Friday, December 29, 2006

Trust

Last night we watched a DVD that Zackery got for Christmas -- Veggie Tales' "Gideon: Tuba Warrior". Obviously it's the story of Gideon, which in and of itself is a great story about God's faithfulness, especially when we are willing to be used by Him. But they also "Veggie-fied" the story of George Mueller, the fellow from Bristol, England who started an orphanage there. He never asked for any donations or help, yet his testimony was that God always supplied all their needs. Our boys were all questioning if this was a real story, and I think found it a little incredulous ... that there were some days when this orphanage had absolutely nothing to eat or drink and their response was to pray and ask God to send it, also remembering to thank Him in advance for supplying. And God heard their prayer and supplied their needs. It is an amazing testimony and it is a great reminder for me to continue to place my trust in God for all I need.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Life means so much

It's been a good Christmas for us this year. Often Christmas is a hard time of the year for Eric emotionally, but this year he has done really well. Eric's parents were at our place for a very short visit, which was good -- I don't mean that it was good that it was a very short visit, but the time together was good. On Boxing Day we got together with some new friends that we have made (the parents of our kids' friends) and had a great time together. We've taken time to play, nap, read, puzzle and enjoy each other's company and the company of friends and family.

Family and friends are an important part of who we are ... often they have shaped us into the people we are today (good or bad). I guess I'm feeling kind of melancholy because my parents aren't around anymore and I miss them. I received news yesterday that a good friend of mine from high school lost her father to a brain hemorrhage on Boxing Day. I guess that's contributed to my sad and rather contemplative mood.

Every day is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink
And there's plenty of room for writing in
All we do is believe and think
So will you compose a curse
Or will today bring the blessing
Fill the page with rhyming verse
Or some random sketching

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much
Life means so much
Life means so much

Every day is a bank account
And time is our currency
So nobody's rich, nobody's poor
We get 24 hours each
So how are you gonna spend
Will you invest, or squander
Try to get ahead
Or help someone who's under

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much
Life means so much
Life means so much

Has anybody ever lived who knew the value of a life
And don't you think giving is all
What proves the worth of yours and mine

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much

Every day is a gift you've been given
Make the most of the time every minute you're living


Artist: Chris Rice
Song: Life Means So Much
Album: Short Term Memories
[" Short Term Memories " CD]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

J is for Jesus ...

Today my two youngest boys had their school Christmas concert. My husband went to the afternoon performance and I attended the evening showing. I use the word "showing" because a school Christmas concert really isn't complete until a little girl from the kindergarten class hikes up her dress to her armpits so she can pull up her tights!

I really appreciate that the public elementary school that my boys have been attending still calls it a "Christmas" concert. Other school divisions call it a "winter" concert and seem to bend over backwards to keep their concert and the season sanitized of anything to do with the birth of Christ. At our school Christmas concert, Christmas carols are sung and it's a good mix of Santa, Scrooge and the Son.

Tonight my son Zackery's grade 3 class did the "ABC's of Xmas". My heart was touched when the young boy with the letter J around his neck proclaimed that "J is for Jesus ... it's all for his sake". And it is.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Crisis of Faith??

So lately I have been struggling with being a Christian. I have been a Christian all my life and time-to-time my self-evaluations are downright discouraging. Here are the main points that seem to disqualify me from the club of Christianity:
  1. My vices:
    1. I drink rum – too much for my own good.
    2. I smoke to often. Hardly at all in the past 4 years but I still crave it.
  2. My lack of Church association – I am not attending church nor am I part of any fellowship group
  3. My devotions – are non-existent. Reading the “Word” brings little relief to the daily toil.
  4. My prayer life – sporadic at best and then mostly asking God to get me out of the pain of life.
  5. My reaching out to others is just not happening. My whole life seems to be more about not being of the world than living in it.
  6. I am not impressed with the “body of Christ”. Far to often Church people are irrelevant, hypocritical, and selfish.
  7. My depression – although many people get depressed there is still a huge stigma for a Christian who struggles with it. Depressed Christians can hardly be a witness of all the good things God is doing in their lives when the feel down all the time.

And I can still rationalize all these points by saying that God still loves me and it is His love for me and not my performance, that makes me a Christian.

So what really gets me is how far I am from the main message of Jesus. When asked what the most important thing in life was he responded with “love the Lord your God…” and “love your neighbour…”. Sadly I don’t love people. I tolerate them, I patronize them, I put up with them, I avoid them, I endure them, and sometimes I even loathe them.

There are people that I do love, my family and a few friends, but I consider the vast majority of people to be not worth the effort or pain required to love.

So how can I say I love God? And how can I call myself a Christian?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Advent

The Advent Season is upon us. My Advent Wreath has been prepared and one candle has been lit and the Advent Calendar has been hung on the wall. I love the Advent Season ... I enjoy the preparations for Christmas and the anticipation that comes with it. That's not to say I enjoy the shopping and the crowds ... I don't. I avoid the malls and the stores on the weekends if at all possible!

I picked up a pointsettia this week and at the greenhouse where I got my pointsettia they have a beautiful display of Christmas trees, wreaths and ornaments. I picked up a bare wreath of greenery and some decorations and made my own wreath for the front door. I just wish I could hang it on the inside of the door so that I could enjoy it from inside the warm house!

Far too often the Advent Season is jam packed with concerts and get togethers ... sometimes in the busyness of it all we don't sit back and appreciate what the season really means. Last Sunday as we were preparing to light the first Advent candle, I talked a little bit about Mary with the boys. I've been thinking of her often in the last few weeks; how she must have felt when the angel Gabriel first paid her a visit; her unwavering trust and faith and willingness to be the servant of the Most High. What an amazing testimony of obedience to the fulfilment of God's will. It begs me to ask the question, "Am I ever that willing to be obedient?"

I hope that when the Lord asks something of me, I would reply as Mary did: "Yes, I see it all now. I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve." (The Message)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A new thing

In the last couple of weeks, it was decided that our little house church group disband. One couple felt it was time for them to move on in a different direction, and since we're a small group, we felt the loss in numbers quite keenly. There were other issues which I won't go into here ...

