Even In The Fire

Facebook memories showed me that it’s been four years since our fire.

If you’ve been tracking with me since the beginning, you might remember that story. There was a string of arsons that night and our garage was burnt down…not without a couple of miracles though.

I was woken up in the night by an loud fire alarm, only to find out later that there was no alarm.

When I wrote the blog post later that day, I knew I had been changed, but I couldn’t quite point out how or even why.

Well four years can sure hold a lot. Andrew and I often refer back to that fire as one of the best things that could have happened to us.

First, we came into some money through the insurance that freed us up to go to a conference that confirmed what we already knew, we were called into full time ministry.

Second, our life perspective was shifted. Any area that our priorities were out of line, seemed to fall back into place after watching our backyard in flames, unsure if we’d ever go back in our house.

I like to think of that night as an attention grabber from God. Not that he caused the fire, but he certainly used it to ask us what we were doing with our lives.

It was from this moment that we made some big decisions to live on less so we could do more with our lives.

We discovered that our house, vehicles, possessions, stuff…none of it matters as long as we as a family are together, AND doing what God has called us to do.

I wouldn’t trade that life lesson for everything that was in that garage times a million.

The words from a Jesus Culture song “Alive in You” came to my mind as I was thinking about the last four years.

“You are strong in my brokenness. Sovereign over every step. Even in the fire, I’m alive in you.”

I’m encouraged tonight that the other “fires” in my life are going to be a catapulting force as well. officeday

I will not be consumed, but I will continue to be transformed more into the woman God has called and created me to be.

We are not alone.

We were struggling. I was reeling. Devastated, disappointed and doubting whether our marriage would make it.

Andrew & I shared in our recent podcast our story of him confessing to me about being stuck in pornography. 

I remember after it all happened, I sat with my very best girlfriend and used extremely cryptic language, hoping she would just call out what the issue was.

I felt so extremely alone, and because I didn’t know anyone else talking about it, I thought we were the only recently married couple walking through this.

After we spoke this past Sunday, I have heard from women all across Canada who identify with our journey.

The number one thing we have heard is:

“Thank you for being brave because now we know that we are not alone.”

Because I’ve had all these messages I feel responsible to say two things:

  1. Most of us are struggling with issues like anxiety and pornography. Some are further along in the journey and have experienced more freedom, and others are still chained up…but the battle is the same.
  2. Can we stop being cryptic? I know we need to respect our spouses wishes if they want things kept confidential, but really, we need to talk to at least one person who validates the fact that we are not alone.

Alone. “Having no one else present”, “on ones own”, “separate, apart, or isolated from others”.

No one wants to feel alone. No one wants to feel like they are the exception to all the other “normal marriages”.

It’s often when we are alone that the enemy has the ability to lie to us the best. When there is no one else to become a sounding board, we can be swallowed up by the thoughts in our own head.

We need to have relationships that silence the negative voices and call out the best in us! The truth that:

  1. I can face hard, hurtful things and be ok!
  2. This wasn’t my fault.
  3. I can stick ,with love and respect, to the one who has hurt me, like so many others have!
  4. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and is comforting me right now!

When something is brought into the light, darkness no longer hides it and quickly it’s power is broken! Open up to someone in your life, step on the devil and allow the Lord to start using your story!

And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.

Revelation 12:11

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Our little family in the thick of the battle.

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Four years later, sharing our story and seeing God move! All glory to Jesus!

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!

 

 

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.

Love, Marriage & Water Slides

For the last five years I’ve said no to almost anything fun or adventurous and let Andrew make the memories with the kids old enough to participate.

Yesterday Grandma and Grandpa agreed to take baby, so I was free to join Andrew, Caleb and Amayah at the water slides.

Up until this summer I’ve either been pregnant or had a newborn.

At first I hated sitting things out, but as time went on, I became comfortable just sitting on the sidelines.

Yesterday I had to consciously decide to really “dive” in and experience water sliding with my kids.Centre2

It was so fun! I loved riding down with them and seeing our brave they were. I felt connected to them and loved in a new way.

But the big test for me was when my husband pushed me to go down some of the bigger slides with him while his siblings watched our kids.

I was scared. What felt like decades ago I went down slides like this and did crazy things, but recently? No way.

My heart was pumping.

Thankfully, I had pre decided to take advantage of any chance I had to be with Andrew, so I went with him.

Standing at the top of the first slide, I felt myself starting to panic. Wasn’t there a baby that needed to breastfeed or something!?waterslide

I jumped on that tube and flew down the slide.

WHAT A RUSH!

After the first one, I was hooked. We were laughing and running back up that hill!

After just fifteen minutes together, I felt more in love than ever.

