Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lighting it Up

 This time of year is always hard for me because it is dark so early. By the time it is 4pm the sun is setting and the house is beginning to get bleek and shadowy... I am not a fan of the dark.

I have found that one thing which really helps me is having varying lights around my house where I am. So this year, as well as the candles I light on my kitchen island, I also purchased a little pre-lit Christmas tree.

Some of you may be thinking this is a little early but it works at keeping me happy and not depressed. This bit of Christmas cheer and ambient lighting has added excitement to my days.

The boys are pretty happy too. They got to decorate it (several times over) and it is just their size. Even Ewan threw an ornament onto the tree and it stayed there (unfortunately he moves too quickly for me ever to catch a photo of him that isnt a blur).

I have to avoid puting any balls on the tree that are breakable because Ewan is obsessed with balls. When he sees them he lights up and wont stop hurling the tree to the ground until the ball is in his hands- a few little balls met their tragic end this way.

How do you like Matty's inside out shirt?
Christmas has arrived in this here home. I just couldnt wait another moment. The real tree wont be here until next month but this little addition works for now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Home Day

Today was a much needed stay at home day. Since Tuesday I have been on the go with the boys with appointments and meetings. We were suppose to go out again today but I thought it best to stay put.
I've been doing a bit of schooling with the boys at home (the picture up above is of our books) so I thought today would be a good day to try and make it a bit more creative. It was a huge success.


We did stickers. I managed to get Levi to put all of his stickers on the lines to create a diamond on one of his shape pages. He really enjoyed this activity. Matthew enjoyed sticking all his into his new sticker book.

We finally did a full calendar time. The boys loved singing all the songs and talking about the date.

We also did the weather frog and the boys loved getting the frog dressed into the right clothes for the weather.

Other than that, we did cutting and pasting. I separated a paper in 4 and made categories and the boys had to find the right pictures to glue into the categories.

We used playdo tools and hid pennies in the dough. They had to roll out the dough and find all their pennies.

We ate snacks and had our quiet time... it was really the perfect day.

Matty is doing well and hasn't complained about pain much at all. He really wants to remove his bandage to take a look but we aren't going to do that. The doctor is meant to deal with it- thank goodness. It is making activity time a bit frustrating for him though. He can't quite hold a pencil properly or get a grip on scissors.

Tomorrow we are off again for more fun. They are not fresh and ready for it since we had a wonderful day at home.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I read that book on my flight to Calgary and today Matthew was the one in striped pajamas. There were not very many other similarities than that.

We took off from the house early enough this morning to get to the childrens hospital for our 2 hour pre-op wait. After a short while they called Mattys name and they got him changed into a pair of striped pjs. He almost had pink but then they saw it would be too small. Yellow was much nicer for a little boy.

I shouldnt have worried about having all the activities I had because the waiting room had toys and crafts, movies and friends... We even met Papa Rick, a man who does activities with Matthew every Wednesday. He was a welcome familiar face.

Matthew was incredibly brave until he was wearing the mask to put him to sleep. He started panicking and it was so hard not to cry. In the middle of his panic he passed out. Seeing his body go limp and his eyes roll back was so hard. The moment I stepped out of the room I let the tears fall.

It wasnt long until they were back telling me he was in recovery, everything went well and I could see him once he woke up. I kept praying everything would be the best case scenario. The procedure included removing his thumb nail, taking a swab of the wound underneath and removing the ingrown nail that was stuck. They told me if there was no nail there, he might never have a thumb nail again- this would be the worse case. Thankfully he already had one growing. It was just to frail to help the rest of the nail grow out. My prayer was answered-we have the best case scenario.

So, recovery begins. I must admit I was thankful we were scheduled to go in November first since Halloween was the night before. All three boys got into their costumes and went to a few doors to collect some candy. Since Matthew was so excited for trick or treating he never even thought about the surgery until we were already there getting into our new clothes.

So tomorrow may be back to a new normal- its been an incredibly busy first week home. I guess that is the kind of life we lead right now though.    

