Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nutrition for kids at Halloween

For the record, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers and Peanut M&Ms are my favourite treats not allowed at the kids' school so I will be confiscating them immediately tomorrow night.  Coffee Crisp bars are a delightful treat for moms will stunt their growth, so I get those too.

Monday, October 29, 2012


We had an incredibly busy weekend. It was entirely my fault. I scheduled a special kids' day at church, complete with three special snacks that I prepared and fun costumes (which I also prepared for my own kids.) We also had our Sunday morning worship, which Aaron and I led, as we sometimes do. We also had a fellowship lunch, for which I made two dishes.  And we celebrated two milestone birthdays, for which I made special desserts.

It's so easy to want to pat myself on the back and say, “Wow, look at what I did.” But instead I'm smacking my forehead and saying, “Wow, look at all that stuff that I didn't really need to do all at once.”

As Aaron and I were chatting about it on our way home from church, he pointed out that I don't have to do everything. That's hard for me to hear. I naturally try to please people by doing all the stuff that hasn't been done or volunteered to be done. Aaron, whose love language is (*supposedly) “Acts of Service” is telling me to stop doing so much. And I thought I was a good cross between Mary and Martha.   (*supposedly...  Because I really think his love languages are football, then sports, then gas.)

I've been thinking about “self-esteem” a bit lately. I'm trying to write down some stuff about it, maybe to post here, maybe to keep to myself. But what I keep coming back to is that my worth is not wrapped up in what I do or what people think of me or how awesome my hubby and kids are. My self-worth is totally and entirely wrapped up in knowing that Psalm 139 was written about me. I've read it too many times to count, and mentioning it almost seems clich
é, but it always gets me. God really loves me that much! God cares what I think that much!

Everything else fades away, at least for the moment, when I consider how truly awesome that is. I don't need to get my validation from other people, not even my husband, who loves me way more than I deserve. My validation comes from being one of God's lovingly created beings.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.
O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Rebuke

A few months ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store. There were two cash registers open and 11 people waiting to check out. Those of us with “eight items or less” were standing in the express lane. Two customers had their purchases already on the belt. (The second one had many more than eight items.) The third customer in line, the Lovely Octogenarian, still had her groceries in her buggy. She had silky, silvery hair and moved quite a bit slower than the other customer in front of me. The lady in front of me (and directly behind the Lovely Octogenarian, and let's call her Bunny) was watching as another cashier brought her “float” over to the registers and chatted with our cashier for a moment.

The new cashier parked her float in the till and looked up at us, the expectant customers. Bunny picked up on the signal immediately, and flew over to the new till, quick as a Bunny. The most recent addition to our line, the hunched over Grandmother behind me, made a move to go into the new line. I looked at her. She looked at me. She asked, more out of social obligation than anything else, “Are you going in this line?”

I told her that I was waiting for the lady in front of me, since I thought that was the fair thing to do. The Lovely Octogenarian moved her buggy over when she finally noticed the lane open and put her groceries on the freshly vacated belt. The impatient Grandmother zipped in and took her spot in the old line while I fell into place behind the Lovely Octogenarian.

We all proceeded with our orders. While I was waiting for my turn I marveled at how impatient people can be while waiting in line. I thought of how sad it must be for that woman to always be in such a hurry instead of enjoying the journey, even if it means standing in a line of people for a few minutes.

Just as it was my turn to pay, I felt a tap on my back. It was the Grandmother. “Thank you for your rebuke. I needed to hear that,” she said, with all sincerity.

My heart fell. She was standing beside me this whole time processing her own feelings of guilt and my rebuke to her. I was standing there, just seconds after chastising this woman twice my age, judging her.

And if I ever see her again, I will thank her for the unspoken rebuke she gave me. I needed that.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How to find a job in a bad economy

As I was scrubbing a toilet this morning, I got to thinking about how many times people have asked how I started my business, The Cleaner Sweep.  Let me tell you...

About two years ago, my sister and her husband made the decision to pick up their family and move their lives to the other side of the country. They made this decision for some very good reasons, but they made this decision without jobs. I assured my brother-in-law that he would be able to get a job at a call centre to get the finances started up again, and then he could start looking for a job in his field. It took him a month and a half to get hired at one of the three call centres in the area.

Meanwhile, my sister realized she needed to get a job to help out, at least until her hubby found other work. She applied for a variety of jobs and finally got asked to come work for one of the Big Name cleaning services. She lasted two days before they told her she didn't need to come back. (Knowing what I know about her, it was certainly not her work ethic or attention to detail that bothered them.) My guess is they just didn't have enough work for a new girl.

