...be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is
not in vain in the Lord.

09 April 2016

Five Minute Friday ~ Whole


Ever noticed there's a "hole" in the word "whole?"

I hadn't, but then I typed "w... h... o... l... e... " as a part of the title of this blog post, wondering what in the world I was going to write about...

... and I thought about a song I hadn't heard in a really, really long time.

But, first a bit of context... pieces of a conversation this past week, between myself and another mama of third culture kids... and a song this other mama shared with me about how we are all broken people who become broken parents who then break their children. I get the point, but I don't think that word picture gives the right picture.

My kids know I'm an imperfect parent. Inadvertently as well as sometimes very much by choice and out of anger - I do things that hurt, or in the above terminology, "break" my children. Afterwards, I apologize - probably need to do so more than I actually do - and ask forgiveness. So I get what this other mama, my friend, was saying, but I disagree, for there is a very large, very key, difference:

We are all BORN broken.

We live surrounded by people who were also born broken and struggle with that brokenness every single moment of every single day. My parents didn't break me... they did (occasionally still do) things that hurt me. It breaks my heart to say this, but until the day I die, I will probably continue to do things that hurt the very ones I love most, including and particularly, my children.

There's only one road to completeness, wholeness and healing, that road is the work of God in our hearts and lives - and even his work is a process that is not completed in this lifetime.

So...I don't want to "accept" myself as I am.

I DO want to see myself truly as I am...
I DO want recognize my brokenness...
I DO want to know who I was before Jesus...
I DO want to see with ever growing clarity what Christ HAS DONE...
I DO want to comprehend who I am - in Him, now and forever...
and then I DO want Him to begin His process of transformation in me.

I DO NOT believe "it" - however you want to define it: life, ministry, parenting, etc. -  is about me, my story, my voice...

but, as I heard someone somewhere last weekend say,

"It is all about His story lived in and through me."

And so, now back to that song, called "Unredeemed ~ "

The cruelest word, the coldest heart
The deepest wound, the endless dark
The lonely ache, the burning tears
The bitter nights, the wasted years

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are

For every choice that led to shame
And all the love that never came
For every vow that someone broke
And every life that gave up hope

We live in the shadow of the fall
But the cross says these are all

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered
Is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed

Oh, He will wipe every tear
Will not be, be unredeemed

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle the Father has in store
Just watch and see, it will not be
Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed


When, as God redeems, every hole will be filled and we will be made whole.

It is something He must do.

Thankfully, He promises...



(PS In case you were wondering, this post took more than 5 minutes... probably more like 8!)

04 April 2016

of yummy breakfasts and hoping... praying...


A week ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and noticed that one of my friends was giving her testimony at a DĂ©jeuner de l'Espoir.

"What's that?" you ask.

Translated literally, it means "Breakfast of Hope..." or perhaps "Breakfast for Hope" is a better translation... but that's a bit of quibbling over details. đŸ˜Š Regardless, "for more than 23 years, Hope for Today has regularly offered these free conversational breakfasts 'chats' in restaurants throughout the region of QuĂ©bec. The goal of [these breakfasts] is to present Jesus Christ and to invite those at the breakfast to become his followers. At these meetings, participants will hear powerful testimonies from men and women whose lives have been transformed by the love of Jesus, the Son of God, simply by having accepted Him as their only Savior and Lord." (translated from the web page of Aujourd'hui l'Espoir)

And so back to my story... I attended one of these this past weekend...


It was a bit of a stretch for introvert me. Tim couldn't go - he was busy recording upcoming television programs. Between school and church, the kids have usually had their fill of French and tend to like their English Saturdays at home, with the family. But I really wanted to hear my friend's testimony while experiencing first hand this ministry facilitated by the organization we've come to Quebec to partner with, so even amidst second thoughts, I dutifully drove to the restaurant. The fact that it was a breakfast meeting and we were going to a Chinese restaurant did concern me a little bit as I had no idea what might be served for breakfast. In hindsight, that needn't have been a worry at all - omelets, quiche, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and waffles with REAL maple syrup, baked beans, lots of fruit... it was a really, REALLY good breakfast buffet!

