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The God We Serve Knows ONLY How to Triumph!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the world is a completely insane place to live in right now. I, myself, have been trying to hide under said rock as much as possible because I find myself easily overwhelmed with everything that’s going on. Honestly, I constantly struggle with trying to stay hopeful, and feel like the less I know, the better. Of course, that can’t happen because negativity is everywhere. Every time I go to the store and have to put on a mask, I panic and need to get in and out as quickly as possible. Masks don’t seem to bother a lot of people, but I constantly fight for breath and battle anxiety while wearing one. And that’s nothing compared to all the political craziness going on everywhere, the skyrocketing suicides, the collapsed economy, the double standards and inconsistencies in our new laws and regulations, and the pending doom many feel the world is moving towards. I could go on and on.

Deep Breath.

My head knows that God has everything under control, but a lot of times, my heart needs convincing. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Or sometimes it’s both.

A couple months ago, song lyrics came to me in my sleep. This has happened a few times, but this particular time, I couldn’t actually place where the song the lyrics were from. I may have been dreaming or half-awake by this point, but I kept trying to think of what song they were from. “The God we serve knows only how to triumph!” Where have I heard that before? Then the next line came: “my God will never fail!” I didn’t know until the next day that the song, “See a Victory,” plays on our local Christian radio station often. That was the song! The only place I’d heard it before was from when I listen to Elevation Worship music on my phone. And I really didn’t put it all together and consider the lyrics until a couple days later.

Many prophets and apostles in the Bible believed that their triumph was actually dying for the sake of Christ. I suppose when I think of triumph I think of winning in a physical sense. Being vindicated. Coming into a lot of money, perhaps. Becoming ‘successful’, to whose standards, I don’t know. But the more I ponder triumph, maybe God’s definition and mine, are not alike at all.

Regardless of what we think triumph looks like, did you know that the God we serve knows ONLY how to triumph? He doesn’t know failure. He doesn’t know defeat. He doesn’t know how to lose. He always wins. Whether it looks like it to us or not, He wins. Because that’s all He knows. It looked like He lost when He gave his last breath on the cross. Onlookers and followers had given up and went home by this point. But they didn’t know what was around the corner. They didn’t know what we see as loss, He sees as a victory.

And believe it or not, He’s winning right now! Despite everything going on around us, He’s moving, He’s healing, He’s saving, He’s redeeming, He’s restoring, He’s loving, He’s speaking, He’s providing, He’s shaking things up, He’s doing far beyond what we could ever dream of… He’s triumphing!

And no matter what is going on in life, I have found if I repeat the words “the God we serve knows only how to triumph,” I start to believe them. And the more I believe them, the more my faith grows. And the more my faith grows, the more I actually see triumphs taking place all around me, big and small.

Help! I’m drowning!

Lately I’ve been seeing the number 47 everywhere. Yesterday I saw it on the clock 6 different times. I’ve been thinking about this chapter in Ezekiel for quite some time, and I think the two correlate.

Ezekiel 47

The River From the Temple

1 The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east)…. As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits[a] and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea…. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

I suppose this passage, like most other passages of scripture, can be interpreted many different ways. It’s one of the most beautiful and frustrating things about when God speaks; he’s so cleverly specific but abstract all at the same time. One sentence can mean a hundred different things. I have learned not to be disappointed when a word from God doesn’t happen, because when I look back at said word, I realize I am the one who interpreted it incorrectly. But I digress.

I’ve read the book of Ezekiel before but I really understood this passage better after I read a fantastic book written by Heidi Baker called, “Birthing The Miraculous.” Her whole theme was about being so submersed in God that you can do nothing apart from him. She is a missionary in Africa, who’s been through some extremely crazy things, but her life goal is to bring 1 million children to Christ. When I first read her book, I didn’t necessarily want to be a missionary to any remote country, but I did (and still do) want to be so fully submersed in God that he becomes the very air I breathe. I wanted what she had but wasn’t sure how to go about it.

This past few years have been extremely hard. And every year is a different kind of hard than the previous. This last summer, I was so incredibly down that I felt like I was drowning in depression, amongst other things. One morning my mom asked me how I was doing and I told her that I felt like I was drowning. “That’s interesting that you mention that,” she said, “because last night I had a dream that you did drown.” I could tell she was pretty upset.

The next morning I was at prayer meeting and while trying to keep it together, my sister’s father-in-law, who I greatly respect, looked at me and said, “you may feel like you’re drowning in a negative way, but I think it’s a good way. Like in Ezekiel, the river gets so deep that he can’t cross. That’s the river of God that we need to be in, way over our heads.”

I thought of Heidi’s book that I had read and realized that he was right. Extremely hard times should bring us closer to Him. They’re what pull us under and closer. They’re what bring us closer to his heart.

The other day someone asked me, “doesn’t God want us to be happy?” Yes and No. Yes he wants us to be happy, but not by making our outward circumstances better. It’s a life-long process but I know for myself, I need to learn to be happy in whatever situation I’m in. Joyful or dire. And to be only happy if I’m completely yielded to him and his will for me, no matter what it is.

