Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Week ~ How we're celebrating/How we spent our spring break

Spring break and Holy Week converged this year, giving me a chance to spend the entire week leading up to Easter at home with my kiddos.  My goal was to spend some time each day talking about the purpose of Easter and working through many of the Live Life, Love Lent activities that we had missed over the past weeks.  Here's what we spent a lot of our time doing!

'O taste and see that the LORD is good...'
Psalm 34.8
"We live in a world which whirls by at even increasing speeds.  Not only do we travel quickly, we do everything else quickly too.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this but it can mean that we go at such a speed that we forget to savour the good things that we have.  The ability to savour is a frame of mind, and if we become better at tasting our cornflakes we might discover that we get better at savouring other good things too, so...slow down."
Activity:  Take longer over breakfast and really taste your cornflakes (or whatever else you have!)
Slowing down is good!  I'm particularly enjoying the fact that during this Holy Week, the boys and I are also on spring break from school/work - allowing us all to slow down and really enjoy everything going on around us!  This morning we made an extra effort to do just that.  Instead of hopping out of bed at the last minute and sprinting off to the gym, I got up earlier, had a protein drink over my daily Bible reading (turns out today's reading was from Mark and talked of the Last Supper.  Coincidence?  I think not!).  After I got back, I stayed stinky for awhile so I could enjoy time with Justin before he headed off to work.  Then, I got cleaned up, and the boys and I worked together to whip up a new pancake recipe!  It was fun to take our time and cook together - no rush, no fighting, no yelling.  It made it so much nicer to sit down to breakfast together, say our prayer, and dig in!  I love getting to slow down...and so do they!

'And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4.7
"Peace is not something that can be instilled by command.  Indeed, it is often the case that the more that people tell you to be calm and relaxed, the more agitated and stressed you feel.  The peace that Paul talks about in Philippians is not the kind you need to work to achieve, it is God's and it will guard us.  We do not need to strive after it so much as to allow it to encompass us, more peaceful."
Action:  Listen to a piece of music that makes you feel relaxed.
Ha!  Getting a five year old and a two year old to relax and listen to an entire song?  Not going to happen!  But we tried, and it turned out better than I could have imagined.  Sure, they wiggled.  And talked.  And poked each other.  But they did it all while sitting on my lap, and I loved getting to be so close to my kiddos.  We listened to a song called You Make Everything Beautiful by Rebecca St. James (one of my all time favorite singers).  I love the message behind this song and getting to share that with my boys!
In my weakness You can shine
In Your strength I can fly and
You make everything, everything beautiful
You make everything, everything new
You make everything, everything beautiful
In its time, in Your time
It's beautiful

'See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare...'
Isaiah 42.9
"One of the characteristics of human beings is that we often like things to be the same as they've always been.  Just think about how outraged you feel when they move the supermarket shelves around or change something you love.  Although we don't like it, change is important for us, because it stops us becoming stagnant and inert.  God is always doing something new, more open."
Activity:  Try something new, for example a different food or a new experience
So far, this entire week has been an experiment in trying something new.  First of all, it's spring break and my day care is closed giving me the opportunity to play stay at home mom all week (a new experience for ALL of us!).  There have been all these opportunities to do new things (crafting at the Artsy Cafe) and making new dinners and desserts.  Today, the boys and I tried our hands at a new cake recipe with homemade frosting.  Logan turned his nose up at the frosting at first.  I finally got him to take a lick, and I then had the opportunity to watch his face light up in amazement - it was good!  This week has been an amazing experience so far - I'm so looking forward to summer vacation now!

'For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do."
Romans 7.19

"Evil may be putting it a bit strongly, but so often we end up by accident doing things other than the good we intended to do.  It is so easy to get side-tracked, pulled into watching that bit more telly or to spend that bit more time on the computer.  We don't intend to, it just happens.  Sometimes all we need to do is to make the decision to do something different, some good that we meant to do but haven't, something different."
Activity:  Outside of work, have a screen-free day and do something different.
Today was one heck of a screen free day for us!  Well, the boys got a little TV this morning while I got ready, but we were out of the house by 9:30 and on our way to lunch, shoe shopping, and the zoo! 

