April Wrap-up

If I were to summarise April in one word, it would be memories. April was a time of making memories as a family. We had a holiday as a family. We enjoy the times together travelling and exploring new places. I don’t think we ever go back to the same place thought half of us had been to two cities where we went in April. We are also known to see how much and how many places we can pack into a limited time. We probably don’t go as deep into a place as we could but we see the highlights.

The other memory that was made in April was a visit with my mom. She came about 2.5 years ago in the autumn and I wanted her to come in the spring and see England in the spring. We had a wonderful time exploring, visiting, playing games, sewing, and just being together.

One way that I keep memories alive for our family is through scrapbooking, yes, the big 12×12 paper scrapbooks. I keep books for each child with their memories and I also have a family book. I have also begun putting trips in photo books that I create online and have printed. I like them because they don’t take as much space. It is a toss up if there are faster to do (my scrapbooks are not that elaborate). I got home from the trip, loaded my photos, cropped and edited them slightly, and made a book. I had my book completed within a week of the trip. That is a record. (Don’t think I am always that organised, my to do list includes finishing a book from 2016.)

Memories are important ways of helping my children know who they are. As Third Culture Kids (TCK) it helps them to have a visual of memories. I have written about that in the past.

I am using my I Will Meditate Journal. I am finishing Matthew and looking forward to digging into Genesis. We are studying 2 Samuel in our small group. Last week we were in 2:1-5:3. There were plenty of twists in the story. The question for us was, “which king will you serve?”.

I have begun doing some spring cleaning. Do people still do that? I needed to do some of that just because the deep cleaning needs to happen. I am sorting through things, washing winter things, trying to get rid of things. That seems to be a never ending task.

Two books that I read in April that I really enjoyed were Humble Roots and Messy Grace. Reading Humble Roots I found encouragement as I am writing A Fruitful Year. Here is a quote that gave me something to ponder.

“When we believe that we are responsible for our own existence, when we trust our ability to care for ourselves, we will have nothing but stress because we are unequal to the task.” (page 28)

We want to control and are fooled into thinking that we will reduce our stress but we then learn that it that desire to control that gives us stress. Stress has been a topic that I have been thinking about and this was just a reminder of one thing that causes stress.

Here is a new recipe that I have made and we enjoy it, Moroccan Chicken. I love the blend of spices.

That is a brief wrap of what happened in April.

Here are three things that I used and loved in April.

  1. Eagle Creek packing cubes – These make it easy when we are traveling and spending one or two nights in one place and then heading to the next destination. The only thing I wish is that I had gotten each of us our own colour.
  2. Plum Paper Planner – This is my first year to use a Plum Paper Planner and I have to say that I love it for planning, recording, and noting what is happening. I use it as much for tracking as for planning.
  3. Twining Cranberry and Blood Orange Tea – This is my new favourite tea especially in the evening after dinner.

If you could sum up April in one word, what would that be?

Peace in Psalm 23

One thing that I enjoy doing in spring is walking through the fields and seeing the lambs. I enjoy standing and watching them wobble about as they are learning to walk. I stand and listen to the mama sheep baaing and calling their lamb. I watch as the lambs look to find their mama.

The Fruit of the Spirit for this month is peace. Standing there looking at the green fields I see and feel peace.

David knew a lot more about sheep then I do. He spent many hours watching the sheep and caring for the sheep. As we read Psalm 23, we can see peace in so many areas.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” – Having all your needs met is peace. There is no anxiety or worries about the things that are lacking.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.” We can lie down because we know that there is protection, there is someone looking after us, taking care of us. We have no fears. We have peace.

“He leads me beside still waters.” The shepherd knows what we need, still waters. He meets our needs providing what we need. We have peace.

“He restores my soul. He Leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” The shepherd cares and provides what we need to restore our souls. The soul restoration will bring harmony and peace.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” What a beautiful picture of peace. The valley is hard with the shadow of death but in that there is no fear of evil. That only comes from having the Lord as our shepherd. We have peace as there is nothing to fear.

