Thursday, February 28, 2008

Retreat with Rick!

Well, we're back. And we honestly had the best time away that we can remember.

It was a gorgeous day on Sunday when we drove to Collingwood. The roads were clear and dry, the sun was shining, and the view was terrific. We passed through small towns, by picturesque farms, and under the shadow of those great windmills designed to create wind power. We were thankful that when we reached the top of the Escarpment, it was still clear, and we could see for miles and miles. We even noticed Wasaga Beach clearly identifiable even though it was about 15 miles from our vantage point.

We stopped at a grocery store in Collingwood and picked up some cheese, fruit, nuts, and other goodies. We were planning to spend quite a bit of our time just being together in the room. After we got checked in, we unpacked, then headed out to take advantage of our free movie. We saw "Vantage Point", which was intriguing in its presentation of a crime seen from the vantage point of about 8 different people.

We got back to the hotel in time to go for a swim. There was something wrong with the hot tub attached to the pool, but the result was that the entire pool was as hot as the hot tub should have been! It was like being in a gigantic bath! Rick and I were nearly alone (just two other people present) so we enjoyed just being together. We measured the pool with our feet, dreaming of how big we'd need to build a pool to accommodate all the grandkids.

The evening was spent just enjoying each other. We talked and laughed and played and cares in the world...just the two of us, together, alone.

I woke up first in the morning, and when Rick finally stirred, I had his coffee and breakfast ready. We planned to spend some time just talking, and I had a list of potential subjects for Rick to read over and decide what he wanted to focus on. We had both just read "Love & Respect" so that was a good starting point. It did us both good to share our hearts. There were insights gleaned from the book that surprised both of us, and we were able to honestly communicate our hopes and dreams, fears and failures. We laughed, we cried, and we connected in a way that was very meaningful to both of us.

Really, that talk was the highlight of the trip. Everything else was icing on the cake.

We headed out to the car later, and drove to Wasaga Beach. Rick wanted to see what part of Wasaga Beach had burned down recently. We drove past some "cottages" that had to have belonged to multi-millionaires. They were beach-front properties with wrought-iron gates and stone driveways. Nice.

After a lot of exploration, I commented that I wanted to eat at "Catch 22", a seafood restaurant I had seen in a brochure. When we got there, it exceeded our expectations. Lovely restaurant. Beautiful decor. Great food. And goldfish the size of trout! (Not to eat - alive, in a pond, inside the restaurant.) Rick had the fish and chips, and I had Georgian Bay Whitefish. The chef substituted the rice pilaf, which had wheat in it, with a stacked log presentation of zucchini, baby carrots, and onions. It was great!

We then headed to the "Scandinave", a Norwegian style spa. We went from steaming hot ponds with jets and a waterfall, to cold plunges, resting cabins, a sauna, a steam room, and an outdoor fireplace! It was so relaxing. There was to be absolute silence in the resting rooms, but we were permitted to speak in muted voices in the pools. Rick and I had such a great time together. We couldn't believe that four hours had gone by when we decided that we were relaxed enough.

Unfortunately, when I was getting ready, I had an incident. My right ear had water in it, so I stuck a Q-tip in it to get the water to drain. When I pulled out the Q-tip, to my dismay, I realized that the end of the Q-tip had come off and was still in my ear.

Rick graciously took me to the hospital, and patiently waited for me. Hours passed, and they finally called my name. It took a bit of work, but with long needle-nosed pliers, and a syringe made for a horse, the doc was able to get most of the cotton out of my ear! I felt terrible that I had spoiled Rick's lovely evening; Rick was just glad that I was okay.

So, by this time it was 8 in the evening, and we decided to use our coupons to eat in the dining room at the Resort. Again, God provided us with the entire place to ourselves. The food was out of this world: I had a half-rack of lamb with steak and vegetables; Rick had a center cut steak. Everything was done perfectly. We topped it off with chocolate mousse that was served on rectangular plates, with fruit placed precisely in the perfect position to set off the mousse and make it all delectable. We didn't even finish our meal until close to 10 pm. It was so wonderful to sit there, chatting quietly, enjoying the ambiance and the food, and most of all, each other's company.

The next morning we packed up and went to listen to the presentation. We took a tour of the resort, and it was fun dreaming of the possibilities of travel to exotic places. However, it wasn't to be. At least not at this time of our lives.

Rick wasn't feeling well by the time we left for home, so he slept most of the way, and I drove. I had time to reflect on our marriage, on God's goodness in providing us with a getaway in the middle of a stressful time, and on the joy we had experienced together during our time away.

It was good to get home.

But we're so glad we went.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cranberry Resort

I am so excited! Tomorrow my honey and I are heading to the Cranberry Resort in Collingwood. We haven't been there in nine years, but we have very special memories of our last trip to the resort, in 1998.

We'll be having a spa day. I can't wait to be pampered for a little while. We're also planning to see a movie...both activities are sponsored by the Resort.

Of course, we'll have to listen to their presentation on buying vacation packages, but that's a small price to pay for two nights, three days in the beautiful little town of Collingwood, on Georgian Bay.

The last time we went, God chose to bless us with the conception of our youngest son, Christopher. I don't know what He has in store for us this time, but simply having a few days alone with my husband will be a time of reconnection and rejuvenation.

See you when I get back!

Friday, February 22, 2008

C-H-A-I-R-S - How to Spell Respect to your Husband

I am going to go through each of the six chapters of "Love & Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, writing a letter to my husband as I ponder each of the aspects of how to spell "Respect" in his language. Dr. Eggerichs suggests that RESPECT is spelled: CHAIRS.


1. Conquest - His Desire to Work & Achieve

Husband of mine, I admire your willingness to work hard to provide for your family. I am astounded when I realize how much you know...about trucks, about scheduling, about the book-keeping, about costs vs profitability, about computers and programs...the list goes on. I am thankful that it is all in your capable hands, and that I don't have to take care of any of it.