After three hours walking around the zoo, we headed back home.  There was a quick stop at Subway for dinner, and then we were on to the church for our very first Maundy Thursday foot washing service!  I didn't know what to expect having never even really heard of people doing a foot washing before, but it was pretty okay.  Our church is laid back, so there's no pressure.  And they were very accommodating with my children...meaning they let them wash feet with the grown-ups and thought it was cute.  Oh, and they didn't complain when they ran around like heathens during Communion (oh boy). 
All in all, it was a great day to be away from the "screen" for a good chunk of time!
'[Jesus] said,..."Do this in remembrance of me."'
1 Corinthians 11.24
"Christians believe that Jesus is present with us when we remember him as he told us to.  This is a little like when we say that we know something 'by heart', it is more than just a memory in our brains, it somehow lives deep within us.  Special words known by heart can inspire, nourish and sustain us when we need them most as we recite them or bring them to mind, so...remember more."
Activity:  Learn the words of something by heart, for example a poem a prayer or a song.
'Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'

I decided to look up the verse on my coffee cup and memorize it.  I intended to have Logan memorize it, too, but I ended up never really pushing the issue.  I am glad to have this one always with me though.

'Greet one another with a holy kiss.'
Romans 16.20
"Well maybe not a kiss - it would certainly surprise your neighbours if you tried to kiss them!  However, the sentiment remais.  So many people live in an isolated and lonely bubbly, with no one to reach out to them and understand who they really are.  Neighbours can be near us physically but a long, long way away in all other senses.  Being a good neighbour involves reaching out and being 'near' in more ways than just living nearby, a good neighbour."
Activity:  Say hi to your neighbours today or when you next see them.
It was in the mid-sixties Friday afternoon so we spent over three hours that afternoon/evening playing outside on our front porch and driveway.  We ate cupcakes, rode bikes, drew with chalk...and said hello to all of our neighors as we saw them!  I love that I have such open and friendly boys!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SMILE MORE
'O that we might see some good!  Let the light of your face shine on us, O LORD!'
Psalm 4.6
"Somewhat intriguingly, in the Old Testament, a phrase that is commonly used to describe the good things we receive from God refers to the light of God's face, as here, or in the well-loved blessing from Numbers 6.25, 'the LORD make is face to shine upon you'.  The phrase ties up blessing with smiling.  While smiling is no subsititute for doing good in the world, smiling communicates things such as warmth, love and joy, which are all part of God's blessing to us, more."
Activity:  Give lots of smiles away today.
Today was the perfect day to put into practice this particular activity.  Justin and I took the boys to a huge egg hunt put on by one of the local churches.  The place was complete mad house and, to top it off, it was chilly and rainy.  Generally, this is the perfect scenario to put me in a foul and snarly mood which, of course, always rubs off on the boys making them equally crabby.  But, NOT TODAY!  Sure, I struggle the first few minutes there as I was completely taken off gaurd by the crowd (and the fact that I left the boys' coats at home), but I remebered this activity, remembered that keeping a smile on my face (and my boys' faces) was the goal. worked!
Even when it started to drizzle, and I was feeling overwhelmed, I simply put a smile on my face for everyone I met.  And you know what, I had the boys smiling, too.  And, the more we smiled, the more fun we started to have!  It turned out to be a fun time despite all the chaos and confusion and cold and drizzle.  Proof that smiling goes a long way!

"or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?'
 Luke 15.8
"The point in the parable of the lost coin is that the woman cares so deeply for the lost coin that she will stop at nothing until it is found.  Of course in its context this parable is about searching for people that are lost and not just things.  So why not take this parable one step further?  And while you tidy a room or cupboard, pary for someone who is lost or who has lost their way, so...take care of your home."
Activity:  Tidy a room or a cupboard in your house.

Today we worked together as a family to clean up our whole house.  Justin and I made the bed and folded laundry (with Gavin's "help") while Logan worked hard to pick up and put away all of his toys.  Then we worked together in the kitchen to make dinner and wash dishes.  It was great to work together as a family to take good care of our home!

I know the way we tackled our Love Life Live Lent project was supposed to go, but I know after tonight that no matter how we went about it, we arrived at the same end goal:  we were able to focus our hearts and minds on the true purpose of Easter, on the sacrifice of Jesus and the miracle of the empty tomb. 

How do I know?

