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!