Perspective in Suffering

Today Shaun and I left church early. The smell was much to strong for me and I needed some fresh air to counteract the migraine that was starting. So we went for our usual Sunday drive to look at houses. As we were driving I was flipping through channels and came across Southlands sermon this morning. I only caught the end which was about struggling during your suffering to rejoice in others miracles.

I started to think about this in my own life. My health hasn't been the easiest go. I've been through months without breaks from vicious migraines. I've been frustrated morning and morning again when I wake up in the same pain. I've also rejoiced greatly in that one day where I was pain free. I have tried everything the doctor every suggested and then some. I have changed jobs, I have been to all the specialists, I have changed my eating. I have spent months of my life sleeping away my pain and barely living. I am now at a stage where when I get my migraines they are bad but they are coming much less frequently. I rejoice in this season of rest! But have peace that they may get worse again and I will be okay. I can live in this pain. He will give me the strength.

But while I was listening to Ray speak I was brought to tears. I am so incredibly grateful that God has allowed me such perspective during my pain in life. (I want to call it a season because that indicates that there will be an end but after over half my life I have accepted that this will likely be my thorn and that is okay) I cannot remember a time where I felt hatred or blame towards God for this pain. I rarely feel any bitterness towards those who don't understand the pain I go through. I have always known beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am blessed and they are many in this world who suffer through much worse than I could ever imagine.

As I though about my perspective I immediately thought about my Chelsea Beth. See growing up right next to someone who truly suffers, it allows you to realize how blessed you are to only have migraines. See I don't have cancer raging inside my body. Chelsea was never meant to live past six, so every day we get with her is a miracle. She beat the cancer she was never supposed to beat, and though it is back she still fights through chemo every day. But it's not just cancer. Chelsea Beth has epilepsy so as she fights through chemo her seizures get worse. In spite of all her pain and suffering Chelsea still has the most beautiful soul I have ever encountered. She is full of such joy and hope. She loves with such reckless abandon, we could all learn from how this beautiful woman loves. I never remember Chels complaining when we were younger, I`m sure it happened but all I remember is her taking needles and pain like a champ. I remember her smiling and laughing. I remember how she had a huge crush on my brother (and likely still does, he`s a stud!) I remember how she stole the affection of every one she encountered. So how could I think my life was bad when I grew up next to someone who suffered with joy better than anyone I have ever met.

God has also allowed incredible timing in my life. See when I went to Africa I was truly changed. My whole world view was transformed and opened. I never want to forget everything I learned while I was out there. It was only after coming home my migraines spiraled out of control. Through those months of darkness I continued to keep everything in perspective. I had a warm bed to suffer in, I had ice packs when I needed them, I had heat packs when I needed them, I had a hospital with drugs that helped when I needed it, I had a mom to give me countless massages to work out the tension, I had a husband who cooked when I couldn`t. See it`s easy to know that every day 30 000 children die of starvation or preventable diseases. But once you meet those children it`s not easy to forget. And once you know their names you will always remember that they are suffering with nothing and no one to help them. So how can I complain about my migraines when kids are dying in pain every day with no one who loves them.

Through this all I am so incredibly grateful that God has allowed me this perspective. He has given me this gift so I have no been bitter or resentful and so that I can still enjoy life and those around me. I truly pray that through all of our struggles our eyes will be opened with Godly perspective. Because when we keep it all in perspective it is so much easier to struggle with joy and hope. When I think of Chelsea Beth, or my beautiful children in Africa who I love so much I can handle that migraine. Because it is only a migraine and though Satan gives me that pain I won`t allow him to take my hope and joy with it.



I'm Canadian so we celebrate our thanksgiving way earlier than all my friends down South. But that just meant a great long weekend of food! It is actually amazing as we approach this weekend and thanksgiving meals tomorrow how incredibly much I have to be thankful for. Also how much I have learned about being thankful over the last couple months. 

Shaun and I are officially obsessed with 'How I Met Your Mother.' We have seen every single episode and I'm wanting to start some serious Slapsgiving traditions, I wonder if my brother would oblige and let me hit him one quick during supper tomorrow, or we could just slap bet it up so that next year I can have some holiday fun! We will have to see... (Only those who watch will understand any of that!)

For those who haven't had a chance to chat with me over the last month I have started my new job and I'm absolutely loving it. It has been beyond a blessing in my life and I'm so grateful that I've been given the opportunity to have a job I love. I greatly enjoy the people I work with and feel like I've been gifted perfectly to do the tasks I'm given. I do so many different tasks that I'm never sick of doing the same thing. It doesn't hurt that it is on the same street as my husbands job so we have no need to buy a new car for a while. 

I was given a great gift last week. My aunt and uncle gave me an old lab top. I'm super thankful as both of ours broke earlier this year and we only bought one to replace. I haven't been able to write nearly as much as I would like to and have missed processing through things on this blog. So I'm hoping to get back into the habit as now I have the ability to write whenever my heart is led. So I'm so incredibly thankful for that this weekend.

Would also like to say that tomorrow is a pretty epic day. Jets are back!!! I can hardly wait to watch the game tomorrow and don't care how many other people will be proudly wearing my jets shirt tomorrow. What more can you ask for thanksgiving. Bombers won, Jets season opener and a lot of food!!!


Jonathan's true act of sacrifice

Spoke at youth tonight and figured I would share my notes here. Hope you enjoy.

While studying 1 Samuel I have been absolutely fascinated by this little known character, his name is Jonathan. I'm a pastor's kid so I grew up reading the Bible over and over again. I have read the story of David and Jonathan many times before. But for the first time as I have been studying I've really caught on to what an amazing man of God, Jonathan was. I love how scripture can do that. You can read something twenty times and the twenty first time you feel like you understand it for the first time. It truly proves to me that scripture is living and breathing.

So who is this Jonathan ?

I want us to put ourselves in Jonathan's shoes and really picture the life he lived because that will make his friendship with David mean so much more.

Jonathan was Saul’s son and heir to Israel’s throne. He was going to be king. I wonder how I might have lived my life if I knew one day I would be king. It’s pretty hard for us to imagine. But imagine growing up as Prince William. There is a ton of pressure but there is also a lot of perks. You can buy anything you want, you can have any woman you want, you can get away with anything. I really want you guys to understand the life that Jonathan lived. That he didn’t owe David anything, there was no reason for him to treat David the way he did. There were people a lot cooler and more elite than David that Jonathan could have chose to be his friend. I mean David was a Shepard and Jonathan was the future King.

