Stop rushing the crushing.

We’re at a year since we received the phone call asking if we would come and adopt a baby at birth from a young woman who believed she could not care for the baby herself, for a plethora of very serious and real reasons that I won’t disclose on my blog.

One. Year.

I don’t know how that much time has passed since we began that journey.

I remember everything about that day. I rushed home from the store, that I no longer own, to my family who was working on a truck that we no longer have, and told them about a baby that never did come home with us.

Nothing was as it seemed. Nothing is the same.

We stopped right there and prayed as a family in our garage. We heard an overwhelming yes resound in each of our five hearts.

For the next 6 weeks all we did was prepare for baby and worked and prayed to have the large amount of money we suddenly needed to do this. IMG_7951 (1)

Many of you, our friends, donated Aeroplan miles that you worked years to accumulate in order to help us get our flights. I have cried so many tears over the trips you wouldn’t get to go on after I came home empty armed.

I have heard some harsh comments like “Well, you should never get attached until it’s final”, to the most compassionate words, like from the stranger in the Toronto airport who grieved with me in a Starbucks line up.

And oh, how I hoped the Lord would rescue my broken heart. We tried to start the foster care journey soon after, but we were encouraged by the person who did our interview to wait until some more healing from the loss had occurred. Even they could see our gaping wounds.

We received more calls from moms wanting us to come and adopt their baby at birth for their own plethora of serious reasons, and promise through tears that they wouldn’t back out if we came, and we had to say no because we had nothing left from the first try.

And my heart broke deeper. The paradox of so many babies needing to be adopted and we just happened to invest in the one who didn’t need us was overwhelming.

It was one of the most devastating seasons of my life, and yet God remained true to his words in Psalm 34:18:

“The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain.”

In the closeness, deeper healing came. At home, in the dead of winter, on a particularly hard day, the Lord asked if I saw our story as a failure or a success. IMG_1008

I said failure.

He said success.

It caught me off guard. Why was it a success, Lord?

He said,

Because of your yes, five things happened:

  1. A  beautiful, perfect baby girl was saved from being aborted.
  2. Another girl decided not to abort her baby and began seeking out a family.
  3. Your choice to love this baby that was not your own gave the mom the strength and courage she thought she didn’t have.
  4. You realized you are called to be a mom and fully able to bond with a baby that is not you did not birth.
  5. In the midst of their serious and real difficulties, they have a godly couple who prays for them regularly.

I was stunned and wrote it all down as quickly as I could. We succeeded.

That’s the amazing part about God, he doesn’t fail. Even when it looks like the plan has fallen apart, he can take the situation and produce a person who has been transformed by difficulty and is stronger against the enemy than ever before!

For he alone is my safe place. His wrap-around presence always protects me as my champion defender. There’s no risk of failure with God! So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me?

Psalm 62:6

Because I was crushed by pain, a few more things happened.

  1. I recommitted to being the best mom I could be for the three God entrusted to me and I got serious about my job “raising arrows”. I began praying strategically for them and actually seeking God for the anointing to mother the way he was asking me to.
  2. I dug my roots into Jesus. And he didn’t leave me hanging. He overwhelmed me with his love and exploded His revelation over my life.
  3. I have been able to walk through other painful situations with confidence that when it doesn’t make sense, I know he’s writing a beautiful story.
  4. I am currently smashing boxes that I have put God in and removing the limitations that I have placed on certain areas because for the first time I really do believe that HIS plan, is the best plan. ,
  5. I have laid down all my timelines. Every. Single. One. You know what? I was proud that I was going to have had three kids and adopted one before I turned 30. God needed to remove that pride out of my life. This life is not a race. It is a long journey with a daily choice to say yes to God, or no. And there is no age when I stop saying yes. So timelines, you can go! God has my yes everyday until I die! IMG_8420

The other morning Andrew and I sat talking with hushed voices in the living room trying not to wake the kids. We were discussing housing in our next season. We admitted that we don’t know what it’s going to look like financially for us moving from a lower cost market and trying to get into a higher cost one.

My husband looked at me with absolute confidence and said:

I believe God has something good for us, but even if it’s really hard and we can’t afford much right away, I know, because of everything we walked through with the adoption, that he will be shaping something deep within us that can never be stolen.

Cue all the tears from this proud wife. 

I think we are starting to experience, just a tiny bit, what James is talking about when he writes:

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

James 1:2-3

If you are in a place of crushing, don’t rush through it. Don’t opt for the quick fix. This is one time you want to take the long way. Allow God to work deep in your heart and you will come out the other side and not even recognize who you are.

