Uncategorized

You write a beautiful story.

Somehow we’ve crossed the mid way point in November. Time just continues to move on and as my seven year old said: Wow, we are just growing up so fast! I wish we could press pause.

Funny thing is, I never felt that way as a child. Time seemed to move so slowly and I remember thinking each New Year’s Eve how long that seemed to take.

But things are different now. Even for children time moves fast. This is part of why I have decided to continue on with homeschooling. I spent the first few years of my mothering wondering how I would make it through to suddenly crossing a threshold of time that screamed: how did we get here?

Even now I sit at my table, the house quiet with my babies at their grandparents and the clock ticks on. Tick – tock. Tick – tock. Tick – tock.

It’s methodical sound reminds me that it stops for no one and pauses for nothing. In the same “tick” life may come and life may leave and in the “tock” hope restored or a heart devastated.

Oh I’m not meaning to sound so melancholy. On the contrary, these revelations from my last year have led me to push deeply into the hope of Christ. Hope that goes beyond the sadness of the heart or even the joy that comes.

It’s no secret this has been a hard year. At the start of 2018 I asked God for a word for the year. He told me two things:

  1. You don’t know what’s coming.
  2. You need to focus on the nest.

These things could not have been more true. This year side swiped me on so many levels. I had no idea the things that were coming, I had hoped they were good things, but so many were painful. Yet with the encouragement to focus on my nest and keep that the priority, we transitioned through them a lot smoother.

Grace upon grace, upon grace, upon grace.

I started the year on a sabbatical to recover from burn out. I had fizzled right out starting our business and moving twice. After recovering from that our son started to face some big challenges and God asked me to be brave and trust him that I could homeschool.

Homeschooling turned out the be the greatest gift and ever layer I have unwrapped has been more exciting than the next, but it did set off a chain reaction of two things that were painful:

  1. An unexpected resignation at the church. Andrew and I had co-pastored for nearly four years and suddenly that was done.
  2. I would be working at my shop less and hiring more people to run it, shooting our costs through the roof during an already delicate new business stage.

And then of course the call for adoption. In those months it seemed to be the missing puzzle piece. It made sense of the clearing away of my schedule and the settling back at home.

But thousands and thousands of dollars later, and so many more days away from my children than I ever want to know again, I was empty-handed.

Do you ever have questions? Yeah, me too.

Lord, I was brave. I gave you my yes. I know that you are doing something deep and incredible, because you don’t string me along to break my heart. Something is going on here greater than I can see. I won’t stop believing.

And yet as I move on, it feels like a melancholy movie, like a Romeo and Juliet where no one and nothing is in place at the right time. After the adoption falling through we realized our hearts have been expanded to foster babies. It’s the cry of our heart to do this. And yet when we stepped out to do it, we found we can’t be approved until our basement renovation is complete, which has been held up by…you guessed it, spending all that money to go to Nunavut. Yet without going to Nunavut, we wouldn’t have hearts burning to foster.

Sometimes the complex conflict in my heart is enough to make me weep and laugh. I’m so grateful for the heart I have after this pain, yet so deeply grieved by the pain itself.

Guys, I’m not complaining. I’m being real. You need to know what this has been like because I’ve had too many people say that everything falls into place for me. I’ve tried to encourage others and heard so often “well if I had your husband, or your energy, or your favour…”

And while I hope and I’m praying my faith remains simple through everything, I’ve heard the excuses for giving up, and I’m going to be honest, I feel like I have those same ones. But we can’t do it. We can’t give up and we can’t make excuses. So many lives hang in the balance. Our maximum impact on the world lies on the other side of sticking this out.

We can’t stop believing that God is for us. Life is not simple. I may have thought it was at one point. But I am convinced the only way to make it through our complex and complicated lives is through intimate relationship with a concrete and constant Saviour.

As I look toward this Christmas season, I am preparing myself to actively let go of an extremely difficult, yet a simultaneously greenhouse-like year as I look at the growth in my life.

I know in my heart that God looks at all the missed opportunities, conflicting time lines, financial difficulties, broken dreams and flurry of questions and he sees the most beautiful painting, the greatest story, a patchwork quilt that will one day tell a more completed version of His great faithfulness.

Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Perhaps this year has been one of more questions than answers and more heartache than joy. Or perhaps you relate to the bizarre ebb and flow of joy and pain that I’ve found myself in.

I feel the Holy Spirit calling us to let go of our disappointments. But it isn’t an immediate throwing down. It’s an invitation to let go over Christmas. To allow the simplicity of the gospel and the beauty of a saviour sent to earth as a baby, to renew our hope again.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t dream yet or if the goals aren’t coming or the inspiring words haven’t been released for 2019. Just let go, and let hope flood your soul.

From there, I believe we will see our dreams take flight. We will know the steps to take. We will be in a place of greater courage to face the unknowns.

This is my life song right now. Let it revive your heart this Saturday.

With love,

Monica

monica2

 

Advertisements
Uncategorized

My good, His glory.

It amazes me how quickly I can move from having my life feel manageable and on track to completely and totally out of control.

This past week I finally took action and made the first step in something my husband and I had felt the Lord placing on our hearts. A lot had happened in our lives and suddenly it was weeks after I had planned to scratch this from my to-do list.

What was supposed to be a baby step that made me feel good about my token obedience to the Lord turned into a landslide of events that once began, I couldn’t stop.

In a moment our lives felt in super speed and instantly I felt unable to keep up with everything.

To add to the drama, my kid’s were puddles of candy-hangover disasters the day after Halloween. I was losing my marbles. How had life become so hard in forty-eight hours?

Friday morning I woke up with a terrible migraine. I’ve, thankfully, only had a handful in my life and they’ve shown up after what my chiropractor refers to as a “perfect storm” where stress, tiredness and all the rest collide to create a barrage of unbearable pain.

A simple act of obedience on a Tuesday had led me to this place by Friday. The enemy was trying to steal my confidence, I was sure of that.

Sunday morning I stayed home from church because my headache hadn’t completely subsided. The moment my house was quiet, the Lord began to speak.

“Did you remember that this is all for your good and my glory?”

Really? I replied in my heart. My good? Maybe your glory, but I’m a bit of a wreck here.

“I am working every single thing in your life for your good and my glory. Chill out.”

Does God have to tell you to chill? Or is it just me? That morning I had the contemplative space to see that almost nothing had happened in my life outside my own head. I was freaked out that something started moving quicker than I wanted.

My good, his glory.

IMG_9925I love how Psalm 32:8-9 in the Passion Translation puts it:

I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you,
instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life.
I will advise you along the way
and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.
So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn
when I take you where you’ve not been before.
Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.
Just come with me!”

I almost laughed aloud when I read “don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before.”

Boy, had I been stubborn in my heart. Not by outwardly refusing to do be obedient, but panicking that the only way I could go there was on my own strength, forgetting that it’s God who leads us into unknown and promises to stick with us through it!

God is taking us, you and me, to places we’ve never been. It’s terrifying. I will be the first to admit it! But let me tell you post migraine, it’s easier to surrender and let Him be Lord than to deal with the physical and emotional strain that comes from trying to be in control.

He is taking all of our mess, brokenness, shattered dreams and misunderstandings and he is literally creating something GOOD for us! And not only is it good for us, but it’s going to display his glory. My life. Your life. It’s good. And it’s going to give God a whole lot of praise and turn a whole lot of hearts right to his.

We just have to ask ourselves if we will be willing to chill out and step out when he says: Just come with me. 

 

monica2

I deeply appreciate all of your likes, comments and shares! Thank you for your love and support!

Uncategorized

Library Day (Hip-Hip-Hooray)

“You can find magic wherever you look.  

Sit back and relax all you need is a book!”  – Dr. Seuss

I wrote a song for my kids for Library Day. It started out with them rolling their eyes and has turned into the first thing they hum when they open their eyes on Thursday mornings (well maybe not quite that extreme).

It’s Library Day, Hip-Hip-Hooray! So let’s get on our way! Cuz it’s library day, every Thursday! 

Then I generally add a tag of “having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card!”

PLEASE tell me you know that Arthur song from the mid nineties?