“for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Knowing that someone is with you can be a comfort and well as what they bring with them. The shepherd has a rod and staff. Comfort is when someone knows it is hard and they came to help give you peace in the midst of life.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” The shepherd is bringing peace in the midst of enemies. The peace in having our needs met.

“you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Anointing brought healing which brings peace.  Peace is whole and this helps to restore us to be whole.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” Mercy brings peace. Mercy comes when we don’t get what we deserve and that brings peace.

“and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This picture of peace shows us that it is forever.

Peace comes when we understand that our needs are met, we have no fears, there is order, and harmony.

This Psalm is a wonderful picture of peace. Do you see the peace of provision, protection, and promises?

It is spring and the lambs are again in the fields. I admit that this year I am looking at them a bit different. I am seeing peace and realising that I need to be like the lamb and trust the Good Shepherd.

Can you say like David, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Do you have the peace that comes from the Shepherd?

And the Fruit of the Spirit is . . . peace

What comes to your mind when you hear the word, peace? Maybe it is a quiet calm time of the day. Maybe it is just an anti-war slogan. Maybe it is something that you think will never happen.

In the Bible the word “peace” often refers to peace with God, meaning that we are no longer at war with God. By God grace we have acknowledge that our sin has separated us from God, and through faith we have accepted that the only way to have a relationship with God is through his son’s death. We need God’s peace before we can have peace in other areas.

But what is peace? 

The dictionary defines peace as “freedom from war or fighting.” Based on that superficial definition I have peace in my life. I am not living in a physical war zone. I am not at war with human enemies or fighting anyone. But I am involved in a spiritual battle. Because I have peace with God, his enemies have become mine. The question now is: Will I obey God or follow the lies of his enemies and my own desires?

How does the Bible define peace? 

The Biblical concepts of peace comes from the Hebrew root slm which means “to be complete”. The noun has many slightly different meanings related to wholeness of life, right relationships, fulfilment, or victory or the absence of war. Salom was used as both a greeting and a farewell.

How does God display peace? As we read the creation story at the beginning of time, we see the response from God, “and God saw that it was good.” The world was at peace. The world was complete both the physical world and relationships between man and God and man and woman.

That peace did not last. Sin entered and that disrupted the completeness. There was now war. War between God and man and war between men. Sin causes us to seek our own desires. That causes strife and not peace. That is what James refers to in chapter 4 when he says that our passions are at war.

Now we are called to walk in the Spirit and to bear the fruit of the Spirit, the peace. It comes from God. Peace is how God designed the world. We can have peace because of Christ’s death and resurrection. We have the Spirit who came guides us and helps us to have peace.

The example we see of peace from God begins with creation. That gives us a picture of what peace looks like. In many ways that peace will not be achieved this side of heaven but we need to strive to live in peace. We need to put aside our passions and desires and follow God’s ways.

We also see that God wants peace with us because he sent Jesus who is called the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) Through Jesus we can have peace.

Do you have peace with God? Are you walk in the Spirit and living with peace?

March Wrap-up and Review

It is the end of March. Could someone please tell the weather that March is over and we want spring weather. There is snow in the forecast for the next few days. Even with snow I see signs of spring — lambs in the field, daffodils blooming, and trees beginning to bud. I love the bits of home that spring is coming.

What have I done this month? How am I doing reaching my goals?

I finished reading through the Bible in 90 days. If you have never done that, I challenge you to do it. It only took me about 30 minutes a day. Reading it at a fast pace you see things repeated that you miss at a slower pace. You read large portions at a time and get a big picture instead of just small bits. I actually read all of Revelation in one sitting. Now I am working on a slower pace using a journal to record thoughts for just a chapter. The journal I am using is this.

