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Eleven Dollars For Haiti

When I was about five years old I had a pastor that I loved dearly announce he was leading a church mission’s trip to Haiti.

I can’t remember if they showed pictures in service or told stories of a year prior, but I ached with every part of my little self to go with them.

I wanted to go so desperately. I knew I was too young, but my heart was still broken.

What could I do? The idea came to me that I could organize my Sunday School class to draw pictures and sell them to raise money for the trip.

After the pictures were drawn, I felt full of boldness. I walked right up to people and asked them to purchase a picture for this great cause.

All together we raised somewhere around $11.00.

My heart was bursting. When I handed my pastor the little jar of money, I felt like I had just passed him a cheque for $11,000.

This is a pivotal moment in the story.

This is where most people would probably say “awwww, that is sweet/cute/adorable of you!“.

He didn’t do that.

I remember clear as day how he genuinely thanked me from the bottom of his heart for my efforts and apologized again that he couldn’t take me with him this time, and promised that when I was a little older, I’d be more than welcome on a mission’s trip.

He didn’t make me feel like a cute little kid who contributed, in reality, almost nothing.

Instead, he filled me with confidence that I could live with purpose and make a difference in this world.

This past week I did a timeline of my “God Encounters” for the Eat, Pray, Hustle bible study I’m a part of. Havilah Cunnington had us divide our life into seven year increments.

I was shocked to realize that this memory of fundraising was one of the pivotal moments of my faith journey in that 0-7 age bracket.

When I realized this, I felt an urgency to make sure I did not treat any of my kids ideas for God lightly.

It is so easy to look at kids and gush over their cuteness. I DO THIS ALL THE TIME!

The reality is God is placing BIG dreams in the hearts of LITTLE people. They may not walk it out fully now, but they are been developed to chase after the heart of God!

As parents and leaders in a child’s life we should be the ones to help them look at their “God dreams” and determine how they can become a reality.

I pray that my kids never feel embarrassed or belittled after doing something for God, but instead would say with confidence:

“I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength!” Philippians 4:13

Dream big little one.

The photos: I’ve had the privilege of reconnecting a few times with my dear former pastor over the last six years. While I didn’t get to go on a mission’s trip with him, the Lord allowed my dreams to come true TWICE through serving in Guatemala!

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I’m Never Satisfied

A funny thing about the fitness community’s pictures is that they don’t just look slim and muscular, they also have incredible hair, perfect make up and a remarkably flawless complexion.

A few weeks ago I bought some new clothes (which was necessary since I felt like my other ones were a little big on me), tried some new eye liner, and stressed about whether or not to cut my hair (but didn’t).

I realized what was happening. I had started to see results in an area that I thought would bring me happiness – weight loss. And instead that drove me further over the edge of dissatisfaction.

There is a funny portion of scripture in Proverbs that talks about some things that are never satisfied.

The leech has two suckers that cry out, “More, more!” There are three things that are never satisfied—no, four that never say, “Enough!”:

the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the blazing fire.

Proverbs 30:15-16

It hit me that “image” or the world’s standard of beauty can be like a thirsty desert. It always wants more. Just when you think you’ve attained something, you’re dry again and chasing after what you will never catch.

Ecclesiastes 1 offers a melodramatic account as well.

Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

No matter what I see in the mirror, no matter how much praise I might receive, or how great my husband tells me I look, I AM NOT CONTENT!

Why is that? 

Because we are chasing the wind. Something impossible. There will never be this moment of satisfaction.

HOW DEPRESSING.

When I realized that I would never be happy, I said to God

“Lord, you have to show me my beauty. You have got to show me through your eyes because I don’t want to live in a state of selfish seeking.”

The weeks that followed were interesting. Almost embarrassing.

I was cleaning my house and I stood up and caught sight of a gorgeous smile in the mirror that stopped me in my tracks.

It was mine.

I feel like blushing just saying that. But I truly didn’t recognize myself in that moment. God gave me his eyes for a second. Eyes that weren’t judging, comparing or contrasting.

Little moments like this kept happening. Out of no where my kids came up to me and gently said how beautiful they thought I was while I was sitting there make up-less in my pajamas.

But the big one was on my birthday. I got a text from a friend who pretty much exposed everything in my heart. She said exactly what I had been feeling for weeks.

“Happy Birthday beautiful friend. I hope you know you’re beautiful. You’ve shared about your fitness journey this past year. I know that you know fitness is about being healthy and well. But I hope as you have journeyed to get fit that you haven’t felt the need to get “more beautiful”. Don’t know if that makes sense. You are so gorgeous.”

Oh did that make sense. I was a wreck. That came from her, but honestly, it was straight from the heart of God to me for that day. 

Please don’t think you will ever attain your imagination of beauty. It will never be satisfied. It will never say “enough”.

Ask Jesus to show you your beauty. You will be shocked at the beauty within you. Not vain, conceited, jealous beauty. No, it will be life giving, bright light shining, hoping inspiring beauty.

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{It is hugely for this girl that I battle for my confidence in Christ.}

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Don’t Be A Robot (and other goals for 2016)

On my birthday my lovely family woke me up with breakfast in bed. If you you know me you know that I LOVE breakfast! Especially if I don’t have to make it!

