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The Marvelous Life of the Modern Peasant vs King Louis XIV

By Jesse Jost

We are exposed to thousands of commercials and advertisements daily, each with the subtle and colourful message that we are missing something, that our life isn’t as good as it could be. These ads train us to focus on what we don’t have, and bemoan our lack, rather than live in awe of the wonders of our modern age.

We have so quickly forgotten what life was like for those who came before us. Take, for example, the life of one of the most powerful and wealthy men who lived during the last part of the 1600s: King Louis XIV. As the powerful ruler of the French empire, he had access to quality of life that peasants in his day could barely fathom. Yet, as a modern Canadian rural peasant, I have access to quality of life that would make Louis shake his head in wonder.

Louis could hire world class musicians to occasionally perform a concert, but I, with a few clicks, can bring crystal clear recordings of any type or genre, of the world’s greatest performers from the last seventy years into our house, car, or even on outdoor runs, and switch between songs effortlessly without waiting for musicians to travel or set up.

Louis could hire a drama troupe to perform plays, but I have access thousands of movies that would have dazzled Louis with the quality of musical score, cinematography, acting, and special effects, and I can watch them all in the security and comfort of my heated living room, without worrying about an assassin’s bullet.

The King of France could hire talented chefs who could prepare freshly butchered meats and rare delicacies, and because of his great wealth could occasionally enjoy fruits and vegetables that ordinary people had only heard about. I, on the other hand, can visit a supermarket and on my “below the poverty line” income can purchase any type of meat or fresh fruit year round, and stock up on well-preserved jams, breads, pastas, rice, and an unbelievable array of sauces, spices, and desserts. And I can prepare them on a well-regulated electric stove, and pull prepared meats anytime of the year from our freezer that I can thaw in a few minutes in a microwave, and store the left overs in our fridge that will keep them fresh for days. I have access to recipes and ingredients from all over the world with clear and simple instructions on how to prepare them with all of the conveniences of the modern kitchen. Continue reading…

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In Defense of Stuff

By Heidi Jost

I can’t believe I’m writing this: I, who have painted and stalked the war path against STUFF.

I love, love, love pictures of sparse, white expanses framing single chairs with well-draped blankets. I can feel my soul rise and float peacefully while I meditate on these pictures. My white walls are more a grunge shade with interesting “bumps and dents” texture. My blankets are literally throw blankets… all over the floor. Single chairs are non-options in this house of seven. When we watch a movie or read a story, we need two couches. Golly, my floating soul of peace hates being yanked down by these reality checks.

I salivate over blog posts by other moms about how much more streamlined their lives are after they swept a lot of material possessions out the door. I have armed myself with the argument “less is more,” wielding it like a righteous torch in the cluttered darkness.

Our North American experience of SO. MUCH. STUFF. is unprecedented in history. Which means basically nothing because every era of history has something in it that has, to some degree, never been known or done before. So like everybody else who’s ever lived, we are dealing with new challenges here. Let me ask a couple of questions to wade through the material pileup.

  1. Are things good or bad?

I can answer this the complicated way by pointing out various philosophies that have branded physical, material things as evil or dark, and spiritual things as good or light. I can casually toss some polysyllables your way to help you see that this idea of things being the enemy of the greater good is really not new. (And also, to preen my feathers of knowledge. All two of them.) Manichaeanism, Docetism, Gnosticism, Marcionism. A bunch of people have held these ideas over the years in order to make sense of our messy world. Continue reading…

  • Carl Gray

    Wow, that was just marvelous and so well though out. Thank you, Heidi, for sharing this with us. This discussion is one I have had with so many families and it usually comes down on the side of, “stuff is bad; we have too much; peace comes with having nothing, so we’re getting rid of stuff, even stuff certain children care deeply for, maybe then the attitudes or our children will change.”

    I have pleaded with parents to see past the “stuff” and focus on the attitudes about the stuff. The children may be fighting over toys, so is the solution to get rid of the toy? Perhaps temporarily, to help them think about it for awhile. But what you really need to deal with is the heart attitude. If they have no toys to fight over, that would be good, right? Well, except that then God would have no opportunity to teach them how to deal with their possessions wisely, learning to enjoy the good gifts and use them for good.

