5 things I do everyday.

Over the years I have taken time to study the some of the most productive, efficient people in the world. I especially take note of women in their thirties with younger children (a little older than mine) who seem to be thriving and walking in some measure of success, be it in blogging, career, ministry, marriage, parenting etc.

From my observations and seeking wisdom from the Lord, here are the five things I do every day to help me live the most purposeful life I can, during a somewhat unpredictable season of child rearing!

  1. Rise Early – This has been a battle for most of my mothering life. My kids have always woken up really early! No matter what time I put them to bed, or how I try to move their schedules, it’s generally very early! That said, my daily prayer is that they will sleep until 6 a.m. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. every morning. 

    I heard a lovely little analogy from Seth Dahl. He said something to the effect that “mornings are like sunrises – they happen every day but never look the same.”

    That is very true about my morning routine. While others find strength in sticking to theirs, I have to give myself grace to be flexible with mine.

    On an ideal day, I will wake up, drink my coffee while I read my bible, journal, pray and hopefully write a few points down in my 1,000 gifts journal. If the house is still quiet, I will write a quick plan for the day (which looks different depending if it’s a work day, stay at home mom day, school day, etc) and empty the dishwasher.

    Generally by this time someone is awake and I try to cuddle each of my kids for a few minutes when they first wake up. 14516316_1149676168411852_1203059003068003194_n.jpg

  2. Get ready every single day. I can probably count on one (well maybe two) hands how many times I haven’t done my make up since having babies. For me, it is an outward expression that the day will not conquer me and that I have beauty and grace to face it. Plus, I feel better, so for me, it’s a must!
  3. Drink water. I endeavor to drink one litre by noon and one litre by evening. If I start to feel abnormally anxious, chances are I’ve had too much coffee and not enough water.
  4. Live for others.  I read a book once called “the 7 habits of highly effective people” and the main point he came down to was that highly effective people live with integrity and character and seek to do what is right. For me, this is based out of a love relationship with Jesus Christ. I try to do something for someone else every day. It might be small, it might be big. It might be in my family, it might not be. I find that even if I’m overwhelmed, it takes my eyes off my own problems and onto my purpose for being on earth!
  5. Guard my evenings. I have only realized this is important in the last few months.
    Because of the time my kids wake up and the intensity of our days, I cannot stay up late and I cannot be over committed! Every evening as we finish getting the kids to bed we make sure that the house is “back to straight”, the kitchen is clean and dishwasher going. I prep my coffee for the next morning so I literally just have to press a button when I come down at 5 a.m the next morning. And to stay on track with laundry, we make sure that the wash has been switched and the dryer is rolling!

There are many more things I value, like exercise and dating my husband, but these are things I do every day. I hope they are helpful to you and not overwhelming! When I first started looking into how other women did life, I was frankly overwhelmed. But I had added in each of these pieces one at a time over the years, and now it’s all very natural.

Depending on your season you could ask yourself: What’s one thing I can pick to focus on to help me move from surviving to thriving? 14522126_10157421509615431_1742211110_o

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Falling Further

14462808_1804215566531911_7984921319847393493_n.jpgThe Lord has been giving me a prophetic (meaning: accurately describing or predicting what will happen in the future) word for each season we have moved into. This is the sixth season we are moving into with a specific word.

(You may remember the post I shared a couple months ago called Spring of Suddenlies.

It has been incredible to watch how the Lord has come through on his promises and what he is doing!

A while ago I saw a picture of a catapult and the Lord placing us into it. That represented HOPE. Hope that we were going somewhere! Hope that he was using us!

Then we felt tension. On a catapult it’s called a restraining rope. It pulls you back so that you can get more air and travel further. But in the moment, it felt like unnecessary set backs. physics_catapult_4.png

Then the release came in late August. I felt like we were flying crazily through the air. Out of control, and not sure exactly where we were going. We felt vision, but didn’t see it. We knew because God had promised us that there was a future, but it didn’t make sense.

But as I saw us flying through the air the Lord showed me the next part. It’s the word for fall. The picture for autumn. It’s the season we are entering.

We dropped.

We landed. We were face down in the new territory.

This is the FURTHER FALL! This is the season where we find ourselves further than we should be! Further than we could have expected!

This fall is where we land!

This will be unknown territory! We will wonder how we got here.

Some of you are going to stand up in the new land and be excited by the adventure of the unknown!

The devil is going to try to derail us by planting fear in our hearts. We need to be on guard.

