The Jeans That Made Me Cry

When I first had Eli, I had told myself I wasn’t going to buy any pants until I reached my weight goals.

After a couple months living in leggings, I finally squeezed into some old jeans. Squeezed might be an understatement. They were so uncomfortable.

I saved the uncomfortable jeans for when I really needed to wear pants and then lived in leggings.

I was starting to feel in a fashion rut.

If you read any literature on productivity and getting lots accomplished at home or at work, you know the term “dress for success” is a true statement.

When I have an extra busy or crazy day, I make sure I dress up for it. It seems to give me the boost I need to tackle it head on.

So for me this awkward stage felt like it was stretching on forever. It turned my workouts into stress-outs, putting intense mental pressure on myself that  I needed to get to a certain point to so I could go jean shopping.

One day I broke. I hated feeling in physical limbo. I needed to look good regardless of where I was at in my fitness goals, and I needed to be patient with my body trying to recover from three pregnancies close together.

After talking it over, my husband dropped me off at my favourite jean store by myself and I started the hunt for the perfect pair.

Picking out a few options, I went to try them out.

First pair on, and I started bawling.

Jeans can actually feel comfortable?

I had totally forgotten how good a pair of jeans that fit just right feel. It had been so long since I had bought non maternity pants.

Even with the knowledge that these wouldn’t fit forever, I bravely confronted the total cost of the jeans at the till.

I felt encouraged in my heart. My dreams were worth the cost of feeling good in clothes that would make me feel good in life, even if they were short term.

Sometimes we have to make some sacrifices to keep our productivity up, but you are worth that. The dreams in your heart are worth it. Your marriage is worth the cost of feeling beautiful. Your kids are worth a mom that can comfortably and wonderfully get around with them.

Even the highly motivated wife of noble character in Proverbs 31 knew the value of dressing well for herself, as it says she was clothed in fine purple. Following that, the passage talks about the other important virtues she clothes herself in.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.

I know for me, dignity and strength came in the form of a pair of great jeans that day!

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On repeat this week.

Thanks to Facebook’s “on this day” app, I saw a status I wrote just out of high school on Father’s Day. It said “believing for better Father’s Days in the future”.

I remember that Father’s Day clearly, as I laid on the floor of my church and sobbed my heart out, wondering if I would ever feel at peace with this day.

Father’s Day has always been extra hard, with my parents being divorced and my dad living away. It was also tough as I struggled through feeling like I wasn’t good enough for my heavenly father.

On repeat in our house the last couple weeks has been the song “Good, good Father” from Housefires, which confronts all those lies that I have since dealt with.

It has been my go to song for a my holy yoga practice, and I’ve had many moments soaking in the truth of my identity of a child of God.

I thank the Lord that he has been my excellent Father through all the highs and lows. I am never alone.

I love the line in the song that says “I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think your like. But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night.”

If you haven’t experienced or felt the love of Father, let all preconceived notions of who He is fall away, and hear his voice for yourself and let him tell you what he thinks about you.

Have you checked your joy levels lately?

Do you ever stop to look at how much joy you have in your life?

Joy is the first thing that tries to escape me in a difficult moment.

Loss of joy is a scary thing because in the last part of Nehemiah 8:10 it says

Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!

As a part time working mom who doesn’t get a lot of sleep with three little people to love and adore, I know I need strength. My guess is you do too.

I go to great lengths to ensure my body has everything it needs to thrive through my days.

Exercise, nutrition and water intake are three things that I watch closely to make sure I am in optimal shape for all of my roles and commitments.

But in this verse there is a little key that has been unlocking pretty big doors in my life.

Joy is strength.

Since I have encountered the fact that when I have joy, I have strength, joy is something that I have been monitoring closely.

If I notice I’m feeling weak or discouraged, I check my joy levels. Where is my joy at? Have I let it all leak away without taking notice of it?

The secret to joy, is thankfulness. When you have a thankful heart, God is free to pour out his joy, which is literally strength, into us.

I was at a revival service not that long ago and the speaker prayed over me to receive more of the joy of the Lord.

As I enjoyed a beautiful moment in His presence, I saw a picture of a lot of the things that drive me crazy in my life.

I saw my son run past the kitchen counter with his arm out, knocking everything off, cheerios spilling everywhere, and my favourite mug breaking.

I could not stop laughing. I laughed so hard and thanked Jesus for the gift of my kids. My thankfulness could not be stopped in that sweet moment of joy.

After this experience I was tested in my joy. Andrew and I went away without our kids for our fifth anniversary.

We arrived at the restaurant and I could tell that my husband wasn’t feeling well at all.