Marriage is really hard. Blending a family is really hard. Loving on and pouring into all of my family members unconditionally, genuinely yet all differently is proving to be impossible. I can’t do it on my own. I constantly, every minute of the day, need Jesus. I really am in way over my head.

Fruit grows in our hard times. Along the banks of the river is where it is the best place for trees to grow. The death from the Dead Sea becomes alive once the fresh water touches it. The life the fresh water gives is imminently everywhere. And not just the ankle or knee deep fresh water; the deep, over our heads, impossible to cross water. The water that is so deep, where the only footing we could catch is His.

Being completely submersed, in over our heads, doing the impossible is right where God wants us. We’ve completely let go of our own insecurities, our own wants and desires, our own everything. We’ve been crucified with Christ, which means we have died to what our flesh wants. When our flesh wants to get angry, annoyed, offended, etc., we instead forget about our feelings and pour even more of ourselves out, showing unconditional love. When our flesh doesn’t want to stand for truth or wants to water down the gospel, we instead hold on to truth, to the word, like never before, and lovingly share our convictions.

Instead of the ‘me’ message the world preaches, we do the opposite, and it in, find life. We die to live, we give without expectation, but somehow receive anyways, we love because he first loved us. We drown in God’s river, so to speak, so we can be full and overflowing in him. We do the impossible, because he’s asked us to.

The Scripture that Irked Me…

Luke 10:38 – 42 (NIV)

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

For the longest time, this was my least favourite story in scripture. In fact, it really frustrated me. I would defend Martha to anyone, because if she didn’t do all of the preparations, like make the meals, no one would have eaten.

As was probably similar to that day, I picture my grandfather, my dad, my husband, and many other men I know who work hard to provide for their families, but don’t necessarily work in the kitchen, and have a certain expectation that their wives cook for them. It might be an old school way of thinking, but it’s been around for centuries and it’s what I know. (I don’t currently work out of the home, so I’m happy to do it.)

If you have potluck dinners at your church, how many men help out with them? None or not many? Probably. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just saying that’s how it is. The expectation is silently there, and we all know it.

So in this story, I picture the men listening to Jesus, yet wondering what’s for lunch. There’s an expectation that Martha will provide a meal. And she feels the weight of the expectation, knowing that if she doesn’t provide food, her guests will not be happy. She’ll be shamed for not being the hostess the Levitical law demands.

Then there’s Mary. She clearly doesn’t care about feeding all these houseguests that she probably didn’t even want in her house in the first place. Typical younger sister. In my mind, Martha’s the older of the two, based on her sense of responsibility and go getter attitude. That’s our job as the oldest, but it would be nice to have the younger siblings help every once and a while. (When we were kids, my younger sister purposely refused to learn how to do things so that she wouldn’t ever be asked to do them. Callous and brilliant all at the same time!)

I completely understand and empathize with Martha’s frustration. Hence why I never liked this story. All she wants is for Jesus to stick up for her and get some help, and he has the audacity to take the other side! I wonder what went on in her mind after Jesus stuck up for Mary. I would have been fuming mad. “Fine then, ya’ll can starve then. See if I care.”

But something wonderful happened to me last night. Completely changed the game for me. I realized Martha was talking to Jesus, the miracle-working provider. Last night, the Lord let me in on a little secret: if Martha would have chosen the same as Mary, Jesus would have provided the meal, like he had so many other times before. He turned water into wine at a wedding, when there was no more left. He fed thousands of people with only a few loaves of bread and a couple fish, more than once. He would have done it again here, if needed.

I then pictured a different story. Maybe how Jesus would have really liked it to go: as Jesus is talking and Mary is sitting at his feet, drinking in every word, he sees Martha struggling inwardly. He knows she so desperately wants to do the same, but the expectation of the meal is there and she’s torn. He catches her eye and nods his head, motioning her to come join them. She sighs heavily and is about to turn away, towards the kitchen, but then stops. “Wait,” she thinks to herself, “if he’s asking me to come, and I really want to come, perhaps I should surrender the expectation of everyone else, and just come.” So she breaks the Levitical law of being a good hostess, and joins her sister on the floor, right at Jesus’ feet. No one will be having lunch at her house, she supposes.

Jesus smiles and keeps sharing. I can see him beaming with joy, because that’s all he wants from her: her undivided attention and whole heart.

The ‘service’ is over and people are hungry. Martha gets up off the floor and starts to panic a bit. Now what does she do? She timidly heads for the ‘kitchen’ wondering what to do with all these hungry people. She looks up and stops right in her tracks. The table is full of beautiful, delicious dishes of food. More than she could have ever made herself! Some were dishes she had never even seen before! “Oh, why did I ever worry? I know Jesus is my provider! I should have known that if he asked me to be with him, he’d make a way where there was no way!”

She looks through the crowd of now very happy people, and catches Jesus’ eye. He lovingly smiles and offers her a wink. Their little secret. Her heart is fuller than it has ever been in her life.

Everyone eats and is delightfully satisfied. Her delicious dinner is the talk of the town. And no one knows, except her and Jesus that she didn’t even make it. Instead, she surrendered her time to him, and in return, he wonderfully took care of all the other details. Just like he’s always done, and will continue to do, for every surrendered life.

