Friday, 29 September 2017

The Sunshine Blogger Award


I was surprised to see a message in my inbox today to receive a Sunshine Blogger Award. I would say that is a pretty sweet start to the weekend! What a fun and exciting way to get to meet and reach out to fellow bloggers. Thank you Kristin B. Sizemore from http://unhingedworld.com for the nomination. Looks like we are both just getting going with our blogs. Be sure to check out her writing :)

As part of accepting the award I have been asked a few questions from Kristin to answer here for you. 

So here we go...

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

I think I've always enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember, it satisfies something deep inside my heart. This blog was started after writing with a friend on a separate blog for a few years. The call on both of our lives became clearer and for me that meant the call to write grew louder. I always pray that my writing challenges or changes just one person to grow deeper in their walk with the Lord.

2. What is your favourite holiday?

Thanksgiving!! I love food and the relaxed atmosphere of Thanksgiving. It's all the best parts of Christmas minus the stress. And before you frown about the whole Jesus birthday part- I would just like to say, I am thankful everyday that he was born:) Aren't you? 

3. What biblical or historical figure would you most like to meet besides the Lord?

I would love to meet Peter, I think he's extremely relatable. He wanted so much to honour God and often did, but his flaws were apparent and I love that they were included in Scripture for us to read. 

4. Where is my favourite vacation destination? Why?

Banff, Alberta!! (but only in off season). I love the charm of the town, the beauty of the mountains, the wildlife, the lakes, the hikes, the views, the smell...mmmm...sorry...where were we?!

5. What is your favourite dessert?

As long as it has chocolate in it it's my favourite. 

6. Which social media platform do you prefer for blog promotion and networking? Why?

I think I prefer Facebook the best. This is my first blog I have linked to Instagram as well, but I'm not sure it sends traffic to the site like Facebook does. I think I prefer the interaction on Facebook better as well. It feels a bit more personal (as personal as social media can get-haha!)

7. Share a treasured Scripture or quote. Why is this particular Scripture/ quote so meaningful to you?

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God." Phil. 4:6

I am a worrier. For those of you who know Sesame Street, when I was growing up, my mom used to call me Telly (for those of you who don't know Sesame Street, Telly was the character who would worry about EVERYTHING!). If you could listen in on my thoughts, this is a scripture you would hear on repeat in my head almost daily. It has brought me peace and the ability to move forward without fear in many circumstances.

8. Who is your favourite author?

Good question! I think I've been reading so many textbooks lately that I can't remember the last time I read a book from a memorable author for pure entertainment. Hmm...I do read a lot of kids books to my son, does that count? I'll go with Sandra Boynton if I can answer that way. I love the rhythm she creates in her stories. 

9. What is your favourite place to be on a Friday night?

At home in my jammies with my family (preferably watching a movie in bed with everyone). We are a homeschool family, so we can go out whatever night we please. We try to stay home on Fridays when the crowds go out. 

10. What is your go-to meal when you're short on time and money?

Spaghetti! It's fast to make, reasonably cheap, but also everyone will eat it with no complaints from little (or big) people.

11. Where will you be in ten years and what will you be doing?

There's the million dollar question right now!! I am currently enrolled in college working towards a degree in either biblical studies or theology. I would hope that I would be teaching biblical theology to woman in ten years, but at the pace I'm going I will just be graduating. I'm ok with that too as life with three littles in the house takes first priority. I can at least say that in ten years from now I will still be doing "mom" things.

There you have it! Now you know a little more about me.

I now nominate Lureta at http://journeyingbyfaith.com , Caroline, at https://www.refreshedmama.com


The Sunshine Blogger Award rules:

~Thank the person who nominated you for the Sunshine Award and link back to their blog.
~Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you. (The questions for my nominees can be found below.)
~Nominate other blogs and give them questions to answer.
~Notify your nominees through social media or commenting on their blog.
~List the “rules” and display a Sunshine Award logo in your post.

My Questions to the nominees:
1. What inspired you to start blogging?
2. What social media platform do you prefer to use? Why?
3. What song can you play on repeat and never get bored of?
4. What is one thing about yourself that you love?
5. What do you do or where do you go when you need to unwind?
6. If you could shout one message from a rooftop for the world to hear what would it be? 
7. What is one Scripture that you hold extra close to your heart? Why?
8. If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
9. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
10. How do you spend the first hour of every day?

11. What advice would give to younger you?

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dearest Daughter...(letter 1)



I have been writing these letters to keep for my daughters for a time when they are grown and need to hear them. I wanted to share them with you every now and again in a series called "Dear Daughter". It is a series from mothers of any age to daughters of any age. You can read them to your daughters, or read them as though they were from your mother. At the end of each post with be an image of the letter on stationary that you are free to download and print off for your daughters.



Dearest Daughter,

What I want you to know is...

 that I love you with all my might. 

There is nothing you can do to take away my love for you. 

But, even though I am your biggest fan I will fail you sooner or later and it will hurt. 

I don't mean to hurt you, 

but I am not without fault.

 I am a sinner and my imperfections often shine brighter than my strengths. 