We finished our study in I Thessalonians in our small groups. I wanted to dig a bit deeper into that study both as I prepared our discussion time and just for my own study. Paul wrote that to encourage a young church who was facing opposition. So many of those truths apply to us today.

In follow up on my thoughts about quitting.  I am beginning to study Nehemiah. The little bit that I have begun has already gotten me excited about this study. I am looking forward to sharing more with you.

I read six books this month. A few were from my shelves — reading and deciding if I want to keep them. This book was one that I really enjoyed this month. It is one that I will keep. It had some deep truths which made me pause and think but I could easily read it. I will write a bit more about the book. The picture that he gives of peace has really given me something to think about.

We had fun hosting some friends from the States for a week. We showed them some of the area where we live. York is a favourite place to visit. It has been 2.5 years since we have been there. We walked the city walls, walked the streets, saw the Minster, and went to a museum that was new to us but we all enjoyed.

The other think we did with our guests was go to a football match. That was the first time we have done that. I am glad that I took the suggestion to dress warm. England won in the last few minutes of the game.

I still have a list of unfinished projects but managed to complete one this month. I finished a table runner that just needed the binding sewn on. That is finished. Only nine more projects on the list.

I am struggling with the physical goal. Just being honest here and letting you know my struggle. It is something that I need to ponder and put a plan in place.

My new favourite recipe this month has been Chicken Tikka Masala. I love the spice and a bit of yogurt.

I am ready for April. We are looking forward to some family time and then another visitor.

How was your March? Did you make progress?

3.21 World Down Syndrome Day

Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.

It is time for some of my random thoughts about parenting and loving someone with Down Syndrome. World Down Syndrome Day and her birthday usually cause me to reflect a bit.

This year has brought new changes and challenges. Last year Miss K turned 13. Yes, that means she is a teenager. I don’t really think of her as a teenager but she will tell you that she is 13. So I guess I need to face that reality. At times she does act like a teenager. The other week her room had things all over the floor. I sent a photo to my sister-in-law as proof of a teenager.

Thirteen and a half years of parenting a child with Down Syndrome, what have I learned?

Do not put limits on what they can do. Miss K loves dance and currently while I write this is at Tap class and after that is modern dance. She was scheduled to do her ballet exam but it was postponed due to snow. There are so many other ways that I know not to put limits on her. I want to give her the opportunity to try and see what she is able to do.

Children with Down Syndrome dream of what they will do in the future. Miss K is very specific with what she wants to do. She wants to be a doctor at Children’s Hospital and help sick children. She ignores the fact that we tell her she needs to do lots of school work.

Each child with Down Syndrome is unique. Whether it is their abilities, their interests, or their skills, each one is unique. Their medical needs vary.

Living with Miss K for 13 years and a half years has kept us laughing, a few tears, some moments of frustration and praying. I think that is called parenting.

Miss K has an incredible memory for some things. She can remember the dessert she had at someone’s house. She can remember the snack you bought her when traveling. Some things she just can’t remember — math facts, to wear her glasses, and a few other things. I guess if it is important to her she will remember it.

Miss K is very observant and does not want to be left out of things. She is jumps in and joins in to life. She wants to try anything and everything. In her mind it is easy. She wants to learn to knit and it is easy for her. Recently she has been copying stories. She has seen the things that other children at school write and so she copies and does what she can.

Life with Miss K has not always been what I might have dreamed but I am not sure I would change any bit of it. I know that God has a plan for her life. I know that God preserved her life in the beginning and he continues to do that.I look forward to the next year and all that God will do in and through her.

So on the World Down Syndrome Day, do you know anyone with Down Syndrome? Tell me about them in the comments.

Beth

I no longer “Choose Joy”

I no longer choose joy

I Choose Worship.

So why Choose Worship? Why do I no longer “Choose Joy”?

Choosing joy sounds like it is from within me that I am working to find joy. Choosing joy sounds like I am working to find joy in a struggle or situation that might not have joy.

