Feb 192016
 

I clean the bathroom on Thursdays unless it needs it otherwise. Call me crazy for leaving it a full week before doing it again but Thursday seems to be what works for our family so that’s what I do. This week though I have been feeling sick still from the flu I had last week. Exhaustion comes simply from thinking and naps have been a must for the past 10 days or so. I did clean the bathroom last week so I wasn’t really behind. Yet yesterday I just slept most of the day and had no energy so it got moved over to the to-do list for Friday.

Isn’t that how everyone wants to spend their Friday evening?

I woke up from my long nap around dinner time, everyone had eaten and I had no appetite yet again. I sat on the bed contemplating whether or not being awake was a good thing and I wondered how babies sleep in such awkward positions without being stiff. This extremely deep thought forced me to conclude that that is why babies cry -stiff joints after a good nap.

I pulled out my planner to see what I hadn’t done this week and the list was a mile long and the bathroom stood out to me like a sore thumb. After some deep Biblical talk (yes seriously) with myself about cleaning the bathroom to serve the Lord I got off my butt and went upstairs and used that highly toxic mint scented toilet bowl cleaner and wondered to myself how on earth getting cancer was godly, then, I noted that I am only going to use natural cleaners once that bottle is gone.

I removed everything from the counters and wiped away, got mold out of the window, finished with the 7 toothbrushes and toothpastes, refilled the soap dispenser and then pulled out my trusty and equally toxic Lysol wipes and quickly gave the outside of the toilet a once over. Then, it hit me.

I was cleaning the bathroom to serve God and my family BUT I wasn’t doing it with a servants heart. Revelation right there on the floor. I pulled out a few more wipes and torqued my body around the toilet and wiped it properly, I was actually pretty grossed out by how much my once over missed and continued to clean. This time while talking to God about how I need Him to continue to work in my heart to help me make the mundane into something that can bring Him glory. Yes, I want my toilet to shine, not just for me, but to show God how grateful I am to have a toilet to clean, a family to mess it up and the cleaning supplies to get the task done.

I grabbed the toilet brush and scrubbed away while humming some of my favorite worship songs and for the first time in awhile it felt like cleaning the bathroom wasn’t a chore, but a duty asked of me by God.

When I was done with that I cleaned the mirrors in the rest of the house that didn’t have a streak free shine despite having just been done, because I wanted them to sparkle for God instead of just being half-done or done incorrectly just so they could get a check mark. I swept the floor around the dog crates, put 2 gallons of water in the fish tank and wiped down their glass.

I am still behind on my chores for the week, but I am excited to be approaching them with the mindset that I am serving not only my family, but the One who has gifted me all that I have.

Growing up I often heard that cleanliness was next to Godliness, and while I don’t believe that to be true because we all have different standards and ideas of what clean is, I feel that God is moving in my heart to do the job to the best of my ability whether I am wiping up crumbs, scrubbing a toilet, or simply taking care of myself. He isn’t calling me to be perfect, He is calling me to serve.

Jan 292016
 

I look out the window and stare at the blank slate of snow covering the ground and weighing heavy on the tree branches. My mind floods with to-do’s for the day and my body aches to crawl back under the covers, out of the cold and into the comforting down. The kids didn’t have school today and the weather is finally warm at just below freezing.

I have spent the last few days sick with my stomach and have no energy left. Dehydration ravishing my body in ways that it hasn’t felt in over a year. The exchange rate is killing me, quite literally, because I can’t afford the products that restore my health.

I toss on an old maxi skirt that has seen better days, a hole on the seem down by my ankle and another from one of the dogs nails poking through on the other side. No one can see them, but I know they are there. My black and white skirt topped with a sky blue tee and my hair in a French braid. Am I really ready for today? I look the part but I certainly don’t feel it.

A quit run to the store for coconut milk and fruit coming home and having an English muffin with an egg, cheese and a cup of green tea. The desire to go back to bed possibly stronger than it had been when I had crawled out this morning. I pick up the dog and carry him upstairs to the bathroom and run the water. Keeping my foot in with him the whole time as I sit on the edge of the garden tub and I am grateful for the wide edge to sit on comfortably.

