Our FAVOURITE Audiobooks (for kids!) on HOOPLA

The world of audiobooks  is an exciting one! There are so many wonderful titles that have now been recorded, but there are also incredible voice actors that read these stories and they become alive in a new way.

My kids and I are listening to “On the Banks Of Plum Creek” at the end of morning time as we work on our handicrafts or projects. Cherry Jones reads the books with a slight twang and brings Laura’s world to life for us. I can close my eyes and hear her voice exclaim “Laura!” in Ma’s way and it makes me smile. Or when the ox’s foot fell through the roof (oops, spoiler!) and she read those words with genuine surprise and shock.

As I’ve shared pieces of our homeschool days I’ve received many questions about audiobooks, such as what would you recommend for younger kids? What do your kids do while they listen? Does this count as reading or entertainment?

These are all such great questions and I LOVE that you’re asking them! This is not just a “homeschool” thing, it’s a great tool for all families who want to find creative ways to cut down on screens and increase a love of literacy, while not being tied to the couch reading when things like supper need to happen!

I’m sharing titles that are on HOOPLA because it’s free, but if you have another audiobook service you should be able to find all of these easily!

Before I dive into some book titles, I want to give you some ideas that have worked for us. My kids are 8, 6 and almost 5. They each have very different personalities, and I find that different techniques work for them.

My almost five year old has grown up reading a lot more than my oldest. My oldest still was read to a lot, but just by way of being the youngest, he’s learned to sit through chapter books, long pictures books and has a high stamina for listening. I didn’t force this, it happened naturally. He hated being left out of what his siblings were doing, so he fought through his urge to run away and play. Now he is the one who hates when read alouds are over!

  1. Make audiobooks more special than screen time. Audiobooks are becoming expressions of warmth and comfort in our family. This has taken intentionality but slowly the idea of being cuddled up in a cozy corner you’ve built out of some favourite pillows and a blanket, with special bluetooth headphones that only you can hear, and a little snack, is more exciting than having to agree on a show with your siblings. My oldest listened to almost an entire novel on the swing in the backyard the other day! Fresh air AND literacy! That’s a big win!
  2. Have some activities they can do while listening. Now that cozy spot I described can hold my six year old for a long time. She doesn’t need much else. Her imagination is so vivid the only thing that might interrupt her is a urgent desire to find me and quickly explain what is happening and why it makes her feel so wonderful! But the younger one will eventually need some activities if he wants to keep listening. Things like playdough, lego, blocks. colouring pages, drawing,  Where’s Waldo or other Look & Find books, cutting and glueing all help. Once I even caught my youngest jumping up and down on his bed while listening. I didn’t mind! He wasn’t being wild, he was just moving his body to keep himself going on his book. I wasn’t forcing him to keep listening, By providing activities and allowing him to jump on the bed, I was just empowering him to keep doing what he wanted to do, which was find out what happened to the Boxcar children!

    A note from my six year old: If you can close your eyes while you listen, you will find that a whole story plays out right in your head. It is imagination.

  3. Stagger some of the same titles amongst the kids if age ranges allow it. When my three first stated listening to the Boxcar children, whoever had finished the first one was pacing around the living room waiting for the other to finish. When they walked out of the room they both exclaimed at the same time: BENNY IS SO HILARIOUS! And then dove into a deep conversation about the book. I through in a little question here and there just because I was jealous of this beautiful connection (haha!), but otherwise this book club culture (that Sarah MacKenzie at Read Aloud Revival talks about) came about organically.
  4. Invest in comfortable headphones. It took us a while to find the right ones for our daughter. She is a lot like me, and we both have tendencies toward HSP (highly sensitive personality), and things like fabric, sound and light can bother us. We finally found the right bluetooth headphones at Best Buy that were smaller kids sized ones, with padded ears. My oldest will be driven by pure motivation to listen and will tough out uncomfortable ear buds missing the rubber piece if he needs to, but not having the right equipment will stop my daughter, which we don’t want! We also prefer bluetooth so that our children don’t have to carry a device around!

All right, without further ado, here are our favourite audiobook titles on HOOPLA! All you need to use HOOPLA in a library card and you have four borrows a month. You can get movies and ebooks on here too, but we only use it for audiobooks since they are expensive to get through subscription somewhere else! If you get everyone in your family an account you can increase the amount of titles a month. If you are listening at the same time, it has to be on different accounts. So if all three of our kids are listening I have one logged into my phone playing from that, one from the laptop and one from an old phone that we use for white noise and audiobooks! If my husband is home we can also play off his device.