Halfway up for slide number three, I was soaked head to toe with make up running down my face.

“Wow, you’re cute.” He said, in almost a rediscovering way.

Shared fun has a way of reminding us of who we are, away from screaming kids, bills and big decisions.

We work together a lot. I might be biased, but I think we make an incredible team, whether it’s as parents, pastors, renovators, or whatever other things we’ve tackled together.

But there isn’t always a ton of fun.

Today, I am basking in the afterglow of those few trips down the water slide with Andrew, and scheming as to when our next fun date is going to be.

Sometimes your relationship needs a marriage book or a long conversation. And other times, you just need a water slide.

May we as mothers always be willing to throw off that hat and be the fun woman that we once were, or actually, still are, just under a couple of layers.

Here’s to more laughs, years of adventure and many scary water slides!

Why YOU should cut cable and start dating!

What do having cable TV and dating have in common?

Well for some maybe nothing. But here is what I am extremely concerned about:

I hear so many married couples with kids tell me that they can’t afford, or find the time to go on dates.

In fact, we have been looked at by some with a “must be nice” attitude when they see us prioritize date nights, thinking we must roll in cash, or have nothing better to do with our money.

This mentality is frightening.

Why?

Because statistics have shown over and over how important it is for your relationship to have it stay as a top priority, especially during your season of having babies and toddlers.

It is downright scary to see how many couples break up after they get through the intensity of raising kids and then realize they “have nothing in common anymore”.

This happens not because they are incompatible, but because they have become disconnected. The kids, jobs, sports and frankly everything else seemed to come before their marriage.

If you see the importance of going on a date and connecting regularly with your spouse, the majority of us can cut something in our budget to make room for it.

Like cable TV. Honestly, there have been times where watching TV is easier than getting up and doing something together, or diving into a conversation.

If TV isn’t your issue, maybe it’s something else.

Like too many vehicle payments, a shopping addiction, or maybe an out of control grocery budget.

Generally speaking, there would be some place that you could take from to make room for a date, if it’s a priority.

When we started to relook at our budget to make room for a babysitter, there were seasons where a date itself consisted of spending $3 on two coffees from Tim Horton’s while we were out for a walk. The majority of our “date money” went to hire the babysitter for two hours.

This spoke volumes to each other about the priority of our relationship, and it also spoke to our kids about how mommy and daddy value each other.

It has made such an impact on our oldest, that if Andrew and I aren’t getting along well, he tells us that we need to go out together on our own! Even a four year old can see how much it helps!

Don’t be trapped in a victim mentality that says you can’t have what you need. Your marriage does not have to be the martyr for everything else.

There are always options, and if you know Jesus, he is a creative and innovative Saviour, who delights in making a way where there appears to be no way!

You can be victorious in your marriage. Find time and money to be together!

Maybe you just have to start by cutting your cable!11350161_10155610647130431_147947337_n

Just tell me what I want to hear.

“I am so tired today, I don’t think I should go to my exercise class. I mean, I’m breastfeeding, chasing kids, working, I’m tired. Don’t you think I should stay home?”

This is a loaded question that I’ve asked my husband before. Not always about exercise, sometimes about getting out for a walk, waking up to read my bible, or something else I want out of.

Another conversation can go like this:

“I’m so discouraged with the fact that I can’t fit into my jeans yet. Can you believe it’s taking so long to get down to my pre-baby weight?”

When I ask these kind of questions, the truth is I am often looking for a “You work so hard. You deserve a break.” or “You look great, don’t worry about fitting into those old jeans.”

And while I’m fishing for compliments or a way out of tasks I need to do, my husband is of the unique breed of men that will actually call me to a higher standard.

His responses can aggravate me as he tells me things like “if you keep working hard you’ll get the results you want.” or “You will feel much better if you don’t give up and follow through on your commitment to this class.”

It can make me so mad!

However, it doesn’t take very long for me to stand back and see that God brought Andrew into my life partially to keep me going on the right track and to be the physical voice echoing the words of my heavenly Father saying “Don’t give up! You will reap a harvest at the right time if you don’t give up.”

Sometimes we really are just looking for someone to tell us what we want to hear.

We don’t want to be pushed beyond our comfort zone or made to try a little harder.

I want someone to tell me that giving 80% was ok, and not question why I held back and didn’t give my all.

Character flaws in our life that should be called out in love by a friend, are often overlooked because of fear to offend.

The bible encourages us to be brave in our relationships and to call each other up to growth and excellence.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17

Even in my laziness at times, I am so thankful for a husband, and many friends, who don’t just tell me what I want to hear, but challenge me to fight the good fight of faith with continued endurance.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Hebrews 10:24

A and M