I’m not saying that you should quit your job, or stop cooking dinner for your family. Responsibilities of life must still be done. I am saying that there are things in our lives, mine included, we are concerned about, that are not important. Expectations that we put on ourselves that don’t need to be there. What amount of time could be better spent at Jesus’ feet, soaking in his words, getting to know his beautiful, perfect heart? What am I willing to give up to do this?

Blessed is She who has Believed

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45

A couple months ago, I was listening to someone read the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, and when she read this verse, something in my soul soared with joy. It was as if it literally jumped off the page and into the very depths of my heart. I knew it was for me and have been thinking about this scripture ever since.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

God has given me a lot of promises. Some have already came to fruition, many still haven’t. Some I’ve been waiting for, for a very long time. To the point where I even doubt them. “Was it really God who promised me this? Maybe it was just my imagination, maybe I heard wrong. If it really was him, why is it taking so long? Maybe he meant that I need to make things happen for myself.”

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

If I’m honest, I sometimes struggle with believing. I doubt God way more than I should. Not that he can do amazing things, I know he can do anything. But I sometimes doubt that he’ll do it for me. I mean, why would he? I’m just a nobody who doesn’t deserve much. Nothing good ever happens to me…

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Did you know that if you say something enough times, whether it’s positive or negative, true or not, you’ll believe it? So when those little ‘woe is me’ lies start creeping in, I’ve learned to cast them down and instead repeat positive, life affirming things. Read aloud scripture over and over until I feel better. Sometimes it’s easier to do than others. But God has been so patient with me. Just when I feel like I can’t stay afloat anymore, he throws me another buoy to cling to. Like this verse.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

The gospel of Luke starts with Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. While he was doing his priestly duties, and angel appeared to him and said they’d have a son. Since Elizabeth was barren, Zechariah strongly doubted. Seriously, who doubts an actual angel?! My favourite part of the story is when the angel came to him, he said, “I have come to tell you that your prayer for a child has been answered” (Luke 1:13 TPT). The footnotes in The Passion Translation say that there’s a Greek verb in there that would make it read, “the prayer you don’t even pray anymore.” If that’s the case, doesn’t the scripture bring on a whole new meaning? I know a few couples who have been hoping and praying for years for a baby, and I can only imagine what it must feel like. Month after month of anticipation and then disappointment. Then year after year. Honestly, I don’t envy anyone in this position.

How long would you pray for a child before you stopped? I suppose once a woman hits menopause, about the age of 50, she’d give up that prayer. And if Elizabeth got married at the age of 15, which was common in that day, that could mean they prayed for a child for about 35 years. And if she had already accepted her fate and stopped praying, we can assume the angel appeared another few years after her womb was dead. On the one hand, I understand Zechariah’s doubt. It was obviously impossible. But on the other hand, he was standing in front of an actual angel of the most-high God. And absolutely nothing is impossible with God. Sure enough, Elizabeth became pregnant with a son.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Then there was Mary. She was a virgin. An angel appeared to her to tell her that she’d become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. And do you know what she did? She believed! This, too, was impossible. But she believed anyways.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

I wish I was less like Zechariah and more like Mary. I wish I could just take God at his word. On the one hand, what he has promised me is impossible. But on the other hand, he’s the God of the universe and can do whatever he wants for whom ever he wants. He promises each of us different things at different times. Why do we have such trouble accepting and believing God wants to do amazing things for us and through us?

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

I bet there are promises from God you’ve forgotten about, or prayers you don’t pray anymore. Maybe it’s time to revisit them. Maybe it’s time to start believing again. Believe that the Lord would fulfill his promise to you, whether this year or in the years to come. Blessing awaits if you do!

“Blessed are you who believe that the Lord will fulfill his promises to you!”

Marriage

When I was in university, which seems like a lifetime ago, I wrote a paper for my political studies class about divorce culture and the three most popular reasons why people get divorced. One of the main reasons was people’s right to be happy. I have the right to be happy and you’re not making me happy, so I want to divorce you. I don’t care how you or the kids feel, I’m not happy so we’re over.

Having gone through a divorce myself, I can say that that’s such a terrible excuse to put your family through such tragedy. Looking back, the effects on my children alone, would have been enough for me to stay. And I did stay, for a long time, even when I really should have left. I would have stayed in my unhappy marriage until the Lord returned. So you can imagine my dismay when my then husband left because he was ‘unhappy.’

Since then I’ve gotten married again. And I sometimes feel like because I’ve already been through one divorce, it wouldn’t be as hard to go through a second one. Being single for three years prior to my second marriage, I’ve proven to myself that I can live alone just fine. I’ve raised three daughters, fixed my own dishwasher, unclogged my bathtubs, programmed my garage door, put together and taken apart furniture, hung heavy pictures on my walls, built two kitchen tables from scratch, all on my own. I’ve even been my own best friend. If I’m honest, I’ve sometimes told myself that if I’m not ‘happy’, I could leave and it probably wouldn’t be a huge deal. I’m sure we’ve probably all been there more than once.

