5-Minute Friday: NOTHING

>> Friday, May 30, 2014

5 Minute Friday is "sort of a writing flashmob" hosted weekly by blogger Lisa-Jo Baker.  Each Friday she selects a subject and your job is to write about it for 5 minutes and link to her post.  Whatever comes to mind, even if you aren't sure what the subject is about, don't know anything about it, or haven't ever really thought about it.  Just write.  For 5 minutes.  Doesn't that sound fun??  There's only one rule:  After you've linked your post, you MUST visit the person who linked up before you and leave a comment.

Okay, ready?  Today's topic is: NOTHING

And... GO!

"Nothing" is a tough concept for me to comprehend.  Is there ever really such a thing as nothing?  Not a single thing?  That condition certainly doesn't exist in my home!  And yet I am never satisfied.  Some in this world would think I literally have the opposite of nothing: everything.  They would be overwhelmed by all the things in my home, my family, my life.

I regularly see or hear about people with nothing in the news.  And I'm moved when I'm made aware of their situations, but I do nothing about it.  While I may briefly shed tears and/or say a quick prayer or two on their behalf, their plight has little to no bearing on the way I live my own life.  I don't give more generously.  I don't even live in greater contentment with my everything.

I am nothing in this universe, and yet God has chosen to bless me in many ways and with many things, for which I owe Him everything.  Nothing is truly mine anyway.  Everything belongs to Him.  I am just the steward, the manager.  Nothing should bring me greater joy than sharing my everything to honour Him and make Him attractive to others.


I have to confess, this took me 10 minutes.  I can't write without stopping and thinking every couple of phrases!  And going back and re-wording things.  Maybe I need more practice.  What do YOU think about "nothing"?



Overgrown Hummingbird

>> Wednesday, May 28, 2014

AKA Baltimore Oriole.

Please pardon the horrible picture quality ~ these guys are a fair bit more skittish than many of the other birds that frequent the feeders in front of our dining room window, so this was shot through glass (that hasn't been washed in a while!) and also needed to be cropped a fair bit.

He and his mate seem to have laid claim to our hummingbird feeder this year.  We've seen Orioles on the yard only once or twice before in the 13 summers we've lived here, but they've never actually stayed.  These ones have been here for a week now.

We were worried the new residents would scare our hummingbirds off, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  At least, not yet.  They don't share terribly well, but maybe since both types are territorial, it doesn't seem out of the ordinary to either of them to have to sneak a sip when the other's not looking... or be dive-bombed while drinking!



WW: Lake Manitoba Narrows

>> Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Yes, we're in the second half of May.

Yes, there's still ice on the lake.

More Wordless (or semi-wordless!) Wednesday here.



>> Monday, May 19, 2014

After years of trying (but mostly failing) to stick to a beautiful colour-coded, hour-by-hour daily routine, I developed the one pictured here.  It's a few years ago already ~ my kids were younger ~ but you know what?  I'm having trouble sticking with this one, too.

You'd think this "schedule" should be easy.  I mean, look at it ~ there's almost NOTHING on it!  And yet....

I seem to need a constant reminder that my day isn't supposed to be about ME.

It's supposed to be about my husband, and making our house a haven for him ~ a place he actually WANTS to return to at the end of the day. A place where he feels respected, honoured, and in charge after a tiring day or week of uncontrollable, business-related chaos and living in a semi-truck.

It's supposed to be about my girls. Serving them yet training them all at the same time. Creating memories and developing valuable life skills all while having fun and enjoying life.  (which seems like an ever-elusive combination!)

It's supposed to be about family and friends, and being a blessing to THEM. Investing time and energy to cement friendships so they will be life-giving and life-lasting. Being the kind of friend I'd like to have and using my resources to do it.

Yes, it's great when my day goes my way, and I get MY to-do list all crossed off. I'm thankful for those days.

But let's face it:  they are the exception to the rule!

Oh God, please help me to be gracious on those OTHER days, the normal days! Help me to see the opportunities you place in my path ~ those things that so often look like obstacles along the way to my own personal comfort and satisfaction ~ and help me recognize them as gifts from you and be grateful for them. Help me address them and handle them in a way that honours you and displays your glory for others to see.  Help me remember people are ALWAYS more important than to-do lists, and may that belief be evident in the way I live my life each day.

Help me love and desire YOUR schedule for my day, Lord.




