Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Under Attack Day 7

I think I'm under attack.  I'm serious.
You can't tell me that the first time I plan on NOT spending money for 30 days and all this happens (see below) that this isn't a coincidence:

1. My drug plan through work suddenly changes and an expensive medication I need to be on is no longer covered.  And by expensive, I mean expensive.
2. Our travel insurance bombs on covering our hospital stay with Silas in Hawaii and we get slammed with a 2500 bill. (Hoping this works itself out).
3. Our camera dies
4. Our freezer dies
5. Our mattress wakes me up in the middle of the night because my back is in agony.  P.s. we paid 100 bucks for it 8 years ago and it was used already.  These things need to be replaced? And tell me why, oh why, do they cost anywhere from 1-4000??   Oh, THAT's why we bought a used one years ago.
5. Silas suddenly has no shoes that fit and all three of his pairs are currently held together by duct tape.
6. I have my first set of 4 shifts, in a row, in over 2 years and I'm not supposed to not buy a coffee? Or a tea?  Or a goodie?  Or anything to help me through 48 hours of work in 4 days?  p.s. Jason was so kind to buy me a coffee today at work.  By that I mean, I begged him to use some of his personal spending to gain romance points and buy me a drink.  Obviously, that doesn't count.  He reminded me I'd feel guilty.  He was right.  I'm a criminal  law-breaker of my own legalistic endeavor.  Forgive me.  It was a moment of weakness.

It's a conspiracy.
The world is plotting against me, or at least my culture.

Oh, and to throw a #7 in there: we are currently in need of financial support for Jason's work and are in the middle of that journey.  As in, we desperately need Jason to raise adequate support for his salary and at the same time I'm being slammed with messages that we're inappropriately rich (?) and also being hammered into the ground with endless and random bills?

Confusion alert.  What lesson am I supposed to be learning here?  I'm rich, I'm poor, I'm rich, I'm poor, I'm vulnerable, I have no control, I need to lay our finances down on the ground with our hands to the sky- God, provide for us as we provide for others.  Amen.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I'm a Have

Someone bought something else for me.

I'll admit it.  We were checking off something from our summer list, going to Granville Island, and my Mom bought us the tickets to take the ferry across False Creek.  Okay, fine.  She bought me a drink too.

This isn't exactly the plan.  (Coerce other people into buying me things rather than buy them for myself). However, I will admit that she volunteered.

Oh.  And I bought a drug today.  But I'm going to die without it people, or at least not sleep lest I can't breathe from both nostrils simultaneously.

That's all an aside.  I just happened to start reading about Jen Hatmaker's decision to spend less for her 6th month of her project in Seven and, let's just say I'll let her words hammer at your heart rather than my own:

"Just because I can have it doesn't mean I should."  I heard this recently and it stuck.  The counterattack to this perspective involves a list of objections easily accessible to the standard American consumer:

It's no big deal

I can afford this
I've worked hard for my money, so I can spend it how I want
I want this back off
I deserve this
Other people spend way more

So we spend, spend; amass, amass; indulge, indulge item by item, growing increasingly deaf to Jesus who described a simple life marked by generosity and underconsumption....

What if wealth and indulgence are creating a polished people rotting from the inside out, without even knowing it?  Is there a reason Jesus called the rich blind, deaf, unseeing and un-hearing, and foolish?  Jesus never utters a positive word about the wealthy, only tons of parables with us as the punch line and this observation: It is terribly hard for us to receive His kingdom, harder than shoving a camel through the eye of a needle...If this is true, then more than fearing poverty or simplicity, we should fear prosperity.

Shall we stop imagining these sad, sorry rich people belong to a different demographic?  A brave believer admits, "He's talking about me."  Look at our houses, cars, closets, oru luxuries; if we are nto rich, then no one is.  If we aren't swept up in entitlement, indulgence, and extravagance, then Jesus is a foold, and lte's get back to living....

What if we are actually called to a radical life?  What if Jesus knew our Christian culture would design a lovely life template complete with all the privileges adn exemptions we want, but even with that widespread approval, He still expected radical simplicity, radical generosity, radical obedience from those with ears to hear, eyes to see?"

