Trust + Control Issues { And How These Culminate in Very Clean Floors}

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My floors have been especially clean lately. I know that’s not exactly the thing you came here to read about but hang on. I have a point.

See, I like control. I like to know what’s going on, what’s coming my way, how exactly it’s all going to shake down and what time it’ll all be over so I can crawl into bed. Turns out, when life is a bit out of my control – I turn to the things I can absolutely control.

Like the cleanliness of my floors.

Timothy Keller said, “If we knew what God knows, we would ask exactly for what He gives.”

Yeah, read that again. I did at least 17 times when it rolled across my instagram feed this morning. (Thanks to the lovely, Jen!)

Turns out, I want clean floors. And control. Also turns out that the things I’m asking for look different in my mind then the way God is giving them.

Here’s what I never ask for. I never ask to go through things which make me feel really scared. I never ask that I would encounter moments I would have to be especially brave for. I never plead to have feelings of complete and total lack of control.

Here’s what I do pray for. I ask for complete reliance on God – though in my mind that looks all happy and cozy. I do ask for more faith and more trust for whatever He brings our way – though in my mind what He brings is lovely and, if I’m honest, quite easy. I do ask that He stretch me, but what I really mean is make me feel like I’m doing things for Him in big ways but that don’t really require much of me because life is full enough – amiright?!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m praying honest prayers. I do want more faith and more trust and more reliance and more Jesus. It’s just when He gives me moments, days, weeks of putting these to the test – well, I tend to get all, “where did this come from?” and I go hardcore into floor cleaning mode. (aka control freak syndrome)

It kind of boils down to this fact – I want to know what God knows – and in an instant I find myself naked in the garden being seduced by a serpent and reaching for an apple.

It’s so easy to say we want more of Jesus but it’s downright terrifying when He decides to hand us Himself. When He comes into our lives and holds out His hands and shows us that more of Him looks like loving deeper, broadening our circle and inviting others especially near.

It’s so easy to say we want to have more faith and feel like that means super powers to walk forward doing bold things with a big red J on our chest (Jesus, duh!) and our cape flapping in the wind. But I’m learning  in increasing measure that more Jesus looks like a pounding heart and trembling fingers and moving forward completely scared. I’m finding out that courage doesn’t come with a cape but with a whispered yes. I’m seeing that faith doesn’t come with ferocity it comes in the quiet with questions, “Really Lord? Me? Are you sure someone else isn’t more suited for the task?” and walking forward anyway – knowing we are completely inadequate to accomplish what He’s called us to.

We don’t know what God knows and so all we can do here on earth is trust that what He knows is best even when to us it seems – ridiculous, terrifying, disheartening, too big, too hard, too…. – you fill in the blank.

Time after time in scripture we see completely unqualified people stepping forward in obedience to do things too large for them. Time after time in scripture we see armies defeated, walls crumbled, babies born, dead raised, crowds fed, fish caught, wine overflowing, bodies healed, storms calmed and then there was the fish with a coin in its mouth!

Yet after all of that we look at our pitiful little selves and say, me? Not me. You couldn’t possibly mean me.

But He does mean us. He means those of us who are frail and weak and just plain scared. He means those of us who think we don’t possibly have anything to offer and He means those of us who have tons but just don’t want to share.

Shannan Martin, in her book Falling Free said this, “There’s a difference between being too scared to do hard things and doing hard things scared.”

It’s scary to take God at His word. It’s scary to not know the things He knows and yet move forward in the ways He commands. It’s downright terrifying to feel unqualified and yet do it anyway. But isn’t that precisely the way? So that we can never take the glory for the things that are accomplished, rather point straight to the Great Accomplisher and thank Him for all the ways HE is enough.

Today I don’t know Gods ways, I don’t understand them and I can’t even say I like the way He’s operating very much. Today I wish I knew His thoughts and His plans and how it would all turn out in the end. But apparently it’s time for me to learn what faith is and what trust means.

Today I’m  turning off the vacuum because the Christmas Tree just fell over (again) and it means the floors, just cleaned, are all messed up again. Turns out my perceived ways of garnering some control are also an illusion. Nicely played, God. Nicely played.

 

 

 

Real is Messy

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There are days when I feel completely ripped off. I usually only feel this way when I’m not getting what I want. I admit – I like things to go my way.

