I have taken a bit of a rest this week from blogging as it’s been a crazy week. Since I started blogging I saw this meme called the Five Minute Friday. I never took part though. However, since I’ve come back I wanted to try it out. I love that you are given a prompt and then are to set a timer for 5 minutes and you just type. No editing. It’s fresh. It’s authentic. Most of all it’s fun. You never know what you’re going to get.
This week the prompt was PLAN. So here it is.
This week has been a busy week. There have been lots of planning. I was supposed to have a meeting on Monday, that was cancelled at the last-minute. Then I went into planning the little man’s 6th birthday party. Then a visit from my parents was thrown in and a quick coffee with friends.
If I didn’t plan things out things would be chaotic here. I have a large calendar on the fridge so everyone can see what is scheduled. I have a daytimer in my purse (yes, I’m old school that way) and I have my phone (which died last week so I’m not sure when everyone’s birthdays are now).
My typical week is pretty busy and if we want to do anything it has to be preplanned because of appointments, youth groups, kids clubs, therapies, studies, etc.. I try to keep weekends open for impromptu trips (last week we went to Drumheller to see the dinosaurs). However, this month every weekend is busy. We have two birthdays and therefore, two parties. We also have my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. I can’t wait until Easter weekend for some rest.
I really enjoyed doing this. It was actually harder than I thought. If you are interested in joining go to Kate Motaung’s blog and link up
It has been a year since I lost a friend to a disease that is treatable (anorexia). This didn’t start overnight. We (her friends) watched as she slowly wasted away. We made jokes. We baked a lot and tried to get her to eat. But none of us knew what to do. We didn’t know what to say. We didn’t want to offend her. She had gone through so much (death of a parent, a sibling, family struggles, diabetes, miscarriages). We loved her. We protected her. We enabled her.
It wasn’t until she let it slip that she was 79 lbs that I finally spoke up. Said the words to others that we would lose her unless we got her help. However, by that time I lived a province away. Shortly after that she became so ill that she was hospitalized for months. She fought and fought for over a year until she just didn’t have the strength to fight any more.
While I type this, I struggle. We were Christians. We were called to help the sick, the lonely, the outcast, the widow, the orphan. Yet, we allowed our own insecurities and the lies of the enemy to bind us. We sat by, helpless. Wishing for a change. Yes we prayed and prayed for healing and in the end she was healed. But what if we had showed up at the beginning and not at the end. What if we had offended and pushed. Cheri would be the first to admit that she was a liar. The disease made her one. What if we had called her out? What if we had looked past our own struggles with weight and looked at her struggles? What if we had intervened in prayer over her?
These are thoughts that still haunt me. By the end when she was hospitalized the final time, I was so wrapped up in my own struggles that I didn’t call her. Didn’t reach out. I live with that regret.
Lately I have been reading Kara Tippet’s blog Mundane Faithfulness. If you don’t know Kara’s story, Kara has been fighting cancer for apx. 3 years. She is fighting to hang on knowing that there is no cure for her on earth. Knowing that only God can heal her. Her friends watch this. And struggle with it. However, they are there for her. They show up.
My evil twin and I have numerous discussions about the Church as a whole and why we, as Christians, don’t show up. (I’m not speaking in every instance, but as a whole.) I know so many people who struggle with mental illness, cancer, mls, development disabilities, autism, etc….where they need support. They need help and the Chruch has failed or is failing them. I can attest to this. As a special needs parent I get more looks of pity than I do of offers of help. I mean really can’t someone bring me a casserole. I see so many people who are hurting at Church. We just watch them. We don’t engage them. They might want us to talk to them.
What is this? Why are we getting it so wrong?
I don’t have answers and this post isn’t about that. But it is a start of a discussion. A start of a thought to really get out there and show up. Show up in the mundane. Bring coffee. Listen. Say hi. Invite them to a dinner. Make them a dinner (I would greatly appreciate it). Get to know them and their problems. The church is supposed to be a place of imperfect people worshipping a perfect God. Not a place for perfect people to look good and worship God. It’s a messy place. A place were we can be authentic and honest in our pain and where we are supposed to lift each other up.
I don’t want to be where I am now in a year and missing another friend or family member. I want to show up. I want to be the arms of God for the hurting. I want to speak words of truth in love to those who need to hear them. I want to confront and help build up those who don’t see hope. I think we all do. I think we need to start doing instead of thinking it.
