Entering Into the Lord’s Rest

Entering Into the Lord’s Rest!

~Reima~

“Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest … Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

One of the most difficult challenges we all face is taking sufficient time to rest. This might explain why the Bible encourages us to “learn to rest from our own labour as God did”so that none of us should seem to come short of it. The reference to “it” being that none of us should miss out on the rest that our Lord God and Saviour promised to those who believe in Him.

Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of us are found to have fallen short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them; but the Word preached did not profit them [the message they heard was of no value to them] because those who heard the gospel preached did not combine it with faith. But we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, “As I have sworn in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest,” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:1-3)

One of the questions that emerges is this. When the Lord refers to “rest” is He referring to resting every seventh day (as was the tradition under the Law in the old covenant) or did He mean specifically the Sabbath rest on the first day of the week? Was the reference to “Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:12) Or, was there another rest? Specifically, the rest referred to in Matthew 11:29 that states: “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Certainly, if the former would be the case, we must note that the Israelite’s — who religiously observed the Sabbath from the time the law was given in the wilderness — did not please God.  As a consequence, God went so far as to declare an oath, stating: ‘They shall never enter my rest. ”

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” (Isaiah 30:15)

So, obviously this is not the “rest” that you and I as believers by faith are encouraged to partake in –as referenced in the New Testament. Something else must be the focal point here. An underlying meaning that we need to examine more intently. In this context, let’s begin with an example that is easy to understand.

Have you ever talked to someone who has recently returned home from a mission trip? These people might have been drilling a well or raising a church building or sharing the good news gospel of Jesus Christ on the streets? What is the first thing we notice?

Yes, you are so right. We notice their enthusiasm. Indeed, it is remarkable to see how enthusiastic these folks are when sharing their experience with others. This enthusiasm, in spite of the fact that in many situations, they have been working harder, living in more difficult conditions and possibly even having to pay their own expenses. Under normal circumstances, this would have been stressful. But as we know, this is not the case.

So what is going on here? Are they out of this world or what?

Well, in some cases, one might say just that — these people are out of this world. However. that wouldn’t entirely be true. What is happening is that these same people have “rested from their own work” to take hold of the love endeavor of the Kingdom of God. In this latter context, the labour does not even feel like work. Instead, the labour becomes more like a worship service — whereby people willingly worship our Lord Jesus Christ as they share His Gospel of the Kingdom.

“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.” (Psalms 37:7)

This, my friends is the taste of that amazing rest that our Lord Jesus prepared for us since the creation of the world. This rest is available to us not only on Sabbath or holy days, or Sundays, but 24/7. The rest that we are to partake in is available to us wherever and in whatever situation we might find ourselves in.

From the Word:

“He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalms 91:1)
“Be still, and know that I [am] God.” (Psalms 46:10)
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13)
“The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
“The fear of the LORD [tends] to life: and [he that hath it] shall abide satisfied.” (Proverbs 19:23)

To some readers, this might sound too good to be true. Some might even say that they can’t believe that God has a particular rest for His people. They would not be alone. In fact, as Hebrews 4:2 states: “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.”

So let’s enter into His rest by faith, remembering that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

 Link: http://lifeintheriveroutreach.com/

Jesus Makes all the Difference

Jesus Makes All the Difference!

~Reima~

One word from Jesus can make all the difference in our life. We understand this from reading the example presented in Luke chapter five. Therein, the people are pressing against Jesus who is preaching the good news gospel by the lake of Gennesaret. He saw two ships standing by the lake, observing that the fishermen had left the boats to wash their nets.

Jesus enters into Simon’s boat, and prayed that he would thrust the boat out a little from the land. In so doing, the people on the land could sit down on the shore and listen to Jesus’ teachings. When He was finished, Jesus said unto Simon, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.”

But Simon Peter and his companions, who had toiled all night fishing, catching nothing must have wondered at Jesus’ statement.They had already worked hard all night and their efforts had not even produced one fish. In fact, Simon could have complained about Jesus’ request. Or for that matter, rejected Jesus’ request. After all, Simon was tired, having already worked all night.

But as we see from Luke 5:5, Simon’s response was revealing. He admitted, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing” but “nevertheless, at Thy word, I will let down the net.”

In other words, when Jesus told Simon to give it one more try, he willingly listened. He willingly responded to the words of the Master.

“Nevertheless, at Thy word, I will let down the net.” And when he did, what happened?

The scriptures state: “And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both the ships …”

You see, when one willingly seeks Jesus, and His righteousness, we are no longer the ones carrying the burden. We no longer have to toil endlessly, coming up empty handed every time. Rather, just like Simon, we need to trust our Lord God and Saviour for all our needs.  Jesus said:

“Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Therefore, don’t get caught in the needless entanglements of this world. Instead, “cast thy burden(s) upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalms 55:22)

Jesus — the same yesterday, today and forever — never fails. Trust in Jesus today.

 Link: http://lifeintheriveroutreach.com/

Snatched From the Abyss

Snatched from the Abyss!

~Reima~

Thankfully, I was snatched from the edge of the abyss by the grace of God. Still, for me, the underlying message was clear. The Abyss Dream (as I have since named my revelation) marked the beginning of a new life for me — in Jesus. Today, my only motivation is to preach the good news gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom to anyone and everyone that does not personally know our Lord God and Saviour. I am optimistic that in sharing my dream, others too might heed the calling of our Most High King. That is, to become fishers of men and disciples, going into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature.

The dream begins with me struggling towards the top of a hill or a mountain. In this place, I am not alone but rather one of a vast multitude of people.  As far as the eye could see, there were multitudes all around me. My motivation was to get to a higher level but it seemed that everyone else wanted to do the same, For example, whenever there was an opening ahead we all dived for it — often elbowing and snarling at one another to gain these newfound positions. I clearly remember how tired I was, but for some reason I just had to get to the higher ground.At one point, it seemed as though the top of this mountain was not too far off.

However, no matter how hard I struggled, the highest elevations seemed always to be some distance away. In the midst of this, I suddenly find myself standing on the edge of something terrifying. That is, just one more step and I would fall. The cliff was clearly visible — something similar to what many would visualize the Grand Canyon to resemble — but without a bottom or other side. On both sides of me, people kept falling into this empty space — in reality an unspeakable horror — none of them making any sound so that the one behind them did not know what was ahead. In my alarm and terror of what lay ahead,

I turned around and saw another startling scene that I had not been aware of before. The vast multitude of people behind me were climbing over heaps of cars, houses, stoves, fridges and all kinds of worldly stuff only to fall into this horrible place. I raised my arms and shouted to the people at the top of my voice, “Stop! Stop! It’s all a lie, Stop, it’s death. Do not take another step!”

That is when I woke up and realized it was only a dream. But the dream left a lasting impression on me that could not be discounted. This experience taught me clearly that I was serving a false a god — the material things of this world — and that I was one step away from the abyss — hell.

Even though I had trusted my life to Jesus some years earlier, I talked about faith and went to church regularly but my heart was still worshiping false gods and I knew this to be true when I really looked into my own heart.  Reflecting on the Abyss Dream, I believe our gracious Lord was gently warning me to change my life before journeying toward that final step.

The question for me then was “What will I choose?  Will I choose life eternal through Jesus Christ my Lord?  For the other option, I did not need to make any changes,  All I had to do was continue taking yet another step with the others in the crowd who continuously struggled to reach a higher plateau. But a plateau that would only lead to death.

I prayerfully leave this message with you. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23)

 Link: http://lifeintheriveroutreach.com/

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told!

~Reima~

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 1:6)

In recent days, I have found myself dwelling more and more  on the “greatest love story” ever told. In fact, I insert this “greatest love story” theme into many of the blogs I write — regardless of the overarching topic. Today, however, in conversation, this same idea of our Lord God becoming our Saviour was approached from a different perspective — one that challenged me to dig deeper in my understanding and communications.

Admittedly, we all have moments like these — when someone says something that doesn’t quite fit our initial worldview — and as a consequence, we reach out and investigate new concepts and constructs that appease, even if only for a moment.

But today, there was no pacifying my inner soul. I knew that there was more breadth and depth to the “greatest love story” than I had previously pursued. Ironically, at the same time, I was reminded of an Arthur Miller quote that states: “The apple cannot be stuck back on the tree of knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less.”

Moreover, within this particular conversation, the intricate details made sense. The very scriptures that were being shared resonated within me, to the point that I realized that in sharing “the greatest love story ever told” I was assuming that the reading audience understood the rest of the story.

But when I think of the number of people who have never heard of the good news gospel — of Jesus and His everlasting love for you and I — my assumption was clearly misguided. So, for those of you out there who long to know and have a personal relationship with the “unknown God” this message is written specifically for you. (Acts 17:22-28)

In the beginning, God breathed His breath into man. As a consequence, we became living souls. At the time, Adam and Eve lived in paradise — identified in the Bible as the Garden of Eden.

“And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)

Indeed, the LORD God loved His new creation — man and woman –so much that He gave man full dominion over all the earth, and all the inhabitants within.

Herein, there was only one instruction. That is, the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it — for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

The reason? Because our LORD God knew that if we were openly exposed to the fruits of good and evil, we would not readily choose His goodness. And, that death which was not a reality in the Garden, would be a consequence.

The enemy satan — who could not argue with the LORD God on any level — saw the authority given to man over all the earth as an opening for him to challenge Almighty God. So, in satan’s mind, there began a contest. Knowing that challenging the LORD God directly was futile, satan set out to dominate the earth through humankind.

But in order for this new order of things to be successful, satan needed Adam and Eve to eat the fruit from the tree of good and evil. And thus, to this end, the enemy was relentless in his pursuit of these living souls. The devil also knew that God’s Word was irrevocable — indeed, holy and unshakeable — and that even in man’s fallen state, the LORD would not take back authority over the earth.

Therefore, at satan’s bidding, Eve was first to eat the forbidden fruit. She then convinced Adam to do the same.

The LORD God said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever … He drove out the man, and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Gen 3:22-24)

So, now, as a consequence, men and women had choices. They could readily choose good or evil — life or death in all of their dealings.  Although the LORD still wanted us to choose life,  He also knew that satan would use every worldly enticement — lust, hatred, greed, etc. — so that he could dominate the world. Yes, the enemy now had a stronghold that allowed him to rule the earth through fallen man.

However, the one thing that satan and his fallen angels never counted on is that this same LORD God had devised a plan of salvation to rescue His creation even before the world was shaped. A plan to justify His own children by shedding His own precious blood on the cross.  He that knew no sin would ultimately become sin for us.

The same Lord God who created us in the beginning became the ultimate sacrifice for you and I so that all of our sins would be forgiven once and for all if we only believe on Jesus and seek His righteousness.

“Neither is there salvation in any other … for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Thus, the “greatest love story” ever told for all humanity to see. The rest of the story unfolding in the scriptures for one and all to understand. Praise Jesus!

 Link: http://lifeintheriveroutreach.com/

Let Your Soul Delight

Let Your Soul Delight

~Richard~

Ho, every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters and he that hath no money, come ye buy, and eat, yea , come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfies not?

Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live and I will make you an everlasting covenant with you … seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near …” (Isaiah 55:1-11)

Hello, my name is Richard. I was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario with an older sister and younger brother. As a youth, I had knowledge that we were created in some fashion. That is, we did not just appear here on earth.  When I was younger, I attended a church in Amherstburg, Ontario with my cousins – as part of a family tradition. But then, I did not understand the practices and events that took place. In time, I moved back to Windsor later that year, never returning to another church service.

My mother and father divorced when I was five years old. Without any understanding of why their marriage did not work out for them, I became a teenager in foster care. Confused as I was, there was seemingly nothing I could do so I accepted it. A period of four years went by. I was now eighteen years old.

I began questioning where my dad was all those years of my life. I had received letters but my mother would destroy them. It was in the spring of 2003 when I had looked into where my dad was, and if he was still in the community at all. My uncle Larry gave me his phone number after I mentioned my idea about finding him. It took a lot of thinking for me to build courage to call him.

But the next day, I called my father. He answered the call. I spoke and said, “It’s your son Ricky.” Tears began flowing down my face. We caught up on the past briefly and agreed to meet for a coffee. The following weekend, I was sitting at the table on a patio at the coffee shop, when I saw him approach. I could see the emotion in his eyes as he noticed me too.

Without hesitation, he came up to me, and sat down at the table where I was seated. He had just gotten off of work. We began talking, and soon I noticed our conversation was like he had never left. During the conversation, he mentioned a particular church in Windsor. Dayspring, he said. I said “great!” From then on, he told me bits and pieces of his life, and how he started to attend this church.

My father told me he had been born again. He continued, mentioning that he had been born again. Since I did not know what being born again meant, I questioned him, asking, “What does it mean to be born again?” He began to share its meaning, what I would later discover to be the good news gospel of Jesus Christ. He said that he had been called by God. He was at a church service, where he was called to the front by the minister.

Herein, the minister held my dad’s hand and said, “Do you want Jesus to come into your heart and into your life for eternity?” My father said “yes.” My father said the following prayer:

“Father, I come to you asking for forgiveness of all my sins. I am asking you to wash and cleanse me of all my sins. I am asking you Jesus to wash and cleanse me of all my sins. I ask that you would come into my heart and my life for eternity. In Jesus precious name I pray.”

“At this moment,” my father said, “I believed that Jesus had come into my heart and life for eternity. I was receiving my personal Saviour. Ever since that moment in time, I have never been the same.”

About the time of this conversation, I had been trying to attend some form of service. So, when my father asked if I wanted to attend a service with him, I agreed. When I arrived, my father took the time to introduce me to everyone before the service. As the pastor began to speak, I became oddly interested in what he was saying, although the content of what he was saying was not familiar. At the end of the service, the minister closed with prayer. He then asked if there was someone in the group who did not know Jesus as their personal Saviour. With my head down, I began to feel awkward in my heart. Well, awkward may not be quite the right word, but I was certainly out of my comfort zone.  It was certainly not a feeling I had felt before.

I then raised my hand and began to proceed to the front. The pastor took my hands and said, “If you would like to receive Jesus as your personal Saviour, then bow your head and repeat after me. Then and there, I began to ask Jesus to forgive me of all my sins, and to wash and cleanse me from all sin. I then said to Jesus, “I am asking you to come into my heart and into my life for eternity. I accept you Jesus into my heart and believe that you are there, from this very moment, going forward. I will live for you Jesus – forever – Amen.”

I lifted my head and began to feel a joy come over me like never before. A weight had been lifted off my chest. Ever since, my life has not been the same. In John 15:5-7, it states that Jesus is the vine and we are the branch. If we remain in Him, and He in us, we will bear much fruit. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.” This is the verses that I have stood on to keep me in check with Jesus. I realized that if I did not include Jesus in my life, I would suffer greatly, knowing no peace. But conversely, if I include Jesus in everything that I do, there is nothing that I can’t accomplish.

This is why I would like to encourage those who don’t know the Lord God as their personal Saviour, to do so. Like me, He is knocking at your heart, and is currently waiting for you to respond. If you are a believer and need to be encouraged, get into the Word – Jesus – the Bible –read His counsel and stand on His promises.

Why? Because I am a living example and testimony of the great works God can do. He brought my dad back into my life and then used that same father as a light to my heart. It says in scripture that a just man will fall seven times but because of His love for Jesus, he will get up again. I thank you for reading this blog. Please allow me to leave some scriptures for you to review.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, I will be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after – that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:1-4)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof …” (Matthew 6:33-34)

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first and also to the Greek, for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written: “The just shall live by faith.” … Because that which may be known of God may be manifest in them for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse – because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:16-20).

Thank you and be blessed!

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

~Paul K~

Who am I? The answer is not as easy as it seems. What I can tell you is that I am a child of our heavenly Father.  I also know that because of Adam and Eve’s transgression in the garden, I was born into sin. Even so, my Lord God and Saviour never gave up on me. Not when I was born and not any time since.

While the medical doctors gave me a poor chance of survival, God had a purpose for my life. When others said that I could not live a fulfilling life, God gave me the gifts of His Spirit so that I could go forth and spread the Word, as He commanded. All we have to do is love the Lord with all our heart, body, mind and soul to become the person we were intended to be from the beginning.

You see, if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can know that He will never leave us to our own devices. Rather, we can know that He will provide the strength and tools needed for us to accomplish all the tasks given us. As the Bible states, our Father walks with us, hand in hand. Indeed, Jesus never fails. Empowering us with the wonderful gifts of His Spirit – teaching, preaching, healing, the gift of knowledge, miraculous powers, prophecy, and different kinds of tongues –the Lord shows us His abundance of peace and joy.

My prayer is that everyone has an opportunity to know how awesome our Lord God is. How much He loves us. How much He wants to pour His peace upon all His children. He who knew no sin then became sin for us, shedding His precious blood on a cross so that we could be made whole in Christ. Wow! Writer S. Undset put it this way:

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans — and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused — and to save us from our foolishness, from our sins, He [who knew no sin] gave us Himself.”

When we think of our life on earth this way, it doesn’t really matter who I am. It only matters that I believe in Jesus by faith – the same “God with us” who willingly did everything He could to bring me under His wing. He wraps me in His protection. He fills my heart with joy and peace and happiness. He gives me hope that sustains me in a daily routine that rotates between healthy and unhealthy at any given time. Throughout, He is my rock of salvation.

Like Mary in the manger, I too exclaim, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant” (Luke 1:47-48) Thank you Jesus for caring for me. Merry Christmas!

