Thursday, 15 June 2017

Mine



I've been reading "Listen Love Repeat" by Karen Ehman, and it is a truly inspiring book.  It makes you want to both open your heart to other people, and see the people who have opened their heart to you in a new light.  I have such gratitude for those that have loved me when I was prickly rather than plush. 

Karen doesn't give empty ideas of how to help others, instead she shares experiences of how she has reached out, and the difference it has made in the lives of others.  She invests in them, making sure to remember those little things that will make each person feel special.  She is known as "Mama Karen" to many of her kids' friends.   Many who treat her home as their own.

I have my own special Mama. Mama Cyr.  She is an amazing woman.  She is so quiet, but so strong.  Her life story is a true testament to living a Christ centered life.  And the most amazing part of the story, to me anyways, is that she loved me before she even really knew me.  I used to work at a local bar during the night, and with her at a grocery store during the day.  I wasn't really living a Christ filled life.  Kind of the opposite.  And rather than judge me, or scold me, do you know what she did?  She prayed for me. 

 She didn't even know me.

 And over 10 years later, when I walked in to her church, do you know what she did?  She welcomed me.  She gave me a great big hug.  And she continued to love me.

I don't know where I would be without her prayers.  I certainly didn't have many people praying I would find Jesus at that particular time in my life.  I didn't even know she was praying for me.  Such a little thing that had such a huge impact.

A beautiful spirit who saw someone struggling to belong, to find who she truly was.  Someone who knelt down to lift me up. 

Who can you open your heart to today?

Heavenly Father, I thank you for all the blessings that you have given me.  Even the ones that I don't know about.  I thank you for the challenges that have brought me to today.  I pray for all the people who are struggling right now.  I pray your peace, wisdom and protection over them.  I pray that they would feel your living arms envelop them.  Lord, that you would put someone so directly in their path that they could not help but know that it is You, and that you love them.  Right where they are.  No matter what they have done.  They are worthy of love.  They are valuable.  And I pray that you would give us a heart to see those hurting around us, and to help us to know what to do to ease the burden.  In Your powerful name I pray.  Amen.








Thursday, 1 June 2017

This Beautiful Walk Called Life

I haven't been on here in awhile.  Honestly, because I have been busy with life.  We have been continuing our home renovation.  After 11 years, you'd think we'd be done by now, but we're still slowly plugging away.

We made it to our local Homeschool Conference and took time to visit friends.

We have almost finished our school year.  The kids have been working diligently on their school report's, and that is our last project until we get to yell "SUMMER BREAK!"

And I've been busy with all of the paperwork so that we can get our amazing little masterpiece help to be the best her she can possibly be.  We have had highs and lows on this journey, and it has most definitely been an eye-opening experience.

The school that we are working with has been amazing with their support of helping us.  They have confirmed that she is gifted, and they are helping us pursue more assessments to pinpoint exactly where she is at.  We have an amazing team on our side, and I couldn't feel more blessed to have people that have walked this road before to guide us along.

Most of our family is on board with us and see that she is definitely "more" than an average kid, and agree that there really aren't any other kids around to compare her to. 

Up until a few months ago, we really thought that she was just your normal, everyday kid who had an easier time with LA and math than most other kids.  She talks a lot, but so do lots of other little girls.  She was our baseline, our everyday and our "normal". 

Her brother is quite different in personality, but since most people say that each of our kids is the opposite of your others, it made sense.
I am saying this because I know somewhere out there is another parent, frantically researching their child, wondering if their kid is "normal", or needs intervention.  Who is second-guessing their every choice, unsure if they could have done something better, or if they should have said that different.

I want you to know that I understand having to fight for what you know is best for your child.  I have experienced the quick judgements of doctors who want to run to medication without actually attempting to understand your unique situation.  I know what it is like to look at your baby and know that maybe the doctors are experienced in their chosen field, but that you are the one and only expert on your specific child.  And that you will fight for them. 

I need to remind you that no matter what answers you get or don't get, or the acronym's they may use to describe your kid, that is not their definition.  Those little letters don't change who they are.  They don't have to dull their sparkle.  They are simply a way for you to access the help to make them the best they can be.

I want to assure you that God gave this specific child to you.  He will equip you with everything you need, and He will fill in the gaps that you can't.  You just have to ask.  He has a plan for this sweet little person that is beyond what you could ever imagine.  And He holds you and your child in the palm of His hands at this very moment.  And all He asks?  That you come to him and lean on him.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the beautiful gift of family.  And I thank you for surrounding us with people that love us along the way.  I lift up all of us who are struggling to do this parenting thing right.  I pray that you would speak into our hearts today, that you would give us wisdom in our decisions and grace for both ourselves and our families.  Help us to lean not on our own understanding, but to look to you for answers.  We ask for patience as search for answers, and that we can learn to wait on your perfect timing.  In your name I pray.  Amen.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Words

We say them. Or sometimes they get caught in our throat. 

Maybe we type them. Or maybe we change our minds and hit backspace until they all go away. 

There is amazing power in the words we choose to say. And equal power in those we don't. 

A few years ago, after working my way through a lot of loss, I decided that I would write a letter to each of my parents for Christmas.  You see, they have all the material possessions they could ever want or need.  But as parents, the one thing you always want is to know that your kids are okay, and that as much as you may feel like it, they want to know they didn't mess you up too badly.

