Pickin up the P”Inspiration”!

It’s Friday! I kinda fell off the edge of the earth for a little bit, and what better way to re-enter the blogosphere than with a P”Inspired” post.  This week’s post features our end-of-year teacher thank you gifts.

The budget was tight and our kid’s teachers are amazing.  I was stuck for quite a while as I tried to figure out a gift to equal the contribution they had made, nothing was coming to mind, I was totally stumped.  I thought of using the fallback of repeating last year’s gifts, but we had some of the same teachers from last year, and really how many plastic tumblers can one person need?  At the eleventh hour I decide it was better to say a little thanks than no thank you at all and so armed with the $20 I had in my pocket and my Pinterest account I accepted my mission.

First, I tackled the gifts for our main classroom teachers.  These 4 ladies are fantastic.  They helped a jumping  bean learn to sit still, a struggling reader advance 10 reading levels, a rusher-so-I-can-always-be-first is being trained to accept that doing your best is more important, and the attitude transformation in my eldest was nothing short of a miracle.  I know these ladies didn’t just help my kids but the 80 kids between them were all blessed by their dedication, how do you say thank you for that?

I jumped off of this pin:

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This particular pin is just an image which means I needed to create the printable, and so I changed the words a bit:

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Then I gathered my supplies:

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I had the scrapbooking paper on hand as well as the curly ribbon.  I purchased the little jars that have magnets on the bottom at Walmart for $2 a piece and picked up 2 small bags of M&Ms for $6 (and I only used 1 full bag and a bit from the other). I struggled a bit with how to package them, but finally figured it out:

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There are also 3 EAs in our kid’s classrooms.  They do not work directly with our kids, but these women influence all the children in the classroom.  Our EAs in particular are super friendly, made the kids bunches of rainbow loom bracelets, and at least once a week our kids had a story of how one of the EAs had made their week better.  Again, how does one adequately say thanks!

I jumped off this pin:

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I had to change the words a bit as my kids’ names didn’t match up the way they do here, but that’s not hard to do.  I also was lucky enough to find Crayola Scentsation markers on sale at Walmart and so stayed in my budget, score!

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Such a little gift, but it’s hard for this go-big-or-go-home girl to do the little things, but I needed to remind myself a little thanks is better than no thanks at all.

I thought I was done, but my kids also LOVE their bus drivers.  It’s a relationship I do not fully understand, but these guys definitely deserve some thanks too! While I was walking the aisles begging for some inspiration of what to give their bus drivers, (and honestly I don’t even know their names), all sorts of cheesy candy-gram style messages came to me.  And then I saw these, and for only $2 a bag;

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Then I let my cheesy self go wild:

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A little thanks, that I hope, goes a long way to show our teachers how much we appreciate them.  How about you?  Any year-end P”Inspired” thank yous at your house this year?

The Earth is Flat.

Once upon a time Columbus was told that he could not sail to India because he would fall of the edge of the earth…. or so the legend goes. Columbus got in that boat of his and sailed anyway, and never fell off, of course, since the earth is round. 

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But I’m beginning to think that legend may be on to something, because people are constantly falling off the edges of my world.  

I’m sure it happens in your neck of the woods too.  Someone’s name or face pops into your subconscious and you realize you have no idea where they are or what they’re doing.  A Christmas card arrives in the mail and you’re shocked at how the kids have grown.  All 902 people on your friends list pop up on your FB page to wish you a Happy Birthday, but you can’t even remember where you met 407 of them. The top 10 names on your call display change and that’s just normal life.

We bump and crash into multiple people everyday.  We share a mountaintop experience, or band together during a crisis, or click over shared hobbies and interests.  

And then we get lazy. We treat friends and family like a commodity instead of the non-renewable resource they are.  (This of course we herald as busyness….)

I’m a total extrovert, not in the stereotypical ‘life of the party’ sense, but in the literal sense that I get my energy from being around people. And I have some insecurities which means the grey area between being alone and being lonely is an extremely short space for me.  On the first day I’ll wonder what so-and-so is up to.  And maybe on the second too.  But by the third day I’m wondering why so-and-so isn’t wondering what I’m up to…. and something weird happens because instead of just calling/texting/emailing/stopping by I assume they stepped off the edge of my world on purpose. I’ve been neck deep in school for the past month and most of those days I have done that dance in my head where I think of someone and maybe I’ll touch base with them, except my phone hasn’t rung or text noise hasn’t beeped or my inbox has been empty for weeks, so why should I bother…..

