Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mary and Martha of Bethany

Luke 10:39-40 
.... Martha had a sister Mary, who was sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to him teach. But Martha was busy with all the work to be done. She went in and said, "Lord don't you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me."  
"Hello Martha!." I joke around, and call Krista, every once in a while. She's been leading and organizing this women's coffee group since it started. She's very  organized and on the ball with things, gets things done and does it well. It's her forte. It's one of her many gifts and I admire her for it. I am more like Mary.... not that I'm lazy or anything... but I prefer to sit around listening to a good speaker or read a book than I do cleaning and serving dinner.  Is that bad? Truth be told, I have thought so over the past year.
Now, Krista has never gone to God and said," You know, I would really like some help here Lord. Can't you see my sister in Christ, Anuschka, has left me all alone to do all the Deeds for Needs organizing! Tell her to get off her derriere to help me!" at least I don't think she's gone to him and said that. LOL! But....I have wished that I was more on the ball, more organized, more social..etc... I'm not. God made me the way I am for a reason.
In John 11 we meet up with Mary and Martha again. Their Brother Lazarus was sick and died. Both Mary and Martha in their pain, looked to Jesus and found comfort. He loved both Mary and Martha equally and both Mary and Martha needed him.
I love this quote from Charles R Swindoll from his book 'The Grace Awakening'.
"Acceptance means you are valuable just as you are. It allows you to be the real you. You aren't forced into someone else's idea of who you really are. It means your ideas are taken seriously since they reflect you. You can talk about how you feel inside and why you feel that way - and someone really cares.                                                                                                            Acceptance means you can try out your ideas without being shut down. You can ever express heretical thoughts and discuss them with intelligent questioning. You feel safe. No one will pronounce judgement on you, even though they don't agree with you. It doesn't mean you will never be corrected or shown to be wrong; it simply means it's safe to be you and no one will destroy you out of prejudice."
 Tamara was a bit apprehensive this morning at coffee, because she felt like something was missing the last time we got together. We got too busy to pray over the food last week... we haven't been placing God 1st. At first, she felt a little uncomfortable voicing her opinion... little did she know most of us felt exactly the same. Jesus said, "When you serve other's, you serve me. When you serve self, you don't serve me."   She said her piece and gave us each a framed scripture quote.
Isaiah 43:10
"You are my witness," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen."
 That's what I love about this woman's coffee group. We are a handful of women from different churches and so very different from one and other.... yet it works. It works because of GRACE. 
 It's our job to accept others; it's God's job to direct them.
I will leave you with this quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:
"I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame of that heats our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other." 

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's all a matter of perspective

PERSPECTIVE: the interrelation in which a subject or it's parts are mentally viewed : Point of view: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.

What the caterpillar calls the end, the butterfly calls the beginning.

 I was challenged today to look at things in a different perspective. My husband was in a rush and he was missing something.... some papers got dumped onto the kitchen table and never were returned to their proper place... the recycling box. In the mean time... my girls had a little fun with the scissors before he left for the Motor cycle show and shredded a few bank slips . A few minutes later, one girl was rushed off to The Rock Wall for a 2 hour lesson and I, with the other girl took the dog for a nice long walk. RenĂ© said he wasn't coming home for dinner, so I took the girls to Wendy's for a hamburger afterwards. Then we played some games... watched a Cosby Show (rented from the library) then they were off to bed. I had just sat down to write this blog when RenĂ© came home. The mess was still all over the Kitchen table.
I was meaning to clean it up... I got side tracked.
"You didn't clean this up with the girls?" he said, "I can't believe it's still here!" he ranted, "How difficult is it to ask the girls to help you clean this up!" He continued. I was laughing... He got more upset. I could have gotten upset with him for thinking it was my mess to clean up. I could have yelled back, "You and the girls made the mess... I didn't! You should have cleaned it up before you left!" but I didn't... He thought it was my fault... I thought it was his. Perspective. Perspective is what gets us into trouble.... sometimes... it causes wars... it causes divorce... it's what separates us from one and other.

I'd like to share a story I wrote a few years ago for a creative writing assignment. It's in 4 parts... 4 different view points of a single moment in time. It's called "The Kiss".

Adults view:
"The girls just went upstairs." Joe smiled seductively at his wife. He nudged her ear and whispered. "Let's do some laundry?" It was his favourite term for a quick make out session. Linda laughed at her amorous husband.
"I don't think so!" she smiled up at him, the will was there... but.... "The house is full of kids and my mother will be here any minute. I promised to take her shopping." She put her arms around her husbands broad shoulders then gently kissed him. The moment their lips met she knew she would not be released quickly. Their kiss grew deeper. Shivers of pleasure washed over her and she was amazed that after 15 years of marriage he could still make her feel this way. Then, they're son walked in.

