Do For One

DO-ONE-THING2Our Pastor challenged us a couple of weeks ago to think differently about missions.  No sooner has Canadian Thanksgiving passed that I am already seeing Christmas decorations up in the stores, and a few of our neighbours are already putting up their Christmas lights.  As has been the case since my children were very little, I am getting ready to fill Samaritan Purse shoeboxes and the call is already out there to help families in need by donating warm jackets and filling up Christmas hampers.  This past Sunday, our church was the drop off centre for food donations for our quarterly community food drive.  A community-wide event that sees tons and tons of food donated to fill the shelves of our local food bank.  I have been privileged to be a volunteer at many of these food drives and I am always overwhelmed by the generosity of neighbour helping neighbour.  Still, I am always left with a feeling that we could do more!

For several years our family “adopted” a World Vision child.  It was an opportunity for our children to see for themselves what “love in action” is all about, but we were often overwhelmed by how many children were so needy and we could only help one.  In fact, if I am being honest, the need is always so great for so many that instead of driving me to action, I am paralyzed instead.  How can I possibly help so many all by myself?

So I do nothing.

The same holds true for sharing my faith.  I live in a community of about 20,000 people.  It’s a “small” town, but still plenty big enough that I probably only interact with less than 1% of those people.  Statistics say that one in four of those people in my community believe in God, (not necessarily Jesus).  They profess a faith, but it could be any “variety” of faith.  I drive down the Big Hill and look over my small town and think, “How can we possibly reach all these people with the Good News of Jesus Christ?”  The task is so daunting I feel overwhelmed so I do nothing.

Each year I receive dozens of calls from community and social groups who are seeking funds to help them meet the needs of people who are struggling year round: Crisis Pregnancy Care Centres, Canadian Cancer Society, Missing Children Society, Easter Seals, Global Response Disaster Relief, Red Cross…the list is endless.  I want to support them all, but I get immobilized with indecision so I do nothing.

That’s why I was so impacted by our Pastor’s message a few weeks back.  He said, “Do for ONE what you would like to do for many!”  Andy Stanley has spoken specifically on this topic and I’d encourage you to watch a message that Stanley gave on this entitled, “One, Not Everyone.”  The idea is to focus your attention on ONE person at a time.  It’s interesting how that aligns so well with what Jesus did so often in His ministry.  He helped one person at a time…the woman at the well, Nicodemus, Jairus’ daughter, blind Bartimaeus.  Oh sure, He also fed five thousand (and more), but Jesus can do that sort of thing…I can’t…but I can learn from His example to talk to and help ONE person and do for ONE, what I would like to do for many.

How about you?  Will you do for ONE what you would like to do for many?  Choose ONE person this week and buy them a cup of coffee, or babysit for a new Mom, or visit someone in the hospital, or write an encouraging note to a friend…

Choose ONE charity this Christmas and support it financially or through volunteering your time.

Choose ONE person and tell them how much God loves them!

Do for ONE this week!

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Thanksgiving

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada.

“The date and location of the first Thanksgiving celebration is a topic of modest contention.  The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean.  Frobisher’s Thanksgiving was not for harvest but homecoming.  He had safely returned from a search for the Northwest Passage, avoiding the later fate of Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin.  In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving the long journey.  French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 1600s also took to celebrating their successful harvests. They even shared their food with the indigenous people of the area as well as setting up what became known as the “Order of Good Cheer.”  As many more settlers arrived in Canada, more celebrations of good harvest became common. New immigrants into the country, such as the Irish, Scottish, Germans would also add their own harvest traditions to the harvest celebrations.  Most of the American aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey) were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada.

The traditional origin point for Thanksgiving in the United States is the celebration that occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621.  The Plymouth celebration occurred early in the history of what would become one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States.  This Thanksgiving, modeled after celebrations that were commonplace in contemporary Europe, is generally regarded as America’s first….

Thanksgiving in Canada did not have a fixed date until the late 19th Century, when it was typically held on November 6th.  After the end of World War I, Thanksgiving Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies were usually held during the same week.  To avoid the two holidays from clashing with one another, in 1957 the Canadian Parliament proclaimed Thanksgiving to be observed on it’s present date.

Thanksgiving in the United States had typically been observed on different dates throughout history.  It would not be until December 26th, 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving fixed to it’s current date.  Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and on the second Monday of October in Canada.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving

Enough of the history lesson….

Second only to Christmas, I go a bit overboard with house decorating for Thanksgiving.  I scatter (fake) fall leaves liberally around the house, and fall colours of red, gold and orange are seen everywhere.  In our home, Thanksgiving is a time of celebration, tradition, and remembering God’s goodness to us over the past year.  I usually cook up a big turkey with stuffing, gravy, caramel potatoes, sweet and sour red cabbage, some mixed veggies, fresh dinner rolls and of course pumpkin pie for dessert.  Over the years my son-in-law has added to the menu by making yams (with marshmallows).  Yummmm!