Tonight we sat down to for a dinner as a family.  Logan asked to say the prayer, and of course, we let him.  His prayer started out as usual.  He thanked God for his family, for the food.  He then went on to pray for the Easter Bunny...and then he thanked God for sending us Jesus.  He thanked  Jesus for rescuing us.  He thanked God for bringing Jesus back to life. 

And my heart nearly exploaded with happiness.  He's getting Easter.  Best Easter gift ever.

Monday, March 25, 2013

gearing up for Easter

Today I picked out two activities from our Love Life Live Lent booklet to read, talk about, and do with the boys.  I picked these two activities on purpose because I wanted to link them together to make a special something for a special someone!

 'Now as you excel in we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.'
2 Corinthians 8.7
"What you do affects who you are.  Although popular wisdom states that bad people do bad things and good people, god things, it is also true that regularly acting selfishly changes who we are just as acting generously does.  If we learn to excel in generosity, as Paul wanted the Corinthians to do, then generosity stops being just an action and becomes instead a state of mind.  We become people whose instinct is to rejoice in giving things to others, more generous."
Action:  Give a small present to someone you know
'Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia...'
2 Corinthians 1.1
"Paul was an inveterate letter writer.  Not only do we have more than ten letters from him in the New Testament, there are also allusions to many more that he wrote which didn't survive.  Paul knew the importance of maintaining links with people, of hearing how they were getting on and of encouraging them for the future.  If he wrote so much when communication was difficult, how much more should we communicate with those we love?  So...keep in touch more."
Action:  Phone someone you love but haven't seen for a while

We actually did both of these activities in one night and tied them together.  See, my sister's birthday is coming up really quickly and Logan decided she needed a birthday present.  So, the three of us sat down to create a fun gift for Aunt Dannielle!  It was such a fun way to practice being more generous!

Later that night, we decided that since we hadn't actually spoken to Dannielle in a few weeks that it would be a good time to call her up and see how things were going.  Gavin was especially excited to get his hands on the cell phone and "talk" to his aunt!  Logan preferred to stand back and shout at her...  :D

'I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.'
Psalm 9.1

"Are you a glass half full or a glass half  empty person?  We are used to associating positivity with personality types, and there is no doubt that there are some people who are naturally more optimistic than others, but thinking positively can also be a discipline.  We can see the bad everywhere we look or we can train ourselves to look for the good.  As Christians we are called to be tellers of good news, so...think more positively."

Action:  Make a list of all the good things in your life and thank God for them.

This turned out to be such a fun activity - especially because Logan was very enthusiastic about it!  The three of sat on the couch, read our little booklet, and then we moved to the table with paper and pencils in hand.  There we sat each taking turns writing down something we were thankful for (great practice on handwriting for Logan, too!) (scribbling practice for Gavin - hey, ya gotta start somewhere!).  With each gift listed, Logan became more and more excited!  By the end he had filled both sides of his paper!  I was especially moved watching his list grow from things like "quarters" and "erasers" to things like "hugs from Mom" and "writing with Mom."  When we were done, all three of us (Gavin rejoined us at this point after a short playing spree) folded our hands and said a prayer of thanks for all of the things on our lists.  

And then we went outside and had a snowball fight in the falling snow...  :D
He was happy.  For some reason he insisted on taking a "tough" picture...  :D