  1. The Boxcar Children Series – Four orphaned children band together to survive and live in an abandoned Boxcar. Subsequent adventures have them solving mysteries. Our kids, aged 5 to 8 love it. By Gertrude Chandler Warner
  2. Anne Of Green Gables – the Classic Starts Series (many more titles of these classics that have been modified for children. We have read the “Little Women” version of this.) My 5 and 6 year old have been enjoying this one. Adapted from Lucy Maud Montgomery.
  3. The Hardy Boys – Brother duo solves mysteries. I prefer the original books, but Hoopla has some of the newer audiobooks. Because of intensity only our 8 year old has listened to this.
  4. Basil: The Great Mouse Detective (there are 5 of the titles in this series on HOOPLA). Because of intensity and intrigue this one has been just for our 8 year old. With less sensitive children you can probably listen younger or with a parent! By Eve Titus.
  5. A House At Pooh Corner (also available: Winnie-The-Pooh, and Christopher Robin’s poems: Now We are Six and When We Were Very Young, by A. A. Milne) – All ages.
  6. James Herriot Animals Stories (also available: James Herriot’s Dog Stories). My six year old devours every possible story centred around animals and she listened to this huge treasury in one go! Suitable for all ages. Written by James Herriot.

Here are some other titles that are on HOOPLA as audiobooks that we have read. So we haven’t listened to these ones as audiobooks, but we can attest to the quality of the story!

  1. Aesop’s Fables – We love these timeless stories teaching character lessons.
  2. Bible Stories – search kid’s bible stories and lots of good options will come up!
  3. The Moffat’s – My 5 & 6 year old are doing this as a bedtime read aloud right now! By Eleanor Estes
  4. The Orphan Train Series – This has some intense moments dealing with tragedy and hardship, but Arleta Richardson does a fantastic job of weaving in how God is working and inspiring courage. Our whole family enjoyed this series.
  5. Grandma’s Attic Series – a little girl hear’s stories from her grandmother’s days as a pioneer. Another wonderful one for the whole family. Also by Arleta Richardson
  6. The Children’s Book of Virtues (by William J. Bennet) – A compilation of stories, fables, and poems that impart virtues. We had so many favourites from this story!

If you’re looking for the Little House On the Prairie series it’s unfortunately not on HOOPLA, but it is available in CD form from our library system, so it’s probably in yours too!

The Read Aloud expert, Sarah MacKenzie says that audiobooks absolutely count as much as if you read aloud to your own child! And the benefits of reading aloud are massive (check out Read Aloud Family by Sarah MacKenzie or The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease if you’re curious to learn more about it’s superpowers)! So a healthy mix of audiobooks along with your own wonderful gift of reading aloud will give your kids a rich literary experience!

We hope you enjoy this list of audiobooks! Let us know what some of your favourites are and if they are on HOOPLA so we can check them out!

Happy listening,

Monica (with help from my graphic designer Caleb, and content input from Amayah & Eli)

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The “boiling hot” ones.

When I opened my little shop a couple of years ago I received so many words of encouragement, congratulations and immense praise.

Truthfully, it felt pretty good to be seen as brave and contributing in a big way. I didn’t do it for these reasons, I started out with a powerful word from God and a passion to follow through on what he asked me to do.

When I sold the business and followed the voice of Christ back into my home full time, there were very few left with words of encouragement. No praise or accolades followed me, just a good dose of condescension from a few who believed I never should have worked in the first place.

Honestly, I am sure it’s a little confusing watching me live out my life of faith at times as I seem to yo-yo between calls. I don’t have anger or bitterness. I don’t blame anyone for their words or lack of them.

My point is not to compel compassion. It’s this: You are responsible to guard your passion.

Guard your passion.

Not the thing you love doing. Not the person you’re passionate about. Not the job that you do on the daily. Not simply your zeal for life.

Your passion for Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. The Messiah. The Saviour of the World. The Way, the Truth, the Life.

This kind of passion is what’s going to carry you through.

Watch what steals it. Be aware of what slowly lulls you to sleep. Be alert and on guard to where your passion is at.

Guard it regardless of outside encouragement, popular opinion or even the negative voices inside your head. (Side note: let’s be people who celebrate obedience over position! I am not as interested in what you’re doing, as long as you’re being obedient to Christ. I want to to celebrate THAT!)

Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord, keeping your passion toward him boiling hot! Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and let him fill you with excitement as you serve him.

Romans 12:11 TPT

This verse holds some keys to keep our passion boiling hot. First it encourages us to be enthusiastic serving the Lord.

I will be the first to admit that the Lord has allowed me some pretty exciting ways to serve him. I have co-lead pastored a church with my husband, spoke at some exciting retreats and events, opened a business and published a book. Now, I am a full time homeschooler, trying to juggle even posting a blog once a week! IMG_6439

Some of those have been a little more exciting and adventurous than others. However this verse doesn’t say to be enthusiastic serving the Lord simply when he gives you a world changing, glamorous or public position. The encouragement is to be enthusiastic serving the Lord. Period.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17 ESV

In my role as mom especially, I can be a woman of excuses when it comes to my relationship with Jesus. I can feel that everyone else gets the first fruits of me and Jesus gets what’s left.

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But only I can make that choice. No one has the power to take away my commitment to staying close to Jesus.

I have become so passionate about staying passionate for Jesus and I think it’s partly because 2019 has placed me in a more stretching, humbling place than I’ve ever been.

There is no “adrenaline rush” for what I’m doing right now that’s going to carry me through my days. In this, at times, isolated place of raising and educating my school aged children at home, it is my job to do it enthusiastically for the Lord. It’s my job to “let him fill me with excitement” as Romans 12:11 says. I have to open my heart to the Holy Spirit to allow him to do that!

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Here is what steals my passion:

  1. Not spending time with Jesus, reading the Word, praying, journaling and worshiping through song.

Here is what keeps me passionate:

  1. Spending time with Jesus, read the Word, praying, journaling and worshiping through song.

It’s seriously that simple for me. Spending time with Jesus is the most important part of my whole day. It transforms every aspect of my life, examines my heart and orders all of my priorities. It isn’t simply a one moment a day thing, although my morning time with Jesus is the largest piece.

It is what has kept me emotionally sound and mentally strong through being treated like a superstar as a business owner (perhaps over stating that slightly, haha!), to being hidden at home.

Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Philippians 4:12-13 MSG

I don’t know if I can fully say that I’ve learned to be “quite content” in ALL circumstances. I have so many days that I whine and wonder if I can follow through on all God’s asked me to do. And yet, at the start of each day, in my favourite chair, with whatever seasonal mug I’m drinking out of at the time, I know that the Holy Spirit is going to fill me with his power and I’m going to have fresh passion to serve Jesus enthusiastically, right where I am. Whether I’m feeling like a classy business lady, or a hot-mess mama. I can make it through in the One who makes me who I am.

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Stir up our hearts Lord!

May Jesus, the Anointed One, increase your passion dramatically and exponentially today! May he illuminate what is trying to steal your passion and may he lead you into creative solutions for carving out the time and space, physically, mentally and emotionally, to keep him the greatest priority of your life.

May we be the “boiling hot” ones for his glory!

Love,

Monica

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Grace to you, child.

“Mom, sing Amazing Grace.”

For years the bed time song has been Jesus Loves Me. Without fail, every night. Until my child recently learned the story of John Newton, a violent slave trader who came face to face with the grace of God, renounced his horrific actions, determined to serve the Lord with his remaining years and penned these emotion filled words:

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me…”

How we need grace. With each year that passes I am more aware of my need for grace and how merciful God really is with me.

Oh, how a child needs grace. Grace to a child is like cold water after they’ve ran around, climbed a tree and jumped on a trampoline. They must know that God has an immeasurable amount of grace for their mistakes, and that as we grow in our love for Jesus and dwell in his grace, we seek to demonstrate it to them in person.

As I’ve watched my own son be drawn deeply to the story, author and words of this song I have relived the times in my own childhood where I felt there was grace for everyone but the child. A standard of immediate obedience, or else. And then what do we do? We place that on understanding on God. I must immediately obey…or else.

My “brave yes” journey has been my response to an invitation to say yes to God simply out of a desire to please him. No fear. Just perfect love. It’s growing from a place of understanding that I have been given the freedom to choose and this kindness from God has led me to a place of repentance and desire to surrender my life to his perfect will.

Grace is this beautiful, undeserved favour, that is so wonderful to be the recipient of, and so hard to be one the one extending.

And yet to a young heart, next to the love of Jesus, there are no words so peace-filled as the words of grace over their less than perfect life.

