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30 Hour Mama

Sweet baby, I will always remember August 4th. The morning my phone charger decided not to work and I woke up in a panic that I might have missed the call of your birth.

But just as my phone had enough charge, it rang. The urgency to get to the hospital left my head spinning and I couldn’t even tie my shoes.

We decided that it was faster to run then call a cab, so I ran as fast as I could down that steep hill, hoping not to face plant, while hoping not to miss your entrance.

We made it in time. We heard your cries. We cried. We waited. You came to us on a rolling cart.

You screamed and screamed until you were safe one me.

Then you settled.

The greatest few hours of our lives.

Bonding.

Skin to skin.

Breath to breath.

Heart to heart.

We gave you your first food, daddy gave you your first bath like he had with all our other babies.

Nurses and doctors glowed at the miracle of our story.

We had believed. And you had come.

I insisted that it was mama’s job to spend the first night and made daddy go back and sleep so I could trade him off in the morning.

You didn’t sleep much that night.

We rocked. You ate. I sang.

Jesus love you. This I know. For the bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak, but he is strong. Yes Jesus loves you. Yes Jesus loves you. Yes Jesus loves you. The bible tells me so.

I grew tired knowing the long journey ahead. I chose to be wise and called daddy to come at 5:30 so I could sleep a bit before the doctor checked you out one more time.

Daddy came. I left. You slept, daddy prayed.

Bless our baby. Bless her Lord.

I came back with the car seat. Discharge was moments away.

We basked in the beauty of a hope fulfilled.

Then they walked in.

They said your mom wanted you back.

I shook. Violently. Pure shock causing me to throw up.

Not our baby. Not this one we had just spent all this time bonding with. Years praying for this moment.

We had one minute to say goodbye. We blessed your life. We kissed your cheeks.

They took you away.

We crumpled onto the floor.

This could not be happening.

We wept as though no one could hear us. Unashamed grief that surged through our bodies.

We left, we prayed, we fasted, we hoped, we praised, we believed that you would come back to us.

We were the first birth adoption anyone had seen fall through. Us.

My beautiful girl, you may never know who we are, or of those 30 hours we spent with you, but we will never, ever forget you. We will always pray for you and a big part of my heart is left with you.

I leave empty armed and broken-hearted trusting with all my heart that Jesus will keep you safe and the one who holds your future has wonderful things in store for you. You have awakened in us a passion for adoption and we will not let this heartache steal our brave decision to always say: yes.

Love forever,

Your 30 hour mama

“By your mighty power I can walk through any devastation and you will keep me alive, reviving me.” Psalm 138:7 TPT

 

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I can’t do it alone.

I have been in the far north of Canada for five days now. My brain is swamped, my heart is overwhelmed and my emotions are engaged at every level. I have already walked a fine line of probably telling the world too much of where we are at.

Typically people don’t say anything and they just show up back online with a child they’ve adopted that no one really knew was coming, except those very close to them.

Neither of these approaches are right or wrong, and in some cases you are forbidden to say anything online at all, so don’t think that I’m bashing keeping that kind of information quiet. But I’ve felt this constant tug to be real and transparent about our hearts on the line and the reality of the fight to see our hopes into reality.

Today is very cold compared to back home. When I woke up it felt like minus 2 degrees and the cold rain fell. But God chose to warm my heart up immensely through the love of strangers today. Strangers who heard my story and chose to reach out and come encourage me. Strangers who instantly became friends and showed me a side of this city I had not yet seen. Friends who made sure I knew where their home was so I could stop in whenever. Friends who said “now you know you have a support system right here.”

It’s funny, I generally don’t need anyone extra in my life. It sounds rude, but honestly, I’m an introverted introvert that already has to spend enough energy on family and life. I have to force myself to go connect with people. I have to set boundaries so that all the good stuff in me isn’t sucked away.

But there is something about being miles away, alone in the arctic that makes you need people. I’m not talking about someone who will just small talk with you, I mean someone who has a deep heart to heart connection with you and can look you in the eyes and remind you of why you’ve come all this way.

These people did this for me today.

I realized on night two of being here that if I didn’t pick up the phone and call someone, I would struggle. Evenings are a vulnerable time for me. I’m tired. I’m never alone at night. It needed to be someone who knew the promises of God for this baby, and who knew how to talk me back to believing again.