I lather him up and rinse, and then I repeat for good measure. Stimulating his hair follicles through massage in an attempt to help him grow back his hair. He doesn’t fight it. The warm water feels good and when he is done I lift him out and swaddle the little man in a towel like I did my own children way back when. As he shakes off the towel and then shakes off the wet I give the tub a quick scrub and a rinse of it’s own.

The blue sky replaced by cloudy grey and snow turning into slush falling from the sky adding more to the piles that are already several feet deep. A fresh cup of tea waiting for me and even though the day was more than mundane- I can’t help but count the blessings, the dog not fighting his bath, the tub being accommodating to sit on, the beauty of freshly blanketed earth and the stark contrast of the red car peeking through it’s white covering, watching TV with a daughter, watching the dogs play, and of course, plenty of opportunity to pray.

It amazes me how handing it all to God brings new energy and life to an otherwise blah day.

As I snuggle down into my warm bed again and wear my pj’s I think of a hot shower and an early night.

Jan 202016
 

Standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes while my girl reads to me the lost chapter she is writing for The Giver for her English class and I can’t help but think how much like me she really is. Only, this sweet child doesn’t know how to type very well and is growing increasingly frustrated because her typing isn’t able to stay caught up to the story in her head, giving her a case of writers’ block, which, I am definitely familiar with. I put the last dish to dry and wiped my hands and went and sat beside her at the table and read what she had, her paragraph cut short mid-way through and her having no clue where she was going with that thought because typing had hindered her.

I lean in close and she pushes her computer over to me and the story springs back to life, only this time my fingers are the ones bouncing up and down off the keys and she says to me with a bit of amazement in her voice “how do you type like that?” and she leans down real close with her face nearly on the table and her eyes staring horizontal across my fingers as they tap away and she watches me type, like she had never seen me do it in the 13 years she has walked this jagged line.

Within a few minutes her story is complete and she is proof-reading it, looking for spelling and grammar mistakes before I transfer it to my computer where software will do that. She edited away like she had done it a thousand times and deleted the odd sentence or paragraph that didn’t really make much sense and then I transferred it over to my laptop for a run through the software and to print.

I have been doing a lot of dishes lately. Yeah I know, I am a mom and that’s what we all say. But really, my mom normally does the washing up but I have been doing it the past month or so. There are a couple of reasons, one being that I really hate having dirty dishes in the sink and beggars can’t be choosers… I absolutely hate having to clean the sink to grab a glass of water or to fill the kettle but a family of five does that to you, even with a dishwasher, so I have been purposing to stay on top of the dishes just so I can save my sanity.

But you see something happened when I started doing the dishes. The girl child, she started sitting at the table while I do them. She comes out of her room and sits and chats, about everything and anything and that is the BEST REASON EVER to do dishes! She puts things away for me too which is also helpful, but praise the Good Lord for the 20 minutes a few times a day that she comes out and is simply with me. I enjoy our time together. I had no clue that we would grow our relationship over dirty dishes. Had I known, I would have started doing them more often a long time ago!

I am definitely a mom in the minority when it comes to having her kids do chores. They don’t have any designated chores. Why? Because they go to school from 8-4 and have homework when they get in and I don’t work outside the home and I would rather my children go to bed at a decent hour and worry less about chores and more about getting a good education, focusing on their grades. They help when they are asked and they often offer, which is fun because I get to see where they really enjoy doing things and where they don’t.

If my kids had chores I wouldn’t know that my son likes to work outside with my dad, especially when it comes to working on the tractor or anything with tools. I wouldn’t know that my daughter likes to cook, especially for me, and that she has a servants’ heart and takes great care in the things she prepares and how they look and taste, because once it becomes a chore, we treat it like a chore and school is a big enough chore for them right now and I absolutely love seeing what they have created or found while doing what they truly enjoy.