I didn't have a perfect childhood.  None of us did.  But I had something so precious that it took me no longer being a child to figure it out.  I had unconditional love.  And that's as close to perfect as I think any of us can get. 

Sure, I frustrated my parents.  And I know that I disappointed them on more than one occasion.  But the power in knowing that no matter what, I would always have their love is beyond measure.

I thanked them for doing their best as parents, husband and wife, and friends.  I let them know that I know it was hard at times, and that I appreciated that they never let up, they kept pushing through whatever struggle it was that they were facing.  How brave they were to always choose love, no matter how vulnerable it might make them.  I really wanted to say these things to them, not to those who came to hear the eulogy. 

There is such power in your words, whether spoken or written.  And those who have been there should hear them.

This year has already been a year of loss and struggle for many of those around me.  And I know that some of them feel as though they are walking alone.  Maybe you feel like you're in this battle alone.

I promise you, you are not.  There is someone who wants so badly to walk this with you.  Jesus.  There is such power in His name alone.  And even more power in a relationship with the only one who can truly offer the world. 

Friends, I pray that you would stand in His strength.  He is ready and waiting to do great things for you.  Things you can't even imagine.  You just have to let Him.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for my parents.  And I thank you for waiting by my side for so long, waiting for me to turn to you.  I know that I've made the wrong choices time and again.  Just like I know that you love me in a way that no one else can ever compare to.  I pray that anyone who is feeling alone today would turn to you.  That they would have the chance to feel your beautiful arms surround them with a peace and a strength beyond their wildest dreams.  I pray that we would all turn to you for wisdom in these trying times, and that you would open our eyes to those around us.  Let us use our words to build people up, rather than tear them down.  And above all, let us walk in love, no matter how challenging that may be.





Wednesday, 15 March 2017

She Is Perfect, Just the Way She Is

Sorry I haven't written yet this week.  I fell last week and hurt my wrist and shoulder.  And knee.  Well, essentially my entire left side.  I was carrying my 2 year old when I slipped on an icy sidewalk and turned to the left so that I wouldn't land on her.  And as it turns out, since I am now in my mid-30's, I no longer heal overnight.
While once again lying on my couch, I have had time to ponder. 

This wasn't the post I had been planning and working on, but it's really all that I've been thinking of, so here we go.  :)

Our daughter is still being looked at as gifted and possibly being somewhere on the autism spectrum.  While I've known she is a little quirky, somehow having someone want to put that label there makes me feel like less of a good parent.  I have a wonderful friend who has worked in this field for most of her adult career who keeps assuring me that I'm doing everything right in advocating for my child, offering suggestions when I phone with questions about what to do next.  And I feel confident.

But then my daughter wants to know why we're doing all these tests.  We started with the gifted tests as recommended by our school, which proved she is ahead of the average for math and LA.  But then we noticed that some of her behaviours were vastly different than those of her friends. 

She has always talked (A LOT!!!), and she loves people.  So that means that she's just a little awkward around people, not really understanding how to draw out others people's interests in conversation.  Since this is something I too struggle with, we didn't really think any more of it.

My daughter was worried that she would have to do more computer tests (gifted testing was online for us), since she believed she failed them before.  What really happened was that it was a long, boring, silly test that had her making up words and then trying to spell them.  And we got bored.  And she got bored.  And she did the human thing and she clicked random things because her attention span was all used up for the day.  And so her teacher wanted to make sure that the test was as accurate as possible and came over to help her pay attention to the test.  Her teacher said that DD was answering questions faster than she could read them herself!  It was not a failure at all, we just needed to make sure that the test was done to the best she could so that she would be seen for just who she was, and where she is academically.

And we've been talking to her about how God makes all of us special.  Some people are made to be great at math and talking, learning to read really early and struggle in other areas.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, but we are exactly the way God made us.  And He made us on purpose and with a purpose.  Struggles make us stronger and give us the opportunity to learn.

I talked to her about the testing that we are considering now and that there would be no computers.  This would be one on one with another adult.  There are no right or wrong answers for these tests, because they are just looking to meet her where she is and help us to make a plan.  We are all trying to figure out how we can help her to be the best version of her that she can be. 

When I told her that we are hoping that we can learn some new tools for making friends better.  And maybe we could find someone to help her to be more coordinated (the girl is just like I was when I was little, which means she is constantly falling over herself.)  And her eyes lit up.  So much.  And it broke my heart that this beautiful little girl, who can speak at a grade level 5-6 years ahead of her age, would cherish being able to walk in a straight line without falling over.  It is so easy to concentrate on the fact that she is so smart and forget that just because she is, doesn't mean that she doesn't struggle or notice that she's different.

The more that we've read, the more we truly see some really cle
ar signs that she fits in the spectrum.  Of the 4 personality marker types we've researched, 2 of them must have been written about her.  I mean, they were her to a "T".  And it got me to thinking that there may be many other people in our boat.  Knowing that there is something a little different about their child but not being able to quite put their finger on it.

Before her, I wasn't a Mom.  She didn't come with a manual.  And for our family, she is just my darling daughter.  I don't want to think of her struggling.  It is so hard to stand by and watch when all you really want to do is rush in and fix everything.  And sometimes, you can't.  And that sucks.

