Ordinary Glory

This summer I’m taking some time to recharge, so my posts will be a little shorter, but I’m still here!

I’ve been amazed by the sunsets this week. They are breathtaking and photos simply do not capture their full beauty. And yet, I’m always out there, trying to catch them with a lens!

The other day, this particular part of the sky was stunning! I couldn’t believe that a 10pm sky looked like this.

sky

Summer sunset

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

Amen.

The Gift of a Boring Summer

The long exhale of summer holidays has begun.

The backyard has simultaneously become an oasis of free play and a courtroom drama with both sides arguing their case to the judge. Sibling relationships are growing and strengthening with each passing moment and a baby brother who can crawl adds a new dynamic.

One year ago this weekend, I was quite ready for our son to join the family. The other three children had been a week and a half to two weeks early, so surely he would follow suit! Not so. This boy decided to arrive the day after his due date, two of the hottest weeks of the year later, with a long fanfare: five days of early labour to prepare us for his eventual welcome.

Boy, was I tired.

Fast forward to today. Still tired. A different kind of tired, but still… tired.

We all are. It has been an intense year!

Change may happen quickly, but adjusting to the new normal happens slowly. We’ve had a lot of change this year, and we’re all ready for a deep breath and some beautiful space in the schedule to enjoy life together.

This summer, we will not be rushing around from activity to activity. We will not be cramming the days with every possible summer bucket list item. We will not adopt the frantic pace that sometimes comes with a such a short season of warm weather.

I have something else in mind.

I’d like to give the kids the gift of the kind of summers we had growing up – a good, ol’ fashioned, boring summer. And with that boredom, I want to give them the freedom to be creative, the space to make a mess, and the life skills to clean up after themselves.

Honestly though, it’s the last part that just might do me in! That’s why I came up with the “Mama’s Summer Prayer” (adapted from the Prayer of Serenity):

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the messes they will make; the courage to make them clean up after themselves instead of just doing it myself; and the wisdom to know when they actually really do need my help! (haha!)

Here’s to a summer full of whatever it brings!

oobleck

The non-Newtonian fluid “Oobleck” – cornstarch and water – acts like a solid and a liquid. So cool!

And Then, Summer

Summer mornings are glorious.

The fresh air is thick with the hope of a warm day. The sun has been up since the wee hours, the sky is a fantastic shade of blue streaked with white wispy clouds, and all the things are growing.

I mean ALL the things – flowers, trees, grass, kids.

This summer our baby turns one.

Looking back, I’m amazed! How did we make it through the past twelve months?

Seriously.

I love having four kids. It’s a whole lotta crazy mixed with a ton of surprises and a huge heart-healing dose of love and cuddles, with so many opportunities to grow that I lose count every day!

AND it’s very busy – so busy that sometimes I cannot keep up.

The other day, the older kids were fighting and spilled blueberry applesauce all over the carpet. After cleaning it up, they trotted outside as friends again (nothing like a shared chore to encourage sibling bonding), where one promptly did a trick on the swings and ended up with a possible fracture. I heard the shrieking from inside the house where at the very same time the baby was having a meltdown while I was cleaning up a potty accident from our three year old who was ill.

All this in the span of 20 minutes.

Lord have mercy!

I know that I would not be able to be the mama of this family without the wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin.

It is ONLY by His grace.

Isn’t that the way it goes? While we’re in the thick of a challenging season, we don’t even know that the whole time He is carrying us! It’s only when we find ourselves in between the waves and we have a minute to breathe that we realize we’re still afloat.

Thank you Lord!

summer feet

Summer feet

Father’s Day

Things don’t have to be perfect to be thankful for what you have.

My dad and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on things and our relationship has been difficult at times, but this weekend I am choosing to focus on the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for a dad who always checks in to make sure we’re alright.

I am thankful for a dad who lets me know that he prays for me and our family every day.

I am thankful for a dad who expresses his love for me with words of encouragement.

I am thankful for a dad who reads my blog faithfully and is interested in what’s going on in my world.

I am thankful for a dad who loves the Lord.

Dad, you are a gift, and I am thankful for you!

Happy Father’s Day! I love you.

tree in park

Discovering

Discovering…

…His secure presence in moments of absolute uncertainty.

…His wisdom when I simply cannot see the next step.

…His love when I feel utterly overlooked.

…His joy when my circumstances are overwhelming.

…His power when my needs are great.

…Him when I come to the end of me.

ocean forever

True Thanksgiving

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

There are toys strewn about the living room. The dishes are piled, the lawn needs mowing and the laundry hamper seems bottomless.

Life is very full and rarely goes the way we plan. It’s easy to find myself muttering under my breath as I go from room to room, putting things back in their place and making mental notes of what needs to go on the grocery list this week.

In this busy season of family and work, it’s often a struggle to find the time to process life, let alone allow my heart to move into that place where I realize that no matter what is going on around me, I can rest in Jesus.

More often than not I am “giving thanks in all circumstances” because my circumstances are manageable or better than someone else’s. But that’s more of a “feeling relieved in all circumstances”.

The truth is simply this: I can give thanks in all circumstances because no matter what those circumstances are, the One I give thanks to is who He says He is, He will do what He says He will do, and He can be trusted.

Wow.  Want to turn your worries into worship?

Give thanks.

Even if you aren’t quite there yet.

Even if the problem isn’t actually solved at the moment.

Even if you really can’t see the tidy ending, or there isn’t or won’t be one.

Give thanks.  In ALL circumstances.  Because the ONE you thank is so much more than ANY circumstance.

Thank Him that He never changes, like shifting shadows. Thank Him that He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Thank Him that His grace is sufficient for you and that His power is made perfect in weakness.

