Sharing stories with our children

Story quote 1

This week in our Proverbs 31 online Bible study, I especially appreciated Lysa Terkeurst’s questions and suggestions at the end of Chapter 24: Do They See Jesus in Me? Here’s a summary for your benefit:

  • Think back over your life and pinpoint some specific moments that made your heart leap for joy. Write them down, so that you can review them when you’re facing difficulties.
  • Share your happy memories with your children and husband
  • Review your childhood and write down at least one memory where God’s hand was evident
  • Write down a time Jesus was very real to you recently
  • Pray, thanking God for the special moments in your life
  • Write a prayer celebrating parenting and confessing your shortcomings to God. Ask Him for strength to make any changes you need to make.

I hope you’ll take time to do some of these exercises.

Moments that made my heart leap for joy:

  • Visiting my Grandparents in Three Hills (Grandma Beam’s desserts were legendary!)
  • Visiting my Grandparents in Gibbon (It took no time at all for 50 or more relatives to gather!)
  • Using wax paper to make the circular slide beside Grandpa & Grandma Beam’s more slippery
  • When my dad made a special trip to visit me on my birthday while I was attending Bible College
  • Surprising my parents when I was one of the speakers for my Bible College graduation
  • Finding a place to order an out of print book when I worked in customer service at Prairie Bookroom
  • Working at Whitney Lake Bible Camp
  • Getting rid of all the piles of files on the credenza after I started working as a legal secretary
  • My first date with Kendall
  • Our wedding day
  • The day we brought Grace, our oldest daughter, home
  • When we received an adoption order in the mail
  • When Kendall was able to compete in the Yamaha competition in Toronto
  • The day we met Luke and Levi
  • The day Jayson arrived home
  • When Luke and Levi said “Mom and Dad” after 4 years of signing
  • Winning the Northern Lights School Division school board bi-election
  • Bringing Dorothy home
  • Winning first place in the God Uses Ink contest
  • Taking a walk and capturing beauty with my camera

As I thought about these moments that made my heart leap for joy, I realized that every one has a story behind it. I also thought about how I should be more intentional about sharing these stories with my children. There are some things we have put into place to help share the memories:

  • I have made a wedding album as well as a photo album for each child. We often pull out these albums and talk about things that happened and how God has blessed us.
  • We have adoption parties for our children. On the anniversary of the date a child’s adoption order was signed, we have a party. The child gets to pick who comes to the party, his or her favourite food, and where the party takes place.

What about you? What makes your heart leap for joy? How do you share stories with your children?

 


You must be rich: Common misconceptions about authors

Shadows and Sunshine Newsclip

Last week at a family reunion, someone asked, “Are you rich now that you’re a famous author?” I laughed and answered his questions. Since then I’ve been thinking more about the question and how I would answer if asked again.

Yes, I’m rich:

Am I making hundreds or thousands of dollars from book sales? NO

Here are some facts about authors that may surprise you:

  • Many authors lose money or barely recover what it costs them to get a book published and distributed
  • Most authors have a “day job” because they don’t make enough from their writing to live on
  • Writing a book is the “easy” part. It’s a challenge to get books published, marketed, and sold

Authors wouldn’t bother to write if money was their only objective. There are many other ways to make money that are easier, faster, and more predictable. Authors write because:

  • It’s something they have to do, almost a compulsion
  • They enjoy the process of writing – it’s therapeutic for them
  • Writing enriches the author and those who read
  • Writing is art
  • Many writers see what they do as a ministry

I’m thankful I have the opportunity to be an author, but not for the reasons many people may think. Are you suprised?


My God Love Story

bandaged heart

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”

-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I’m enjoying another Proverbs 31 online Bible study. This one is based on Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? … and Other Questions Every Mom Asks. This week we’ve been studying the section titled, This is All I Have to Give. For our blog hop this week we were given three topics to choose from:

  1. My God Love Story
  2. Favorite Ways to Relax and Refill
  3. This is All I Have to Give

I would have found it easy to write about topic 2, but God told me I needed to share my God love story with you. So here goes . . .

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to feel weak, or flawed, or broken. In contrast, God’s Word says:

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” I Corinthians 1:27

For the past year, God has been taking me through dark places, allowing things to happen to me and my family that I would never choose. I haven’t been happy with God. These dark places hurt. They’ve shown me things about myself I didn’t want to see. These places have left me weak, flawed, and broken, utterly dependent on God. Most people have no idea of what I’ve been going through, because I haven’t been at liberty to share. I’ve had to trust God. And, surprise! He’s been faithful (actually, that’s not such a surprise, is it?!)