I’m in a unique season where I am the primary caregiver and teacher of all of my children. I’m the first responder to all injuries and the referee to every fight. In the course of my day there are so many moments that require grace – of course for me, but for my children. I see shame creep across faces, anger burn, and greed descend. At least in my house, we all know we are sinners saved by grace yet individual moments present me with the choice: do I represent the law or grace?

Romans 6 says, and I’m summarizing, that grace grants us freedom to choose our own master: sin or God. And when we choose for ourselves that we will serve God, obedience becomes heart deep. 

In that past I may have been more concerned about day to day obedience that simply kept my life in tact. But as the years go on and I see little humans turning into bigger ones who have real dreams and aspirations. I want to see a grace-work in their lives that is heart deep and stays with them every single day for the rest of their lives.

In the mornings my kids and I read and pray together and we have opportunities to develop character and cultivate beautiful truths. It is in those emotionally diffused moments where hearts are vibrant and open, energy is fresh and we can dive deeper. But truthfully I am finding that the moments of tension, fighting and struggle are where grace simply must shine the brightest.

“All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.”

Romans 5:21 MSG

Grace wins, hands down.

That, my friends, is the message I want my children to grow up with every day of their lives. A knowledge that mama was an aggressive forgiver and an extender of second, third and one hundredth chances.

I believe we must disciple, mentor, and seek to cultivate all that is good, pure and lovely. Then over all of that we must seek to model Christ, with grace, heaped upon grace, heaped upon grace (John 1:16).

Boy, this is a journey for me, because the patience required to dish out grace upon grace when we’d just like to do hand out justice upon justice, is tough. And the good news is, there is grace for me as I walk in grace (grace, grace, grace!).IMG_6366

If you’re a practical person that likes something tangible to try here are some questions I’ve been asking throughout our day. When life gets challenging with my children, as I practice grace upon grace over rules upon rules these help me in my endeavour to create space for this great grace to be actively demonstrated:

  1. Can we calm down together?
    1. Is there a way we can calm down, take a break, remove ourselves from the distressing situation (yes even if it’s centered around a toy reeking havoc on turn-taking) and start over in a bit. I am finding it takes as many minutes as their age to calm down effectively. When I stay with them to calm down it is less like they’re in trouble and more like we’re just resetting to take a fresh look at the situation.
  2. Are their basic needs met right now?
    1. Are they hungry? Thirsty? Exhausted? Do we need to deal with one of those things first before working through the problem? I have one child who simply can’t function when remotely hungry. Grace to them – because I’m so much like that too! Also, a few minutes laying down with an audiobook does wonders to renew energy in my house.
  3. How am I (as mom) doing right now?
    1. If I’m not doing well or I’m stressed, exhausted, or haven’t spent anytime with the Lord on my own, chances are I’m already not handling the situation great. I might be the one who needs a few minutes before we work through the problem so this train doesn’t go completely off the tracks! Distressing texts or stressful emails really effects me and I have to be careful not to open up messages that could take away from my energy to be the mom I need to be in that moment. Those things have to stay in a tight parameter to allow me to prioritize the first things. It’s different for everyone. How are YOU doing?
  4. Can we deal with this more effectively later?
    1. Is there a better time to go deep with the issue? I have found that our devotion, scripture memorizing, prayer time is a much more effective time to talk about being kind and loving to one another. We read a book called “is it right to fight?” which had our kids in deep conversations for days over how they feel when they get angry. I learned a lot, like the fact that one of my children is often suppressing the urge to bite their siblings when angry. I am seeing their outburst and feeling frustrated over the general noise volume, and yet they feel triumphant in that moment because they’re letting their anger out by yelling instead of biting (I was so proud of that child when they found words to express that big inner conflict!). That book also opened the door to how they feel if my husband and I argue (yep, that was a tough one to hear!).
  5. What’s the atmosphere like?
    1. Are you somewhere that is getting the kids really riled up? Is it overstimulating? Too loud? Has the tone not been set for what’s expected of them? What conversations are taking place? If they are expected to wind down for bed, does the house reflect that? Is the lighting soft? Is the music calm? Have the issues of the day been laid to rest knowing that there is new mercy for the morning? I have found that asking questions about what is happening is one of the fastest routes to a turnaround. Before homeschooling we were rushing a lot and I quickly found out my kids did not respond well to rushing. It was sucking joy right out of our atmosphere. Some big changes needed to be made to cultivate and protect the environment we desired.