Practicing Gratitude [05.15]

>> Thursday, May 15, 2014

Six weeks ago I last posted about being thankful.  Six WEEKS!  And just to allay any fears, it's not that I haven't been grateful at all in that time, just haven't taken the time to write about it here!  ;)

I'm thankful I'm back to being a full-time stay-at-home mom (although now I have no excuses for not accomplishing some of the things I've been putting off... :P ), and I'm SO thankful the snow is G.O.N.E!!  It's still not warming up like we expect for this time of year, but it's not parka-and-mitten weather either, so that's something!

Here are a few other things from the last six weeks that I've recorded in my prayer/praise journal:
  • wonderful, l-o-n-g evenings
  • watching all the summertime birds arrive and enjoy the feeder in front of our dining room window
  • not needing to turn on the lights anymore to have my morning quiet time, even in our north-facing front porch
  • the girls had an awesome Spring Break down in The Big City with their grandparents
  • Mack's dream of becoming an "official" babysitter was realized when she completed her babysitting course last month
  • realizing it's okay to still cook a "real" supper and just eat half an hour later than normal when I've worked a full day
  • Community Band Spring Concert
    last week.
    (I'm dead centre)
    good visits with great friends
  • fresh, hot coffee, ready and waiting for me when my eyes open every morning
  • shooting skunks :)
  • watching AJ conscientiously take such good care of a runty, neglected bunny (which, unfortunately, ended up dying despite her efforts and his seeming improvement and growth in her care)
  • a long, but enjoyable day with The Man's family at his sister's farm
  • the end of tax season and return to full-time housewife- and stay-at-home-mothering
  • when I wish for more money and a year-round job and then I remember how important I still think it was to have my mom at home every day at lunch and after school all my grade-school years
  • my girls make being a mom pretty easy
  • a hand-decorated trinket box from AJ and a pedicure and head massage from Mack for Mother's Day
  • finding a short-term, character study Bible reading plan to do for the next few months, now that I've finished reading through my Bible again (and a "story of the Bible in 365 chapters" plan which I will start with my girls once school's out)
  • an unplanned lunch date and some errand-running together with The Man
  • though unfortunately not without painful consequences, I CAN STILL EXECUTE A PROPER CARTWHEEL!!
What are you thankful for today?



I am Jonah.

>> Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Yeah, but they need to pay.
In THIS life!"

A while ago, I was involved in a conversation where those words were uttered.  The voice was representative of the feelings harbored by all involved in the discussion, myself included.  We were all somewhat unsatisfied with the idea that the parties in question may never have to answer for their wrongs before they meet their Maker.

I don't know about you, but I find myself often resenting the reality that I may never see those who perpetrate the wrongs in our world receive due punishment.  I can't count how many times I've thought this way.

As I was mulling over that conversation a while later, the prophet Jonah suddenly popped into my mind and I realized I felt about many wrongdoers the way Jonah felt about the Ninevites.  Jonah didn't want to share the Good News of God's mercy to people he felt should pay for their wrongs; should suffer for the things they'd done to other nations, particularly his own.  He was later openly disgusted with God for not raining destruction on the city the way he desired.

Now, we can "tsk, tsk" Jonah and wag our heads at his judgmental attitude all we want, but the reality is, we do the same thing all the time.  We don't want to forgive, or even be civil, and we certainly don't want God to seemingly "let it slide."  Not our holy, righteous, JUST God!  No, we want Him to be as infuriated and incensed as we are.  We want Him to inflict pain and misery to AT LEAST the same extent the evildoers have done.

But even more so, I think we're guilty of wanting to be able to witness their duly deserved punishment.  We want the satisfaction of seeing someone really git what's comin' to 'em.  To relish it.  We want God to deal with other people and their sins OUR way.

The truth is, we are routinely dissatisfied with God's justice.
We'd really prefer God to be a bit more unforgiving and merciless.

But not when dealing with us, just with the REAL sinners.

We conveniently forget and disregard how undeserving of His mercy WE are, even though maybe we've never committed any major crime or hurt anyone terribly badly.  And we forget that we are called to be conduits of His love and forgiveness so that the world will see Him not as some disinterested or distant, vengeful God, but as the loving, approachable Creator and Sustainer of life, Extender of limitless unmerited mercy and grace.

We forget ~ or maybe we've never really learned and understood ~ that
God's goal has never been retribution, even in punishment.
His goal has ALWAYS been to bring sinners to repentance and
the restoration of a right relationship with Him.

That needs to be our goal, too.