I called my sister and we didn’t even talk, we just preached the goodness of God to one another until we were both so full of faith I could have adopted all the babies and she could have opened another store.

I need people.

I thought I didn’t. But I strip back all the busyness of kids, marriage and life and it’s just me, my fifth cup of tea, the sound of cold rain, and the echo of a promise. It’s there that I realize I can’t do this by myself.

We need our champions. I can’t even acknowledge voices that speak doubt because I’m desperately clinging to a promise that flew me nearly 3,000 kilometres from my home and my family and I am holding tight to the belief that God who started all of this is going to complete every good thing.

When we are in a season of contending for a promise, we need the faith filled ones in our life.

Today, I’m thankful for a faith filled family who welcomed me in, and some pretty amazing women back home who are taking my tear filled calls every night and praying me through each fear that I face.

 

 

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Arrow Sharp Prayers

Four years ago around this time, we had felt the Lord lead us to come to back to my hometown to pastor a church that had been without a pastor for two years.

Whenever the idea had been presented to us before we shot it down quickly. We weren’t small town people. We weren’t ready to be lead pastors. Our family seemed so young. We had loads of excuses.

But the day that God himself spoke the idea to our hearts, something began to shift. There was a desire that started to be stirred up.

We finally reached out to our district director, who was overjoyed and felt this was a great fit. He started the process of contacting the church only to find out they had a serious candidate who they were considering for the role.

My heart was crushed. Why would God place this on our hearts so clearly, challenging all the things that we thought were our hopes and dreams and breaking our thinking out of the box? Was it just a test to see if we would be willing to go?

After one moment in prayer I realized God had called us there and because I believed this was his will, I had permission to contend for it to happen.

I prayed very specifically that the pastor candidating would feel on his heart not to come back and speak the next Sunday because God was leading him somewhere else.

The first time I said it out loud it felt too audacious to even pray. But I had this sense deep down in my heart, call it a prophetic word if you like, that this was where the Switzer family was supposed to be.

For two days I prayed into this and declared that there was a better fit for this other family somewhere else and that the process would not be delayed.

At the end of the two days we received a call that the pastor and his family felt that church was not the right fit and they had somewhere else they would be going. I danced and cried all over my house because God’s will had been accomplished and it truly did turn out to be the BEST of everyone involved, not just for us.

Prayer is a tricky topic because it’s a conversation with God. Who can tell you how to talk to God? Who has the authority to state his preferred type of communication?

These things are true. I have heard stories of God intervening in terrible situations at the slightest utter of the name of “Jesus.” He is greater than any method and far above any type of formula that humans would try to put in place.

However, through situations like coming to pastor the church, God started to speak to me on something that I have since called “arrow sharp prayers.” This is the type of specific prayer that I declared in those two days believing for the pastor to move on somewhere else.

Here is what I mean when I say an “arrow sharp prayer”: it prays specifically. It gets to the heart of the issue. It looks beyond what we see on the surface and asks for God to intervene at the core of the problem. It uses the gifts of prophetic, wisdom and word of knowledge to receive understanding and then seek a supernatural intervention through prayer.

I have found these to be guiding principles necessary to praying arrow sharp prayers.

  1. You have to lay down your agenda. If you are going to see clearly into the Spirit realm and uncover the truth behind a situation, you have to be able to release all of your opinions and biases to see with God’s perspective. I did not want to go to a small town. I did not want to come back to my home town, so when my heart changed in a sudden and intense way, I knew it was God. I laid down my desire to stay in a city. I would not allow any prayer to come from my mouth asking for that, because I wanted to be in complete agreement with God’s location.
  2. You have to be reading the scriptures. It is vital that we pray prayers that line up with God’s word. Scripture is powerful and when we lay down our agenda and declare scripture that is in agreement with the heart of God for that specific situation, entire spiritual atmospheres begin to shift. Often times the Holy Spirit highlights a scripture in my morning devotions and I know instantly this is a prophetic word to be declared over a specific situation that I am facing or will face later on that day.Sometimes the verse is one that we use over and over again. Hebrews 10:39 is a constant weapon in my hand when I’m tempted to make a decision based on fear instead of brave faith.
  3. Ask God questions. We are allowed to do this! You can ask God for clarity. The disciples were constantly asking Jesus to explain what was going on. You can ask questions like:“God, what are you trying to show me?”

