When Circumstances Change Who You Are. I get it.

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There are moments in your life that change you.  Alter the way you see things, the way you do things.  There are events that cause you to reevaluate the things that are important.  There are circumstances that make you into something completely different.

Sometimes the changes are permanent and sometimes they’re not.

When my Dad got really sick and we knew he had very little time to live, life changed.  (You can read more about that journey here)

It changed because we knew the days, hours and nearer to the end, possible moments that we would have with him were limited.  Extremely limited.  And when minutes spent with a loved one start echoing in your ear like a clock ticking away the seconds, well, priorities shift.

My life became necessities and love.  The necessities were work and my husband and my children and the love became evening after evening in the hospital.  The love became meals eaten together as a family in the palliative care wing.  The love became a room for my children with their name on the door so they could watch cartoons and laugh with their cousins and escape the sterilized smell and somber moods for just a while.  The love became holding straws up to his lips so he could drink and sitting at his bedside reading scripture over him while nobody else was in the room.  The love became speaking words I wasn’t sure he could hear and holding his hand whether he knew I was or not.

What became completely unnecessary was creativity.  In fact, when hit with survival mode there wasn’t even any creativity to draw upon.  My tank had run dry and there was no station to fill ‘er up at.

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5 years ago I hung up the strap of my camera.  I tucked flashes and lenses into my impossibly heavy vintage case.  I chucked canisters of film into a pouch and I closed the lid and snapped the lock shut.  I wrote a letter to clients, past and present, announcing my departure from this art I loved so much and I handed a list of their addresses over to a dear friend who I knew would care for them and their pregnancies and days old babies and memories just as much as I would.

And that was that.

I was changed.

Photographer was no longer an adjective I used to describe myself.  If someone called me one I felt like a fraud and I would try and explain it away.  Because photographers actually pick up cameras and find exhilaration in the sound of the shutter snapping open and closed.  Photographers see the world in a distinct way.  Always snapping in their mind.  Altering reality.  Seeing in black and white or oversaturated tones and picking tiny little moments out of the world and storing them as though on glossy 4×6 sheets.

I was none of that.  I didn’t feel any of it.  It was a part of who I was but not a part of who I am.

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Don’t get me wrong, it was just fine with me.  It felt like something off my plate when life became about survival and I was more than happy to tuck it away and forget about it.

For the past five years I truly felt it was a part of my past.  A chapter in the novel that had ended.  Pages had been turned and new things had come and there you have it.

My lovely husband had tried to nudge me back to it several times over these years but I always had an excuse as to why not.

Until…

Well, a few weekends ago I pulled that dusty old leather case from the back of the closet.  I wiped off the top and I clicked the latch and I opened it up.  In just a second it all came rushing back, so much the same but slightly different.

Because I’m different.  And events and time change you and it changed me.

But what I know is that some cases aren’t meant to be closed forever.  Some things are meant to have the back of the closet as their permanent home.  Some are, mind you.  But some aren’t.  I don’t think we really know until God reveals it to us.

God’s people, His chosen people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years on a journey that could have taken 11 days, apart from their disobedience.  They were scared, though He told them not to be.  They said no even though He said yes.  They took the very human route of collaborating stories with others, and scoping out the scene and then made humanly smart decisions based on what they saw instead of what they heard from Him.

40 years and no promised land later, Moses died.  God did show Him with his eyes though, what could have been.  Moses saw the land, it was right there before him.  I wonder what he felt in his heart just then.  Seeing what could have been.  Knowing the life he could have had.  Gazing on that land in all it’s splendour knowing he would never taste of its beauty.  All because he was scared.

I don’t want that to be my life.  I don’t want to look back in my final days and see what could have been if only I’d listened.  I don’t want to stay someplace I’m not meant to be for my entire life because I don’t believe I can do it.  I don’t want to play it safe when it seems too scary.  If I’m told to go then I want to go.

I don’t know what this means at all just now.  Not one little bit.

But I do know that I pulled that baby out and I heard the sound of the mirrors snap and I listened to the whir as the film finished and rolled itself back up into its shell.  I explained to my kids what film is!  And then I dropped the roll off and I had to wait a day before I got to see any of my photos and it was so exciting.  I had to wait to see what I shot, people!  No instant gratification.  No immediate post garnering 74 likes.  Waiting.