Yep, I’m a coooooool mom.

IMG_9458In preparation for library day tomorrow (and to inform you that these gems will be coming to our local library if you’re from around my town), I’m going to share our four favourites from this last week.

Choosing four is hard. We take out an average of 40 books a week, so this is really narrowing it down!

You’ll be able to tell we’ve learning about the ocean the last couple of weeks, but themes like responsibility and geographical locations like New England have also been at the fore front.

IMG_9633

1. The Specific Ocean – By Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Katty Maurey
This book threw me off at first because the little girl didn’t want to leave the city and go to ocean. What!? This confused my inner beach child who was practically raised at the Pacific Ocean until we moved to the prairies when I was thirteen. I soon realized my own kids were skeptical of the wonders of the ocean, having never experienced it themselves. As we see the girl embrace the ocean and grieve having to go home, we see the beauty in trying new things and letting go.

2. The Boy and the Ocean – By Max Lucado, Illustrated by J. Lively Huharty
This is a beautiful story of a boy beginning to understand how vast God’s love is for him as he stares at the immensity of the ocean. With his parents by his side, he catches a glimpse of the massive and unmeasurable love of God.

3. Nanette’s Baguette’s – Words & Pictures by Mo Willems
This was a big time favourite for us! This unique rhyme exposed us to a more words ending in -ette than I could have imagined! Nanette’s experience also opens the door to a great conversation with children’s about responsibility and owning up to their mistakes. It was also a good reminder to me as a mom about how intense it is to tell your parents the truth when you know you could get in trouble and to extend some great grace to these little people!

4. One Morning in Maine – Words & Pictures by Robert McCloskey
Set by the sea in Maine we meet a sweet little girl named Sal who has a loose tooth. This was a timely story for us as my oldest just lost his third tooth, but first top tooth. IMG_9437McCloskey’s beautiful charcoal drawings keep my kids enthralled and the interesting details, like their boat ride for groceries, keeps everyone engaged. This is our third Robert McCloskey book and we are officially big fans of his! My five year old daughter felt it was important that I note that this book is a winner of the Caldecott Honour. She loves reading books that have won awards! This story inspired us to have clam chowder, a first for my kiddos, who all loved it!

 

All of these books can be ordered through the library! A few clicks and you can pick them up and take them home to enjoy as a family or with a child in your life!

What books are your kids enjoying?

Happy Reading,

Monica

monica2

Encourage literacy and a love for great books by sharing this post with your friends!

Uncategorized

A Yes That Remains

Soup bubbled on the stove. Butter, sugar and eggs waited in a mixing bowl to become cookie dough and veggies sat on the cutting board.

The minutes ticked away until Andrew would walk in the door. I felt ahead of the game that night. The house was only a category one of disasters, much less than most evenings. The kids were relatively content.

I glanced at my phone and saw the big scary word “UNKNOWN” as it rang silently.

Everything was on schedule and I didn’t want to ruin it. I stared for a moment. My normal “just leave it” inclination vanished and I quickly answered before the caller hung up.

On the other end of the line was a voice so familiar and yet different.

“Would you and your husband please come and adopt my baby?”

My heart pounded something fierce. So opposite to the first time this happened when tears spilled down my face and joy exploded and there was no way my answer would be no.

In the days that have followed I have had to do many difficult things. I’ve had to reopen my heart and remind myself of the promises I’ve made to God that are not at all dependent on my circumstances.

The sting of defeat felt all to real again. My mind told me I know better than to do this privately.

And in the midst of doing many hard things faithfully day after day, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit whisper something of great importance. Something that I feel with great urgency to pass along to you.

a brave yes that's painfully familiar

Your brave yes is not always found in the adventure or first time experiences. Your brave yes will often be found in the known, perhaps memorized and the painfully familiar. It’s a yes that still shows up when you’ve been hurt. That tries again when you’ve faced defeat. It’s a yes that remains even when everything within you wants to scream a fear filled no 

This kind of brave yes is a call to remind ourselves of the Apostle Paul’s encouragement:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9 NIV

And to dig down deep when we are hurt and feed our soul with the truth of this verse:

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”

Romans 12:9a NLT

It’s a reminder that those who have gone before us have lived a life that cost them much and so we have the freedom that we do:

“They make firm commitments and follow through, even at great cost.” Psalm 15:4b TPT

You just might have been looking for the next big step of faith and it hasn’t come because there is a big breakthrough waiting for you on the other side of faithfulness.

