Swinging

164984_10153041311270384_387863829_n

 

“Higher, mommy, higher! Right up to the trees!” My little boy screamed as I pushed him on the swings.

“Just one more under-duck, mommy! Higher, higher!”

His shrill giggle caused everyone walking by to stop and smile.

More laughter.

More screams.

“Higher, mommy, higher! I see the leaves!’

In that moment my only purpose in life was to see how high I could push him, as he laughed and screamed more and more.

There is something so mesmerizing about a swing.

Back and forth, back and forth.

It’s not going anywhere, not making any progress. You just get to enjoy the movement.

Everything in time stands still.

Everyone who stopped to smile at the squealing boy was longing for something; the innocence of simply being. Not going or doing or proving or striving. Just swinging in the moment. So peaceful. So fun. Just time to laugh, scream, and shriek.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

This speaks to me of what I long for my relationship with God to be. Enjoying the thrill as He takes me higher and higher, pushing me so beyond my comfort zone. Then resting in the times of slow, rhythmic swaying.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:31-33

When I think of swinging I think of peace. Peace to not worry about what’s going to come my way.

photo-2

Peace that goes beyond what make sense in my circumstance.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

If life seems mediocre, or boring maybe we can be brave enough to say

“God push me. Higher, Lord, Higher!”

Maybe he’ll even give you an under-duck that puts you high enough to touch the trees or throws you off into new things with him.photo-4

Just try to hold on.

She’s A Happy Girl Now

994010_10153241882095431_2053059749_nWe’re four days away from dedicating our angel girl Amayah Love, or sometimes called Mayah Lovely, to the Lord. Our journey with her so far has been a very special one and something I am already so thankful for, though it started out a little rough.

Two months ago I wrote this post talking about her crying fits and possible colic. I was so on the fence with depression. My husband confronted me for the first time asking if I was as depressed as I seemed to him.

I didn’t realize how down I was. I thought I was managing ok, but crying all the time and snapping constantly at everyone wasn’t, and isn’t, who I am.

The next day we had supper with some friends who has just come back from California. We were so excited to see them. Amayah cried through the whole thing. We took turns bouncing her while eating, and she still cried.

We got the kids to bed and sat down with our friends, ready to finally catch up, but my emotions started to overflow. Everything felt so disappointing.

The couple laid hands on us that night and prayed against an oppression or depression that might be trying to invade our home. Then they prayed over Amayah, and her digestive system and asked God to move powerfully on her behalf.

Words of hope and life were spoken that night and I felt more at peace and full of God’s love than I had since before my second birth.

The next morning we got up with our girl and she didn’t scream. She didn’t need to constantly be held. For a moment, she almost seemed content.

From that day onward we only saw improvement with her.

I’ve also only seen improvement in myself. That cloud that I felt like I couldn’t escape, dissipated and the light of the Son started to shine down on me.

So this is my public thanks to God after you’ve all heard the negative. He gets the glory in sickness and health, in crying and contentment. It’s all for Him.

I’m so excited to stand before our church family on Sunday and commit to raising Amayah in the way of the Lord. I’ve already made so many mistakes with her, and her brother, but at the end of the day I’m committed to starting over and refocusing on Jesus Christ again.photo

It’s never too late to dedicate yourself and your child to the Lord. He is always waiting for the opportunity to strengthen and encourage you.

We’re going to have a party after church because we can’t even begin to express how outrageously thankful we are that our yummy little pumpkin princess was added to our family. She has already started shaping our character and improving our lives.

We’re pretty crazy about her.

Pause & Look Back

Last year I went to the women’s ministry kick-off at our church, with hardly any desire to go, forcing myself to try to meet some people. I didn’t want to show up alone, so I asked my sister to come with me. Last minute she backed out.

Sounds silly, but us as women can be insecure about things like showing up to events alone, especially showing up to one where you don’t really know anyone.

We had just moved to our new city and started our new life as a pastor’s family. I wasn’t sure what people really expected of me. I didn’t even know what I expected of myself.

I showed up a little late, slid into the back row, then joined the visiting time hardly leaving a tiny section of the foyer.

Intimidation was not something I was familiar with after having been extremely connected at our last church. I was frustrated, knowing this wasn’t me.

For the first time in a long while I felt shy.

Last night was the women’s ministry kick-off again. I couldn’t believe a whole year had passed since my encounter with my shy-self.

I was late again (thanks to a baby who didn’t want to fall asleep), but this time showed up with a friend and knew almost everyone there. I floated around talking to different people, enjoying some really encouraging conversations.

After I left I was so overcome with God’s faithfulness to me. In one year I went from knowing basically no one, to being able to be completely myself with everyone there.