Let’s read the passage.

1 Samuel 18:1-4 “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in sprit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day, Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”

I have read this verse so many times and have never caught on to the true act of friendship Jonathan was showing to David.

1. There is nothing in these chapters in 1 Samuel that discuss David’s love for Jonathan. I’m sure David loved Jonathan but the writer of first Samuel wanted to make sure we understood that David did nothing to earn this friendship from Jonathan. Friendship should be like that. We can't expect anything in return from those we call "friends" now it is important to have friends who build you up as well, but that does not mean not being friends with those who might only be "take" friends. They are important too, and loving them the way Jesus would is likely what they need in the "take" season of their life.

2. In the old testament when you made a covenant there were three acts that made it solemn covenant before God. It required a Sign, a Sacrifice and a Solemn oath. The solemn oath was to love David as himself. The Sign was giving his tunic etc. But the sacrifice is the biggest part of all. The sacrifice was giving up his hopes of becoming King. See Jonathan knew that David had been anointed so in the act of giving David his tunic, he was symbolizing giving David his birthright as heir to Israel's throne. This meant loving and supporting David knowing that God had chosen HIM to be king instead of Jonathan. That’s giving up a lot. I don’t know if I would be willing to give my future kingdom over to my friend because that was what God wanted. That is a huge amount of sacrifice.

So I’ve been challenging myself to become more like Jonathan. And I’ve been studying what it means to be a godly friend like he was. God calls us to sacrifice much in the act of friendship. None of us can give up an actual kingdom to a friend but there are a lot of other things we can sacrifice to show others God's love.

So why is it important to be a godly friend and to have godly friends?

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 says: “It’s better to have a partner than go at it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. If one falls down, the other helps, but is there is not one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”

Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

So who are our friends? If God calls us to sacrifice much to be godly friends who should we be friends too? There is this rotten verse that can really mess our lives up in a good way if we take what it says and apply it to who our friends are.

Matthew 25:31-46 "When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.'Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because I was hungry and you gave me not meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?' He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward.

I wish I could tell you guys that being a Christian is easy, but if we take what the Bible commands us seriously being a Christian is hard, and it requires a ton of sacrifice and we don't always get to go the fun easy way. But the rewards are really great, they might not be on earth but heaven will be pretty kick butt.

So what can we practically sacrifice to be a godly friend and how do you go about it?

1. Prayer. Pray for your friend and there needs but also pray for yourself that you will be a godly friend full of love and patience. Take time out of your day to spend with the Lord lifting not only your requests up to him but also the requests of those in your life. Our prayer lives need to have a lot less "I need" in them. It is important to bring our requests before God but we cannot forget those around us who have needs.

2. Effort. It sounds so cheesy but making the first move to reach out to someone who is hurting. Always being willing to talk when they need a helping hand. Tell them your praying for them. Leave a note of encouragement in their locker. This will mean sacrificing our comfort sometimes and doing something that makes us feel weird or awkward to reach out to our "friends."

3. Avoid godless chatter. 2 Timothy 2:16 says “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” When our friends are saying things that we don't want to partake it, it will take sacrifice to walk away or tell them you don't need to say mean things about others. It won't be easy but its a huge part of being a godly friend. Keeping our friends trust is hugely important, and something we need to value.

4. Never encourage your friend in wrong doings. Be the one to "sit out" with your friends instead of encouraging them to "join in."

5. It means loving your friend even when you don’t want to or they don’t deserve it. Sometimes our friends won't make it easy but that doesn't give us an excuse to love them any less. Unfortunately we will still be held accountable for how we treat people in spite of how they treat us. Sometimes it's easy to excuse our actions because of what someone did BUT God doesn't see that as a good enough excuse. He sees it as sin.

6. A godly friend says hard things sometimes. You might need to tell your friend that they are doing something sinful and be a partner in accountability. This isn’t easy but it is a huge part in being a good friend. It will build trust and communication if you can be honest in all situations.


Eyes wide open

In the beginning of every school year our church presents Bibles to Grade 1s and their parents. So today I sat in a pew and watched proud parents and smiling kids walk up to accept their very own Bible. The parents had been able to go into the church before Sunday and write personalized notes to encourage their kids in their personal walk. Those parents would pray for their children, and answer (to the best of their ability) all their questions about faith and life. And those parents would love those kids, as only parents can.

I thought I was done grieving my kids I left in Africa, but as grief often does today it came rushing back when I least expected it. No one would give any of my beautiful children Bibles when they got to Grade 1. No one was there to dedicate them after birth. No one was there to tuck them into bed every night and read to them from their very own Bible. Needless to say I was lost in my emotions and thoughts.

It's not fair. There is nothing fair about life, I know that. But every child deserves love and the opportunity to grow up in a family. Through reunification or adoption. My heart wants to tuck every child into bed and tell them how much I love them, and more importantly how much Jesus loves them. I'm going to he totally honest with you guys. As much as my heart aches to go back to Uganda I'm so scared. I can still remember how my heart hurt after I go home. Crying myself to sleep because I was so far away from the children I loved so much. Wondering whether in all my pain I even made a difference in their lives. Wondering what I can do to make a difference from home.

I am a selfish human and when I think only of myself I would never want to go back. I want to put the blinders back on and forget everything I saw. But here's the thing. Scripture says once our eyes are opened we are responsible. And when I think of all the kids living without love, when I put them first, I would go back in a heartbeat. It is always easier to not know. It will always be easier to live a life where you don't know that 30 000 kids die a day of starvation or preferable diseases. Or where you don't think about the 147 million orphans. But that's not the life I want for myself. Because when I think about my beautiful kids there is still grief but then I remember dancing with Trevor or Peaces' first smile. Or when Susan walked on her own for the first time. Or how Gift glowed when we threw her a birthday party. I pray in my brokenness God allowed those moments to mean something. That my kids will always know that they are loved, most importantly by our Heavenly Father.

So I chose to stand with eyes wide open. Sometimes it's harder to know and see but the rewards are far greater. In this life and the next.


Thrifty Shopping

So I did a little shopping this last weekend for the new job. And I'm pretty proud of my thrifty find, so I thought I would share with you some of my rules. I have a few tips on how I have curbed the once shopping addiction and how I keep my spending on track. I think how we spend our money is very important and excessive spending is not necessary or biblical. I also think it is okay to treat ourselves something and that is something you need to decide on your own. These are just personal guidelines I follow.

Now that I'm buying clothes again I'm really careful to follow some rules.

