Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sink or Swim; Outrageous Faith

How often have we read or heard stories of old saints that had a strong unwavering faith – and when they prayed, miraculous things began to happen? Stories like those of George Mueller,  who prayed food and milk in time and time again for the orphans whom God had entrusted to his care – and throughout his life cared for, and made a difference in the lives of over 10,000 children…but only through his great faith and trust in God’s provision; like the great reformer, John Knox, who wept over Scotland, and it is purported that Mary, Queen of Scots, that wicked murderous  queen of Scotland said of him, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than any of the armies of Europe”; or, the prayers of some little grandma or grandpa who became burdened over a some situation, and they prayed until things started to happen.
We look back at these stories, and more often than not, we bemoan the sad lack of faith in today’s generation, we say, oh, we need more people like that; we hear of the dying of some old saint, and our heart are saddened and we think to ourselves, we can’t afford to lose any more of these old saints…or, I wish we could have a few more with faith like she/he had.
Or, we say halfheartedly – or even somewhat sincerely – Oh, if I could only be half the man/woman he/she was!
And we go on our merry way, saddened because there’s a little less faith in the world…that can never be replaced.

Or can it?

What if…
What if WE are supposed to be the ones that have so great faith – what if God is expecting our generation…or maybe…no, surely not... No, God couldn’t be expecting me to be that one – that saint whose prayers make all of Heaven stand up and take notice. Because,  I mean…really. That’s preposterous – what would even make you think such a thing? Me? That’s so silly. I could never have the faith that they had!

Can’t you? Can’t I?

Or is it that we just don’t want to have to put in the work? Or maybe we’re too scared – scared of what people will think, scared that maybe we’ll have the faith and…it won’t happen.


What if…what if He really does expect US to be THOSE people?
What if He expects us to have faith like Peter, when he saw Jesus coming toward the boat through the storm – faith that will say,” Jesus, I can’t swim; the waves could pull me under in a second, but I’m not content being here when you’re over there…I’m tired of sitting here wringing my hands in despair…I’m jumping out of this boat – I don’t know if you’re gonna teach me to swim, or let me walk on the water, but either way, even if I go under, I’m going trusting you.”
 Faith that appears to be outrageous – that can look a medical professional in the eye after he’s just told you, “We’ve done all we can do – your child will be dead within 24 hours”, and say – not out of arrogance or denial, but with complete conviction because you’ve been in touch with the Great Physician, the Creator – “No, he won’t. Go back in the room, and check again – he’s sleeping, and the wound will heal.”
Faith like Job’s  – even if the outcome isn’t what we prayed for, faith that will trust that God knows best, that can look the circumstances in the face and say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him”, and, “I know that my Redeemer lives”.
Faith that can say with confidence, “It’s going to happen”.
Perhaps in that hard thing you’re going through right now, God is whispering, “Now is the time. Let go and trust me to take care of it.”
Perhaps, if you’ll just let go and trust God to catch you…maybe, just maybe, He will?
You see, you can’t swim as long as you’re hanging on to the side. You may know all the principles of swimming, but it’s not until you let go and trust that buoyancy will take over that you will begin to glide through the water.
A baby bird can never fly as long as they stay in the safety of the nest. Sometimes it take the mama bird pushing them over the side before they ever get out. Sometimes they fall to the ground…but it’s not until they leave that their God-given instinct takes over and they begin to flap their wings- and eventually to fly.
You’ll never soar until you get out of the nest.
Perhaps this is your time.
My time.
Time to let go, jump out, and let the thing that threatened to kill you be the thing God uses to give you victory.
Time to develop your own faith – instead of leaning on the faith of someone else.
Maybe it’s time to stop being content with being “half the man he was”, and start asking, like Elisha, “Give me a double portion of what he had”.

It’s time.

Outrageous Faith. That’s what we need.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Does It Work? Salt-Painting Edition

It's summer, and the kids are out of school.

Now, I don't know about your kids but mine would just sit around and watch cartoons most of the day if they could get away with it. Alas, they have a mean mommy (so they say), who thinks they should do something with their brains besides stare at a screen. 

Disclaimer here - I'm not one of those oh-so-perfect Moms who always has oh-so-perfect little crafts, and worksheets and this and that for her kids all the time. For the most part, I leave them to their own imaginations (which isn't always a good thing...), but many days there comes a point when they just can't seem to come up with anything to do on their own (except fight - they're really good at that),  and Mommy is left trying to find something for them to do.

We've had quite a few days lately when it's rained all day long, so they don't have a whole lot of time to play outside (I can only take so many clothing changes and muddy feet-tracks through my house before my mommy-brain starts vibrating and steaming, and that's never a good thing), and today was one of those days. We made it most of the day, but after supper they were wired, high voltage, high volume, high speed - just HIGH, mostly, and they NEEDED something to do. Ju decided she wanted to do some kind of an art project, so I randomly decided to try salt-painting.

