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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?

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!