Monday, 27 February 2017

Gloriously Different

We are in the midst of testing right now for Sweetie. She has been confirmed for the gifted program, which we already suspected. And now they are digging a little deeper to see how she can best be supported as we continue along our homeschooling journey.

And it's scary. Things like "high functioning autism" and "let's see where she is on the spectrum" pop up in the conversation and this Mommy heart skips a beat or two.

We've always known that she's been ahead of the curve and that she was overstocked on the gift of gab. What we didn't know was that we would run into roadblocks along the way of her growing into herself that we just wouldn't know how to handle.

I know that parenting can sometimes feel like a flying by the seat of your pants experience some days. Or a lot of days depending on what season you're in.

I was not prepared for my heart to ache for her when she tries to make new friends and they just don't get her.

She's not like the other kids her age. She tries so hard to be brave, managing her anxiety as best as she can. I think the only reason I see it so clearly is because I know what to watch for. And she still steps out with a smile and a laugh, trying again and again to engage others around her.

I don't know what these tests are going to show. I don't even know what I'm hoping they'll show.

What I do know? I prayed for this little girl.

And God chose me to get to be her Mom.

That we were all made gloriously different. We are uniquely designed by an awesome Creator. The way we are is not a mistake, but a gift.

There is a purpose behind each of our quirks. She is funny, brilliant, loyal, loving, brave, wonderful and so many other things.

I know that any diagnosis is not HER, but a stepping stone for us to help her be the best her she can be, by better equipping us. It's a simple label of how she processes things, not who she is.

We talked today that she has always had this confidence that God made her the way she is. She actually said that exact phrase when she was 2 years old. This afternoon we discussed that He made her gifted with some abilities and challenged by others. And we all have areas that come easy to us, and others that we have to work a little harder at. It's what makes us unique and human. We are all a work in progress.

I love that I can instil a confidence in my little girl that God knew we needed someone just like her, and that He has great plans to make this world a little bit better because of her. Just the way she is.

So I can choose to look at everyday situations with her and see the struggles, or I can be her biggest cheerleader, knowing that when she finds her tribe, she will be the most loyal, funny, amazing friend they could ever imagine.

And until then? Well, I suppose I'll just have more time to invest in our own memories!

Father, I thank you for trusting me with this amazing gift. I pray that you would equip me anew each day for whatever is coming our way. Help me to I still a confidence in all of my children that they are perfect just the way they are because that's how You designed them. I ask that you fill in the gaps that I can't help but leave with love and grace. I lift up those that are walking a lonely road today. I pray that they would look over and see you, hands outstretched and unconditional love offered. In your name. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Answer With Grace

I was asked to fill out a questionnaire by my daughter’s umbrella school the other day, so we sat down and started answering the questions.

 One of the questions asked what was something that God created during the first 6 days, and why was is fascinating to her. 

Her answer was that he had created the Earth using just words.

Let that sink in for a minute.  I know I had to.

My Sweetie, who is only 6 years old, is fascinated that God could create the world using just His words.  And he was gracious enough after that to give us a bible with so many examples of how His words alone can change a life.  And he demonstrated this time and time again.

It really makes me ponder the words that I use.  It is so easy sometimes to react to something that is said to us, rather than to filter it through God’s love.  I know that I have done this more times than I can even remember.   And it’s taught me that when I react to someone rather than consider and filter those words, and answer them in grace, I almost always live to regret it.

In Matthew 12:37 we read "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." ESV  That feels pretty precise.  We can choose to be justified and breathe life into those around us, or we can be condemned, and use our words to lash out at those we cherish the most.

Would you join me in praying that God would take over my mouth and fill my heart with His love, so that it pours out of me to those I love?

Heavenly Father, I thank you today for my family and friends.  I am so blessed that you would choose to surround me so much love.  I pray that you would take hold of my lips and use my words to build and not break.  That I would turn to you to fill my heart when I am wounded, so that I may be an example of your love and grace, not my brokenness.  In your name.  Amen.

Monday, 20 February 2017

It's The Little Things

As I sit hear, listening to the birds chirping outside, I am realizing how fast time really does go by.  We aren't meant to be a part of this world forever, but we are here for our own, uniquely beautiful mission. 

I can't honestly say that I've figured out exactly what my mission is.  I am a Momma to 3 beautiful, healthy kids, so it's pretty safe to say that at least part of my journey is to nourish their souls and help them to love God. 