When I picked up my photos the following day and I thumbed through the stack and when I saw the colours and the grain something came back.  Something that I thought was a thing of the past rushed into me and I looked again and again and again.

I want to follow where He leads and stop the rabbit trails that aren’t mine to have.  He has given me a love for words.  He has given me a love of art.  He has opened my eyes to see beauty in the mundane and joy in the simplicity of texture and pattern.

Of course this means nothing other than I might just be that camera girl again.  Get ready friends.  It’s coming for you.

Are my kids Christians?

 

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Someone asked me today if my son is a Christian.

As a parent I never thought this would be the question that stumped me.

I can easily be stumped by tenth grade math or the naming of the last 10 Prime Ministers.  I can be stumped by titles of songs and endings of movies. (I’m always asleep by the end) Street names have never been my strong point and ask me how old I’m turning on my next birthday and I may have to take a sec to figure it out.

But when asked if my kids are Christian I just automatically assumed my answer would be a big, bold yes. But it wasn’t.

I know the whole ‘when do you actually become a christian’ thing is a hot topic debate.  If you’re a Calvinist you’ll probably sneer and mention something about before even being formed in your mama’s womb and if you grew up in an evangelical church in the 80’s it’ll be more along the lines of during that alter call or when you said that prayer.

I would land more in the first camp than the second, (minus the sneer) but that’s not really a debate I want to enter on here.

Thing is, until 10 years ago (give or take) I would have told you I became a christian when I was 3 and I prayed to ask Jesus into my heart.   I did that, however, because my brothers had just seen a scary movie on the rapture (thank you, christian movies of the 80’s!) and they peppered me with questions of the, “do you want to go to heaven or hell,” variety.  To be fair, I gave it some serious thought.  Like, 30 seconds worth along with a question about where they would be.  When they said heaven, I said heaven and they led me through some prayer about Jesus coming into my heart and then we all jumped on my bed and that was that.

But ask me today when I became a Christian and I would tell you that it was more than 20 years after that event.

Did I always believe in Jesus?  Yes.

Did I always take up my cross and follow him?  No.

It wasn’t  until my late 20’s that I believe I grasped what it means to be blind and then to see.  It wasn’t until then that I realized that it wasn’t being good enough or doing enough that saved you but it was unmerited grace and only the blood of Jesus that could do the saving.  It was having the feeling that the disciples had of, ‘where else would we go?’  It’s hard to put into words exactly but at some point there was a line crossed that meant no turning back.  Come what may, this is my life, this is how I will live it, this is whom I will follow.  End of story.

So when asked if my boys are christians all I could do is say, “I don’t know.”

Do they pray?  Yeah.  Do they attend church?  Yeah.  Do we study the bible together?  Yes.  Do they understand concepts in Scripture and believe it as truth?  They would say so.  Do they believe in Jesus?  Mm hmm.

Have their eyes been opened to the truth of the gospel?  Have they recognized that without Jesus and his work on the cross they cannot be saved?  Do they grasp that it is not by works but faith?  Do they know that they are poor and needy sinners in need of a Saviour?

By word they do, because we’ve said the words so many times and they’re pretty smart.

But do they really get it?  Like in the deep part of their heart and soul?  Have they crossed that proverbial line that changes everything?  That means whatever He asks and wherever He leads they will follow?

Probably not.

I think there are some children who are given wisdom and understanding at a young age and that’s amazing, but it’s not the norm.  I think more often than not we don’t know where our children’s hearts really stand because they’re simply operating out of house rules or obedience to their parents.  Once we’re out of the picture is this the life they’ll choose?  We hope so but at this point we simply don’t know.

I’m not sure it’s important that we know at this point.  I do know that my role is to teach them constantly, to disciple them in truth, to pray with and for them and to guide them in righteousness.  So that’s what we do.

As much as I want to control their salvation, it is a role that is not mine.  I can’t force them to be true followers of Christ.  That work only belongs to the Holy Spirit.  It doesn’t matter how many devotions we do or how many prayers I pray, or if we do or do not participate in Lent or Advent or hide inside on Halloween, it is not mine to decide.