What she writes is so counter-cultural, so challenging, but so in-line with how Jesus talked about wealth.

The point is, I don't want to just 'slow down my spending' for a month.  I want to change the way I look at myself, and my wealth.  Instead of always looking around and looking up at who I believe are the 'haves' and thinking "we need this to be happy or wouldn't it be nice if we had that like so-and-so."  I need to start recognizing that I, am in fact, a have.  When I glance at the billions of people in so many other parts of the world, how can I deny that I am a have?  If I am not rich with my clean water, safe neighborhood, roof over my head, a loving husband who values me, and money to buy medicine for my comfort and not just for survival, then I am blind, deaf and dumb to see it.

It makes me want to weep.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the fact that I am a 'have' is so that I give it all away.  All this grasping, pushing, shoving, diving to get a grasp on some ever-moving line of 'enough,' is killing my joy, limiting my impact, and stopping God's spirit from working in my life, the life of my family, and the life of others.

So, now what?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 4-5

It's interesting how differently I am already looking at stuff.  What once brought me much angst- looking around and seeing all my stuff, is starting to look like opportunity. Who could I give that to?  How could I sell that thing.  I was even offered some free things and turned them down (what?)  And we had a garage sale and made money!  And that money is going to....a cause that is yet to be determined but it's not going to just buy more things.

It's also interesting how this month, of all months, everything is breaking.

Not kidding.  Every other day Jason suggests something else we need to replace, fix, repair, or buy and I can't tell you how liberating it is to just say, "how can we make do without it...?"  Take for instance, a tent. We have been wanting to upgrade to a bigger tent every year and every year we don't.  We barely fit and I can tell you how annoying it is to try and change clothes in a small 4 person tent you can't stand in, but, do we really need a bigger tent?  I mean, for the few times we go camping every year?!  

Guess not, cause I'm not buying it now.

Or take, for example, our deep freezer.  Somehow I made it work to fit all my stuff in our fridge freezer and the process of clearing out our deep freezer revealed something: we waste more food with a deep freezer.  How long do things sit in there and then we just don't get to them, they get freezer burn, so I throw it away.  It's practically criminal.  I''m sure there are lots of arguments to have one such as: buying in bulk quantities which is cheaper etc.  However, we don't have a family of 10, we have a family of 4.  Is it really necessary to buy 10 kg of meat at a time?

So this 'no spending' project has created other projects: we're 'eating down' the fridge and freezer and pantries. Cooking up that leftover casserole, thawing those homemade muffins (what kind are they?) and starting to eat what we've horded.  And since we couldn't store all the berries I'd hoped to, we've made more jam and given some away to neighbors.  I'm actually kind of excited about not forcing myself to stockpile just 'in case.' And, imagine the garage space we will gain without a deep freezer?

The only purchase that has me humming and hawing is our camera.  We've had it for over 5 years and it has traveled to Africa, Europe, and through house buying, baby raising, and many trips in-between.  We love it, but it is broken.  We could take it to Nikon to get fixed for $175 or buy a new one for $300?  Or no camera at all (boo!).  Don't you just hate that technology breaks?  You buy it, it breaks, or they invent something better.  Jason's really pushing for a new one and he rarely buys the latest and greatest techie stuff...

But we'll sit on it, wait on it, be patient, research and just NOT BUY anything until after 30 days. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 3

I think a big reason I have this drive to consume, accomplish, achieve, comes from something within that is much more sinister and it came out from it's hiding place plain as day.

I was sitting and talking with Silas, frustrated again for the 100th time having to tell him STOP TAKING TOBY'S TOYS!  

Then I said something emphatically and with great passion (a true teaching moment here right?)  And then I found myself saying it again.  By the third time, I wasn't sure if it was him I was talking to or to my own heart. It hit me like a ton of bricks:

"Silas, you will never be happy if you always want what everyone else has."
"Silas, you will NEVER be happy if you ALWAYS want what everyone else has."


That so often exactly explains my own heart of discontent.  I'm frustrated, I'm antsy, I'm agitated when others achieve or buy or own or have something I want.  Not even because I need it for myself, but because she has it or they have it.