Until we know where God would have us go from here, we're having a true "home church". Our family is meeting for "church" as a family and in our own home, and it is just our family. Last week was the first Sunday for this. The week prior I had posted some "Who Am I" questions on the white board in our dining room, and the boys had to guess who the person from the Bible was. Then on Sunday we talked about the different clues and about how God used this person (it was Joshua). The boys really latched on to the "Who Am I" idea and already last Sunday, they were finding their own Bible characters and were posting their own questions on the white board.

So today we made our guesses as to who the people were and and then each person shared a little bit about that person and a particular Bible story about that person. We talked about Paul (in jail with Silas), the prophet Joel (a tougher one to figure out), David (lots of stories there!) and Zechariah (chosen of course by Zackery since his name is derived from Zechariah!). It was such a good morning -- the boys were enthusiastic about learning and reading the Bible!

So even though I am feeling some internal pain from the loss of the house church, I am excited about the passion being birthed in my own kids for God's Word. It's a new thing ... and a good thing. A very good thing.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Learning life lessons

So it finally happened. At least I think it finally happened. Or I don't recall it ever happening in our house before. What I'm talking about is one of my kids (my youngest, Zackery) taking a pair of scissors to his hair. At least he didn't butcher it too badly -- just made the bangs fairly short. Unfortunately the rest of his hair was quite long all over. So today we had to do a "fix-it" cut. He seems to be doing quite well with it, especially considering he's been wanting his hair to be longer and he fought me about getting a trim a couple of weeks ago.

But I think he understands now about what happens when you take a pair of scissors to your hair -- it's gone for good until it grows back in a few months. Sometimes it takes something like this for him to fully understand the consequence to the action. I actually think that's how he learns best. He learned a similar lesson once before when he was about 2 years old -- he flushed his soother down the toilet. There was a visible look of understanding on his face when he realized what he had done and that the soother was gone for good and wasn't ever coming back.

So how many more of these life lessons will we be in for with him??!!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Living with Depression -- Lesson #2

Lesson #2 -- Learn, learn, learn.

The Internet is a wonderful tool. I can recall back when we first got hooked up to the world wide web -- one of the things I researched was depression. It was so helpful to me to read the experiences of others and to learn about common symptoms, expressions and manifestations, if you will, of depression. One thing that I read stood out to me ... You never say to a depressed person, "Snap out of it!" Whenever I hear that phrase I think of Cher in the movie "Moonstruck"! When I learned about the illness, I started to understand the behaviour a little bit and I was able to recognize the signs when Eric was starting to "crash".

In our second year of marriage I also took a course at the seminary where Eric worked. Since Eric had his degree in Biblical counselling, I took what was known as Core I, which taught the basic principles of counselling. My purpose in taking the course wasn't to become a counsellor, but to understand better where Eric was coming from and some of the terminology that he was using! I know it has been a valuable tool for me to use to challenge Eric and to listen beneath his words.

To reiterate lesson #2 ... learn, learn, learn!

Living with Depression -- Lesson #1

Hello. My name is Lisa. My husband suffers from Major Depressive Disorder. I know there's Al-Anon, but is there a support group out there for spouses and family members who live with people suffering from depression? I have thought for a number of years that perhaps other people could benefit from my experience and what I have learned living with a depressed person. Perhaps it's time I started sharing those things here.

I'll start at the beginning. Eric and I were married on June 17, 1989 -- on Eric's 30th birthday! I don't think I realized at the time the extent of Eric's depression. But I knew without a doubt that I was to marry this man. I believe that God placed Eric in my heart even before that first blind date we had. Eric would likely say that he has battled depression since his late teens. It's been a long road for him.

The first couple of years of marriage were typical -- sorting out the workings of a marriage. Eric was working at a Christian college and seminary as the athletic director and was also teaching counselling labs, so obviously his hours varied from my standard office hours. There were days that he just couldn't get out of bed and that was my first experience with him when he was depressed. I didn't quite know what to do with him -- I had little or no understanding of his depression and how best I could love him. I often tried to talk to my mother about Eric when he was depressed, but she had no understanding of the illness and her response ("What do you mean, he can't get out of bed? You just get up and go to work!") wasn't really helpful to me. I loved my mother dearly, but at one point I made a decision that I couldn't talk to her about Eric's depression because it negatively affected my response to Eric. I have to say this about my mother ... She passed away just over four years ago and in the last years of her life, she made a real effort to understand the illness of depression. She was so committed to praying for Eric because she realized that was about the only thing she could do. One of the last things she told Eric was that she would pray for him until she had no more breath -- and that was about a week before she went home to be with Jesus.

So lesson No. 1, if there is a series of lessons here, is that it is actually helpful to talk to somebody, to share about the difficulties, and to pray together with someone. But it is important to choose someone who will really listen to you, someone who has an understanding of what depression is about, and someone who can give you wise counsel.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Friends

So our oldest son, aged 14, is out again with his buddies. They discovered that if they were at Little Caesar's at exactly 12:00 noon, they could get free day-old cold pizza. I'm not sure how many of his buddies he went with -- there's a crew of about 5 of them that get together to hang out.

Years ago I prayed long and hard that Corey would have good friends. He had a best friend from Kindergarten to Grade 2 and then his friend Joel moved to Alberta. Corey changed schools mid-way through Grade 5 and had a tough time fitting in at the new school. But since moving on to junior high, he has really come into his own and gained new confidence. He has made wise decisions as far as his choice of friends goes, and I am so thankful for that.

It is not our standard and expectation that our boys only have friends who also are "Christians". I think it's great if they do have friends who share their faith and love for Jesus, but it's not the sole criteria I want the boys to have for choosing their friends. My desire and prayer for my boys is that they will each make wise decisions as far as choosing their friends; that in their relationships with their buddies they can be the light that shines in the darkness. I'm here to teach and encourage them in their faith and to help them understand why they believe what they believe. They have a tremendous opportunity to live out their faith and be the hands and feet of Jesus to their friends.