Now, if you use Pinterest much at all, you've probably seen one of the many salt-painting projects running around. If you haven't, feel free to go search 'salt painting' on Pinterest right now. I'll wait until you get back...
...alrighty, then. Satisfied your curiosity now? No?
Then by all means, keep reading.

The idea of salt painting is basically this:

First, get your supplies -
A bottle of basic white school glue (elmer's, store-brand - we used both),
Paper (we used plain ol' printer paper, but something heavier would be better, if you have it),
Salt (the regular table variety)
Eyedroppers, medicine droppers, paintbrushes - whatever suits your fancy (more on that later)
Food Coloring

I put about 1 tablespoon of water in each of those dandy little containers 
(you can get them for about $2 each at Walmart - just buy a can of Great Value brand cinnamon rolls, open them up, and there's a handy-dandy little white plastic container in there with icing in it. Just dump the icing out, wash the container, and you're ready to go. Of course, if you don't want to be wasteful, you can eat the cinnamon rolls and all that... or you can just use whatever you have.), then I added about 3 drops of food coloring to each one. Swirl it around carefully, or stir it with a toothpick or something.

Ok. Now that you've got all that done, take the glue and draw a picture on the paper with it. (Alternatively, you can draw a picture with a pencil and trace it with the glue - whatever floats your boat. We did both.)

Once you have your picture done to your liking, pour salt all over it.

We found it just as easy to just dump the salt on the paper and then tip the paper every which way, sliding the salt all over. You want the glue to be thoroughly coated in salt. 

It will look kind of like this when it is done:

Now, take some of the colored water in your dropper (or whatever you're using), and drop a bit on the salt/glue. The fun part is that it slowly begins to creep down the line from wherever you drop it.

Add more colors and watch them mix together and make new colors...

And you have a pretty little painting. 
In theory, right?

And it's all very neat, not terribly messy, etc. 

Well, yeah, if you're a steady-handed, mostly sane Mommy. (Which I'm not, particularly)

Not so much if you're a not-so-steady-handed, somewhat rambunctious, four-year-old.

A little better for a somewhat-of-a-perfectionist, artistically-inclined seven-year-old.

But fun for both.

The seven-year-old was pretty careful with it and enjoyed dropping the colors on just so, and making a pretty pictures; here's some of her work:

She kept hers fairly well to thin lines of glue, and as much salt would stick to it, and it it colored nicely. Watching the dye creep down the salt lines is pretty cool, and for the kids, it's neat for them to see how the colors mix and make new colors.

The four-year-old...well, he though it was awesome to thoroughly saturate everything with glue...and salt...and dye. Here's some of his work:

(We all have talents...drawing dinosaurs isn't one of mine - but hey, they made him happy!! :) Oh, and the top right blue/green/yellow one is hers, not his.)

Yes, He likes green. what was your first clue? He pretty well tried to empty the whole container of green on his own. 

The all-green dinosaur on the left, he spread glue pretty heavily over the whole thing and then dumped large quantities of salt over it. The salt was pretty wet, though, from the glue, and didn't take the dye as dramatically. Which, of course, didn't bother him - he just poured on lots of it...I had to pour some of it off, and the rest soaked through the paper and left a puddle underneath. All of his paintings I set on paper towels, and after ten minutes or so, removed the towels - they were pretty well soaked. It helped to get some of the puddles off the paintings, though.

A note regarding the droppers/paintbrushes/etc. 
I've seen different people recommend different things. We tried them all - paintbrushes, Q-tips, eyedroppers, and a medicine syringe.
We had NO luck with the paintbrushes and Q-tips.
The best seemed to be the glass eyedropper shown here. With it we had the best control over where the dye went and how much.

That being said, the boy preferred the syringe - it was messy and hard to control the amount that came out, but that was right up his alley. He loved squirting it all over the paper.

So, Did it Work? 

Yes. Although our paintings didn't turn out nearly so neat and precise as some of the ones on Pinterest, it worked. It was messy, but the kids really had fun. By the time they quit, they had used up all of the dye in all the containers (I added a container of red later, so they had four altogether), about four of those little cups of salt (probably about 1 cup in all), large quantities of glue, and the table was covered in artwork. Oh, and did I mention it was messy? The floor around the table ended up pretty crunchy from the salt, and we had to sop up puddles from the table several times, but I had a vinyl tablecloth on, and the floor is sweepable, so it cleaned up pretty fast.

Most of, it kept them occupied for a while and they enjoyed it.
It was not, however, an activity I could give them and leave them to it - I had to stay and help the little one the whole time, mostly so he didn't start randomly squirting dye at his sister and everything else in sight, but still...not something you'd want to start if you aren't available to help.

As of a couple hours late, they weren't dry. We'll see what they look like in the morning.

So, it's wet, it's messy, but it really does work!

Go make some salt paintings! You know you want to!!! :-D

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What I Need.