I homeschool them, so it's pretty intense some days.  I can't help but think that part of His plan is to use my kids to refine me.  And some days, I really do hate that part.  It is so humbling to have to look into those little eyes and say that you aren't perfect.  But it is such a great lesson to them, that no matter what, there is someone there who is going to love them unconditionally, but who is indeed still a work in progress.

I remember when I was young wanting to do something so big.  I wanted to cure cancer, or save the oceans.  Then I decided I wanted to go into medicine and just help people.  None of these dreams came true. 

And that's great.  Weird how that happens, isn't it? 

Don't get me wrong, all of those dreams are great things.  We need a definitive cure for all cancers.  Our oceans do need help.  There are never enough nurses or doctors.  And since none of those dreams came true, it made room for my dream of having a family.

It made room for me to get to know God.  To learn that His plan is so much better than mine, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.  I've had a bumpy path to where I am now.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

In this last decade, I have met and married the man I love.  I have changed careers.  I have helped to build my husband's business.  We have had 4 pregnancies, and got to hold 3 of our children.  I have gained family, and lost some of them too.    I have watched my babies laugh their first laugh and take their first steps. I have gotten to teach my children and watch their eyes light up as they begin to understand concepts. 

I have also lost someone I loved dearly to depression.  I have buried several family members.  I have fought hard for my marriage.  I have mourned the loss of a baby before I even got to meet them.  I've battled to forgive those that have wronged me, and to begin to pray for them. 

And it has all flown by.  I am excited to see what the future is bringing to us.  And thankful for everything the last 10 years taught us.  It hasn't been easy, but I wouldn't change it for the world.

You don't necessarily realize it when it's happening, but all the little beautiful moments become the most amazing memories.  It isn't the grand gestures that make the difference, it's the little things.

Whatever is happening in your life right now, I encourage you to turn to Him.  He really is a rock that you can cling to in times of trouble, and He deserves our praise when things go right.  I want to remember to come to him not only when things go wrong, but also when they go right.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for walking beside us, no matter where we are.  I am so grateful for the blessings you have bestowed on me, and that you have never required me to deserve them.  That you would sacrifice your one and only child for us.  Please help me to seek you in my everyday.  Let all that I do be done in love and grace.  In your name.  Amen.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Beauty in the Broken

I wrote a while ago about choosing the word "peace" as a word to pursue this year. And it would seem as though He is laughing at that plan. I have so badly just wanted to feel peaceful. I don't necessarily mean that I want everything to be perfect, but more that I would be at peace with where I am.

 And I am getting this overwhelming feeling.

Peace is not what I'm meant to pursue this year.
He wants me to be still.

I threw my back out on Friday while grocery shopping. I have a very wiggly toddler who decided she doesn't like to sit in the shopping cart seat anymore. While I held her in mid-air. I heard the pop as she tried to twist away and that was that. 

I have no choice but to be still. Anything else hurts too much!

But I've learned some pretty neat things from my prone position.

I've learned I have the most amazing kids.  They took over the grocery shopping while I shuffled behind the cart. They would ask what was on my list, run and grab it. Then they would return with it, and go off in search of the next thing.   They have made sure to help as much as they can with lifting or moving things.  

My oldest has loved the challenge of stepping up to help with the food prep.  And as always loves feeling more in charge of things. Lol. And she's really shined when she can show us how capable she is, if only we'd let her do those things.
I've learned my extended family rocks. My mother in law came to take my daughter to piano lessons so I wouldn't have to cancel them.  And she's been checking up on me ever since.

I've learned from my prone position that we can sometimes have a narrow view of what's going outside. The kids pointed out that it was snowing and all I could see was the snow swirling up underneath the roof overhang. I marvelled at the beauty of the snow dance I was watching. 

Of course, when I finally moved and saw the blizzard outside, the swirling snow took on a different connotation.  

But it's that way with life, isn't it?  We can focus on showing others how great we are doing. Only letting our friends and family see the things that are going great in our lives.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all of the other social media platforms make it easy to share the great moments.  And that’s a great thing, to be able to look back at them.  We aren’t inauthentic if we want to share those precious times.

But the beauty is in letting them see us for our whole self.  Broken, messy bits and all.  Being real with those around us allows for a beauty you can't begin to imagine. 

