Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pleasing God, Not Man

As believers, I think we all catch ourselves doing this from time to time.  I know I do.  As we go about our day, we subconsciously think such and such action of mine will impress so-and-so Godly believer and they will truly know where I stand and be pleased with me.  Writing it out in black-and-white sure makes it sound as sinful as it is, though, eh!

In the past, whenever I've heard anything on the topic of pleasing mankind instead of God, I have always heard it referring to pleasing friends, the unsaved around us, or people you want to impress (bosses, boyfriends, etc).  I particularly heard this topic as a teenager, referring to pleasing the "in crowd".  However, when I was a teenager, I wasn't saved.  I thought I was, though, and I was trying very hard to live a life I couldn't.

Now that I am saved, I still sin, but not in the habitual way that I did before I was believer.  When I wasn't saved, my constant cycle of sin, ask for forgiveness, sin, try harder, sin, etc, naturally got me pretty down, because there was no change.  Now that Christ did the changing, I am much more aware of the sins that pop up and much more willing and eager to turn to Christ for Him to take care of them.  I don't want to grieve Him, and also I want the best life possible as a believer; I want my life to be pleasing to Him.

I have looked up some verses on this topic of pleasing God instead of mankind, and I would like to share them with you.  I strongly believe that, as believers, the first places we need to turn when there is a sin that comes up in our life, is in prayer to Jesus and into His Word.  We must have faith that He will make the changes needed.

"So whether we are at home [heaven] or away [earth], we make it our aim to please Him."
2 Corinthians 5:9

John MacArthur (from my ESV Study Bible) shares an interesting note on the word "please" in the above verse.  He writes, "The term translated "please" is the same one used in Titus 2:9 to describe slaves who were passionate to please their masters."

"...but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who test our hearts."
1 Thessalonians 2:4

Every time I speak (or write) am I doing so to please God? Or man?  If I share the gospel in a way that pleases unbelievers, it is doubtful they will get saved, because what would please them would probably be if I said to have faith in yourself, it's okay to make mistakes, and we'll all get to heaven some way or another.  Not happening!  If I share the gospel for the purpose of Godly men and women around me hearing and approving, where is my love for the unbelievers?  Nowhere.  And I believe that is a very thin veil they could see through rather quickly.  

"...for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light...and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."
Ephesians 5:8-10     

What I aim to do in my life, is to try and determine what God would want in every decision I make.  As far as I can tell, since we as believers are no longer living a life of sin and darkness but are now living in the light of the Lord, His will in our lives becomes plain.  I have found this to be true in my life.  The more I let Him live through me, the more quality time I spend with Him, the less I have to "hunt" to figure out His will. 

"By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him.  Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him."
Hebrews 11:5-6

I would once again like to share some of MacArthur's notes, on the above verses:  "Genuine faith does not simply believe that a divine being exists, but that the God of Scripture is the only real and true God who exists.  Not believing that God exists is equivalent to calling Him a liar.  A person must believe not only that the true God exists, but also that He will reward men's faith in Him with forgiveness and righteousness, because He has promised to do so."  How to please God?  Have faith in Him.  First, as an unbeliever, one needs to put their faith in Him by believing in Him.  Then as a believer just continue life trusting Him with that same simplicity as when we originally believed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Motherhood Month - 18