Thank Him that He is good and His love endures forever.

forest through trees

Image: Ricardo Gomez Angel

The Gotta-Do’s and the Good-to-Do’s

Sometimes the grind really grinds you down.

All the Gotta-do’s get mixed up with the Good-to-do’s, and it all gets out of whack.

Gotta do dishes.  Gotta do laundry.  Gotta do e-mails and texts and fb messages.  Gotta put the dollies in the dolly box, crayons in the colouring bin and random socks in the sock basket.  Gotta get to the lawn and water the garden. Gotta fill the van with gas, gotta take the garbage out, gotta get the shower sparkling, gotta, gotta, gotta.

Gotta-to-do can really take its toll.

But the Good-to-do’s are life-giving.

Good to stand beside a bright 7 year old who is determined to make her dad’s morning coffee just right with as little help as possible. Good to stop and listen to the chatter of a funny 5 year old who is constantly informing me about all of the things she is thinking and learning. Good to read “The Sneetches” to a beautiful curious 3 year old snuggled up beside me in the most deliciously comfortable way. Good to play on the floor with a sweet 10 month old flashing his irresistible toothy grin at every turn. Good to stop my dinner prep to kiss my dusty husband when he walks in the door from a long day at work.

Good to praise the Lord and forget not all His benefits, every moment of the day.

Like the heavy scent of springtime lilacs, they are that fragrant breath of fresh air you need but forget to take or REFUSE to take because the Gotta-do’s are in the way.

Loosen the grip on the Gotta-do’s and grab the hand of those Good-to-do’s – that’s the goal this week!

lilacs in spring

So fragrant!

And then, Spring

It’s the strangest, most wonderful, yet most ordinary thing.

A couple of weeks ago, all the trees in our neighbourhood were bare twigs reaching up to the bright blue sky, sunlight streaming through, casting their thin shadows on the ground.

Then, one day last week we were going about our daily routine when suddenly one of the kids noticed a hint of green on some of those very same trees.

“Mama! Look! The leaves are coming!” she shouted with glee.

So they were. And then I remembered that after winter comes spring, every single year, no matter how long and cold it is. This year’s winter felt like it would never end, but here we are – bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, trees are bursting with leaves. The sun has warmed the earth, waking what was asleep and breathing new life into what was dead.

There’s just so much in that, isn’t there? We all have places in our lives that appear to be long gone, where the cold rushed in and left an icy stillness in its wake. Sometimes those areas sit in frigid silence for what feels like forever.

But then, the air shifts, the season changes and we begin to feel the gradual, steady warmth of the Holy Spirit stirring in us, breathing new life into our hearts, astounding us with the beauty of growth and newfound strength.

Isn’t the love of Jesus something wonderful? We’re resting in Him as He does something new in our hearts today.

rose bush

My rose bush coming alive again.

Dandelion Bouquets

The dandelions are popping up everywhere.

That’s how I know it’s almost Mother’s Day.

As a little girl, I wandered the yard and picked the biggest, brightest ones. I bunched up as many as I could curl my small fingers around and carefully carried them inside, leaving a trail of yellow bits behind me.

“Here Mom! Happy Mother’s Day,” I’d say. As soon as she saw the bouquet in my hands, her eyes lit up, face filled with joy, and she’d kiss my cheek and say, “Thank you, my sweet petunia.”

Then she’d take them and set them in the clear, short-stemmed, pressed glass water goblet on the middle of the table, as if they were a dozen long stem roses.

There they would stay, on that brown table in our tiny kitchen with the matching turquoise appliances, Mother’s Day evening sun streaming in the small west window, until they wilted.

And in the springtime of my teens, right in the middle of that long brown table in the farm kitchen with the strawberry plant wallpaper and brown paneling, Mother’s Day morning sunshine streaming in that east window above the sink, until they wilted.

Year after year, I picked dandelions for my mom. And year after year, they went on display, filling my little heart with joy and pride.

Our dandelions appeared this week, and they don’t stand a chance of going to seed because as soon as my own girls see one, it gets picked… just for me.

The tradition continues.

Without fail, they bloom in three generations of hearts, as a sweet shared memory of the most beautiful Mother’s Day bouquet of all.

I love you Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

dandelions for ma

Dandelion bouquets

Taking Notice

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have my own plan for the day and wasn’t bothered in the least by the interruptions that upset my trajectory.

Then I got married and had four kids. And in His grace, the Lord is teaching me day by day about something called “the ministry of availability”.

My attempts to put this into practice have lengthened my writing process significantly today, as in between sentences I am turning to look at my 5 year old who is explaining in great detail the Lego characters she is creating. I’ve paused to read a book, change a diaper and snuggle, make lunch and help my 3 year old sort out her big emotions.

Sometimes throughout the course of the day we have what we would call interruptions and it gets frustrating, especially if you’re goal-oriented.

What if, though, instead of steaming silently that our plan has been tossed aside momentarily, we take a deep breath and shift our thinking? I saw this quote earlier this week and it struck a chord deep within:

“We all ache for someone to see us when we feel invisible.” – Lisa Harper

Yes, we certainly do. In fact, I remember feeling invisible just yesterday and my own heart was the one aching to be seen.

If somebody is bumping into you today a little bit too much for your liking, maybe it’s an opportunity to really see them and take notice of what’s going on. Instead of brushing them away, draw them close. Get interested in what they’re doing. Ask some questions, and just watch what God will do.

The ministry of availability is a choice.

Let’s be the one who chooses to take notice of someone else today. Our “interruptions” are really just opportunities to truly see the person God has placed in our path.

coloring heart

Beautiful heart