Its all in the Name

Today Zackery Benjamin is doing some homework about what his name means and why his parents picked his name. We discussed this topic at the kitchen table with Lisa and Brendan puzzling and Eric eating cereal. There is no special reason for why we picked "Zackery Benjamin", we chose that name because we liked it. Zackery just walked into the office and was very excited about Zackery coming from Zechariah. It is a Hebrew name. He also had a list of Zackery names in different languages. In Finnish Zackery is Saku, as in Saku Koivu of the Montreal Canadians.

Only Nathan Joel got a name with meaning because we thought he would be different from the rest of us. Nathan Joel received two names of prophets because we thought that he would be able to hear God better than the rest of the family. He is now busy creating a complex "scenario" in the computer game "Age of Conquerors". His difference is God given and easy to see. He sometimes struggles with this difference, but to us he is very special.

Brendan Joshua was another name that was discussed at the table. I said that I liked the name Joshua because Joshua in the Bible was strong and courageous. Brendan asked if he was strong and courageous and I said yes. I see him being strong and courageous and think that one day he would be an excellent fireman or paramedic.

Corey Jonathan is still in bed sleeping. He is a teenager so I am not sure if his “pond-dwelling, friend of the king” activities (or lack thereof) comes from his name or his chronological measurement. We love him

Monday, October 02, 2006

Music to my ears

We now have two boys who are in junior high (grades 7 and 9) and both are in the band program. When Corey was in grade 7, he started playing clarinet and actually has a natural aptitude for that instrument. Of course he had his moments when he was starting out ... moments of squeaking and squawking ... but it actually sounds melodic when he practices now.

BJ has just started grade 7 and so has begun to learn to play the trumpet. Considering he's only had the instrument for just under a month, I have to admit he's actually not doing too badly. Thankfully he practices in the basement. He was practicing after school today (in the basement) and for the most part it sounded OK. But then I heard a long sustained note that didn't sound very good at all. And then I realized that it wasn't BJ and his trumpet, but rather a low-flying plane overhead heard clearly through the open window. Oops.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's been awhile ...

It's been awhile since I last wrote some words ... of wisdom? According to the last post, it was July 3. Almost 3 months ago. Life gets busy; sometimes priorities change or we just lose track of where we were headed.

It was a good summer for us. I switched my hours at work and instead of working 3 full days a week, I worked every morning which meant I was home every afternoon with the boys. We spent a lot of time outside -- I read and the boys played in the pool. Except for the many wasps in the yard, it was great. We set out a number of wasp traps (homemade, of course) through the course of the summer and I think we figured out the right "recipe" by the end of August. A cut up apple in the bottom of a 2litre pop bottle, with a bit of pop as well, and the top of the bottle cut off and inverted, and those wasps just couldn't resist. I think we were all amazed that these flying insects could find their way into the bottle, but once inside couldn't seem to find their way out.

And now the kids are back to school, the leaves are changing colour and the days are much cooler. The pool has been emptied and packed away for next year. I need to think about warm jackets, hats and gloves for the kids and whether or not their winter boots will still fit them. I don't know that I'm ready for that yet. I still want those summer days lying around the pool!

Monday, July 03, 2006

I've been mulling a lot of things over lately. Pondering, if you will. Hopefully with purpose.

Every once in awhile I'm finding that I go into "woe is me" mode. A little bit of self-pity and just plain selfishness about my life. If I'm realistic, I think that probably happens just about once a month, if you know what I mean. Pitiful, Miserable and Selfish.

Last week sometime I turned on the TV before it was time to roll out of bed and as I was surfing through the channels, I came upon a show featuring speaker Beth Moore. She spoke about each of us having a purpose and a calling from God, but unfortunately sometimes our fears get in the way of fulfilling that purpose and calling. I recognize that I walk in fear much of the time. Many days as I go to work I pray that I won't be fearful ... fearful of speaking up; fearful of being seen as incompetent and unable to do the job to the best of my abilities; fearful of interacting with other people.

I'm recognizing that sometimes what I'm most fearful of is what other people will think of me. That's just plain goofy, but it's so easy to believe those lies and fears instead of the truths we know about ourselves.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Little house (church) on the prairie ...

I've been thinking a lot lately about our little house church group. We're part of a small group of Christ-followers that meets in each other's homes every week. My struggle lately has been with the disconnectedness that I feel and the lack of "community". We've always likened our group to being like a family, but I'm starting to feel like our gatherings are more social than spiritually uplifting. Anyway, one thing at a time ... community.

I was putting my thoughts down on paper the other day (my own manifesto?) and Eric asked me how I defined "community" and being "community oriented". That's a huge part of what I have always envisioned for our small group. What do I mean by community oriented? What does community look like to me? What do I want/expect/hope for living in community with others? I’m not sure I have adequate answers to these questions. Part of being community oriented to me means living in geographic proximity, and by that I don’t mean communal or living on the same street, but in a close neighbourhood. I have friends who all live on the same block of the same street and to me, these people exemplify community. Yes, they are “community” because they are neighbours and they live on the same block. But they are also living in community because they look after each other's kids, yards; they socialize together and have built relationships with each other – so much so that when one family was considering moving away, it was very difficult for others on the street to contemplate their leaving.

That speaks to me of community – being in close relationship with each other; friendships; supporting each other. As Christ-followers, that also means praying for each other and challenging each other in our daily walk with Jesus. I’m not always confident to ask others the tough questions (like Eric is) but neither is anyone asking me those hard questions either.

I come away from our gatherings feeling rather empty. Most times there has been litle spiritual input or encouragement. I want to be challenged and encouraged in my faith ... I also want that for my kids too. I know it means I need to bring something to the table every week too, and I certainly don't do my part there.