Progress & How I'm Feeling:  It's been 2 years + 6 months + 4 days since we were approved (that's 2 years + 1 month of being active, since we took a five month break).  Shortly after my husband & I got approved, we were discussing how long it would take 'til we would get matched.  Knowing that our agency's average wait time is two years, we each took a guess that we have more or less stuck with.  He guessed 1 1/2 years.  I guessed 2 1/2 years.  Well, here we are, it is over our agency's average time, it is even past my guess.  I know we were told some people have waited up to six years.  You just don't think that'll be you - and I still doubt it will be! But it is going to be a longer-than-average wait, that has now been made clear.  So how do I keep from being discouraged?  Well, sometimes I am sad.  I am a little right now, looking at the numbers I'm typing.  But there's a few things.  One, the longer we wait, the closer we are to being matched, right?  Two, I honestly don't dwell on it a lot.  Yes, I want to become a mom, raise a child in a true Christian home, raise our child in a good, Godly way that will be a benefit to them, give them tons of hugs and snuggles and giggles, see my husband be a dad and my in-laws become first-time grandparents, and so much more.  But, life moves along.  There's everyday life to live along with planning for and dreaming of a baby, and after waiting so long I guess it just not an all-consuming focus anymore.  And thirdly, last year in September when I had a seizure after an almost six-month hiatus and we had to rethink the idea of parenting, I had to really do some serious thinking and praying.  My heart was b-r-o-k-e-n.  Not become parents at all?  I'd already given up becoming a mom through birth.  Now to give up  having a baby all over again, this time with no alternative?  After much wrestling and tears, I slowly, over time, came to the place where I could say I wanted God's will more than mine.  And what peace comes with that!  And I'm not just saying that as a "Christian platitude"!  It's true!  So when in March and April of this year I had two more seizures and we decided to put our adoption on hold with the potential of closing it completely and permanently, it wasn't as painful as one would think.  Yes, I cried.  Yes, for a while I kept my feelings stuffed inside, terrified to hope.  But the gut-wrenching part had been done earlier, and peace was already there.  God was there (He'd never left).  Thankfully, I was able to go on a higher dose of medication and my health is doing really well.  We became active again in September of this year.    

Craving:  Pizza!  It's on the menu for tonight :)

Thoughts About Our Future Child:  My prayer for you is that you will believe in Jesus Christ.  My prayer for us is that we will raise you in the ways that you, yourself, need.

Thoughts About Our Child's Expectant Mom:  I wonder about you, where you are, what you're experiencing in life right now, things like that.

Most Recent Baby Purchase/Gift:  Nothing recently.  But I have been working on tearing off the old wallpaper in the baby room so that we can eventually get to the point of painting it!  The paper (two different patterns) is from at least 1990 and more likely the 70's or 80's, and underneath the whole room is pink.  At least it's coming off fairly easily! :)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Get To Know Me