You might feel the need to PANIC. You might feel the need to SCRAMBLE to be ready for this new place. 

You might grow angry and say I wasn’t prepared for this! I didn’t pack the right stuff. No one told me we were headed here!

But this is what the Lord says!

Trust me. I am the God who has FLUNG you here. Although you may not have a plan, I DO. I will give you strategies. I will give you ENERGY. This is a divinely inspired season, so you will need divinely inspired strategies!

The Lord is asking us to hold onto this verse during this next season:

“Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you and he will lead you in every decision you make. Be intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go” Proverbs 3:5 (TPT)

As you press into him, he is going to make everything clear! Some of you are going to experience unexpected success in your business or an unimagined promotion at work. You will have favour from God that will blow your socks off!

You are going to find yourself with more boldness, more wisdom, more spiritual maturity than you should have in the natural course of your walk with God, because he has supernaturally flung you further!

But remember, he did this because time is running out! Jesus is coming back and he needs us to be FURTHER, mature, grown up and ready to spread the HOPE of Jesus everywhere!

To hear the complete word and a powerful testimony, you can listen to Sunday’s message from when I spoke at Kipling Peoples Church!

Building A Front Door

One day while driving around a new development looking at homes, I realized what felt so weird about our recently purchased fixer upper.

“It has no front door!” I excitedly told Andrew. We had stood outside the house so many times trying to figure out why it didn’t feel welcoming. It had a nice shape and new siding and windows. We had agonized over what felt odd.

“Oh yeah! That’s definitely it!” He agreed. We went on to talk about how to put a door in and imagine what it would look like.

This past week the small deck we had planned for the front door was built. It just needs a railing, some paint on the door and some other minor decorative touches.

The day I saw the hole in the front of the house, I was amazing. First I was astonished that my husband knew how to cut through an exterior wall, and was audacious enough to do it! Second, I couldn’t believe what I had imagined was becoming reality.

As we have pastored the last couple of years in our town, we have prayed for different people to come along to help walk out the vision. Many different jobs from welcoming visitors, to playing on worship teams to teaching Sunday School.

I’ve had a large vision, and I continue to have huge ideas. It’s who I am. I see things. I imagine. I inspire others to see what could be.

Even though I was the one who realized we needed a front door, Andrew was the one who did the hard work and made it a reality. The truth is, he was the deciding factor in making it happen.

On the flip side, I could have let the embarrassment of my lack of carpentry skills stop me from saying my idea.

As Christians, we can second guess whether our role is important. You may have asked “am I needed?”. Perhaps you don’t have a lot of vision. Maybe you love making ideas coming to life.

Wherever you fall, you NEED to know that you are important, needed and valued. Our homes, churches, communities and work places thrive when people step up to fulfill the role they were born to play.

My prayer for you today is you would be released to operate fully in the way you were crafted, designed and planned by your Maker. No more comparison, just overwhelming confidence in your Creator!14423786_10157393734215431_1291089905_o

If I’ve felt this, than you probably have to.

This is called a heart dump.

This is where I sit and say “Lord, I know what’s in my heart, but I don’t know how to say it” and then he says to just let it pour.

September, you’ve been incredible. I have never experienced so many emotions as my children step out and try to new things. I’ve never been so concerned about how I structure my evenings and my mornings as the last few weeks.

I had one slip up last week and it threw my kindergartener for such a loop he had a panic attack and couldn’t go to school. All because he was unprepared, we were unorganized and everything spiralled from there.

In some ways I’ve felt like the Proverbs 31 woman, organizing her days, rising early to prepare food for her family, ensuring they are taken care of, working, loving, serving. That has felt fulfilling.

But I’ve also felt breathless. Like I’m running and running without much time to slow down.

Yet, I know that it takes the machine a while to get going and once it is, it’s a smooth process. September and January are those “start up months”.

While transitioning our kids, my mothering, our work schedules and our ministry, something felt has empty in our marriage. Perhaps, like we hadn’t transitioned it to the fall schedule.

I know if I’m feeling it that others of you are too.

Stop. Breathe. Take inventory. What’s  going on?

I feel rushed.

I feel like we haven’t talked.

I feel like when we talk I’m too tired to say what I want to.

I’m falling asleep the moment I crawl into bed (last night was 9 p.m.)

Babysitters are booked and trips are planned months in advanced, but they are all for work, teaching and speaking.

We are passing ships.

A common goal, but lacking the heart-to-heart connection.

Where’s the guy I signed up to do life with?

