Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shane & Alli

Shane & Alli are a couple I met on myspace. When Andy and I pondered moving back to Ireland a couple of years ago I used my blog to connect with people from Northern Ireland. One of the blogs was about Shane & Alli and their plan to take a trip across North America and the ministry he created called . I told them to drop in if they travelled this way...and to my surprise....they did!

What developed was an instant friendship and kinship. They feel like family and we welcomed them and miss them like close family and we truly ache when we realize how far away they are. I confess to waking in the night to pray for I would sometimes worry about their safety since they often would sleep in their van or just to keep their path free and clear.

Well, they finally returned home to London to interview for two different but prestigous universities. Alli would return to school to get a law degree and Shane his doctorate. Well in a matter of weeks, everything has changed and they turned down their universities after being accepted and now everything is back up in the air.

One of their considerations is to return to Canada...including the humble province of New Brunswick to settle and see where God leads them. Naturally, we would love this...many people here would be thrilled...but ultimately when I pray for them, it is that God will clear the way for Shane & Alli to know clearly and concisely where they need to go....because wherever they go, they will bring about change. It is vital that it be a place where they will receive support, encouragement, love and appreciation for who they are and what they want to do for the Lord.

But also, that they go to a place where they can simply be Shane & Alli. I believe the Lord has big plans for them, but in the process it is vital that they do not become overwhelmed with the needs of the many and lose themselves. It is their honesty and willingness to be common, to show doubt and confusion yet still convey the deep faith that sustains them....people recognize that and love them for it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Trusting God

I have to confess that I have been struggling with all things religious this past year. Everywhere I turn there seems to be a different spin on who or what Jesus is and what people believe to be the correct interpertation of the Bible. Scripture is the tool to pick and choose from to bolster your position. I love the challenge of trying to figure it all out....but often it leads me to confusion and it causes me retreat to be alone with my thoughts and prayers...

Therefore, it was so refreshing to hear the pastor of our church speak about the latest book on the market called "The Secret" and the whole prosperity movement taking over churches everywhere as this has been bothering me too this past year. I value his thoughts and knew it would be good!

Now, to many of us it is almost laughable to take seriously the idea of richness or acquiring things as something to focus on....most of us are your average working class joes struggling to pay our bills and pray that no emergencies pop up to set you further back.

Not that we don't dream of such just isn't the focus of who we are. Many of us are more interested in building relationships and fellowship than on focusing or meditating on the almighty dollar. It isn't to say that having money is wrong...but when your focus is on chasing dollars instead of a relationship with God or your loved ones then you have created for yourself an idol.

What I took away from his sermon was the reminder that God gives and God takes away. As Christians we are not promised great wealth, health or success and not having it doesn't mean that God favours you any less than those who do have those blessings.

Why should we be exempt from suffering? Suffering has a way of shaping our character more often than good times. Can we still muster up some trust in God in our moments of agony or despair, when you cry out to him and you can't hear him or feel him near...can you still trust God to see you through it? When I am struggling, I remember Jesus' words to me "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

At church, Sarah told me that she planned to walk this long path of deep pain and grief from losing her fiancee to suicide. I believe she is honoring both herself and Nato yet recognizing the importance of not trying to rush through it or stuffing down her incredible loss and the anger and pain which naturally follows. She is such an amazing person!

I believe that God will help us work our way through the hard questions. He can handle our anger and pain....he wants us to fight our way to the other side....our life may not be as we planned it...but it will be our life....we may have battle scars that will remain tender when prodded...but they will be reminders of how far we have come and how much more compassion we have for others when we see their struggles.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

March is Birthday Month....

This past month there has been four birthdays of significance plus one more at the end of March. Ella turned four on the 16th and we had a wonderful time having a tea party with her cousin Sarah and good friend Kathleen. While they are having their tea party I have a lunch for the adults.

I made a decision with ella to keep her guest list to 2-3 friends as birthday parties have a way of growing into this huge older three have had some amazing parties that have left me frazzled and broke. Nothing extreme, but once you add in goodie bags, food, prizes, and at times public venues it gets very expensive.

