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Rest

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I decided a while ago that I would personally practice the concept of the Sabbath. In the Bible, people would do almost nothing on the Sabbath. The whole community would spend time together, eat, and focus on the Lord. They’d even cook their meals the day before in order to not lift a finger when the day of rest came.

Living at this time in the world, and in our high-expectations society, I find this difficult. My body wants to rest, but my mind keeps running through the list of to-do’s and expectations I have acquired through this rushed lifestyle. We arrive home from church and my immediate instinct is to throw on my dust-covered work clothes and start digging in the garden, or to clean and wipe down every surface in the house. Never have I arrived home from church and thought, “Hey, I’m just going to sit and not even lift a finger today. In fact, our whole day of meals is already prepared!”

No, instead I leave all the things to be done on our one day of rest.

I know you’re with me in this. We have the tendency to never sit down, and even when we do sit down, we engage our brains in social media and television.

We got home today, and I decided that I’m going to start saying “yes” to the rest God calls us to on the one day every week in which we have no work or school obligations. I’m also going to unplug (until the evening, since I do work a full-time job outside the home and it may be wise to check email Sunday evening). For now, once this post is spell-checked, over-edited and published, I’m going offline for the day.

Maybe you can join me too. Put down your phones, your computers, and your to-do lists, and rest. I won’t judge you if you don’t, but I guarantee with a little consistency, it’ll become the best habit you’ve ever developed. 😉

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Sunrise

I woke up at five o’clock this morning on the last day of our fifth annual getaway to Pender Harbour. On this still, quiet morning, my mind was still overstimulated after a crazy night playing games until midnight with our kids. Yes, we let our kids stay up late every night of this trip, and no, that wasn’t thought through. They are TIRED.

I lay in bed contemplating sleep, while also contemplating a paddle on the silky waters of the harbor in the early morning. On pure exhaustion, an empty stomach, carrying a camera that can’t swim and a full water bottle, I threw my lake-showered hair into a ponytail, tiptoed past my sleeping angels, and giddily padded my way down to the dock. With grace I didn’t know I had, I slipped into the kayak, adjusted my leg straps, and glided away. I slowly woke up as the salty air and smooth ripples took over my world.

Let me clarify as we begin this story, that I have very little kayaking experience, but I do have strong arms, and a heart for adventure.

From Duncan Cove where our cabin rested, one can take off deeper into the harbor to the East to enjoy the beauty of large boats, an array of cabins and houses, and some occasional wildlife. To the West lie ever-changing rocky islands, oystercatchers, bald eagles, and strong currents. I chose the latter, in hopes that I might catch the sunrise from the mouth of Pender Harbour.

A few days earlier, I paddled at low tide out to The Gap at the south side of the mouth of the harbor, and found a tiny sandy beach with sea stars scattered everywhere. I hopped out for a brief moment until a couple oystercatchers started squawking at me to get off their kelp. I hopped back in the kayak and continued on, but only for a moment. The low-tide and shallow rocks in the water past Charles Island was a bit more than I was ready to handle, and it was my first kayak trip out of the harbor on my own. I gladly turned around and rode the current back to our dock.

But this morning, I didn’t turn around. As it was high tide, I was less concerned about hidden rocks under the surface, and a bit more ready to tackle some waves. The ocean didn’t let me down. I breathed in deeply as all book characters do as I gazed out at the open water. The sun was gently appearing on the land to the West as I circled Charles Island. I took a quiet moment to take in the breathtaking simplicity of the cliffs above me and the trees swaying in the gentle morning breeze.

Excitement built as I noticed the sun peeking around the north side of the cliffs. I snapped a few pictures as I turned the corner. I realized in that moment I had made a gigantic mistake. Blinding morning light filled my vision. It immediately dawned on me that I would be forced to take in the breathtaking majesty of the glorious sunshine without reprieve the ENTIRE thirty minute trip back to Duncan Cove.

After laughing to myself and almost crying, (and considering just tying my kayak to a rock and blowing my whistle for help) I paddled gently along the cliffs deciding my next move. After ruling out the whisle-blowing maneuver, I made up my mind to sprint across the mouth of the harbor before any large ships came through. Fortunately, I could do this in two spurts as there was a slightly smaller island part-way across. I paddled furiously over to William Island and took a break in the still waters beside it. A bald eagle was busy fighting away some Canadian Geese, and I’m thankful he didn’t consider me in their company.

I continued onward, partially rowing and partially guarding my eyes as I searched for massive yachts headed my direction. I made it to the northern coastline of the harbor, and swiftly made my way to our tiny cove before the sun could completely blind me.

There was no imminent danger in this trip, and no injuries beside a piercing headache from the lack of sleep and blinding sun.

