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!

 

 

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!

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 😦 

The Vase

I have barely been out of school a decade and I already see a difference in intensity to what you guys are facing compared to what I did.

In regards to sex, “everybody’s doing it” isn’t just a phrase, it seems to be your reality.

While I’ve experienced first hand the beauty of God’s plan for sex, my heart breaks because I have watched how premarital sex hurts people.

I’m not talking about losing your salvation, or being separated from God, or anything like that. No, His love is so great it covers anything you do.

But I am talking about the hurts that are going to have to heal.

Hurts that could be avoided by waiting for the one God has for you.

I’m not being cliché. I have sat with many wives who have poured out their hearts as to the hurt that their premarital sex has had on their marriage, even if they end up marrying the guy.

I have sat with teens who feel trapped in a web of sex that they want out of, but feel like they’ve messed up too much to stop.

I have heard stories of women who gave their whole self to a guy, trying to secure his love, only to be left pregnant and alone.

Tonight God gave me a picture of a beautiful vase. A gorgeous, ornate, exquisite, extremely expensive vase. He has his arms outstretched holding it.

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{Qianlong vase valued at over $80 million US}

Then someone else reached out and took that gift and threw it on the ground and it shattered everywhere.

When they tried to pick it up the beautiful, valuable, incredible pottery cut them deeply. There was a wound that was going to take a while to heal.

This is what I felt the Lord say to me!

“I am holding out this beautiful gift to you, but when you use it at a time that it’s not meant to be used, it becomes broken and dangerous. It will cut you deeply. That thing that you couldn’t wait to get your hands on will leave you bleeding and suffering.

But when you wait and use it the way I intended it, that beautiful gift becomes a display of my great love for you.”

The good news is that the Almighty, All Powerful God of the Universe can come in and pick up the pieces for you, binding up your wounds.

Psalms 147:3 says

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.

Please hear this, if you have had sex outside of marriage there is hope. You can be healed of the pain, you can experience freedom. You are not ruined and there is always forgiveness.

But this is my heart tonight, for my friends who are on the fence about this topic: Is the short-term benefit worth the long-term risk?

I beg you, with tears, to ask the Holy Spirit what he has to say about this and let him show you his heart for intimacy.

Don’t sell yourself short or think that you aren’t worth waiting for, or believe a lie that you have to give everything away in order to be loved.

It’s simply not true.

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Check out Ann’s blog post called:
Dear Kids: Why Wait till Marriage – What no one tells you & I wish someone had told me.

Tiny Princess

I always imagined having all boys. I think it was from reading Little Women as a child and remembering that the heroine of the story, Jo, was one of five sisters and then had all boys. It seemed just how it was meant to be.

The day the ultrasound tech told us that our second child was a girl, was shocking. Even when I gave birth to her I asked the doctor “is it really a girl!?”

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with her that I realized I was scared to have a daughter. I knew every struggle I had walked through, every discontent with myself, every hurt from a boy in the past, and I felt scared to bring her into the world.

Our first year with her was rough. She cried and screamed a lot. I wondered often if this was just what life was like with a girl.

As time went on she stayed a highly sensitive, over emotional child through age one until her second birthday.

Then this summer things started to change. It was like Amayah had been this closed up flower. Delicate, precious and we knew she was beautiful, but suddenly she started to bloom.

We discovered she is hilarious! She had funny comments to make about life and her brothers.

We found out she is a big time daddy’s girl. We always knew that but once she could verbalize “no mommy, I don’t want you, I just want daddy”, there was no doubt in our minds.

We saw that her seemingly over emotional self was extremely compassionate and caring.

Watching her turn from a baby into a little girl has evoked something in my that I hadn’t expected.

Of course I want my daughter to know she is loved, beautiful, worth respect and unstoppable. 

I had no idea this would make me second guess everything that I do, realizing she is watching me every moment.

So often she gets into my make up, smears it all over her face, put on my jewelry over top her pajamas and comes out with this all important question: am I pretty mommy?

Then like a little girl, I see myself do that with my husband, perhaps with a more carefully phrased question so I don’t seem quite so insecure.

I don’t believe that valuing your appearance was wrong, the Proverbs 31 woman was said to be dressed well and looked good. However, what’s cautioned me is my daughter mimicking me and receiving the wrong message about her value and worth.

Her questions have taken me to a place of asking my heavenly Father some of these same questions. I love when he answers the deep questions in my heart.

