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Bible Reading 101

As a Christian, the most important thing you can do, is read the Bible. The Bible is God’s heart for us in written form, so the more we read it, the more we get to know Him.

However, it can be very daunting if you’re just starting out. It’s such a big book, you may not know where to begin!

Never fear! That’s what this blog post is for! Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned throughout the last few years, that have helped me.

I. Get a good translation. One that you can understand. My favourite translation right now is The Passion Translation (TPT). It’s such a beautiful poetic translation that I enjoy reading so much. The entire bible isn’t translated into this version yet, but you can get the New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs all together in one book right now, as well as a few other books of the Bible done by themselves in separate books.

Another translation I really like is New International Version (NIV). Biblical scholars believe that the NIV is the closest to the original Hebrew/Greek, but also written in a way that English readers will understand the best. It’s sort of like the best of both worlds.

A good translation for new Christians is the New Living Translation. It’s easy to read and understand. And many New Believers Bibles have sections that explain different aspects of Christianity, such as the Holy Spirit, water baptism, fruits of the Spirit, etc. If you’re new to getting into the Word, the NLT is a great translation to start with.

Also, get a Bible with a commentary. Commentaries explain things better, usually using a footnote with extra notes at the bottom of the page. The Bible was written thousands of years ago, and while many things are the same as today, many things are also different. For example, one of my favourite stories is in John 13, when Jesus washed his disciple’s feet. It wouldn’t mean much to us today, but it was a very powerful display of humility and servitude, which the footnote/commentary in The Passion Translation explains really well. So commentaries can definitely give us a better understanding of what’s happening. They also help bridge the gap in our language barriers. The Greek (what the New Testament was written in) has four different words for different types of love. The English has only one to explain all of them. Commentaries usually explain which type of love they might be referring to.

2. Don’t start at the beginning! The first two books of the Bible, Genesis and Exodus, are a lot of really great stories, and give very detailed history of the first Jewish people, so you could read them if you’d like. But the next few books after that are lists of all their old laws and traditions. Not that they’re not important, but for just starting out, they’re harder to follow.

In my opinion, the best place to start is in the Gospels. Those are the first four books of the New Testament. They mainly focus on the last three years of Jesus’ life and ministry, told by four different view-points. Matthew is the first one and was primarily written for a Jewish audience, hence why the first 17 verses are the genealogy of Jesus all the way from Abraham, the Jewish Father. Mark is next, and is one of my favourites. It’s full of exciting story-telling, using words like, “immediately,” and “astonished.” It is said that the Apostle Peter dictated it to Mark, which would explain the dramatic detail. As you read about Peter in the Gospels, you’ll see what I mean. I relate to Peter in so many ways! Luke was written by Dr. Luke, as part one of a letter, with the book of Acts being part two. When you do read Luke, skip John for a minute and go right into Acts; makes it flow better and more fun to read. The book of John is absolutely beautiful. John was known as the Apostle of love, and as you read his gospel, you’ll see why. One thing I especially love about John is that he really shows how beautifully and respectfully Jesus interacted with women.

Once you’ve read the Gospels and the book of Acts, pick any of the New Testament books and dive in! They’re all awesome! Although, maybe wait to read Revelation until you’ve read a few other books first. Revelation has a ton of imagery and metaphoric illustrations that can be difficult to wrap your mind around when you’re just starting out. Biblical scholars have been debating the book of Revelation for 2000 years, so don’t be discouraged if it’s a little confusing.

3. Read with an open mind. A lot of people will form a theological opinion and then find scripture verses to back it up. This can and does create a lot of unnecessary conflict because scripture can back a number of different opinions on any given topic. This is because, for example, all the different churches the Apostle Paul wrote to in the New Testament, were all going through different things. The church in the city of Corinth (1 & 2 Corinthians) was dealing with different things than, let’s say, the church in Ephesus (Ephesians). The role of women in ministry is an example of a massive theological debate. Paul does have more than one stance one the subject, depending on which church he was addressing. So it’s important to read ALL the scripture pertaining to an issue, and study all the history/context behind it.

4. Pray! Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you wisdom as you read; to open your heart and mind to what He wants to tell you through his Word. The beauty of scripture is that just one verse can mean so many different things to different people. Depending on what you’re going through in your life and what God wants to teach you, which is so different for everyone, different things can pop out of the same scripture verse. One thing I often do is ask the Holy Spirit what he wants to tell me in my daily reading. Then, when I read, a verse will often times jump off the page to me and speak right to my heart. And somehow, that verse helps me get through the day!

5. Highlight and take notes! There are so many good things in scripture, that if you don’t keep record of them, or at least underline/highlight them, you’ll never remember it all! Then, when you go back through it, you’ll see what was meaningful to you then, and remember what God taught you during that time. It’s like being encouraged over and over again!

I hope this helps you navigate reading the Bible. It’s such an amazing, beautiful book that is just as relevant today as it always has been!

Joseph, Husband of Mary – Saying Yes to the Unexpected

Yesterday, I spoke at church, and since it was Christmas, I read a story that I wrote: the Christmas story from Joseph’s perspective. Ever since I was little, I’ve heard this story over and over, so I’ve often forgotten that Mary and Joseph were real people with real doubts and feelings. It was fun and eye opening to think of what he actually would have thought. I’m sure his life was not what he expected it to be, but he said yes to God. This year wasn’t what we were expecting either, but we said yes, too. Hopefully we’ll always say yes. Enjoy!

……….

When Mary and I agreed to be married, I don’t think either one of us knew what we were in for. I mean, she was only 13 years old and from a tiny, off the beaten path town called Nazareth, so how could we have known? I was expecting a quiet, simple life with a beautiful, innocent, young woman. I’d be a carpenter and builder, and she would be a devoted wife and mother. We’d be just like every other couple in our town. Nothing fancy, nothing outrageous. I expected the simple life.

Turns out, that’s not how our lives went at all. Not even remotely. We were barely even engaged, when everything went crazy. I used to say, it went down the outhouse, but Mary didn’t like that so much. So I changed it to crazy, which she doesn’t love either, but at least it’s a bit better phrase. Marriage is full of compromise, am I right?

When Mary first told me an angel appeared to her and said she’d become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, I thought she was crazy. For some reason she was happy and excited about this whole thing and expected me to be happy and excited about it too. But I was far from it. What would people think? We’d be the laughingstock of our whole town! We’d be shunned by people all over the countryside. She clearly didn’t realize the implications of it all. Maybe she thought people would believe her – but nobody would. How could they? It sounded absolutely insane! The whole idea of the Holy Spirit, which by the way, I’ve never heard of before, overshadowing a woman, and making her pregnant, is utter nonsense. How could she have said yes to this?

