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I just found out that ants and I have something in common; we both like sweets. That’s why ants crawl all over peony buds and I often think of making cookies. Mmm…cookies…me love cookies…
Days are made up of moments and every person gets to choose how they will be spent. It can be tempting to think that there is no other option but to complain and worry and long that things are different than they are. Life isn’t always ideal. Maybe it’s at times like that it’s good to say, “God, help me to see things differently than I do right now.” Maybe what needs to change isn’t that other person or that crummy situation but you. It is possible to rejoice always but to get there we often need a change of perspective. It’s funny when it happens. That which irked you before suddenly becomes beautiful in a strange kind of way. It hasn’t changed. What’s changed is the way you look at it and that makes all the difference in the world.
I woke up thinking about what it means to be mature, both physically and spiritually. I had a chance to spend some time with a new friend yesterday who has a young son. She had to watch him vigilantly, get him to look at her when she talked to him and speak to him in a very simple, straight forward way. She had to address him often because he is not yet mature and needs instruction for most tasks. I remember when my own sons were like this. I can tell they have matured by how much less I talk to them to instruct them and how much more I talk with them just for the joy of their conversation.
This morning we had to leave early to go to church because I was teaching the little ones at both services. I let the boys know last night that it was my turn to teach on Sunday and that’s all I had to say to them. They are old enough to get themselves up on time, get dressed, grab something to eat, get their teeth brushed and be ready at the time we have to leave. I didn’t have to watch over them every step of the way. They knew what they had to do and did it. This left me time to focus on getting my props loaded in the van and other little jobs done.
It’s funny how God often directs us without really knowing it. I was thinking about maturity and today’s sermon was on how God speaks to us. When we are immature Christians, he has to speak to us in very obvious ways. He has to get our attention and maybe at this stage we receive signs or other indications that it is God who is directing us. He has to be obvious because we just aren’t mature enough to get it otherwise. As we grow spiritually, God often speaks less to us or at least it’s not in such obvious ways. This is because we are maturing. He doesn’t have to take us by the hand as much anymore. He can trust that we’ll be directed by the principles of His word. He treats us like I treat my growing boys. I give them a little direction now but for the most part I expect that they’ll know what to do with it. They’ve been with me a while and have come to understand how things work.
My boys aren’t offended that I’m not there telling them what to do every step of the way. It doesn’t tick them off that I let them make their own decisions more often. I want them to become more independent. The don’t always make good decisions but even that is an opportunity for growth and maturity. If I never give them the chance to make a bad decision I’m not really helping them reach adulthood. I think God is the same. There was a time in my life when I heard his voice clearly and obviously but that is much less the case now. Unlike my sons, though, I sometimes get upset that God isn’t telling me what to do. I think now that He’s just giving me the opportunity to grow up spiritually. In essence, He’s saying that I have been with Him long enough to know how He works and He trusts me to make good decisions. If I start to go off, He’ll be faithful and redirect me but he’s not going to treat me like a three year old anymore.
The whole idea of this is strangely comforting. I was beginning to think that I must not be very spiritual at all because honestly it’s been a long time since I’ve clearly heard God speak to me. I’m going about my merry way hoping and thinking that I’m in God’s will but I don’t have signs from beyond assuring me that I am. Rather than that being a sign of waning spirituality perhaps it is a sign rather of growing spirituality. If I really think about it, I don’t speak that often with my parents anymore. When we do it’s more to enjoy each other’s company than for me to be instructed by them. That time has passed. They’ve done their best and now they have to leave me to make my own choices. They hope that I will choose well but it’s out of their hands and they know that I will experience the blessing or the repercussion depending on how I choose.
The other sign of maturity that came to mind was becoming less self-centered. Very young children don’t have much of a concept that there are other people in the world with needs. As far as they are concerned they are the center of the universe and they want things to revolve around them. They fuss when it doesn’t and sometimes throw tantrums. As they grow older and mature, they learn that there are other people to consider. One of the greatest blessings of getting married and becoming a parent is having to think of others and not just yourself. As a wife and mother, I have often had to lay aside my wishes, desires and sometimes even my needs for the sake of my family. This ability to sacrifice myself for the betterment of those around me is an indication of maturity. I think the same is true of spiritual maturity. It bugs me when people who have been going to church twenty, thirty, forty years whine that the service didn’t meet their needs. They ought to be spiritually mature enough to meet their own needs. They ought to know how to feed themselves on the word of God at that point and not be dependent on a pastor to spoon feed them. They ought to be able to lay aside their own needs for the sake of those who are new to the faith and really do have to be fed by someone more mature than them. They ought to be the hand holding the spoon. They ought to come with spiritual words of their own that can add to the meal the pastor has prepared. The church service shouldn’t be about them but about how they can meet the needs of a growing family. I can’t help but think that this attitude would bring about quicker spiritual maturity than a thousand Bible studies or sermon sit-ins. The act of parenting has caused me to mature far more than reading any books on the subject has or listening to any lectures given by an expert. It’s getting in there, thinking about others and doing the work where one really learns and grows.
