Archive for April, 2013

Intentional parenting

Monday, April 29th, 2013

I’m with my niece.  She has two kids, and she and her husband are being intentional about their parenting.  Their son is just ready to enter Grade one – he has reading skills and is quite the conversationalist.  They read the Psalms to him each evening.  He knows Bible stories and enjoys conversations with his parents.

I am moving towards a blended family.  That means that I am looking around and observing.  I’m researching and reading. 

There are many different family styles.  Dealing with the obvious selfishness that children can bring to their lives (“I don’t want to share”), we have the opportunity to steer them towards being good citizens and lovers of others.

I suppose one thing I am trying to learn is that we (young and old) have a sinful nature, but often times the triggers for our temptation can be sidestepped.  Flee from evil!  Perhaps a part of parenting is helping our kids (each one is an individual) know what leads them in the un-right path. 

Lots of work to observe and know our kids, but intentional parenting is well worth it.

What’s in the Bible

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

When doing work becomes pleasure makes life so much more enjoyable.

We have been looking for curriculum for our Family Bible School this coming fall.  We’ve checked on-line curriculum, gone to the mainstream publishers catalogues and even contemplated writing our own.

Then, one day, a couple mentioned a series of videos they were watching.  The young daughter and her dad had to have the videos pried out of their hands in order for us to preview them.

Now I know why.  I have completed three of the DVD’s and I’m sold on the series! 

The series is called, “What’s in the Bible?”.  Produced and narrated by Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, there is that same sense of humor and candid approach.  The series uses puppets, and even has outtakes on the DVD! 

A take off on Sesame Street, and with all sorts of other references to our current society, the series has me laughing and thinking.  Some things were so easily put that now I have a new understanding that seven years of college/seminary didn’t give me.

Recommended for your viewing, if you have the opportunity! 

I believe

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

I’m putting away my snow shovels!

This is in faith believing that we will not have a great snow storm in the next while.  I say that, because yesterday I was driving in snow.  Not a lot, but it was still snow.

And, I am making sure that I know where my rakes and spring equipment are to be found. 

This is in faith believing that green will grow soon.  I’ve seen hints of the green when I brush snow and leaves off the lawn.  Not a lot, but enough to keep the faith!

This has been a longer winter than most.  Evidence is found in the halls and gathering places.  Our normal topic of conversation, the weather, has become abnormal in how much time it occupies.

And so, farewell to winter.  Hello spring!  In faith believing – and knowing that God has created the seasons, I hold that with conviction!!

On praying always

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

In my reading I came across this statement in Henri Nouwen’s book, “The way of the heart.”  (p. 63-64)

The literal translation of the words “pray always” is “come to rest”. . . This rest, however, has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.

Good thought to start the day. 

Rest and struggle?  How does that work?

Must be a God thing!!

Into a new week

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

As I look out the window this morning, the temperatures are still below zero.  Our spring this year has continued on the cold side.

But, the sun is shining.  There is a slight breeze and the next few days are forecasted to be warmer.

This week and next have been booked.  I will spend time in the car once again.  While a great place for quiet and solitude, there is still the constant attention  and vigilence that is needed.  I wonder how salespeople keep up the pace when traveling thousands of kilometers a week.

I will head to the office to prepare for coming activities.  In the midst of all that, I am going to try to practice a sense of solitude and silence.  Reading through a book by Henri Nouwen, he reminds me that silence is not always being without words, but in our words having an approach of silence. 

A sign of older age is the desire to have less clutter and more space.  I want to intentionally work through my house.  In three short months there will be the clutter of two homes molded into one.  Better to have less than to have so much that you despair of knowing what to do with it all.

And so, my week begins – with a few things in mind!  This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

The retreat

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

One friend of mine never uses the word “retreat” for a refreshing time away.  I understand that.  I hope to come away with an “advance” instead of a retreat.

And so the last few days are more an advance than a retreat!  There are things that needed to be done.  Things that needed to be caught up on.  Things that were unexpected.  Things that led to refreshment.

Invitations for our upcoming wedding needed to be completed and addresses confirmed.  Registrations and incoming emails needed to be dealt with.  And, blessing of blessings, I was able to attend a Bible study on prayer – I had been following the group through email and reading of a study guide – now I got to actually sit down with other participants and interact.