I love to hear stories of your work day, especially anecdotes about grouchy receivers or kind produce managers. I even love to hear about the road hogs who cut you off, forcing you to slam on the brakes...because it motivates me to pray consistently for you when you are on the road.

God prepared you for this work, training you to be self-employed. Not everyone could handle the myriad of papers that need to be done in order to be in your own business. But you were trained in many little ways, through your computer business, through driving the orange truck 33 years ago, through all sorts of experiences that God planned for you.

I am here to be your helper, to file the papers and mail the letters and make the phone calls you don't have time to make. I love to do this, and I am thankful that God has given me talents that are complementary to yours.

I am proud of you, especially when you demonstrate strength under fire, as you have in the past few weeks. It gives me courage to go through trials walking beside you, when I see your determination to pray hard, and work hard. I follow you, as you follow our Lord!

2. Hierarchy - His Desire to Protect and Provide

Biblical Hierarchy teaches the man's responsibility to place himself over the female and protect her. Ephesians 5:22-24 "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Saviour of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything."

You, dear husband, have the awesome responsibility to love me, as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her. Your duty is to protect me; mine is to place myself under that protection.

I admire you for protecting me, and for being willing to die for me. I know that if an intruder were to come into our home, you'd take action, giving up your life if necessary, in order to protect me and our children. This gives me a great feeling of security.

You have gone ahead in tangible ways, even when I didn't always support you, and done things that demonstrate that you are thinking of ways to make our home safer from the elements. You protected us by installing all those new windows - the great room we use for study is SO much better, now that you rebuilt the wall. It's warm and cozy, and every time I walk into it I thank God for your leadership and your willingness to go ahead and do what you know is right!

3. Authority - His Desire to Serve and to Lead

You are the one that God has placed in authority in this family. If I refuse to submit to you, I am refusing to trust in God.

I am so very thankful for your leadership. Your quiet strength is something I can fully lean on, and I appreciate that you make decisions for this family with wisdom, seeking the Lord. I am so thankful that you decided to rent that truck to take care of our customers while our truck is being repaired. I know you had to factor in how much the extra fuel will cost, and I know it hasn't been easy. But you, dear husband, have done what you needed to do. I admire you for that.

4. Insight - His Desire to Analyze and Counsel

You have insight that I am lacking. With all of my womanly intuition, there are things that I just don't see. You have a great way of cutting through all of the trappings and getting to the bottom of a problem.

I used to think more highly of my own intuition, but you have shown me over and over again that you are one smart cookie! You have spiritual insights that I just don't have, and again and again when you open the Scriptures and read a passage, I am amazed at things you elaborate on that I just didn't see.

I appreciate your advice. Sometimes I don't want to hear it, because I just want a listening ear, but I realize that you are male (thank God!) and you solve problems. It's just your nature. So, I will try to really listen when you give your opinion, because I know that God made us "pink" and "blue" for a reason. We need each other in order to make that perfect shade of "purple".

You know I sin. You know it better than any other person. Thank you for your constant forgiveness and love. Thank you for your perception and godly counsel. Thank you for letting me just be me...even when what I am is not so nice. You, dear husband, are my best counselor, and my best friend.

5. Relationship - His Desire for Shoulder-to-Shoulder Friendship

This was a real eye-opener for me! You know that I have trouble just sitting. I have often wondered why you want me to come along for the ride if you are going on an errand, but we don't talk. To me, it's a waste of valuable time. To you, it's building a friendship!

I really do like you, Rick. I don't just love you. And if you want me to come with you and just be there, saying nothing, I am happy to do so. I love to watch you work on things, but I never realized how important it is for you to have me do so. Next time you work on a project, I am going to sit with you and watch you for as long as you want me to!

6. S is for Something private.

I am so thankful that you are kind and generous and sweet and loving. You thrill me...but I will tell you all about that later.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Love & Respect

Tomorrow is Rachel & Mike's 4th anniversary! In just four years, this couple have expanded their family to four beautiful kids and a lovely Bernese mountain dog. They bought a house and settled in small town Ontario. There have been a lot of changes in a very short time, in both their lives. Happy Anniversary, Mike and Rachel!

For their anniversary I bought them a copy of "Love & Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. The subtitles are, "The Love She Most Desires" and "The Respect He Desperately Needs". On impulse, I bought myself a copy, too.

I woke up this morning with a head cold. Stuffy nose, sore throat, achy body, dull headache. The girls were at piano lessons, and Rick was in bed (he is far worse off than I am - maybe by tomorrow I will be in just as bad shape) so I gave the boys some assignments and hunkered down in my chair to read the new book.

This book spoke volumes to me. I already know that I should respect my husband, and that he should love me. He is the head of our home, and I gladly serve him.

What I didn't know was that my self-sacrificing love for my husband and children comes naturally to me. It is part of my make-up, as a woman, to give agape love. It is my language, and it is what I deeply need. I don't get to pat myself on the back, however, when I do what comes easily.

Respect - that's another story altogether. I found myself reading about the Crazy Cycle, where the husband doesn't meet the wife's need for love, so she responds angrily with disrespect, so he doesn't get his need for respect met, so he responds in an unloving manner... and the crazy cycle continues.

"A wife longs to be that special person Paul described (in Ephesians 5:28,29). She wants to be cherished as a princess...She longs to be first in importance to him... she yearns to be honored, valued, and prized as a precious equal, "a fellow heir of the grace of life," as Peter unfolds in 1 Peter 3:7. - p. 53

When she doesn't feel that way, she begins to question, "Am I last on his priority list?"

Her husband, in an attempt to be honourable and calm, will stonewall - become quiet, say nothing, or go off by himself. She sees his behaviour as unloving, as a rejection of her. He, on the other hand, is trying to do the respectable thing, retreating so he gives her time to get control of herself. He is sadly unaware that he is thinking like a man, and doing the exact opposite of what she needs!