It all started years ago when Ben was in playschool of all things! All those cute little was fun and you didn't want to leave anyone out to avoid hurting feelings. But, the problem is that the following year they are looking for the same thing. Both Andy and I are suckers when it comes to the kids. He'd rather work over-time to pay for it than disappoint them.

Thankfully, with experience comes wisdom...or laziness...who knows for sure...but I knew that with ella, there was no way I was making the same mistake again. So, each birthday we enjoy a stress free birthday party with lovely little cakes, juice served in little plastic wine glasses and an assortment of treats. The girls dress up in their prettiest princess dresses....and have fun eating and then playing with their dolls.

For the adults, I always enjoy making a nice healthy but delicious lunch...usually tying in St. Patrick's Day. I served turkey stew with dumplings, whole grain brown bread, an apple torte and coffee & tea...all home made and inexpensive to make.

Sam's 13th birthday was on the 22nd and it was low key. However, next Friday we are taking his friends out for pizza and pop at Pizza Delight. No big deal and it shouldn't be to expensive and hopefully he will enjoy hanging out in a restaurant with his friends.

Tonight I am having my very best friends Heidi & Jon over for dinner. It was delayed from last weekend because Andy had to work. But, Jon just turned 40 and he is like a brother to me. I enjoy making my roast beef dinner with garlic mashed potatoes and yorkshire puddings for him. I have an almond torte in the oven and that will be his birthday cake! I get to look forward to splurging on a yummy meal with some nice red wine and hanging out with good friends!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Can Breathe....

On Sunday night we went to a birthday celebration with all the people from my church. It was a wonderful evening, relaxed, fun and easy. The McCready's who hosted it are the most kindest, nicest, relaxed people whom I am happy to say we are slowly getting to know. The highlight for me was seeing a friend there that I had been wanting to talk to...who had recently lost her fiancee to suicide. I guess I just wanted her to know that I really cared and she was in my thoughts and prayers almost daily since it happened.

Well, as it happened she came over as I was chatting to her mum and she became upset because there was a photo of her fiance Nato on the fridge. I in turn started crying too...which is something I hate doing, and I was even more embarrassed because I was at a party!!!! But, I really ached for her and for me because I can't reconcile Michele's suicide. So...that night, Sarah and I ended up talking and crying together on the stairs. I was finally able to express my inner turmoil to someone who understood and I didn't feel the need to over explain myself. She just understood my suffering as I understand hers...even though her loss is so much more incredibly personal.

I admire Sarah so much...she is such a fighter with the most beautiful spirit...she also has two amazing sisters and I often get homesick for my own sister when I see the three of them together...I've wanted to jump in and beg to be adopted!

Since Sunday night, I have felt so much better. That huge knot that was cutting of my breath has receded. I realize I have been pulling away from so many things...friends, church, prayer, God, family, I've been so lost.

Three major events happened this past year that set me adrift. This may sound strange to some, but I have been dreaming in darkness at night. Unable to remember my dreams or if I did they were a jumbled mess...reflective of my inner battles.

I haven't anchored yet, but I am getting there. I noticed in the past two weeks, I have been dreaming in colour again. So many times I was blessed with beautiful dreams that I knew were from the Lord but this past year...nothing!

I have felt so cut off from the Lord but mainly I was hiding from him hoping he wouldn't see me in all my failures. It reminds me of one time when ella was about to do something naughty and she realized I was watching her. She said to me "mummy, don't see me!" I felt it was so profound because so often, we don't want Jesus to see us when we are making a mess of our lives...but the reality is he does and he loves us in spite of our failings or weaknesses.

I know that nothing in life...good or bad is wasted. I recognize the profound changes in myself that this past year forced onto me...which I am eternally grateful for. I am so much more compassionate towards others...I believe more than ever in the acceptance of Jesus who receives us as we are....but the constant struggle is to forgive ourselves, to reconcile with our own inner demons that haunt us and work hard to keep us trapped in emotions from long ago.

