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!

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.

It’s Always Pink Shirt Day… Unless You Don’t Agree

On a certain day of the school year – sometime in February, I think – kids in Canada wear a pink shirt to signify taking a stand against bullying. I see countless pictures from all the moms, showing off how cute their kids are in their stylish, often times, custom made pink shirts. The whole concept is a good idea… in theory.

One of the things I’ve realized the most throughout this pandemic is that every single person has an opinion about it and what we should do about it, etc. People argue over social media, specifically, but no one changes anyone’s mind because our minds were already made up a long time ago. And no amount of information, misinformation or arguing is going to change it.

So before you get into another pointless ‘discussion’ with your great Aunt Ruth, ask yourself, ‘has anyone who initially had an opposite opinion of me, ever said to me, ‘you may be right’? No? Did it do more harm than good to our relationship? Yes? Then maybe I shouldn’t bother. Do I even know this person well enough to justify spending time trying to get them to see my point? No? Am I willing to actually hear them out, myself and keep an open mind about their opinion? No? Then definitely don’t bother. Most discussions are just people wanting to be heard without wanting to listen anyways. It’s human nature.

One of the main problems with covid, besides the obvious, is that it’s dividing people. And it seems like many people don’t care what they say or who they hurt, they absolutely must get their point across so that others will agree with them. Families are fighting over trivial things like wearing a mask and avoiding each other because they simply don’t agree. People are bullying other people because they don’t agree.

One person on my social media shamed others for posting a meme that made fun of a government official’s hair. Don’t be a bully, they said. But the next thing I saw them post was a meme making fun of a religious persons beliefs. The difference: they agreed with one and disagreed with the other.

Which leads to the hypocrisy of the pink shirt day. We teach our kids not to be a bully, and that’s good. But it’s more of a do as we say, not as we do because the second we disagree with someone, they become an instant victim in our conversations and news feeds. And it’s justified because we think they’re stupid and their beliefs are wrong. If we can’t say anything to change their minds to see things our way, well then by all means, go ahead and make them look like complete fools.

People aren’t going to see it from your perspective. People don’t relate to the stress nurses are going through unless they are one or know one personally. People don’t relate to the stress small business owners are going through unless they are one or know one. People don’t know the stress teachers are going through unless they are one or know one. People don’t know the stress of what grocery store employees are going through, or what Pastors are going through, or what single moms who have to work, pay bills and homeschool their kids are going through, unless they are one or know one. And when we can’t relate to someone or their belief system, we first try to change their beliefs. When that doesn’t pan out, they fall victim to our thoughts and conversations.

So many people have posted stuff about being kind and not to bully. But can we do that also with the people we don’t agree with? Can the right and left sides stop attacking each other? Just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean we have to be against each other. Just because I’m not for your opinion, doesn’t mean I’m against you as a person.

If we’re really going to change the way our kids see what bullying is, we have to stop bullying the people we don’t agree with. And that also means not talking bad about them in our homes when our kids are present. It means having the mindset that we’re all always wearing a pink shirt. It means we can confidently tell our kids to do as we say AND as we do.

My Call to Write

I feel like God wants me to write. Like that is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

But I can’t figure out why. I’m not even that great of a writer. There’s a million writers and bloggers out there, what can I possibly contribute? You wouldn’t believe how often I stew over this. The Lord and I have had many conversations where I’ve asked him why. They’re more one sided though, because he doesn’t usually answer my ‘why’ questions. Apparently I’m supposed to figure it out on my own.

I procrastinate something awful. All the time. I can’t write, I need to clean the house. I need to do laundry. I need to make supper. My favourite show is on. I need to go get groceries. I feel guilty when I’m not writing, but I feel guilty when I’m writing and not spending time with my family.

Why is it such a battle? Why is it that when God calls us to do something, we want to do anything but?

I really am trying to do what God wants. I’m trying to think of things to write about, but right now Peppa Pig is on and I want to watch George eat his salad shaped like a dinosaur. He doesn’t like salad but he won’t get any chocolate cake if he doesn’t eat his salad. I feel ya, George. I don’t like salad either. But I do like chocolate cake. Probably a bit too much.

My brother-in-law makes an amazing chocolate cake with espresso in the cake batter and even more espresso in the cream cheese frosting in between the layers. Then he smothers it with a chocolate butter cream frosting on top, somewhat similar to mine, but a bit sweeter. It’s delicious. And the best part is, is that it has become tradition that he bakes me a cake every year for my birthday. He made this chocolate cake for me for a couple years, but then switched to an even better vanilla cake. This one is so delicious I wish it was my birthday every week. It has light and fluffy cream cheese, homemade caramel, tiramisu frosting inside with a delicious vanilla butter cream frosting on top. Then more of his homemade caramel sauce is poured over the top. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Focus, Candice.

I was thinking about Jonah, from the Old Testament, the other day. For the longest time I couldn’t understand why he ran in the opposite direction when God called him to do something. He was supposed to go and preach to the people of Nineveh, but instead he ran the opposite way. Then he was swallowed by a fish, spit up after three days, and given a second chance to do what God originally asked him.

