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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

By Faith, Not By Sight

Today is link up day at GMG and our study this week of Sally Clarkson's book 'The Ministry of Motherhood' is on faith. Specifically how do we give our children the gift of faith.

What is faith, really? This is just my humble opinion.. but for me:
faith is choosing to believe and trust in the unseen. Choosing to believe that a God, whom I cannot see, loves me and will take care of me.  Faith is that intangible thing that holds me together in the trials and tribulations that life throws at us all the time.

Abraham is known as the father of faith.. no other man in the bible displayed his level of faith in God. As we well know, even to the point of giving over his son to die at his own hands because he chose obedience to God over his love for his son.

For me, obedience to God and faith are tied up together. If I profess to have faith in God then I must be obedient to Him.
This is part of my covenant with Him. I can trust in His provision and care but I have to uphold my end of the bargain by being obedient in all He asks of me. Interestingly enough,  there are many instances where God takes care of us, even when we are not doing His will, but that's for another post.

One day when Jesus was weary He asked the disciples to take him out on the lake so He could rest from the demands of the crowds who pursued Him. After He fell asleep, a violent storm blew up and the disciples were terrified.

 Matt 8:24 "So they woke him up saying, 'Save us Lord, we are lost!' And he said to them, 'Why are you so frightened, you who have so little faith?' And then he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a great calm'

The disciples were afraid, even though Jesus was in the midst of them. They ought to have had faith that he would not let anything happen to them, but they had not yet achieved that level of faith. I'm sure after this incident, their faith began to grow.

So it is with us, in the storms of life, when our little boats are being rocked and fear is the natural human reaction, we are called to remember that Jesus is with us and that we are safe. We have to trust that He will take care of our needs, protect us from harm, guide us onto the right paths and teach us to know His will.

 As we go through our trials our faith begins to grow and, if we take the lessons from those trials with us, we achieve new heights of faith and trust in God.

This, in essence, sums up the content of Chapters 9 and 10 of  'The Ministry of Motherhood'... teaching our children to have this kind of faith, faith that will take them through the storms of life that WILL come. We cannot shelter them from hardships and trials so we have to teach them how to handle them. 

In Chapter 10 Sally says "The best way to give the critical gift of faith to our children, in other words, is to exercise faith in our own lives - to accept the difficulties of life and choose to trust God in the midst of them"

She goes on to say that we have to expose them to stories about faith, both in the bible and real life examples around us of people living out their faith."We must teach them about faith, yes, We must live as examples of faith. We must urge them to do what is right even if that means taking risky chances that makes us a little nervous" 

Well, this quotation particularly speaks to my heart!  My husband and I strive to live out our faith every day. It is not always easy, believe me! Our children do not always understand our choices, especially when measured against the secular world, but we pray that they are, nonetheless, receiving positive and life-giving impressions deeply printed on their hearts.

I have conversations with my two older girls (20 and 18) about our choice not to use contraception but to leave my womb open to God's will, our choice not to do tubal ligation, even after four c-sections. They, who are bombarded by the world's point of view, struggle to understand and accept but this is what living out our faith is for us.. being willing to leave even my own life in His hands. It is scary, from the world's point of view even stupid and risky.

 Ah, but that is what God calls us to do if we truly have Faith.. do the risky, the stupid, the scary.. in obedience to Him and  because we trust in Him.

My children can see that God takes care of us.. that He works miracles, if necessary, to fulfill His Covenant with us. They cannot argue this point, it is before their eyes constantly. They see us go through hardships, our eyes firmly on Heaven. We struggle many times to keep the faith and we may not always have the solution we thought we would, but always there IS a solution!

Last weekend my husband attended a Charismatic Day of Renewal at our church. It was a day of praise and worship, a healing session, digging into God's word and being filled anew with the Holy Spirit. The theme was "By faith not by sight". That sums up the meaning of faith for me.. to be led like a blind man.. trusting in the One who leads to make sure your path is secure, nothing to trip you up or hurt you. 

I pray for all of us to be filled with that kind of faith.. may our children learn from our examples and may the gift of faith be theirs to take them through the storms of life.. may we trust God to calm all of our storms and lead us to safety.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taking the Heat in the Kitchen

Hello friends

Its been a while since I posted anything. I have been REALLY busy. We've had a lot going on these past couple of weeks.  My second born daughter graduated and then had her graduation ball and we've had a lot of  stuff going on in the  kitchen. So here's what I've been up to...