'He gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields...'
Job 5.10
"There is no space here to address the complex - indeed nigh on impossible - question of why some of us have all the water we need, while others have either far too much ornone at all.  But one thing is certain:  water, the kind that nourishes us and brings life, is a gift not a right.  As a result, it is something to give constant thanks for and to preserve, not to squander, water."
Action:  Use the washing-up water to water some plants.
Trying to explain to a five year old that not everyone has all the water they could ever need available at the drop of hat - you know, the way we do.  I'm not sure it really sunk in for Logan, but he was more than happy to lend a hand watering the flower we planted a few weeks back!  I also used this as an opportunity to illustrate why we don't leave the water running while we brush our teeth or scrub pots and pans in the sink.  Then again, maybe the lesson did sink in a little, because Logan has taken to not flushing the toliet to "save water."  Oh boy...
'My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?'
James 2.1
"It's al too easy to show favouritism.  Jesus recognized our tendency to be nice only to our friends and family (see Luke 14.12), and James saw that the rich and famous so often get preferential treatment.  Following Jesus means trying to avoid showing favouritism to those we might feel more comfotable with and going out of our way to love and care for those who would not normally catch our attention, those who might slip under our radar and remain unnoticed, aware of others."
Action:  Make a list of up to five people you have met today, and then pray for them.
We were at the library hanging out while my car got new tires when I pulled out our little book and sat down to talk to the boys about one of today's activities.  Since it was early in the morning and we hadn't really run into many people at this point, I let Logan make his prayer list of any five people he wanted, and then I had him tell me why he wanted to pray for each one of them.  Turns out he considereds dogs people, because we ended up with two dogs on the list...hey, I can roll with that!  When we finished our list, we folded our hands and said a prayer (even Gavin!) for all of the people (and dogs) on our list!
'You show me the path of life.  In your presece there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.'
Psalm 16.11
"There is a widespread belief that they Christian faith is so serious and important that there can b eno room for fun.  In fact, Christian life and faith is so very important that the only thing to do is to enjoy it, with all the fullness of joy that is to be found in God's presence.  If we seek to express this joy in our lives, one way of doing that must surely involve having fun, so...have more fun."
Activity:  Do something today 'just' for fun.
Today's just for fun:  cookies and creme puppy chow!  I don't make a lot of desserts except for an occassional box brownie mix.  Today, I wanted to do something fun and a little different with the boys.  Gavin ended up missing out on the making part because I put him down for a much needed nap, but Logan was there to lend me a hand crushing oreos and stirring melty chocolate chips.  It was so much fun to get to create something new and yummy with my "baby"!  And it was even more fun to sit on the couch after Gavin woke up and nibble on our new snack together!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the one about how I'm going to try to rectify the fact that I have failed

Soooo....Love Life, Live Lent.  Haven't done a post about it in awhile, because well, we haven't been doing it.  Like, at all.  I'm not really sure what happened...we just got busy and forgetful...  I feel really, really bad about this, and I'd like to "fix" it the best I can at this point.  This means picking up where we left off so to speak.  Clearly, there is not enough time between now and Easter to do all of the activities, but there is time to do a few!

Over the next week and a half, I'm going to hop and skip around through are little booklet hitting as many of the activities as possible!  And I'm still going to try to blog about as many as possible just as a way to keep a record of what we have done during this season.  Our Love Life, Live Lent project won't be accomplished the way it was planned out, but it will be done the way it was meant to be!

Before the wheels came completely off the wagon, we had done the following two days of activities...way back around the end of February...

'O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.'
1 Chronicles 16.34
"Saying 'please' and 'thank you' can appear to be just about being polite but it is much more important than that.  The trick lies not just in saying 'thank you' but in being thankful.  The more thankful we are, the more we are able to recognize the many good things that God (and others) have done for us.  Saying grace before meals gives us a chance not only to say thank you but to practise being thankful too, more thankful."
Monday's Activity:  Say thank you to God for one of your meals today
I didn't grow up saying a prayer before meals.  I mean, I remember being really little and going to my grandma's house for a holiday (back when the whole family could actually fit around one table) and everyone saying a prayer, but it wasn't something that was done regularly.  At the beginning of the year, I decided that I was going to make more of an effort to pray before meals and teach my children to pray before meals.  I not only wanted to express more thanks to God in my daily life, but I also wanted to teach my boys the importance of expressing true thanks.  Since then, we've been doing a pretty good job of saying a prayer before dinner (the one meal we all sit down to together).  Both Logan and Gavin have gotten so used to it already, that they both ask to say the prayer.  Sometimes they even have to remind me!  It was extra special to get to sit down with them at this particular dinner and talk about the day's lesson and again explain why prayer and thanksgiving are so important!

'you shall love your neighbour as yourself...'
Leviticus 19.18
"One of the more challenging things that Jesus did in his teaching was to strech the meaning of who our neighbours are.  The book of Liviticus had already stretched it from the people who are just like you to outsiders who live in your land; in the story of the Good Samaritan jesus stretched it even further to include those whom we might count as our enemies.  Loving your neighbour invloves far, far more than just being friendly, but it's not a bad place to start, more friendly."
Tuesday's Activity:  Be friendly to someone new
I took the boys to McDonalds to eat and play in the play place today, and that presented the perfect opportunity for them to be friendly to someone new!  Both boys are really, really great about being friendly and playing with who ever.  Logan is especially great at this - he's so social!  In fact, he gets upset when we got to play places and there isn't anyone new there to play with!  I loved sitting back and watching my kiddos run and play with a couple of other children about their age.  I - the total introvert - even attempted to make nice with another set of parents there!  It was such a fun experience - something I'm glad comes easily to my children and hope always does!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

a window into day care

B:  Party boys.