Thing is, I rarely get what I want when my kids come home from school. Oh, it’s not a snack that I want or a mushy hug, necessarily, but I would like a bit of time, a bit of info and maybe just a bit of cheer.

But here’s what’s more likely to happen.

They’ve been at school all day working hard to give their best to the world. Trying to please their teachers, impress their friends, or be a contender for MVP in whatever is happening in P.E. They’re taking notes and writing exams and learning new languages. They’re trying to be witty and kind and creative and help someone around them. They’re taking in assemblies on mental health, navigating the swearing and inappropriate humour in the halls, overloading their brains with talk of graduation and requirements and plans for the future. And, as if that’s not enough, they’re just trying to fit in!

I, on the other hand, have been alone usually. I work from home in front of my computer screen in mostly silence. While I put time and thought and energy into what I’m doing, I haven’t had to deal with outside voices or social pressures. (as evidenced by the tights, favourite cardigan and glasses!)

Our days are different, my boys and I. By the time they get home I’m ready for interaction. I’m ready to talk. My introverted self has had enough alone and quiet and I’m ready to regroup with my people and gab about all of the things.

But they’re feeling exactly the opposite!

They’ve been out – busy and talking – and come home feeling physically and emotionally drained. They’re ready for quiet. For down time. For no prying questions. Just time to be.

It took a long time for me to figure this out. Before I did I would get so frustrated. They would come home from school and I would be cheery and ready to greet them and they would give me a shrug and an undecipherable grunt for an answer.  If I pushed they got snappy. If I pried they retreated more. If I got mad at their lack of engagement, well – it just got ugly.

It’s a hard place to be – knowing that everyone else gets the best part of your kid. The world out there gets the best foot forward, the carefully chosen words, the laughs and the smiles. I get the tired, the grumpy, the arguing and disengaged.

Once I realized what was going on I had to learn to change my expectations and my tone. We developed a motto for our home as a reminder. Of any place in  the world, home was a safe place to not be okay.

Our kids hold it together for so many hours out there in the world. They stuff down the harsh words people speak, they act non-chalant about the jokes someone threw in their direction or the criticism a teacher offered about their work. They build walls to protect themselves. They barricade their heart so they don’t look weak. They pretend that nothing is ever a big deal. They’re good. Life’s good.

And then – home. Home needs to be a place where our kids can unravel. Where they know that it’s safe to show weakness. Where the barricades can come crashing down and the emotions are allowed to come out. Home is a place that the pretenses get dropped and we get on with the getting on of being real.

Spoiler Alert: Real is messy.

But isn’t it in the messy and sometimes ugly that we get vulnerable? And isn’t it in the vulnerable where real relationship grows? And isn’t it the real relationships that we want to have?  I do.  

It can become our bent as parents to want our kids to be shiny happy people all of the time. We can’t help it. REM sold us on it decades ago. And so we set unrealistic standards for them to be something we could never even be ourselves. But what we need to understand is that even when they’re grumpy, even when they want quiet, even when they can’t get out more than a grunt – we’re getting the honest. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the messy but honest any day of the week.

I guess what I want you to hear is that it’s okay. It’s okay that you aren’t engaging in deep conversation every single day at 3 pm. And it’s okay that they just want their headphones on for an hour or to lie on the couch and play an app for some time.  

Home is their haven too. This is not just my home to operate in the perfectly slick way that I want it to. It’s the home of five people. Each with their own mode of operation. Each with their own need for time and space. Each with their own need for love and safety, retreat and relaxation, quiet and calm.

Be encouraged parents, if your kids are giving you real. It’s the relationship you want.

Eeyore Syndrome (aka the negative child)

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It didn’t matter the time of day or where we happened to be, my son’s sentences always started the same. . .

“You know what sucks, Mom?”

It could be first thing in the morning. Or tucking him into bed at night. They were often the first words escaping his mouth after school. And, any old time I was standing in the kitchen, he meandered in with the same line;“You know what sucks, Mom?” I knew I was about to find out.

I was so frustrated.


Here I was providing everything for my  child – all he could ever need, and yet, he was starting every sentence, every conversation, every moment with a negative.