But I do need to say this: don’t paddle east into a sunrise.

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Welcome

On this beautiful sunny morning, I am enjoying pancakes, coffee, and rest. But as rest often does, I am now stirring with thoughts, ideas, concerns, inner deliberation, and unease. I have attempted for months to transfer all these words onto paper in any kind of organized manner, but nothing has come of it. This isn’t the face of writer’s block; rather it is the face of a mind too busy to function.

One driving thought that continues to surface is that of acceptance and welcome. Without going into much detail on the issue, I recently experienced a moment with someone who didn’t make me feel welcome. Oddly enough, I was the person who has been around for a while, and was attempting to reach out. This moment made me feel frustrated and rejected on a morning I was needing to feel accepted and nurtured.

I hope that, if nothing else, I can encourage you this morning to open your eyes to the people around you. Take a moment to notice peoples’ faces and body language, their interactions with others and the eye contact they make with people. You’ll notice joy, pain, sadness, excitement, loneliness, and more. And by making yourself aware, perhaps you will feel compelled to respond appropriately.

That said, I understand at times it is difficult to be someone who opens our eyes to others. We may be going through our own heartache or difficulties, and the last thing we want to do is focus on others. But the brilliant design here is when we open our eyes to others in the midst our own pain. Somehow we find even stronger bonds and greater stories.

It’s a fascinating social world, and if we don’t engage in it and view every interaction in God’s eyes when we are placed in the middle of it, we miss out on playing a role in this beautiful story.

In Reality

This was a glorious snow day, for many reasons. Firstly, my kids had a day off, so they were joyful. Secondly, I work at the school, therefore I had a day off as well. More joy. Lastly, we had a beautiful layer of snow that continued into our day, and every time I looked outside I welled up with more joy. I LOVE snow!

But I must tell you, I barely went outside.

I watched from a screen as adorable kids and loving parents made snow forts and went sledding, showed off cute pictures of snowmen and backyards filled with kids and animals. And here I was, not even taking a single picture. Here I was, still in my yoga pants, drinking coffee most of the day, while my kids enjoyed this wonderful surprise of a snowstorm without me.

And I am okay with this.

You guys, I had the most pleasant day. I did dishes, sorted cabinets in the kitchen, cleaned the kids’ filthy bathroom, cleaned out our cat litter box, and locked my kids out of the house a few times so they would stop letting all the cold air in the house, for the love.

I sat on the couch and stared at the wall. I actually realized I was BORED at one point. I wish I could say it led to a lot of flowing creativity but in reality, it just led to sugar.

I am guessing there are others like me who participated in today’s snow day in an alternative way (we’re such rebels). I’m guessing you hid away in a similar fashion, hoping no one else would notice your lack of creative snow pictures online.

So basically, I just wanted to tell you nothing happened here today, and it was EPIC.

The End. For Now.

Empathy and Screen Time.

Aaron and I both have regular cell phones. The kind that only have text features and basic calling. My phone doesn’t even understand emoticons. This is sad. *sad face emoticon.*

We bought iPod Touches a while ago, but just use wifi when we have access. With this combination, we still get to occasionally have fun, but we save HUNDREDS of dollars yearly on our phone bill.

But despite our household’s lack of cellular advancement, we still find ourselves checking our “phones” (iPod Touches) on an obnoxiously regular basis. I’d love to say it’s once an hour but let’s be honest here. I am never too far from my iPod at any given moment.

There are the justifications. Waiting for a response from an email I sent in the morning. Looking to see how many people commented on my anniversary on Facebook. Checking for any possible notification that would make it necessary for me to spend time swiping and tapping. All while my kids breathe and dance and laugh right in front of me. Or honestly… while they are trying to talk to me. Or more honestly… while my husband is trying to talk to me.

I’m reading “UnSelfie” by Michelle Borba. Actually I’ve barely begun. But what has INSTANTLY struck me on the topic of empathy study and education is the self-centeredness of parents and what we are modeling to our kids. If I’m going to care so much about this issue, I should be modeling it. One of the actions they encourage parents to do is to stop checking their phones so much.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m going off Facebook, deleting my Instagram account, and setting time limits on my devices. And I’m not selling my iPod. It’s my precccciousssss.

But I very seriously and genuinely stared my kids down this morning and said, “I give you permission to let me know if you see me checking my phone too much.” And then I proceeded to tell them why. I want them to know that the people in front of me are the most important. That the people in the room with me are more important than an email from someone else, or a funny Facebook post, or a cool Instagram picture.