Blogs by Lori

 His presence is never far…

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”  (Psalm 121-1:8)

I needed a reminder today that I am not alone.  That Jesus has been right beside me through all the unpleasant happenings as of late, and that, because of Him, the unpleasant all turned into pleasing outcomes.  It was a struggle to maintain faith when I was being bombarded with negative news en mass. I am happy to report that my nephew who had the blood clot scare, after many days in hospital and weeks at home not feeling well at all (and definitely not feeling like a normal healthy 20 year old boy), has turned the corner to feeling much better, and his clots seem to be diminishing daily.  We still do not know the cause of this, therefore there is always some apprehension with him in the back of our minds, but he has been doing great health wise these past few days.  Praise the Lord!

A friend of mine that was having dire financial problems with nothing but bad news time after time to the point of her not being able to get out of bed, has finally received good news about an avenue that will make her and her family’s life much easier to live going forward.  Yes, money isn’t everything but unfortunately you need it to survive these days and she only was needing enough to put a roof over her head and food on table. And in this context, her prayers have been answered.  Praise the Lord!

My dear friend that has been dealing with major medical issues and experiencing depression but a few months ago…her healing has stalled and she was gaining new issues. On top of all that, she was struggling to get her oldest son diagnosed with stomach pains and her best friend got very bad news in regards to her health.  This wonderful friend of mine came to me with all her problems and I felt so helpless.  There was nothing I could do.  I could only listen and I hope that made her feel better but it was weeks till I heard from her (very unlike us as we talked almost daily). I knew she was going into a depression and she just needed some peace and alone time to get her head around everything. But once she came out of her ‘funk’ she started to get better news in regards to helping her fully heal and got a better answer as to what could be going on with her son.  I pray this is the upward boost she so deserves and it keeps getting better and better for her.  Praise the Lord!

Some people may not think of animals as anything other than a furry pest, and may think it’s silly for those of us that consider our pets as important members of our family, but I am someone who loves my pets fully and feel angst when they are not well.  That includes furry friends of my close family members.  During a one week timeframe, my niece’s two new kitties came down with a serious respiratory infection, and then found out they were infested with worms. About the same time, I found out my two furry rascals were inflicted with fleas and my Coon kitty was vomiting blood from a hairball. So between the two of us, we were to the vets 4x in one week dealing with our four legged family illnesses.

Even so, I had faith all would work out well with all our little guys. In fact, I saw a significant difference in mine within a few days. I am still worried about my Coon as she has been throwing up all week but I was reassured it is quite normal.  Unfortunately, it took TWO weeks for my niece’s kitties to start coming around.  I was so nervous something was going to happen to them as they meant the world to her. Seriously, I don’t think she would have recovered from a loss.  These guys were in my constant thoughts and prayers.  Thankfully, today, all four kitties seem to be worm, flea, and cold free.  Praise the Lord!

As I sit here with my laptop in front of me on a warm Saturday morning — coffee cup close by (and almost empty now) — I reflect upon the last month and realize that it started with some very sweet people close to me getting pushed down into depression (including myself as I tend to take on their problems as well lol) but ending with things working out well for all of them.  As we start another month off fresh, I am happy to sit here enjoying the light south breeze against my face and feel at peace that everyone around me has been rewarded with happy endings.  Thank you for receiving my prayers and watching over my friends and family, my Lord and heavenly Father.  Thank you for bestowing your wonderful peace upon me.
Amen

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Soothing My Soul with Simple Pleasures ..

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Everyone has probably heard of White Noise. I never really heard this term in relevance to anything specific up until a few years ago. Now, it’s all I hear about.  Especially when moms are seeking advice on how to get their little ones to sleep through the night.  Oh, “get a white noise machine” they are told.  What is that?!?!  After reading responses and what not, I started to put two and two together.  White noise is essentially any device that makes a sound that is soothing.  The actual definition to the word is “noise containing many frequencies with equal intensities.”
Like a lot of things, it is becoming a ‘fad’ and now you can actually buy ‘white noise’ machines.  They intrigue me but not enough to rush out and buy one (you’re looking at something around 100.00).  But unbeknownst to us, most of us have already been using ‘white noise’ to sooth us in our lullaby, or daily routines all our life but never knew it had a hip cool name.  Some of you might have used a radio, or stereo playing classical music (just an example of course), the snowy screen of a tv or a fan.  A simple household fan is considered white noise. COOL!  I have been using table fans for so many years, I honestly cannot think back to when I started to use it.  Once each of my kids got their own big boy/girl bed, they also got their own stand fan.  In fact, we go through a stand fan every year or two!
In my case, I find the noise comforting and loud enough to block out any intrusive sounds during sleep, but yet not loud enough I can’t hear a child cry out during the night. And, an added bonus to the fans is that they keep you cool as well.  :p
But because of these fans, I have in a sense ruined my children from a good night’s sleep.  How — you might ask?  Well, think of a night without power. When the power goes out, the house is dead quiet.  We are left staring at a ceiling listening to little creaks and cracks of the house, the wind outside, the cat padding down the hallway, and worse still, hearing daddy SNORING! He is the only one in this household not consumed by white noise for sleep.
So when the topic came up again about what a mom could do to keep her child sleep all night, I was impressed at how many people use fans all night/all year long with their little ones and themselves.  I kind of thought I was different but actually I am not in this regard.  Over the years, I was teased by having a fan on during winter.  HAHA, now I am one of the ‘cool kids’ and the white noise love is spreading!
Yes, I am very grateful for the simple pleasures.  We all sleep wonderfully in this house and this mama doesn’t have to get all overheated at night which is another story all in itself.  Amen.  🙂 The following quote is equally special.  I don’t have a lot of money, I don’t have a lot of extras and we struggle everyday with our faults but I am always happy. Beyond my praise for Jesus, who arranges each day in a blessed way that only He could, I give the rest of my thanks to white noise and my awesome fan.  🙂
“The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything;  they just make the best of everything they have …”
Anonymous

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Church Signs

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”  (Proverbs 10:12)

A highlight to my weekly trip to town is passing a church that is located close to the grocery stores. It is situated on the corner of an intersection. While waiting for a green light, one gets to read their road sign.  They never fail to have a witty, uplifting phrase posted for all passerby folks to see.  There are a few other churches that take advantage of their signs out front to not only advertise their sermon times, but to try to educate the public in some way. Still, I find this church always has the best and I try to take that route home to see what they have posted for that week.

This week’s sign was simply put, “A parent’s life is a child’s guidebook!”  Whoa! How true is that?!?!

Coincidentally, just hours before going to town and seeing this sign, I watched a VERY disturbing video online showing a mother going off on a complete stranger, using extremely foul language, threatening this stranger and being openly prejudice in front of her two children.  These kids could not be any older than 8 or 9 years of age but they were not fazed by their mother’s outrageous behavior.  Which leads me to believe, this is not the first time these children have seen their parent act this way. It also makes me very sad wondering what might go on behind that particular family’s closed doors. 😦

The scary part is that this behaviour is not considered abnormal behaviour, or even rare anymore. In fact, it’s happening all over the world.  There is a montage of videos and pictures of adults getting their children to behave as they do (as an adult) with everyone around them laughing at the situation. Then they post the video online for the whole world to see — a 4 year old smoking a joint (no joke!!), their 5 year old swearing like crazy and threatening to kill and beat up anyone that looks at him sideways, and even some toddler girls dressing in very provocative poses.

I am not a prude by any means but these were horrifying to me as they were extreme.  Not just the simple photo we had taken as a child sitting at a family gathering and they thought it would be funny to take a picture of the baby holding an “empty” beer bottle. No, these individuals are allowing these kids to actually DRINK it.

But if in fact, a parent’s life is a child’s guidebook, as the church sign suggests, then aren’t these parents sending the wrong message to their children? Certainly, something to consider. Still, from my perspective as a mother, I will pray that these innocent children are able to find positive role models that will shape them into good citizens that contribute positively to the community around them … and that they too will come to realize how much Jesus loves them. Indeed, His love covers all offences.

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Broken Bones

The popular euphemism that many use in a time of temptation and stress is that God will only give us what we can handle. “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful — who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13) I take heart in knowing I have God on my side and I am able to trust in Him in my times of need. In fact, I honestly believe He is watching over us in our trials and tribulations — supporting us so that when we put our faith and trust in Him, He will guide us through the struggles. I have learned this firsthand.

This past week, I had to look to Jesus for reassurance as I got a dreaded phone call from my children’s school. In this case, I had not been paying attention to my cell phone so I never heard it go off.  Since I have never gotten a phone call about my kids before, I never worried about receiving a call. Plus, I am usually never too far from home. This Friday, though, they started calling me very early in the morning. But I didn’t notice that the phone had unanswered calls until almost lunchtime.  😦

Apparently, my daughter was running on the playground when she tripped over a wooden board.  She fell hard, landing on her arm. By the time the teacher got her into the school building, her rosy cheeks were white. Of course, I felt terrible!  Words cannot describe how it felt when I realized I was not there for my daughter when she needed me.  She had spent the previous three hours in the ‘sick’ area at school waiting for me to come.  I was crushed.

Thankfully, she was not in any “actual” pain.  Other than a mini lecture from the concerned secretary about not being available, the teachers were understanding. It made me wonder what the school did when there were no cell phones.  Stay at home moms weren’t expected to sit at home for those 6-8 hours while kids were in school, JUST in case.  I actually remember being little and calling home sick from school just to be stuck in the nurse’s office for the day until bus time as my mom was not available.  I’m just glad my daughter is easy going and I had access to a vehicle that day to eventually pick her up.  🙂

Fast forward to us later sitting in the emergency room. Her arm is broken.  Bam!  I thought my head was about to explode.  I just went through this same diagnosis less than a year ago with my youngest and I just remember how tough the whole ordeal was. How long it lasted (he was in a leg cast for 8 weeks and still not able to walk for 5-6 weeks after that).  Our whole summer was spent sitting around with no swimming for him, no real exercise for us and no long, family walks.  Instead, we became regulars at the hospital orthopedic clinic.

Let’s just say, I was reassured by many during the past few days that a broken arm is easier (especially on an older child) who has a more relaxed attitude about life.  😉  Logically, it makes sense. A leg needs to move around and would take longer to heal which explains why going anywhere last year proved more difficult.  But to a girl who is creative, artistic, crafty, loves to write, read and make bracelets, as I have now discovered, a broken leg would have been easier.

When she tried grasping things with her fingertips (although kind of amusing to watch) it would hurt her arm tremendously. Thus, she is VERY restricted in what she can do. I felt burdened, not willing to endure another year with a child’s broken limb. But then it happened.

I heard my Lord’s voice, saying, “You can handle this Lori. You’ve handled worse. It could have been worse but I’m with you through this”. How do I know this? Because no temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man. And “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13) 

God never gives us more then we can handle. Although my daughter might think otherwise, I feel we have learned (and will learn) something new as a family while we deal with this new bump in the road of life.  I know God will be right there next to me the whole time and knowing that, we will prevail in His plan for all of us. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)

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The Havoc of Weather

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

After a long, but fun and exhausting week full of summer activities (not to mention such INTENSE hot weather), my brain was struggling to come up with an idea for a blog. Trying to put words into order for those to understand was proving to be a daunting task. Usually, I have so many day to day stories and am surrounded by God’s love and presence wholeheartedly, that sometimes I am overwhelmed and can’t pick just one topic. But none were coming easily this week. Thus, since most ideas come to me as I drift to sleep I thought I would try that.
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Today’s blog came as I struggled to sleep Friday night — not from the high humidity, but rather from the knowing of a big storm coming our way. It was a long winter with storm after storm so spring and summer were heartily welcomed. Plus, in our small neck of the woods, we can breathe a sigh of relief for most of the spring until fall because there isn’t that much activity other than some rain and moderate winds.

But alas, it seems our summer is going to start out with a bang, just like our winter did. The first named hurricane of the season was forecasted to hit the east coast of Canada.  Not just the tail end of it like we normally get in the fall, but as a landfall category 1. The weather forecasters didn’t play up the hype much, and told us that we were to expect it to be very weakened BUT still considerable when it hit our little island. Further, we were to expect a windy, rainy stormy day of winds 60-90km an hour with very high amounts of rain (which we are very used to here), but some amateur and hobby weather chasers (myself included) were more wary. 

Indeed, the hair was rising on the back of my neck as I went to bed Friday evening.  I dreamed really bad dreams, of tornadoes and forest fires and just couldn’t calm my mind.  I replayed over and over all that I did to make our yard secure.  We tucked things away like we always did and thankfully don’t have much outside to blow around but we were very worried about our newly planted, and thriving veggie garden.  It was in God’s hands.

I woke up Saturday to no rain falling and moderate winds.  But Hurricane Arthur was still on his way and soon had shifted to the west. Therefore, MORE winds and less rain. Inevitably, we endured over 12 hours of very strong winds, and at some points, gusts reached well over 100kms an hour.  It was the strangest storm I had seen.  It was pure sunshine outside as the wind howled and battered our lovely FULL trees and our homes.  In fact, now over 24 hours later since Hurricane Arthur made landfall, it was still impacting our area with strong winds and some intermittent rain showers.  Some local residents are still without power, and most will be doing a large clean up for the days following.  I am saddened that this crazy weather hit our island on one of the busiest and funniest weekends of the summer season — cancelling outdoor concerts and festivals. Some people are understandably upset but I say, “Better safe than sorry!”

In the aftermath, there have been a lot of trees broken in half (this time of year, the hardwoods are full of leaves and wildlife, so sad) and buildings lost roofs. Some outdoor equipment was smashed to bits.  Even the boats in the harbour took a hit from this storm as some docked boats capsized and some even got loose. 

I am still hearing people say, “Wow, what an unexpected storm.”  LOL, we had 4+ days warning this storm was in fact coming. Even a post tropical storm is NOTHING to take lightly — especially this time of year — and they put warnings up all over the media.  For anyone that lost a trampoline or deck toys because they weren’t aware a hurricane was coming, I feel sorry for them. I pray they have better sense next time. 

At the same time, I am just as thankful that our Lord God and Saviour was watching over us. There have been no reported fatalities from this vicious weather.  What have I learned? At the end of the day, nature is raw and powerful and has no discrimination when it destroys things in its path.  You are not invincible no matter how hard one prepares. Plus, storm warnings should never be taken lightly.  I pray that this is not a start to a pattern like our winter was with storm after storm after storm.  Thank you precious Jesus for keeping everyone safe and protecting each and every one of us through this terrifying weather event. Praise the Lord Jesus for reminding us all to take heed when other storms approach our island in the future.

Jesus, I will arise;
Jesus do Thou accompany me;
Jesus, do thou lock my heart into Thine, And let my body and my soul be commended unto thee.
The Lord is crucified.
May God guard and protect my senses so that misfortunes may not overcome me.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

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God is Great

“God is Great.” We often hear these three words in music, or on television, or conversation, even reading these in online inspirational quotes . But sadly, we do so without paying enough attention to its inherent meaning.  In my life, I can honestly say that this saying really is true – and more so now than ever. I am finding that as I press more into Jesus in my faith journey, I am discovering just how glorious our Maker is. He shines in every surface.

This weekend, we were blessed to wake up to sunshine and actual warm temperatures. The kind of spring weather that doesn’t require a hat, mini gloves, fleece clothing and insulated rubber boots. What a delightful change to wake up to! Are we finally getting our Spring season, we ask. Is it finally here to stay?

Upon realizing that the sun and warm dry temperatures were going to be an all-day event, I decided it would be a great time to change the house over from the winter gear to spring gear. Living here in Eastern Canada, I have learned that it is not possible to go straight from one set of seasonal clothing to the other. We usually have some summery and some springy stuff mixed in with wintery weather highlights all winter long and then vice versa in the summer months.

We are fortunate to have all four seasons here but admittedly, some nights in July can get downright cold. So a fleece get up is always necessary even though there were some days in January that the kids went to school in hoodies 🙂 With that said, when you live in a smaller house with not much storage space and an entry way that barely fits more than two people side by side, having a collection of these items within arm’s reach can be – well, frustrating to say the least.

Today, however, as I watched the three kids running around the yard in sneakers, adorned in their ball caps and lightweight hoodies, it made me very optimistic that spring will be on our door step for good this year. 🙂 I should probably be outside enjoying the extra sunshine with the kiddos too, or even tidying up the yard some so that when the weather changes, I am ahead of the game.

Still, I wanted to share how I am feeling today. That is, God is glorious and I want to thank Him always for this wonderful sunshine and bright day. But I also pray that He is the source of your inspiration and well-being too because in my life, I have discovered that Jesus never fails.

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances — for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

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Hobbies of the Heart

If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe [and] to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth … “ (Deuteronomy 28:1-68)

Obsessions. We all have them. I have even seen obsessions emerging in young children. In fact, all three of my kids have favorite objects that they are quite attached to. This day, however, I am going touch on material obsessions … mainly the emerging fads among kids and teens that occupy all of their time. In my case, the obsession is Rainbow Loom Bracelets. Have you heard of them? 🙂 As a mom, I can attest that these bracelets have been available for a while.  Just recently, these bracelets have become a phenomenon in my local area, and, since Christmas, this obsession has extended to my home. Let me explain.

All of my children were coming home with bracelets made from bright coloured rubber bands.  I thought ‘Cool’! The bands certainly are creative and pretty and apparently fun to do and collect as well.  I never saw the big attraction initially, but having said that, my daughter has become consumed by them.  She received a gift card this past Christmas and asked to purchase a Loom Kit. She wanted this kit so much that she held out from spending until she had enough cash to go with the gift card to buy the set.

