Friday, May 17, 2013
Recently the youth group I help lead got to hear a guest speaker talking about his work as an aviator missionary in Mongolia. It was very interesting to hear about the various flights he has made as well as about the culture of the country he serves in.
After his talk, there was a question and answer period, and he was asked about the church in Mongolia, and if there is anything the North American church could learn from them.
He said in Mongolia the church has no denominations. He said we could learn to put aside our differences and focus on what unifies us - the gospel, loving people.
No denominations. I can barely imagine what it is like to have no denominations. I never really considered that outside of North America there are places where the Church does not experience the same fragmentation that we do here. I am so used to being divided by secondary issues, that it truly surprised me to think about a Christian community that does not define itself by the details of what it believes outside of Christ.
All of this made me me think of a quote I read in The Good and Beautiful Community by James Bryan Smith. He writes, "We simply must not divide over things we cannot fully understand. Especially in light of the fact that what we can understand, what is not a murky mystery but a blinding truth, is something we can all agree on: Jesus is Lord! If your heart beats in love for Jesus, then take my hand and we will walk together in fellowship." Our differences of opinion on the things we can only partially understand do not override our unity on the one essential thing we do understand. Again Smith says, "If you do not look, act, worship or believe as I do, but your heart beats in love for Jesus, then regardless of our differences, we can and must have fellowship with one another."
What does it look like to have fellowship with one another, regardless of non-essential beliefs? It would not be merely putting up with each other. It would mean genuinely having community with each other - love, growth, mutual grace and taking care of one another. It would mean understanding that there are a diverse number of ways to faithfully follow Christ. It would mean being humble enough to recognize that my own understanding of Scripture and of who God is, is still just a best attempt at truly seeing the truth, and that we have a more complete picture together.
I looked up the word fellowship, and one of the things I found was that it is directly related to the words communion and community. If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are in community with every other follower of Jesus. We are united around Christ, around His grace and love. We are united around the sacrifice He made which broke his body and shed his blood for our redemption. We are united around the table, around remembering and celebrating Christ. We are a diverse, beautiful group of people that have fellowship based on Jesus Christ alone.
If your heart beats in love for Jesus, then take my hand and we will walk together in fellowship
Monday, May 13, 2013
This morning I am feeling grateful that I was able to celebrate Mothers Day yesterday for the first time as a Mom. It has been great to celebrate my Mom in the past as a daughter, but now I'm also one of the ones being celebrated. This past ten months has been a wild ride but so full of laughter, fun and love. It's something you can never go back from. No matter where life leads now, I will always be a mother.
One thing I have been contemplating leading up to Mothers Day is that motherhood inevitably includes both joy and scars. The joy comes in millions of moments like your first ultrasound, holding your baby for the first time, a first year filled with many firsts - smiling, rolling, crawling, walking. There is joy in watching your children grow, develop their own personality and identity, learning and becoming amazing people along the way. The joyful moments are plenty, but there are also moments that cause scars.
For some, motherhood includes the scars of waiting, longing, and even losing.
There are the physical scars of growing, stretching and giving birth.
There are life changes and personal sacrifices that can never fully be anticipated.
There are heart battle wounds from needing to discipline your child, from watching them make mistakes and get hurt, and from moving from being their closest companion to seeing them be embarrassed by you in front of their friends.
There are the bittersweet mile markers of a life-long process of your child becoming an independent adult that include everything from taking your child to daycare to helping them move out after high school to watching them start a life of their own.
Being a mother is a beautiful thing. But even in my first year of it there has been both joy and pain, both memories that I will cherish all my life and scars that will always be a part of who I now am.
So whether you have given birth to a child, raised a child or even just longed for a child, Happy Mothers Day! Be aware of God's presence with you through all the moments motherhood brings.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
For me, I follow a few of my favourite writers, speakers and bakers as they share their thoughts via blogs, facebook and twitter. If Don Miller has a thought he would like to share, I can know about it within minutes. When Michael Hyatt posts a blog that impacts me, I can not only read it but comment and engage in the community discussion that the post creates. I have heard of others who have built relationships with such online mentors, even growing to the point of sharing guest posts on their websites or collaborating on projects together through this online connection.
On a couple occasions I have even had writers respond directly to me when I have commented on their blogs. There is something about knowing that they read my comment and replied themselves that is really exciting to me. Yes, this might make me a nerd. I'm ok with that.
However, in all of this one thing I am learning is that those that I consider celebrities are still just people. They share their thoughts on things they love and are excited about, and attract like-minded people. They are well known and successful but still probably find the most satisfaction in being loved by family and spending time with good friends. They make mistakes, get tired or frustrated, and on occasion have to deal with the shadow side of their lives within their online community too.