When something is new or challenging it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and be overwhelmed with fear or intimidation. God’s heart is for us to connect and have relationship. He set this all up for me.

Sometimes I am in awe of the different women I have got to know over this year. I have grown so much from meeting and sharing my life with them.

These landmark times throughout the year are so great to pause and reflect on what God has done. It could be a new school year, an event kick off or a birthday – just something that throws you back to the year before. Pause

Pause for a moment. Where were you one year ago?

It may have been a year of challenges, but no matter what you’ll be able to see glimpse of God’s faithfulness. Thank him for it, or the moment of realization might just float by.

He remembered us in our weakness.
His faithful love endures forever.
He saved us from our enemies.
His faithful love endures forever.
He gives food to every living thing.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:23-26

My sixteen year old baby

555094_10200868185293149_2014463285_n

 

I had a bit of an emotional week. My baby sister got her license. Her and I are nine years apart, and the amazingly cute little girl on the far left of the photo is her. She was my baby.

Being the oldest you naturally think you’re the second mom (or as I’m learning with my oldest child, the second dad). My other sisters would describe me as simply bossy…and I was. But I love those girls more than they can know.

I was doing pretty good with her borrowing our SUV and going out, until I was standing there holding my REAL baby girl, watching my childhood baby girl drive away. The feeling of Amayah in my arms flashed me back to holding Emma at the same age.

That’s when I got choked up and thought “okay, life can slow down.”

1234431_10153226035050431_1874909516_n

 

We’ve both grown up a lot from that first photo, a somewhat obsessed eleven year old gymnast and a toddler.

This was just a good opportunity for me to think about how much I love my sister, and also how much I want to treasure my kid’s childhood. It’s going really, really fast. And it scares me a bit.

250768_10150254189421974_6105519_n

 

This was Emma with Caleb as a newborn. She hadn’t met him yet, so we drove to surprise her on her birthday and introduce the two of them. We had no idea then what good friends they would be now.

382989_10201082169962632_206468453_n

 

Wow, she definitely grew up between my two babies being born.

1240627_10153236805070431_398681199_n

 

See what I mean about them growing too fast? We’ve almost had our little lovely for six months, which feels like two months! And don’t get me started on Caleb. Weren’t they JUST born?

Okay I think I’ve had my fill of crying for a while!

Reminiscing is so important because it reminds us of the beautiful people God has blessed us with and how we cannot take them for granted.

The three babies in my life are growing too fast (yeah, the one is now sixteen), but I’m aging at the same rate (yikes).

So with this perspective, I’m going to go have an awesome weekend with my family, loving and holding them.

Enjoy the ones you hold dear and celebrate their lives this weekend!

You’ll NEVER get it right.

Some of my favourite marriage and family teachers are psychologists who know just about everything there is to know about properly maintaining relationships, yet they admit they still don’t handle their relationships perfectly.

It’s engrained in us to be selfish, territorial, offended, offensive and reactionary. Reprogramming all this is possible, but takes work and time. You’ll never be perfect.

Ouch. Never?

Yeah it’s true. No matter how hard you work on relationships you will not get it right 100% of the time.

That stings a bit to us perfectionists.

I’ll admit that knowing that I won’t get it perfect makes me want to give us sometimes.

Paul describes this concept to us in Romans 7:14b-15.

“The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

That verse sums it all up. I don’t understand myself. I hurt who I love, and do what I hate.

But, how fast can I make it right?

We’ll sin, we’ll offend, we’ll say the wrong thing. We’ll hurt our spouse, our mom, our friend, our sibling, even our child.

Love and Respect talks about the crazy cycle.

the-crazy-cycle

The remedy seems simple. Be respectful. Always.

IMPOSSIBLE!

So this is what Dr. Eggerichs’ prescribes. Break the cycle as fast as you can.

Don’t be discouraged with the fact that you’re on the cycle. Accept that you might jump on multiple times a day!

It felt awkward at first to look at Andrew and explain what felt unloving instead of tearing him down. It was humbling to hear why he felt disrespected without just defending myself and accusing him.

Since we’ve started trying to break the cycle ASAP, we’ve gone twenty seconds, five minutes, two hours, and at the worst an evening.

It’s sad when you lose any bit of time together, but the point is that you turn that disagreement around to strengthen you.

In Real Marriage, Mark Driscoll says that a good fight is one that in the end brings you closer.

This isn’t just about keeping the peace. There are real issues that need to be discussed. Hurt can’t just be swept under the rug.

Think this is just true in marriage? Think again.