Or perhaps you were obedient to the step of faith and it didn’t work out the way you hoped, but the real test of faith is in the will you try again?

You could be asked to forgive when all your want to do is hold on.

You may be discontent in your marriage and all you want to do is quit but this is your moment of yes to see it through to victory.

You may be hurt and want to recoil but brave love says communicate.

You may be fighting to stay consistent in your parenting, wanting to give in, and this is your chance to sow deeply into the lives of the ones you’ve been entrusted with, even when it’s unimaginably hard.

A brave yes will rarely be glamorous and exciting, even when others may think it is from the outside. You know that blood, sweat, and tears accompany anything worth fighting for. You won’t feel like Wonder Woman blocking arrows as you head across the battlefield.

But these days are important.

This yes matters.

Stay the course. I can feel that a big victory is coming.

monica2

Did this post speak encouragement to you? I’d love if you would hit “share” and spread the love to your friends!

Uncategorized

Can I save you some time? (Here’s some books you can order from the library and read with your kids!)

IMG_9070Reading has always been a big part of my life and a part of our little family. My own parents instilled a love of reading through many different ways. I remember laying on my mom’s bed in the afternoon while she read a book like “Milly Molly Mandy” out-loud to us. Or in the evening reading the Little House On The Prairie series or a classic like Wind in the Willows as a family before bed.

Those were some of my most favourite memories and my absolute favourite part about being homeschooled as a child. We devoured books. A good story was guaranteed to spark the imagination of four young girls ready to act out an adventure.

As much as reading was a priority with my own kids, last year I felt time was always against me. Getting to the library was challenging with my work schedule and reading the same old books became boring and our stories were relegated to the few the kids pressured me to read in the mornings and then at bedtime.

For me this became a red flag that my life has too full and I needed more margin. But that’s not what I’m here to write about today (I will leave that for another time!).

Now that I’m homeschooling I read an absolutely ridiculous amount of books with my children, and I love every moment of it because I have dedicated a good amount of time to choosing great books. IMG_8807

But truthfully, it’s quite time-consuming.

I was thinking today that it might be nice for some of you busy parents to see my favourites from each week so that I can save you some time and you can go straight your local library and pick them out. No sense both of us spending a crazy amount of time on it!?

This isn’t just for parents. I’ve met a grandparents who pick out books from the library to read with their grandchildren at home and my own sister always gives my kids a story with a special note on the inside cover. Reading is a great way for anyone to form a special bond with a child in their life!

Here’s my tip to save time at the library: I order all of my books online. We still go to the library once a week but I find that it frees me up to be present to read to the kids, help them start an activity or keep my youngest entertained so that the older two get the amount of time there that they really want. Or if we can’t make it, I’m still guaranteed to have new recruits coming in every Friday morning!

Our family has fallen in love with old stories. They are completely unpredictable and sometimes the oddest things happen! But they never fail to pull at our hearts, teach us a lesson and make us laugh.

Now that my daughter is flying through “Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons” and I suddenly almost have a second reader on my hands, I want to continue to prioritize cultivating a love of reading more than anything. Not just so they will read great stories all the time, which does have value, but because they will be more apt to enjoy learning when the struggle of whether or not they want to read is out of the way. IMG_8957

And if I’m completely honest, the chances of them reading their bibles of their own accord and seeking out meaningful devotion books are much higher when they are confident readers. Even in something as basic as reading, we are sowing into their spiritual lives.img_9299.jpg

So who’s willing to say if they are interested in this? Would you like to hear what books we are reading every week and you can skip the research phase, order the books in a click and pick them up between hockey and dance? Let me know in the comments if you think this will be helpful to you!

Here are my favourite five from last week (and number one will be from today because it was just that good!).