1. I never window shop, don't go to the mall unless you actually need something. How you decide your need is a personal thing but try to go with the replace not upgrade thought process. If things don't fit or a ripped or worn out it is okay to replace them. In my case I got a new job and did need new dress clothes because I had none!

2. Decide what you need before you go to the mall. If all you need is a new sweater, go in, find a sweater, and leave.

3. Don't buy too fast, sometimes it is worth it to shop around and find the best deal. I also try the thrift stores first, you don't always find something there but when you do it is well worth it. It takes a bit more work but is worth the savings.

4. Set a budget and don't go over it. For me I would not spend over 15 dollars on a shirt, so if it was more than that it went back on the rack. I don't even try it on if it is over the budget. This is a great way to not fall in love with things that are more than you would want to spend. You tend not to really love stuff until you see how it fits etc.

5. Always try it on! Make sure it fits right otherwise it will sit in the closet and be a waste of money.

6. Try to arrange your closet in a way you can see everything. I used to have so many clothes that things would be lost and I would forget what I had. I find that continually donating stuff that doesn't fit or is ripped etc. allows you to see what you actually have and therefore know what you actually need.

7. Try to buy things that work with everything else in your closet. This weekend I fell in love with some grey shoes but they would not have matched with my tan pants so then I would have needed to buy another pair of shoes for those pants. So I walked away. Later I found the same style shoes in black and knew they would work perfect! Was so glad I held off.

8. Spend the majority of your money on things that are timeless. Anything trendy try to find on super sale or at the thrift store because it is unlikely you are going to want to wear it after it is out of style.

So what did I buy this weekend?

I got three great pairs of dress pants. I bought some fantastic grey slacks at the thrift store for $6. I found dress pants I liked at target for $25, since they were regular I kept shopping and figured I could come back if I found something cheaper. When I went back to target the next day they had restocked and organized the sale rack and I found two great pairs of dress pants for $6. Same price as the thrift store, I was very excited.

I treated myself to a dress. I don't really have a fall dress for weddings and I found a great black classic dress for $7. You can't really go wrong at that price and I have a wedding to wear it to next month anyways!

I thrifted one cardigan at $8 and splurged on another at $25.

I bought myself some great white Gap jeans for $10.

I thrifted a blouse for $6, bought one at $15 and a nice dress sweater at $15.

Last but not least I bought me some shoes! I needed something I could wear in winter, wanted a flat and a heel for the office. So I got these great oxfords for only $20 and some super cute ankle boots with a small heel for $30.

Shopping is all about balance, something you might spend a little more than you wanted to on something but getting everything else at a great price balances things out!

It is also about remember that it is important to look good, because if you look good you tend to feel good but our worth cannot only come from outward appearance. We are children of an amazing God who pursues us passionately and we don't need to put anything on to please Him. He loves us exactly as we are!


My Beautiful Dresser!

This is a bit of a brag post, about my amazing husband.

We had a bit of a space issue in our house. We have two closets which is totally enough but we desperately needed something with drawers. All of Shaun's clothes that couldn't hang were literally thrown on the top shelf of his closet and I have no idea how many times all those clothes came down in search of one t shirt that was buried in the bottom. So we started checking the thrift stores for dressers. We couldn't find anything! So we started looking at some cheaper furniture stores. I have expensive tastes and so does Shaun. It is not on purpose we just like things that tend to cost way too much money. The dresser I feel in love with was....$1299. Not a hot chance that was happening.

Back when we first got married Shaun always used to joke that he would like to be a furniture builder. I never thought I would see the day where he built anything. My husband is an accountant and he is the smartest man I know but I had never seen the handy man side of him.

Shaun got it in his head that he was going to build a dresser. I was a little bit scared but figured worst case we would waste a bit of money if it didn't work out and I would end up with no dresser.

My anniversary gift was a beautiful dresser. And I am baffled that it turned out as amazing as it did. Apparently I married a man who can do pretty much anything he sets his mind to. I'm incredibly proud and I have a beautiful dresser full of t shirts so that laundry is much less frustrating.

Please ignore the grainy iPod photos.

It's starting to look like a dresser.

All fits and look great, hard part is done.

After the first coat of primer.

The finished product, I think it's beautiful!


Changes in Life

Lately life has been full of big decisions. Decisions made while holding tightly to Gods Word and promises and full of trust and hope. I have full confidence that I have made the best decision for Shaun and I.

I'm leaving my job. After four years it feels a bit like a break up where we leave on good terms and walk away friends, but there are still a lot of weird emotions you don't expect. I'm leaving the best boss I probably could have ever had and some of the closest friends I have made in my life. I can truly say that I will miss most of the people that I spend my days with and the community that we have at my job.

I don't do things halfway, that's not me. I fully commit in all ways. This job has seriously consumed more of my life than it probably ever should have and it will feel so weird once that giant chunk of brain space is freed. There are so many areas of my job where I feel tired and really need a change. That is part of the reason why I'm so excited to start my new job as it included absolutely nothing that I did at my current job. It is a huge change. I'm thrilled to work no evenings and weekends. I know health wise it is one of the best things that I can do, to force my body to wake up at the same time every single day. It will greatly impact my migraines and sleep patterns. It will also include a lot less worry and take home "energy."

God has guided me every step of the way in this decisions and I love how He has come through on every single thing. Big things like working next door to my husband with the same hours (does it get more blessed than that) and small things even as I shopped for new work clothes He opened up some great deals to allow me to get what I need for my new job for very little. I'm so thankful. He is so good and I never would have left my current job without a pretty serious direction from Him and He led me.

What a great God we serve.

So I start after September long. Pray for me if you want!


New clothes!

Holla!!! Finally did some shopping this weekend. I've been super frustrated with my wardrobe lately but having made a one year no mall commitment I held firm and spent several days crying with nothing to wear. Don't get me wrong I have clothes, so many clothes that I can never choose what to wear. But...they are all from high school. I really don't wan to dress like I'm in high school anymore. I seriously was ready to look like a grown up. 

So anniversary weekend was the one year up. So we went shopping! Yay! My closet is making me smile again. And the best part, I just took three times what I bought to the thrift store so my closet no longer overwhelms me. And I like everything in it. And it all fits because apparently I've lost some weight. So now I feel like way more of a grown up with slacks and blouses and skirts. Out to mcc went the classic Jean mini, anything ripped (including preripped jeans), a ton of Tshirts (really who needs 30+Tshirts that is ridiculous), a bunch of really tacky dresses, and three heavily patterned lululemon sweaters I spent way to much money on when I was young and struggled to part with in spite of the tackiness.