So I offer up my pleas and I offer up my children and I believe in a God that is sovereign and has a plan that is greater than mine.  And if I believe all of that then I have to believe that He has a plan for my children, too.  No matter how many parenting mistakes I make.  No matter how many devotions we do.  No matter if they prayed some prayer when they were 4 because they heard Jesus could live in their heart.

Scripture tells us it’s a race to run to the end.  Until we’re at our end, how do we know if we’ve continued to run it?

What do you think?  Is there a moment you can pin it on in your life?  Do you feel certain your kids are saved?

Better than Amazon Prime? Mm hmm.

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part of today’s random selections

When I was a kid we had these friends who went to the library as a family every Tuesday night.

I envied them like crazy.

The mere thought of getting to compile a new stack of selections every single week still makes me drool!

We were a sometimes library family and with my kids, I’ve found us to be the same.  We can’t get there once a week and sometimes we don’t even make it once a month but I do find myself popping in there by myself more often than we even go together these days.

The library, any library, feels like home to me.  The walls lined with row upon row of books scream whisper hope.  Possibility.  So much potential.  I feel like the people sitting at the tables and perusing the shelves, they’re my people, though I never talk to them because….ssshhh.

Oh, and the quiet.  I relish the quiet.  People altogether in one place and yet silence, or hushed voices at the very most.

But enough of my drama, the real reason I love the library is because there are so many things I just don’t know.  So many things I can hardly pronounce, let alone have a conversation about.

Learning is my jam and the library lets me choose pretty much anything I want to learn about.

Decoupage?  There’s a book for that.  The Civil Rights Movement?   Aisle 4 over there.  Want to travel to Japan and be armed with sentences to get you through?  Yup.  Curious about Donald Trump?  Derek Hough?  Garfield?  Maybe Women in the Arts is more your speed?  Or Politics in this Century? Traditional Lebanese Cooking?

Or maybe you like story.  The possibilities are endless there.  Love.  Loss.  Strength.  Defiance.  Submission.  World Changers.  Quirky sorts.   It’s all there within the pages of the novels, you just have to find the right one.  Look long enough and it’ll be there, I guarantee it.

Books are my love. When I was little I would do my saturday morning chores with my nose buried in something as I vacuumed.  I still do the same as I’m waiting for pots of soup to simmer on the stove.

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The library offers endless possibilities and I love seeing what jumps out at me as I walk quietly along the rows.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon and their prime delivery but I would never order even a quarter of the books I check out of the library.  I can’t afford all the gorgeous coffee table books and I wouldn’t spend the money on some of the gambles that I’ve picked up just out of curiosity.

This morning I just needed some quiet.  It’s spring break here and I’ve been surrounded by people for too many days on end and a break was necessary.  So I went to my happy place.  I breathed in the smell of old books and thumbed through half a dozen gorgeous architecture  finds and peered at name after name in the biography section until I found one that my fingers wanted to reach for.  It was perfect.

And I don’t even have to wait two days for shipping.

I have made up my mind.

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Remember tenth grade?

I do.  Like it was yesterday.  It was the year I started driving.  Started dating my husband.  Started wearing long johns under torn jeans that were 6 sizes too big.  I remember cutting the front tab off of my button fly levi’s so that the buttons would be exposed.  There was a lot of plaid involved.  And bleach.  Plaid and bleach.  Blonde Drew Barrymore style curls and a baby blue VW bug.  And daisies.  Daisy crowns to be precise.  I contemplated a dolphin tattoo but thank the Lord it never happened.

I remember wear we sat to eat lunch and how we’d drink hazelnut latte’s at Rhino Cappuccino after school.  Nirvana, Hole, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots playing in the background.  Or maybe Frente, Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, the Pixies and some Cranberries.  Someone was always humming the Cranberries.

We went and saw the epic Animation in Jurassic Park, we cried through Philadelphia and were, of course, Sleepless in Seattle.  I watched What’s Eating Gilbert Grape seven thousand times.  Juliette Lewis was the coolest girl I’d ever seen and I wanted to be her.  Including the part where she kissed Johnny Depp.

