Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

Miriam and William

Miriam and William

This post was written last year by my dear friend Miriam after she watched our children while my husband and I were on vacation. She is a continuous blessing to my children and to me.

~     ~     ~

“I picked this for you, Miriam!” A little four-and-a-half year-old marches proudly into the house from his typically lengthy jaunt to the outhouse, holding out a fresh-plucked dandelion in his chubby hand. His sweet face is lit up by a huge and loving smile. My heart completely melts. “Thank you, William! That’s so sweet of you,” I exclaim as I accept the gift and add it to the steadily growing bouquet of flowers, smiling widely in return. Indeed, How can one help but smile when one is so blessed by the love of a child?

The baby giggles happily as I rock him to and fro and sing his favourite bedtime song, “Jesus loves me,” with a smile on my face. We are having so much fun together, that I start a new song right after, which includes the phrase, “God is always there watching you.” The baby catches the phrase, squealing in delight,” God watching me? God watching me!” I assure him that God does indeed love him and watch over him (and Mommy and Daddy and his brothers and sisters, too!) as I settle him into his crib, tucking the blankets around him and saying a little prayer. Precious moments, these!

“The soul is healed by being with children.” So Russian novelist Dostoevsky said; and certainly many times when I have felt ‘low’ – even for no particularly good reason – my spirits have risen just by having the chance to play with and read or listen to one (or more) of my friends’ little ones. There is nothing like caring for children to bring us out of and beyond ourselves – I find, anyway. I am so very grateful to those friends who have shared not only themselves, but also their precious ‘littles’ with me over the years.

Today more than ever marriages and families are in dire need of help and encouragement, as the attack against them (on both a physical and spiritual plane) grows steadily more prevalent and powerful. I have discovered that just because one happens to be unmarried, it doesn’t mean he or she has no role to play in the lives of the families whom God sees fit to place in his or her life.

Indeed, I believe single persons (as well as other married ones) may have a powerful role in supporting the parents’ training and work with their children, not only by being an example to them by how they live their lives, but also by teaching and affirming the parents’ instructions both in word and deed. For no family is an island to themselves; each requires the positive examples and strong support of other outside influences as they grow to maturity, be those influencing factors from individuals or from families, at home, at church, in schools and daycares, from various teachers, or from counsellors at a summer camp.

Does recognizing (and seeking, as able, to walk in) this role mean I no longer desire to one day have a home filled with a husband and children of my own? Certainly not! I do, indeed; but more than this longing, I desire to glorify my Lord with my life, whatever my marital and familial status might be; and I perceive that if I cannot learn to be joyful, content, and productive in serving the Lord during this season of my life (which in His Providence may last all my life), I shall not discover greater joy in any other. “The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today” (Elbert Hubbard), “for while we are executing any work, we are preparing and qualifying ourselves to undertake another” (William Hazlatt).

As happy as my visits with my friends and their children may be, oftentimes I still drive away with tears stinging my eyes; but they are tears of joy rather than of sorrow. My arms may be yet empty, but my heart is, oh, so full!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

1445001_19305405

Photo credit: Datapro

Mothering is tough. It just is. I struggled with discouragement most of today. It was a beautiful day, but inside me was a storm. I was feeling overwhelmed by the bickering and grumpiness of 6 kids. I finally went for a long walk and talked to God and poured out all of my frustrations. The air, the sunshine, and the prayers cleared my head until I could face my family again.

I love being a mom, but I choose to love it. It’s not all sugar and spice. One thing that I’m grateful for is that I’m not alone. I have the support of family, friends, and readers. And most of all, I can rely on God’s promises. I was reminded of that again as I read this story from my dear friend Christine. Be blessed!

 

~     ~     ~

 

I’m awake, but I don’t want to open my eyes.  I know what the day holds for this mama when she gets up. Laundry. Fussiness.  Dirty dishes. A grimy bathroom–lying in wait to greet me.