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The truth is that more often than not people fall off the edges of our worlds because we retreat in times of crisis, we get tunnel-vision when we’re in the middle of change, we navel-gaze when we have heavy loads.  When we feel like someone has let us go, it’s more likely that we never tried to grab their hand in the first place.  

And then you overhear something or bump into a friend of a friend, (or read something obscure on social media) and that’s when you learn about the death, or the diagnosis, the marriage, or the move, the baby, or the break up going on in other people’s worlds.  That’s when you realize they didn’t step off the edge of your world, you let them slip.

I think maybe those guys with the flat earth theory are onto something, and maybe instead of wondering where people go, we should build better bridges.

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I have been working on changing my perspective on things this year, and this is a smaller piece of a much bigger thought I’ve been thinking through… relationships are challenging things and I think we can learn a lot from the past in order to make our future better…..I’ll be back with the next piece…… until then I wish you bridges over edges.

 

Dear Discipline…

Have you ever heard the phrase: “The freedom of discipline”?  It’s ironic.  Don’t you think.  A little too ironic.  To think that the power to act, speak, or think as one wants, (without hinderance or restraint), comes through the practice of being trained to obey rules or a code of behaviour is…… well it’s almost ludicrous.

I’m not exactly sure when I first heard that phrase, but it always reminds me of conversations I had with a mentor of mine about the domestic side of life.

I am one of those people who isn’t exactly worried about being perceived as ‘having it all together’.  My house is usually a mess, (although not the same mess as yesterday because I really am trying), I’m often wearing sweats and a mom ponytail, (let’s be honest, skinny jeans are not conducive to chasing an energizer-bunny toddler), and with the exception of Christmas dinner, (my fave!), I am hopeless in the kitchen even after 9 years of being in charge of feeding a family.  This is my current reality and I will not become a hermit as I am growing and learning, but where I am now is not where I always want to be.

I would like to have a home that people can drop by to and feel relaxed in, at any time.

I would like to be in a grocery store with my 5 high-energy kids and not have my frump overshadow my joy.

I would like to feel comfortable in my kitchen, without rocking in the corner, curled in the fetal position, dialling our local pizza place.

But changing my reality would take so much work.  So much effort.  So much energy.  So much discipline.  And how could anything that takes that much slavery ever be considered freedom?

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I wrote the first part of this post over a week ago.  Then I got stuck.  I didn’t know how to pull my thoughts together, everything seemed to be rambling in my brain.  While I was trying to fall asleep last night I had one of those ‘AHA’ moments that put it all into perspective and lined up my wandering ponderings.

The freedom that discipline provides is the freedom to be who we really are.

I am a hospitable person.  I love throwing parties.  I enjoy doing that crazy mom thing where movie night involves crafts and family created snacks, not just popping in a movie.  IF I have spent my days disciplined about housework, I free myself to invite people over without worrying if I’ll be judged.  IF I have kept up with my domestic duties my family can enjoy their time in our space instead of wondering why we don’t just go out to have fun.

The freedom of domestic discipline frees me up to be hospitable and makes our house a home.

I am an encouraging person and like to give ALOT to others.  But that’s hard to see,  hard to look past what I appear.  IF I have been disciplined to spend appropriate time taking care of myself, big things like going to the gym and small things like straightening my hair- then people see me and wonder, ‘How did she get so lucky?’.  When I am undisciplined, looking rushed and frumpy and like I’ve sacrificed everything and then some to be a mother of 5, people see me and wonder, ‘I’m so lucky I’m not her.” They let me go ahead of them in the grocery store line, they don’t expect that I have anything more to offer.

The freedom of personal discipline frees me up to be an encouragement, and people will give me opportunity to bless and serve them.

I am a person who loves to learn new things.  I was pretty good at my academic pursuits and I know how to navigate exploring new topics.  Food overwhelms me.  Or more specifically choosing what to eat, and how to fit that in a budget overwhelms me.  But IF I am disciplined to treat it like learning about the Medieval Ages, or memorizing the Periodic Table, then I could feed my family better, and with confidence.  Right now it’s like that 100 page thesis paper, and all I have is my opening statement.

The freedom of being disciplined is that there is space to take risks, and time to explore what I do not know.

I’m starting to see how something that is so hard can be freeing, how discipline begins really rough but once adopted the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices.  Another change in perspective, one that could change my life, if I take my thoughts and put them into action.  The freedom of discipline, maybe not so ironic after all?

It’s like rain on your wedding day.

A free ride, when you’ve already paid.

The good advice that you just didn’t take.