We just lived this out in our family room the other day! Rick has been under stress about the truck, so he's been a bit testy. This is understandable. We were sitting in the family room, and I asked a simple question: "What time do the boys have to leave in the morning?" My intention was not to undermine or to question Rick's decisions about the next day's activities, but simply to communicate and to understand what was going to happen.

Rick sagged, then sighed, then said impatiently, "You KNOW what time they have to leave!" (I really didn't know. The schedule is messed up, and I wasn't sure if it was the longer day, when they leave by 5:30 am, or the shorter day, when they only have to leave at 7:00 am.)

I was instantly hurt by his actions and words. I felt unloved. I snapped at him, defending my question, and was very unkind and belligerent for the rest of the evening.

When I examine our actions in the light of the book, I realize that Rick felt disrespected by my question. He probably interpreted it as second-guessing his decision. Even though I truly wasn't doing that, he thought I was, so he was frustrated and reacted unkindly. All he wanted was respect.

I interpreted his sag and snide remark as unloving. Even though I know Rick loves me, at that moment I felt unloved, and I reacted by lashing out. I wanted him to know that he hurt me, but deep down, I wanted the relationship to be restored, and thought that he should know that what he said had damaged me. All I wanted was love.

He clammed up - retreated - said nothing. I said plenty, then stormed off to bed. We fit the example in the book to a "t".

The other thing that jumped out at me was that, although agape love is fairly easy for me (I spend my days serving others, making meals, doing laundry, brushing hair, teaching children, answering the phone, scheduling appointments, and so on.), phileo love, the brotherly kindness, friendship kind of love, is much harder for me to practice. It's easy for me to require the children to do the right thing. But taking the time to just love them, to cuddle them, to sit with my dear husband, to be his friend - is much harder. I have a running list in my head that I feel I need to take care of. It's hard for me to take the time to just BE.

In the same way that it is easy for me to love in a sacrificial manner (agape), it is easy for Rick to respect others. That's his language, and he finds it easy to do so. However, it is harder for him to love.

I sat there this morning, reading, with tears streaming down my face. If I want to reverence my Lord and Saviour, I must learn to reverence my husband. Not simply in public, but in the home, where it really counts. I must learn to watch the tone of my words, and to ask myself, before I speak, "Is what I am about to say going to communicate respect, or disrespect?" If my husband needs unconditional respect the way I need unconditional love, then by God's grace, I plan to respect him unconditionally.

What Matters to God, Matters

"To the world it may make no sense for a wife to put on respect toward a husband who is harsh and unloving. It makes no sense for a husband to put on love toward a contemptuous, disrespectful woman. But it makes sense to God. These seemingly fruitless efforts matter to God because this is the kind of service He rewards. What is wisdom to God is foolishness to the world (see I Corinthians 3:19). - p 274

Lord, I pray that You would teach me to die to self and to live for You, more and more each day. I pray that You would help me to take these principles to heart, and to respect my husband unconditionally. When I blow it (and I will), help me to remember that your grace is sufficient, and that repentance and forgiveness are the way of Life. Amen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Busy, busy days!

I got a call from my nephew David a week ago. "What are you doing this weekend, Aunt Janet?"

Turns out we were invited to a whirlwind wedding in Niagara Falls. David and his love, Kate, were tying the knot at the Calvary Chapel. After some scrambling and some indecision (we REALLY wanted to be there, but with the truck breaking down and all of the uncertainties surrounding that, we weren't sure we could) we finally decided to go ahead.

We're sure glad we did. The drive to Niagara Falls on Saturday was beautiful. The sun was shining, and there was just enough snow to make the scenery into a winter wonderland. We stopped at three wineries on our way to the hotel, just to experience "Vineland". Where else would I be able to get a sip of wine valued at $120 per bottle? The sommelier explained why it was so expensive ( only a few of those kinds of grapes, the vines well-trimmed to produce hearty fruit, etc.) and then gave us a home-made chocolate truffle to go with it. Yum!

The wedding was scheduled for 6:30 pm. It was short but sweet.

Ryleigh and Anna were the flower-girls. They are cousins, just weeks apart in age. So adorable!

We ate the wedding dinner at an Italian restaurant, Casa Dora. I had salmon with maple syrup flavouring. Interesting! There was much laughter and many stories were told of David and Kate when they were younger.

The next morning, we had a dip in the pool, followed by a lovely breakfast in the hotel. Then Rick and I and Jeff and Adeena went to see the falls and browse through the souvenir shop.

We stopped to visit friends on the way home, so got in late and exhausted, but happy. Let me count the blessings:

1. A mini-getaway with oldest daughter and both of our husbands. That was a rare treat!
2. An adventure visiting three wineries in the centre of Vineland.
3. We witnessed the marriage of our favourite nephew and his lovely bride.
4. A scrumptious evening meal at an Italian restaurant.
5. A dip in the pool - just the four of us!
6. Yummy breakfast.
7. Fun sight-seeing.
8. Spontaneous visit to our friends.
9. It just happened that Matt and Joanna were there- so we got to see them, too!
10. The top reason why we were blessed this weekend is that we found out that grandbaby #16 is on the way!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Two Great Certainties!

One of the things I love and appreciate about God is that He always sends exactly what we need into our lives, and His timing is always perfect. I have been struggling with uncertainties about the future of our family's finances, and have been valiantly trying to take every thought captive. I know that God is GOD - He is good, He is in control, He does all things well, He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and is present everywhere. He designs trials for our good, and even when we do not understand why things are happening, we Christians know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God knows, that He is not surprised and His plan is never thwarted in any way.

But sometimes I need a bit of a reminder. And God knows that. He knew I would pick up the latest copy of Tabletalk, and read this:
'As Charles Spurgeon once said, "There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass-- one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know." It is true that we do not know all the truth about the future, but we do know the truth. It is the truth that abides within us, the truth that sanctifies us, the truth that makes us free, the truth that ensures our future. And although we don't know the future, we know the One who sovereignly holds the future.'
~ Burk Parsons
I needed to read this and to remind myself that there is no need to fret. God really is Who He says He is.