Of course, I handled it like a champ – with gentleness and grace and, “OH COME ON! STOP IT! YOUR LIFE IS NOT THAT HARD!”……

I’m over on FamilyLife Canada today talking about how to combat negativity in a child. If you want to finish reading, just clickity-click right here!

Thoughts for a Thursday

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This morning I opened the curtains looking out over our front yard. A young deer was standing on the lawn looking right back at me. She was way less interested in me than I was in her. She simply looked, saw and got right back to her business. I didn’t phase her morning. I didn’t upset her day.

The boys and I chatted about it on our drive to school. There are 3 deer that we see quite often in our neighbourhood. If we let the dandelions in the grass grow long enough they’ll stand and graze on them for quite some time. But most often they look as though they’re on a mission. They have a sense of unwavering about them.

We talked about how scripture likens our thirsty souls to a deer panting for water. Watching the long legged beauty march with determination up our street made this picture so clear. Every deer I’ve ever seen seems to have outstanding focus. They never look as though they’re just meandering for meanderings sake. They aren’t easily distracted by the goings on of the birds or the passing vehicles. They always seem to know where they’re going, what they’re doing, and with a specific goal in mind.

Oh that our lives would look like that. It seems that too easily we’re thrown and tossed by the circumstances of our days. We get good news and we’re over the moon, bad news and we’re hopeless, tragedy strikes and we’re angry, sickness falls and we grumble.

What if we were more like the deer, though. With our eyes set on our purpose, our mission, our goal. What if we were unwavering in our resolve because distractions were only that – distractions.

As we become more focused on Christ, our eyes and our hearts in tune with His, the happenings of this world should shake us less and less, should they not?

Because this world is not our goal. It was never meant to be. He is.

And this world is not our home. It was never meant to be. Our home is with Him.

While the things that we have in this world are nice, they were never intended to be what fill our lives. He is.

We can spend so much time being tossed to and fro by the waves of life, but if we keep our gaze fixed on Him who brings storms and celebrations, knowing that He is the author and the perfector of our lives – does it not steady us?

He is called our rock, our fortress, our shield, and cornerstone. He is our potter and our shepherd. He is our bread and our light.

Each of these offer us something special. They offer  protection and guidance. They show how we are shaped and moulded, covered and cared for. They are our sustenance  and our very way illuminated.

If we believe that God is really what these metaphors say He is, when our days look different then we imagined we need not be shaken. He is with us – providing, guiding, shaping and securing.

If we take Him at His word then we needn’t be tossed about by the waves, the waves of culture, the waves of circumstance, the waves of security or lack thereof.

We need only have our gaze fixed on Him. This means lifting it off of the things of this world. There’s simply no other place we can feel secure.

 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

 

 

Celebrating the Unseen – Would you help?

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I’ve never been the ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ type. I don’t ever fist pump or yell from the bench. I don’t sign up for really big challenges that leave you muddy and spent.

I prefer quiet. My heart beats to the rhythm of calm and if you were to ask me what I’d like to do the very most it would be something along the lines of being in the woods (where it’s calm and quiet) or reading a book (where it’s calm and quiet). You get the point.

It sometimes seems like the world was made for those that live spicy and loud. Or it can start to feel that way at least, when you’re not.

So I wanted to take a few minutes to encourage some of you who might be a bit more like me. Just because hoopla doesn’t travel in your time zone does not mean you aren’t doing important things. You are.

I know, there aren’t really medals for the most biographies read this year and the tv doesn’t pan to the girl in the stands just quietly watching the game. And let’s be honest, there’s no way I’d want to get up on some stage to accept a trophy and even the thought of being on the big screen makes my skin itchy.

Not all of us desire a big deal, but we all desire to be noticed.

We were made for connection and community, even those who value their alone time.

I was with a friend last week who made the comment about our families ‘quiet ministry’.  The ministry that will never be blogged about or even talked about because it involves other people’s stories, moments, and families that are not ours to share.

It made me want to somehow celebrate all of the other people out there with quiet ministries. Those of you who just keep showing up. The ones that give endless time and share all they have. The ones who cook meals and hold babies in hard times. The ones who pray quietly, yet ever so fervently. I know you’re out there and I want to acknowledge you and thank you and tell you how important your work is! How amazing your life is and how sacrificial you are!