Who would’ve thought…. it figures. 

Pinspired Partay!

This past week was one of Pin-spired party-ing.  Our church’s midweek Kidz Club wrapped up on Wednesday and we had hoped to finish the year with a campfire to make S’mores.  The weather had other plans and we were rained out.  Pinterest to the rescue!!

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I had seen a few pins for S’more bars as a wedding trend, and thought that could totally work.  We were nowhere near as fancy, we simply put some Sterno pots on the tables, used some bamboo kebob skewers, the traditional graham crackers and giant marshmallows, and some thin chocolates, (the gold foil coins that kids love).  Most of the kids just at the pieces separately- most of the younger kids were grossed out by the burnt marshmallows, it’s a new generation I’m dealing with- where they’d rather eat apple slices than S’mores, (I don’t ever remember choosing apples over S’mores when I was a kid).  I also didn’t get any pictures!  I was too busy handing out ingredients and keeping the older kids from lighting things on fire.  Fun was had by all, and it’s an idea in the quiver to reuse in future years.

Our daughter Isabella had asked if we could watch The Pirate Fairy for our next family movie night.  I immediately said yes, because I started thinking of pirate swords and it would be the perfect excuse to use the set of kebob skewers I got my husband from the Grand Bazaar when I was in Istanbul.  Then I saw this pin:

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AndI knew what I wanted to do for dessert.  Pirate Strawberry Shortcake Swords.  Our day got away from us and so I cut a few corners.  First, we didn’t do kebobs for dinner.  We ended up eating some quick M&M Meat Shop Chicken Chunks, California Style Veggies and Potato Medley for dinner.  It was delish!  While dinner was cooking the kids coloured the “table cloth”.  I had spread some paper on the table and stamped all over it with a Stampin’ Up set, ‘Ahoy Matey’, (which is discontinued).

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Everybody got into the colouring.  Then Lukas got impatient and scribbled over everyone’s artwork.  Initially I planned on hanging it on the wall for a while, but when we got to dessert things got messy!

Remember those beautiful Strawberry Shortcake Swords I pinned up above?  Suffice to say I should not have cut the corners I did.  I opted for a pre-made angel food cake in place of the biscuits.  They weren’t strong enough to hold anything in place.  Strawberries- thankfully you cannot mess those up.  For the whipped cream, I had seen a pin along the lines of this:

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You know, where you spread the whipped cream out on the cookie sheet, freeze it and then cut out your pristine shape and float it in your cocoa?  Apparently I should have read the accompanying post….. cuz it did not work out that way.  Basically we ended up eating angel food cake and strawberries on our skewers, and then spoonfuls of whipped cream off a cookie sheet.  Total Pinterest fail, and yet still incredibly fun!

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 I still haven’t made any progress on changing my Christmas mantle.  So many pins, so little time!

Anyone else attend/throw a pin-spired party this week?

Pin-ED?

On Monday I returned from Turkey and have been slowly but surely returning to my normal self.  Last night I managed to stay awake until 8pm-without an afternoon nap! I haven’t done anything pin-worthy yet this week, but there are a few projects in the hopper.  Even though I arrived home to snow, (I am not even kidding), I do believe that Spring is on its way and so I need to change up my decor.  Currently my mantle looks a little something like this: (minus the presents and stocking holders, and I apologize for the awful picture.)

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This was the first mantle decor I had ever tried, and I am not ashamed to say it was harder than I thought.  It’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it was the bit of ambience our living room had been missing. 

Now I am ready to Spring it up a notch and try some thing new like this:

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I plan on following the tutorial here to do it.  I also plan on putting some flower vases up where I had the Christmas lanterns.  I’m not sure how they will look yet, but am going to jump off this pin for some starting inspiration:

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I would also like something like this for our front door, but am very certain I could not pull it off.

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Next week I’ll let you all know how the Pinspiration turned into reality, anyone else crafting and creating a little spring into your home?

Gifts for Granted

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I spent some time this week in a Turkish business helping it’s employees work on their conversational English.  We just sat and talked for a couple of hours each morning and I often felt like I wasn’t doing anything useful, (we didn’t have a curriculum or any learning goals).  I chatted with two lovely ladies; one whom had lived in Canada for 10 years and one who wants to go someday.  We talked about everything from how our cultures are different to reality TV shows, to memories of time spent in Canada, to our families and even favourite foods.  To me it was just talking, like I do everyday, to them each conversation made the world a little wider.  