I remember the parties.  Someone’s parents were out of town and they didn’t think anything of leaving their teenager home with a cabinet full of alcohol.  Friends started smoking various things and kissing their girlfriends just a little too long.

I also remember my parents trusting me enough to drop me off with a friend and be back to get me at a decent hour.

I never drank at these parties.  I didn’t smoke anything and my bathing suit always stayed on in the hot tub.  My parents knew they could trust me and, being the rule follower that I am, I obeyed the rules.  I was never tempted by the lunacy that ensued from teenagers drinking and I’d leave long before it got embarrassing.

But the most important thing was that before even entering the scene, I’d made up my mind.

I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to take a sip.  I wasn’t going to have a drag and I was going to stay vertical when I kissed a boy.

Twenty years have passed since those days but I remember them clearly.  I remember them especially vividly just now because my oldest boy, well, he’s in tenth grade too and I hear him tell many of the same tales I lived.  He’s not into parties but he hears the chatter around school and he knows who has pills that can be popped to just let your mind go and he knows who’s dating whom.  It hasn’t changed one bit.

My first parenting strategy was to just tell him all the things not to do.  Drink?  Don’t.  Smoke?  Don’t.  Be alone with a girl for any length of time?  Don’t.

But it didn’t exactly sit well with me, this parenting technique.  It was too controlling.  Too, my ideas instead of his.  Too, me being a parent who doesn’t understand and just doling out rules on life.  And this one?  I wouldn’t exactly call him a rule follower.

After much prayer and reading and thinking I came across a verse in our devotions that became my new parenting model.  A little phrase in Daniel just leaped off the pages at me and gave me the aha! moment I was looking for.

Daniel 1:8 says, “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank;”

Daniel made up his mind.  He predetermined.  Some versions say resolved or purposed.  And this mind making up?  It didn’t happen in the moment.  It happened prior.  He thought it through.  Likely prayed it through.  Decided well before he was faced with the situation just exactly how he was going to handle it.   He made up his mind.

This changed every single one of our conversations.  Every. Single. One.

Because now I wasn’t saying no, no, no, nooooo!   I was saying things like, “Should you find yourself in that position, what are you going to do?”  Or, “When you have a drink offered to you, how are you going to handle that?”  Or, “When you really like a girl what are the guidelines that you are going to have for treating her with respect?”

We even say the sentences.  But _________ made up his mind that his will not defile himself with ________.  Fill in the blanks.

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We’re making up our minds, over here.  We’re walking through situations and we’re deciding well in advance how we’re going to handle them.   We’re predetermining and resolving just exactly what we’re going to do so should we ever get there, we have a plan.  And isn’t it so much easier to act in a situation when you already know what you’re going to say?  When you’ve thought about it and have formed the sentences and spoken out loud that this is how you’ll handle it?

I think yes.  I think we could all benefit from making up our minds.  Making up our minds to not enter into gossip, or not tell that little lie or not spend more money than we have.  If we make up our minds it sets us up for a win.

I hope I’m setting my teenagers up for a win, too by letting them be a part of the conversation.  By helping them put into words what they’ve made up  in their mind to do, be, say and how to act.  By encouraging them and letting them know that even still, as an adult, we have to make up our minds on things before we find ourselves in situations we’d rather not be and to trust that we’ve raised them with integrity and wisdom so they can decide well ahead that they do not want to defile themselves.

I’ve always said I’d rather raise thinkers than just listeners and this is just one more step in that direction.

When serving at home doesn’t feel like enough. (It is.)

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It was early morning and the darkness still engulfed the room like it was midnight instead of time to start stirring.  I sat at the edge of my bed like I do each morning, groggy and with eyes still closed.  My hands atop my lap turn so that my palms are facing upward as an offering, a picture of their emptiness reflecting my very emptiness.

I have nothing to bring.  No frankincense or myrrh.  No fish or loaves.  This morning I don’t have a boat to hop out of or faith enough to keep my eyes on Him to walk across the water.  My hands, like every other morning, are empty.

But I offer Him my emptiness.  I have these hands that move and work, please use them?

