Where the Rubber meets the Road

New Driver

Earlier this summer our sixteen year old daughter got her beginners permit. She was thrilled and I…well, I was…I was happy. I adore watching our children set, work towards and reach their goals. It’s exciting to see your kids grow and mature. I have to admit though, each time I see them attain milestones it’s bittersweet.

Bittersweet? Yes, bittersweet. I share their joy and pride yet at the same time, it reminds me of how quickly they’re growing up and developing into independent individuals. While I’m happy they’re healthy and happily growing up a part of me mourns their fleeting childhood. I remember holding our fussing infants while people told us; “Don’t blink because they’ll before we know it they’ll be grown up…” I recall thinking, “Yeah right.” But it’s true. Both our children are growing, changing, and moving towards becoming young adults before our eyes.

These milestones are achieved by both children and their parents. Sure children are the ones growing and developing physically, mentally and emotionally but, so are their parents. When I look at my daughter in the driver’s seat beside me as we head out on the road together I realize two things. First, she’s growing up and I’m proud of the young woman she’s becoming. Secondly, she’s not the dependant little girl she was… She’s beginning to break out of her chrysalis and spread her wings. Pretty soon she’ll take flight. While that’s wonderful for her it’s a smack of reality for me. I’m not saddened by her developing independence, I’m just in awe of how rapidly it’s happening. Part of me is beaming with pride while inside my heart is saying “slow down just a little.”

One Sunday afternoon recently while returning her to the summer camp where she works, she insisted on driving. I recall being nervous as she pulled out of our driveway…Then, I looked over at her face glowing with confidence and pride as she gripped the steering wheel and accelerated out of the driveway, a sense of peace washed over me as I realized she’s growing up, on the road to independence, whether I’m ready for this or not. In that flash of a moment I realized, this is what her father and I have been working towards since we she was first placed in our arms sixteen years ago…helping her develop and mature into a confident, independent, compassionate, contributing member of society. I can honestly say, we’ve done our best to ‘fill her up’ with the tools and skills she’ll need in life. This is where “The Rubber Meets the Road”. Its time to let our little butterfly begin to spread her wings and go…

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The Art of Making Funeral Sandwiches

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As a fulltime teacher and mom of two social and sporty teens who keep me ‘taxiing’ them to events and activities I rarely commit when our church social committee calls me to ask for a contribution of baking or sandwiches for church functions. I’m blessed to belong to a church family who understands during the school year I simply don’t have time to ‘serve’ in this way. This week I received call and request to contribute sandwiches for a reception after a funeral at our church. This being my second week into summer vacation I was delighted to contribute.

I woke up early this morning whipped up the filler for cream cheese and cherry finger sandwiches and happily assembled them. I don’t know why I chose to make cream cheese and cherry. I don’t even like cream cheese and cherry sandwiches. I smiled as while spreading the smooth pink mixture across each soft slice of white bread. Little did I know making these sandwiches for a funeral would bless my heart today. As I worked my grandmother’s voice whispered in my ear, “Be generous with the spread because God is generous with us.” Nanny, as I called her went home to be with the Lord over twenty years ago yet from time to time its as though she’s mentoring me in my kitchen. I topped each sandwich and proceeded to cut the crusts off each one with my electric knife the way I’d seen my grandmother do so many times. As I did this a conversation a friend and co-worker and I had came to mind.

When the father of a mutual friend of ours passed away a year ago we both made sandwiches to contribute to the reception after his funeral. This spurred a conversation between the two of us about the ‘art of funeral sandwiches’. We both remarked about how we’d witnessed our mothers and grandmothers prepare and fuss over the delicate sandwiches for countless family and community events like bridal showers, baby showers, anniversary parties and funerals. We shared similar stories of unwritten ‘sandwich etiquette’ for preparation and presentation.

Each sandwich was to have generous amount of filler, spread to the very edge of each slice of white bread. The sandwiches are expected to be as delicious as they are delicate. All crusts are to be neatly trimmed away, piled on the counter as each remaining pristine white square was cut into cute triangles or rectangles. As a little girl I can recall standing eye level to the kitchen counter along side my grandmother as she trimmed each sandwich knowing if I kept my hands to myself while she worked I’d be rewarded with a lunch of the filling laden crusts forming a small mountain on the counter in front of me.

When the sandwich assembly was complete each one was either tucked into a container lined with wax paper or displayed on a serving plate covered with a dampened cup towel or wrapped in Saran Wrap until serving time. I looked at the mountain of crusts, the pretty pink finger sandwiches on my counter this morning, thought of my nan and how proud she’d be of them. Then, grabbed my iPhone, snapped a photo and texted it to my friend to share my morning’s work. She replied, “You made my day! And they’re even Cream Cheese and Cherry!” I tucked the dainty cherry fingers into a recycled plastic cake container and transported them to the church where they would be welcomed by the social committee and displayed on trays for the mourners and visitors to peruse, make their selection and set on their paper plates next to pickles and cubes of cheddar cheese.

The Quest for Organizational Utopia

I have a problem. I’m addicted to organizational items like; Rubbermaid containers, boxes, totes, baskets, buckets and jars. I also have an extreme fondness for office supplies. My addictions aren’t my problem though…My problem is disorganization.

To the untrained eye I appear to be organized. I like symmetry and order. I like things to have ‘a place’ and expect things to be in their ‘place’. Colleagues who walk into my classroom or office are often marveled at my uncluttered shelves, colour coded baskets, matchy-matchy accents and labels on everything. What they don’t know is, although it looks like I’m organized and efficient, I’m never content with the arrangement or ‘order’ of things. I’m constantly shuffling, moving, rearranging, and re-organizing.

