perspective.gratitude... and a smudgy handprint.

 Perspective is such a powerful thing.
Whether we see our glass half full, or half empty, can really effect how we taste it as sweet, or bitter. Each day we are gifted with the 'present' of being present can either feel like a joy to unwrap... or the misery of another pair of itchy socks from ol' Aunt Gertrude.

To be honest, my heart tends to flip flop to both extremes... in any given five minutes.
But I'm learning, slowly, to flex the heart muscle of gratitude... so it can bear the weight and bounce back quicker from daily loads thrown at it, like that sack of moldering laundry in the corner.  
Gratitude is a real perspective changer.
Gratitude lets us look through things... instead of at them.
You know, instead of begrudging the dirty dishes.. look through them to see the blessing of food shared with family/friends.  Look through the chaos of toys and clutter on your floor, to the young souls in your care that love knowing you are there with them.

I was thinking this the other day as I saw this smudge of a hand print on our (finally) cleaned picture window.  I stared at that mess, hard. It represented a whole lot of futility to me in that moment. This never-ending cycle of clean the things, they mess the things, clean the things again can wear down even the most devoted of Cinderellas. But, this was the epiphany slowly unfurling in my heart - 'look through'.

 This isn't some idealised notion that you need to be enraptured with every disaster you encounter each day.  I still have nerve endings that twitch as they feel messes happening at the other end of the house. It's just a reminder to my heart, and maybe yours, to seize those moments to 'look through' the glass instead of just at the smeared hand print. 

I know some of us mamas can feel pretty worn out some days.
Trying to feel gratitude is maybe just vinegar in the wound... but if you could imagine some sweet elderly Grandma putting her hand over yours and saying: "I wish I could have one more day of your chaos and mess, just to hold my dear children on my lap again" would that help our perspectives?  Or, a friend drops by for tea and shares with tear stained eyes... that they have miscarried, again.  She looks at you and pleads: "treasure these blessings you've been given, for those of us who don't have them".

I don't want to waste a day.
Regretting, resenting, rejecting the presents given to me.
 I want the perspective of gratitude.
Gratitude to the Giver who entrusted me with this one precious life and three precious souls in our care.

Mel ;o)



foundations + fractures.

Because sometimes it's the smallest moments that give me the biggest reminders of eternity.
Because sometimes my children are the clearest mirror of my own soul.

That's why, when my daughter accidentally breaks our marble treasure box - and anxiously blurts: "It's ok mama, I can fix it!"...this is why I take a picture.
To remind me that we all have broken something so precious, and we all frantically seek to fix it with things that cannot hold.

The very foundation of our souls.  The purpose to our living.  To love God and enjoy Him forever.
We chose otherwise.  We chose our own way.
"There is none righteous, no not one... all have turned away" (Romans 3:10-12)

Now standing on a foundation that is cracked at a cosmic level.. we stand separated from the very Giver of life.  We feel the isolation.  We see the brokenness.
So, we blurt: "It's ok papa, I can fix it!".

But we lack the proper materials, we only have glue and scotch tape.
When the pressures of life hit, our foundations crumble again.
Whether we thought we could make our security stand on:
 good works

They all eventually crumble.

Only one foundation holds.

" For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 3:11

So when I see my daughter frantic to fix a marble box, I take a picture, and I write this all to remind myself... there is nothing that fixes this heart that I can work with my own hands.  Only as I hold to the nail-pierced hands of my Saviour am I held secure.



confessions of an (unlikely) homeschooling mama:

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled" - Plutarch.

There is a new glow crackling and warming up this heart of mine.
A fire that once seemed frightening and engulfing, is now one I eagerly dance around and roast marshmallows by.
It's been a wild ride, seeing how my heart was trapped on the fence for so long about whether I could hack being a homeschooling mama.. and now feeling what I do (joy) about it all.
Because, I used to have so many concerns, fears and frustrations about this issue.
I had all the 'arguments' one would use against such a decision down pat.
I also had all the common excuses, too.
The big (nasty) one being: 'how could I handle being around my kid all the day long?!'
But now, the joy of watching these children learn, explore, play, laugh and engage in this amazing world around them - outweighs the crazy with such deep awe.
I'm really savouring this time I have with them.
We've been learning so much already, and I've seen a huge shift in my outlook.
The biggest change for me being: the pursuit of intentional/teachable moments.