Do you know when the Lord spoke to me about writing a children’s book? 17 months ago. Did you also know that I’m just now in the process of uploading it to Amazon KDP? Not even 30 pages double sided, half of them illustrated, and it has taken me 17 months!

One of the Pastors from Gateway Church in Texas, Jimmy Evans, said in a podcast interview with Shawn Bolz that he never actually went to seminary, like every other minister. But the reason he’s done so much in ministry is because he goes where God tells him to go and does what God tells him to, no matter what. When I heard that, I thought to myself, well I do that, too! But I have since realized that I actually don’t do that at all. I often times fight tooth and nail when God asks me to do something. For example, he often wakes me up early in the morning so we can spend time together and I tell him I’m too tired and go back to sleep.

A few weeks ago I felt the Lord tell me that he wanted me to start doing more social media and little encouraging videos here and there. I actually laughed out loud. I hate social media with a passion and was doing everything I could to try and get away from it. And now he wants me to be on it more? I feel like that’s an oxymoron. But alas, I’ve started trying to do what I feel God wants me to do. And I don’t mean spend more time scrolling, I mean being more present, encouraging whoever will listen and watch. And most importantly, and more difficultly, trying to learn how to technologically do it all without throwing my computer through the window.

The feeling that I’m not a good writer is a lie. What I should be telling myself is that, like with everything else, the more I practice the better I’ll get. And yes, there are a million other bloggers out there. I am one of them now. But there are a million teachers, too. And as long as there are students, we’ll always need teachers. As long as people can read and have access to the internet, we need bloggers. Every one of them (us, I guess I mean to say now) has something to contribute, as we all have different spheres of influence.

So if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my writing… but first let me just really quickly rake the yard, do a couple loads of laundry, make supper, clean my kitchen, do my hair….

Lunch with my Lunatic Dog

It’s 1 pm, and I get a phone call from the UPS store letting me know my scans are done and ready to be picked up. Great, I think to myself, I’ll go pick them up and maybe grab some lunch on the way home.

My dog, Nora, who’s a one year old boxer mastiff mix, is a little restless so I decide to bring her with for a fun car ride. Except that today, she resolves she doesn’t like car rides.

As we’re driving along, Nora can’t decide if she wants to sit, stand or lay down, so she does all three repeatedly. She’s panting, drooling, yawning, and I quickly realize I should have left her at home. I pick up the documents I needed scanned, and decide that I’d like a burger from Dairy Queen.

We wait in the drive thru for what seems to me at least a half hour, especially with a nervous dog, but it was more like five minutes. The guy hands me a chocolate dipped cone and my bag of lunch. Would I like napkins, he asks, as if he knows what’s about to happen. Yes please, I reply, essentially accepting the fact that this was indeed a bad idea.

Everyone knows that if you get lunch with an ice cream on the side, the ice cream has to be eaten first. It’s a non-negotiable. So I put my bag of delicious deep fried onion rings and cheese burger with only mayo, tomato and ketchup (because that is the only way to eat a burger), in between myself and my door to keep away from Nora, and take a bite of my child sized chocolate dipped cone.

Ohhh, what is this you are eating, I sense Nora ask me. She leans in to me, as if I’m about to share. I, however, am not, so I tell her to sit down, for the thirtieth time in the last half hour. I take a second bite and immediately start choking. In between trying to get Nora to sit, and trying to enjoy my ice cream cone, it went down the wrong tube and I am now dying and driving all at the same time.

Still attempting to get Nora away from my treat, that is now melting, and choking to death, I have to make a left hand turn. My bag of deep fried goodness decides it’s a perfect time to spill all over the floor by my feet, leaving Nora to feel like it’s now a giant free for all.

As all of this is happening, I’m still choking and out of my mouth flies some melted chocolate, right in the middle of my crotch. However, because I’m still trying to drive, breathe, and get the dog from under my feet all at the same time, I do not know where the melted pile of chocolate had disappeared until I got home and wondered if I had pooped my pants.

We’re about half way home and I see two police cars stopped on the side of the road. I’m done choking now, but Nora still wants my ice cream and can’t decide where or how to get comfortable, so I almost run through a red light. Right in front of two cop cars. Great. I look in the rear view mirror and I can see them watching my car. Awesome.

By this point I’m so over my ice cream, I just want it gone. And Nora has been a terrible dog, so why not reward her behaviour with a treat. I had already eaten all the chocolate so I hold out my hand with the cone in it and she sniffs it. Overcome with excitement, she starts licking it and as she’s doing so, ice cream is flying everywhere. My hand is now covered in sticky ice cream and copious amounts of dog drool. The car is also covered. I wipe up as much as I can with the multitude of napkins I was given – thank you Dairy Queen – and we continue on our journey home.

