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Archive for the ‘spiritual growth’ Category

Yesterday, I shared with you some of my thoughts on inside out change, how I realized that the ‘out’ part was not going to simply happen on its own.  You will remember that I identified the person God made me, the person I am becoming:

  • a passionate follower of Jesus
  • a generous wife
  • an unconditionally loving mom
  • a devoted friend/family member
  • a dependable homeschooling teacher
  • an organized homemaker

In my desire to move closer to this person that I really am inside already, I realized that purposeful steps were necessary.  I love to make to-do lists.  I mean I really love to make to-do lists.  I love that feeling of crossing off stuff I have accomplished.  (I admit that I have, on occasion, actually put things on my daily to-do list that I have already done so I could cross them off.)  I decided to use this list-love to my advantage.

Each day, when I make my to-do list in the morning (or if I am on the ball, the night before), I list out the above six things with a space underneath.  Then, I pray about one practical step I will take toward the outward expression of each part of this inner person and I jot the steps down.  What does this look like?

Passionate Follower:
– spend time in prayer and Bible reading (currently using the 1 year plan from the back of The Narrated Bible)

Generous Wife:
– tidy the area of the basement that dh likes to sit in, but is always left a mess by the kids and I

Unconditionally Loving Mom:
– play soccer with the kids outside

Devoted Friend/Family Member:
– e-mail my sisters

Dependable Homeschooling Teacher:
– Work on ds’ math (I tend to slack off on this as the weather warms and he is almost done.)

Organized Homemaker:
– clean out homeschooling shelf in basement

Then, I list my other to-dos underneath.  When I am looking over my list, I give the things at the top my priority attention.  And, for now, that is it!

What do you do to make sure that you focus on what is important, not just urgent?  How do you move closer to the true person God made you?

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Becoming

Do you ever have one of those moments where you read or hear something that really resonates with you?  Something that makes you sit up a little straighter, something that makes you suddenly shift your thinking?

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a message at church.  I don’t even really remember what the message was about, but that’s okay.  During the message, the pastor encouraged us to ask ourselves the question, “Who Am I Becoming?  In other words, if I continue the way I am right now, with the same thoughts, activities and actions, who will I be in a year from now?”  Wow.  Good question.

I immediately perked up and began to consider.  Who am I becoming?  Who does God call me to be?  I need to keep the vision of this person before me if I am to move closer to becoming who I really am.

Who am I becoming?

  • a passionate follower of Jesus
  • a generous wife
  • an unconditionally loving mom
  • a devoted friend/family member
  • a dependable homeschooling teacher
  • an organized homemaker

This person is not going to happen by leaving myself on default.

In my journey with God, I am aware that change happens from the inside out.  However, the practical working out of this has been confusing to me.  Am I supposed to just wait, then, until I feel like being all of these things above?  Is that what inside out change means?  Here is the thing: while heart change will always be ongoing in our lives, when I was welcomed into the Lord’s family, He changed me right away.

If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

If my list above is who I truly am already, there is no need for me to wait for another change of heart to bring my actions into alignment.  In other words, it is okay to actively work on my thoughts and actions.  (Maybe this is more of a duh moment for you than the aha moment it was for me?)  These days, in general society and in our churches, the focus seems to be placed almost exclusively on personal inner growth.  Our actions are an afterthought, expected to fall into place on their own.  But, consider this thought from Scripture:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  Matthew 16:24

Why didn’t He just say, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must just study my life and the more he gets to know me, the more his heart and actions will naturally fall into place”?  Could it be that it is just not true?  Am I expected to have to make an effort?  Do I, as a Christian, actually still have to fight against my human nature default settings?  Darn!  That sounds like work!

Tomorrow, I will share the idea and the practical steps I have been taking to work this idea out in my life.  I hope you will find it as inspiring as I do.  🙂

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This morning round our table,

Dear Lord,
Please not let a shark eat us.  Jesus save us.
Amen

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I wrote the beginning of this post awhile ago.  I haven’t had a chance, or even exactly the words to finish it until now.  I hope you enjoy it.

It is time. Baby Arden is now 17 days old.  Leaving the blue chux pads in our bedroom won’t make the midwives come back to help me bring another sweet baby into our lives.

Leaving the labour massage oil on my dresser won’t bring back the surges that mean we will soon greet a tiny, new family member.

Those horrid, but necessary, mesh panties?  The peri bottle in the bathroom?  Neither will leave my womb emptying again of the soft baby nest, 9 months in the making.

The Birth is all over.  It is time to pack up The Birth Box.

For me, The Birth brings so much more than just a new baby. It is such a special privilege, so full of beauty, excitement and wonder.  It also seems to open wide a wound I continue to carry even into my adult life no matter how many times I offer the questions to my Saviour.

Am I special?  Do you love me?  Who am I, anyway?

During The Pregnancy, I am the special person. The midwife appointments are all about me.  She tries to find out every detail about me — my body, my emotions, my plans, my hopes and dreams.  Out in the world, everyone is extra nice to me.  People are always asking me how I am, offering me the best seat, letting me park in special parking spots at the grocery store.  A mama could get pretty attached to treatment like that.