Don't you love it when you tell your kids something that you model poorly?  Yuck.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 2

Things were going well on the 'no spending' front until we drove to the Quauy in New West and had to find a place to park.  I was determined not to fall into the same habits: find a close spot and pay parking.

But we succeeded!

Second moment of duress: Starbucks every 3 feet.  Will.  Not.  Buy.  But oh how I wanted to when I had to go to my night shift at work.  How ridiculous that I am so desperate for comfort, so often.  Some people don't have water, don't have a home, don't have clothes on their back and I'm sad because I can't have a coffee?  

I was reflecting some more from reading this book Seven, so much that is challenging me. For months I have been weighed down by my need to change.  There is a tension in my heart, a frustration, an anger, a realizing of the suffering around me and the incredible comfort and security I live in.   It's not fair.  It's not right.

If it's true that our excess could somehow be channeled into lives that have none, I want that to be the direction we head.  And I have to say, already I feel a sense of relief somehow.  I can just hit 'pause' on spending and just say no?  I can just say "no I don't need to replace that appliance,"  or "why don't we live without?"  

It's had me thinking too:
we have a mattress sitting around, extra pillows and sheets, who could they go to that really needs them?
we have so many children's clothes that we don't need 'just in case.'  What child, even around me, wears the same clothes to school every day in the fall?  Might I meet him too?
What about my three pairs of running shoes, might someone need a pair?
And all the blankets I own, or the ones I could make, as winter draws closer, who might need them?

And then I think about the garage sale we just had, $80 bucks ain't much, but who would that be much to?

Lord show me need, I want my faith to become action, my more to become less, and my burning desire to have have have, turn to contentment and joy from radical generosity.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Month Without Spending

No. Cards. No.  Back off.
Ever say you're going to do something, and don't do it?  Well, I'm the master at it.  I can talk passionately about how you should all become vegans, take out sugar in your life, and care for the orphan but what am I really doing to change anything in my own life?

How do you make sustainable life changes then?  The weight of my wealth, of my position in the west has been grinding me down into the floor.  I know I live in excess, I want to be more generous, I want to make a change in my spending and giving habits, I want to live more simply, but I am on this wheel and darn it I can't get off.

Few blog posts ago I said 'small steps.'  Well, I've decided on one.  Enter:  "Seven" by Jen Hatmaker.  Hilarious, challenging, eye-opening.  In the spirit of her book on cutting out excess in her life, I'm going to embark on a legalistic month of cutting back.  I want to simplify,  I want to come to terms with the reality of how comfortable I am, how completely dripping with wealth in Canada, so that I can be guilty.  Ok, not guilty, but motivated, broken, and moved to make bigger changes in my life.

Sounds noble right?  That's not the point.  I need accountability and somehow sweating over the words I'm going to write makes my next step more legitimate.

So what's my baby step?  I'm choosing to not spend any money for a month other than on our regular bills, food, gas, and life-saving medications.   I'm hoping it will change the way I think and act towards things.

Sounds ridiculously simple to you, maybe weird?  Actually, even typing this 'plan' out has me hyperventilating.  Can you hear me over the keys? No spending, at all?  Gulp?  Is that even possible?  I've been warring against my spending for awhile and have always believed that I'm not an excessive spender. Our bank account tells another story.  

I'm also lazy, impatient, and demanding.  I want what I want, now.  I don't want to wait, I don't want to research, I just want to buy and buy now.  Somehow it all adds up.  A gift there, a hair product here, some new clothes here, a coffee (which I said I wouldn't buy but have somehow justified a few along the way), 20 lbs of blueberries for jam etc etc. There is no end, folks.  There will always be something else I want.

And that's not even talking big expenses.  Our vacuum broke.  Our deep freeze is currently thawing as we speak because it is on the fritz.  And the list continues...my hair needs to be cut, like now, before I just look like walking bangs or 'Cousin It.' Stuff requires stuff requires stuff.  Or so I think.

But what if I could start thinking differently. What if we chose to have less, to give more.  

What if we didn't buy a new camera, even though ours broke in Hawaii and we officially can't take pictures, at all?  What if we lived in the moments instead of behind a lens taking pictures of 'the' moments?  What if I just didn't buy another deep freeze but ate the food buried in there and simplified?  Who says I have to replace it other than my lifestyle? We could just not store away extra food. What if I learned how to cut my own bangs?  What if I made gifts, or went back to making hand-made cards, or took more time (the currency of our day) to plan or wait for things instead of just buying as needed?