Almost every single desire in my heart is different than it was a year ago today. My priorities are different. My faith is stronger. My marriage is better. My kids are more compassionate. We couldn’t see those things forming in the moment, but suddenly we can see it. And it’s because of heart ache. Because of sorrow. Because of a deep crushing in my life. Because of incredible difficulties, some I’ve shared, some I haven’t.

If giving your yes to God ends up in something that looks like a failed mess, don’t file it away as such. Ask God how he sees it. You just might be surprised at what a radical success it was in his eyes.IMG_2185

If you are facing a season of great difficulty, I hope and pray that the tide changes and your circumstances improve quickly. But more than anything, I pray that God would finish the deep work he’s started in you. That you would wake up one day and suddenly see how the pressure and challenge has transformed you into a warrior with the power to endure!

I pray you would see a great harvest of joy and salvation from every tear you’ve cried and every step you’ve continued making because you didn’t give up. (Galatians 6:9, Psalm 126:5)

Trust me, you can trust him. He is that good.

Love,

Monica

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Because you can’t write a book about saying a brave yes, and then not have to say one!

I think sometimes God tests the words I say, just to really make sure I believe them. It was almost no surprise to me that we were led into making one of the biggest decisions of our lives on the day the first five hundred copies of my book, A Brave Yes, arrived at our door.

Yesterday we told our church that we are resigning and moving to Aylmer, Ontario this fall to continue on in the next phase of what God has for us in our ministry.IMG_5037

This has been so difficult. We absolutely have loved our time in Kipling. We brought our youngest home from the hospital here and it’s the only place we’ve known as a family of five. Andrew and I received our ordination in this church, we stepped out and tried so many new things, our family has been close by, we’ve made dear friends that we do life with and have felt the Holy Spirit moving more than ever. It’s been so good.

And at the same time, this has been so simple because when God calls, you answer. That’s what a brave yes is. It’s a predetermined commitment to say yes to God, every single day, no matter what he asks. 

Hard, but simple.

I remember as a teenager wrestling with what the call of God was on my life. I knew he had big things and I wondered if I was called to missions overseas. Over and over he clearly confirmed a call to the nation of Canada. Last summer while we were in Nunavut, I felt that call expand across imaginary borders I had placed around what that could look like. Canada is on the heart of God, and he will move his people were he needs to in order to get his message of love, hope and grace out from sea to sea.

And at the same time this little church on the prairies has my heart, and I know that God is not done, he is simply just beginning with them. And though we won’t be here with them, we know greater things are yet to come. Every word spoken over that group of believers will come to pass. The Lord will finish what HE started.

I feel the Holy Spirit reminding me of the words that Caleb and Joshua spoke when the twelve spies came back from scoping out the land that God had promised them. The others only saw the giants and the impossibilities but Caleb and Joshua said with great faith:

 “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey.  (Numbers 14:7 – 8, NLT)

I believe this next season is going to be wonderful, and as the NIV says, it will be “exceedingly good”. Not just for our family, but for the church we leave behind, for the church we get to embrace and for whatever YES you are saying right now.

I have so much more to share about this journey, how my kids are processing it, the wonderful people we will get to work alongside and what we are believing for, and I will in the future, but I think that’s all for now.

Just know this: I’m right here on this brave yes journey with you. My heart feels raw today and we’re holding on to all the biblical promises I wrote about in my book that when we say yes, God does the rest. He is writing a beautiful story. We can trust God.

Love,

Monica

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A Brave Yes is AVAILABLE!

I have neglected my poor website and fell into just posting on my social media pages! In case you missed it, my book is OUT! You can buy your own copy of A BRAVE YES for $12, or $16.10 in total if you want it shipped anywhere in Canada! You can email abraveyes@gmail.com to order yours!

A Brave Yes photoI have been so encouraged by the notes and messages I’ve received so far about how the book is impacting lives. Keep sharing your thoughts and feedback! It means SO much to me!

 

Love,

Monica

Pick your hard.

Obedience is hard. Taking that first step out in response to the Lord’s voice in your life is scary.

On the flip side, regret is hard. Wondering what would have happened if you would have just given God your yes is really hard.

Having a clean house is a lot of hard work. Especially with little ones. Dealing with anxiety from too much mess, also hard (I can sometimes fly between these two extremes on the daily!).

Forgiving someone who hurt you is hard. Painful. Difficult. Not forgiving them is crippling to your own soul.

Life is hard. Pick the hard that matters for eternity. Almost every choice in life that matters at all results in actions that take either or all of your grit, guts and courage.