Marriage is freaking hard. It’s forgiving someone when we want to stay mad at them. It’s saying we’re sorry when we’re not. It’s showing compassion when we want to roll our eyes and tell them to get over it. It’s not keeping records of all their wrongs. It’s always believing in the best of them. It’s not being offended even when they’ve hurt us deeply. It’s selflessly serving when we just want to think about ourselves for once. It’s listening to them talk about the same things over and over again and not walking away. It’s not getting annoyed when they show more affection to the dog than us. It’s sticking it out, even when we don’t feel like it. It’s choosing to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. It’s talking about sports when we really couldn’t care less. It’s freezing to death just so they can be at a comfortable temperature. It’s staying when we want to leave. It’s appreciating that they have all these feelings too.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with frustration and even find myself depressed. My list of criticisms extend far beyond they ever should. I sometimes beg God for grace to not drown in self-pity and get me through the day. To love unconditionally and show compassion, despite how I feel. And remember that there are many frustrating things about me that my husband graciously overlooks.

For example, there were times I got frustrated that he’d leave his collections of things all over the house. Every time I picked up after him I became more and more resentful. Then the Lord gently reminded me that I’m the exact same way. I often leave my things everywhere, but because they’re mine, I don’t mind them there. Despite how I might make jabs at him about his copious amount of things, he’s never once pointed a finger back or been rude about it to me.

I sometimes wonder if the things I get so frustrated about with him, are the same things I need to change in my own life and don’t, therefore take it out on him. Do I give him a hard time about how many pairs of shoes he owns because I actually have that many myself, most that I never wear but can’t get rid of? Do I get annoyed at how he takes things so personal, because I do the same thing? Does he leave his needless crap everywhere just so I’ll be more considerate of where I put my things?

The truth is, contrary to popular opinion, we don’t have a right to be happy in marriage. Once we make that “for better or worse” promise, we give up that right. Countless times in the Bible, it says to serve one another in love, kindness, compassion and humility. Unconditional love really is the key to unity. We are to honour our spouse, even when we don’t think they deserve it. Lord knows, Jesus constantly does this for us, even though we have absolutely no merit. The second we start thinking of ourselves first, we start to feel resentment come knocking on our heart’s door. It then becomes so easy to forget all of their good qualities, as if they never had any at all.

My husband is one of the most thoughtful men you’ll ever meet. Every day on his way home from work, he’ll call and ask if I need him to pick anything up. Often times, without asking, he’ll bring me home a coffee, just because. He loves to give gifts and has bought things for members of my family because he knows they’d like it. He always comes up town with me, even if he doesn’t feel like, just because he knows it means a lot to me. He started going to counselling so he could learn tools to interact and empathize with my girls more effectively. He always has my back, no matter what.

I finally told him today that my most favourite thing he does is call me his wife. Even to our kids. He’ll say things like “I don’t appreciate you talking to my wife like that,” or “I’m taking my wife on a date.” To his friends he’ll say, “my wife makes really good cupcakes,” or “my wife made our kitchen table.” I’ve never been with someone who was actually proud to be associated with me, so it means the world to me.

So as I sit here listening to him talk to the hockey players on TV as if they can hear, I smile to myself and thank God for the precious gift God has given me. He’s not perfect by any means, and often drives me crazier than I’d like; but he is mine, and I will do my absolute best to honour, serve and love him. Some days, it’s easier to do than other days, but that’s marriage. And surprisingly, the less I make it about myself, the happier I actually am.

The Day Sofia Evelina was Disappointed

         The days were getting shorter and the weather was getting colder. People often let that get them down, but not Sofia Evelina. For her that meant Christmas was coming! And the colder it became, the closer it got to her most favourite time of the whole year: Christmas! Sofia loved not having to go to school during Christmas break, and getting to sleep in. She loved all the yummy baking her mom did. But mostly, she loved all the presents under the tree, because many of them were for her!

         This year she had exactly 12 things on her wish list. And on the very top of her list was a new tablet. She didn’t really care about anything else as much as that! She had gotten one a few years before, but it wasn’t working anymore, and she desperately wanted a new one so she could play online games with her friends. Sofia hated being the only kid who didn’t have anything to play when everyone else had one. It just wasn’t fair! She absolutely needed a new tablet. No doubt about it!

         Sofia told both her mom and dad at least 6 times a day that she wanted a new tablet for Christmas. And even though they each made absolutely no promises to get her one, Sofia just knew deep down in her heart that she’d be getting one for Christmas. After all, her big sister had one, so it just made sense that she had one too. And if her dad didn’t get her one, she was sure her mom would.

         The count-down was on. Only 5 more sleeps until Christmas Eve with her dad, and 6 sleeps until Christmas Day with her mom. It couldn’t get here fast enough!

         4 more sleeps!

         3 more sleeps! Maybe she should check under her mom’s tree and see what kind of boxes her presents were in. Might give her a better idea… She checked under the tree while her mom was busy. There were no names on any of the gifts! Just boxes wrapped with different kinds of paper and coloured ribbons. What is this?! Which presents were hers? Ugh, she couldn’t tell. No point to look, she thought.

         2 sleeps! Ahh! The suspense was killing her!