I can smell the remnants of what would have been my onion rings wafting up from the floor, and now the bottom of my shoes. I silently mourn their loss and abandon my desire to bring my big dumb dog anywhere else, ever again.

I park in my driveway, grab all of my belongings including my now full and happy dog, and shamefully walk in my house, with a brown coloured crotch, heavy heart and still hungry stomach.

The Kids are Alright

I’ve been feeling really strongly lately to write about my girls. And I don’t even want to say how long I’ve put it off for, because it’s far too long. But I feel like it’s somewhat of a tough topic to write about because I’m not sure how much I want to make public. Writing in my journal is one thing, but this is different because I don’t want to embarrass them, or put their dirty laundry out for all to see. Also, we’re still in the thick of it all, and I find that well-meaning people sometimes like to give advice on various issues that they may have never experienced themselves.

I don’t even know where or how to begin. I guess it’s pretty safe to say that the enemy is brutally attacking our children, and sometimes I feel like he’s winning. Children are struggling with mental health, depression, fear, anxiety……………….

………….. At first I started writing a post about how the enemy was attacking our kids and how I was overwhelmed with questions, concerns and worries about them. I wrote a few paragraphs and then quit because I felt down and depressed, which isn’t what I want the tone of my blog to be.

I’ve been praying about our kids and what to do about certain things. I suppose I’ve been praying my fears and not praying the promises of God over them like I should. I’ve come to learn that God doesn’t really honour those fear-based prayers because he’s not afraid and he doesn’t want us to be either. Countless times in scripture, he says don’t be afraid or have no fear. Scripture also says when you pray, to come boldly before the throne.

I suppose if I really trusted him with my kids I wouldn’t pray those fear based prayers either. If I really trusted that he would keep them safe and healthy I wouldn’t have to constantly worry or say worried prayers about their safety and health. If I really trusted him that he would take care of their future or that they would always love him and follow him, I wouldn’t have to pray worried prayers of that nature either. If I’ve completely surrendered my kids to God, I can trust him, no matter what.

For a long time I worried that if I completely surrendered my kids to God, I’d have to be okay if he took them home. I thought of little 2 year old Olive from Bethel Church in Redding, CA, who suddenly stopped breathing and passed away, and wondered if the Lord would do the same to one of my girls. But one day I was praying that, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it and the Lord gently reminded me about the story of Hannah and Samuel in the Old Testament. She didn’t know the future and was barren, but she promised the Lord that if she were to have a child, she would completely surrender him to the Lord. When she miraculously conceived and gave birth to a son, she honoured her promise and after he was weaned, brought her son, Samuel, to the temple and left him there. That, I’m sure was the hardest thing she ever did. I honestly don’t know if I could’ve done it, myself. But she trusted that the Lord had plans for Samuel. And God reminded me how great of a prophet he became to the nation of Israel, all because his mom completely surrendered him to the Lord.

And he reminded me that if I completely surrendered my kids to the Lord, the things they will accomplish, will be more than I could ever dream of for them. When I started writing this blog post with all the negativity, questions and overwhelming thoughts and feelings, it didn’t represent my faith well at all. It wasn’t a true reflection of my surrender. So instead, I deleted a few paragraphs and am rewriting it because I believe that even though my kids have been through a lot, even though the enemy is attacking our children in more ways than we could ever imagine, even though my girls are ridiculously dramatic and sometimes I don’t know how to deal with it, even though my head and my heart hurt often times, even though they struggle with such brokenness, the Lord has them in his hand and I trust him completely with my babies.

I trust that they will grow up to be beautiful young women inside and out. I trust that they will know their value, they will know how to stand up for truth, they will know how to be kind, gracious, compassionate and loving in a world that is anything but. They will love the Lord their God with all their heart, all their soul and all their strength, and they will love their neighbours as themselves. And I trust that God will give them eyes to see and ears to hear what he is saying to them.

God is so much bigger than anything we are going through. Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I let the challenges I face become bigger than the God I serve. The God who formed the universe and galaxies with just his words. He put the sun, moon and stars into orbit, formed the earth, called the day, night, water and sky into being. He created the different species of animals, birds, insects, and everything in between, he formed man from the dirt, and breathed life into his lungs. He gave him a heart, a brain, body parts and fingerprints. He gave each person our own little quirks and ability to think and reason. And when our thoughts and reasons led us further and further away from himself, his son offered his very own life as a payment for all sins. All my sins. He took all of yours and my pain, our sickness, our shame, sorrow, regret, every bad choice, every disease, every anxious thought and worry. He was wounded for our transgression, bruised for our iniquity, the chastisement (punishment) of peace was upon him. He took every last thing to the cross with him, and left it there. He won.

And all he wants in return for all of that, is our absolute trust. Psalm 50:15a (TPT) says, “Honour me by trusting in me in your day of trouble.” So I challenge us (myself included), to trust him. Trust him with everything, including our kids. Trust him that he will lead and guide into all truth. Trust him that he loves them and is taking care of them. They’ll be better than alright.

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?