Sunday, January 27, 2013

Don't take parenting advice from me....

NEWS FLASH...Raising kids is hard.  Really hard. If you already have kids over the age of, well, birth, this isn't really news.

In the past few months, I have found myself face to face with issues I would have thought I wouldn't have to deal with.  I have parented with a basic philosophy that I would "instruct them in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it."  I payed attention to their bents, listened to the Holy Spirit for specific instruction and wisdom in every situation.  Help me, Lord, was always on my lips.  My best parenting moments have been ones "birthed" on my knees.

Andrew and I have taught our children to be counter culture.  That the world will lie to them.  The world does not care about the things of God and therefore, the world's view on an issue is probably very far from God's view.  We told them that the only word they need to trust, should trust, CAN trust, is the inspired Word of God.  I promised them that if they ever wanted to know the Truth, that they could come to me, and based on what the Word of God said, we would find the truth together.  I hoped to raise them to not follow the crowd.  To love the Lord their God with all their heart, all their soul and all their minds.  And they do.

I didn't think about the consequences to my own sensibilities when I was leading them in devotions - teaching them that their first alliance is to Christ and Christ alone. When I told them to THINK, to be sensitive and open to the Holy Spirit and His leading.  I taught them how to hear His voice.  And there's the rub.  They listened.  They hear from God.  They have bents that I do not fully appreciate or comprehend.  I am watching my heavenly Father lead them down roads that I am unsure of.  Roads that I would fear to walk along, but somehow these children of "mine" are walking down in full assurance of His Holy Hand of guidance.

Entrusting these precious ones to a Plan and Purpose greater than I; committing to uphold them in prayer and under-girding them with my unconditional love; requires a Power greater than I possess. And so I am back on my knees, asking the Lord for wisdom and clarity.  But not for me.  For them.  As they walk out into the world, I trust that God who has begun a good work in each of them, will be faithful to complete it.

On Him, I can put my full trust.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Promises Kept

I don't like New Years Resolutions.  I make them.  I just don't like them. Usually resolutions are made in an effort to change something about myself I do not like.  I want to be a better mother, wife, friend, child of God.  How I intend to go about those things differs year to year.  But the result is always the same. I can resolve all I'd like, but eventually, the willpower to keep them wanes and I am left with a broken promise I've made to myself.  And no one likes to be lied to.

Last year, I decided that I was not going to lie to myself anymore.  No resolutions, goals or aspirations.  As I  spent some time in prayer, I told the Lord how frustrated I was with this sense of  "I'm a failure and I've got to change".  I need to be better.  Different.  Anything, but who I was.  I had a laundry list of things that I felt were in the way of my being "all who God wanted me to be".

I knew better of course.  I knew that God wasn't putting the emotional strangle hold on me.  God had been nothing if not kind, gracious and compassionate towards me.  I knew He loved me.  I knew that His plan for my life, and for those in it, would not be thwarted by my temporary inner conflict.  He wasn't being glorified by it, however. I  felt Him say, very gently, what do you want?

I dumped my list on Him.  Be a better mom.  Be a better wife.  Be a better housekeeper.  Be better at doing my devotions.  The list continued. I finished by reminding Him that if I was in charge of accomplishing those things, I might as well admit defeat then and there.

A moment of clarity struck.  I wanted those things.  But...what did God want for me?  So, I asked Him...

Lord?  Umm...What do YOU want for me?

His answer was unexpected and it rocked my world.

I want Freedom for you.  Freedom to be all those things.  But with no pressure. No striving. Just be. Free.

What does that even look like Lord?

You'll see.  Watch what I am going to do.  Trust me.  Remember, I always keep my promises.

In the past year, I have experienced Him and His freedom in ways I could have previously only imagined.  It came bit by bit.  Moment by moment. Some were huge "a-ha" moments - others were so subtle, I almost missed them.  But His Freedom came.

I  did nothing.  No resolutions.  No to do list.  No spiritual striving.

Undeserved based on my inputs, but oh, so undeniably a work of His Spirit.  I just rested in His Promise.

