Sunday, March 30, 2008

24 and Dollar Stores

Today, I had a wonderful dollar store shopping spree with my friend Mona... we're very bad at enabling each other when it comes to dollar stores. But everything is only a dollar! Of course, it adds up fast, haha! I got some card-making stuff, some little things for the kids, a baby present for my friend... is it sad that I get so much joy from the dollar store? Hee hee!

The kids and I have watched a couple Disney movies lately, including "Enchanted", which feature a kiss or two between the characters. I always jokingly cover their eyes and say they're not allowed to watch. On the way home from church today, somehow the question came up, how old do you have to be to kiss a boy or a girl on the lips. Mattias said, "Zero!" and Layni said, "Twenty-four!" I asked her if she knew that all by herself or if mommy had told her that. She said she knew it all by herself, and I told her to remember that when she got older!

I enjoyed the gorgeous sunshine and warmer temperatures today... could it be that spring is coming and the bizarre episodes of hail and snow are over? I guess we'll wait five minutes and see!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I Love the Smurfs!

Yes, I got Season 1 of the Smurfs this past week with my Future Shop gift certificate from my dear brothers at Christmas (along with a digital camera... yeah, they spoil me!) and I love it as much as I remembered! The kids are all addicted now too. I love how they replace half the nouns and verbs with the word smurf... and I love the classical music... and I love Smurfette trying to choose between a dozen dresses that all look exactly alike... classic. We will all be happily smurfing for weeks to come!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dirty Dancing and Bible Study

What, you are wondering, can these two things POSSIBLY have in common? I started a Bible study this morning with two dear friends. It is by a popular Bible study teacher called Beth Moore, and this is actually my third study of hers. She is from Texas, has the big hair and make-up and exuberant personality... none of which I really share, haha! And as I was watching the video this morning with my two friends, (it's an old Bible study, thus it's on a VHS tape, and you can tell by the hair and clothes too!) I found myself thinking of an incident from when I was probably about 12 or 13 years old.

We'd just gotten a VCR and it was a novel and exciting thing to rent a movie. (When did VCRs come out anyway? Needless to say, our family was never up to date with the times... the first and only computer we had for many years was a Commodore 64. And that is why I'm pretty much technologically illiterate.) My dad had gotten "The Boy Who Could Fly" and I was so upset: "I'm not a baby anymore, Dad!" So at my request, he rented "Dirty Dancing"... still a favourite of mine in all its delightful cheesiness. My mom came home from work just as Patrick Swayze was stripping off Jennifer Grey's shirt in his messy apartment... I can still remember the embarassment of my mom watching me watch it... I was squirming in self-consciousness, trying not to look over at my mom, wondering what she was thinking. (It totally ruined my enjoyment of the movie, by the way. Of course, I've made up for it by watching it several times over the years since!)

Funny that that should come to mind this morning, as I'm watching a woman passionately sharing the Word of God with us. Maybe it's because I'm Canadian, or because of the kind of churches I've attended, or maybe it's because of the way my family is. We're not demonstrative people. We don't hug and kiss and make a big fuss over things, whether good or bad. It just seems kind of embarassing to show too much emotion, too much enthusiasm, to let it all hang out there. And so as much as I enjoy Beth Moore, she kind of makes me uncomfortable too... she challenges me. I get excited about things like the new "Sex and the City" movie coming out in May, I get excited about new revelations and character development on "Lost" every week, I get excited about anything whatsoever having to do with books. Granted, I pretty much share my excitement only with those closest to me, who I don't feel embarassed to squeal and gush in front of about silly things like that... or here in writing, where my squeals aren't so loud and annoying, haha! But why don't I get that excited about the Word of God? Or why am I embarassed about people who do? The title of the study we're doing is "Breaking Free"... I think it's very appropriate for me! I need to break free from my own inhibitions, from worrying what other people think of me, from my myriad fears that control me and hold me back. Yes, I think God brought this study into my life for a reason, and I'm praying I have the courage and discipline to stick it out, and learn what He wants to teach me... and not be embarassed by it!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And...