So the wardrobe is sorta at a starting over point. Trying to replaced instead of just add ridiculous amounts of clothing. I also have a new clothes that I actually feel really good about myself in. It's hard to feel 'blah' everything you leave the house. 

In spite of everything I just typed I really didn't buy that much but it all works together to make tons of different outfits and I got some key pieces that will work with some stuff I have already. 

So the closet is really nicely organized now, and I will smile all week when I open it up!! 

My husband spent almost the same amount of money on me for his wardrobe, lots of work clothes. He always looks so sharp.

Well back to the anniversary goodness. (which included an amazing breakfast in bed!)


Better World Shopper

So I posted on facebook the other day that I found the greatest app of all time and I was totally addicted!

Check it out... Better World Shopper

I discovered it from one of my favorite blogs, Heather Hendrick and her family are missionaries in Haiti. She's currently doing posts on how they came to the decision to move to Haiti and how we can help the poor, whether that means from home or moving somewhere else to serve Him. You guys should check it out if you haven't.

Anyways back to the app. And there is also a book for those of you who don't have an apple device!

I've expressed before on this blog how important it is to me to spend my money wisely and to support companies who make a difference in a good way not a bad way. My wedding anniversary marks exactly one year since I've bought any clothing from a mall (disclosure: I had to buy new work pants and that's not possible to find in a thrift store but I seriously tried.) I've only bought clothing second hand, or from non-profits. I guess I found this app at the perfect timing because now that I've finished the end of my one year commitment I don't want to forget why I made this commitment in the first place. It is so important to me to spend my money in a way that helps others. I personally am not okay with the ways that some companies treat their staff in third world countries. One can argue that those people or in some cases children need the money regardless of how bad their working conditions are. But I know there are still going to be thousands of people buying these products if I stop. I want my money to affect people positively. There is a lot of great organizations that I love that empower women in third world countries and pay them extremely fair wages as well as teach them savings and life skills. These women have dreams and can raise their families on their own. I love that buying these products makes me feel good, and makes me feel like I'm impacting the lives of those less fortunate than me.

So this app is pretty great. It rates companies on five different factors.
1. Human Rights (sweatshops, child labor etc.)
2. The Environment (recycling, renewable energy etc.)
3. Animal Protection (animal testing, factory farming etc.)
4. Community Involvement (volunteer efforts, nonprofit alliances etc.)
5. Social Justice (fair wages, fatalities etc.)

I started this journey hoping that the clothing I could buy would make a difference and support things that were important to me. Now I can try to buy almost everything in a reasonable way. Like this app has everything, from airlines to gas to granola bars to cleaning supplies to gum. Companies are rated on a scale of A to F.

One of the most interesting things that I discovered is that a lot of the companies that advertise the things they are doing in third world countries, didn't actually do that good. And some companies that have come under a really bad rap for sweatshops etc. actually had way higher grades than I thought they would. I guess that just reminds me that advertising is that, advertising and tries to convince us to buy the product no matter what that means.

I'm really excited that I feel I can make informed decisions about what cleaning supplies I buy and also how I grocery shop. For some people this doesn't matter and I understand that. But for me it is really important and I will switch what I usually buy if it means the new product will make a better impact on the world. Check it out and make a decision for yourself and your life. Whatever that means. For me its drastic but maybe for you its baby steps and that's okay. We have a lot of opportunities to make an impact in this world and how we spend our money is one of the largest ways we can make an impact!


Life lately...

"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love."
-Albus Dumbledore

Saw 7.2 yesterday, and it did not disappoint. I've grown up with Harry Potter. My mom has read me the books since I was a little girl and I've seen every movie as soon as it opened! I'm actually really sad that this era in my life has ended. I'm totally the geek that reads the books every year and I'm feeling a huge marathon once 7.2 comes out on video!

I went camping this weekend which was quite the adventure for me. I'm not a camper, I'm a hotel person. But I lived and in spite of some serious sleep deprivation I greatly enjoyed my time. I'm so incredibly grateful for my husbands' family. We all get along so great and I completely enjoy spending time with them, even if its which camping... My nieces and nephew completely steal my heart every time I`m with them. I have some serious baby fever and get a little frustrated by my long timeline to get my babies home. Five years is a really long time, but I want to make the most of the time I have just Shaun and I.

Work has been really frustrating lately. I`ve been feeling the same way I did before my job changed. I can feel my anxiety raising every Sunday night just knowing I have to get through another work week. I`ve been praying about this a lot and if God doesn`t want me at Canadian Tire anymore I really want that to be evident. I feel like work has just been bringing me down in the rest of my life. It tires and drains me out so much I feel like I`m not myself in the rest of my life. I think my biggest frustration with my job is I have such a passion for serving people and I want my life to make a difference. I don`t feel like my job allows that in the way I want. It`s so easy to say I would like a job with less stress and pressure and politics, but won`t that be in every job? I don't know for sure. The grass is always greener on the other side and I'm aware of that. But at the same time the thought of staying at this job until I have kids sends me until a full panic and completely overwhelms me. I don't think I'll make it without going off the deep end. Well pray with me if you want....

It's been the birthday month. Shaun's two Sundays ago and Dad's this last Sunday and my brothers is on Friday. Shaun hates presents and parties and I broke all the rules and bought him a watch that was way more money than I ever thought I would spend on a watch. Needless to say once he was over the anger he loves it!

Well sorry if this was a little scatterbrained but this is what I've been living lately!


My take on the STM conversation...

Blog world is currently in uproar about this thing we call STMs.

Kinda sounds way to close to STDs.

But seriously I'm going to try to be mature about this whole Short Term Missions thing. Because I have an opinion. It might be different than yours but that is okay.

STMs have been huge in my life and my walk with God. They have changed how I live and my beliefs. They have given me deep passions that I know are from the Lord. They are trips that I would never go back and change, and experiences I think others should have too.

My first STM was to good ol' America. It was through YWAM and we went to Denver for training and classes and then went into New Mexico to serve on the Navajo Reservation. What an experience that was. My little grade ten self sharing my faith with an animist in the market. It was the first time in my life I was forced to defend my faith. We also had many opportunities to serve the local church building (painting, sanding, etc.) What I look back upon that trip the greatest impact was probably had upon the youth on the team. It is possible that our park ministry and market ministry God used in someones life. It is also possible that they all just walked past us and didn't think about it again. But God truly changed me on that trip. He opened my eyes to His heart for the World. For the first time I saw beyond my little Mennonite town into the vast mission field before us.

