Courage from a feather.

I posted a photo on Instagram this morning wearing my courage key and sharing three things that I needed courage for today.

While there were more than three things today that needed courage, Caleb’s immunizations were at the top of my list.

You see, a couple of years ago Caleb had to have blood taken. And it did not go well.

It took Andrew and two nurses to hold him down, and another nurse to take his blood.

He was so traumatized from that experience that he would panic in doctor appointments or any kind of medical situation.

So four-year old needles were something I was dreading. To the point of near avoidance. When I got the call this week that they could fit him in, I knew I had to take the plunge and be brave.

I had many little conversations with Caleb throughout the day about what was going to happen, and since as a family we are committed to trying things that scare us and being brave, he felt confident that this was a chance to be courageous.

As I was packing up Eli, who also had immunizations today, I heard Caleb excitedly yelling “mom, a feather, a feather just flew into my hand.”

There in his hand was the most delicate, beautiful little white feather I had ever seen.

I’m not into good luck charms, or believing items hold power, but I do like it when we can use something as a reminder.

I, and anyone involved in the Brave Collective, knows that the feather is a symbol of courage. 

A feather enables flight. A baby bird risks heights and all other fears, to bravely jump from the nest.

I reminded Caleb of the meaning of the feather, and said to him that I thought God gave him that feather to remind him that He would help Caleb be brave.

This was just the boost that he needed, and with great anticipation of his opportunity for bravery, we headed on our way.

And he was amazing. Like, blew his mama totally away, incredible.

At the end he received a certificate, and it happened to say the word brave on it. Was he ever proud.11304295_10155560877770431_2058500153_n

All the pieces are falling into place for me tonight as I remember a passage I read and prayed over my family this morning from Psalm 91.

This I declare about the LordHe alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91:2-4

The feather was in Caleb’s hand for a moment, then it disappeared and we couldn’t find it.

I thank God tonight for literally covering my son in His feathers and sheltering Caleb with His wings, even from what may seem an insignificant childhood fear.

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From insecure to inspired.

I’ve always had friends in my life that I love immensely, but I leave being with them feeling a little insecure.

Comparison always creeps in and I wish my hair was more workable, my clothes more put together and my heart a little more loving.

Recently I realized that I wanted to move from being insecure around those friends to being inspired by them.

The difference in insecurity is that we lose confidence in who we are, or we start going down a path of self-hatred.

I did a little reading on the definitions of inspire and insecure.

inspire: fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

insecure: (of a person) not confident or assured; uncertain and anxious.
(of a thing) not firm or set; unsafe.

Being insecure around someone cripples our chance to grow from that relationship.

Opening our hearts to become inspired by that same person is a much more beautiful, beneficial process.

When we are insecure, we end up acting out to prove our worth, or withdrawing to become invisible.

Sometimes I have been on the other side of the insecurity trap. My life, choices or stance has made others feel inadequate.

I know I have pulled back from sharing who I am with certain people because I know it can set them against me or against themselves.

I pray that my life fills others with the urge or ability to do something they didn’t think they could. That through being myself, they are released to be all that God has created them to be.

God is teaching me a lot about balance in all areas of my life, and specifically keeps speaking the phrase “beautiful balance.” 

In this balance, I am learning that I can be who I am and free others to live inspired lives as I walk in the combination of truth and unfailing love.

Believe it or not we can speak truth while operating in love.

As a black and white person, I struggle with the love side when speaking truth. But Psalm 89:13-14 pulls out this concept beautifully.

Powerful is your arm! Strong is your hand! Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.

Imagine unfailing love and truth walking before us, paving the way for who we are and the message that we carry.

May your life set people free. May you inspire greatness in those around you, and never cause them to feel unsure or afraid. May your courage be the catalyst for someone else’s dream becoming a reality.

May you be, confidently, who you were created to be.

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The Truth About Our Family Photos

One of my little dreams was fulfilled this past week. We had a photo shoot with our beautifully completed family. We decided to commemorate a pretty big season for us: our fifth anniversary right around the corner, the birth of Eli (yes, he’s already seven months!) and the other kids birthdays.