I know he’s asking where his exhausted wife is.

You know what? It’s ok to name what’s happening. In fact, it’s vital to name what your feeling or you will drift apart over years of caring for kids and careers.

This doesn’t mean you are selfish or discontent, but it means you aren’t willing to settle for a heartless marriage. Or as a dear friend puts it, a joyless marriage.

In the naming, the breathing, the sharing with God and my husband I heard a resounding message “take heart, heart. Transition with this and it will just be a bump in the road.”

How do I transition?

Well for us, we believe there are always solutions. Being too tired or too busy to be together is simply not an option. Ever. But especially right now. Not with three little people whose whole world depends on the stability of our home.

So we pray. We ask God. We lay it as his feet and say “you brought us together for every season of our life, so what’s the solution”. 

He has never failed us. Today, I wait for his answer.

‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one,let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
Mark 10:8-9

It’s through the naming and the heart dump that I realize the foundation of who we are together is still rock solid.

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A picture is worth a thousand words here. Andrew showed me great kindness taking on my Monday grocery trip when I was severely “peopled out”.

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So I made him an apple pie.

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Money is time.

time-is-a-canvas

My hands brushed over soft fabric. Reds, greys and greens popped out at me. The colours of the season so rich and always right from my colour palette.

I took a sweater off the rack. I could try just one. I found another. And another.

Our monthly clothes budget was more than spent with back to school and fall shopping.

My heart felt torn within me. Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love sweaters. And these colours though!

I was supposed to have run in and out of a store as we didn’t have a lot of time left in the city and I had many other work errands. I snuck to the change rooms to try on just a few things.

Nothing worked. Weird, I thought. Everything always works here. I usually make agonizing decisions over what to take because I love everything I try on.

I felt the whisper in my heart. Money is time. I’ve blessed you with lots of nice stuff this year, but now, money is time and your time is kindness.

I put everything back and tried to find my hustle.

I’ve thought about that phrase “time is money”over the years as we’ve made big career decisions, family choices and taken purposeful pay cuts to follow God and raise our kids together at home.

Time is whatever you use it for. Time is simply the canvas of our lives.

If you choose to live with a time is money mentality, than the your canvas will be simply a quest for wealth and gathering possessions.

Time is also kindness, love, serving others, encouraging, making family memories, supper around the table.

These are the beautiful things that paint our canvas of time rich, deep, vibrant colours that add beauty and depth to our world around us.

We don’t know how big our canvas is. How far it stretches or how much room we have to paint. But we know that there is a border, there is always an end.

The difference between a poverty mindset and living with a money is time mindset is that one focuses on what their money can’t buy and the other focuses on what money can’t buy.

See the difference? One focuses on the lack while the other chooses to live with less to gain more.

I’ve told my husband time and time again: I will live with less for more time with you. I will take a smaller house that we have to renovate, I will share a vehicle, I will meal plan and shop at a thrift store if it means that our time is spent on loving our family, being together and serving the Lord with all our hearts.

I believe this, but sometimes I forget it. Sometimes the “lust for more” in my heart forgets that we have chosen less.

But then have I really? There is nothing in my life that I can think of that I need. Not one thing. Even with more money do you fix the craving of the soul to amass more?

I love in Romans 12:6-8 in the Passion Translation we are encouraged to live a life based on the giftings God has placed in each of us.

God’s marvelous grace imparts to each one of us varying gifts and ministries that are uniquely ours. So if God has given you the grace-gift to prophecy, you must activate your gift using the proportion of faith you have to prophesy. If you grace gift is serving, then thrive in serving others well. If you have the grace-gift of teaching, then be actively teaching and training others. If you have the grace-gift of encouragement, then use it often to encourage others. If you have the grace-gift of giving to meet the needs of others, then may you prosper in your generosity without any fanfare. If you have the gift of leadership, be passionate about your leadership. And if you have the gift of showing compassion, then flourish in your cheerful display of compassion.

 

Time is simply a canvas, what are you painting on it?

Shadows

 

shadow-clip-art-63636_girl_shadow_lgFor too long I’ve allowed myself to experienced a crashing waves of emotion; good, bad, ugly and exuberant. I didn’t stop to speak out the good, or the gifts.

I didn’t name what was lurking in my shadows.

The flurry of my heart, the cyclone of emotion that raged through me was what set the stage for my life.

As the Lord has taught me to name the good, so he has also wanted to bring light to the shadows.