After purchasing the kit a week ago, she has spent every free minute making bracelets. Mainly, she is making them for her brothers and us. But now she is out of bands and needs refills to continue making these cool bracelets.  Currently, she is broke so as a responsible mom, I told her that she can earn money by doing some extra chores around the house. (She is being SO patient knowing her birthday is over 4 months away) Still, in the interim, she has been following me around the house asking if she can clean, bake — anything!  This is a girl that HATES chores, so it is probably a good thing that in her mind, she is going to be rich when she grows up. (lol) Seriously, however, I feel kind of bad for her.

Here she is making bracelets for those whom she loves. She is learning how to do this by watching lots of videos from the internet.  But then I hear her grumble that the kit didn’t come with enough bands to start with (it comes with 600). Normally, she is not one to grumble so it’s a tad humorous to listen to her.

Still, I was once in her shoes as a child — okay as an adult child…shhh!  As such, I might suggest that the stage she is going through is completely normal. But I don’t remember – (at least not until I thought about my childhood more) – being obsessed with material things or worse, collecting a particular fad item. Like most young girls, I was into Barbies and My Little Ponies but I also had a WIDE range of interests beyond playing in the house. Therefore, I never really got into one particular thing until I was older … much older.

And then it was Beanie Babies! Sigh! Even now I love Beanie Babies. In a store, my fingers itch to buy them.  I started to collect them when I was around 20.  At times, I would even scour e-bay for the best deals.  In the end, I spent hundreds of dollars on these collectables. Now that I have grown up, my assortment of Beanie Babies have been put into storage.

Knowing my own circumstance, it is easy to understand how my daughter developed this mania. But I also feel the pull to help her out, to grab bill money and head to town and buy her tons of refills so she can Loom till her little heart is all tuckered out.  But what would that teach her?  Right now, she is proving to be a very mature, responsible little girl of 8 years old and wants to earn money in order to buy them herself.  I never had to explain this concept. She figured it out on her own.

Fortunately, too, my daughter wants to make these bracelets to give to others. From this perspective, her motives are honest and worthwhile. Someday, I might tell her of George Eliot’s warning — that “hobbies are apt to run away with us … we must keep the reins.”

But for now, she needs to know that any life obsessions we pursue should start and end with our higher calling in life. That is, the one our Lord God and Saviour who created in the beginning stated when He willingly died on a cross for you and I. That is, “Come.”

“Come and I [Jesus] will give you rest.” The King of kings and Lord of lords is inviting my daughter and all of our family into His rest, His love, and His liberty.

This is why we have hope, and can “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free … [and not be] entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1) For God so loved the world that He gave … so that you and I can have eternal life.

Indeed, “The fellowship of the mystery – which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ … according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith [we have] in Him.” (Ephesians 3:9-12) There is no greater calling!

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In the Midst of the Storm, There Is Jesus Calming the Waters

Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, [it is] He that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Today is yet another storm day here on the rock 🙂 There have been a lot of storms so far this winter and it’s only early January. Still, I am super happy to have my kids home for an extended weekend.  The severity of the storm also means my hubby does not have to work either. From where I am in the country, it helps knowing that everyone is safe and off the treacherous roads.

Even so, the storm did not prevent me from getting up early. As everyone peacefully slept, I logged onto my computer. There I saw lots of questions. Many parents of school aged children were asking what they should do with their kids on this wild and stormy day? Obviously, the weather dictated that the kids could not venture outside. Others asked for a list of creative ways to prevent their children from becoming bored.

I laughed a little because my kids are never bored, particularly in these days of electronic gadgets. I know that as long as there is power, there is so much to do. Well, that is the situation in my house anyway. But seriously, I think snow days are the perfect day to do things as a family. Hubby can’t go outside to wander around the yard. Mom and/or dad do not have to go work or the grocery store. The gym would be closed for the day and appointments cancelled due to the roads being closed.

So what is my suggestion? How about for once, we as parents slow down and enjoy the peace and time with our family? What about entertaining our little ones in ways that make them happy?

As I tried to understand why some parents even have to ask how to entertain their children, I realized that there are just some parents out there who do not spend a lot of time with their offspring. So, when the time comes to actually spend a full day with them that does not include running around with them in a vehicle, they honestly do not know what to do. That makes sense! I also know that some parents do not have a knack for playing at a kid’s level. I understand that too.

But rather than thinking that their questions (about something that comes first nature to me) are loopy, I started thinking outside the box. In fact, I did some googling. What did I discover? Well, I found some mommy blogs about storm day fun. In fact, there were lots of good suggestions, even for those of us who already know how to bring out the cards, the board games, the art supplies and cookie cutters with tons of play doh.

One mom shared the idea of creating a storm day kit from a range of ideas. I thought this was a brilliant idea, especially when parents online were already sharing what they do in their households on storm days.  In fact, there were so many new ideas that I had never even thought about. I admit that generally, I am not organized enough to make a list of things to do – and thus often rely on my memory to carry the day – but it was refreshing knowing that I wasn’t alone out there.  On a day when the world came to an unexpected stop, I am thankful that I learned a host of new possibilities from other moms willing to share their ideas.

So instead of saying Happy Snow Day, I am going to wish everyone a Happy Slow Down Day! Most of all, take time to enjoy the snowflakes that our Lord God and Saviour created just of us 🙂

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Standing on His Promises for Healing and Comfort

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:15-16)

I love the smell of Italian food!!! Today, I spent the whole day preparing sauce and dough from scratch to make six HUGE pizzas and sauce for noodles to be frozen for later use. But this day is different. Today, the majority of these homemade dishes are going to a good friend of mine to help fill her freezer with nutritious yummy food for her post surgery recovery.

In five sleeps my wonderful friend Mandy is going into the hospital to have a very scary surgery done to HOPEFULLY correct a lot of pain and infection associated with Chrohn’s disease. She wants to feel normal again – a feeling that she has not shared for a very long time. And, her desire is to be a mom in good health for her young children.

But the surgery is only one concern. Because of infection, she is often prone to extended hospital stays. She is basically a single mom as her hubby is a trucker that works away for weeks at a time. With him travelling to make a living, she has become very anxious about leaving her boys and house for an unknown period of time. Still, she has some supports. She is most grateful for her in-laws who treat her like gold. They only live minutes away and thus are able to help her and the boys. Thankfully, the two boys are strong and capable while also mature enough to help their mom if need be.

Perhaps, I should mention how I met Mandy. Both her kids are friends with my kids. Her oldest is three weeks younger than my oldest and her youngest is two weeks older than my youngest. We met when our two oldest kids started kindergarten together just five years ago. This was just a year before they changed the structure of kindergarten, bringing it into the school system. This meant we had to pick our kids up every lunch hour.

Therefore, we go to meet the moms of our children’s peers. It was awesome. I met so many wonderful women due to this new kindergarten arrangement. Now, I am happy to have three particular ones in my close circle – Mandy being one of them.

Because of our close connection, I have been able to recruit the other two lovely ladies from that kindergarten class to deliver hot meals to Mandy both in the hospital and also when she is home again. We hope that by doing something that seems so simple to us, it will make her life a lot easier and certainly take some of the added anxiety off her shoulders.

So, as one of my most treasured friends gets ready for this scary chapter in her life, never asking for any help or prayer, she will need all the strength she can nurture to become whole again. So while I physically spent the whole day pureeing, mixing, stirring, baking and cooking, my mind was constantly thinking of her and the ordeal ahead. In fact, I have never prayed so much in my life as much as I have this week.

Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given unto you. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks, it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) Therefore, I am asking all of you to pray for Mandy – that she will experience an uncomplicated surgery, a speedy recovery in the hospital and lots of love, attention, help and health recuperating at home. I know prayer works. I know that Jesus heals. I know because His presence in my life has blessed me.

I remember reading in Luke that Jesus said, “If ye then, being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11:13) Thank you Jesus!

“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:15-16)

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Lessening the Load, Literally!

“Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honour, preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you. Bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:10-18)

Life is good. Life is precious. Life is short but regardless, life can be such a blessing when one knows the Lord Jesus as their personal Saviour. For all those that need some extra hope this day, I offer hopeful prayers on your behalf so that your trials and tribulations are overcome quickly and that, you become stronger against the woes that try to discourage you. Paul wrote: “Rejoice in hope. Be patient in tribulation and be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) I consider these scriptures to be good counsel for my own life.

Today, I decided to de-clutter. Let me also say that I LOVE de-cluttering.  Even the act of doing it is good, but especially the feeling you get after knowing something is clean, organized and quantifiably LESS. In fact, de-cluttering cupboards is FUN to me.

But de-cluttering is not an everyday occurrence. I have to first be in the mood to do it so that it does not feel like work, or ‘forced’.  However, when I am in the mood, watch out “black garbage bin” because you are going to reap an abundance of rewards.

Hours later, I have officially finished cleaning out every single shelf and cupboard and pantry in this house.  It is easy to see that I have a lot more space than I thought and I am amazed to see how many empty cupboards/shelves there really are.  I now have two empty shelves in my main bathroom closet that are reserved specifically for Kleenex and toilet paper. In retrospect, it makes me wish we had a Costco nearby so that I could fill them all up again. I love to stock up on stuff.

But as people who know me would say, I absolutely hate throwing things in the trash.  Not only is it terrible for the environment but I was always under the impression that someone out there could use it. For this reason I would often try to sell things if I could or offer these same items for free if a purchaser was not readily available.

Some may think I’m nuts for getting excited about de-cluttering, particularly when completing this trivial ‘chore’ is mostly hidden behind closed doors. No one is ever going to see it, or even appreciate my day’s work. Still, I have to admit that de-cluttering makes me feel so open, free, and light. When I am finished, it honestly makes me feel as if my house is clean (even though the floors are dirty, the tables full of clutter and the laundry covering every surface in the bedrooms — lol).

As I was writing this blog, I began to think about my health and well-being from a spiritual level. That is, perhaps, I need to also de-clutter my mind and heart from all the worldly things that steal me off in directions that do anything BUT refresh my soul. In an earlier blog this week, I had written about the “negatives” that were weighing me down and ultimately leaving me feeling exhausted and internally weak. I had a decision to make – one that would give me the strength to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation [while being] constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

So, from this point forward and with the help of my Lord God and Saviour, I am going take the time to free my mind of weight bearing thoughts that do not satisfy my soul. I am going to focus on scripture that lifts my spirit up – so that I can become more open and loving toward the Lord, my family and my friends. “If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.” (Luke 11:36)

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Overcoming Petty Grievances

“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good …” (I Thessalonians 3:13)

The days are flying by quickly and for that I am glad. Normally, I don’t want time to go by as fast because I find life to be short enough already. Similarly, I like to enjoy the kids when they are young. This week, however, a number of issues have come to the forefront. First, I have been very busy doing some Fall cleaning in the house that I hadn’t previously gotten around to. It always feels so nice when the house is de-cluttered and then reorganized, so this should have been a good experience. But today, I am exhausted and feeling guilty for being this way. Certainly, there are others who live in far more difficult situations than I, so in actuality, I should be feeling blessed.

 But today I am not. I have been battling fatigue since the first of December and I blamed it on a combination of factors — my super early mornings, the fact I had strep followed by a non-stop sinus cold, a snoring hubby that keeps me up a lot during the night and probably (as my medical history has proved) extremely low in iron. To make matters worse, I hate going to the doctors so I have been putting off getting my blood checked. But now, seriously, I don’t think I can let it go much longer. I should certainly not be hanging my head and yawning at 9 am 😉

But the issues don’t stop there. I only worked one day this week. I really enjoy my job – babysitting — and normally I have the kiddos 3-4 times a week. But for all sorts of reasons, it didn’t happen. This means my finances are negatively affected and when one isn’t feeling well, it only adds even more unnecessary stress. The topper though was waking up to a massive amount of cat puke throughout the house. My kitty is a Maine Coon so she often gets sick with hairballs. When she does, she tends to get sick for a few days. Of course, this latter issue with the cat causes my kids to gag. Me? I thank the Lord that none of us stepped in it as we stumbled to the bathroom in the dark.

As I hurried the kids to get ready for school, one would think that keeping busy would prevent one from feeling ‘dopey’. Not a chance. I was getting more and more tired as the minutes passed. How could this be happening, I thought? Technically, I had only been up for an hour after sleeping close to 10 hours. Time to call a doctor, I decided, but then that raised another issue. We don’t have a second vehicle. Once, I saw someone selling an item I really wanted to buy online but no access to a vehicle meant that I couldn’t even tell the seller I was interested. I was reminded of this incident. I was also reminded that this same non-committal happens every time I attempt to plan visits with friends or family.

And then I realized that all these “petty grievances” – yes, you heard me right — were changing my normally positive perspective on life. Here I am – a child of the Most High King – complaining about a litany of insignificant problems rather than being thankful for the many blessings that I do enjoy each day. As I pondered why I let the little things bother me, I remembered a quote that said, “It’s hard to be grumpy when one is being thankful.”

Right then and there, my heart changed. It made me realize that while I am glad that 99% of my days and time on this earth are not spent dwelling on issues that don’t matter, I am still human. That means, there will be times when I get pulled down by negative thinking. By doing too much with the house, or not taking good care of myself so that I can be a good mother and wife. But it doesn’t mean I have to stay there.

Today, I am hoping by airing my own thoughts and challenges about this day, it will not only make me feel better but that my ranting will support others in similar situations. Admittedly, a trip to the doctor is a must. Still, I can be confident that my extra strength and wisdom comes from our Lord God and Saviour who loved me even when I was in my mother’s womb.

The Bible states: “By His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.” (I Peter 2:24) Most importantly, “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11)

Thank you Jesus! One cannot get any better than the promises for our life courtesy of our Most High King. Therefore today, and tomorrow and the next day, and for all my days going forward, I am going to claim the promise of healing for my body so that I can feel ‘normal’ again. I am also going to remain thankful for all the wonderful blessings that the Lord has placed in my life 🙂

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When We Are Tried …

Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” (James 1:12)

We have the best neighbors in the world. I use the word neighbors loosely as they are all a kilometer or so away and spread around each other. I have to say that everyone in my area of the road is great. We all keep pretty much to ourselves, wave when we drive by each other and if anyone is in need, stop and see if there is anything that can be done to help. For me, it’s the perfect balance for living in the country.

We moved to the country just over nine years ago. Initially, it was a very scary decision for me particularly since I was born and bred a city girl.  Hubby was a born a country boy so he understood the parameters of country life already. Still, we were both tired of living in such close quarters to others. Plus, we had one kiddo — not quite 2 years old – and knew that if we wanted more children, we needed a way bigger place.

So, we started the process of selling our house in early fall. At some point in this process, I discovered that I was a few months pregnant with number 2. Right from the start of this pregnancy, I was sick. Doing all this running around did not help either. But we knew we had to press on because our house sold quickly.

Putting the details together was A LOT of work and as with any construction project, came some headaches too. We purchased land and found the company we wanted to build our home. We started the process of prepping the land and putting all the puzzle pieces into place. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with but we knew that it would be worth it in the end.

I especially knew that our little acre of privacy would be the best thing for us all. Unlike my own childhood, I didn’t want to raise my kids in a glass house, city life environment. And what a blessing it turned out to be!  Bringing our children up in the country is perfect. They thrive being ‘country bumpkins’ and certainly are not going be the city life type. At least that is the situation right now.

Further, here in the country my children get to roam far from home and get super dirty too. Living in the country means the kids can play with frogs, wander the forest and be outside playing as loud as they want without the peering eyes of neighbors upon them.  We do have neighbors that we can ‘see’, but there are farmer’s fields in between. In the country, it’s nice to have people around us but unlike city living – these same folks are not on top of us too.

Needless to say, we enjoy the country. So much so that never in our lifetime did we think that we would have neighbours right next door. On the one side of our house is a cow field and on other side a dirt access road surrounded by very low, marshy land.  If anything, we figured the cow field might someday sell but we had planned to keep our ears open in the event this might happen. In our minds, we would want to purchase the land in order to retain our quiet place in the world.

Then the unthinkable happened. The marsh land next door to us was seeing a lot of action. People were coming by to put markers in the ground and reinforcing the dirt access road. Finally, word got out and we discovered that we were going to have neighbors. I groaned.  The kids groaned too. I was not happy in the least, especially when we found out the neighbor moving in next door would be building a huge sheep barn that would house 150 of the little fellas. All this was to take place 20 feet from our house. Sigh!

Our first reaction was to be thankful for the nine years that we did get to live here – in the wide open space and with lots of privacy. Our second was to suggest an immediate move.  But with three kids in school, our house not paid off and the way the housing market is these days that would not be an easy thing to do.

Thankfully, over the last few months we found out more about our new neighbour. He is an older gentleman that works a lot so he isn’t usually home. Second, he is a really nice man that really enjoys his privacy too. This means there will be no late night loud parties or peeking in our doors to see if we are home to chat. He certainly would not be bothersome to the kids.

I can honestly say that I feel better now. In fact, I am getting used to seeing the lights on so close to our place. My hubby is excited to have this man farming next door as he envisions becoming a hobby farmer someday. And sheep are not as bad as one might think. So in a very short time, my emotions went from total disdain at the thought of having a next door neighbor to total acceptance. So what did I learn from jumping too quickly to conclusions?