Our photographer was fantastic, a sweet woman who genuinely enjoyed capturing our family, which was a gift.

The morning of photos was pretty hairy. I felt so overwhelmed.

In my attempt to be brave and savour this sweet season with our kids, I was doing it before I had lost the amount of weight I wanted to, and the reality of this suddenly hit me as I was trying to figure out what to wear.

A few outfits later, I settled on one I would later regret, and we, with a few raised voices and angry looks, got in the van and on the road.

While the kids did pretty good, there were definitely some moments of me angrily telling them to smile and then faking a happy family moment.

I had to laugh at some of the photos when we got them back. Our photographer was so skilled, I almost forgot some of the memories that went with them.

Like this one where Amayah sassily (is that a word?) said to Eli “MY BALL!” and ran away with it.

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Or this one, where Caleb decided he wasn’t going to cooperate.IMG_8150

And one of my favourites, Amayah starting to cry because she wanted to go see the “bath” (the lake).IMG_8155

Or trying to get a nice anniversary picture, looking at each other, paranoid that the kids were running toward the giant “bath”.
IMG_8199And even though Eli started to get grumpy here because he was hungry, that kiss still holds every bit of my love.IMG_8448

How we wish we were with three kids…IMG_8397

How we really are with three kids…

IMG_8318I hope you enjoyed this funnier side to our little photo shoot.

Even if it took a little work to get there, a bit of outfit regret, and a few extra pounds I would have liked to go without, I am so thankful to have captured these memories of my family, because they really are growing up extremely fast. 

A big thank you Sarahlynn Photography for all her hard work making our chaos look beautiful!

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
    the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
    are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
    with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
    you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.

Psalm 127:3-5 MSG

Tight Spaces

As an ex-gymnast, I remember what it was like to be extremely flexible. I can still feel what it was like to do “over splits”.

There weren’t many ways that my physical body could be maneuvered that would really hurt.

Except for in seated pike. (Or known as “seated forward fold.”)

Because of my childhood scoliosis I had almost no ability to sit with my legs straight out in front of me and touch my toes. The pain that would shoot into my neck was almost unbearable.

Many years have passed since I stretched in such intense ways and I have regretted letting my flexibility get away.

About five months ago I tried my first Holy Yoga session (Jesus-centered yoga). I was completely blown away.

51bbe2abc4dea6fdadf51c25651657b2I had never imagined that I could be drawn into such intimacy with the Holy Spirit through this kind of movement.

One of my first online practices with HYTV, I remember the instructor challenging us to breathe into the tight spaces in our body, because as we rest there, we are growing from them.

She went on to say that as we breathe in the presence of God into these tight places in our bodies and in our lives, we release him to work, and us to just be.

This was also new to me. In the past when I wanted to achieve greater flexibility, I pushed my body to the limit, straining my muscles to cave to force.

Through this Holy Yoga journey, I am learning that it is in breathing through those tight spaces that I see growth. Not in fighting the pain, trying to escape it or rush it.

In a beautiful way I enjoy holding a pose that is tight and challenging while purposefully breathing through it.

And in the same way when I’m in a tight and challenging place in life I am now breathing through it, accepting the opportunity to grow in the grace and love of Christ.

To take it a step further, when I wake up I am often out of alignment and in pain. But when I sit in the tight spaces, and breathe through them, my body comes back into line, and I experience freedom of movement in my physical body.

 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5

May you be at peace, resting in the tight spaces and breathing through the trials, knowing that our hope in Christ will not disappoint and that he who has started a work in you will see you all the way to the finish line!778fc4621224e56ab4fb551eff8e38cc

Let’s go for a quiet walk.

6:00 a.m. came too quickly after a rough night with the younger two kids. Like clockwork my firstborn entered our bedroom.

“Mommy, it’s morning time. The sun is up.”