Understanding English is something I was born doing and learning it has actually come pretty naturally to me.  I’ve enjoyed words and reading and writing since as long as I can remember.  It’s astounding to think that almost every country in the world has people in it trying to learn English.  It is a globally accepted language.  To speak English is a gift I take for granted.

I decided I wanted to go to Turkey, bought my plane ticket and was granted a visa to visit Turkey in about 90 seconds.  I went to a website, typed in my passport number and seconds later downloaded the visa.  Through talking with these ladies I leaned that not every person can leave their country and enter another one as easily as that.  I had no idea prior to this trip that there are restrictions on where citizens of certain nations can travel.

I was born a Canadian citizen through no work of my own.  I didn’t chose it or earn it.  Being a Canadian citizen means I can go anywhere in the world whenever I want to, (with a valid passport) and the process of getting a passport is painless for me, (well maybe not for my wallet, except to have enough money to purchase a passport is in itself a luxury).  I am lucky enough to be able to travel the world simply because of the hemisphere I was born in.  Freedom to travel the world is something I take for granted.  

This has been my first international adventure, and even though I cannot travel willy-nilly around the globe, it is not my passport or citizenship keeping me grounded.  And I take that for granted.  

Instead I bemoan the price of flights, or lack of vacation days and disposable income.  

I am blessed beyond measure and have done so little to earn it; gifts that are so easily taken for granted, freedoms I barely even recognize as having significance.  The language I speak and my freedom to travel just to name a few.  

I know the freedoms I have were not earned by me, but someone did earn them for me, and I am grateful to have enjoyed them and hope my enjoyment will serve as acknowledgement, and remembrance, for those who made Canada strong and free for me. 

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Out of Time.

One thing you have opportunity to see when you cross the ocean from Canada is old stuff.  I don’t mean retro, or vintage even.  I mean old.  Ancient.  We spent the first few days here looking at some of the famous ancient things.  It is fascinating to me because of the history.  I love history, but was never any good at geography, and so putting things that I know inside buildings I have now seen has definitely been a high-point of the trip.  We have been very blessed to have some great personal tour guides who know the locations, but also the history, and have been sharing it with us in a way that is fused with their passion for the people who live here.  Our tour guides not only love Istanbul, they love the people who live here and share the history of this land as though it were their own.  

For example, we started off in the Hagia Sophia.  Originally built in 537, still standing and actually undergoing restorations to keep it that way.  The Hagia Sophia is interesting to me because it emphasizes just how easy it is for a country to lose it’s identity.  Just how easily the world can move in and shift who you are. 

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Hagia Sofia was built originally as a cathedral, a place for Christianity.  Because the ruler believed in Christianity he had influence over the entire people to bring it to them, to create places for them to worship, to take a stand and say this is who we are and what we believe. But then someone bigger and stronger came and took over, as so often happens in life, and all of a sudden the people had a different identity. 

ImageThe structure was beautiful and so of course he did not want to destroy it, just claim it as his own.  And so some redecorating was done. These mosaics which are of Christ and other Christian figures (and other things), have been scratched from the stone.  Trying to remove any evidence of Christianity as now the building would become a mosque.  The home of a new religion, making a country of a new faith, changing the identity of an entire group of people.  

ImageIt’s not so easy to see in this picture, but this is the throne room and when Mehmed II ordered the cathedral turned into a mosque, he didn’t destroy what was there, removed some things of course, and to keep this building looking like an original mosque they just shifted it, literally, to suit his purposes.  The throne here would have been placed in the middle of the wall originally, but has been shifted, ever so slightly so that it now points to mecca. A small detail, but it is the details that make the most impact. 

Just yesterday we went to the Grand Bazaar, and if you know the history of that it will also highlight how easy it is to lose one’s position. In it’s glory the Grand Bazaar was the hub of mediterranean trade, one of the first shopping malls ever built, frequented by almost anyone who had things to sell. 

ImageI admit I don’t really know the economic history of Istanbul yet, but I do know that as fewer and fewer people relied on the Bosphorus as a trade route Turkey lost it’s importance as a port to buy and sell merchandise and now this historically important place is a tourist attraction.  Just like a mall in America, where you might go to shop or you might just go to hang out.  

ImageSeeing all of these places makes real to me the truth that just because a country is one thing today does not mean it will still be that thing in the future.  Istanbul was once a hub, a very important place in all arenas, but it did not keep that hold.  Now most people lump it in with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.  We tend to think it is a city with an army presence, where Islam is the religion and women are treated a certain way. 