I sat down - at the end of one of the long tables set up for the breakfast in the private room rented for the affair, and before too long, an older gentlemen walked up, asked if the seat across from me was saved. When I said it wasn't, he asked if I minded if he sat there. 


Which began a conversation that left me both brokenhearted and hopeful...

My new friend is a 79 year old bachelor. He really enjoys farming and gardening. From our conversation, I concluded that perhaps, the first part of his life was wasted... in many ways... and then he read a book that changed his life. It wasn't the Bible. This book, did, however, highly regard Jesus as the best prophet that ever walked this earth. And now, so did this man. wants to live his life modeled after Jesus. Yet as I was visiting with him, it was very clear that he believed was a really good person, one of the good guys involved in charity work and other social Gospel activities. He was convinced that God would be happy to welcome him into Heaven some day. He believes Christ died on the cross to save the world. But... I didn't understand him to say that he thought he actually needed a Savior - just a good life model/mentor. 

While we were eating, I shared my testimony. He heard my friend's testimony, which was unmistakably clear. He heard the pastor who introduced my friend summarize all men's need for a Savior and then the plan of salvation. He also heard the man who concluded the breakfast with a final clear, short and sweet, presentation of the Gospel.

He left the breakfast, thanking my friend for her testimony, but not really seeing that her words were applicable for him... to him. 

I left the breakfast, heart heavy because of a sweet older gentleman; we'd enjoyed delightful conversation for over an hour that morning, yet even when presented with the truth, he didn't recognize his need. He is blind, but claims he can see.


That morning, I came home and sat down to read my bible... I was a couple of days behind schedule - it had been a crazy busy week.

This was the passage (NLT, from John 10):
   When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
   The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
   “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”
   “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.
   Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”
   Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
   “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.

Sometimes, it is easy to look at people like the Pharisees - and not like them or become frustrated with their stubborn blindness. 

I was reminded that Pharisees were just like this man, probably really great folks (outside of their angry conversations with Christ) - and that Jesus came for people like them "to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” 

Join me in praying for my friend... 

May God show him his blindness so that he can, truly, see.

And may God show each of us our areas of blindness, for we all have areas where we are Pharisaical, where we have to acknowledge our blindness before we ever have hope of truly seeing.

Not too many days ago - but the sun's shining now and I can actually see a small patch of grass in front of that tree today. M&M came home from school and wanted to know if she could go lay out in the sun on the grass!

(In the interest of full disclosure - all food pictures included in this post were prepared by me and/or my gang and were taken at our house... not at the restaurant.)

01 April 2016

Five Minute Friday ~ "I don't know... You decide!"


Have you ever found yourself caught in one of those situations where no one wants to take the lead and just make a decision?

"Where should we go for lunch?"
"I don't care. Go ahead, you pick."
"No, seriously - you should be the one to decide. I picked last time."
"But it really doesn't matter to me... so, wherever! It's all good."

Obviously, this particular dilemmatic circumstance is more annoying than anything else. 

Eventually, someone will make a choice and after having wasted anywhere 5-15 minutes of their lunch break, the two (whoever they might be) will head off for lunch and before long forget all about their indecision. Worst case scenario? Too much time is wasted so someone finally decides they's rather just go to the company cafeteria or raid the vending machines and eat at their desk. And everyone feels stupid.

Are you a person who avoids making a definitive choice?

Silly girls who can't decide which silly face to make for their sister-selfie!






After all, that's the history behind the word. 

Decide comes from the Latin decidere means, quite literally, "to cut off." It is formed from the prefix de-, which means "off" and the verb caedere, which means "to cut," 

When a choice is made, it cuts off all other possibilities. If Tim and I choose to run to Ashton's for lunch some day, then Tim Horton's is no longer a possibility. If we decide to go skiing over Spring Break, then we won't be taking photos overlooking our toes on a sandy beach with Caribbean blue waves breaking in the background.