Our Beautiful God never changes. He is the One who sent the storm to the Mediterranean sea, after Paul had appealed to Caesar and was on his way to Rome. I can imagine the trial...never-ending winds, rain, streams of water pounding from sky and sea against the vessel. For 14 days they fasted, too distraught to eat. It was so dark that it was hard to tell when night ended and day began.

Yet God loved Paul. He had chosen Paul for a special purpose, to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. I wonder if Paul's faith faltered, even for a second, during that terrifying voyage.

God had a plan. That plan included a shipwreck, the loss of the cargo and the ship, but it did not include the loss of one of the 276 souls aboard. God's plan overruled the plan of the soldiers, which was to kill the prisoners so they could not escape. God's plan miraculously kept Paul alive after he had been bitten by a poisonous viper - and that was so the islanders would see that this man, Paul, was someone special, someone worth listening to.

Were it not for the shipwreck and the bite of a viper, the people of Malta would not have witnessed the healing of Publius. God had a plan to demonstrate His power through Paul, and He did what He intended to do.

It makes me wonder if we'll see Publius and his countrymen when we gather in heaven. No matter what, of this we are certain: God knows the future. He holds it in His almighty hand. And if He deigns to use us weak and flawed vessels as instruments of His grace, then so be it.

There is no safer place than a shipwreck in the middle of a storm, when we are in the centre of God's will.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

On my last nerve...

Shopping with a bunch of kids is stressful at best. Mom has to remember everything, plus keep everyone in line, safe, and sound. Not an easy task.

I remember clearly one day about 20 years ago, when Jared was five. We had a big old Town and Country Station wagon, with the extra seat in the very back, facing the rear. How I was able to get 7 kids and all the groceries into the car, I can't remember. But I do remember the day my son tested my patience and got on my very last nerve.

I was a careful shopper. I read the flyers and planned my strategy before we left our home in the country. It was a 25 minute drive to the part of the city I shopped in. I would go to the health food store first, to get bulk food, then to Valdi's - a no-frills, no fresh produce kind of store. Every time we all piled into the station wagon, I'd look in the mirror, checking to see if all were present and accounted for. "Everybody got a seatbelt?" I'd ask. "Yes!", they'd chorus. Then, I'd do the roll call, and we were off.

On this particular day, I fed baby Linda and got them all into the car. When I asked, "Does everyone have his seatbelt on?" I was assured that, yes, they did. A few minutes down the road, I noticed Jared standing up.

"How are you standing up, Jay, if your seatbelt is on?"

Gulp...caught in the act. I hollered at him, reminding him how unsafe it was to not wear a seatbelt, and how he'd lied to his mom, and so on. He knew he was in big trouble.

Next stop, the health food store. "Jared, don't sample the raisins." "Jared, stay close." "Jared, don't touch that gum on the sidewalk. It's gross. It's full of germs. You'll get sick if you eat it. It's disgusting." The list went on, and Jared just kept on ticking, just like the energizer bunny. I was getting more and more frustrated with him. He seemed to take it all in stride.

Back in the Valdi's. Remind the kids of the rules. "Don't touch anything. Stay close. Adeena, you push a cart, and I will push the other one. Where's your brother?"

We rounded them all up and headed into the store. Down one aisle we trotted, picking the necessary items off the stacks and putting them in the carts. Next thing I know, we're missing Jared. One of the bigger kids stays with the littles, and Adeena and I go looking.

I find Jared sitting between two boxes, hiding, chewing gum. I retch, then inquire, "Where'd you get that?" He looks at me with a blank stare, saying nothing. I KNOW he's picked it up off the floor, or found it stuck on a cart somewhere. I demand he spits it into my hand, then make him stay right by me, holding onto my cart the rest of the time we're in the store. I stay civil because we are in a public place, but inside I'm fuming.

We load all of the groceries into the car (piled on the kids, by their feet, between them on the seats, and so on). When the kids are all in, and all seatbelts are attached, I begin to lecture my firstborn son. "Don't you know how many germs are in a person's mouth? When you chew gum that has been in someone else's mouth, you put all of those germs into your own body? That's disgusting, Jared!"

The lecture continued most of the way home. I told Jared that he was not allowed to help with the groceries, because he had been too disobedient that day. He was to go right upstairs, and I would be up to deal with him later.

We hauled in the boxes and bags, and put everything away. Just as we were finishing that monumental task, I heard a strange noise. "Hmmmmm, what was that?" I wondered. Something wasn't right. I looked around the kitchen, and caught some movement out of the corner of my eye.

Jared was under the table, gobbling a banana.

It's a wonder I didn't kill him.

I took a big breath, and reached under the table. He tried to avoid me, but I was quick. I marched him upstairs, praying for wisdom as we went. "How would I get through to this child?" I wondered.

I am glad to report that Jared survived the night. He learned that mom meant business, and that mom was to be obeyed. He learned that there are GERMS in used gum, and that he wasn't ever to touch it or put it in his mouth. He also learned that I loved him, when I was finished disciplining him, and I took him in my arms and told him how very, very important he was to me.

The reason I am thinking about that episode in my life as a parent is that today, my daughter phoned me to tell me, "Mom, I have a Jared!" She had a wonderful Valentine's meal planned and prepared for her family, along with a delicious, chocolaty dessert. When her husband arrived home, the family was visiting in the living room before supper time, and they heard a strange sound. When Daddy went to investigate, there was 2 year old Stewie under the table, hands full of chocolaty goodness!

Jared is now 25, and has grown to the height of 6 feet, 7 inches. I guess all that dirty gum didn't hurt him, after all. And in spite of all his disobedience as a young fellow, Jared is a fine man, with a generous spirit and a good heart. He loves the Lord and his family, and we love him!

Be not weary in well doing, parents, for in due season you will reap what you sow, if you faint not!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yet I will trust Him...

