Showing posts from 2015

Why Does Christmas Matter?

This past Sunday Caleb was asked to close out the Kids' Christmas Program with a short talk.  He and I collaborated on it a bit and so I'll put it here in case anyone wants to read it.  This is the unedited version - his was a bit shorter.

Why Does Christmas Matter?

In this season of Advent we wait - looking ahead to Christmas day - the day we remember and celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus.  For us kids, front and center of our minds is of course the presents we look forward to opening - and the goodies, sweets, treats and desserts that we will enjoy in the coming weeks.  For many of us, we imagine sipping hot chocolate by a warm, softly glowing fire and the songs of children - singing of truths we can hardly grasp in our own minds.  The songs we have sung and played today contain meanings and depths we can only hope to someday begin to understand.
The birth of Jesus means more than a tree, presents, lights and fancy feasts.  So, let's explore, and ask ourselves this q…

Reflections on Death...and therefore, Life

These past months I have been reminded again and again of how very brief and unpredictable life is - or can be.  A man lost his life at age 27 - due to some internal conflict with his illicit activities or family members I suppose.  Every day people lose their lives - some unexpectedly, some with short warning, some with longer warning.  I am 38 - and have been given the gift of these years.  I cannot presume to expect 40-50 more of them - that is for God to decide.

I see those who have lived life fully - with purpose, love, devotion to God.  And then I see a life ended prematurely on our lawn.  The Bible tells us to 'number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.'  I don't want to be morbid in reflecting on death, but I do want to gain a heart of wisdom.  I want to embrace life - all of it.  Yet there are times I shrink back from the living of life.  Sometimes I can't help it, other times I simply lack courage (read: heartiness - full-heartedness) to walk into …

Murder on the Lawn - Part 3

There were a few things that I found troubling and disturbing.  One was the graphic nature of the incident.  The other was just the presence of police and flashing lights - these sent me back to 16 years ago in the hours following the burglary that launched our lives together.  (Here's the first part of THAT story :) )The one difference is that I sensed no fear - there were no criminals in the immediate vicinity out to do no good to us specifically.  But the tragedy, the mess, the sadness, the unexpectedness of it all - these were a burden in and of themselves.  I'm trying to keep this past tense - to reflect on it and gain distance, for my own reasons.

Back inside, we finally went to bed.  Throughout the previous couple hours we had been calm and engaged with those around us.  When our heads hit the pillow that calm somewhat vanished.  A sense of caffeine-rush washed over both of us.  We were awoken twice in the night - police checking in for various things.  I woke up at 4 …

Murder on the Lawn - Part 2

The man was friendly - shaking - and, to put your mind at ease, yes, there were police all over and I did not think twice about inviting him inside.

The question has been posed to me: Did you really need to go out there?  Why didn't you just let the police do their work?  Why did you get involved?  Do you have a morbid curiosity that draws you into these things?  The answer to these isn't entirely clear to me.  No, I didn't 'need' to go out there.  Was I drawn by curiosity?  Yes, no doubt.  Is it morbid curiosity?  Maybe - I can't be sure.  I didn't exactly mean to get involved - or maybe I did.  I can't examine my own tendencies at this point.  I merely saw activity and wandered out there to be of service.  I didn't take the time to think it through and decide if it was the best thing to do at the time.  I guess these are things I'm not going to know fully, so I'll let the questions remain.

Once inside I could see the man was somewhat in …

Murder on the Lawn - Part 1

I'll admit it: blogging helps me process life, sometimes.  So, here I go - processing this past week.

Our neighbourhood is very safe.  We enjoy a quiet, almost country-like feel where we live - our lawn has mature pine trees and we sit a bit back from the street, but not so far back we don't see what happens out there.

Usually I am asleep at 11 p.m.  But a week ago we had a young friend over to stay the weekend.  She and I were up late chatting about general life stuff - you know how that is, I suppose.

We noticed police lights outside.  Normally I wouldn't bother checking it out.  But there were multiple emergency vehicles - three police cars, then an ambulance.  A car was stopped at our corner and three people were standing there huddled in the cold, without coats.  I grabbed shoes, as I noticed a man laying on the lawn.  I didn't want to disturb Sam, but he awoke and I merely said, "I think there's a guy passed out or dead on our front lawn.  Don't get…

Come, ye Disconsolate

A favourite hymn of mine.  I played it yesterday - here it is:

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”

Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.

I recorded myself playing it yesterday:

Click here to listen to the music.