As I’ve looked around though I see it as a place caught in the middle of so many identities.  Like a teenager and his grandfather siting across the table trying to keep their generational uniqueness but longing to be similar.  Where tradition and popular are clashing, really hitting heads, because they both want it their way- and yet they both want their country to stand out, to once again be as important as it had been in the past.  

Istanbul is a mystery I think, and like all mysteries we can discover something new each time we look at it.  We can find clues in the old and the new, and perhaps Istanbul will once again rise to influence the world.  

 

 

 

Why Are You Here?

So, this week I am in Istanbul, Turkey.  Across the ocean.  In a completely different time zone.  Waking up when my husband is going to bed.  Far. Away. From. Home.  

I’ve met a handful of people, both American and Turkish, and the most common question has been, “Why Turkey?  Of all the places in the world you could have visited, why did you come to Turkey?”  Great question.  I flounder and produce an answer that seems fitting to the circumstance of that conversation.  Then I walk away and ask, 

“Why am I here?”

The process of coming started in January.  There was an advertisement at our church that friends in Turkey needed some help with running a retreat for their workers.  They were looking for some hands to help prepare and serve meals, as well as provide some childcare for those who needed it in order to be free to attend.  As I read it I thought, ‘you know I could do that’.  I prepare 3 meals most everyday and look after kids 24/7 so it would not be a stretch to do that for someone else.  

There were a myriad of details that needed to line up before I could go of course.  If I was preparing meals for others and looking after someone else’s children, who would do those things for my family?  I am in school, can I take the time off? Do I have the money to go on the trip? Can I really justify vacating my life for 10 days?  I was intrigued by the prospect enough that I started finding the answers for those questions.  All the little pieces fell into place, (really easily I might add), and with my husband on deck to look after all aspects of family life in Canada there really wasn’t any reason to not go.

So you could say that I am here simply because opportunity presented itself and I seized it.  

But I do not believe in coincidences.  I don’t believe that things just happen.  I believe that there is a purpose for each activity I am involved in and each opportunity I am presented.  

The night that I sat down to write the email committing myself to the trip I got cold feet and started to procrastinate before I hit send. I was perusing Pinterest and came across a quote; “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25”.  Immediately I thought, ‘The Bible doesn’t actually say that!’, (it is the internet after all). Luckily I happened to have a Bible near me and I grabbed it.  Sure enough right there in print, in my hands, I saw Proverbs 11:25;

” A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

That verse jumped off the page and right into my soul.  I cannot tell you, friend, how exhausted I have been.  Running on fumes for as long as I can remember.  I imagine that being my bubbly, happy self looks carefree and easy-(but I’m going to tell you a secret)- being that me is the hardest work I have ever put in to anything.  

Naturally I am drawn to all the perks of being a wallflower.  I am shy and unsure and awkward. I like quiet.  I like to watch reactions and interactions.  I like to have my nose shoved in a book.  I like to think and process and mull over most everything, without having to explain or share.  My most favourite place in the universe is in my bed, under a heavy blanket, with many pillows and books and a giant cup of tea.  That is the easy me.  

That me is selfish.  That me is isolated.  That me is lonely.  That me is full of doubts and insecurities.  That me is not who I was created to be.  

I chose, (and it was a conscious choice), that that me is not who I wanted to be.  Although it was easy and natural I refused to believe that being that person was what God had in mind for me.  I don’t believe His best is for anyone to be lonely, or selfish, or isolated, or insecure.  

So I changed, little bits at a time, to saying ‘hello’ first.  To sharing what I was thinking.  To stop watching interactions, instead engaging in them.  To not just watch life but participate in it.  

It is a much better version of me.  Each person I have met.  Every ounce of energy I put in.  Every time I make myself believe; ‘you are good enough, you are smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you!’; it is worth it.  

But it is exhausting.  And I must constantly choose it.  I would be a much different wife if I do not keep making that choice.  I would be a much different mother if I do not keep making that choice.  I would be a much different friend if I do not keep making that choice.  

So you can see how a promise like, ‘he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed’, is one I needed.  To grab hold of and trust it would be fulfilled.  To take some time in a completely unfamiliar situation, where everything is new to let a new truth sink in.  

Because, it won’t just be true here in Istanbul.  

Sometimes we need to step out of our everyday lives to see something new.  Sometimes we need to shake it up to remember things we have forgotten.  Sometimes we need to be looking wide-eyed at everything to remember what we already know.  