Your hard thing might be different from my hard, but we all have them. Don’t run from hard choices or decisions that lead to hard work. Anything worth fighting for or doing well will require your whole heart.

But here’s the kicker: you can pick a hard that partners with the Lord will and releases grace and favour over your life. Or you can go your own way, and deal with the consequences of your stubborn heart.

Jesus says that His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He is the God who can make a way when there is no way. He looks at our situation that is drowning in a sea of bad decisions and can create a highway of dry land straight into a place of blessing in the land of obedience.

I’ve had countless number of people say to me: Isn’t homeschooling hard? IMG_1705

Yes. It is.

But so was running a business when God asked me to.

So was getting everybody up, dressed, out the door, fed and adequately loved on top of doing everything else.

So was writing a book in the early hours of the morning.

But during that season, God’s blessing was there. He had our yes and we had his strength.

I feel an urgency to say to you who are making some big decisions: don’t run from the hard.

You are being tested to give your yes when you don’t yet feel the grace for it. God wants your yes and then he provides the rest.

When I said yes to homeschooling my kids I did it with big tears and trembling hands. I didn’t feel equipped or anointed for it. But I said yes, because He knew best. Full stop. End of story. And then his power came. And then his courage fell. And then his strength infused. IMG_1993

Psalm 84:10 in the Message hit this home with me the other day.

One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
    beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God
    than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.

I’d rather scrub floors and dwell in the blessing of God than be honoured with great position when it’s not my time or place. IMG_2052

Don’t run from hard. Your greatest victory, your deepest peace, strongest anointing and your wildest adventure waits on the other side of your great, big, surrendered, brave yes.

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I don’t need another goal this year, I just need more grace.

Can I be honest? I’m a little overwhelmed by all of the new years “stuff” that’s floating around right now.

It wasn’t too many years ago that I sat with my husband in our living room taking an online goal setting course just before the New Year (or maybe it was just after, I can’t quite remember.)

We set some big goals and we did some great things that year. There was definite synergy in our decision to pursue growth together. We made some wise investments and worked hard.

I love goal setting, I love productivity and I love crossing goals off my list almost more than anything.

But things feel a little different this year.

And while I felt that it might just be me, I also felt compelled to write to the one who is exhausted or perhaps even pushed to the brink of tears seeing every single new year, new goal, new life post this week.img_9912

Because here is the thing with where I’m at in my life right now: I don’t need one more thing to do. I don’t need one more thing to cram into my schedule. I don’t need another expectation on my shoulders. I need more grace.

I need more grace for myself.

I need more grace for others.

Don’t misunderstand me. I work out, I dream big and I have lots of things that I still want to accomplish with my life.

But I’m feeling tired. 

And you know what? Chances are you might be too.

I walk into so many places in life and you know what I see? Exhausted, worn out, run down people trying to keep up. And while some of the goals being tossed around might help you be more prioritized or perhaps your goal is to finally prioritize, I think an extra helping of grace would serve us all incredibly well.

Grace is unmerited favour. And it flows freely from God, but have you offered it to yourself from yourself?

I’ve been the queen of getting up inhumanely early to pound out projects. And for certain seasons that honestly was the only possible time I could do it. And when I have to hit a deadline I know it’s going to be an early morning over a late night. But I can’t do that all the time. When I started homeschooling I realized the last thing my kids need is a worn out mom by 2 p.m.

Here’s what I’m saying: It’s ok to be at peace with your season.

That’s my big “now I’m THIRTY” life revelation. I spent my twenties learning that it’s ok to look at your life and say “now is not the time.”

It’s ok to say, “that was then and this is now.” Life changes. Seasons change.

If this is your go time, then, girl, we are cheering you on! Keep inspiring us and don’t give up on giving your best yes to everything that God’s got for you!

But if you need a break, give yourself one. Pace yourself. You don’t have to do everything all at once. If God is asking you to choose rest, please don’t feel shame. I get it, I have felt the weight of guilt that came from recognizing I’m not actually Wonder Woman. I didn’t leave my house for days when we announced my shop was closing. The shame is real and it can be debilitating if we don’t acknowledge what’s happening.

In the long-term, everything will thank you for choosing rest.

If you still need something to run toward pick a focus area.

This year, I want a better marriage. Plain and simple. How am I getting there? Honestly, I don’t know. Last year I wanted a better relationship with my kids and I just became consciously aware of what the Holy Spirit was speaking to me and gave him my yes and he did a miracle. Right now, that’s my plan with my marriage. On January 1st we had an unexpected 24 hours together while my mom took our kids. All I could breathe out was: God, you’re good to make a way. And I know he will continue to as I surrender my will to him.