I'm just putting these thoughts out there. I feel fairly safe writing these things because most of the people in our small group don't read my blog anyway.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Farewell to Grade 6

Today was my son BJ's Grade 6 Farewell. They don't call it a "graduation" because that term is reserved for the event that happens at the end of Grade 12 (or I should say Senior 4). The elementary school gives the Grade 6 classes a nice little send off. BJ was voted by his classmates to represent them and give a speech at the Farewell today. For BJ, speaking in front of people is definitely not something he particularly enjoys and he is actually fairly shy and quiet (unbelievable, but true). He did really well today and we were so proud of him as he gave his speech. Way to go, BJ! On and upward to junior high. Congratulations and say Farewell to Grade 6!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Boyz 2 (Young) Men

Why is it that when I'm on the bus on the way to work or walking along somewhere I can think of great things to blog, and actually write the blog in my head, but as soon as I sit down at the computer my brain seems to turn to mush?!

Best part of my day yesterday ... It was the end of the day and I had just finished cleaning up the kitchen. My two youngest boys were already in bed and the two oldest boys came into the kitchen and just hung out with me. We stood in the kitchen (it's not a big kitchen) and just talked and joked with each other. My sons are growing up! They are becoming handsome, intelligent young men and exude their own individual personality and character.

That's happened a few times, where they've just "hung out" with me at the end of the day. I like it. Best part of my day.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Marathon "Men"

Today was Father's Day and for the 29th year, it was also the day of the Manitoba Marathon. Our history with the Marathon isn't nearly that long, but it feels like it is becoming a family tradition. Four years ago our oldest son Corey ran in the Super Run, which covers 2.6 miles. It was the first time he had run that distance and we thought he did very well. He certainly loves to run. I remember that it was hard that first year sending him off at the start line, all the while hoping he would know where to go and how to find his way to the finish line (typical "mother" fears). He found his way, and has found his way back there every year since.

The next year our second son, BJ also ran in the Super Run "with" Corey. Nobody really runs "with" Corey ... you just try and keep him in your sights! And last year our third son Nathan ran in the Super Run as well as Corey, BJ deciding to take the year off.

Today Corey, BJ and Nathan were all running. We sent them off at the start line and then walk the short distance to the finish line in the stadium at the University of Manitoba. I love watching the runners come in to the stadium; seeing them try and push themselves that last stretch, some of them racing with whatever finishing kick they have left. It's exciting and exhilarating. And when I see my sons come into the stadium and run that last stretch, I get tears in my eyes to see them running the race and doing it well.

I don't mean to wax philosophical here, but life is like that. It's a marathon race that we're running. Sometimes we hit the wall and have trouble moving forward; sometimes we just want to collapse and not go on; sometimes we hear someone cheering us on from the sidelines and we get re-energized to keep going. Run the race of life. Like it says in Hebrews 12 ... "Let us run with perseverence the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith ..."

Our youngest, Zackery, can hardly wait until next year when he'll run too. My hope is that next year I'll be out there to run with my boys too.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

17 years ago today was the last day of my single life. On June 17, 1989, Eric and I were married. It's been a good 17 years; naturally there have been some rough seasons and many good times. I think it's safe to say that I have changed and grown (and not just in girth). I have learned a lot about being married; I have learned a lot about depression. I had no idea when we got married that Eric was suffering from major depressive disorder. Actually, at the time we got married, Eric had no real idea either. He knew he was depressed on occasion and sometimes for long periods of time, but it was a number of years before we eventually put a name to it. Major Depressive Disorder.

In our years of marriage, I've learned to recognize the signs of depression. I've learned what it means to love and to give of myself, even when it feels like it's not being reciprocated. I've learned the value of affirmation and how important it is that we affirm each other. I've learned the power of prayer and the importance of praying for my husband. I've learned that when I pray for more grace to live with him, God gives it freely and abundantly. I've learned that I'm a stronger person than I ever thought I was. I've learned that I still have more to learn!

And if Eric asked me to marry him all over again, my answer would still be "Yes!"

I love you, Eric! Happy 17th Anniversary.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pet Peeve

I have a pet peeve, and contrary to the term "pet peeve", it's not a problem with pets. No, this pet peeve is more of a "people" peeve. My peeve is with people who, when gathered together in a group with other friends, begin to talk about certain events or people in front of the whole group, when not everybody in the group perhaps attended that same event or knows those same people. Case in point: Many years ago early on in our marriage, Eric and I regularly got together with another couple who are goods friends of ours and I love them dearly. But since Eric and this other couple knew the same people from Bible College and Seminary, they would often share news about these other people and I would have absolutely no idea who they were talking about! I felt very shut out of the conversation much of the time. I spoke to Eric about it at the time and he worked very hard not to allow that to happen and to ensure that I was included in the conversation.

This same thing has happened in our small house church group before, and again yesterday, and it bothers me. I find that kind of behaviour to be rude and exclusionary and if our goal as a small house church group is to be a "family" and care about each other, why do I go home feeling very uncared for? Largely because I have felt excluded ... like I don't really exist or matter. I'm sure this brings to the surface some of my own issues, but I'll deal with that another time.

So there. Got that off my chest. I'm sure there's more peeves coming though. Look out.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Words from a soccer mom

Right now my boys' soccer consumes so much of my time. I'm not coaching or anything as involved as that, just driving them to games and cheering from the sidelines. I did coach a few seasons when my two youngest boys were just starting out. I was fortunate to have a really great group of parents who were very supportive, encouraging and helpful.

A friend of mine is coaching his daughter's team and unfortunately has had a bad experience with the parents of one of the girls. I get so frustrated when I hear of how some parents can be so selfish and assinine! They demand that their child play more and some even sit there with stopwatches to make sure their child gets the playing time they feel he/she deserves! They make unreasonable demands on a coach who is simply volunteering his time and energy, trying to make it a positive experience for the kids and trying to help them learn a little bit more about how to play the game.

Perhaps every parent should be made to take a turn at coaching and then they would see that it's not as easy as they think. They sit there and watch their own child; a coach has 12-15 kids he/she is watching!

