Thursday, April 25, 2013

Honouring my Parents

The day comes, not of our choosing when major life changes occur.  I spent last evening at home with my parents knowing that today my Mom was being admitted to a nursing home. Alzheimer's has taken it's toll on her health and his too.  Waking this morning to watch my Dad try to keep their normal routine while his heart was breaking to know this was the last time he would wake beside his wife of 59 years!
A book of pictures about our family my daughter made was one of the few items that went with Mom today.
I've had occasion this past year to take Mom out to give my Dad a break and spend one on one time with her.   One particular day she was in a foul mood, treating my Dad miserably.  As I was helping her get of the car it dawned on many times was I a miserable teenager in a terrible mood and she calmly encouraged me to see things from a different perspective.  It was my turn!

My parents, like all parents, are not perfect and we all come away with some peculiar family baggage to decide to continue to carry or to unpack, unfold and put where it belongs, in our past.  I choose to relish in the many great things my parents have taught me that are pillars in my character.

They took me to church, taught me that family is important and to work hard!  I had a few moments with my Mom this morning to tell her how much I value her and the sayings that have served me so very well.  I told her as I look at my children and know I too will have many grandchildren I am so extremely thankful for the example she set and I will continue to quote her.

"This too shall pass" is one phrase that not only got me through natural labour and delivery but through each challenging phase of raising children.  My mother helped me become resourceful by continually saying "where there is a will, there is a way".  This has spurred me on both personally and professionally.  She taught me that "anything worth doing is worth doing well"!

She not only taught me these things she lived them out before my eyes.

As I watched my Dad pause this morning and pray before he went to kiss her goodbye I thanked God for his commitment to serving her during these last few very difficult months and years.  He became her nurse and did things he never dreamt he would because he stood before God 59 years ago and said 'for better or worse'.  This has definitely not been the best of times for either of them but I will tell you I saw glimpses of tenderness and affection between them as the disease progressed that melted my heart.

I remember my last visit with my Mom's Dad in their home in Corner Brook, NF when he said to me (with my grandmother's health failing while she was in the hospital) that he had a new question to add to his list for the Skipper (how he affectionately referred to God); that after all these years it made no sense for him to live a part from his wife of over 65 years.

As the disease progresses and my Mom's memory fails her, her God has not.  I see her expressing her faith my openly than ever before.  She quoted scripture this morning at breakfast and I was reminded of both her and my grandmother before her as she said their 'grace' before we ate.  Knowing that God loves both my parents even more than I do, I know who will be taking care of both of them and sustaining them during this new transition.

Thank you Lord for Godly grandparents and parents that understand commitment to your word and through their faith and dependence upon you have lived out the stages of life well.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What are you reading?

What would you think if you were in a social setting and twice in a matter of 15 minutes two different people that you respect asked you "Why don't you write a book"?  Both of these questions as a result of separate conversations on different topics.  

What role does books, ebooks, audiobooks play in your life?  I'm sure you have a few favourite books that have affected you spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially or fed your intellect.  Although the mediums maybe changing as to how we receive the written word, the result of a great book is the same.  It expands your context thereby allowing more content.

I love to learn, reading is a gift to open our minds to the experience of ours.  I remember hearing a speaker talking about our ability to learn from someone else's life, all their experiences, the lessons learned in a matter of a few hours.  We've all heard the quote "Experience is the best teacher, but a fool will learn from no other". - Benjamin Franklin  Reading provides us the opportunity to learn from another's experience.

How do you put a price tag on the genuine sharing of a life?  When someone takes the time to share their dream and the pursuit of that vision it often inspires us to believe we can do the same.  

Of course the great fiction books that have been written have some of the best parables in them.  C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia come to mind for me.  What about you?  

Regardless of your learning style, we have unlimited information at our finger tips these days.  I am an auditory learner so listening while I drive often works best for me.  However, there is nothing like a cup of tea and a great book to captivate me for a few hours.  Transferring my mind from its ceaseless reasoning and opening the floodgate for new information and experience to transform my thoughts.  

Being a geek at heart I often think of the statement 'garbage in, garbage out' which applies to data input in computing but also applies to our lives.  The sources of information we choose to spend our precious time indulging in dictates what comes out of our mouths and lives.  

"We should always choose our books as God chooses our friends, just a bit beyond us, so that we have to do our level best to keep up with them." Shade of His Hand, 1216 L

Yes, I have a book to write and I believe it will be a movie some day.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Whose acceptance are you after?

Mommy, Daddy, watch this!  Every parent has heard that command too many times to count.  Why do we as children demand our parents attention and approval?

God accepts us all as we choose to believe His word
"The world tells us that our value is connected to our ‘doing.’ Growing up, we’re constantly compared. When asked why we were not doing as well as our brother or sister, we felt we were doing our best and we had no answer. So we resolved to try harder, but no matter how hard we tried, someone still wasn’t satisfied. We were still getting the message, ‘Something’s wrong with you.’ This leaves us burned out, confused and turned off. It drives many of us into counselling, when all we need is the assurance of God’s unconditional love! 