My nephew had his 8th birthday and my sister asked my daughter and I to do his cupcakes for school (sorry no pics of that since I did them on my own and my daughter had the camera.) Then we did his birthday cake for his actual birthday. My daughter did the decorating by herself.

I'm really proud of her.. though I DO NOT  like Spongebob..gotta give the customer  what  they want ;-)

Before the dust could settle on that,  we had some catering for  the wedding of one of  her co-workers from her weekend job. We had  to bake 150 puff shells and 150 cupcakes..I'm still exhausted! Here's Britt working on the handwritten fondant toppers and the finished product.

I don't have pics of the puffs but I was happy with how they turned out. Now I have to get through kindergarten graduation, shopping for or making teachers' gifts and end of term!

I hope I get to write  something meaningful soon but its all I can do to keep up with my GMG book study. I hope the Spirit moves in a mighty way because I have to post  something tomorrow!

I was reflecting while I was doing all this, and seriously nervous about how it would all turn out, that this experience is very much like life these days. It feels like the heat is being turned up and we are in danger of being scorched. Through it all though, I know that God is with us and we CAN take the heat in the kitchen because His promise is that He will bring us through all the difficulties we have to face, if we have  faith and trust in Him. Faith is exactly what  I have to write on tomorrow. As usual, I'm living what  I learn!  What an awesome God  we serve!

Hope you are all well and I'll catch up with my reading soon..I know some of you have some great stuff posted and I'm so far behind.

Love & Blessings!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Inspired by God's Creation

Today I'm linking up with all the other women in the Good Morning Girls Summer Book Club where we're studying Sally Clarkson's wonderful book "The Ministry of Motherhood". This week we're learning about the gift of Inspiration.. how do we inspire our children to get a sense of the awesome power and presence of God in our everyday lives and how do we inspire them to reach out to others and show them God's love.

In Chapter  7, Sally tells us of a time she and her daughter just dropped everything on a particularly stressful day and ran outside to look at a spectacular sunset, which lifted both their souls out of the doldrums. She says "Its so easy for our human spirits to get bogged down in the tangible realities of each day.." Oh how true this is.

I'm so guilty of  rushing around all day without stopping to 'smell the roses'. When my little daughter points out a pretty flower or butterfly, its an automatic response that I give her most times. This study has brought to my attention that I'm losing out on a valuable opportunity to teach her about how God created all this for us because He loves us.

Recently, we had a heavy downpour and there was some thunder.. we're in for a lot more of this weather as the rainy season/hurricane season is upon us. Lillie absolutely hates thunder and although we laughed when she dove under the covers to hide, I realise it was a timely opportunity to teach her about the awesome power of God. A God, so powerful He could create strong winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightning but gentle enough to give us beautiful rainbows, gentle breezes, awesome sunrises or sunsets and a sky full of night stars and a gorgeous full moon.

 I should be showing her, showing all of them,  how this same God has us in the palm of His hand and He is strong enough to take care of us and loving enough to want the best for us.

In this same Chapter 7, Sally points out how life was often hard on the disciples, but Jesus would help them to experience the presence of God to inspire them by using all the things that He had created. He also ministered to many people this way, encouraging them to think beyond their individual situations and hardships to the God of all creation who would provide their needs.

She quotes Matt 6:25-26 "That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father fees them. Are you not worth much more than they are?"

This verse is very close to my own heart. I have always felt closer to God when I am in His creation. I used to sit and pray looking out my bedroom window. It was in one of these times that God made a covenant with me using a little bird outside my window... this is the very same scripture that confirmed this word I received.

Yes, the awesome power and majesty of God present in His creation always lifts my spirit and I know that it can do the same for my children. Recently, I was having a particularly bad day and my eldest daughter and I had an argument. I went to her room to make amends and told her how I had been overset by all the things weighing my mind and somehow the dam broke while I spoke with her and tears poured from my eyes as I tried to explain why I'd been so uptight.