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back to Life as I Know It

Well, My plane landed Sunday morning at midnight and we didnt get home until 1:00. I couldnt fall asleep right away and the day started smoothly again at 6:45. Matthew saw me first with an enthusiastic hello and then Levi saw me and gave me a huge smile and hugged me. When I went in to Ewans room, he just stared at me. I think he was a bit confused who this new person was getting him from bed. I could just hear his thoughts:"Now, this isn't who has been getting me every other day... hmmm?"

I used presents as incentive to get the boys to eat breakfast at an unusually quick pace- at least for them- and then I got to unpacking and handing out the goods. They were so excited about every single thing. It was like a crazy hurried Christmas morning. Everything came to church with us and helped them remain distracted during the service.

Today is back to normal life. I must admit that the time change as well as readjusting to home has caused me great fatigue but one that comes after a much needed refresher. Dave headed off to work this morning and wont be home until the boys are sound asleep so it is back to mothering in full force.

Today we have already enjoyed ourselves- reading and even playing. We started our day with our bible reading and then they launched into some good old movie watching- I can't seem to stop them since they've learned to turn it all on. I started right away on the laundry- a task I fear I may never get on top of since the weather we are experiencing is not conducive to quick drying of wet laundry. Once that was hung I had some time. I decided to show the boys how to use the toy airplane I brought home for Ewan. Now, this may seem like a normal thing to do but I am not one who usually sits down and PLAYS with the boys. Today was a break from the ordinary.

I showed them how a plane gets taxied and then drives down the runway until it is fast enough to take off. I also showed them which people did which jobs on the plane and they actually stated to play purposefully. I got so into the game, Matty and I even built a car and airport so the people would have a place to wait for their plane. It was quite nice.

Since then our day has been filled with snacks, reading, playing and more laundry. Dinner will be something simple since Dave wont be home and the boys dont like to eat anyways. Then for the clean up. I actually managed to clean all the boys rooms and the spare room today- it's rare it is that easy. Thats a quarter of the house at least!

I decided to try making shapes with the pancakes- an idea Tara's mom gave me to make eating more exciting. I did a few which was enough for the boys and they really were thrilled!
Today is our last peaceful day for a while. I hadn't realized just how hard it is to keep a quiet week. Hopefully I will have a chance to post again. If not, my intentions are good. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Almost Home Again

This is taken in Okatokes. A true foothills kind of scenery.

I can't believe that 10 days are almost up! It has flown by but I am also so ready to get home and see my men. I miss them all a lot but have enjoyed this time away immensely.

Vanessa took me downtown yesterday and I am sad to admit I have no pictures. There was one great opportunity to get the building while we were entering the city but then we were on our way down the hill and my chance slipped by before I got my camera ready.

We saw a few really cool shops but it was cold. We decided after a few stops to head somewhere a little warmer and so I finally got to experience Anthropology. May I just say that it is one of my favorite   stores? So many cool things.

By the time we got home we were wasted. Vacationing really lets your body realize how tired it is. I woke up this morning and I still haven't been able to get going. I was going to head out for a bit on my own and I can't seem to move very quickly.

Tara will be home after lunch. Maybe by then I'll have gained some energy.

I'm not sure if you'll hear form me again while Im here in Alberta. If not, I'll catch you back in Ottawa.

I look at this picture and can't believe it was our camera that captured this. So awesome.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Before I head out on my first adventure alone on Calgary roads, I thought I would share this photo with you.

This is out the back door.

Welcome to Calgary!!!

We got 20 cm of snow the other day and last night it threatened to start again. It doesn't appear much was accumulated though, thankfully.

I had another picture to show you but can't seem to rotate it (seems to be the silly issue I keep having). Either way, I think you get what I mean with the quantity of snow.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Quiet Day

Today I thought I would have a quiet day. This weekend was a busy one full of fun things to do but as everyone left for work this morning and I slept terribly again, I figured a nice clam down day was what the doctor ordered.