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{I won’t be so vain that I can’t post a no make up photo!}

We started out in bed, but syrup, a one year old and my clean sheets don’t mix too well, and we finished at the kitchen table.

During this birthday breakfast the kids asked me to read a sign that I have in our dining room. It says:

“Be brave, take risks, have courage and seek adventure.”

My 4 year old looked at me and said:

“Well if you don’t like adventure, you’re just a robot!”

That definitely made me laugh! But I thought it was timely wisdom for starting my new year. I don’t want to be a robot. I want to live a full and adventurous life, pursuing what God has for me!

I don’t have my goals fully finalized for 2016 BECAUSE (I’m SO excited about this) Andrew & I have signed up to take Jesse & Crystal Paine’s Makeover Your Year Goal Setting Course.

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I’m sure I will have a few things to change after this course, but for now, here are my goals for 2016!

Personal:

  1. Get 30 minutes of exercise everyday (whether an official workout, or a Sunday afternoon walk).
  2. Complete 8 rounds of the 21 day fix.
  3. Do ONE load of laundry from start to finish six days a week. (I read once: a load a day keeps the chaos away)
  4. Continue Monthly Meal Planning (I usually come in under my grocery budget if I stay disciplined with meal planning!)

Business/Blogging:

  1. Fully finish our investment property renovation in 2016. (We plan to move in April, but you know how all the little things can get left undone if you don’t have a goal to get ’em done!)
  2. Find a consistent blogging routine.
  3. Develop, with Andrew, our “Couples in Ministry” Course/Retreat.

Marriage:

  1. Attend our pastors conference in Toronto KID FREE!

Work:

  1. Finish my licensing program by July 2016.

Spiritual:

  1. Waste less time on my phone.
  2. Write down in my journal what God is speaking to me everyday. (Simplicity is key, I’m focusing just on his voice.)

Parenting:

  1. Wean Eli & have him sleeping through the night by his second birthday in October. momandE.jpg

All right, this is what I’m running towards! What about you?

I hope you will consider taking the Make Over Your Year course with us and create a plan to see your dreams become reality!

 

 

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Baby Hope

You know when you have a dream that feels so big, it feels like it can never happen.

That’s where I am at with our adoption dream tonight.

Honestly, I’m not actually “ready” for another baby yet. Sometimes I freak myself out thinking that we actually told God “yes” to this call.

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It wasn’t until Eli was almost one that God reminded me of HIS call to take care of orphans.

Even just typing it out gives me conflicting emotions. It seems so overwhelming but so incredible. The opportunity to really “do for one what we wish we could do for everyone.” 

Caleb asks me about our baby sometimes. Where they will come from, what gender they will be (although Amayah is believing for a sister), what colour their skin, hair or eyes might be?

Each time I kiss Eli’s baby skin I wonder if my next baby will be older or younger then he currently is when they arrive to us.

The unknown can feel so beautifully haunting.

As I often do when I feel discouraged in where God has us on this journey, I looked at some adoption quotes and verses, just to remind myself of of His heart for the babies who are without family.

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When God starts to break you, he does it so deeply and wonderfully. I have never been an animal person, not ever. But suddenly if you put the word “orphan” before any living creature I well up with tears.

That’s so Jesus. 

A similar “breaking” happened when the Lord woke me up and told me we needed to move to Kipling to pastor. I had NEVER wanted to move back to my small town.

But God broke out hearts and we had an intense, burning passion to move and continue the good work.

Suddenly it looked like it wouldn’t work out and I said to God “why would you break my heart for something that wouldn’t come to pass?”

That’s when I felt a deep assurance that he would not deeply break me for something he didn’t need me to act on.

That situation felt so big, but nothing compares to adoption. That was just a picture of what I’m believing for now.

I daily remind myself of the words a wise friend spoke over me:

God cannot be delayed. And God cannot be rushed.

What are you believing for? Declare with me tonight that HIS timing is the PERFECT timing

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Wild Winter

Over the last six months God has taken me on a journey of really observing what season I am in. When I look back on my life so far I can see very clear seasons, but I haven’t always recognized them in the moment.

I found that I would become extremely frustrated and discouraged with where my life was at and would try to fix things instead of relaxing into what God was teaching me or doing in my life at that time.

This all started this past June when we entered into our “Summer of Rest”. That phrase became our mantra and guided most of our decisions.

Even if something came up that we really wanted to do, if it didn’t fit in our season of rest, we didn’t do it. And it was ok, because we knew it was only temporary and for our benefit.

Then came “Audacious Autumn”. The word audacious means “showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks”. For me this also meant asking audaciously of the Lord and sometimes of others.

We audaciously bought a fixer upper home that we (well, let’s face it, my husband) has stripped down to the studs and is completely redoing (hey, I do get to be involved in the planning and clean up!).

demodays copy{Excited kids helping out possession day}

The day we got possession of the home I heard the Lord whisper to my heart that the season was changing. He said he was giving me some notice so I could prepare myself.