I learned that I should trust Jesus more. He never fails and when I focus on Him, I can be assured that my life is in His hands. I should know that when I praise Jesus for His goodness, I am loved. You see, in the new testament Jesus gave us two commandments. The Lord thy God is one Lord. (Mark 12:29-31) Therefore, the first commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second commandment is to love one another because there is no greater commandment than these. (Matthew 22:37-39)

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30) Matthew took the idea of loving our neighbours further when he wrote: “But I say unto you. Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44-45) This is why we are sons and daughters of the Most High King, because He teaches us how to live more effectually.

In Galatians, it states: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word – even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Galatians 5:14) Therefore, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (I John 4:11)

This led me to read other scriptures about “loving our neighbours” in the Bible. Like the verse that John wrote that states: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. Continue ye in My love.” (John 15:9-17) Or to know that when we walk in faith, we do not render “evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing, knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (I Peter 3:9)

Finally, this verse touched my heart. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. (I John 5:2) So keep His Word regardless of your home or neighbour situation. Because “in Him verily is the love of God perfected, hereby know that we are in Him.” (I John 2:5) Thank you, Jesus.

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God Made Me, God Loves Me!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10)

It’s that time of year for the kiddos report cards!  It’s always fun getting them because all three are doing well. We go to interviews in October and when we get these papers in December, they usually just mimic the face to face conversation we had at parent teacher interview then. I must admit I thoroughly enjoy hearing how great my kids are doing academically and behavorially (most important in my opinion) and how much their teachers are enjoying teaching them. This year, they are all on par (or above in some areas) for their grade level and I have a good feeling from all three teachers I met.

What the teachers don’t know is that my oldest HATES school with a passion.  Ever since he realized that it wasn’t ever going to be as fun as kindergarten, he would much rather stay home. He is smart enough. And as the teachers will state, he is the best behaved kid in his grade. He gets along well with everyone. So why hate school so much?

He doesn’t like the loudness. He doesn’t like kids being mean to other kids. He LOATHES the school bus. In fact, he would be just as happy as a homebody.  When I went to interviews in October I told her he was having a great year so far and is still quite excited about being there (a first for someone that is quite vocal he wants to be done the first week of school lol). She mentioned he is VERY quiet but he will answer questions when called upon. The teacher says he has some great ideas and she feels he is adjusting well. I think she relishes having a few quiet kids in her otherwise over- zealous class of students 😉

So when my oldest came home from school last week, moaning and complaining about school, saying he had a terrible day, I knew something was up. He was called upon to explain an English problem to the entire class. The problem was that not only did he have a super sore throat and snuffed up nose that day, he is also scared of speaking in front of other people!

Still, he did what the teacher asked. But when she asked him to speak up because no one could hear him, he told her that he had already cleared his throat and he was speaking as loud as he possibly could. He told her that his throat was sore but she ignored him. She then proceeded to ridicule him in front of his peers. He was so embarrassed and thus, the resurfacing of an attitude that indicates he no longer wants to attend school. Apparently, we are back to square one.

As a parent who teaches her children not to bully or inappropriately use one’s authority, I will never understand why some teachers want students to all become little clones of one another.  How would this world be if everyone was made from the same cloth? It would be pretty boring, would it not?

Thankfully, our Lord God and Saviour knew better than this teacher. He knew to make each one of us unique and individual with every part of us chosen carefully and brilliantly so that we could fulfill His ultimate purpose and destiny for our lives. I only wish that this teacher was equally grateful for both our perfections and our flaws. After all, we are all human with good days and bad days. If she had been attuned, she would have realized that life and supporting one another is equally as important as performance. Some day, I might have an opportunity to share the good news gospel of His kingdom with her. That is, all have fallen short of the glory of God, and yet, He still loved us enough to die on a cross for His creation. Blessings!

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 It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

 “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:37-38)

Because of Christmas, we hear this phrase a lot this time of year. Personally, I believe it’s a perfect time to reconnect with loved ones, embrace our faith and enjoy the many wonderful things about this time of the year. Sometimes, in the midst of celebrations, we can become distracted from the true meaning of Christmas. That is, the real reason for the season is JESUS.

But like I said, there are times when other things get in the way. Today, it is chocolate. In fact, right now, I’m covered in it from head to toe. Not one square foot of my kitchen is safe from the delectable cocoa bean. You see, I love to bake but I LOVE making fudge even more. And it’s pretty popular this time of year, especially with friends and family that cannot make it themselves.

So, as I have alluded in earlier posts, I have made it my goal this year to help everyone out with their Christmas baking – starting with fudge. Everyone I am baking for this year is someone that I have come to love. They are great friends, awesome family members or sweet caring people that I know from the community.  Most of these recipients have decided to share the fudge too so I bake a small piece for them, and an even larger portion for sharing.

Like our Lord God and Saviour who loves a cheerful giver, I have found sharing is caring. (II Corinthians 9:7) And if we are going to give, then we should give heartily – no holding back. For me, there is nothing better to receive than a nice big chunky piece of chocolate fudge. 🙂

Of course, once I am down off my sugar high, I will probably notice that my kitchen is a HUGE disaster or realize that my shoulders are hurting in a bad way.  I will notice the time and become aware that I have been making fudge for 6 hours and my kids are due home any minute. They will come into house and say “OHHH FUDGE FOR US?!?!”  And I will have to say “No, sorry! This fudge is for others.”

Their faces will fall and they will likely grab an apple for snack. Little do they know that a certain someone (no names being revealed … lol) put a nice big piece of chocolate fudge wrapped in pretty Christmas cellophane in their advent calendar slot instead of a piece of candy for today’s treat!

As I finally wind down from the endeavours of this day, I truly wish I had enough fudge to share around the whole world. I do not. However, I am grateful that I serve an awesome God who knows my heart and my yearnings to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. Merry Christmas!

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Awake With the Songbirds

 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God for God IS LOVE. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:7-10)

I am not a morning person. I am not even a night person. In fact, some might say I LOVE SLEEP! Yes, admittedly, I love my cozy bed. I love my pillows and soft blankies. Therefore, for me to be blogging at 5 am is very unusual! It is even more unusual because I went out last night with a crowd of girls. Wow! The evening was SO awesome that it is beyond words how much fun I had, how at peace I felt with these ladies. The memories made are priceless.

Most of us knew a few people from growing up, going to school or knowing each other in the community. But what brought us together was the world wide web. We all belong to a “mommy group” on Facebook and as such, we have become like one big happy family. There were lots of laughs, and I’m sure today there are sore bellies and cheeks too! 🙂

The best part for me was getting to meet new people! I know the majority of the ladies from chatting but there were a handful of girls that I finally got to link a face with a name. I felt so blessed that I got to enjoy myself away from my home and kids which is very rare for me to be away from them.

The evening also was bittersweet. As I reflected upon my evening, I realize how blessed I am to be able to go to town and enjoy a meal with friends in a warm cozy restaurant while there are others out there who can’t leave their homes – for MANY reasons – or don’t have enough food in their house make a meal.

This is why the end to a perfect evening came when these same wonderful ladies organized a collection to help a family in need. We donated money to a great lady that has been battling cancer now for a long while. This lady has a family to support and like most people who are ill, struggles with no income. This lady is near and dear to quite a few of the ladies that came last night so I hope that when she receives her Christmas basket full of groceries that the burden on her weary shoulders are lifted even for that moment.

But there are SO many MORE families that need a hand and out there even though they are quiet and unrevealing about their circumstances. Unfortunately, the ones most in need don’t ask for help, and don’t try to make those around them feel bad. You won’t find them at the food bank because of pride. And these certainly do not go onto internet boards looking for sympathy or handouts. So, how do you find these people? How does one find those who are struggling and need help whose name does not appear on any nonprofit or government welfare list.

This is a question that I ponder often. We all tend to do the same thing – donating money to many worthwhile causes or passing along items to others that ‘really needed them because of hard times’ – only to find out the items were either sold or thrown out. It almost makes one lose faith in the helping hand.

But not all is lost. As we sat merrily in a restaurant, I could see a church across from where we were all sitting. I know a lady that volunteers there and she has met me on numerous occasions in the past to get some items from me for her grand kids. She is the most gracious and thankful person one would ever meet. As I thought more about this lady, I realized that I wanted to be a blessing for her too.

Therefore, for me, last evening’s enjoyable outing with friends not only provided me with an outlet away from my chaotic house and gave me memories for life, but it triggered a thought in my head about a wonderful lady who touched me years ago with her and friendship. As a consequence, I am now in the process of putting together a food and toy basket ready to pass along to her this week. The circle of love I call it – when it is given to you, the circle should not stop there. We need to pass on the same love to others.

Jesus had two commandments for people in this dispensation. The first was to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and the second, to love one another.

 Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34)

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The Welcoming Ambience of Snowfall

“Out of the south comes the storm and out of the north the cold. From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen.” (Job 37:9-10)

WOW!  We went to sleep last night as usual, expecting a very windy day with lots of rain. We live on an island so wind and rain are a regular occurrence. In fact, compared to last week’s weather, it was like déjà vu all over again. But this time, it wasn’t rain. Instead, all that precipitation was turned into fluffy white stuff.  This is why we islanders can say that we are currently having the ‘best’ winter storm that we haven’t seen in YEARS!

You see, the first snowfall of the year is not only an event but a magical event. We go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in something quite different. “If this is not enchantment,” states JB Priestley, “then where is it to be found?”

As I watched the changing weather outside my four walls, it became INTENSE!  One minute, I was getting ready for my extra kiddies to join us this morning before school. The next minute I was listening to the rain pound against the house with 100 km winds. Shortly after, everything went silent as the ground became a blanket of white.

At the same time, the roads went from wet to snow covered, and then EVERYTHING (including trees, fences, buildings and hydro wires) getting covered in a thick layer of ice. Things happened quickly after that. Schools were cancelled and I had a day off from babysitting. Over the next few hours, I listened to the house shake — like we were being tossed to and fro on a boat. With the lights flickering regularly, the kids were watching the storm from our big front windows.  Who could blame them? In spite of the wind, the snowfall was beautiful!

Throughout the day, the weather went from slightly snowy and blowy to downright nasty outside.  I was starting to panic at the thought of my loved ones and my husband out on the roads.  I had no way to reach him as he does not have a cell phone.  Luckily, I was able to contact a friend of mine that works with him. She asked him to call me when he was leaving work.  At this point, the storm was at its peak.  I tried to keep myself busy by watching cartoons with my oldest and listening to my youngest draw wonderful pictures while his sister helping him spell words. Still, I never had a day go by SO slow while waiting for our van to pull into sight.

What is normally a 10-15 minute drive home took my husband over an hour. I was never so happy to see him walk through the door 🙂  He said he had to take an alternative route as the main road had washed out earlier with the heavy rain. And then with the snow, drivers could not go faster than 40kms — even on the highway.  He said it was one of the worst drives of his life.

In the end, our Lord God and Saviour brought all my loved ones safely home. Even in the midst of the storm, we were secure – cuddled in His loving arms — protected by the Most High. For this, I praise the Lord Jesus for keeping everyone safe. In the midst of the awesome beauty that comes with winter, I can rejoice. Soon I will see the makings of snowmen forming in my yard, and the children with their red rosy cheeks will be laughing as they make snow forts. I will be the mom in the kitchen serving hot chocolate and hanging dripping mitts to dry by the woodstove. And I have my loving Saviour to thank for all of His wonderful blessings that He bestows on those who love Him.

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Rituals and Traditions Void Our Intended Freedom

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38- 39)

For some reason, the news of another celebrity passing away before his time struck me especially hard. It seems like more and more people are dying as a result of sickness, overdosing from drugs, suicide as well as old age. Maybe it is because of the World Wide Web at our finger tips that we are hearing about deaths. Or, perhaps, as we get older, we just become more accustomed to the end of life because that is how it works.

But I must admit the death of movie star Paul Walker hit me in a sad way. As an actor, he was very well known in movies and television shows. In fact, he was one of my favorites.  But he was not one of those celebrities that adorned the front page of the tabloids weekly. For the most part, he led a quiet life. He did a lot of charitable work and even had his own foundation Reach Out Worldwide that he began after the devastating earthquakes in Haiti.

Over this past week, the news of his tragic death was plastered all over the internet. At one point, it seemed the news was publicized mere minutes after his tragic death. At the same time, a lot of folks were talking about it being a hoax. I could only pray that this would be true because from my perspective he was way too young to die.

Sadly, it was true. He died in a fatal car crash (ironic seeing as he is most famous for his roles in the Fast and Furious movies). Perhaps it is here that I should admit that I have difficult times thinking about death when someone passes away, including celebrities.  Some people say that it is ‘stupid’ to mourn a celebrity because we don’t know the actor or actress personally. They suggest that there are more important things to be thinking about in our day to day.

Okay, for the most part, I get that.  But to me and most people that are mourning, they DO feel like they know the actor/actress because they have followed him or her during his lifetime.  Certainly, in Walker’s case, I have seen him evolve from childhood roles to grown up acting parts and then to the point of having a family of his own. He is a son, a father, and a friend to many.

So yes, to me he is a REAL person with REAL people that are going to miss him terribly. He is just as vulnerable to death as the rest of us so that makes him seem even more real to me after the fact. His death proved that he was human, complete with feelings and a heart. His family is definitely going to be saddened by his loss. This is why I feel everyone should be mourned and remembered – regardless of whether they are a homeless person living on the street corner or a gorgeous man talking on the big screen.

The Bible states, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) The Bible also states that the Lord has no pleasure in the death of him that dies. Rather, the old testament states: “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies,” saith the Lord God, “wherefore, turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 18:32)

And be persuaded that neither angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord

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Friends and Faith Inextricably Intertwined

“Charity suffers long and is kind. Charity envies not. Charity vaunts not itself – is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [Indeed,] charity never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

There is a saying in the world that goes like this. “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” I have been thinking about this lately. As children, we focus our lives around our childhood friends. Not school or family or even toys as many would suggest but friends.

Through our many ups and downs, these friends were important. Even though they came and went depending on their family circumstances, there was some that we still miss dearly. I often wonder what they might be up to nowadays.  Then there were others who sucked the life out of us. Looking back, I am so thankful that they are no longer a part of my life anymore 😉

But as you get older, friendships take on a whole new meaning. I also found that once out of high school, friends were not necessarily number one on my radar anymore. Instead, family filled the void. Work and my friends became a side thought.  Now that I am well into my 30s, I am realizing once again that having friends, especially the ones I have, are pretty much one of the most important aspects to life.

In fact, I look forward to hearing from them daily. I cherish seeing them in person even when visits are not often enough.  I have also become wiser in recognizing who my true friends are. These days, I have so many great people in my life that I truly consider myself blessed.

However, on this particular day, I would like to tell you about one of my most favorite people. I was SO blessed when I met her a few years ago. My friend’s name is Marion and she is one of the most giving souls I have ever encountered.  She has more energy and motivation than 10 moms put together in an exercise class.  She loves people with all her heart. Therefore, when her heart is broken for whatever reason, it’s harder for her to heal.

There is more. My friend Marion is one of the most devoted wife and moms (to both her own and all the little ones she is raising daily) I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Day in and day out I can see her faith in action.  She has given me treats over the years and spent days at the park with me. She has listened to me vent about petty or important life events. She has cut my daughters hair ‘perfectly’ according to my daughter and she was the one that showed me the way to Son Shine Scoop. For the latter, I will be forever grateful for how she has helped me see that my life has purpose and meaning.

This year, as Christmas approaches, the two of us are trying to organize a Christmas dinner outing with some other moms. I am very excited for an opportunity to meet some new moms and still see everyone I know and adore from other outings. Most importantly, I get to spend time with my friend Marion (who I do not get to see as much as I would like due to her crazy busy life and my own wacky schedule).

Whether we can schedule a mom’s night out is neither here nor there. My point is that I hope and pray that this is a friendship that takes us well into our 40s, 50s and beyond.  And I sincerely wish everyone to be as fortunate as I — to have a really good friend as part of their life. Charity never fails 🙂

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Wow, God is Amazing

“And His name through faith in His name hath made this man/woman strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him/her hath given him/her this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:16)

My family is considerably older.  My mom was 39 years old when I was born and my dad was in his early 60s. This meant that I grew up without grandparents. Most of my aunts and uncles were deceased by the time I arrived, and my second and third cousins were more like aunts and first cousins to me. Both of my parents came from large families. To keep in touch, we always had annual get-togethers. The extra special summer events were when family from out west came home (they were my favorites!).Because my family was older, I saw a lot of death — especially my aunts and uncles. I lost a 38 year old second cousin just 6 years ago this month past.  This meant that I was a ‘regular’ attendee at wakes and funerals by the age of six.

My mom was the baby in her family of 10 children.  Her eldest sister, the first born, was one of her closest friends and became almost like a surrogate mom as they grew up. I remember spending A LOT of time at her house in town as a child. When she remarried, I remember going to her BIG new house that she still resides in to this day.  Today I want to reminisce about this important woman in my life and the impact she had on me. Her name is Helen.

My mom, her friends and some of her sisters would get together weekly to play cards. I always remember my Aunt Helen bringing me a special treat every time she came – anything from a box of Smarties to a quarter. She had a big family herself with lots of grandkids. So over the years, I have become really good friends with these cousins of mine and therefore, always close to this side of my family.