Girls view:
"What are you're parents doing?" Samantha asked her friend Laura.
"They're just kissing." Laura replied, "They always do that kind of stuff."
"EEEEWWWW! I never see my parents kissing." Samantha muttered then Laura's older brother walked in, "Let get out of here before Dillon sees us. "You want to play Barbies?"
"Okay." They ran up to Laura's room and pulled the barbie house from underneath a pile of dirty clothes and began to play house. It wasn't long before Ken was holding Barbie tightly in his arms.

Teenage son's view:
"What are you doing?" Dillon said as he entered the kitchen. His Mom and Dad were making out up against the stove. "Aren't you guys too old for that?" He opened the fridge door and grabbed an ice cold can of coke from the bottom shelf trying to ignore his parents.
"You're never too old to give a beautiful woman a kiss." then his dad smiled at him and winked.
Dillon rolled his eyes, shook his head and walked out of the kitchen in disgust.
As he walked back to his room.... he began to think about Sara. He began to think what it would be like to kiss her and his heart beat faster. She was the most beautiful girl at school. Long blonde hair, beautiful big green eyes and her smile was just amazing! He flopped down onto his bed... put the coke can down... picked up the phone and began to dial her number.

Grandma's view:
"There's never any spots close to their house." Elsie muttered as she parked her car at the end of the street. She was looking forward to the shopping expedition with her daughter. They hadn't seen each other in weeks, due to both their busy schedules. She closed the car door and began the small hike up to the front door.
"I feel like I'm climbing Mount Everest!" she stopped for a moment to catch her breath. Two kids raced past her up the hill. For a moment, only a moment she wished she was young again.
"Almost there", she huffed as she pasted the kitchen window. "What?" she stopped abruptly and laughed out loud. Her daughter and son-in-law were in a passionate embrace.
"I remember faintly when these lips felt the heat of passion." she thought and smiled as she gently touched her lips. "Now, all I feel is the heat of my latest cold sore."

Perspective.... it's an interesting thing? Don't you agree?

I read somewhere that the Bible is the #1 selling book in the entire world. If so many people are reading it... why is there a war in Afghanistan? Why is there hatred in the world? Why is peace so far away? Are they using the books for toilet paper?

Ah! Perspective....

If I am sitting in a public place reading my Bible around an unbeliever... I am certain he or she would be thinking that I am a foolish woman for believing in God. I know they would be thinking that... because I was once an unbeliever and thought that Krista was nuts. I still think that... but for different reasons now (insert smiley face here).

Jeremiah 23:23:24
"I am a God who is near," says the Lord.
"I am also a God who is far away. No one can hide where I cannot see him," says the Lord. 
"I fill all of heaven and earth." says the Lord.

How can we as mere mortals reach a God who controls the universe? It's all in our perspective. It's in following the path of grace. It's in listening to the quiet place of our hearts... if we stop long enough to really listen... we can hear him in our heart... in our thoughts... through His word... or through the deeds of others around you.

Regardless of one's education, it is impossible to decide whether Christianity is true or false if you do not know what it is about.
Walter Hooper

So, pick up the Bible and start reading... apparently.... according to statistics... you have one on your book shelf.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Perfect Woman

 martha-s-753136.jpg Really.... come now.... is there such a thing? Logic tells me no.... The Bible tells me no... Yet, I have come across women in my life that just seem to "have it all together"... you know what I mean? Their house is immaculate (no matter what time of the day you visit or drop by), their calendar is full yet they never forget anything because they are so organized, their emotions are always under control they never yell at their kids, their kids are polite and respect everyone... even their dog behaves... They always have a heathy homemade treat for their children when they come home from school (Hot out of the oven... perfect timing as always)... they are "In Love" with their husband of 25 years.... they have awesome "special snuggles" (a kid friendly blog) few times a week  .... and to top it all off... they are always in a good mood. Are these people "robots"? Or are they "fake"? I have come to the conclusion, after years of scientific experiments (this includes the one about growing mold in the refrigerator), that any woman resembling "The Perfect" woman is either on "happy pills" or is faking it. Where does that leave us as? Even Martha has fallen.

 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures."

God is love. We are made in His image. Think about that for a minute.

1 Corinthians 13 doesn't say.... Love is dusting and cooking. Love is not a messy house, and does not get upset with good organizational skills. Love takes pleasure in "doing right" to your spouse and rejoices over a roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Psalm 139:14
"I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well." NCV version
Here's another version:
"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

Each and every one of us is wonderfully made. Each in our own unique way. He is a creative God. Who wants us to be who we were made to be. There were times, over the years,  when I did wish I was someone else. I would love to have Krista's organizational skills or Betty's patience with kids or Deb's healing wisdom or Winefred's quiet strength or Tamara's kindness and grace.  But, I am Anuschka and God has gifted me with other things. I need to accept that, work with it, and see where God wants me to use those gifts.