“Wild Winter” officially came full force last week, and regardless of my preparation, felt like it came as a bit of a wrecking ball.

My kids got really sick in the midst of a big push to demolish the inside of the house and felt again in survival mode, a setting that I hate living in.

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{I had never seen my boy so sick.}

The dust has started to settle, at home and at the worksite, and I asked the Lord what on earth was going on.demodays
{so much demo!}

“It’s Wild Winter”, He said.

Oh right. I forgot about that.

“And it’s just a season, right Lord?”

“Yeah, it’s just a season. We can do this.” 

“Well can I know what spring is going to be?” I audaciously asked, since it’s still technically autumn.

I felt the Lord chuckle.

“No, you just press right into me and I’ll get you through wild winter, then we can talk about spring.”

I just love my Lord. I love how practical my relationship with him is, and how he speaks to my heart and knows me so intimately. He knows he can’t give me too much of the vision or I’ll get ahead of myself.

Wild means uncontrolled or unrestrained, and I know over the next few months it will feel like things are a little chaotic and and out of my control. But God is still in control, it’s just a season, and spring WILL come!

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That ugly little outie.

I hate my bellybutton. It just makes me sick if I have to look at it. I herniated it during my pregnancy with Caleb (basically it popped out and never went back in).

My OB told me that when I was done having kids I should get it stitched up to prevent anything making it worse in the future.

Yeah, I haven’t done that yet. I’m finally back to a good exercise plan and that would knock me out for weeks. And surgery? Scarier than giving birth.

But my disdain for my belly button has not been a post part issue. No, it’s been as long as I can possible remember.

As a tiny little girl, I looked down at my “outie” and thought it was gross and ugly compared to everyone else cute little “innies”.

Even though it was rarely seen, I was so self conscious about it.

I hated it.

Before I got married I was so afraid that my future husband would think my belly button was ugly (I know…if you’ve had babies this sound like the least of your worries…but remember this was pre-kids!).

The other night I was bathing the kids and I noticed for the first time that each of their belly buttons were completely different. Eli has this adorable innie, Caleb is kind of a sweet little “middle of the road” and Amayah had probably the cutest belly button I had ever seen.

I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I knew I had seen it somewhere before.

As I was telling her she had the most adorable little belly button it hit me! She has MY belly button!

I was so shocked. She has a little outie and it was honestly one of the cutest, prettiest little things.

I started yelling at Andrew “did you know she has MY BELLYBUTTON?? HOW HAVE I NOT NOTICED THIS! AND IT’S CUTE! IT’S ACTUALLY REALLY REALLY CUTE!”.

He seemed a little confused by my enthusiasm.

But guys, it was this crazy moment of seeing something that I thought was ugly on me, as beautiful on her.

And that means that if it was beautiful on her, than even if my thoughts told me otherwise, then it was beautiful on me too.

 

Our uniqueness is not ugly. All it takes is seeing our similarity in someone else to recognize it’s beauty.

I think God is saying to us tonight, it’s just like Him. Our belly button is just like his. We are a lovely, adorable, wonderful reflection of who he is.

And THAT is not ugly.Amayah and mom

So God created human beings  in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27 (NLT)

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Four Years Ago Today

I love my “on this day” app for Facebook. This whole week has been flooded with memories from the past 8 years of getting ready for an awesome youth retreat that I’ve had a the privilege for by involved in for thirteen years.

So many of my posts are encouraging people to pray for retreat, excitement for the weekend to arrive and good reports of healing and miracles during the event.

Then there was one post from this day four years ago that really pulled on my heart.

I’m having my first major time when I realize I can’t just do whatever I want now since I’m a mom. It’s happened before, but never to the same extent as since Youth Retreat prep and now the retreat itself is going to begin. It’s a new season for us. Thankfully we’ll still be involved, it just definitely looks way different than in all the years past. Caleb’s so worth it though!

I threw the “Caleb’s so worth it” part in at the end to not sound like a bad mom, and I did believe it, but I remember how deep my pain really was.

This weekend was so monumental for my spiritual growth in high school and when I then got to be involved in putting it on it was like a dream come true to have the chance to give this experience to other kids.

And when it looked like I couldn’t do it anymore, my heart was broken. Motherhood was such a beautiful gift, except when it took away something I was deeply passionate about.

Well, that was four years ago, and today my emotions were definitely engaged because this year I have the deep priviledge and incredible honour of being the evening speakers for the retreat alongside my husband.

So in the midst of my nervousness for this weekend, and great sense of awe that we are actually speaking at this event that was so instrumental in my life…I am encourage today by the unfailing promises of the Lord.

I remember my pastor praying over me after I had Caleb and saying “the Lord put fire in your bones, he’s not done with you.”

It felt different in that season four years ago, and yes, it was so worth it. But he has been faithful to fulfill the desires deep in my heart that he has placed there.

I pray for you today, that where you feel your dreams are broken, or laying dormant, that you would be faithful to keep walking with Jesus. Do not give up. Don’t think about giving up. Not ever. BECAUSE at the time right time, these things will come to pass and you will reap a harvest for the Kingdom of God!

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:9

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Last year around youth retreat! No more newborn 😦