Of course, I blog all this because God didn’t give me these thoughts to lecture others on how they should be. He gave them because there are areas where I need to grow up and rather than taking the chance of messing up, I’m whining that certain things aren’t meeting my needs. I’m being nudged to leadership of a group and I’m not liking it. It’s so much easier to be a child and fuss that things aren’t going the way I like than to be mature and take action for the benefit of others. Becoming an adult is work. It means taking on responsibility. I didn’t know a lot about parenting when I was blessed with my first son. I learned through trial and error and a lot of prayer. I became dependant on God on a whole new level and grew spiritually as a result. Being a leader will be the same. I don’t feel equipped for it. I don’t think I’ll execute the job flawlessly. I will have to step out in faith and depend on God to do the work through me. I will have to trust that through me, He can bless others. I’m not exactly sure how this will all play itself out but I have a feeling I’m in for some life lessons and that God intends it for growth in me as much as he does to help others.
This is the before picture of our deck out back:
It was pretty shabby and not very chic. I love this deck because it’s right off the kitchen and a great place to sit, especially in the afternoon. Since various parts of it are starting to rot, I thought some paint might help to preserve it a little longer. DA did not want it white again so I chose what looked like a tan colour. Well…it looked tan in the store and in the paint can. It looks a little different out in the wild on my deck. Still, I’m liking it. Here, you be the judge…
This was our first alfresco meal on the freshly painted surface.
DA hauled the outdoor furniture I painted last year down from the mezzanine in the garage so the boys and I ate in style yesterday. I put the candle thing on the little table because there aren’t any fresh wildflowers to pick and the little table looked a little sad all unadorned. In reality we all ate with our feet stretched out on it.
Next I want to haul up the old dining room table and chairs and put them in the other corner of the deck. It’s not really outdoor furniture so I’ll have to find a way to protect it from inclement weather but I think it will make dining outdoors a truly snazzy affair. My line of thinking goes something like this: If you’re going to eat outside you may as well go all the way and make it a Better Homes and Garden gig. I can see myself bringing out the pretty tea things and silverware and putting together glorious flower and napkin displays if I can get that silly table apart and up from the basement out to the deck. I’ll take some pics of it if I actually accomplish it but of course, you already knew that!
It’s so nice to live near a lake. Today the boys came home from school and announced that they were going swimming. I had a feeling the water would be pretty cold and they wouldn’t stay in long but I followed on foot (they were on bicycles) to try to capture the year’s first swim in Lake St. George. Didn’t happen. I did catch this though.
That’s D after he zipped past me on his old bike.
I went to the lake anyways and took some pics of the water and the weeds and the trees. The colours can be so beautiful there. These are the undoctored pics to prove it.
Isn’t that the truest, bluest water you’ve ever seen? I love it!
I haven’t written about it for a while but the running is still happening regularly. Today I did three five minute and twenty second runs with forty-five second walks in between and tagged on a two minute run to finish up. That works out to be eighteen minutes of running and only two minutes and fifteen seconds of walking. I’m really noticing that my breathing comes back to regular pace MUCH more quickly than when I first started. Each day I go out I’m pushing myself just a little bit more and I think it won’t be long before I can just run 20 minutes straight. That’s my goal. Not only am I noticing a change in my heart rate but also in the distance I am covering; I go farther each time.
This is quite exciting for me. Growing up, I was academic and artistic but never athletic. I shied away from sports because even trying my very hardest the best I could be was average. I doubt that I will ever be an amazing runner but I’m content (even enthusiastic!) to be a runner. I’m working hard and actually becoming something I’ve wanted to be for a long time. This is great! I AM a runner!
Happiness is…finding a way to make everyone happy.