For the pain I have and will cause, 

I am sorry from the depths of my heart. 

You must know though,

 that when it feels like everyone (including and especially me) 

has abandoned you,

 and you are at the bottom of a dark lonely pit,

your perfect Heavenly Father 

will leap off his throne to come to you. 

He will fiercely and quickly come 

on the wings of the wind

 to your cry for help. 

Mountains will tremble in his presence. 

Then, 

he will draw you up in his righteous hands, 

 protecting you from those who hurt you. 

He will wash you in his everlasting love 

until the pangs of isolation 

have faded,

and you have 

strength to stand again. 

Call to him to come to your side when the pit seems too dark 

and your heart is too burdened. 

He will NEVER leave you. 

You are NEVER alone. 

Though people like me will fail you, HE never will.

All My Love,

Mom


He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. 
He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. 
They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. 
He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. Psalm 18:16-19

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

7 Ideas to Teach Children To Serve (Without Reading to Seniors)


Ok, I know the title sounds goofy, but here's the thing: Whenever I ask for suggestions about ways my kids can serve in our community, inevitably one of the most common responses is, "You should go to the nursing home and read to the seniors." I have no doubt that nursing homes are full of lonely people (show me a place that isn't these days). It leaves me guessing, however, as to whether or not seniors have more patience than I do when it comes to listening to a child phonetically make their way through a 50-page book (ugh!). 

But, honestly, here are the two greatest deterrents for me to attempt this with my children:


1. I don't have the time or desire to set up weekly or monthly reading visits.

2. The thought of dragging my two-year-old down to the seniors home while threatening convincing him to sit still for an hour while the older kids read sounds painful.

If you are a reading-to-the-seniors supporter then may God bless you in your diligence! For the rest of us though, read on. The Bible makes it clear that if we are to follow Christ and pick up our crosses we are to become humble servants. Part of that means we are to serve others. If you desire to raise children who include serving as part of their daily living then here is a list using some of what we do in our home to encourage you. 

(Side note: we have three kids ages 10, 8, and 2. These are ideas that can be used and adapted across a wide range of ages)

1. Share your garden and meet your neighbour. 

This year we overplanted our lettuce (not on purpose, but it worked out). We came home from holidays and had enough overgrown lettuce to share, so we picked it and tossed it in bags. We then went ringing doorbells of neighbours we didn't know. We introduced ourselves, and learned a bit about them (the toddler thought the walking part was great!). The kids had such a fun time that next summer we plan on planting too much on purpose. It was an easy way to get to say "Hi" to a neighbour without too much pressure. Plus who doesn't love fresh produce? The Bible tells us to love our neighbour, but if you don't know who your neighbour is how can you love them? As a starting point, find a reason to get to know your neighbour.

2. Hand out drinks to local workers.

Whether it is the postman, a construction crew, a delivery man, or someone else, everyone gets thirsty. Keep a stash of styrofoam cups on hand. If you see someone close by working go with your kids and take them a beverage. If it's cold outside, brew a pot of coffee or tea and take it out. If it's hot, make some lemonade or take out ice water (anything cold would be appreciated on a hot day). 

3. Shovel a sidewalk when no one is looking.

Part of raising children to serve is to teach them the joy of giving privately and without reward. Jesus tells us, "...when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:2-4) 

Grab a shovel next time it snows and have your kids shovel a neighbour's driveway. Or help someone on your block who maybe can't do the heavy work and shovel their walk. Obviously if your kids are little you will need to do most of the work, but bigger kids can certainly do this on their own. Don't ring the doorbell, don't ask for money, just do it. This can be adapted through varying seasons as well (lawn cutting, leaf raking, etc.)

4. Read your Bible together.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us that "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." 

It is clear that God's word need to be rooted deeply into the hearts of our children. It is in knowing His Word that He will be able to guide their paths as they grow. If we want to raise servant-minded children their minds must first be rooted in God's promises and commands. They must first know who God is, and all He commands and promises. Then, they will be more equipped to share this good news with others. 

5. Lay hands on others who are sick.

This is a great way to get your kids to begin to feel comfortable about praying for others. You can do this at home with each other, or with friends, or family. If they are little you lead the prayer, as they grow they can do it own their own. I have loved watching when my kids (as young as three years old) would lay their little hands on one of us when we are sick. And you know what? God answers those sweet little prayers! (see: James 5:14-15)

6. Let them learn by watching.

This requires a little courage (and patience) on your part. We have all had that moment in a line-up at the store when a stranger starts talking to you and suddenly you know their entire story and the current crises they are facing. Be willing to be obedient to the Spirit's leading here, but if you feel prompted, offer to pray with them right then and there. Very rarely will someone turn down the opportunity for prayer. I know that line-ups can be stressful times (especially with little fidgety children), so it doesn't need to be a long-winded experience. Keep it simple. God can move mountains with the smallest of prayers. Allowing these moments to interrupt your day will become commonplace to your children. It will knock down fear of looking "odd" or "out of place" in a public atmosphere.

7. Serve each other.

While the Bible talks about going out, we also need to be willing to serve in our own home. Cook a meal when Mom is tired, do a load of laundry for a sibling, pick up someone else's mess without being asked. The point is to think beyond your own needs and see others' needs.