Lent is over! My first fun purchase was $1.29 today at Michaels... I got Layni two suncatchers to paint and a heart paper embosser. Oh, how I missed sales! And buying presents! I stuck them into Layni's Easter basket and pretended that she hadn't looked closely enough at all her goodies... haha, mind games! Then I went to Chapters and bought two books - one a present (it is my greatest weakness!) and another in a series by one of my favourite Christian writers, Karen Kingsbury. Tomorrow, I'm hoping to get to Future Shop to get Season 1 of Smurfs, so I can introduce the kids to the joy of little blue people. And the greatest thing is, I still have gift certificates from Christmas, so I'm not even spending any money!

HE IS RISEN! HALLELUJAH!

I know it's now technically Tuesday, but I still wanted to say it... the tomb is empty, Jesus is alive, and we have so much to celebrate!

I was looking forward to celebrating Easter at church with that wonderful, triumphant resurrection music... especially the Hallelujah chorus - but Lysa was not cooperating. When I brought her a few weeks ago, she had a great time, enjoyed the music and was very social. Not this Sunday though! We just got seated when she let loose with that "I am inconsolable" howling cry that was drowning out the entire choir! We snuck out through the kitchen and I tried to calm her down, hoping we could soon sneak back in... but for whatever reason, she was having none of it. We ended up spending the service in the nursery, where she had all the little ones crying along with her at one point. She calmed down a bit with constant singing and some snacking, but really she just wanted to get home. It could have been a combination of her bowels being "irregular" the past week, her other front tooth coming in or maybe she just missed cuddling and playing with mommy, who she barely saw all week. (Stupid Foggy Dew... GRRR!!!) But Layni had a great time being part of the balloon parade and singing with her friends in front of the whole church... she is a total ham. And I have to praise God that the pouring rain stopped before it was time for us to walk to and from church!

So Easter Sunday wasn't quite what I expected, but we still had a happy Easter nonetheless. I can't believe one more day, and spring break is over! It wasn't quite what we were planning either, but the girls spent some fun time with their dad's side of the family, and we had lots of fun doing crafts, playing games, watching movies, reading books (we're still addicted to Geronimo Stilton), and going for walks. And now, I've really got to get to bed so I have enough energy to keep up with the kids tomorrow!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It's Never Too Early to Celebrate!

Last night after Jolie got home from work, we dyed eggs with the kids. My favourite was one on which Layni drew a yellow sunshine with crayon and dyed blue... it was so vibrant! After getting the kids to bed, Jolie and I hid the eggs and candy. Jolie cracks me up, because she took Layni's leftover candy from Valentine's Day and hid it... the kids never even noticed - that's how much attention they pay!

I got up early this morning to hide the baskets outside... that Easter bunny really gets around. We did the festivities today, as Mattias had to go home early this afternoon since it's his mom's year to spend Easter with him. The kids had a great time, and got mostly crafts this year instead of candy. When we were cleaning the girls' room a couple weeks ago, we found Layni's chocolate Dora the Explorer in the back of their closet from last year... Marty had a taste, but even he couldn't bring himself to eat it!

After Jolie went to work, we cracked open the fun and games from the dollar store. They had "fossils" which they had to excavate to find the buried treasure... $2.00 each at the dollar store, but it kept them busy for an hour, and after finding the charms inside, they took the coloured sand they had chipped off and put it in their sandbox to play with. We played "Go Spidey" with Mattias' Spider-man cards and Bingo, Layni coloured her dress-up girl magnet set, and Lysa grooved along with her Four Square DVDs. This afternoon, the girls and I went for a walk and got some baking supplies as well as the Enchanted DVD, which we watched with Jolie tonight... I love that movie!

The girls and I will be going to church in the morning to celebrate our risen Saviour with our church family... I'm sure Lysa will go crazy with the exciting music! And tomorrow night, Jolie will finally be done her day shifts of doom. Monday is dinner with Marty's family and then Wednesday will be back to school for the girls... wow, the time flew by fast! It always does.