In June I attended the Write Canada conference in Ontario. I thought I was going to learn more about writing and to spread the word about InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. God had other plans. He wanted to demonstrate His love to me through complete strangers who love Him.

Two women hugging

The first “hug” came through two ladies from Alberta who shared a hotel room with someone they’d only talked to on Facebook. Instead of having to pay the full cost of a hotel room, I only had to pay 1/3. Not only that, but these ladies shared from their hearts about the dark places God has lead them through. It was as if God was saying, “You’re going to make it. Hang in there.”

The second “hug” came through a pastor from British Columbia who prayed over me for no reason other than that God placed it on his heart to do so. He had no idea what I was going through, only that I was burdened.

The third “hug” came through a lady from Ontario. She has the same first name as me, grew up as a missionary kid like I did (but in a different part of the world), and has just finished going through the exact same deep dark place God is taking me through. We had never met before the conference. I went to encourage her after she asked a question during a session, and she started sharing with me about this deep dark place God had led her through. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She understood, because she’s walked the same rocky path I’m on. God used her to tell me, “There’s hope. You’re going to make it through to the other side. Trust God. He has a good plan for you.”

My way is still dark, but I’ve been reminded that God loves me, because His followers have been faithful and obedient. He cares, and He will bring me through. In fact, I think He’s carrying me right now. I can almost see Him smiling down at me saying, “We’re almost there. Just a little bit further. You won’t believe what I have in store for you!”

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but God does. Let’s trust Him together. He really does love us, and sometimes He uses other people to remind us of His love.


Children in car

Church Tales: Being a Mom is Tough

Children in carI don’t know what your Sunday mornings are like, but mine are rarely the peaceful, worshipful times I would like them to be. They usually start off well, especially when I get up to have a bath and spend a few quiet minutes reading my Bible and praying while everyone else is still fast asleep. However, once I rouse the rest of the household we start down the slippery Sunday slope.

First there’s a mad rush to get dressed. One son can’t find matching socks (even though I put ten pairs in his drawer a few days ago). My youngest daughter complains she’s still tired and hides under the covers. Another son has his dirty clothes on from yesterday, even though not five minutes ago I told him to put on CLEAN clothes.

Then, there’s the breakfast fiasco. Children squirm and fidget when my husband asks what we read about yesterday in our family devotions. No one remembers. He expresses his frustration, and everyone quiets down. Then, five minutes after we start eating, our youngest daughter has to “go pee,” something that seems to happen at every meal. One of our sons reaches for something and tips over his full cup of milk. Another son is refusing to eat because he doesn’t like what’s on the table this morning.

Next comes the ride to church. We all sit in the van, waiting for our sixteen-year-old daughter. She gets in and glares because she wasn’t allowed to drive this morning. It takes a few minutes for everyone to get their seat belts on and then we’re off. Two minutes later, one son is crying because his brother walloped him across the face. When I ask “Why’d you hit him?” he shrugs his shoulders. “Hands to yourselves, everyone,” I plead. A couple minutes later our younger daughter starts whining that she’s thirsty. There are no water bottles in sight. Fortunately the drive to town only lasts ten minutes.

We’ve finally made it to church. While I’m catching up with my friends, one of my sons is running laps. I catch him and remind him to walk. We resume our conversation, only to be interrupted again. Another son is using the bathroom and forgot to close the door. When we enter the sanctuary, I focus on quieting my heart and mind. That lasts a couple of seconds—until my kids start fighting over who gets to sit beside me. We get the seating arrangement sorted out. Then my youngest son suddenly needs to go to the bathroom. Of course he’s sitting the farthest from the aisle, and he trips over someone’s foot on the way out. Now his nose is bleeding. I rush him to the bathroom, holding his nose with my hands as we walk. When we make it to the bathroom, I discover my son has splatters of blood all the way down his brand new shirt. We clean up the best we can and return to the sanctuary.

Again, I try to calm my heart and mind and focus on what God wants to teach me. Sometimes I actually grasp most of the Pastor’s message. Many times I don’t. But I’ve come to love and accept Sunday mornings with my imperfect kids and my even more imperfect parenting. After all, God doesn’t love me because I’m perfect; He loves me because He chooses to love me.