My aunt was well known around town.  She was a ‘famous’ local skater in her youth. She was always seen out on Thursdays and Saturdays dancing up a storm trying to pick up a new man 😉   She volunteered at the local hospital delivering books to patients. She was also the person talked about by neighbours.  When we would be driving along the highway and all of sudden get behind a long line of ‘turtle speed’ cars, nine times out of ten — once we got in this long car line up going 20km in an 80km zone –we would finally pass this little red car with my Aunt driving, LOL.

These days, we don’t see her as much as we used to, or should. But I did get to spend a day with her this past summer, just after her 93nd birthday (yes, you read that right!).  We had family come home from away and she housed them the 3 weeks they were on holiday. We had a huge party at her house that just about everyone came to.  It was awesome.  She was an amazing host and the belle of the ball.  You would never know by looking at her that she has had numerous surgeries in the past 20 years or so, including plastic surgery on her face/nose when she had a really bad fall about 5 years ago. She has had her knees replaced and even a breast cancer scare that resulted in a mastectomy. She is even proud of it and will show anyone her battle scars. Later, she refused treatment for any lingering cancer and is now doing great.

Until this week, things have been quite quiet. However, on Monday that passed, my aunt had a mild heart attack. She was admitted into hospital where they found fluid around her lungs. She is now on oxygen.  Through daily updates from family, I heard that she was very out of breath and having a hard time breathing — just going from chair to bed.  This is NOT like my vivacious elderly aunt.

I found out that she also has pneumonia.  As most people know, pneumonia in an elderly person can be deadly. My sisters and I talked about how this might be a sad time of year for us if she doesn’t kick the host of issues plaguing her right now.  Going on day six, things weren’t improving so we were coming to terms with what most would suggest is my aunt’s imminent death.

But praise the Lord, I got an update today. She is walking throughout the hospital unit. She is off the oxygen and now announcing that she is going home!!  My 93 year old (yes, you seen that right again haha) has overcome having a mild heart attack and pneumonia again. WOW!

The reason this is important to me is that she is the last sibling in my mom’s family. She is also my last relative on earth to remind me of my mom. Most of all, the Lord chose this day – on a day of awe inspiring faith and gratitude for my family and I – to heal her body for a while longer.  Thank you Jesus!

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True Friends Strengthen Each Other

“Two people are better off than one for [together] they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

I LOVE this verse.  The meaning from the words is so beautiful and true that they can bring you to my world at any given moment 🙂 When I sat and pondered my thankfulness the other day while writing a blog, I never expected to be adding a wonderful new one to my very long list of blessings so soon … but this is definitely worth sharing.

I was expecting a friend over for coffee.  I was a bit frazzled as my young guy was sick the night before and I wasn’t sure if he would be sick enough to stay home from school.  Since I don’t believe in sharing germs with others, I wasn’t sure what the morning would bring – whether he would wake up and be fevered or whether all would be well. So the playdate was going to be an impromptu one.

Finally around 9am, things were sorted out and my friend and her son were on their way to visit.  Another friend dropped by about the same time — to pick up a few items and drop off some things.  As we were chatting at the door, my playdate arrived. In the door she came with 2x 20kg bags of flour.  I was like, HUH, did I forget that I asked you to get these for me when you were last at Costco – all the while thinking to myself – “Uhhnoo, I have no cash.” Now what?

Turning, she said she would be right back. I went into my bedroom to get the movies I was giving her to watch.  As I was rummaging through the movies, I hear our mutual friend exclaim, “Oh Lori you’re gonna kick her butt! Oh Lori … hahaha.”  In the interim, I hear biffing and banging and the screen door flying open in the wind. The first friend kept saying that I was going to be so mad.  I immediately thought of my cats. I yelled, “Oh no, did one of the cats escape? Please go get them!!!”

Finally, I found the movie I was looking for. I came out to see the two of them standing there with huge grins on their faces. Next to them were two large bins and a large grocery bag next to the bags of flour.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS” my play date yelled, “YOU ARE MY CHRISTMAS FAMILY THIS YEAR!”

I was confused. Well, maybe a little more than confused. A huge hug later and me still with my jaw on the floor saying “whaatttt?” she relayed to me that this year she asked a small group of women (who we all know) who needed food baskets this year. Low and behold, they picked MY family!

Certainly, we had been struggling. In the first week of summer this year, we were confronted with a major blow to our finances. Hubby lost his job. Shortly thereafter, I lost my only full time babysitting kid and the two other summer kids I was supposed to babysit for income weren’t coming until the end of summer – and even then only for a few weeks.  We had no idea how we were going to feed the kids or worse, pay the bills.  But we made it through by only paying the important ones and getting a small loan from a family member (who keeps asking for it back weekly but that’s another story — haha). Throughout, we knew that God would provide our needs, so we had hope.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

We finally began to see the light at the end of the tunnel this past month with high hopes of full time employment for hubby in the New Year. Most of my close friends knew about our family circumstances but since most of them were in binds themselves, I never thought we were ‘unique’ in this.  We all had similar stories to share and as such, we learned to do for our families what was necessary to keep things going.

I should note that this same friend who orchestrated this gift of Christmas Cheer was the same friend who helped my hubby find his summer employment.  Today, however, she was very bashful about her act of kindness so she went off and running out the door.  Again, I was like, “Huh, I thought you were staying for coffee??”  Another day, she yelled as she went running off. 🙂

Me? I was stunned. I think I still am!  Sometime later, I found out that quite a few of my mom friends were in on this. In fact, the grocery gift had been planned for quite some time. Collectively, these moms were excited and had fun planning the details. This is why I love these girls. They are my confidants and fellow mommies day in and day out. These moms experience the same trials and tribulations as I do and yet are always thinking about the health and well-being of others. Over the years, these moms have become like family. They make me cry. They make me think. Most of all, these moms make me laugh!  But for them to single me out of the group as the one family in need and going through a “major” rough patch, meant more to me than the food hampers themselves.

So where do I begin? My spirit has been lifted. Moreover, my heart is full and so are my cupboards.  These moms selected food items based on my love of baking and how I bake A LOT this time of year for family and friends. They knew that I often bake for others that don’t have the time or know how but yet enjoy goodies.  I am so thankful!

So grateful in fact that I immediately opened up the chocolate chips and milk and butter and made my most favorite Christmas treat — Candy Cane Mint Fudge.  It was the BEST batch I ever made 🙂 I shared it with my after school kids, my family, and a few friends that dropped by on their way home from work.  I was so blessed and I knew it.

But something else happened today. My inward desire had changed. That is, I want to be able to do what my friends did for me this Christmas for a family next year and every year going forward too. To that end, I pray that I am in a better financial situation next year to do so — as it would give me so much joy to make someone feel the way I do right now (although honestly, the surprise and shock of it made my belly squishy and my head hurt from all the excitement — haha)

Ann Frank once wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

My wish for today (and every day) is for everyone to be as blessed as me. To have really good friends and family in their life and — to be able to bless someone else in the same way I was. To love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love one another as Jesus instructed. “The blessings of the Lord – it maketh rich and He adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) Thank you Jesus!

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Abundance of Thanks

“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

In Canada, we have already celebrated our Thanksgiving. I love the fact that we can get together with family and friends in October plus it’s not too close to the Christmas holiday season. But I have many friends that live in the United States and thus, they celebrate their Thanksgiving this week. They are mostly online friends that I keep in contact with through facebook.  Many of them are posting daily status updates stating they are especially thankful for for this particular day.

Although I think the idea of a day set aside for thanksgiving a nice idea, I do wish we have similar celebrations throughout the year.  I believe we have so much to be thankful for and it should not just be a passing thought that begins two weeks before a holiday.

Indeed, I’m thankful for many ‘moments’ throughout the year that make me truly grateful. Moments that takes my breath away, such as the start of a brand new year in January or the rebirth of budding flowers and birds in April and May. Moments that we can feel, such as the sunshine and warmth we enjoy in the summer months. Or, moments that allow us to be thankful that we live in a country that offers devoted teachers and schools, whereby our kids can go off to school in the fall of the year.

“That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Psalm 30:12)

But what these U.S. friends of mine are touching on when they post on facebook are the often minute aspects of life that are still worth shouting about. They are called ‘shout outs.’  I love reading these daily shout outs because they have a tendency to put our lives into perspective. So much so, that I wish they would post some every day – year round – and not just in time for the thanksgiving festivities.  Moreover, I recommend everyone try these ‘shout outs’ — whether it’s online or to a friend or family member.

Give a ‘shout out’ to God for everything that you are thankful for — your many blessings that have come to fruition and the heart’s desires that are yet to come.  By posting a note of thankfulness – based on the blessings you and your family are experiencing, or have experienced over the last year – it might inspire someone else by lifting their soul 🙂 It might offer the one little bit of hope needed in the heart of someone who doesn’t have family and friends nearby. Or, alternatively, make people think about the many blessings they do have, rather than continually running to and fro in search of something that will give peace.

Still, today, I had to think long and hard about the things I am thankful for. Not because I couldn’t find one particular blessing to post, but because I had too many blessings to choose from. I must say, that is a blessing in and of itself. So what did I do? Rather than decide among the blessings I am already thankful for, I looked out the window of my house. It was easy to find one in the outdoors.

Yes, today I am thankful for the rain. This isn’t something I say often — as I’m not a fan of mud and living in the country. That is what my yard and lane will look like after today – mud, mud, and more mud.  But rain is also something we too often take for granted. What makes me thankful for rain is not just one thing in particular … there are a few.  I am thankful for rain that replenishes our water sheds. I am thankful for rain that gives wildlife something to quench their thirst as well as bathe. I am thankful for rain to wash our earth of its impurities. I am thankful that during times of warm rain, we can shut off our heat and save some money for the next few days. I am sure there are others.

However, for now, I am going to enjoy watching the rain spill off the roof onto my window sills. I am also going to pray that wherever you are in this wonderful world of ours — that you can give thanks to someone today. Give thanks. The words do not have to be fancy. In fact, the writing could be something as simple as a shout out – telling the world at large, about this beautiful world we live in. Regardless of where or when you celebrate the thanksgiving holiday, remember Jesus is taking good care of us. He has a plan. Have a refreshing and blessed day!

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 Flu Season… My Least Favorite Season of All

(In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus — how He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Act 20:35)

I am sort of a germaphobe.  Over the years, I have gotten much better with germs since having kids – but with them in my life, I really had no choice — haha.  I try to do everything in my power to keep us healthy.  It begins with the immediate hand washing after the kids get off the bus, the extra fruit and vitamin intake daily, and gently refusing play dates with sick children. Over the years, these efforts have seemingly worked amazingly.

Even so, there are times when having a household full of sickies cannot be helped. I know this because when I was young, I was considered a sickly child.  My parents did everything to keep me well. Still, I dealt with tons of belly issues from birth. Then ear infections became the norm as I got older. There were so many ear infections in fact that I now have a permanent hole in my left ear drum. I outgrew most of these recurring sicknesses around teen-hood with only a few bouts to serve as a reminder here and there. Lately, however, I have been plagued with ear infections/fluid again. I have even had an ear tube put in 2 years ago to see if this would help. I haven’t done that since I was a toddler and hope I never have to do it again (ouch).

Four years ago, I started babysitting other children and WOW – was I sick, sick, sick.  From October to June, I would always have some sort of sore throat infection, ear ache, sinus infections or belly bugs.  After a full 9 months of constant ickies (and expensive antibiotics), we started to get the flu shot. So far, so good.  We still get colds and other weird viruses coming into the house but nothing major.

For example, sometimes, my eldest boy gets seasonal asthma which is scary. Every time he gets a sniffle, I hold my breath.  He also gets ear infections too but thankfully with age, he seems to be outgrowing these illnesses.  My daughter is super healthy but we can always count on her to get a good case of strep throat at least once a year. Today, she is complaining of a sore throat so I am keeping my fingers crossed!  My youngest has had so many colds since birth that I hope his immunity will be up to snuff for his first year in school. Only time will tell 😉

However, this past week it was not about my children. In fact, it was me who was laid up with severe belly issues. I didn’t have any clue as to what was happening since no one else in the house had it. We have all eaten the same food too so that couldn’t be the issue. Well, it’s been 3 full days of this and quite frankly, I don’t have time for laying around anymore. I normally like to be on the move — cleaning or baking or chatting on the computer visiting with friends and family — so, for me, this sickie ickie had to end.

Today, I got up and moved around. It was also the first time that I felt well enough to notice the condition of the house. Oh wow, I thought! Have you ever experienced this? Although I live here with another adult, hubby, and three very abled children ya’d never know it!  I also have two other children come through here most days of the week so, yes, the house often goes from super clean to super gross within a 12 hour period.  And I know that if I don’t do my daily chores, it makes it harder to keep up, especially the hard surface floors.

But it wasn’t the floors that were an issue. Rather, it was the massive amount of dishes that were strewn from one end of my house to the other. I never cooked or ate anything in three days so I definitely know it wasn’t me. Haha … let me tell say that hubby should be very glad he was at work today when I noticed the mess.  Three dishwasher loads and 2 full sink loads of plastics & pots later and trying to find my countertops underneath the mess, I now realized that if MOM doesn’t do it, it just doesn’t get done by anyone.

After thinking about this situation for some time, I realized that there was a hidden lesson for me here. Even though I wouldn’t normally expect anyone in my household to clean up for me (when I am 100% fine or they are working full time) they all knew that this week mommy was very sick. In my mind, there was no excuse for this laziness. I also felt inwardly that I deserved some respect, given all that I did for my family as a homemaker. I felt like I was being taken advantage of, even though I know that most hubbies’ working full time would hardly even recognize their house as messy. Would my children? After this week — not likely.

This evening, I had intended to have a calm conversation about this situation – both with my hubby (who should know better) and my children who need to learn that they too have a role to play. That is, they too can help around the house (and therefore should be helping). As the hours passed and the house became cleaner, I came to another conclusion. Yes, I would still have the conversation (because working together as a family unit is important for everyone in the family to know) but there was more to life than just a clean house.

How did I get here? When the kids came home from school and saw the difference in the house, they thanked me for doing a tremendous job. I suspect that they were only worried about what they would do when they ran out of dishes to eat on, or pots to cook their meals in. But my hubby noted the clean house too.

It had not been that I wasn’t appreciated but rather, they were so immersed in their own lives – and in trying to fend for themselves – that they had not realized how much I do for them regularly. I believe our Lord God and Saviour must have the same feelings. Even though He loved us enough to die on a cross for us, we often forget about all the little things that matter most. Like when we are healthy for a year and do not require prescription drugs, or alternatively, that hubby has a full time job that brings in sufficient income so that I can stay home.

Whether my family will truly learn any lessons from this past week, I am not sure. Still, I know that I did. Thank you Jesus – as I go and make a “mess” in the kitchen so that all my darlings can enjoy a much deserved ice cream dessert. This time, maybe mommy can splurge too 🙂

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

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Bonus Days 

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today” (Anonymous)

Today is what I call a “bonus” day!  It is an “extra” day that I get to spend at home with my kids. Instead of going to school, my children have the day off. Not because of a medical appointment or from being sick or even due to a winter storm but rather because the teachers have a Professional Development day on this particular day. Unfortunately, not everyone considers this day a “bonus” day.

In fact, I cringe hearing from parents — both online and in person — that say how much they hate these days. WHAT?!?!

So you know, I struggle with these comments. In fact, I may never understand why people seriously don’t like spending any spare time with their kids. I’m in awe of how much they despise these extra days off from school.  Their reasoning is anything from ‘I don’t have a sitter but I still have to work’ (okay, that rationale I do understand as presenting a bit of a challenge in the day to day routine), to ‘kids have WAY too many days off’ already.’ Some parents go so far as to suggest that their kids drive those same parent’s nuts and/or a two day weekend is long enough. Others will go on a rant about ‘back in the day, we never had this much time off.’ In other words, “kids and teachers are so spoiled these days.”

This commentary is made in spite of the fact that teachers don’t actually get these days as “extra” days off.  Teachers are required to go to school in order to better themselves — which in turn will teach OUR kids to become better. In essence, these development days help to better all of us.

First, these days should serve as a reminder that ‘way back’ when we DID have days off school. Our parents also had to change their plans to accommodate these days. And then there were storm days. I remember missing up to a full week of school because of the bad weather. And snow days were not preplanned so some parents still had to find sitters at the last minute. This was particularly the case if they still had to go to work – (scary for those that had to travel). One year, I remember having as many as 20+ storm days between December and March. Since having my own kids in school (6 years now) I think the most days called off due to weather was 5!!  Five days only. That is nothing compared to ‘years ago’. But I digress.

So what if we get an extra three PD days off with our kids? Did you not have children because you LOVE them and want to spend more TIME with them?  I’m not saying everyone should rejoice in spending an extra day a month with their child by jumping up and down but some parents seriously get angry – very angry and that response, in and of itself just doesn’t feel right. I feel bad for these kids. I pray to God that these children aren’t being subjected to all this negativity because they have to spend time with their parents 😉

In our household, I know my kids enjoy the day off.  There are times that they NEED a longer week to recuperate from the routine of studying, playing and getting up early. And me? I NEED the break from the alarm, the rush in the morning and the lunch making. In fact, I appreciate every single extra minute I get to spend with my offspring. I am one of those moms that does jump up and down in June for school to let out. I am also one of those moms that is saddened come September when ‘that time for school’ rolls around again 😉

Needless to say, I am most appreciative of the time we have with our kids and loved ones. I can say this because I have learned to enjoy the special moments. The children’s laughter in the midst of absolute chaos, I was able to feel the same kind of joy because I didn’t have to do the same thing over and over again.