That's the plan.
Here's the secret: I'm writing this a few days behind when I actually started to keep me moving forward. Come along for the ride or maybe dream up a way to simplify your own life. 

Dear Jesus my trajectory needs to be changed.  If I don't take steps I will not move and this heart and lifestyle needs to move.

July 19-August 19.
Here goes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

56 Vancouver Summertime Family Activities UPDATE

Where are we at on our list?  

Here goes...

1. Daddy & Son [first annual?] overnight camp-out
2. Go to the Richmond night market
3. Bike ride to have an ice cream treat   *yay Menchies moving into our neighborhood!
4. Swim in this pool in Stanley Park.  Love.  We biked past it, let's see if we go in it.
5. Hang out at Lynden, Washington's City park.  Loved it!
6. Go to the Celebration of Lights. Many a childhood memory was spent waiting on the beach for hours, and playing 'sardine' in the crowds afterwards.  Can't wait to introduce the kids....although maybe this will be a date night?
7. Attempt the Grouse Grind with kids strapped on our backs.  Possible? Nope. Not gonna try.  Did a 3 hour hike with Toby on my back and just about died.
8. Fly our kite at Vanier Park
9. La Casa Gelato for a special Silas date.  This kid will be so overcome...he is a dessert lover to the core!
10. Granville Island waterpark, duck feeding, boat watching, and all the goodness that comes from evenings spent at this amazing place. A large seagull who was particularly aggressive jumped up and stole Toby's whole muffin snack out his hand.  The birds were no fun after that- poor guy, scared him to death!
11. Check out Canada day festivities downtown.  Had a great Canada day, but no festivals.  Next year!
12. Pick berries at Krause, enjoy some corn pizza (amazing) and make jam (like a ton) to stock up for the year.  Apparently making jam with a toddler and pre-schooler underfoot is a bad idea.  A burned finger, a pot of boiling jam overflowing on my cooktop and hours of cleanup later...at least I have 6 jars of jam (WHAT? That's it?!)
13. Camping with our life group!
14. Go canoeing with the kids, someway, somehow.
15. Attend a festival: maybe the Italian one on commercial drive, international children's festival, jazz festival, dragon-boat racing festival or the like
16. Bike around the seawall (with Silas on his strider!)  Silas didn't last as long as we'd hoped but, we still loved it!
17. Baking camp for Silas
18. Hike at deep cove.
19. Joffre Lakes hike or Panorama Ridge hike with the hubby on our mini couple's getaway to Whistler.  Or we might just camp at Wedgemount.  Can't wait.
20. Sleep under the stars.
21. Visit a winery.  [Clearly an adult summer adventure]
22. Hike dog mountain with the kids strapped on.   See above #7.  Ain't doin' it.  But we DID hike up Lynn Valley.  Insert applause here.
23. Ride a ferry.
24. Centennial park - check it out (I've heard good things)
25. Host a block party and/or BBQ.
26. No shoes day!
27. Evening swim at a [free] Surrey outdoor pool.
28. Have a water fight.  I bought the boys water-guns.  I'm a horrible Mom.  So far though, Toby doesn't know how to use it and runs around pointing it at people (oh dear) and Silas happily squirts me but then cries every time he gets squirted, thereby defeating the purpose of a 'water-gun fight.'  Next summer might be more realistic.  Let's just say I'm not sad his dollar store gun already broke.
29. Side-walk chalk 'bomb' friend's houses [with encouraging messages from the Brinks]
30. Ride the skytrain.
31. Try tennis with the boys.  My wonderful co-worker (an avid tennis player) gave us like 30 balls.  It made tennis actually fun not having to run for every single ball!
32. Eat a whole meal from our garden!  [Peas and tomatoes, beans and kale, lettuce and carrots...can't wait!]  After a ton of hard work this year and a lot of planning, our garden was the victim of rabbit madness and, well, unless we want to eat a meal of lettuce, this is a no go.  We have a community garden plot and after three years of trying to get a good harvest, we are gonna try some planters in our backyard next year.  Humph.
33. Build a sand castle. Like, a really cool one. Lots of sand castles and sand play in Hawaii!
34. Day trip to the Othello tunnels past hope.  
35. Make popsicles. I can't find 5 of the 6 sticks that go with my Popsicle maker thing.  We bought some instead.  I'm lame.
36. Beach day at English Bay or Crescent Beach or White Rock.  
37. Outdoor movie night.
38. Swim in Sasamat lake.  [White Pine Beach] Delightful!
39. Our favourite: hike around Buntzen lake
40. Picnic breakfast!
41. Pick blackberries around our neighborhood.
42. Rock hopping at Golden Ears Provincial Park.
43. Give geo-caching another try.
44. Seattle zoo.
45. Take Silas to a sporting event of some kind Yay Nana and Papa!  Invited J and Silas to attend the Canadian Open Women's Fast Pitch Championship.  Silas had three cupcakes, that's all he really said about the event.  
46. Picnic at Rocky Point Park - Waterpark!  Ocean view!  Grandparents! What could be better?
47. Deliver jam or berry pies to our neighbors
48. Sleep in a tent in our backyard.
49. Run through the sprinkler.
50. River Market at the New Westminster Quay- love it. The kid's favourite part?  Sitting at the skytrain watching the trains come and go.  They love trains and this market is the best spot to see boats, trains, trucks, planes and we love it too because of the beautiful landscaped river stroll. 
51. Watch Art in the Park- people set up to paint in Stanley Park.
52. Take Silas Rock-wall climbing
53. Magnifying glass nature walk.  Boys might enjoy this!
54. Make giant bubbles.
55. Bike obstacle course.
56. Cross the border to go to Edaleen Dairy and get their massive, amazing ice cream cones.  I'd say that's a good evening activity (poor Toby, he'll have to have some kind of soy treat).
57. Last minute camping trip- aka, 'let's go camp at ____ tonight!'  Done.
58. Fish N Chips in White Rock or Sushi by Bay