Every time I prepare a meal at home, or volunteer at my Church, or call a friend who is on my mind, or do any of the million things I do every day that serve someone- I am refreshing another.  Every time I smile at someone, or hug someone, or offer a word of encouragement- I am refreshing another.  Every time I tell my husband I love him, or my children that I am proud of them, or my friends that I am so happy to know them- I am refreshing another.  And God promises that because of that I will be refreshed.  

I think that is a reason why I am in Istanbul this week.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t know that promise before.  Or maybe it’s because I had forgotten it.  Or maybe it’s just time for me to actually learn it.  

A wise woman in my life always says: “Be blessed.  Be a blessing.” That’s a promise you can take to the bank, and I’m ready to learn how to make that deposit. 

 

PinUps Week 2

I had one of those weeks where I went to bed on Monday night and woke up on Friday morning.  Where did the days go?  Those kinds of weeks always throw me for a loop, and it took me a while to remember that I even did anything Pinspired this week, so excited that I did. How embarrassing if it had been Week 2 of this weekly feature and I missed the boat.

This week I shared Pinterest ideas for our mid-week Kids’ Club.  We have been learning about David, and this month we’re focusing on his creativity in writing the Psalms.  I found this Pinterest board that had ideas like these lanterns based on Psalm 119:105; ‘Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet.”  Each of our classes found their own ideas and used this collection of pins as a springboard to create the evening.  Share the love, share the pins, folks.

ImageThen on Thursday we welcomed Spring with a cold, blustery day.  We have a paper route we do as a family and this week it was hard to get those papers done.  We all just wanted to be inside where it was warm.  But then I had an idea.

Last fall I pinned a recipe for individual chocolate chip cookies that you make in a mug.  I’m sure they have a trendier name.  We ate them after our last family photo shoot, warmed us right up.  So I told the girls if they could deliver the papers with daddy in 15 minutes I would make them a special dessert.  They shot right out the door, and managed to do the papers in record time!  I held up my end of the deal, Nolan and I got busy.  Luckily the pin had the directions right under the picture because the link no longer worked!  So here’s what we did:

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First we melted 1 Tbsp of butter, right in the cup, (why dirty extra dishes?).  Then we put in 1 Tbsp white sugar, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp of vanilla, 1 egg yolk and stirred it up all nice and smooth.

Then we added in 1/4 cup of flour and 2 Tbsp of chocolate chips.  We put it in the microwave for 60 seconds and let it cool a bit.

Of course we had to make 6, so we had a little assembly line going.  We barely had time to finish the special dessert before the kids got back home.  Saved by Pinterest again.

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Those were my pins this week…. I feel like I should have a catchy phrase to close off these posts…. but what?

Pressing Deeper

In my post last week I mentioned explaining a bit more about the Seven Sacred Pauses.  What I have on the subject is very limited knowledge, I just heard of it in a book I read last month: ‘7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”  by Jen Hatmaker.  (i give it 4 stars.) Everything that Jen Hatmaker says about the Seven Sacred Pauses she credits to a book by Macrina Wiederkehr, entitled “Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day.” I haven’t yet read that book, but I have ordered it and will be! 

I can only go so deep in talking about the Pauses, because my knowledge is so limited, but I want to share my experiences through this month, and I thought it would be good to start with an explanation.  

First off, I suck.  I had no idea it would be so hard to just stop for a few minutes, 7 times a day, and pray.  I was totally blindsided by how hard it was to pause for the ones in the evening.  I have learned so far that my life is way out of whack.  That when it is logical to be slowing down, turning off the lights and easing into night- I am still going full tilt, trying to catch up, or recharge, or get things organized.  

Second off, I am not content to keep sucking.  I am intrigued about what I am supposed to be learning about prayer (oh the posts!) And this is just another piece of that puzzle.  From what I understand these pauses are to help one bring Christ into their entire day, not slot him into a certain meeting time, and that is helping me reframe my thinking about prayer.  

So, here is a short synopsis on the Pauses and next week, hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you how we’re finally situating them in our lives. 

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The Awakening Hour (I am aiming for 5 am, oy!, and 7am with the kids.)

A time for thankfulness for the new day.  Begin it in glory, recalling God’s goodness. Giving the day as an offering for God’s glory.  A prayer of resurrection: what needs to rise in us today?  Psalms of inspiration: 19, 95, 147.

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The Blessing Hour (I am aiming for mid-morning, 9:30am.)

A time to invite the Spirit to stir our souls, redirect us from efficient to inspired. To be mindful of the Spirit’s presence. A prayer over the sacredness of our hands and work.  ‘Work is love made visible’, Wiedekehr says, what if we approached work as an opportunity to show love? Psalms of inspiration: 67, 84, 121.