It was another stressful day, here in the Billson home. Rick's truck is still in the garage, and last we heard they hoped to begin work on it today. It doesn't look good. At least a costly head gasket, and maybe much more.

There are other things going on that make us wonder if the Lord is going to send a major trial our way.

Isn't it strange that the imagination runs wild as soon as something goes wrong? We know that the Lord is Jehovah-Jireh, the Provider. We know that He promised never to leave us, nor forsake us. We know that God is good, and that He sends the wind, streams, rain, floods, and even the hail and tornadoes into our lives to train us in righteousness. And yet, we wonder. The what-if's start flooding in. Sleepless nights follow. That knot in the pit of the stomach becomes familiar. But, we know better.

I was reading about Abram going down to Egypt. God protected Sarai, even when Abram foolishly and fearfully required her to sin by not admitting she was his wife. God shows His power in watching over His people.

Then, later on, when Abram went back to the Land of Promise, and Lot's men were squabbling with his men, Abram didn't hold on to what may have been rightfully his. He let Lot take what seemed to be the best way, and God blessed Abram. Abram had gold, and animals, and many fact, enough servants to muster over 300 men to go and rescue Lot when he was captured.

God gave Abram the victory, in spite of great odds against him. Five kings surely had many men and many weapons, but God intervened on Abram's behalf.

So, why should I worry? I am God's child, and all of His promises apply to me.

If God chooses to take away our income, or to take away someone I love (I am thinking of dear Heather Davis who recently was bereaved of her beloved husband) it will be okay. In the end, God will make all things right. At the time of the trial, He always shows Himself faithful. I have been a Christian for over 31 years, and THIS I KNOW!

About half way through the day, I won this skirmish. I was able, by God's grace, to categorically deny the whispered lies of the evil one. I was enabled to stand against the fiery darts that told me all was lost, that we were undone, that great trials were coming and there was nothing I could do.

I put on the breastplate of righteousness, and shod my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. I girded my loins with the belt of truth (God is good! He will provide! He knows our needs!), put on my helmet of salvation, reminding myself that without my Saviour, I am undone...but that He is the One who saves, and grabbed the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The shield of my faith went up, and my heart was turned towards the Living God.

Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Order of Canada Considered for Top Abortionist

Today Rick and I popped in to see Joanna, who showed us a picture of her growing baby. At 14 weeks gestation, this wee baby had a cute little button nose, sweet little forehead, perfectly formed spine...already I can tell that this one will be just as adorable as his or her older siblings!

Joanna is naturally tired with the pregnancy, but she still has that beautiful glow of an expecting mom. She stood there, showing off her little belly, with a twinkle in her eyes, as she contemplated that in a few months, there would be another grandbaby for us to love.

It was a joy to see that picture.

And then, this evening, I read that Dr. Henry Morgentaler is being considered as a recipient of the Order of Canada.

I thought of that wee baby being formed in my daughter-in-law's womb, then imagined other babies, just as well formed, being ripped limb from limb so that their mothers can "have a life".

I wrote about Dr. Morgentaler a few years ago:

My view on his life's work has not changed. He ought to be ashamed.

I have read every argument there is on both sides of the pro-life/abortion aka "pro-choice" question, but recently came across a slightly different take on it. My daughter sent me the following:

In the comments
I am against abortion because I am against slavery. I don't believe one human being can own the life of another- and that is what abortion is about. It's not about "choice" at all. I find it abhorrent that, having so recently torn off our own shackles to be recognized as full human beings, and not as men's property, we women turn around and claim our children as property, with full rights to dispose of them if we "choose" to. The hypocrisy is incredible. Who told us the lie that we had to be slave-owners in order not to be slaves?

Didn't men claim that their wives were "part of the household" and therefore their "private" property? Living in a house does not make you part of the house, whether it's made of wood or flesh. And saying it's ok to kill inside the womb but not outside it is like saying it's ok to kill in the kitchen but not the bedroom. What does location have to do with human rights? What does size have to do with human rights? And how does dependency or an immature level of mental development give people the right to poison or mangle you to death?

I am one month pregnant. I carry the child within me, but I do not own the child's life. There are hardships ahead for me, but you don't make your life better by taking someone else's.

People moan about young girls' lives "ruined" by having babies. By that short-sighted logic, the slaves should never have been freed in America, because of all the slave-owners' lives that were "ruined" by it. Many slave-owning families suffered hardship after the emancipation. Does that mean that freeing the slaves was wrong? Of course not.

Pro-life is anti-slavery.

(I can't seem to stop the quote, so it stops here!)

I was appalled when I read that Dr. Morgentaler, the abortionist, who is in my mind no better than a slave-owner (actually, much, much worse...although slave-owning is terrible, at least most of the slave-owners did not kill their slaves) is being considered for Canada's top honour.

My friend Debbie wrote,

I have just learned that "Dr." Henry Morgentaler, the man who pioneered the fight for legalized abortion here in Canada, the man whose trial basically saw all laws pertaining to it's illegality stricken from the books, is being considered for The Order of Canada, a very prestigious Canadian award.
The National Post, a Canadian newspaper, is polling its readership, to ascertain their feelings about this. Please take 15 seconds to click on the link I'm providing and vote "NO".
Bad enough the man has personally murdered countless pre-born children, and has encouraged likewise of countless more - but to see him given such an award is simply appalling.
By the way, it is still shocking to many of us that this man, a proponent of death, is a survivor of the Holocaust.

Vote here:

Abortion is murder. It takes the life of an innocent human being, whose only crime is being too small to stand up for his or her own rights. This holocaust must be stopped! Voting against this proposal is just the beginning. Call or write your MP tomorrow and let your opinion be known.

I know I will.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Be Still and Know...

This day was a day of turmoil. Rick and the boys were on the truck, and I got a call saying that there was something wrong. Immediately I thought the worst... truck breakdown, no way to service our stores, etc. It's amazing how fast my mind can manufacture scenarios.