"Self-doubt will sabotage you before you ever get to the new place God has for you. You will paralyze yourself with your own thinking. The paralysis of analysis."
Joyce Meyer  from her book "Never Give up".

Stop wishing to be someone you are not. Accept who you are and the gifts you have. Learn how to improve them and if things don't work out the way you thought they would.... get creative and see what you can do with what you have. It won't be easy.... but it will be real.

Matthew 7:13-14
"Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to destruction, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road."

 You know... the people we refer to as "blessed" did not always start their lives that way. They've had their share of challenges and adversities; they've gone through difficulties; they have had to work at it by being diligent to live by God's word; stayed faithful to Him; given to others when they have had little to give; prayed when they did not feel like praying; patient, loving and kind to those God had place in their path even though they themselves were going through a storm. They continued to do these things because they knew, eventually, by being obedient to God, joy would follow.

"By perseverance the snail reached the ark."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"The more you are open with yourself and God, the more genuine you will be."
Joyce Meyer

 My house is a mess... there may be unfolded laundry on the sofa.... muddy paw prints at the back door... and dishes in the sink. If you are okay with that... you are welcome anytime for coffee. I may be at the computer writing, studying or reading... but I will make time for a chat and a laugh... or a cry... if you need it.
...."Go ahead.... help yourself to another store bought cookie."

Stay Real!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Characteristics of a weak-willed woman

1) Consumed with worry and fear
2) Self-absorbed and obsessed with the opinions of others
3) Either beaten down or loud and brash
4) Filled with no personal ambition; yet wants to control
5)Unsure of her hope in glory
6) Empty and turns to everyone but God
7) Harbouring grudges
8) A gossip
9) Obsessively indulgent in secret
10) Easily hurt or offended
11) Filled with some spiritual knowledge but no spiritual power
12) Critical in spirit

The weak-willed woman is easy prey. She cowers when bullied.
The weak-willed woman eventually hides out, afraid to stand for anything or do what is right. Spiritually hesitant, she watches everyone else live while she's stuck inside her own weakness.
What kind of woman are you? Ask God... then listen with a sincere heart.

Our glory is not in never falling, but rising each time we fall.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid - A Book Review by Anuschka

The title states 'The straight dope for parents..... What kids don't reveal..... What parents need to know'
by Joseph A. Califano

I have two girls ages 10 and 11... why I even picked up this book... I do not know.... instinct I suppose... or divine intervention?
 The book starts out by saying the earlier, you as a parent engage, influence, teach, encourage, correct and support your children they can develop the will and skills to say no to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Parent Power is the MOST effective instrument in the substance-abuse-prevention toolbox.

"Communication doesn't start when your child is seventeen; it should start when your child is three. So by the time that your child is seventeen, there's a pattern of communication that has hopefully been going on for some time." Dr.Ross Brower, deputy medical director of the adolescent development Program, Weill Cornell Medical College

 It's so easy to wait to talk to your kids about this stuff.... you want to protect them for as long as you can from the world and all the awful stuff that goes on in it. I had to start early... I couldn't prevent it... I couldn't hold it off.
"Why is Oma acting funny?"
How do you tell a 4 year old, that her grandmother abuses alcohol? They know something is wrong... they see it..... My husband and I were honest... but not too detailed... they were only 4 and 5 years old.
"Oma has had too much wine."
 Next time my spouse and I had a glass of wine with dinner, my eldest said, "Don't drink wine... we don't want you drunk." She was afraid we were going to act like Oma. We had to talk to our girls on adult like topics at a very young age. But now... that they are 10 and 11... they are stronger and wiser for it. Communication is a powerful tool and so is parent power.

The Nine Facets of Parental Engagement
1) Be there: Get involved in your children's lives and activities.
2) Open the lines of communication and keep them wide open.
3) Set a good example: Actions are more persuasive than words.
4) Set rules and expect your children to follow them.
5) Monitor your children's whereabouts.
6) Maintain family rituals such as eating dinner together.
7) Incorporate religious and spiritual practices into family life.
8) Get dad involved - and keep him engaged.
9) Engage the larger family of your children's friends, teachers, classmates, neighbours and community.

The book is easy to read, simple language... it has Three parts...14 chapters that divide and breakdown into sub-chapters.. starting with 'Prevent it.... Recognize it... Confront it'. Each chapter ends with a useful 'Parent tips' section.

The percentage of teens with friends who abuse prescription drugs:
age 12 - 10%
age 13 - 11%
age 14 - 16%
age 15 - 25%
age 16 - 30%
age 17 - 47%

 This is stuff you may have in your medicine cabinet.

