Sometimes there are no words.

SONY DSCMy heart has broken over and over this past week. For two days it seemed every time I would get an email or text it had bad news. Painful news. News that struck me to the core.

Adultery. Death. Abandonment. Cancer.

The ache is still so deep even as I write. People close to my heart, whom I love dearly, are struggling. Trying to find the will to live, the courage to go on and the drive to succeed no matter what their current circumstance.

There were some diamonds in the middle of all the sadness. Like the day I found out about a friend suddenly diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, we learned of an unexpected baby and an engagement.

How could there be so much joy on the same day as so much pain?

My emotions have been a little much to handle as I’ve put myself in others shoes and asked God what I can do.

Romans 12:15 has been resounding in my heart.

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 

I feel like I’ve done more weeping than rejoicing, but the truth is those around me have wept more lately too.

I’m not saying that I should put my family through a roller coaster of me walking through others sorrows, but heaven is moved by the cries of our heart.

Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Psalm 126:4-6

Sometimes simply our tears are the strongest prayers.

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Now I know my ABCs

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The days can get really hectic. You know what it’s like, the day starts out looking like it will have a general flow, and your courage to face the day is high.

Things start out ok but nap times get off, the baby can’t be put down, your other child(ren) are hungry, and then all of a sudden a million little pieces of construction paper start falling from the ceiling like confetti.

Where did it come from? Who knows – but unfortunately you still didn’t clean up the syrup from breakfast’s pancakes and you now have paper mache lamanent.

Is this starting to sound a little too specific? Well that was a fraction of today for me.

My husband and I learned a wonderful little principle to remember to give God all the glory, honour and ADORATION he is due, in the midst of whatever is going on.

Bob Hartley taught us the ABCs of Adoration, and it has been a wonderful outline for me to follow when my brain feels completely scattered and I’m just trying to hold on to a tiny piece of sanity in the Lord.

Here is an example:

Father I thank you that you are an ABUNDANT God who has more than enough of everything I need today.

You are a BEAUTIFUL Saviour who can turn my mess into a work of art.

Thank you that you are COMPASSION and I allow you to break my heart today.

You are strong to DELIVER me from the hands of my enemies, even the enemy in my head.

I know that you are ETERNAL and everything about this moment is temporal.

Thank you that you are FORGIVER and I don’t have to live in guilt for the mistakes I’ve made today.

God you are GREATER than all my fears. Give me courage Lord.

You are HOPE and my hope in you will never disappoint!

Lord, you INSPIRE me to dream.

I declare you as my JOY today regardless of circumstance.

See the pattern? Follow the alphabet!

I can’t begin to explain how this simple little exercise has broadened my view of God. I still haven’t got a great one for “X” yet, and usually ask him to use his X-RAY vision to expose my sin.

But there are other letters that I challenge myself to really grasp at telling my mighty Saviour how incredible he is. He isn’t just “forgiver”, He’s also the Father, the Faithful, full of love, finder of lost souls, forgetter of my sins and freer of my heart.

Whatever your days hold, I hope this simple pattern of the alphabet can help you keep your eyes fixed on Heaven.

Trapped in the mountains!

I love the West Coast. My childhood years were spent around Vancouver Island and Vancouver. We lived at the oceans. We gazed at the mountains. We explored the forests.

Needless to say, I love every opportunity I get to leave my (much-loved) prairies and head out west.

June 2012 was no exception. My husband and I decided that we needed to be at a conference in Langley, BC and started driving out with our 13 month old.

The first day we made it from Regina to Swift Current. That drive is about 3 hours, a pathetic distance compared to what we expected.

Caleb screamed, and screamed, and screamed. Then when we had him finally settled, he started screaming more.

We had no idea what was going on.

After stopping for the night, we started driving on, hoping for a better day. Again, he screamed and screamed, and screamed.

We were beside ourselves. Do we turn around and go home?  Are we missing what’s wrong? Is the enemy trying to stop us from getting to the conference?

After adjusting his car seat hoping that it would help him be more comfortable, we kept driving.

It got a little better, but again he screamed a significant amount more than he ever had in a vehicle.

