Friday, November 01, 2013

Post Halloween Thoughts

I've had some thoughts going through my mind as Halloween approached and was over with.  I have to admit that I'm happy that it's over for another year.  While I love autumn, I hate the doom and gloom and death stuff that comes with Halloween. 

I also hate the back and forth bickering between people about whether or not we should celebrate this holiday. 

First, my history.  I participated in Halloween as a child.  For my family, it was about dressing up (in a homemade costume) and about FREE candy.  This was at a time when we, as kids, hardly ever had candy.  Candy was truly a treat - like as in a couple of times a year.  That's it.  It was very seldom (not dutch, didn't grow up with peppermints!). We had no idea what the history of Halloween was, and I'm not sure we cared either.  I don't recall anyone ever suggesting it was bad.  It was dressing up and candy.  That's it. 

Halloween, for our family, was also not linked at all to anything non-Christian.  Whether we were na├»ve or what, I don't know.  As I entered my teenage years, we even had "Halloween Parties" from CHURCH.  Yes, church.  And they weren't called anything but "Halloween" (I do remember one particular elder who poo-pood this, but I had no idea why he would and I just thought he was a fuddy-duddy).  (I admire him now and wish I'd asked him for more information back then, instead of scoffing his concerns.)

Fast-forward to becoming parents.  Halloween was approaching and our (different) church elders were giving us information about Halloween's origins and about what modern-day Satanists do on this day.  We started to question whether we should participate, but we were still going to, mainly because we knew we'd have a lot of kids at our door and we didn't want to be "fuddy duddys".  (do people still use that word?)

We gave out candy that year.

The next year - we had a 1yo+ that year - and he was TERRIFIED of costumed people.  And we still had conflicting thoughts, so we decided that we wouldn't make him go out for Halloween. We went out to the mall instead - and were met by everyone dressed in costumes.  That plan didn't work out so well for our little one.

As the years continued to go by, we began to seriously wonder if Halloween was something we could participate in with a good conscience.  And after reading up on it, and being convicted by the Holy Spirit, we concluded that we could not participate.  We had read more and more about the day, and how it is a big day in modern-day Occultism and we felt convicted that we couldn't be a part. We decided to opt out of Halloween. 

Fast-forward to now - the internet age - and so much information.  This year was no different.

But what struck me this year is the scoffing tone of some of the Christian pro-Halloween blog posts.  The tone that I got was "what - do you hate cute little kids with cute costumes?" or "what's wrong with dressing up and getting candy - such innocent fun?" 

Then "why don't you want to shine on this night- the Lord wouldn't want you to hide your light under a candle!"

I LOVE little kids.  Anyone who knows me knows this. 
I LOVE little kids in cute costumes. (I loved seeing your kiddos photos on Facebook.)
I'd LOVE to give little kids candy (although I really don't care for all the candy and sweets that they get nowadays, but that's another blog post...)

Yes I want to shine on Halloween night.  You're right - the Lord doesn't want me to hide my light under a bushel. 

But that's the point.  I DO shine on Halloween night.  By taking a stand.  By not being a part of pagan festivities.

I shine on Halloween night - and hopefully every night (and day) by getting to know my neighbours daily, helping my neighbours, reaching out to those in need, by letting the LORD shine through my life.  Every day. 

I'm not saying that YOU shouldn't participate in Halloween.  I am saying that I CHOOSE not to.  I feel CONVICTED not to.  I also feel that my convictions should be respected. 

And I can't help but think that those Christians who disagree with me should have a different attitude (as we all should when we don't agree with someone else) - that of a humble prayer to the Lord saying:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
(Psalm 139: 23, 24)
 
I found myself singing this song during "Halloween season" this year. It is where my heart is. I am committed first to my Lord - and I cannot be part of breaking HIS heart" - through my participation in pagan festivities ...
 