To the Wife who stole her husband's Doritos

Dear frustrated woman,

So you did it.  You took charge.  You showed him.  Good for you.

I understand - really, I do (on some level).  You watch him fill his body with junk.  You worry.  You beg, plead, convince, connive, determine what to do.  You love him SO much - you just wish he would consider how much you need him to be healthy - or at least try to be.

A recent blog post was written to the man who got his Doritos whipped out from under his unsuspecting nose.  He then was presented with celery and health food.

Now, it's your turn.

And I, for one, don't condone what you did.  And I'm a wife.

Let me make something clear to you: people rarely change when they are forced to.  And, when forced, the changes may be obvious and external, but rarely does inner change come about because someone was forced into it.  It CAN happen - like in prison.  But I'm not sure I'd advise it or call it ideal by any measure.

I get that you can try to control what your husband eats.  Y…

The 15 Books I'm Reading

So lately I've let it slip that I read a lot of books all at once.  I decided I needed to reign myself in a little and am limiting myself to only 15 at once.  (Sometimes I do cheat and sneak a few in that aren't on my list).  That means whenever I finish one I can then add one that I've been itching to read as an 'official' reader.  I have such broad interests and will read in one general category for a season until I feel completely maxed out or my curiosity wanes and I need a break.  My categories are almost entirely non-fiction:

human biology - specifically: the brain (neurobiology), endocrinology (related to hormones and diabetes), cancer, and anything else that strikes my fancy at the time

psychology - specifically certain disorders: learning and memory, trauma, family systems theory, borderline p.d, A.D.D., child development, PTSD, autism/asbergers, and anything related to anyone I know or come across;

history - specifically: 2nd World War, European history dur…

Putting Performance Ahead of the Person (Parenting Pitfall)

Lest you fall into the same errors we have as parents, let me divulge to you my latest 'aha' moment in parenting.  I call it: What You Do Matters More than Who You Are.  (Big lie, by the way).  I like to think I communicate grace, acceptance, mercy, kindness and love to my kids.  These sound like Utopian ideals - and would be easily applied if I were supplied with Utopian kid material (which, though it seems close at times, is far from the case).

It's tricky - this issue of 'what-our-kids-do'.  Because in fact, we are supposed to - commanded to - tell our kids what to do and how to behave.  This is what molding and shaping and nurturing them is kind of about: getting them to do the things that civilized society expects, to a certain degree.  How do we get the results we want without becoming a nag, nuisance, irritation, grit-under-their-skin?  When I find that answer I'll blog it, but until then, let me just stick with this one thing: putting performance abov…

Anxiety, Mindfulness and Jesus

Lately I've begun to explore this topic called Mindfulness.  At first I scoffed - it sounded silly - because it was all about 'living in the moment' 'being fully present' 'accepting and observing your own thoughts and experiences.'  I get that.  I thought, 'Why is this so revolutionary?  Why is this making such waves in the psychology/meditation fields of interest?  It seems so obvious.'
I also thought I had it down pat.  I am SO about living in the present that I have a hard time planning anything future (think: kids' birthday parties).  I have also tried to stick with a 'leave the past in the past' mentality.  But lately I've had to reconsider things in the past, which has become troubling.  
I began to read about Mindfulness and even tried to implement these concepts in how I function.  In fact, I kind of loved that someone had come up with this whole category, labelled it, wrote about it, and explored it.  It puts words to what …

I Apologize

I want to issue a retraction and apology.  Often I have written about anxiety, worry and fear.  I even coined a phrase: 'W.A.F.fing'.  And now I regret some of what I've said.  I haven't even gone back to look.  I might cringe if I did.

Because I thought that fear and anxiety was really something to do with lacking trust - a spiritual issue, if you will.  There may be some truth in that thought, but it isn't all the truth of it.  Sometimes anxiety can hit and it isn't your fault.  It isn't because you aren't spiritual enough.  It isn't because you haven't developed your soul or done your internal homework.  Doing spiritual exercises, I'm sure, can help.  But there is a level of anxiety and fear I never understood or knew was possible until recently.

I don't need to go into it all here, now.  (Maybe someday I'll write on my own experiences).  But I just want to issue this apology to my readers, lest I have offended, hurt, discourage…

Adolescence of the Soul

I'd like to point out something that just dawned on me.  Okay, maybe it was a little late in coming - or maybe I'm just slow to 'get' things.  But I just realized that though people grow up, their age increases with each year, sometimes the adolescent stage lasts far beyond the years we allocate to this supposed maturing process.  I see it in myself, and sometimes in others, though I'd like to think I don't bother to scrutinize or oversee anyone else's growth (unless, of course, you count my children - whom it is my duty to oversee!)

