Tag Archives: God

Reflecting

I haven’t written in this space for a while. Life has taken over again.

But this I must put down in writing somewhere and I do not have my notebook with me today.

On the way to daycare drop-off this morning, my sweet little girl was in one of those moods. She grumbled and whined all the way to her babysitter’s house. She wouldn’t let go of whatever it was that was turning her beautiful smile upside down.

Normally, this would irk me. I would let it get to me and it would force my smile upside down. Which in turn would make my daughter worse and my little boy a grumpy or sad mess.

I’ve read tons of parenting magazines, books, articles, blogs, etc. Many of them give fantastic advice. Some of them are ridiculous (they’re good for a laugh, though). But one piece of advice that I have read over and over in my lifetime (and not just from parenting “experts”) is that how other people treat you is not a reflection of you, it is a reflection of them and their circumstances.

Until this morning, I never really applied that to my children. I often think of it in terms of the adults in my life. But I have always taken more of a I-control-how-my-kids-feel attitude toward the little people in my life.

But today, my little girl was grumpy and whiny and I looked up at the grey sky and thanked God for her, grump and whine and all. And my gratitude reflected back to me and I felt good. All the way to daycare.

And when I dropped them off, she gave me a wonderful kiss and a hug. And she walked happily over to her friends. Perhaps my gratitude for her shone some light into her and cheered her up.

Whatever it was, for the first time, I did not feel like her mood was my problem. People get grumpy sometimes. All we can do is stand by and be there when the sun comes out for them again.

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Crazy Stories, Sane God…

Why did I pick up this book tonight, rather than the parenting book or any other number of books that I’m reviewing right now?

There’s a message in all this. I think it’s a calling to deeper faith.

Book cover of Crazy Stories Sane God by John Alan TurnerI’ve only read a few stories in Crazy Stories Sane God by John Alan Turner, and I’ve skipped forward and around a bit, too, but I have to say…the book speaks directly to me.

Each story chosen from the Bible is laid out in its briefest form; described, not told. Then there is the commentary; the how-it-relates-to-us part…clear, concise and right to the point. This part of each section is invaluable in its offering of this-is-how-this-story-applies-to-us and these-are-the-lessons-we-can-take-from-this-story.

Each time I have picked up this book to read more, I have encountered something that is completely applicable to what I’m going through at that moment in time. Either the Bible story itself, or the author’s commentary have had a direct impact on my thinking at that moment or on that day. It’s uncanny.

I have a little under half left to read, but the book has already been etched into my mind. It covers the Bible stories that are hard to believe; the ones that we, as parents, have a hard time explaining to our kids, so we just skip over them and trip over ourselves when our children bring the stories up and ask questions that we can’t answer. (Happens to me all the time; especially at Easter. How do you explain someone coming back from the dead to a child raised in a world where everything has a logical explanation?)

If you are on a spiritual journey, if you’re looking for explanations of the crazy stories in the Bible, if you need someone to put the pieces together and relate them to you, or help you make sense of the stories so you can better explain them to your children, you need to read this book.

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Title: Crazy Stories Sane God

Publisher: B&H Publishing Group

ISBN: 978-1-4336-8128-8

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I received a copy of this book for review. The opinions stated in this piece are entirely my own. I received no other compensation for my review.

We made it!

I don’t have much time to write tonight. I am running an event at my church this weekend and I’m just swamped swamped swamped.

But I wanted to reach out to all my readers with a great big THANK YOU for voting and reading my little blog.

I’m so blessed and so honoured and I think it’s just fantastic that you all voted for me in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs. I landed at 21 and I’m feeling so blessed and filled with so much gratitude. (It really does make you happy to express it.)

So, as soon as my event is over this weekend, I promise to sit down and dedicate some time to my blog and to my readers. I’ve got some pieces in the works. I just need time to polish them off and get them up on the blog. And right now, I’m running a little ragged and having a hard time keeping up…but there again, with this event for my church, I’m full of gratitude for all that has come together to allow me to pull off this event. I faced down fear that it would not be successful, but I’m riding a new high. Much prayer and meditation have shed light on what can only be a success this coming Saturday!

God Bless!

Looking for faith and revisiting how I define it

This post was originally published on April 25th. It’s a speech I gave at church, and I thought, since I’m working on a project for the church right now and in desperate need of faith that what I’m doing is going to work, it would be nice to revisit how I feel about my faith and the path I have traveled to get here.

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From where do I come at life?

That’s the question that popped into my head as I reached for the shower tap to turn off the water.

I had spent a few days staring at a blank page in my notebook and at a blank screen on my computer, unable to find the words to express my faith despite my promise to Father Al to participate in this series.

I should have known that a good hot shower would get the ideas—and my courage—flowing. I find there’s something restorative about water. If I need to solve a problem, I wash dishes or take a shower. Until quite recently, I had always thought of these activities—and how they connected to my great ideas—as being governed by Murphy’s Law. The minute I put my hands in the dishpan, the very second I step in the shower, the moment when it is not possible for me to put pen to paper without disintegrating the paper with puddles of dripping water is when I will have my brightest idea of the day.