I COMMIT MY LOVE TO YOU - by Twila Paris (1982)

If, by love, we show the world
That we are His disciples
I can’t take it lightly
I commit my love to you
I will tear down all the walls
I built with my selfish pride
And I will crucify it
I commit my love to you

‘Cause when we are divided
I can hear Him crying
And I can’t be a part of breaking His heart anymore
I can’t do it anymore
So brother, I commit my love to you

And if you have offended me
You know you are forgiven
And I will not remember
I commit my love to you
I will see the best in all you do
And I will defend you
When they come against you
I commit my love to you

‘Cause when we are divided
I can hear Him crying
And I can’t be a part of breaking His heart anymore
I can’t do it anymore
When we are divided
I can hear Him crying
And I won’t be a part of breaking His heart anymore
I just can’t do it anymore
So brother I commit my love to you
I commit my love to you
 
If you participate, do it, but at least take the information about it with a humble heart and with prayer.  Maybe the Holy Spirit is trying to convict you too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Picking Up the Pieces of Broken Lives

It's now been almost two months since we've been fostering and what a ride it has been!  Our first placement was not our chosen "criteria" (fostering babies under 8 months of age is our selection - since that is where the need is in our area) but our first child was in an emergency situation and we felt led by the Lord to say "yes".  It was a wonderful experience for us.  Of course, again, I can't get into details, but we learned a lot.  We learned about the fostering system, about children in care, about families with children in care and about a segment of society that we know exists, we see everyday but we really don't know what exactly makes them tick. (Or not tick.)

I don't pretend to know what really makes them tick except I've learned that a lot of us "fortunate folks" have NO IDEA.  We say silly things like "the poor will always be with us" or "they just don't get it do they?"  Now I'm not going to take sides in this debate - I also have been perplexed at the complexity of this segment of society that can't seem to "get it together".  And I don't say that judgmentally - I'm talking about myself here too - I have thought these things prior to this journey we have embarked on.  I say it with the realization that society is complex and each person's situation is filled with unique circumstances that, for some people, seem to snowball and snowball and affect subsequent generations.  My motto is "except by the Grace of God I would be there too".  So many of us have been blessed with relatively healthy family situations - and some have amazing family situations - and we can be guilty of taking it for granted.

Over the past 2 months I have met and hugged a recovering drug abuser, talked with parents whose children have been taken away for one reason or another, learned some things that I'd rather not know about, and seen some of the children who are stuck in between the chaos.

Here are the things that annoy me most:
- people who say "doesn't mom want her child?"  Often mom is unable to care for her child for one reason or another - perhaps not actually mature enough to do the job, maybe she's homeless or has unstable housing, maybe she's an addict or a recovering addict, an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic -- all sorts of reasons why children are in care.  Many of these people come from splintered families and they don't have any support around them.  Some have broken family ties and have no alternatives.  But reasons don't always mean she doesn't want her child!  It can seem so simple to those of us who don't fight addictions: "just give up your addiction and be the mom you should be!" we say.  It's not always that simple.  Unfortunately a child's development doesn't wait until mom (or dad) has their act together.
- people who say "now how could a mom give up her child! (with a tsk, tsk) Some of these children have been rescued from mom!  While foster care isn't the ideal, it's often waaaay better than where these children have come from.  Don't give these moms any more guilt - they don't need it and it isn't effective anyway. Love the child despite the circumstance.
- people who act disgusted that mom isn't responsible It's true sometimes that parents are not responsible, however, a child is now in the equation and tsk tsking doesn't help.  We need to reach out and help however we can. 
- People who don't pay attention to these children - Sometimes these children are ignored when they're in groups, as if  people don't want to face the reality of foster care. These children are human beings too - and probably more needy of your encouragement than the "fortunate children" around us.  Love is easy to give and shouldn't be dependent on who you're related to. If you don't know how to relate, ask. 
- people who want to know all the details of "the situation".  While I understand curiousity, these are little lives that we're dealing with and we can't share confidential information. Sometimes I want to tell you everything - because it's hard to fathom it all sometimes in my head.  But I can't.  Sorry.
- people who say "but he/she is sooooooooooo cute!"  For some reason people think that foster children cannot be cute.  I don't get this one at all.  There are cute kids everywhere and not-so-cute ones too.  But they are all the same: human beings needing love and care. And even cute children are born to complex family situations. 
- people who think foster parents are amazing because they're doing this job This one is just awkward.  I am so thankful that God brought us to this "job", however, I fought the call for a very long time.  I thought I couldn't do it - and I was right.  I can only do it through God's strength.  My heart breaks many times - when I hear things that I wanted to keep out of my mind, when I tread through difficult situations and when I'm not sure if I'm doing a good job. 
But all of these are quieted when I see a little face looking back at me, smiling, secure and safe in my arms. 