FYI my daughter is a bit OCD and does her own laundry on weekends and puts it away. Her bed is either completely unmade without a bottom sheet or made to the point you are scared to wrinkle it. My son is not a clean freak and is quite messy. He needs help cleaning his room and getting those types of things done because he has no clue how to even start, but if you say a wall needs built he’s in there like a dirty old sock (is that still a saying?) ready to help out!

I am so blessed to see some of the Proverbs 31 woman come out in me and to be able to, prayerfully, be a good influence to my children.

My daughter said tonight that her favorite song is inappropriate and my response was “sin is often easier, but it isn’t better.” I left her to think on that. Maybe we all need to think on that.

Jan 172016
 

Sitting at the dining table reading old Robert Munsch books with my daughter who is 13 and laughing at how silly the stories really are and enjoying the moments and having fun with crazy voices and her reading to me like she was 3 again instead of a young lady who found some old books while cleaning her room without needing to be asked.

I realize how much I miss her. I mean, I see her everyday. I see both the kids everyday, after all, I am their mom and we do live together, but we also live with my parents and in a lot of ways I often feel robbed of being “mom” so when these days come they are bittersweet, reminding me of the past and of what I am missing out on in the daily because we really are a family of five with 3 adults instead of a mama and her two kids.

It really is in the mundane that I find the most joy. So many people think I am boring. Maybe I am. No, I definitely am. The highlight of my day today was battling the cupboard to fit the mixing bowls in because my mom seems to be addicted to them and has like 30. It was mixing bowl Tetris here and when I couldn’t figure it out my daughter climbed up on the chair and took on the challenge until those bowls fit, and we laughed.

We laughed while I was on the floor cleaning behind the toilet. We laughed while dishes were being done. We laughed while eating dinner that my brother lovingly bought and brought over to us in the minus 40 cold. We laughed while sweeping when the pile got dropped after meticulously getting it all into the dust pan. We giggled while watching movies past bedtime and found that there simply is NO cupcake emoticon to be found, and my daughter pointed out that if you put a cup and a slice of cake together you get a cupcake.

So maybe, life isn’t perfect. No actually it definitely isn’t perfect. BUT, it is glorious and exactly how it should be. God is amazing and His presence is always known. I could have counted 1000 things today to add to my Joy Dare, my One Thousand Gifts.

I am blessed to be a mama. Blessed to have a bathroom to clean, laundry to do, dishes in the sink, too many bowls, and love beyond measure. Even that dog who talks back and argues over his need for a bone is a blessing that must be counted.

I am grateful for today, yesterday and for whatever tomorrow brings. And, when things need a little bit of color we have a purple vacuum upstairs and a pink one down, because life should be fun, regardless of what we are actually doing! God is good everyday and everyday God is good!!

Dec 102015
 

They say to pause and reflect and at this time of year that can certainly be a lot more difficult. With shopping and kids and accidents and trying to find time to eat and write and all of that normally fun stuff.

As some of you may know, Ann Voskamp’s book literally changed my life. I mean literally. I was often suicidal and felt like I had no direction and that God had no direction for me. Then I started counting those gifts and what a world of a difference!! Looking for the gifts is easy for a day or so but after that it becomes a little bit more than difficult. Yet I still count on.

I have reached over a thousand gifts again this year and right now I take time to pause and reflect each night as I get snuggled into bed and write out the gifts from the day in my journal. It is so fun to see those gifts adding up. So amazing to know that even when I am physically assaulted by pain that God is blessing me with so much!

This has also shown me that it is NOT God who assails me, but Satan. God only wants good for me. While we all face trials He encourages growth. So instead of moping around because I am in pain it is a lot easier to look up to God and sing a worship song (off key) or simply ask Him “what would You like me to learn from this Father?”

His answer normally is empathy. Learn empathy.