  1. Kermit the Hermit, By Bill Peet
    A crusty old crab goes to great lengths to bless the boy who saved his life from a dog. I had to choke back tears at the end of this one! kermit the hermit
  2. Apple Pie For Dinner, retold by Susan VanHecke
    Granny Smith wants to make a pie but all she has is plums! This story tells beautifully that by giving generously of what you have, what you need will come to you. (note: This went along beautifully with our Five In A Row book “How To Make An Apple Pie and See The World”, if you happen to be interested in the material we are using.)
    apple pie for dinner
  3. Nora’s Ark, By Natalie Kinsey-Warnock 
    In the Vermont Flood of 1927 a family opens their home to a variety of people and creatures and learn the ones you love are more important any thing, or flooring.
    Nora's Ark
  4. Follow that map, By Scot Ritchie
    A fun and engaging way to learn basic map skills that includes an interactive story where you help find the children’s lost puppy!
    follow that map
  5.  Mousetronaut, by Mark Kelly 
    A tiny mouse gets to go to space, and just might save the mission! We are currently reading as many inspiring and exciting stories about space as we can right now as my daughter is very eager to become an astronaut!
    Mousetronaught

Maybe you can save ME some time! What books are your kids loving?

monica2

Was this post helpful? Feel free to share and spread the love!

Uncategorized

Through the portal.

This one is going to sound a little sci-fi esque to some of you, but it’s been sitting in my heart for a while.

I’ve heard the common verse about “in your weakness God’s strength is made perfect”, many times and honestly I’ve never really grasped the full magnitude of what it meant. I found it comforting that he would work through my weakness, but I really didn’t get the power of it.

That is until I read this verse in the Passion Translation and the word portal was used.

So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:10

I instantly saw a picture of a person standing in an empty room. It was dimly lit and I could tell they were confused, broken and unsure where to go next. Where they were in that moment, was nothing. Looking at them with human eyes you would see they had no prospect of anything because there was simply nothing.

I could not see any doors or windows so the chance of rescue from their place seemed unlikely. As I watched I saw the person bravely open their hands. It wasn’t a big gesture, nor did they do it with a lot of expression. It was like a last resort, the very beginning of surrender.

Suddenly there was a zap of blue light and the person was sucked up through a portal that opened up on top of the ceiling where the blue light had flooded in.

The person was gone. The picture I was seeing zoomed out. I saw a multi layer complex, we could call it “life’s problems.”

I could now see that where the person had been standing was, as I was described, an empty room of weakness. This is the room where brave is not felt, fear runs wild and it looks to the naked eye like there is no way of escape. All seems lost. Your circumstances seem hopeless.

But from my vantage point I could see that the person, in their beginning moment of surrender in the middle of their weaknesses, had been translated up to the next level and they were standing in the place of the supernatural strength of Jesus Christ.

That place of weakness because a portal, a doorway, a entry point, to God’s great strength.

Weakness Becomes A Portal

They stood in the confidence of bright and vivid colours while the King was on his great white horse and an army moved out to begin the battle. The person simply stood, strong and secure beside the great King.

Below that level of weakness was just simply normal life where we can wonder at times whether we live in our strength or God’s strength and we don’t always see with such clarity. There can be a lot a of gray.

But standing in the room of weakness, there is no confusion. Without God, we are nothing. But in the tiniest act of surrender, God’s strength was able to rush in like a flooding light and lift the person up to the next level of victory.

I felt him whisper:

Don’t fear your weakness. I’m breaking through. I’m taking you higher. You will see my power like never before.

This was such a vivid encounter I decided I wanted to try pressing into the portal of power.

A opportunity to stand in my weakness came soon enough.

A tantrum. A freak out. A moment where I wondered how I could mother for another moment. My confidence zapped by a debilitating encounter with the anger of a child.

I put the child in their room and stood in the hallway.

I whispered weakly:

Lord, I know there is a next level of strength available. I don’t know what to do here. I’m really weak at being a calm and collected mom. I need your strength, power and solutions.

I closed my eyes and waited to enter into the portal where there would be a trading of my weakness for the strength of Jesus.

I didn’t try to do anything in that moment. I breathed in the Holy Spirit and I waited.