I do get excited about the idea of connecting with deep theological thinkers, creative writers, and leaders in various areas of life. I will continue engaging with these people at the level that I am able, and enjoying my occasional online brushes with fame. But the reality is I most likely still will not become their friends, or meet them face to face. And that's ok.
In his song Whom Shall I Fear, Chris Tomlin wrote the line, "The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine. The God of angel armies is always by my side." This blows my excitement about blog post comments out of the water. Forget about fame and celebrity status. Forget about being well known for writing transformational books or baking decadent new treats. The Creator of all people, all beauty, all love knows me. He doesn't just read my comments. He doesn't just know about me. He knows me intimately and is with me. He loves me and invites me to walk every day in His presence. He is not a celebrity but the King of kings, and I am His!
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I have to admit, when I woke up this morning and saw the ground dusted with snow, and more of it falling from the sky, my first thoughts were not happy or grateful. No, they were more along the lines of - how much more of this can we take? I am completely ready for spring. Ready to be able to walk outside without boots and a toque. Ready to teach my girl about grass and bugs and sun protection!
However, it quickly dawned on me that even though it is snowing, I am safe and warm inside my home, and I still have plenty to be thankful for today. So this is an exercise in choosing to be grateful and filled with joy rather than focusing on the negative.
Today I am thankful for...
- My home. That we are not homeless or nomads, needing to endure the elements all day and night. I am thankful to be inside and warm
- My family. My husband and daughter are sources of joy that do not leave me whatever the season
- Maternity Leave. Today I am thankful to live in a country that allows me to be home for a year with my baby. It is such a huge blessing.
- God's presence. That he comes alongside me when I'm being drawn to a bad attitude, and guides me to His love and joy.
- The promise of Spring. Even though it's snowing in April, it is still April!
What are you thankful for today?
Monday, April 8, 2013
A haven is a peaceful place in the midst of danger. A dry place to find cover from the pouring rain. A safe place to be vulnerable. A loving place to be truly yourself. It is where you set out from and where you return to. Where you are strengthened and embraced.
As a wife and mother, I love the idea of viewing our home as a haven, and viewing one of my roles in our family as creating and maintaining that safe environment. Our daughter is still in a stage where she does not often leave our care. I hope that at this point her entire awareness is love, comfort and being taken care of. So as I have been thinking about how I can make my home a haven, I have primarily been thinking about how to do this for my husband. Right now I am on maternity leave and Kevin is working full time.When I do go back to work, I am thankful my job is one I can easily leave at work. Kevin's primary work is in a ministry position that requires him to invest not only his time, but his heart as well. He holds a position with more responsibility and weight to it. It is good, and it is tiring. I love the idea of being intentional about making our home a haven for him to come home to. I have spent some time thinking of a few things I can do to make our home a haven for Kevin.
First of all, I can take care of him. Do the daily life things that make him feel cared for. Make a tasty, healthy meal at the end of the day. Keep his clothes clean and dry. Take the few moments it takes to tidy the house before he gets home. Buy the groceries and bake the treats. And I have been learning more and more to do these things without asking for his opinion. He can truly feel at home and relax when these things are taken care of for him.
Next, I can share his burdens. Listen, without talking. Let him share his heart and help him figure things out. Be his sounding board. Support him through hard days and tough decisions. Recognize the responsibilities he has, the pressure he is under, and be the woman he comes home to when he needs to let it all out. Be his wife, his best friend, his confidante. Be trustworthy.
Finally, I can love him unconditionally. This includes all of the above and so much more. Make him feel noticed. Have fun and laugh. Hug and kiss. Let him be himself and make sure he knows he is accepted just as he is. Be aware of his needs and purpose to meet them out of love, not duty. Spend time with him. Make him aware of how you feel about him.
These ideas are really just an attempt to put words to a heart attitude. Is being a wife simply my half of a marriage contract that means cooking, cleaning and taking care of children? Or is being a wife a sacred privilege in which I get to uphold this man I love in both simple and significant ways? I want my husband to feel strengthened when he sets out each morning, and embraced when he returns home each day. I want him to feel our home is his haven.
I would love to hear your thoughts. If you are a wife or mother, or even if you just think about how you can make a haven for yourself, please feel free to leave a comment.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Up until a few weeks ago, if someone had asked me what my earliest memory is, I have a handful of memories from around age five that immediately come to mind. I remember being in church at an evening service as a small child, lying down in the pew and watching the pastor talking. I remember lying on the floor after jumping off the stairs, which resulted in a broken arm. I remember a birthday party when my birthday cake was a barbie doll in a princess dress.