I hope that gives you a few ideas to incorporate into your day. Raising children who serve the Lord does not need to be costly, nor does it need to take hours every day. It isn't about carving dedicated weekly time to serving, but is about learning what it looks like when we live daily in faith. 

How do YOU serve as a family? I'd love to hear what you do!

Love,
Sarah









Monday, 4 September 2017

Lord, Send Me Just One

On May 1, 2016 a fire of epic proportion spread like crazy through the city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. People were given minutes to evacuate leaving behind valuables, pets, and vehicles. Images of the apocalyptic-like fire begin to spread across the Internet, videos uploaded from people who watched their homes burn from their baby cams they had connected to their phones. Our province of Alberta held its breath while we watched and waited for them to arrive. Then the chaos hit. The people we had witnessed fleeing for their lives started to trickle into our cities and towns in southern Alberta and into facilities across the province that turned into make-shift hostels. A hotel in the city where I live set up a donation centre where people could come get diapers, shampoo, dog food, and other toiletries. 

                                         (source)

I prayed and asked God where He wanted me in all this. I wanted with all my heart to help, but where was God? Where did HE need help? I felt him stirring my heart to pray for just one. He did not need me to help the masses, or serve tirelessly day and night. He need me for just one person. So I prayed for one.

"God, bring to me just one person you are chasing after. Give me just one person and take over my mouth and hands to serve how YOU need them served."

I prayed all day.

In the late afternoon, my husband went to leave the house and I noticed him talking to someone. I came to the door to look..

There she was.

One single lady (let's call her Jane), sitting under the shade of our trees on our front lawn. Her eyes were wide. Her breathing laboured. She had just been flown in, and our neighbour had offered a room to whomever needed it. She was the recipient of our neighbours generosity and found her way to our shady grassy patch to catch her breath (something she couldn't quite do yet).

Thank you Lord, I see your daughter in need.

Not wanting to step on the toes of our already generous neighbour, I made mention to them both that we needed  to run a few errands and I asked if it would it be convenient for us to take Jane up to the donation centre to grab what she needed. They all agreed this was a wonderful idea.

Jane stepped to our car, eyes still wide, adrenaline still coursing through her veins. We got to the donation centre and my husband offered to run errands with the kids while I helped our evacuee navigate under stress.

The hotel with the donation centre generously had supper out for evacuees to eat when they came through. I sat with Jane and listened. She could barely eat with her nerves being what they were. She spoke quickly of the events of the day as she processed what had happened. When she made it through the events of that one day she started moving backwards in thought, recounting many stressful events in her life.

I sat and listened, she spoke.

Her breathing became quicker between inhales and exhales.

She pushed her food away.

"I can't eat," she said quietly to herself.

We sat together silently. Saying nothing. I wanted to say so much, and yet nothing seemed right.

I offered to go for a little walk across the street to our local rec centre where the clothing donations were set up. Jane was still wearing the same steel-toed work boots she had put on earlier that morning. As we walked she started to process her future: “What if I lose my job?” “What is someone stole my car?” “What if someone looted my house?” “Where will I go while I wait to go home?”


We found her some running shoes. She stretched out her toes for the first time from her cramped boots. About that time my husband showed up to take us "home". As we drove back my heart was leaping for a chance to pray with her. I had sat quietly for an hour and a half listening and trying not to barf some form of Jesus on her from excitement over what God had done.

As we pulled up in front of our house my mouth started speaking before I had time to think. "Can I pray for you?"

She stopped. I held my breath. I must have sounded stupid.

"Yes", she replied. A smile began to spread across her face.

I prayed right there in the driveway. I won't share what I prayed, but we prayed. Together.

When we finished she grabbed me for a hug, and for the first time I felt her take a long slow inhale and a long slow exhale. She backed up. "I knew I was suppose to meet you," she told me. "There was something about all this that was just supposed to be."

She had been struggling with faith and wondering where God was. He showed up by the working through all those events to make Himself known to her.

We said goodbye and that was the last time I saw Jane. She left the next day to stay with family in a different city.

I walked into my home grinning from ear to ear over all that God had done that day.

It changed me. I don't need to change the world. I don't need to travel overseas and visit third-world countries. I don't need to build organizations and not-for-profits. All I need to do is pray the simple prayer of "Lord, send me just one," and then be ready for Him to interrupt my day.

I now pray this prayer every morning. It changes the way I see the world, and I can't tell you how many times He's interrupted my day with someone who needs to hear from him. I have come to expect that He will send me just one every time I ask. Sometimes it's a stranger, or a friend, or sometimes my own kids or husband. It's given me the mindset of a missionary, and changed how I choose to insert my life into my community.

As Paul puts it:

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)


Here's the beauty of this prayer. You can pray it too! You can be a missionary in your own back yard. It's about intentionality and allowing God to interrupt. It forces you to re-evaluate your daily purpose. We are not here to stand by idly. We are here to be the hands, feet, and mouth for Jesus. We are here to complete the work He began on earth.


And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19)


Love,


Sarah