For me, today was a day of listening to my kids go crazy in the house, making loud weird sounds, running in and out the door 100x and hearing them grumble about how hungry they were non- stop. Yes, I was annoyed a few times, but overall, it was one of the best ‘extra days’ a person could ask for. A warm house, happy, healthy kids and laughter that I would have missed had they been in school for the entire day. These are the blessings that don’t happen enough in our life time. Oh, wait, yes they do happen – all the time. We just need to become more attuned to the moments that matter.

But Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

“Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” – John Crudele

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Reminiscing About the “Olden” Days

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (I Corinthians 3:16-17)

Things are not like they used to be — like in the olden days.  People and family don’t visit each other as much as they used to.  Why not? This is a question we must all face because these days, we don’t go visit all our cousins, aunts and uncles as often. What is the answer? I believe we can chalk it up to busier lifestyles, more working hours for both parents, and more advances in technologies that keep people in touch easier without ever leaving the comfort of their home.  We too are guilty of not leaving our homestead. In fact, I LOVE being home in my house and spending time with my family.  At times, my home has become the place where I’m most comfortable.  I love having family and friends come visit me and the odd time, especially in summer when travelling is preferred, I like to go spend time at my sister’s, niece’s or friend’s homes with the kids.

This explains why — when an opportunity comes to spend time with my hubby’s family — we try to make it work.  I believe it is important for children to see members on both sides of our family and subsequently, be an integral part of an extended family. In that context, we are blessed to have lots of family outside of our four walls.  This week, there was a family gathering on my hubby’s side of the family and we were invited.  We are not often able to get to these ‘lunch gatherings’ (and unfortunately, there have been times where we have been told off for not attending). Regardless, this time the schedules worked out perfectly so heading off to the country was on the agenda. Everyone was so excited.

For this trip, I had already decided to stay home so that I could get some necessary things done around the house. Daddy was happy to be going because he got the day off work, and the kids were content because they would be able to play with cousins.  A Win Win situation — one would think? Well, not quite. The family arrives home and tells their mama what a great time they had, who they had seen, what they did, and … sadly, what they ate.  Most would not see this as a problem. In fact, I am sure there are a lot of people who don’t have a care in the world when it comes to what their children ingest. But this Mom does.

You see, I have had to become a firm believer in providing my children with a healthy balanced diet. I don’t think children (or anyone for this matter) should overindulge.  As such, I have been teaching my kids simple dietary principles since a young age so that they don’t grow up with ‘bad’ eating habits. Moreover, I believe it is important for kids to want to stay fit and healthy.  I am not preachy about any of this and I am most certainly all for kids being kids. I am also for kids getting treats but not all the time (therefore, it’s considered a treat without becoming a lifestyle).

Thankfully, my youngest son and my daughter know when to stop eating and aren’t big eaters anyway. Neither of them have a problem saying that they are full. But my 10 year old LOVES food — indeed, all kinds of food whether it is healthy or junky — so when he does eat, he overindulges.  Much like we all tend do at family gatherings. However, normally, I am there to curb his dietary intake somewhat when he goes overboard.

But as I was not there to witness what was going on, he was showered with food.  His grandparents KNOW how we feel about the kids, especially this particular son eating too much food.  One says, “ahhh let him eat till he explodes. He’s a growing boy.” The other grandparent agrees with us but when we are out of sight, still sneaks food to him, telling him, ”Shhh don’t tell your mom, haha.” Not cool!

These same grandparents also KNOW he has belly issues. Therefore,  letting my son consume THREE plates of lunch (casseroles), 4 cinnamon rolls, half a dozen cookies, a bowl of chips, several brownies, 3 glasses of pop, 2 glasses of water, a juice box, a huge banana honey peanut butter sandwich on thick homemade bread, and then cupcakes and banana bread all within a few hours is going to make for an uncomfortable night. Particularly, an uncomfortable night for my 10 year old son.  I can already hear the commentary from earlier in the day.

“Oh wow, look at how much food he can pack away and he is SO tiny still.”  “Must be nice to be able to eat that much food and stay skinny.”  “He is SUCH a GOOD eater.”  “Awww, look at him go.”

What they don’t get to see is my son’s green face, the pain keeping him up all hours of the night, the heartburn causing him severe anguish, or the 3+ days of diarrhea that causes him to stay home from school because he can’t sit down due to the extreme pain. Unfortunately, in raising their own children, they raised their kids with the same unhealthy eating ideals. Needless to say, both of their children (as adults) are still dealing with obesity issues and health concerns well into their 30s. This might explain why I am trying to change those cyclical eating habits in our household and for the most part, with relative success.
As I thought about the crux of this particular situation, I wondered if my initial reasoning for family gatherings becoming extinct was really accurate. Perhaps, the decline in family visits was not only because of technology, or busier lifestyles within families.  Maybe in situations such as this one, younger parents have evolved their way of thinking toward becoming healthier as a family and don’t want to be confrontational about food choices. Obviously, in my situation, it also stems from a lack of respect for established family dietary practices at these extended family gatherings but this is an aside.

Certainly, I want the BEST for my kids whether it is a clean, happy, chaos free home, or wearing clothing that keeps them warm, or good grades in school and yes, even keeping themselves healthy through diet, exercise and regular medical appointments.  However, when others scoff at these beliefs, showing disregard for our feelings as parents, then it’s more difficult to maintain practices from the ‘olden days’ that include spending quality time with the family at large.

As I pondered these thoughts, I came across the following Bible verse. It states:

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (I Corinthians 3:16-17)

 Read that verse again. The scriptures state that our bodies are God’s temple and when we allow, God’s Spirit will dwell in us. In the beginning, God created us in His own image. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons [and daughters] of God; therefore, the world knows us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now we are the sons [and daughters] of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see HIm as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” (I John 3:1-3)

Thus, when His Spirit dwells in us, our motivations should be different. Why? Because He renews our minds, giving us the wisdom and knowledge to see the world that He created through a different lens. A more informed lens based on His teachings, “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He hath purposed in Himself.” (Ephesians 1:9)

I learned something this day. During a time, when SO many people are dealing with serious health repercussions from food allergies, and severe obesity is becoming  the new norm in the western world, I learned that we need to take hold of His wisdom in all the things that we do — including me too! I need to remember that my body is His temple and “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) It is in these latter things that I wish I could bottle and give out to everyone for free. Since I can’t — because believing on Jesus and taking hold of His promises is a personal decision — I will ask the Lord for His guidance and wisdom to instill in both my son and members of our extended family that our bodies, created in His image, deserve a better source of nutrition — that only comes from ingesting the “living bread.”

 Jesus said unto them, “I am the bread of life. He that comes to Me shall never hunger, and he that believes on Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
 “People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.” (Proverbs 13:13)

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Keeping the Faith When Life Throws A Curve

“You didn’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)

Not every day is sunshine. Indeed, there are times when life seemingly can be anything but sunshine. For instance, this week has been a most difficult one — both emotionally and spiritually — for me.  Was my faith challenged? Indeed, it was. Let me explain. A former classmate of mine from high school passed away due to cancer.  She was only 35 years old. She was in the prime of her life.  The cancer was diagnosed only a few months ago.  I can honestly say that she was one of the nicest, friendliest, well liked girls in our graduating class.  She was healthy, happy and young with so much life ahead of her. Even then, she did so much for her family, friends and church.

In my own life, I lived through losing my parents. My mom at the age of 58 was taken too early. At the time, she had a terrible habit of smoking and died of lung cancer so — according to those in the know — it ‘makes sense.’  My dad who was elderly lived a long wonderful life to the age of 81.  As well, I have seen many cousins, aunts, and uncles pass away that were either elderly or from a terminal illness.  As hard as it is for me to deal with these losses, there are two things one can never get used to. That is, one’s child dying, or a young person with half their life lived and yet no chance to be saved.  I haven’t seen or talked to this girl in many years but I remember her vividly. In fact, her death announcement brought up all sorts of memories of my younger years and likewise, my loved ones since past.

All of this hit me much harder than I expected.  Its never easy to lose anyone, especially when one’s death is so close to Christmas.  I pray that her husband and family and her close friends can be soothed knowing that the Lord has a plan for our lives. That He offers hope for the future, if they would seek His counsel and righteousness this day.

But hearing of an unwilling end to my friend’s young life also made me mad as well.  In the community in which I live, there are numerous stories floating around about people taking their own lives.  In the last week alone, two men ended their lives by jumping off bridges into cold frigid waters. Here was a young girl that did EVERYTHING in her power to LIVE while others willingly throw their life away — as if their human life is a used candy bar wrapper without value in the waste bin.  I don’t think I can ever comprehend what drives an individual to go to these lengths, particularly when life can be so hopeful with Jesus at the helm.

One story that really struck me lately was that of a young man nineteen years of age. He had decided for YEARS to plan his death. There was NO indication that he was going to do this.  He was not clinically depressed. He had no diagnosed mental disorders or illness. He was very well liked and popular, VERY smart with a HUGE career ahead of him. He had a family that really loved him.  Still, he felt like he wasn’t ‘destined’ for this world so instead of talking to anyone about it, he took his own life. In so doing, he took the rock out from under his parents, siblings and friends feet.

How do I know? My niece, who is also 19, is best friends with this young man’s sister.  Both my niece and the sister are very vulnerable, and both are having a hard time dealing with the news.  I feel that I don’t know how to help soothe their mind and soul.  I do know that I pray that my kids will never have these thoughts in their head. I hope that if they do, they will come to me. No judging. That I would have the God given wisdom to just listen and help.

However, it seems that all I can offer my niece at this time is a shoulder to cry on — an ear to listen (and boy do I listen as this girl loves to chat, lol) and hopefully, the means to help her inward spirit find hope in the One and Only who understands her innermost desires. Still, I fear she may become lost before she realizes that Jesus loved her enough to die for her and that reality scares me.  I can say that I hope she overcomes this very sad time (and realizes her own self worth) and how much the world, her family, her schooling and her faith can offer her in the years to come. But how can I be sure?

As I worked through my own feelings and my own faith journey this week, I realized that there is ALWAYS hope and faith. Jesus said, ” I am come so that you might have life, and have life more abundantly.” And in my own life, He has never failed me or forsaken me. Even when my faith was challenged, my Lord and Saviour gave me the wisdom and knowledge to reach out to Him — even in the darkest of times. How do I know this? Because my God is an awesome God who wipes away our tears and fills us our hearts with joy — if we will only let Him.

“Our feelings do not affect God’s facts. We may not see the shining of the promises — but they still shine!” (Amy Carmichael)

This is the message that is not shared enough in the world in which we live. If it were, we would be able to move mountains too!

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His Face Shining Upon Us

 “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” (Psalm 67:1-2)

What a beautiful morning! I love waking up to the crisp cool air. The sun trying its hardest to peek its rays through the wispy clouds and a subtle breeze nipping at my cheeks. Collectively, these signs make me aware that the seasons are changing and that it is indeed fall.

But most mornings are so rushed with getting everyone up on time, fed, bags packed and washed for their respective day at school and work that we barely notice God’s handiwork. In fact, the days I have extra kiddos are even busier as I make them breakfast as well. (I am a firm believer that our little ones need full bellies in order to absorb all that learning through-out the day). Most mornings, I have to cut the playtime short or the children’s desire to chat as time quickly runs out in the hectic of the moment. Most mornings, I can’t wait until the bus comes so I can embrace the quiet again. Normally, I can’t handle a lot of chaos but today, I must admit, today was peaceful.

I don’t know if it’s because it is Friday and they are tired from a long week — or if they all had extra sleep — or subconsciously, they needed the down time with an adult but today was different. Don’t get me wrong, I love how kids are so free and have so much energy. Further, I believe our little ones should be kept innocent and kids for as long as they can. I adore how they can use their imaginations to play games with the simplest objects.

But today, I stopped to notice. And what did I learn? I was in awe of how grown up they all were acting and how nice it was to get to know them all a bit more intimately.

The little girl I babysat told me of her evenings and how excited she is to have her younger cousins over for sleep overs. We talked about babies and how sweet they are. The older kids and I talked about their bus driver (who is off on sick leave) and how we all hope she is okay and how they are going to miss her and the antics that go on daily on the bus. For me, it was perfection at its best to be able to sit down with these kids (mine included) and just listen.

I believe that now-a-days — in the hustle and bustle we call life — we do not listen to our children enough. We are so busy with our work, our technology screens, and the extracurricular activities we have our kids involved in that we rush around like mini-tornadoes. Unfortunately, the fallen debris — once the storm passes — are our children. These same children CRAVE attention at any age. However, on this particular day, I found that it is our school age children who really want us to listen to them — whether they are 5 or 10 or 18.

So, like me on this particular day, ask yourself this question. “What does it do to a child’s self esteem when someone they adore such as a parent, constantly tells them to be quiet? Or, I’m busy, so go away? From my own experience, it can’t be good. And yes, I have been guilty of brushing my kids off at times too. I try not to but I am fortunate enough to be home with them 24/7 and I think that helps. I am not in the workforce rushing home after a full day on the job to feed them, and then take care of homework and household chores as well.

As an aside, my sister works with kids in grade 7-9 and she is in awe of how many children tell her their WHOLE life story — the good, the bad, and the ugly. She shares how so many girls will say that they have no one to talk to. Either mom is too busy with work, or with her friends and exercise classes, or with her new boyfriend. Conversely, she tells how SO many boys have anger issues and either lash out for attention or withdraw into their own darkness. The root of it, most times she observes, is that they are left to fend for themselves at a very young age and no one takes the time to be there for them. I’m not saying that we should give up our whole selves to give to these little beings, but I believe that we had children for a reason and as such, they deserve the majority of our time, energy and love.

Admittedly, I am not perfect. But when I hear about a young child acting out — time and time again and being sneaky, lying and seemingly broken in spirit, the first thing that pops into my head is this. Are you LISTENING to your kid? Are you spending TIME with your child? If we as parents just step back and take a moment to consider that WE might be the problem and it can be a simple fix such as asking the child, how they FEEL, then I am sure more kids would be happier in school. My suggestion — one might say my philosophy — is to take the time now, while we HAVE the time to spend quality time with our children. These young adults are precious and when we can, we should be taking advantage of the short time we will have them.

One of my favorite quotes about time is by Robert Updegraff. He wrote, “To get all there is out of living, we must employ our time wisely, never being in too much of a hurry to stop and sip life, but never losing our sense of the enormous value of a minute.”

He is so right. Today is a beautiful day. The sun is now peeking through the clouds even more. The air is still crisp and refreshing. But most of all, I noticed that the kids in this household — at least for this day — all went to school with smiles. My hope going forward is that I will continue to take TIME to ‘breathe’ and notice God’s handiwork — while spending sufficient time with the most precious gift God has given us — our children. For the sake of our next generation, let’s purposely decide as parents “to stop and sip life” without ever losing “our sense of the enormous value of a minute” with our offspring.

For me, today was perfect, and for that reason, I am immensely blessed! 🙂

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The Million Dollar Family! 

 For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

 My youngest child, aka Baby-Pie, is special.  In his short 5 years on this luscious planet earth, my Baby-Pie has overcome numerous obstacles — within the womb, in infancy and even to this day — as a rising star with his peers.  Never in a million years did I expect to hear the words “he is doing great,” “he is the top of the class,” or “he is our best writer in this kindergarten class” when attending his first parent teacher conference. Why? Because although I love him more than I can say, I also know he has experienced significant challenges from the VERY beginning of his life.

Still, he is special. When he was conceived, his father and I had wanted to fulfil our family dream by trying for our third and possibly last child.  I felt pregnant immediately but from the very beginning I did not feel good.  I had two full blown abdomen attacks with the latter one landing me in the ER at only 7 weeks pregnant.  I had gall bladder disease and required immediate surgery.  The surgeon and hubby and I had long talks about what this entails when the patient is pregnant, especially so early in the pregnancy.  My family came to visit (and since they couldn’t figure out why we were delaying the operation) we had to tell them I was pregnant.

Initially, we wanted to wait until our first ultrasound before announcing the news — not only to make sure the pregnancy was viable — but also to prepare ourselves for the adverse reactions we would get.  We knew that I didn’t handle being pregnant so easily. We were a one income home, which meant we couldn’t always afford the things we needed.  The family’s first reaction was to ask WHY — given our circumstances — we would try for another child.

For us, we did not feel that our family was complete. We, as a family wanted to be blessed with another little soul.  Upon reflection, having a third child was the best decision we ever made.

In due time, the surgery went well and recovery was fast. Inside me, my little bean continued to thrive.  Months went on and although I was in major discomfort with some pregnancy related issues, the next 7 months flew by as we prepared to go from an even number family to an odd number.

However, a third child meant that many things had to change. We had to upgrade our vehicle because of car seat legislation. We had to purchase baby items again as most of the baby clothes used for our first two children had already been given away. We had to make choices around which sibling was going to share a room with their new brother or sister. All fun stuff for sure. 🙂

The  tentative due date from the ultrasound and measurements was for March end. My own estimate — based on knowing when I conceived was for the end of April — but who am I to argue with medical professionals ;).  A C-Section was scheduled for March 27th. Needless to say, everything went off without a hitch. The baby came out SCREAMING so loud that they literally heard them in medical records hundreds of feet away — lol.  So that is how my third entered this world — screaming, sometimes showing his stubbornness by being sound asleep and then needing woken up — but all the time, setting his path for life.  🙂

The first day was wonderful having him in my room. He was so content and seemingly perfect. That is until things began to go unravel.  He developed complications in his breathing (which medical professionals called a ‘preemie grunt’ due to swallowing meconium upon birth), a bout of jaundice, a heart murmur and a few other odds and ends.  Into the NINU incubator baby number three went.  None of this was going well in this hormonal mind of mine.  In fact, I was devastated to have another baby in the sick baby ward and not in my room with me as I felt my baby should be.