Not just in the moments when our physical bodies need help, but when our soul's need to be lifted up too. Gaining the privilege of being let in to someone's messy is an amazing gift. 
If you have been hiding behind a rosy-coloured facade, I challenge you to let someone in to see the real you. You would be surprised who He will put in your path. And they might just become the lifelong friend and prayer warrior you've been praying for.

Heavenly Father, I think you for both the blessings and the challenges in my life.  I thank you for breaking me and putting me back together in ways I never would have thought of. And most of all, I thank you for never leaving me to face this life alone.  I pray that those who are longing for you would feel your presence today.  I pray that you would bring a prayer warrior in to their life that would show them You.  In your name.  Amen.  

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Love of My Words

I don't know about you, but I have such an easy time putting aside my anger when I'm out and about.  But when I'm home?  I'm afraid my family doesn't always get the best of me. 

You know when your husband comes home in the middle of your grouch and just gets spattered with your unkindness?  Or when one of your kids doesn't just jump up to do your bidding exactly when you tell them to?

Well, I have been praying each morning that God would take hold of my heart and my lips and make then spill out His love rather than my wrath.

Do you suffer from not always using your words to build and bless those around you? There is an entire word of people out there that face this every single day, ending our days with regret at flying off the handle, wanting to do better tomorrow.  Why not be one of those who is choosing to be mindful of what we say?

I am inviting you all to join a bunch of wonderful women and I as we embark on a new challenge.  #DoLentTogether is not only for women who do lent (since I don't), but more for those of us who would like to work on building up the people around us. 

Zip It by Karen Ehman is a 40 Day Challenge based off of her best selling book Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing At All.  There are many of us who are going to give up saying things that are permanently hurtful because we are temporarily ticked off. 

If you'd like to join us on Facebook, Karen has started a community called "Doing Lent Together" and we would love to have you walk this challenge with us.   Starts March 1st.  Let's do this!

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the people in my life.  I lift up to you all who are struggling to find their contentment in you Lord, that you would help them to see you in their every day.  I pray that you would help us to really see each other as people, not to judge a book by its cover, so that we could really begin to heal this world with love and understanding, not blow it up with our prejudice.  Take over our hearts and lips Lord, so that your wisdom alone would be what we impart on others.  I pray your peace and wisdom over this earth God.  In your name I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Praising the Positive

I have read oodles of books on different theories of parenting, marriage and how to be a good friend.  And one thing that I've found they all have in common is they all say you will notice the things you focus on. 

If you focus on every little thing that rubs you the wrong way in life, pretty soon, all you will see are the things that bother you.

I'm just as guilty of doing this as the next person. 

We all have mornings where we've decided we're going to have a terrible day and our toes haven't even touched the floor yet.  Maybe you had a small child keep you up all night.  Maybe your partner snores so loud that not even the neighbours can sleep!

But you woke up, right?  You may be struggling to breathe, but you are managing it.  There is someone out there taking their last breath right now, and someone standing beside them pleading for just one more day.

So maybe you could change your focus today.  Perhaps you could praise the positives in your life.  They are there, I promise you.   There is ALWAYs something to be grateful for, right?

If you do this in your marriage, your partner will be built up.  They will feel like they are noticed and appreciated, even if just for the little, basic things.  A person who feels appreciated is capable of so much more.

If you praise your kids when they do something great, they'll strive to keep doing great.  You'll get to see their little faces light up, knowing they are doing the right thing.  It's tough being little and having to learn literally everything.  Noticing the little things will make them feel 10' tall.  It's worth it.

If you show your friends that you are grateful for them just being there for you, you'll improve your relationship.   They are there for you at your worst, and your best.  That is something that you can't replace.  They'll know you value them just for being who they are. 

And last, but certainly not the least, notice the positives of you.  God designed you because He felt the world needed someone just like you.  So no matter how awful you feel about yourself, you can have confidence that He made you to do something in this world that no one else could do.  I've heard this before, and it's so true.  He doesn't call the equipped, he equips those he calls.  He's got you, and so that means you've got this.

And little by little, you'll convince yourself that you're getting out of bed to begin a beautiful day.  That whatever it brings, you got this. 

We are all works in progress.  None of us have this whole life thing figured out.  So let's begin this day with a grateful heart and see who we can make smile today.