         1. More. Sleep…

         Finally! The day was FINALLY here! Sofia was so excited she had hardly slept the night before. She was so sure she’d be opening up a new tablet today from her dad and step mom. If not, then for sure tomorrow at her mom and step dad’s.

         The morning dragged on, then the afternoon. When her mom dropped her off at her dad’s house, she thought she’d go investigate under his tree. Nothing looked like a tablet box. Don’t give up hope, she told herself.

She had filled her tummy with so many cookies and her heart with so much excitement, she couldn’t even eat the big, delicious turkey dinner her step mom made.

          At last! IT WAS TIME! She ripped open the paper of the first box: new shirts. Then another: room décor. Another box: 2 books. No tablet. Last box… could it be? She tore the paper, and much to her dismay, it was a jewelry box! Those things were on her list, but she’d give them up in a heartbeat just to have a new tablet.

         “We know you wanted a new tablet, Sofia, but we just couldn’t do it this year. We’re sorry,” said dad, sadly.

         Sofia was disappointed, but knew there was still a chance tomorrow. “It’s okay daddy,” she replied.

         Later that night, back at her mom’s, she laid in bed, praying so hard that she’d get her wish. “God, I know you’re busy, but I absolutely need a tablet for Christmas! Amen.”

         Her alarm went off at 6:00 am. Christmas morning was here at last! She ran down the stairs to the living room. The rest of the family lagged behind, still very sleepy. They gathered around the tree and her step dad read the Christmas story from the Bible. Ugh, this is taking forever, she thought.

         Finally, it was her turn to open gifts. First gift: a soft blanket. Second gift: a set of pretty markers. Third and final gift: some new clothes. Sofia tried not to look too disappointed, but inside she was devastated. Her mom looked at her, “I’m sorry honey, but this year we just couldn’t afford to get you a new tablet. We know you really want one, but it just couldn’t happen this year.”

         Crushed, but not wanting to hurt her mom’s feelings she said, “thank you for the gifts. I think I’m going to go to my room and have a rest.” And with that, she ran up the stairs and sobbed into her pillow. After about twenty minutes, her mom knocked on the door and walked in her room.

         Sofia wanted to talk to her mom, but she was so overwhelmed with disappointment that she just couldn’t. Her mom laid down beside Sofia and started crying too. Puzzled, Sofia turned towards her mom and said, “mom, why are you crying?”

         “Because this has been a very hard year for a lot of people, including us. I so desperately wanted to get you what you wanted, and I tried so hard to make it work. I know you’re so disappointed, and I am too. A lot of things just haven’t worked out for us. I so very proud of you and wanted to get you the best gift I could. And I promise, as soon as we’re able to, we’ll get you a new tablet.”

         Now Sofia was sad and disappointed. Christmas was supposed to be a happy day, but this day was not happy at all! They both laid on Sofia’s bed, snuggling in the blankets and cuddling close.

         Suddenly Sofia had an idea! Every single time she felt down, her mom would help her practice thankfulness. Now, she thought, would be a really good idea to practice that again. “Mom,” she whispered, “I know what we need to do.”

         Her mom smiled, “oh yeah? What’s that?”

         Sofia giggled, “Oh mom, I know you know, too!”

         “Maybe, but I still want you to say it.”

         “Okay,” Sofia took a deep breath. “We need to say what we’re thankful for. I’ll go first. I’m thankful that I have parents and step parents who love me. I’m thankful for the great holiday we’ve been having so far. I’m thankful for my presents that I did get. I’m thankful for Christmas and that Jesus came to the world as a baby so he could die for us and save us from our sins. And I declare that this next year is going to be a great year, no matter what happens.” At that moment, she could feel peace and joy wash over her, and smiled.

         “My turn,” said mom. She took a deep breath, “I am so incredibly thankful that I have a daughter like you. There are no words to describe how much I love you. You are such a beautiful treasure that I don’t deserve. I’m thankful that I have just a glimpse of how much God loves me, because of how much I love you. And I’m thankful that no matter what happens in the world or what the years bring, we will always have each other!”

         Sofia didn’t get a tablet that Christmas, even though she really wanted one. She was sad about it, but figured maybe she could do extra chores to save up for one. At the end of the day, she knew that she had more than what a lot of other people had, and that was a family that truly loved God and each other. And that was better than all the tablets in the world!

The Day Sofia Evelina was Afraid

Sofia Evelina’s bed time was always 8:00 during the week. And she didn’t like it. Everyone in the house all got to stay up later. But her and her younger sister Tenley, always had an earlier bed time. Sometimes, Sofia would cry about having to go to bed so early, other times she would beg her mom or her step-dad Kris to let her stay up later. But the answer was always no.

During one spring, for an entire week, it was especially difficult for Sofia to go to sleep. And when she did fall asleep, she’d wake up at least once or twice during the night with bad dreams. It was very hard on Sofia, she was becoming more and more scared of bed time every day. And more and more tired!

         As Sofia’s mom was putting her to bed one evening, Sofia cried about going to bed. Mom laid down beside her and put the blankets over both of them. Snuggling really tight together, she asked her what was really going on.