My my need for order lives at home as well. I find comfort in the predictable and  organized. I prefer to be in rooms which are clutter and nique naque free. I avoid rooms which are unkept and messy because I truly feel anxious when I’m in them. So, I avoid those rooms. I avoid anything that makes me feel overwhelmed.

Organized space brings me a sense of peace and balance. Disorganized and cluttered spaces elevate anxiety and frustration within me. I feel the need to do one of two things within a disorganized space; run away from it or organize it. Lately I default to avoidance and frustration which doesn’t solve the problem but only exasperates it. So maybe today I’ll reorganize something… I wonder if I have enough matchy-matchy baskets, totes, buckets, jars and labels?

Just Do Your Job

Our perception of others and their circumstances is often very narrow and foggy. We often make quick ‘snapshot’ views and judgements based on our narrow and often cloudy perception of others. I’ve come to learn I often infer, formulate theories and draw conclusions about people and their circumstances based on my perception of the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Today’s scripture reminds me of how narrow and subjective our humanly perception is in comparison to God’s broad, objective view is. God warns us not to judge one another because we don’t have His expansive and perfect insight into all the variables and factors which effect the lives of others around us. It is not our job to judge one another. Our job is simply to be kind and compassionate towards each other. We must be kind and compassionate to each other even when we don’t see the ‘big picture’. In fact, we don’t need to see the ‘big picture’, that’s God’s job. We are to support one another along our journey.

Be a Wise Woman, Build Your House Up

1The wise woman builds her house, 
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)

Build Your House Up

I’ve really been struggling to be the best mom I can be to our two children.

Our sixteen year old daughter and I have a wonderful relationship. I’m often told she’s a ‘Mini Me’. We have great communication, share the same sense of humour and a flare for the creative & dramatic. Our mother/daughter relationship isn’t perfect but it’s easy.

Our fourteen year old son and I have ‘locked horns’ since day one. He & I share moodiness, stubbornness and anxiousness, which makes for a more ‘prickly’ relationship. We both say and do things in a reactive way when annoyed. We say mean, nasty, hateful things when fueled by frustration and anxiety. The same words and actions that elevate my reactions are the same ones that ignite reactiveness within him. I recognize and know this but I still react stupidly.

I’m thankful today for this scripture because it reminds me that a wise woman seeks to be filled with the grace and discernment of the Lord. She doesn’t have to be alone in her struggles because she has God. A wise woman is quick to listen and slow to respond. A wise woman seeks God’s council in all things including, parenting. In stead, I default by reacting to irritants. This scripture reminds me to ‘press pause’, seek God’s council and grace in everything even, ‘prickly’ parenting situations.

My Confidence is God’s Confidence

True Confidence is God Confidence

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord
whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7 (NIV)

True Confidence is God Confidence

Women can be hard on themselves. Moms can be hard on themselves. I am often hard on myself as a mom. My desire is to be the best mom I can be so my kids will grow up to be productive, kind, balanced, happy, contributing members of society.  However, I’m slowly learning striving to be ‘the best mom’ I can be is overwhelming and self-destructive. I put a lot of undue pressure on myself to be a ‘Super Mom’ to the point of becoming overwhelmed, miserable and dysfunctional. Is this what motherhood is about? How will I ever survive the ‘teen years’?

Today’s devotional reading, “No More Perfect Moms” by Jill Savage (CEO, Hearts at Home) along with scripture verse (Jeremiah 17:7 (NIV), reminded me I don’t have to get re-entangled in self-doubt and insecurities because my confidence is ‘God’s Confidence’. I’m reminded He has designed me and has a plan for my life, His plan. He created me to fulfil his purpose and desires and is pleased with me, His creation, just the way I am. His confidence in me will always break the hold my own insecurities have over me. If I humble myself to His grace daily He’ll calm my heart. I don’t have to be ‘super mom’ I just have to be…in Him. I just need to allow His confidence to be my confidence.

Thank you God!

Stop the Comparisons!

Genesis 4:1-8

Cain and Abel

1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” 
2Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 
4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 
6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 
7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” 
8Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Stop the Comparisons!

God made each one of us uniquely to suit his desires, purposes and plans. Why though do we continually compare ourselves to others?

As early as the garden of Eden though, man compared & contrasted himself to God and others. Man was originally happy and content being God’s Creation until Satan whispered words of doubt, confusion and envy into the hearts and minds of Eve then Adam. These poisonous doubts immediately poisoned the perception Adam and Eve had of themselves. Out of this doubt and warped self perception grew envy, shame, guilt, competitiveness and eventually hatred within the heart of one of Adam & Eve’s sons, Cain.

This tainted self perception continued with the birth of Cain & Abel. Cain felt inferior to his brother Abel. This inferiority rapidly morphed into poor self concept and hatred to the point where Cain murdered his brother Abel out of sheer jealousy and an extremely saddened self concept.

It is essential for each child of God to undoubtedly see, feel and understand he/she has been ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ Psalm 139:14 (NIV) for God’s desire and purpose. He created and values each one of us as individuals. He loves us equally. We have inherited a competitive, comparative often warped view of ourselves. We need to remember this warped self perception was bred through Satan’s whispered lies into the ear of Eve. This sprinkle of doubt infused by Satan is a lie. As women we need to guard our hearts against these lies of comparison that culture and media continually pushes into our view.