I have a mouth that can speak and a thinking active mind that can string together words and sentences in a coherent fashion.  Please, make them yours?

The mornings mantras are strength and courage.  Patience.  Always patience.  Compassion.  Love.

I know that I’m capable of none of these on my own.  What I do know I’m capable of is worry and snappiness.  A general feeling of selfishness and lack of control.  I’m capable of allowing my mind to spiral down the middle of these twisting tornadoes of thoughts and what if’s and I can come up with a million hypotheticals to my day, none of which will happen.  I know that plowing through the day on my own means moments of anger and utter frustration.  It means I won’t understand why there are always crumbs on the floor and the very sight of them can break me.

And so I start here.  Asking for all the things that I know I don’t have.  Boldly relying on a yes for all the things I can’t be.

But somewhere in my mind it gets all twisted up.  As I ask for strength I’m thinking like, superhuman.  As I ask for courage I dream of just walking up to a stranger and proclaiming Christ and them falling to their knees right then and there.  As I picture patience there is a young girl in my mind who cuts herself and I sit beside her stroking her hair.  As I speak out loud about using my hands I see food being offered to the homeless and me walking through their camp.  I see babies who’s names I don’t know in rooms lined with cribs crying from malnutrition and I think, yes.  Use me!

But then I get out of bed and I stumble to the shower and I go through the motions of rousing the children from slumber.  I go about my very mundane day, the normal morning actions of stirring the porridge on the stove and reheating my lukewarm cup of coffee.

As the day progresses and children come home I hear of a scary incident that happened that day and we stop immediately and pray for the child involved.  I speak normal words that any mom would use to comfort my child who was witness to the trauma and we try to stop the images from flashing in his head like a bad vine on repeat.

I boil the noodles on the stove and cut up the bread and work through a teenagers feelings of lonely, even when he’s surrounded by people, and the dynamics of relationships and choices and life stuff that feels huge when hormones are wonky and at serious play in your world.  My lips form sentences of understanding and challenge and we make word pictures to describe feelings and use metaphors to make sense of it all.

I tuck large boys into bed because they still ask to be and there is emotion because days are tiring and the middle school social scene is gruelling and legs are aching from joints that aren’t right and the fatigue of the day.  So I press my palms deep into the tissue on the back of his legs and he asks for just a bit harder and to the right and then he groans because they hurt so much and my hands kneading his muscles offer a tiny moment of relief.

And suddenly I see it.  I see what I hadn’t seen before.

I see prayer answered right here in this house.  I hear my words spoken out loud that very morning  and I see them come together in a very different way then the grand feature film version my mind played out.

I see that there was strength to walk through this very normal day and courage to stop right there in front of the school and pray with my boy for his classmate.  I see compassion in his eyes and it flows to my heart and we ask that God be near the entire family and be peace to and for them.  I see me serving my people good things to fill their bellies and I stir as an act of worship instead of grumbling about cooking yet again.  I see that my words had impact on my very own teen and right here in this home there are emotional needs that are being met.  I see my hands pressing in to the muscle on my sons legs and I see that my hands are being used to minister to him right at this very moment.

It may not be the stuff that best sellers are written about.  It’s certainly never going to make it to the big screen.  But there is work and life and ministry to be done right here in our homes.  There are words to be spoken right here and hands to be used right here and life to be given and joy to be shared within our own walls.  Don’t dismiss it as everyday stuff.  Don’t gloss over it  or look outside of it for something shinier and more worthy.  This is the good stuff.  The real stuff.  The important and regular and extraordinary using of our gifts.

We can grumble through meal prep or serve it with joy.  We can look to heal all the hurts of others around us while yelling at our own to clean their rooms.  We can rush out of our homes to serve everyone else and forget so quickly that we’ve been given people to serve right here amongst us each day.

Let’s use our words and our hands and our hearts to be what we can to them and remember this IS the good stuff.  Quiet and humble and dare I say some of the most beautiful work you’ll ever accomplish in your life.  My hands were used to offer relief to my very own hurting boy and it opened my eyes to see that this is the work they’ve been given to do just now.  May I use my time well and see that each day I do have opportunity to use my hands to serve.  I just don’t always see it.