This New Year, as I reflected on what God had done, I asked what He wanted for me this year.

"Be watchful and diligent.  Do no allow the shackles of bondage to be placed back on.  Continue to walk in My Freedom.  I've still got this."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Night Musings

When I was trying to fall asleep last night, I had the perfect blog post formulated! It was witty and insightful. It was thought-provoking. But for the life of me now, in the cold light of day, I can't remember a word of it.

I wish I could say this has happened to me only once. But sadly, it is a common occurrence. A friend has told me to carry a note book to write down these ideas whenever genius(her word, not mine)strikes. Unfortunately, said genius never strikes while I am in possession of a piece of paper and pen - or near my computer for that matter. I would call it "writers block" but that might imply that I consider myself a writer!

And so, here I sit at my computer trying to put another paragraph together to wrap this up. The phone is the eye doctor. Caleb's glasses are in. I need to order myself a new pair as well. Oh, and I have to go and pick up that flute at the music store. Gotta remember to call the bank, too. Maybe I should make chili for supper. With rice or biscuits, not sure. Oh, but I don't have any flour for biscuits maybe I should go to the grocery store...

ohhh...I think I've found my problem.

At night, once that light is turned off and the day is put to bed, I can finally hear myself think. Thoughts that just flirted with my conscience mind during the day, but remained "un-thought", come to the forefront. I have a chance to think through and pray over those things. Clarity comes to me in those quiet moments before blessed sleep arrives.

Unfortunately, for me that quietness only happens at night. I don't think that is a good thing. Days are filled with the "tyranny of the urgent" that only has 18 hours to be accomplished in and there is no time for quiet reflection.

And if there is no time for my own thoughts, you can be sure that there is no time to hear the thoughts the Lord has for me.

Those are the thoughts that really matter. His thoughts, informing my thoughts. Bringing me into intimacy and relationship with Him as I learn to think His thoughts...

I think I'll wrap this blog up and go take some quiet time to be with Him...I am sure you won't mind.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beginnings, Endings, and Beginning Again

My daughter moved out this past weekend. She has a wonderful little one bedroom apartment only 10 blocks away from our home. She turned 18 in January and graduated from High School in June. As my oldest child, she has that confident first born thing going for her!

As I was helping her move from our house into her new place, I couldn't help but consider how we had arrived at this place. Our story, of being mother and daughter, could have been very different.


I was 20 and single and had just found out I was pregnant. I knew that I was completely unprepared and unqualifed to bring this little one into the world. And yet, there I was. I knew the statistics on single motherhood. I knew that I faced a monumental task.

I could not fathom facing the realities of life and single motherhood alone. I understood - instinctually, I think - that it was one thing to make bad decisions that ruined my life. It was another thing entirely to make bad decisions that ruined my child's. Thankfully, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could not do it without the Lord's hand of mercy in my life - as well as in the life of my unborn child. And so, as so many of us do in a time of crisis of our own making, I cried out to the Lord and asked, begged rather, that He help me.

And, just as He has promised all of us in his Word, He heard my cry and answered. I loved this baby I was going to be a motherto. And my Heavenly Father, loved her even more.

Deuteronomy 10:18 says "he defends the cause of the fatherless". I knew I had to trust His word in this. I don't know how - but He worked that trust into my heart, one heart beat at a time.


Watching that little girl load all her earthly possessions into our truck, words cannot adequately explain the emotions of the moment. There was a sacredness to them. It seemed as though God himself was whispering into my heart things meant only to be shared between the two of us.

He proved Himself to be, once again, my Salvation. I marvel at the depth and breadth and height of His Everlasting Love. And I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sharing the Story

When the followers and disciples realized that Jesus had been raised from the dead...when they suddenly understood the magnitude and incredible ramifications of a Risen Messiah...when they were equipped with the filling of the Holy Spirit...the world as they knew it was forever changed.