    “Would you reveal to me the deeper issues at play?”

    “Lord, help me not to simply see the obvious in this situation, show me how you want to change this.”

    I shared in my last blog post how on Father’s Day in church I was overcome with a desire for another baby. What I didn’t share was I overcome with regret for my decision not to have anymore biological children. It seemed weirdly intense to me. So right in service I asked: God, why am I feeling this way? And he spoke very clearly to my heart: I’m preparing you to adopt.

    This released me to pray specific prayers for my baby to come and that Friday were contacted by our brave birth mama.

  4. You have to pick up God’s agenda. I am not one who believes that we can sit back and complacently wait for things to just happen. Everything does not simply fall into place. I believe that if God instructs us to wait, then we wait with as much purpose as if told to act. And if he instructs us to act then I pick up God’s agenda with holy passion that leads me to fight until the battle is won. God would not have given us his armour if we were not intended to war alongside him!

Prayers that hit the mark are specific, focused and zoned it. If you have been seeking him for a breakthrough, it might be time to ask God for the strategy. To look behind what you see in the natural and partner with God’s will in the spiritual. He loves to give wisdom to those to ask for it and discernment to those whose hearts are open.

Even if it looks like you have lost a battle, we must remember that Jesus has already won the war and we need to keep our ear tuned to him because he is releasing a new strategy that we get to partner with!

So don’t give up! Psalm 130:7 reminds us to:

“keep hoping, keep trusting, and keep waiting on the Lord, for he is tenderhearted, kind, and forgiving. He has a thousand ways to set you free!

He will never be out of options! He has so many ways to breakthrough on our behalf. Let’s join him in battle with our arrow sharp prayers!

 

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Baby Hope (Part Two)

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you might remember my post called “Baby Hope” about saying yes to God when he asked us if we would adopt a child in the future. We called that unknown baby: Baby Hope. As a family we have held Baby Hope in our hearts for nearly three years, but my heart has held her since I was about thirteen years old.

The call came on an ordinary day last week. Actually, not ordinary because I had been up in the night and rushed into work and missed reading my bible and praying. I felt a little thrown into life that day. Discouraged that I hadn’t been more organized, more disciplined. I was digging through the back of the store, narrowly missing having a heavy box fall on my neck.

Then the phone rang. I heard my sister sound excited at who was on the phone.

And that day changed our lives forever.

If you’re on my personal Facebook page, you have seen that we have been contacted to adopt a baby at birth.

I shared with our friends:

I realize saying this out loud is like announcing a high risk pregnancy. Why do it if it could fall through? Well our family has been challenged to say a brave yes to everything God sets before us with courage and strength and TRUST that he is making away, because:

“But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:39‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I’d rather RISK having my heart broken from being open to loving well then protected from pain and miss out.

I’d love to spill so many details because God is literally doing miracles every single day (like providing all the aeroplan points needed for both our round trip flights in 24 hours!), but I need to wait until the time is right.

Here is what I can say. It’s vulnerable, scary, exciting, wonderful, hope-filled, and extremely faith testing in a “this is the bravest thing I’ve ever done” kind of way.

It challenges the idea that we were meant to just live to create comfort. It pushes us to step out and live for others. It partners with the words of Jesus who said:

“The person who loves his life and pampers himself will miss true life! But the one who detaches his life from this world abandons himself to me, will find true life and enjoy it forever.”

John 12: 25

I said yes to God was before I was ready. And trusted that he would bring it all about in his perfect timing. And he has done it. He has really made a way and my heart explodes with gratitude.

I will be flying out of province late July to attend the baby’s birth and take immediate responsibility in love and care for her, my husband joining me soon after.

The time has come for baby Hope to join us. Almost three years after that post. It’s His timing. He can’t be rushed. He won’t be delayed. 

A few weeks ago I walked into my shop and told my sister:

“I don’t know what is happening, but I know I can’t manage the store in the fall. I need you to come on as my manager.”

He was already making a way.

I will be gone for a large part of the summer. I potentially will get home as school is starting again.