But I also know that it won’t be that important to you to hear that. It’s why you’re in a quiet ministry likely. You don’t desire the fanfare and the accolades make you squirm a bit. I have a feeling you might even shrug your shoulders and say something like, “Oh no. It’s not that much. It’s not a big deal.”

But it is a big deal. Enormous, in fact.

In quiet ministries there’s no one you can talk to about it. No one to vent to that you’re tired. No one to share the frustrations. So if that’s you and you’re feeling a bit frazzled, then take this as your pep talk. You’re veritable pat on the back. A huge hug that says – you aren’t alone. I get it. I see you. It’s hard, but you’re doing good work.

To those in louder ministries, can I challenge you? Don’t look at others not doing loud things and judge them. Don’t think that just because you don’t see the work that it’s not happening. It is. I know it is because I have quiet people around me doing cool stuff and never, ever broadcasting it on instagram – not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t.

If you feel like any of this resonates with you can you do something for me? Can you drop me a message? Don’t tell me what you’re doing and I promise to ask no details but simply send me a message asking me to pray for you? I’m setting aside time just for this and I would really be so honoured.

And if you think you might have people in your life who have a quiet ministry, would you share this post? I want to celebrate every single person doing stuff that never gets seen. Let’s lift each other up – behind the scenes!

Three cheers for all of you from the bottom of my Jesus-loving heart. Loud or quiet, all of you willing to say yes and follow. Thank you and hurrah!

 

 

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Me Today

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I read something this week that bothered me, though I know it to be true. It was about social media and the fact that we only portray the parts of our world that we want to – which is, of course, a hundred thousand billion percent true.

I only tell you what I want you to know.

The article went on to talk about the sunshine factor and how our portrayal was only good. How we put our best foot forward and only talk about the pretty, shiny things in our lives. It was at this point that I wanted to jump up and down and yell, “Nuh huh!”

C’mon, how many times have I told you what an awful job I was doing at something, how I dropped the parenting ball again, how I didn’t make my kid a homemade birthday cake and how I was feeling insecure about everything? Need more – dig through the archives.

So while yes, I choose what I put forward – don’t we all, in all facets of our lives? Just because we see each other face to face doesn’t mean we’re being any more truthful – does it? We can all look pretty put together and plaster on a smile if that’s what we want the world to see, whether it’s online or over coffee.

I was chatting with my son last night, one who is much like me on many levels, and his very unrefined comment was that he couldn’t stand people who were happy all the time. The people who laugh too loud and are always grinning and who always look like they just stepped out of a magazine.

While his judgement is too broad and sweeping – I understood his heart in the matter. And I could nod my head along with his reflections as he talked of people who put forth the perfect life and the perfect kids and who probably sing kumbaya each night together.

Again – unfair, and yes I talked to him about judging people when we don’t know their story but I also heard him. And I agreed with him. I don’t function well under a facade. I don’t live well behind a mask. Yes, I might share too much sometimes but I’d rather the vulnerability of that than the stress of trying to be something I could never be. And something I’m not expected to be. And a picture of someone who doesn’t need Jesus because I’ve got it all together all by themselves. Trust me, I’ve got nothing together by myself.

So with that – I’m here to tell you exactly about how I am. Right now.

There are a few avenues I’m pursuing that are giving me life and joy and passion right now. I love the work that I do. I get to be part of a team that’s goal is to bring help and hope to every marriage and family – it’s an honour.

And I often feel completely incapable. Like I’m winging it amongst professionals and somehow I’ve duped them into thinking I have a handle on it all. I don’t. I’m doing my best and using my gifts but it’s rare that I don’t feel a bit in over my head – at least at some point in my week.

I’m a really great at home mom. Before you hate me for saying those words, let me explain. When my kids get home from school – and we get to sit around on kitchen counters and talk and laugh and discuss our days over random snacks pulled out of various cupboards – I’m a great mom. When it comes to my kids handing me papers to fill out from school, things that are expected of me, having structured homework time and studying for tests – I’m a horrible mom. Don’t argue with me. You have no clue, and it’s true. I expect my kids to do their homework on their own, study on their own, and I’ve never really instilled in them a, ‘let me sit and help you and we’ll get through this together’ vibe. Instead I say things like, “that’s your responsibility and if you need help you need to talk to your teacher.” I love school. I just don’t love doing my kids school. It feels like a lot of work and I pass the buck to their dad or anyone else who may be able to help. I fear I haven’t set them up well for future education.