They had a "testimony". Something had happening in their lives and they shared it with others. It was so amazing that they couldn't help but share it. They HAD to tell it. They were compelled beyond their fears and weaknesses. They faced indifference, apathy and mockery by those who thought they were just drunk or crazy or both. (I am sure they wondered at times if they were, in fact, crazy!) They faced humiliation and disgrace from their family and friends. They faced physical "mistreatment" to the point of horrific deaths.

So why keep telling this story? Because these men and women were fueled by what they knew to be true. They set out to tell the world about a man who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, worked miracles beyond belief and was then crucified. And just to make it even less "believeable" - This man rose from the dead on the third day, stayed around for 40 more days doing more miracles, and then acsended into heaven promising to return again one day to take us to a place He was going to prepare for us.

And they had seen it all with their own eyes. They weren't making it up! It was absolute truth. They kept telling and retelling their story because they knew it would change the lives of others, just as it had changed their lives. And in doing so, they spread the Gospel out into a waiting world that was desperate for some Good News.

It might help to remember that this isn't just a story about what happened 2000 years ago in a country far, far away. It is a story about what happens every day in the lives of believers everywhere. Jesus is alive and active in the lives of all those who claim Him as Lord. His Spirit is, at this very moment, searching for those who do not know Him as Lord yet, so that He can be Their Good News Story.

In Gods story the Good News is this: The dead rise. The lame walk. The blind see. People can change. Failure doesn't disqualify you. Sin nor Satan have the final word in your life. Being lost just means Jesus is out looking for you. You have a place to call Home. Nothing can separate you from the Love of Christ. You can call God Daddy. And when you die, your story doesn't end there.

All this and so much more. There is so much more to tell. So many ways to tell it. If you are one who's life has been changed by the Good News, get out there and share it...and someone who needs a little Good News? Their world may be changed as well.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A letter from Andrew

Greetings to you all.

You’ve been on my mind for quite some time. Please accept my apology for not send a correspondence sooner.

I would like to begin with a heartfelt thank-you for your kindness, generosity, compassion…compassion…compassion. Did I mention compassion? There are so many of you. At the risk of appearing lazy, I send this note of update ‘en-mass’.
A few updates…

Sarah (our 15 year old). Approximately 5-6 days after my collision she checked-in to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. After 29 days of intensive medical care in Red Deer and Calgary due to the event and numerous complications she has nearly recovered in full – a bit more strength recovery still occurring. I was ‘sheltered’ from the severity of her event for a while and did not see her while I was at Foothills Medical Centre (FMC). However, I was able to see her hospital – Alberta Children’s Hospital – from our lunch room on Floor 58 at the FMC. Tried to wave but could not see her… .

A couple of miracles I am very thankful for:

1. On a selfish note…when I left FMC I did not have to go to a graveyard. Oh, how kind our God is. It would have been too much…I am so thankful that I did not have to find out how hard….

2. Sarah was extensively blessed with compassion from many and the medical professionals. So much so, that it has confirmed to her a desire to enter the medical field. As she put it, “Dad, after being desperate and receiving compassion, I want to do share compassion for the desperate.” The ‘seed’ was planted in November 2009 after she went with a group into the slums of India. It was ‘watered’ through this experience. She’s amazing…

3. In the first week of November, I was given two airline tickets to Toronto. Sarah and I went together for 4 days. Enroute, I looked over at her and thought, one or both of these seats should be empty… then thanked God…again. A couple of highlights:

• Getting a latte on Young Street.
• CN tower.
• Going to Niagara Falls.
• Lunch at the Hard Rock CafĂ©.
• Dad/Daughter time… precious.

Me (Andrew). A lot has happened. Immense amounts of good. As you are aware, the original prognosis after my ‘unexplained’ survival was not positive. Here is a summary of some key events:

1. I came out of the coma and had no memory for about 21 days. So thankful that there are no memories of the event of May 29th.

2. Had to learn to walk, think, write and a multitude of other things. Sometime we should have a coffee and I can share some of the miracles…things that I might have taken for granted…that are much bigger than one would think…like being able to formulate or remember a thought. Or, go to the bathroom without assistance, drink regular fluids, dress one self, not wear a diaper, write one’s name, eat with a fork, speak without foul language, control my emotions…and be thankful for breath, life and the events contributing to the new daily realities. I turned from a ‘man of faith’ to one of ‘those’, you know, ‘religious freaks’ .

