It seems that in December the crazies set in. I start to feel dizzy with all that is going on in our family.
This December I am trying to be intentional with how I invest my time and energy. It doesn't always work out the way that I plan. But I have found so much more enjoyment in this Christmas season than I have in years.
So how I have I chosen to be intentional?
Almost every summer that I can remember I spent at least one week at camp. I loved the feeling of acceptance at camp. My absolute favorite part of camp - either as a camper or a counsellor was bedtime. Not for the reason that you are probably thinking.
At the end of a busy day, as quiet comes over the campground and the lights are turned off for the night - that was when the most honest and real conversations would happen. As I camper I loved this sharing time, as a counsellor I looked forward for the opportunity to speak truth and encouragement into the girls lives. Those are the moments that I continue to cherish today.
It is those camp experiences that inspired the bedtime moments with our daughters. Every night I make time to spend time praying with and listening to our daughters. It has become a part of our daily routine, they give their Dad a hug goodnight and I get to spend time with them individually. As we sit on their bed it becomes our sacred time and place.
Some nights it's just prayer time and tuck in, some nights it's sharing a burden or situation. They know that this is their time with Mom and that it happens everyday. They don't have to make a special time to talk with me, that may be awkward or uncomfortable.
I am so thankful that even now that they are teenagers they look forward to this time, and they miss it when they are away at a sleepover or camp.
I wish I would have kept a journal of all the prayer requests through the years. We have had the privilege to pray for so many friends and family. So many moments that have encouraged and shaped us. Admittedly, some nights I use this time as an opportunity to talk to them about some choices that they have made that may have not been the best use of their gifts and talents. But mostly this is our time to pray and be thankful for our day.
My oldest went through a difficult time in school and many nights she would cry herself to sleep. This Mama's heart broke repeatedly and I felt so helpless. I read as many books and articles that I could to find a way to help her hurt. Somewhere along the way I read that in order to wake up and start your day with a positive attitude you need to fall asleep with a positive attitude. So each night I would ask her what her favorite part of the day was. She would usually start telling me about something negative that happened that day, but I would encourage her to find something good. After a few weeks it was easier to start finding the good in her day and it even got to the point where the list would get so long that we would be chatting a long time. Maybe it was a ploy to stay up later, but the changes I began to see in her was such an answer to prayer.
Bedtime is my sacred time and place with my daughters. Is this something that you can create with your daughter(s)? Your daughter(s) need this space and time with you.
I tend to worry more than I should. It's not a good quality - as in I even lose sleep because I play the worst case scenario repeatedly in my mind. Control freak (maybe?) I worry about a variety of things in my life but mostly our daughters.
With each stage of life there are new experiences, trials and changes. Ah change!!!!! Change and I are not good friends, we do not get along. Give me my structure, schedule and lists and it's all good.
Our family loves after church visiting. Generally we are one of the last families to leave. It was like that when my husband was the Youth Pastor and now that he plays on the majority of the music teams we can generally be found at the front of the church cleaning up music equipment and visiting.
One particular Sunday I was visiting with someone and I was sharing about our oldest daughter going to work at camp this summer and that she would be gone for four weeks! I don't know how I am going to handle it!!!!! She goes away to a youth retreat weekend, or a sleepover and I miss her terribly and have trouble sleeping. You know what my friend said to me:
"Do you think you can take better care of her than God can?"
Sometimes you need a friend to give you a kick in the butt. At first I was like, "Wow, harsh!" Then I slowly began to realize how true her words are.
Two weeks later I had an opportunity to exercise this new found wisdom. Our daughter left for a youth retreat at a Christian College that is a couple of hours away from our home. I dropped her off at the meeting spot - went back to my vehicle, paused for a moment and prayed for her weekend.
As she came to mind that weekend and worry began to settle in - I would stop and pray.
And you know what happened? I found peace and I felt freedom. It was AWESOME!!!
Whenever I would quiet my heart to pray for her, I would listen to what my heart was telling me to pray for. So instead of worrying I began praying that she would meet a mentor - someone that would be a positive influence in her life, that would be a good listener for when she needed someone other than her Mom and someone that she could connect with occasionally.
On Sunday I was excited to pick her up to hear about the weekend. I got to the church early and wrote in my journal while I was waiting anxiously for her return. Eventually my very sleep deprived daughter arrived and had enough energy left to share about the weekend. She had an amazing time - lots of fun activities, found a new love of lattes and she met an amazing girl that is a student at the college and just happens to be dating a guy from our church.
I could feel the smile in my heart, as I was so very thankful for a Father who listens, and cares and protects what we hold so very dear. This girl, this answer to prayer has attended our church a few times with her boyfriend's family and she always makes time for our daughter and the other teens she connected with that weekend.
There is freedom in giving our cares & worries to the One that holds us in His hand - that knows the number of hairs on our heads.
The next time worry sets in and steals peace and freedom from you, quiet your heart and place your worries at the foot of the cross. He's got this.
I have been thinking a lot about life and the choices that take you down your life's path. I have learned a lot from my choices and some of the wrong paths that I have chosen to take. Often I think about the choices I made in my teens and how hard I had to work through and learn from the consequences of those choices.