Your wrong behaviours won’t be changed until you know you’re loved by God apart from what you do. And that’s what Jesus made possible through the cross. Why is this important to believe? Because until you know who you are in Christ, you’ll stumble along believing that your acceptance with God is performance-based. 

Your acceptance with God is based on performance, but not yours - Christ’s! Jesus loves you unconditionally and is committed to working with you. And the best part is, He doesn’t condemn you while He’s doing it! He understands your temperament, your struggles, and even the faulty foundation upon which you’ve based your self-worth. He not only understands - He cares. 

Once you enter into a personal relationship with Christ He begins a process of relieving your pain, revealing your true value, and releasing your gifts. Bit by bit, He restores everything satan has stolen from you. And while all this is happening, you are positioned securely ‘in Christ.’ Therefore you’re always acceptable to Him."

Ask yourself today...Whose acceptance am I after?  What am I willing to do to feel approved by those people?  

The most life changing event for me was the day I came to the end of myself and realized that I am never going to be perfect and cannot please everyone.  What freedom!  I have to be true to myself, own my side of the street and treat everyone with love and respect and the rest is up to them.  Some will accept me and choose to share this journey of life with me, others will not and that is just a fact.

I am loved by God and He is more than enough.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Place of Help - Recharging and Reflecting

George Bernard Shaw wrote: ‘Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I get to hold for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before turning it over to future generations.’

Our lives have a ripple effect and as I swam in the Caribbean sea this past week I found myself pausing to ponder many things at this mid-point in my life.

Being on vacation at a very large beautiful resort and traveling with a group of 20 people allows plenty of time for interaction with others.  I also chose to spend a lot of time reflecting while I was relaxing and recharging.  

My nephew's wedding brought his family and friends to a gorgeous resort.  It was a time to share memories about him and his new wife.  From my perspective he was the first grandchild in our family and the day he was born was the one and only time I ever got sent home from work; I was too distracted to focus on work.

He was the first infant I held, the first diapers I changed and definitely the first one to spit up on me (too many times to count)!  I stood as his God parent when he was baptized and spent a lot of weekends with him during the first few years of his life.  He came to me at the age of 8 and asked me to 'teach him how to program a computer.

Our mutual interest in computers has kept us connected over the years to the point that we now work together full time.  I remember when he made his first website....he was so very proud and probably about 12...we won't discuss the content!  I used to be his his tech support as he was learning how to build computers and now he is mine.

Life is funny like that, this vacation was compliments of my children and for the first time in over 25 years I feel well rested!  The forced time away could not have come at a better time.  Recharging my batteries for the next chapter of my life and causing me to reflect on the incredible journey thus far was wonderful.  

I was asking myself questions like:

"Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble, as I get older? Am I exhibiting the life that men take knowledge of as having been with Jesus, or am I getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have my own way? It is a great thing to tell yourself the truth." The Place of Help

Watching so many people at the resort interact; families, singles, young and older, staff, customers and locals....How do people see me was my question?  Each interaction could be our last, what do we want to be remembered for and how can we make a difference in brief encounters.  I became a great aunt for the first time on this trip and saw an opportunity to get to know my new niece and nephew.

I got a little overwhelmed at one point realizing that life is so very full and our family is obviously going to continue to get larger so how do I make the most of each moment. How can I best help each new person that I meet.  I was constantly in amazement of the beauty surrounding me and how creative God is.  My relational questions drove me to my knees as I searched God for answers.

Awe is the condition of a man’s spirit realizing Who God is and what He has done for him personally. Our Lord emphasizes the attitude of a child; no attitude can express such solemn awe and familiarity as that of a child.  Not Knowing Whither, 882 L

My place of in reflecting on what God has done for me and my family, and as I remain childlike in my faith He will provide me the opportunities to love on new people and the grace to be in relationship with an ever growing family.  
I am blessed and thankful and wanted to share a devotional that I read while I was away about people and relationships.  

“But we all…are changed…by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV 
Prayer, Not Pressure, Changes People
Jesus asked the question, ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’ (Matthew 7:3 NIV). Expecting more out of people than they’re able to give will hurt your relationships, not help them. People need the freedom to be who they are. That doesn’t mean they don’t need or want to change. But nobody appreciates being given the message, even subtly, that they must change in order to be loved and accepted. We’re more likely to change for those who are willing to accept us with our shortcomings, than for those who demand we live by their rules. One thing is certain: God won’t change the people we’re trying to change until we adopt a ‘hands off’ policy. We must get out of His way and let Him work! Even when we think we’re hiding our disapproval, people still feel it. It’s in our voice and body language. Prayer is the greatest agent for change, not pressure. If we truly love people we’ll pray for them and allow God to work on them His way, on His schedule, and for His glory. Many of those who irritate us are simply being themselves; their personality just doesn’t mesh with ours. Sometimes we want them to change when we need to change. Often the things we require in other people are already available for us to enjoy, if we’ll just stop judging them. For change to be lasting, it must come from the inside out. And only the Spirit of God can bring that kind of change.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Get Service - Everyone has a story

Interestingly I was introduced to this video awhile ago and saved it because I knew I wanted to share it.  Today, as I sit in on extremely beautiful resort patio overlooking the Caribbean Sea, in Jamaica I am awe struck for several reasons.