But he led us to homeschool this year.

He was already making a way. I will get that time with my kids.

Father’s day I cried out in church to God asking him why I was so desperate to hold another baby in my arms.

He told me he was preparing my heart.

He was already making a way.

Until we see the way he is making we can’t alway see that he is a making a way. Sometimes it looks like a bunch of random unconnected pieces. We feel foolish and afraid. Did I misunderstand what you were saying Lord?

Then just like that, a big area of the puzzle comes together.

Oh yes, you do know what you’re doing, God. You are weaving something so intricately complicated together for my good and the good of many others.

Is he leading you to say yes and it doesn’t make sense? Do the dots seem random and impossible to connect? The holy burden on your heart getting to be too much to bear?

Don’t despair. Don’t give up.

Hold on to hope. He is making a way.

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My friend did this picture for us a couple of years ago of our kids as the animals we lovingly call them, staring up at a butterfly who represents baby Hope,
waiting to land with us. 

 

 

 

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I will never arrive at my destiny (you won’t either!)

In my zeal for following after what God had for me as a young adult, I had this picture in my mind of one day entering into my destiny. It would be almost like a magnificent “aha” moment that would confirm the dwelling place for the remainder of my days.

I spent many hours dreaming of that thing that God had for me. Was it speaking? Was it writing? Was is rescuing orphans?

Some of this was good and it kept me focused through some of my hard years and tough decisions.

Over the last two years especially I have begun to see destiny more as a path we walk on, rather than a place we arrive at.

What happens when you enter into something that you saw as your destiny or your purpose, and then God leads you on from there?

Or what if you aren’t “doing” what’s on your heart for the future?

I am learning that I will never arrive. There is no final destination for my life. I have had people look at me with great envy that I started a business and say things like: You have found what you were made to do.

But this is not true. I found another way to express my love for God. But this isn’t it.

In fact I believe that my “destiny” is simply to learn how to walk out this verse in my life in a greater, more meaningful way each day.

Jesus answered him, “‘Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.’ 

Matthew 22:37

Destiny is not a moment of fame, fortune, ministry or success. It just isn’t. I thought that when I became a pastor that I had entered into my destiny and I would then just continue on with that. But no, God had other things for me. He had more ways for me to show my love for him, if I was brave enough to give him my yes.

When I opened the store I wondered what new land he was leading me into. Then I wrote a book that sits in a publishing office waiting to reveal to me what’s next there. I started homeschooling my kids and suddenly motherhood is the long lost gift that I get to unwrap more of everyday and I simply cannot get enough of it. Simultaneously the promise of adoption aches heavy inside and I know the path will lead on.

Destiny is saying yes. It’s saying yes each and every day until we breathe our last breath. For some that will take them into the spotlight. For others it won’t. But it will bring impact. Impact on others in every single season of life. It’s being faithful with the little that God’s has given you until you look back years from now and ask yourself “how did I get here?”.

Destiny is not a place. We never arrive. If we believe we have arrived, we stop dreaming. If we stop dreaming, I believe we may stop hearing God’s voice. And if we stop listening to God’s voice we can’t say yes to his promptings. IMG_7306

And a life without yes, is not a joy filled adventure. It is a fear soaked trudge.

The greater the glimpse of God’s plan for my life I realize that there is no end, no limit when paired with my yes to him. He will be forever expanding my heart, my influence, my passions. He will shock me with desires that I would never have expected. He will fulfill some promises in an instant for some, and years later for others.

If you have lived believing that you would “arrive”, I challenge you to relook at this. Where you are now is vital to what God is doing in your life. If you see it as only a stepping stone to some mysterious event that will take place landing you square inside your destiny, I believe you are mistaken.

Love the Lord your God.

Every day. With the energy he gives you. With the passion that wells up inside you. With the talents buried within you. With your creative ideas.

With your time. With your priorities.

Entering into your destiny, is entering into a mindset that says “I will trust, and obey.” And then seeing where God takes you, in an ever growing, ever changing, ever beautifying display of HIS glory.

This is a key to peace. It is what allowed me to resign my pastoral position when I needed to. To step back a bit in a my business. To pick up a role in my kid’s lives that I didn’t think I could do. Because I’m just called to be faithful to where He has me. It won’t hurt my future, because I’m listening now. It won’t slow me down, because this is how I need to love Him today. Right here is where he needs my passion. In this moment is where he wants my energy.