These five things that create some breathing room and a moment to pause and prioritize grace over the letter of the law. They are human beings, just like us adults, and need to be nurtured, cared for, protected and prioritized. They need grace. Excessive, over the top, almost a seemingly absurd, but perfectly natural, amount of grace.

I hope this is helpful to someone and that hearing from another mama in the trenches encourages you that you’re not alone in the quest to do your best and not simply take the shortcuts that lead to immediate results, or turn a blind eye. In the words of John Newton:

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home

Grace to you!

Monica

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But Lord!?

I don’t know how many times I have felt the Lord whisper something to me and I can instantly think of a few good reasons why what he is saying is not a good idea.

That happened with my homeschooling journey, one I have since nicknamed “the great homeschooling adventure”, as glory continues to cover this wild ride. I had a good many reasons why choosing to keep my kids home with me ALL. THE. TIME. seemed a little excessive.

Mary and Martha, our friends from the New Testament who were very close to Jesus, and knew him personally and loved him dearly – they went through the same thing! They believed in Jesus and in his power. In fact when their brother, Lazarus, died, the sisters were desperately heartbroken that Jesus had not been there, because they KNEW that Lazarus would have lived.

Here is what happened after Jesus arrived in town and asked to be taken to where their brother was buried.

Then Jesus, with intense emotions, came to the tomb—a cave with a stone placed over its entrance. Jesus told them, “Roll away the stone.”

Then Martha said, “But Lord, it’s been four days since he died—by now his body is already decomposing!”

Jesus looked at her and said, “Didn’t I tell you that if you will believe in me, you will see God unveil his power?”

So they rolled away the heavy stone. 

John  11:38-42a TPT

So they rolled aware the heavy stone.

They took a big, brave, bold step of faith. They made a move of radical obedience. Jesus had not laid out what he was going to do, he just extended an invitation to see God’s power at work. And in the face of potentially seeing a horrible, decomposing body and smelling disgusting smells that I can’t even begin to imagine, they said yes to seeing God’s glory, trusting that Jesus had a good plan, and they rolled away the heavy stone.

Just let that sink in.

That is like an arrow through my heart. Because I know what is coming next, but they didn’t! I can read the story with this great anticipation that Lazarus is going to come back to life, but they didn’t know that yet! 

This kind of blind obedience just gets me and shakes me up to the core. That’s a brave yes.

What’s your first step in the face of fear?

Right now I stand in front of a few tombs. Some hold dreams that I think have died, some hold people I’ve given up on, some hold potential that I’ve let go of. But Jesus calls today and says roll away the stone.

But Lord!?

Isn’t that our reaction, like Mary? But Lord!? What if I fail? What if it hurts? What if I seem foolish to the world for trying again?

But Jesus reminds us it isn’t about what we can do or what we will do. He is inviting us to see his miraculous power at work in our lives. We just need to answer the call to roll away the stone. To take the first step. To open our heart again.

Then with a loud voice Jesus shouted with authority: “Lazarus! Come out of the tomb!”

Then in front of everyone, Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, slowly hobbled out—he still had grave clothes tightly wrapped around his hands and feet and covering his face! Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”

John 11:43-44 TPT

Imagine the outrageous joy in that moment. A little step of faith unleashed a whole ton of miraculous power flowing through our Saviour.

In the face of unknowns, remember, he is the God who brings the dead to life. When he calls, we can say yes, and leap right into an exciting adventure with him!

Saying a brave yes right along with you,

Monica

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ANOINTED to be mom

I was leading worship one Sunday and we, our whole church, felt the Holy Spirit so strongly. God did some big things in peoples lives and poured out his love on our worship team.

When we finished, I high fived my team and whispered “thanks” to Jesus for his anointing as I stepped off the stage.

That’s when I heard him whisper back.

“You know I can anoint you like that for motherhood.”

The words hung in my mind. I didn’t even answer back. I just sat their listening to my husband speak with a stunned brain, struggling to comprehend what this could mean.

“Now, it is God himself who has anointed us. And he is constantly strengthening both you and us in union with Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:21

That word “anointed”, from the Strongs concordance, means “enduing Christians with gifts from the Holy Spirit”. 

I’ve felt that “enduing” before. There are special times where we are suddenly given a gift of the Holy Spirit and it’s alive and active within us. Sometimes you can operate in these gifts at the drop of a hat, other times they flow unexpectedly. That’s how I find it when I lead worship. I expect God to show up and help me, but how he does it, how he anoints me, the gifts he suddenly gives me, could be different. One day I might prophecy, or have a word of knowledge or discernment. (You can read about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12)

It honestly feels weird trying to find words for anointing because it just is what is for me. I feel the Holy Spirit and he moves through me. I ask him to come and not let me do this thing on my own, and he shows up, plain and simple.