         “Well,” said Sofia, “I’ve been having a lot of bad thoughts before bed and bad dreams while I’m sleeping. I’m scared there’s monsters in my closet. I’m scared that you’re going to leave me and I won’t have a mom any more. And I dream that my whole family dies except me, and I’m all alone. I keep having all these bad thoughts and dreams, and they just won’t go away!”

         “Oh honey! Why didn’t you tell me all these things before? I knew you were having bad dreams, but these are worse than I thought!” Sofia’s mom put her arm around her and pulled her in tight.

         “I don’t know why I didn’t tell you. I guess I thought maybe they’d go away. And I didn’t think you’d care that much.”

         “Why wouldn’t I care? I love you and care about everything that goes on in your life. All the things you care about, I care about. Just like our heavenly Father cares about them too.”

         “Well, I was scared that you’d get mad, and maybe even leave. And I couldn’t stop thinking that you wouldn’t want me anymore!”

         Mom didn’t know how to respond. Part of her was upset that her daughter would think that after all she has done for her, Sofia would still think that she didn’t want her and would leave. But the other part knew that those thoughts were lies from the enemy that needed to leave her mind right then and there! Closing her eyes, mom whispered a silent prayer for God’s help with what to say to her beloved daughter.

Cupping Sofia’s face in her hands, looking at her straight in the eye, mom said, “Sofia, my love. You know that I love you more than anything in the whole world. You know that I would never leave you. I never have before and I never will. Ever. The thoughts you’re letting come into your mind are lies from the enemy. You have to stop thinking them. The Bible says to take every thought captive against the knowledge of Christ, and that means that every thought we have, line it up with what Christ says about us. If it doesn’t match up, put it out of your mind. And Christ only says good things about us, so whatever we think should be good. Dreams are kind of the same, but kind of different. We can’t really control what we dream, but we control what we think about before we go to bed, and sometimes, both are similar. If you’re afraid before you go to bed, chances are you might have a scary dream. That’s why we always pray before bed, that God would give you good dreams. Perhaps we should do that now?

         Sofia sigh, “Yeah, I guess.”

         “But what do you think we should do first?” Sofia’s mom smiled and winked at her.

         “Say what we’re thankful for and make declarations.” Sofia giggled quietly.

         “What?! How did you know that??”

         Sofia rolled her eyes, “Mom, it’s what we always do!”

         “It is?! I’m shocked! Whatever do you mean?!”

         “Oh mom, as if you don’t know!” Sofia laughed. “Okay, I’ll start. I’m thankful that my mom loves me.” Mom bent down and gave her a big slobbery kiss. Sofia shrieked and wiped it off. “Ewe, mom! I’m trying to do something here!”

         “Okay, sorry!” mom laughed, “please, continue.”

         “I’m thankful that when I have bad thoughts or dreams that I can always talk to my mom and she’ll be there for me and pray for me. I’m thankful that God will always help me think good thoughts and help and comfort me when I have a bad dream. I’m thankful that God keeps us safe and there isn’t any monsters in my closet, or any other scary things. And I declare that God is my protector, He will keep me safe. I know he will comfort me when I need it. God loves me and only wants the best for me!” Sofia yawned, and her eyes started to get heavy.

After mom prayed that God would give her peace and a good sleep, she got up and tucked her in. Kissing her forehead, she whispered, “Goodnight my Sofia Evelina. Sweet, sweet dreams.”

The Day God Didn’t Answer Sofia Evelina’s Prayer (Or So She Thought)

It was going to be a very full weekend at Sofia Evelina’s house. Sofia had a lot of different emotions about it all, some of them she didn’t really understand. On the one hand, it was her little sister Tenley’s birthday, which she was excited for. She was also happy that the weather was supposed to be nice so she could play outside with her friends. Although, on the other hand, she didn’t know if there would be much time for that, because her mom was getting married in just three days.

         And Sofia didn’t know how she felt about it. She wanted her mom to be happy. And her soon to be, new step dad, Kris, seemed like he was a nice guy. But now she was going to have to share her mom with other people, and she didn’t love the idea. But most of all, it really meant that her mom and dad would never get back together, which was something she had been praying for since they split up, three years earlier.

         Sofia was confused. Doesn’t God answer prayers? Did he even hear me? Doesn’t the Bible say that he always hears us and answers us? If that’s true, why didn’t he answer my prayer? Is there even a point to praying if he’s not going to answer me? She knew her older sister had been praying for her parents to get back together too, so did God not hear her either? Her mom even prayed for the same thing, for a while, too. God didn’t hear her either? Does he hear anyone? Does he answer anyone’s prayers? If he doesn’t, what’s the point of loving him?

Even in the hustle and bustle of everything happening around the house, Sofia’s mom noticed there was something off with her. She didn’t seem like her usual happy self. The night after Tenley’s birthday party, just 2 days before the wedding, mom was putting the girls to bed. Sofia started to cry. “What’s the matter, honey?” Sofia’s mom asked.

         “I’m happy that you’re happy and getting married again, mom. But I’m really sad that God didn’t answer my prayers about you and dad getting back together. I prayed it lots and I don’t think he even heard me!”

         Just then, Olivia walked in the room and joined the conversation, “yeah, I prayed that lots too! He never answered my prayer either!”