3. A couple of miracles…

a. Technically, I am supposed to still be a resident of FMC.
i. August 11, I was discharged and walked out – with a cane. The medical people stopped to watch me leave.

ii. The prognosis after ‘intubation’ at the accident scene was not good. There existed a possibility of becoming mute or having severe vocal restrictions; I could only whisper. The left half of the larynx was ‘shredded’. I now have complete vocal healing. The medical people – including the doctor that did the original diagnosis - were speechless.

iii. At the end of July I progressed in one week, as follows:

1. moving on my elbows in bed, being lifted by 4 nurses and placed in a wheel chair and pushed,

2. getting in the wheel chair by my elbows and a small board,

3. propelling myself forward in the chair with one foot,

4. to using my hands on the wheels to propel forward in the chair,

5. Using a walker,

6. Walking with a cane.

The medical staff passed me in the halls when I was walking and did not recognize me. When they passed I greeted them; they said hello, walked passed and stopped, turned around and said ‘Is that you, Andrew??’. Then, they smiled in amazement.

4. On October 4, I met with my Orthopedic Surgeon. As he examined me with his two interns, he then spoke - assertively. ‘Andrew, I don’t want to ever see you again. Go play rugby. ’. Then he looked over at his interns and said, ‘This is why we do what we do.’ I asked if I could give him a hug of thanks; he said ‘yes’. As I hugged him I thanked him and whispered, ‘bless you’. When I let go, both his eyes and mine where filled with tears.

a. Deborah was told 6-9 months. It was 0 + 127 days…

5. On November 21st , I was discharged from Occupational and Physical Therapies as an outpatient at Red Deer Regional Hospital.

6. December 1st . I passed a medical to drive.

7. December 2nd. I drove home from Red Deer to Penhold. It took 20 minutes. I cried for about half of the distance…they were tears of ‘thanksgiving’.
8. December 1-now. Started back working. Ramping up…fast. 

A lot has occurred. Deborah and the children have been though immense challenges. As a family, we are all still going to counseling to make sure that we have a safe place to communicate and understand the past six months.

I guess, as the saying goes, ‘if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger’, right??? Well, there is some merit to that saying…within the power of the ‘Almighty’.
I would like to finish something that many of you have already heard from me...
A miracle is bigger than a lotto 6-49 win, a hot date or great job. Our God is in the miracle business. As a dead man walking, mute man speaking, simple man thinking, I attest to HIS miraculous hand. When you have no hope and you need a miracle, turn to HIM – HE’s in the business.

With love, thanks and humble heart,

The Carpenter Family. (Andrew, Deborah, Rebekkah (17), Sarah (15), Joshua (13), Caleb (8) and Grace (7))

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A New Beginning

Over the past 6 months I have been walking a road that I would not have chosen if it had been mine to choose. The consequences of the events on May 29 and the following weeks are far reaching and less than perfect. I am thankful to be able to say that the Lord has upheld me in ways that only a loving heavenly Father could do. I still question the reasons why all these things have transpired and what ultimate good that might come from them, but at least I am at peace with my new reality.

Andrew has recovered enough from the accident to finally be returning to work. This is something that could not have been predicted in the weeks following the accident and I praise God for His mercy to us and our family in this area.

I worked for 2 and a half months at my "dream job" - reception and administrative support at CrossRoads Church. When it became evident that my family needed me to be at home full time I left that job and I have been rewarded in ways that I could not have imagined. My new "dream job" is working along side my husband as he returns to his pursuing his passion - and have discovered it is mine as well. Funny how God works...

Endings are hard - and so are beginnings. But beginnings are filled with anticipation and promise. They are full of potential and of what can be. They reassure us that all is not lost. There is more to come. And that is a good thing.

So here is to my new beginning. I look forward to seeing how it all works out.