Suddenly she touched my hand and said "Look". I wiped my eyes and looked.. outside her bedroom window was a little bird in a nest. Fresh tears poured from me as I realised this tangible evidence of God's love and covenant with me.

Unwittingly, my daughter had showed me the very thing I needed to see... a reminder that no matter how bleak things look, God ALWAYS keeps His promises and we would be okay.

This week I've made a commitment to use the opportunities that present themselves to point out to my children the presence of God all around us, especially the youngest whose sense of awe is still easily inspired and who can become excited just by seeing a strange bug.

What I have learned mostly from the chapters I studied this week, is that it is not enough for me to pray for my children, or enough for them to see me living out my faith, these things are certainly important, but I also have to be intentional in how I bring them to their own sense of God, their own relationship with Him.

 I'm lucky in that all of my children love nature and animals and being in the great outdoors, thanks to this wonderful book, I now see that I can use this love and fascination with God's creation to also inspire them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Husband Rocks Writing Contest

Hey everyone!

Wanted to let you know that Darlene over at Time Warp Wife has a really exciting contest on.. how I wish I could enter!

The prizes are so wonderful and I'm sure any of you would love to win them... hope someone I know does!

Head on over and check out the rules. Good Luck to all!

Inspiration & God's Will

Today is link up day over at the GMG where we continue to study Sally Clarkson’s book, The Ministry of Motherhood. This week we’re studying the gift of Inspiration.

Yesterday, I attended my daughter’s Graduation Mass at her school.  The graduates were addressed by many people and each one had something inspirational to say to these young men and women about to embark on a voyage that will take them into an unknown future. 

Father Gregory quoted from the First Reading of the Liturgy of the Word (the part in the Mass where we do readings from the bible, both old and new testament)
2 Corinthians 8:7 “You always have the most of everything – of faith, of eloquence, of understanding, of keenness for any cause and the biggest share of our affection, so we expect you to put the most into this work of mercy too”.

In other words, he told them, “to whom much is given, much is expected” and they, having graduated from one of the top schools in the country, are expected to go out into the world and transform it, not just by their chosen profession, but by taking their faith and the values and drive for excellence they have been taught into the places they go.

Those were his exact words and as he said them I understood the connection between his words and what I’m studying in The Ministry of Motherhood. The gift of inspiring a sense of purpose in our children.

This is our mission as mothers… to raise our children for His glory and to show them that their lives have a purpose… that they are to serve and glorify Him with all that He has given to them.

The hungering and endless quest some people are on, filling their lives with so much that is empty and meaningless is to fill that same void. They are not fulfilling the purpose for which God has created them so they continue to seek but they cannot find it.

Recently we had to help our third daughter choose the subjects she would like to study for her final examinations in two years’ time. These choices will affect her future, whatever she has certification on will determine what career path she could choose later on.

For the first time a mother, I offered this up in prayer. For weeks my husband and I prayed for God to give her direction.  As we prayed, we asked God to reveal her heart to us, to reveal to her His will. She had begun to have pre-conceived notions of what subjects she DIDN’T want to study. She had put up her own negative blocks against them for various reasons, the teacher, the difficulty, the expense. We prayed for God to remove these pre-conceived ideas.

When the time came she was clear in her heart and mind and so are we. This daughter is an artistic soul. As Sally describes her own self in these words “an introverted dreamer type of personality”, I see my own daughter.

She is a dreamer. She holds things very close to her heart and I am forever grateful that I have the example of how Sally dealt with her own “dreamer” son. She stole quiet moments with him to give him the opportunity to reveal his heart to her. Yes, it is true that my daughter opens up more when we are alone. What does the Lord have in store for her future? As we continue to pray for her, I know it will be revealed in His timing.

My first-born is a writer, but she also has a love and affinity for nature and preserving the environment. This has led her to study Environmental Science at college.  I pray that she will one day use these talents to glorify God.

 My second-born is so gifted. She has a gift for people, she's talented in music, but she also wants to study pastry arts, her creativity comes alive in the creation of beautiful cakes.  Once upon a time she used to play the guitar in church services. How happy I was that she played for her graduation last night. Perhaps God will once again turn her into that direction. Perhaps He has ministry in mind for her. Prayer for direction for her is vital at this stage.