So pray for the big stuff and let Him use you in the seemingly small until you see just how big and beautiful it really is.

The Wrestlings of a Mama’s Heart

I love Jesus and my boys play  first person shooter games.

There, I said it.

I’m pretty sure some of you have  instant thoughts about that and I’d like you to keep reading.  Please?  Because when I had littles with the blondest little ragamuffin hair and tiny chiclet teeth and the biggest blue eyes I was quite certain they would never play first person shooter games.  But here we are and I’m trying to be brave in saying it so, hear me out? (And insert how you felt about that formula commercial regarding mommy wars, m’kay?)

Was this my dream for my boys?  That they’d grow up wanting to play war games?  No.  But also, sort of?

When I was a kid we played cops and robbers for hours.  We had sheriff badges and cowboy boots and pretend guns.  Which we aimed directly at each other.  We had bandanas tied around our necks or covering our faces, depending which role we were playing.  We had some sort of rope to tie each other up when we were caught and if we got shot and didn’t fake die the most dramatic fake death possible then it was almost certain you didn’t get to play the next time.

So did I dream of them shooting people?  Not exactly.  But did I imagine they’d have a childhood similar to mine?  Yeah, kind of.  And this involved fake weaponry.

For the record, they DO NOT look like this anymore!

For the record, they DO NOT look like this anymore!

I get that might be a bit of a stretch for some of you.  Sure.  But we dress our kids up like pirates too, right?  Maybe have it as a birthday party theme.  (I’ve seen the plates and napkins at the dollar store so SOME of you must be doing it!)  We do know what pirates represent, right?

Now, do I think for any reason that your child who is donning a hook and an eyepatch is somehow going to make raping and pillaging their mission in life?  No.  I don’t.

But for some reason saying we own Call of Duty or Ghost Recon or Halo or Ghostbusters or whatever else game they have which involves war or blowing up aliens or ghosts means that my kid might be the next gun wielding high school shooter and I have to argue that it’s just not the case, as your child with the hook isn’t about to set sail on the high seas.

I’ve read the stats. I’ve done the research.  I’ve scoured through every university study multiple times and this is where I land.

Is this where I think you should land?  Not for a second.

I land here only because I know my boys.  They are happy, silly goofballs who like to have kitchen dance parties with me.  They are kind and well mannered (mostly) and are high functioning members of society.  They contribute to their schools, are part of teams and clubs, volunteer for local charities and have never owned a trench coat.

Would I reassess if they were drawn to dark and moody?  If they would lock themselves away for hours at a time?  If they wouldn’t talk to me about life or what’s happening at school or if I saw that their friends were starting to paint their fingernails black and listen only to musicians who have killed themselves?

I would.  Of course.

In fact, I reassess every Saturday morning when they ask if they can play.  I reassess the kind of week they’ve had and if they can handle this.  I reassess if aggression has come out amongst each other.  I reassess the websites they’ve looked at.

But when all I find in their history is funny hamster memes, I tend to cut them some slack.  When their instagram profile reads, “I love my family and my friends but most of all Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Redeemer”  I tend to think that this isn’t going to turn them into the next news story.

To those of you not grasping this at all, I get it.  I was there.  Some days I still am, I’ll admit it.  This isn’t an easy decision nor one I take lightly and I wrestle back and forth with it constantly.

I also wrestle with the fact that God sent Israel to wipe out the Caananites.  Not that I’m comparing the two events but the wrestle is similar.  It doesn’t sit easy in my gut, nor should it.  It causes reassessment and prayer and a deeper look into God’s character, all good things.  Same with my boys.  The not sitting easy brings reassessment and  prayer and a deeper look into their character.

I’m not going to say it’s my favourite when I walk in the room and I see them all intense and directing each other which way to go and I look at the screen and all I see is the barrel of a gun.  It’s not.  So, I get it.

But I think we can tend to overcomplicate things.

Just because your 3 year old is donning a bikini does not make her sexually provocative and likewise, because a boy wants to shoot things on a screen does not make him a killer.

I definitely played my fair share of Duck Hunt back in the day and I can honestly say I’ve never felt the urge to take that to the ponds.