Needless to say by the end of our discussion she was in hysterics and begging me not to have her killed. As per our laws, I could have. I didn’t want to. I loved her. But she was pregnant with a child that wasn’t mine, and her reasoning for being pregnant was too absurd. It just couldn’t be. I had no choice, I had to divorce her. I didn’t want her to be hurt or killed because of this, but I couldn’t marry her now that she’d been defiled. Maybe she wasn’t the girl I thought she was. One thing was for sure; this whole engagement was supposed to be a happy time, but it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

……….

To say that we’ve had an eventful year is an understatement. I originally thought Mary was not the person I thought she was, but it turned out that I was the one who was wrong. It was Mary who was more noble and pure than I ever could have even wished to be. I had been thinking about quietly divorcing her because of what I thought she’d done, but I had a dream. In the dream an angel appeared to me and told me that the child that Mary was carrying was indeed from the Holy Spirit. It was such a real dream that I knew without a doubt in my mind that it was from God. I still don’t know what or who the Holy Spirit is. I’m still in shock because of how amazing and magnificent the angel was. The sight I saw sure changed me and I know I’ll never be the same again.

So I said yes. I was obedient to the Lord and married her; but of course, not before we suffered some major backlash and scrutiny from our families and all the town people. Mary handled it all like a champ. She knew the truth. She held her head high despite all the horrible and shameful things people said about her. Her parents tried to be understanding but who could understand something like that? The only reason that I understood was because the Lord physically revealed it to me. My parents thought we were both crazy. Me more so because I chose to stay with such a defiled woman. They didn’t believe the story either.

We didn’t blame anybody for not believing us. They still don’t. And I suppose she knows the truth more than I do. I mean, I do know, but I still doubt sometimes. Not Mary, though. No matter what, she always trusts the Lord and never seems to doubt. And my love for her has only increased all the more, because of the grace and peace that she carries despite such persecution. Sometimes I admit I get a little jealous that the baby that she is carrying isn’t mine, but I’m looking forward to the day that she will carry mine. And I’m also looking forward to the day when this baby is born, and the amazing things that he’ll do. I expected the simple life, in a simple town, with a simple girl, but I see now, that that’s not God‘s plan for us. This year has not gone how I expected it to, but I guess it’s still okay.

……….


Our baby Jesus’s birth was definitely not something we were expecting either! It’s a crazy story that I think will be told for a really long time. I had to take Mary with me to Bethlehem because that’s where I was born, and I needed to go there for the census. We were living in Nazareth at the time, and the journey between there and Bethlehem is about 65 miles. Mary was quite pregnant and obviously uncomfortable, but again, she handled the trip like a champ. It took us about a week to get there. I tried to be as patient and understanding as I could be. I am the kind of person that wants to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible, but I knew that we couldn’t do that this time. It simply wasn’t safe for her or the baby.

Her spirits were high even though she wasn’t feeling the greatest, and by the time we got there, she was so swollen and in such great pain. Upon arrival, we weren’t able to find a place to stay. When she started going into labour we settled for a small downstairs barn where they keep the more frail animals. It didn’t smell very good, but it was warm, and we were running out of time. She started having contractions, and of course I didn’t know what to do, so she did everything herself. Crazy girl. I could hear her screaming from outside, but she wouldn’t let me help her, so I just paced the floor anxiously, waiting for any sort of word. Finally I heard a baby cry and I couldn’t contain myself anymore. I ran into the room to see if she was okay and looked at that beautiful baby boy. He was so perfect. Mary was exhausted but so happy. She never looked more beautiful to me despite the mess. The only thing in the room to wrap the baby in was some swaddling cloth they use for the Passover lambs, so we wrapped him up in that, and I laid him in the feeding trough, while Mary slept peacefully beside him.

It was the middle of the night but for some reason the sky was exceptionally bright. I looked out and saw a huge star and wondered what that was for. I didn’t remember seeing it before. Suddenly, off to the left, over what seemed to be the sheep fields, there was these big huge flashing lights. It looked like there were big, bright people flying in the sky! I could hear these beautiful sounds and songs, although I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. Seeing all of this made me wonder if I needed more sleep. Surely I was seeing things and really should just lay down, I told myself.

Of course, that didn’t last very long because not even an hour later, these Shepherd‘s that we didn’t even know, came running close to where we were staying, calling out for a baby that had been born who is Christ the Lord. They kept saying that he was wrapped in swaddling cloth and lying in a manger. That was us! That was our baby! I ran out to see what these guys were talking about and couldn’t believe my ears when they told us what they saw in the sky: angels talking about the Christ child and then singing! How beautiful of a site it was! They told anyone who would listen, which definitely brought way more attention to us than we wanted. Everybody from the whole city came to see what the shepherds were talking about and to see our baby. It definitely was not the quiet, peaceful birth story I was expecting!

……….

After Jesus is crazy birth we try to stay as low-key as possible. We ended up not even going back to Nazareth, but instead, moving to Bethlehem. There was a lot of work for me there and we became good friends with a few of my relatives, so we decided to stay. Things did go back to somewhat normal for about two years. And then… back to crazy again. For the first two years of Jesus’s life, that huge star would shine right over us every night. At first, people thought it was so amazing, but then it became old news after a couple months.

One night, when Jesus was two years old, a large entourage of extremely wealthy wise men and magi, and all their guards, showed up at our front door looking for the Christ child. How did they even know? Who were they? Why did they care about a little Jewish boy? What was going on here? I was very confused, but also pretty happy because they gave us more gold, frankincense and myrrh, than we knew what to do with (which will make sense in the next part of my story). It’s crazy though, that they knew that he was the Saviour of the world already at the age of two. It’s like they studied our Scriptures and knew more about the prophecies, than our actual scribes did!

Back to the gifts that they gave us. I feel like God gave us provision for what was ahead, as if He knew. Just kidding, of course He knew! Shortly after the Magi left, I had another dream. In the dream, another angel appeared to me and said to take Jesus and Mary out of Israel and into Egypt, immediately. I didn’t think that any Israelite would want to go back to Egypt after coming from there so long ago, but nevertheless, I knew we had to get away, and really quickly. So that night, instead of rolling over and thinking I’d leave in the morning, I said yes and immediately woke Mary and Jesus up. We packed everything as quickly as we could, and left, in the pitch black night. I didn’t know where we’d live or how long we’d have to be in such a strange land for, but I still said yes. Which was good, because I heard that a couple of days later, King Herod ordered that all the baby boys ages two an under, in Bethlehem and surrounding area were to be put to death. It was during this time that I realized how God’s provision, timing and direction are imperative in our lives.