 The four year old is still young but she brings joy to everyone she meets. She is vivacious and imaginative. Who knows what God has planned for her? I continue to pray for His will to be accomplished in her life.

God has truly blessed my children with talent and I thank Him for the direction He has turned their lives thus far.  I realize though, through this book study,  that I need to show these children of mine that their gifts and talents are for His glory and they need to continuously turn to Him to discover where He wishes them to go and how He desires them to use these talents.

It is extremely difficult for teenagers living in a secular world to understand that, while we live in this world, our eyes must forever be on the one to come. In a world where making money, being successful, parties and popularity rule, I face a constant battle of trying to keep the balance going. God MUST come first!

As Sally says in Chapter 6, “To fulfill God’s design for their lives, our precious children must at some point determine to give Jesus allegiance in every aspect of their lives. There is a cost to discipleship and that cost is everything!”

There is a cost to discipleship and that cost is everything! How true these words!  My mission as their mother, is to pray for them and to show them by example,  that they must indeed surrender to Him for His will to be accomplished in their lives.  There is no peace until we are fulfilling His will.  Its an ongoing battle and one in which I know  I must let Him finish the fight. 

 Proverbs 16:9 tells us 'The human heart may plan a course, but it is God who makes the steps secure".  We, as mothers, teach our children to walk and we hold their hands until they are steady. At some point, we let them go, trusting that their little legs are strong enough and their own willpower takes them one step at a time until they are running on their own.

God is also holding our children's hands until they are steady on their feet.  We need to trust that as they begin to run through life, He will be the one to watch over them and guide their steps, making them secure.

May the God who sees and knows all direct our steps as we continue to seek to fulfill our missions as mothers, seeking to encourage our children with the gift of inspiration.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Blessed even when Stressed

Oh, I just popped over to Ann's to pick up the button and link up with her Multitudes on Mondays. She speaks to my heart today. When you feel like giving up, give up the things that weigh you down. Funny, just this morning my husband and I had this conversation...

It feels like we're being crushed by our trials, being overwhelmed by the bills and the illness and the hard choices to be made and the NEED. All we really need is Him, all we really need to look at is Him. Keep our eyes focused up and not trained down.. down where all the things that want to crush us lie.

When we can keep our vision focused on Him alone, then we can see the multitude of blessings that lie in between, that cover over, that lift us out of all that weighs us down.

Please pop over to Ann's and be lifted out of your own crushing burdens

261. The sound of rain falling on the roof.
262. Snuggling up under my quilt with the a/c on high.
263. Shopping with my daughter for a graduation dress.
264. That we actually got one without too many arguments!
265. Prayer time with my husband.
266. A 'Student of the Week' crown proudly worn by my four year old.
267. Toilet Paper Wars!
268. Extra strength Tylenol.
269. For my husband's healing prayers.
270. For the merciful love of my Saviour.. the Divine Physician
271. A spontaneous day out with hubby and the girls.
272. Indulging in a caramel latte with my husband.
273. A nice foot rub after walking for four hours.
274. For a Swiffer Wet Jet.
275. For extra helping hands to clean up the mess.
278. For beautiful, inspiring words from others.
279. For the birds calling out their praises to God early in the morning, reminding me to do the same
280. For the stripping and pruning and knowing His plan will exceed my own expectations.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

So Be It!

I'm pulling this one out of the archives because it is just so appropriate at this time and season in my life. It was actually written in January when I had first started blogging and it was, in fact, my third article posted. I cant believe so much time has passed and I feel like I've grown so much in that period.

Having attempted the 31 Days to Clean Challenge, among several other of my 'improvement' exercises, some I've been doing in tandem, I have to acknowledge that I am not being realistic in my expectations of myself.

I've tried to have 'organizational skills', I've tried to discipline myself with 'schedules' etc. The truth is.. this season of my life is about taking care of my family.. and LIFE happens. Nothing ever goes according to my plans or schedules.

If I were to let that upset me, as it has on occasion, I'm unhappy, flustered and my nose is put out of joint. I'm actually happiest when I'm making sure that everyone else is happy.. if that means a crazy, messy house , so be it.

If that means dropping everything because one of my children needs me to pick her up from school because she's ill, so be it. If it means losing some sleep because my eldest, the night owl, wants to talk when I come down for some water in the middle of the night, so be it.