Heavenly Father, I know that there are people out there today that are struggling just to make it through the day.  I lift them up to you now for your strength, wisdom and peace.  I pray that you would give them discernment to know where you are leading, and the willingness to step out in faith and follow you.  Allow every one of us to see that by your grace we have been saved, and nothing can ever take that away.  In your name I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Power of Less

It seems like every day we are bombarded with the message of more.  You need more money to be successful, you need more belongings to be happy, your kids need more and more activities and stuff in their lives to turn out normal.

What if we have been falling into this trap that tells us every time we turn around that what we are and the things we own are never going to be enough?

But maybe that's the wrong way to think about it.  Perhaps the best way to have more is actually to pursue less.

I've found this out kind of the hard way.  It's been a cold winter in Canada, and apparently the mice decided that my children always leaving the door open was a wonderful invitation for them to use our humble abode as theirs.

In less than 30 days we managed to trap/evict 26 of the darling little critters.

I actually woke up to the sound of scratching under my nightstand one morning.  I have this addiction to books, and I have an overflow basket under my nightstand.  I also had a home-made Magic bag in the bottom of this basket.  Which, just in case you are curious, is apparently both comfy and tasty to those rodents.  I heard the scratching after my husband had left for work, which meant that I had to figure out what to do myself.  I slid out the basket, and a furry little head popped up.  I yelped and slid it back under.  I weighed my options.  I could phone my husband... but that didn't seem very fair.  And to be perfectly honest, I had already called him several times to rescue me and thought maybe I should do this one myself.  Not wanting to waste time (since I feared this mouse making a different nest somewhere else) I quickly put on my housecoat, shut the other bedroom doors so my new little friend couldn't make a run for it, and grabbed the basket.  I made it into the living room when the little head popped up again.  So I did the mature thing and screamed, dropping my basket.  My 5 year old son was woken up by my stealthy eviction skills and came out to ask what on earth was going on.  I told him that nothing was going on, so go back to bed and shut the door.  I quickly glanced around and didn't see my little friend running around, so off we went again.  I got outside the door, took a few steps to make sure that it couldn't run back inside, shut the door and then dropped it all on the ground.   The poor little mouse took off along the bottom of our fence and ran.

Figuring all was okay, I started taking things out to see what needed to be thrown in the garbage and what needed to be cleaned.  Now, I'm in my bathrobe, at 7 in the morning and we live on a very busy street.  And as 2 more little fuzzier come flying out, now I'm in my bathrobe, at 7 in the morning, running around and screaming because a mouse touched me!  I phoned my husband after I had a shower (after being emotionally scarred and thoroughly disgusted that a mouse touched me), and relayed the story to him.  It turned out, he wasn't at work yet, he was at breakfast with his Dad and was telling his Dad the story as I told him.   The entire restaurant heard my story!

I told him I wanted him to go pick up more traps, as many as he could get because I was going to go all Home Alone on our house until I was sure I had gotten all of them!

Now, other than giving you a good laugh at my expense, what is the point of my story?

Well, having all those creatures in my house has taught me that if its not important enough to me that I want to sanitize it after having mice in my house, then why would I keep it?  I have gotten rid of over 20 garbage bags of STUFF from my house since that exhausting morning. 

My kids don't even notice that I cleaned out their toys and donated all their McDonalds toys.  They can actually find the toys they want to play with.  And rather than tell me that they're bored and have nothing to do, they can go play with their toys!  Now that there is room in the toys bins, they can also put them all away!

All those clothes that I was saving for who knows what occasion?  Gone.  I already want to get rid of more.

And it's bliss.  I now have much less to clean.  Which means I can spend my time doing other things.  I get MORE by having less.  More time with my kids.  More time cuddle with my Hubby.  I have actually had time to start reading again.  I'm teaching myself to crochet.

I am being more intentional with my purchases, since it seems such a waste to spend hard earned money on something if it's just going to create clutter.  And since I no longer waste my money on things I can either now find since my house is clean, or if I'm just buying it for the sake of something to do, I actually have more money.  And I don't feel that I have to go out and get the latest thing.  I'd rather spend that time making memories.

All because less stuff has actually made me happier.

Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for all you have given me.  You have blessed me with 3 healthy children, and I have one that you hold in your arms, who never had to struggle in this world.  I am sitting inside a warm house, with all the amenities that can all too often be taken for granted.  I have freedom.  I thank you for all the blessing I don't see, all the paths you blocked because they were what I wanted, but not what I needed.  I ask that you help us to see the beauty in the people around us, not the things we surround ourselves with.  In your name I pray.  Amen.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Musings in the Quiet

We've had a few inches of snow fall in the last few hours, and I've been mesmerized by the quiet.  With the cold weather (it's been -20 or colder all week), and having a couple of bouncing-off-the-walls kids, there have been many moments of loud.  When you have three littles running around, the house is seldom quiet. 