So we’re here in Egypt until… I have no idea when. It’s definitely not a place I thought I’d ever want to live. It’s not a place where Israelites are even really supposed to live, actually. Our laws say we can’t even contaminate ourselves with the likes of Egyptians. But I’m learning that God goes beyond what is expected of us and really does whatever He wants to fulfill His plan. We’re enjoying our time here and live comfortably from the money we made from the gifts from the Magi. Mary has made new friends and it’s really nice that no one judges us because Mary got pregnant before we were married. No one knows that part of the story, or would care anyways. We’ve actually had another baby while being here, one that is finally mine. Things are going well, but again, just not what I expected. I’ve come to realize my whole life is saying yes to the unexpected.

……….

After a few years, I had another dream. I was beginning to realize that I liked having dreams because they were so clear to me. Just when I didn’t know what to do, the Lord would give me a dream and direct me. In this dream, God told me that King Herod was dead, so I could take my family back to Israel. I had heard that Herod‘s son, who was even worse than him, was reigning in his place in Judah, so I thought we should stay away from there. Of course, God confirmed it with another dream; instructing me to settle back in the region of Galilee, in Nazareth. Mary was from there, so she was very happy to see her family, even though it was a bit awkward for a while. The town of Nazareth is a one camel town, only a couple hundred people live there. Nothing exciting ever happens there, so I thought that would be a good place settle down and live life. Hopefully go back to some sort of a simple life. Maybe somewhere along the way, have another kid or two. Just do our own thing for a while. Finally get some long term peace, stability and simplicity. I realized though, that every time I thought that, every time I thought things would go back to normal, that’s when things would go crazy again.

I sometimes chuckle to myself because every time something happens, Mary always tells me to go with it; just to do whatever the Lord says, whether I want to or not, like she does. Then she reminds me that I should have known what I signed up for when she got pregnant during our engagement. “You didn’t have to say yes to the angel” she reminds me, “but you did. And that first yes was the beginning of some pretty crazy yeses.” She’s seriously one of the greatest people I know. She has more peace and grace than anyone. I look at her and I have no doubt that God chose right when He chose her to carry His child. I’m so glad she said yes. Honestly, I hoped for the simple life. I still hope for it sometimes. But I’m beginning to realize that life is not what we expect at all, sometimes it’s worse than what we expected, sometimes it’s better than what we expected. Sometimes it’s neither worse nor better, it’s just different. I’m just seeing more and more every day that God is in it all, and really just wants our unconditional yes.

I wasn’t expecting Mary to become pregnant out of wedlock. But I said yes. I wasn’t expecting my wife have a child in a stable and then have all these people come watch because of some shepherd’s crazy, but true, story. But I said yes. I wasn’t expecting to have to move to Egypt in the middle of the night. But I said yes. There were a lot of things that I’m realizing that I would have rather not done; a lot of things that happened that I was not expecting. But I said yes to it all, and I’m still learning to say yes and follow the Lord‘s lead. And I look forward to when Jesus grows up, to see what he will do, and the things he will accomplish. I know that the Lord is with him and IS him. I see it more and more every day; his brilliance, his love, his compassion for people. I know things might get difficult for him, but I know he’ll say yes every time. I wonder if he’ll be what anyone expects. And I wonder who will say yes.

Candice the Lawyer – Chapter 4: What do You Want Out of Life?

“Before we go any further,” said Kris, “this might be a bit too forward, but I know you’re a cut to the chase kind of person, so I want you to know that I’m single. You’re probably aware of that already, but just in case you weren’t, I wanted to clear the air. I was married for almost seven years, but I’ve been divorced for a year now.”

Normally Candice would have done enough research on a person to know even their favourite breakfast cereal, but she forced herself to not even look up Kris’ name after they went their separate ways. She didn’t want to know how he was. It hurt too much.

“I didn’t know that, actually,” she replied quietly. “I don’t know anything you’ve been up to for the last ten years.”

“Oh?” Kris tried to hide his shock and disappointment.

Candice took a deep breath and continued, “I didn’t look you up. Not even once. I cried for three weeks straight after I ended things with you but then forced myself to get my head out of the clouds and back into my books. Just thinking about you hurt more than I could say. So I didn’t.”

“Oh wow.” Kris sat back in his chair and let out a deep sigh. His disappointment was very evident. “Well I’ll be honest that kind of hurts, but I understand.” He paused, wondering if he should just let it all out on the table now or not. “I’m not sure if I should say this, but I thought about you a lot. Even when I was married I wondered what it would have been like. Or what could have been. I checked your social media often, to see what you were up to. I even subscribed to a couple New York lawyer blogs and magazines to see if there was anything written about you. Every time you won a case I cheered quietly from afar. I was so proud of you. I even wondered what it would be like to tell people that you were mine. Not mine possessively, but that we were together. I imagined going to parties with you and everybody staring at us. You, because you’re so beautiful and successful. And me, because they thought I was so lucky to have my arm around you. And for the last six months, especially, I imagined going to bed with you every night and waking up with you every morning. Cuddling on the couch and drinking our morning coffee, like we used to do.”

Candice’s eyes were wide and her heart was racing. She held her breath as she listened to him say these words. Who was this man that just entered her life and why did he wait so long to get here? She reached across the table and wove her fingers into his. They sat there looking at each other, not saying a word. Tears welled up in both of their eyes.

“So what happens now?” Candice whispered.

Kris took a deep breath, “well, I guess we order dinner.” He winked at her and started to laugh.

She smiled and rolled her eyes, “ahh yes,” she said, “I remember all your silly one liners. I see that hasn’t changed.”

Kris shrugged, “Those fun little quirks left for a while when I was busy, trying desperately to make my ex-wife happy and dying inside at the same time. But now that I’ve done some inner healing and found myself again, they’re back.”

“Well I’m glad they are,” said Candice, “you wouldn’t be the same without them.” Now she hesitated, wondering if it was her turn to clear the air. “Kris, we haven’t seen each other in a really long time. And even though I’m a different person now, it feels so right to be with you. We both felt that way back then, and it’s clear we both feel it now. But I’ve made a life for myself that I really enjoy. I work really hard and I’m happy. I ended things with you ten years ago because I felt like we both wanted different things. You wanted a house in the suburbs with three kids and a dog. I wanted a thriving career and an apartment in the city. That hasn’t changed for me. I love my life. Having you in it would be amazing, but I don’t want any of those other things.”