I don't usually do these types of surveys anymore (to me they hearken back to the early 2000's when I first got an email address, lol!) but I am slightly bored and need a blog post, so I figured why not do a "get to know me" list of questions and answers.  I found the questions on various blogs throughout the Internet and edited them to a list that suited me.  I've even added a few of my own.  I hope you enjoy getting to know me a little better!  I'd love to know you better, too - at the end, why don't you leave a comment with your answer to any one of these questions?
  1. Are you named after anyone? Not that I know of.  My parents were considering calling me "Shelley" though, as a nickname for my middle name.
  2. What is your middle name? Michelle
  3. What was favourite subject in school? I can't say I had one.  I definitely had least favourites!
  4. What is your favorite drink? I am a big fan of water.
  5. What is your favorite song at the moment? I love some of the old hymns, such as How Great Thou Art.
  6. What is your favorite food? Cheese!!!
  7. What is the last thing you bought? Probably groceries.
  8. Favorite book of all time? I know this is going to sound like a Sunday School answer, but when it comes down to it, The Holy Bible would always come out at the top of the list. 
  9. Favorite Colour? Blue!  I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to the colour blue, I love it so much, haha.
  10. Do you have any pets? Not currently :(  But I am a huge cat lover.  Hubby loves cats, too.  We've had many cats throughout our marriage - you can see some of them here.
  11. Favorite Perfume? I'm not big on wearing perfume.  I have a few very inexpensive ones, but I usually forget to wear them!  I do like White Musk from The Body Shop.
  12. Favorite Holiday? Christmas!!  I love the planning, shopping, wrapping & giving & receiving gifts, family gatherings at various places, banquets and parties, the first snowfall, decorating the tree, everything.  I admit that sometimes I get so wrapped up (no pun intended, haha) in the excitement that I forget that we're celebrating the birth of Christ - but when I take time to think about that if He hadn't been born He wouldn't have died, well, then I am filled with emotion and am very grateful toward Him!
  13. Are you married? I hope you all know the answer to this question ;)  Yes, yes I am! :)
  14. Have you ever been overseas? No.
  15. What countries have you all lived in and/or visited? Canada, United States, Mexico
  16. Do you know any other languages beside English? I can understand & speak a little Low German.  
  17. How many siblings do you have? I have two older sisters and an older brother. 
  18. What is your favorite brick-and-mortar store? Not sure if it's my #1 favourite, but I really like DeLuca's, which is an Italian grocery store.  Oh, wait.  I forgot scrapbooking stores.  Duh.  Any scrapbooking store would probably win the prize.  And I also like gift shops - The Blue Heron in Kenora, Ontario is one of my favourites.
  19. Favorite restaurant? I don't go to restaurants much anymore because there's so little I can eat at them, but one of my favourites that I can still eat a couple things at is Taco Del Mar.  If I could whatever I wanted, my favourite would probably still be Olive Garden.
  20. When was the last time you cried? Hmm, I can't recall.  It was probably somewhat recently, though.
  21. Favourite movies? I love some of the old, classic musicals.  My favourites are Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Hello, Dolly!
  22. Favourite TV shows? I don't watch much TV anymore, but my current favourite is MasterChef (almost any country's - right now we're watching Australia's latest season).
  23. How tall are you? A little over 5'7".  I'm about the same height as my mom, but quite a bit taller than both my older sisters and my sister-in-law.  However, my 16-year-old niece recently passed me!
  24. Can you cook? Do you enjoy cooking?  Yes, I'd say I can cook, and I think my husband would, too!  I do enjoy cooking, although there are some things I am too squeamish for - I very rarely cook red meat or seafood.  
  25. Do you have kids? Well, I think everyone reading this blog knows the answer to that question.
  26. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself? I could see someone being reluctant to, but my hope & prayer is that there is someone (or more!) out there who would be a good match with me!
  27. Do you use sarcasm a lot? No, not my style.
  28. Have you, or will you, ever bungee-jumped?  I don't think I would enjoy that.  No, I know I wouldn't.
  29. What’s your favorite cereal? Unfortunately I don't eat cereal anymore and I really miss Multi-Grain Cheerios!
  30. What’s the first thing you notice about people? This is going to sound shallow, but usually I notice their sense of style - what they're wearing and if they "own it" or not.
  31. What is your eye colour? Brown - not a dark brown.
  32. Do you prefer scary movies or movies with happy endings? Definitely happy endings.  I take no delight in fear.
  33. What are your favourite (non-perfume) smells? Woodsmoke in fall has gotta top the list!
  34. What are your favourite months of the year, weather-wise? May, June, July, August, September.  The other months are just too cold for me.
  35. What country were you born in? Canada
  36. What are some of your hobbies? Scrapbooking, reading, doing word puzzles, identifying local wildflowers, gardening flowers and vegetables.
  37. Do you have a hidden talent (or not-so-hidden)? If so, what? I don't think so.  I love acting, but am so terrible at memorization I haven't pursued it.
  38. What’s your favorite Etsy shop (that isn’t yours)? I'm not sure if this is my #1 favourite, but I've shopped from Tabitha942 and she was great!  Lots of cute baby stuff.
  39. What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone? Probably being online, reading blogs and catching up on Facebook and stuff.
  40. What’s your favorite junk food? Salt & vinegar potato chips.  I miss some of the baked treats and chocolate bars I used to be able to eat, though!
  41. Who's your favourite fiction author? Sarah Sundin
  42. What hairstyle/hair colour have you had that you liked the most? I've had a perm twice (the frst time with long hair and no bangs) and liked it both times.  The second time was with shorter hair (shorter in the back, longer in the front) and straight, blunt bangs - loved it.  I also enjoyed the highschool days when I would dye my hair various shades of dark red.
  43. What city, country, or area of the world would you like to visit (that you haven't been to before)?  I really want to go to Hawaii with Hubby.
  44. Last romantic gesture from your husband? He surprised me with a package of gf coconut macaroons I'd spotted in Walmart (that actually didn't have soy for a change)!
  45. Which do you like hearing most from your husband - I love you, Thank-you, or You're beautiful? "You're beautiful."  He says "I love you" a lot already ;)
  46. Do you ever stay in your pajamas all day (even when not sick)? No.  On rare occasions I'll stay in them 'til lunchtime.  But I'm more an evening-pajamas kind of person.  When I come home in the evening the first thing I want to do is get into something comfy!
So?  Anything we have in common?  Anything completely different?  What's your answer to any one (or more!) of these questions? Thanks for reading!! :)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Motherhood Month - 17

Progress:  It has been 2 years + 5 months + 1 day since we were approved to adopt.  We took a 5-month hiatus from April 28 - Sept. 22 of this year.