“I can’t believe how overwhelmed I feel about this week already. My phone is going off non stop and I’m not going to have time to do everything I have to do at the church even if I worked full time.” My overwhelmed heart spilled onto Andrew in a dump of panic.

We tried to rearrange our week, get extra childcare…scramble. Like a band aid over the bleeding heart, but there is no way to stop it’s oozing.

I stood in the shower. It’s always peaceful here. I feel myself relax. Hot steam fill my nostrils and I see some of the good. I count the gifts.

196. An unnecessary shower, just to feel better.

Thank you Lord, there is still so much beauty.

Now, what is really wrong? I feel the Lord whisper. Name it.

I pour out the jumble of my heart to him and he takes it.

Suddenly it all becomes clear. As I spoke it out two very specific priorities emerge. And I had a bad cold sucking out my remaining energy.

See, it isn’t all bad? Just leave everything else, focus on these two things that are urgent, rest up and watch for all the gifts.

In an instant the constriction in my heart left, the nausea in the pit of my stomach dissipated too.

In the mass that was overwhelming there were two things consuming my heart and one thing draining my body.

The shadows in the night are terrifying until you speak them out: dresser, broom leaning against the wall, guitar, ball.

And even when it is something scary, naming it causes you to act on it rather that be immobilized in fear. If in the shadows you name a bear, you will still be afraid, but there is now a plan of action attached to that fear. It becomes the priority, and  you don’t waste time on anything other than surviving the bear.

I love how in Romans 10:6-7 in the Passion Translation the writer quotes Isaiah and says:

Don’t for a moment think you need to climb into the heavens to find the Messiah and bring him down, or to descend into the underworld to bring him up from the dead.

Don’t for a moment think that you have to go searching for this God who can save your soul and bring peace to your life. Instead in verse 8 it says:

God’s living message is very close to you, as close as your own heart beating in your chest and as near as the tongue in your mouth.

He is as close as your very next breath. When you cry out to him to help you name the dark shadows, he will speak to your own beating heart and bring the words to the tongue of your mouth.

And this is what he spoke to my heart to say to you:

Beloved. Most loved, dearly adored. I want to be the one who calms your seas. I want to name the shadows in your life and tame the mass that looks unruly. Partner with me, believe in me, call on my name and I will save you from all of this, and give you my peace.

Everyone who believes in him will never be disappointed.

Romans 10:11

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{resting with my sick baby.}

First day (& back to school cookie recipe!)

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I remember being told that the first five years of a child’s life is crucial to their development. Holding a newborn, five years seems like an eternity.

I’ve wondered why I’ve been so emotional over Caleb starting Kindergarten, because honestly, we’ve all been ready for a little while!

Last night we went to watch the last episode in a series Andrew & I have been watching on Netflix. But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t focus. Not with so much changing in a few short hours.

We shut it off and just sat on the couch and talked about life.

“I guess Kindergarten is just the first milestone that shows young parents that these big milestones actually come.” I tried to explain to Andrew.

“It’s like, everyone tells you it’s going to go fast, and you don’t believe it until suddenly it’s Kindergarten. It feels like a five year reminder to slow down and enjoy them.”

Kindergarten today, double digits in the next five years, learner’s licence in the next five, and we just did a wedding for a twenty year old the other day!

Five years can be bring a ton of life change!

So after giving myself permission to be emotional, dropping him off was done in freedom. Freedom to feel, cry and be excited all at once.

He was nervous when we left him but when he came home for lunch, the stories spilled out!

So first day of Kindergarten, I’ve learned that kids do grow up, milestones do come, I’m not just “surviving” anymore, and everyday with my kids is adventurous gift that I have chosen not to take for granted.

245. A sweet, passionate teacher.

246. A “best bud” in Caleb’s class.

247. A big kid on the playground to help my kindergartener up from a fall.

248. Coffee date with our two younger ones.

249. A quiet afternoon with an imaginative little girl

{1000 gifts)

This cookie recipe is a family favourite from the Purity Flour Cookbook (1945 edition). Just the smell of these conjures up memories cozy and warm. Daddy & daughter made these this morning to welcome our new student home at lunch time (and soothe the little lady’s broken heart).

Grandma Jody’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup flour (I use a white whole wheat blend ground in a nearby town)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (I omit if using salted butter)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup. dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chipscookies

*you can substitute with 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips. Caleb loves white chocolate so this was a treat!

Cream the butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Stir into creamed mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Baking for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enjoy the excitement of your back-to-schooler!kindergarten4amayah and caleb