That isn't to say sinners ~ including saved sinners ~ shouldn't ever have to face the consequences of their sin.  No, not at all.  And God's Word does call us to rebuke and admonish each other as needed, provided our goal is the health of The Church and the sake of the Gospel.  It calls for guilty parties to acknowledge their sin and make restitution for wrong where possible, but whether or not that happens and how it happens is out of our hands.  It belongs to God.

I feel like all my life I've been missing the main point of the Book of Jonah.  Sure, there's the obvious lessons we've all heard since we were children in Sunday school, but I've heard very little about God's mercy and forgiveness preached from this book; His desire for relationship-restoration with man.  I've always been a little disappointed that the book ends the way it does, with us never knowing what Jonah did after the talking-to God gave him or how life in Nineveh changed.  God just gives Jonah a tongue-lashing and then it's over.  Kinda leaves one hangin'.  Obviously, the important part is not really what followed or that would be been recorded.  And since the book ends with God telling Jonah he didn't have any more right to a shade-providing vine than the Ninevites had to the shelter of God's mercy-providing forgiveness and that both were freely provided by God...  maybe that's really the whole point of the book.

Jonah figured he had a right to the vine because he was a "good" person and had done what God asked him to.  (seems maybe he forgot about the first half of his story...)  But just like God provided the vine to shelter him from the heat of the sun, God provided The Vine to shelter the Ninevites ~ and all sinners, past and present ~ from the scorching heat of God's just judgment.  No Christian has ever earned his forgiveness; it was purchased for all who believe by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.

But when my desire for justice (that is, MY version of justice ~ which is really vengeance, let's face it) and my hunger for another's punishment trump my desire to see them experience God's forgiveness and His restoring grace, I become disgruntled with God because He isn't destroying (or at least punishing) the people I think deserve it.

dethrone God.

I worship myself.

I become Jonah.


The Many Faces of April

>> Friday, May 9, 2014

Finally, after years of lamenting never having my camera with me when I need it, I've gotten into the habit of carrying it in my purse. (I know, I know, I could use my phone, but I kinda still refuse to use that camera for "REAL" picture-taking, even though it takes fairly decent pictures.)

Over the last few years, I've snapped shots of our local grain elevator at various times of year and enjoy how the scene differs from season to season, though the elevator remains steadfast and unchanging throughout. This winter after I started working, however, I took to taking pictures of "my" grain elevator virtually every time I drove past it as a weird sort of photo diary and it's been rather fun.  During the winter months, the view doesn't change much, but now in spring, the changes are much more distinct and noticeable.

(Probably because there ARE actual changes!)

Now that my job is finished for another year, the photos of the elevator won't be quite so frequent, and it will be tougher to remember to throw my camera in my purse if I'm only heading to town once or twice a week, but I hope to keep it up.

Hope you've enjoyed the show!



And just like that...

>> Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's over.  My annual tax season job at the accounting firm came to a sudden end early yesterday afternoon.  "It's like the tap gets turned off," my supervisor always says.  And it's true.  It never slows to a trickle towards the end; it builds and builds and builds and BUILDS, and then poof! it's over.  Just like that.

So... I am once again a lady of leisure!!  Well, no, not really ~ just unemployed.

No, wait, that's not right either.  Just back to not getting PAID for the work that I do!  ;)

I am allowing myself one day of leisure today though.  The only things on my agenda are two loads of laundry and cleaning out the fridge.  The fridge I got over with first-thing in the morning after seeing the girls off to school and clearing the breakfast table; the second load of laundry is in the washing machine, and here I sit, with my laptop and second third cup of coffee...  Ahhhh, happiness!

One thing I do like about working part-time is that it really helps me prioritize and make better use of my time.  I fritter away significantly less time in February, March, and April than I do the other months of the year!  I always feel like I'm having trouble balancing my two jobs ~ the one I get paid for in town, and the one I don't here at home ~ but The Man and I were talking about it the other day and he asked, "but really, what day-to-day stuff hasn't been done around here that you would have done if you'd been home?"   And I realized there was nothing, really.

I had a lot less sitting around time, but I also had more help from the girls this winter.  They seemed to quite like having a list of responsibilities to cross off after school when I wasn't home, so that's made a big difference.  I just need to figure out how to keep their enthusiasm up now that they won't get the house to themselves after school 2-3 times a week anymore!!

As of today, there are only seven weeks of school left and at least twice that many projects swirling around in my mind that I'd like to complete in that time, so some time today will be devoted to figuring out exactly what I want to accomplish and whether I want to do it alone or together with the girls.  Here's hoping for some good productivity in May and June!!

And a clean, organized home to kick off the summer holidays!

(wish me luck)



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