Monday, February 27, 2012


“Through wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches”   Proverbs 24:3-4
What images are evoked when you say the word, “home”? Do you smile and laugh as your mind wanders back to happy childhood memories?  Does your stomach turn as you try to push away the painful moments in your childhood home?
Regardless of your own childhood experience, you have the opportunity to build a home environment which reflects the love of God. You have the ability to determine whether your spouse and your children reflect upon “home” with feelings of warmth and a smile as they approach the front door. It doesn’t happen naturally or overnight, but it begins with a Family Mission Statement.
A Family Mission Statement helps you define the values you hold for home life. The Family Mission Statement reminds you to focus on this vision as you build your house.
Our Christensen Family Mission Statement centers upon Proverbs 24:3-4,
“Through wisdom a house is built, by understanding it is established, by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”
We placed these verses on the front page of our wedding ceremony bulletin in 1990, and it is written in a prominent place in our home 21 years later. Who doesn’t want a home full of precious and pleasant riches — A place of rest and peace and laughter and acceptance? But, many of us do not know how to begin creating a rich environment for our families. Proverbs 24 gives us a concise plan to carry out our family mission.
Through wisdom a house is built.  Wisdom begins through the fear of the Lord. Wisdom is Christ Himself, who supplies us with all we need for living.  Relying upon our education or the cultural trends of the day will not build our home.  Christ is the Rock on which to build our personal lives and He is the foundation to build our family relationships.
By understanding it is established. The Holy Spirit guides us into understanding right and wrong. We can talk with Him daily about our child-rearing, our conflicts and concerns. We can ask Him for wisdom when our kids are in the middle of a tantrum or our spouse has lost their job. He will guide us to understand the needs of our family in light of Scripture. This understanding will establish our home!
By knowledge the rooms are filled. Knowledge is the love and practice of the wisdom and understanding that has been revealed. It includes grace and joy and living freely within the love of God. Our speech, our finances, our self-discipline and the way we discipline our children are all effected when we put to practice the wisdom of Christ.
The rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  Some people interpret these riches as material blessings. I have been in the most humble of homes and the poorest of countries, where material goods were not filling the rooms of the home. Instead, overflowing joy, laughter and generosity were pouring out from beautiful lives. These precious and pleasant riches cannot be given or taken away by the world. These are the riches of rest, unconditional love, spirits and minds at peace with one another because they are at peace with Christ.
This is the vision of “home” I hold for my family. It begins on the foundation of knowing Christ, it is established through understanding His ways. Through knowledge we learn practical ways to treat one another in the home, and our hearts and rooms pour out with blessing.
Allow God to help you form your Family Mission Statement. It will guide your family in purposeful ways and keep you on track throughout the child-rearing years.

Have you created a Family Mission Statement? Share your Mission with others.  Come back next week for specific and practical ways to apply your Family Mission Statement to daily life.


Friday, February 24, 2012


This post is for grown ups, the married kind…

Last Christmas I was having trouble figuring out gifts for my husband. Like me, Glen is a book lover AND a big fan of sex, so when I found an ornate copy of the Kama Sutra in a dusty old bookstore I scooped it up. It brought us hours of fun, but not in the way you’re thinking.

We giggled our way through some very weird and often disturbing ancient sex advice. For instance, men are advised to keep a rag by the bed so that they can mop the sweat from their pits during love making. A sensitive lover also must do their best not to spit on the floor during the act, but instead should provide their own spittoon.

Now you know.

As a follow up to the big V-day, here are a few of my favourite “couple-y” things.


To hear many religious people talk, one would think God created the torso, head, legs and arms, but the devil slapped on the genitals. ~Don Schrader

Runner Up: Sex on television can’t hurt you, unless you fall off. -Author Unknown

iPhone/iPad App

Although the book was a bust, the app worked out a lot better. The iKamaSutra is $0.99 of inspiring ideas, even those that inspire the question “what the…?” and “why?” It is password protected, so you don’t have to worry about the kids trying to play your new “game”. The illustrations and explanations are tasteful – instructive and not at all like creepy porn.