But the biggest thing that bothers me? 
Christians who don't see these children for the opportunity that they are. 
Christians who don't realize that society's answer to unwanted children
is abortion - and although these moms are confused,
they CHOSE LIFE.  
Christians, especially, who don't see that we are so blessed,
we have more than enough to give to those "orphans" in need. 
People who don't realize that it costs nothing to extend a hand,
to give a smile, to reach out. 
If ever there was an evangelism opportunity, this is it! 
Love doesn't cost a thing - but it goes a long way. 
And, as Christians, we are called to do it.   
 
The time is now - while a child is young.  There is so much we can do just by simple actions. Did you know that children's brain circuitry is shaped when the child is stimulated by another human being?  Not left alone in front of a TV - but via the back and forth chatting that should go on naturally between parents and their children!  The babbling and smiles and talking to children, yes even and especially babies!  Such a simple thing does so much! Watch this video:

"When a foster child comes into your home and your heart, they can stay for a month, a year or a lifetime. You are never sure how long it will be. But one thing you do know: no one can take away what you are able to share with them – security, a sense of family and love for God." (read more here: Waiting to Belong)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Ponderings of a new foster mom

Well, really I'm a foster-mom-in-waiting

Over the years I have become more and more patient (thank you, Lord!) but waiting to start our fostering journey has been a test.  We've been ready for months already, and "official" for two weeks tomorrow.  Apparently there is a "critical need" for foster homes for infants in our area so we responded and started the journey and training over a year ago.  And we wait.  And wait. 

Sometimes I'm happy that we haven't started yet - and other times I can't wait.  I look forward to caring for a little one and giving them a safe place to be.  To love them.  To greet them and enjoy their milestones.  To use the time God has given me to do something important in addition to caring for my husband, family and home. To sharing our family life with someone not so blessed.  I look forward to singing to them, playing with them, snuggling them, teaching them ... oh so many things.  I am giddy with excitement. 

And then the fears come in.  Will I be able to do night-time feedings again?  Will I be a good foster mom?  Will I be able to let go when I need to?  Will I learn all the new things (swaddling? bottle feeding? car seat instructions? ...) What if...?  What if...?

I know it won't be an easy "job".  Most of these children haven't had the greatest start in life.  Some of them have roadblocks in their lives right away - the effects of being exposed to alcohol and/or drugs in the womb.  Neglected sometimes.  Not stimulated.  And possibly even abused.  For some our home will be a stop on their way to their forever adoptive homes. 

However, in all of my uncertainty I am calm in the fact that I know and trust God's plans for us and I have felt His leading throughout this whole journey - from wondering if we should take this path, to training, approval and feeling His direction all along.  Even from Him putting it on my heart years ago (when I still pushed it away, afraid I wouldn't be good enough).  From friends telling us over and over that we "should be foster parents".  I am calm knowing that He has a little one planned for us and that He will give us "the call" when His time is right. 

Still each day, as the "office hours" time comes around I start to wonder:  "Is today THE DAY?" What will the day involve?  Sort of like having my own children, minus the pregnancy! 

I guess not having a placement is a good thing - it means that there isn't a need for me at the time, and that is a good thing. 

So for now I will continue to "nest".  Get the work done that I probably won't get done once a baby enters our lives -- cleaning cupboards out, major yard work, etc. etc.

And dream.  (And sleep!)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Evil not Tragedy

definitions from
dictionary.com
I, like many others, have been deeply saddened about the recent events in Newtown, Connecticut.  Twenty young children shot dead.  Six staff members shot dead.  Parent(s) shot dead.  Suicide. And as bad as this event was/is, it annoys me to hear it being referred to as a "tragedy". 

Tragedy implies an accidental event.  Something mournful, a calamity, something unplanned.  Yes this was/is a somber event.  This event came to a tragic conclusion.  But make no mistake:  this event (and others like it) was and is EVIL.