However, recently my mom gave me this amazing scrapbook she had complied throughout my childhood that detailed each year of school from pre-school until high school graduation. There were class pictures, newspaper clippings, drawings I had done, and details recorded of what teachers I had, what girls I was friends with, big events from that year. It was so fun to look through this book at a mini-version of myself and remember things that I haven't thought about in years. One fun thing that happened while I was looking at this scrapbook was that I recalled a memory that would have been earlier than all the other "first" memories I could have listed before. I very distinctly remember being in preschool, sitting at the table and finger painting with chocolate pudding. I would have been either three or four years old at the time. I have a new earliest memory!
I have always considered myself someone who has a poor memory and have often had trouble remembering lots of things from my childhood. And often when I do try to remember, I remember the bad memories way faster than the good memories. The friends who hurt me, the struggle of being a chubby kid, the months of bullying, the boys I liked who didn't like me back. The reality is, many things that happened in childhood are what produced wounds in my heart and emotional struggles for me as an adult. Perhaps it is not that I have a bad memory, but that something inside me feels it is easier not to remember.
But throughout the days after looking through this book, literally dozens, if not hundreds, of happy memories resurfaced from my childhood. Playing with the water toys outside in my primary grades, going trick or treating with my best friends, different class projects and field trips, family vacations, church kids group sleep-overs, Easter breakfasts, Christmas traditions, singing as a family and on and on. It felt good to remember.
From a few different sources I have been learning that there is a much better alternative to trying to repress painful or hurtful memories. As with me, often if we try to block out the pain of our past, we block out the joy and grace in our past as well. Instead of doing this we can bear honest witness to those memories and then take them to Jesus and let Him redeem them. Jesus is not shocked by our past. He not only knows it already, but was with us through every moment. I have deeply appreciated being able to remember those moments that caused emotional scars and ask Jesus to reveal how He was present with me in those moments. Even better, I have loved releasing that pain to Him and letting him redeem those memories.
I find myself in a new place lately where I can think back and embrace both the fun memories of childhood and the hurtful ones with openness and grace. I do not have to distance myself from my past, but know that Jesus was present then, is with me now, and will continue walking with me as I move forward.
What is your earliest memory? How have you dealt with memories that cause you pain?
Thursday, February 21, 2013
A song I heard recently described God as the Everlasting Day. This struck a chord very deep within me. No night, ever again. Just glorious, unending day and day and day.
In the Bible, Revelation talks about just this in 21:23 "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." In the future kingdom of God, there will be no more night just beautiful day illuminated by Gods glory. But we're not there yet, are we? Well, yes and no.
In this life we experience both night and day. Literally and figuratively. Each 24 hours brings once again the setting of the sun and the world plunged into darkness. We obviously still have night. And we can also go through moments or seasons that are marked by pain or confusion or bewilderment that it feels internally like the pitch black of night. Darkness and night are marked by fear, blindness, sorrow and long hours of unanswered questions. We do not always feel awake, alive, or lit up in life. Sometimes we want to hide in the dark, want to find a corner to curl up in where no one can see us, comfort us or question us. We feel the pull to succumb to the night. And sometimes the night feels long. If you have ever woken from a bad dream in the night and not been able to sleep, sunrise feels very far away. In the same way, if you have had to endure a particularly painful and dark time in your life, the hope associated with day could not feel further from you. So do we just wait for the distant someday when we will be in this everlasting day?
2 Corinthians 4:6 says, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ." The everlasting day resides inside of us if we have made Christ Lord. Christ's Spirit inside of us gives us a taste of that everlasting day.
We also need to remember that even in our dark moments God, who is light, is present with us. Even in our grief, our fear, our anger, our confusion, the times that we cannot see anything because we are in the dark, God is not in the dark. Psalm 139:11-12 says, "If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."
I remember one time I had a really rough night where I was plagued by fear so strong it gripped my heart and I felt desperate, alone and without hope. There was a time in my life where this was more common, especially in the dark of night. Early the next morning, I was sitting in the living room by a large window as the sun came up. The physical presence of light broke into my dark place and melted my fear. I remember that being one of the sweetest moments, feeling wrapped tight in God's loving arms. He hadn't left me for a moment, he could see through the darkness that I experienced. But the light brought with it an awareness for me of His presence. Now I know that this same light and hope live inside me, so that even in the darkest moments, I do not need to fear. The Everlasting Day is with me.
Feel free to leave a comment sharing what you think or what you have experienced...