Happy Easter to you all, dear friends. May God bless you and your families richly!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday - The Ultimate Sacrifice of a Saviour

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

This is probably the most famous verse in the Bible (though Psalm 23 is right up there) and pretty much sums it all up. I'm so grateful that when our hearts are breaking, and we can't formulate thoughts or summon words, that we can just sob at the feet of our Saviour and He understands. He will pick us up out of our pit of sin and shortcomings, pain and despair, and hold us in His loving arms. I couldn't make it through one day without my Saviour. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for all the pain You suffered on my behalf, thank You for making the ultimate sacrifice because You loved me so much... I can't even begin to fathom it. My meager gratefulness doesn't come close to what You deserve. All I can do is offer You my broken self and say thank You.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Miscellaneous Tidbits from the Last Couple Weeks

*** A couple weeks ago, a group of women from my church went to a Beth Moore conference, and it was WONDERFUL! I went to the Women of Faith conference a couple years ago, and it was fantastic, but it was more Christian inspirational speakers, while Beth Moore is a hardcore Bible teacher. The main Scripture we studied (and memorized... and I suck at memorizing things!) was from Hebrews 4:12-13. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges (or discerns) the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight." I had just been saying how I needed some inspiration in my life, and I found some there in her encouraging and challenging message. I also really enjoyed getting to know some of the ladies from my church better. And I realized how "old" I am, that the wonderful praise and worship band gave me a giant headache... they were great, but I found it so loud - I would never survive a rock concert!

*** Lysa went with Layni and me to church one Sunday morning, and it was wonderful to see how far she's come. When she was younger, she couldn't bear any outside stimulation... she would freak out if there was anyone other than Jolie, myself or Layni around... it would take her an hour or two to adjust to even people she saw on a semi-regular basis, like her grandparents or pediatric nurse. When she started school, going to assemblies in the gymnasium was very difficult... all the noise, the acoustics, so much going on... but now she generally does very well, and is excited to be there. In fact last week, she received an award in front of the whole school for "Demonstrating excellent effort and progress in her communication skills." She waves hello and good-bye, says "uh" for "up" (like I want to get up out of my chair or I went to get up and go for a walk), says "La-nee" for Layni, meows with Jake, and is currently trying to say "cookie"... She taps her left hand for yes and shakes her head for no (though she often likes to shake her head "No!" as a joke!) and uses a big mack button with recorded messages which she can hit with her hand to "talk"... Like when someone is reading a book, she can hit the button to say, "Turn the page." At church, she LOVES the music, and when it's relatively quiet when Pastor Doug is preaching the sermon, she'll "yell"... but she's so cute, she can get away with it. She loves to kick and dance... I am just so proud of her, and she brings so much joy to all of us!

*** I got bookshelves! Marty got me three tall bookshelves from Ikea, so two of my old short ones went into the girls' room to help them get organized, and finally all of my books are off the floor and on shelves... well, except the ones in storage. I have a LOT of books... they're my addiction. And to be honest, I'll probably need to get another bookshelf sooner than later, even though I have four tall ones, and one short one in my room. As Layni says, I've got my own library! (So if you ever need a book to read, come on over!) I tell Marty it's like Jolie collecting shoes or him with his computer stuff... mine just takes up more room! Oh, I do LOVE books... now if I only had time to read them all!

*** Dancing with the Stars is back! It's fun for the whole family! Even Marty will watch to see Edyta dance - his Polish princess, hee hee. Who's smoking hot. Unfortunately for Jolie and me, our favourite Maks, (who's smoking hot!) is taking a break this season... boo hoo hoo!

*** The girls went to their grandparents for the past couple days of spring break so we adults have had the past couple days off. We always have the best intentions of all the things we will do and accomplish without little people running around, but we end up mostly vegging out and enjoying the peace and quiet. Sleeping in, staying up late, hanging out together... Tuesday night, we went to see "Semi-Pro", starring Will Ferrell. I think it's the first time in the two and a half years since Marty came into our lives, that we have all been out together... wow! It was a silly movie but we enjoyed it... it's always more fun when you're with people, and you enjoy laughing at them laugh as much as what they're laughing at! And Jolie and Marty are hilarious together, because they're so opposite in so many ways, that I laugh my head off at Marty looking at Jolie, with a look on his face, "Why are you laughing? That's not funny... you're so weird!" and Jolie laughing even harder.