Candice expected Kris to either try to convince her to change her mind about her dreams, or end the night and any other possibilities.

“Well, I’m not sure if this changes anything for you, but I’m actually not able to have children. My ex-wife and I tried for over five years, but after many tests and procedures, we found out it was me who was the problem. It took me a couple months to come to terms with it, and be open to other methods, such as adoption, but by that time, Michelle had moved on and gotten pregnant from a guy at her gym. So I guess you could say I’m a thriving career and apartment in the city kind of guy now, too.”

Candice wasn’t expecting that reply. Eyes wide, she covered her dropped jaw with her hand, “Oh, wow. I am so sorry,” she whispered.

Kris shrugged, “Its fine. I’ve made peace with it all. Things happen in life that are beyond our control and we can choose to be angry about them, or learn from them and move on. I’ve done a lot of soul searching and have really discovered who I am and what I want out of life.”

“And what do you want out of life, Kris?”

Kris looked deep into Candice’s beautiful, blue eyes. “You.”

Candice the Lawyer… Chapter 3: I think we need to talk.

“Sofia, can you come in here please,” Candice paged from her office. Her heart was racing as she paced back-and-forth. Sofia down the hall from her reception desk and knocked on Candice’s door. Candice quickly open the door, looked to see if anybody was in the hallway and let her in quietly.

“I’m freaking out!” said Candice voice quivering. Sofia, on the other hand, was over the moon about all of this. She knew how much Candice and Kris had loved each other ten years ago and how devastated both of them were when she ended the relationship. In New York, it’s hard for a woman to have a busy, successful career and thriving personal life. One always gets pushed to the wayside. Candice knew that and decided to end things with Kris before it ever came to that. Nothing could stand in the way of her dream of becoming a highly successful lawyer. Not even love.

Sofia knew Candice and Kris both together and separately. She had kept in touch with Kris over the years because she really liked him as a friend. He did meet someone a couple years after him and Candice broke up. They ended up getting married shortly after. Sofia had met his wife, Michelle, at a Christmas party five years earlier. She watched Michelle belittle him and treat him terribly in front of everyone the entire night. She couldn’t believe it! He was such an amazing guy, how could anyone treat him that way?

Sofia kept in contact with him over text and email, and he seemed happy. But following that party, she confronted him about the way his wife treated him, and he broke down. Even so, Kris spent years after that, trying to make Michelle happy and give her a baby. But when they realized he wouldn’t be able to give her a child, she left him for someone else.

Sofia never told Candice any of it this. Their divorce had been final for a year now and Sofia was secretly hoping that Kris would contact Candice again. He needed time to work through some issues, but when he was ready she was sure he would be in touch.

Two weeks prior, Sofia put a bug in Kris’ ear letting him know that Candice still wasn’t dating anybody, and if he was ready she could help him set something up. The day before, he decided he was ready, and now here she was consoling Candice, trying to convince her to meet him for dinner.

It’s not that Candice didn’t want to meet him for dinner, it was just that she was afraid. She had heard that he was married, so why was he contacting her?

“Why don’t you just meet with him and ask?” Sofia prodded.

“I don’t know,” Candice stuttered, “All these feelings I’ve been supressing for years have suddenly come back like a flood, and I don’t know what to do with them!”

Sofia walked over to Candice and put her hand on her shoulder. Looking her straight in the eye she said, “you need to calm down and take a deep breath. You loved this man so much a long time ago, so the least you could do is meet him for dinner and hear him out. Who knows, maybe things have changed in his life. Maybe this is the start of something wonderful. But if you don’t meet up with him you’ll never know.”

Candice let out a long sigh, “I guess you’re right.” She sat down at her desk chair. “I don’t know how I’m going to get any work done this afternoon. I’m way too distracted.

Sofia smiled, “why don’t you go the long way home, clear you head with a walk. Then start to get ready for your date. Take a long, hot bath, pick out a dress and some shoes, do your hair and make-up. Work will always be here. It never seems to end!”

Candice spent most of the afternoon looking for the perfect dress to wear and the right shoes to go with it. She kept thinking about the dress she wore on their last anniversary date. She knew it was Kris’ favourite dress, and even though she had bought many other dresses since, her eyes kept going back to that one. It wasn’t fancy or anything but it was cut in a way that was very flattering. And its navy blue colour brought out her blue eyes.

Candice and Kris’ favourite restaurant, Javuea, was 12 blocks away from her apartment, and she wasn’t about to walk in her heels all the way there, so she got an Uber. She arrived precisely at 7 o’clock, just like Kris knew she would. He had been there for 10 minutes already trying to prepare himself for the night ahead. Their favourite table was in the back corner; it was so private and peaceful.

Kris watched as Candice walked in and talked to the maître d’. Wow, he thought, she’s just as stunning as ever. And she’s wearing my favourite dress. He realized he was holding his breath. Exhale, calm down! You got this! The maître d’ brought her to the table. Kris stood up when she arrived and gave her a little peck on the cheek. He was relieved his weak knees held him up even for just a minute. Strong feelings instantly came over both of them, like a dam that just broke open. Their hearts were racing.

Candice forced herself to speak first. “Hello,” she calmly said, with a beautiful, but nervous smile. Her eyes met his. He had a more mature, weathered look on his face but he was still just as handsome as ever. So handsome it was dangerous.

“Hi,” he replied, voice clearly shaking. “I think we need to talk…”

An Afternoon of Lies and Deception…

One beautiful fall day I was minding my own business in the comfort of my own home, when my mom texted me and asked if I wanted to go for a walk with her and my sister in the trails, just south of town. They’re about seven kilometers in total, and go around some really nice homes and half of a golf course. However, I was not in the mood to go on any sort of walk. Not even remotely. I’m in terrible shape and I know I need to start exercising, but that day was not the day to start making positive life changes.

“Oh come on,” she said, “my hip is sore and Alisha will be pushing a stroller, so we’ll probably only walk for a half hour or so.”

“Ugh, fine,” I groaned.

And thus began the vortex of lies and deception… from my own mother and Pastor…

We got to the trails and since this was only supposed to be a half an hour walk, I thought I would break in my new orthotics.

We started walking when my sister, Alisha asked, “how far do you guys want to go? I was thinking two or three kilometers at least.”

“Ummmm, what? … Mom told me we’d only walk for a half hour…” It is at this point I started to regret my life choices.