Sign up now!  Join us for some more summer fun!
p.s. I have no photo proof because our camera broke in Hawaii.  Bummer.

Monday, July 22, 2013

These Four Walls

My Hospital- born and raised as a Nurse here

Legs, limbs, lungs, lives.  Cloth to foreheads, hands washing feet, pulses under fingertips.  Suffering and pain, young and old.  

I live in these walls and I hate them, and I love them.  

I hate this place because it reminds me of the impending end that awaits us all. Broken, bleeding, hurting, death.  The smell of suffering, the mess and sweat, the seeping of wounds, the toil of fractured bodies. 

But I love this place because of its reminder: we have all been fooled.  Our culture tells us that  pretty tree-lined streets and monstrous houses protect us from disease.  We think that having and being, doing and achieving makes us unbreakable, immune.  But we all check our status, our positions, our wealth at the door and don gowns.  

An army of the same.  Patients.  Souls attached to skin and bones.

It doesn't matter who you were.  IV's look the same in rich or poor arms.  Fear and pain recognizable on asian or caucasian faces.  And blood runs crimson in the veins of us all. 

We are human.  We suffer loss in this life, all of us: loss if cancer-free living, loss of loved ones, loss of bodies we thought we could control, loss of faculties, loss of the image of perfection we never had but thought we did.  

There is a leveling, a humbling, an authenticating that happens within these hospital walls. And I get to be the hands that hold these hands and eyes that see their true eyes: revealing souls.  No facades, no fancy clothes, no images or regimens to hide behind.  

True natures revealed, true character unveiled.  There is nowhere for this true reality to hide within these four hospital walls: we were made for more than this life.  Our bodies are fading but what lies underneath though usually invisible is made all the more visible through suffering.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


For all you tender parents out there with sweet little girls who play playdoh for 9 hours straight, while singing softly to themselves, and looking cute in their self-selected chiffon outfits, I don't understand your life.

I have boys.  You would probably think they're crazy, or indecent, definitely loud, and perhaps out of control.  I can just hear you with hushed words in the corner, "can you believe she lets them actually jump on their furniture?"  

