An Anniversary Lament (well, it started that way)

I am literally trying to do three things at once, with only two eyes to help me. I have one eye on the stove, cooking dinner, one eye on the preschooler who is “playing with” the baby (which requires fairly close supervision these days), and luckily, no eyes left to look at the pile of dishes spilling out of the sink onto the counter beside.

Sleep has been minimal recently because little kids, life keeps on handing us repairs upon repairs, and in recent weeks we’ve seen our fair share of “teachable moments” in our family.

We are in that season – the one where you rarely find yourself wondering what you should do with all your free time! haha!

I was secretly (or not-so-secretly now!) lamenting the way this season of life will affect our anniversary celebrations this week, with all the regular stuff on the schedule. Parent-teacher interviews. Work committments. Tax prep. Where is the romance in all of this?! I grumbled to myself.

Then it dawned on me. Two nights ago at 2:25am, our three year old woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep because her blanket wouldn’t fit over her six stuffies lined up beside her on her bed. Of course they NEEDED a blankie because they were scared, she insisted. This amazing man got up and tucked her back in, MORE THAN ONCE.

Every day, I see him making little sacrifices (and big ones) because he loves me, and our family.

Where’s the romance? Yep – found it. Over and over and over again.

Love you, Honey. Happy Anniversary. Here’s to many more.

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One of my favourites from our wedding day!

Streams Will Water the Wasteland

Today on my radio show, I’m sharing a couple of verses from a Lent Reading Plan I found. I love the book of Isaiah for its imagery and prophecy, which we later discover is fulfilled in Jesus! It reminds me that God’s plan to redeem the broken moves forward despite what appear to be large, daunting, immoveable obstacles. He is the God of restoration!

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“And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
    and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer,
    and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
    and streams will water the wasteland.”

Isaiah 35:5-6 (New Living Translation)

My heart is lifted by these words today! Isaiah foretells of a person who will bring healing and hope: Jesus. Yes and AMEN! Streams will water the wasteland. This is the kind of God He is – bringing beautiful life to places that we thought were hopelessly dead. Let the hope of restoration fill your senses and your heart today!

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Ripples in the water

Jesus, Are You There?

Sometimes circumstances feel overwhelming. It might not be any one particular thing, really — it’s just all of it put together. In those moments, I am learning to cry out to Jesus! I wrote this a few months ago and rediscovered it recently, finding that even though our challenges have changed, it still speaks to me today. My heart is reminded, yet again, of the God who does not forsake.

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“I’m hungry but I don’t want these apples! What else is there?”

“I got a paper cut, can I have a princess bandaid?”

“Can’t I just have one more candy from my candy bucket?”

“LOST BOOK! LOST BOOK! Where is that book I had yesterday?”

All the questions, all the time.

Jesus?

The washing machine has been going non-stop thanks to cold and flu season. As I scrub my sandpaper hands for the thousandth time, cracked and bleeding from the freezing cold outside and my attempts at keeping the germs from spreading, I glance up at myself in the mirror. I try to smile, but I can’t. Literally. The right corner of my mouth moves up slightly, but is stopped by my chipmunk cheek, swollen from having a broken tooth pulled.

Jesus, are you there?

I gently set the baby down. Finally! He is sound asleep. Or so I thought. Eyes flutter open, restless wiggling begins. Sighing, I gently pick him up and accept that my evening plans have changed. Tonight I’ll be wearing grooves into the floor where my feet are planted, in front of the crib, rocking him in the dark, quietly singing and praying for my boy.

Jesus? Can you see me?

I’m climbing a mountain, but I can’t see the summit. I’m reaching up for the next ledge, but I can’t find it. There’s no place to stand up straight and look around, to breathe deep, to enjoy the view.

Frustrated tears stream down my face.

Where are you Jesus? Are you here, even now, in this time and place? In these moments of a million questions, inconvenient illnesses and pure exhaustion?

My heart knows the answer.

Yes, when I don’t think I can deal with one more question.

Yes, when the kids are sick and I just don’t feel like it.

Yes, when my back is sore and my legs are screaming and I just want to sit down.

Yes, when I feel like it will always be like this.

“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

trees in sun

When things aren’t fully in focus, God is still glorious.

Love One Another

With Valentine’s Day behind us and Lent right in front of us, I was thinking about these verses from John 13 this morning.

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 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35 (NIV)

If you read John 13, you see that these two verses come between Jesus foretelling His betrayal by one of His inner circle and His public denial by a dear friend. At the beginning of the chapter, He washes all of the disciples’ feet, even the ones who would betray and deny Him just a short time later.

We sometimes wonder what it looks like to love as Jesus loves. It’s easy when we think people are worthy! But what about those in our lives who cause deep wounds that last? Can we love even these? Jesus’ love looks like sacrifice. It looks like something so irrational and extravagant. It is love lavished on the undeserving, love that goes beyond any expectation, love that feels excessive.

The extent to which we can accept this kind of love is the extent to which we can pour ourselves out for those God puts in our lives.

When Jesus gave this instruction, He knew He was asking us to do the impossible. That’s why I’m praying today – Lord Jesus, help me receive Your amazing love in my life! And teach me how to love like You do. Show me what that looks like at this very moment, with the people around me.