1) The sheer beauty of nature is truly breath taking...thinking about snow, ice and cold weather in Toronto, Ontario as I bask in 80 degree weather makes me think once again of God's incredible creativity.

2) This resort hosts 2500 people in luxury, the volume of food, alcohol and amenities available is sure to please anyone's tastes.

3) Most importantly for me it is about the people.  I watch the many families, couples and singles that this may be the trip of a lifetime for, the ones that is obvious this is a regular occurrence and the staff!  They see it all, most living in poverty, their families livelihood is dependent upon their ability to serve.

  • Each new person that serves me, causes me to stop and think; what is their story?  I've asked a few of them and to realize that one woman in a little booth by the pool that sells all those things people forget and need like sunscreen, lip balm, etc. earns $50/week base + commission.  We spend $1800 for a week and that would be her salary for 3 years! 
  • The waitress this morning that served me was explaining how hard it is to even come and visit a country like Canada.  On average of 100 people that go through the application process for a visa, may be 25 get approved.  She has tried twice already but will continue to try until she gets approved.
  • Another lady, a single Mom of three shared how difficult the balancing act is with so little money and how her Mom is her main support and she could not manage without her.
I am very thankful to be hear enjoying the break from our winter, the rest and relaxation, the beauty and will do my best to look at each person I meet and remember they have a story to share.  I'll serve them the best way I can in each moment as the opportunities present themselves.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I wish you enough

I recently attended an Amway conference for the first time in almost two years and they played this song.  I wept!  I will share that the Amway business I started in 1999 has had more of an impact on my life than any other educational investment I've made.  To stop and realize what a positive environment of encouragement and development can do for your attitude is incredible.  

As my pastor put it so very well...we need knowledge and faith.  How are you developing these two areas of your life?  

Knowing that we need to have a reason to get up each day and choose to move forward sometimes through valleys and occasionally we are on mountain tops but either way it is our attitude that determines majority of our outcomes.  As the song states we need to persist and do the next right thing anyways...

As I reflected upon why I started in Amway and why I am willing to build again the stark truth of wanting to have the money enough to free up my time to serve where I feel compelled to serve is a great goal.  God will be glorified as I've come to terms with my definiteness of purpose and will build it anyway!

Investing my life in helping others find their God given vision come to fruition will be a life well spent.  I pray you choose to develop your faith and knowledge and as for life's ups and downs...

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."

I so agree with this quote and have said several final good-byes over the years, each time thanking God for my time with that person and their impact on my life.   As they takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Reflecting upon who we allow in our lives

Our Moms' were right!  We do become who we hang out with.

Over and over again this truism plays out in life.  From our teenage years, the discussions we had with our parents regarding our friends to our adult lives with expanding networks of people we are introduced to we have to constantly be aware of the people we are spending time with.  

Depending on our experiences as young children we are often imprinted with habits that are positive or negative.  The hangups we have developed from our families circumstances soon become a crossroads as adults.  I believe we all come to a point where the rose coloured glasses come off and we choose to accept responsibility for our lives or put the glasses back on quick and pretend we didn't see a thing. 

I have made both choices at different times and can relate with the Israelites taking 40 years to do an 11 day journey through the wilderness.  Accepting responsibility for our lives, not blaming our parents and choosing to do the hard work of growing our knowledge in the areas of emotional fitness will start to direct our lives on the path fulfillment.

One of the tremendous areas of my journey has been learning to about co-dependency and what that looks like.  I've had to set some serious boundaries with the people I choose to be part of my daily life.  Loving everyone is vital but allowing them time and space in our lives has to be a choice based upon mutual edification.

"Can I help you, without hurting me? Can we share our lives, without me giving up mine? When do you truly need my help? When do I need to let go, and let you and God handle it? Finding the balance between ‘enough’ and ‘too much’ in relationships is a constant challenge and isn’t easy. Especially when your role tends to be, ‘all things, at all times, to all people’, and theirs is, ‘I’m helpless, you owe me, take care of me’; when you have no ‘no’ and they have no ‘yes’. Needing to be needed by needy people who always want someone to take care of them puts the needy person in the driver’s seat"  Today's Word by Bob Gass

We can learn from each person that crosses our path, even if just for a moment if we are aware of the interaction that happens.  Everyone has something to teach.  

"Well-adjusted people find the right balance between protecting their personal space, and allowing others to infiltrate, manipulate and dominate them. They know how to say yes to what’s healthy and no to what’s not." Today's Word by Bob Gass

Who are the 5 people closest to you?  Do they have the fruit on the tree?  Would you like your lives to reflect theirs?  Just a few questions to think about who you are allowing to influence your life.  I'm off to hangout with some great positive leaders....