I've got no defense, except: if we're stuck indoors for any length of time, if I do not push all the furniture and mattresses and pillows into a big pile and let my boys climb, jump, and bounce, their behavior will get worse, not better.  But why am I defending myself, I have boys.  I'm over it.  

That means, I get elbowed in the face or the arm or the boob at least 10 times a day. That means they lick sticks, eat rocks, and yes, jump off of the furniture.  They sit on each other, they yell, they say "hi-ya" while waving hockey sticks around and 'gentle' means hitting less hard.

I had no idea.

When I thought about parenting, I imagined craft times, frolicking in wild flower fields, stickers and beads, skipping and talking about feelings.  I didn't imagine collecting worms, bush whacking in forests, or having to say "that's making mommy nervous..." so often.  

Here's the funny thing though, I actually love it.  No matching of outfits or hair clippies. No tea parties or nail polish fests.  I mean, I won't pretend to not be jealous of your ridiculously good selection of cute outfits (I actually refused to leave target's little girl section the other day and was practically wiping drool off my shirt).

But whatever.

I get to teach them how to climb tress, play fire man, and pretend to be eaten by a crocodile 100 times a day.  I get to wipe up a million bloody knees and marvel in wonder and fear when I find my kids doing things like this:

This is one of the many moments where you are simultaneously disciplining them "oh my gosh, Silas that's so unsafe, never never never do that again" and also grabbing the camera because "oh my gosh, how did he do that?  I can't believe he figured out a way to climb up there, J will be so impressed."  He was, at the time, in 'quiet time.'  Scary.  I mean, bad.  Very bad.  

Boys are terrifying and exhilarating.  I love adventuring with them, exploring with them, and learning with them. Bring on the mud, sweat, bugs, and tears.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In Slow Pursuit of the Things that Matter

There is a list in my head of 'shoulds.'  Anyone else have one?  As soon as I opened my eyes to the world of injustice around me, I was completely overwhelmed.  Where do you even begin helping broken systems, broken circumstances, broken people?

So I make lists.  That's what any good western middle-class woman does, right?  Lists upon lists.  Of shoulds, of expectations, of projects, of books to read and causes to conquer.

-I should do more for the poor
-I should be making more of a difference in our neighborhood
-I should be more patient and gracious with Silas
-I should be more generous helping people in need
-I should be helping the orphan, caring for the widow, loving my own family better

I am so tired of living in the shoulds and the coulds and the 'wouldn't it be nice ifs.'

James says "So you see, faith by itself isn't enough.  Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless." (2:17) For someone who speaks passionately and frequently about the plight of the poor, I do a whole lot of nothing about it.

How do you take inaction and turn it into faith in action?  How do you take the big dream of wanting to make a difference, care for people, be generous to the poor, live more simply, and be less absorbed in your small little life and actually do something differently?

The answer, I believe, is rather unsatisfying.

You take one step.  Just one.

Slow progress stinks, but it's reality.  What is the one thing, not the 200, that I can do, right now, to love others more generously.

I love progress.  I love speed.  I love efficiency.  But do you ever notice that nothing works like that in the world, like ever?

Garden growing, addiction kicking, child rearing, culture redeeming, weight losing, money saving, injury healing...step after slow and steady step.

So what's yours?  What is one tangible and actionable goal you can take to reach out to love those around you?  

p.s. I'm working on paring down my list to one thing, as we speak.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dreaming of Significance

I've always been a bit of a dreamer.  I've imagined all kinds of futures for myself.  I'd be a  world renowned journalist, I'd be a photographer, I'd be a well-known writer, I'd be a scholar, I'd be a business woman, I'd be a traveler... the list goes on.  I'd be an Olympic athlete, I'd be an entrepreneur, I'd be a singer and an actress.
I think I believed as a child, that most of those things were likely, in fact probable.  Everyone told me that I could do whatever I wanted, that I excelled wherever I went, and the world was my stage.

But is that even true, really?