Mom piped up, “let’s just walk a couple kilometers and see how we feel.” Not today, Satan, I thought. Not today…

“Oh, so when you said we’d only walk for a half an hour; that was a bold faced lie, then?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was an outright case of bait and switch. And false advertising. And downright deception!

“Oh, you’ll be fine,” replied mom. “Let’s just go.” Classic mom, ‘you’ll be fine’… No, I most assuredly, will not be fine!

We got to the one kilometer mark. It’s not so bad, I haven’t passed out yet. Only one more kilometer to go and we can turn around. Two kilometer mark. I was mid pivot when mom said “let’s just go another half a km.”

More lies and deception…

By this time, we’ve walked by some big, beautiful houses and mom has said a few times that ‘one day’ we should do the whole seven kilometers, because it’s a really pretty walk and she’d like to show us how it ends. Little did I know that ‘one day’ would be that day… I’ll show you how it ends… it ends with me passed out on the middle of the sidewalk. That’s how.

Before I knew it, we’ve passed the three kilometer mark. If we turned around right then, which neither Alisha nor my mom seemed to want to do, it would still be a six kilometer walk. “Let’s just go all the way around,” said mom… or Alisha. I didn’t even know by that point, I was just struggling to survive. My faith in humanity was gone and I succumbed to my fate. I felt so betrayed.

“Aren’t the trees so pretty?” asked mom. Who could even tell? My stubby little legs were working overtime just to keep up, that by that time I was quietly gasping for air, praying that the Lord would return right now. Take me now, dear Lord!

Also at this point, I realized that trying out my orthotics was probably not a good idea. My feet, arches, shins, hamstrings, and hips were all screaming at me. What could I do? I thought. I’ve fallen victim to false advertising and now it’s too late. All hope was gone.

After what felt like a month and a half, we got to the car. I was severely dehydrated. But more than that I felt like there was not enough water in the world to quell the betrayal I felt in my heart. How could they?

… But after driving about five minutes, I took a deep breath and realized, I just walked seven kilometers for the first time since I can remember, and it actually wasn’t that bad. Good for me.

Candice the Lawyer; My How Things Change.

Candice arrived at her office every morning promptly at 7:00 am. She was up enjoying her first cup of coffee by 4:30 and hitting the gym for an hour by 5:00. It took her exactly an hour to shower, get ready and walk to work. She was at her desk, enjoying her second cup of coffee and breakfast by 7:05. Every morning. Without fail.

This Tuesday was no exception. She had a meeting with a client at 8:00 am, but was fully prepared, documents in hand. Olivia, her assistant, was the best in the business and had put everything together the day before. Candice had taught her how to prepare any paperwork in the least amount of time, while still maintaining its integrity. Can’t afford to waste time, but also can’t afford to make mistakes either. When Candice was younger, she had an amazing mentor that taught her so much, so Candice purposed to do that with anyone working with her or under her. And every aspect of life can be built on those two concepts.

The meeting drug on until almost lunch time. Mrs. Jones, the plaintiff, or ex-wife, in other words, was suing her ex-husband for half of their company. They had worked together, building their construction company from scratch, for over 20 years. She was the architect and he was the builder. They had done exceptionally well together, until they hired a cute 25 year old secretary. Mr. Jones was bored and felt that Adelle listened to him much better than Mrs. Jones.

Ugh, men are the worst, Candice thought.

“Mrs. Jones, according to all your documents, you are entitled to 50 percent of the company, plus the money you initially invested as start up. I would suggest either you buy his part of the company and run it yourself, or you let him buy you out. The company is worth eight million, so half of that would obviously be 4 million. By the looks of things, he may not let the company go as easily as you thought. And I highly doubt he is willing to pay the full fifty percent to buy you out. This may get a bit ugly, but I can assure you, I will fight for whatever you decide you want.” She paused, wondering if she should say it, but continued anyways, “to be honest, Mrs. Jones, and not that my opinion matters, but I think it would be really great to see a successful construction company ran by a powerful, well abled woman, such as yourself.”

“Thank you, Candice,” replied Mrs. Jones. Despite feeling the opposite, she appreciated being called powerful. She wiped her eyes with her tissue, picked up her purse and headed for the door.

“You’re welcome. My assistant, Olivia, will be in touch with you later today, once we have notified Mr. Jones’ lawyer.” Candice watched her leave. She remembered seeing Mrs. Jones at a party once. Her dress sparkled, her head was high and she commanded the room. Candice admired her from afar then, and now it seemed as though the shoe was on the other foot. My, how things can sure change in such a short time.

Candice liked to take a walk around Central Park during her lunch, if she was able to. Work demanded a lot, but she also found it important to be able to clear her head for twenty minutes or so. And she could think better after a little stroll around the park. After her meeting with Mrs. Jones, she went back to her office, downed one of Winston’s lunches, and headed passed reception.

The receptionist, Sofia, a cute blonde, with a bubbly personality and the work ethic that couldn’t be matched, was staring at her with the biggest grin on her face. “Candice, someone dropped off something for you, and I really think you’ll want to see it.”

“Well, by the looks of that smile, I’m assuming it’s a good thing,” replied Candice.

“I’ll let you decide.” Sofia went to the back room and came out with a huge bouquet of flowers. Candice took one look at them and stopped dead in her tracks. Sure, many men have done this, it was nothing new. But this bouquet was made entirely of Candice’s favourite flower, and only one person knew what that was. Someone that she hadn’t seen in almost ten years. The love of her life that she let slip away for the sake of her career.

“He came here?” she stuttered. Candice’s heart was racing and her voice was quivering.

“Yes!” Sofia whispered excitedly. Being the eyes and ears of the office, she knew many people’s secrets. Never once did she divulge information to anyone. She knew about Candice’s past… and now what she hoped would be Candice’s future.

Candice’s shaking hand picked up the little card in the middle of the bouquet and took it out of the envelope.

“You’re just as beautiful as I remember. Javuea Restaurant. Tonight at 7:00.”

And like that, it all came flooding back. The memories. The feelings. Everything. “I think I need to go lay down.” Candice turned and headed back toward her office. She had a feeling things were really going change in a really short time…

Candice The Lawyer

Everyone has their way of coping with hard times. Some spend piles of money shopping. Some scroll their life away. Some drink to find relief, or sacrifice everything to find their next high. Some get lost in books or movies. Some try to sleep their pain away. Some find Jesus. While others just exist during hard times. They’re on auto pilot: kids, dishes, laundry, bath time, bed time, groceries, marriage, work… the list goes on. They’re holding their breath, white knuckling it until it ends. If it even does.