B:  He's excited for cake!
Me:  I'd be excited for that cake too!
B:  He's the last one at the table.  Not going to leave any of that cake uneaten!

B:  Totally enjoyed that cake!
Me:  LOL!  That's my baby!

B:  I wish I could make time stand still.
Me:  Me too...

B:  Emma has them on "the giggin boat" we'll turn that kid into a country boy yet!
B:  He sat up on his cot, looked at me, yaned and then plopped back over to this.  I got tickled beacuse his hair is in little curls all over and he reminded me so much of Logan.
Me:  Awwww!  I love that he refuses to take off his jacket!
B:  He refuses a lot of things.  :-)  Stinker!
Me:  Totally!

B:  Playing guys.

B:  I take it that's his "dead" sound/look  :-)
Me:  Yup!  That's it!  Is it just in the DNA of a boy to know how to play that way?  :)
B:  Yes I think so for sure.  And the car sounds...I think theya re born to make them!
Me:  Oh yeah!

B:  This is what happens when I have to pee.  Going to have to hold it until naptime!  :-)

Me:  They're taking over for you!

B:  Look what time it is!

Me:  Woohoo!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The last gifts from February

296.  two good cars to drive
297.  health insurance for our family
298.  first session with my personal trainer
299.  new jeans to fit Logan's growing legs
300.  dirt under my finger nails
301.  damp smell of earth, potting soild to grow a flower
302.  movie night at church
303.  sounds of laughter all around
304.  shared Spider-man gummies
305.  undercooked brownies made for Justin
306.  the scale's downward slide
307.  curled up with my "babies" on the couch
308.  forgiveness and reconciliation in my most precious relationships
309.  emails from good friends
310.  daily devotionals...books and emails!
311.  Snow (really, it was ice) days!
312.  ting, ting, ting!  sleet hitting the window
313.  snow-ice, grainy like sand under my feet
314.  hands clasped together, one boy on each side
315.  laying on the couch, Gavin's weight across my ches as he rests on me
316.  boys crawling around on hands and knees, tongues lolling, being puppy dogs
317.  smell of freshly shampooed boy hair, clean with hints of coconut scented shampoo
318.  safe travels on long trips
319.  Sunday brunches out with Mimi
320.  Curled up against Justin
321.  School field trips
322.  photos sent from day care


Why is that whenever the pieces of one area of my life really start coming together, another area of my life seems to completely fall apart?  Is it just me?  Is it everybody?  Is it a lack of balance?  Priorities? 

I don't know the answers to any of those questions.  All I do know is that right now I am incapapble of being a fully functioning human being in each area of my life.

Exercise?  check
Nutrition?  getting there
Marriage?  I'm calling this one a check at the moment
Work?  blah blah blah
Parenting?  no comment
Spiritual life (for lack of a better descriptor)?  totally off the wagon
Household?  it's bad, bad, bad
Projects?  completely forgotten about

See what I mean?  I've got like two and half checks and the rest is all a hodge podge mess!  I'm exercising and eating better.  Justin and I have a pretty great groove going right now. children are back on the crack TV (seriously, TV is crack for children...I swear!), my house is a mess, all of my projects are unfinished, we haven't done our Lent activities, and I haven't done my 1000 Gifts study in three weeks!  I'm hanging on at work, but it's been a challenge.  Crap!  I haven't even filed my tax return yet, and typically by this time we have already received it!

But, hey!  I exercise at least five days a week, have a personal trainer, and eat better.  I'm even loosing weight (Yay!).  Right now though, in this very moment, that doesn't feel like much of a consolation prize when I can't help but feel like everything else is completely out of control.  I wake up every day exhausted at just the prospect of what has to be accomplished and knowing that most of it won't get done.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post really except to say that lately, I've been feeling like most things are just kind of spinning out of my grasp.  It's a little scary and a lot exhausting.  Really, I'm just ready for summer.  For warm weather, sunshine, and vacation.  For a chance to slow down and restructure my life once again.  One of these days I'm bound to get it least for a day.