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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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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One Year From Now

Last year at this time I was eight months pregnant, almost immobile and extremely frustrated.

I hate feeling crippled by anything, and without much use of my left leg, still with all day sickness and other baby related ailments, I felt trapped in my own body.

It was this beautiful autumn time of year. The leaves were changing colours and I couldn’t even drink a pumpkin spice latte without wanting to throw up (and if you know me, that’s crazy.)

I felt like I was missing out on my favourite season of the year and that my pregnant state was robbing me of all that beauty.

One evening that I would have loved to have been out for a walk I looked at my husband and said “September 2015 is going to be my fall. I will be mobile, I will go for walks, I play in the leaves with the kids and I will drink pumpkin spice everything. The kids should be sleeping decently, and I will be walking out many of my dreams!”

Hard to believe a year has passed since I made that audacious statement. I was feeling aggravated by something the other day and I suddenly remembered what I said.

“September 2015 is doing to be my fall.”

Just remembering those powerful words I released seemed to spark a renewal in me to press on through the hard days.

I was suddenly thankful for my non-pregnant body, although not in the shape I maybe had hoped for yet, is still extremely mobile, and definitely not held back.

Each cup of steaming coffee that hasn’t made me nauseous feels like a new gift.

My nights aren’t what I expected by this point, I’m awake way more than I think I should be, but in general I have the energy I was longing, no, desperate for at this time last year.

It’s funny what just one year can do.

Think about a situation that’s really pulling you down. 

What could it be like in one year? What positive steps could you make today to be in a better place in that area one year from now?

Sometimes one year brings growth, and other times one year brings pain.

September of 2013 was also a fall I would like to forget, stuck in a terrible season of a colicky baby, way harder than anything I have faced since getting married. The year before that I wouldn’t have imagined the hardships that were coming.

I don’t know what another year will bring, or what will be happening in September 2016, but I do know that I want to position myself right now to have the best year possible!

Speak words of life over your situation today, that when the seasons change again you won’t be held down by the things that are stopping you now. Declare health and strength over your body and over your family.

Be encouraged today that one year from now, everything could be different.12047368_10156022065185431_882942097_n

{Two years ago this girlie just screamed all the time. She LOVES going for walks now.}12047732_10156022066755431_459767635_n

{the kiddos and their cake pops, while I drank my first pumpkin spice latte of 2015}

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{This guy is in school two mornings a week now.}

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{My baby. So grateful that he’s safely on the outside of my body. So much love for this bear.}

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.

amayah cutsie

{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.

band

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

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Rest is not easy.

As I sit down at my computer this morning, the house is quiet with the kids watching their favourite show, YO! Gabba Gabba and baby napping.

This brief pause in the day is one of my exhale moments, where I am choosing rest in the midst of many things to be done.

So as I take a second to reflect on this season so far, the summer we nick named “The Summer of Rest”, I’ve realized I have learned one big lesson so far.

Life is hard.

Ok I didn’t just learn that, but even in the midst of trying to step back for a little bit, life is still a big ole challenge.

Our family was working out at a Bible camp. It was nestled in a beautiful spot, I didn’t have to cook at all, and I was able to operate daily in one of my passions: leading worship.

But I was totally exhausted. The kids didn’t sleep well and I felt frustrated. Why is this so hard? 

But the Lord spoke to me out in that place. He told me that I am expecting my rest to be easy. Rest is being gentle in our approach to life, but it is not easy.

Life is hard, but following God, and walking out his plan is rewarding. Not easy. Hard. But rewarding.

Deeply rewarding. That kind of way down deep joy that comes when you are so tired you aren’t sure how you are going to make it any longer and then a kid comes to the front after service to give their life to the Lord.

Oh yeah, I guess my tiredness was worth it to be here for this moment.

Even in our conscious choice to rest this summer, so many factors are beyond our control.

A friend said to me the other day, “I don’t want to see you and Andrew get burnt out”. 

I laughed and said to her, “the only burn out we are going to have is parental burn out”. There is no break, no rest from teaching, disciplining, teething and sleepless nights.

What I’m learning is that rest comes in the pauses. It doesn’t come in the big days off or weeks of sleeping in.

Rest comes in the silent moments when you inhale the presence of God and exhale the striving and things you have been trying to do on your own strength..

Rest is experienced in your heart’s posture. It’s not grabbing the bull by the horns so to speak, but gently walking out your responsibilities and breathing in the beauty of grace.

Rest is regaining that steadiness of breath. It’s acknowledging that there is a time and place for the sprint and the marathon, but also a need for the steady inhale and exhale.

We have two more big stints away from home this summer and I know I will be tired. Rest may not be sleep, but it is in the gentle rhythm of breath.

cows {early morning walk to show my girl her favourite animals close to camp}

eliandmama  {when we both get naps, happiness abounds}springside Creek{seeing my son explore this creek made my heart almost burst}