Then, my dear Linda came downstairs, pale, weak, ill. She assured me that she was feeling better than she had been yesterday, but when she helped with a couple of jobs, she got an ashen look and had to sit down, immediately. Of course I worried. What mother wouldn't?

There were other stresses today, but suffice it to say that I found myself feeling unsettled and ill at ease. I soon recognized the signs that I was not putting my trust in the Living God. I was focusing on the "what ifs" instead of relying on the "Who Is"!

I have been a Christian long enough that I know that no matter what happens, God is there. No matter what happens, He is still God - God Omnipotent, God Omniscient, God Omnipresent. He will not allow one hair on my head to be damaged, unless it is His will. He will not allow a truck breakdown, a sick child, a major upheaval, or a minor inconvenience to come into my life unless it is good for me. God is good, all the time.

My trials are nothing compared to those of Heather, a wife and mother who just lost her husband and best friend. They are nothing compared to those of Debbie, a mom to a little sweetie half-way around the world, who is waiting for her mommy to come and pick her up and take her home. Debbie's burdens at this time are heavy and unrelenting.

So who am I to worry? Who am I to complain?

Foolish! Silly! I am forgetful and weak. I allow my emotions and fears to run amok, instead of putting my trust in the Living God. I need to be still. And Know. That HE is God!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Serving the Lord - Reasonable Service.

I remember all too well how I "served the Lord" as a young mother by rising early each morning and dragging my three little ones out of bed to drive 25 minutes to our church/school so I could drop off my children in daycare and drive the Christian School bus (for free - they never paid me) to pick up the children to go to the Christian school. I would pop into the daycare and nurse my baby, then work in the library Monday to Friday, cataloging books and assisting teachers (not being paid). Then I would jump in the bus and do the hour-long run again, then pick up my poor children and head home. I was EXHAUSTED, but I thought I was "serving the Lord". My intentions were good, but I didn't know the Bible very well. I was a baby Christian, and I thought the sacrificial service was what God required of me.

But God is so gracious. He was gracious enough to give me a massive breast infection. I was so sick and so sore, I couldn't move off of my bed. I called out to God in my pain, then read in Timothy, "I would that the younger women marry, bear children, and guide the house."

I wasn't guiding the house. I had married at a young age (18) and I had borne three beautiful children, but I was away all day, Monday to Friday, and someone else was raising them.

The day I finally learned that I should be home honestly felt like Jesus sat at the end of my bed and explained it to me. I listened, and I understood for the first time that my place was to be in the home, caring for my children and my husband. Not long after that Epiphany, we moved, and I told the leaders in the church that I would no longer be driving the school bus or working in the library. You would have thought I had blasphemed, or murdered a child, or worse.

The leaders (pastors, deacons, associate pastors) should have told me, a young Christian mother, that my place was in the home, and that it was a high calling to be a keeper at home. Instead I was made to feel guilty for wanting to do what God had called me to do.

Thankfully, my husband was stubborn enough that when he heard my explanation and caught the vision of me being home and keeping my home, he stated adamantly that his wife would be remaining at home. They found someone else to do the jobs and I stayed at home with my children.

Blessed mother and wife that I am, I remained at home for the next 25 years. Most of you know that I did go out and work part time (two days per week) for a ministry near and dear to my heart. My homeschooling children were 17, 15, 13, 11, 9 and 6, and I thought that the older ones were capable and skilled enough to run the home while I was gone.

It did NOT work. I knew after a few months, but when I approached those in charge to ask if I could cut back to one day a week, or work from home, I was told that I was NEEDED, and that they could not get along without me. I tried again, a few months later. Finally, my stress level was so high that I was not sleeping at night. I felt guilty. I was neglecting my children, and I knew it, and they knew it. But no matter how much I pleaded with God and mentioned to others that my desire was to be home, nothing changed.

Until exactly one year ago, tomorrow. That Thursday night I was on my way home, having worked my two days. I had a trunk full of groceries because it was my habit to stop for groceries on the way home, thus eliminating another day away from my family. I was only about 15 minutes from home when an elderly man made a terrible mistake and turned right without looking, into MY lane.

You can read about the accident, here:

And you can rejoice with me, that God's mercies never fail. He used the accident to shake my world and to make me examine my priorities. He used the accident to make me unable to continue driving to work and sitting at a computer. He used the accident to bless our family abundantly.

Ladies, the leadership of your churches is not always right. Read the Word. Examine your heart before God. Remember, Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I work just as hard here at home as I did when I worked away, yet I delight in my work and take joy in my tasks. I enjoyed my work at the ministry, too, but my stomach was always in knots and I felt torn. I had at the back of my mind a running list of questions: "Are the kids alright? Are they doing their schoolwork? Did they remember to feed the animals? Did they take something out of the freezer for supper? Are they getting along?"

The biggest confirmation I have that I am right to stay home is when my six foot tall son gathers me into his arms and tells me, "It's not the same when you're not home, Mommy! I am so glad you aren't going out to work any more."

And I'm glad, too!

In Christ,

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ezra Levant and the non-human rights commission

All he wanted to do was to explain what all the hullabaloo was all about. When Ezra Levant decided to publish the controversial cartoons that were causing the big ruckus in Denmark, he was just letting his readers know that they weren't THAT BAD! After all, Christians get slammed in the media all of the comedies, in police shows like Law and Order, and in print. So, a few harmless and somewhat humorous cartoons were NO BIG DEAL.

Apparently, a zealous Muslim in Alberta thought otherwise:

After the police decided not to arrest Ezra (go figure!) the human rights commission got involved. Ezra is left to fight this fight alone - except that now he's not alone. He has a blog! He has access to You-Tube. And finally, people are standing up and taking notice.

Read the above post, then explore through Ezra's website to get an idea of what is happening right here at home. This is not some third-world country with a list of human-rights violations. This, folks, is Canada, our home and native land. And in this land there's a price to pay for not being politically correct.