I often feel caught between one culture that sees sex as a cheap thrill and another culture that sees it as a dirty, forbidden subject. It’s is a great place to poke around for thoughtful advice and ideas.


Once upon a time, we worked for FamilyLife developing marriage conferences and study materials. So we have read A LOT of marriage books, from the lame to the utterly bizarre (such as the one which suggests sitting naked, hands together and saying “the god in me salutes the god in you”). Of all of these, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas remains a favourite.
It is not another exhaustive list of things “to do”, but an exploration of all the things marriage can and should teach us. Although it grapples with some profound and difficult subjects, it is surprisingly easy to read.


Okay, I’ll admit, as I was picking a movie off of Shaw VOD last night my finger hovered over Twilight: Breaking Dawn (which, yes, I’ve already seen), but I am so glad that I kept scrolling down and decided to try In Time. I was skeptical – that boy band kid and the chick from Veronica Mars… but dystopian sci-fi with romance to boot, sounds like my kind of thing. Turns out, it was.

Bonnie and Clyde with a Robin Hood flair in a world where time (as in, time to remain alive) is a currency. It puts that whole being the 1% thing in chilling perspective. Also, it kind of makes me want to rob a bank on our next date night.

Marriage Advice

Date night. Do it.
Marriage isn’t always easy, but you can get through almost anything if you’re still friends.

So here’s me, cuddling up on the couch with my friend to watch Modern Family re-runs. 
Yes, at this stage in life that totally counts as a date. PJs optional.


Monday, February 13, 2012


I have two stories to tell. The first one is true. Not internet forward true, but really, truly true. I know because I was there.
The second is one our pastor told in church today. He read it from someone who heard it from someone else, so the thread of truth is slightly murky. But it’s a good story nonetheless.

Story One

Nine years ago, I found myself on a flight from Toronto to Calgary with my two small daughters. Armed with fishy crackers, colouring books and 14 pacifiers, I was sure I could handle a two-year-old and a five-month-old on my own.
By hour three, we were running perilously low on smarties and I had detected and unholy smell in our section. With a sigh and a prayer for strength, I buckled the baby into her carrier, grabbed the diaper bag and wrestled my overtired, and extremely ripe, toddler out of her seatbelt. As I stood, I lifted her up under her arms and propped her on my hip, then shuffled my way into the aisle.
The next part of this memory plays in slow motion. She leans forward slightly, just over the seat in front of us, opens her mouth, and vomits all over the poor man’s head. I spin her around as quick as I can, spewing vomit on myself, the baby and the seat behind us.
My eldest child is a prolific puker. It’s kind of amazing.
I’m sure it was an unpleasant awakening for the man in the front seat. And he was not impressed. He began yelling and cursing and screaming for the flight attendants. They rushed over to clean him up and tried to calm him down, while I apologized profusely.
He did not accept.
Standing there dripping vomit and smelling so bad, we all three started to cry.
Worst flight EVER.

Story Two

My second story is somewhat similar. A mother and infant boarded a plane wearing sparkling white dresses. The baby looked up eagerly with each person who walked by: “Dada?” As she began to fuss, Mom pulled out a bottle of orange juice. This apparently was the best way to pacifiy Baby Girl, especially when the plane hit some turbulance.
I’m sure you can see where this is going. As the flight grew increasingly choppy, the next part seems inevitable – sticky, orange vomit from head to toe.
I’m sure she wiped it up as best she could, but that didn’t help much. By the time the plane landed, Mom was frazzled and overwhelmed. As they disembarked, the baby looked across the tarmac and shouted “Dada!”
There stood a young man, also dressed in pristine white dress shirt and pants, waiting for his family. I imagine the handoff was a quick one, as Mom dashed off to clean herself up. Most of us would hold that smelly, sticky child at arm’s length; perhaps find some way to cover up the worst of it. But not this Dad.
He eagerly scooped that vomit covered child right into his arms and held her close. With a smile on his face, he kissed her head and snuggled her all the way through the airport.