We made some fun pit stops.575316_10151783078570431_906267348_n

I remember this extremely weird feeling of two opposite emotions.

1. I was so completely overwhelmed with my son and wanted to go home so terrible bad. I felt trapped in the mountains.

2. I was blown away by the absolutely beauty of the mountains and I wanted to soak up every single moment and breathe in every ounce of oxygen filled air. I didn’t want to leave.

Since then, I have had this feeling a lot. One circumstance is so overwhelming that I can’t see past it, and it’s stealing joy from every other area.

And at the same time, I am thrilled with a majority of life.

This song has been speaking to me about focusing on what God is doing in the big picture, rather than what’s overwhelming me in the moment.

The line that really speaks to me goes:

“Give me grace to see beyond this moment here. To believe that there is nothing left to fear. And that you alone are high above it all. For you my God are greater still.”

Whatever your “double circumstance” is, the good, the bad, the really amazing and the absolutely terrible, my prayer for you is that you will taste and see the greatness of our God and experience his power to rise above what’s stealing your joy.

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 1:18-20

208893_10151783207860431_1305388860_n(We treasured every quiet moment on that trip.)

 

Candy Thief

candy-wrapped-in-plasticI can still remember standing at that bulk bin of shiny little, individually wrapped candies at the local Co-op in our island town in British Columbia.

There was no way my parents were going to buy this for me. I wasn’t supposed to ask for treats while grocery shopping.

To a little girl, there was nothing else in the whole world but those shiny candies.

“My parents are so unfair…”

I had never stole anything, nor even had a thought of stealing by this young age.

My mind couldn’t fathom what my heart was considering. Stealing? That is so wrong. That’s one of the ten commandments.

But they looked so delicious.

After a glance around, I did end up stealing on of those candies and later eating it.

I would have no idea how badly that one incident would wrap me up for years.

That candy was probably valued at a grand total of $0.02. But I knew I had hurt the heart of God, and that was almost too much to bear.

For years I held this sin in my heart, afraid of anyone finding out that good little Monica was a candy thief.

It seemed impossible for me to accept the gift of grace when I had made a deliberate choice to do the wrong thing. I knew better than that.

Healing finally came for me when the guilt was to great and I broke down and told my dad. I sat with him and cried my heart out.

Confession broke the hold that this sin had over my little life. My dad was able to assure me that God forgave me, and that he could tell I had learned the hard way that stealing only holds you in bondage.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

The enemy wants you to believe that no one can find out what you’ve done. The cords of guilt and shame can feel like they are literally strangling you, but freedom comes when we can confess and receive forgiveness.

Since then I have done worse things, but this story remains in my heart as a picture of how strong a hold unconfessed sin can have on our lives.

These verses in Isaiah always bring me to tears. God’s forgiveness is so great, there is nothing that he can’t blot out.

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

You are too young and very inexperienced.

How many years do you have to be alive to make a difference in someone’s life?

How many years do you have to be married in order to offer someone advice?

How many months after being initiated into motherhood can you start sharing what you’re learning?

There will always be someone who knows more than you, who is more experienced than you, who has been married longer than you, who has been a parent for more time, or who has simply been alive longer than you.

The question is not “when we can starting using our lives and stories to help others?”, it’s how. So many people go to the grave with the call of God sitting dormant in their hearts.

Life is too short to wait until the perfect moment when everyone will respect and listen to you.

I remind myself (and my husband when we’re really feeling extra young and inexperienced) almost daily of the words of Paul.

 Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

1 Timothy 4:11-12

Here is the key:

If you teach it then live it. 

You can be an example by your words AS SOON AS YOU’RE READY to be an example by your life.

I’m not talking perfection, I’m just talking about a daily commitment to follow God in your life, love, faith and purity.

So what are you waiting for? You are fully released, fully empowered and completely and totally RADICALLY ANOINTED to be a leader if you are ready to give your words and actions over to God for him to use as an example.

Don’t waste anymore time, be a voice, and an example. The world is too short on both of those things that are surrendered to Jesus.

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Can you be sure you’ve met the one?

choosingtheone

The question I am asked the most is “how did you KNOW Andrew was the guy?”.