It's the beginning of a brand new year.
(ok, it was when I started writing this...then time got away from me. That's what happens when you put things off!)
With each new year that comes, people are fond of making 'resolutions'; vowing to themselves that they are going to change in the year ahead. Whether it be behaviours that need tending, habits that need broken, weight that needs to be lost - the list goes on and on - with the new year, for many, comes the desire for a new start, a new lease on life.

Sadly, most of the changes they make are not lasting ones, and by the time January is gone, most New Year's Resolutions have already been broken - thrown, crumpled and unheeded by the wayside.

I've never been much of a resolution-maker. I tend to be fairly pragmatic about things, and to my way of thinking, if something needs changed it needs done now - if I don't have the will-power to make the change sometime in, say, September, then the likelihood of my doing it just because it is the beginning of a new year is no better. Like many people, I have lots of grand ideas for things that 'need' doing - projects that 'need' done, plans that 'need' to be accomplished, and like most, I have less 'git'er done' than 'dream it up'.

Yes, there are things I'd like to see done this year. There are things that should probably be changed. There are things I want...

But what do I need? What does my family need?

We humans tend to put our 'wants' in the need column:

"Oh, I NEED that dress!"

"I absolutely HAVE to have those shoes."

"We NEED a bigger house."

We NEED this...we NEED that...

But do we really NEED it?

I like pretty clothes as much as the next girl - but do I NEED them? The large quantities of clothing, shoes and accessories in my closet and dressers (and everywhere else) tells me I don't. I need clothes to cover my body and to keep me warm, but I have more than I need.

While I'd like a bigger, nicer house,  do I need one? I have a roof over my head, my family is warm and dry  - what more do I need?

We have food in the refrigerator...and the freezer...and the pantry...we won't go hungry anytime soon - which is more than many people even here in America can say.

So, what do I really need?
What is ONE thing that I can really say, "I NEED that" in 2014?

I NEED Jesus.

Mind if I say it again?


More than anything else in this world, I need Him.

Why do I need Him?

Because in myself I am a sinner and I need a Saviour. I cannot save myself. I cannot make myself 'good enough' to be fit for Heaven - but He can.

Because on my own I am weak and I need His strength. 

Because alone I don't know where to go or what to do - I need someone to guide me. 

Because when I'm sad, or lonely, or just plain tired of living, tired of fighting...I need a Comfort that I can trust to be there for me no matter what.

Because when I'm facing things that I can't explain to anyone, I need someone who will listen to my heart - and knows what I'm facing without me ever speaking a word. I need an Intercessor to pray for me when I can't pray for myself.

Because, as a parent, I alone am incapable of raising my children to be respectable God-fearing adults - 

  • I need a Teacher to teach me so that I can teach them. 
  • I need an Example to follow so that I can be an example for them.
Because on the days that I wonder, "Why am I here? What is the purpose in my life?", HE is the meaning, and knowing Him gives me a purpose for living.

Why do I need Him?

Because without Him I am nothing; I have no reason to live; I haven't the strength to keep plodding on day after day...

But with Him, I have everything. 

I can wake up each morning with the realization that no matter how awkward and unlovable I feel, there is Someone who loves me beyond measure; that no matter how many times I fail Him, He will always be there for me. 

And believe me, I fail Him often. 
But when I do, I can get back up and reach out to Him, and He will always pick me up, brush me off, and set me on my way again.

When I look at my children, I am reminded time and again how much God cares for us. So often, I explain to them just what I expect of them; I tell them plainly to make sure they understand. And yet, five minutes later, I can turn around and find them doing the very thing they were just told not to do. How many times have I said to one of them, "You shouldn't do that, because this and this will happen if you do", only to watch them do it anyway - and get hurt in the the process, just like I said they would. And once again, I pick them up, brush them off, fuss at them, and send them on their way again. No matter how many times they disobey or forget, I still love them, and when they come running to me, I'll hug them and kiss them and tell them everything's gonna be all right.

But, unlike God, I get impatient with my children. I fuss at them when they don't do things right. Some days I yell at them much more than I should...

That's why I need Jesus.

God has never done that with me, but too often I fail to follow His example.

That's why I have GOT to have Jesus.

So, this year, I have no fancy list of resolutions - no pile of projects to accomplish. In fact, I have only one resolution:

I MUST have more of Jesus.

I have one deep supreme desire, that I may be like Jesus.
To this I fervently aspire, that I may be like Jesus.
I want my heart His throne to be, so that a watching world may see
His likeness shining forth in me; I want to be like Jesus.

Oh, perfect life of Christ my Lord, I want to be like Jesus.
My recompense and my reward, that I may be like Jesus.
His Spirit fill my hung'ring soul, His power all my life control;
My deepest pray'r, my highest goal, that I may be like Jesus.
(from the song, "I Want to Be Like Jesus", by Thomas Chisolm)