We took so many pictures that I thought I could share a few more of them with you.

This picture is one of the first scenery pictures I took. I got it while driving. I love that the rockies are in the back, the foothills in front and then the valley in the foreground. It was Friday here and you can see the sun was out, it was warm and the sky was mostly blue. The next day was a different story.

These three mountain peeks are called the three sisters. See all the clouds? The snow was falling by the buckets here. It was beautiful but terrifying.

 This is a hotel!!! And it is only part of it. The castle stretches on and on and on. You can get lost inside it. We brag about our Chateau Laurier in Ottawa... Im afraid it fades in comparison. We took pictures of us sitting in the sitting room of the bathroom. I wont post them, however, because we don't look terribly flattering. Im going to chose to be vain here :)

 Both of these pictures are taken at the falls right down from the hotel/ castle. Every time we tried to throw the snow it got clumped into balls and poor Tara had fleece mittens on so it mostly just stayed stuck to her mitts.

 I couldn't get over just how stunning the snow was on the orange leaves and the red berries. Winter seems to have snuck up on these beautiful plants.

In this picture you will see it is not snowing and I am wearing my spring jacket... We are just about to enter Banff national park and the weather has not yet changed on us. I think I may have to retire that jacket for the rest of this trip.

Finally, I thought I would let you see just how much snow is falling. We were just walking back to the vehicle to get going and this is what we were walking in. Cars were having trouble stopping in the sleet and it was much colder and quite wet. I just feel like Christmas is around the corner.

Today is back to normal for the Fritzke household so everyone was up and out of the house early for work. I've had breakfast, done a whole Beth Moore chapter in my Esther book and am now posting for you all.

My Tummy has been a bit upset since I've changed my diet a bit while being here... I think I will have to be a lot more careful because already I am itchier than I've been in months and my tummy has been rebelling on me a bit. Thankfully I have my allergy pills and ample time to rest. I may just go and watch a movie now.

Tomorrow I plan on braving the Calgary roads and drivers to find my way to some shops and sights and on Thursday Vanessa is going to take me downtown ( I am incredibly grateful I wont have to go on my own). I'll be sure to keep you posted on the events here in the West.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hello From Alberta

I arrived in Calgary Thursday evening after a pretty turbulent plane ride. I actually prayed for safety for the first hour or so until the plane stopped bouncing and also prayed the Jewish woman beside me was praying the same thing.

Once things settled down, I read my book until it was time to land. And who would have thought it would be 20 minutes earlier then expected?

Tara was ready and waiting for me and off we went to her home.

Friday Tara's mom took me to the market while Tara worked and she bought me a bracelet and ring (so sweet) and then we met Tara at work. Tara and I then headed off to the Saskatoon Berry Farm for a bit of sight seeing and lunch. 

Don't forget that the West is all about the cowboys and indians so here is a gate entering the farm showings the lands heritage.

As you can see there is the western theme with the buildings and this is where we ate lunch (don't worry, it was actually a gift shop and restaurant not a saloon). See the woman in the shorts? When we arrived the weather was pretty nice but the wind was picking up. By the time we left, I was very glad to be wearing a coat.

Saturday (today) Tara and her sister dragged themselves out of bed just for me to take me to Banff. Be prepared for some beauty.

Now, we woke up and it was cold but not too bad. On the way we saw some beautiful sights:

 This was taken outside of Cochrane on the way to Canmore. See the mountains and the clouds and the Starbucks cups???

 Here we are just about to enter the park but we had to pull over at the breath taking spot and get a few pictures. Can you see the green water? Stunning!

This is the last time we were dry folks. Once we made our way into Banff the weather became blustery:

We made our way up to see some falls and as you can see, the ground is no longer dry. The snow just kept falling and we were enjoying some very sticky and wet snow.

Tara, Vanessa and I managed one picture of us all together and it was time to check out the shops!

 Say HI to the black bear at the fudge store (don't worry, I didn't buy any. I'm sure it would have killed me).