Worship puts the focus on God. Worship focuses on who God is and his character. I am no longer dwelling on me but looking to God.

Worship takes my eyes away from my situations and struggles. It is easy to look at our situation and the struggles and not see God in the midst of it.

So a few months ago I was struggling. Things were difficult. I did not choose joy. In fact I did not have any joy. I was not even looking for joy. I was crying out to God to work in the situation, praying, reflecting on how God has worked in the past.

I love reflecting on Exodus and how God rescued his people in his time and in his way. He heard their cries and acted. God goes before them. He works in ways they cannot imagine.

Anyway, my prayer turned to worship and worship gave way to joy. I had not planned to have joy. I was worshipping. The situation had not changed. It was still difficult but I had focused on God. I looked away from my struggle and saw God.

Paul and Silas where in prison as recorded in Acts 16. They found themselves in a difficult situation. They were active in worship though praying and signing hymns. This worship was directed to God. They did it not expecting an earthquake and to be released. The response to difficult situations was to worship. Joy came but as a result of worship.

David had this same understanding of praise and worship. In the beginning of Palm 69 David cries to God, “Save me.” (verse 1) He further describes the situation with words like I sink, come into deep water, the flood sweeps over me, and many others words that describe a difficult situation and a struggle. But as we look at the end of the Psalm David is saying, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” (verse 30) David’s response is one of praise and worship.

So worship does lead to joy but it comes from focusing on God, what he has done in the past and with confidence of who he is in the midst of our struggles.

How can you worship God in the difficult situations and struggles of life?

Begin by singing hymns and songs that focus on who God is and what he does. Hymns like “Amazing Grace”, “How Great Thou Art,” “It is Well,” and so many others can begin to draw our focus away from our situation and focus on God.

The other aspect of worship is praise and prayer. Praise God for who he is and what he has done.  Recall through both in your own life and through the Bible the many wonderful things that God has done.

As you worship, you will find that you have joy.

How about you today, do you have a difficult situation, can you choose to worship.

Beth

A Life of Inspiration

My great Aunt Dora was the eldest of my grandfather’s sisters. She was born in 1910. In 1936 Aunt Dora worked at  Spanish Mission in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida. She spent 8 years ministering there and during that time learned Spanish.

When she was 34 and 11 months, she entered nursing school just squeezing in as students had to be between the ages of 18 and 35. I was impressed recently when I learned that she was awarded the Linda Richards medal for the state of Colorado.

Aunt Dora lived a life As He Leads. Just before going to Europe for three months 1950 she was asked if she would consider going to the mission field as a nurse to either Ethiopia or Honduras. Before going to Honduras she was able to take a midwifery training course and then when that finished she took a tropical medicine course for nurses in Nicaragua.

In the summer of 1951 she was commissioned to go to Honduras. I enjoyed reading the ways that she trusted that God was in control and guides her steps. She was to sail from New Orleans but the ship sailed with her. She then boarded a plane for Havana, Cuba where she there met the ship that she was to have gotten on in New Orleans.

Aunt Dora was in Honduras until 1963. Then she was at a clinic in Belize from 1964 to 1967. At that time she came home to care for her mother. She worked in a doctor’s office and taught Spanish. She did continue to go to medical mission trips to Spanish speaking countries.

When I was growing up Aunt Dora lived in the same town that I lived. We saw her and my great grandmother at various times. I remember sitting on a sofa in great grandma’s living room and looking at cabinets full of various items that Aunt Dora had brought home from Central America. Aunt Dora taught Spanish at the school that I attended. I don’t think I learned more than, ¿ Cómo está usted?

Aunt Dora had a special name for me. She called me “birthday girl”. I was born on her birthday. Aunt Dora never married and so I was given some of her special things — her doll, a beautiful postage stamp quilt, and some dishes.

In some ways my life had similarities to her life. I was the oldest of four. I spent time living overseas not Central American but Asia. I went to graduate school when I was 35 and 11 months. I wondered if I would remain single as she was but I did get married.