But it also makes you slow down.  You really have to decide if it's worth dressing them in layers, dragging them out the door and making them go between the nice warm vehicle to the freezing cold outdoors.  So you decide to do other things instead.  You take the time to notice the gorgeous colours in the sky as the sun goes to bed (which happens just after 4 at our house).  You watch the clouds as they meander across the sky. 

And when you do venture out of the house?  Well, you stay inside as long as you can of course!  We visited with a friend at work (he works in a bakery and always gives the kids a treat), and while we were there, we snuck in an art lesson watching his coworker decorate a cake.

You spend a lot more time cuddled up on the couch, reading books and watching shows.  And these may seem like simple little things, maybe even boring. 

But some of my fondest memories from my own childhood are just these.

I distinctly remember one night when the power went out.  We lived a ways out of town, so the power always took hours to come back on.  And we tried to do a puzzle by candle light.  It was hilarious!  The candle really just made the shine on the puzzle pieces blinding, and you were left just randomly trying to match it to other pieces since you couldn't see the colours on it.

With all of these social media competitions to see who is "doing" the most with their kids, shuttling them back and forth to all of their activities, we can lose the just "being" with our kids.  And I think those moments are the most beautiful.  Making memories with simple things.

Love don't cost a thing - at least for littles.

I challenge you today to just pause and watch those around you.  The joy that comes into someone's face when they see someone they love.  Or the colours put on display in a way that only He could.  I don't think that he designed such stunning moments for us to rush through them, do you?

Father, I pray that you would help us to slow down and appreciate all you have blessed us with.  You have given us so much more than we will ever realize.  And I thank you for that.  Help us to see the world through your eyes.  Let us seize the opportunities that you have placed in our day to just be with those we love and savour those moments.  In your name I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Blessings in the Ordinary

Today wasn't a very spectacular day.  I heard my kids get up and chat away this morning.  I heard them head upstairs for their breakfast.  And get sidetracked by all their toys. 

It was a day like every other day.  A day full of blessings.

I got out of bed and got dressed just like every other day.  My body hurt, but that's pretty normal.  I have friends who are in so much pain that the simple act of getting out of bed, and making it to get dressed are monumental tasks.  It's one of those things that we can take for granted, forgetting other people are praying for that simple little daily task.

I got my baby out of her crib to get her dressed for her day.  The third baby that I've gotten to hold this side of heaven.  I get to do that.  Every day. 

I went to church without any worry of persecution for my beliefs.  Because I am blessed to live in a country where that freedom is protected.

I had the chance to check in with some family.  And watch my baby boy show love to his Aunt, who is struggling right now.  We are blessed to live close to family, and we are equally blessed that they allow us to walk through life with them.  Struggles and all.

I met my husband at his work for lunch.  Because when you own your own business, work isn't 9-5 Monday to Friday.  It isn't even 8 hour shifts 5 days a week.  It's been 7 days a week since May.  But he has work.  He is able to provide for us.  Something millions of people all over the world can only dream about tonight.

I came home to my house that has electricity, appliances, furniture and clothing.  Because again, I am blessed.  I don't have to worry that my electricity is going to be turned off because I had to choose food over light.  All those dishes in my sink?  They mean that my family has regular food, and I have the privilege of washing my dishes in a kitchen.  With hot water.  Something those of us in a first world country take for granted almost every single day.

I got to watch my girls play outside today.  My beautiful, amazing 6 year old girl, splashing in the baby pool with her little sister.  Watching their faces light up when they discovered something new.  Or when I got to watch my baby run over to her big sister, and big sister's face glowed with love.

There are so many more things I could mention.  But I think I've made my point. 

You have a choice every single day to wake up and look for the good.  And the more you look, the easier it becomes to find.  There are people living in your neighbourhood praying for what you take for granted.  And I don't mean to downplay those bad days.  We all have them.  But if today is the worst day of your life, doesn't that mean tomorrow can only be better?

Today I choose joy.

If you have a prayer request, I would love to lift you up in prayer.  Leave a comment, and I will be praying for you!