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mother's day and mental health

mother’s day and mental health

Happy mothers day to the anxious, the depressed, to those battling mental illness and those believing the lies of the enemy saying “you are failing at this mom thing.”

I don’t have words that will heal your hearts or pull this thorn from your flesh, I wish I did. What I do have is the words to tell you that you are not alone. A reminder that you are loved and that these struggles do not make you a failure or less of a great mom.

You struggle on day by day doing your best to hide these hardships from your children, to smile when they look at you and fill their lives with joy even when you feel none. You speak truth to yourself even when you don’t think that you are actually listening. You wonder what is wrong with you and why you can’t just be happy, be “normal.”

What you don’t know is that when your children look at you, what they see is your strength. They look at you and see a woman who is living a faithful life when faith isn’t easy. They see you choosing to trust when your mind is screaming that you cannot. They see you making the hard choices that are only made harder because of the voices in your head telling you that it isn’t worth it. They see your perseverance. Your children look at you and see hope for their own future because of the way you continue to battle this thorn in your flesh that won’t come out.

Your life gives your children the strength they will need to face their own thorns ones day whether those thorns are similar to your own or completely different. I know because I was one of those children.

At least for today shout “shut up!” at the prince of lies who wants to tear you down so you won’t be a threat to him.

Hear my words to you today, the words HE whispers to you every day, even when it is hard to hear Him. You are not a failure, you are a conqueror. You are strong because He is shining through you even in your weakest moments. You are raising children who know that life isn’t always easy but that God is always faithful even when trusting feels impossible.

Sister in Christ, daughter of the King, hold your head high today. You are raising the people who may one day change the world and anxiety (or whatever your particular struggle is) can’t do a darn thing to stop that because you are His.

signed

 

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after burnout

after burnout

It has been almost 5 months since my website was hacked and I lost everything I have written in the past 2 years. This happened at a time of chaos in my life, getting ready to go to Africa, then coming back and jumping right back into the insanity that is my life (of my own making). Africa was exactly as I imagined it would be, what wasn’t the same was the feeling of coming back. I have been overseas before so I knew a bit of it but at the time I was still a child really, a teenager with the world open to me and very few responsibilities. This time coming back meant jumping back into the ministries I am involved in, jumping back into being a mom and my work responsibilities. I didn’t expect the emotions that came with it or even know how to explain them, I still don’t really. Losing every post I have poured my heart into for the past two years only exasperated it (a lot).

I found myself well along the road to burnout, again, with no idea how to turn it around and no idea how to even explain how I was feeling except tired.

I don’t blame Africa, that was awesome and I am dying to back, it was entirely my own fault for getting myself involved in too many things, stretching myself too thin and relying on my own strength.

Normally when I feel these feeling writing helps, but this time even my voice was tired. No words left in my over wordy life. Words have always been a way of processing for me, they help but these past few months trying to find words was so hard!

I too a step back of whatever I could and still I just felt exhausted. Every so slowly I started to feel like myself again but still the words were missing. Today was the first time in a long time that I have felt those words start to bubble up again and felt the need to sit down and write. It feels like a spring in my life which is wonderful, slowly those tiny plants are starting to poke through again and I’m starting to feel life creep into me again. Words and emotion, not sure why they have come back together but they have, they both came crashing in on me today.

So, I am back, hopefully to stay and will slowly rebuild my site and content.

signed

PS I just read Eve Undone by Alanna Rusnak and I loved it and I’m not just saying that because she is my friend! It is a short story so it’s perfect for when you want something to fill an hour or so. Seriously, check it out!

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A day in London

A day in London!

One very cool treat at the end of our trip was a cancelled flight that led to about 30 hours in London. We got a hotel, rested, showered and toured London. It was a crazy day with 8 hours of walking fast all over and we loved every minute of it. (although I limped back into the hotel like an idiot while Caleb and Lesley laughed at me.)

If you haven’t seen this already, here is a taste of our amazing day in this beautiful city:

signed

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The tale of badly misconstrued measurements

It was a hot hazy day in Ghana, just as every other day had been while we were there. Harmattan was in full swing. We had been there for a few days already and I was starting to think about looking for a dress for Aurora. She had made it very clear that she wanted an African dress and some jewelry. The home we were staying at was just down a short dirt road (subdivision seems like the wrong word….) with a few houses on it a 1-2 minute walk from one of the main roads, we had to walk it every day to go to the market or get to the church where we were teaching in the evenings. We noticed that there was a seamstress right there and decided to stop in and get a quote from her, and pick out a style before heading into the market to find the right fabric.