I’m linking up with the lovely SDG Sisterhood this week.
I love to read and I read a lot. There are very few people who read more than I do that I know. I am a very eclectic reader. I read anything from Christian fiction, Christian non-fiction, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, supernatural fiction, young adult dystopian novels, etc….and anything that has to do with Vampires (more on that later.) I have to admit though that I read very few mystery novels.
I own a lot of books.
Yes, for your information the two bottom shelves are the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1994 edition). History doesn’t really change too much and I’m ready for when the internet goes down (too many dystopian novels). I will admit that I have read very few of those books on the shelves (including the encyclopaedias). I also purge the shelf regularly. If I have read the book and don’t think my daughter will read it in the future; if the book isn’t a classic; if I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends; if it has been on the shelf more than 10 years and I haven’t read it yet (there have been many); those books get purged at my yearly garage sale. I also have books in my night stand and baskets throughout the house.
I also own a kindle. Currently I have 606 books in my archive. I have probably only read 25% of the books. I often wonder if there is a way to purge the books from your archive. Many of the books I have gotten for free or I have read them and wouldn’t read them again. If you know of a way to purge books from a kindle, let me know.
This year my best friend and I are following along with the 2015 Reading Challenge from PopSugar. I’m excited because it will help me deal with all the books on my book shelves and kindle. We made some of our own rules like one book per challenge (you can’t double up). We constantly discuss the books that we might read for certain upcoming challenges. The only book that I didn’t own for our challenge was “A book with nonhuman characters”. We both decided to read Animal Farm by George Orwell. We both read it audibly. Amazing book and well worth the read. We both couldn’t believe that we hadn’t read it before. By the way, it’s all Snowball’s fault (if you’ve read the book you’ll get it. If you haven’t, read it!). The other books I have read in this challenge are:
A book with more than 500 words: The First Princess of Wales by Karen Harper
A classic romance: Northa and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
A book that became a movie: The Host by Stephenie Meyer
A book published this year: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
A book with a number in the Title: 5 Conversations to Have with Your Daughter by Vicki Courtney
A book written by someone under 30: Thirst by Claire Farrell
A book funny book: Blood Bath and Beyond by Michelle Rowan
A book written by a female author: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Beside the aforementioned reading challenge I am also challenging myself through Goodreads. I want to read 130 books this year. I am already behind but have 4 Devotional/Study books on the go right now so I’m not too worried. I also read a lot on holidays or long distance drives. I know my husband thinks I’m ignoring him during the drives but if I don’t read I do a lot of backseat driving. Probably safer in the long run.
I’ll keep you posted on what I’m reading and how the challenge is going. Let me know what you’re currently reading and your favourite genre. I’m always up for new reads (unless they are mysteries.) Feel free to friend me in Goodreads.
I often wonder why people choose the names they do. The year I had my daughter was a banner year for Madison. We knew 4 Madison’s in our Mommy and Me group alone. I wanted each of my kid’s names to be individual. I wanted them to have character. I wanted them to be strong names. I chose traditional names but ones that weren’t too popular. Each of my children also have names that can be found in the Bible and come from relatives or variations of a deceased relative’s name. My youngest son’s middle name is after my husband’s great uncle who helped lead the Dutch Resistance in WWII. My middle man is named after two family members who served in our armed forces, one being my grandfather’s. My daughter’s middle name is a derivative of my Great Grandmother’s name. Each of these names is precious and has meaning.
So too do I think that Blog’s names have meaning. I’m sure many people who professionally blog chose their names based on dynamics and a commercial viability. Many people choose their names after Bible verses or Biblical characteristics. Some name them after their hobbies, alliteration, social affiliations, etc….
When I first started blogging I blogged under Lost in the Prairies….Found by God. At that time, I lived in the middle of the three prairie provinces of Canada (It’s the one shaped like a rectangle). I lived in a small town of 1000 people; and yes, you pretty much know or recognize everyone in town. I had a view of a farmer’s field from my living room window. Ok, to be honest my view was of the local gas station but in one chair, at an angle, I could see across the highway and see amazing sunrises over the fields. It was in this town that I began to grow closer with God. I had drifted to and fro like the grasses I saw for too long before then. I was a kindergartener in my faith. I still had a lot to learn. And learn I did. I attended BSF in the nearest city. When I had my youngest I formed a study with friends who were looking to get deeper into the Bible as I was.