I am happiest when serving my family.. that's my role..however God chooses that service to be, so be it!

We just purchased a new bale of toilet paper and after a rousing game of 'toilet paper wars', when we were supposed to be cleaning the house, I sighed at the chaos and mess that still existed. My two older daughters were heading off to the movies and they weren't going to clean until later in the evening. I felt a little irritated at the time wasted.

 Ah, but a little voice spoke up, replaying the scene, the raucous laughter, the sight of my husband hiding round the corner for the youngest to come and bomb him, the eldest, getting deep into the game (she's never played since she was away at college when we came up with the idea), toilet paper rolls showering down from upstairs where my youngest was hoarding the ammo. This voice whispered truth to my tired soul... 

These are the moments in life you will treasure in your heart, these are the moments your girls will relate to your grandchildren some day.. not that your floors were always spotless.. not that you nagged them to clean!

Amen Father, Amen! So be it!   (Another round of toilet paper wars tonight? I have some avenging to do)

Shine Where You're Planted.. originally posted January 2011

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with how much you have to do? I've been feeling like that lately. All  my chores just piled up this week because I had a few hiccups in my usual routine. I've been feeling like a disorganised failure. I've been frazzled and short-tempered and not sure where to start attacking the mountain in front of me. I've just felt like giving up.

Until this morning, I haven't been able to go to my quiet place and spend time with Jesus,  my source of comfort, counsel, peace and strength. Well, I went to visit Him today and got a little tap on my wrist! As I was pouring out all that has been troubling me, the chaos in the house, the children's behaviour, the bills to pay, the decisions my husband and I have to make, He ministered to me, gently, with wisdom and kindness and I received so much counsel. Then... I felt Him saying to me, "Go be my light, shine on the many dark areas that you come upon.. begin in your home.. be a light to your husband and children - your light is for them first, then for others.

BOING!!! Big lightbulb goes off in my brain!

Am I being a  light to my family? What do they see when they look at me. My behaviour lately has been so lacking in gentleness and kindness. I've been criticizing their behaviour and becoming angry at them when they don't do what they are supposed to. I've judged them. I grumble when things don't go my way. They've heard me complaining about how much I have to do and cant do because of x or y. I am impatient and intolerant of the bad drivers on the roads and I say derogatory things about them in front of my children.

Am I teaching them by my example? Am I showing them how to shine brightly for Jesus? I had to acknowledge that I'm not! Back to the potter's kiln for me! Jesus in His usual gentle manner, doesn't actually reprimand me, He lets me figure it out for myself and draws me to Himself for healing after I've recognised my faults. Jesus is saying to me I'm not SUPERWOMAN! I can't do everything... but having a perfectly cleaned house and ordered lifestyle, while desirable, is not what being a light is all about.

It's my relationships and how I treat my family and others. Its the responsibility He has called me to, to create a loving home environment and to nurture those little souls he's blessed me with and put into my charge for a short while. My children are not going to remember whether the floors were clean, but they may just remember the day Mom and Dad had a game of  "Toilet Paper Wars" with them. (my youngest, the four year old, came up with this one... throwing rolls of toilet paper at each other). It's how I can touch other people's lives by my example... and I've just been reminded that it all starts at home. You've heard the saying "bloom where you're planted", well my version is "Shine where you're planted".

Lord, forgive me for not being a light right where you've planted me. Help me, Lord, as I surrender this to you now. I place myself back into your potter's kiln. Mold me and shape me, remove from me the impurities of impatience, intolerance, lack of gentleness and kindness, self-righteousness, ignorance, resentment, anger - all that keeps me from being your light. Help me to change my attitude to my family and others, yes, even those who are inconsiderate drivers of the road. Help me to reflect your light so that I can truly shine brightly for you and be a light to my family and others and an example for them that will lead them all to you, the Source of all Light. Amen

After I said this prayer I went to the bible for instruction, confirmation and God's direction. Guess what I got... Proverbs 31:10-31 The Perfect Housewife! I sure do recommend that you read this one, though I'm sure quite a few people follow along with the Proverbs 31 Series.