I don’t want to mindlessly go along with culture and see her follow suit. If I spend time getting ready, I want her to know why, and for it to not be degrading reason.

I want her to see beauty and excellence balanced with grace and humility. And more than anything an imperfect mom who has been changed by Jesus.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)

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She’s so fun!

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More than anyone else, she LOVES when daddy paints her nails!

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I am busy doing a great thing!

I am in the middle of a busy week. Like a really big week. The kind of week that if you aren’t organized with food, childcare and clean clothes, your kids will be starving, naked and alone and you won’t know which direction you’re supposed to be headed!

We don’t live like this all the time, but there are some moments in life that are more like “sprints”. We run hard and fast for a short amount of time, then the whole family gasps wildly at the finish line to catch our breath.

It’s in these times that my anxiety can get the best of me. I can get overwhelmed and question whether we should be doing what we are doing. Did we pack our schedule too full? Will the kids forgive us for this kind of push? Will they grow up to hate being “pastor’s kids”? 

But like I said, we don’t live like this all the time and when we do, we have heard from God on it. Clearly.

There is a story in the Bible of a leader who had to rally his people to work together to rebuild the wall that surrounded their city.

Without this wall they were completely open to attack and they could have all been killed.

For fifty two days, they lived one of those “sprint” moments, where it was all hands on deck to get this massive job done.

There was great opposition, and their enemies made fun of them saying they could never complete the task that was too big for their insignificant numbers.

But guess what? The Lord of Heaven’s Armies HIMSELF helped them to get the job done miraculously, giving them the strength, courage and favour they needed!

There is an incredible verse in the midst of this story of Nehemiah that speaks to my heart during “sprint” times like these.

Nehemiah’s enemies were plotting to harm him and stop the rebuilding of the wall.

This was his audacious statement:

“I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3)

There are so many things that try to pull me to come down to a level of discouragement and negativity when I am in the middle of a great work!

But why should the Lord’s great work he has commissioned me to do, be put on hold because of the enemies tactic to distract me from?

May the lies of the enemy be silenced and the tactics that aim to pull us off course be seen for what they are – schemes to disrupt the great work God has for you – and may you BOLDLY be an example to those around you in not giving up soon what the Lord has called you to do!

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This sign sits in our kitchen and reminds us to be radical for the Lord!

Hiding from the pain.

“Whatever.” I said, and picked up my phone.

I’m not even going to bother explaining myself anymore. 

Scrolling through nothing really on my smart phone seemed to dull my frustration with Andrew.

A few days later some devastating news came over text. My heart sank. The baby we had been praying for died.

Overcome with grief, sadness and confusion, I was going to break down.

I picked up my phone and scrolled through more nothingness, ignoring the pain in my heart.

A few nights ago the kids weren’t falling asleep so we decided they would have to scream it out since the older ones were manipulating us.

“I can’t handle listening to them freaking out like this!” I snapped at my husband, then picked up my phone and scrolled through nothingness, drowning out the sound of their voices with the words of others.

Last night the grief, confusion and sadness started to flood over me again. Tears started to spill, I reached for the closest thing to me. My phone.

Then I heard pretty clearly “no, just put the phone down and feel what’s going on.”

I didn’t want to feel it. I would cry. Bawl. Be angry and confused with God. I would feel like I don’t understand. I would feel out of control.

In that moment, I did let myself feel. It hurt a lot. I poured everything out to God and to Andrew in one big messy pile.

Nothing made sense, and I wished more than anything I could take away the pain of the people we love and lead, walking through many forms of tragedy. feel

It was through allowing myself to really experience the emotions of all the people I was breaking for that I actually went places in prayer for them.

I wasn’t hiding from the burden anymore. The pain was real, but God was really listening.

This morning as I worshiped and declared God’s goodness over some confusing circumstances in the lives of those we love, I was reminded that Jesus was moved with compassion for people.

The compassion he felt didn’t leave him where he was. It pushed him to love, touch, pray, comfort, heal and serve.

If we want to really make a difference in people’s lives, we have to be brave enough to feel what they feel, hurt when they hurt and cry when they cry.

It means not tuning out and numbing ourselves, but being fully present to say “I feel your pain. I don’t understand it, or have the answers, but I feel it, deeply and acutely, and I want to stand with you.”.

May you be brave enough to put down your phone, or whatever your desensitizer is, and feel what’s going on in people around you enough to love them where they are.

And may God use YOU to make a difference.