    We tend to focus on anything but the person as the source of the problem, when the real problem is right there in those little hearts and the stuff is the perfect object lesson for dealing with that. Then there is the attitude of the parents. Mom feels “crowded” because the living room is filled with stuff, the Lego space ship which keeps losing pieces to step on, books scattered about, play dress-up clothes, homemade swords, etc. Then things finally go over the top when the children all work together to build a fort out of dining room chairs and blankets, which is well outfitted with all the things they can think of to go inside. Dad comes home and can’t even get to his favorite easy chair to read or watch TV and so he gets grumpy. So the parents grumble at the kids to clean up the mess. Now who has the attitude problem?

    I have seen this scenario play out so many times and it hurts me to see the bad attitudes on both sides, simply because the adults have forgotten the joys of being a child, the spontaneous, creative play that is helping to prepare them for when “playing house” will no longer be play, but the real thing. It hurts my heart to see parents who covet minimalism so much that they let it get in the way of a happy home.

    My home was never what you would call tidy. In fact, to this day my childhood home is so filled with enough “stuff” to drive a Shaker into an OCD fit. It looks nothing like the modern homes with tidy white walls with nothing on them but a few choice framed family photos, tastefully decorated with a few items on shelves or end tables so as to not look too sparse. Our home has rows and rows of bookshelves in every room, none too tidy because books are always circulating. It has an eclectic variety of items on the walls from photos to paintings, wood burned scripture plaques made in VBS 40+ years ago, such that barely a square foot of wall space can be seen. We have a wasp’s nest hanging from a corner (ref. Wives and Daughters). We have containers of interesting and pretty rocks collected over 50 years, enough antique glassware covering every horizontal surface to resemble a second-hand shop.

    Although the quantity of “stuff” has increased over the years, this is largely the way it was when we were children and we came to love and cherish our home of stuff because everything in it, though perhaps having no intrinsic practical purpose, had some connection to people, relationships, memorable events (I can remember finding the at pretty quartz crystal or fool’s gold on vacation in British Columbia or rescuing the wasp’s nest from the woods). The books were filled with things to learn or just to enjoy. The antique glassware adorned the room like jewelry and made us feel “rich” compared to our friends whose homes contained only things that served some practical purpose. I am grateful for a very wise mother who, although she too felt “crowded” in our small rooms, recognized that developing relationships, not only with her children but with friends and neighbors who felt free to drop in any time because that’s what our home was about, and through those relationships teaching Christlike character and attitudes.

    As you can tell, this is something very near and dear to my heart. So I very much appreciate your willingness to be honest and recognize this trend toward heartless minimalism that is hurting relationships and covering up for the real problems that we all have when we cling to strongly to our “things.” Sorry to take over your blog with a blog of my own, but this is a topic that I feel very strongly about and couldn’t stop writing about my thoughts once I got going. Hopefully it will provide further food for thought.

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Notes from Crucial Conversations

By Jesse Jost

I just finished reading “Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high” By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillian, and Al Switzer. The book was a wise and practical read on learning how to have conversations that reflect the love-fuelled dialogue the apostle Paul pleads with the church to have.

I was so impacted, convicted, and inspired by the book, that I unrealistically want everyone to read it. Of course hardly anybody has the time to read or follow up on book suggestions, so I took the time to distil the principles in the book into an article format.

I hope this short piece inspires you to buy the book for yourself, but more importantly, helps transforms your ability to speak the truth in love, with wisdom and compassion. 

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A crucial conversation = when emotions become involved and the outcome of the conversation will have an impact on direction or quality of life. Your ability or inability to handle these types of conversations will have a tremendous effect on the quality of your relationships and success at work or in your organization.

When emotions run high, blood is directed away from our higher brain functions and toward our fight or flight system. As emotions rise, we tend to fall back on to habits of silence or violence, becoming less mentally equipped to handle the complex issues before us.

The goal of healthy dialogue is the free exchange of information, opinions and feelings. This is only achievable when trust is earned through creating a safe environment. Feeling safe is absolutely critical.