If I’m honest, I’ve done a lot of these. I’ve slept. I’ve shopped. I’ve gotten lost in fiction. I’ve scrolled. I’ve found Jesus (actually He rescued me, thank goodness). I’ve been on auto pilot. I’ve even dreamt of what my life would be like if I had made different choices. Or what it would be like if money wasn’t ever an issue.

I wonder.

As I lay in bed in my robe that I just spilled coffee on; another stressful day done, a day that I don’t even want to replay in my mind because I just want it to go away. So instead, I let my mind wander to my own little castle on a cloud. Tonight I cope with my reality by being whoever I want to be and going wherever I want to go in my mind, and then writing about my adventures along the way.

Where do you want to go to today, you may ask.

Anywhere but here, is my reply.

A beach, perhaps? Hmm, not this time. Today I want to be powerful and successful. Ohh, a beautiful and ruthless lawyer in Manhattan. And also, 5’10”.

………..

Candice sat opposite yet another wanna be defense attorney who was trying to force her client to accept a settlement. But of course, she would not have any of it. She knew how they played their game; more specifically, when to call their bluff. She was ruthless, brilliant and beautiful. Every man wanted her and every woman wanted to be her.

She leaned forward in her chair, not leaving his gaze, or backing down. “I believe you’re missing the point, Mr. Edwards.”

“Edmunds,” he corrected.

“Sure,” she brushed him off. Purposely saying someone’s name wrong was a very subtle way of belittling them, without them realizing it. She had many little tools like this in her back pocket that she liked to use often. Especially men. It often threw them off whatever game they thought they had.

Candice continued, “the point is, my client does not deserve to be treated this way by her ex-spouse, or you, for that matter. And we will be seeking full compensation for everything your client has not only stolen from her, but also put her through psychologically. I will not rest until he’s paid back everything in full, and then some.”

Candice’s client, Mrs. Jacobs, who had been sitting sheepishly in her chair, suddenly found the courage to sit up straight. She knew she had picked the right lawyer and was grateful for Candice’s boldness.

“Alright,” said Mr. Edmunds as he stood up from the table, “we’ll see you in court, then.”

Candice smirked and sat back in her chair, “can’t wait,” she replied.

Candice lived in the ritzy part of Manhattan. In the same building as Seth Meyers, and a few other big names. Her two storey apartment was on the 34th floor, and had an amazing view of everything. Central Park, the water on either side of Manhattan, Jersey on one side, Brooklyn on the other. She could even see Times Square and would watch the ball drop from the comfort of her couch, every New Year’s Eve. It was her tradition.

That’s not to say Candice didn’t have a thriving social life. She certainly did. She was invited to the most prominent parties, and attended most of them. She found mingling and small talk boring, especially with the men who were always trying to get her attention, but it was a great way to bring in rich clients. And of course, a great reason to buy a new dress, and maybe another pair of pumps.

She had an entire room in her apartment, made specifically into a dress and shoe closet. Everything was colour coordinated. Work dresses on one side, party dresses on the other. She loved wearing dresses on the shorter side, and had the legs to do it.

Her third room in her apartment was a gym. She was up every morning at 5:00 am, working out. She had a very rigid work out schedule that she stuck to like glue.

She also had a strict diet that she very rarely deviated from. In fact, her personal chef, Winston, came to her place three days a week to pre-make her lunches and suppers. He also did all her grocery shopping. She did enjoy cooking and would sometimes help him with meals, but being a highly sought after lawyer didn’t allow much time for things like that.

Candice was an extremely talented lawyer, graduating at the top of her class just seven years earlier. Two years ago she became partner. She worked harder than anyone in her office, and had everyone’s respect because of it. Hardly any opposing lawyer could beat her. Many tried, extremely few succeeded. So much so, that it became like a challenge to all the other lawyers in the city. If they could beat Candice Bradford, they could beat anyone.

Each new case was exciting to Candice. Every other part of her life was happily predictable, but her cases were by far the opposite. She represented some emotionally abused ex-wives, she represented some Fortune 500 companies, and many things in between. She enjoyed taking on new challenges that she’d never done before. Things were going great for Candice. Every part of her life was amazing and she didn’t think she could be happier.

That is of course, until one day…

Honesty About the In-Between… It Sucks.

I haven’t written anything in weeks because I want to try and be as positive as I can on my blog, and as much as I’ve been searching for the positive, I currently can’t seem to find it. And when I am feeling so down, my creativity goes down the toilet with it. My mind, soul and body are in survival mode, and there’s no room or energy for creativity and positivity. So instead, here’s some honesty.

It feels so selfish to be overwhelmed with my own issues when I know there are so many other conflicts going on in the world right now. And let’s be real, most of them never really get better, we just stop hearing about them because there’s something new and tragic happening somewhere else. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle that never seems to end.

I was going to start this part with something about ‘my ridiculous, petty problems,’ but I know so many of us have been here before. Some, probably numerous times. And that is the place in between the promise given and the promise fulfilled. It’s probably one of the hardest places to be. So it’s not actually petty at all. You can be full of faith and hope one minute and full of doubt and fear the next. Going from wondering if you heard God right to being sorry that you ever doubted. It’s hard to put into words all the feelings and thoughts a person can go through, even in just an hour. But I’m sure you understand.

God has given me some big promises. And I know that He’ll fulfill them like he said he would. But boy oh boy is it ever overwhelming. It all feels like too much. I feel like Peter, when Jesus called him out of the boat to walk on water. As he was walking toward Jesus he looked at the waves and started to doubt and sink, until Jesus took his hand and pulled him up. I can tell that when I take my eyes off Jesus and start looking at my waves, even if it’s just for a second, my waves of fear, doubt and depression start to overcome me, and I start sinking. I want to pack everything in and quit. I feel as if I can’t do it anymore. It’s not worth it.

I started to wonder how I got here and then I remembered that I asked Jesus purify me, to increase my faith, to use me in whatever way he wants to. I told him that I would follow him no matter what, that I would step out in faith no matter what that looks like. I asked for this. I told him that I would lay down my will for his will because I thought his will for me and his plans for me we’re better than I could imagine. And they are.

But I forgot about the in between. In Fact, I didn’t even know there would be an in between, not like this. I didn’t know there would be such a hard season beforehand that looks like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t know that submitting to his will is completely dying to my own, over and over. I’ve heard that saying before many times, but I guess I just didn’t know the extent of it. I didn’t know me asking him to increase my faith meant him asking me to step out in obedience onto to what I thought was nothing, but at the same time expecting him to provide.