I think I always struggled with viewing myself as 'teaching material' because I wasn't intentional about weaving discovery, wonder and learning into our average days.
Learning to learn like a child again.  What a thrill! 
Homeschooling isn't easy, but it's good.  Like most things in life.
Before we decided to go ahead with this, I always feared what a furnace it would be for my heart.  I feared what frustration or anger would boil up in me when faced with the hurdles along the way.  But I'm learning to trust God's providential hand - and timing - in every.little.crazy thing that comes my way.  So if the lesson doesn't go as planned, or the kids are all taking turns to wail and whine on my lap, and the phone is ringing, and the dish water has turned cold... there is a peace in the chaos. It turns out this furnace is a refining one.
And, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3)... I am not standing in the fires alone.

Once again, I am seeing... this home, this crumb cluttered floor... is holy ground.

Mel ;o)



stones + streams (thoughts on faith)

An encouragement to weary pilgrims,

There will be times in the journey of faith,
When your heart feels like a rock,
You feel unmoved, impermeable,
To the presence of God.

There will be times,
When prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling,
Landing like lead upon your heavy chest.
Pray harder still.

There will be seasons,
Where even the attempt to pray,
Feels like rolling a boulder up His holy hill.
Keep pushing upward.

There will be seasons,
You feel lost in the parched desert,
The memory of a lush garden all but forgotten,
Keep staggering towards home.

There will be days,
His Word seems dry and barren,
The stone tablets crush your spirit,
Keep reading still.

Remember the One Who made you,
The One Who took your heart of stone,
Gave you a heart of flesh.
To pulse with love for Him and others.

Remember the difference,
Between stones on the shore,
And those in the stream,
The smooth ones are in the stream.

Keep immersing yourself,
In the living waters,
Even the rocks give way,
To that holy washing.

Mel ;o)


growing new eyes.

So, when I was young, I knew everything.
Now that I'm getting older... I see how much there is to learn.
When I was a teenager, I painted a mural with the quote:
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" (Marcel Proust)  I thought I was painting my sage-like perspective on that canvas.
Now that I'm older, I see those new eyes fluttering open.

There's an incredible re-birth that a parent is granted.
You get to see the world afresh through their dewy new eyes, and marvel at the things your eyes forgot were remarkable.  And the questions!  'Why is that the way it is?' 'Where does it come from?' 'How does it do that?'

And you start to see how little you really know,
and how glad you are to embark on this 'real voyage of discovery' right alongside them!
Today we watched the life cycles of a butterfly.
She coloured in a few of her favourite ones from our recent trip to a butterfly conservatory.
We hiked down to the river, collecting rocks, flowers and clam shells.
(Were they clams, mussels, or oysters? Thanks internet - clams!) 

God's wild world of wonder is unfolding new wings before our hungry eyes.
The marvel and the mystery.
The gratitude and the glee.
The wonder and wisdom.

 This mama's heart is in it's own metamorphosis.

Mel ;o)


small steps, big leaps.

Do you ever wonder if the next step towards change is going to transform you, or cause you to stumble?  It's hard to trust that the 'leap of faith' off the proverbial cliff is going to let you fly, instead of crashing into a mangled mess on the rocks below.

But currently, I feel the wind beneath these fragile trembling winds.. and I am excited to share with you friends the changes on our horizon!

After keeping our oldest daughter (Azriel,5yrs) home for junior kindergarten year, and then sending her off to try out a local Catholic school for her senior year... we've recently decided to homeschool her for (at least) this next school year.  Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but if I'm being honest there was lots of internal 'freaking out' and paper bags involved.  Because, I am not the type who embraced this idea right off the hop.
There were the silly reasons - like, "I'm just not creative enough to teach her".
The selfish reasons - "Will I ever get a moment to myself?!"
The socialisation reasons - "Will she be isolated from her peers?"
I was the champion of listing pros + cons for both sides of the debate... but after sitting on the fence for the last couple of years, it was starting to chafe.
So we are stepping out, and I am seeing the joy - instead of sheer panic - about this choice.