My second STM was to Mexico. There we taught VBS for one week to an amazing group of kids who would not have had that opportunity had a team not come to serve. We practically shared the gospel and built relationships. This ministry relied on STMs coming in during the summer to run their VBS programs. We also helped in painting their new building. My heart broke for these kids during this trip. Kids who needed love and really needed Jesus.

My third STM was a longer trip to Uganda. God completely transformed my life during this trip. He evidently showed me the path He wants me to live. He showed me His deep heart for the poor. He gave me a passion for adoption. Most people I know will tell you that I came home from my two months in Uganda changed. I gave as much as I could during those two months and I pray that I made a small impact in a child's life.

There is a lot of criticism floating around about STMs and I will say sometimes they are done really badly. I'm sure every LTM has stories about some obnoxious person who came on an STM and made their life miserable for the entire time they were there. I've seen it first hand while I was in Uganda, people who were there just to take their pictures so they could go home and brag that they loved Africa and they are better Christians that you because they went and really served God with actual poor people. It happens. Poverty tourism happens and it sucks. It's not Godly at all and it makes me just as mad as you all do.

I'm reminded of what love really is:

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 1 Corinthians 13:3

But sometimes people go on STMs with the right heart. A heart wanting to serve and to love. My youth kids just went out to Chicago to serve there for two weeks, and I can hardly wait to see how God changes their hearts. They want to serve Him and they all truly feel called to go on this trip. How can you tell me that's wrong?

See our God is so much bigger than messed up missions trips and I truly believe that when people go out with the right heart, Gods Grace will cover their mistakes and He will use it for His glory.

I also think that STMs lead to LTMs. Most LTMs you talk to started their journey in missions with an STM. They didn't just take the plunge, they dipped their feet first and God captured their heart and pulled them in full force. I also think that people who have been on STMs tend to give more to the work of missions. It is a lot easier to give your money when you've seen the fruits of it in action.

My biggest worry with all this talk is that people will start using bad STMs as an excuse. The excuse to sit on their lazy butts and do nothing for His kingdom. We must remember God calls us to go out.

Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. Then he said, "Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God's good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned. Mark 16:14-16
The poor, the needy, the widow and the orphan. We are called as Christ followers to love and take care of the least of these. I pray that we will not be ignorant of the needs around us. There are needs in my town and province, but also across the World and as a Christ follower I need to be doing all I can to help all of them. I am not only responsibly for my community for Jesus said, "Go into the World." We can't all become LTMs, though that would be amazing. If you aren't called to be an LTM, support an LTM, help meet their monthly expenses. Support organizations started by locals in third world countries. These people want to help their own, they don't always want help from us but sometimes they need help get that started, we can do that. Support aid organizations in countries going through extremely hard times. There is a huge drought right now in East Africa, why not give money to feed people who will die without the help. I strongly suggest giving to STMs because Gods grace can use these trips to change hearts and life directions. And if an STM changes the life of one person is it not worth that one lost sheep? 
We also need to remember the poor aren't always a flight away and there are great opportunities to serve right here. Local soup kitchens and food banks always need extra hands and donations. Churches have some great outreach programs that need volunteers. Pray about your role in "reaching the World." Jesus said our outlook must be global. So maybe that means time given on home base and finances given on the global base? Ask Jesus where He wants you to be serving, giving your time and money? And please don't use bad STMs as an excuse to sit on your butt and do nothing for God. There are so many out there that need help and need the gospel. Go and do something!


Would Jesus go to my Church?

Sometimes I struggle with the differences between Jesus' ministry and church ministry today. I'm curious as Christians, aren't we supposed to be Christ-followers to mimic our Savior in every way possible. And Church is the body of Christ, so our rule book should be first and foremost the ministry of Christ? I think we have long been putting on twist on Church and Christianity. This is not the first generation in fact it has likely been going on since the beginning of the Church. We like to adapt things to us, to our comfort, to our needs. We want to be fulfilled and enjoy the church experience.

One of my favorite things about Jesus’ ministry was that he focused on twelve. Jesus spoke to the masses but he had twelve disciples whom He taught, served, worked alongside, broke bread with, traveled with etc. He poured himself and His love into only twelve. Jesus could have ministered to thousands every single day but He saw the value in close relationships. I think our pastors need to remind themselves of this sometimes, Jesus did speak to crowds and ministry to the masses but the majority of His energy was spent building into only twelve. This is one of the reasons why I struggle when people get lost in the crowd of big churches, in fact people get lost in the crowd of small churches too. We need to remember as the body that it is not the pastors’ job to minister to all of us, he has his twelve. This is where it is our responsibility to step up as the body of Christ and reach out to those in our churches and in our community.

What about how Jesus reached out, or how He held services. Never once did Jesus ask us to change anything about ourselves to come to Him. He meets us wherever we are. Where in the Bible does it say that worship is only through song and in Church we follow that with corporate prayers and then teaching? The bible doesn’t have a play by play of what Church should look like but we are able to look at how Jesus ministered. Are we ministering to people as He did? Are we reaching out the way He did? Many people struggle with conventional ways of “worship” the church was always put an emphasis on song, but what about those who don’t like singing at all. I love worshiping the Lord through song and it is the highlight of Church for me on many occasions but I am one person and God created us all so differently. He didn’t create one carbon copy of what a Christian should look like. Yet He created us all in His image, which means we are meant to be this way. He didn’t make mistakes. So those who worship better alone outside with just their Bible, or in a fishing boat with a good friend, or watching a sunset, or in a long drive through the Rockies, or riding a horse. They were created to worship this way and there is nothing wrong with that. God wants songs but He also wants our lives and I think those who can truly worship in everything they do have caught on to what God intends for our lives. 

So as a Church how do we cater to all these needs? First, we must acknowledge that it is okay for people to worship and learn in all different ways. This is how God created them and it is prideful for us to say that ‘our’ way is better or how God intended it. Second, what can we learn for Jesus? Jesus went unto the crowds, He walked with them, He talked with them, Jesus wasn’t afraid of getting His hands dirty. Jesus didn’t stand at the front of the synagogue and ask His followers to sing their praises to Him. Jesus was much more practical. He saw their need to learn so He taught. He saw they were blind, so He gave them sight. He saw they were hungry, so He fed them. Jesus met them exactly where they were and then addressed their most obvious needs. Is it meeting people where they are to expect them to come into our churches and worship and learn exactly as we do? No, it is our responsibility to go out and meet them exactly where they are. And our focus must not be to get them into our churches; our focus must be first and foremost showing them God’s love.