There is a time and a place, of course. I can set aside purposeful time on my computer and iPod to answer emails, and check a few social media accounts. Or sometimes I need down time on my couch, browsing Pinterest while my kids laugh and play around me. We all need our down time.

But if we could… shall I say… EMPATHIZE. If we could put ourselves in the shoes of those around us and consider the way they are affected by the things we do, say, act, swipe, and tap, I wonder how that would affect the generation who learns our behavior.

I could be eating my words, as my kids will likely constantly have to remind me to put my phone down. But I feel as much pain as it’s going to cause me, it will turn into a fun game, AND it will hopefully teach my kids the value of face-to-face time and communication.

Here’s to hoping. *smiley face winking*

 

Power

Our family sat around the dinner table yesterday with candles lit, playing Settlers of Catan, and talking about silly things. Half-way through the game, our nine-year-old son Ian asked if the power was back on yet. At this point, most of the area had experienced 8+ hours without power due to a massive windstorm and multiple downed trees and lines.

In response to his question, I lowered my voice, placed my finger to my lips, and said “listen.”

We did. There was barely a noise to be heard.

“Ian, that silence is why I’m not stressed out right now.” I remarked, after a few lovely seconds of silence.

I realized in that very moment how gladly I would live without power. That gentle hum of machinery and engines that fills my ears and busies our lives.

Can I please move somewhere off the grid, away from machines and all the chaos of life? I know, easier said than done. You somehow need food and water, and some way to stay warm. All I’m saying is that I could handle it. 🙂

And that’s all I have to say about that.Summer Road Trip 14 484

Today’s Thought

From Oswald Chambers, and sharing from a deep conviction in my heart about God’s will.

“If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say– ‘Well, I wonder if He did speak?’ Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness.”

How to Remove Head Lice from your Daughter (or son) in Twenty-One Easy Steps

  1. Freak out and run away from your child.
  2. Realize she is crying and afraid, and run back and console her. From a distance.
  3. Tell her she has the lice.
  4. Throw her in the bath. Hopefully your hot water heater is working at the time.
  5. Throw in some toys. From a distance.
  6. Double check the situation. With a headlamp. And not your own comb.
  7. Send your spouse to the store for lice removing tools. Even though he leaves for night shift in an hour.
  8. Pace frantically as you have no clue what to do, have never seen the vermin, and are afraid for your life.
  9. Turn into a robot, cleaning and vacuuming all the things.
  10. Debate whether or not to tell people you have the lice.
  11. Give your child a popsicle in the bathtub to make up for freaking her out
  12. Once MacGyver returns with the goods, thank him.
  13. Retrieve her from the tub, and place her on a wooden chair. Because THAT’ll stop the lice.
  14. Rub in the lice cream, and comb her scalp until it’s a nice dark shade of red.
  15. Let her watch her favorite show while eating another sugary snack. While you comb.
  16. Wash hands. Repeat.
  17. Get over it. Its not as bad as your darkest fears predicted.
  18. Pour a glass of wine.
  19. Do some laundry. Ten to fifteen loads should suffice.
  20. Give a gentle, thoughtful heads up to your friends and family that they may have been exposed.
  21. Wonder WHO THE H*!? gave you lice in the first place. Smiley face.

Lessons in Humility

God reminds me so often of who I was born to reflect. Who I should be. How I can be more like Him, and less like the sinful, prideful person my humanness entices me to be. He uses mornings like this, with the crisp morning air and the sun grazing our windows, illuminating the dining room from where I write.

My eight-year-old son Ian is an artist. He loves to draw, paint, build, scream, and create stories. He is a witty, intelligent, soft-spoken child who is painfully shy, but funny beyond words to those he allows into his world.

As he sat at the table this morning using his toy dragon and the light from our chandelier to cast shadows on his paper, he asked, “Mommy, does this look like the shadow of my dragon?” It was a simple question. One most kids would ask to receive praise or get attention. But not my son. He was asking because he was curious, and really wanted to know if I understood the intention of his art.

In that moment I realized this: I love giving praise and rewards to my humble children.

I love that they don’t seek attention. I love that they don’t brag (except in the natural sibling rivalry way), and that they perceive others on the same level. I love lifting them up and praising their accomplishments and seeing the inward satisfaction that comes from unsolicited praise.

Ian’s inward desire in that moment was to create art. He was using his gift, doing his passion, and enjoying his quiet morning.

It was a humbling moment. Realizing my son was so far ahead of me. In all my endeavors, I have the deep-down desire to receive praise. To do things perfectly and be recognized.

But that isn’t what Christ wants from me. He wants me to go about my business, doing his work, and giving all my efforts to whatever I’m doing simply because He has given me that ability.

…and that’s all I have to say about that.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. ~James 4:6

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