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The Hour of Illumination (Noon for us.) 

A time to recommit to giving our lives away, to being servant-leaders.  A time to honour the hour Jesus embraced the cross. A time to ask for God’s love to illuminate the dark place of our heart and fill it with a light so intense it breaks our hearts wide open. Psalms for inspiration: 24, 33, 34.

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The Wisdom Hour (3:00, or right after the kids arrive home, with a snack of course!)

A time to embrace surrender, forgiveness, wisdom, and the impermanence of this life. To ask for perspective on our day, to ask for help to ‘live like we’re dying’.  A time to honour the hour Jesus died and gave up his spirit.  Psalms of inspiration: 71, 90, 138.

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The Twilight Hour (7pm which I hoped to do with each child as I put them to bed… I miss this one every day.)

A time to invite God’s peace as we leave our work and transition to the evening. To close up the day asking if there is anyone we need to make peace with?  Is there anything undone I can let go of until morning?   Ask ourselves what the greatest blessing of the day was, what are the accomplishments we can be proud of?  Adopt an attitude of gratitude and serenity.  Psalms for inspiration: 34, 139, 145.

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The Great Silence (I am aiming for 10pm, when I would love to be going to bed, but usually I’m knee deep in school work.)

This is a time for a gentle evaluation of the day, awareness of one’s weaknesses, strengths, the day’s accomplishments and failures.  A time to be a healthy sinner: no denial or despair because of it. Learning to gain more integrity and obedience for tomorrow. In prayer we examine our day, and it guards us against our enemy.  Setting the day aside, entering in the Great Silence.  Psalms for inspiration: 23, 91, 134.  

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The Night Watch (Midnight, I’ve been doing the best at this one.)

A deep, even dark, prayer of waiting and interceding.  Keeping vigil with God who never sleeps, and guards even our darkest hours. A time to advocate for others: the suffering, abandoned, oppressed, lonely.  A time to sit and wait for Jesus. Psalms of inspiration: 42, 63, 119:145-152.   

That’s what I understand of the pauses, and what I’ve been trying to wrap my thoughts around as I pause and invite God into my day.  It hasn’t been ‘taking’ as quickly as I had hoped, but Lent isn’t over- and I intend to continue trying to build these pauses into my day.  To remind myself life isn’t about destinations, but about the journey and how we walk along the road.  

Anyone have any advice on making this intention a reality?  Anyone else practicing the Pauses?  Anyone tried this for a time with a testimony to share?

Pinup Girl

I let you all in on my love of pinning in the fall.  When I wrote that post I had pinned roughly 2,000 images and now, just about 6 months later, I have just over 3,000 pins.  I think that number may even grow tonight….  

This week I thought to myself that it would be neat to keep track of all the pins I actually take the time to create/use.  Of course I thought this on a week where everything I tried from Pinterest turned out to be a smashing success.  We shall see if I feel the same after a week of failed attempts.  

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I am hopeless in the kitchen.  Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration because I keep on going back in and trying again.  But you know those people that can burn water?  That’s me.  I have no skills.  I have even less knowledge.  But ever since I watched this movie I have actually wanted to try to learn.  I got all fired up about maybe going to culinary school.  Not to be a chef, but to walk into a grocery store and see what’s on sale and know what it can become.  But I digress.  

My kids have been choosing sandwiches and cereal over dinner lately and their lunches have been coming home sort of eaten.  They are bored, bored, bored with their food.  And I am stressed, stressed, stressed about what to feed them.  Which led to my first “pintempt”.  

I needed a good dinner.  Something that would fill us all up.  I had most of the ingredients for this in the house.  Let me tell you, if you are looking for a comfort food, look no further.  This was amazing.  Image

 

This is not a picture from my house, or the blog I found the recipe on, but it is a picture of Loaded Baked Potato Soup.  Everyone loved this.  All of our kids ate it.  I was hoping for left overs for lunch the next day, we ate the entire crock pot full in one meal. And I will make it again this week.  My mouth is already watering.  Pinterest win #1.  

Isabella’s birthday was on the docket for this week’s special events.  Our plans had been for a Despicable Me party and I went all out pinning things.  Then we had one of those months in which parenting kinda sucks, and she ended up losing the right to have a birthday party.  I was kinda bummed cuz I had pinned these great cupcakes.

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We wanted to make sure Bella knew the punishment was missing out on a birthday party, not missing out on celebrating her birthday. So we had a family day and made her cupcakes anyway.  Here’s what mine turned out like…. 