Among all the ways in which a wife is valued by her husband and, certainly not to minimize the capable, efficient, hardworking traits, are these:

Proverbs 31:11 "Her husband's heart has confidence in her, from her he will derive no little profit"
Proverbs 31:12 "Advantage and not hurt she brings him all the days of her life"
Proverbs31:18 "She knows that her affairs are going well, her lamp does not go out at night"
Proverbs31:25 "She is clothed in strength and dignity , she can laugh at the day to come"
Proverbs 31:26 "When she opens her mouth she does so wisely, on her tongue is kindly instruction"

My take on it is this, I can have all the great organisational skills, be thrifty, manage my home with an iron hand but what good does it do if  I execute it without kindness, gentleness, without joy, without bringing peace and happiness to my family? 

Serious food for thought...

Thanks for joining me today and I hope that you will be able to shine where you're planted today.

God Bless!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grace & Metamorphosis

This week in our Ministry of Motherhood book club, we continue to study the gift of grace, specifically,  giving the grace of forgiveness in action and the grace of encouraging words. I did my initial reading of the two chapters of Sally Clarkson's book, underlining the key points that spoke to me and I looked at Sally's video.

Reading and listening to Sally's words always makes me cry as I realise how much I have failed to give my children these graces. Her words convict me and an arrow pierces my heart. I have no doubt I'm in the place God wants me to be.

Five years ago, when I found out that I was pregnant with my last little girl, I wondered what God's purpose could possibly be for allowing a ten year gap between our children, for making me wait until I was 38 years old and thinking I was over the breastfeeding, diapering, teething and tantrums. I even felt a bit resentful at what I saw as a coming full circle when I had just started thinking I could do something different with my life, the last child more or less old enough to not need me so much.

Well, perhaps it was for THIS... this learning and growing, pruning and blossoming, hurting and crying , falling and rising. Perhaps THIS place where God says "Here's another chance to get it right this time..do it better". I picture Him saying it as He told so many people when He healed them... the adulteress.. "Go and sin no more".

Here I am, sitting at His feet, learning and growing, reading and listening to words that inspire and encourage me to reach for that higher branch.. and as always.. He makes me LIVE what I learn!

If you read my post of  last week you would have some insight into how my own upbringing had shaped my previous attempts at motherhood.  In Chapter 3, Sally speaks of encouraging words and tells us that we must be careful while instructing and training our children not to discourage them through nagging, criticism and reprimands and that our  correction  must be balanced with encouraging and affirming words.

How this one made me ache inside... I am so guilty of doing this!

My heart broke a few days ago when my four year old was AFRAID to tell me she had disobeyed me to the point where she had hurt herself and, because it had happened while she was doing something she ought not to have been doing, she stayed alone and afraid, bleeding all over my bathroom. Praise God, it was only a little cut, but it DID bleed profusely and this panicked, nerve-wracked mother took a while to get to the point where I could speak calmly to her. I felt so much GUILT that I had instilled that kind of fear in her.

Words.... James 3:10 tells us "the blessing and curse come out of the same mouth." I want my words to heal, encourage, bless, nurture... not wound, not instill fear, not alienate my children.

When I did the James bible study earlier this year, I knew that controlling my tongue is a HUGE challenge for me. The patterns of behavior that have become ingrained in me can only be erased, pruned and discarded, by my total surrender to Him.

  I have learnt  that though I am weak and influenced greatly by my flesh... I do not have to be a slave to it. I CAN change through Him because "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"  Philippians 4:13

Slowly, I am being transformed and the moments of giving in to my flesh become fewer. I had the chance to put what I am learning into practice yesterday, when my four year old daughter was very, very naughty. I came upstairs to find that she had taken every single one of my lipsticks and used it as 'crayon' to mark on my cupboard doors.

Anger descended swift and raging hot... my tongue started to  whip mercilessly.. the flesh in me resorting to old habits of threatening, yelling, words that hurt my precious child... but through the red haze I heard Sally's voice of wisdom.. I abruptly stopped talking, put her on her bed and went into the bathroom where I felt shame and sorrow at my loss of control.. at my sinking into the old skin.

