Monday, 19 March 2018

Lent - Cheating

We are over a month into Lent... only 14 days to go... This is the point where I start to get really excited about Easter.  This year my birthday falls on the Easter weekend (Good Friday), which I really feel is an honour and a special time.  I became a Christian on Easter weekend when I was just a wee little person, so it kind of is like having a double birthday weekend.  I've always taken aside special time to celebrate and remember what God has done in my life through the Easter season.  This year feels full of anticipation.

I must say, Lent hasn't gone all smoothly.  I have "cheated" three times in what I gave up for Lent.  I really wrestled with it each time and could have said no, but didn't.  It really got me thinking about motivations and desires and how we rationalize things ALL the time.  Lent is more than an exercise in self-discipline (though that is a big part of growing in it for sure).  I always was pretty good at self-discipline.  This time, that is actually the part I have found hardest.  I am way more lenient to excuse myself and give myself a break in the name of "grace."  It has also been eye-opening to see the areas and the struggles that I have that I try to handle on my own.  Self-sacrifice is not natural.  It takes intention and effort and constant choosing.  I know grace does exist, but it has been quite a lesson of self-awareness to see my frailty and weak flesh.  Today my daily Bible reading was Romans 8.  This is, by far, my most favorite chapter in the Bible.  It is SO rich.

Set our minds on the Spirit...
The body is dead (and weak) but the Spirit is alive because of righteousness...
We are God's children...heirs of Christ
Creaton will be "liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God...
We hope for what we do not yet have...
The Spirit helps us in our weakness...
If God is for us, who can be against us...
Nothing... will be able to separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus!

Easter is coming.  We celebrate HIS victory.  We celebrate HIS love for us.  What a beautiful day!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Lent - Community

I'm writing this ironically on a day where I am staying home from church.  We've been fighting a bug all week and my body gave in today and just said, "I need a little break."  So it's a blessing that my mom can take the kids and I can go back to bed for a bit and listen to a sermon at home.  There is one thing I am finding to be more difficult this year with Lent, and that is finding community.

I do not believe that Lent is something to be experienced in isolation.  Yes, it is about your personal relationship with God and growing in discipline and self-denial. But I think this can only happen in the context of community.  We need people to encourage and exhort us when the "flesh is weak but the spirit is willing."  There is also a dependency that comes when we open up to one another in vulnerability and support each other in prayer.  For me personally, this is the crux of Lent.  Community is such a vital part of following Jesus.

In past seasons we have engaged in weekly prayer meetings, meals and Bible studies through the season of Lent.  The one year where we saw an incredible move of God during Lent (maybe I'll write on that another day), we ended the time with a huge Easter feast!  It was a party.  We ate, we drank, we sang Karaoke, we glorified God.  That is what I would love to see more of in our Christian life.  This year, we have none of that structured into our schedule.  I have made a point of remaining accountable to a few friends, and reaching out to others for support, but I definitely feel the lack of that community.  It is a time of life (with young kids at home) that this is a challenge in general, but I guess I feel it more amplified through these weeks of Lent.  I love my community.  Lent has again awakened my desire and longing to see our lives intertwined with others in community again.

There's my thought for today :)  What's been your experience with community?  Where do you find connection with other people?  How has community caused you to grow? 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Lent - Finding Joy

Through this time of Lent, I am striving somewhat more than usual to be intentional with my day and my time.  This doesn't mean it is glamorous, but I am seeking the joy in the ups and downs.  I thought I'd share a common day with you.  Let me reiterate again, it does not always FEEL joyful, trust that these moments are meaningful and contributing to the Kingdom of God, despite how mundane they may feel.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Lent - Prayer

You know writer's block?  Well right now I have prayer's block.

I started Lent last week.  I love this season in anticipation of Easter.  It is not always glamorous, and more often that not I fail and don't keep up with my end of the bargain (I already had a cheat this week).  Yet it is a time to recognize our dependence on our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and that is clearly displayed in my human frailty.  The thing is, this time I am having trouble "finding" Jesus. 