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Pretty close, let’s call it Pinterest win #2. 

But, the creme de la creme of my “pintemps” was this. When I looked at those cupcakes above all I saw was sugar.  And my kids don’t really have a sweet tooth.  So serving them a snack full of sugar would have lead to a lot of wasted efforts.  I started searching around for different icing recipes, since that is usually the sweetest part.  The story written about this recipe, and the language of the recipe made me curious.  What exactly does it look like when brown sugar “drops like a hair from spoon”?  

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I followed this recipe to a T, (or at least as close as my limited knowledge allowed me to).  I enlisted my hubby to whip the egg whites, (note to self: the kids will be buying me a Kitchenaid mixer for Christmas) and I worked myself into a paranoid tizzy about burning the brown sugar while waiting for it to: “drop like a hair from spoon”.  I managed to not burn the brown sugar, but the icing did end up with a smoky flavour, something to work on for next time.  It really does have a marshmallowy texture and taste.  Not too sweet at all.  Apples are at the top of my grocery list this week so I can enjoy dipping them in what’s left.  Again my mouth is already watering.  

This week was a great Pinterest-in-the-kitchen week.  If you think you’d like these, totally try them, cuz if I can do it- you totally can too!  

I’m already curious about what I’ll be trying next week….how about you.  Do you Pin?  What have you created off of your Pinterest boards lately?  

Press Pause

(For Lent I am practicing the Seven Sacred Pauses, which I’ll write more about in another post, but this is on my heart tonight.)

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The Night Watch.  Keeping Vigil with Jesus.

I tried to sit for 15 minutes and empty my mind, to see what God would speak into this pause.  I don’t think my mind ever made it to neutral.  Something I need to work on.  Can I discipline my self in vigil-ing?  I tried to name all the kinds of oppression I could think of.  All the hurts that are being suffered at this exact moment.  All the lines of communication that are open to God and are desperate, hurting, pleading.

Someone is losing someone they love, right now.

Someone is taking their last breath, right now.

Someone is considering taking their own life, right now.

Someone is being raped, right now.

Someone is being forced to do things they do not want to do, right now.

Someone has been sold, right now.

Someone has been bought, right now.

Someone is starving, right now.

Someone is colder than I can imagine right now.

Someone has completely lost hope, right now.

Someone has become an orphan, right now.

Someone has been falsely imprisoned, right now.

Someone is being persecuted for their beliefs, right now.

Someone is being persecuted for their lifestyle choices, right now.

Someone is lost, right now.

Somewhere. Someone. Is hurting.  Right now.

Even as I sit in silence letting this truth run over me like a waterfall, I have dry eyes.  I have no tears.  I am apathetic to their plight. It is just the way our world is right now, praise that it’s no one I know…. or at least I don’t know about it at the moment.  I cannot sit in vigil with The Comforter.  The Healer.  The Protector.  Love.  I am numb.  Like friends sitting in the hospital waiting room while you go through tragedy.  There are no words.  There is no way to feel the depth of their emotion.  Sin.  It keeps me at arms length from understanding how The Father is grieved when EVEN ONE of his children is hurting.

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Selfishness keeps my world small.  Self-preservation limits those I care for.  Apathy keeps me from caring.  Cynicism makes caring seem foolish.  Sin keeps me from understanding.   Instructed, we are, to “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Charged, we are, that “there is no greater commandment.” (Mark 12:30-31).

My Neighbour is losing someone they love.

My Neighbour is taking their last breath.

My Neighbour is considering taking their own life.

My Neighbour is being raped.

My Neighbour is being forced to do things they do not want to do.

My Neighbour has been sold.

My Neighbour has been bought.

My Neighbour is starving.

My Neighbour is colder than I can imagine.

My Neighbour has completely lost hope.

My Neighbour has become an orphan.

My Neighbour has been falsely imprisoned.

My Neighbour is being persecuted for their beliefs.

My Neighbour is being persecuted for their lifestyle choices.

My Neighbour is lost.

My Neighbour Is hurting.

My neighbours.  All around me is this pain.  So close I can touch it.  Yet so far I cannot feel it.

My heart of stone.  My feet in the world.  My limited understanding.  My conditional love.  I pause to acknowledge it.  I pause to lay it down.

As those infamous lyrics say, “Break my heart for what breaks yours.”  I will keep pausing.  I will keep vigil.  I will wait to weep with You.  Not for my glory, but for Yours.  Not for my sake, but for theirs.  Not with my love, but with Yours.

Another step on this journey with no map.  I will pause for direction in the Night.

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