Here are 7 conversation skills you can develop to navigate crucial conversations effectively. Continue reading…

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Do You Live to Love or Live to Please?

By Jesse Jost

I love to please other people. I thrive on affirmation and will bend over backward to gain approval. And I wrestle with whether this is a positive or negative trait. Wanting to please other people is a sign of love, is it not? But when I honestly look deeper into my motives, the picture is more murky.

Why do I want to please people? Am I really just putting their desires ahead of my own? Or are there more sinister psychological forces motivating me? Am I trying to find my worth in other people’s approval? Do I have a self-centered need to be admired? Am I looking for acceptance into a group to validate my identity? Maybe my driving force in wanting to please others is not love, but pride and insecurity.

The different motivations of love or desire to please may not change my outward actions, but will have a huge effect on my soul and emotional well-being.

An unhealthy dependence on the approval or acceptance of others can become an idol that drags us around, filling our days with activities we are not called to or created for.

I think we were made with a desire to find our identity in something larger than our self. God wants us to find our sense of worth and purpose in Him and in His body, the church, doing the good works that He created for us to walk in. (Eph 2:10) If our identity is not in Christ and fulfilling our calling from Him, we will seek to find this identity and purpose in man-made social groups or organizations.

I was homeschooled growing up and felt like an outsider of the larger local community, even overhearing other kids being mocked for wanting to play with my siblings and me. Now, as an adult, I hunger for community acceptance, wanting to meet the community’s expectations for what is required to be a recognized insider – whether it be involvement in sports, or putting our kids in the school system. Continue reading…

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My Ten Favourite Reads of 2017

 

By Jesse Jost

I didn’t quite reach my goal of reading 75 books, but I did finish 62 and read large portions of several others. From that list of books, here are my top ten books that I read this year. Ratings include enjoyment factor, life impact, and mental stimulation.

I also list the 10 books that didn’t quite make the top 10 but also receive my hearty recommendation. At the end you’ll find my complete list of books finished in 2017.

It should go without saying, but I don’t endorse everything in these books, and many of these books contain rough language and descriptions of human misery that should upset most readers.

# 10 The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

by Jason Fung

So I gained a bunch of weight the first year of our marriage and it stuck regardless of what I ate or how I exercised. The number on the scale didn’t move much but my gut circumference, um, expanded. My heartburn was getting way out of hand and keeping me awake at night. Turning 35 made me realize that I really needed to start taking my health more seriously before it is too late. I read several books on diet this year, and have made some serious changes, mainly cutting out refined carbs as much as possible, eating higher fat and low carb, and doing intermittent fasting. I’m finally seeing results, I’ve lost 13 pounds, several inches, and have far less heart burn. It’s a good start and I’m excited. Of all the books I read, I think this one would be the one-stop resource that I would recommend. Continue reading…

  • Amanda Tschetter

    Hi Jesse! I recently read a book by Dean Taylor, titled, “A Change of Allegiance.” I would strongly recommend that you read it. It is a powerful book and is a journey into the historical and biblical teachings of war and peace. Very interesting and life changing! I do pray that you would read it and be challenged by it.
    Keep on striving to become more like Christ!
    -Amanda Tschetter

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Why I Don’t Want to Treat My Kids Fairly

By Jesse Jost

I recently took two of my sons and my youngest brother, Judah, into town to see a movie and do some shopping. While we were in Princess Auto, my astute 10 year-old John-Michael noticed there were complimentary doughnuts by the front door. He and Judah, who have working pancreases, blissfully devoured the treats without an issue. My 5 year-old son, Elijah, whose immune system destroyed his pancreas, and is now a Type 1 diabetic, also wanted a doughnut. His last shot of insulin wasn’t enough to match his breakfast carbs, and his blood sugar was already way too high, so I had to say no. My poor little boy started sobbing on the spot, “I wish I didn’t have diabetes.” Oh, that hurt to hear those words.

We are so grateful Elijah is alive after we almost lost him this summer to complications from his undiagnosed diabetes, but there are times it is hard to watch our sweet boy have to deal with all the insulin shots, finger pokes, and food restrictions.