How I'm Feeling:  It feels good to be actively waiting to adopt again.  The five months off were our choice and we felt they were necessary, as we felt my health needed to be under better control before we felt comfortable proceeding with adoption.  I say it as if going on hold was easy.  It was not.  I had a lot of feelings before we went on hold and while we were on hold, that ranged from anguish to anger to fear to confusion to grief to apathy to relief to sadness to contentment...and not necessarily in that order.  I would say that now that we're active again, I am still looking forward to getting "the call" and without a doubt I still want to be a mom, but unlike a couple of years ago it is no longer an all-consuming desire that controls me.

Craving:  A glass of water and some plain Ruffles potato chips.

Thoughts About Our Future Child:  Looking forward to holding you, snuggling you and smelling your newborn smell.

Thoughts About Our Child's Expectant Mom:  I'm thankful you're not choosing to abort.

Most Recent Baby Purchase/Gift:  I bought a little something for my hubby, whose birthday is tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Our Western Canada Vacation - Part 6

This is the final part and it covers the last four days of our trip, May 22-25.

On the 22nd we left Blue River, BC and headed toward Jasper, Alberta.  We spent the day driving through Mount Robson Provincial Park and Jasper National Park.  We saw a couple black bears and a few elk as we drove by but that was all for animals.  We did see a lot of nice scenery like usual, though!

This black bear was on the side of a pull-out and I think he was eating some garbage.
We stopped and walked a trail to a look-out over a marsh.
We could have walked the trail around the marsh but didn't have time.
Stunning Mount Robson.
We took a lot of pictures of it and could've taken a lot more.
We stopped for a late lunch at the base of Mount Robson, which was really nice despite the mosquitoes.
Beside the picnic shelter, there was a bridge over a cold rushing mountain river that led to a trail up the mountain; we didn't have time to walk it.
Pretty scenery along the way created by God the Master Artist :)
We drove to Jasper National Park and took a scenic route to Athabasca Falls.
Athabasca Falls.
We spent the night in Jasper, at a place that ended up being a bit of a disappointment, and headed toward Calgary, Alberta.

The 23rd was spent enjoying the beautiful scenery in the parks of Alberta again. We saw some wildlife, including some elk and a glimpse of a black bear with her cub.  We stopped at a lot of pullouts and took a lot of pictures; there were a lot of tourists doing the same thing.

We started off the day at Sunwapta Falls.
My husband hiked a waterfall and this is his view from the top.  This waterfall was frozen on our honeymoon.
Athabasca Glacier

Bighorn Sheep.  There were a lot of people - foolish people! - who marched right up to these animals, sometimes with their children, and posed for pictures.  The sheep started to act skittish while we watched and moved off.     
Some of the lakes were such a gorgeous colour.  I could just not get over it (and the cameras never did it justice!)
We had a picnic with this adorable li'l fellow (a Grey Jay).  He ate gluten-free that day, lol.
Lake Louise.  It was completely frozen on our honeymoon but this time was thawing (this trip was about a month later than our honeymoon was).
We spent the night in Calgary, Alberta and the next day drove to Saskatchewan and the next day drove home.

The End :)
Thank-you for reading and commenting!  It is much appreciated! :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Our Western Canada Vacation - Part 5

This post covers May 20th & 21st.

We went to Vancouver Aquarium on the 20th.  Lee had been here once when he was younger, and then we had visited it on our honeymoon ten years ago and loved it, so we came back, and would like to do so again yet in our lives, hopefully next time with a little one who can enjoy it, too!  We like to take our time through places like zoos and museums, so we were here for 5 hours - and would've spent longer if we could have.