Deciding is a form of exclusivity.

That's why it makes some people uncomfortable.

In circumstances like where to go for lunch, that exclusivity isn't life-changing or irreversible.

But with some decisions, there's no turning back... and there's no way to guarantee the consequences, good or bad...

How about you? Do you make decisions easily? Or is it one of those things you find difficult to do?

...so I decided to take a selfie with him!

18 March 2016

Five Minute Friday ~ Surprise


A few weeks back, the entire elementary half of the school my crew attends had a "Winter Outing." The fifth and sixth grades had the option of skiing; 4th grade on down went tubing. And of course, they was need of parents to accompany. 

You'd better believe I signed up, ASAP! I love winter, I love being outside and I love hanging out with my kids and this would be a two for one field trip.

Boy, was I surprised when we walked out to the tubing "hill."

Because back in Oklahoma, where I grew up, a hill that size was called a mountain.

In Michigan, where I'd most recently lived and have done pretty much the only skiing I'd ever done, a hill like that was for skiing, not tubing.

In Niger, where I've probably spent the most recent bulk of my "adult-ish" life, well... we had sand dunes, not mountains... and certainly no snow.

This tubing hill even had its own "tube" lift!


That's M&M in the tube right above me.

Only pictures from the bottom and on the ride up... I deemed it "risky behavior" to pull my phone aka camera out anywhere near the top of that tubing hill. :-)

This was one of the better photos that actually gives
a bit of perspective as to the size and slope of these hills!

We had so much fun and believe me, as soon as we get the opportunity, we will go back with the fam!

So it isn't bare toes on a lawn chair on the beach or beside a pool
(like so many friends have been posting).
But hey, when you live in Quebec and its time for Spring Break,
you do the best with what you've got.
THIS was surprisingly AWESOME!

12 March 2016

Five Minute Friday - Sharing "the Happiness!"

Plenty of people miss their 
share 
of happiness, 
not because they never found it, 
but because they didn't 
stop 
to enjoy it. 

~William Feather~

Saturday morning is my favorite time of the week... and I can hear my kids and husband groan (in my mind) as I type these words.

Why?

Saturday Morning Clean!

We usually sleep in.

Snuggle for awhile and talk about the week. Some are known to check up on different online games...

Silly snuggle time
Eat a leisurely breakfast.

But then someone begins blaring an iTunes or YouTube playlist... We have quite an menagerie of music ranging from Uncle Kracker to Christy Galkin, from Journey to Owl City, from Josh Turner to Huw Priday, from Vent du Nord to Matisyaho, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Bryan Adams... and just about every Disney soundtrack (plus Prince of Egypt and a few like-minded creations) in English and some in French...

...and everyone gets to work on their weekly cleaning chores. The little girls clean their bedroom, do their laundry and sweep and mop the hallway. Some weekends, they also get to re-organize their toys or straighten out the coloring cupboard. Jonathan gets to work on his room and the living room. The big girls clean the basement - their room and bathroom, the family room, the office and the laundry room... and vacuum up the stairs. Tim takes care of the upstairs bathroom, mops the kitchen floor plus any repair jobs/outdoor jobs that need to be cared for. Richelle cleans Mama & Daddy's bedroom, works on laundry and cleans up the kitchen and that leisurely breakfast mess.

Look at that spotless room!
Usually, we're all done by noon, sometimes 1, depending on how long we snuggled before starting to work - leaving lots of time in the afternoon to just hang out, bake something sweet, or do something fun.

Funny thing?

Even though the majority of the gang might groan at the thought of the work, it is true that many hands make the labor light. Even better is all the fun we share as we bounce around the house, working together to get what needs to be done done, enjoying lively music and each other's company... and occasionally, teasingly, harassing a sibling or spouse! 

I love sharing Saturday mornings with my gang!

On days when other things and activities mean we have to adapt our Saturday Morning Cleaning Routine... I miss it.

I suspect the rest of the gang, just might... a little bit... too!

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