I’ve been led into a new area of ministry over the past few months and it got real last night as I went for volunteer training at our local federal prison. I don’t know how to explain it but having done prison ministry many (many!) years ago, it felt good to be back within the gated yard and buzzered doors. Everyone is called to different things and somehow I feel like these are my people. These are the women I want to be around. Not to change them or turn them into versions of me but to get to know, to be a face that wants to hear their story, to let them know that they are valuable and worthy of dignity and respect. My heart longs for them to know deeply that they are image bearers of Christ and nothing they have done can keep them from His love. I want them to know that I’m not judging them or coming in with preconceived notions of who they are, but rather – just like on social media – they can present themselves as whomever they wish to be, no judgement, no shame, and no matter what I will be back. I want them to know that I’m not a voyeur wanting an inside scoop on what they’ve done but instead for them to know that they have support from someone outside of those walls.

Think that sounds all good, right? Right. Except I’ve been neglecting my husband as of late. So whatever picture you had of me and sainthood? You can just put a big X through my face. He’s a grown up and so I tend to think he needs me the least. I tend to think he can manage on his own. (which, of course, he can) When life gets busy or other things are more urgent – he’s the first to have to take a back seat with my time and my affection. It sucks for him. Or – I think it does. Cause somehow preparing food for Thanksgiving meals becomes more important than spending time with him, and ministry outside of the home can seem more gratifying than loving him well, and because I know that he’ll be there next week – other imminent things win over putting work into our relationship. And let’s be honest – a working mama with 3 teens and an outside ministry? She’s tired.

I’m also not nailing meals – if you really want to know. Last night was turkey soup (thank you – leftovers) and grilled cheese eaten on the fly and without a vegetable in sight.

I’m pretty sure I said something mean about one of our neighbours yesterday. Like, out loud. And I went in public last week in the clothes I slept in the night before. And I don’t understand the pumpkin spice phenomenon. And I want to bury my head in the sand and not hear another word about American politics for as long as I live and I’m praying Jesus just comes before we know who makes it into office.

There you have it, folks. 1,200 words of your time that you can never get back.

I never want to just put forth the pretty or the good, but I also know I can err on laying out the bad in a way that is unrepentant for it but just laughs because #momfail – neither is good or right. And dare I say this could be a place where the internet gets a bit honest? I think so.

When my kids were in their younger schooling years they had to do something called 3 stars and a wish. They had to basically write down 3 things they were good at and then one thing they hoped to be better at. It annoyed me because I had to help them.

But now I’m thinking it’s kind of awesome. My 3 stars today are this – taking a leap on a new ministry that I feel quite unqualified for, managing to raise 3 boys and keep them alive for so many years and saying no to a few things that I REALLY wanted to say yes to but knew would just take too much from other things I was already committed to. Yay, me!

My wish? That veggies would find their way back to our table beyond the form of baby carrots and that my husband would move back up the veritable list on things of importance. He’s the most important and he needs to know it.

Warning: these could all change by tomorrow!

What are you nailing these days? Tell me your 3 stars and a wish!

This Love Affair Needs to End

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If you don’t love coffee as much as I do, I’m not sure you’ll understand what I’m about to say. I mean, I guess there are other things you could love besides coffee – like tea or whatever – but I just don’t think it will hold the same weight.

I love coffee so much that people think I drink a lot of it, but I don’t. It’s just one cup in the morning and that’s it. This might be part of why I love it so much. I don’t overdo it. I never get bored of it. It’s just there for me each morning.

Ask me if I want a cup in the evening and I’ll say no. But you will set my mind to dreaming about the next morning and how I can’t wait to go to sleep so I can wake up and have a cup. I’ve clearly digressed…

My husband, bless his heart, agreed to one of my hair-brained ideas a month back. See, he gets migraines and I can’t help but think that there’s some sort of food trigger behind it. Y’know – having zero med-school experience I feel like I can call these sorts of things. So,  I decided doing an elimination diet might help us figure out what the trigger is and for some crazy reason he agreed and I said I would do it alongside him.

This is all fine and dandy cause I enjoy hitting the heath reset button every now and then so getting rid of processed foods and all things white from our diet wasn’t really a stretch, or even hard. We’ve done it slowly and steadily, taking sugar out and then flour and dairy and it’s all been fine. But guys, this week – like tomorrow – we’re supposed to eliminate coffee!