Aunt Dora wrote a book about some of her experiences in Central America. The title of that book is, As He Leads is Joy. As He Leads was the motto for her graduating class at Eastern Mennonite College. She added the two words,  is Joy. I love that those words give a bit of how she responded to all that God lead her through — leaving family and living in Central America, having her father drown while visiting her in Honduras, having her journals stolen but then returned, a stroke later in her life.  The stroke did not stop her, she learned to write with her left hand, use a typewriter, and did some hand sewing. She died March 2009 having served God faithfully.

When I began blogging a few years ago, I used the title of Aunt Dora’s book as the title of my blog, As He Leads is Joy. Just as Aunt Dora believed that so do I. I know that God guides my steps and as I follow him there is joy.

Beth wearing a dress from Mexico.

 

 

February 2018 in Review

In some ways February can be a difficult month. The newness of the January is gone. February is still grey and cold. It is short and we are on to March. Last week we had signs of spring now we have views of winter.

My word for 2018 is Grow and my goals all relate to that.

1. Grow deeper in my relationship with God

I am really enjoying reading through the Bible in 90 days. Reading through in 90 days gives you an overview. I tend to remember things that I recently read and see things repeated like bits of the prophets are repeated in Chronicles.

The focus for A Fruitful Year was Love. I spent various times reflecting on God’s love and thinking about how I love others. Having those thoughts helped me at times to ponder how I was acting and reacting. I tend to be thinking a month ahead so I did quite a bit of thinking about Joy in February. I will share some of those thoughts in the next few weeks.

We have been studying I Thessalonians in our small groups. I am going through my notes and putting them into a notebook to have for reference.

One resource that have been using a bit more this month is The Bible Project. I have found the book overviews helpful as we did our I Thessalonians study. The visual aspect just helps me to see and understand better. Yes, I am a visual learner.

2. Grow in health and strength

This has been a struggle. I was ready to quit but I know that for my health it is something that I need to keep working on. I know some of what needs to be done and it is hard. It requires self-discipline.

3. Grow in my relationships

This requires me to be intentional. My husband and I enjoyed lunch out at one of favourite places. The kids and I had some outings. I took time to write to friends. The bonus is I have also used a number of note cards and post cards.

Our hospitality time this month was a bit different. I am considering the single guy from church that was doing some work here and happened to be here at lunch so he joined us as hospitality. It was opening our home and sharing our meal. We also had two gals here for dinner and music.

4. Grow my blog

I will be honest I have struggled a bit in this area this month. I can’t really pin down the struggle exactly. I knew what I needed to do but doing it is something new and moving into territory that will stretch me. In the past week I had a conversation with a friend that was encouraging me. So while I have struggled I had direction and a bit of excitement. I will say that it is still stretching but I am ready to do it.

Watch here for more details on what is happening.

5. Grow and Enjoy my hobbies

I caught up on scrapbooking. Well, scrapbooking with the photos that I have printed. I did place an order for more photos so there will be more scrapbooking to do.

I finished four books which when I looked at how many I read in February 2017 it is less. I have four that are in various points of the book. Yes, I have read multiple books at a time.

Overall it was a good month. I took some time the other day and reflected on the good and the struggles of February. The good list was longer than the struggle. The struggle list helps me know where I need to focus or adjust.

How was your February? What did you accomplish?

That’s it, I quit

Just three weeks into the new year and those were the words I said to myself. “That’s it, I quit.” Three weeks of working on one of my goals for the year and I was ready to quit. It was not going the way I planned. I didn’t see the results I wanted. It was not easy. It was restricting my life I was ready to quit.

I know only three weeks into the year and I was ready to quit. Maybe you made it further in the year working on some of your goals before those words came into your mind. Maybe you have not even said those words.

But I knew I couldn’t just quit. I took some time to just reflect on the goal I had set and what was happening. Some of the thing I told myself included.