This is your permission to chill out. You might not be where you thought you’d be. You are where you need to be. Keep your heart open, get ready to say yes, and love Jesus.

These things will lead you directly down the pathway of destiny.

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That time I panicked trying to pack for a trip and why clothes will not define me.

I was going away for three nights. It was going to be a kid free, session filled few days at conference. I stood next to a giant duffel bag with my head pounding, my back aching and hardly able to breathe.

What would I wear?

This wasn’t like a little bit of indecision, this was a level of panic I hadn’t felt in a long time overwhelming me. Suddenly I felt: what I wear is a reflection of my business. Which then reflects on my choices and style. Which ultimately reflects on me.

The more I tried stuff on and put back, or in the wash, or in the bag, my stomach start to hurt and my chest felt tight.

I crumpled onto my bed in tears.

“What is happening to me?” I thought. “Who am I and what is going on? Since when is what I wear such a life altering issue?”

I was a mess. Trying to clear my thoughts I decided to just go with a few favourite outfits from the last few weeks and forget about it.

We said goodbye to the kids, got in the car and drove away. I was worn out. Completely exhausted from the stress I had felt that day. I couldn’t believe I had allowed myself to get so worked up.

The week went on and it was quickly confirmed to me that no one was there to see what I was wearing, nor did it affect how they viewed my business and especially how they saw me as a person.

I knew that something had to change. Somehow since opening a clothing store that was meant to do good and plant hope, I had become consumed with the pressure of representing my product.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that’s smart business, but this was deeper. I was a carrying a weight that I was not meant to carry.

It was becoming my identity. 

I came into the shop one day and collapsed on our couch, looked at my sister and asked “I’m about way more than clothes, right?”

She looked at me with a prophetic sparkle in her eye and began to remind me of them message that I was born to carry and the purpose of why this all began.

I knew right then my fear of blogging that had somehow come into me had to leave. That when I have told God that he has my brave yes no matter what he asks of me, it meant in vulnerability too.

2018 has been one endless lesson teaching me that nothing I do is actually about what I do. I mean, it is, in a sense. But it’s so much more. It’s about inspiring other people to discover that the greatest thing you can give is your brave yes. Literally, if you wanted a brand new start tomorrow, all you would have to do is give God your brave yes to whatever he whispered to your heart, and you would be immediately on the greatest adventure of your life full of fresh dreams, deep healing and renewed hope.

I don’t know if that packing catastrophe was an official panic attack or not, but call it what you like, I was physically sick from stressing out. And that is not what my life is about. Clothes do not define me. Untitled design (5)

It gave me instant perspective on the verse God had given me at the start of the new year.

Jesus taught his disciples, saying, “Listen to me. Never let anxiety enter your hearts. Never worry about any of your needs, such as food or clothing. For your life is infinitely more than just food or the clothing you wear. Take the carefree birds as your example. Do you ever see them worry? They don’t grow their own food or put it in a storehouse for later. Yet God takes care of every one of them, feeding each of them from his love and goodness. Isn’t your life more precious to God than a bird? Be carefree in the care of God!

Luke 12:22-24 (The Passion Translation)

When I read this at the start of the year I honestly geared up for some big financial difficulties, expecting that he was reminding me that everything was going to be ok. But verse twenty three is what it’s all about: Your life is infinitely more than just food or the clothing you wear.

God was so good to me. He planted an idea in my heart and asked me to see it through, then forewarned me not to let this become everything and to stay true to ALL that he had called me to do, not just a small part.

Well guys, I’m here. I’m back. I’m writing. I’m scared, but I’m brave. I’m sharing the good, the bad and the uglier-than-I’d-like-to-let-you-see. It’s my brave yes. My identity is all wrapped up in Jesus and when I’m not giving him every part of me everyday, my soul suffers.

You can insert whatever it is for you. Maybe it isn’t clothes. For you it could be something completely different, but whatever other thing we let define us ultimately hides us from looking like Jesus.

And really that’s the most important thing that we need to do. Shine like Jesus. That’s all this world really needs us to do.

Jesus, redefine who we are in you.