I went through a long, dark tunnel before, when I was single. And I guess I just thought that now that I’m married again, everything would be smooth sailing from here on out. I thought that all the promises were finally coming true and I could finally step in to what God has called me to do. But now, my husband and I are just going through the tunnel together. It’s caused us to grow stronger both individually and together, which is amazing. But now, instead of just me being tired, we’re both tired.

Remember that old song that we used to sing, Refiners Fire? I’ve been thinking about that song lately where it says, purify my heart, and I’ve come to realize that I never thought deeply about what that meant. Being refined is beyond hard and messy. Jesus told his disciples once that they didn’t know what they were asking for when they wanted to be seated beside him in glory and that they could drink the same cup as him. Jesus answered way more patiently than I would have, but I’m glad he did, because I’ve realized I’ve asked for the same thing. Refining means being in hard, fiery trials, so he can expose my impurities.

I’m noticing that there are things in my life and in my heart that the Lord is bringing to the surface, that I never thought were there. And things that are showing up that I thought I had already dealt with. There’s been ulterior motives, feelings of anger, bitterness, jealousy, pride. I’ve said probably a million times that I trust the Lord, but this time has made me question if I really do indeed trust him completely. And also, am I chasing after the one who promises or the promises themselves? If he doesn’t breakthrough for me, is he really as good as I’ve always thought? Is every gift from him actually perfect or are some of them broken? Sometimes the refining process for me is so hard that I even question who wins at the end. There have been nights where I just tell him that I’m done, I can’t do this anymore. I’ve hated this process of refining. I’ve hated people, myself, and God sometimes. Especially this week because I’m fasting sugar.

But something in my soul tells me to keep going for just a little bit longer. I can’t quit. I’ve come this far, and if being faithful means being obedient unto completion, that’s what I have to do. At this point I don’t even really feel like I’m doing anything other than trying to keep my head above water and keep myself encouraged. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. In the Psalms, King David had to encourage himself countless times. Things seemed pretty bleak for him at times, and there were times he wanted to quit, but as I read the Psalms more and more, I see how he never stayed in a depressed state of mind. He always trusted the Lord, no matter what.

I keep listening to podcasts about being thankful for the hard times because they’re opportunities for God to restore and rebuild. And when He does that, it’ll be so much better than what we could imagine. Some suggest to ask the Holy Spirit what He wants to be for you during this time or ask what he is trying to say. Some say that the greater the battle means the greater your destiny, or something like that. All of it is extremely humbling, that’s for sure!

I know I’m God’s daughter and I have experienced his goodness and kindness many, many times. I know he loves me and only wants what’s best for me (us). I know I need to pray with faith that he will answer. I know he will break through for me. I know I don’t need to be afraid. I know I can trust him with everything and be at complete peace and rest. I know I can expect great and amazing things from my heavenly Father. And I do.

If I’m honest, I guess I’m just tired of being in the in-between. And I think God is okay with it. He knows. He’s not offended with my questions and doubts. I know this because when I tell him how much it sucks, instead of getting frustrated with me, he showers me with more grace. He prompts someone to text me and let me know they’re praying for me. He encourages me with a song or a scripture. He speaks to me in dreams. He brings me a copious amount of groceries in the form of my wonderful mother-in-law. He paints me a beautiful sunset that I can see out my back window. He showers me with pure, unconditional love.

There’s no real theme to this post. I really just wanted to get my heart out on paper. Maybe offer myself, and you, if you need it, some encouragement. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And until our physical situations change, cling on to Jesus for dear life. He’s the only true light, anyways. In the grand scheme of things, it may not be a big deal. Compared to other places, we have it amazingly good. Yes, that’s true. But the beauty of God is that he cares about what’s going on in the world just as much as what’s going on in our hearts. Pretty cool, huh?

“Then I will say to my soul, “Don’t be discouraged; don’t be disturbed, for I fully expect my Saviour-God to break through for me.”   Psalm 43:5

Get Your Dream On!

My whole life, I’ve been too scared to dream. I just wanted to do what God wanted me to do; which, to me, was living from paycheque to paycheque, surviving, never missing church on Sunday, pouring everything we could into said church, trying to get people to come to church, and not really living in true joy. It’s what I grew up with and what I knew. I thought when I grow up, I’ll get married, have a couple of kids and that will be pretty much it.

I tried my hand at college, but the sophomore slump is an uphill battle and I only made it halfway through my second year before I came home. So any dream of getting a degree and doing something with my life, died. Back to square none.

I don’t even think I realized that I could dream until I was a newly single mom of three very little girls, and I didn’t know what my next move was. I would pray, “God, I don’t know what you want me to do with my life. I don’t have a dream for myself and I don’t know what to do.” I didn’t even know how to dream or what it looked like to dream.

I remember standing in my kitchen, praying about this and the Lord said to me, “you don’t know what to dream because the dream I have for you is bigger than you could ever imagine for yourself.”

I thought, well I do enjoy speaking, so maybe I could be the next Lisa Bevere or Christine Caine or women like that, in ministry. The Lord told me to think bigger. I didn’t know what could be bigger than that. However, I also realized that whatever we’re doing, when it’s God’s dream for us, it’s huge. Whether it’s being a mom to three little girls or being a speaker and preacher known worldwide, it’s all big to God.

I think as moms especially, I suppose dad‘s too, when we are in the mundane, day-to-day, raising kids, living from paycheque to paycheque, and just surviving, we don’t dream. We don’t know how to dream, or we just put whatever dream we may have, to the side. But when we put our dreams away for a long period of time, or even permanently, it can cause us to lose hope.

Writing wasn’t a dream of mine until recently. It started as more of a battle actually. The Lord would asked me to write and I would think of every excuse not to. I kept myself so busy doing so many other things. I didn’t think that I was a good writer, either. I still sometimes struggle with that actually, but like anything in life, the more we practice, the better we become. I enjoy it now, and look forward to getting my thoughts on paper.

I also thought that if the Lord wanted me to write and speak, that I would go from being not known what-so-ever, to very known like Lisa Bevere or Joyce Meyer, in no time. If God was going to make it happen, there would be no in between and I wouldn’t have to work for it. I see now that that’s not how it works. Honestly, it makes me chuckle thinking I had that kind audacity.

Now, I am trying to follow the Lord‘s leading and do what he’s asked me to do. Sometimes it’s with a fight. I tell him that I am very unqualified, I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know how to do it and I don’t want to do it. But deep inside the very core of my heart, there’s a dream and a love for writing and speaking. And the more I do it, the more I can’t stop thinking about it, the more ideas I get, the more it comes to me in the night time, and the more passion I have for it.

