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.}

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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Sunday Meltdown

Sundays are hard. I don’t know what it is about the after church crash for our family that always turns our house squirrelly.

We have a bit of a plan for Sunday afternoons and evenings to help ease the chaos, but it always seems to spiral out of control from over tired, socially drained kids.

My ears are still ringing. I didn’t know a child could scream as loud as I heard Caleb scream tonight. Over a bath toy. Or something. I couldn’t quite understand between the hitting, punching, yelling and crying.

I’m sure our neighbours thought he fell and broke his leg, or worse.

My two and half years old sweetheart dressed like an adorable little Minnie Mouse called me a “stupid mom” today.

She’s not a bad girl, only copying what she’s heard.

Yes, I admit it. Four and a half years into parenting and I still say the word stupid.

These are the days where it can be easy to believe the lie that I am a bad mom.

A friend once told me to look at myself through the lens of how I’m doing on a good day, when I’ve had sleep and when I’m feeling on top of my game.

That has stuck with me because it helps me to remember that I DO love my children deeply, I am good at listening to them, at caring for them, at speaking good words of life over them, at teaching them, at praying for them and at holding them tightly when they feel overwhelmed.

In the midst of making supper tonight I stopped at my cupboard where I had a verse written down from a friend. It said:

The Lord is my strength and shield.
    I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Psalm 28:7

I hadn’t noticed those three precious words in the middle: He helps me.

Those words are like the deepest exhale for the soul.

He helps me. 

I’m not walking this journey alone. He helps me. With him, I can do it.

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How is my baby 1 on Wednesday?!

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Love her face here! She is so funny!

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This boy. No one sends me for an emotional roller coaster like him. The firstborn of two firstborns. So strong, so determined!

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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When Courage Invades Your Parenting

This summer I realized I felt more than just a little nervous to take my three kids places alone.

Easily overwhelmed, I had become fearful when I was with them. I didn’t even feel like I could get them the two blocks to the park.

While some of this was legitimate after getting stuck in a situation with a tantruming two year old, a screaming six month old white a four year old took off angrily, blowing a stop sign on his bike, I didn’t like feeling immobilized by my kids.

I was already asking the Lord to make me brave and to give me courage in many areas of my life, and I was seeing that happen. But leaving the house with my kids was an area I did not feel brave in.

This started to frustrate my type-A first born son who one day looked at me and said “MOM, you just gotta do what you gotta do!” 

I felt if I became a “brave mom” than my kids would end up injured, or worse, and I would be more exhausted than I already was.

Then something changed at the Camp Meetings our church hosted. There was no moment when someone prayed for me to be a brave mom, only a strengthening in my spirit.

To some of you that might not make sense, but when you get in the presence of the Lord God he does things you could only imagine. He heals bodies, he encourages your heart, and he gives you strength to do what you thought you couldn’t.

The day after the camp meetings finished my husband and I were speaking at a bible school graduation. I spoke my part first, and then Andrew spoke his, and while he was releasing the Word of God, I felt clothed in supernatural courage.

 “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

As Andrew read these verses out I felt that deep reassurance that I could do more with my kids than I had been.

The next day I had decided to stay home all day and not go into work because we had been so busy for a few days I knew the kids needed me.

Nap time finished earlier than I expected and it was hot out. I needed a plan. I felt the Lord’s nudging me to take them to the pool.

“What! Lord are you sure? You know I don’t do that, how can I supervise a 10 month old, a two year old and a four year old myself?”

We went and it was great. I felt like I had just conquered a mountain.

A lot of fear broke down in my life as courage invaded my parenting.

While packing the kids back up in the van, my oldest looked at me and said “Mom, I’m proud of you for taking us to the pool without dad!”

May you encounter Jesus, the one who makes us brave and feel courage invading your parenting.

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{the girl and her kitty, the animal that’s helps her be brave}

Which voice do I listen to?

“STOP KICKING YOUR SISTER!!!!”

Our drive home from camp was disappointing. I was sure they were all going to sleep after an exhausting week. Once the two younger ones fell asleep, Caleb was not cooperative with letting them rest.

Amayah was woken up way too early, and the fighting began much too far from home for my liking.

By the millionth time telling them to keep their hands to themselves, I started listing off what they would lose if they didn’t listen.

Caleb was distraught.

“My brain is telling me to mean to my sister, but God is telling me to be nice to her. I don’t know which one to do.”

Andrew and I looked at each other.

“Romans 7.” my husband says smiling.

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:21-25a

Oh my son, do I understand this struggle. The two choices, doing good and evil, and the battle to choose what is right.

Hearing Caleb say this in such a simplistic way increased my compassion for him.

He is trying. 

It isn’t easy for our kids to choose right. They are in a battle too.

In that moment, I recognized that part of my job is to help my kids understand that they will continue to to struggle with the power sin, but that there is one person, Jesus Christ who has the power to free them.

I pray my kids grow up knowing that “though our sins are like scarlet, He will make them white as snow”, and always feel they can crawl back to Jesus regardless of what they have done.

May we listen to the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit telling us what is His good, pleasing and perfect will, and be an example to our little people that they can choose to follow God’s voice too.

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Best friends most of the time, enemies only some of the time.

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The Jeans That Made Me Cry

When I first had Eli, I had told myself I wasn’t going to buy any pants until I reached my weight goals.

After a couple months living in leggings, I finally squeezed into some old jeans. Squeezed might be an understatement. They were so uncomfortable.

I saved the uncomfortable jeans for when I really needed to wear pants and then lived in leggings.

I was starting to feel in a fashion rut.

If you read any literature on productivity and getting lots accomplished at home or at work, you know the term “dress for success” is a true statement.

When I have an extra busy or crazy day, I make sure I dress up for it. It seems to give me the boost I need to tackle it head on.

So for me this awkward stage felt like it was stretching on forever. It turned my workouts into stress-outs, putting intense mental pressure on myself that  I needed to get to a certain point to so I could go jean shopping.

One day I broke. I hated feeling in physical limbo. I needed to look good regardless of where I was at in my fitness goals, and I needed to be patient with my body trying to recover from three pregnancies close together.

After talking it over, my husband dropped me off at my favourite jean store by myself and I started the hunt for the perfect pair.

Picking out a few options, I went to try them out.

First pair on, and I started bawling.

Jeans can actually feel comfortable?

I had totally forgotten how good a pair of jeans that fit just right feel. It had been so long since I had bought non maternity pants.

Even with the knowledge that these wouldn’t fit forever, I bravely confronted the total cost of the jeans at the till.

I felt encouraged in my heart. My dreams were worth the cost of feeling good in clothes that would make me feel good in life, even if they were short term.

Sometimes we have to make some sacrifices to keep our productivity up, but you are worth that. The dreams in your heart are worth it. Your marriage is worth the cost of feeling beautiful. Your kids are worth a mom that can comfortably and wonderfully get around with them.

Even the highly motivated wife of noble character in Proverbs 31 knew the value of dressing well for herself, as it says she was clothed in fine purple. Following that, the passage talks about the other important virtues she clothes herself in.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.

I know for me, dignity and strength came in the form of a pair of great jeans that day!

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