         Mom sat on the bed and snuggled them all close. “I know girls. I prayed it for a long time too. The truth is, I have no idea why some people get back together and some don’t. I don’t know why God heals some people of sicknesses and others he doesn’t. A lot of people have the same questions. But he always hears us and answers our prayers. Sometimes he says yes, sometimes he says no, and sometimes he says to wait. In this case, his answer was a no. And that’s okay because that means he has something better planned. We only see a little tiny part of what is happening, and he sees the entire picture.

“I also know, more than anything in this world, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, God is still good and loves us so much. So we must trust him in everything. Even when things are hard, or don’t make sense. Or when it feels like he’s so far away. Or when it seems like he doesn’t hear us. He’s always there and he always, always cares. And he always answers our prayers, just sometimes, not in the way we want him to.”

Mom reached toward Sofia and grabbed her hand. Squeezing it, she continued, “okay, so what’s the first thing we do when we’re feeling down?”

“Say what we’re thankful for,” both Olivia and Sofia said together.

“That’s right!” mom smiled. “But this time, I’m just going to do it because it may be a harder one that you may not know what to say yet.”

Both girls let out a sigh of relief. Mom laughed. “Ok, I’m thankful that no matter what happens, God still loves us and always answers our prayers, lots of times in ways we’re not expecting. I’m thankful that God always hears us. I’m thankful that God comforts us when we have a broken heart. I’m thankful that I can always trust him and let him figure out everything for my life. I’m thankful that when I don’t understand, I can just throw my hands in the air and say, ‘God, you deal with it!’ and he does! I’m thankful that he is always good, no matter what. I’m thankful that he always has our best interest in his mind. I’m thankful that even when I don’t see it, or it doesn’t seem like it, he’s always working for me and my good. I’m thankful that God answered my prayer and gave me Kris, who is a wonderful gift to all of us!

“And while we’re at it, I’m going to declare. I declare that God loves each and every person in my family. I declare that God has amazing plans for all of us. I declare that we will trust him with our questions and prayers, and know that no matter what, he hears us. Father, You are a good, good God. You are faithful, kind, gracious, compassionate, merciful, true, patient, loving, and beautiful.”

Sofia smirked. She didn’t know if Kris marrying mom would be better than having mom and dad back together, but she realized it wasn’t for her to understand. She had to decide to trust that God had a bigger plan for them all.

The Many Adventures of Sofia Evelina – Chapter 3

The Day Sofia Evelina learned to Read

Sofia Evelina was the most outgoing and friendliest kid you’d ever meet. She knew and played with every kid in the neighbourhood. She was the happiest when she was out with her friends. So you can imagine how she felt about having to come inside to do her homework every day after school. In case you were wondering, it wasn’t good.

         Sofia’s very least favourite subject in school was reading. For some reason, it just wasn’t going well for her. Sofia and her mom read together every day, and there was some improvement, but she still struggled. She wished she could be like her big sister, Olivia. Olivia was so smart. She didn’t need help with school work at all. Someone could show her how to do anything just one time, and she would pick it up, and be great at it. She was amazing at reading, math, sports, music, and everything in between. It just wasn’t fair!

         One day after school, Sofia and her mom were reading together. Sofia was trying to sound out words and her mom kept having to help her. Mom let out a frustrated sigh, which Sofia noticed right away. “I can’t do this, mom! I can’t read! I’m so stupid!”

         “Oh honey,” said her mom, “I’m so sorry. This is frustrating for both of us, but you’re by no means stupid. You’re so smart. Everyone just learns differently, and that’s okay!”

         “No I’m not smart!” Sofia argued. “Everyone can read better than me! I’m never going to learn to read!”

         “Now Sofia, you know that isn’t true!”

         “Yes it is! No one in my class is as bad at reading then me! I’m never going to learn!”

“Okay, that’s enough now! No more talking bad about yourself! Everyone learns differently, and is good at different things. You always compare yourself to the kids in your class, or Olivia, and it’s not a good thing to do. Olivia may be your sister, but she learns completely different than you. She is better at different things than you are, and she enjoys different things. Just like you’re better than her at some things.” Sofia’s mom pulled Sofia close and gave her a big cuddle. “Sofia, what do we always do when we’re feeling down?”

         Sofia rolled her eyes and sigh, “say what we’re thankful for. But I don’t feel like doing that. I just want to stop reading and go play!”

         “When we don’t feel like being thankful is when we should do it the most! I know when I don’t feel like being thankful but I decide to do it anyways, I always feel much better after.”

         Sofia looked up at her mom, puzzled, “You don’t want to be thankful sometimes?!”

         “Of course! We all go through times where we don’t want to be thankful. It’d be much easier to stay in our bad moods. Most people aren’t naturally thankful, and we have to work hard to make it a habit. So, with that all said, let’s do what we do when we’re down. You go ahead.”

         Sofia took a deep breath, “I’m thankful I can go to school and learn new things. I’m thankful that God gave me a mind that helps me learn new things, like reading. I’m thankful that my mom reads with me every day and helps me.”

         “Good job Sofia, now what do we say?”

         “I declare that I AM smart. I will learn to read, no matter what. I will be patient with myself, and not give up. I AM a good reader!”