Most conflict between women (yes girls can get at each other), comes down to women being unloving to each other. Break that cycle right when you notice it. If you are finding that your friendships are strained, check your reactions.

images

Stop beating yourself for getting in frustrating conflicts. You can definitely work to reduce things, but it ultimately comes down to how fast can you put a stop to it.

As long as we’re married, we’ll hurt each other. But I also hope that as long as we’re together we’ll love and respect each other.

Make it a race to make it right!

Power At Breaking Point

There are definitely times when I replace what I should be holding on to for strength. It could be coffee (get me through this tough morning), food (emotional eating), or even my husband (when Andrew gets home, I am so done, he can handle everything).

The last one really became clear after baby girl came. When things were a mess I looked to my husband to rescue me. That worked for a bit, until he was getting burnt out.

I’m probably the only wife to do this (haha), but somehow I think I’m entitled to have a bad day more than my husband because I’m the one at home with the kids. NO ONE in our house has had a worse day than mom. Ever.

God took me back to giving birth to Amayah. That was the first time the concept of having a “power verse” became so real to me.

After I had my membranes stripped, I wrote this blog post, where I shared a verse God gave me to cling to through the pain of childbirth.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Throughout labour I repeated this verse to myself over and over and over and over.

When pain would get intense I would scream inside myself (because I am actually a fairly quiet labourer) that this baby was an eternal blessing and this pain WOULD NOT LAST FOREVER!

I can’t describe the focus it brought me, fixing my gaze on what was unseen at that time, and removing myself from what was simply felt.

Fast forward to now, I needed a new power verse to get me through the tough days. The “oh my gosh how on earth is there sand all over the floor which is now turning to mud thanks to the toppled Brita jug, and AHHHHHHH get the poop out of your hands” days that push me too close to the edge.

How do I stop dumping all my negative emotions, stress and anxiety on my husband?

This is what God gave me.

As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.

Micah 7:7

So this is my new “scream it inside me” verse and maybe when I’m really close to snapping, “yell it out loud” verse to stop me calling my husband to rudely ask him why we ever had to have any children and make him promise right then and there we won’t have any more.

This is the “hold on to it and don’t let go” verse that God will use to take me beyond emotions.

It’s on my phone screen, beside my sink and in my brain. I look to the Lord to help and in those moments I KNOW that he WILL save me. He hears.

And he hears you too.

What’s your power verse?

photo

But What About My Needs?

stayingafloatI’ve written a number of posts lately talking about ways that I have been challenged to be a better wife. Some of you feel discouraged with where you are at after hearing about positive things going on in someones else’s marriage.

I’ve heard your stories, and trust me, they break my heart.

Asking your husband to give you a break from the kids seems like asking for another big fight – one that you’re not sure if your relationship can survive.

You want to see your marriage change for the better, and perhaps even feel a little hope, but how do you make it through in the mean time?

First, I want to just say that I’m speaking of couples who are struggling. Some of you simply don’t want to inconvenience your spouse by bringing stuff up to them (e.g. asking for a break). But this is part of learning and growing together. You give. He takes. You take. He gives.

So while you’re doing your best to learn how to respect your husband, manage your finances, and pray for him, you need to make sure that you are getting cared for so that you don’t fall apart.

Here are some practical ideas to keep you afloat while your marriage is sinking.

  1. Seek wise counsel. You can’t do this alone. If you’re husband (or wife if you feel this is applicable to you as husband) is even slightly open to someone meeting with you guys, do it! You may have to be vulnerable, and it may be humbling, but it will be so worth it. If your spouse won’t go with you, seek counsel alone.
  2. Find another mom who you can swap babysitting with. If you aren’t able to get a break from the kids by way of your hubby, there will certainly be another mom in the same boat. Make it simple: kids movie time at her house one week, and then switch off the next. The one baby sitting doesn’t have to have a ton of extra work.
  3. Find a prayer partner. I’m not talking about someone who will let you dump on them and then join you in a husband bashing session. You’re looking for a woman who will stand with you in prayer, believing for the BEST in your marriage and in your spouse.
  4. Lower your expectations on yourself. You might be walking through a lot emotionally, and you need time to connect with the Lord and rest. What can you take off your plate to lighten your load that isn’t of top importance?
  5. Get involved in a loving, supportive community. Mom’s groups, bible studies, and a solid church family will make sure that you are surrounded and cared for. If you’re plugged in, you can’t slip through the cracks! If there is nothing like this at a church or community centre close to you…create it! (Tips here)

You are not being selfish by taking these step! If you want your marriage and family to survive, and eventually thrive, you need to be supported!

You don’t have to be in this alone!