*** Went to see "Definitely, Maybe" last night with a friend... Wow! I was out two nights in a row! I'm NEVER out at night, period! It was a cute movie and we had coffee and chatted for a long time afterwards... it was a great night out.

*** I've been struggling with being so tired and unmotivated and stressed out and overwhelmed. Sometimes it's hard to have grace for myself, and say maybe you need more rest right now, or to do some fun things, and take care of yourself. I feel like I should be doing all these things and not being so "lazy" or whatever... I am so blessed to have supportive, loving friends who encourage me through the tough times. Thank you guys!

*** Last Sunday at church, several people were baptized and shared what God had done in their lives. I saw one friend, who I've been praying for for years and wondered if he would ever change, get up there and testify to what God has done in his life, and you can see he is a different person... and moments like that, you're like "Wow... God, You are so good and faithful, even when we doubt You... Thank You, Jesus!!!" It was an amazing and wonderful day, and as much as we were celebrating in our church on Sunday, I imagine that the celebration in heaven was even greater! It makes me think of when Jesus said, (in Luke 15:7) "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent" and later in verse 10, "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Well, I've only got a couple hours before all the kids are here, so I should go enjoy the last bit of peace and quiet before this crazy weekend starts!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stressed...

It's 1:40 AM and I should be in bed. I've been so stressed out lately... thank God I got my mouth guard fixed and Hallelujah! for only $35... because I don't think I'd have any teeth left by now. There have been a lot of good things going on, but I am just physically and mentally not doing the best right now... I'm too tired to blog about anything, but pray for me please!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Technically, it's over, as it is 12:20 AM, but I'm sure Marty and Jolie are still working hard at the Foggy Dew, and I've just finished cleaning the kitchen after making - from scratch, thank you very much! - whoopie pies... the chocolate cake-cookies with the frosting in the middle. They never turn out as good as my mom's, but they've got chocolate and frosting, so really, they can never be that bad!

I'm including another excerpt from my best friend in NB's blog about one of our crazy adventures in high school. We have had so many great, ridiculous, fun times together!

Today (Saint Patrick's Day) reminded me why it is important for us, as Christians, not to "write off" even minor religious holidays... especially when they've virtually been appropriated entirely by the secular world. Much can be said by the way we celebrate.

To give a concrete example, during high school (when some whom I know and love were trying to alienate as many people as possible... I'm not naming names...) my best friend and I took great delight in celebrating even obscure holidays (I'll never forget the joy of Waitangi Day!). But whenever a recognised semi-religious holiday came round (one that most people wouldn't know had any faith component, despite the "Saint" at the beginning of the holiday's title), we used it for our covert evangelistic operation.

It went something like this. We bake TONS of cookies in a fun shape (shamrocks, one Saint Patrick's Day, with green frosting, of course), divided them up, and took them with us to all our classes, asked to be allowed to hand out one to each person there (this offer was NEVER refused) and if we could tell the history of the holiday. Almost inevitably we were accepted on this second offer as well - we were telling a free history lesson, after all!

Naturally, in telling our stories, somehow the Gospel just "slipped" out!!! Which isn't surprising when you're talking about Saints and Martyrs. Since the mini-sermon happened to be combined with a history lesson and a yummy cookie, nobody ever complained. In fact, we were complimented on the cookies and frequently told something like, "Oh I never knew that! So there really was some dude named Valentine?"

It's really amazing when you see someone who lives a distinctly un-Christian lifestyle, thinks morals are things of the past, and listens to music that would have instantly gone in the fire had I even considered bringing it home to listen to, come up and ask, "Can I get one of those things you were giving out?" He was refering to candy canes with attached little tracts that had a Bible verse relating somehow to Jesus' birth, which we had been given in bulk by our local Protestant nuns (yes, they exist - and so do Protestant monks). We had dressed up as elves, itchy tinsel and all, and handed them out, but had run out of the candy canes, and told him so. But he still wanted his own little Christmas verse!!!