I LOVE this question because God gave me an amazing assurance in this area, and I believe he wants you to have complete confidence in making this decision.

I have boiled it down to the four things that made me certain he was to be my husband.

1. Ask God. Ok this seems obvious, but seriously ask God with an open heart “is this person who you have for me?”. Be open to hear no. Get to the point where you can honestly lay it down and accept this verse that God gave to me when I was asking Him.

They {the righteous} do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Psalm 112:7 (italics mine)

At that time in my life if God said no to me being with Andrew, it would have felt like terrible news because I was so in love with him. By God giving me this verse he was saying, “no matter how I lead you, don’t fear because I’ll care for your heart.”

2. Confide in a mentor, parent or godly person you trust. Once you feel the go ahead from God in your heart, bounce this feeling off someone else. Ask them to seek the Lord on your behalf and to have them share what they get.

Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.

Proverbs 20:18

This is the second biggest decision you will make in your life, next to choosing to follow Jesus. What this verse is saying is don’t make life altering decisions without wise advice!

3. Keep the physical minimal. Our society tells us that you need to have sex with a person before you commit to them. You don’t need to test it out, if you save yourselves for one another, there’s nothing to compare it too!

Keep the remaining part of your unsurrendered brain clear enough to make this decision.

I asked Andrew not to kiss me until we were engaged, because I only wanted to kiss one man. When he did kiss me, my heart was completely his. It would have been nearly impossible for me to hear “no” from God once he did. (I’ll also add, the one worth marrying is the one who’ll protect you by respecting your request to wait!)

4. Take an in-depth pre marriage course. The course we took challenged us each week to talk through the topic and make sure we were on the same page before proceeding in marriage. It felt intense in the moment, but we look at it now as the best thing we could have done before getting married!

Rather than trying to get ready for your life together through gaining possessions Proverbs 16:16 encourages us to seek wisdom.

How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver!

Surviving that pre-marriage course still convinced this was right was the final confirmation we needed!

 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5

Can you be a mom and help others too?

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Have you felt discouraged that God can’t use you when you’re in the intense stage of little children?

The enemy knows how discouraging and lonely motherhood can be, so he tries to isolate us with lies that tell us our purpose is tied up solely in our children.

As mothers, we are called to love, raise, train up and protect our kids. But there is some powerful, I’d even say life changing about kids seeing their parents love and serve others.

Throughout this two and half year journey, I’ve experimented with different levels of walking out what God has placed on my heart.

Today I want to share with you six ways that I have found add purpose to my motherhood and show my kids what ministry is all about.

1. Plan purposeful play dates – Who do you know that needs encouragement? Who needs to learn what life with Jesus is like? Who needs a prayer partner? Who do you want to grow from? Seek out others moms who answer some of these questions.

2. Make a plan for your day but be open to God redirecting it. This can be a tough one for me since I get a tremendous amount of joy from crossing something off my list. This is actually quite simple. If you were going to take your kids to a playground, in that moment you can ask the Lord to direct you to the park where he has someone for YOU to impact.

3. Double your supper and bless someone. Be generous. Get in to the home of a new mom, pray with her and give her a meal. Ask God who in your life is having a stressful week and just needs a random act of kindness. This is extremely fulfilling if you’re giftings are serving or giving.

4. Go on a prayer drive – When we’re having a bad day, I’ve found a drive to be a quick fix. It’s a great time to hear from God and pour out my heart to him. My blog posts often come from pulling over to the side of the road and writing as fast as I can what God is downloading into my heart as my kids snore in the backseat.

5. Visit people who could be blessed by your family. We took our kids to a seniors home at Christmas through a program at our church and it was wonderful experience. The woman we met just loved babies! There might be some shut ins connected to a church or organization who’d love to have babies in their home for a little visit.

6. Dream big and set goals to get there. I am always inspired by people who dream with God and go after what He puts in their heart. You will literally empower your kids and release them to go for their dreams as they watch you go for yours. They will be blessed to be included in your ministry and can be the gateway to hearts and homes you never would have entered!

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Galatians 6:10