Don't forget the moose either!

 And no one can leave without having at least tried on a cowboy hat. Do see the little cowboy boots in the background? I was really tempted to buy the boys each a pair but figured they wouldn't really appreciate them.

The way home was far from peaceful. The snow kept falling and the drivers just seemed to get worse and worse. I found myself praying for safety once more. Telling the Lord I still didn't want to die just yet. Several people cut in front of us without looking in weather that we couldn't stop in. We had to swerve carefully into new lanes to keep from crashing. We saw a transport truck across a ditch and numerous cars in trouble... I was a very quiet wreck in the front seat. Once we were out of the foothills, however, the snow died down and the roads were much better. Tara decided to take a smaller highway to get away form the scary drivers and it was a very wise choice.

We're back home again, exhausted from the stress of the drive and all the walking but it was a fabulous day full of beauty and TONS of pictures. Hopefully I can share more with you later.

Until next time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flying Westward

Tomorrow I am off for a 10 day vacation to visit my good friend Tara.

I am leaving with my siutcase and a carry-on full of books and thats all, my friends. This mother of three boys and one on the way is leaving everyone home while I go on an adventure in the West of Canada.

These are the men I leave behind:

The sun was beating right into our eyes so we were practically crying.
 Matthew was proving to be incapable of a simple smile- quite the character.

We tried to get a couple shot but note the sun in Daves eyes especially!
I am so increadibly excited to visit Tara but I also start feeling sad at the thought of not seeing my men everyday. I think it will be a pretty amazing time though. A bit of rest for a mama who is so wasted and a bit of a change for the guys at home.
I cooked like crazy the past few days to ensure dinner for every night. Spaghetti sauce, chicken korma, chili, lasagnia, broccolli chicken divan... I hope I have it all covered.
While I am away I hope to update on my adventures and when I return I will try and get my hubby to have some sort of rest. We shall see what success I have.
Next time you hear from me I hope to be in Alberta. Talk to you all soon.

Monday, October 15, 2012

11 Questions

My Aunt has been nominated for a blog award and she has sent out a eleven questions to a few blogs she follows and we are to answer them. I know I am late in answering but I hope I am not TOO late.

I'll do my best to answer them.

1) What is your cultural background?
I am from a very common blend of people. Scottish and Irish. I know there is some British in there and maybe some German as well but the first two are the primary ones.

2) What are a few words that would describe your family of origin?
Loving, warm, inviting, God fearing, full of life, communicative, open and real.

3) In a few words, what is your first memory?
Oooo, I have a terrible memory. Perhaps when I was in kindergarten and I was told to bring coconut to school for a craft. I forgot it was for a craft so I ate it as my snack and I remember crying when my teacher told me my mistake.

4) What did you enjoy most about school?
I always liked recess best of all in school. Once high school hit I just prefered classes that involved reading.

5) Where did you meet your spouse?
I met my spouse at church but I was very young at the time. Later we re-met at a cottage and things began there.

6) How would you spend next Saturday if you had no responsibilities?
Believe it or not this coming Saturday I will be in that exact position. My husband and family are sending me off to Alberta so I can visit my good friend Tara. So, I'll be touring and eating and shopping and visiting... Im so excited!

7)Which historical character would you most like to meet?
I think I would like to meet David and Jonathan. Two unlikely friends who both have a  heart from the Lord.

8) Which historical character would you most like to delete?
Charles Darwin

9) Which fictional character would you most like to meet?
When I was young my favourite story was called Fairy Rebel. In the story a tiny little fairy named Tiki became friends with a woman who couldn't bare children. I would love to meet Tiki!

10) If you could choose any country to live in for a year, which would it be?
 Ireland and I only choose this because I have always wanted to visit there. No saying I would be able to last a year but it would be convenient for traveling to many places.

