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?

 


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?


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!


#Snapit: My Favourite Place to Study

My Favourite Place to StudyBy the time you read this post, I will be flying across the country to Guelph, Ontario, in order to attend Write Canada. One of the prompts for this week’s blog hop with the Proverbs 31 crew was, “Share a picture of your favourite place to study or write.” This chair is situated in a corner of our dining room, between two windows. I usually come downstairs just after 5 a.m. to read my Bible, pray, and get some writing done before the rest of my family gets up for the day. This chair is my private sanctuary where I sit with my Bible, books like Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray, and my iPad. It’s a place where I can turn on the light without disturbing anyone, and also easily walk into the kitchen to grab a cup of lemon water or Rooisbos tea.

When I read, I enjoy sharing what I’m learning by participating in these blog hops, posting pictures, and sharing on social media. Here’s a quote I highlighted in my book this week:

“Jesus is the living water; He alone gives us His life for our life…so that we can live the life we could never live …” #quote D.L. Gray click to tweet

I also like to sit in this same chair to write. My iPad allows me to write without the distracting bells and whistles (notifications) I have on my iMac computer. For more information on my works in progress, check out this post.

What about you? Where do you like to read, study, and or write?

share a picture of your favorite place to study or write – See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.0YpgMzOu.dpu

From orphan to adopted: Marinate on that!

Right now, God the Papa says, "I want to adopt you as My child." Will you let Him?

I’m being challenged by the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study using Derwin L. Gray’s book Limitless Life. Chapter four of the book is titled, From Orphan to Adopted:

“We roam through life lost, looking for a love and identity that no human, no job, no amount of money could ever provide. Our Papa in heaven is the only One who can provide us with the love and, ultimately, the identity we have been created for—a child of God.”  Derwin L. Gray

In this chapter, Derwin discusses how orphans feel anonymous, abandoned, and afraid. Then he goes on to describe three keys to “taking on the new label of ‘Adopted'”:

  1. Embrace the Friendship of God
  2. Accept and Imitate the Forgiveness of God
  3. Accept the Adopting Love of God

Throughout the book, Derwin presents important ideas that are highlighted in boxed areas titled, “Marinate on That”. Here’s an idea that’s marinating in my mind and soul:

” . . . did you realize that whatever we magnify, we worship? And whatever we worship, we resemble? If we wallow in self-pity, we will become more pitiful and limit our lives. If we stay in Jesus and meditate on what He’s accomplished on our behalf, we magnify His great work, and as we do this, we worship Him. The result is that daily we are transformed into His image, releasing His limitless life through us.”

This week a counselor pointed out to me that I’m living in the shadow of bitterness over some things that happened to me in the past. People I respected and trusted betrayed me; people who are brothers and sisters in Christ. If I focus on the hurt and betrayal, I will continue to be bitter, and in the process I will lose out on God’s best for my life. Instead, Jesus wants me to focus on HIM. I don’t need to live in the shadow of bitterness any longer. I am choosing instead to live in Jesus and meditate on what He’s accomplished on my behalf:

  1. Jesus died for my sin (I Cor. 15:1-10)
  2. When I confess my sin and forsake it, Jesus forgives me and cleanses me (I John 1:9)
  3. Jesus loves me (John 3:16)
  4. Jesus wants the best for me (Jeremiah 29:11)
  5. I will have hard times in my life, but Jesus will walk with me through them. (Isaiah 43:1-4)
  6. No matter what, Jesus will NEVER leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5,6)
  7. Jesus is trustworthy; He will not betray me (Psalm 34)

Are you living in the shadows? Will you join me as I step out into the glorious light of Jesus Christ and revel in the love and delight of God the Papa?


How do you define community?

community: picture of four children holding hands and playing in the sunI’m looking forward to starting on another online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries beginning next week. We’ll be using Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray as the launch pad for our discussions. In preparation for this study we were encouraged to blog about what community means to us.

Here’s how Dictionary.com defines community:

community

[kuhmyoo-ni-tee] Show IPA

noun, plural com·mu·ni·ties.

1.a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
2.a locality inhabited by such a group.
3.a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the  ): the business community; the community of scholars.
4.a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western Europe.
5.Ecclesiastical . a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.
Here’s how I define community:
  1. Community means support – a community is made of a group of individuals with different abilities. When you live in the community you have access to a variety of skills which you yourself don’t posses.
  2. Community brings challenges – living in community takes work. Sometimes it would be “easier” to live on our own. When you live in community you need to communicate clearly, be willing to share, and sometimes even be willing to be wronged.
  3. Community means accountability – When you grow up in a small town, you can’t “get away” with too much. If you’re not doing what’s right, someone is going to call you on it or phone your parents about it. When we live in community, we hold each other accountable, because we all want what’s best for the community.
  4. Community thrives on shared purpose – There has to be a reason for people to do the hard work of living in community. Shared purpose or a common goal provides that reason. When everybody in the community agrees on a common goal, each person is able to contribute to the betterment of the community.

What does community mean to you?