Just don't let the pagans who have tried to suck all of the faith-basis out of our holidays have all the fun! And never, ever, ever let them forget (insofar as you are able) that there is a reason for and an history of the holiday, and that perhaps they should let a little of that reason speak to the way they choose to celebrate it.

It's funny, because I was thinking today of the ridiculous reasons we found to celebrate... like the 3 month anniversary of the day the Queen's birthday is celebrated in New Zealand... really, you can find something to celebrate every day of your life! And I remember one year in high school, my best friend helped me elaborately celebrate my "un-birthday" in February... it's one of those things you can celebrate every day of the year except one! Alisha, we have so many amazing memories together, and I love you to bits!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

AND....

Of course, Marty is working the opposite night shifts, so they basically won't get to see each other or spend any time at all as a family! As a Christian, Easter's primary focus for me is the celebration of the death and resurrection of my Saviour, but I want to celebrate that with ALL my family, even though that may not be their primary reason for celebrating... and I don't think Jesus would be offended by that desire or feel it takes away from His glory... but alas, we don't get to do that this year in the way we wanted... it will have to be squished in between time at a freaking bar... GRRRRR!!!!

I HATE JOLIE'S JOB!!!!

I know in the scheme of things, with wars and diseases and natural disasters, it's not that big a deal, but it's a big deal to us, that Jolie doesn't get to spend Easter and half of spring break with her children! There were two bartenders who were supposed to have dayshifts before her, but they decided they wanted to take the long weekend off and management decided that was fine, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS THEIR TURN TO WORK! And did they schedule someone who doesn't have kids on Easter weekend? NO!!! They totally suck, and it's just another blaring example of why Jolie wants to get out of this freaking bar!!! And not just Friday, Saturday and Sunday day shifts but an extra Thursday one thrown in too as well as Monday night because it's St. Patrick's Day... while she, a single mother, has her kids off on Spring Break... and we have Mattias all weekend... and did I mention it's Easter?! So now, her mom's not coming to visit, and we have to get up at the crack of dawn so we can have an Easter celebration with the entire family before she has to go to work. I am so annoyed and angry... GRRRR!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blast From the Past

Tonight, as I popped popcorn to munch while watching The Devil Wears Prada, a song we used to sing at Circle Square Ranch popped into my head... I probably haven't thought of this song in ten years...

I don't wanna be, I don't wanna be a casual Christian,
I don't wanna live, I don't wanna live a lukewarm life.
I just wanna light up the night with an everlasting light,
I don't wanna live a casual Christian life.

It killed me to type out wanna instead of want to, but it does sound better when singing it! Anyway, it just reminded me of how I want to live. I know I suck at it a lot of the time... I watch too much TV instead of devouring God's Word, I make more time to read than to pray, I want to be comfortable and happy more than doing what God says is right and should be my priority... but I want to want Jesus more than anything... I want to slowly but steadily become more like Him, have more of an eternal perspective instead of just worrying about the here and now, grow in my faith and integrate it into my everyday life, whether I'm going to the movies or volunteering in the church nursery or giving the kids their baths or going on a shopping spree at the dollar store (see, that doesn't sound very holy at all... can you have a holy shopping spree? Hmmm....) Jesus says in Revelation 4:16, "So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth." You know, I agree with my mom that unless you're brushing your teeth, spitting is gross... I don't want to make Jesus want to spit me out... I don't want to be a casual Christian. I want to live what I believe... even the hard parts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Love My Niece!

This is a hilarious story from my best friend's blog... my niece is adorable!