I also think that the idea I had in my mind about what writing would look like, was more glamorous than it is. Often times, we have a picture of what we think it should look like when we do it. I never pictured myself sitting at my desk in my bathrobe, with major bad head and remnants of yesterday‘s make up still on my face, drinking coffee, trying to get my ideas on paper before my head explodes. But here I am, in all this glory, and getting up every five minutes to let my dog in and out, because she can’t decide what she wants to do with her life either.

I had a conversation with a friend who said that she’s been afraid to dream for quite some time. But God has been speaking to her about her dreams and the things that he has planned for her. After seeing me go for my dreams she was inspired to dream again, too. The baby dream seed I recently started nurturing into something bigger, little by little, has prompted her to start nurturing her baby dream seed.

I often think of the verse in Ephesians, that God is able to do more than we could ever ask for, think of, and dream for, according to the power that works in us (3:20). He has way bigger dreams for us than we could ever have for ourselves. Getting out of the mindset of settling for the mundane, day to day it’s not something I want do anymore. When Ephesians 3:20 says, according to the power that works in us, to me, that means taking the first step into the unknown, into a life that we didn’t know we could dream for.

We tell her kids to dream big! They can be anything they want to be! So let’s tell ourselves that too! No matter how much life we’ve already lived, we can still be anything we want to be! More than likely, the dream that you have for yourself; the huge one that’s in the back closet of your heart and soul, the one that keeps you up at night, the one you would never voice out loud because it’s so big; that dream was put there by the Lord, himself.

Sure, you might have to wait a few years until the kids get a little older and you’re in a better position to pursue your dream. Or maybe you don’t have to wait! Maybe you can step out right now. And maybe it will only be a baby step, in a direction you don’t know, where it feels so dark and uncomfortable. When I initially asked the Lord how to take the first step, and which direction to go, he just said, “just go forward.” I had no idea what that looked like.

Talk to people who you know will encourage you with your dream, even if it’s just in part. I’ve had people give me huge time management ideas, in quick, passing conversations. I was dropping my daughter off to a birthday party, and my daughter’s friend’s mom, told me what she does to make time for her dream. It was so helpful! Other people have really encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to give up. Still others have given me contacts, websites to go to, good apps to use, or ideas on how to get my book from my computer, to published, and into the hands of readers.

It is God’s pure joy and delight to see us living our dream. To see us living the dream that he planted into our hearts before we were even born. So I encourage you to take that first step!

When We Get What We Don’t Deserve

Two years ago, a special speaker came to our church and gave my husband and me a prophetic word. At the time we weren’t married yet, it was about a week before our wedding. He told us that after a certain amount of time, the Lord would give us a property. However, first God would highlight it to us and then we’d have to fight for it. Even frequently stepping on the property or land and claiming it as ours. But in the end, it would be ours. We thought it was a great word and often wondered how it would play out. But, like every prophetic word, it had to be tested to see if it lined up with scripture and confirmed with what we believe God wanted for us.

We put that word away for a while because we knew it wasn’t the right time. Just adapting to blending a family was hard enough for a year and a half… let’s be honest, it’s still hard. But earlier this spring, we decided to start looking around for a different house. Ours just wasn’t working for what we needed with five kids. After looking with our realtor a couple times and nothing jumping out at us, I prayed and asked the Lord to show us the perfect house. The next day, my sister in law texted me and said she knew of a beautiful, brand new house that we might love. We went and looked at it and I knew instantly that it was the one. We had absolute peace and assurance that this was what God wanted for us.

We call the new house Aunt Viv because she’s so classy, just like (the first) Aunt Viv on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

We had been approved for a mortgage much higher than I expected, but Aunt Viv was even higher than that amount. Through some shifting of a few things and agreeing to pay off all debts with the equity of our current home, our wonderful mortgage broker initially made it word. So we jumped and put an offer on our dream home, before anyone else could snatch it up. Lord knows many people tried after, and were not happy they missed out on making an offer. But because we knew the home builder personally, they gave us their word they would keep Aunt Viv for us for us for as long as we needed them to. They were and are, simply wonderful people to us.

Since then, we’ve had to, and are still having to jump through numerous hurdles. It’s been like taking two steps forward and one step back. But we’re still moving forward, and that’s what we have to focus on every day. We fixed up our current house, put it on the market, and it sold after two weeks. That was probably the longest two weeks of my life.

During that time I had to do some major self and marriage evaluations. I realized I entertained the spirit of divorce much too often. I call it a spirit because I realized through a dream, that’s exactly what it was. My husband and I never spoke about divorce itself, but I found myself letting the thought come to my mind, even if I was just a little frustrated. The equity in my current house became my back door, and since I have been divorced before, it would be no big deal. But divorce is a big deal and should never ever be an option (unless there are cases of adultery or abuse). Once I realized what I was doing, I genuinely repented to the Lord and to my husband. Shortly after that, we received and accepted an offer on our current house. The back door was locked and sealed shut!

I tell part of the story to say that we’ve definitely had to contend for Aunt Viv. We’re still contending every day. And just when we feel like we want to give up, God does something to encourage us to keep going. My husband drives by Aunt Viv every day. He’s poured oil around it, claiming it as ours. We’ve done communion in Aunt Viv with our kids and by ourselves, thanking God for all he’s done for us. We’ve purposed to always speak life over the entire situation, and never death. There’s a few more hurdles to go through, but there’s also no plan B for us.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in all of this, is that God loves his kids and loves to give us gifts. We, by no means deserve anything he gives us. We may have to contend for some gifts, but that doesn’t mean we deserve them. We may think we deserve it because we work hard in our job, but it’s the Lord who gave us that job and the ability to work. I know I don’t deserve this new house. I look at it and my eyes and heart swell with gratitude.

We don’t deserve the clean air we breathe, but God’s goodness allows us to have it. We don’t deserve his love and mercy. Nevertheless, he still freely gives it to us. The very fact that he saved me still blows me away.

I used to be self-righteous and thought that I had good things because I am a good Christian. I had such a smug, better than everyone attitude. I’ve since been knocked down a few pegs, which was again, God being merciful and kind to me. Sometimes his loving kindness stings a little, but it makes us more aware of who we really are, both with and without him.

Sometimes, God’s kindness and goodness is in the form of a beautiful brand new home that we could never get on our own, which also makes us aware of who we really are, both with and without him. For all the ways he shows us kindness, goodness, mercy and love, I will be forever and ever grateful.