 

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Don’t get caught in shorts this winter.

When a child insists on wearing clothing for the wrong season, it’s one of the most exasperating things for a parent.

A couple of weeks ago we broke through our frigid arctic temperatures and things felt “warmer” for us. My son decided that this was the perfect day to wear shorts to school for the first time in 2018.

We tried and tried to reason with him about this, as it was still well below zero celcius, but there was no convincing him. I sent him with ski pants to at least wear over top when he went outside.

When I picked him up at noon, he had left his ski pants inside the school. When I brought him back from our lunch date to play with his friends, he wasn’t able to go out.

He watched from the warmth of the van, promising not to wear shorts again until the right time.

This got me thinking about rushing ahead with the seasons of our life. It can be so exciting when we get a glimmer of hope that spring is in the air, but the reality is it’s still winter. And if we dress for spring, we’re going to get cold, maybe even sick.

If we run around acting outside of our season, we could get hurt, those around us are exposed, and everyone is put at risk.

It is so important to know our season. Not just our season in the spirit, but in the natural to.

Here are three questions I’ve been asking myself lately.

  1. What season am I in with my family?
  2. What season am I in with my work?
  3. What season is it in the Spirit Realm?

Having the correct answers to these questions frames my everyday life. If I want to thrive where I’m currently at, it is vital for me to follow through on the guidelines I put in place.

Right now, I know that I’m in a season with my family where we are recovering from a really intense 2017, along with experiencing our first year with a child in full-time school and after school activities.

My season at work is that I’m still in the first year of a brand new business. We’ve nicknamed it “the newborn stage”. That takes lots of work! I don’t have a business degree so I’m committed to learning on the fly and taking some online classes in the evenings geared toward working moms.

In the Spirit I know that God has told me that I’m a bird this year. I’m to be carefree in the care of Him, building my life around my nest. This doesn’t mean I don’t leave the nest, but it’s my top priority next to my relationship with Him. I will sacrifice profit and presence at my store for the sake of protecting my nest in this season.

All of these things together shape the day-to-day decisions I make. These realities cause me to guard my Saturdays strictly because ALL my kids have a day in the nest and our family needs time to rest together.

It means that I won’t take on any extra commitments outside of what’s already on my plate because newborns are a lot of work and if I want to see my baby business into the toddler years, it needs around the clock feeding and care.

It means that in the midst of balancing all of this I am aiming to live in divine peace because Jesus said:

“Take the carefree birds as your example. Do you ever see them worry? They don’t grow their own food or put it in a storehouse for later. Yet God takes care of every one of them, feeding each of them from his love and goodness. Isn’t your life more precious to God than a bird? Be carefree in the care of God!” Luke 12:24 (The Passion Translation)

Friends, let’s get real. Seasons come and go quickly. I feel like I was just changing diapers, breastfeeding and wondering if school days would ever come. If I have to say no to a few things now because of my season, those chances will come back again. And if I have to say yes to a few things that I typically wouldn’t because of my season, one day soon I can say no.

It’s simply the season. I don’t want to be caught outside in shorts during the winter time. And I don’t want to be drowning in a parka when it’s summer.

I know some of you are wondering how you deal with expectations during your season. I have found that people will respect and honour your ability to be upfront with where you are at (especially if you model respect for where they find themselves).

It helps to develop some one liners to keep with you when you feel caught off guard by a request.

Perhaps you have even heard some of these from me:

“That sounds like a fun opportunity! Our family day is Saturday so I won’t be able to attend.”

“Thank you for thinking of me! I’m guarding all my extra energy for my kids right now so I won’t able to participate.”

“Thank you for telling me about your _________ (insert product, business, other expansion opportunity), my business is in it’s infancy so I’m just growing what I currently have and not taking anything else on.” 

Will you disappoint people? Probably. But staying dressed for your season is going to give you greater freedom for the seasons to come. You won’t be trying to recover from frost bite, or heat exhaustion, you will just transition into the next level of what God has for your life.

What season are you in? Have you been trying to wear the wrong clothes for where you are at? Are there some things you need to say no to to guard your priorities? Are there some things you need to say yes to demonstrate your priorities? 

I pray today that you can throw off guilt and step into freedom to run exactly where God has placed you today!

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