I hear the message to just let it go...or forgive and move on...yadda yadda insert the latest self-help mantra....but often that creates bondage as well because the person struggling to come to grips with their own stuff can in turn feel even worse because their relationship with Jesus hasn't necessarily released them from all that ails them....Often, it is the struggles that build you albeit slowly and often painfully....or at least that is what I tell myself!

Oh and Sarah, if you ever read this....I just love you so much! Sorry to sound so sappy...but your an amazing person and I hope that somehow you always feel the love and prayers that goes up for you each day from so many people that you have touched in your life!

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Beautiful Sister

I have the most amazing sister...I love her so much and miss her most days...unless she gets on my nerves which we sometimes will do. She was here for March Break and we had lots of fun even though it is for the most part extremely busy as we are referring seven kids and two of them can sometimes equal nine!

She is someone I admire as she is a strong woman yet so devoted to her family. She loves her family and home and really puts a lot of effort into creating a happy home. This past year while building a new home, she went away to learn all about home staging and has successfully opened her own business. She has written articles for her local newspaper and learned how to design her own website and manouver the legalities of opening a new business. She was stretched pretty thin, but she pulled it off and did it with such grace.

She also inspired her husband Paul to take a course in Toronto on home inspections. This was a perfect fit for him as he is another amazing person that I love and admire! During a very rough time at his work when he wasn't sure if his job would still be available, he invested in himself and took the course and did amazingly well! Paul & Linda have built five houses themselves and renovated and flipped two others! He is a forestry engineer by day and a Mike Holmes by night & weekends! So, it was a natural fit that he should become the first home inspector for their area in NS. He is doing really well working nights and weekends developing his new business!

Linda and I have been through some tough times together and I always know that with her...warts and all, she will be there when no one else will be. I love her kids the way I love my own and I love how our kids are all so close and happy to be together!

Having a sister is truly a blessing and I miss her almost every day!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Who We Are

The knowledge of who we are in Christ must be comprehended by the mind and emotions, then worked into the attitudes through the gospel, just as the knowledge of lawlessness is through the law (Rom 3:20). The word of salvation by grace, proclaimed in the gospel, must be established in the heart of the redeemed so they become fully convinced of the free gift of God's own righteousness (Rom 3:22) that was credited to their account at the cross. The law made "sin utterly sinful" (Rom 7:13). The gospel makes righteousness utterly righteous (2 Cor 5:21).

Body Image versus Soul Image

Like many woman I struggle to like let alone love the body I reside in. I struggled with anorexia as a teen, but I honestly don't believe I was anorexic because I thought I was fat...but more so, I was rebelling against some pretty horrible conditions and what I put into my mouth was the only thing I truly an bizarre way, it was the emancipation/liberation of me...but it wasn't till I spent many months in hospital did I become free from anorexia thru a healing from Jesus that in all honesty I didn't recognize till later.

This image is one I find amazingly beautiful and one I identify with. I have never felt more feminine or powerful than when I was pregnant, birthing or breastfeeding. I truly became aware of the power and strength in a woman's body! To often, with the push towards medicalized, overly sanitized births, with all feelings removed... woman are losing out on a very empowering experience because they are detached from their own bodies.

The other thing I struggle with is the fact that gaining and losing weight reflects my own inward struggles...openly. During pivotol periods in my life, my inner anguish has either shown itself in loss of weight or in gaining weight....I am still mad at myself for coping with this past year by eating to much! I want to find new ways to handle stress or tiredness. The work to lose weight is hard...I can't keep bouncing around like this!

I know it is a constant struggle for woman...and balance it all...but for the time being...I hope I can love myself the way Jesus tells me to love myself! Not to be concerned with vain things as they are fleeting...but darn it...clothes are fun and I miss being able to express myself thru fun outfits and funky jewellery!

The one thing I am discovering is that self-esteem is earned! The more effort you put into nurturing your body and soul the better you feel. So, taking the time to work out and lift weights is great for my body...choosing books to read that nourish my mind and my soul...all work together to make me strong and healthy! I just need to remind myself that gaining weight wasn't an overnight event and losing the weight won't be either!