 11) If you could choose any century to live in for a year, which would it be?
 They all contain their difficulties and their beauties. I suppose if I could choose my caste and my parents I would choose to live in the time of Sense and Sensibility in the 1790's. I know I would miss all my conveniences and my medicines though.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Service in Love

I know it has been a life time since I have written here but I wanted to let you know my intentions are to be updating... its just hard without access to a computer most of the time.

This weekend I was one of five speakers at a retreat and I thought I would post my talk since it is already finished and I have very little time to write something else out. Hope it is an encouragement.


Before I begin, I would like to warn you that I was hoping to get a bit more of a discussion out of my talk than to simply speak to you. I know for a fact that I have a lot to learn from every woman here and so I hoped to get some of those things out of you today.

As I read John 15 I found that what really hit me was Christ's command to us to love each other:

 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

I'm not sure why God placed this section on my heart except that perhaps He wanted to show me (as he has) where I fall short. But before I get to that, I thought a good place to start would be to look at some examples of Christ's love. How did he love us? What are his examples?

I'm telling you now I have not taken note- or even studied- every example of his love. I only have a very small helping to serve you but would encourage you to look for other examples as you study on your own- or as we break into discussion groups.

1. My first example of Christ's love to his people was how he physically fed people. Can anyone think of some examples of when Christ did this? And with what emotion did he do it?

 In all 4 of the gospels we learn of how Christ fed a crowd of 5000 from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 6:34-44). Again we see him do the same thing for a crowd of 4000 with 7 loaves and a few small fish (Matthew 8:1-10). Can you guess what emotion led him to this service? COMPASSION! These crowds of people were un escapable. They followed Christ where he went because they wanted to hear him and see him. When he saw they were hungry, he took care of them instead of sending them away where they could faint from hunger and exhaustion. Please don't forget that the crowd of 5000 was fed after Christ tried to go somewhere quiet to rest!

2. My second example of how he loved his people was that he fed them spiritually. He spent time sitting, eating and standing teaching individuals and crowds what they needed to know. Matthew 4:23 says: "  Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people." Not everyone loved his message, as we well know, but because of his love, he needed them to know the truth. What examples can you come up with here- there are so many I know we won't touch even half of them?

One huge truth I thought of him teaching was cleanliness:

Mark 7:17-23

17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

I don't know if we can even fathom how difficult this teaching would have been. For a people so steeped in tradition and law regarding what food to eat and touch, and then to suddenly be told that nothing is unclean to eat... it would be a shock to say the least.

Secondly, I thought of him teaching us how to pray.

Luke 11:1-12

11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.[
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[
And lead us not into temptation.[

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

He lovingly came away from his time in prayer to teach his disciples how to pray properly. I find this example really makes me think of a father to his small children, patiently taking time to show them how to  speak to God.

3.The third way of Christ's love I thought of was how he healed people. What examples of this kind of love can you remember?

Jesus healed illness such as the man with leprosy in Matthew 8:3- not only did he heal him but he touched him to show his love.

He healed people's hearts: We read in Luke 19:

Luke 19:1-9

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Zacchaeus had a broken heart. He knew he had done wrong and wanted desperately to have Christ see his repentance and accept him. And not only was he accepted but he was told he had salvation. In the eyes of the Jewish people, Zacchaeus was a horrible man working for the Romans but Jesus saw his heart.

Christ healed people from death. Matthew 9: 23-26 describes how he brought back to life a young girl who had died and was being mourned. An even better example is in John 11 when he brought Lazarus back from death. We learn  that Jesus was going to return to a place where people had just tried to kill him, just for Lazarus. Why? because " the one you love is sick.” We also read that he wept for Lazarus in his death. In his love he brought him back to life. A foreshadowing of his triumph over death before we would truly understand.

Finally, he healed the spiritually oppressed. In Matthew 8:32 we see one example of him casting out demons.

4. The Fourth example of Christ's love I thought of was how he defended people. Can you think of who he defended?

In Mark 10: 13-16 he defends the children. When the disciples thought they were in Christ's way and didn't deserve his time, Christ defended them and loved them. He opened his arms to them and explained his kingdom. 