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Image: “Hearts”, Beatnik Photos, Flickr

I Threw Away “The List”

I don’t write much about marriage. It’s not because I don’t have things to say, it’s because I feel like I haven’t been married long enough to really know what I’m talking about, you know what I mean?

This year we celebrate 9 years of marriage. I love my man with all my heart! But we’re still babies at this whole thing.

When I was single, I had The List. It was loaded with things that a guy had to be or have in order to qualify for a second look. It was ridiculously specific, and frankly, unrealistic. Every guy I met was measured against The List. And it brought alot of heartache.

One day, it dawned on me. I wasn’t really being very fair, was I? I had always prayed for the person I would hopefully marry one day, that God would put us in each other’s lives, and that He would give me someone who loved Jesus and was willing to follow Him no matter the cost. But I wasn’t willing to trust God with the details on this one.

So I threw The List away. Instead, I wrote down my non-negotiable qualities on one side of a piece of scrap paper, and my negotiable qualities on the other side.

Then, I just lived the life that was in front of me.

In God’s timing and by His grace, we found each other. Ten years ago this month, a girl from a tiny land-locked farming town on the Canadian prairies met a boy who grew up near the beach in sunny California, and the rest is history! Hearts, hearts, hearts!

I stumbled upon that new list the other day was I was looking for something else. As I read through the qualities on each side, I was amazed at God’s faithfulness and love for me in providing me with this man who sat beside me as we drove.

If you have ever doubted God’s faithfulness, know that He hears every prayer you pray, and sees every tear you cry. He is real, He is present, and He is working in ways you cannot imagine.

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

together

Young love

The Sweetest Hour

I wrote this a few years ago when my second daughter was not quite two and I was expecting our third child. Tired did not begin to describe where I was at! But I treasure these sweet memories.

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My head hit the pillow last night at about 10:30, and my aching body gave way to glorious sleep.  I don’t remember a thing.

Until about 3am.

A tiny little voice was just enough to jolt me awake.

“MAMA!  W’AR YOU?!”

Little one. Awake.  Again.  Thanks to some new teeth breaking through and a penchant for middle-of-the-night chatter, she stood at my door in her little striped purple footie jammies.

“Mama?  Cuddles?  Couch?”

I scooped her up in her white crocheted blanket, gave her Snoopy and Raffi (her stuffed giraffe), and held her on my lap.  She talked about the stars that were projected onto the ceiling from one of those ladybug lights.

I closed my eyes, and felt a little hand on my face.

“No, Mama.  No close eyes.  Open eyes.  Count the STARS!”

Oh my goodness, I thought she would wake her snoring big sister for sure.  (They’ve been sharing a room for a month and  a half.  We’re still working out the kinks.)

Nope.  The oldest sawed logs while the younger one chatted about how the pink stars are up there, and could she touch them or taste them, but no they’re not food.

“Stars not food Mama!”  she laughed.

“No, stars are not food.  Shh… go to sleep…” I tried.

Her blanket was freshly washed and dried with vanilla scented dryer sheet.

She smelled like a warm vanilla cookie.  What a delicious moment.

3am gave way to 4am, and I decided it was time to put her back in her bed.  I only had to bring her back about three or four times before she stayed until nearly 7am (what a miracle!).

Her big sister was up just before 6am, looking for a Berenstain Bears book to read.

The day officially began.  Even though it kind of already began at 3am, with an inquisitive “Mama, w’ar you?”

Although sleep-deprived today, I really wouldn’t have missed that hour for the world.

feet

Tiny toes

Dear 18-Year-Old Me

18 year old me1

Dear 18 year old Me,

Can I just tell you something?

Everything is going to be okay.

No really, it is.

I know right now you’re consumed with the future – how it’s all going to play out, what you should do next, and how you can achieve your dreams and goals.

You want to run headfirst into all the things, find someone to share it with, and live your happily ever after.

There will be amazing things to celebrate, but there will also be some things that bring you pain. In both circumstances, you have a choice – you can either run away by distracting yourself with the temporary pleasures all around, or you can dig deep, hold fast, and find true rest in the arms of the One who gave His life for you and trust Him to bring healing and growth in your life.

I know you’re not into being told what to do, so I will just leave you with a little story from John 6.

Jesus had done the miracle of feeding the crowds with real food, but then begins to teach something that is very hard for the disciples to understand: He teaches that He is the food that feeds our souls and brings us eternal life. He mentions how their ancestors ate manna in the desert, but that He is the bread that will feed them forever. Some couldn’t get their heads around it and were so disturbed by the teaching that they walked away.

Watch what happens next:

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:67-69 (NIV)

When you feel like throwing in the towel, let these words ring in your heart: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Cling to the only One who can truly sustain you.

I love you. Don’t give up! You’re doing great.

Hugs and kisses,

-your future self

When You Don’t Know What To Do Next

I’m sharing a quick thought on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 today. I’m always amazed at how when I don’t know what to do next, I can come to this passage and find some direction!

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“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

We hear a lot about trying to figure out God’s will for our lives, but this is the perfect place to get started! We’re called to be doing these things all the time – rejoicing, praying and giving thanks – no matter what set of circumstances we find ourselves in. This is a great set of verses to memorize and tuck away in our hearts for the next time we’re wondering what God wants us to do next!

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A sunrise one fall morning