One of the things about being a Christian and about homeschooling is that you don't have to worry as much about things like Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. If you want your children to "believe" in them, then you can tell them all of the myths and fables associated with those seasons, but if you're like us, and don't want your children to truly "believe" in the existence of a large, hairy man, who is constantly spying on you, breaking and entering into your home yearly, but at the same time you don't want him/her to lose out on the fun that is associated with those beliefs, you can tell them the truth from the get-go (Ella has never thought that there was a "real" Santa Claus now, though she knows that there was a real Saint Nicholas) and then, with a wink and a nod, play along with the fables. For example, this past Christmas, depending on what we were doing, we would "be" Santa Claus (Ella'd be an elf), while getting presents ready, while wrapping, etc. She knew that Mummy and Daddy are "Santa Claus" for her, and that Mummy and she are "Santa Claus" for Daddy, and that Daddy and she are "Santa Claus" for Mummy. Rather than taking away from the magic of Christmas, this adds a whole dimension to our giving; it brings out our imaginations (can you imagine me "sitting" on Ella's lap, while she wears the Santa hat and says in as deep a voice as she can muster, "Ho Ho Ho... Now what do you want for Christmas, Mummy?"). I've never regretted the decision to tell my child the truth.

As for the Easter bunny. She knows that Mummy and Daddy play Easter bunny the night before Easter so that when she wakes up the "Easter bunny" (*wink* *wink* *nod* *nod*) has left chocolate eggs all over. But even though we play along with this, evidently she doesn't know that everyone else does too!

So, we're standing in line at Tim Horton's - me for my medium coffee one cream, and Ella for a milk and doughnut with "sprinklies". It's a long line up, and as usual, Ella is smiling at everyone. The lady who is in front of us smiles back and strikes up a conversation with Ella.

"Are you excited about Easter?"

"Yes!" says Ella. She knows Easter is when we celebrate that Jesus came to life again. We have lots of fun at church, and we sing and dance, and shout, and eat chocolate! What's not to love?

"And who is coming in three weeks?" the lady asks.

Ella doesn't get it. She looks at the lady, obviously confused. Was someone coming for Easter? Auntie Janis? No, Auntie Janis wasn't coming until Ella's birthday. Well, who is it then?

"He'll be bringing you yummy chocolate!" the lady continues. Ella still doesn't know who it is, though she loves the idea of chocolate...

"He'll be going *hop* *hop* *hop*!" the lady adds, doing little hops each time.

We haven't gotten around to talking about the Easter bunny yet this year. Other Easter stuff, yes, but bunnies, no. It's so obvious that Ella is reaching for an answer that just isn't there. So the kind lady helps a little bit more...

"It's the Eeeeaaaster...." she says, pausing.

And enlightenment dawns! Ella's GOT it! She knows who's coming. "The Easter KANGAROO!!!!" she calls out, triumphant!

The entire store - that was watching this exchange with interest - burst out laughing!

I assured Ella that this year the Australians were getting in on the act, and that the Easter kangaroo would be helping the Easter bunny on his/her rounds. (I didn't tell the entire store - just Ella - that Daddy would be one and Mummy would be the other and we would go hopping around the house hiding eggs the night before Easter!)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I Loved This! She's So Right!

This is an excerpt from Beth Moore's blog:

Yesterday I was with somebody I love who was describing frustration over not being able to get a breakthrough in a work matter. I've been in on it for a while so I knew it had been hard and I was searching for encouraging things to say that weren't just the usuals that we turn to when we don't know what to say. I reached out my hands toward the loved one's hands and said, "Let's pray about it right this minute." And we did. We had no more than said, "In Jesus' Name, Amen," then the telephone rang. It was the call the person had been waiting for and the breakthrough came. The phone call lasted some time so I just kept praying and even doing a few little thank You dances. When the loved one got off the phone, I said, "Can you believe that? That was the Lord!"

To which my loved one said, "You're probably right."

"No," I said, "there's no 'probably' to it! That was the Lord! I mean, did you see that timing??"

The person nodded and said, "Sure may have been!

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, "SURE MAY HAVE BEEN"?? Are you stinking kidding me? (I didn't say all that part.)

"But you've gotta give Him His glory!" (I did say that.) Or what compels Him the next time when He didn't get any credit the last time? (Didn't exactly say that.)