So get in the game, parents! Support your coaches!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Thoughts from the sidelines

Tonight I was at my youngest son's soccer game. Zackery is turning 8 this year. He played against a boy that he played indoor soccer with and this boy, Dylan, lost his mother to breast cancer in the last month. As I looked down the sideline at the group of parents, I recognized another father sitting with his little girl, his son also playing on the same team as Dylan. I recognized this man from the church that we used to attend, and had just seen his wife's obituary in the paper this past Saturday, which was also the day of her funeral.

I can't get my mind wrapped around what it must be like to anticipate to spend the rest of your life with someone, raising your young children, and then lose that person to some disease or illness; what it must be like to make certain life-shifts because now you are the primary care-giver and have no-one to share that role and responsibility with in the same way. My heart aches for these fathers who must now raise their young children alone.

It was good to see these kids who have lost their mothers playing and interacting with other kids with smiles on their faces. I'm sure there are times when they feel keenly the pain of their loss, but for an hour at a soccer game, they're just kids who like to run and play.

Life is busy ... I need a clone!!

It's been awhile since I've found time to sit down and write. I'm tired and I'd love to head off to bed, but I'm doing laundry and need to do something to stay awake until the next load is ready for the dryer.

Life is busy these days. Two boys play soccer Mondays and Wednesdays, one plays Tuesdays and Thursdays, the other one plays different days, but practices Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. I feel like I'm being stretched in so many directions, and its my kids who are suffering for it. I have to pick and choose which game I go to see and which boy I will spend time with that evening. I need a clone! (Just joking.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother’s Day

I’m torn on this day. I’m torn between the joy and love that I get from my kids and from being a mother, and the sadness and the grieving that I still feel for the loss of my own mother. My mother passed away almost 4 years ago this July. But it’s days like this when mothers are celebrated, and on days like her birthday and certain anniversaries, that I miss her most.

I received a call today from a friend letting me know that the mother of a little boy that my youngest, Zackery, has played indoor soccer with the past two seasons, died this past week after battling breast cancer. Barely two months ago we were sitting together watching the boys play. Her hair was just starting to grow back in and get some length after the chemo treatments and it seemed like she was feeling well. Her little boy would always look up to see if she was watching him and if she noticed what he had accomplished on the field. She yelled encouragement and advice to him and loved to watch him play. What a good mother she was. My heart aches for that little boy and his younger sister who are now without their mother.

This is when I ask, “Why, God?” And there are no answers. Just a heavy heart and prayers for solace and comfort.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Wedding Lollapalooza

This past weekend was our big “Wedding Lollapalooza”. The daughter of my cousin was married Saturday afternoon and the daughter of good friends was married Sunday afternoon. Both weddings were quite simple and beautiful, and each was distinctive of who the bride and groom were. Congratulations again to Kris & Lindsay and Dan & Tiffany!

Eric had arranged to be home for the weekend and he actually came along to both weddings. For Eric, this was quite something. He has never really enjoyed weddings – I’m lucky enough that he actually showed up to ours! I’m sure his preference when we got married would have been to simply elope!

Weddings are a reflective time for me. I think back on my own wedding ceremony and, although I enjoyed it and felt it was well thought out and characterized Eric and I as a couple, if I were to do it all again, I’m sure I would do things differently.

But the wedding day is only that … just a day. It’s the day that the bride (and groom?) plan and prepare for months in advance. But what is really important comes right after the wedding day (no, not the “consummation”!), I’m talking about the work of the marriage. And marriage is work. And it is also well worth the effort.

I knew before I even met Eric, as I anticipated our first blind date, that he was the one for me. I can’t explain it – only that God put him in my heart. And since God put him in my heart from the first, commitment to Eric has always been a bit of a no-brainer for me. Our married life hasn’t always been easy, but I have never questioned or doubted my commitment to Eric.

Almost 17 years of marriage and I still have the index card that I wrote out my wedding vows on:

“Eric, I love you. God has led you to be part of my life and I cherish you as a gift from Him. Today I am covenanting before God to be your wife and I do so with great joy. As your wife and your best friend I covenant to support you in all your endeavours and to minister to the needs of your body, heart and spirit. I realize that I am incapable of loving you on my own strength, and that it is only because of the love of Jesus in me that I am able to love you. It is my desire to love you as God would enable me and I am trusting Him that my love for you will grow richer, fuller and more complete each day of our lives. You have touched my life in a way no person has before and you have encouraged me to be the person God made me to be. I want to encourage you to be all that God designed you to be; I believe in you and I trust you. Wherever He leads, I will follow together with you. I love
you.”



Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The face of Jesus

I received a cool email at work today containing some really neat optical illusions. But the best one, and the one my kids liked the best, was this one. Click on it and try it.

http://www.eyetricks.com/jesus.htm

The image that you see after staring at the black dots is the face of Jesus.

I wish it were that easy to see His face in every other aspect of my life. Maybe I just need to concentrate and look a little harder. There are times I do see Jesus in my kids and they way they treat each other (on a good day!); I see Jesus in my husband when he is so attentive to me or one of the boys. I hope others can see Jesus in me.

Monday, May 01, 2006

God is good ... all the time!

I spent some time talking on the phone this morning with a friend of mine. This friend has quite a story and for the past couple of years that I have known her, it has seemed to me that she has had more than her share of tough times. She is a testimony to me of God's faithfulness and goodness. She has done her share of duking it out with God, but has also stayed faithful to Him through all the things that life has dealt her. And He is proving faithful to her. In the past couple of weeks a number of things have happened in her life that have the thumbprint of God -- His goodness, His faithfulness and His love for her. She is an encouragement to me. I can join with her and say "God is good ... all the time!"

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Soccer starts in May, and so does the rain!

It's here. I'm not referring to the spring rain that's falling, but rather to the outdoor soccer season, although those two occurrences seem to be synonymous here in Winnipeg. "April showers bring May flowers" doesn't quite work -- it's more like "Soccer starts in May, and so does the rain!"

With 4 boys playing soccer on 4 different teams, that means 4 different schedules to keep track of, and sometimes needing to be in 2 or more places at once. It becomes a bit of a challenge, especially when Eric is on the road so much. I appreciate so much the willingness of others to drive my kids to and from games as I need extra help.