I learned more about God and more about His plan and will in my life at that time than any other time. In the prairies God found me. He taught me about me. About who I was. What He wanted from me. What He had planned for me.
I blogged about it all. The lessons. The love. The joy. Then something changed. We learned a new word – Autism. It is a messy word. It is a word that means something different to each person who has it and who is affected by it. We became a number. At that time 1 in 81. Life took a new meaning. I had to focus on diagnosis, therapies, advocacy, funding, acronyms, etc… I had to leave that small town and move to another province to get the help that my son needed. Then a year later we heard the word again in our younger son.
These last four years since we heard the “A” word has been messy. It has been filled with revolving doors of therapists and aides. Advocating for inclusive education, not just for my sons’ but for all children. Medical appointments for different specialists. Then another word entered our vocabulary – Epilepsy. What did that mean? What did that look like? Then a word that came and went and came and went stayed around – Depression. In a province and country that says they want to help, there was little to none around.
Messy. If you were to meet me personally, you would see a person that takes pretty good care of herself. My grey is always covered. I try to keep up my appearance and take a business casual approach to my dress code. My house is clean and tidy. You sometimes can write your name in the dust but from first glance it’s neat and tidy (ok, don’t go downstairs that is where we hide everything). But you see if you look past the smile, you will see someone who is broken. Someone who lies to the world because it’s easier that way. People don’t want messy. We don’t want to face the ugly. We want everything in pretty neat wrapping. This includes our faith.
We want a faith where we come to church and worship God. Where we volunteer to collect food for the foodbank. Maybe we go on a planned missions trip to help those in a 3rd world country so that we can show how we are living out our faith. But what we are really missing the messy. I read recently that God wants us to return to Him.
Jeremiah 24: 7 states
I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people
and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. (Esv)
See God doesn’t ask us to return to Him with our perfect, have it all together hearts. God wants our WHOLE heart. The messy, imperfect, sinful, dark, stained, dusty, mouldy heart.
I have struggled with my relationship with God since the “A” word showed up. But He didn’t. He walked with us in this storm. Things I was told were impossible, became possible. However, I still wanted something completely different from what He was showing me. I wanted easy. But He never says He will give us easy. Jesus told us that life would be hard. Life is hard. Life is messy.
So…….. back to names. Just before I gave up blogging I toyed with changing the name of my blog. I wanted my blog to reflect what I was really dealing with. I wanted the blog to reflect what many people were dealing with – messed up lives with a perfect God. That’s how Messed and Blessed came about. A friend saved the domain name for me. But it took a few years to get going again. Only recently have I really felt like blogging again. That I wanted to share what God was doing in my life. I feel though a shift to that format though. To be authentic and honest with pain and messy. To show the dust and embrace it.
I am linking up with the SDG Sisterhood today.
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I left blogging over 2 years ago. Before I left I had become pretty sporadic. I started blogging just after I had my youngest son, almost 6 years ago. I was encouraged by a friend to start blogging. She had been blogging for a while at the time but had kept it from her real life friends. When she encouraged me, she had just come out of the “blogging” closet. I still remember her telling me about blogging at the kiddy pool in our small town during a lovely summer’s day. (As I look out the winter grey sky, I’m filled with nostalgia.
I loved blogging. I was excited to blog. I loved sharing what God was leading me to share. I loved being encouraged by friends that I hadn’t met, and they had indeed become friends. I loved taking part in different memes and linkies. Blogging taught me a lot about myself and my faith. But then as does with all good things, a shift happened. This shift started slowly. The more I blogged the more I saw. The more I saw, the more I became disenfranchised.
I started to see, what another blogging friend termed as the “lemming factor”. They (other bloggers) all seemed to follow the pack and if you didn’t follow that pack you didn’t belong. They all followed the big writers. They all went to the same conferences. They all seemed to jump when a new book or speaker came out, gushing about how it changed everything for them. I have enjoyed some of these speakers and many of the books, but I struggle with the over kill bloggers blogged about them. It is like hearing that song on the radio you like and then that same song that was really great gets over played. It becomes irrelevant and annoying. This was what I felt like was happening to me in the blogging world.
I find being a Canadian is different in the blogging world. Physically it is financially nonviable for me to jump on a plane and go to every conference out there. I would put our family into bankruptcy just doing it. I know flights in the states are a 1/4 of what we pay here for regional flights. I priced out the cost to one of the more “Relevant” conferences and found that it would cost me about $1000.00 just in flights, that’s not even the conference fees or hotel fees.