Despair.  I don’t want to move, yet I must.  I must fight. Maybe some time in the Word will refresh my soul.  The words I read are true and my mind knows it, but my heart is numb.  I read “His mercies are fresh every morning”

Now the stillness of morning is gone, and the children are rising like the sun. Bright. Ferocious. Intense. Tears are spilling on the floor over breakfast preferences, and little ones are refusing their mama.  I want to run.  Why is the fight so hard?  I know his mercies are afresh, why can’t I feel it?

I want hard evidence, I want to feel, I want to know His grace is sufficient.  I run.

Leaving my cares inside our little bungalow, I rush outside.  I feel urgency, maybe even panic.  Must feel, must know.  How do I know it’s even morning?  I can’t even see the sun rise.  Buildings all around block out its awakening and warmth.  I climb.  Must fight for joy and sanity.

I find a way.  Sure it’s not conventional but it will work.  Haphazardly, I climb on top of the freezer chest, balancing on two plastic containers.  Must find a way.  My body pulls my weight up, and I have made it. I can see the hard evidence.  I can feel the warmth.  I can see and know His promise.

I feel hope.  I don’t care what the neighbourhood thinks.  This country girl needs to pretend she’s not in the city.  I soak up the sunrise atop our small shed, and know that His Mercies are fresh every morning.

 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Read Full Post »

Just Do what You Can

Credit: Maiden

Credit: Maiden

Here’s another guest post from my dear friend Miriam. Enjoy!

~     ~     ~

When I went to Haiti on a Missions Trip with our church in the Spring of 2013, our group had the privilege of attending Haitian church on Sunday. We couldn’t understand the sermon, so we just read our Bibles, and soaked in the delightful atmosphere of exuberant and heart-felt worship. (People of African descent have just the most incredible singing-voices – I think!)

One of the passages I happened upon at this time was Mark 14, where Jesus is reclining at the table of Simon the Leper, and the woman comes and anoints His feet with a very costly perfume.

While some of those present are indignant about the waste, and even rebuke the woman harshly, Jesus rises to her defence. And of His defence, the words that struck me most were, “She did what she could.” I thought, you know, that’s all any of us can do – be willing and available and ready to just simply “do what we can” wherever we are, whatever opportunity God places in our paths.

Maybe we can’t do something as well as John or Mary over there, maybe we haven’t been called to go overseas and minister to people in other countries, but we can all contribute somehow, in some way, with what God has gifted us – and if we all faithfully do our part of doing what we can, we will be used of God wherever we are, even – or perhaps I should say in many cases, especially? – right here at home.

“Use what talents you possess. The woods would be silent if only those birds sang who sang best.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Read Full Post »

I’m excited to be sharing a guest post from my long-time friend Miriam, who has been encouraging and blessing me for years. I hope to have more posts from her over the coming months. Enjoy!

❤ Rachel

Photo credit: Balabusta

Photo credit: Balabusta

I phoned my friend up the evening before. It was one of those last-minute, short-notice kind of calls, where I realized I had a day off and thought I might utilize it to visit some friends in a neighbouring town—provided it worked on their end.”There is one problem,” Rachel said, “The kids and I are actually going to a homeschool craft day at the Fort, so we won’t be home tomorrow.”

“Well, would you mind if I tagged along?” I asked, undaunted: I knew there would be one empty seat in their van. “We could talk as we drive.” And so it was settled!

To make a long story short, I am glad that I went! Not only did I have fun and get to observe a variety of crafts as well as meet some interesting people and catch up with my friends, I was especially fascinated by the pottery-glazing process, which on later reflection occurred to me to be a kind of parable of God’s work in the lives of His children. Let me explain.

Pottery glaze comes in individual cans, each labelled according to colour. But though the can clearly states its colour, the actual appearance of the glaze inside it is very different to the shade it claims to be! In fact, most of the tones are very dull and dreary-looking and must be painted by faith in the label onto the items of clay, which action in itself does nothing to enhance their appearance. It is only when the pottery is fired in the kiln that the true colours come to light. And such colours they are. Rich crimsons and azure blues, glowing yellows and warm greens.