I came out of the bathroom and with dripping hair took my daughter onto my lap. I didn't need my 18 year old to tell me that she was consumed by fear. I had done it again.. could I fix it? Thank God for the sweet love and forgiving heart of a young child! Thank God, that this time I have a compass and I can have accountability for  my behaviour. Thank God that because of His work in me and the path He has lead me on to find such earthly teachers as Sally Clarkson and a whole bevy of faithful women from whom I can learn and be inspired by.. I am not the person I used to be and my outburst was shortened, my hand itching to slap was stilled.  It is not enough though.. not enough.

This metamorphosis continues.. I am far from perfect and this quote from Sally sums it up "I will never be able to live up perfectly to his standards or even to mine. That is why the grace of God has meant so much to me. I know I will fail, but I also know he is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me of all my unrighteousness"

We are all in a state of metamorphosis while we walk this earth.. we are destined to be beautiful butterflies flying around in Heaven someday. God is constantly drawing us to higher levels of perfection.. as we grow we shed our old skins for new ones. I am humbled by the examples set before me and determined to try harder.

This quote from Chapter 4 truly speaks to my heart "It is gracious forgiveness that enables us all to move past our mistakes and keep on growing. Even more important, it is forgiving grace that makes real love possible in our lives."  How true these words!

 Thank you for second chances Lord, thank you for Sally, Courtney and Angela and for all the other women you have placed in my life. May you bless them and their families and ministries.

Oh blessed Grace.. thank  you Lord that because of your love and merciful grace, I can rise again when I fall and do it better... and, at least try, to sin no more. Thank you for grace that takes me out of my old skins to new beautiful ones and the promise of  what awaits me at the end of my metamorphosis here on earth.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stuffed Eggplant

Today, I want to share a recipe that  my mother has been making forever and is one of our family's favourites. This is  from a really old recipe book. Isn't it funny how some of the best stuff comes from vintage origins?

Someone else commented last week that her favourite recipes are from a really old and battered copy of Better Homes & Gardens. I couldn't agree more.. you should see some of my recipe books! The worst one is my absolute go-to favourite, a 197? copy of  a Purity Flour cookbook that I stole borrowed from my mother a few years back and each time I return it I borrow it again. Its so tattered that I only know the recipes on some pages because I've memorised them. I've promised myself to hunt one up on Amazon so I could give it back to her (the new one of course ;)

 This recipe is from the cookbook my mother got  when she bought her first New World gas stove back in 1964 (which by the way, is still working!).

My children absolutely love eating eggplant this way (in fact for the majority, its the only way they eat it!) and I wanted to share it with you.. I'm pretty sure that, barring an allergy or an absolute hatred for eggplant, there aren't many people who wouldn't like it this way.


2 large eggplants
2 tbs butter or margarine
2 Tbs flour
1 cup milk
11/2 cups grated cheese
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 Tbs grated onion
1 Tbs ketchup
2 eggs, separated
salt, pepper

Wash eggplant and cut lengthwise. Score around edges with a knife and make crosswise cuts then scoop out with a spoon, leaving shells intact. Cook pulp until tender in a small amount of water. You can add a little salt to the water (I omit this since we cut back on our sodium intake) Mash and drain pulp.

Melt butter and blend in flour, gradually add in milk, stirring constantly on a med-low fire. Add eggplant, cheese, onion,  breadcrumbs, ketchup and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture. This makes the eggplant puff up nice and light.

 Fill shells and bake at 350 F for about 1 hour. Oven times may vary, check by inserting toothpick, which should come out relatively clean. It should be nice and golden brown.

BON APETIT!    Don't forget to let me know how you liked this one.

This recipe is linked to:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Counting down the days in blessings

Whew! How quickly the week goes by! Anyone else feel like grey hairs are popping up faster too? :-) Well, we've had another crazy week in our household. Somehow time just whirls on by and I'm getting a little worried that I'll blink and I wont have a houseful of girls anymore! This is a good time to remind myself that I need to savour the small stuff and not stress on the rest of it. 