Just because it is not going the way you want, doesn’t mean you quit the goal.

Just because it is hard,  doesn’t mean you quit the goal.

Just because you don’t see the results you want, doesn’t mean you quit the goal.

I looked at the goal that I was ready to quit. I wrote about why I had written that as a goal. What was the motivation in the first place? That helped me to see that I really didn’t want to quit.

I really needed to look at the heart issues of why I wanted to quit. Heart issues are the things that are going on inside. Addressing the heart issues can impact the goal. Those heart issues were not pretty.

When I looked at those heart issues, I saw that I wanted to quit because I didn’t want to deny myself, this goal required a bit of extra planning, and I was envious of others. I saw that I was lazy, I was envious, and I was self-indulgent. I told you it wasn’t pretty. That is not a reason to quit.

I knew that I needed to change the heart. I need to be willing to deny myself. I needed to be diligent. I also realised that this was a goal that was bigger than just me doing it on my own. It was something that was going to require God’s help.

After a bit of journaling and reflection, I was renewed and ready to work on that goal. I knew it would be hard and might take some extra planning. I am not going to quit.

I was ready to continue to work on that goal. I knew it would be hard. I knew it might not go the way I wanted. I knew might take longer than I planned but I knew that this is something that God wanted me to do. Working on that goal is obeying God and quitting well for me and for that goal it would be disobedience. I was ready.

“That’s it. I am not going to quit.”

What do you do when you are ready to quit?

2018 – Goals and Word for the Year

I had a number of thoughts of things I wanted to do this year. I had things I want to finish, things to try. I wrote them down and it looked like a big “to do” list. Then I started to group them together. I thought I had a goal but not quite. As I worked through this, I decided on my word for the year.

GROW

Somehow the Word of the Year came easier than the goals but then I began to look at my lists and my word for the year and it all came together.

My goals for 2018 are all based on growing. When I looked up the definition of grow, I realised that things need to be nurtured to grow. So I need to nurture and focus on these goals. These goals should help to determine what I do this year.

1. Grow deeper in my relationship with God

Why? God is my loving heavenly father. He desires a relationship with me and I want to grow in knowing and serving him.

  • Reading through the Bible
  • In Depth studies
  • Memorising passages of scripture

2. Grow in health and strength

Why? I need to do this so that I am a good steward of my body. I want to glorify God in this way.

  • Lose weight – getting to my target weight
  • Run another 10K and get a new Personal Best
  • Get more haircuts than 2017 (I only got my hair cut once and really I need to do it more often.)

3. Grow in my relationships with others

Why? God has called us to live in community. We are to serve one another, love one another, pray for one another. In order to do that I need to be develop and grow in my relationships. This is going to be a challenge because it includes so many people — immediate family, extended family, local friends, friends far away, supporters, and more.

  • Outings with family
  • Text and Skype
  • Coffee/Tea with friends
  • Hospitality
  • Letters and email

4. Grow in efficient and effective use of our home

Why? I desire for our home to be easy to maintain so I have time for other things. I want it to be easy to practice hospitality.

  • Declutter
  • Organize
  • Use and enjoy things

5. Grow my blog

Why? I want to use my experience and the truth of God’s Word to encourage others.

  • Write regularly
  • Create a workbook for A Fruitful Year
  • Create journaling prompts

6. Grow and enjoy my hobbies

Why? This can bless my family and others. This gives me a creative outlet.

  • Read 60 books (I have categories of books and types of books broken out.)
  • Sew 4-6 quilts (this is going to stretch me
  • Keep scrapbooking caught up
  • Less Unfinished projects

I am sure some of the things under the goal might change but keeping the goal in mind will help know what are the important things to do to reach that goal.

2 Peter 3:18 fits with my goal for the year. To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and to bring him glory in my life. I have been writing that in the margin of my planner each week so that I can keep the goal in front of me.

What are your goals for 2018? Share some of them in the comments.

Beth