I know a little about sewing having grown up with a seamstress for a mom (she will freak when she sees me call her that but it is true) so I knew that I would need her waist measurement and the height from nape of neck to floor. Armed with these measurements (via text to my mom) I head across the street with Lesley, Anna and Millicent ready to do business. The problem is that although Ghana is technically an English country, it really isn’t. In the city most people speak a little bit of English, you need to speak slowly (our accents….) and not use big words and you should be ok but the further you get from the city the less English they speak. In Nsawam most people speak a tiny bit at least and the people who came to the teaching spoke enough to understand and communicate quite well as long as we were careful to speak slowly and clearly. Well, this seamstress spoke none. Ok, I can handle this, I have Anna and Millicent, they are both Ghanian and speak Twi as their first language. So they rattle off with her and I just stand there like an idiot trying to be useful.

I chose a pattern and told the seamstress Aurora’s age and start to give the two measurements that I have…. Now my second problem starts. I am not good with details. This is a slight understatement. I really do try but it seems the harder I try the worse it gets. So I start giving measements to the seamstress’s assistant using the numbers and signing with my trusty hostesses there to help if needed.

“Ok. Waist – 43 inches.”

They look at me with confusion, then start rattling off to Anna again. “How old did you say she is?”

“Oh she is 7 but she is very tall so she is more like 8 in her size.”

They continue to look at me with confusion but not wanting to show how horrified they are at my ginormous offspring they calmly write it down. Waist 43 inches.

“Ok, Height – 26 inches…wait a minute….”

Luckily I realized my mistake, giggled about it and tried to explain. Ok no problem. She gave me the amount of yardage I would need and sent me on my way.

Next stop, slightly down the road there was a tailor, I would stop in quickly and ask about a boy’s shirt for Gideon. Since Gideon is a tiny little guy I didn’t bother getting measurements, he is a bit smaller than most African 4-year-olds I hung out with so this would be easy. For some reason it wasn’t. Usually even for an adult outfit this tailor just needs to see a picture of someone and can make an outfit to fit them perfectly. (seriously….skill!) I told the tailor (who spoke even less English than the seamstress, and being a man seemed to understand my signing less than the seamstress had) his age, that he is small and even showed a video of Gideon to him so he would see what he looks like. Nope, I need measurements

“Nope, I need measurements.” he told Anna, but did tell me how much fabric I would need.

We headed off to the market, chose our fabrics and brought them back later in the day. By this time I had gotten a text back from my mom with Gideon’s waist measurement and the length that the shirt should be.

“Waist – 22 inches, length – 14 inches”

“What about his shoulders?”

“Oh, I will have to ask and come back.”

My mom had already sent this measurement, but my dislexia and attention to details flared up here again. She had used numbers to write the other two measurements but had written out “five and a half” for the length of one shoulder so I didn’t notice it. (me with details….).

The next day (time difference…) I get this response:

That’s 11″, it would have been double the other one

Ok, head back to the tailor and tell him, I could do this one alone it would be easy, I wouldn’t need a translator. Caleb went with me.

“Shoulders 24 inches.”

He writes it down and doesn’t even look at me funny.

I leave feeling accomplished.

Several hours later as we are all sitting quietly studying for the evening class I start thinking over what I told him.

“Oh crap. Did I really say that?”

I check the text from my mom. Shoulders are 11 inches, the double it was from the “five and a half” in the first text. Did I say 11? I think I said 24. Where did I get that number from?!

“Hey Caleb, did I tell the guy that Gideon’s shoulder are 11 inches or 24 inches?” I called from the other room.

“I think you said 24.”

I burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter, woke up Lesley and disturbed the guys who are diligently studying. I came stumbling out of the room sobbing, doubled over and attempted to explain what I had done. I say the “double it” and doubled the 11 – except even that doesn’t really make sense because 24 isn’t the double of 11……

I began to picture what this shirt would look like. What this child would look like.