Suddenly the wisdom came. I knew what I needed to do. I prayed with authority that confusion would leave my relationship with my child and that we would be able to move forward in understanding.

In that moment I knew I had moved from my weakness to God’s strength.

Everything changed in that moment. The situation was dealt with in minutes rather than the hours these tantrums would escalate into.

The trouble for me is, I don’t always recognize when I’m trying to operate out of my human weakness instead of my super-powered-Christ-strength.

And when I do realize I’m acting out of weakness, I’m not always humble enough to stop and go through the portal to the next level of supernatural living.

But as I saw in the picture, God is just waiting for us to open our hands a little. When we give him even the smallest invitation, he is coming like a flash of lightning to lift you higher. And without weakness, we wouldn’t get to experience the full glory of his strength.

He wants to strengthen you. He knows that in todays’ world we need that instant access to a way of life that blows away hopelessness, despair and apathy.

He is calling us to come up higher. To a place where strength, wisdom, courage and power are given for second guessing, trembling hands, and empty threats.

I need this kind of life. It’s not a life where everything is always resolved quickly, but it is a life where we stand in strength and let go of that feeling of never being good enough for the battle. Because the battle is not ours. It is the Lord’s. And all you have to do is take the first step of surrender.

monica2

Did this post speak encouragement to you? I’d love if you would hit “share” and spread the love to your friends!

Uncategorized

When the bus hits.

IMG_0084Not really looking, I just stepped into the street. I didn’t see the bus coming. My eyes looked up just as it plowed me over. As I saw my body begin to explode I snapped to reality from my daydream.

I sat on the pretty gold wingback chair, staring out the window at the playground on the artic tundra.

Cold rain fell, as it did nearly everyday after she was taken.

Tears fell down my face.

That’s what has happened. I whispered to God. I stepped out in faith and I’ve been hit by a bus of heartache. I trusted you that this would happen the way you said.

This morbid picture began to reverse, like an old VCR rewinding through a movie. Suddenly I was back on the pavement about to step out.

“That’s what you think happened. No, this is what happened” I felt Him whisper.

I stepped out again. The bus hit me. My body stayed intact and my heart exploded and spread to the corners of the nation.

“What you think has destroyed you has expanded your heart.” 

I stood in that mental picture God was revealing to me and saw my heart scattered all over. And in the moment I knew it was not broken in sadness, it had been multiplied during the explosion.

In that vision I could see that my capacity to love had widened and my ability to meet the needs of others was increased.

My journal was nearby and I quickly wrote down what I had seen in my mind’s eye. While it didn’t bring me excessive comfort right then, I had enough wisdom to know this would carry me through the coming weeks.

It reminds me of a verse that God gave me years ago when I was in a bad car accident, and they are the words that Joseph spoke at the end of his life with the hindsight to see God’s redeeming work, even though he was sold into slavery, falsely accused and served jail time.

He said:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Genesis 50:20

What was meant for evil in his life he was able to confidently say God used for the saving of many lives!

Dear one, I know the road is hard. I recognize you may be facing something so mammoth it feels impossible to see how this can ever be turned for good. But this is God’s heart for you today:

What you think has destroyed you has expanded you.

The trial that you face is increasing your ability to forgive. It’s widening your scope of compassion and deepening your capacity to love in a way you thought you never could.

And though it hurts more than anyone else can properly understand, if you continue to keep yourself open to Jesus and allow him access to your heart, he WILL use this to impact the lives of more people than would have been if you hadn’t walked through this.

Please, don’t harden your heart in this challenge.

What you feel has destroyed you is actually expanding you.

Surrender it. Don’t hold on to it. Don’t try to understand it. Don’t aim to rationalize it. The enemy may have intended to throw a big ole wrench into your life, BUT God. But for the grace of God Almighty, your trial would have been purposeless, and instead he makes it a powerful platform to display his power and his goodness.

Let it sink deep. This pain is expanding you. You do not go through anything that he cannot use.

I pray this knowledge comforts you, as it has comforted me.

We’re coming out on top.

IMG_8578

Did this post speak encouragement to you? I’d love if you would hit “share” and spread the love to your friends!