It is easy to watch kids growing up and think they will arrive at somewhere between 19 and 25 with a fully matured person in place.  And an easy mistake to make - to think it is a magical process that happens with the passing of time.  Because I am noticing more and more that there is so much growing up to be done still - on the inside.  I thought that once I got certain concepts; changed in certain ways, that I would then ope…

Parenting Advice - Who to Listen To

Recently I've been thinking through our journey as parents - thus far.  We're still early in the game - our oldest is only 14.  And as I reflect on these 14 years, I realize we have made many mistakes, one of which I want to share with you all so you don't make them too.  The mistake is this:  Modelling our parenting after those whose kids were not yet grown and who we admired for their exterior superiorness in behaviour and respect.

You see, we looked around us and picked out people with model children - those kids who smiled sweetly, were well-mannered, polite and obedient.  Emphasis on obedient.  These others were ahead a few years than we were, so of course their model - to produce such greatly performing kids - must be the way to go.

Please don't do this.

People look at us now and might be in our same shoes 14 years ago - our kids can look so wonderful to those who don't live here with us!  (Of course, they are wonderful, don't get me wrong - but they h…

The Kind of Neighbour I Want To Be

It is probably no surprise that I have a fascination (a combination of curiosity and respect) with the Amish.  They puzzle me and I think to myself, "Why would anyone live that way?"  And in the next thought I think, "Why doesn't everyone choose to live that way?"  Which only goes to show how bizarre my thought process can be.  One minute I lean one way, the next, I reconsider!

  But because I find them peculiar and interesting I do often read about them.  Mind you, not the fiction, though I tried that and just couldn't stomach it.  I need not go into what I think of these pseudo-novels here, but suffice to say, it did little to satiate the desire I had to know of them - who they are, why they are, how they live etc.  When I want to learn something, I tend towards non-fiction material (though fiction can be helpful in many areas of growth and learning, to teach and inform us in ways we didn't realize were possible).  A few weeks ago, I picked up a book…

To Be Known

One of the many reasons I blog is because I am compelled to share my life with others.  I know it is impersonal - and that face-to-face relationships are best, but at times I have a need to simply write. Although I am trained to be extroverted I am naturally more inclined to being a social hermit - my companions would be authors, dead or alive (but mostly dead).  Though this is a romantic notion (having intimate relationships with dead writers - of course, only in my imagination - because it seems they know me and I know them), it isn't enough.  I so badly wish it were enough.  I want to remain reclusive - kept safe from relationships that could actually involve risk and pain.  Though this is my instinctive desire, I don't believe it is healthy.  By keeping relationships away, and only interactive via writing or by reading dead people's stuff, others are missing out on ME (and, Oh, What. A. Loss. ! - tongue firmly in cheek).  But more importantly, community ceases to exis…

To Be a Church Pianist

Dear Priscilla,
You are only the tender age of 12 right now, and your piano lessons are progressing very nicely. You are a far more dilligent, faithful student than I ever was at your age.  I appreciate your hard work and the joy you display in playing.  I want to share with you my thoughts on how I view playing the piano - especially in a Church setting.  Maybe someday you will find yourself before a congregation, or in an empty room with a lone piano beckoning to you.  Either way, you will have an audience.  And you will have the opportunity to worship.
Like the woman with the alabaster jar, you take the precious accumulation of your skill and preparation and break it open before the God you worship and adore.  You allow the music to pour out as an offering of love, and as a gift to each listener.  The gift is meant for the Object of worship, but the fragrance spreads abroad in each heart that lends its own adoration to the moment.  The woman in Scripture who broke her jar of perfu…

12 Tips for Moms with A.D.D. (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2:

9.  Harness Structuring Tools

I struggle to even use tools like planners, lists, recipe schedules and the like.  But I still try and go back to them and start all over.  Especially when I lose the list I once had.  I often forget that I even have a list.  This is what it is like to have A.D.D.  Lists and planners sound like great tools, but they don't work if you don't use them - or if you forget to.  I have only had a cell phone for just over a year now and am beginning to see what a great tool it is!  Now I can put in reminders and calendar events and it will ding me when I need to know!  I'm sure this is news to no-one.  But it is exciting to me!  Maybe in time I will learn other tools that can help - but I put this in my list because someday I'll come back to this and I'll need the reminder. ('Cuz I'll forget there were tools - just call me Dorie).

