







Saturday, February 27, 2016

WORDS FOR THE WEEKEND

The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
 
You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.
Psalm 145:15-17

Saturday, February 20, 2016

WORDS FOR THE WEEKEND


But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

Psalm 81:16

Saturday, February 13, 2016

WORDS FOR THE WEEKEND

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, 
because God has said, 
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5

Saturday, February 06, 2016

WORDS FOR THE WEEKEND

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 
For we brought nothing into the world, 
and we can take nothing out of it.
1 Timothy 6:6-7

Friday, February 05, 2016

WEEK FIVE - BLACK AND WHITE LANDSCAPE

A walk in the park. 
Bare trees. 
Remnants of the last snow fall, clinging to the edges. 
A spring day in the middle of winter.






Saturday, January 30, 2016

WORDS FOR THE WEEKEND


"He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 
With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.
Psalm 91:16


Friday, January 29, 2016

WEEK FOUR - PORTRAIT - HEAD SHOT

"You shot a selfie, now shoot a "selfie" of someone else!"

I had a few opportunities to take pictures of other people. It's one of my favorite past-times.


My sweet great niece celebrating her first birthday


My "sweetness" - the icing on the cake!




A friend came and spent the weekend. Saturday afternoon was photo-shoot time, of course!






Saturday, January 23, 2016

WORDS FOR THE WEEKEND

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
Jeremiah 31:25

Friday, January 22, 2016

WEEK THREE - ARTISTIC - RED

Red is my favorite colour. How do you choose just one thing in your favorite colour? I couldn't. So here is my collection!

My beautiful new winter coat.



I love the red berries of winter.


Every Canadian can identify with the red warmth of Timmies.


So Red is red. This just made me happy. 


A red building with Edison bulbs draped in the window. Smile.


One of my most favorite accessories. 
A gift from a beautiful friend from her travels abroad. 
I wear it and am reminded that I was remembered and loved.


Red. 
The colour of love. 
of passion. of warmth. 
It draws me like a moth to a flame. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

WORDS FOR THE WEEKEND

The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
 
You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.

Psalm 145:15-17

Saturday, January 16, 2016

WORDS FOR THE WEEKEND


Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14

Friday, January 15, 2016

Week Two - Traditional Landscape

I never get tired of taking pictures at the riverfront. Inspired by some shots posted on facebook by some dear friends, I was inspired to head down there myself, late last night, with my eldest son as my "body guard".

Similar to one I took for last year's photo challenge:


We then headed to the other side of the bridge, to a walkway that juts out into the river. When the water is like glass the reflection of the Detroit skyline is breathtaking.



I am often so taken with that view, and since I am not usually in a position to see the beauty of our side of the river, I miss out on this:


The longest, friendliest, unprotected border in the world.


The view from under "The Bridge".




Thursday, January 14, 2016

Choose Love




This is truth.

When you get past the “falling in love” feeling.  When one of you has morning breath bad enough to knock out your favourite pet.  When fever and vomiting hit hard.  When the bathroom smells like a rodent died in there. When the sense of humour you thought was hilarious when you dated is just plain old…..and annoying. When the sarcasm and wit hit too close to home and cut to the core.  When liking each other seems impossible.

Choose to love.
To continue reading, please join me over here for Marriage Week.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Gratitude

I am reading The Quiet Place, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, for my morning devotions. Earlier this month I considered these words:

"Try, for example, to sustain persevering faith - without gratitude - and your faith will eventually forget the whole point of its faithfulness, hardening into a practice of religion that's hollow and ineffective.

Try being a person who exudes and exhibits Christian love - without gratitude - and over time your love will crash hard on the sharp rocks of disappointment and disillusionment.

Try being a person who sacrificially gives of yourself - without the offering being accompanied by gratitude - and you'll find every ounce of joy drained by a martyr complex.

True gratitude is not an incidental ingredient.....

It is one of the chief ways that God infuses joy and resilience into the daily struggle of life."

I often find my gratitude fleeting, if it is there at all. (I don't mean that I am ungrateful, just that I don't always think about all for which I have to be thankful.)