241. A daughter's zeal to help spruce up the house.
242.  Unexpected wee-hour chat with a daughter who wanted to unburden her heart.
243. Comforting words and loving hugs.
244. That I slip and fall but His Grace endures.
245. That I never stop learning and growing in His Light.
246. For quiet times in His Presence.
247. For the unbridled joy and exuberance of a four year old.
248. For contagious laughter that breaks foul moods.
249. For the rainbow that comes out after the storm.
250. For a daughter's creativity and love of nature.
251. That His covenant stands... forever and ever!
252. That even when I cannot see the way, He MAKES one.
253. That "because He lives, I can face tomorrow".
254. For the blessing of my husband who's shoulders are so broad.
255. For love that grows stronger in the face of many trials.
256. For precious time spent with my two oldest children.
257. For old wounds aching that remind me of how much He has done for me.
258. That out of the ashes rises a stronger, more beautiful creation.
259. That He chooses me, a lowly fallen creature, to help others.
260. For all my blogger friends who inspire and encourage me.. thank you all!

See you next week, I wonder what awesome things we'll all have to be grateful for then! Hop on over to Ann's and be blessed by others thankful lists.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grace & Genes

This week in our GMG Summer Book Club we are studying Grace. How do we give our children the gift of grace? I have to admit that this one hit me really hard because I was forced to acknowledge that grace-filled moments in my motherhood have not been as abundant as they should have been.

I am a product of my upbringing. As Sally points out in this poignant and thought-provoking video, some of us have 'harsh' upbringings. I am one of those. My own parents were the product of their upbringing and an even harsher style of parenting.

 I remember constantly feeling that I couldn't do anything to please my father. He was always uptight, always quarreling about something. I thought he was an ogre and that he must have hated me to pick on me so much. As Sally said, no allowances were made for us being clumsy (we were punished if we broke something by accident), tired or little. Bottom line, I grew up feeling unloved and unlovable, unaccepted and as a teenager, unworthy of trust, stifled and resentful.

Years later I discovered that he had suffered with bad nerves all his life, having had a nervous breakdown as a young man. He did not trust easily, having been betrayed in his early life. He had also cut God from his life, even though he was raised in a Catholic home and his mother was devoted to the faith.  I guess He was angry at God for the things that had happened to him in his younger life. He didn't stop my mother or us children from going to church, though he didn't want us to become involved in anything there.

I discovered that my father wasn't a bad man. Just a man who had never learned to lean on God in his brokenness. It wasn't me he didn't trust, it was the world outside that had taught him it was an evil place. His over-protectiveness was actually born of love and not because he didn't care about my happiness. When I learned all this it became easier to forgive him for his harshness, I could understand his reactions and behavior better and forgiveness came.

Unfortunately,  I learned it as a grown woman and I had already taken into my marriage and parenthood the scars and patterns of behavior that I had been raised on. It wasn't easy to show love and affection to my children, to give them patience. I found that my own nerves became frazzled easily as I seemed to have inherited his nervous condition. I found myself drifting into 'becoming my father'. Reacting with intolerance, impatience, anger. Raising my voice, threatening, dishing out corporal punishment at times.

It took years for God to temper me and His work is not yet done. I still have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do on myself to become the person God intended me to be. Extending grace to others, especially to my children does not come naturally. I can only do it through the Grace He extends to me.

I am happy to say that my father found love and life in Christ before he died. We got a glimpse of what he would have been like with his new heart and mind, but it came at the end of his life. He succumbed to cancer shortly after his transformation and we were left with only the bittersweet joy of knowing that he would one day reach Heaven. Thanks to the Grace of God, years of prayers were answered, not in our time but in His.. perfect as always.

One of the biblical passages that we studied this week is 1 Peter 4:8 "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins"  This is such a beautiful verse and one that speaks truth to me. I can attest to how loving truly as God desires us to love brings forgiveness and healing.

We cannot love truly and deeply unless we are taught to do so by our relationship with God. The beauty in loving this way is that God somehow expands your capacity to love as you open yourself to Him. As you extend the grace of forgiveness to those who trespass against you, He extends Grace to your own heart, building new heights for you to climb.

I thank God for His Grace, a grace that is merciful to me, a sinner. I thank God that  He gives me strength and grace to forgive as well. I pray that I can give my own children this precious gift.

 I pray that I can continue to work on myself and to let God's light shine on all  my dark areas, shadows of my own upbringing, the things that come naturally to me, so that I can be the mother he calls me to be.

I also pray that my children's love for me and mine for them will be so deep that it will cover over my multitude of sins towards them as I have journeyed in this, my own ministry of motherhood.