To wrap this entire blog post up I want to quickly share why I’m so excited about the direction and vision my Church is heading in. We are attempting to acknowledge that people learn and worship differently by creating as many different “worship environments” as the Lord allows. Currently there is a contemporary and a traditional, and in fall we are beginning and liturgical service. I’m excited to see where this all heads as a Church we acknowledge and support that we are all created different and that is exciting and what makes us the “body” of Christ. We aren’t all created the same and it’s about meeting people where they are, the way they worship and learn and ministering to them in that place. Not expecting people to be like us or to be at a certain place in their faith to participate in Church. Because let us all remember “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us...” No expectations to be a certain person, right where we were, He met us and gave His life for us. What a great God we serve!


Why do we as a society view so negatively people who are "shy?

Those labels are put upon kids no matter how young. How many times has this happened to you? You say Hi to a friends small toddler, the toddler looks away, or starts crying. "Oh she's just being shy, she's not usually like this." Or they look at the child, "Stop being silly and say Hi to the nice lady..." Barely two or three and they are being told that it is a bad thing to be shy. When adults talk about someone being "shy" listen to the tone in their voice. It is extremely rare that I hear someone talk about being shy as a good asset or something they want to be. No one wants to be quiet or uncomfortable, the awkward person in the circle of friends.

As an extrovert I admit that I spent most of my life not understanding "shy" people. Many times I have been the person negatively talking about those who are shy. I hope those people forgive me for my ignorance. I never knew the treasures that were buried in there. If only I had taken the time, and kept trying even if it wasn't easy. God created me an extrovert but that doesn't mean I should only socialize with others like me. It means he's given me the gift to be able to reach out to those who maybe don't love making conversation, to be the one to talk and ask the questions until that person may choose to trust me and open up.

Then I met this guy, and I happen to think he's pretty great. I took some time and got to know him. I feel honored that he chose to open up to me, that I'm the person he's himself around. One of the biggest learning experiences since I've been married to that man is watching him interact with others. Sometimes I want to beg people to not give up, to keep digging even though it might not be easy all the time. I have watched the payoff with my parents as Shaun is now himself around them, and they have been blessed to reap the benefit of a lot of months of effort.

So since I've been married to Shaun my eyes have really been opened to how the mind of an introvert works. I'm not speaking to all but this is how my husband functions. Unless he is comfortable around you (which would take a very long time so don't expect him to be in the first couple months) being with people is extremely draining. It takes all of an introverts effort and energy to put them self into a conversation. It is not that they do not want to be included or are trying to be rude but conversation doesn't come as naturally as it does to us extroverts. When he gets home from being out he is tired and talked out (something I can hardly comprehend.) My husband finds large crowds very intimidating, especially in a setting like church where we are known by so many people there is a lot of small talk. Sometimes it is more restful for him to stay home, and that is okay. Sometimes I go to events without my husband and we're okay with it that way. I also have grown to deeply love being home with just him and no longer feel the need to be out with friends all the time but have chosen instead to build into the relationships that matter in my life.

So I guess my message to extroverts is to keep trying. That shy person really does want to be your friend even if they don't express it the same way others would. And they are probably an amazing person underneath all that "shy"ness. It will be worth the wait and the effort. And try not to use the word shy in a bad way, they were created that way and that means God intended some people to be quiet and keep to themselves. And God doesn't make mistakes so there was intent in that decision. He knew the world needed people like my husband to balance everything out and to be full of special gifts and qualities. Be aware for your words can hurt people in ways you cannot imagine. And if you are a shy person I pray people will come into your life that will make the effort and also that you won't have shame or guilt for being shy. It is truly how you were created (born this way baby!) and it doesn't make you weird or not fun to be around!


Call Me Jacob

Wednesday I was blessed with some amazing one on one time with an amazing woman. During that time she shared with me an article, one I want to share with you today. It truly spoke directly to my heart during this season of my life. Sometimes, I blame God for how I feel. Why doesn`t He make me feel better. But then my life is not the worst there is out there, not by far. He doesn`t stop suffering in the world. He allows 19 year olds, days away from graduation to be killed in car accidents. Young girls at the peak of their lives are run over by trucks. He allows starvation and sickness. He has taken away parents from 147 million orphans. So today as I wrestle with these thoughts I will fight with God. I will give Him my anger and my hurt. For He knows how I feel, He understands better than anyone else.

You can find the article here.

Read it if you need some encouragement for your season in life.

...Finally, I wrestle with God. My existence is his fault. He said he loved me and I believed him. Now I strike him with my pain as hard as I dare, trying to reconcile his love with the fact of a world still broken. I stretch and strain in the darkness, trying to grasp some sense of his care, something to help me believe he is the father I so need him to be. His hushed holding of me as I struggle is a strangeness I almost cannot bear. I long to escape him, to finish this fight, yet I know that he is the cause, the opponent, the peace I need all in one. Every question, every strike is to and for him, no part of this darkness can be explained apart from his troublesome existence. The only thing I hope to win is the working of his hand. He is my opponent, and he is my prize. My enemy, and the lover I yearn for with all of my soul. Whatever shall I do?

If I follow Jacob’s story, then I will cling to God until I am blessed. I will clutch at his arms until he claims me as his own and gives me a name as his child. But I am afraid to end like Jacob, for the tale of his fight is a strange one, and the ending of it, more than I understand. Of course, God won. Jacob could not out-wrestle the one who made his own muscles, nor out-argue the one who gave him speech. God lamed Jacob in the end and perhaps the laming was mercy. For I think that Jacob might have struggled to death in his anger and fear. But Jacob clung even beyond that breaking, clung until God himself yielded a curious prize... - Sarah Clarkson

Lamentations 3:19-36

I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
   his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He's all I've got left.

 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
   to stick it out through the hard times.

When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The "worst" is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won't ever
   walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
   His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
   in throwing roadblocks in the way:

Stomping down hard
   on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims
   in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence—
   the Master does not approve of such things.


Being really honest today

Do you ever feel as though you have to cling to God's promises to get through the days, or the weeks, or the months?