Then, one day—while I was in the shower (of course)—it hit me. Continue reading

The end…

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

(Thanks to On the Homefront for bringing this quote to my attention. It’s fitting this week.)

Last week of school. Field trips, appreciation lunches, end-of-year meetings for school council and planning meetings for church, end-of-year barbecues for all the stuff my kids are involved in, finally nice enough weather to get outside and garden, go to the splash pad, the pool, visit with friends, enjoy the parks. Plus deadlines at work (full-time) and extra meetings at the part-time job. It has been a crazy couple of weeks. I miss sleep. Continue reading

Why should faith be easy?

On my drive into work, I looked up at the sky and noticed the most beautifully illuminated and reflective clouds filling the sky.

It was a stormy morning and the clouds, though broken, were numerous; most of them dark and foreboding. But two big mountain peaks of clouds stretched up into the blue, hiding the morning sun behind them and reflecting that light back up into the sky.

It was stunning to see. I wished I’d had my camera with me. Then I wished I was a better photographer with better equipment to truly capture the beauty that was shining in front of me. Then I thanked God for showing me this display of beauty which so lifted my spirits.

And, as all those thoughts tumbled around in my head, clawing at each other to be the thought that floated to the top and shaped my day (or at least my drive into work), one thought slipped between the chaos up to the front of my mind and whispered, “What if God just heard you thanking Him and laughed at you because you believe that His magnificent displays in nature are signs of His existence and love? What if what He’s really doing is just enjoying Himself up there, not a care in the world, and mocking us down here who think that faith is easy and that all we have to do is believe and open our hearts and we will be shown the way?”

It kind of sounded like the Devil’s voice. Continue reading

Speak What You Feel (Not What You Ought to Say)

Recently, the minister at my church asked me to speak to the congregation about my Faith.
Below is how I laid my faith on the line and bared my soul for all to see.

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From where do I come at life?

That’s the question that popped into my head as I reached for the shower tap to turn off the water.

I had spent a few days staring at a blank page in my notebook and at a blank screen on my computer, unable to find the words to express my faith despite my promise to Father Al to participate in this series.

I should have known that a good hot shower would get the ideas—and my courage—flowing. I find there’s something restorative about water. If I need to solve a problem, I wash dishes or take a shower. Until quite recently, I had always thought of these activities—and how they connected to my great ideas—as being governed by Murphy’s Law. The minute I put my hands in the dishpan, the very second I step in the shower, the moment when it is not possible for me to put pen to paper without disintegrating the paper with puddles of dripping water is when I will have my brightest idea of the day.

Then, one day—while I was in the shower (of course)—it hit me.

Who is Murphy but a child of God?

Murphy isn’t trying to throw a curve ball at all of my best-laid plans. He’s trying to show me that God won’t hand me anything that I can’t handle. And by raising hills and sometimes mountains in my way, he’s working on behalf of God to build my strength and show me that, if I just have faith, I’ll get to the top. Because no matter what Murphy throws my way, I do always get through it.

And so it was that I was about to step out of the shower when my starting point for this presentation became clear to me. From where do I come at life?

Keeping the Faith

Having struggled with keeping the faith my whole life, I have found that the place that I thought was within me, the place where I start each day and go out into life is somewhere more reliably outside of me. I carry the light of faith within me. But God is holding onto it. I’m putting my faith in Him. I might not pay it more than a flicker of attention as my feet hit the floor each morning and I start each busy day, but it’s there, shining its light and waiting for me to call on it.

Rebellious Teenager

So I have come to this point in my life, having been raised in the Anglican Church by parents who thought it was the right thing to do to take their kids to church but who never openly questioned or encouraged questions about Faith and God. I turned into a bit of a rebellious teenager and left the church the moment my parents gave me an out: Grade 8 Sunday School Graduation. I figured I knew better and I wasn’t lookin’ back.

Signs

What I didn’t count on was that God was coming with me. No matter where I went, He was there. At first I didn’t notice. I was young and caught up in the excitement of life. But slowly, over time, I started to notice that when I was questioning life or when I was spending a moment in quiet contemplation wondering “where do I go from here?”, I’d get a sign. Sometimes subtly. Sometimes glaringly obvious. But a sign nonetheless. And if I had truly been without Faith, I never would have put any stock in those signs.

They were little things, like a call from my mom right when I needed to hear her voice; a morning dove (a reminder of my mother) cooing on a wire just outside my office when I was having a bad day; an article about spirituality in a magazine in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or my sudden, unexplained interest in quotes relating to spirituality. And of course, there were the songs on the radio; the songs filled with words that so neatly applied to the questions that I had about my Faith.

After these signs had been appearing for a while, it made me think that maybe I hadn’t left my Faith behind after all. But I didn’t want anyone to know that I believed in God. I was afraid I would be judged as “religious” and my friends would think I was trying to convert them or something. So I kept it to myself and talked to God sometimes when I was alone, usually in my car—and always with the radio on. And God kept sending me signs.