Being Canadian is also different in that we are a more secular society. We embrace multiculturalism. We embrace difference. We encourage it. I love that I have friends of different religions, cultures and beliefs. Some of my closest friends challenge my beliefs. This actually makes me look into my own faith and what I believe and it helps me to be closer to God. It also enables me to be a light in the world. To shine where He needs me to shine.
I also found that so many of the bloggers I knew were homeschooling and ***gasp** I am not. Nor do I want to be. While blogging there seemed to be some homeschoolers who felt that if you were a stay at home mom you should be homeschooling. I will admit that I toyed with the idea when my daughter was young, but we nearly killed each other while I was trying to teach her to read. I take great pride that both schools that she has attended were great schools and all her teachers have encouraged and pushed her to do her best and achieve Mastery where she is able to. With the boys’ autism, our school district matches the money the provincial government gives them. The school my boys attend is set up for therapies and is a fully inclusive school. My boys attend with their same aged peers and are accepted for who they are. I support everyone’s difference in whether to school or home school their children. I respect those decisions. I know I had discussions with some homeschoolers and felt pressured by them to homeschool. It was insinuated that I wasn’t really being a good mom if I didn’t homeschool. I didn’t feel the same respect for our family’s decision, that I gave to them and their decision.
Mainly, I felt like a failure blogging. I was never invited to be a speaker at conferences. I never wrote a book or wanted to write a book (who has the time). I see so many of the people that started blogging when I did, write books, studies and speak at conferences. I got jealous. I admit it. The green eyed monster of envy showed up. What was so great about them and what was wrong with me?
I took over Caffeinated Randomness from Andrea when she gave up blogging for a while, people dropped like flies. Some of that was my fault. I had a month where I was struggling with depression and life and didn’t post. Still many of the people left in droves. Why? Wasn’t I good enough? Why did they post with Andrea but not me? Was it my coffee?
Maybe I expect a lot. I paid too much attention to numbers and visits. I didn’t visit people who visited me. I got pulled into looking at others to value me where I should have been looking up. I think we all do when we blog. We as humans look for others to validate ourselves when we should be validated by the One who created us.
Now if you are still with me and haven’t been insulted yet, you may be wondering why I even came back to the blogging world. For the past year I have really felt the pull to get back into blogging. I know that the pull to blog is because God isn’t finished with me yet. I feel Him telling me I need to share with you all my struggles as a mom of special needs children; as a mom of a tween girl; as a wife; and as an imperfect, messy child who struggles with her walk and doesn’t have it all together. I know God wants me to show you all of this so that His glory and His strength and His grace is celebrated and revealed through it all. I know the enemy would love for me to give up so that this cannot happen. But I’ve always been one to push back when I’m told not to do something (another blog post at another time).
I hope you enjoy this journey with me. I want this blog to be authentic and open. I’m pretty opinionated and will be sharing things that you may not agree with. Saying that though I love discussion because I’m not always right as well. We are all learning and all walking our own walks that are different and we need to embrace the differences because we have a lot more in common that what divides. I’m not going to look at the numbers. I’m not going to expect calls to speak. I’m not going to write a book. Well as a friend says “Never Say Never” though again who has the time. I’m just going to post and see what God does with this blog because it is Him I want to share It is what He is doing in my life that I want you to see.
For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Ephesians 6:12 AMP
Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17 AMP
We also don’t fight alone. He fights with us.
The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. Exodus 14:14 AMP
God knows the end of our stories. We don’t. He doesn’t leave us alone. He is with us, even we think hope is lost. He guides us and fights with us. He will lead us to restful waters (Psalm 23:2) He will refresh us and restore us (Pslam 23:3). Lean on Him in the battle. You may lose this round, but know that the War has been won.
Are you in the midst of a battle? Are you worn? Have you sought out God for rest? Have you leaned on Him for guidance and assistance?
Come join up with the other Java Junkies and share your hearts and struggles with us.
God was patient.
God was merciful.
God loved me not matter what and only wanted the best for me.
He knew what I needed.
He knew how to reach out to me.
He prepped me to listen and I have.
And to think….this all started with a dream about a fish!
What are you struggling with? Have you taken it to God? What has God been telling you? Are you listening? Come link up with the other Java Junkies this week.