I wonder sometimes how I can keep up the hectic pace for 2 months, but somehow I do. And I have to be honest and admit that I enjoy watching my kids play soccer and interacting with their teammates and friends. I also enjoy spending an hour or so with these other parents that through the course of the season (and sometimes many previous) have become my friends.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Good-bye Golden Girl

My indoor soccer team is named the "Golden Girls". Obviously not because we're the "winningest" team, although we do fairly well. Moreso because the average age on our team is probably around 48. Since December/January it was discovered that one of my teammates, Laurie, had cancer. This past Thursday, Laurie lost her battle with cancer and passed away.

She started the indoor soccer season with us in fall, coming out to practices and I think even played a game or two. It's hard to believe that in the space of 5 months, she's gone. She was only 45. I didn't know Laurie very well -- only interacted with her during practices and games, but I liked her very much. Laurie had spunk and a lot of energy. She had a real joy for the game and enjoyed her teammates. She will be missed by all of us.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My sense of adventure

My husband has sometimes said of me (and this line he borrowed from someone else), "Lisa's idea of an adventure is having coffee on the deck." I think I'm much more adventurous than that. Sometimes I have my chair on the grass and only have my feet on the deck!

One of my favourite things ...

One of my most absolute favourite things to do is sit outside on a sunny day and read a good book. For me, that's the epitome of relaxation. My kids already know the drill ... "Don't bug Mom. She's reading." There's something about sitting outside in a comfortable lawn chair, with the warm sun beating down and getting lost in a story of someone else's making that is very appealing to me. I will actually schedule my daily agenda to fit in these little "getaways".

My favourite authors? I just finished reading "House" by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. Good book! I'll read just about anything by Ted Dekker, Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, Lynn Austin ... just to name a few.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Joys of Chocolate

So I finally started exercising again. A couple of years ago I was doing really well and was fairly disciplined with doing my weekly workouts. I think it's a fair assessment to say that I lack self-discipline when it comes to exercising. The spirit is usually willing, but as the saying goes, the flesh is weak ... or too sore to do it another day. I've actually managed to do these new workouts for 3 weeks now, which means getting up extra early on the days I go to work ... so why am I gaining weight instead of losing it? Oh right, muscle weighs more than fat. Yeah. Keep thinkin' that way! I think it has more to do with the fact that I still eat just as much chocolate as I ever have!

Ah, the joys of chocolate. I love it -- too much, really. I have a magnet on my fridge door that sums up my sentiments: "I'd give up chocolate, but I'm no quitter!" Chocolate is my comfort food, if you can call it that even. About 8 years ago I was diagnosed as having celiac disease, which basically means that gluten (a wheat protein) is harmful to my intestines. I was asymptomatic when I was diagnosed but decided to start on the life-long discipline of adhering to a gluten-free diet. (There's that "discipline" word again!) I found it really hard to cut out some of the wheat products that I now couldn't have and to compensate, I turned to chocolate. It didn't help that I was 5 months pregnant at the time and pregnancy/hormones can make you do strange things. I ate so much chocolate -- it's a wonder I still enjoy the stuff. Eating chocolate may be the only thing that I'm really disciplined about!

So I guess my dilemma here is that I want to lose some weight and get into better shape without giving up the chocolate. Any suggestions??

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bandaids ...

This afternoon my youngest son, Zackery, came in with a scrape on his arm after falling off his bike. We went to the bathroom and cleaned it up – it’s amazing what a little Polysporin and a couple of bandaids will do for the healing process.

But at some point our kids grow up and they realize that the “bandaid” just doesn’t cut it anymore. A bandaid typically isn’t a pain reliever – it just sits on top of the wound to protect it and hopefully keep the wound clean until it can heal. When our kids are hurting emotionally, that “bandaid” might be our love, our prayers, our best intentions, or it might be a change in surroundings, a change in friends, limitations on privileges …

So how do I, as a mother, help my kids learn to cope with the pain of life? Because face it, LIFE ISN’T FAIR. We’re all going to get hurt, get a raw deal, get the short end of the stick, at some point in our lives.

The “Christian” answer to that is to pray for them and love them and blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good answer and I want to pray for them and love them. But how do I practically point them to Jesus in the midst of their pain? Maybe I don’t. Maybe that’s the work and power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Maybe all I do is pray, and love, and be there to hug them and hold them when they need to feel arms around them, and trust that Jesus loves them more than I ever could.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Words of Wisdom?

This weekend I had two wedding showers to attend ... both the same evening. I think the last wedding shower I went to was in 1998, so it's been awhile. You know you're getting older when the bride is the daughter of a friend.

At the one shower, we were to write down words of advice to the bride. I arrived late to this shower (it was the second one of the evening) and so my piece of advice never got written down. I did spend some time thinking about what on earth I would write. What advice could I give?

Eric and I have been married almost 17 years -- we were introduced by a couple of friends on a blind date. Before I even met him, I had a very strong sense that this was the last man I was going to date; this was the one. I can only credit that to God. So here's my Top 10 List of Things to Remember as a Wife:

1o. Flirting is OK. Actually, flirting is a great tool to keeping romance alive!

9. You'll do a lot of things together as a couple, but take time to do things for yourself as well. It's important that you maintain friendships with your "girlfriends". They're a huge support system.

8. Laugh a lot. Inside jokes are great. Not a year goes by at daylight savings time that Eric doesn't say "Gee, it's 10:00? It only feels like 9:00". It wouldn't be daylight savings without that little joke.

7. Sometimes you need to give up your agenda. I'm incredibly agenda-driven and that was fine when I was single, but when there is someone else to consider, there have to be concessions and some give and take.

6. Be mindful of your husband's needs. Serve him. That doesn't mean wait on him hand and foot and be at his beck and call for every whim. It means consider what he needs and how you can best minister to those needs. Be the hands and feet of Jesus to your husband.

5. Be a good listener. Be patient and ready to really hear everything he says, and doesn't say, for that matter. And then once you've heard his heart, pursue him to let him know that you've listened, and that you still love him.