Like the time I was sitting at a stop light, waiting for the light to change and thinking about where my life was going and feeling a little sorry for myself that things weren’t as I wanted them to be and wondering where God was in all this. It was a cloudy day, which was definitely contributing to my grey mood. I realized that the radio wasn’t on for once and I thought some music might help me out of my slump, so I turned it on. The song that came on was Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. It was close to the end of the song and the chorus was playing. As I listened to the words Don’t Stop Believin’ being repeated on the radio, I noticed that the clouds had broken a little and there was a patch of blue sky with the most brilliant sunshine coming through, just in one spot. I looked through the windshield, chuckled up toward the sky, and said, “OK, God. You’ve got my attention. I get it. You’re there. I believe.”

I started thinking of these signs as God’s way of using his sense of humour to get to me. Turns out, He wasn’t so restrictive after all. He’s just a parent, trying to teach his children. And as I have learned since becoming a parent myself, the best way to get your children to do something is to make it fun and light-hearted. My kids rarely listen to me if I give them an order. But if I make it fun and make a joke about it, they laugh and then they do it. And they are happy to comply because they feel like they are part of a little inside joke or game. In the same way, God found a way to make me listen. He was sending me signs, using the things that I would connect with to reach out to me and speak to me on my level. He wasn’t expecting me to rise up to his level. And that realization was the beginning of my return to Faith.

The Universe, Vibes and Prayer

In my years away from God, looking for answers, I still believed in something. But I called it The Universe. It made sense to me before I had children. I read books and had discussions with everyone I knew about the Power of The Universe. God rarely factored into these conversations. I believed that if you sent vibes, positive or negative, out into The Universe, that’s what The Universe would hand back to you. It certainly made the case for being a positive force in the world in order for positivity to come back to me. But it felt lonely. It was me in a vast cosmic space; alone to set the mood and trajectory of my life. And looking back on that now, I see that what I was doing by sending out “vibes” was actually praying. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

And how do you explain the abstract concept of The Universe to children? Yes, it’s true, we don’t “see” God anymore than we can “touch” The Universe. But within our church family, with the people who share our faith, we hear stories about the ways that God is in our lives and in the lives of the people who came before us. And family is something that children innately understand.

Some years ago, before I had kids, when I thought what I was lacking was a sense of community and of family, I returned to the church that I grew up in. I signed on wholeheartedly to the experience. I went to church every Sunday. I prayed. I got involved with events and planning at the church. I even sat on the planning committee for the Credit Valley Area Ministry Day. But in everything that I did at that church, I didn’t feel blessed or worthy of the experience. I kind of felt like I was trying too hard and that faith shouldn’t be this hard; that it should come easily, more naturally. Though it was a good church in so many ways, being a part of that church was so much harder than my private chats with God on my way home in the car each day. Those conversations felt like Faith to me. That’s when and how I experienced God the most.

So, after some deliberation, I left the church again. But I didn’t leave my Faith behind this time. I took it with me. I just kept quiet about it. It was my private relationship with God.

Coming Back to Church

Several years later, I met my husband and we had our children. We tossed around the idea of taking them to church, but, despite my personal relationship with God, my head was still filled with thoughts of the restrictive, rule-laden church in which I was raised, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to bring my free-spirited children into that. So, we became a family who spent Sunday mornings cuddling in bed, enjoying a late breakfast together then heading to the park for some time in nature. But my husband and I kept coming back to the idea that Church, Religion, Community and Faith were things we needed in our lives.

It seemed that our lives were getting more complicated. We were getting busier and more stressed out, and there was no point in each week during which we could regroup. Sunday morning cuddle time had turned into chores and errand-running, usually separately with one parent taking one child and the other parent taking the other—something we called the “divide and conquer”. And though I felt compelled by something, perhaps my talks with God, to do something for my family’s spiritual well-being, I felt kind of powerless, too. And I attributed this powerlessness to fear. I was afraid to go to church, to take my kids to church. Afraid of it not working out, afraid of my kids misbehaving, afraid of not being able to answer the questions that my children would inevitably ask, and afraid of losing my personal relationship with God by making my Faith about attending an institution instead of being about spirituality.

But then the school shooting in Connecticut happened and it was clear to me and to my husband that, fear or not, we needed to pray. We needed a place to pray; a place where my children would learn to pray and to ask questions that mattered. We needed God, Faith and Spirituality in our lives.

That’s when we came to St. Philip’s. Walking through the doors of St. Philip’s on that December morning was like coming home.

The people, the building, God’s presence, the feeling of acceptance. It was like a second chance. I was so excited to be here with my husband and my children. And excitement is the only word that I have been able to find that perfectly describes the feeling that I had during those first few weeks at St. Philip’s. Whatever fear I felt seemed unfounded suddenly. Even the fear of bringing two rambunctious children into the peace and quiet that I was raised to believe permeated the very stone of every church.

Children are more open to spiritual possibility I think than adults are; likely because they have yet to be touched by the world outside. And far from losing my personal relationship with God, by bringing my children to church I have dug deeper into my faith and found myself comfortably at home in God’s love.

And I have gained a place from which I can go out into life each day and tackle it with the faith that God will be there to meet me.

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The name of the series was Speak What You Feel (Not What You Ought to Say)—Testimonies of Faith. It’s a series going on at my church right now that will see eight speakers participate and tell their stories about their Faith.