But, being pregnant is just the lead up to the ultimate confirmation that I am important, I am chosen, and I am loved — The Birth. The Birth concentrates all of that attention into a few short hours (or a few short minutes if it is a quick one!).  It is like being a princess on her wedding day…and doesn’t every little girl dream of being the princess?

The second The Birth is over, already the attention is divided. Now, I am still The Special Person, but in the words of my sister, “You are still special, Christine.  Just not as special as him.”  😉  Thanks.

My precious Lord does not intend for me to live as a princess. That is not what he was here for and is not what I am here for.  While it feels good for a while to be attended and doted over, the shallow level it keeps me on separates me from the abundant life He has intended for me.  The life of serving.  It is mostly not glamorous and it goes mostly unnoticed.  It is everyday, not ‘special’ to anyone around here, but the irony is that each act of serving, of taking myself out of the princess role bring me closer to being like The King, closer to being The True Princess.

The True Princess wipes spit up from her newly donned dark-coloured shirt.  The True Princess chooses love over anger when her children frustrate her.  She cleans garbage cans, wipes little bums, throws another load of laundry in and tells her husband she loves him.  No one turns down her sheets or draws her a bath when she is tired.  She presses on when it seems too hard to press on one more minute.  Why does she do this?  Why doesn’t she just give up?

Because she is not here for herself. She is here for them.  She is here for The King.  Each act of serving makes her own identity clearer and that realization, the clear-seeing, brings joy, fulfillment and the intimacy she longs for.

While The Birth is the ultimate focus on me, I am grateful that The Baby is the ultimate focus on others.  Never have I been called to lay aside my own wants and needs as I am in the first year of life with a new baby.  Each minute is an opportunity to sacrifice as I serve someone else.  I find the more I embrace the serving, the more I embrace the wonderful feeling of knowing that this is exactly what I was made for.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Mark 10:45

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Yesterday, I was having an awful day. It is not a regular kind of bad day, where I am just crabby or tired or frustrated.  This was one of those despairing days where I question my whole life, where I think I have ruined my husband’s life, my children’s lives and my own life.  Everything is hopeless and too hard and I just can’t carry on one more minute.  It was a day where I just want to run away.  Far away.

Instead of running away, I called a friend. This friend always understands me and never judges.  She also always says the most wonderful things.  I know she is in the trenches with me because I have had the honour (and I really mean honour) of similar phone calls from her once in a blue moon, though I suspect she has her act together more than I do.

After she talked me down from the ledge for 20 minutes and changed my desperate sobs into a few good laughs, I was able to take a deep breath, hang up the phone and face the rest of my day.

A short while later, I opened my e-mail to find she wrote me most wonderful prescription which I now share with you.

Hot ChocolatePhoto Courtesy of julesjulesjules

Prescription for a Day off Homeschooling

  1. Recognize that no matter what you try to accomplish today, it will turn sour!  LOL!
  2. Immediately turn on a movie for the littles and middles (maybe even two).
  3. Make tea, find chocolate (a must!!).
  4. Find knitting or what ever else makes you feel productive.
  5. Pray, pray, pray.
  6. Don’t feel guilty; tomorrow will be better.
  7. If it’s not, repeat first 6 instructions!

Isn’t she great?! What would I ever do without her?

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Sometimes I like to read through older entries in my prayer journal.  I really enjoyed reading the entry I made one month ago and, while it is usually intensely personal, I thought you might enjoy reading this one, too.

October 2, 21010.

Today your baby is due, Lord.  The one who squirms and wiggles within my womb.  The one whom you have placed within me and allowed to share my body these last nine months.  Our time together as one flesh will soon be over.  We have only days left.  I will miss our connection.  I will miss the way I know it is so effortless to care for and nurture and protect this dear little life.  The next step will be harder, less selfish.  Our baby will still be completely dependent on me, but there will be many more decisions to be made, decisions that go way beyond simply caring for my own body.  In fact, some of those decisions will be in conflict to caring for myself.  I will be called to sacrifice.  I will be called to give of my time, my sleep, my comfort, and my body.  You have been preparing me these months, causing my heart to swell along with my belly.  You never leave me without everything I need to do what you purpose.  I have the strength and health and you also the deep love and commitment you have given me.  I have learned it from you.

Lord, you love so deeply and sacrificially.  You never fail and you never give up.  You never grow weary of caring, of providing for me.  Truly, what do I possibly ever have to worry about?  I am always under your protection, your care and your provision.  Thank-you, Lord.

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A few things I have enjoyed recently, which you might like, too.

Make Your Own Powdered Sugar with Sucanat over at Heavenly Homemakers.  I also think this would be a great kitchen skill to know for times when you are out of powdered sugar and want to avoid a trip to the store.

Finding Quiet Time at Owlhaven, written by a Mom of 10.  If she can find quiet time surely we can, too!

Why Memorize Scripture at A Holy Experience with a unique and wonderful idea for motivation.

A lovely post at Passionate Homemaking on Christian Literature for Children 0-8 years.

We love to use natural remedies in our home whenever possible, so I really enjoyed Using Homeopathic Solutions for the Family at Keeper of the Home.

I LOVE herbal teas, so I was thrilled to see Celebrate the Harvest (herbal tea) with Georgiann’s own recipe at The Garden Gate for a tea she calls Cottage blend.  I think I’ll whip some up tomorrow!  (Hi Georgiann!)

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