With a grateful heart, I can come to the thanksgiving banquet and rejoice in His goodness to me and my family…

…But I was reminded the other day that being thankful is a choice.

It is easy to praise and thank God when for the most part everything is going so well in our lives.  It is far more difficult, but I would say far more honouring to God, when we can praise Him and give thanks to Him when life is frought with challenges and struggle.

Through all the trials and tribulations of this past year GOD IS SO GOOD.  We can praise Him wholeheartedly.  We have chosen to be “thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5: 18).

I am reminded in Philippians 2: 14-16 to  “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…”  I hope we will look back on this past year and be able to say that we were able to “shine” in the face of adversity.

No matter what your circumstance may be at this time, choose to be thankful.

“Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19- 20)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

My husband has a favorite expression that he likes to repeat, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” and then he adds, “Everything is small stuff” and then I always tack on, “In God’sPhil. 4. 6-7 eyes.”

How true!  When I am unable, He is able.  When I am weak, He is strong.  When I feel burdened I need only to cast my burdens on Him.  God can handle anything, why is it then that I continue to worry and fret?

My children would call it a “Mom thing” to worry.  Perhaps they are right.  It’s my perogative to wonder and worry about them especially when they have a car and can go wherever they like.  I have great kids.  I trust my kids (although sometimes they doubt that when I am constantly grilling them the “who, what, where” questions.)  I thought I’d worry less now that they are not living under my roof any longer.  I was wrong.  I think about them constantly and pray they are remembering all the things we tried to teach them as they were growing up.  When I know they are struggling, I want to rush in and “save” them, but I’m reminded time and time again that it’s not up to me to do that.  They have to make their own way and they have to discover for themselves how they fit into God’s story.  Still I worry.  It’s a “mom thing”.

My husband is calm and composed, if he worries, he seldom shows it.  I know his burdens because he shares them with me.  Perhaps he knows that I will worry enough for the both of us so he doesn’t need to.  Maybe that’s a “wife thing”.

Philippians 4: 6-7 has always been a worrisome scripture for me. : “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   Yeah, I said it,… “worrisome”!  I’m worrying over a scripture that says “do not be anxious”…that’s definitely a “Lynn thing”!

But it does worry me because try as I might to NOT worry, I still do!  The Gospels outline several circumstances in Jesus’ life where He was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled”…in other words, Jesus worried!  John 11:33 (after Lazarus’ death); Matthew 26:36-38, and Mark 14:32-34 (in the Garden of Gethsemane); John 12:27 (after Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem) and John 13:21(The Last Supper).  Especially the Gospel of John, chapters 11-13, is like a “trilogy of trouble” for Jesus, from the death of his beloved friend Lazarus, the plot to kill Jesus, Jesus’ predicting His own death, predicting His own betrayal and predicting that Peter would deny Him,  Jesus had good reason to be troubled (worried).  Yet amazingly the opening line of John 14 Jesus speaks these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”   Wow!

In His humanity Jesus did worry but unlike most humans He did not let worry overwhelm Him.  He did not run away or avoid a troubling or worrisome experience.  He faced the experience with boldness and courage even though He knew that He would suffer great pain and even death.  Jesus was focused.  He knew that the worries of this world would be shortlived and His eyes were fixed on eternity.  When He was troubled, He practiced what He preached: He made his requests known to His Father through prayer and thanksgiving and He was comforted and at peace.

I can’t help but think on the lyrics of this great hymn today:

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”

I won’t sweat the small stuff because I know everything is small stuff in God’s eyes.

Empty Nesting – Week 6 – Friday Funnies

Since becoming an Empty Nester I have discovered a few things that are very different than when my kids lived at home:Zombie minion

1.  I don’t close the door when I use the bathroom anymore.

2.  I talk to myself (a lot more than I did before).

3.  I sleep in.  (Okay, to clarify I don’t sleep well at night, but make up for it in the morning.)  Wait…hmmmm, there may be a correlation there…?

4.  I talk to the dog more.

5.  I vacuum and dust my house.  Yeah, seriously!  And I (gasp) enjoy it, because the house doesn’t get messed up immediately after.

6.  I talk to my plants…particularly disturbing because they’re all artificial.

7.  I plan meals that my husband and I enjoy without thinking about our children’s bizarre food likes and dislikes.

8.  I talk to my dog more when I’m in the bathroom.  (Hmmmm, must be another correlation with having the door open so the dog follows me everywhere.)

9.  I don’t look at clocks as much.  My schedule is simple and my calendar is open.

10.  I have uninterrupted time to read and write more.

11.  I experiment with recipes I’ve found on Facebook or Pinterest without having a critical audience discourage me when I fail.

12.  We have control over the remote…but mostly to avoid commercials, we’re watching shows our kids have recommended to us on Netflix.

13.  My husband and I can have a date night every night if we want to…except we are so addicted to “Walking Dead” on Netflix that we can’t pry ourselves away from Zombie Apocalypse long enough to have a candlelit dinner together without freaking out about what may be lurking in the dark……

14.  I have never been as interested in Zombies as I am now.  In fact, while doing some research on the topic, I wonder if this verse confirms an upcoming Zombie Apocalypse? “Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth.  It will come about in that day that a great panic from the Lord will fall on them; and they will seize one another’s hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another.”  Zechariah 14:12-13

15.  I really have way too much time on my hands, I have to stop talking to the dog, and I really do need to get more sleep……………

Empty Nesting – Week 5

pray-for-future-kids“This I learned from the shadow of the tree, your shadowself (influence), will fall where you can never be.” (Author Unknown)

You always hope as a parent that when your children are away from you, they are remembering the lessons you’ve tried to teach them while they were growing up.  You pray that they will make good choices and not post pictures on Facebook when they’re making poor choices…just sayin’ :(

You pray that they will follow hard after God, not because we tell them to, but because they have seen Him work in their own lives and they know He is faithful.  You want them to find their own way with God.  They need to experience Him all on their own!

It’s a tough go for many of these “fledglings” leaving the nest.  Having to make their own way, making their own decisions, trying to find a balance between wanting to hang out with friends until the wee hours (because they don’t have the same parental curfews anymore), and then having the sustained stamina to get up for classes or work the next day.  They must learn how to eat well and not subsist on fast food.  They have to learn how to budget, pay bills and still have money to go to the movies once in a while.  They have to discover which friends build them up, and which friends drag them down and they must be willing to let go of all those past and future relationships that are not healthy or God-honouring.  Yep, it’s a brave new world for those young people.

Week Five of being an Empty Nester has not been so much about my husband and I being alone in the house and discovering life just the two of us, but it has been primarily about spending concerted, directed prayer beseeching the Father to intervene in the lives of our children more than we’ve ever done in our lives.  We have prayed since their birth that they would seek out and serve God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength and love Him with all their heart.  We have prayed that they would find good friends who would journey with them through life, with mutual respect and admiration; friends who would love them even when they were at times unloveable.

We have prayed for their future spouses.  Prayed that our children would find Godly partners one day; for our daughters that their future husbands would be willing and able to provide the spiritual leadership within the home and for our son, that his wife would be a “Prov. 31″ woman with a tenderness towards God, our son and to their future children.  We have prayed especially that our children would stay pure and understand fully that “true love does wait”.

This week, each of my children have struggled or had a challenge to overcome in some way and they have sought us out either to rant, complain, ask advice, or just to talk.  I have worn many hats this week: nurse, teacher, doctor, lawyer, counsellor…but mostly a prayer warrior standing in the gap for each of my children.

God is in control.  Amen.

 

 

 

Urgent Prayer Request – Blackaby

UPDATE and Prayer Request:  Richard Blackaby (Henry’s eldest son) is asking for continued prayer for his father:

“Quadruple bypass surgery on Tuesday. (Sept. 24) 70-100% blockages. Possible earlier heart attack. He has been empowered by God!”

UPDATE and PRAISE ! 

The Blackaby family would like everyone to know that Henry has been found and is safe. His health concerns are being addressed and we will keep everyone posted with the news. We wish to express to everyone our appreciation and gratitude for the prayers and concern over the last 29 hours. Henry has taught us that we can experience God in the good and the bad times. We thank God that we have experienced his grace, peace, and faithfulness in these times.

I have strong ties and connections with the entire Blackaby family and I am asking my thousands of readers of my blog to please pray earnestly for this prayer request.  All updates will be posted on the Blackaby Ministries International.  Please pray.

URGENT!! The Blackaby family requests your prayers for Dr. Henry Blackaby in the midst of difficult circumstances at this moment. Henry has been missing since 4:00pm yesterday (Thursday) in the South Atlanta area. He was driving a black Lincoln sedan. Please pray for him to be found and if you are in the Atlanta area, please be on the lookout for Henry or his car along the roadside. Please check the BMI Home page for updates. Thank you for your partnership in prayer!