4. Pray for him. If the prayer of a righteous man availeth much, just think what the prayer of a righteous wife can do!

3. Extend him grace. When he pisses you off and when there are days that you just can't stand him or don't know what to do with him, extend him grace. And if you're not sure you have any grace for him, ask Jesus to give more to you. He gives it freely and abundantly.

2. Be best friends.

1. Love as best as you know how. I am only able to love my husband because Jesus loves me. Tell him often -- in words and in your actions.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"Aslan is not a tame lion"

Last night we were watching the movie "Narnia" again. A line near the end of the movie jumped out at me -- it was after the battle in which the White Witch is defeated and Aslan has left. One of the children asks if they'll ever see Aslan again. The response that comes is "Aslan is not a tame lion." My interpretation? "God cannot be tamed". We can't quantify God or put Him in a box. He cannot be contained. He is that big and that powerful.

The power of prayer ... and the study of it

Recently it was reported on the news that a scientific study had concluded that therapeutic prayer for patients undergoing surgery had no effect. "The results showed that prayers had no beneficial effect on patients' recovery 30 days after surgery. Overall, 59% of patients who knew they were being prayed for had complications, compared to 51% of the patients who did not receive prayers. The difference was not considered statistically significant." (Click to go to the entire article this is taken from, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-prayer31mar31,1,3169049.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&ctrack=1&cset=true)

I thought it interesting that $2.5 million dollars would be spent on a study of this kind; a study basically trying to understand faith and the power of prayer scientifically. I know from experience that there is power in prayer and God answers ... but we cannot manipulate God with our prayers. He hears and answers, but sometimes it isn't the answer we're wanting, especially when it comes to the healing of a loved one.

Home Free -- Song by Wayne Watson
I'm trying hard not to think you unkind
But Heavenly Father If you know my heart
Surely you can read my mind
Good people underneath the sea of grief
Some get up and walk away, Some will find ultimate relief
Chorus: Home Free, eventually
At the ultimate healing we will be Home Free
Home Free, oh I've got a feeling
At the ultimate healing We will be Home Free
Out in the corridors we pray for life
A mother for her baby, A husband for his wife
Sometimes the good die young, It's sad but true
And while we pray for one more heartbeat
The real comfort is with you
You know pain has little mercy
And suffering's no respecter of age, of race or position
I know every prayer gets answered
But the hardest one to pray is slow to come
Oh Lord, not mine, but Thy will be done

1 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. 2 The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. 3 By faith, we see the world called into existence by God's word, what we see created by what we don't see. (Hebrews 11:1-3, The Message)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

First sign of spring

To reprise an earlier blog,

Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz,
My basement ...
That's where the water is.

Thankfully, the water is gone and the carpet is now dry. Our yard, however, is still very, very wet. The boys are eager to be outside and playing tag or riding their bikes, for which I am very thankful. They need that kind of outlet ... especially after a long winter. Yesterday I got a real kick out of Zackery. Here was his recipe for a good time:

Take one old small piece of panelling lying around in the backyard (was supposed to get on the garbage pile at one time)
Add to one large puddle of standing water in the backyard
Take a running leap onto the board
Make like a surfer, dude

It was great fun to watch him. Even when he fell on his butt in the puddle, he still had a huge smile on his face.

These are the signs of spring at my house: boys on bikes; boys in rubber boots running through puddles; muddy footprints through the house to the bathroom; and oh yeah, the wild crocuses that come up each year in my front yard.

Friday, March 31, 2006

In memory of my Dad

I've spent some time remembering my Dad today. It was 15 years ago today that he died as a result of injuries sustained in a head-on collision. So much has happened in my life in the past 15 years that he has missed out on ... or I guess I was the one who missed his involvement in our lives. Eric and I hadn't even been married 2 years when he died, so my father never got to meet any of my kids. Eric only met him a handful of times -- the first time he met him was the evening he asked to marry me!

The bittersweet part of being pregnant for me was that my kids were never going to know the love of their Grandpa Block. I know he would have loved them and enjoyed them. He would have been so proud of Corey and the good grades he gets in school. He would have cheered heartily for BJ at his soccer games and been one of his biggest fans. I know he would have played Lego with Nathan. And I'm sure that just hanging out with Zackery would have brought him great joy.

I remember sitting and watching car racing, hockey, and other sports on TV with my Dad.
I remember him calling me Lizza Pizza.
I remember grading math tests for him (he was an elementary school principal).
I remember that given the option of staying inside and cleaning the house or working outside with Dad, I'd pick working with Dad every time (that may be why my house looks the way it does now!)
I remember going Christmas shopping with him one year in particular.
I remember the time he said that whatever I chose to do with my life as far as a vocation, he would support me in.
I remember him being a solid example of a Christ-follower.
I remember the times he told me he loved me.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spring has sprung ...

Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz,
My basement ...
That's where the water is.

Aargh! As much as I love springtime and the end of winter, I hate that we get the spring thaw seeping into the basement!

Best friends with an ass ...

I have been wondering what to write for a couple of days. I started once, then deleted what I had written. The general subject matter was that my husband is an ass. My husband Eric and I really are best friends. The past couple of days though, we've come up against an issue that hasn't been resolved ... and may never resolve.

I am probably the least confrontational person on the planet. I don't think I'm exaggerating there -- ask Eric. Eric, on the other hand, doesn't mind conflict and confrontation and sometimes thrives on it. Sometimes I wonder if he goes looking for it! The other day we came head to head on an issue and I immediately backed down -- much to Eric's frustration, I'm sure.

I am personally responsible for my own issues. Never mind that Eric is an ass (he knows it too), but I have to own up to what my sin is and deal with that, and not just expect Eric to change who he is. Thankfully I was able to identify where I sinned against him and have asked him for forgiveness, which he graciously granted. Perhaps that's part of why we remain best friends. Even though he can be an ass, I wouldn't want to be best friends with anyone else.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Random Musings to Purposely Pondering

I started this blog over a week ago and on a bit of a whim. I knew I wanted to blog, but really hadn't put a lot of forethought into a blog name, etc. Random Musings popped into my head and I thought that would be a good title, so that was how this blog started out. At one point I actually googled the phrase "Random Musings" and was surprised at the number of books, publications and blogs out there by that name. Not very original on my part.