 
2 Timothy 3 (NIV)
3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
 
Evil, not because it was the killing of children (although that in itself is a horrible kind of evil).  Evil because it is wicked - and wickedness that caused it. 
There have been assertions that this mass killing in Newtown could have been avoided by having stricter gun controls.  Or better safety in schools.  Or many other ideas.  However, until humans have respect for other human beings and respect for life, nothing will prevent such evil. 

We live in an increasingly selfish world.  "What I think and I want is what I will get.  If I don't like something, I can do whatever I want in order to let my thoughts be made known."  Yes there might be implications for my choice of rage (legal or judicial implications), however "I have rights".  (Lots of talk about rights but not much talk about responsibility.)

On the one hand we hear all about peace and goodwill to one another.  Especially at this time of year.  And then in the next aisle from us in the store we hear someone going over the top because a certain toy that was advertised in the store flyer is no longer available.  People honk their horns because someone isn't going as fast as they'd like them to.  People make rude gestures to others who are in their way.  They huff and puff because they don't get their own way.  Adults act like unruly children.   Young people are rude to the elderly.  Middle-age people look down on the elderly.  Bullying in schools.  Bullying on the internet.  Bullying in the workplace.  Meanness in magazines.  Meanness in comedy. The sentiment "If I don't like you, I will show you, I can do whatever I want" is everywhere, if not in direct words, in attitude. 
We can blame these things on mental health issues, and there is sometimes an element of truth to that also, however in past history, people had mental issues, poverty, and difficult family situations etc. yet these rampages were not the norm -- in fact, they were unheard of.  In other areas of the world, even now, these rampages are not the norm.  Even though mental issues are and were part of life, and guns were a part of life, people respected others, and lived more respectful lives.  They recognized other people's property and respected that it didn't belong to them, to do with it what they felt like.  Yes there were the rebels.  Those who didn't care.  But there was a standard of expection in society, based on the God's Word.
 
People respected other peoples' children and even looked out for them.  Some still do (think the teachers at the Newtown school), but there is this mentality all around that "I will get what I need for me and mine and who cares about others anymore."  How sad.

We live in a society that glorifies violence and then works to protect those affected by violence.  Movies, television, and video games often depict the fight between evil and good - and often senseless killings are shown, over and over.  We are desensitized to the killings.  Our society even "decorates" homes with human hangings, tombstones and whatever else on Halloween each year.  (Halloween revenue is second only to Christmas in our society! $6 BILLION US in 2009.)

We cannot change people.  We can wish and wish for peace and happiness, but until hearts are changed, hearts become loving towards others, truly changed - and only changed by God - there will never be true love in this world.  Oh some will be loving.  Some will be caring.  But evil will reign. 

Sadly nothing will bring back these children (or the many others who have been senselessly killed in similar evil).  Nothing will bring back the child-like innocence in those who survived the killings but will live with the implications of living through such a nightmare.

 2 Chronicles 7:14
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
 
Lord, turn our hearts to you.
Heal our land.  

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Ugly Tears Story

(Martin Keus Photography)
"THE UGLY TEARS", yah I never thought I'd actually voluntarily share this photo...but there's such a good story behind it so I needed to share it.

This past summer our oldest child, our son, got married.  It was a new experience for us, and an exciting one too.  THAT moment had arrived - the moment that one of our children actually gets married.  An event that I'd always envisioned - even when he was a child.  We always talked to our children about their futures - "when you get married, if that is the Lord's will for you..."  Having it arrive was exciting and humbling. 

Of course any mom would be emotional at such an event, and since I'm an emotional person anyway, I knew I didn't stand a chance of avoiding tears.  But I didn't think that my tears would be a torrent! I really didn't. 

When I was walking down the aisle with Andrew Peter just moments before he said his wedding vows, I glanced up at him and in that split second it was like God was saying to me "See, I had my hand on him the whole time!" and I saw the time when I was first pregnant with him and had started bleeding (6 weeks). I had an ultrasound to see if I was miscarrying ... but instead we saw his heart beating! ... In that split second, at the wedding, all my doubts from back in 1988 were shown to me ... it was humbling and amazing.