         “Very good Sofia!” Her mom paused, and then continued, “Hey, do you know why we declare things? And say them out loud?”

         “No, but I do feel better when we do it.”

         “I’m glad you do! There is power in our words. What we say matters. The Bible says death and life are in the power of the tongue. So it’s really important to speak life.” Sofia’s mom gave Sofia a huge hug and a big sloppy kiss, “And did you know the name Sofia means ‘wisdom’? So every time I say your name, I’m saying that you’re one of the smartest people I know!”

         Sofia’s eyes widened. “Really?! That’s awesome! I should be reading in no time, then!”

         Her mom laughed, “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you this whole time!”

The Day Sofia Evelina Didn’t Feel Beautiful

This is one of my stories in the first volume of “The Many Adventures of Sofia Evelina”. It will be available on Amazon very soon and I’m so excited!

The Day Sofia Evelina Didn’t Feel Beautiful

It was a beautiful sunny day when Sofia and her friends went to play outside at the park. The park was just down the street from Sofia’s house, so they spent most of their summer there. Whenever any of the kids were looking for each other, they always knew to look at the park first. And when any of the neighbourhood parents were looking for their kids, they too headed to the park.

         Most days, all of the kids got along pretty well. But every once in a while, one of the kids would make one of their friends angry. And when that happened, they’d usually come home upset and tell their parents all about it. This day was no exception. For some reason or another, Sofia came running home angry that her friend, Timothy, wouldn’t share his popsicles with her. He gave everyone else one, except her! It just wasn’t fair!

         Feeling sad for her, Sofia’s mom gave her a Popsicle from her house and back she went to play with her friends. An hour later Sofia was called in for a bath and bed time. Her mom noticed that she was quieter than usual.

         “Mom,” Sofia said, while staring at herself in the mirror. “I am fat and ugly.”

         “What?! You absolutely are NOT fat and ugly!” Sofia’s mom was in shock. “Who on earth told you that?!”

         “Well,” Sofia sighed heavily, “Timothy said I was a big, fat tattletale. So he thinks I’m fat and ugly.”

“Oh honey!” Sofia’s mom’s heart was broken, but she stayed as calm and positive as she could. She turned to face Sofia and brushed her hair behind her ear. Then cupping Sofia’s face in her hands she said, “You are absolutely perfect just the way you are. You are kind, wonderful, smart, friendly, passionate, generous, thoughtful, polite, strong, and creative. God made you just the way you are and everything he makes is good and perfect. The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.”

         Sofia looked down at the floor. “Yeah but my legs are bigger than Olivia’s legs, and she’s my older sister. She should be bigger than me.”

         “That’s the beauty of how God makes us. None of us are the same. Each and every single person in the world is different than the other. Just like no two snowflakes are the same, no two people are the same. And just like snowflakes, we are beautiful, unique and perfect in our own way. There’s no rhyme or reason for the way God makes us. I have two younger sisters and they’re both taller than me! Does that make sense? Nope! But that’s the way we are each made.”

         Sofia sighed, “Yeah, I guess.”

         “So, my beautiful daughter, what’s the first thing we do when we’re feeling down or going through a hard time?”

         “Say what we’re thankful for,” Sofia replied.

“And why do we do that?” asked Mom.

         “Because it helps us have a more positive attitude.”

         “That’s right,” said Mom. “This time I am going to go first. I am thankful that I have three wonderful, amazing daughters, who are such perfect gifts to me from my heavenly Father. Today, I am especially thankful for my Sofia Evelina. You never stop amazing me with your spunk, your passion, and your beauty, both inside and out. I’m so thankful that you never give up, even though sometimes you want to. I’m thankful for the wonderful treasure that you are. All the rainbows in the whole world are not as beautiful as you! Okay, now it’s your turn.”

Sofia smiled, “I’m thankful that I have a healthy body and that everything works the way it should. I’m thankful God made me the way I am. I’m thankful that God made me and loves me and thinks I’m perfect. I’m thankful that my mom and the rest of my family loves me and thinks I am perfect, just the way I am.”

         “Very good,” said Mom. “Now we declare to encourage ourselves and boost our confidence. I’m going to go first this time, too. I declare that you, Sofia, will know how wonderful and beautiful you are, no matter what anyone else says about you. I declare that God will give you wisdom to make healthy choices in all aspects of your life. I declare that you will know that you are a child of the Most High King. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and loved more than you will ever know! Okay, Sofia, your turn.”

         “I declare that I am beautiful, no matter what anyone else says. I declare that I won’t let other people’s words tell me what I should think about myself. I know that God made me just the way I am. I declare that I will keep myself healthy and make healthy choices as much as I can. I know that I am an amazing, wonderful person, and the daughter of God! And I ask, Father, that on days I don’t feel good about myself, you will remind me how much you love me.”

         “Very good Sofia!” Mom gave her a big bear hug. “You’re my most favourite Sofia Evelina in the whole world!”

         Sofia rolled her eyes, “I’m your ONLY Sofia Evelina!”

         “Yep,” her mom winked and gave her a big sloppy kiss on her cheek. “I know!”