Since that trying time I have worked hard to stay on a better path for my life because I have been joined by my husband and our two daughters. My choices have a huge impact on my family.
I have been watching people around me making very selfish and devastating choices in their lives, and I am feeling so helpless. Our choices in our adult life have such a wide-sweeping impact on so many lives. How do people make the choices that they do and feel okay about it? Do they convince themselves that their actions and ultimate choice is really the best for everyone or just themselves?
I keep having the verses in 1 Corinthians 10:22-24 run through my head.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.
I'm at a loss - Is there anything we can do?
The only thing I have come up with is to be a positive example as a wife, mother and friend, and through this I hope I can make a small difference.
Respecting Sabbath is an important part of our faith journey. I started on this journey not long ago. You can read my first blog post about Protecting Sabbath. I am still learning and as a family we are working to figure it out - what we are discovering is that it is a necessity.
In Exodus we see the first example of Sabbath rest - this is not a new idea. Sabbath is a lesson that was taught through Moses, we can read this in Exodus 31:12-14:
And the Lord said to Moses, "You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath because it is holy for you.
The first example we see in Exodus is the gathering of manna, They were to gather twice as much on the 6th day so that the 7th day would be respected as holy Sabbath. This began the pattern of work, rest and trust.
6 days of work, a day of rest and trusting that the Lord will provide what we need. Our bodies are designed to work hard, to take time to rest and to trust in the truth of His word.
This is something that we are working to achieve as a family and as it says in Exodus "throughout your generations" which means that we must model this for our children.
After church one Sunday we all came home to change into our comfy clothes and settle in for the day - but my husband asks us to get in the vehicle because we are going for a drive. Even though I had a lot on my "to do" list and was ready with about 20 excuses of why I couldn't possibly take the time to go for a drive - I knew I just had to choose to be excited about his idea and get in the vehicle. Our teen daughters were not so sure but jumped in the back seat and with my camera in hand we started out.
We live in a beautiful Province, Saskatchewan just takes your breath away. The Prince Albert National Park is only an hour's drive from our home. I will never forget as we rounded the corner into the main town site - we looked out the window to see a bald eagle flying over the lake right beside us - it was like we were flying with it. We pulled over and stepped out to look over the cliff to the lake below - the wind whistling through the trees, the waves lapping the shore and the quiet peace brought tears to my eyes. The "to do" list will always be there, the laundry continues to pile up, there are always meals to prepare, groceries to buy and put away but our daughters are now teenagers. We only have a few years of this family unit as we know it left to enjoy.
We need to model Sabbath rest to our daughters and our souls desperately need it.
This elk that we found at Prince Albert National Park has Sabbath rest figured out. Sit back and enjoy the sunset - life passes by too quickly.
How will your family choose Sabbath rest?
I am a highly analytical person. My mind is always pondering. My husband is the same way. That is how we first got to know each other and became good friends before we starting dating.
One of our favourite things to do on a Saturday morning is to sit and have coffee and chat, debate or analyze events, politics or theology. I am so glad that has stayed part of our relationship. We don't always agree but it is something that I cherish in our relationship.
The other day we had a little situation to deal with as a family. Sometimes I get so frustrated with what my daughters are exposed to. You just want to protect them and shield them from the outside scary world.
My analytical mind started to turn as I thought about parenting. I take my responsibility as a parent very seriously. We had a difficult time conceiving and we are extremely blessed to have the two beautiful daughters that we have been given. Parenting is without a doubt the most challenging thing that I have ever done, but I am willing to do what ever it takes to be there for our daughters.
Back to my pondering -- the word 'parenting' started to roll around in my head. The 'ing' at the end of the word makes it an action word. So in order to call yourself a parent, you then have to do the action of parenting. How many adults live with young children but do not actively take part in their children's lives and help to raise them to be respected adults.
I need to point out that I am by no means putting down anyone who is unable to have children or that has made the difficult decision to put up a child for adoption.
I am talking about the adults that have children living with them that they choose to ignore and spend all their time on Facebook and watching The Bachelor instead of filling the need of a parent that today's children need. My heart aches for these parentless children who just need to feel loved and listened to.
A few years ago I worked in a high school as an Educational Assistant. I worked with a tough bunch of kids and I loved it. Some days math just wasn't important, the kids I worked with had so many other things they were dealing with that school would just have to take a back seat and we would deal with some of the other issues so that we could move on with their school work at another time.
One teen girl really broke my heart, many days she would come to school hung over from the night before or even still stoned. One day I asked her why she chose to do this to herself? She stared at me for a few minutes, pondering what her answer would be. She looked at me with a seriousness that I had never seen in her before and she answered, "I wish that just once, my Mom would say no." This teen girl was longing for her Mom to say, "No, I don't want you to go out with your friends tonight, stay home with me and we can watch a movie." I will never forget the look of longing for her Mom in that teen girls eyes, it came from deep within her soul.
Today I want to challenge that we all make an intentional "parenting" choice with our children. They desire it from us and it is up to us to choose to fill that need. The rewards will be so worth the effort!