So we  sat around and cried and worried and waited until someone called us and told us they wanted to pay us to form our own company and gave us an instruction manual on how to build a successful business  chatted and wondered and prayed and eventually one of us said, “Let's just start our own company!” We called our mom, the Tax Lady, and asked her a few tax-related questions about how to set up a business. Then we made up flyers and put ads online on those free advertising sites (Craiglist, Kijiji, etc.) and within a day or two we had a job lined up. Within a month we had five regular clients!

One and a half years later, my sister has, consistently, been working as much as she wants (which is a good thing as her husband is still stuck in that awful call centre.)  We've had to turn away business. We are known by our clients to be hard-working cleaners with great attention to detail. And it was built from an idea in my kitchen, using our hands and hard work. God has definitely blessed our determination to work.

The point of all this is:
There is work, even in a bad economy. To quote a movie that my parents enjoy, “There are the Haves and the Have-Nots.” You just need to figure out where the money is and how people are willing to spend it. Day-time childcare, house-cleaning, cooking/shopping for a busy family... There are all sorts of SAHM type jobs that someone wants to pay you to do! Find out what it is and where those people are and advertise where they'll see it.

People have asked me specifics about how we started our company and I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone has in the comments section.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My perspective on "Family Faith Talks"

(I wrote this as a comment on my friend's blog post, Family Faith Talks.  And then as I was proof-reading my comment I realized that I'm far too long-winded to be commenting and I'd better just write it on my own post.  But please read his original post to get some context on what I'm writing.)

We have been trying to read a chapter from the Bible every day since last spring (six months ago, I guess.) We're on Mark 9. We started in Matthew.

Yeah, we didn't get very far. We let it slide for a while. But when we've slumped, my husband suddenly remembers and tells the youngest to go get his Bible. (His is the most kid-friendly version to read and understand.)

The kids (6, 8, 10) really do enjoy curling up on the couch and listening to a chapter. I read since I have a better reading voice, but my hubby and I will each interject questions about what we're reading. And what I love most about where we are right now is that the kids are starting to say, "We already read that story in Matthew!"

They know these stories from Sunday School but now we actually get to talk about them and answer questions that they may not think about in the higher-paced Sunday School format. We love speculating about the Messianic Secret (although they have no idea that it's called that) and looking to see when demons were speaking vs when it was the actual person. (My smarty-pants 8 year-old girl asked just last night if a demon was speaking through Peter... Right before I read the part where Jesus rebuked the demon in Peter!)

And since our worship team practice happens a couple nights a week in our living room around our piano, we open up the worship team binders and get the kids singing along. They may not be fully participating in the worship the way we are, but they are seeing it being modeled in a real way, on a regular basis and they are "practicing worship".  (That's not to detract from their worship either.  Only they know where their hearts are when we're singing.)

As my friend said in his post, there's no Biblical command for daily/weekly family faith talks. I've found that it just becomes part of your family life, whether it's a structured time or seizing on the teachable moments. I think using the teachable moments means just as much as those scheduled times.

How about your family?  Have you been able to have structured family time to discuss faith-filled matters?  Do they come and go?  I'd also love to hear from more experienced parents whose children have left the nest to lead their own families.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Best Kind of Best Friend

Here's how you know your daughter has an awesome best friend:

My girl and her friend were playing at the park.  I just told my girl that it was time to come home.  She dutifully came inside and opened the window to yell a parting farewell to her awesome best friend.  Her awesome best friend yells back, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you!  Hebrews 4:14.  Or something like that  I just made up the last part.  I don't know where it is."

And then we spent the next minute or so discussing where we thought it might be.  (It's Hebrews 13:5, she was close.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sneaky Music Theory

We have struggled to get our six year old interested in playing piano.  The older two love it and even ask for us to find certain songs that they can learn and play in their free time.  My husband (the piano teacher) had enough a couple days ago and vented to me that he didn't know what to do to get the kid learning the notes properly.

I brainstormed and came up with this fun idea which combines snack time with music theory.  At the end of snack time yesterday, the youngest asked, "Can we do this snack again tomorrow?"  Yes, please!

We made up a word list of all the note-names on the piano (A-B-C-D-E-F-G), Then I had the kids spell the words with their snack mix on the music staff...

I told the kids that once they were done, they
could spell any word they wanted and they'd
get as many M&Ms as letters they used.

A good time was had by all!