As an aside, one never realizes how awesome something is — even when it is as simple as rooming with your baby — until in this case, the baby is taken from you.  Because I couldn’t hold my newborn, I felt that I couldn’t name him. I hung a no visitors sign on my door and basically I was shutting down.  The next day I got to go into NINU to see him but my desire to touch him wasn’t thee so i went back to room just to ‘think’.

Thankfully, I had an awesome family doctor who knew what I needed. He told me that all my little one’s medical issues were very SMALL issues and expected not to last more than that day.  Relief!  Sure enough our little fighter in the still of the night rallied to health. This meant he was 100% fine to room with me again. We went home on the third day like nothing eventful had happened!

Unbeknownst to me, huge challenges loomed ahead.  Not only did I develop a major infection all over my body that took over four months to recover from, my baby-pie proved to be a stubborn baby indeed. He LOVED to cry all the time — at times, all day long.  He developed moderate reflux.  He was continually sick with colds — primarily thanks to his big bro bringing home germs from school. He was almost hospitalized at 7 months due to bronchitis. We couldn’t take him anywhere because he would lose himself and cry hysterically. His sleeping habits were terrible so we stayed close to home to save him the heartache from whatever was ailing him.  He proved to be developmentally delayed when it came to gross motor skills.  Starting to crawl around age 14 months, he didn’t walk until he was 23 months. In fact, to this day my baby-pie still can’t really run, or jump or keep up to the other kids his age due to low muscle tone and feet issues.

At age 2, we figured he might need some speech therapy as he never tried to speak.  At age 3, he was diagnosed with Severe Speech Apraxia and some other learning disabilities associated with his speech disorder.  According to the professionals, this meant intensive speech therapy for the next decade (or more) of his life and lots of hard work for anyone around him. He also had other little ‘quirks’ that our pediatrician was keeping an eye on in the event they get worst.  But throughout, the one hope we did have was that our little guy was a fighter and would not let his speech or other learning delays stop him in the least.

So with all his trials in the beginning, you can just imagine how stressful it was for me to let him finally step into the real world, away from me — not knowing his ABC’s, or his numbers, and hardly aware of shapes or colors that other children his age already knew. What about bullying? Other children can be cruel when they do not understand people with differences.

Thinking of the possibilities, I was determined to make his last summer at home a lot of fun. But even the best thought out plans can abruptly change.  One week after school let out, baby-pie was playing with his best friend and his buddy accidently fell off a toy backwards onto my son’s leg. My son’s leg was now broken as his buddy was double the weight of my little guy  😉

This meant that our last summer together (prior to baby-pie going to school) consisted of A LOT of home time. Board games, screen time, coloring, drawing, writing, and yes, hanging out and doctor appointments.  His recovery was expected to take 4-6 weeks. In the end, it took 7.5 weeks for the cast to come off and an additional month of baby-pie not being able to walk. Now, 5 months later he still walks with a limp and has continued pain in his feet from all the tendons/ligaments/muscles not being used for months. Still, he endured all this with a huge smile on his face. No complaints. He was SO brave. At the time, all I could think of is how far this stubborn child of mine had come.

And far, he has come. He is now the HAPPIEST, funniest, friendliest, sweetest kid one could ever meet.  He is excelling in school so well that I can’t even begin to comprehend how it happened.  He was ‘sunshine’ this week.  This means he is a special helper, getting to take in to class some favorite items from home.  Yes, he took his leg cast to school so that he could share it with his peers. He also took in his favorite stuffed cat (kitty obsessed) and his favorite dinkie car.  As a consequence, my son had become like a rock star.

Other kids fight to sit next to my little guy in class. The older students in the school argue over who will help him to the bus and carry his kit bag.  Its amazing!  Even though the teachers (and probably most of his peers) struggle to make out what he is saying, with a few kids asking, “WHAT did you just say?” these same kids are adapting to my son and his challenges in the classroom. In my mind, his classmates are adapting better than most of the adults I know that are in his life.

This is my reason for writing this blog. For the adults who too often, come with preconceived ideas about abilities and disabilities. For those who think that a child with challenges can only be a burden and incapable of contributing to the world around them. In fact, I think we all could learn from the challenges my son faces, and the fact that he himself is willing to overcome stereotypical attitudes. My baby-pie is a prime example that no matter what one’s learning challenges are, or how big or small these might be, one can overcome just about ANYTHING if afforded an opportunity. And similar to my son’s experience to date, they can become a welcomed celebrity wherever they live.

Most of all, my youngest child — my brightest star who years ago completed our “million dollar” family, has taught me to never judge a book by its cover.  And that we can have faith in our Lord God and Saviour to give us the strength to be overcomers — world changers — regardless of the hurdles and challenges that may come in to our life. Jesus never fails!

 “Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)

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How Full Is Your Cup? 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”(Thessalonians 5:16-18)

In my mind, my cup is always yearning to be full. As I grew toward maturity, I was often called “perky”, “bubbly” and even at times “flakey”.  Some say it with an adoring grin or a thump on the shoulder but admittedly, I have encountered some that make this suggestion with a sneer. For the latter folks, it is almost like it’s a negative thing to always look on the bright side of life.  To rejoice always, and to give thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us.

But how can looking toward each day with a positive perspective be a bad thing?

Certainly, within these challenging times, we are all forced to endure the many things that life throws at us. But throughout, I also feel that it is WAY more important to believe in your cup being on the full side rather than half empty.  Let me tell you why.

Giving thanks to the Lord in all our circumstances has helped me overcome parental loss at a young age, dealing with hateful friends/coworkers and sadly family members, pregnancy loss, health issues and believe me — lots of job and income ups and down.  It would have been too EASY to say ‘ ahhh life sucks so let’s wallow in it’ and fall into a hole that WAY too many people I know end up in — with only the help of addictions or prescription drugs to help them climb out every once in a while.

Today, I find myself reflecting on these thoughts as the holiday season approaches. This is traditionally a season when many people resort to addictions to get them from one day to the next. Unfortunately, at the same time, I find more and more people are succumbing to a less than ‘half full’ attitude. Like a lot of life experiences, once negativity is given a smidgen in our hearts, it becomes contagious.

For me, I have been fortunate because I have a lot of positive, vibrant and “bubbly” people surrounding me.

One of my shining stars that helps me stay positive is my  good friend “Mandy” who is currently going through a major medical ordeal. Not only is it the pain she suffers daily or the fact that she will be undergoing a massive upcoming surgery, but that her disease can be terminal.  Still, she is the most positive, sweet, caring, funny, most awesome person I have ever met.  She never wallows because of her circumstances. Rather, she helps others get out of their slumps. She has always got a huge smile on her face (even though those of us who really know her are aware of the pain lines etched in her face).

Even so, one can count on Mandy to be there in a heart beat to lend a helping hand. Did I mention that she is raising two young kids basically as a single parent?   This means that she also has the same problems that we do. There are commitments and obligations to meet. She still has to deal with financial issues and friends and family who do not understand her situation. She still has to wonder about a diagnosis that might change her world completely.

But none of these challenging hurdles have brought her down. She remains strong day in and day out. In fact, falling into that pit of darkness — of self-wallowing — is the farthest thing from her mind.  It is for this reason that Mandy has become my mentor. When I feel the water in my own cup evaporating, I think of Mandy and how blessed I am to have her in my life.

Indeed, she has become a subtle reminder of how precious and short life can be. So with the upcoming holiday season on the horizon, I would especially like to share my hope and joy that comes from giving thanks throughout all my life circumstances. And if I can, reflect upon all the blessings in my life that give me a reason to rejoice.

All of this makes me realize that not only is my cup half full but most days, it is spilling over the rim … all because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you and I.

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My Miracle Boy!

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made [knitted together in my mother’s womb]; marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knows right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

Conceived too soon. Born too soon. Weighing in at just 4 pounds 1 ounce, my miracle boy made me a mommy for the first time.  🙂

Initially, I never thought I wanted to have children. I was too caught up in working, doing as I pleased and enjoying my own selfish world.  Then one day, I woke up to turn on the television as my then boyfriend (now hubby) went to fetch the mail.  He came back to find me in tears, sitting on our couch in complete shock. I was motionless, and very much resembled that of a statue.

He came around to see what was on the screen and asked, ”What movie is that?’.  But this was no movie. It was live footage from the series of events unfolding on 9/11. We watched the chaos intently all day, continuing in the weeks to follow.  It was one of the first (in a long line of life altering experiences)  that made me realize that life is too short for self-absorption. And at the same time, that there is a greater purpose as to why we are here on this beautiful green earth.

Shortly thereafter, my man proposed. We set a date for marriage before deciding to try and have a baby. Needless to say, we were super blessed when we found out that I was pregnant within that first month of trying. Some might suggest that we couldn’t have been happier.  It was an uneventful pregnancy up until week 13 when I started to spot.

My doctor just brushed it off.  The spotting came and went but everything seemed to be okay with the blood work and through the physical exams.  However, around week 16, I began to hemmorage. I went to ER not really knowing what was happening.  The doctor on duty said it was nothing and that, most of all, I was still pregnant. “How can that be?” I asked.

I went to see my baby doctor again and she confirmed that my blood levels were high, but everything in my exam was as it should be. Quietly, it was suggested that I must be working too hard.  Still, she suggested an ultrasound, just in case. I thought — it’s about time  😉   This was my first experience with pregnancy and ultrasounds and thought it was something performed quickly so that one could see images of the baby on the screen.  Nope, in my case it took hours.  And there was minimal communication which did not help.

Medical folks, other technicians and even radiologists were called in. While there, I heard a bunch of weird terms but no one told me anything.  ”Go home” they said, “and the doctor will call you soon.”  I waited an entire day for this call. Finally, the doctor’s receptionist called me to say that I had a “Non-Viable” pregnancy.  I was silent.  And then I asked, “What does that mean exactly?” Bluntly, she said that my baby was dead, and needed to be removed. But the doctor, she said, only does D&C’s on Wednesdays and since this was already Thursday, I would have to wait until next week.

I was devastated and so confused. The next day, I received a call from the obstetrical gynecologist herself and she told me to come in immediately.  I was taken into her office where she explained that this was no normal loss of pregnancy.  I had what they called back then a Molar Pregnancy (now called Gestational Trophoblastic Disease).  I encourage you to google read  up on it. Like me, you will learn that it’s very complicated and also VERY rare.

I was the second case known to this doctors office in all their years of practice. The verdict? I was to have immediate surgery to remove the ‘tumor’ from my body and subsequently closely monitored for 12 months. During this time, I was to be on high birth control for a year as I was not to get pregnant before that. But the best laid plans are not always the plans that transpire. In fact, my recovery was exceptional. So much so that my doctor thought (at 6 months) that she was going to give me the ‘green light’.

Well, at my 6 month check up we discovered that I was indeed a few weeks pregnant already.  🙂 This pregnancy was NOT uneventful.  Already, I had high blood pressure at my first visit. I had severe morning sickness and continued high blood pressure. I was put off work at 13 weeks permanently. Around 15 weeks, I developed SPD (Symphysis Pubis Disorder…OUCH!). I got into a car crash at 28 weeks of pregnancy and then finally at my 32 week check up my blood pressure was so extremely high,  I was admitted to hospital.

Within those 5 days, my blood pressure continued to escalate. My liver levels and platelets started to turn on me too. I was developing HELLP Syndrome (which can be fatal to mom).  In the midst, I had an emergency c-section on July 13, 2003.  It was a whirlwind experience to say the least!  I had pediatricians come in to meet me, steroid shots given to help this 8 week “too early to be born” baby and tons of family coming and going.  I was not awake during the operation but hubby was allowed in as soon as the baby birthed.  And did he ever come out in full glory.

He was crying which is amazing in itself.  He was so pink, skinny and covered in blond hair all over his body (he still has a fine silver/blond hair over his back/shoulders).  They had to put him into an incubator as he was so premature.  He was taken to the NICU and then the tests on him began. I was sent to recovery.  We were not allowed to hold our baby boy for the first few days, but finally on day three, he could come out for a bit.  When we held him, he was still hooked up to everything to keep him healthy. The good news was that in spite of the initial concerns, our little boy was healthy.  He only had to overcome the usual preemie ordeals such as keeping his body temperature up, some jaundice and oxygen to keep his oxygen levels up. He began to gain weight.

After  a long crazy week of me getting infection and not being able to breastfeed, I was discharged from hospital. My son was taken out of critical care and put into the NINU, eventually getting into a regular cot (always on machines mind you so that he could be fed).  Throughout, I met the most amazing moms, each with their own story to share. There was one little guy that was only 2 pounds when born at 28 weeks but when he was finally discharged, he was over 8 pounds. His mom and I even kept in touch until the boys went off to school. It was amazing to see her little man thrive!

We ended up staying in the hospital for 5 weeks (almost six if you count my bed rest prior to birth) until my little Preemie Prince came home on August 17th weighing in at a whooping 6 pounds 1 ounce!

In the early days, he certainly was a challenge. He loved to be up every hour as if he were starving for his 1-2 ounces of milk. Then he would love to puke it all back up again — lol.  He was very colicky the first couple of months but by month four, he turned over a new leaf and was up to eating like a normal baby. Okay, if the truth be told, my little preemie had turned into a little piggy haha! He was getting a bit of chub on and was the happiest little guy even though he still had severe reflux issues.

He got discharged from pediatrics at month nine but had to see a pediatrician again at age 2. In the years to come, he was referred to a speech therapist as he regressed in speech and needed therapy (and still does to this day for some sounds).

Still, throughout our ordeal, it was important for us to remember that our little preemie was a miracle of the highest order. He made so many people feel blessed with his arrival and to this day he is the most courageous boy ever.  Currently, ten years old, he is now an ‘old soul’.  He is not like a typical child. He doesn’t rough play. He never has anything bad to say about anyone. He wants everyone to play by the rules and be proper. Indeed, he may have come into this world in a dramatic fashion but he hates any sort of drama, preferring instead to live a quiet existence.

That means he loves to help out around the house, keep his room in ‘museum’ order, and to be the best behaved kid in the whole school (yes, I was told that by all his teachers). As well, this means my son is quiet (until you get to know him really well — lol), and that when he loves something he loves it with every single fiber of his being. He is loyal, trusting, gentle and when he puts his mind to it … brilliant!

So now when I stand next to this 10 year old boy, that is still thinner than most kids his age and ALMOST as tall as me, I get all teary eyed knowing that we are so lucky to have each other — me as a mom and my son as a young adult because we are both miracles, designed for a distinct purpose that only our Lord God and Saviour knows.

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My Daughter!

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him.” (Psalm 127:3)
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart …” (Jeremiah 1:5)

I was brought up as a “girly” girl. In fact, I embraced everything that was girly.  I was not planned — by a long shot.  My mom and dad had my older siblings (two brothers and two sisters) when my mom was about 20 years old.  I was born when my mom  was 39. :)

Still, I was immensely spoiled by my older siblings, especially my oldest brother. He was 19 years old when I was born so he was old enough to be my dad. Even to this day, my brother says this to me — lol. My older sister, the one born just before me is 13 years older and helped to raised me.  Throughout my childhood, I loved barbies (ok i still do!), dolls, anything frilly, dress up, and makeup. You name it. If it was labeled ‘girly’ I had it or I wanted it or I did it.  I never got hurt. I never had a broken bone. I never climbed a fence or even had a cut bigger then a cat scratch.

But because of the age gap between myself and my siblings, I grew up along side my nieces and nephews who inevitably were closer to my age.  In turn, I helped raise most of them.  In total, there are 5 nieces.  The ones that I most remember helping to raise when I was a teenager scared me so much that I never wanted children, especially if they were girls.  These girls were whiny, LOUD, messy, hateful and for the most part, just plain scary.  Thankfully, my sister closest to my age started to have children — her first born was a girl, followed by two boys.

They were the best babies (and later best kids, teens and now young adults) one could ever ask for.  She totally gave me back my courage to someday have a family.

So eight years ago I was blessed with my second child, and yes, you guessed it, she was a girl.  I was awake during the c-section and the doctor says, “Oh wow, look at the size of her. She is a big chubby GIRL!  Yay, congrats, what are you going to name her?”  I was floored. I couldn’t lie but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine having a girl. I started to cry, thinking in my head, “Oh Lord no, I wanted another boy. I can’t HANDLE a girl.”

I was not happy to say the least but as life often is, my life became even more of a whirlwind from that time onward.  Fast forward to going home and raising this chubby bundle of joy.  What I discovered changed me. This chubby girl was the BEST baby ever.  Dream girl too. So beautiful, and so much fun to dress up (like having a doll all over again — lol). In spite of my initial inhibitions, she was a pleasure to take any where. Just plain lovely.  As a consequence of her overly good nature, I slowly become less nervous about the thought of raising a girl.