I know that we are in for a long road to a diagnosis.  And that we will have a lot of questions along the way.  And I'm going to try to write about it (while still maintaining my daughters privacy), so that you can walk with us.  And maybe we can walk this walk together.  Or maybe it will just help you to know that you are not alone in this process.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for each of my children.  I thank you that you have made each of them so different, and yet so perfect.  God, I ask that you would guide us in raising them, and that you would fill in all the holes we leave.  That you would open the eyes of our hearts on those difficult days, so that we could see them the way you see them.  And that we would depend on you for strength and perseverance as we advocate for what's best for them.  Help us to find our support network, so that we know we are not the only ones going through this, and that our children are perfect because You made them.  In your name.  Amen.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Mental Health

I was watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy with my hubby tonight, and it touched on mental health issues.  It's such a difficult subject for so many people.  And unless you've been there and done that, it's one of the most formidable things to try to explain to someone else.

My first husband suffered from depression.  Looking back now, I can see a little more clearly the struggles that he had each and every day. 

We were young when we got together, and I had just gotten out of a tumultuous relationship with a high school boyfriend.   A high school boyfriend who also suffered from mental health issues and it ended with me having to let his mother know that I couldn't do it anymore and that I felt her son was going to need suicide watch.

And in walks this new man, with the best laugh I've ever heard in my life.  I still miss that laugh and that huge smile.  What I would learn over the next couple of years was that smile was hiding a lot of angst.  And worry over the future of everything.  And what felt like the weight of the world on his shoulders.  It was a very challenging relationship, but I was determined to see this one through.  We bought our first house together, discussed children.  I had a ring on my finger that was all we could afford at the time.  And we really worked on making it.  Until we just couldn't do it anymore.   I kept the house since he wanted to go and explore the world.  And he left, just like that.

To say I was devastated was an understatement. 

I spent the next 3 years putting myself back together, learning who I wanted to be outside of a relationship.  I learned how to be truly happy, all by myself.  I found that I could go home at the end of the day by myself, and be content. 

When he returned from his travels, he asked about getting back together.  I had given this a lot of thought and decided that I really didn't want to.  I was actually really happy just being me.  And I wasn't willing to give that up to go back to who I used to be.  I didn't like that girl anymore.

I moved on with my life, meeting my husband, and falling in love with Jesus.  I found a man that loved me, quirks and all, and we had dreams of changing this world together.

He moved on to what we all thought was the perfect girl for him.  They shared all his common interests.  She loved the outdoors.  And they seemed to be really happy. 

Until his Dad walked into my workplace one day. 

He looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  He had just been released from the hospital after a death defying fight with adult mumps, which left half of his face paralyzed, with scabs all over his face and neck. 

And upon being released from the hospital, he found out his son had lost his life-long fight with depression.

He walked up to me and said "He's gone."  Naively, I asked where he had gone.  Had he left on another trip? 

Well, no. 

And my life would never be the same again.  Neither would anyone else who had loved that man at one time or another. 

I managed to keep it together while my ex father-in-law was there, comforting him as best as I could through my own shock.  And then he left and I just fell apart.

All I could think was how could I have left this happen?  How could I have not done something to stop this?  It wasn't rational.  There was no logic to these thoughts.  And to be perfectly honest, I still have days, almost 10 years later, where I wonder if I could have done something differently.  Could I have been his saving grace somehow?

My brain tells me that no, there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome. 

My husband doesn't really know what my life was like before him.  Not because he hasn't tried to understand, but because he can't.  It's hard for someone who has never gone through it to understand that your logic becomes a little bit warped as your mind tries to make your world make sense.  And everyone's situation is just that little bit different.  And it's difficult for me to go back to that time.  I survived, and some days, that's all I want to say about it.

I don't know where you are.  I don't know if you've ever walked the lonely rode of depression, certain there was no help for you, that you were just too far gone to be helped.  I don't know if you've had to watch someone you love struggle with every day life, not knowing what to say or do to make things different.  Please, ask for help.  Do not think that you have to do this on your own, but reach out.  There is someone out there that would love nothing more than to help you, if only you would ask.

I know that writing this has been one of the hardest, most exposing things I have ever done.   I pray that it helps someone out there to know that they are not alone in this.  And maybe gives some insight to those on the outside. 

Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that we are never truly alone.  I thank you for picking me up out of that pit and showing me that I could have so much more, if only I could put my faith in you.  I thank you for your patience and grace as you introduced me to the new me.  I lift up all of those who are suffering because of mental illness.  I pray your strength and peace over them Lord, and ask that they feel your love and grace beyond measure.  I pray that they would turn to you as I had to, so that you could make me whole again.  In your name.  Amen.





Friday, 3 March 2017

They Aren't Little Forever

My Sweetie is about to turn 7.  It feels like somehow I laid down for a nap and now she's more than halfway to being a teenager.  How does this happen?!?

I prayed for this little girl, and after our first round of fertility helpers, we finally got pregnant.  It was almost the pregnancy to end all pregnancies for me.  I was so sick.  I didn't know it was possible to be so sick all the time.  It was definitely not just in the mornings!

I was promised that she would be small because of my difficulties.  It turns out that doctors don't actually know everything.  She arrived into the world with a fight at a healthy 8 lbs 10 oz.  She was so small and alert.  I was so lost.  We learned how to nurse together.  She taught me patience and a love I could never even fathom before she made me a mother.

I watched her eyes widen as she said her first words "wiggle giggle".  And she has been talking strong ever since.  I got to witness her first steps.  And her determination to never let a tower stand.  She would come from the other end of the house to knock down a tower of blocks if she saw me building it.

I watched her fall in love with her little brother, confident that she knew how to do everything for him.  She doted on him like he was her very own baby doll.

It has been a privilege to watch her learn and grow over the last 7 years.

As I watched her play with her little sister tonight, huddled under the kitchen table and giggling, I couldn't help but wonder who she's going to become.

I already know she is loving, caring, loyal and has the memory of an elephant.  She remembers little details for years and years.  She doesn't have many friends, but those she does she is fiercely loyal to.  They are her friends for better or for worse, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

She wants to be a police officer when she grows up because she wants to make a difference in other peoples' lives.  She isn't phased by people who are hurt or seeing blood (unless its her own, that's a whole different story!)

She loves to cook, clean and help anyone in any way she can.  She's not afraid to work to earn her money.  She excels at reading and math, and loves anything to do with science.

I don't know how all these things are going to add up as she grows.  I do know that she's going to grow up long before I'm ready for her to.  I'm not even ready for her to be 7!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Serving Souls or Eating Crow

Today is Day 1 of our "Zip It: The Keeping it Shut 40 Day Challenge" by Karen Ehman.  We have a Facebook group if you would like to join us.  There are almost 3,000 participants!

The very first day is about realizing the power of our words.  The words Karen used that stuck with my the most were, "words are powerful, and they have consequences."

This.  So much of this.

Like everyone else, I've had conversations that have stuck with me over the years, for better or worse.  I remember quite clearly an awful conversation I had in high school with a girl I didn't know very well at the time.  She was quiet, but always kind.  Something was said to me, and I reacted.  And I said some words that still make me cringe. 

I had the opportunity to see this girl, well, lady now, since this was over 15 years ago.  My daughter was having emergency surgery, and wouldn't you know it, one of her nurses was this very woman. 

While I had never forgotten how awful I had been, I had no idea if she still thought of me, or how awful those words were.  I got my answer to that when she came into the room.  One look at me, and I knew that she remembered that day as clearly as I did. 

Now I was sitting by my daughter's bedside with my husband, waiting for the surgeon, and also thinking about how I needed to make things right.

She was quite nice to us, making small talk to help distract us from worrying, and answering all of our questions about what we would be expecting as they got our daughter ready.  She was really professional, never letting on that her last experience with me was not very cordial.

My husband and I sat with our daughter, laughing about the things she was saying after they started the anaesthetic, finding her really funny and encouraging her silliness. 

I don't know if any of you have ever apologized for something that felt like an entire lifetime ago, but I can tell you that the words don't come easily. 

As I sat there waiting for our daughter to be brought back out, I sheepishly told my husband that I had said some unkind words to this woman back in high school and I needed to apologize.  I had been an insecure and foolish young girl with a wisecracking mouth and it was coming back to bite me in the rear.

After our sweet little girl was brought out, I asked the nurse if I could have a minute to just talk to her.  I think we were both so nervous at this point because it was so awkward.  I apologized for my words back then, and told her that she didn't deserve them.  I was so sorry that something I had said in the spur of the moment would have such long-lasting effect, especially when she had been nothing but kind to me.  She thanked me for actually apologizing as not very many people would do that so many years later.  She told me the things that had happened in her life after school, and then asked about me.  I wouldn't say we parted friends, but at least now when I see her, I can genuinely smile, and I hope she can too.

I learned two things that day with regards to my words. 

They can last in both the speaker's mind and the recipients, but you can always apologize.  It is never too late to make things right.

And that I would so much rather speak words that would build someone up, rather than tear them down and end up having to eat them later.  Crow has never tasted good.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you would help us to guard our words.  Let us run them through your grace and love before they come flying out of our lips.  When we are poised to react to a situation, soften our hearts and our minds so that we don't say something that we will regret in the years to come.  Thank you for all the beautiful souls that we have the chance to impact every day.  In your name.  Amen.



Monday, 27 February 2017

Gloriously Different

We are in the midst of testing right now for Sweetie. She has been confirmed for the gifted program, which we already suspected. And now they are digging a little deeper to see how she can best be supported as we continue along our homeschooling journey.

And it's scary. Things like "high functioning autism" and "let's see where she is on the spectrum" pop up in the conversation and this Mommy heart skips a beat or two.

We've always known that she's been ahead of the curve and that she was overstocked on the gift of gab. What we didn't know was that we would run into roadblocks along the way of her growing into herself that we just wouldn't know how to handle.

I know that parenting can sometimes feel like a flying by the seat of your pants experience some days. Or a lot of days depending on what season you're in.

I was not prepared for my heart to ache for her when she tries to make new friends and they just don't get her.

She's not like the other kids her age. She tries so hard to be brave, managing her anxiety as best as she can. I think the only reason I see it so clearly is because I know what to watch for. And she still steps out with a smile and a laugh, trying again and again to engage others around her.

I don't know what these tests are going to show. I don't even know what I'm hoping they'll show.

What I do know? I prayed for this little girl.

And God chose me to get to be her Mom.

That we were all made gloriously different. We are uniquely designed by an awesome Creator. The way we are is not a mistake, but a gift.

There is a purpose behind each of our quirks. She is funny, brilliant, loyal, loving, brave, wonderful and so many other things.

I know that any diagnosis is not HER, but a stepping stone for us to help her be the best her she can be, by better equipping us. It's a simple label of how she processes things, not who she is.

We talked today that she has always had this confidence that God made her the way she is. She actually said that exact phrase when she was 2 years old. This afternoon we discussed that He made her gifted with some abilities and challenged by others. And we all have areas that come easy to us, and others that we have to work a little harder at. It's what makes us unique and human. We are all a work in progress.

I love that I can instil a confidence in my little girl that God knew we needed someone just like her, and that He has great plans to make this world a little bit better because of her. Just the way she is.

So I can choose to look at everyday situations with her and see the struggles, or I can be her biggest cheerleader, knowing that when she finds her tribe, she will be the most loyal, funny, amazing friend they could ever imagine.

And until then? Well, I suppose I'll just have more time to invest in our own memories!

Father, I thank you for trusting me with this amazing gift. I pray that you would equip me anew each day for whatever is coming our way. Help me to I still a confidence in all of my children that they are perfect just the way they are because that's how You designed them. I ask that you fill in the gaps that I can't help but leave with love and grace. I lift up those that are walking a lonely road today. I pray that they would look over and see you, hands outstretched and unconditional love offered. In your name. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Answer With Grace



I was asked to fill out a questionnaire by my daughter’s umbrella school the other day, so we sat down and started answering the questions.

 One of the questions asked what was something that God created during the first 6 days, and why was is fascinating to her. 

Her answer was that he had created the Earth using just words.

Let that sink in for a minute.  I know I had to.

My Sweetie, who is only 6 years old, is fascinated that God could create the world using just His words.  And he was gracious enough after that to give us a bible with so many examples of how His words alone can change a life.  And he demonstrated this time and time again.

It really makes me ponder the words that I use.  It is so easy sometimes to react to something that is said to us, rather than to filter it through God’s love.  I know that I have done this more times than I can even remember.   And it’s taught me that when I react to someone rather than consider and filter those words, and answer them in grace, I almost always live to regret it.

In Matthew 12:37 we read "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." ESV  That feels pretty precise.  We can choose to be justified and breathe life into those around us, or we can be condemned, and use our words to lash out at those we cherish the most.

Would you join me in praying that God would take over my mouth and fill my heart with His love, so that it pours out of me to those I love?

Heavenly Father, I thank you today for my family and friends.  I am so blessed that you would choose to surround me so much love.  I pray that you would take hold of my lips and use my words to build and not break.  That I would turn to you to fill my heart when I am wounded, so that I may be an example of your love and grace, not my brokenness.  In your name.  Amen.


Monday, 20 February 2017

It's The Little Things

As I sit hear, listening to the birds chirping outside, I am realizing how fast time really does go by.  We aren't meant to be a part of this world forever, but we are here for our own, uniquely beautiful mission. 

I can't honestly say that I've figured out exactly what my mission is.  I am a Momma to 3 beautiful, healthy kids, so it's pretty safe to say that at least part of my journey is to nourish their souls and help them to love God. 

I homeschool them, so it's pretty intense some days.  I can't help but think that part of His plan is to use my kids to refine me.  And some days, I really do hate that part.  It is so humbling to have to look into those little eyes and say that you aren't perfect.  But it is such a great lesson to them, that no matter what, there is someone there who is going to love them unconditionally, but who is indeed still a work in progress.

I remember when I was young wanting to do something so big.  I wanted to cure cancer, or save the oceans.  Then I decided I wanted to go into medicine and just help people.  None of these dreams came true. 

And that's great.  Weird how that happens, isn't it? 

Don't get me wrong, all of those dreams are great things.  We need a definitive cure for all cancers.  Our oceans do need help.  There are never enough nurses or doctors.  And since none of those dreams came true, it made room for my dream of having a family.

It made room for me to get to know God.  To learn that His plan is so much better than mine, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.  I've had a bumpy path to where I am now.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

In this last decade, I have met and married the man I love.  I have changed careers.  I have helped to build my husband's business.  We have had 4 pregnancies, and got to hold 3 of our children.  I have gained family, and lost some of them too.    I have watched my babies laugh their first laugh and take their first steps. I have gotten to teach my children and watch their eyes light up as they begin to understand concepts. 

I have also lost someone I loved dearly to depression.  I have buried several family members.  I have fought hard for my marriage.  I have mourned the loss of a baby before I even got to meet them.  I've battled to forgive those that have wronged me, and to begin to pray for them. 

And it has all flown by.  I am excited to see what the future is bringing to us.  And thankful for everything the last 10 years taught us.  It hasn't been easy, but I wouldn't change it for the world.

You don't necessarily realize it when it's happening, but all the little beautiful moments become the most amazing memories.  It isn't the grand gestures that make the difference, it's the little things.

Whatever is happening in your life right now, I encourage you to turn to Him.  He really is a rock that you can cling to in times of trouble, and He deserves our praise when things go right.  I want to remember to come to him not only when things go wrong, but also when they go right.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for walking beside us, no matter where we are.  I am so grateful for the blessings you have bestowed on me, and that you have never required me to deserve them.  That you would sacrifice your one and only child for us.  Please help me to seek you in my everyday.  Let all that I do be done in love and grace.  In your name.  Amen.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Beauty in the Broken


I wrote a while ago about choosing the word "peace" as a word to pursue this year. And it would seem as though He is laughing at that plan. I have so badly just wanted to feel peaceful. I don't necessarily mean that I want everything to be perfect, but more that I would be at peace with where I am.

 And I am getting this overwhelming feeling.

Peace is not what I'm meant to pursue this year.
 
He wants me to be still.

I threw my back out on Friday while grocery shopping. I have a very wiggly toddler who decided she doesn't like to sit in the shopping cart seat anymore. While I held her in mid-air. I heard the pop as she tried to twist away and that was that. 