Guilty Mamas

I had it all planned.  great kid

When I discovered I was expecting my first child I had a vision in my head how it would be…you know…a perfect pregnancy, no complications, no issues with breast-feeding, no postpartum depression…JUST perfection!  Unfortunately MY reality was less than perfect, in fact, I had complications mid way through the pregnancy when I started to bleed and doctors were saying I might miscarry.  It was only a scare but that immediately bumped me to “high-risk pregnancy” in the doctor’s notes from then on.  When I went overdue and doctors tried to intervene by inducing the birth, that only complicated matters.  The baby refused to come and I developed an infection that plagued me and my baby when she was finally delivered by C-section three weeks overdue.  I had planned a natural birth, but no…it was an emergency C-section.  I wasn’t awake when she was born and I didn’t see her for hours.  So much for that first minute of “bonding” experience after her birth.  She and I developed fevers and she was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care and I was put on a medication to fight a post-birth infection.  It meant no breast-feeding until I came off the medication that doctors said could cause adverse reactions in babies.  When I was finally able to try breast-feeding, my daughter was already so used to bottle feedings she refused the breast.  I experienced the first of many pounding hammers of guilt starting to beat down on me.  I walked into my home holding my beautiful baby girl after having spent nearly two weeks in hospital and immediately burst into tears.  So much for my perfect vision of motherhood!

The guilt continued to sledgehammer at me each day.  I was sore from the C-section, I was tired, my child was a slow feeder so bottle feedings lasted an hour and I never had time to do anything around the house in-between feedings.  My house looked like a disaster area, I could barely brush my teeth, or run a comb through my hair, let alone prepare a meal for my hard-working husband.  I spiraled into postpartum blues and I cried more than I smiled around my precious child.  Another blow of the sledgehammer!

After a routine visit several months after the birth of my daughter to a dentist…yes, a DENTIST, I finally let the guilt get the best of me.  I burst into tears when he asked me how I liked being a new mom and he told me to go see my family doctor immediately.  In fact, he wouldn’t let me leave his office until I had made the appointment.

The next day, all the guilt and emotional turmoil of unmet expectations about being a new mom, surfaced at the doctor’s office.  She gave me her phone number to put by my bedside in the event I felt suicidal, and she went on “crisis mode” with me.  To tell the truth, I never realized I had sunk that far down.  It terrified me.

I had been very good hiding how I actually felt from my husband, friends and family.  Ten minutes before my husband came home from work each day, I would tear around the house, tidying and throwing something together for supper, and throw some clothes on (rather than have him see me in the pj’s I wore all day).  I never neglected my child, but I fed, clothed and bathed her without the joy a new mom was supposed to have.  I was just going through the motions.  I never left the house during the day, I never trusted anyone else to babysit, so I felt like I was trapped inside the house.  The only time I did leave was to go to church and there it appeared to everyone that I had my act together.  I was a great actress…pride would not have me admit that I was a mess.  Guilt, guilt, GUILT!

When I admitted this all to my doctor, she gave me sound suggestions to help me crawl out of the hole I had dug for myself.  She told me to stop being afraid to leave my baby with a sitter.  She told me to get over the guilt of not having a “natural” birth and not being able to breast feed.  I had to stop comparing myself with other “perfect” moms and realize that there is NO SUCH THING!  Practically, I was supposed to go on a date with my husband, join an exercise class and commit to doing something just for me at least once a day…read a book, have a bubble bath, take a walk; get out of the house once in a while.  She told me to get together with other moms for support and encouragement.

As per doctor’s orders, I scheduled a babysitter and went out on a “date” with my husband, the first time we had been alone in months since the birth of our child.  I joined a Mom/Tot exercise class.  I didn’t drop any weight but it got me out of the house for an hour.  I reluctantly signed up to do a morning craft class at church where I met a lady with a daughter who was four days older than my daughter.  I had no way of knowing what a “life-line” that would prove to be for me then and now.  Shirley, has become one of my closest, dearest friends.  Practical, helpful, non-judgmental, she has been my “go to” person for close to thirty years, and our two girls are best friends to this day!  Gradually, I started to climb out of the hole and start to let go of some of the guilt that had weighed me down as a less-than-perfect new mom.

I have learned that one of the biggest weapons the enemy aims at moms is whispering our inadequacies in our ears constantly.  “You are a terrible mom because…” and he lists our short-comings, our faults, and heaps the guilt on us every chance he can get.  It never stops.  New moms, moms with children, moms of teens, moms of adults, grandmothers…yep, he knows our weaknesses and reminds us of them all the time.  I need to be reminded, every time I hear his whisperings and can feel the guilt start to weigh me down that I am to submit to God and resist the devil, because if I do he will flee! (James 4:7)

Guilt is a hard thing to let go of.  I still feel sorry I wasn’t able to be the new mom I thought I should be with my oldest child…but then again I wasn’t (and will never be) that kind of mom with ANY of my children or grandchildren.  I’m not Superwoman, I’m just me!