Shoulders: 26″ wide

Waist: 22″ around

Length: 14″

More fits of laughter. Oh dear. “I need to go fix this!”

Then I remembered what I had done with Aurora’s measurements and laughed even harder picturing these two freak of nature children standing side by side. Mr. Football shoulders and Miss Beachball. Oh dear. I am such an idiot!

Thankfully when I stopped in with Paul (our host) he was able to explain the extent of my stupidity and the tailor had already figured out a plan.

It was pretty hard to walk past either place afterwards though without fits of laughter.

Moral of the story: I cannot be trusted with details or measurements.

signed

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The tale of the chicken taxi

It was always very dark when we left the training sessions and headed back home. Paul had made it clear that it was safe for us to walk TO the church for sessions (just before 5pm) but walking home was not safe. It wasn’t likely that we would get robbed or hurt walking home all together, but it was very possibly that a ruffian might follow us to find out where we were staying and rob us in the night. Safety is something we are always aware of, we don’t want to put our host family in any extra danger and we don’t want to lose anything valuable, especially our passports.

As we had done every night, we walked to the road, Anna hailed a couple taxis and all the ladies piled in and started for home while the men waited for the second taxi to follow.

The taxi Anna flagged seemed like it might be trouble (it had stalled 2 times just turning around to get us and had no tail lights) but most cars here have issues so we hopped on in and started for home.

I need to pause here to mention that Anna had spent about four hours removing her awesome weave, walking down to the road side “salon” getting her hair washed, moisturized and redone with big curlers that had to sit for many hours before being taken out. It was a long process for her and had taken most of the day.

Ok, back to the story.

The speed bumps here are insane, even going as slowly as possible most cars scrape as they go over, so our driver decided to go a different way which included a fairly steep hill (We are in the middle of some small mountains here.) but avoided all but one speed bump.

After stalling for the 30th time and not wanting to start again, Lesley and I started getting nervous. We didn’t know where we were, ànd knew we shouldn’t walk at night. We were beginning to think we would likely get robbed and I would lose my expensive DSLR and all our money, we were just hoping we would make it home unharmed even if we lost everything.

I sent a text to Pete letting him know that we kept stalling and didn’t know where we were, hoping that Paul could help them find us. The mood in the car was very tense. Did I mention it’s 30C? The fumes were pretty strong too.

Suddenly, the silence was peirced as something large came flying in the window through Anna’s hair straight into the cab driver. There was screaming and flapping and feathers flying everywhere. Finally the cabbie caught a very terrified and parcially plucked bantam chicken. The car erupted in laughter. Even the driver was cracking up. A chicken….flew into the cab….into Anna’s hair….

Apparently a dog was chasing it and the taxi seemed like the safest place to be.

The driver was able to get the car started and we slowly puttered/stalled our way home still laughing hysterically.

We teased the driver alot and waved goodbye to our “chicken taxi!”

signed

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a loss

About a month ago I, along with many others, was the victim of a cyber attack. I was locked out of all of my websites for at least a month and now that they are finally back (thank you so much Zachary – Caleb’s computer genius brother) and most are unharmed, except this site. My site. I’ve lost everything I have written for the last 2 years. All gone.

Excuse while I got cry and make some strong coffee.

Ok. I haven’t actually cried about it yet but it is a pretty big blow. I know, I know, I should have backed up and I certainly will from now on. I guess I just thought that this would never happen.

Word to the wise (and to idiots like me) don’t keep it all just online! Back it up somewhere, multiple places multiple external hard drives and websites.

So now I will go pull myself together, drink that coffee and later on I will share one of my funny stories from Ghana.

signed

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byourlove

By Our Love

If you haven’t heard about ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis (on top of all the millions of refugees there already were from more than just Syria) then you are in the minority. Almost all of us have heard, we all wept over Aylan’s body and the news of so many others who have either perished trying to escape, been caught and sent back to the war zones, or made it to what they thought was safety only to be mistreated in those places. It is heartbreaking and although it is nothing new many of us didn’t really wake up to the problem until recently. We have a chance now to either ignore the problem, pretend it isn’t happening, or be the church, show love and say yes we will obey.