I have no choice but to be still. Anything else hurts too much!

But I've learned some pretty neat things from my prone position.

I've learned I have the most amazing kids.  They took over the grocery shopping while I shuffled behind the cart. They would ask what was on my list, run and grab it. Then they would return with it, and go off in search of the next thing.   They have made sure to help as much as they can with lifting or moving things.  

My oldest has loved the challenge of stepping up to help with the food prep.  And as always loves feeling more in charge of things. Lol. And she's really shined when she can show us how capable she is, if only we'd let her do those things.
 
I've learned my extended family rocks. My mother in law came to take my daughter to piano lessons so I wouldn't have to cancel them.  And she's been checking up on me ever since.

I've learned from my prone position that we can sometimes have a narrow view of what's going outside. The kids pointed out that it was snowing and all I could see was the snow swirling up underneath the roof overhang. I marvelled at the beauty of the snow dance I was watching. 

Of course, when I finally moved and saw the blizzard outside, the swirling snow took on a different connotation.  

But it's that way with life, isn't it?  We can focus on showing others how great we are doing. Only letting our friends and family see the things that are going great in our lives.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all of the other social media platforms make it easy to share the great moments.  And that’s a great thing, to be able to look back at them.  We aren’t inauthentic if we want to share those precious times.

But the beauty is in letting them see us for our whole self.  Broken, messy bits and all.  Being real with those around us allows for a beauty you can't begin to imagine. 

Not just in the moments when our physical bodies need help, but when our soul's need to be lifted up too. Gaining the privilege of being let in to someone's messy is an amazing gift. 
 
If you have been hiding behind a rosy-coloured facade, I challenge you to let someone in to see the real you. You would be surprised who He will put in your path. And they might just become the lifelong friend and prayer warrior you've been praying for.

Heavenly Father, I think you for both the blessings and the challenges in my life.  I thank you for breaking me and putting me back together in ways I never would have thought of. And most of all, I thank you for never leaving me to face this life alone.  I pray that those who are longing for you would feel your presence today.  I pray that you would bring a prayer warrior in to their life that would show them You.  In your name.  Amen.  


Monday, 13 February 2017

The Love of My Words

I don't know about you, but I have such an easy time putting aside my anger when I'm out and about.  But when I'm home?  I'm afraid my family doesn't always get the best of me. 

You know when your husband comes home in the middle of your grouch and just gets spattered with your unkindness?  Or when one of your kids doesn't just jump up to do your bidding exactly when you tell them to?

Well, I have been praying each morning that God would take hold of my heart and my lips and make then spill out His love rather than my wrath.

Do you suffer from not always using your words to build and bless those around you? There is an entire word of people out there that face this every single day, ending our days with regret at flying off the handle, wanting to do better tomorrow.  Why not be one of those who is choosing to be mindful of what we say?

I am inviting you all to join a bunch of wonderful women and I as we embark on a new challenge.  #DoLentTogether is not only for women who do lent (since I don't), but more for those of us who would like to work on building up the people around us. 

Zip It by Karen Ehman is a 40 Day Challenge based off of her best selling book Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing At All.  There are many of us who are going to give up saying things that are permanently hurtful because we are temporarily ticked off. 

If you'd like to join us on Facebook, Karen has started a community called "Doing Lent Together" and we would love to have you walk this challenge with us.   Starts March 1st.  Let's do this!

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the people in my life.  I lift up to you all who are struggling to find their contentment in you Lord, that you would help them to see you in their every day.  I pray that you would help us to really see each other as people, not to judge a book by its cover, so that we could really begin to heal this world with love and understanding, not blow it up with our prejudice.  Take over our hearts and lips Lord, so that your wisdom alone would be what we impart on others.  I pray your peace and wisdom over this earth God.  In your name I pray.  Amen.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Praising the Positive

I have read oodles of books on different theories of parenting, marriage and how to be a good friend.  And one thing that I've found they all have in common is they all say you will notice the things you focus on. 

If you focus on every little thing that rubs you the wrong way in life, pretty soon, all you will see are the things that bother you.

I'm just as guilty of doing this as the next person. 

We all have mornings where we've decided we're going to have a terrible day and our toes haven't even touched the floor yet.  Maybe you had a small child keep you up all night.  Maybe your partner snores so loud that not even the neighbours can sleep!

But you woke up, right?  You may be struggling to breathe, but you are managing it.  There is someone out there taking their last breath right now, and someone standing beside them pleading for just one more day.

So maybe you could change your focus today.  Perhaps you could praise the positives in your life.  They are there, I promise you.   There is ALWAYs something to be grateful for, right?

If you do this in your marriage, your partner will be built up.  They will feel like they are noticed and appreciated, even if just for the little, basic things.  A person who feels appreciated is capable of so much more.

If you praise your kids when they do something great, they'll strive to keep doing great.  You'll get to see their little faces light up, knowing they are doing the right thing.  It's tough being little and having to learn literally everything.  Noticing the little things will make them feel 10' tall.  It's worth it.

If you show your friends that you are grateful for them just being there for you, you'll improve your relationship.   They are there for you at your worst, and your best.  That is something that you can't replace.  They'll know you value them just for being who they are. 

And last, but certainly not the least, notice the positives of you.  God designed you because He felt the world needed someone just like you.  So no matter how awful you feel about yourself, you can have confidence that He made you to do something in this world that no one else could do.  I've heard this before, and it's so true.  He doesn't call the equipped, he equips those he calls.  He's got you, and so that means you've got this.