There's a lot more I could say, but for now just a few points:
We chose this path for our daughter (for now) because we believe it fosters her well-being. She has blossomed over the summer in ways we were delighted to witness, and have noted that it is in direct correlation to the quality time spent with her family/friends.
This does not mean we make homeschooling our 'gospel' and assume it's the best choice for everyone.  I respect the convictions and choices each family makes for what is best for their children.  Like many of the debates in our culture - this one seems rather polarising as well.  I'm not out to convert or convince you to homeschool (my many homeschooling friends will be the first to tell you that I often questioned their reasons, in fact!)  It is probably ironic to them that I am now on this side.
But maybe we don't need to make it about 'sides' with this issue.  Let's just hold to the conviction to be on the side of our children's growth and health... and encourage other parents to do the same.

For now, I'm just feeling so blessed to know that this sweet gal will be by our side a whole lot more this school year!

Mel ;o)


there and back again...

Oh hi, ...anyone...?  Just blowing the dust off the blog here.
Let's pretend we were on summer vacation and far too busy with the three kiddos in our nest to scratch two words together.  Partially true, also... the laptop was out of commission for the past couple months.  So here we are, back for now.  Thanks for your patience friends.

Let it be known, I was still writing (in my head often) and I also was published in the BARNABAS summer edition magazine recently.  For those who weren't able to get their hands on the article I've attached a version of it here:
"We live in a busy age, don't we? We want our food fast, and our theology in a sound bite. How do we find perfect peace at this peace? How do we pursue the presence of Christ?
The Bible is my defibrillator.  When I feel the panic of 'do more, be more!' attacking my heart, I find the shock of Christ's words brings much clarity.  Take this passage for example: Jesus enters a village and is welcomed in to the home of Martha and her sister Mary.  Martha, understanding the importance of hospitality in that culture, was 'distracted with much serving'.  Mary simply sat at Jesus' feet and listened to his teaching.  I can imagine the vein bursting from Martha's forehead when she protests: "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell her then to help me" (!!).
We see Him respond with: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her".

Serving, or sitting.
I feel Martha's priorities hammering on my own heart.
I desire Mary's passion to consume it.

Because productivity is like a drug to me.
If I can keep just enough things clean.  If I can check off just enough tasks on the 'to do' list.  If I can visit with enough people.  If I can juggle all the important parts of the day without being swallowed in to chaos...
... I can find my value in that accomplishment.
Because the business of busyness defines us as important, doesn't it?
Which is not to say that being productive is wrong.  The problem is if our identity is found in what we are, instead of Who's we are.  The danger is if we find our value in what we do, instead of what we are (in Christ). What one thing defines you? Where we find our identity, is where we rest.
A heart that rests, is the Mary heart.
Found sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Holding to his teaching.
Leaning on his strength.
Trusting in his promises.

A heart that does not know it's 'one thing' is the Martha heart - "anxious and troubled about many things".  There is the restlessness.  The running from thing to thing to find comfort, peace, security.... identity. 

Practically how does that look for us in the harried days of daily life?
One way that I've been convicted lately is to make my 'quiet time'...my devotions of reading/study/prayer take place during the *sweet spot* of the day.
You know, that one precious hour when the house it quiet.
That delicious moment when you know you could be 20x more productive at cleaning the house, or catching up on e-mails, or fill-in-the-blanks...
I see this as the perfect moment to give a sucker punch to my productive heart.
To clearly show it that we are going to STOP. SIT. and be STILL at the Saviour's feet.
I'm not perfect at it.
I still have a throbbing vein in my forehead that wants to do instead of be.
But I see the sweet relief that comes from this rare rest.
I want more of it."
"Thou has made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until it finds its rest in Thee" - Augustine.


Stay tuned,
Mel ;o)