But as I thought more on it, I realized that my "musings" (defined in Webtser's New Collegiate Dictionary as a state of deep thought or dreamy abstraction) are more "ponderings" (to reflect or consider with thoroughness and care) and those ponderings aren't really random (defined by Webster's as a haphazard course; without definite aim, rule or method) but do have purpose. Hence, Purposely Pondering.

I want to have a purpose and an aim. I'm not always sure what it is when I sit down at the computer, but as I reflect and think about what is happening in my life and around me, I know that I'd like to put it out there to whomever might happen upon it. And if my ponderings can impact someone else, then perhaps my ponderings will indeed have purpose.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Boys will be boys

This morning my husband and I made the trek to school with three of our boys for their parent-teacher interviews. Our boys are good kids and get good marks, so this is mostly an exercise in stroking our ego as their parents more than anything else.

But we did stop and visit with the principal in his office for a few minutes after the interviews were all said and done. Some of what we discussed had a lot to do with safety and the emphasis the schools are placing on safety these days. It's getting to the point where the kids can hardly do any activity without someone raising serious concerns about safety issues. Just in case someone might perhaps get hurt, we better not do it. So much for Nike's big slogan of a few years ago "Just Do It". Sadly not anymore. At least not in our public school system.

I learned quite a few years ago when my boys were little, and was reminded of it again the other day, that I need to let my boys be boys. That means letting them play outside and get muddy and dirty, jump in puddles, try their hands at new sports, and wipe out on their bikes every once in awhile. That also means that as they get older their hearts are going to get broken by girls that they like and there are going to be issues with friends, teachers, employers, etc. I can't protect them their whole lives. What I can do is tell them that I love them and that I'll be there for them, and encourage them to grow in the ways of God and be wise in their decisions; to love God and love others.

But boys will be boys and I love them for it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

3 Cheers!

Tonight my son BJ and his indoor soccer team played for the city championship for their division. It was an exciting game to say the least. BJ's team game back from a 2-0 deficit to win the game, 5-2. They won the A-side city championship (the Cambrian Challenge Cup) as a team for the second year in a row.

BJ has played on this team and for his coach since he was 7 (he's 12 now). I was thinking today of how this will be his last game with this team, but it wasn't until one of the other moms came up to me after the game to give me a hug that I realized it was my last game sitting on the sidelines with these people too! The other parents have been a big part of our soccer experience. They are a great bunch of people and I will miss them.

So 3 cheers for my son and his team, the Melrose Missiles! 3 cheers for his coach, Julius! And 3 cheers for the other parents who have made my soccer experience really enjoyable. I'm going to miss you too.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Soccer Mom

So I think I qualify as a soccer mom. During the outdoor soccer season, all four of my boys play on teams (4 different ones, of course). The indoor soccer season is just winding down -- only 3 of the boys play indoor soccer. The team my 12 year old son BJ is on will be playing on Wednesday for the City A-side Indoor Championship. They won it last year and are hoping for a repeat. Exciting stuff. But added to the mix is that I also play indoor soccer, or at least attempt to!

My team, the "Golden Girls" played our last game of the season last night. We won -- the final score was 2-0. Our team has been together for 6 seasons, and I am one of the inaugural members still with the team. It is something I have thoroughly enjoyed ... not just getting out there and trying to play the game and getting some exercise in the process, but getting to know other ladies (other soccer moms). As busy as our family schedule is, it has been good for me to do something on my own for me! I hope that doesn't sound too selfish, but I've come to realize that I need to fill up on some "me" time so that I have enough to pour out for "them" time.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I like to write!

I was introduced to blogging a couple of years ago by someone who was involved in our small house church group. I liked the idea of writing and expressing ideas ... but because it was a "church" blog, I felt like what I wrote needed to have some sort of spiritual significance, so I felt limited (and often inadequate) with what I could contribute.

I've stepped out and started this blog because I like to write and lately have wanted to put things on paper, so to speak -- things about life in general, not necessarily related to our church group or about spiritual things. So bear with me in this writing exercise!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Best part of my day ...

So last night as I was saying goodnight and praying for my two youngest boys, Zackery (age 7) asked if we were Christians. Ah well, then "Christian" needs to be defined, doesn't it.

I told the boys that for me (and our family), to be a Christian means to be a Christ-follower. Being a Christ-follower means that you ask Jesus to live in your heart, and then you love Him and you love others and you do your best to serve and obey Him. That's a fairly simplified version, and sometimes it takes trying to explain it in terms that a 7 year old can understand to regain some clarity.

I asked Zackery if Jesus was living in his heart and he responded with a rather enthusiastic "Oh yes!". That was definitely the best part of my day.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Who knows why?

So today was my day off and I had my day planned. I was running errands in the morning and had planned on stopping at Tim Horton's to buy an Iced Cappucino to take to somebody that I used to work with. I have been thinking about Betty a lot lately and felt like this was something I needed to do today. I'm not sure if it was a "God thing" or not. But as I went through the drive-thru at Tim Horton's, they told me that the Iced Cappucino machine wasn't working. Hmmm. Plan B? I drove on without stopping at the office to even say hello to Betty without the Iced Cappucino.

I moved on to my next errands and finally ended up at Home Depot. A woman was in the lighting section, same as myself, with her two girls. I came down the aisle and she looked at me and said, "I know you!" I recognized her then too. Here was someone I haven't seen in a number of years and we used to go to the same church and they were part of our small home group. I stood and chatted with Charlene in Home Depot and connected again after all these years.

I left Home Depot and began to wonder ... if that Iced Cappucino machine had been working, I would have stopped to visit Betty, and then I would have missed out on meeting up with Charlene.

Who knows why sometimes our agendas and schedules get shifted around. Perhaps today I was supposed to bump into Charlene. Perhaps next time the Iced Cappucino machine will be working and I'll be sharing one with Betty.