Is This World Getting to You?

I am an optimist: with water at the mid-way point in a glass, I don’t see it as merely half full (as opposed to half empty), I see it as mostly full.

But in spite of my extremely optimistic tendencies, even I can’t help being affected by what is going on in the world – whether it’s ISIS enslaving, raping, killing everyone who is not of their brand of Islam, or Hamas’ determination to annihilate every last Jewish person, or the treatment of and killing of unwanted people, be they too old, too infirm, or too inconvenient (through euthanasia and abortion).

Then in my country, scandalous news broke out a few weeks ago concerning a radio celebrity, that has opened up the topic of harassment and abuse of women, and it seems that just about every woman has experienced these things at some level.

How does one handle all this?

My solution is threefold:

1. Read the Bible: the Bible reminds us Who is in control. God told Abraham that his descendants (he didn’t even have any descendants yet) would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years, and then he would deliver them and bring them to the promised land (Genesis 15:13-16). This is exactly what He did. He told them that they’d be dispersed from the land for their disobedience (which they were), and that He would bring them back (which He did).

Then there are all the specific promises/prophecies concerning the Messiah, which have been fulfilled (click here for list).

With that amazing record, I have every reason to be encouraged as I read God’s Word in the Bible about what He will bring to pass: evil will be defeated!

2.Pray: Why? Because God wants us to. Because turning our attention to God gives us the right perspective of who is in control. In fact, we’re to pray with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). As we give thanks to God for who He is and what He has done, it reminds us of how He has acted/helped/delivered/provided/comforted in the past, which should encourage us for the present and the future. And God responds to our prayers. (see my husband Alan’s latest TorahBytes message on this subject).

3.Follow God:  While I am not God, I can follow God and live my life in a way to be a light and to make a difference in this world.

While I referred in this post to big-scale evil things in the world, we all have at  some time or other smaller scale problems/negative/hard things in our lives.

In fact it was a smaller scale negative issue that prompted this blog – a negative thing that a loved one is dealing with.

The solution to these personal troubles that we or our loved ones face is the same:

1. Read the Bible.

2. Pray

3. Follow God

It might sound simplistic, but getting right perspective, appealing to the King of the Universe, and then following Him, does make a difference.

I woke up this morning, troubled. I opened my Bible to Psalm 131 and read “I have calmed and quieted my soul…O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.”

My soul is quieted. I will hope in the Lord.

Striver toward perfection or laid-back? This applies to all of us.

While there a lot of different types of people in this world, and I believe each person is unique, in the area I have been contemplating there are two types of people: Those who think they are never good enough and strive toward perfection, never feeling satisfied, and those who are what I call “comfortable in their own skin”, who, while knowing they aren’t perfect and aren’t as good as others in various areas, are fine with that.

I happen to fall into the latter category. However even the laid-back type of person that I am can sometimes become uncomfortably aware of their(my) short comings, of areas that need serious improvement, such as when one gets a well-meant (and unfortunately true) lecture on her shortcomings as a mother from one’s adult son…as I did. This particular son is one of my fans and shows me love, honor and respect, so while being brought face to face with my shortcomings in a certain area didn’t feel good, it was easier to take from him than from someone who doesn’t have that “I-am-for-you” spirit.

The specific area being discussed happened to be about my parenting of my youngest two children. Perhaps if you have a whole bunch of children, you too have become more lax (and in my case, too lax) with your youngest? If so, you understand. The following day I was contemplating what he said, and I realized that from time to time over the years I have noticed lacks in this area, had determined to do better, and yet here I was again.

I could have felt that it was hopeless. But I didn’t. Why? Well for one thing each day is a new day and God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23 ). I don’t walk this life alone. As a follower of Yeshua (Jesus), I have God’s Spirit in me, and He is able to help me in my weakness. No matter how many times we fall, we can, by the grace of God, get up and continue walking toward the mark. Not only that, if it is more than a matter of just “improving” in an area, or “doing better,” if it is a matter of sin, John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

There is always hope. And my hope today is that God is going to help this laid-back mom pick up her boot straps and raise those last two children with all diligence, to His glory.

Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Rememberance Day

As I was blithely reading “The Tale of Two Cities” to some of my children this morning, the phone rang. It was one of my adult sons, who was calling to urge me to write a blog today as it is “Pregnancy Loss and Infant Remembrance Day.” He seemed to think that as I have experienced seven miscarriages in my life, I was qualified to write such a blog. I didn’t think I was and I gave him some reasons. But he maintained that I did have something to say.

So here I am.

One reason that I gave my son for not being the right one to write such a blog, is that in spite of the fact that I have had seven miscarriages, I do have ten healthy children (most of whom are adults – I feel funny calling them “children”). So yes, while I have experienced loss, I have also experienced enormous blessing.

What can I say to the woman who has had only miscarriages, with no living children?

Another reason I did not want to write such a blog, is that each and every person’s story is unique: some might still grieve for that baby (or those babies) that they lost ever so long ago, others might have not really wanted that pregnancy and experienced relief at a miscarriage (and may or may not feel guilt over those emotions), others might have experienced some lost but have gotten completely over it, others…you see what I mean?

What can I say to each situation when they are so different? I myself was in a different space for each of my various miscarriages and I would not presume that all other women felt what I did, or feel what I do.

But then I realized that I do have something to say. I can tell you what I know. It applies to all of humanity, whether you have experienced a miscarriage or the death of a born infant, or have experienced some other trauma, physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.

The best thing you or I or anyone can do is go to God. What I mean is: communicate with God, our caring Heavenly Father. Tell Him your feelings, whatever they may be. He can handle your sorrow, your anger, your confusion, your guilt. Wait in silence before Him, let Him communicate with you. And read His Word, the Bible. Because it is full of wisdom and comfort and so much goodness!

If you are reading this and have no relationship with God, but would like to, I’d be glad to talk with you about that. I couldn’t do life without Him.

Oops!

Due to my lack of technological knowhow, the beginnings of a blog post that I was writing got sent to you. That one sentence was not my post. Please click on this link to read my actual post.

http://wp.me/p4aQVf-7I

Thanks, and sorry for my mistake. One of these days I’ll get the hang of it.

 

Nature Speaks

I took a walk in my favorite spot in Ottawa earlier this week:

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And then today I took a walk in my neighborhood

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Walking among such autumnal beauty, the blue skies, warm sunshine, beautiful foliage and that wonderful smell of autumn leaves brings to mind a song that I learned decades ago: “La nature me parle d’un Createur” (or “Nature speaks to me of a Creator”).

Babies also speak to me of a Creator! 2014-08-14 09.38.46

A little human life, grown in the mother’s womb, but a completely separate human being with his/her own personality – it never gets old, I haven’t lost the wonder of it after all these decades. Wondrous!

And then these little ones grow! And each unique person with their unique looks, personality, creativity, strengths, and abilities also speak of the Creator to me.

And so I write what is on my heart: thankfulness for such beauty as I have the privilege to see and for such richness of relationship that I have the privilege to enjoy with God, my husband, my children, my friends. And thankfulness for the peace and plenty that we in Canada enjoy at this moment.

But earlier today, I saw yet another video of brutality in Syria – suicide Jhihadists targeted schools and killed thirty children. My peace and the tranquility of my life exists in stark contrast to so much of what I have been reading/seeing of late. Horrifying images of innocent people being massacred.

What to do ? Can I ignore this suffering? God forbid. To start with, I can pray. Then, I can live out the things that God values such as truth and justice and mercy for the oppressed. And I can teach these to my children, not merely as concepts, but to actually live out. And then I can seek God for an open door to help in whatever way He leads.

I don’t feel guilty for living in a peaceful country and being free from fear of brutality or starvation. No, I appreciate it. I am very, very thankful for this. But I don’t want to forget my brothers and sisters around the world that are living a life amid brutality and deprivation.

My goal: to be thankful and appreciative, and caring for others, in prayer and word and deed.

Life Happens

I haven’t blogged for a while.

Why?

………………….LIFE!

My life doesn’t function like a well-oiled machine at a factory, churning out products on schedule.

My life is full of people.

I make a “to-do” list, and begin to “do,” and then my daughter calls from Haiti.

Gladly I put that list to the side – my daughter is way more important than anything on that list.

I am sitting down at the table about to do another “important” task on my to-do  list when I get a call that my sleep-deprived son and daughter-in-law need me to come and help them out with their newborn (less than one-day old) baby.