But for some reason the idea of this happening on a day to day basis, in a tangible way, with my children, seemed so foreign to me.

But that’s what he was saying. The same way I feel him and the same way I experience him when I’m ministering through speaking or leading worship, he can flow through me and anoint me for motherhood.

This changed a few perspectives in how I have viewed motherhood.

First, God wants to show up in my day to day, moment to moment with my kids and change my view of a daily grind to holy ground (as Sarah McKenzie says in her book “Teaching From Rest”).

In the same way he wants to show up in our church services and see people commit their lives to Jesus, and be transformed by his power and find and feel his presence, in that same powerful way, he wants to show up in my home as I raise, and ultimately minister to, my children.

I will answer your cry for help every time you pray,
and you will find and feel my presence
even in your time of pressure and trouble.
I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast. 


Psalm 91:15


K, let’s be real. Pressure and trouble? Those words can sum up a good many of my days with my kids, but God has said we can find AND feel his presence in the middle of it all. 

 

Second realization: I’m not expected to do this alone. Mom’s are notorious for being the self sacrificing, lay-it-all-down, martyr lingo talking, “it’s my way or the highway” tough girls. But this is not God’s way. In fact I’m encouraged to NOT do it alone.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

Proverbs 3:5-7

 

In the context of leading worship or speaking, I often feel like I don’t have what it takes and at the end of myself, in my weakness, God shows up the strongest. It’s the same with my mothering, when I pause and acknowledge that the situation is so beyond me, suddenly the Holy Spirit takes over and his strength is made perfect in my weakness.

But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. 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 12:9-10 TPT

I realize I’m using the analogy of church a lot in this post and not everyone can relate to it, but this has been such a massive revelation to me personally that I have to share it for those who may understand.

When things aren’t going well in my leadership, say of worship, what do I do? I lean in to the Holy Spirit. I ask for direction. I humble myself. I acknowledge my need for him to break through. I seek his presence. I ask for his anointing – his power to flow through me and to do what only he can do!

Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything – every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do.

2 Corinthians 9:8 TPT

In a church setting we say it all the time: Wow, that person is so anointed.

What does that mean? They are talented? They have natural giftings? No, when we say that, something in our spirit is resonating with the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit that is flowing through that person and we can tell it’s so far beyond them. What is happening is not a manifestation of their own hard work, but of the grace of God flowing through them.

That is what God is saying about our mothering. He wants to anoint us for the task. He wants us to look back on a situation and see that his hands were all over it and that his power was flowing through us and supernatural wisdom and discernment was at work. He wants to stop us in our tracks and overwhelm us with grace for the moment.

I am called and commissioned to this great task. He is ready to overwhelm me with the grace that I need, every moment and in every way.

The Lord has been drumming it into me over the last number of months: Monica, stop and ask for my anointing.

A while ago I had a child freaking out in their bedroom, breaking stuff and trying to hurt me. I was beside myself trying to figure out what on earth to do. Suddenly I stopped and cried out in a whisper of anguish mixed with anger: I need this anointing you’re talking about.

As if to prove what he was saying I had supernatural discernment as to what the root of the problem was. Then with supernatural wisdom I knew the steps to walk out. And, only by way of the Holy Spirit, I handled is calmly.

I don’t remember to stop often enough. I’m still on my journey. How the phrase rings in my ears: anointed to be mom. IMG_5357

I see a picture in my mind of moms standing before the King of Kings, Jesus, and he is pouring the oil over us, as it ran over the priests of old. The anointing resting thick and heavy. The Holy Spirit making us ready for the task at hand. An anointing to be mom.

I see myself standing in the circle with my worship team, hands held out, asking the Lord to anoint us for the service. And in a flash I see myself standing my kitchen, or in my black armchair where I talk with God every morning, hands held out, asking for fresh anointing for this day.

For too long, I have not realized the power of my job. Of raising arrows. I know I’m just scratching the surface, but I am desperately pursuing a full revelation of what it means to walk daily in the powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit as mom.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.