I have a photo album for each of my boys. All of their lives I’ve enjoyed them and photographed them. When they were little they happily obliged me, posing sweetly then crazily for the camera. Now that they are on the verge of manhood, having pictures taken isn’t high on their priority list. There are friends to hang with, TV shows to watch, video games to conquer and experiments to be conducted. Nowadays, they groan, duck, run and flail arms when I point my digital camera at them. That’s a problem for me; I really want pictures of this transitional time in their lives. What they tell me they really want is a way to make money. Growing boys want to eat and not always the things mom prepares for them. They want spending moulah for the corner store, a place to meet up with friends and satisfy their growing appetites for junk food. Beyond that, they also aspire to save up for more electronics. Can’t ever have enough technology when you’re a growing boy. I felt quite brilliant coming up with a plan for all of us to get what we want. I would pay the boys for a photo shoot time. The boys fell for it. I couldn’t be happier with the results. We spent some happy time together, me directing and taking pics, them cooperating and earning money.
Walls. I certainly have them in this house. I’m not a big fan of large empty walls. I like to fill in bare spots. Here’s my latest fill-in attempt following some painting and spray painting to make the frames look like they sort of go together.
O.K. That’s an artsy pic that really doesn’t show you all that much. Had to include it because I’m just an artsy kind of gal.
Here’s the beginning of a little gallery in our bedroom. (I picked up the giant A at the Dollar Store (and painted it black) because I am now Mrs. A and I rejoice in that.) I had thought of putting these pictures into a scrapbook album. I’m glad I didn’t. I like them up on the wall where I can see them often.
Our amazing bed is amazingly high off the ground. That means that there is an amazing amount of space under the bed if you want to put stuff there. I do. I always have projects on the go – cards, frames, things that show potential for being repurposed – but I hate having them out when I’m not working on them. I like rooms to look nice even if it means there is a mountain of junk waiting to be tackled concealed under the bed. Trouble is that putting stuff under our bed didn’t put it out of sight. While folding my tablecloth yesterday, I had an “aha moment” for how to fix that. I cut that table cloth up and stitched and tacked and made a skirt to hide all my soon to be treasures.
Is it a thing of rare beauty? Nope. But I don’t want it to be the focal point of the room. In fact I want it to sort of blend into the background. I had a little tablecloth left over when I was finished so I stitched that up too and made a tiny topper for my make-shift table (really a flower stand with a plate on top).
I used another table cloth (one that fit my old dining room table but not my new one) underneath. The flowers are fake and the mirror is sitting there temporarily but I’m surprised by how little effort it took to fix some problem areas in the room. The best part is that the grand total for these projects was $2 plus tax. I only had to buy some black thread and some tacks; the rest of the stuff I already had and just reimagined.
I shouldn’t be writing about my boys because I know they won’t like it but I can’t help it. Sometimes they just make me laugh. Today I found myself chuckling at them and they weren’t even around. This is how it happened. After they left for school, I found fresh offerings in the laundry basket. This in and of itself is noteworthy. My boys’ unsual habit is to wait until they have no clean clothes left and then come and gripe to me about it until I point out (ever so graciously) that nothing has been brought down for me to launder. I’m a good mom but I’m not a maid. I’ll wash my boys’ clothes but I refuse to pick up after them. At that point they typically run upstairs and return to me with a mountain of dirty clothes with the foolish expectation that I will drop everything on my agenda and get their clothing washed, dried and pressed for them in five minutes. Yeah, they’re dreamers. They must find comfort in the “too bad, so sad” lecture because they ask to hear it often.
I started chuckling because often when my boys bring down laundry extra stuff comes with it. You know…stuff like lego, candy wrappers, batteries, wallets, etc. Today a belt came down still attached to the pants it was being used to hold up. My hipless, bumless lads need belts for those pants and shorts that don’t come with one already built in. A week or two ago, we were mysteriously down to one usable belt and that little piece of leather was causing a lot of contention in our home. Mom to the rescue. I spied a Thrifty Thursday sign at the Goodwill while delivering papers and managed to snag two very good quality boy belts for $1.50 each. One was black and the other brown/red. Both boys pounced for the black one and it almost came to a fist fight over it. That’s not the part of the story that got me chuckling. That’s the part of the story where I gave my guys that look out of every pore in my body that they had better cut it out and be grateful or I was going to take those good quality leather belts and find an old-fashioned use for them. I was so tired (from delivering papers and from finding that my great solution wasn’t working out as greatly as I had thought) that I momentarily was ready to jump into the fray and beat those two up with my bare hands. Thankfully, I have the Spirit of God to stop me from such insanity so I resorted to just glaring at them that mom look that says mother is just about to lose it. Well, long story short, the belt issue got resolved. This is what got me smiling this morning:
The winner of the black belt has been wearing it everywhere for over a week with a glaring yellow Goodwill sticker smack dab on the front of it. He’s a boy alright. No girl I know would ever do that!