If there is one thing I hope you give yourself this year it’s not an unattainable work out schedule or a list of experiences to check off. It’s grace to be ok with the fact that we are constantly growing and the date of the year doesn’t suddenly increase the pressure to change faster.

Life is a process and God who began the good work in you is going to finish it. Whether its January or July. He’s got it. Listen to him. Give him your yes. Say no when He leads. Rest in his whispers. Resign from a committee. Eat a frozen pizza at least once a week (well, maybe cook it first!).

You are enough. You are brave to make the right choices. You are powerful to choose peace. You have the vision to see the best is yet to come.

Happy 2019. May this be the most peace-filled year yet.

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A BRAVE YES: Pre-Orders + Cover Reveal!

A Brave Yes Pre-Order Christmas GraphicI can’t believe this moment has come! Today I get to reveal my book cover to you!

To be honest, this was one of the most agonizing processes. It’s so hard finding the right look that represents you, your message and will get the attention of readers!

When I officially confirmed the cover, I text some of my family and said “I said yes to the cover (which was much harder than saying yes to the dress)!”

Honestly, way harder than naming a child, picking a wedding dress, or for me, even choosing a spouse 😂

I’m heavy in the editing stage with lots of changes to review and a tight timeline with Christmas and family wedding hot on my heels, so having my cover confirmed has been the boost I needed to get up and get working!

A Brave Yes is about my personal journey in learning to say yes to God, no matter what. It includes many stories and raw moments leading up to our grand opening at my shop, pivotal moments in my life (including some intense birth stories), and deals with the burn out I went through. It’s my heart dumped out on paper and drenched with the hope that’s been poured out over me.

Here’s some back story to my book being published.

After opening the store, I had a message burning in my heart about saying yes to God (obviously, a brave yes!). My sister, Nicole, felt it on her heart to pray that I would have the courage to write. I started waking up early in the morning to get my heart typed out. When I told her that, she said she had been praying that God would wake me up! Not so nice there, sister! 

But really, she was the push I needed, in the physical and the spiritual.

My sister Emma works at a church and received an email about the Women’s Journey of Faith Publishing Contest and sent it to me. The deadline was very close and I had only just started writing. My instinct was to throw it out of my head, but my husband felt deeply that it was a “kairos moment” (divine favour meeting divine opportunity). We prayed together and decided I would give it a try.

I worked really hard and finished my book a week before the deadline. I sent it in about a month before we got our initial call for adoption.

Sitting in our Air B-N-B in Nunavut, the evening before the baby was born, I received a call from Word Alive Press and they were letting me know I was a top finalist in the contest and I had a won a prize of credit toward publishing with them.

I was elated. Two dreams were going to come true within the matter of days. I would finally adopt a baby and have a book published. I could hardly wait to start writing the next one.

Then, well, you know the story. Things fell through with the baby. 

I decided I couldn’t publish the book. I had given God my yes and my heart had been broken. How could I encourage others to do the same? For what? To be left sick to their stomach’s, endlessly weeping and with all their renovation (or whatever else) money spent?

I had to give the publisher my answer soon after coming home. I ignored it for a bit. Then one morning I opened my computer and began reading.

I read and wept and read and wept. My story was healing my heart. This was not a story of saying yes and everything going smooth as can be. I forgot how deeply I had poured my heart into these pages.

By the end of the second day of reading I told Andrew I believed I still needed to publish (he had never changed in his feeling that I should).

“I don’t know if I went to all that work to write down my story just so that I’d have hope in the middle of this one, but I need to follow through on it.” I said.

The morning I was supposed to sign the publishing contract, a big piece was missing: the finances (anyone else seem to have the roadblock a lot? ha!). 

A few hours later we opened an envelope from a couple with the exact amount of money for the down payment on my book. They didn’t know us well, what our need was, or our timeline.

Andrew and I looked at each other, knowing this was a final confirmation to step out because God would be with us.

What a journey this faith life is. Full of ups and downs, joys and heartaches. We don’t see the big picture. God is redeeming and working all the time. For our good, and his glory.

Are you ready to see the cover? Here it is:

a brave yes HR

I LOVE the fog in this picture. It completely encapsulates how I feel when I step out with my brave yes every single time. I can see the vague beauty of what God could do, but truthfully have no idea what will happen!

I hope and pray that lives will be transformed through the message in this book. That where you’ve felt stuck you will feel released. Where you’ve felt discouraged, you will find hope. Where you’ve given up on God, you’ll see his power at work again.