Psalm 127:3-4

I know this is a game changer. I know that this realization that God wants to walk with me every single step is going to change the future for my children, and my children’s children, and my children’s, children’s, children. I am no longer a mom, stumbling along trying to figure out what to do. I am a warrior who raises warriors for the King of the universe and who has access to all the anointing, power and authority that is mine in Christ Jesus.

And now, because we are united to Christ, we both have equal and direct access in the realm of the Holy Spirit to come before the Father!

Ephesians 2:18

This can be yours too. Stop. Breathe. Hold out your hands. He’s closer than you think.

Ask him. Right here. Say: Father, anoint me to do this holy work. This job of raising your kids. Shaping these arrows. It’s so much harder than I could have imagined. I can’t do it. But by your Spirit I know I can. My weakness becomes a portal for your power to flow through me. Thank you that you want to help me and you’ve been just waiting for me to ask.

I’m breathing this prayer with you too. I don’t know what all this means yet, but I know one thing: I’m anointed to be mom.

In His grace,

Monica

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Stop rushing the crushing.

We’re at a year since we received the phone call asking if we would come and adopt a baby at birth from a young woman who believed she could not care for the baby herself, for a plethora of very serious and real reasons that I won’t disclose on my blog.

One. Year.

I don’t know how that much time has passed since we began that journey.

I remember everything about that day. I rushed home from the store, that I no longer own, to my family who was working on a truck that we no longer have, and told them about a baby that never did come home with us.

Nothing was as it seemed. Nothing is the same.

We stopped right there and prayed as a family in our garage. We heard an overwhelming yes resound in each of our five hearts.

For the next 6 weeks all we did was prepare for baby and worked and prayed to have the large amount of money we suddenly needed to do this. IMG_7951 (1)

Many of you, our friends, donated Aeroplan miles that you worked years to accumulate in order to help us get our flights. I have cried so many tears over the trips you wouldn’t get to go on after I came home empty armed.

I have heard some harsh comments like “Well, you should never get attached until it’s final”, to the most compassionate words, like from the stranger in the Toronto airport who grieved with me in a Starbucks line up.

And oh, how I hoped the Lord would rescue my broken heart. We tried to start the foster care journey soon after, but we were encouraged by the person who did our interview to wait until some more healing from the loss had occurred. Even they could see our gaping wounds.

We received more calls from moms wanting us to come and adopt their baby at birth for their own plethora of serious reasons, and promise through tears that they wouldn’t back out if we came, and we had to say no because we had nothing left from the first try.

And my heart broke deeper. The paradox of so many babies needing to be adopted and we just happened to invest in the one who didn’t need us was overwhelming.

It was one of the most devastating seasons of my life, and yet God remained true to his words in Psalm 34:18:

“The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain.”

In the closeness, deeper healing came. At home, in the dead of winter, on a particularly hard day, the Lord asked if I saw our story as a failure or a success. IMG_1008

I said failure.

He said success.

It caught me off guard. Why was it a success, Lord?

He said,

Because of your yes, five things happened:

  1. A  beautiful, perfect baby girl was saved from being aborted.
  2. Another girl decided not to abort her baby and began seeking out a family.
  3. Your choice to love this baby that was not your own gave the mom the strength and courage she thought she didn’t have.
  4. You realized you are called to be a mom and fully able to bond with a baby that is not you did not birth.
  5. In the midst of their serious and real difficulties, they have a godly couple who prays for them regularly.

I was stunned and wrote it all down as quickly as I could. We succeeded.

That’s the amazing part about God, he doesn’t fail. Even when it looks like the plan has fallen apart, he can take the situation and produce a person who has been transformed by difficulty and is stronger against the enemy than ever before!

For he alone is my safe place. His wrap-around presence always protects me as my champion defender. There’s no risk of failure with God! So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me?

Psalm 62:6

Because I was crushed by pain, a few more things happened.

  1. I recommitted to being the best mom I could be for the three God entrusted to me and I got serious about my job “raising arrows”. I began praying strategically for them and actually seeking God for the anointing to mother the way he was asking me to.
  2. I dug my roots into Jesus. And he didn’t leave me hanging. He overwhelmed me with his love and exploded His revelation over my life.
  3. I have been able to walk through other painful situations with confidence that when it doesn’t make sense, I know he’s writing a beautiful story.
  4. I am currently smashing boxes that I have put God in and removing the limitations that I have placed on certain areas because for the first time I really do believe that HIS plan, is the best plan. ,
  5. I have laid down all my timelines. Every. Single. One. You know what? I was proud that I was going to have had three kids and adopted one before I turned 30. God needed to remove that pride out of my life. This life is not a race. It is a long journey with a daily choice to say yes to God, or no. And there is no age when I stop saying yes. So timelines, you can go! God has my yes everyday until I die! IMG_8420

The other morning Andrew and I sat talking with hushed voices in the living room trying not to wake the kids. We were discussing housing in our next season. We admitted that we don’t know what it’s going to look like financially for us moving from a lower cost market and trying to get into a higher cost one.