I started thinking about it last week because I thought I should probably prep myself. Y’know, start weaning my body off of my morning coffee by drinking less and less each day so that I wouldn’t shock my system. But each morning as I let the liquid gold pour into my cup, I couldn’t stop myself from pouring it all the way to the top.

I mean, it’s not that I couldn’t. It’s just – I didn’t want to!

Because it’s not just the caffeine and it’s not just the flavour it’s the whole package. It’s the process and the ritual. It’s waking up to a quiet and dark house and walking to the kitchen by myself. It’s the silence broken by the grinding of the beans and the beautiful smell that unearths. It’s the way the process unfolds without having to even think about it. Click button, pour cream, steam to 160 while beans grind. Scoop grounds, grab mug, push next button to start the espresso shots. Fill cup to just the right spot, pour in cream, wipe everything down and flick on the fireplace. Sit on couch, put feet up on coffee table, hold mug – which is the perfect weight, shape and handle size for my hands – and sip in the silence.

Yes, the coffee itself is delicious. But it’s not just the coffee. Who would want to give up all of that?

It got me thinking about my morning habits and how passionately I do not want to give them up. I wondered if I would feel the same about anything else. I wondered if I had to give up reading my bible for a week  if I would fight it even a quarter of how much I’m fighting giving up my morning coffee. I wonder if I wouldn’t shrug and just think – okay, it’s just a week. No big deal.

I want to love my time with the Lord as much as I love my morning coffee habit. I want to feel as deeply about it, as drawn to it. I want to think about it in the evening and start to dream about how great it will be, and how I can’t wait to get up in the morning so I can spend time with Jesus. I want to be passionate about it. I want to tell people about it cause it’s the greatest part of my day and I just don’t know how I’d get through without it.

I want it to be my greatest habit. My addiction. My place of pleasure. The thing I yearn for, the time I can’t wait to get to.

When I think about comparing Jesus to coffee it seem ludicrous. Of course they’re not even fit for the same scale of measurement. But the truth of it is, I think I care way more about giving up my coffee. Because if I happen to skip a morning of bible reading it’s no big deal. I just shrug and move on and know I can get to it the next day.

What if I couldn’t shrug it off, though? Cause I don’t want to be able to. What if nothing could keep me from it like nothing can keep me from my coffee. It doesn’t matter what I have going on in the day, how early I have to be up or what the day holds, I fit my coffee in first and foremost.

I wish I could say the same thing about my time with Jesus. That nothing could get in the way. But kids wake up early or work has to get done or something comes up and that time of bible reading and prayer in the morning is often the first to go. I won’t skip my make-up. I won’t skip doing my hair. (okay sometimes I do, but I still make sure the hat looks okay) I won’t skip putting time into what I’m wearing and  I certainly won’t skip my coffee. But I will skip my time in the Word.

God is teaching me things through the elimination of food. He’s showing me what my treasures are and where I invest my time. He’s making it very clear that He isn’t always my greatest desire but I told Him this morning –  I want Him to be. Above coffee, even. I’m repenting of the ways that I can sluff Him off because I know He’ll be there when I get to Him. It’s true, He will be there – but He wants the first position of my heart, not the leftovers. I’m asking Him to help me get there.

And – I’m giving up coffee. But just until it matters a bit less.

 

Saturday Morning Rituals

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Sugar cereal and cartoons were the mark of my Saturday mornings growing up. It’s never been the same for my kids as we didn’t have cable for the first 10+ years of their life, but we have some rituals nonetheless! We call it Documentary Saturday.

There are so many amazing documentaries on Netflix even if your kids are little. We started off watching many of the nature, animal or geography ones about our earth. Now that they’re older we’ve branched out into politics, art, government and so on.

Of course, we know that every documentary has a slant. The storyteller is coming at it from their worldview and this has spearheaded many interesting conversations amongst our family. Whether its evolution or conspiracy theories or that time we accidentally started one about a performance art project where all of the models were naked! Oops! (Thankfully the opening scene showed all and I screamed “look away, look away!” and that was the end of that. ha)

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Most Saturday mornings you can find us curled up with cups of coffee or bowls of cereal taking in whatever happens to jump out at us that day under the documentary genre. We’ve learned a lot from it and it’s exposed my kids to things I simply couldn’t teach them on my own.