You see, the bleeding didn't stop.  It kept going and I waited to miscarry.  I wish I could say that I trusted God's provision for my life, but I didn't as I should have.  My faith was weak.  I hoped.  I wished.  I thought about other things.  And I tried to have faith.  Even when things seemed impossible. 

But I didn't totally trust. 

It was humbling to see myself way back then fretting and fearing, trusting in God but not the trusting that He wants and requires of us and that we're silly not to do. 

better days, 1989,
closer to delivery
And yet He still carried me all the way.

It's hard to explain but it has been amazing to see the tapestry that God has been weaving in our lives - a lot unseen by us - but He was always there, weaving His plans for us.

God not only provided for my life - He caused my pregnancy to proceed, albeit too "eventful" for my liking.  He provided us with a well-born son and our first child.  (And we realize that sometimes providing us with what we want isn't God's will - we did lose two unborn children and went through a total of five similar pregnancies.) But God provided our son with his faith in God, He blessed our feeble efforts as parents and made them good, He blessed my failings as a homeschool mom and teacher, and He answered our many prayers for our son's future wife ... He provided a good and godly wife for our son!

How could I not feel humbled?  Feel awed? 
Feel HELD by His hands?

He provided this experience to us and He has used that awful experience for His glory. Through it we have been given an empathy for others - for the value of unborn children, for an understanding of the angst that couples go through, couples who really, really would love to have their child in their arms one day.   And we were given a huge love for children - our own and others. 

It was an awesome experience to feel things come full circle.  To see way back then in the light of today's faith and spiritual growth.  And to view the future with the knowledge of my weak faith years ago, knowing that today's faith is also likely a weak faith in the future!  God grows our faith by our trusting in Him. 

I pray that this experience causes my heart to trust God more and more in my life! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Standing Up for Life

 
This year we did something different - something that we've never done before: we attended a political rally in Ottawa. 

Not that we've never been political - we've written letters to the government about various issues, both to local governments and to our federal government.  We've made phone calls to officials.  We've filled out petitions and surveys.  We've even called and written to radio shows and newspapers and magazines.  But this was different.

This was standing out - making a political stand.  In public.  In a crowd (of close to 20,000 people!).  On Parliament Hill.

And it was awesome!

It was awesome to be surrounded by so many who were like-minded.  I'm sure we all didn't agree exactly - but we were all there for one reason: to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  To stand up for life - from conception to natural death.

And a loud message was sent to Parliament.  We need a federal law regarding abortion in Canada.

It is sobering that in a world where we work to save the whales, save the trees and save whatever else - we kill our own unborn children.  In the name of  "choice" and "rights".  And the government covers the cost!  Many in Canada (and outside of Canada, I'm sure) don't realize that Canada ranks the same as China and North Korea in it's lack of protection for the unborn. 

We live in a country that won't cover the cost of routine eye examinations, some necessary drugs, eye glasses and other such necessary items - and items which are less costly than abortions, yet abortions are funded over and over! 

When Canada got it's constitution, our abortion laws were deemed "unconstitutional" and Parliament was asked to deal with the issue.  In 1988 (when I was expecting our first of five babies) it was brought up in Parliament, and yet Parliament failed to restrict abortions.  And we have sat since then without any protections.  Back in 1988 I couldn't deal with this issue: I'd seen our unborn baby's heartbeat at 6 weeks and knew he was a living being - how could people kill their unborn children?  While I was trying to hang on to my pregnancy due to complications - the rhetoric went on and on..."At what time is a fetus a human being?", "What about women's choice?"  "Women's bodies; women's choice".  As our baby grew, and as I felt him move within me (and eventually his siblings) - I still heard the rhetoric being debated back and forth and I was ashamed.

Abortion is not the answer.  There ARE alternatives.  Chastity.  Adoption. 

Will Parliament listen?  I  hope and pray so.  For the sake of our society, for our families, for our race. 

Read more: http://weneedalaw.ca/
Canada has NO abortion LAWS!
Canada is the only country in the western world without abortion legislation. Only China and North Korea are in our company.
The mission of weneedaLAW.ca is to build a groundswell of support from across Canada for abortion legislation.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

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