My husband looked at me with absolute confidence and said:

I believe God has something good for us, but even if it’s really hard and we can’t afford much right away, I know, because of everything we walked through with the adoption, that he will be shaping something deep within us that can never be stolen.

Cue all the tears from this proud wife. 

I think we are starting to experience, just a tiny bit, what James is talking about when he writes:

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

James 1:2-3

If you are in a place of crushing, don’t rush through it. Don’t opt for the quick fix. This is one time you want to take the long way. Allow God to work deep in your heart and you will come out the other side and not even recognize who you are.

Almost every single desire in my heart is different than it was a year ago today. My priorities are different. My faith is stronger. My marriage is better. My kids are more compassionate. We couldn’t see those things forming in the moment, but suddenly we can see it. And it’s because of heart ache. Because of sorrow. Because of a deep crushing in my life. Because of incredible difficulties, some I’ve shared, some I haven’t.

If giving your yes to God ends up in something that looks like a failed mess, don’t file it away as such. Ask God how he sees it. You just might be surprised at what a radical success it was in his eyes.IMG_2185

If you are facing a season of great difficulty, I hope and pray that the tide changes and your circumstances improve quickly. But more than anything, I pray that God would finish the deep work he’s started in you. That you would wake up one day and suddenly see how the pressure and challenge has transformed you into a warrior with the power to endure!

I pray you would see a great harvest of joy and salvation from every tear you’ve cried and every step you’ve continued making because you didn’t give up. (Galatians 6:9, Psalm 126:5)

Trust me, you can trust him. He is that good.

Love,

Monica

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Because you can’t write a book about saying a brave yes, and then not have to say one!

I think sometimes God tests the words I say, just to really make sure I believe them. It was almost no surprise to me that we were led into making one of the biggest decisions of our lives on the day the first five hundred copies of my book, A Brave Yes, arrived at our door.

Yesterday we told our church that we are resigning and moving to Aylmer, Ontario this fall to continue on in the next phase of what God has for us in our ministry.IMG_5037

This has been so difficult. We absolutely have loved our time in Kipling. We brought our youngest home from the hospital here and it’s the only place we’ve known as a family of five. Andrew and I received our ordination in this church, we stepped out and tried so many new things, our family has been close by, we’ve made dear friends that we do life with and have felt the Holy Spirit moving more than ever. It’s been so good.

And at the same time, this has been so simple because when God calls, you answer. That’s what a brave yes is. It’s a predetermined commitment to say yes to God, every single day, no matter what he asks. 

Hard, but simple.

I remember as a teenager wrestling with what the call of God was on my life. I knew he had big things and I wondered if I was called to missions overseas. Over and over he clearly confirmed a call to the nation of Canada. Last summer while we were in Nunavut, I felt that call expand across imaginary borders I had placed around what that could look like. Canada is on the heart of God, and he will move his people were he needs to in order to get his message of love, hope and grace out from sea to sea.

And at the same time this little church on the prairies has my heart, and I know that God is not done, he is simply just beginning with them. And though we won’t be here with them, we know greater things are yet to come. Every word spoken over that group of believers will come to pass. The Lord will finish what HE started.

I feel the Holy Spirit reminding me of the words that Caleb and Joshua spoke when the twelve spies came back from scoping out the land that God had promised them. The others only saw the giants and the impossibilities but Caleb and Joshua said with great faith:

 “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey.  (Numbers 14:7 – 8, NLT)

I believe this next season is going to be wonderful, and as the NIV says, it will be “exceedingly good”. Not just for our family, but for the church we leave behind, for the church we get to embrace and for whatever YES you are saying right now.

I have so much more to share about this journey, how my kids are processing it, the wonderful people we will get to work alongside and what we are believing for, and I will in the future, but I think that’s all for now.

Just know this: I’m right here on this brave yes journey with you. My heart feels raw today and we’re holding on to all the biblical promises I wrote about in my book that when we say yes, God does the rest. He is writing a beautiful story. We can trust God.

Love,

Monica

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