Here's what you can do about it:

The worst thing you can do is nothing. For that is what happened in Nazi Germany. Good people stood idly by as the Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

God deliver us from complacency!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Education for What?

My daughter Linda came across the following essay in a Short Story textbook she is reading. It makes you think. Read it, then see my comments following.

What is the general object and end of Education?

Obviously, you cannot lead a person in a way unnatural to him. When you teach, bring up, train a horse, it is always remembered that it is a horse you are dealing with. We do not try anything else. But with human beings we are much more muddled. It seems as though we hardly know what human beings are or what they are for. Yet, obviously, that is the first thing to find out. What is a human being? What end is he made for?

In the world today, whatever we say about it, we act almost entirely as though human beings had no reason for being except to get on in the world - to acquire a lot of material possessions - to get a good paying job. That seems to be considered the first and most important thing. On top of that we think it would be a good thing if people had a sort of ornamental veneer of culture and good manners- that they be able to appreciate good books and to speak with a refined accent.
So it seems that today our definition of man is: That he is an animal who exists in order to enjoy himself while he lives, and therefore the object of education is to draw out all those faculties which are suitable to that end. First of all, he must learn how to acquire a good living, and, secondly, how to enjoy it in the manner least likely to endanger it. We must learn how to acquire riches and we must learn not to squander them in riotous living. Shorn of all camouflage, that represents the general line of people's ideas today.

That is not what we say, but it is how we act. And even the more highbrow people are really acting in the same way; for though, perhaps, they say that the object of education is to draw out the very best in us - to teach us to know ourselves and control ourselves so that we may enjoy ourselves even more - it all comes to the same thing - to acquire the means to live well and then to enjoy life.

But if the common materialistic view of man leaves much to be desired - and few people are really satisfied with it - it is obviously a very limited view and takes no account of those qualities in men which we all agree to admire most: humility, unselfishness, tenderness, except in so far as they help us to get on - and it takes no account of the quite common appetite of men for something real and unchanging and not liable to decay and death - I say, if the common materialistic definition of man leaves much to be desired, what other view is there? If man is not just an animal among animals, what is he? Well, I think, even without entering into the awful field of religious controversy, we may say certain things. God exists; He is a Person - the Personal Author and Ruler of all things. And we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. And we are made in His image - that is to say, we share in God's spiritual nature. We are rational beings and can deliberate and weigh the pros and cons of action; and having thus weighed, we can act freely. Whether or no we can do good of ourselves, we can certainly refrain from evil, even if we are to some extent - perhaps to a large extent - the victims of our physical and psychological make-up. We are, therefore, rightly held to be responsible persons and not automata obeying willy-nilly the forces to which we find ourselves subjected. And if we are thus children of God - for we are, in this religious view of man, more than just animals without responsibility (after all, you can punish a dog - but you cannot really blame him) - if we are children of God, then we are heirs also. We are called to some sort of sharing with God in His own life. We have what we call a vocation. We have, in fact, a destiny independent of our physical life on this earth. A destiny for which this physical life is a training ground and place of preparation. It is, in fact, a school - a place where we are educated.

It is clear then, is it not? that if we accept the religious view of man's nature, we are compelled to take a very different, a radically different view of education. No longer can we think merely of getting on in the commercial and materialistic sense. We must now think of getting on in the sense of getting heavenwards. And in everything we learn and in everything we teach to our children or our pupils, we must bear this fact in mind. We must learn to get on in the world - not as an end in itself, but as a means to getting heavenwards. Any education which neglects this fact, and to the extent to which it neglects it, is false education, because it is false to man. It is untrue; it is not in accordance with his nature as child of God and heir also.

All this sounds very pious - though there is no harm in that - and some people will think that I am advocating an almost total neglect of practical things - that perhaps I despise worldly success, that I despise reading, writing, and arithmetic and dancing and gymnastics and science and history. That is not so. What I am saying is simply that as parents and teachers we must teach these things with an eye on our goal. If, like the materialists, and that is, in practice, most people today, we think there is no goal, then of course, there is nothing to be said against that kind of education which has for its sole object the training of children to win prizes and get good jobs.

But if we do not accept the materialist philosophy, if we do not agree with the economic interpretation of history, if we do not think man is nothing more than a creature made for gaining material wealth, if we take the religious point of view - because, if we think for half a moment, we know that we are not satisfied with working merely to make money to buy things which have been made by people who only made them in order to sell them...then we shall take a radically different view of education. We shall even take a radically different view of arithmetic and of reading and writing - because we shall attack them in a totally different frame of mind. That is the point. It is not that we shall do nothing but write hymns, though the best poems are hymns. It is not that we shall only read the Bible, though the Bible is the best book, or that we shall only count how much we can give away (instead of counting how much we can spend), it is simply that we shall see all things as in some way heavenly or leading heavenwards. For education will not then mean drawing out those faculties which make us successful worldlings, but drawing out those faculties which make us better fitted for an eternal rather than a merely temporary existence. We shall see everything, as the philosopher says, sub specie aeternitatis - that is to say we shall see everything in its real shape, its eternal shape, the shape of its being rather than the shape of its doing. For it is not what we do that matters most, but what we are. And it is the same with things as with persons. Being is more important than doing. But if, like the materialists and their followers, the business men of today, we say there is no being behind doing, but only doing, then we shall not only lose the Kingdom of God in heaven but also the Kingdom of God on earth.

But in spite of our enthusiasm for worldy success, we all know that a worldly view of education is very unsatisfactory - to say the least. It does not satisfy us. We want something more. And very often we think that all will be well if, in addition to learning things which will be useful to enable us to get on, we add what we call cultured subjects - a spot of art, a spot of poetry and foreign languages, just in the same way as people build banks and town halls with iron frames and concrete and all the cheapest and most labour-saving methods, and then cover the front with elaborate stonework in imitation of a classical temple, with columns and carvings.