And little by little, you'll convince yourself that you're getting out of bed to begin a beautiful day.  That whatever it brings, you got this. 

We are all works in progress.  None of us have this whole life thing figured out.  So let's begin this day with a grateful heart and see who we can make smile today.

Heavenly Father, I know that there are people out there today that are struggling just to make it through the day.  I lift them up to you now for your strength, wisdom and peace.  I pray that you would give them discernment to know where you are leading, and the willingness to step out in faith and follow you.  Allow every one of us to see that by your grace we have been saved, and nothing can ever take that away.  In your name I pray.  Amen.


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Power of Less




It seems like every day we are bombarded with the message of more.  You need more money to be successful, you need more belongings to be happy, your kids need more and more activities and stuff in their lives to turn out normal.

What if we have been falling into this trap that tells us every time we turn around that what we are and the things we own are never going to be enough?

But maybe that's the wrong way to think about it.  Perhaps the best way to have more is actually to pursue less.

I've found this out kind of the hard way.  It's been a cold winter in Canada, and apparently the mice decided that my children always leaving the door open was a wonderful invitation for them to use our humble abode as theirs.

In less than 30 days we managed to trap/evict 26 of the darling little critters.

I actually woke up to the sound of scratching under my nightstand one morning.  I have this addiction to books, and I have an overflow basket under my nightstand.  I also had a home-made Magic bag in the bottom of this basket.  Which, just in case you are curious, is apparently both comfy and tasty to those rodents.  I heard the scratching after my husband had left for work, which meant that I had to figure out what to do myself.  I slid out the basket, and a furry little head popped up.  I yelped and slid it back under.  I weighed my options.  I could phone my husband... but that didn't seem very fair.  And to be perfectly honest, I had already called him several times to rescue me and thought maybe I should do this one myself.  Not wanting to waste time (since I feared this mouse making a different nest somewhere else) I quickly put on my housecoat, shut the other bedroom doors so my new little friend couldn't make a run for it, and grabbed the basket.  I made it into the living room when the little head popped up again.  So I did the mature thing and screamed, dropping my basket.  My 5 year old son was woken up by my stealthy eviction skills and came out to ask what on earth was going on.  I told him that nothing was going on, so go back to bed and shut the door.  I quickly glanced around and didn't see my little friend running around, so off we went again.  I got outside the door, took a few steps to make sure that it couldn't run back inside, shut the door and then dropped it all on the ground.   The poor little mouse took off along the bottom of our fence and ran.

Figuring all was okay, I started taking things out to see what needed to be thrown in the garbage and what needed to be cleaned.  Now, I'm in my bathrobe, at 7 in the morning and we live on a very busy street.  And as 2 more little fuzzier come flying out, now I'm in my bathrobe, at 7 in the morning, running around and screaming because a mouse touched me!  I phoned my husband after I had a shower (after being emotionally scarred and thoroughly disgusted that a mouse touched me), and relayed the story to him.  It turned out, he wasn't at work yet, he was at breakfast with his Dad and was telling his Dad the story as I told him.   The entire restaurant heard my story!

I told him I wanted him to go pick up more traps, as many as he could get because I was going to go all Home Alone on our house until I was sure I had gotten all of them!

Now, other than giving you a good laugh at my expense, what is the point of my story?

Well, having all those creatures in my house has taught me that if its not important enough to me that I want to sanitize it after having mice in my house, then why would I keep it?  I have gotten rid of over 20 garbage bags of STUFF from my house since that exhausting morning. 

My kids don't even notice that I cleaned out their toys and donated all their McDonalds toys.  They can actually find the toys they want to play with.  And rather than tell me that they're bored and have nothing to do, they can go play with their toys!  Now that there is room in the toys bins, they can also put them all away!

All those clothes that I was saving for who knows what occasion?  Gone.  I already want to get rid of more.

And it's bliss.  I now have much less to clean.  Which means I can spend my time doing other things.  I get MORE by having less.  More time with my kids.  More time cuddle with my Hubby.  I have actually had time to start reading again.  I'm teaching myself to crochet.

I am being more intentional with my purchases, since it seems such a waste to spend hard earned money on something if it's just going to create clutter.  And since I no longer waste my money on things I can either now find since my house is clean, or if I'm just buying it for the sake of something to do, I actually have more money.  And I don't feel that I have to go out and get the latest thing.  I'd rather spend that time making memories.

All because less stuff has actually made me happier.

Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for all you have given me.  You have blessed me with 3 healthy children, and I have one that you hold in your arms, who never had to struggle in this world.  I am sitting inside a warm house, with all the amenities that can all too often be taken for granted.  I have freedom.  I thank you for all the blessing I don't see, all the paths you blocked because they were what I wanted, but not what I needed.  I ask that you help us to see the beauty in the people around us, not the things we surround ourselves with.  In your name I pray.  Amen.




Monday, 6 February 2017

Musings in the Quiet

We've had a few inches of snow fall in the last few hours, and I've been mesmerized by the quiet.  With the cold weather (it's been -20 or colder all week), and having a couple of bouncing-off-the-walls kids, there have been many moments of loud.  When you have three littles running around, the house is seldom quiet. 