Not that I am someone who is cruel or whatever, its actually quite the opposite, however I used to feel sympathy and sympathy really doesn’t help encourage anyone. But empathy does. I can relate to the girl who was beaten or raped and I can relate to the pain patient, the struggle with finding good doctors and proper medications and I can relate to dealing with a disease that won’t be going away. This gives me perspective and when I get the chance to hear a friend complain or feel useless my empathy can kick in, I can reflect on my own experience and do my best to encourage her from my own experience and my own prayer.

We are all different. Yet God is ALWAYS the same!

Dec 072015
 

Yeah, it’s already week two on the countdown to Jesus, God with skin on. We lit the Peace candle and the light grows strong and excitement and joy over what comes next grows.

Mary heavily pregnant with the messiah inside, kicking her ribs and tickling her sides. Following her husband dutifully to Bethlehem.

I wonder what she was thinking and how she felt. Knowing that she was carrying the Son of Man.

Was she scared every time she didn’t feel the baby move, did her ankles swell and ache? Was she excited to get the pregnancy over or did she want to keep Him safe inside forever.

As mama’s we deal with so much through a pregnancy from wondering what our baby will wear and how we will afford diapers to fears of miscarriage, stillborn, a disability, SIDS. We worry. We wonder if we will find out the sex and if we should tell if we do. Yet beautiful, young Mary knew!

She knew before the first flutter kicks that she was carrying a child. She knew it was a boy! She knew what His name would be. She knew that the world would forever be changed but surely had no idea to what degree. She expected to have a healthy baby because He was the Son of God. All of the things we consider while pregnant she knew and so did Joseph. And they didn’t need an ultrasound or some sort of techie gear to reassure her that everything was going just right.

So imagine the shock, the momentary fear, when her water broke and contractions came hard and she had nowhere to rest, nowhere to lay her child’s head. Imagine wondering if you could properly parent Jesus?!

The world contracted too while she struggled to catch her breath. The stars aligned to announce the coming of the King. The angels came and began to sing. The nations heard of this boy-child who would be king and began to slaughter every little boy forcing them to run and protect the only true innocent One.

There is a reason that we look to Mother Mary and strive to protect, defend, and be grace-filled as we chug along praying for the best.

And prophesy of old was fulfilled because out of the stump of Jesse grew a shoot and that shoot did in fact bear fruit –Jesus!

Nov 262015
 

Today in the USA people from corner to corner sat around table’s big and small enjoying family and friends and good eats. Up here in Canada we did this in October which is equally as fun, though I will say the emphasis seems to be a lot more on family and friends than on the sales the day after. I mean, I get wanting to save money but there is more to this day than the sale on Friday.

They say that Thanksgiving was started with Pilgrims and Indians and all of that Jazz but really, from my perspective as a Christian, I see Thanksgiving beginning at that famous table that da Vinci painted of the last supper. Where Jesus and friends are passing bread and sharing wine. Where the Bible tells us about the upcoming crucifixion and the prophesies that will be fulfilled.

Jesus gave thanks. He sat or stood or did whatever Jesus did and He gave thanks to God the Father, teaching us to give thanks in all things, in all ways, always.

I would love to see more Jesus around the table and less shopping. And any shopping to be done with Jesus in mind. How about supporting Compassion, World Vision, Gospel for Asia, shopping fair trade and supporting the stay at home mama’s who are working from home with their home businesses. Like myself, Plexus is an awesome product that has given people health back, then we have the wonderful Mama’s (and wives) who are selling Avon, Scentsy and so many other amazing and GREAT products that support the seller instead of the billionaire chain store.

Did you know that for 30 dollars you can give medication to 10 children who are at risk of dying from preventable diseases? Did you know that for a couple hundred dollars you could buy livestock for a family so they can not only eat but make money? Did you know that while we sip on coffee and eggnog and all sorts of beverages there are millions of people who are dying, literally -for a single sip of something safe?

So let’s take our Thanks and GIVE because we need to be giving in order to truly receive the bounty of the Holy Spirit. All because Jesus mindfully spoke words of thanks around that table all those years ago!

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