I’ve discovered that some of life’s greatest lessons are taught not by what happens, but by how I respond in messy situations. (Click to Tweet) I’ve also found peace in the midst of the turbulence of raising five challenging children, because God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. Here are some choices that help me cope:

  1. Celebrate the “gifts” I receive every day, no matter how small or insignificant. (e.g. My washing machine works, I’m alive, The sunset is beautiful)
  2. Acknowledge that I cannot successfully do anything without God
  3. Spend time reading the Bible and praying
  4. Practice God’s presence – remind myself that He is always with me and talk to Him about my joys and frustrations throughout the day
  5. Share my journey with other women who will be brutally honest with me—I still struggle with this, but Facebook helps 🙂

What about you? Can you relate to my Sunday morning mishaps? What helps you cope?


Differences in marriage: wedges or building blocks?

couple feeding birdsMy grandfather used to say, “If you marry the right person, there’s nothing like it; and if you marry the wrong person, there’s nothing like it.”

Here are some other quotes I found on marriage:

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” Martin Luther

“Marriage is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory.” Abraham Lincoln

The quote by Abraham Lincoln makes us smile and chuckle, and perhaps wince. Why is it that some marriages are so happy while other couples seem to hang on for dear life, simply enduring the ride? All couples have differences, all couples struggle at times, and all couples make choices. How we respond to our differences and struggles can literally make or break our relationship.

Here are some of the differences between my husband and I:

  • night owl/early bird
  • spontaneous/planner
  • caramel/chocolate
  • talker/listener
  • realist/dreamer
  • relaxes by snowmobiling or motorbiking/relaxes by reading or going for a walk

We can allow our differences to drive wedges between us or we can choose to celebrate our differences and use our differences as building blocks. If I focus on trying to make my spouse the same as me, things don’t go very well. In fact, the harder I try to make my husband like me, the farther apart we grow. Marriage works better when there’s give and take. We are very different from each other and we need to accept those differences. There’s a reason opposites attract. My husband has strengths and weaknesses and so do I. We need to learn to allow each other’s strengths to offset our weaknesses. When we do this, we are stronger as a team than we are individually.

Michael Hyatt says, “Think about it. If you married someone just like you, then you wouldn’t have to grow, you wouldn’t have to get out of your comfort zone, and you wouldn’t have to enter into someone else’s world.”

Gary and Barbara Rosberg encourage us to ask these questions:

  • Where do I need to show some grace, real grace, to the person I married? Where do I need to let go and let God do His thing with my spouse?
  • Who needs my words of affirmation more than anyone in my life? Is it easier for me to affirm my kids and my friends than it is for me to affirm my spouse?
  • What are we doing to build safety into our marriage so we can take the risks to love unconditionally?
  • When was the last time we took time to go deeper with each other? Are we making time to connect with each other daily?
  • Am I studying my spouse? Do I know his or her strengths as well as his or her weaknesses? Am I helping to build on the former and strengthen the latter so that I can best become one with my mate?

For more helpful tips, check out: Happy to be Stuck with You.

What have you learned about changing differences from wedges into building blocks? Please share 🙂

 


Vision Statement ruthlsnyder.com

5 Steps to Crafting a Personal Vision Statement

Vision Statement ruthlsnyder.com

Last week in our study of Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray, we discussed work and were challenged to write our own vision statement. If you’ve never written a personal vision statement, try the process outlined below. If nothing else, you’ll learn more about yourself and what motivates you. Hopefully you’ll also come up with a statement that inspires and motivates you to be the very best you can be.

Step 1: Answer these questions

  1. How do you want to be seen in ten years?
  2. What do you want to be known for in ten years?
  3. What do you want your family to be like?
  4. What makes your heart sing?
  5. Who in your life will tell you the truth about yourself?

Step 2: Select key words

Go through what you’ve written and select words you’ve repeated or that are important to you.

Step 3: Read Other vision statements

Here are some sites you may want to visit:

Step 4: Write your vision statement

Jot ideas down and combine them in different ways. Play with different words. Try to capture the key themes you selected in step two. You may find one statement that you know fits, or perhaps you’ll end up with a few to choose from. Can you condense the ideas? Once you’ve written your vision statement, let it sit for a few days and then go back to it and see if it still resonates with you.

Step 5: Share your vision statement

Do you have people in your life who will give you honest feedback? People who know you really well and care about you? Those are the people you should share your vision statement with. Ask them if you’ve captured who you they see you as. If not, ask them for suggestions on how to tweak your statement so that it really fits you.

Check out this post: Mission and Vision Statements for more helpful information.

 

Need some inspiration? Here’s one of my favourite songs:

Here’s my vision statement:

“Wholeheartedly seeking God, then serving others with excellence through music, writing, and speaking.”