And so it is with education. If we cannot give our children a truly religious education, through and through, so that everything they learn is in harmony with their ultimate heavenly destiny, then it would be much better if we confined ourselves to the plain bread-and-butter part of the business and simply taught them practical things - the three R's and physical jerks and how to read a Bradshaw and drive a car - and leave out the classics and Shakespeare and all the sham culture.

For culture is a sham if it is only a sort of Gothic front put on an iron building - like the Tower Bridge - or a classical front put on a steel frame - like the Daily Telegraph building in Fleet Street. Culture, if it is to be a real thing and a holy thing, must be the product of what we actually do for a living - not something added, like sugar on a pill.

So it all comes back to this: What is man? Is he just an animal for whom earthly life is all? Or is he a Child of God with eternal life in view? - Eric Gill

Knowing that all truth is God's truth helped me when I discovered that the man, Eric Gill, who wrote the above, was religious as well as vile and immoral. I was taken aback by his exploitations, and it made me think twice before posting it.

However, ALL TRUTH IS GOD'S TRUTH!! So, the truth that we ought to consider ourselves so much more than animals because we are made in the image of God rings out in the essay. The truth that we must have a goal in mind when choosing what we will teach our children is still true. When I teach my children geography, I am teaching them about God's world. When I teach my children history, I am demonstrating God's hand in the affairs of men. When I teach them language, or writing, or reading, I am reflecting the God Who condescends to communicate to mere mortals. No matter what I teach, as a Christian mother I must do it with a view that whatsoever I do, I do to the glory of God!

Education for what? For eternity! To make a difference in this world! To prepare to be used as an instrument in the Hand of the Master. This is the reason. This is the goal.

And so, we press on.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Thinking about Tyrants

I am still pondering ways to teach my children about governments - good and evil. This morning I read Psalm 2:

The Reign of the Lord's Anointed

1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

I am sure that it's not a coincidence that after studying monarchy, democracy, anarchy, plurality, totalitarianism, communism, etc., the Lord guided me to this Psalm. It's a great reminder of Who is in Control!

I'm sure the most wicked dictators (we discussed Idi Amin, Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin) thought they were in control, but He Who Sits in the Heavens laughs, and holds them in derision. I see Jesus in this Psalm, not as a gentle Saviour, but as the God of Glory, clothed in brilliant light, and terrifying. This is the God whose wrath is quickly kindled. This is the God before Whom we tremble.

But the last phrase of the Psalm reminds me of my position in Christ. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him! This God who is awesome and terrifying, all-knowing and all-powerful, is the same God Who is my Heavenly Father. I do take refuge in Him. And I am truly blessed.

I picture it like this: Imagine a monarchy back in the time when Kings were all-powerful. They assumed divine right, so if they disagreed with someone, it was a simple step to command, "Off with his head!" Now imaging that King finding out that a treacherous traitor was in the room. His wrath is kindled; his face aflame with fury. He bellows, and everyone in the court trembles.

At that moment, the prince comes running in to see his father. Unaware of what has just taken place, he scurries up to the throne, exclaiming, "Look, Father! See what I have found!"

His father's countenance softens, and he picks up his son, looks at the little treasure, and murmurs a few words before sending him on his way.

The King of Fury is the same Loving Father. If you know Him as your Abba, Daddy, you are truly blessed.

While pondering tyrants, I came across this post, discussing Gestapo Homeschooling Moms. It hit home, not that I am a Gestapo Mom with others' families. I am well aware of the grace of God in my life. But I fear that sometimes I am a Gestapo Mom with my own children. In my quest to have order and do everything right, I forget to simply love.

Lord, make me aware of tyrants, not only in history, but also in my own home. I am much-forgiven and much-loved. Help me to daily forgive much and love much in return. May I be the hands and feet of Jesus, simply loving my husband and my family, and letting the Holy Spirit be the One who convicts them of their own sin. I have enough of my own sin to worry about.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Big Storm!


It was SUPPOSED to be a horrendous mess, but what we experienced in Huron County was really just an ordinary winter day. Ice pellets made the roads very slippery, but there wasn't near as much snow as was forecast, and the wind wasn't howling (which always reminds us that this old house leaks!) so it was a great opportunity to stay put and get a lot done.

That we did. We started with a general clean-up through the house. Linda made waffles for breakfast, and accomplished that with no eggs or sugar, so we were able to eat them, even though we're still on that elimination diet. After that, we organized some big cupboards in the kitchen, moving food from one cupboard to another, and getting rid of all plastic containers that were missing lids. By the time we were finished the organizing, it was time for lunch. Jared made a stir-fry.

We cleaned the kitchen, put roast chicken and roast beef in the oven (diet - some of us can't have the beef - sob!) then headed to our Great Room for some serious studying.

I am determined to teach our children about Canada's government. We discussed the different forms of government, such as democracy, monarchy, pluralism, communism, totalitarianism, etc. It's always fun to hear how much the children understand about how governments work and about how our leaders were elected. Of course, the Sovereignty of God came into the picture, and our children made it clear that they understand that God is the One Who ordained government (Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed) so people would have order instead of anarchy.

We discussed elections, and which forms of government have elections. I needed a way to explain that people in communistic countries, even when allowed to vote, have no real choice. In one of those "Aha!" moments, I told Christopher this:

"Imagine voting is like choosing a piece of fruit to eat. In Canada, I can choose a banana, an apple, an orange, some grapes, a kiwi fruit, etc. In the same way, when I go to vote I can choose a New Democrat, a Conservative, a Liberal, a Communist, a Green Party member, a Christian Heritage Party member, etc. I have lots of choice, and each of those is different!"

"On the other hand, if I were in a communist party, I would be given a choice of a Red Delicious apple, a Jonagold, a MacIntosh, a Courtland, a Granny Smith ---> But I would really have only one choice: an apple! In the same way, the candidates in a truly communist country would all have the same ideas, the same values, and the same goals."

I think the kids have a better appreciation for the freedom of choice we have in this country. I certainly do!