Girls, listen. GIVE GOD HIS GLORY! When He does something for you, don't sit there and wonder if that may have been Him. GIVE HIM SOME GLORY!! Jump up and down about it. Get excited about it! I don't know about you, but I want God to ENJOY doing some things for me. I want Him to think I'm fun to get a reaction out of. I want to dang well NOTICE. Can you imagine when we thank Him for something that He's up there on His Throne shrugging His shoulders and saying, "I'm not sure what you're talking about. I didn't have anything to do with that"? Does Phil. 2:13 not say that God works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose? Ain't no doubt, Girlfriend. It is GOD.

"Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done!" Ps. 40:5

"I am the Lord; that is My Name! I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols...Let them give glory to the Lord and proclaim His praise...!" Is. 42:8,12

I bolded my favourite part... I love the idea of God getting a kick out of doing something for us to see our reaction... I never thought about it that way... I want to overcome my naturally conservative, cautious, questioning nature and see God's answers to my prayers and celebrate them and make Him laugh with my delight! It doesn't seem fair to ask You to help me with that, Lord, but You know I need Your help... grow my faith, remind to be thankful and joyful and excited about what You're doing... help me to make You laugh in joy!

Friday, March 07, 2008

My Lenten Journey

"The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of the Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ."
- Wikipedia

I haven't always given up something for Lent (from Ash Wednesday until Easter), but in the past I have given up McDonalds (I remember Jolie tempting me by saying, "One little meal won't hurt!"), Coke (we had a lot of Sprite cans in the recycling for a couple of months... I am a total Coke addict, I confess), and chocolate (my resolve was tested mightily when Krista did a cake-decorating demonstration at Women's Connections with chocolate cupcakes shortly after Lent began... too cruel!).

This year, we started a Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Daniel. The first half focused on living with integrity in a "Babylonian" culture - a culture that is self-centred, self-indulgent, excessive... you're getting the idea? The Babylonian "motto" can be found in Isaiah 47:8 and 10 - "I am, and there is no one besides me." In the first chapter, Daniel and his friends, devout Jews who have been taken into captivity by the conquering Babylonians (there is so much fascinating history in this book of the Bible!), refuse to defile themselves by indulging in the rich foods of the king's table that aren't "kosher." It's a DVD led Bible study, so Beth encouraged us, if we wanted to, to give up "rich meats" for the first half of the study (the second half, which we're now on, focuses on prophecy and the study of the end-times). Now, if I gave up rich meats, I really wouldn't be giving up anything at all; even if I gave up all meat, it wouldn't be much of a sacrifice. Other people gave up different things, which represented the idea of our Babylonian culture to them... like wearing jewelery, for example.

I'd had an idea rattling around in my head for awhile... I was thinking of a one week fast from this... not a 46 day fast. But God put it on my heart, so here I am 31 days later (wow, I've made it a whole month!) on my shopping fast. Yes, folks, I gave up shopping for Lent!

I thought about it a lot, because when I make a commitment, I keep it, and I wanted to make sure that I could keep this one. I really didn't want to do it... but if Jesus could die on a cross to pay the price for my sins, if He can put up with all my crap and love me anyway, then surely I can do this tiny thing in honour of Him. My ground rules are I'm not allowed to buy stuff, except for food and necessities (like shampoo, soap, medication etc. but only what I immediately need). I'm still allowed to go to the movies or rent a video... to do things, just not accumulate stuff (and I'm allowed chocolate - it falls under the food category, because giving up shopping was a big enough sacrifice for Lent!).

My biggest weaknesses are: books, card-making stuff, and presents for people, especially combining any of those things with the dollar store or a good sale - I'm cheap, haha! Oh, and I really love my DVDs too... those are the things I have a really hard time saying no to. The absolutely hardest one out of all those is not buying presents for people... picking up little things at the dollar store that I know would make someone smile, or finding a good sale and stocking up for Christmas. The second hardest would be books... I am such an addict! I own so many books that I haven't had time to read yet, I pick up more at the public and church libraries or borrow them from friends, and I always find something in the bargain books section of Chapters... I am truly an addict. I love the smell of them, the look of them, and yes, actually reading them too! It's like breathing for me... I can't imagine not having at least one book on the go!