"When my boys were teens and tweens, I brought home a drug test and set it on the kitchen counter. I told them that if I ever suspected any one of them of doing drugs, that I would not hesitate to test them. I told them it was not there to intimidate them, but to assure their privacy. I would test first before I began going through their things.
 A local drug-enforcement officer told me it was the wisest choice I could have made because it gave my sons a valid excuse to resist peer pressure. They could respond, "Hey , I can't try that because my mom rests us at home for drug use."
 Many of our friends and neighbours now use the same strategy."
Parent posting on CASA Parent Power discussion forum

Peer pressure is one of the main reasons teens begin to smoke, drink or use drugs. They want to be 'cool'.  This book will give you strategies to combat with teen peer pressure and give you the tools to effectively communicate these tips to your teens.

It states that ..... "Drug use has the potential to trigger certain mental illnesses in teens who have a genetic susceptibility (e.g., carry the DNA that contributes to such conditions). So, if there is a history of mental illness in your family, discuss it with your children when they're the appropriate age. Warn them about the added risk of substance use so that they can know how important it is for them to avoid it."

We have mental illness in our family.... an uncle who is bi-polar..... there may be a few more family members that can be categorized "Mental" but they have not yet been diagnosed. These are things I never would have thought to discuss with my girls. A lot of teenagers struggle with depression and many turn to substances to self-medicate. The signs of depression in a teenager.... Sadness or hopelessness, Irritability, anger or hostility, Tearfulness or frequent crying, withdrawal from friends and family, loss of interest in activities, inability to enjoy previously favoured activities, Unexplained changes in eating and sleeping habits..... the list goes on.... these can be  easily confused with normal teenage behavior changes and mood swings (especially girls). This book will help you differentiate between the normal and abnormal signs.

 It goes on to say that... "Families have the greatest influence on children- for better or worse. For parents who want to raise drug-free children, looking in the mirror is the crucial first step...... Parents are the number one influence, but they aren't the only ones in the family whose behavior children mimic. Other close relatives-siblings, cousins, uncles, grandparents, aunts, and even close family friends- can have a significant impact on your child's propensity to use tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs."

"Alcoholism devastated the Barrymore family. Patriarch John Barrymore was a great actor whose career was ruined by his drinking. His son, John Jr., followed in his father's foot steps; his acting career also collapsed due to his drug and alcohol use. John Jr.'s daughter, Drew, has been struggling to escape the same fate; she entered rehab at the age of 13, after drinking alcohol at the age of 9, smoking pot at the age of 10, and taking cocaine at the age of 12."

It states, if there is anyone in your family who has struggled with an addiction, your children may be at increased risk of substance abuse and addiction. Genetic as well as environmental factors can play a large role in the transmission of tobacco, alcohol, and drug addiction from one generation to the next. Too often we overlook or conceal the families history of substance abuse and we fail to warn the next generation.... because of shame. I know my family has.

This book has a chapter on the differences between boys and girls...... "Girls tend to use alcohol or drugs to improve their mood(i.e., to self-medicate), to increase their confidence, to reduce tension, to cope with problems, to lose their sexual and social inhibitions, or to be thin....... Your son is more likely than your daughter to turn to addictive substances to satisfy his sensation-seeking impulses, show off, or be cool."

This book also has a glossary at the back which describes what DXM is? What blue, china white, hillybilly heroin, hydro, kicker, norco, OC, oxy, OX, oxies, oxycotton, percs, vikes is? What are uppers? What are downers? What are the signs of use? What are the other names for ecstasy? What are the long term side effects? How is LSD used? How addictive is Meth?
 I love the way this author breaks everything down for you in an easy to use format. Although, I borrowed this book from our local library.... I believe it's a great reference book to have on your own bookshelf.... I give it 2 thumbs up!

Closer than you think......
 I live very close to a school.... almost every day we are there with the dog, and the kids..... playing slobber ball tag(this is where you try to touch a kid with the ball the dog just slobbered on),  soccer, or some other wild and wacky game.
 There is always so much garbage on the field... it's quite disgusting. The girls and I have taken garbage bags there and tried to clean up a bit every once in a while. Lately, they have been quite excited because someone keeps throwing their pop cans over the fence in this one particular spot. All they saw was a looney's worth of cans, lying on the ground, for the horse camp fund, this August. My husband saw something else when he and the girls brought the cans to the recycling. Drugs.... see below.

After drinking the pop... they put Meth? in it.. light it and inhale through the hole. This is left on a school grounds where kids play.

What can we do to stop this? Let's talk.

Found out... the hole in the can is actually Pot.... 

Pop Cans 
If you find lots of empty soda 
cans in your child’s 
possession, don’t be alarmed.  However, pop cans 
bent around the sides with small holes punctured to 
smoke marijuana.  A can used to smoke «pot» usually 
has a pencil-sized hole in the bottom and may  carry 
the odor of  marijuana. 

What every parent should know about drug Paraphernalia