I thought I’d share a few of our favourites!

Exit Through the Gift Shop

This is an insider’s look at the world of street art and artists. It offers a look at some pretty quirky lives as well as a peak into the world of artists/criminals. Because tagging and graffiti is against the law it gave our family lots to talk about but also opened up this interesting art form as an actual art form. Graffiti isn’t just done by thugs looking to cause trouble. It’s actual artists with actual talent and actual motives – whether right or wrong. This was one of our favourites and we would definitely recommend it, specifically if you have teens – the twists are fantastic and we sure didn’t see them coming!

Food documentaries are some of my faves as I try to make sense of the world, the rise of allergies, the way our food is processed and what my family is eating. These documentaries are so good to watch along with your children – to open their eyes a bit to what they are actually eating and begging for. Watching these as a family have been game changers for us. I no longer have to be the bad guy always laying down the law on the food we buy and don’t buy – but our kids are educated and I can let them help make decisions.

We had been at the grocery store on a Friday and my boys asked if we could buy grape juice. I said no (juice isn’t something we do) and they argued that the label said it was 100% real fruit and no sugar. I stuck to my guns and left with disgruntled children. The next Saturday morning we just happened to watch Sugar Coated and they spoke exactly to the same grape juice that my boys had been wanting the day before. They talked of labeling and marketing and how much sugar was actually in the juice though it said no sugar with an asterisk! Talk about perfect reinforcement to my parenting!

Black Fish

Not exactly a nature story but an interesting look at whales in captivity and some of the stories behind the deaths of trainers. Before watching this, I had no idea about these stories, even though a famous moment happened right in our backyard in Victoria! I wouldn’t watch this with young children as some of the footage is shocking but again, for teens, it’s a great thing to watch and discuss as they form their own worldview and opinions on these sorts of matters around us.

The Human Experiment

This was our latest Saturday watch and it made me both irate and passionate for change. It was nothing I didn’t already know but confirmed so many things about the business behind chemical corporations. It shows us what’s going on in our food, in our beauty products, in our furniture and paint. It shows us what’s going on in congress and who is actually fighting for safety. It shows us some families dealing with the repercussions of toxin build up in the body. I’ll be writing more on this one soon – but I’m too riled up just now! ha

Born Into Brothels

This oft hard-to-watch documentary gives us a glimpse into the lives of the children in Calucutta’s red light district. The work they do, the way they’re treated, the streets they run down and what they know about what their mama’s do is all a bit much for a heart like mine but it’s also stuff I need to know. This documentary is the story of a photographer who moves in amongst these children of prostitutes and teaches them the art of photography. It’s a beautiful picture of someone who cares as well as what can happen when kids are taught something and know a different way of life. As well as, what doesn’t happen – while my heart wanted each child to adopt this new way of life they were shown, of course they don’t all choose it.

I would totally encourage your family to hop onto Netflix and find some documentaries that will open your eyes to new things! Whether it’s new animals, new ways to cook or new insight into this world we live in – documentaries are a great way to spend time together and open up lots of great conversation.

What ones have you watched and loved? What should we check out next?

A few other faves to check out:

Living on One Dollar

Happy

Craigslist Joe

Babies

Talking to Our Kids About Pornography

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Pornography is something that we don’t even want to think about, let alone consider talking to our kids about. But when we open our eyes to the world around us, the digital world in particular, we simply can’t be ignorant about it.

Sexually explicit content is everywhere. Whether it’s the lyrics to a song on the radio, the massive posters at the mall, or right in our very own homes via tv and internet. Thinking that we can avoid it would mean hunkering down in a cave and never embarking out into culture.

Of course that’s not realistic, nor is it sensible. We can’t hide from the world or what’s in it for many reasons but a key one being that our kids certainly aren’t hiding from it! Having a plan to face the culture we encounter is critical. We’re wise when we work to ensure our kids have a plan, as well.

*I’m over at FamilyLife Canada today talking about some great resources for parents in order to help protect their kids from pornography, resources to help you talk to your kids about it and how to make a plan both for you and your child for when they see it. (Unfortunately, it’s not IF anymore, friends.) Read the rest of the article here.