15 1/2 more days to go! I actually dream about shopping... I'm in a thrift store or the dollar store and almost buy something and then realize, "I can't!" So far, I've managed to be faithful even in my dreams! So what has this experience given me? Well, it's been a good exercise in discipline... God knows, NOT my strong point! It's shown me how much stuff I have already... I need to use what I have or clean out, before I accumulate more. It's teaching me to think twice before I buy... a lesson that will hopefully carry over into my post-Lent life :) It's helping me to pay off my bills from Christmas, instead of spending even more. It's teaching me that too often I find my security or satisfaction in money and the things I buy, instead of simply Jesus.

In conclusion, I think it's been really good for me, but I confess, I'm really looking forward to the first big dollar store trip with my friend Mona after Easter... am I terrible?!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Love...

... how Layni invites everyone to lunch after church on Sunday mornings. Not just the families with kids her own age... families with younger kids, families with teenagers, older ladies, middle-age single dads, young single women... it matters not to her. She considers them all friends that she would love to eat and chat with! I love how confident she is and how safe she feels. When I was her age, I was terrified of people, even my own extended family members... I hid in my room when anyone came to our house, and was terrified if I had to leave the safety of my room to go to the bathroom (which was next door, but since we had such a small, open house, it was visible to both the kitchen and living room). I hope she always has that confidence and that unconditional, accepting love of everyone. When we grow older, we tend to limit ourselves, thinking I have to be friends with people my age, or people who are married (or single) like me, or who have kids (or don't have kids) like me, who have my educational/social/cultural/ethnic/religious/economic/geographical background. We limit ourselves so much, and in the process, deny ourselves so much! My biggest problem is my shyness or feeling like I'm not "good enough" or "cool enough" or "smart enough" to be someone's friend... yes, I STILL struggle with that, though I've gotten A LOT better! My best friend could testify that I was almost a mute, completely introverted recluse when she first met me (much to her frustration!) in Grade 7... God has brought me a LONG way since then, THANK YOU JESUS! Please keep working on me and take away my fears, so that I can show people all the love in my heart - the love that I know, thanks to You!

Monday, March 03, 2008

You Love the World (and you're avoiding Me)

I took a Keith Green CD that I haven't listened to in awhile (though he's one of my favourite singer/songwriters) to listen to at the gym today. This song jumped out at me. I so often get distracted by the things of this world. I love movies, books, magazines, music, TV shows (and not necessarily "Christian" ones either). These things aren't necessarily bad, but I shouldn't be letting them get in the way of my relationship with Jesus. He should be my Number One, and sadly, He often isn't.

I want you here with Me.
But you've been keeping other company.
You can't sit still, it's plain to see.
You love the world and you're avoiding Me.

My word sits there upon your desk.
But you love your books and magazines the best.
Prefer the light of your TV.
You love the world, and you're avoiding Me.

You used to pray, you were so brave.
Now you can't keep even one appointment we've made.
Oh I gave My blood, to save your life.
Tell me, tell me, is it right?
Will you leave Me here alone again tonight?

Well I love you, still more and more.
But you're fighting everything I'm working for.
You're acting like My enemy.
You love the world and you're avoiding Me.

These other loves, they're hurting you.
If you end up losing Me, then what will you do?
Oh, I gave My blood, to save your life.
Tell me, tell me, is it right?
Will you leave Me here alone again tonight?

Well, I want you, here with Me.
But you've been keeping other company.
Prefer the light of your TV.
You love the world, and you're avoiding Me.
You love the world, you love the world,
You love the world and you're avoiding Me.
Oh, you love the world.
You love the world and you're avoiding Me.


Jesus, forgive me. After all You've done for me, all the mercy and grace You've poured out on me again and again, and I so often treat You like crap. I'm sorry, Lord. To be honest, I'll probably do it again and again, but please don't give up on me. Give me a kick in the ass when I need it, because I want to want You more than anything else in the world, and I'm hoping someday it won't be the everyday struggle it is for me now. Thank You, Jesus, for loving me even when I'm unloveable. Teach me to love like You.