But it also makes you slow down.  You really have to decide if it's worth dressing them in layers, dragging them out the door and making them go between the nice warm vehicle to the freezing cold outdoors.  So you decide to do other things instead.  You take the time to notice the gorgeous colours in the sky as the sun goes to bed (which happens just after 4 at our house).  You watch the clouds as they meander across the sky. 

And when you do venture out of the house?  Well, you stay inside as long as you can of course!  We visited with a friend at work (he works in a bakery and always gives the kids a treat), and while we were there, we snuck in an art lesson watching his coworker decorate a cake.

You spend a lot more time cuddled up on the couch, reading books and watching shows.  And these may seem like simple little things, maybe even boring. 

But some of my fondest memories from my own childhood are just these.

I distinctly remember one night when the power went out.  We lived a ways out of town, so the power always took hours to come back on.  And we tried to do a puzzle by candle light.  It was hilarious!  The candle really just made the shine on the puzzle pieces blinding, and you were left just randomly trying to match it to other pieces since you couldn't see the colours on it.

With all of these social media competitions to see who is "doing" the most with their kids, shuttling them back and forth to all of their activities, we can lose the just "being" with our kids.  And I think those moments are the most beautiful.  Making memories with simple things.

Love don't cost a thing - at least for littles.

I challenge you today to just pause and watch those around you.  The joy that comes into someone's face when they see someone they love.  Or the colours put on display in a way that only He could.  I don't think that he designed such stunning moments for us to rush through them, do you?

Father, I pray that you would help us to slow down and appreciate all you have blessed us with.  You have given us so much more than we will ever realize.  And I thank you for that.  Help us to see the world through your eyes.  Let us seize the opportunities that you have placed in our day to just be with those we love and savour those moments.  In your name I pray.  Amen.




Thursday, 2 February 2017

Spread the Love!

It feels as though the whole world is a little less friendly these days.  As all the groups are protesting all the other groups, and as all the politicians bash the other politicians, it's so easy to get wrapped in spreading it around.  One little click of a button, and you can feel as though you've helped your cause.

But have you really?  Have you researched the article that you're sharing to verify it's sources?  Have you really thought about the message it's portraying? 

I don't think that there is anyone who truly doesn't know the state of our planet and the disrepair of the hearts in it.  All you have to do is turn on your TV, radio, phone, tablet or computer, and you are bombarded with the bad. 

By that little click, or that conversation over the water cooler, we choose what is important to us.  What can you do today to share the good?  Or better yet, what can you do today to add a little good to your world?

I'm not here to tell you how to use your social media accounts, I just wanted to put an idea out there.  What if instead of sharing an article protesting something, we shared an article showing how someone showed love in that same instance?  What if we made it a mission to spread the love with the awareness?

If you look hard enough, you can always find something great to share.  It could be as simple as sharing that a couple of weeks ago, there was nice man who waited while I unloaded my groceries so he could put my cart back for me.  

Or maybe there was a super long line at the grocery store, but the cashier still tried to make conversation with you.  You can almost guarantee that she's had at least one rude customer during her shift, but she's still trying.

Maybe you looked up at the sky and noticed a beautiful cloud, or a neat bird, or the sunset/sunrise was just breathtaking.

I have this little sign up on my wall that says, "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"  What would you have woke up to this morning if that were true?




Blessings in the Ordinary

Today wasn't a very spectacular day.  I heard my kids get up and chat away this morning.  I heard them head upstairs for their breakfast.  And get sidetracked by all their toys. 

It was a day like every other day.  A day full of blessings.

I got out of bed and got dressed just like every other day.  My body hurt, but that's pretty normal.  I have friends who are in so much pain that the simple act of getting out of bed, and making it to get dressed are monumental tasks.  It's one of those things that we can take for granted, forgetting other people are praying for that simple little daily task.

I got my baby out of her crib to get her dressed for her day.  The third baby that I've gotten to hold this side of heaven.  I get to do that.  Every day. 

I went to church without any worry of persecution for my beliefs.  Because I am blessed to live in a country where that freedom is protected.

I had the chance to check in with some family.  And watch my baby boy show love to his Aunt, who is struggling right now.  We are blessed to live close to family, and we are equally blessed that they allow us to walk through life with them.  Struggles and all.

I met my husband at his work for lunch.  Because when you own your own business, work isn't 9-5 Monday to Friday.  It isn't even 8 hour shifts 5 days a week.  It's been 7 days a week since May.  But he has work.  He is able to provide for us.  Something millions of people all over the world can only dream about tonight.

I came home to my house that has electricity, appliances, furniture and clothing.  Because again, I am blessed.  I don't have to worry that my electricity is going to be turned off because I had to choose food over light.  All those dishes in my sink?  They mean that my family has regular food, and I have the privilege of washing my dishes in a kitchen.  With hot water.  Something those of us in a first world country take for granted almost every single day.

I got to watch my girls play outside today.  My beautiful, amazing 6 year old girl, splashing in the baby pool with her little sister.  Watching their faces light up when they discovered something new.  Or when I got to watch my baby run over to her big sister, and big sister's face glowed with love.

There are so many more things I could mention.  But I think I've made my point. 

You have a choice every single day to wake up and look for the good.  And the more you look, the easier it becomes to find.  There are people living in your neighbourhood praying for what you take for granted.  And I don't mean to downplay those bad days.  We all have them.  But if today is the worst day of your life, doesn't that mean tomorrow can only be better?

Today I choose joy.

If you have a prayer request, I would love to lift you up in prayer.  Leave a comment, and I will be praying for you!