He defends a prostitute in Luke 7:36-50. She came to him with a broken heart, fully repentant of her sin and as she washed his feet with her tears and hair and then generously poured perfume on his feet the men scorned both of them for their actions. Christ defended her by showing her his love and by speaking truth to the men:

“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

In Matthew 9:14-17 we see Christ defend his disciples. When others were fasting frequently, they jealously asked Jesus why his disciples did not fast, but feasted instead. In answering them, he taught them who he was while lovingly protecting his disciples from judgement.

My final example of Christ love is one that covers pretty much everything he did but I felt needed to be its own category. Can anyone guess what I might be thinking of? SERVING! Every example I have given thus far- and the ones you have come up with are how Jesus served. He gained nothing from what he did other than bringing glory to his Father. John 13 is a beautiful summary of his service to his people:

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

This is the last peaceful time he has with his disciples and what he really desired them to know and see was what it was to serve. To see how he had done it for them so that they could do it to others.

I'd like to dwell on the topic of service now since it is where this passage lead me most of all. When I think of loving the way Christ loved me I see it as an active love. Not an emotion or feeling but a demonstration. 1 John says:

1 John 3:11-20

"11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."

 I have been showered with love by so many loving people. I have had meals made for me simply because they knew I was a tired mama. I have had people offer to take my children for a night or two because they knew I was struggling emotionally and physically. I have had people silently listen to my fears and concerns (and yes, even complaints) and received loving council and rebuke when needed. I have even had people go to great lengths to figure out a way to fit watching my children into their crazy schedules so that I could go on a date with my husband. There is no way anyone would be able to do these amazing services for me without love. Then I look at myself.

There are great barriers that can stand in the way of service. Can anyone think of some?

I'm about to be vulnerable so please have a kind heart. These are some of my barriers.

First, selfishness. Sometimes I just find it too much work. I'm tired, I don't have everything I need to get it all done just right, I haven't finished things I want for myself so how can I get things done for others??? Ever had any of those thoughts?

Second, fear! This is a big one. I find I am afraid to serve. What if my service is rejected? What is I put myself out on a limb, offer to help and hear someone say they don't need me? I've always struggled with needing to be needed and hearing 'no' can hurt.  Sometimes I am just to afraid of the commitment as well. What if something else comes along? How will I fit it all into my schedule? Will I be able to balance one more thing?

Finally, and I think this is the biggest, and unfortunately the worst. I just feel unappreciated. Sometimes I wonder if I should just throw in the towel because no one seems to care. I want someone to look at what has been done and thank me profusely. Rediculous, I know. Matthew 6:1-4 clearly puts me back in my place. Service, as Christ served, is never about being thanked or noticed. It is about giving of ourselves from what God has given us. From Him, through us, to others. I like how Jesus put it in Luke 17:

Luke 17:5-10

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

We are to do our duty which is to serve with love, without expecting anything back. It is so contrary to my sinful self. I constantly struggle to come back to the truth that service isn't an option, it's a command and I am to do it in God's strength and for Him.

Here are a few examples I try to remember:

Philippians 2:5-11

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[
b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

And in Matthew 20:26-28:

 "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

If everyone were to serve as Christ served, I don't believe anyone would ever feel unappreciated.  And I believe that our service is urgent. Our brothers and sisters always need a willing person to be served by. It brings encouragement in times when people feel hopeless or lost. It strengthens others to serve and it places Christ back in focus in lives that sometimes are clouded over with craziness and difficulty. 1 Peter says:

1 Peter 4:7-11

7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

I plan on keeping these papers close to me because while I wrote this out and prayed on it and searched the word I found encouragement and convictions that took my barriers and whispered back at me that there are no excuses. Loving and serving go hand in hand and I don't see anywhere in scripture where it tells me I have a choice in the matter.  I want to thank everyone in this room for their service. Be encouraged that whoever you serve, it does impact their lives. Even if you don't hear a thank you, remember you have pleased the One who matters. "Love each other as I have loved you."