I turn the big 3 – 0 at the end of this month and I’d love to see thirty pre-orders between now and the end of December. Right now I’m offering a special price of $15 for the book AND a discounted $10 shipping!

If you choose to pre-order this book as a Christmas gift, I will email you a printable that you can put in a card or in a stocking, letting the recipient know that early 2019 will be bringing them a new book!

ALSO: If you live in Saskatchewan there is a good chance I can get your book to you WITHOUT shipping! So feel free to just pay without shipping and then if we can’t get it figured out to have it delivered to you, we can ship it. There’s time to figure that out! 

All you have to do is e-transfer to abraveyes@gmail.com, message the password via email or Facebook message to my page and I will get in touch with you for your mailing address (if shipping is necessary), a receipt and a printable (if it’s for a gift).

So plain and simple:

Option 1:

E-transfer $15, pick up or we will get it dropped off when book arrives.

Option 2:

E-transfer $25, book will be shipped when it arrives.

I want to thank you in advance for ordering your copy through me personally. Word Alive Press has it set up that if I can sell my “author copies” myself, it funds a majority of the publishing process. It’s a huge help to me and my family when you order them from me directly!

Thank you for walking this journey with me! I’ve felt incredibly loved and supported by you all!

Many blessings on your Christmas season,

Monica

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Be catapulted by mentorship.

I remembering being eight months pregnant with Caleb. Nerves consumed me. Beyond my fear of labour and delivery were the echoes of every other parent warning me that I would never sleep again.

I was terrified.

Sitting at a table with some couples from our church, I began to share my fears with another mom.

The thing is, she didn’t look exceptionally sleep deprived and seemed very at peace with her role as a mother. I asked her how she was doing it.

That night I learned a secret that took me through all three babies. I discovered the Baby Whisperer book. And without even knowing it, that mama became the first in my collective of mentors.

One of the many times we were struggling through some parenting issues we looked around and noticed some parents further ahead of us that seemed to have really healthy relationships with all of their kids. Andrew and I knew where we were and it didn’t look we were on course for where they were. One night we met with them and asked them to be our parenting mentors. They walked with us through numerous ups and downs, shared their greatest triumphs and challenges, and have continued to invest in our children and in our family.

Flash forward to opening our business and being flooded with prophetic words and struggling to discern it all. I have someone in my life who has owned a business and is extremely prophetic. All teary eyed from my confusion and feeling all torn up, I stopped by the Regina Apostolic Church one day on a quick city trip and asked Pastor Rob to be my prophetic mentor. I knew he was and is someone who continues to walk in peace regardless of what was going on. I needed to learn that if I was going to successfully wear these different hats.

My latest adventure in homeschooling quickly brought to light my need for a mentor with a special gift for raising children. I looked around and saw a woman raising kids and homeschooling with beautiful fruit. Her family truly shines with love for one another and the world, not to mention they are all extremely gifted people. This amazing mom of eight took the time out of her busy life to give me homeschooling advice, and I’m honoured to have her on my collective of mentors.

I believe our willingness (or unwillingness) to allow people to speak into our lives and share their wisdom is going to be what either holds you back or catapults you further. Why wouldn’t you want to learn from someone else’s mistakes? I know I still make plenty of my own, so if I can save a few along the way, I’m all for that!

There is a difference between comparing ourselves to others and being inspired by others.

In a day and age where we can be publicly shamed online for sharing our opinions, we’ve lost a culture of mentorship. I know I’m scared to tell someone what worked for me and my babies in case someone jumps all over me. Yet my experience might truly help someone.

So here is my tried and tested advice:

  1. Look around you. Who’s doing what you want to do with excellence and integrity? Who has a marriage that exemplifies faithfulness and joy? Who has peace even though they have walked through difficulty? Who has great time management?
  2. Contact them and ask for 15 minutes of their time.
  3. Have three questions prepared to ask them. If you honour their time and affirm why you admire them, I know that they will be motivated to share with you their secrets and even better, their struggles!

Will everything they suggest work for you? Maybe not. But I bet you will learn something! I have more mentors in my collective that I haven’t mentioned and in different seasons I talk with them to varying degrees. Some were just a mentor for a piece of my journey. But each one has impacted my life deeply and to each one, I am grateful.

I hope you will be inspired to find someone you can learn from! As long as our heart is beating, we can continue growing!

P.S. Your brave yes might be agreeing to talk to someone who sees something they can learn from you! Don’t hide behind false humility, we all have something to offer!

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