Lately I've been grasping so tightly. Sometimes it feels as though I'm holding my breath underwater struggling to get to the surface but God brings me quick bursts of oxygen when I really need them. There are days when my anxiety overwhelms me, where I would like to hide from life and sleep the days away. Every little thing feels like more than I can handle. I don't want to act this way and I know that I should be able to finish these small tasks but for some reason they push me over the edge. When the anxiety comes flooding in depression and self-hatred seem to follow. I understand why those two have always seemed to go together. Anxiety and depression. I have been depressed before, and I have suffered from anxiety before but this is one of the first times in my life my anxiety is making me feel depressed.

It's during these times I am so thankful for my faith. If I didn't have God during these weeks that may last as long as they do, I don't know where I would be. Every moment I cling to His promises. The Psalms narrate my day. I breathe deeply in His Spirit and our His name Yahweh. Jehovah Jireh, our God the provided who will give me everything I need for this season. And that is truly what it is, a season. There will be joy again. Don't get me wrong on the surface God gives me the strength to smile and function with love and grace, but on the inside there are many moments where I feel I'm slowly being destroyed. There are many stolen breakdowns in locked rooms, alone where I can't be found crying and shaking. Moments where I find myself collapsed and whispering His name to get through the attacks of the evil one. 

Our God is good!

Even when the cloud surrounding you seems dark, the storm seems like it might take everything that is left of you. He is there and he knows exactly how you feel, how I feel.

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.
   We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
      courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
   Before the rush and roar of oceans,
      the tremors that shift mountains.    
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
      God-of-Angel-Armies protects us. 
Psalm 46:1-3


God's provision

I sincerely apologize for the lack of writing these last two months, to say they have been busy would be an understatement. Work and life seems to overwhelm at times and I greatly miss the enjoyment of sitting down and writing out my thoughts.

We had both of our computers go to computer heaven in one week and we only bought one to replace. Really why would we need two computers? Well the only reason would be so I could blog more and that didn't seem like being a good stewards of our money. So I rarely get moments on the computer especially not when I'm in the mood to write. The journal has been getting a good work out but unfortunately doesn't get shared with the world. The computers breaking down was actually a really cool story of God providing. They broke down the same week that my husband happened to be working for the first time in months and brought home a cheque that was perfect to cover the costs. Fancy God's provision, He is so good! He has provided for us along every single step of this journey while Shaun is in school and I'm so grateful. Every time an unexpected bill comes along for some reason some unexpected income comes along. I still think back to when we started this journey last fall. When I typed up the budget no matter how I did it we were always short what we had committed to tithing. I'm so thankful that I saw that right away as a temptation from the devil and went on giving the same even if it meant going into school savings every month. Funny how every month when I still tithed the amount and assumed I would be short I never once needed to take money out of savings. Groceries or Hydro or Gas was always less than expected and we always broke ever, sometimes only by five dollars but God provided. He is so good, and when you follow His plan the money is always there. I take the same attitude when I approach this adoption thing, yes we have lots of time to save which I'm so grateful for. But adoption is God's plan for our family so He will provide us what we need to complete our family. He is good!

So somehow this turned into a story about how God had provided BUT please take it as an encouragement. No matter what seems to be in front of you, He never fails! He is so good all the time!


Jim and Casper go to church

I just finished a fantastic book borrowed from my father's library. It's the best source for books these days. The basis of Jim and Casper is that they travel around to ten famous and different churches in America and rate them. Throw in the twist that Casper is an atheist. It is amazing to see the church through the eyes of an objective viewer, someone who doesn't just think well that's how we've always done it. It makes you as a church goer think twice about why we do what we do.

Here are some of my favourite sections in the book.

"Case in point: The preacher asked everyone to 'greet the people around you.' Well, I don't mean to throw cold water on your church thing, but frankly, I thought that was lame. Why do you have to tell people to talk with each other anyways? Why didn't someone voluntarily approach me?"

"I don't mean to be overly critical, but what if instead of asking people to pray a prayer on order to go to heaven, the pastor challenged everyone to go out and serve someone else here on earth? Could you imagine if he told everyone here today to go out and make a difference today...can you imagine what a difference that would make in one day alone?"

"If a complete stranger comes up to me and starts professing his faith, it's easy -too easy- to say that dude's nuts. But when people take the time to tell me about themselves, give me some context for their story, give me names, places, and times, it makes a lot more sense."

"Well, it's right here, in the heart of the city. Amidst the poor and suffering. To me, that
makes more sense than building a campus our in the middle of nowhere. Put your church where people need it the most."

"I don't understand why they need to do the big show. Why don't they just help people and call it good? Why the fog machine, camera crews, multiple screens, PowerPoint, and the lights, lights, and lights? Is this what Jesus told you guys to do? Put on a Christian rock show that's visually and sonically indistinguishable from a non-christian rock snow, change the words, and call it church? Is that pulled from the Bible?"

"Did he just say he healed someone who couldn't walk? Then why in the world is he wastig time hanging out in church? Doesn't he know there are thousands of people in this city who need his touch? ... If this man can truly heal people: get out there then! There are people who need your help!"

"Churches using technology to communicate better doesn't bother me at all. What was bothering me at those churches was the amount of money that was clearly being spent on technology and equipment, which I see as vain at best, hypocritical at worst. How are you helping others by spending your offering money on a Hollywood stage show?"

"Why is a church deemed successful by it's size rather than it's ability to truly teach it's people?"

"The pastor made up his mind about what he wanted to say and the pitch he wanted to make, and then he selected passages in the Bible that support his pitch."

I really enjoyed looking at church from the perspective of a non-believer. It definitely enforced some of my struggles with mega churches and also challenged many of the things I do every Sunday or in every day life.

I truly do believe that following Christ does require sacrifice and should not be comfortable but I'm continuing to learn how I'm supposed to sacrifice in my own life. Being a Christian shouldn't be easy and the same foes for churches, they should always challenge why they do what they do and whether that is what Jesus would have wanted.


My Mom

In honor of Mother's day I want to share with all of you why my mom is the best.

Seriously, she knocks your mom's socks off.

And my mother in law is the best mother in law ever.

Seriously, I am beyond blessed with these two beautiful women in my life.