My life verse is:

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10 NASB)

I’d love to hear if this process helped you, and what your vision statement is.

Question 1: How do you want to be seen in ten years? Question 2: What do you want to be known for in ten years? Question 3: What do you want your family to be like? Question 4: What makes your heart sing? Question 5: Who in your life will tell you the truth about yourself? – See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.BetT3Zqq.dpuf
Question 1: How do you want to be seen in ten years? Question 2: What do you want to be known for in ten years? Question 3: What do you want your family to be like? Question 4: What makes your heart sing? Question 5: Who in your life will tell you the truth about yourself? – See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.BetT3Zqq.dpuf

#MapIt: Understanding Zephaniah 3:17

Zephaniah 3:17This week in our Proverbs 31 Bible study using Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray, our key verse is Zephaniah 3:17. The NIV version is above. Here are some other translations:

“Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.” (The Message)

New American Standard Bible (NASB):

 “The Lord your God is in your midst, A [a]victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy, He will [b]be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

a. Lit A warrior who saves

b. Or with some ancient versions, renew you in

“The Lord your God is with you, a Powerful One Who wins the battle. He will have much joy over you. With His love He will give you new life. He will have joy over you with loud singing.” (New Life Version)

God is with you

Stop and think about it for a minute. The mighty, all-powerful God, who created the universe by speaking a few words, is with you. He is “omnipresent” – present everywhere. Psalm 139 talks about this in great detail and reminds us that God is in the heavens, the depths, on the far side of the sea, in the darkness, and even inside the womb when a baby is being formed. No matter where we go, we cannot hide from God, because He is there too. Hebrews 13:5 states that God will never leave us or forsake us.

God saves you

God is our mighty warrior who fights on our behalf and saves us. What a beautiful picture! Jesus Christ loved us enough to give up His rightful place and be born as a helpless human baby. He submitted Himself to the same restrictions and frustrations we face, yet without sin. He lived a perfect life and allowed His life to be sacrificed on the cross as the Lamb of God, so that He could save us and give us limitless life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

One of my Bible School professors challenged us to “live beyond the comma” – allowing Jesus to save us AND living life to the fullest extent possible. Ted Dekker talks about the fact Jesus didn’t just save us from Hell; He also saves us from a meaningless life here on earth.

God delights in you

You make God dance with joy! He shouts because He’s so excited about you. You give God pleasure. You are His priceless treasure. He is like a lover who delights in you so much that He declares his love for you wherever he goes. You make His heart sing.

I’m amazed at our Father’s love. I’m grateful that He’s set me free. I serve Him, not because I have to, but because I want to, because it brings me joy and fulfillment and the opportunity to tell others about His amazing love.

Are you living beyond the comma, or are you still hungering for God’s limitless life? Ask God to reveal His love to you in a new way. Then, be prepared to be swept off your feet by the tidal wave of His love. Jesus loves YOU!


Life as a Writer – Author Support Blog Hop

Author Blog Hop

Thanks to Sharon Bayliss for hosting this author support blog hop.

WHAT do you do? Give us a summary of your crazy life and all your responsibilities

HOW do you do it? How do you manage to find time to write? What tips can you share?

  • I use a planner and calendar to keep track of activities and events for the whole family.
  • On weekday mornings I get up at 5:10 to have a quiet time where I read my Bible, pray, figure out priorities for the day, and write for a half hour.
  • When I have a project, I break it down into smaller steps and set daily goals for myself. I try to leave extra time so that if something unexpected comes up I’m still able to meet deadlines.
  • My children are all in school now, so I write while they are away.
  • My 16-year-old daughter enjoys helping me by looking after her siblings when I need extra time to write.
  • I’ve learned to say “no” to things that don’t fit in with my goals.

WHY do you do it? Other than just sheer insanity, what keeps you going? Why have you chosen the life of an over-stressed author? What keeps you motivated during dark days?

  • I write because I believe God has given me the ability and responsibility to write.
  • I primarily write for an audience of One. If I write to the best of my ability for the glory of God, that’s really all that matters.
  • When I write, I’m happy.
  • Other people enjoy my writing.

QUESTIONS and PLEAS for help. Other authors will be reading your post, so if you have questions or want advice, you can ask. Also, if there is anything you need, or anything you can do to help others, mention that here as well.

  • How do you help others understand the importance of treating writing as a profession?
  • I’m working on Twitter Tips & Tricks for Writers. If you’d be interested in receiving a copy in exchange for an honest critique, please email me.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about my life as a writer?