…..Hurriedly I deal with the necessary things on the home front and head out the door. Giving that help at that moment is more important than what I had planned.

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Another day, another to-do list (some things carried over from previous days, of course), and a daughter informs me she needs her health card renewed. That wasn’t on my list, but off we go. My days never go as planned. And that’s okay. Because that is life!

People are more important than the tasks on my list.

Those tasks, however, are connected to people, whether it is the laundry (people need clean clothes), cleaning (people prefer a germ free and somewhat tidy environment), or more directly, my list includes doing things with this person or that.

And just because something or someone wants to interrupt my day, doesn’t mean I have to go to that thing, take that call, or whatever.

I want to be sensitive, not pushed and pulled about by everyone else’s demands or perceived needs, but that I may be sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit and discern what is truly important at the moment.

And be willing to let life be life and not worry about the multitude of things that didn’t get crossed off my to-do list.

Yeah, so I haven’t gotten around to writing a blog until just now. And that’s okay with me. Life happens. Priorities.

What Can You Waste, But Can Not Save?

A riddle: Some spend it wisely, while others fritter it away. No one can save it. Everyone, both those who have spent it wisely and those who have spent it foolishly receives a fresh supply the next day. What is it?

Time!

Over the last few months, every now and then a recurring question has come to my mind: “How am I spending my time?”

I’m not talking about my main “job”, that of being a mom – I’m thinking about the other bits of time that I have. Am I using the twenty-four hours that I (and we all) have been given, in the best possible way?

God’s Word says,  “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Am I making the best use of my time?

How should I spend/invest it? That is besides my main “day job” of being a mother (all right, “day-and-night” job for mothers of young children, but let me encourage you – it eventually becomes mostly a “day job”).

I find it so easy to simply  slip in to frittering away time – picking up a book lying around – we like books in our family and there are usually some lying around that I can reach over, pick up, and open randomly (I’ve most likely read it already) and read. For. A. While.

Or looking up something on the Internet and then clicking on this link and that simply because the title catches my eye. And the time passes.

I have been writing a children’s novel for some time now (many, many years) and when I look back over the years and the time wasted here and there, why, I believe I could have finished that novel by now!

But no use crying over wasted time! It is useful, however, to take stock of what is, or has been, and seek to make wiser investments of my time.

How do I make the best use of my time?

Seeking God is always the best place to start (prepare for a little “ouchy” reality – but “ouchy” isn’t bad if it leads to good change!).

Hourglass imageAnd here are some general ideas to consider regarding investing time other than our main job/ministry that God has given us:

Invest in relationships: I want to spend time with God (if you don’t know what that means, feel free to ask), with my spouse, with my children. I want my other relationships to be helpful and encouraging – if someone isn’t benefiting from the relationship, why spend precious time on it?

Use even casual encounters (cashier at the grocery check-out, child’s soccer coach or ballet teacher) to be a blessing, to bring God’s kingdom here on earth.

Refreshment: we need to rest, recharge or replenish our bodies, minds, and spirits. What does that?

Physical rest is important (am I burning the candle at both ends?) as well as exercise.

For mind and spirit, I think creative pastimes are beneficial, whether it’s art, music, writing, gardening, building, decorating, and so many, many more areas.

Entertainment – here is an area that most of us could probably use a moment to step back and think about: Movies, YouTube videos, video games, or those online games that I don’t know what they’re called, but I receive notices in my FaceBook newsfeed that my FB friends have reached this or that level in them. “Making the best use of time?” Hmm? Is it refreshing my mind and spirit or dulling them?

While I don’t play online or video games, I do enjoy watching a movie or an entertaining, or touching, or funny YouTube video, but how much of my watching is “making the best use of my time”?

Perhaps I should use the same standard as with my relationships: if it isn’t actually beneficial to someone (in this case, me), I should invest my time in something else.

As I mentioned, this question of how I have been spending my time has been one that has been recurring to me over months. Writing this blog has helped me sort things out. I see that I have invested my time wisely over the years, pouring into my children, but I have also wasted time, not always making the best use of it.

With God’s help, I intend to be more aware, more intentional, and to make better investments of my free time. How about you?