Don’t get me wrong. I am still apprehensive of the years still to come but I wouldn’t trade the past eight years with the most wonderful little girl for ANYTHING that God could offer.  My daughter is the kindest, most caring, sweet, thoughtful, gentlest soul one could ever meet.  Around the time she turned 3, and started to gain her own personality (i.e. talk) she refused to wear anything girly. No more dresses. No skirts. NO playing with the long curly blonde locks. Instead, she cried for me to cut them mama — “right to my ears!”

Gone was the girl baby I was blessed with and could girly up to as I pleased. Rather, what blossomed was the most unique, determined, independent little lady one could imagine. More so, she loves bugs, dogs, mud, and climbing trees.  Her favorite outfit is a pair of ‘boys’ sports shorts, a tank top, a ball cap and ratty sneakers on her always running feet.  She is spattered with bruises from falling from trees and from crawling around playing animals with her brothers and friends. She keeps her room in constant disarray with no cares about her clothes being neat.  Indeed, she is too busy cutting and gluing paper, drawing pictures and writing letters to everyone she loves to spend time on things that will only need to be done all over again in the future.

So, upon reflection, I am no longer SCARED to be a mommy to a beautiful young girl. Now I am SCARED for HER.  Society makes it hard for girls and/or boys to just be THEMSELVES.  To be unique and individual — the way that God intended them to be. The discrimination that she goes through (with just family alone) makes me sad for her. But thankfully, she is stubborn and tells them that she doesn’t want dollies for Christmas. “I want a John Deere combine” she will state.  She doesn’t care that other girls her age are dressed up as a princess or alternatively, as a Disney character for halloween. She still plans to be Spider Man or Darth Vader.

As I contemplate what the future holds for my precious little girl, I sincerely hope that the ‘real world’ doesn’t strip her of her special uniqueness. I realize that the older she gets, the more scared I will be for her.  Its tough enough being a teenager these days without having a decided determination to be different from peers. And from what I see now, she is completely out of the ‘normal’ range in what girls are like (or expected to be like) in today’s world.  Still, from where I sit as a mother, I wouldn’t change this wonderful girl of mine for the world. The only question is whether the world will indeed change her?

Still, as I place my absolute trust in the Lord, I can be confident that by constantly reassuring my daughter that she is completely awesome the way she is, that He will cuddle her in His hands in the days ahead.  For now, my little girl is 8 years old with an entire world of choices and decisions ahead of her. In this context, I want to thank her for opening my eyes to everything a girl CAN be and not only what a girl SHOULD be.

I think everyone can learn from my experience and how my daughter changed my own viewpoints. By writing my thoughts, I hope to help others become more aware of the importance of allowing our children to be unique individuals … just like the unique fingerprints we were gifted with while still in our mama’s womb.

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Helping Our Children Face the World …

“Do not be deceived: bad [or evil] communications corrupt good morals.” (I Corinthians 15:33)

I came across this quote today and thought it very fitting for this day and age. My children are generally always quiet, peaceful souls that are being raised with many morals, one being, “treat others like you would like to be treated yourself.”  Not every household encourages a moral standard or indeed, any values at all.  In fact, it’s becoming increasingly difficult these days to raise kids according to family values and norms. Why? Because when we then let our children loose into the world to use these life skills, both my children and I soon realize …  that they are the only ones using them.

A prime example of how hard it must be for my kids to keep up their morals and values is when mommy takes other children into her home to care for, and these children act differently than what is expected under our roof. I have a brother and sister who come into our home part-time to be cared for and they are the same age as my older two kids – eight and ten.  They constantly argue with each other. At times, the two even get quite physical with each other — usually leaving the younger child in tears with an owie — such as a welt or a red mark.

As a result, I have often wondered what my kids are thinking about this behaviour when they were taught never to lay a hand on anyone else regardless of the frustration that they may be feeling at that time.  They stare at me with their big eyes and don’t say much. At times, my children kind of smirk in awe at these two — even going so far as to tell the other children to stop — to please behave.  These are their peers so that is asking a lot for them to endure in a few short hours each day. But my children assure me it doesn’t bother them because most times these children do listen to me.

This is not an isolated situation. I am sure my children see this same thing happening on the bus, in the school yard and probably even in the classroom. However, to have it happening in their own homes, I wonder what it is doing to their minds.  Thankfully, until now, mine have never followed in their behaviour.

But lately, I notice my youngest child who is six (and developmentally delayed in many areas so more of a 4 year old mentality most days), following the behaviour of the other children. This means that when he gets frustrated, he has taken to hitting his siblings.  We talk about it A LOT and he knows what he is doing is wrong because he looks at me with his huge blue eyes and says “Don’t be mad at me.”  I calmly tell him I am not mad at him. Rather, I’m upset at his behaviour.

I then have to explain to a young child that every household runs differently and what is okay for one family is not acceptable for another. Still, within our family we have consciously decided not to live in violence or hate or angry all the time.  I teach my children that one should surround themself with people who are positive, committed to happiness and people they can trust.  So what am I teaching these kiddos of mine by letting these kids with no morals for others into our home?

Good question, particularly when I believe one’s home should be a sanctuary – where we can feel safe, loved and blessed.

Moreover, I am not sure how my youngest will absorb all these new behaviour around him as this is a new adventure that we are all enduring … but I am going to have faith that my words and our everyday actions as a family prove to him that one does not need to act like others in order to achieve internal peace and happiness.  I am also optimistic that over time, these children in my care will see that being violent gets one nowhere and … hopefully, that our family’s morals and values can be instilled in their little heads and hearts too — so that they can go onward into life with more to offer than a pinch in the arm, a slap to a face or a hateful word to one another.

Ever hopeful.

Lori

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Hanging On And Never Letting Go Of His Love!

“My soul is weary with sorrow. Strengthen me according to your Word.”(Psalm 119:28)

A saying that I have been known to say in all times of stress — whether it is other’s dealing with the stress or myself is this — “God never gives you more than you can handle.” I say it so much that I’m sure it’s flashing neon on my forehead most days … lol!

This summer was a first for many things for my little family. The biggest first was the fact that I thought I was going to lose my mind and throw that saying that “God never gives us more than we can handle” out of the window along with any faith thinking that reflects an outcome that things always turning out okay — no matter what.

Let me start from the beginning. Everything was going along fine with our household. Hubby had a good paying job. Everyone was happy and healthy! We were VERY simple living people, paying the bills, buying basic groceries with some treats for the kids (and us — haha). We would gas up vehicles and then deposit a small amount into savings. There was usually nothing left over to speak of. We don’t go out. We rarely eat take out. We don’t buy anything new. We don’t have extra bills like cable, smartphones and we don’t owe money to finance companies for new furniture or appliances. We live this way so that I can stay home to care for my children 100% of the time.

In case you haven’t guessed it, I am a firm believer that looking after my children at home is my ‘job’ and that they – my children — are better humans for this arrangement. So you know, hubby and I decided on this arrangement pre-kids. At the time, I was part-time babysitting a friend’s little guy (that I simply adore). In June I was looking forward to having my own babies home with me for the summer months. This would be the first summer that I wasn’t babysitting every day. I didn’t have a newborn baby. I wasn’t pregnant and wasn’t working outside the home. So I had dreams of taking little mini escapes to the beach, park trips with friends, camping, maybe going to an amusement park and spending lots of time soaking up the rays at my sister’s pool.

On June 20th, it all came to a VERY sudden, shocking halt. Hubby went to work like he always did at 5am. Hubby’s job was almost an hour’s drive away. Not expected home till suppertime, I was shocked to see a vehicle in my driveway at lunchtime. Nervous, I peeked out the window and saw a taxi. Hmmm … I thought. It must have been using our driveway to turn around.

Without much thought, I went about cleaning my son’s room. Then I hear the door open. There is hubby with ALL his work clothes and the contents of his work vehicle in a baggy. He had a dumbfounded look on his face. Yes, He was just ‘laid’ off! This is a job that we thought was 100% secure because not only did he help the man that once employed him open his business but from day one hubby was there every single day putting in tons of hours (and sweat and even tears) I’m sure. He worked so many hours and put so much effort into this ‘business’ with hopes of someday going from kitchen manager to part owner, that he even spent nine months living away from us so he could be there 24/7.

The explanation hubby received was ‘nothing personal but I am letting you go for business reasons.’ Anyone who knows my hubby also knows that he is very non-confrontational. I did know that hubby had not been enjoying his job much in the past year. His employer was involved in some shady business on the side, not paying suppliers, holding back employees’ pay due to insufficient funds in the business account. There were mood swings that seemed outta this world so hubby took all of his papers and left.

That decision left us without any income, no second vehicle and no idea of what the future would hold. Now I wasn’t too worried because my husband is well known in our area for his hard work ethic in his line of work and therefore I was confident that he would get a job asap. Wrong! This time of year, it was almost impossible to get hired anywhere. All the restaurants and employers in the food industry had already finished hiring their staff for the summer tourism season. So, hubby began applying for jobs that he had never worked in before — just to find some form of paid employment.

In the meantime, my babysitting job ended as my friend went on sick leave. Two other children that I was going to be caring for came sporadically over the summer so that didn’t pan out either. The family went on vacation and were not planning to come back till August. So there you have it folks. NO income, tons of bills to pay with three kids staring at me all summer.

Hubby seemed to be handling it well but I was a mess on the inside. I know how to be frugal (like the best of them) and took our savings to stock up on essential groceries. Thankfully, I had paid a lot of bills the week prior to the layoff. Then a week after all this happened, I had a few extra kids here for the day. Just before everyone was set to be picked up that day, my youngest who is five years old was playing quietly with his best friend and the little guy fell backwards off a toy and landed on my son’s leg. The pain in his eyes told my gut something more happened then just falling on his bum.

Sure enough, after a five hour wait that night and three hours the next day in the Emergency Room, we found out that he had broken both his tib and fib in his left leg. He is so little so being in a cast and laid up for the whole summer (with weekly appointments scheduled with ortho) left me stressing about how to get around as we had no gas money.

So here I am in my head thinking “WHAT ELSE CAN HAPPEN?” I was struggling already with the extra stress within the family. The no income on my end, my hubby losing his job and not being able to find another one, my son in pain and laid up now for the summer, and my older two knowing they will not be doing anything this summer. To say the least, I was definitely in a funk — not sleeping. My stomach was bothering me big time and I was irritable which is not me on even the worst of days. My kids were not only dealing with all the change in the household, but now they were dealing with a mother who was previously chatty, laughing, and there for them, staring blankly at her computer or television — with no patience to deal with the day-to-day.

Later that month, I saw the Light. An online friend of mine with twins (that I have known for over ten years) lost her young girl to a devastating terminal illness. The parents had tried for years to find the cause of the girl’s health issue, finally getting diagnosed a few years ago. Since December 2012, the little girl was in hospital with her disease (ROHHAD if you want to google it and find out more). K succumbed from her pain and suffering this summer and my online friend lost her only daughter. Her brother lost his twin sister and a whole community grieved over this bright Light perishing. No one should ever have to know the loss of losing a child.

But for me, the heartache certainly put into perspective the many things that were going on in my life that I had previously considered catastrophic but in essence were miniscule to what else was going on in the whole wide world.

There and then, I stopped loathing in self-pity and once I did, things started to change – slowly at first but changing nevertheless. Hubby found a job a month later with help from a friend of mine. He was hired basically on the spot for a part time position (as permanent staff was already hired). He worked one shift with the boss before being told that close to full time hours would be available to him. In fact, they loved him.

A HUGE self-confidence booster was really needed in our household and I was so happy for him. I was able to babysit for a friend of mine for the month of August so it gave my kid’s friends to hang out with, and new experiences to explore the great outdoors with little ones their age. The whole summer wasn’t a write off as I had initially thought.

Moreover, I learned that there was still compassion left in the world as family members we never really knew came forward to lend us support in our time of need. Now we have new best friends for my kids and me and hubby both have awesome friends we see almost weekly that we probably never would of had the pleasure of getting to know if it weren’t for our summer of woes.

We are still nowhere close to being back on our feet financially but it is coming. More importantly, I now have all my faith back in life and appreciate my husband and my kids and my family and friends even more than I ever did. I don’t hold regret over this dark period in my life. In fact, I embrace it and grew from it as it was part of our journey here on earth. Still, I’m now back to believing everything happens for a reason. So anyone out there who is dealing with overwhelming circumstances — yes, God never gives you more than you can handle. Not ever!

Indeed, I and my family are proof of that promise so hold onto your Faith. Believe with all your heart and soul that when we believe in Him, He will cuddle you in His arms  — always and forever. 🙂

Finding the Best Approach to Exams

Finding the Best Approach to Exams

~Katie~

Reflecting back on my first year in college, I had no clue about studying for exams or similarly, how to take care of my body during these stressful times. Through earlier schooling, I had already recognized that during exams stress definitely takes a toll on one’s normal lifestyle. Finding happiness during exams can likewise be challenging. Therefore, I began looking to God for guidance. I also realized during this time that learning to be content with what I have helped me greatly. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state, I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)

From the exam experience, the following the steps have been most helpful in my final performance.

  1. Drink lots and lots of water— I know coffee seems like the best solution but water will make you feel better in the long run. Also, with lots of caffeine throughout the day it can make it difficult to get a proper night’s sleep before your exam.
  2. Prepare healthy studying snacks—Sometimes we forget to eat when we are stressed but more importantly we forget to eat healthy which gives you the proper energy to keep studying.
  3. Wash your face morning and night—This simple act along with lots of water and proper eating habits will help prevent those terrible breakouts that young people experience when stressed.

From my own personal experience, I believe the first three steps should be incorporated with the following:

  1. Go to the review—I know it seems like a pointless class (when you could sleep in) but this is the time where teachers give you hints and guidance.
  2. Get Organized–Highlight and organize your notes in order. Having a chronological order allows you to go back through your notes multiple times and helps you recall information more easily.
  3. Take proper breaks–Breaks are important even if it’s going for a short walk. Why? Because a walk helps improve one’s focus plus it helps this same individual to procrastinate less!
  4. Have a study group– This may require being a little more preparation but from experience teaching a friend the material has helped me retain/understand a lot more of the content than studying alone.  However, try not to study with more than four people or it becomes more of a distraction.

Let’s face it — exams are stressful — and everyone has their own way of doing things. Before every exam I always say a quick prayer. Remember that God is always there for you “Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

Have you heard these tips before? What steps do you take when approaching exam?

 

Making the Best of Decisions

Making the Best of Decisions

~Katie~

The school year was coming to an end and my new apartment hunt had commenced. After weeks and weeks of searching, my future roommate and I finally found the perfect apartment that would suit both of our busy lifestyles … at least we initially thought it was perfect. But what we discovered is that commuting by bus 45 minutes twice a day by was taking a toll.

My initial thoughts were that my housing cost and uptown location would definitely outweigh the long commute to school but I was terribly wrong. But what could I do? I had committed to a year-long lease and made a promise to my friend, so instead of breaking my word I decided to look to the Lord for guidance.

With the help of the Lord I came up with 5 ways to make the journey more enjoyable:

1. Make an effort to talk to strangers “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) Going out of your way to talk with someone (either sitting next to you on the bus or even waiting at the bus stop) can make the trip go by a lot more quickly and a great way to talk about the Lord.

2. Do random acts of kindness. This won’t only make you feel good but can really affect another person’s day! “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Philippians 2:4) Give your seat to someone who is standing and watch them light up or share your umbrella while you wait for the bus.

3. Help those in need. There’s always someone who needs help with directions and/or is lost. Go out of your way to help them because a little help goes a long way! As the Lord says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Mark 12:31) When I began using public transit I found it to be confusing. I appreciated the help and know by helping others they will appreciate it too.

4. Don’t let the little things get to you. Even when you are moments from catching a bus and the bus driver decides to drive away instead of taking that extra moment to stop show kindness “be Kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

5. Last but not least, make the best of every moment Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9) Yes taking the bus has both its ups and downs but it’s your choice on how you react to the situation. You have ample opportunity to make an impact on another’s life especially since you are positioned to be with strangers for 45 minutes each day. After being inspired by the Lord incorporating these five steps into my daily routine allowed the journey to be more delightful. So, having given my perspective, what initiative do you want to take in your life?

Overcoming Hurdles in Life

Overcoming Hurdles in Life

~Katie~

There have been many moments in my life where I have been afraid. Moments that seemed nearly impossible that I never expected to overcome. Faith has taught me that nothing is impossible “For the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13) An example of fear that I overcame in my life would be presentations.

I remember as a child presenting in front of my classmates and my face going bright red. My voice beginning to shake and my hands sweating so much that I would begin frantically wiping them onto my pants. I feel like this overwhelming fear carried over into my young adult years. I remember thinking before every presentation just before my name was called…is it too late to run? Where is the nearest exit?!

As I got older, I began reading more and more of the Bible. Therein, I came across this quote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Equipped with the promise from this verse,  proper preparation, knowing the audience you are presenting to, and, of course, lots of practice truly changed my fears.

Indeed, recently, I was able to demonstrate how I overcame my fear when completing a required consulting project. Here, I worked for a real company which required a presentation at the end of the semester in front of both the clients I worked for and the numerous stakeholders involved in the project. Although, admittedly, I still get the recurring butterfly feeling in my stomach, standing up in front of complete strangers does  not seem so terrifying anymore.

Remember to keep in mind that a successful presentation still includes being prepared, knowing your audience and lots of practice! However, more importantly, the real key to success is being able to incorporate God into our daily lives/activities even if it’s saying a quick prayer or verse before the presentation.

What fear(s) have you faced and how did you overcome it?