I told Elijah to go get a doughnut and wrap it up in a napkin and that he could have part of it for dessert after lunch when I could give him extra insulin for it. He cheered up at this prospect and the solution worked fine.

All the unique challenges we face with Elijah have made me think a lot about fairness. It doesn’t seem fair that Elijah has to be so carb conscious at this age, or have to deal with 6 or 7 injections a day just to stay alive. As a parent, self-pity is tempting when I can’t sleep because I am concerned Elijah’s blood sugar will drop and he will slip into a fatal low.

It used to be nice to just pack up and leave the house without having the stress of making sure we have his blood sugar monitoring equipment, insulin, glucagon kit, juice and granola bars for lows, plus making sure it’s all in a well-insulated container so it’s not ruined by too much heat or cold.

It was so easy before to put out a bedtime snack and not worry about the carb count, or let the kids at the cold cereal in the morning, without having to read labels or weigh and measure everything. It’s easy to be just a little jealous of the uncomplicated eating habits of non-T1D families. Continue reading…

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2017 Christmas Letter

(family photos by Hannah-Grace Jost)

By Heidi Jost

Dear people,

It is said that life is full of storms: If you aren’t in the midst of one, you have either just come through one or are headed into one. Mercifully – and frighteningly – we don’t know what clouds lie on our horizons. There are sea charts noting shorelines, shoals, ocean currents, and doldrums. But God offers us something infinitely better than a comprehensive print-out of our life’s hardships. He gives us Himself.

This angers some people, who would rather have explanations for their suffering or a tangible hand of God than be offered the invisible presence of Jesus to accompany them. The thing is: What do we really need more when breakers of pain and fear are washing over us? Clinical answers? Or Someone who has been to the depths of human suffering and promises to deliver better comfort than anyone else can give us?

The reality of our past year held the most terrifying storm we have ever been through, and our five year old Elijah’s life was at the centre of it.

Through the month of July, our middle child – big-eyed, slender Elijah – was increasingly whiny, thirsty, hungry, and unable to keep from wetting his bed at night. Something was off, but we couldn’t put our finger on what. He seemed to be thinner than ever – was he going through a growth spurt? Then after a full week of vacation Bible school at church, Elijah puked and showed flu-like symptoms. We were so frightened by how he had become skin and bones so rapidly, and on August 15, he woke listless, mumbling, and complaining of chest pain. Jesse hurried him to local ER. After multiple tests, consultation with Lethbridge doctors, and being intubated to pump excruciatingly painful built-up air from his stomach, Elijah was rushed by ambulance to Lethbridge. He was severely dehydrated; very constipated; blood sugar, ketones, and heart rate very high; liver stressed: the signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). His tiny body was fighting to survive the shutting down of insulin-producing cells in his pancreas, cells we’d never heard of before, but were suddenly the reason our son was teetering between life and death. Elijah was now a Type 1 diabetic, the doctor told us. Unless a cure was found, he would have this autoimmune disease for the rest of his life. A nurse from the Lethbridge diabetic team came the next day to explain insulin injections, glucose readings, etc., and I couldn’t stop crying the whole time. It was so much to process. Continue reading…

  • Carolyn Anderson

    ❤️

  • Anne-Marie

    So loved your family newsletter Heidi!! You shared beautifully how God has shown Himself strong on your behalf with all the storms you have been through this past year. Praise God for the healing that has come, and for what He is doing through it all! Love you! Btw, the pictures are precious of your adorable family! Love cousin Anne-Marie

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When Your Search History is Revealed

by Jesse Jost

There is no such thing as a private moment. One of the great corrosive lies spread through the invention of the internet and hand-held devices is that lust can be indulged privately and anonymously, without consequence and without shame. But there is always a record of the pages you have visited and what you have searched. Jesus warned us: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:17.

I wish that I could say that I have nothing to hide. That if everything I have put in the search bar was revealed, and everything I have allowed on my screen were put on public display, that I would have nothing to fear. It is to my shame that I have let lust hijack my curiosity and I have foolishly ventured into dangerous territory.

I visit a facebook site and it tells me which of my friends have checked in at this site and I have a moment of panic: are there pages I have peeked at in moments of weakness in the past that are currently tattling on me?