And so, driving back today I was thankful.  This retreat had been a treat.  May there be many more to come.  In keeping my own health, I am hoping to be able to serve others without killing myself!

Refreshing

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Winter has been long for many people.  The stories have to go back to ’55 – ’56 to get the same type of sense of longevity.  In that year, one farm lady said their vehicle sat in the garage from November – May.  They were unable to release the vehicle from the snow!

I think some people feel like they have been unable to be released from snow.  There are cases of mild depression (and even severe depression).  A day of sunshine does amazing things.

What is often needed is to find a time in the midst of our days to come to solitude and silence and prayer before God.  I’m reading a book by Henri Nouwen that emphasizes this approach.  As I continue through the book, I see my own need to look “over” the snow, to look “through” the busyness and to find time for retreat. 

I am hoping in the next few days to do just that.  I have been clearing my schedule.  Aside from the close connections that need to be maintained as a part of daily life, the schedule can be moved.  And perhaps my location will need to be moved.

In the end, the goal is not to leave life, but to encounter life.  I trust that you also, those who are in the midst of the same season of the year as I am, might find time to refresh.  Perhaps not a retreat, but a refocusing of your thoughts on God.  Perhaps not time off, but time spent in depth of thought and not worry or anxiety.

May God give to you a refreshing.

Heading out the door

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Today I have two major events planned.  One is a seniors meal, another a counseling appointment and supper.

As I head into almost a year after the passing of my wife, Jill, I am reminded of what this would have looked like a year ago.

The meal with the seniors would have been headed up by Jill.  We would be gathering together various utensils that might just be needed.  Any last minute shopping needs would be cared for on the way to the church. 

After the luncheon we would have headed home, prepared a supper meal and looked over the counseling needs for the afternoon session.  Many of my counseling sessions, particularly with couples, included Jill.

Almost a year later, I am thankful for all those who are preparing meals.  I am thankful for those who are open to provide support where needed.

In all this, though, the loss  is still present.  As I work towards the first year anniversary of her death on May 17th, I know that other thoughts and memories will arise.  This is to be expected. 

While others are helpful and supportive, I am so thankful that God is good, his strength is sufficient.  I continue to rely on God for each day.  And so, I begin this day saying, “this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

We don’t wear ties!

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Yesterday I am at a hymn sing.  Hymn sings are designed for an older generation.  They are fun, exhausting and inspirational.  Sing for a straight hour and see how your lungs last.  Sit with friends and laugh and cry and hear good words spoken. 

I was asked to lead the singing.  The song leader had been drifted in by six feet of snow (yes, it is April and the snow will melt – just not yet!).  The songs didn’t look too difficult – although I found one song was not what I had expected.  I ended up reading the music and trying to make that work.  Thanks to a great pianist, we made it through.

As I am standing there, preparing for the evening, the leader stepped up to me.  In a nice way he said, “you don’t have to wear your tie.”

Now, I like ties.  They keep my neck warm, give a nice flow to the ensemble of shirt and suit jacket, and can set off a clothing display that would otherwise be rather dull.

I looked around the room.  There were suit jackets a plenty.  But no ties.

Remember, this is the generation that grew up with ties, especially on Sunday (and many other days).  The following generation rebelled and lived in blue jeans and tshirts. 

I was surprised.  The dress code was a contradiction to the age in which they grew up. 

Perhaps there is still a little bit of the rebel even in the “older” generation!

Again! Snow!

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

So, I’m out shoveling snow this morning around 7:00.  The night shift from the nearby seniors home is just out.  One of my neighbours wanders by.

Wishes me, “Merry Christmas”!

Now, that is a great way to start the day!  On Sunday!

Easter is now past and I think I would add, “Happy Easter.”

The conversation then continued. . .

“I bet you didn’t think you’d be shoveling snow again.”

“No, I wasn’t counting on it.”

At this point we both finished that thread of conversation.  I guess we have had over a half year of winter and enough has been said.

I look forward to the changing of seasons.  As in my life, change sometimes happens at a rate other than the expected.  Some days I figure grief and sorrow are past, and a weepy day arises.  Not that life will not change, just that a bit of snow still is falling.

And the snow waters the ground of a new day.  I look forward to green grass and new possibilities.

God knows best!