No more little teeth and cute bellies either.

No more little teeth and cute bellies either.

Remember, my kids are big.  Like teenage boys with facial hair and man voices kind of big.  This did not start when they were little and didn’t understand that Dora and Diego were not real people.  It didn’t.  Because remember all the stats I’ve read?

I won’t for a second admit that I understand the male mind.  I don’t understand war movies or find robots with huge canons for arms enticing.  I don’t grasp the appeal of the light sabre,  (for the record, my boys had to be 9 before watching Star Wars.  9, people!!) and I will never ever ever understand why they want to hold that controller in their hands for multiple hours a day on a useless game called Minecraft. I don’t get it.  I just don’t.  It’s madness!  (For the record, my husband thinks my ideals of them wanting nothing more than to drink tea and bake with me is as crazy as I think them playing these games is!)

This is when they would drink tea and bake with me like it was the greatest thing in the world!

This is when they would drink tea and bake with me like it was the greatest thing in the world!

Which is why I also don’t understand why boys like to go to the gun range and shoot targets over having a bubble bath with essential oils.  I don’t grasp the hunting of animals, even if you are going to have it for dinner.  I can’t figure out why one would choose to have welts all over their body after a non-obligatory game of paintball.  I don’t understand wanting to be a police officer.   I just don’t.

So of course I won’t understand why every single boy in the flipping universe wants to sit in front of the screen and be a part of a war scene and blow the enemy to bits.  I just won’t.

But I’ve come to see that it’s not all bad.  There was a day both in bible times and in the last century when boys were prepared for war, not by choice.  They understood battle.  They knew that it was a duty and an obligation and it was them working for the protection of others.  For the protection of their homes and their loved ones.

Our boys (thank the Lord) don’t have that.  But I have no doubt they have those same feelings inside.  Feelings of wanting to do right for the good side by obliterating the bad.  Feelings of wanting to protect what you hold dear.  Feelings of rising to the occasion and being seriously scared but taking it on anyways because this is what you do.

But our boys don’t have that in North America in 2015.  They don’t.

They have video games.

My boys, anyways.  They do.

 

** before I get all the angry messages, my boys time is moderated, they also play mario kart and wii sports, they are not at all violent in any way, shape or form outside of this video game and since letting them start to play their attitudes and actions have not changed one bit.  They don’t drink, do drugs or smoke.  They don’t paint their fingernails black and though they sometimes listen to Nirvana they also sing all the worship songs at church so I’m pretty sure it balances out.  Yes, we are concerned about violence  in movies and games when it comes to our children but we’re also concerned about lust (which is why none of them have seen any of the Transformers movies), pride, anger, greed, defamation of the Lord God, and most of all their hearts.  It’s always their hearts.  If this one video game changed their hearts then it would be gone in a snap.  It hasn’t.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Oh, except that if you have children younger than the teenager years, I know.  You’ll never, ever let your kids play it.  I know.  I get it.  Me too.

 

(Remember there’s a giveaway going on! Want a copy of my favourite book? Go comment to be entered!)

A Make and Give {plant version} plus a GIVEAWAY!!

The gift to make and the giveaway all in one photo!

The gift to make and the giveaway all in one photo!

The morning is shining bright around here and revealing all of the dirty smeared across the windows.  The music is playing and I’m scrubbing that spot behind the kitchen sink that gets all kinds of gross caked up and sort of only gets a half hearted wipe each day.

And while I’m scouring like my life depended on it and I’m singing the tunes in my running gear (because if you put your running gear on in the morning, the likelihood of you ACTUALLY going for a run is greater) I thought to myself, it seems like a day to give stuff away!

So I’ve got two things for you today.  First, a simple little hostess gift idea or a birthday gift for that friend who likes a little quirk or just something to give your mom because you like her.  And second, a book giveaway! (which, I admit I used as a prop in shooting pictures of the gift because this book is THE perfect colour, but that’s not why I want to give it to you!)

First things first, you know when you’re at a thrift store and you see the most beautiful china and you think things like, I love this but I don’t need one tea cup, well, I’m telling you, buy that beauty for the $1.99 that it is and tuck it away until you need it.