Fish and turtle in a neat-looking aquarium.
Birds.  The sloth was also in this section.
Lots of little jellyfish and me.
I LOVE sea otters - they have to be one of THE cutest animals around!  The sea otter show was excellent - or should I say the man doing it was.
The beluga whale show.  There are 2 whales - a mother (approx. 28 years old) and daughter (20 years old). We also went downstairs where you could see the whales underwater. 
Really big jellyfish.
Something very pink.
The dolphin show.  She could jump really, really high and swim dizzily fast.  Her flippers are short because she was caught in a fishing net (hence why she is in the aquarium now).
It was a great day :)
It took us a while to find our way out of the park that the aquarium is in, and then we headed off to Pemberton, BC.  We passed Whistler on the way, and although we don't ski, we did watch the 2010 Olympics, so I found it kind of cool.  The scenery along the way was beautiful as always!

We spent the night at Pemberton Valley Lodge which was a really nice place to stay.

The next day, the 21st, we drove from Pemberton, BC, to Blue River, BC.  It was basically just a driving day.  The roads were slow, windey, hilly, and narrow, with switchbacks, and then they got better.  We saw lots of mountains and mountain lakes; some pretty-coloured lakes.  Hubby saw a huge black bear in the distance.  We went through Kamloops about halfway through the day and stopped for a while at a hobby railroad train store for Hubby.  It was also an antique store so I browsed while he shopped.

Wild columbine.

We spent the night in Blue River, BC, and headed to Alberta the next day.

 Please come back to read the final part tomorrow :)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Our Western Canada Vacation - Part 4

This part is about May 17-19.

We started off our first full day at Terrace Beach Resort by walking the Wild Pacific Trail (the Lighthouse Loop) which is right next to Terrace Beach.  (Go here to learn more about this trail, and here to read about the man behind it; at the very least watch this video - it is very interesting!)  Apparently this 2.6 km (1.6 mi) loop is a 30-45 minute walk, but we took our time, stopping at every little lookout to take pictures - and we spent a stretch of time at the lighthouse - so we were gone on the walk for 4 hours!

The boardwalk from the resort to the trail.  I LOVE boardwalks!
Crazy trees.

We spotted this li'l fellow waaaay up on a bend in a tree having a bath just like a cat.  Thankfully the only wildlife we saw on the trail, as mountain lions could have been seen.

One of many amazing views.
More trail.
More beautiful scenery.
The lighthouse.
Hubby went way out on the rocks by the lighthouse while I stayed where I felt safe.  But while sitting on the ground I this may be where I got the bug bite that affected my leg for the rest of the trip!
We ended off the day by having supper, seeing the sun set over the bay, and relaxing in the hot tub on the deck!  Oh, and we also saw harbour seals from our cabin!

Our second full day at TBR was probably the favourite day of the trip for both of us, probably simply because it was just very relaxing.  We spent the day on the rocks and beach below our cabin, at low tide, exploring tidal pools.  This was a very new experience for both of us, particularly for me, as I'd never experienced tides before (I'd only seen the ocean a couple times before this - once pacific, once atlantic).  This was also the worst day for my leg - the bug bite, which was oozing slightly, had swelled and had a large red circular patch around it with an even greater red area around that.  It was super-sensitive to touch so I couldn't itch it and my leg had gotten quite stiff and very achy.  So glad we both walked the trail and hot-tubbed the day before! 

I don't know what that is but it's cool.
Lots of little blue jellyfish.
We spent a lot of time at this pool.  Hubby had a watertight case for his phone, and it was pretty neat seeing the underwater video he got.  And yes, I am wearing hikers, pants, a hoodie, jacket, and toque, and majority of the time I was also wearing mitts and my jacket's hood - it was cold to me!
One of the anemones in the above pool.
Hubby spent the evening exploring the tidal pools some more, when the tide was even lower, while I stayed at the cabin; he found lots of neat things including a starfish which he brought to show me.  We packed and reorganized for the next day, and the day ended with a sunset over the bay again.

Our last day at TBR Lee got up early and drove to another beach and saw a 100+ year old shipwreck and explored that beach/rocks at low tide, then he drove to the lighthouse and walked out on the rocks and enjoyed the ocean.  We then packed up and drove back across Vancouver Island, stopping to look at some water bombers.  We went to Cathedral Grove, a place we'd been to on our honeymoon (I really think it was better then) and wanted to visit again.

Really huge trees.
We then went by the "goats on the roof" market again and then took the ferry, which we barely made, back to the mainland.  We spent the night in downtown Vancouver.       

 Please come back to read the fifth part tomorrow :)