As much as I was expecting his arrival into the room, I grieved for a couple seconds the loss of sleeping in on days off, as I’ve done many times the last four years.

The sun was indeed up, and it was gorgeous. I bravely seized an opportunity for connection with my son and invited him on a morning walk with just me.

He was really excited. We headed off with him on his bike, going beside me and sometimes speeding ahead as I walked.

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“So how are you really doing mom?” He asked me.

The reality of his sweetness was almost too much for my heart to bare.

“I’m doing really well Caleb, just happy to get some time to be on a walk with you!”

Later that day I heard him whisper to Andrew “remember that time mom and I went on a quiet walk?”.

It was a quiet walk. It had been so peaceful, just that kid and I, with him telling me many different stories, wading through ditches and searching for tracks from dinosaurs who live so so so so so so so so long ago, as he put it.

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Because he creates a huge majority of the noise in my house, I forget that sometimes he might just need a little space from his brother and sister too, and some one on one time with me.

I’m really looking forward to having regular “quiet walks” with my early riser who is already wanting to be a good husband, father, pastor, leader and difference maker one day.

Just like one on one time with the Lord fills me up and reminds me of why I am so thankful for His presence in my life, one on one time with my son made me fall in love with him all over again.

May you know the sweet blessing of deep connection that comes with bravely pursuing quality time with someone close to you.

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What the Lord told me to tell all his daughters on Mother’s Day.

It seems like every woman finds mother’s day hard. Either we grieve loss or lack, or we question our worth and abilities.

Since I am no exception to this, I knew that in preparation for my Mother’s Day sermon I needed to hear straight from the heart of God on what he wanted to say to his beloved ladies.

I can’t get it off my heart that you, dear reader, may need to hear this too.

The Lord said, tell my daughters this verse.

Open up before God, keep nothing back;
    he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day
    and stamp you with approval at high noon.

Psalm 37:5-6

I was really rocked. Once again God proved that he knows and understand every single one of our struggles as women.

He sees our hearts and he tells us not to be afraid of spilling our guts to him. We can’t shock him. Really, we can’t keep anything back from him since he sees the depths of our hearts – and still loves us.

He promises that if we let go of our need for control, he will do what needs to be done. It might not look like what we think should happen, but it will be what’s best.

And in that sweet, beautiful moment of surrender, he says that he will demonstate our great worth and place his stamp of approval on us, just because of his great love for us.

I definitely needed this as a woman who longs to be valued, and as a mom who fights for control.Psalm 37-5-6

May you find peace today in that beautiful spot of grace.

What my fitness instructor has taught me about leadership.

There are many times when I feel like I barely make it through my exercise class. My muscles are burning and I’m not sure if I will be able to walk straight once we are finished.

My instructor is so awesome because she is totally real when she finds the workout challenging, and she says when she’s having a hard time getting through it.

Here is what I love: no matter how tough it is, she is doing it with us, but also talking us through it.

One class, in the middle of squats, this leadership revelation slammed me in the face.

Great leaders are walking all the challenging pieces of life out, still finding it hard, still being pushed to their limits, yet they find a way to talk, encourage and lead through it.

This doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, it just means that you choose to be real that it’s tough, and encourage others to keep going on this journey with you.

If I am completely honest, as a pastor I sometimes feel like I have to have it all together, I have to know the answers, or that I don’t have to find life hard.

But the truth is I find life very challenging.

I find parenting to be emotionally draining, physically exhausting and spiritually demanding.11245402_10155494540005431_1807059715_n

My marriage often is a daily forgiveness marathon.

Too frequently cake is chosen over runs, and sleep over time in the Word.

That’s just my reality. I’m a work in progress, and I always will be.

Wherever you are in your leadership journey, whether you lead your kids, your family, a crew at work, a small group, a business or a church, know that you just have to talk everyone through the challenge.

Be real. Be honest. Say this really sucked today, but tomorrow we are going to try again.

Remind your people we can overcome the obstacle and grow together.

Pull others alongside you to run this marathon of life.

Never giving up is great leadership.