I was just reading in Sacred Parenting and a quote from the book pierced into my heart.  It shed light on a dark untruth that I  have been believing for years.  This lie has been clouding my focus and keeping me from being content in my actual life, my here and now.  My search for significance, approval, applause, and glory is a  rampant cultural blind spot:

"I need to embrace my own insignificance.  I know that sounds like a very counter cultural idea, but I believe it represents biblical truth much more than the ambition-driven search for significance that is so popular today.  The truth is, only one out of ten billion of us will ever be remembered by history...less than half of one percent will be remembered two hundred years from now.  To organize your life around the off-chance that you'll be that one in ten million is foolish.  

When I embrace my historical insignificance, I am set free to concentrate on very real- and eternal relational significance.  I matter to my wife.  I am very important to my children.  I have secure standing as an adopted son of the Most High God."  

The internet has expanded the numbers of people who I compare myself to.  Now I'm not just looking to be known by my small circle, I am wanting to be known by everyone out there. What does that even mean?   The competition is steep, let me tell you.  This world is FULL of incredibly talented, gifted and accomplished people.  I'm at the back of the pack.  Facebook is a sly beast that lures me in and promises me feelings of superiority and then stabs me in the back telling me that I need to have a more incredible life full of more beautiful things, more lovely hobbies, and more meaningful accomplishments than I actually have.

And then I fall into this pit of "woe is me, I am not like so-and-so" and "I haven't accomplished anything, I need to do more, I need to be less me and more her."

Does anyone else feel this way?  Does it ever seem to you that everyone OUT THERE seems to have it better than you, behind the screen?

I guess I always believed I'd be somebody.  But I'm starting to realize I don't want to be somebody, I want to be who my Maker made me to be.  In  the center of His destiny for me.  I want to stop trying to be someone else: with their interests, their dreams, their accomplishments, their families, their houses, etc.

You'd think I'd know this by now, and just avoid facebook.  But this carries into my real life too. I am so tired of looking left and right at what everyone else around me is doing or not doing to determine if I'm being successful in this life.  

Course, I'm not quite sure of who exactly I'm supposed to be. [I'm almost 30, shouldn't I know?] But I do know this:

I love caring for the sick.  That might be weird for some people, but I love serving the needy.  Not just physically, but emotionally.  I don't do superficial, well.  I like depth of relationship, authenticity, conversations full of meaning and life questions.  I struggle, a lot, with a lot of things.  I'm a very broken person and I flock to other broken people like a moth to the light.  I love culture, I love nature, I come alive in having a variety of tasks.  Music speaks to me and I speak through writing.  Most days I struggle being a stay at home mom.  I'd love to travel more.  I like change, A LOT and struggle with anything mundane, like running.  I want to be fit but I'm often lazy.  I know God has called me to love my husband and support him, and to care for the sick and teach my children about God.  Other than that, I don't know that I'll ever be somebody, or be well known, and I'm not sure it really matters as much as my culture tells me.

And as for the world, as a stage, it's a stage for none other than it's Maker.
"God does not share his glory with anyone.  No one can rival the Creator.  It bears repeating: Scripture knows only one hero, and that hero is God. Our so-called search for significance is often a dangerous attempt to steal some of God's glory."

Ouch, Gary Chapman.

If I have nothing else to show for my life, other than Christ in my heart, than it is enough to please God.  He is my significance.

Now to just to convince myself of that truth and be brave enough to live the life He wants me to no matter if anyone notices:

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without border.  
Let me walk upon the water, wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.  
And my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior"
-Hillsong United

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

All About Silas

I sent out an update about the 'baby' of the family (who, by the way, is no longer the baby since Toby acquired a baby doll which he is fondly toting with him everywhere) and it wouldn't be fair if I didn't talk about his older brother.

You will often hear me spout off about the challenges of having a three-year-old, because it is challenging.  However, I want to talk about the many positive characteristics of my little man-boy.  And there are many.  He is an active, social, dramatic, and bright little boy.  

