Wednesday, March 21, 2018

3.21 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.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

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.

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.

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Saturday, March 3, 2018

February 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?


Thursday, March 1, 2018

But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy

A Fruitful Year

Just in case you didn't realise it already, it is March. January and February are gone. They went fast. Here at our house it looks a bit more like winter than like spring. We have been experiencing below freezing temperature and we have snow on the ground and more forecasted. That is unusual for here. So I am trying to wrap my head around the fact that it is March already.

As we continue with A Fruitful Year,  March will continue the focus on the Fruit of the Spirit and this month we will focus on joy.

I spent the past few weeks thinking, reading, pondering Biblical Joy. What is the joy that the Bible talks about? It is listed second as one of the Fruits of the Spirit. Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:16, "Rejoice always." (ESV) The whole book of Philippians speaks about joy.

What is joy? The dictionary is not the place to go for the answer. It just says it is happiness. No, that is not Biblical joy. That didn't help. I was still pondering, what is joy?

What is joy? As I read various passages of scripture, read some articles, and read The New International Dictionary of new Testament Theology, Joy is an emotion but one that is not just based on what is happening around us. I think the best way to describe joy is that joy is flows from where we have placed our hope and the confidence of our faith.

Fruit of the Spirit A Fruitful Year

So we need to ask the question where we have placed our hope and the confidence of our faith. When our hope is in God and what he has done and will continue to do, we can have joy. When we have confidence of who God is and what he will do, we can have joy. Based on that we can have joy even in difficult times. That is what makes joy more than just happiness.

What are some other words in the Bible that are related to joy? That was one of the questions that I pondered. Glad is one of those. I think of Psalm 100:2 "Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!" (ESV) Delight is another word that the Bible uses which is related to joy.

So what makes you glad? What do you delight in? That will give you a bit of insight into where you find joy.

Over the next few weeks, I will talk a bit more about joy with the goal of each of us understanding Biblical joy, looking at what steals our joy, and how we can regain joy in our lives.

What brings you joy? Leave a response in the comments.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Wrong Kind of Love

"Wait a second, I thought love was a good thing. Can you really have the wrong kind of love?" It is easy to think that love is a good thing and therefore you can't have the wrong kind of love. Here are three ways that we can be loving the wrong thing.

1. We can be loving the wrong thing. We might love to have a nice tidy house but to get that we might be sacrificing relationships with our family. We might be picky and opinionated to those around us. So we are loving the neat house and hurting our relationships.

2. We can be loving and not willing to let go. As I pondered love and some of the things I love, one of the things I love is the location of where we live. For a week or two we had a discussion about moving to another part of the city. I struggled with that because it meant moving not the area where we are living. I realised that I was loving our location and holding it too tightly. I needed to be willing to give that up. It was a struggle but I realised my love was in the wrong place.

3. We can be loving with the wrong motives. Thing about the tidy house about. It might be that you look deep at that issue and look at the heart and realise that the reason for that love is so that it makes you look good. Your heart has pride. Your love has the wrong motives.

The things we love can become an idol. An idol is anything that takes the place of God. We can take a good thing and turn it into an idol.

How do we have the Right Kind of Love? In order to bear the fruit of love, we need to have the right kind of love.

1. Remember that we are commanded to love God and love others. Keep asking yourself the questions, "Am I loving God? Does this show love to others? Am I loving others?" Love God and people before loving things.

"We love because he first loved us." I John 4:19 (ESV)

2. Search your heart to see what is motivating your love. We need love from a pure heart. Our love can easily come from the wrong motivates. Our love should be motivated by God's love, to glorify God, and to reflect God's love.

Let us grow in love. Let us love God and those around us.

Do you have the wrong kind of love in your life?

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Pruning to Grow - John 15

There are hundreds of DIY projects on Pinterest, YouTube and numerous other places on the internet.

Have you ever done a DIY project that looked nothing like what you wanted?

I remember once I cut my bangs and they were cut on an angle so I had to have my part on the side. I think that might have been the last time I cut my own hair. That was a failed DIY project.

The vinedresser is not a DIY project. We are in the hands of a profession. He knows vines, he knows what branches to take away, he knows what to do to the branches all with the goal that they will bear more fruit.

Last month we began in John 15 and just got as far as the first five words.

Jesus says, "my Father is the vinedresser." John 15:1 (ESV) I love the choice of this word, vinedresser.  It has a depth of understanding of vines. It is more than just a hobby.

What does the vinedresser do? He takes away the branches that do not bear fruit. Those branches are drawing nutrients away from the branches that are bearing fruit.

"every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:2 (ESV) Pruning is done to encourage growth and more fruit.

As I picture this, I see a loving Father looking carefully at the branches, analysing the branches, and then trimming away the dead bits, the parts that are draining the nutrients. I see love and gentleness displayed all the with the goal that we the branches will bear more fruit. That is God with us, gentle and loving. The purpose of the pruning is that we will bear more fruit.

This year as we go through A Fruitful Year, John 15 is a foundational passage. This passage sets the understanding of how we bear more fruit. It is through abiding, staying with the vine, and pruning.

What are some of the things that God is pruning out of your life? As I have been writing and working on A Fruitful Year, I have looked at my own heart. This month the focus has been love. I have looked at my own heart and seen selfishness, wrong motives, and a few other things. Those are the things that need to be pruned so I can bear more fruit.

So as you look in your own heart, what do you see that needs to be pruned?


Friday, February 16, 2018

That's it, I quit.

Just three weeks into the new year those were the words I said. "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.

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.

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. That was 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, 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 was not going to quit.

What do you do when you are ready to quit?



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