‘Cause that’s what I do.

photo 6

Then, when I suddenly had the urge to make some gifts this week, I pulled them out and got to work.  Actually, I should backtrack and say that earlier in the morning I had wandered through our local garden store looking for Hyssop.

Did you know that Hyssop branches are what they used to smear the blood around the door posts during passover?  And what they threw into the fire when they were sacrificing the perfectly spotless red heifer in Deuteronomy?  And what they used to offer up a sponge for Jesus to drink from when He was on the cross?

Hyssop branches have enamoured me in my readings this week and I wanted to feel and smell the real deal.  But alas, I couldn’t find any.  What I did find were some gorgeous succulents on the clearance table.  So I scooped them up with my pocket change and headed on home.

This is a gift so easy anyone can do it.  It goes like this.

Plunk succulent into tea cup.  The end.

photo 7

Now go!  Make one for someone you think is pretty awesome!

Oh wait, not yet.  First – giveaway!

I was scouring for a certain no-longer-in-print book at all the charity shops in town and while I had no luck in finding it, I did come across the book that gave me my biggest YES!! moment when it came to parenting.  No other book I’d read had ever quite put into words what I was feeling I wanted to give my littles and how I wanted our little family to be.  How to cultivate what I wanted.  What my heart longed for.

photo 2

I think I nodded my head through the entire reading of this book.  Passages like,

“A mobile is a moving, changing collection of objects constantly in motion, yet within the framework of a form.  The framework of a family gives form, but as one starts with a man and a woman, a mother and a father, there is never any one day following another when these two, plus the children that came through adoption or birth into the home, are either the same age or at the same point of growth.  Every individual is growing, changing, developing or declining – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically and psychologically.  A family is a group of individuals affecting each other  intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychologically.”

…made my heart and head scream yes!  This is it!  Each day we’re moving in and around and amongst each other and we’re affecting every part of each other in this family.  So how are we going to affect them?  We can do it positively or horribly negatively.

And then she goes and says things like,

“What is a family?  A family is a mobile.  A family is an art form.  A family is an exciting art career, because an art form needs work.”

*sigh*  Beautifully true, right?

And if you don't want to read the book its great to use as a decorating prop underneath jugs of flowering branches!  But read it.  Really.  Do.

And if you don’t want to read the book its great to use as a decorating prop underneath jugs of flowering branches! But read it. Really. Do.

And if you ever felt like being a parent is a tiresome thankless job she encourages immensely with statements like,

“A thankless job?  And undignified slave?  No, a most exciting possibility of turning the tide, of saving the species [of family], of affecting history, of doing something that will be felt and heard in ever-widening circles.”

She speaks of our role as being perpetual relayers of truth, of creating an ecologically balanced environment, of being the formation centre of human relationships, of being the curator of the museum of family memories!  She talks of opening up the world of art and culture to our children, of creativity and music, of showing the beauty in the world around them and the work it takes to cultivate a garden.

I could go on and on.  Obviously.  I love this book.  I love the emphasis she puts on family.  I love the creativity she explains in creating one and cultivating hearts and making a museum of memories.  This book is where I got the name for this very blog.  Never static.  She says, “Family.  A human art form.  An ever-changing mobile that takes years, even generations, to produce.  But which is never finished.  Never Static.”

So when I saw this book on the shelf I knew I had to snatch it up to give to you.  As the day panned out, I found TWO copies!  Two!  What are the odds?  It made me positively giddy.

So I have two copies to give to two of you lovelies!

Just leave a comment below telling me what you love to do on a sunny day!  Apparently, judging by today,  I clean.  Hopefully you have something better!

Winners will be chosen (by random number selector) on Saturday March 7, 2015 so leave your comment before that!  And tell your friends, because if they win they might just let you borrow it!

**The fine print.  Winners must be in Canada or U.S.A simply because I can’t afford shipping costs any further than that.  Sorry international friends!  Also, as noted above this book is currently out of print which means these are used books.  They are in great condition but, as it is with used books, there may be some tattered corners and a few underlined sentences.  Which personally, I love.  But just so  you know.