I have adopted some daily habits to turn my dependence to God, but the pressures of this life keep pushing me aside.  I read a daily devotion to the kids in the morning, but if they're not eating their breakfast or listening, or we are rushing out the door, the meaning is lost.  I try to read my own devotional after they're done, and some days am non-stop interrupted until my coffee is cold and I have tried to re-read the single page devotion 5 times.  I try to pray throughout the day, but between breaking up fights, and making snacks, and handling meltdowns, and cleaning the toilets, I sometimes forget.  So I rely on my evenings once the kids are in bed... but sometimes my brain is dead tired and keeping focus is hard.  Even at church, I rarely get to sit through a service, as I tend to my children, and fill in for Sunday School teachers who are away.  Those aren't excuses.  I am just saying that it is hard. 

I won't give up.  I have a longing to reignite that flame and passion for prayer.  I just realize that this season in life brings challenges.   I share to express that amid the beauty and fun and joy of life, there are hard part too (they don't get showcased as often).  I hope to share more of these times throughout this season. 

God, grant me grace as I seek you more. 


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

For My Boys

Happy Valentine's Day!  While today is a day for lovers, I couldn't help but showcase some of the love I have for the boys in my life. 

Monday, 29 January 2018

January updates

I'm sitting here sipping hot coffee, listening to my favorite music in the daytime while my kids play quietly in their room.  What????  Is this really my life right now???  I had to sit down and spend just a brief moment jotting down my thoughts while the magic lasts.

It is not always like this.  Not at all.  But the twin veteran moms were right.  Something shifts at age 4, and suddenly these little beings can handle some independence.  We have built in a structure of "quiet time" after lunch for a lonnnng time now and it is finally paying off.  It doesn't always work (or last more than 10 minutes), but some days it does.  Those days are treasures.  Yes I have laundry to do, and the garbage is overflowing, and dinner needs to be prepared, but for 15 minutes, I am sitting down.  Enjoying the moment.  Savouring my coffee.  (And just as I type this a child has come out with an angry request).

We had a rough few months of sickness, through the Christmas season.  We went away on vacation to Mexico, and it was wonderful, despite that we were still sick through it all.  We are back into routine.  We moved the boys to 3 days of preschool to give us (mainly me) an extra bit of kid-free time to keep up my sanity.  That has just begun, but I am already so happy.  I just need a little more space at this point in time.

This winter has felt long, and dreary.  Over time the years here on the island have felt more oppressive through the rainy seasons.  I love the storms and the wind.  But living it day in and day out, with young kids who are stuck inside, and carting groceries through the rain, and taking out a dog twice a day is wearing.  I am so grateful for their preschool this year.  It is a nature-based program and nearly every day they ARE outside, rain or shine and when they come home they have played and explored and are ready to tuck in and be content inside.  Still, I am ready for the new life of spring to come.  Being in the sun on holidays was wonderful, but it made it especially hard to come back to an intense storm season.

As for New Year's resolutions, mine don't tend to shift much year to year, and I am probably still in works of the same things from last year and the year before.  Three priorities at the top of my list are:

1. Read my Bible every day. I started this year with a 30-day devotional called Awaken, which includes a journal portion and I'm so glad to be back at it. 
2. Exercise - starting back at the gym.   I've done home workouts for a few years, and while I have strength, I think this will take me to a new level of discipline, so I am starting 3 days at the gym, in addition to my weekly walks and runs.
3. Declutter!  The boys are nearly out of all "baby" toys/clothes/supplies so I have purged those and want to continue through my house this year and bring the other rooms back to some sense of normalcy.

So that's where we are at, on the verge of February awakening and the prospect of spring (my tulips have pushed through the dirt and are waiting to make an appearance).  What does your new year look like?

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The act of sacrifice

Today my kids are home sick.  It was their preschool day.  The one day of the week, out of 24/7 days a week, where I get a break for 3 precious hours.  Today that is gone.