I was impressed. It afterwards occurred to me that this is oftentimes how God works in us, when He allows into our lives those dreary days of waiting for a longing to be fulfilled, perhaps, or those seasons of sameness when nothing in our lives seems to be making much forward-progress; or yet again those dark days when we suffer the loss of a loved one or even the death of a dream we hold dear.

The Bible tells us that God is sovereign and that nothing happens by accident – everything has a purpose, and that purpose is God’s for our ultimate good and His glory (Psalm 115:3, Romans 8:28). It also tells us that God is good, He is faithful, and He is love (1John 4:8, Psalm 86:5, Psalm 145:13).

Therefore we can know that not one of His brush strokes lands amiss; each dull stroke He paints will turn into a thing of beauty and brilliance through the fires He sends into our lives. He knows what He is doing; we can trust Him absolutely!

The glazes He chooses and the trials He allows will be different for each one of us, for no two of His pottery pieces look the same when He’s finished with them. Yet one day we will make a glorious collection, each designed for a specific destiny, together bringing glory to the Lord our God!

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our Potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” ~ Isaiah 64:8

iStock

iStock

Read Full Post »

Today’s post is written by Toni Hammer. I met Toni on a writing website a couple of months ago, and we quickly became friends. Her insightful writing reflects her fun and witty personality. Enjoy!

~ ~ ~

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for a third of my life, I’ve acclimated to the fact it rains 412 days out of the year. It’s expected. Rain is the status quo.

Knowing this, I get super excited when the sun comes out. I want to hug that big ball of fire and give it my raincoat as a sacrifice. The sun is warm and full of love and vitamin D. I might go a little crazy when it shows its face after a month long rainfall.

That happened earlier this week. Not only was the sun out, but it was almost seventy degrees! Flip flop and iced coffee weather. It was magical.

Then the rain came back. This weather which I was so accustomed to that I barely batted an eye at it now filled me with rage. It was sunny yesterday! I was warm! I hate you rain!

This happens a lot in life, too. Something extraordinary happens to us–promotion at work, favorite band in concert, child takes their first step–and our excitement level rises above that of someone who just won the lottery.

Photo Credit: Katman

Photo Credit: Katman

Then the next day comes. The next week. Before long we’re back to the expected. The status quo. It feels sad and boring.

Don’t get bummed when life goes back to normal. Don’t start scowling because your ride in Excitement Land is over. Appreciate the familiar rhythm of your life.

We need to be content with our day to day life so the new gifts and achievements are that much brighter. We need to appreciate what seems mundane because it’s comfortable, it’s what we know, and it’s where we prepare for our next big thing.

Don’t let the sun ruin the rain.

 

~ ~ ~

You can read more from Toni on her website tonihammer.com.

Have a great week!

Read Full Post »

Here’s a guest post from my dear friend Christine:

When I was twelve years old, my family and I lived in a house that seemed to attract birds. The front porch was unapproachable for all of the mama and papa swallows sweeping down in fearsome attack.  Now that I am also a parent, I admire their ferocity in protecting their young.  Although as a young girl, I had absolutely no appreciation for their aerial raids on my family.  Maybe I watched Hitchcock’s “The Birds” way too soon in life.  All of this to say, my relationship with birds did not start well.

hitchcock

A few years ago, I thought my distaste for this animal would last until the grave. Something changed.  I was given a camera, and in my frenzy of picture taking, I started taking pictures of any and all kinds of birds.  It became a challenge to identify and capture the sparrow, waxwing, nuthatch, or chickadee with my lens.  Somehow I started to appreciate the variety and multitude of this creature.  Heck, I didn’t even mind the swooping (as long as I wasn’t the target!)  Most importantly, these amazing animals were affecting my relationship with God.  Every time I look out my window and see the ever common sparrow, my heart is drawn to the provision and mercy of my heavenly Father. 

Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

In fear, I could understand but not necessarily appreciate to the same extent Matthew 6:26.

Look at the birds of the air:  they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”

  Matthew 6:26

God is merciful and gracious to His children!  I am glad God’s mercy extended to my silly fear of birds and gave me greater reason to praise His holy name! 

bird

To learn more about Christine read my post No Trouble.

See you Thursday!

Read Full Post »