I’m struck by the contrast in these two stories:

the censure of the disapproving man
the embrace of a loving parent

It reminds me of the two gods I have believed in.

The first is a distant stranger, angry and disgusted by my mess. This god requires polite, well-behaved followers. I must carefully control each word and action so as not to offend. Mistakes will not be tolerated. I am small, insignificant and afraid. I would never approach a god like this; instead I would hide, sit behind and desperately scrub everything clean. But it’s never good enough.
This is the god most good church people expect. And he makes sense to me.
The other guy, the one who barely notices the filth, seems weak and permissive. Isn’t God supposed to be pure and perfect? Aren’t we?

I am reminded of a third story.

I’m pretty sure vomit played a part in this one as well, so it fits. There were years of hard core partying, homelessness, depression and scrounging rotten food from the slop. It got messy.
The father in this story Jesus told had been rejected and publically humiliated. He had every right to be angry. But when the prodigal son slunk back home, his Dad ran to meet him, sweeping him up in his arms and holding him close.
The God of the story is a delighted Father who longs to hold me close, no matter what state I am in. This Daddy-God is not horrified by the ugly parts of me. Nor is he surprised when I screw up. He wants me at my best, even those clumsy attempts and lopsided efforts that don’t quite work. AND He wants me at my worst, with my slimy, sick failures and vomit encrusted regrets.
This is the God of the Bible.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.
Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.
Now we call him, “Abba (Daddy), Father.”
Romans 8:15

So here’s me, messy and screwed up… and loved, always.

How do I react to the mess of others? When life gets ugly, which story do I resemble?

So Here's Us

Monday, February 6, 2012


A dear sister asked me months ago to address the topic of regret. How does anyone get over their regret? I have been sitting on the subject, praying for the right words to communicate God’s Truth accurately and compassionately. Writing words which involve people’s feelings is an intimidating process. Without face to face conversation and the benefit of listening to voice inflections and body language; I know how easy it is to misread the writer’s intent. So, I approach the topic cautiously.
As I posted previously, there are two kinds of regret. The first category comes as a result of our sin and neglect, the second category is the result of personal loss and disappointment. Someone who has had an abortion likely experiences both kinds of regret.
Once someone experiences forgiveness for having an abortion, does she ever get over the sorrow of a life that no longer exists? I listened to a few women share about this intense regret. They testified of their solace and freedom, through the words of Isaiah 61:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,
for the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the LORD’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”   Isaiah 61:1-3
Only by Christ’s work on the cross are we able to experience true freedom from regret. Let me say, I respect psychology. After all, God Himself creates our minds and emotions. He has given us the ability to understand these. But, psychology has no complete answer for guilt and regret. Only the Spirit of God can replace our mourning with festive praise. He alone is able to forgive our sins and set our spirit free. A supernatural transformation takes place in our lives. We then have the ability to move forward and take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
Get over your regret with spiritual and mental choices
It is your spiritual choice to go to the throne of grace and ask for God’s forgiveness through the cross of Christ. You make a spiritual choice when you ask God to replace your mourning and give you praise.
It is your mental choice to dwell on past opportunities. Whether you continue to feed your regret–this is up to you. Regret is a painful pet. You nurture it with repetitive thoughts, and it bites you in return.
“What if …….I married him?” or “If only….. I pursued that career” or “I wish….I paid attention to my kids when I had the chance”.
The time you spend mulling over past regrets is a waste of energy. It keeps you stuck in the past. Instead, put your thoughts to good use. Consider what you will do differently today which will propel you forward into a life of passionate living.
Say goodbye to “what if” and “if only”. Ban these phrases from your mind. As long as you are breathing, God has a plan and a purpose for you. It is a plan full of hope. It’s time for you to join Him.
“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves–regret for the past and fear of the future”,
Fulton Oursler
Are you ready to move forward? Ask God to release you from mourning and regret. Ask Him to help you embrace His forgiveness and grace. Let Him know you are ready to move forward and live each day with purpose.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, practice taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.