The fear of being found out is a powerful deterrent. But the damage that is done to the soul happens whether another human finds out or not.

I have been so angered and disheartened by the cases of sexual abuse and molestation that have come to the surface lately and I vow to never be one of the perpetrators.

But I also know the seeds of such abuse are planted in secret whenever I am tempted to look at another woman selfishly or indulge in a private fantasy. I am shocked by the secret desires that rise to the surface in such moments.

If I am not diligent to fight these private battles it will only be a matter of time before I am enslaved to them and a host of pain, brokenness, and betrayal will be left in their wake.

I want to be a man of integrity, and I want to lead my sons in the fight against sexual impurity and the degradation of women, but there is an enemy within that constantly lurks and threatens to sabotage my best efforts. Continue reading…

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When The Body Attacks Itself

We have a picture of Elijah that is too painful to share. It’s him in his underwear, skin and bones, barely able to stand the morning I took him into Emergency. We had no idea what was wrong with him. Was it some form of cancer? Worms? Metabolic disorder? Why was he losing so much weight and deathly ill? It happened so fast we barely noticed the warning signs until it was almost too late. It turned out the culprit was his own body. He was dying from an auto immune disease that caused Type 1 Diabetes.

Before our son Elijah’s diagnoses of Type 1 diabetes, I had only a vague notion of what an autoimmune disease was. In Elijah’s case, his autoimmune disease meant that his body’s immune system flagged part of his pancreas as the enemy, and turned his own defense system on a healthy part of the body, destroying it for life. This mistake would have proved fatal if not for the discovery of insulin and his daily injections that replace what his own body destroyed.

As I was grieving the loss of Elijah’s beta cells, it struck me what a potent warning analogy an autoimmune disease is for the body of Christ. It is so easy to “flag” or mark other Christians as “the enemy”, and set the immune systems of gossip and condemnation upon that person.

With a sense of our holy mission to protect the body, we break fellowship or shun and encourage others to do the same. In so doing, we can unwittingly destroy a genuine and vital part of the body of Christ. We walk away congratulating ourselves on our “discernment,” and have no idea the fatal blow we may have dealt to Christ’s local body. Christ alone knows the function he had designed that person to perform in his body, the church, and how the body will suffer because it is missing that key component.

Don’t get me wrong: there is cancer and genuine disease that the body needs to be protected from. There is a place for warning against wolves and false teaching. But the immune system is explosive and powerful. We need to be so merciful and cautious in our attacks.

Continue reading…

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Modesty Reconsidered

By Jesse Jost

Until women stop having curves and men stop having libidos, I doubt the modesty issue will go away quietly.

Women have many reasons for what they wear and evaluations of those reasons have been discussed at length elsewhere. What I want to explore now is the effect some kinds of modesty teaching have on the male brain.

I have grown up in circles with a pretty clear understanding that women should dress modestly so that they are not “defrauding” or a “stumbling block” to men and boys. It is common to hear that men have enough trouble with the battle for purity without Christian women adding to men’s distraction with careless dress. I was also raised to avert my eyes away from a woman who dressed “immodestly.”

The ideas behind guarding your eyes are admirable:

– Look away before arousal kicks in and you find yourself being led astray by the deceptive passion of lust.

– It’s a fact that what we fixate on sexually retrains our sexual taste, and if we are lustfully gazing on porn or other women, then we could become less satisfied with the wife that God has given us. And worse, if a wife knows her husband has a wandering eye, his comparing her to other women can make her feel an increasing sense of inadequacy.

– The two best reasons to guard your eyes are 1) the example of Job who “made a covenant with his eyes to not look lustfully on a young woman,” and 2) the teaching of Jesus who said that “looking lustfully” at a woman is the equivalent of mental adultery.

Modesty teaching has some worthy elements (you can read my previous thoughts on modesty here and the importance of guarding your eyes here). But lately I have been realizing that there are some ways that Satan twists these ideas and they can become destructive forces in the battle for purity, the most destructive of which is this: the way to combat men’s lust is through “modesty.”

Continue reading…