My mama, had a heart of gold. She never would have dreamed of being a pastor's wife but she has taken on the role with grace and dignity and does a darn good job. She is the silent force behind my dad's ministry. Many of you don't know this but nearly ever service my mother is behind the stage praying for my father as he shares God's truth with the church. She is the power behind him. My mom hates being in the spotlight so she might hate that I'm writing this but I could care less. She has a heart for the least of these, much like me. Every holiday we invite people over who don't have family around, so they can be a part of one. She knows how to reach out to those who are hurting and those who are lonely. She opens her home and her heart again and again for those who need a place to stay. Last week my parents had four extra men living in their house. People who just needed a place to stay for a few months. They are down to one now and I'm sure my dad is enjoying the peace and quiet. My mother is always willing to give and serve in any way she can. She fills the gap whenever I need. She continually blesses me by always me by always being willing to help me out however she can. My parents have blessed us financially in a huge way during this time where Shaun is in school and I'm so grateful. I loved my home in high school because every one of my friends was always welcomed and fed a meal and treated as though they were sons and daughters as well. This is something I pray I will exemplify when I am a mother. My mom loves the orphan just as much as I do and we have shared many tears over blogs and conversations about those hurting in this world. We are hoping to serve in Uganda together this upcoming January and I can hardly wait to do this as mother and daughter. I am so incredibly blessed by my mother and I know I don't tell her how thankful I am enough. I pray every day that I will be a mom like her. I have never once doubted her love for me and I'm so grateful for that.

So those are a few of the reasons why my mom is the bomb, seriously!

Love you mom.

My Other Mother

Don't think I'd leave out my other mom did you?

Sheila deserves a whole lot of credit for being an amazing mother as well.

Well first off, she raised the most amazing man I know. He is everything I could have asked for in a husband and I'm thankful every day that he was raised by such an amazing women. Sheila is such a kind heart. I have so greatly enjoyed getting to know her and connecting with her deeply in the past two years. She and Brian are a great addition to my life. You know those stories about the evil mother in law. Well mine sure isn't. Sheila is always willing to give whatever we need to help us out. She has prepared countless meals for us and painstakingly served our family at every gathering. She is such a loving woman and has made me feel so accepted and loved in my new family. Sheila and I enjoy the same things so it has been amazing to connect in that way. Sheila will do anything for her kids and I pray that I will have that characteristic when I'm a mother as well. She consistently sacrifices herself and her needs to bless her family. Sheila does not get the praise or thanks she deserves. I'm blessed to call her Mom and to have her as a part of my life.

Love you Sheila!


The pursuit of happiness

Today while watching TV I stumbled across a program on happiness. Studies on what make people happy.

I found it so interesting that none of the 'happiest' people surveyed were extremely wealthy or had lived perfect lives. They all have pasts, struggles, ups and downs. In fact of our happiness only 10% is based on our external circumstances. 50% is based on our genes. That means that 40% of our happiness is based on us and our attitude. We are in control of our happiness and how we feel.

Also the majority of the happiest people found had faith. They had a deeper belief; they acknowledged that someone else was out there. Having faith increases your happiness. I know that if I did not have my faith or my faith family that would greatly change my outlook on life. I cannot imagine waking up every morning without the joy my faith gives me.

Researchers say that thanking people is a great way to increase your happiness. If we are not appreciative we start taking things for granted. We forget where the good things are coming from. We adapt to our new settings whether they are good or bad and our happiness readjusts to the way it was before, unless we continue to give thanks and remember the positive changes. Jesus taught us by his actions to give thanks, for the good and the bad, to celebrate the body and the blood.

Happy people are more likely to be generous. We are happier if we help others. Giving of our times, energy and finances gives us fulfillment and happiness. Jesus taught to give all we could to those in need.

Another large factor in people's happiness is the ability to forgive. Letting go of our anger and hurt so we can focus on positive things in our life instead of the negative. What's the point in keeping those negative feelings around? Why do you think Jesus preached forgiveness over and over again?

I've always found it so interesting that the most joyful people I know are the ones you would least expect to be happy by the world's standards. I remember feeling in awe when invited to a village church in Uganda. These people had nothing, their church was made of ripped tarps, their children just had one ripped t shirt to their name. They had not eaten breakfast but had instead saved their food to share with me for lunch after. Their empty stomachs suffering so that they could give and bless me. And as I walked away from the meal and the church service I was overcome by their joy and happiness. They had nothing yet they worshiped the Lord like I've never seen before, they willingly shared the little food they had to bless me. How were they so happy?

Simply put, Jesus had saved them so how could they keep from singing?

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don't see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you'll get what you're looking forward to: total salvation. 
1 Peter 1:8-9


He gave Himself for me

"This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
   He never did one thing wrong,
   Not once said anything amiss.
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls." 
1 Peter 2:21-25

I am called. You are called, to live a life as he did.

What does that really mean? How do I truly take up my cross daily? When people look upon my face do they see my Saviour?

Truth is I don't look a thing like Jesus. I fail every day. I forget that I am called to take up my cross daily. Instead I lay my cross down and run among my own selfish ways. I forsake the one who gave His everything for my freedom. I choose my own path. I dance with my pride, and laugh with my greed. I chose enjoyment over sacrifice. I'm not the only one living this way. I see it all around me. This world is broken. We choose ourselves over ever other person.

I don't want to sin. I try my hardest to live as He did, the problem is without His grace I am nowhere.

Grace: the freely given, unmerited favour and love of God

I am sitting in the garbage can, surrounded by my ugly heart. I am a sinful being. I put Jesus on a cross, for my selfish life, my dirt and filth, my wretchedness, my brokenness. He hung on a cross for this pathetic life I live. For me. Yet Jesus not once chose Himself. He never thought about His own well being. He willingly gave His life. He gave everything for you and me.

How do I take up my cross and follow Him? How do I accept the sufferings I will face and give thanks?
In the traditional Passover supper the head of the household, before they began their meal would ceremoniously wash his hands to show the family that he was clean. Jesus at His final Passover supper with His disciples did not partake in this tradition. Instead,

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 
John 13:3-5
Jesus understood that all the power in earth and in heaven had been given to Him, so He lowered Himself and washed the disciples' feet. What a powerful depiction of His love. Around the table stood a disciple who would hand our Saviour over to his killers, another who would deny knowing our King. Yet still, he knelt down and washed their feet.

So that is who I want to be. I want to kneel down before those who betray me, those who mock me, those who hurt me and those I love and wash their feet. I want to turn the other cheek as they beat me, I want to bless those who persecute me. I want to take up my cross and follow Him. I want to cling to His grace when I'm in those hard places because I am nothing without Him. And clinging to His grace, means I must cling to His cross. And I will fall, but the beauty of grace is that He keeps taking me back, time and time again. So when I stumble, I will once again pick up my cross and try to walk a little further behind my Saviour before stumbling again.

The ultimate sacrifice, for this imperfect life. What love!

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,

The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,

My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom