One Last Blog

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I’ve imagined over and over how I would introduce this post. Typed, deleted, typed, deleted.

No words truly encapsulate the agony I’ve been going through to step out and obey the Lord in multiple areas of my life heading into the new year.

The plain and simple truth is that God has asked me to take a blogging break for 2017.

I’ve been seeking the Lord on what he needed me to know on a personal level about this new year.

My heart has been full of ideas, projects and goals for the future. When I sat down to really pray into what the Lord had for me he has spoken words like “wander”, “enjoy”, and “deepening”.

For over five years I’ve poured out my heart to you. Some years more than others. This blog has been a life line when I needed something to focus on, a platform when I needed to disciple, a creative outlet when I needed to inspire.

It’s been a dream. A dream that still hasn’t died.

But it’s time to lay it down. For a season at least.

This year holds some pretty crazy things for me. Events that are going to push me so far beyond my comfort zone that I get butterflies just imagining it.

Things that are going to take focus. And the Lord wants my whole heart through it so he can truly deepen me the way he needs to in order to prepare me for the next level.

I was reading Chip & Joanna Gaines book, The Magnolia Story, and Joanna told the story of how she had to close her shop down when her kids were young. This shop represented a big time dream, but she trusted that God knew what he was doing.

When the time came to pick it up again the Lord radically blessed it and has used her dream to reach millions.

I don’t know what will happen with my blog, this symbol of my dream, but this I know:

“We are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life.”

Hebrews 10:39 (The Passion Translation)

Friends, there is so much I want to share about what could be on the horizon and what I’m sensing this may all be about, but truly my heart breaks to express the season I’m entering into. I personally have never found deepening easy.

But it is always, always, worth it. 

I pray for you that this year would hold incredible encounters with Jesus that change your life and your heart forever. I pray that when we reconnect next year that I would hear stories of the deepening work that God has done in your heart too. I pray that whatever you face, your courage would be strong and your heart would be brave in the Lion of Judah, our Lord. May health, wisdom and overflowing love pour out from you this year.

I will still be on Instagram probably posting outrageously long captions sharing my heart through my photos, because that’s just who I am, so you can stay loosely connected to me that way!

Thank you for your tremendous love and support the last number of years.

With love, tears and many blessings,

Monica

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3H Club

Almost every December I feel ready to quit. Ready to quit every thing. Being a mom, a wife, a blogger, a pastor, or even a functioning human being!

It’s never actually an emergency. I’m simply tired.dont-quit

I read this quote a while ago and it summed up perfectly what I’ve been learning in 2016. Rest more. Rest daily, rest weekly, rest monthly and rest yearly. I’m seeking to become proactive with rest so I don’t burn out.

While some people amp up their schedules come Christmas time, I’m seeking out rest. It might sound idyllic and easy but in a world where there is a “glorification of busy” and exterior pressures to make my Christmas list two miles long, it’s hard.

My longevity in life is going to come down to how well I can manage to rest. I’ve found that this principle works on so many levels. If I lay down for a few minutes at lunch time, I will be more productive in the afternoon. If I don’t, I will grumpily (is that a word?) haul myself through the day and just make it to bed time.

But if you know me I’m not much into surviving.

To thrive you need to grow. You need water, sun and rest. You need to exercise and sleep.

I was doing a workout the other day and I was feeling quite pushed for time and like I really didn’t have room in my schedule for it that day.

I heard the Lord whisper “How are your H’s?”.

“Umm, did I miss something? What are these ‘H’s’ you speak of?” I joked backed.

“How’s your home? How’s your health? How’s your happiness?” His voice is so calm and gentle in these moments.

I knew with instant revelation what he was talking about. My home is my family, my kids, my marriage and then everything associated with my house. My health is my spiritual and physical wellbeing, and my happiness is my overall joy in life.

These were three great questions, and I answered honestly.

My house is in a pretty good shape. We’ve had good times with the kids, I had a date on Friday, and while my house isn’t “deep clean”, our bedrooms are tidy and we are relatively caught up on laundry.

My health…hmm that’s a tough one. Physically, I’ve been worn out. These last couple month of figuring out my PMDD (read here) has been exhausting and I’m still building my body back up. Spiritually, I’m enjoying all you say, Lord. I’m excited about our relationship.

My happiness, or joy, is day-to-day depending simply on how much pressure I place on myself and how much margin I have in my schedule.

This little conversation with the Lord was so good and so proactive. He reminded me that I had felt that December needed to be focused on rest. I chose a book to enjoy and I’ve been watching extra shows in the evenings and fitting workouts into my schedule to strengthen myself.

I don’t want to quit. I don’t want to give up. If we are tired, we need to learn to rest. We need to learn to rest before we get too tired. When you live a life that aims to change the world, building rest into your routine is vital.

This world needs you healthy. The world needs us to have healthy homes, healthy bodies, healthy spirits and healthy hearts.

How are your H’s? 

May this be a restful December and joy filled Christmas! 

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Happy “One Year” to our little Fixer Upper!

One year ago we got possession of our new house! I can’t believe it’s been a year. This was the largest project we have ever taken on. I say WE because while Andrew renovated this house for us to move into, I had to carry a lot of extra work at the church, with the kids and at the house we were living in.

There was one point went we considered selling it half-finished because we were so stressed. That week we asked some people to pray with us and the Lord came through big time! He gave us strategies we hadn’t thought of, released more money where we thought we had run out and reminded us why we needed to do it!

I remember one time I was over at the new house helping Andrew. He had demolished a room and my job was to shovel all the gross stuff into five gallon pails and carry them outside. I don’t know how many trips I made that day, but I ended up filling three massive garbage bins and leaving with a sore back.

The little moments I was able to spend working on the house gave me a deep respect for the project Andrew was heading up. He blew me out of the water with his abilities!

In honour of this special anniversary I want to share some of the pictures from our house over the last year.

It isn’t quite finished but we are crazy close to our goal of finishing it all by December 31, 2016.

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One year ago tomorrow we knocked down the wall between the then bedroom and kitchen/dining room. The kid’s loved it as we were slightly Chip & Joanna obsessed and were counting down the days to our own “demo day’!

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Many cold and dark days with no heat and or lights hooked up!

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The kids were troopers with the endless trips to Home Depot or Lowes.

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I can’t even tell you how many times we stood up stairs re-mapping out the bedrooms. We managed to use wasted space and reconfigure the upstairs into four bedroom from three bedrooms!

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The kitchen was a very exciting day! It ended up being more stressful than we imagined because our countertops, sink and finishing pieces ended up being almost five weeks late. We moved in thinking they were arrive any day.

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Andrew built this island. We were at the end of our kitchen budget so he reused out old table top for the counter that we can choose to replace one day if we want to.

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We raided my mom’s basement and found some old stools that Andrew cut down to counter height and painted.

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Another happy day! The farm sink and counter tops arrived! It had been a long few weeks without them!

oven

I loved this stove when I saw it in the store but it was way above our budget. We found the same one in the aisle over with a ding in it that would be easy to paint, and it was marked down by $900! I made muffins pretty much right after we got it in!

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Someone else loved the farm sink almost as much as mommy!

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I’ve been so happy with the “feel” of the space. It’s so cozy some days it’s hard to leave!

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The latest addition to the kitchen! Subway tile back splash with charcoal grout.

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This was simply a design piece that I fell in love with and it fit so perfectly in this little space beside the exposed brick.

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We always enjoy hosting, whether there is still more to be done in the house or not!

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The shiplap wall is one of my favourite parts of this house! Original from 1921!

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It’s hard to get a good picture with Christmas lights! I’m enjoying our first Christmas season in this house.

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I am so happy with the decision to paint the doors dark. I love the contrast to the white walls.

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This shared the story of this front door on a previous post that you can find here.

There is still lots to do, and it’s far from perfect. There are layout flaws, mistakes we made and lots that we learned. Almost every wall has been damaged by the kids to some degree already and we gasp every time someone drags something across the new floors! But it really has been an incredible year and yet another way God has shown his faithfulness to us.

And yet another way my husband has blown me away! (You’re pretty amazing babe!)

 

What’s in your hands?

15239213_10157736842890431_1689719955_nWhen I graduated from high school, the Lord decided to alter my plans. I had been banking on my own plan, literally. In terms of finances I hadn’t sought him out on what I should do, I just defaulted to getting a student loan.

When the Lord changed my plans, he sent me to a bible school that wasn’t accredited, which meant no loans.

I had worked my butt off through high school, holding down as many as three jobs at a time while striving for excellence at school. It was hard to say the least. But I had to help my family. My mom was a newly single mom with four children, dealing with everything on her own for the first time.

Needless to say, though I worked a lot, I didn’t have a lot saved.

I remember meeting with the director of the school and saying “God really wants me here but I don’t have the money right now.”

He looked at me graciously, already knowing how clearly the Lord had confirmed that I needed to attend this school.

“I think the Lord is asking you what’s in your hands”.

I stared blankly.

He continued. “When everyone was hungry after Jesus had been teaching all day, the disciples didn’t know how they would feed everyone. Jesus asked, what was in their hands. What did they have. They found they had three loaves of bread and four fishes.”

I thought about that story. Such a tiny amount of food for potentially around 15,000 people.

“Then Jesus took what they had and he blessed it. And there was more than enough to feed everyone. He can provide, but he wants to know what’s in your hands.”

I was so overwhelmed. I had to find out everything I had. I knew the Lord was going to pull through for me.

I had a little bit of money in a savings account, something in an investment, and a measly amount in my chequing account.

I pulled it all out and gave it the school and we prayed.

Within a couple of days I received a call from one of the directors who was obviously crying.

“We can hardly believe this! Someone just called in and anonymously paid most of your tuition! All you have left is a small portion of your mission’s trip to fundraise for!”

I hung up the phone completely awestruck at what God had done. That he had taken the tiny amount in my hands and blessed it so radically.

There were other tight times throughout those years, but God always provided, always came through.

This morning I read this passage of scripture again. It happens to be on a day where I don’t feel I can do what I need to do.

All I had to do was read this story and my faith was multiplied. If the Lord could do that with my finances, he can do that with my strength, my courage, my emotional stamina, my energy, even my sleep.

Today, I believe the Lord is asking “what’s in your hands”. 

“Later that afternoon the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘it’s going to be dark soon and the people are hungry, but there is nothing to eat here in this desolate place. You should send the crowds away to the nearby villages to buy themselves some food.’
‘They don’t need to leave.’ Jesus responded. ‘You give them something to eat.’
They answered, ‘But all we have is five barley loaves and two fish.’
‘Let me have them.’ Jesus replied. Then he had everyone sit down on the grass as he took the five loaves and two fish. He looked up into heaven, gave thanks to God, and broke the bread into pieces.”
Matthew 14:15-19 (The Passion Translation)

You know what it says after they had passed out all the food?

“And everyone ate until they were satisfied, for the food was multiplied before their very eyes!”.

What do you have? Give it to Jesus today and see how he blesses it to accomplish exactly what he sets out to do in your life!

Lord, I thank you that you have supernaturally provided for me on so many occasions, and I can say with great faith that you provide in all ways. I ask today that a great measure of faith would be poured into the one who is discouraged and reading these words, and that they would experience breakthrough beyond their wildest dreams by stepping out and giving you what they have. In your powerful name, Jesus Christ!

 

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Me and my future husband during our time at school, before we were together. I didn’t know here that we would be married, let alone doing all we do together! The Lord has been so faithful and has blessed the small amount we had to give.

One day at a time.

15207814_10157702565935431_746227464_nEach day holds a whole new set of known concerns. Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed in just the transitions of our family from one place to another. How do we all get somewhere different within two minutes with one vehicle? Thank the Lord we live in a small town!

Then we have the unknown things. The last minutes stresses that can pop up. A sick family member, a hurting friend, an unexpected vehicle break down.

How do we handle all the unknowns without turning into jumpy little rabbits just waiting for the next catastrophe?

Matthew 6:34 sheds some light.

“Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Where does this confidence come from that everything will be ok? It comes from Jesus himself. These are his words to us. He is the one speaking here and he gives assurance straight from his heart that the details are in his hands.

When I started consistently journaling a few years ago, everything changed in my life.

Practically this is what I’ve been doing to deal with “one day at a time”:

Each day I write down everything I’m concerned about for the next day. It could be as simple as I’m leading worship and I don’t have a guitar player, to a friend is having surgery, to not knowing when in the day I’m going to make supper.

I write it all down and then tell the Lord to take each of these things and work them out. I pass it all onto him. I’m not saying that I won’t take responsibility, but I am saying I need him to show me how.

This has been an incredible experience. So many times I’ve done this and woken up to a text from someone who felt they should bring us supper, or a member of my worship team felt they should stay in town for the service, or another kind of answer.

Other times the Lord just lays out a strategic plan that I had not thought of that makes all the pieces of the puzzle click into place.

One day at a time with Jesus. He’s got this. I’ve got this, with him.

God is good, and he cares about the details of our lives. He cares that we don’t drown in worry.

The incredible thing about the Father is he IS compassion, he IS mercy, he IS grace. He doesn’t just hold these things in his heart, he actually encompasses all that they are. He created those virtues.

You can approach the throne of the Lord and lay every single care at his feet.

Lord I pray that my friends would give “laying all these things at your feet” a try and that they would experience your peace that goes beyond what makes sense for the reality of their circumstances. I ask that you would release creative solutions and strategies that would blow their minds. I pray that they would have favour with people who would come alongside them and want to help them out in their day to day life. Thank you for caring about us on earth even when you see the vastness of eternity. I love you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Unwinding

15086980_10157668497425431_118978007_n.jpgEvery time I leave my children for an overnight trip or longer, I’ve always seemed to be at the point of absolute desperation.

Exhaustion would be so intense and my brain so foggy, the only answer seemed to be escaping.

I shared some photos last night on my blog Facebook page saying that it’s been quiet here because my husband and I have been away in the mountains for a leadership retreat.

This time we didn’t leave our kids in a state of desperation. In fact it was so hard to leave. We had finally got Caleb adjusted to school, hockey had just started, things at the church were positive but very busy and leaving seemed like the worst thing to do.

But with every mile we drove, we felt ourselves unwind. We realized this is a proactive trip. It’s not because we are desperate for intervention in our lives, it’s just to make sure we stay the course.

 

This morning I sit quietly in my hotel room, trying not to type too loud so I don’t wake my husband while a trains whizzes passed our window with the majestic mountains acting as a backdrop. “Peace so unexplainable” washes over me. 15050300_10157668494970431_649013379_n

Last night’s session was so powerful. I was challenged to not just do things for the sake of doing them, but to stand strong and wait for the Lord to guide. Even when the pressure is mounting and I feel like I have to act, God says he has another way. He wants to miraculously come through on the power of God not the might of men.

The Lord confirmed everything spoken last night through my devotion time this morning. I read in 2 Timothy chapter 1 so many little things that stirred in my heart.

“For God will never give you the spirit of cowardly fear, but he gives the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love and a mind that has been delivered, protected and secure.” 2 Timothy 1:7 TPT

“The confidence of my calling enables me to overcome every difficulty without shame, for I have an intimate revelation of God. And my faith in him convinces me that he is more than able to keep all that I’ve placed in his hands safe and secure until the fullness of his appearing.” 2 Timothy 1:12 TPT

The Father who empowers us with his mighty Holy Spirit, confirms our call to us over and over and gives us confidence that we can trust him.

If I get anything from this week, that’s what I’m holding onto.

I pray for you that you weill experience the peaceful, powerful presence of the Holy Spirit and you would be empowered to walk in absolute courage that comes from the confidence of Jesus Christ! He has such a plan for your life! You are powerful and what you believe changes the world! In Jesus name!

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The Hormone Pit

14961475_10157621907585431_807272771_nLast Wednesday, October 26th, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Exhaustion, sadness, feelings of being completely overwhelmed and even…dare I say it…depression.

We had an incredible morning at our play group and I thought I was just worn out. Andrew and I were supposed to facilitate a class that evening and our babysitter was due to arrive.

I went and laid on the bed for a minute and could not get back up.

“I think I just need to stay home tonight.” I told Andrew.

“Just pretend we both left and lock our bedroom door so the kids don’t know I’m here.” 

I spent the whole evening under the covers on the verge of tears.

What is happening to me. I wondered.

We had noticed that each time my period would approach I seemed to handle it horribly, but since having my third baby, each cycle has hit harder.

I looked at the calendar and realized I had fallen into a hormonal pit.

The days that followed were really awful. I thought I was experiencing extreme anxiety. My chest felt like it was being squeezed with a giant fist, I couldn’t cope with anything that was happening in our lives and I was so immensely tired.

One lunch hour I lay curled in a ball crying on my bed. My back hurt so badly and I felt stuck under a dark cloud.

My husband said he was calling the doctor because he knew this wasn’t me.

The next day I sat down with my doctor and explained what was happening. She did an anxiety test and told me confidently that I do not have anxiety, but that this was most definitely PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and I was experiencing temporary dysphoria and “mini panic attacks” along with exaggerated physical PMS symptoms.

“Honestly, I feel really scared. This isn’t me. Normally if I exercise, eat healthy and stay connected to Jesus I can handle a lot while working and taking care of my family with joy and peace!”

My doctor understands me and she smiled.

“Do you know that studies show that when someone has faith they can handle a lot more? This will probably go away in the next day or two and I am confident that you and your husband will know what to do to help you deal with this.”

She printed off lots of information and ordered blood work to make sure everything else was ok and sent me away feeling very encouraged and prepared for next time around.

My period started and within hours the horrible feeling left me and every day since has been an ascent from that deep pit, with yesterday being my first day feeling 100%!

Why am I sharing this? Well, I have never experienced such a terrifying feeling as I did then. It was scary and I wasn’t myself. If my husband hadn’t called the doctor and forced me to go, I’m not sure how much worse it could have gotten.

When we don’t know what’s going on or why we feel a certain way, the enemy gains access to our minds and tries to trick us with terrifying thoughts.

My thoughts were assaulted with lies that if I was feeling this way I couldn’t help anyone, or if I was this depressed suddenly, I should resign as co-pastor. I almost deleted my blog because was sick of being vulnerable!

If you are in a situation that doesn’t seem right to you, maybe in your body or in another area of your life, you need to know three things:

  1. A relationship with Jesus Christ makes life significantly easier! Even in the darkness of that hormonal pit, I journaled, prayed and allowed God to hold me tight even though I felt like everything was falling apart inside. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine doing life without him!
  2.  Trust those close to you. If someone you love thinks you should see a doctor or talk to someone else, trust them. Often our judgement is clouded and we can’t think straight! Mine certainly was!
  3. Don’t be ashamed. I was so afraid to admit what I was feeling. I thought I was failing as a person. Turns out there was a rational explanation for it all, and we are empowered to move forward! Shame only chains us to where we are! Honesty and openness unlocks the door to creative solutions!

Once again I feel like y’all know way too much about me, but I trust that God put this on a my heart for someone to be impacted.

I’m vulnerable because I love you!

Blessings,

Monica

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Feeling better and rocking my courage key necklace all weekend!