As I watched him push his fries around his plate, I knew that something MUST be wrong. Fries rarely go untouched! My heart sank.

By later that evening, he was throwing up, and shortly after him, I was too.

We laid on our king size bed in a beautiful hotel room battling the stomach flu.

In that moment I consciously chose thankfulness, which turned to joy, which turned to strength.

I thanked God that our kids weren’t with us and that we didn’t have to take care of them. I think I thanked him for that over and over and over!

Don’t allow your strength to be zapped from your body, mind and spirit. Use thankfulness to unlock joy, which will unleash strength!

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My sister, walking out thankulness and joy on her grad day, getting out of the hospital just in time to be at the ceremony! She was so strong!

Why YOU should cut cable and start dating!

What do having cable TV and dating have in common?

Well for some maybe nothing. But here is what I am extremely concerned about:

I hear so many married couples with kids tell me that they can’t afford, or find the time to go on dates.

In fact, we have been looked at by some with a “must be nice” attitude when they see us prioritize date nights, thinking we must roll in cash, or have nothing better to do with our money.

This mentality is frightening.

Why?

Because statistics have shown over and over how important it is for your relationship to have it stay as a top priority, especially during your season of having babies and toddlers.

It is downright scary to see how many couples break up after they get through the intensity of raising kids and then realize they “have nothing in common anymore”.

This happens not because they are incompatible, but because they have become disconnected. The kids, jobs, sports and frankly everything else seemed to come before their marriage.

If you see the importance of going on a date and connecting regularly with your spouse, the majority of us can cut something in our budget to make room for it.

Like cable TV. Honestly, there have been times where watching TV is easier than getting up and doing something together, or diving into a conversation.

If TV isn’t your issue, maybe it’s something else.

Like too many vehicle payments, a shopping addiction, or maybe an out of control grocery budget.

Generally speaking, there would be some place that you could take from to make room for a date, if it’s a priority.

When we started to relook at our budget to make room for a babysitter, there were seasons where a date itself consisted of spending $3 on two coffees from Tim Horton’s while we were out for a walk. The majority of our “date money” went to hire the babysitter for two hours.

This spoke volumes to each other about the priority of our relationship, and it also spoke to our kids about how mommy and daddy value each other.

It has made such an impact on our oldest, that if Andrew and I aren’t getting along well, he tells us that we need to go out together on our own! Even a four year old can see how much it helps!

Don’t be trapped in a victim mentality that says you can’t have what you need. Your marriage does not have to be the martyr for everything else.

There are always options, and if you know Jesus, he is a creative and innovative Saviour, who delights in making a way where there appears to be no way!

You can be victorious in your marriage. Find time and money to be together!

Maybe you just have to start by cutting your cable!11350161_10155610647130431_147947337_n

The Summer of Rest

Every May I seem to find myself on the fritz of burning out. The realization of how close summer is, combined with the fast pace of life, always leaves me exhausted.

Even though I know that summer can be slower, there is so much opportunity for adventure, and I often pack my summers a little too full.

I was inspired by someone who said that they ask God for a word for their summer.

When I told Andrew that, the first word he felt was simplify.

Which was perfect because I heard rest and peace.

We have had an amazing year. Actually, amazing doesn’t even cut it. We have moved to a place where we are doing everything we dreamed of, had another baby, made some dear new friends, took part in some awesome events, and the list goes on.

But there have been challenges too, and being completely honest, it’s been a learning curve pastoring a church together.

We feel tired. God knows that. So our words for Summer 2015 are simplify, rest and peace.

There are many things that are rejuvenating for me beyond sleep (which might still be a little hard to come by with the baby stage).

Sipping my morning coffee outside, reading books on blankets in the yard with the kids, evening walks, ice cream cones, summer dates, bonfires and barbeques are a few that come to mind. 11304450_10155579878910431_1769978623_n

Sitting in the Lord’s presence, listening to worship music, singing to Jesus and slowing reading through the Word all restore my soul.

I hope that one day some of our words might be adventure, risk or maybe even mountains, but for now rest and peace sounds like what we need.

Depending on what you do, summer may not be a time where things slow down for you, but I encourage you, in each season we transition to, take a moment to see where you are, and ask God what word he has for you.

Six and a half years ago, before we were dating, Andrew wrote this verse in a card to me that was from all my bible school classmates.

Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

He has always remained a voice of reason in my life, encouraging me to take time to relax and allow the Lord to give me new strength.

May your summer hold unexpected beauty, more rest that you had planned, and more joy than you can contain.11292834_10155579879520431_1207155673_n