I recently picked up a book by Bill Hybels - "Too Busy Not to Pray" and though I have been too busy to crack it open, the title hasn't left my mind. I think this is similar. I go about my days filling my time with activity and find I am too busy for many things. Prayer and thankfulness on the run or worse, as an afterthought.

If gratitude is so crucial to joy, love and service - my relationship not religion- then I am too busy NOT to be thankful.

Years ago I read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts but before that, I had joined Ann in numbering gifts. I admittedly was not very good at documenting my thankfulness though I did have a journal to do so. There were moments that I would think - "oh I should at that to my list" but I would forget to do it (or just be too busy to do so - I sense a theme here).

I am challenged that I need to pick this back up and will once again share my additions to my gratitude list (in the pattern Ann set on her Gratitude Mondays with her Gratitude Community).

151. The prompting to share encouraging meaningful words with a stranger.
152. Warm little arms that wrap themselves around me to snuggle.
153. A sweet little voice that responds to my endearment "I love you SO much"
154. A new chair that I love for its uniqueness.
155. A great deal on a new cabinet for my living room - finishing the look perfectly.
156. A renovation that increases my storage space with a fresh and clean look.
157. A husband that uses his time off to complete the renovations to that my year can continue with less stress.
158. Morning time with God. Peaceful time before anyone else awakens.
159. Great conversation around our Sunday lunchtime table sharing what we learned at church.
160. A very attentive and thoughtful waiter during a dinner date with my beloved.



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Reflection

Two thoughts from Don Graham's sermon this morning (the second part of a two-part series on considering the Christian mind) had me pondering deeper:

The first was the etymology of words:

muse - to think

amuse- not to think


The second were some observations

1. The world is concerned with the now not the then.

2. The world rejects the notion of sin and judgement.

3. The world believes that truth is relative not absolute.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Words for the Weekend


"The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail."
Isaiah 58:11

Friday, January 08, 2016

Week One - Self Portrait

Okay, like many photographers, I despise pictures of myself. I prefer to be on the other side of the camera. I did realize, this year, that I am not in many of our pictures so it often looks like I am not a part of our family's adventures or celebrations.

Over the past two years, my eldest daughter has taken to taking selfies with me. Though I am not often happy with the outcome, I began to participate willingly, because it means something to her. She is very sensitive to how I feel about the shots she takes, I am beginning to be less camera shy and more likely to lean in for a photo with her.

I tried taking the selfies for the challenge in the evening while the family were wandering in and out of the room. It felt awkward and I was VERY uncomfortable. I quickly put the camera away and opted to waken before everyone the next morning to try again. This was definitely more relaxed and I felt freer to experiment.

Here are a few of my favorites




Thursday, January 07, 2016

TBT- My Prayer

I have loved writing since I was in my teens but never really took the time to journal. I would jot my thoughts on any paper that was available.

I am sure I have lost most of what I wrote but some things ended up in books and files and boxes awaiting discovery on some future date.

I recently found some of my writing from "way back" and thought I would share.

This prayer I wrote in a journal on July 12, 1993:

"Heavenly Father,

Help me to never lose sight of my "young, idealistic beliefs":

The desire to see unity in the Body of Christ surpassing the boundaries of "religious sects".

Believing literally what you say in your Word and living it.

Separating scriptural truth from legalism and tradition.

Willing to stand and say I am a follower of Christ alone.

To be humble enough to allow God to use what He wants for His purpose, 
not expecting Him to follow in the boundaries I've set for Him. 
It's His program not mine.

To be understanding and kind in conflict.

To love unconditionally.

To be joyful in the face of adversity knowing that 
my life, my future, my all 
are in the hands of the One who created me, 
who loves me infinitely and unconditionally."


Sunday, January 03, 2016

Sunday Reflection

"We need to be motivated by God's mercy.
[We need the right reason to do the right thing]
Not in view of His judgement or power 
but in view of His mercy."
Don Graham

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I am the very blessed wife of my best friend. The humble mother of five precious children. Walking a life-road that is more amazing than I could ever imagine.
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