Did I mention that I think he's ridiculously handsome?
(Except when he's doing this)...
Or this... (bugging Toby incessantly), which is his full time occupation:  
He loves riding his strider bike and he has swiftly worn through two (and into his third) pair of shoes.  And by worn down, I mean dutch-style.  He can speed around corners, go down hills, glide along with both feet off the ground (balancing) and even goes off jumps. I am truly astounded at his physical ability.  For those of you who haven't heard of these genius rides,  they are so amazing.  They changed the way that we go for walks.  Instead of Silas walking at his slower than slow pace behind the stroller, he's zipping along allowing for us to go at a quick click. In fact, I can run along beside him and barely keep up.  He's even lasted for almost 2 hours on a family bike ride.  Love it.
Silas' dramatic facial expressions and extensive vocabulary makes for very interesting conversations and story-telling.  When he's in his 'I feel bubbly' mood, he can chit-chat forever with funny phrases, great imagination, and endless energy.  It's hilarious!  He has us in stitches quite often.  My favorite game to play with him is right before bed.  We'll lie on his bed looking up at the (blank) ceiling and I'll begin... "I see____" and fill that in with whatever random idea comes to mind "pink flamingos dancing on marshmallow clouds."  He'll play right along, coming up with the most ridiculous scenarios.  I love imagining with him and being creative with him.
Like his momma!
Silas is more than anything, obsessed with cake.  I mean like, it's never ending.  He makes cakes with legos, makes cakes with sand, sings happy birthday for me a million times a day, and cannot get enough of imagining eating wonderfully sweet things.  I think he even gets just as much, if not more joy in imagining eating cake or serving others imaginary cake than actually eating it.  It's hilarious.  He LOVED his first baking class with me and is attached at my hip when I'm baking anything in the kitchen.  What an interesting fella!

All of the above is 'cake making.'  All.

He also is an incredible gymnast and hockey player.  I mean, he's three, but he loves being at our local gymnastics place for drop in and I can't believe the heights he can jump off of and the tricks he can do.  As for hockey?  Well, we could spend hours doing this a day.  He has a great slap shot and jumps in with the rest of the much bigger neighborhood boys and thinks he's one of "the guys."

Side story: Speaking of 'guys,' he got in his first fist fight at the playground.  It was the strangest thing.  Another boy was pushing him away from the playground so Silas pushed him back and then this other kid started pounding on Silas.  It was scary to watch (as I ran towards him) and Silas was incredibly upset "I don't want him to hit me!" he cried.  Strange, but true story.  Silas is, well, a bit competitive but I've never seen such aggression.  This other kid definitely started it but we definitely need to work on "turning the other cheek and walk away."  (Or do we teach him to fight back?! Opinions?!)

Speaking of energy, he biked to the track the other day, and then ran TWO laps around it. Crazy.

I think Silas is an incredible mimic and wordsmith.  He has a great vocabulary, knows all his letters, knows all their sounds, and is actually starting to put letters together and sound out words!  I left him with some sidewalk chalk the other day and looked over only to find him drawing H's and U's, P's and I's even though I've never practiced that with him.  I'm amazed, and slightly confounded.  How will I keep his interest?  I haven't a clue how to teach someone how to read...

This little boy is, in many ways, like his Mom.  He has a high social need, loves all the attention he can get, is dramatic and imaginative, and loves to be in the center of any and all activities.  Yup, sounds like me.  Maybe this is where our challenges lie.  Most days I'm overwhelmed by the task of stewarding this kind of social energy and intelligence in a positive and God-honoring way.  I need a lot more patience and grace than I possess and I am humbled often by how little I am capable on my own.  I have definitely struggled with anger and I'm learning more about my character each day as I parent him.  God help me!

One of the best things at this stage is both Silas' innocence and his curiosity.  He asks about everything.  My favourite is when he decides to pray at the table.  Like his latest, "Thank you God for this wonderful meal, thank you God that if Mommy isn't here or Daddy isn't here, or Grandma isn't here, or Angela isn't here (his nanny this past spring), you are always here.  Jesus please bring me a little sister.  Thank you that Toby can't have dairy, amen."  This kid...or... "thank you just, ummm, for our life, and..."  The latest favourite too: he loves the song Ten Thousand Reasons by Matt Redman and doesn't stop singing it.  While walking to the park the other day he said "It's just so beautiful out, so sunny, doesn't it just make you want to bless the Lord Oh your soul Mommy?"  [bliss]

He brings so much joy, so much passion and energy, and so much life into our home. I'm so proud of him for so many things, and hope and long for him to be as Christ to his generation (oh, and play nicer with his younger brother of course).
At his best: baking class!

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