Some other tools are: Make a School Lunch plan - stick it on the fridge.  Keep a po…

12 Tips for Moms with A.D.D. (Part 2)

5.  Become Pragmatic

Do you know what Pragmatism is?  It means doing the practical thing over the ideal thing or the creative thing or the ______(insert descriptor here)________ thing.  I love aesthetics (when things look beautiful) - but I don't have the time, energy or resources to fix everything around me up nice and pretty.  I see people's beautiful kitchens.  And I sometimes want my kitchen to be like that.  But I cook in my kitchen.  I love all my super gadgets.  People with pristine kitchens often don't cook much or have no addiction to gadgets like I do.  So I have decided to just be myself about my kitchen.  It may not be fancy-schmancy.  It is mine.  I have stuff out everywhere - accessible.  I have decided my dream kitchen is no longer the stuff I see in magazines.  My dream kitchen is an industrial kitchen with easy-to-clean open shelving and carts - and it look cluttery and very practical.  Magazine-like kitchens often are not very practical.  Sure, they look …

12 Tips for Moms With A.D.D. (Part 1)

I'm not going to address the fact that there are those who deny the existence of a psychological condition called 'Attention Deficit' (I left off 'Disorder' on purpose).  If you need evidence just videotape my life for a while and then make your decision!

Regardless of where you stand, I have become quite familiar with this territory and figure it might be helpful for others to glean from my experience.  Here are 12 tips for Moms with A.D.D.  If you need help understanding your child with A.D.D. I'd be happy to answer your questions from my own experience and memory of being a child with A.D.D.  Yes, putting two-and-two together - that means you don't grow out of it or recover - it is a lifelong personality style.  Everyone has some hiccups in their personality - things that don't fit with the majority culture - nuances that might make life difficult for us or others.  A.D.D. just happens to be one of those types of things.  Learning our struggles and …

When Healing Includes Pain

Maybe this is Part 2 of my previous post.  Because you know my mind keeps whirring after I've said my bit.

So on Sunday evening I was sitting in an Easy Chair that rocks.  And Hannah has this need to climb all over me and mash her face up against mine while she strokes my face.  Which I try to allow, since someday, I'm convinced, she'll quit it.  She climbed up on my lap and as I leaned back I realized we were going to go over - which is usually no big deal - it has happened once or twice.  The problem was that my arm reached out to break the fall and said arm got twisted backwards and pinned under the chair back with her still on top of me.  And I couldn't move.  So I screamed - for help, yes - but mostly out of the sheer pain and agony I desperately wanted to stop.  At that moment, nothing meant anything to me but the hope that someone would pull me out of my predicament.

Enter the dashingly handsome knight in shining armour - Sam.  He was actually sitting across th…

Christmas in March

We have Christmas at Christmas time.  We have Christmas in July.  But today I'd like to celebrate Christmas...once again.  I should save my thoughts for another time, I suppose.  But these are the overflow of my heart today...

I have been mulling over the thought of 'inner healing'.  Yes, I put that in quotes so you can catch my meaning - is it real?  What is it exactly?  How do you know when you've experienced inner healing?  I mean, really.  What do people mean when they go through life and experience some heartache or tragedy or trauma and then come out of it through some "journey" and arrive on the golden shores waltzing under the welcome banner of "You have now entered INNER HEALING.  Enjoy your stay."

I don't mean to mock it.  Okay, maybe I do.  Maybe because it is hard to grasp - and I wonder what it looks like for each of us - and that begs the question, do we all need some experience of inner healing?  Maybe, maybe not - I guess.

To b…

Is Introspection Narcissism?

Recently I've been mulling over a few things - things about myself and my life and unprocessed junk I thought I'd processed.  Guess I'll have to continue processing.  When do we say "I'm done!" with sorting out our experiences and journey in life?  I thought I'd come to the end of that.  So then I mull over things and memories and messages from my earlier years ring in my ears and I wonder, "Were these things true?  Did I buy into these messages and incorporate them into myself and live with the results of half-truths?"  Maybe, I don't know.  You tell me.

You see, I have felt that in writing - especially writing for the random public - though I don't really write for you, but just to unload it into cyberspace - I burden readers with too much about me.  Somehow I picked up on messages of:  Writing or talking in the first person means you're self-focussed.  It means you're self-absorbed.  This was a great message to get me to shut…