On Wednesday night our church held a meeting for us, the other churches in the area and anyone who was interested in coming to talk about bringing a family over. I have been desperately hoping that we would sponsor at least one family as a church so this was very encouraging. I worried that this would just be more talk when what is really needed now (and was long before this new crisis) is action but left feeling encouraged that this isn’t just talk, it is a plan. It is amounts of money written down on pieces of paper promising how much each person is able to give so we know how many families we can bring over. It was information from someone who has already gone through this whole process and can answer our questions even the ones we didn’t know we had. It was people promising to help teach ESL, to help with all the little things that are necessary to live in a climate like ours.

As I drove home I thought about how God already has a family (or multiple families) chosen for us, He knows what country they will come from and what language they will speak. We can imagine and speculate but He already has them picked out. I thought about how cool it is that I can already be praying not only for the logistics of sponsoring a family but I can pray specifically for the people that we will one day meet. It doesn’t matter to God that I haven’t learned their names yet because HE already knows them.

So as our community embarks on this new adventure that will, I am sure, be difficult and amazing and trying and leave us all changed, will you pray with me for the family God will bring into our lives? Will you pray for us as we prepare to show the love of Christ to a family who has been through unimaginable pain. Will you pray for patience and wisdom and lots of grace for everyone who will be involved in this process. Thanks.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.          (John 13:35)

signed

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mother’s day for the waiting

It’s almost Mother’s Day. A day I used to dread and try to get through with a straight face just waiting for it to be over. I don’t think back on those days very often anymore, they are a huge part of who I am today but in the busyness of life I don’t often stop to remember the details of my feelings during those years. 

This week as Mother’s Day drew nearer my thoughts weren’t on possible presents or even on how great my mom is (although I do think about that pretty often, there are some really great moms and  grandmas in my life) actually. My mind was and is most on women walking through what I went through. Mother’s Day for the childless; for the women who have been through devastating loss. Mother’s Day for the woman struggling with infertility and wishing she was a mom, or the woman who didn’t expect to be single still. Mother’s Day for the woman who tries to be happy for her friends but wants to cry every time someone announces their pregnancy on facebook. 

I walked in shoes like yours for 4 years, I know that is short compared to some of your journeys. I have felt what you feel right now and have watched dear friends walk through it too. Today as the world blesses moms I want to also bless you. I want to bless you with hope for the future. I pray that God will fill you with joy today (and everyday) and that He will be your portion until He fulfills the desires of your heart. I pray he will give you peace and make his way clear to you. 

signed

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the race we run

how we run the race

I’ve been thinking about this race we run/the Christian life. I remember reading Pilgrims Progress as a kid and the thinking how much easier life would be if it were more like the book, if we could actually see the mire and the cross and the mountains we have to climb. Or if life was a bit more like an actual race instead of just a metaphorical race. 

It is easy to stay focused when our purpose is obvious – get across the finish line / finish the fight, but when it all gets muddied with everyday life and all the distractions it holds it is a bit less black and white.

This morning I read 1 Corinthians 9 and shortly afterwards found me myself humming the song Give Me Jesus. What a beautiful song, I am sure most believers have moments where they can sing those words and really mean them, “you can have all this world, just give me Jesus.” But so many of us end up taking the world instead or taking bits and pieces of the world and slowly changing the words our heart is really singing while our tongues still say “give me Jesus”. 

We trade Jesus for our careers or popularity or a more comfortable life. We might not always realize we are doing it but the majority of us are. We are prone to wander and we do, sometimes by accident just getting distracted by the busyness of life and sometimes on purpose because the world just looks more fun or easier.  The temporary crown looks better because we can have it right now instead of waiting. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are wandering because it happens so slowly. Sometimes fear causes us to wander, it is scary to really mean those words “You can have all this world, just give me Jesus.” What if that means giving up everything we hold dear in this world? What if it means packing up our comfortable lives and moving somewhere uncomfortable and unpleasant? What if it means looking like a fool in our own towns to share the gospel with our neighbours?

I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:23-27 

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discontent1

discontent, good or bad?

Discontent…good or bad?

Is restlessness/discontentment good or bad? Did an answer pop into your head right away? If you are like me the answer went something like this “good duh! If no one was ever discontent then nothing would ever get done.” I thought this was what everyone thought until the question came up on night one of our new Bible study, “Restless”. 

When I discovered this book, a year and a bit ago I think it was, I heard the title and immediately knew this was the book for me, I am always restless, I had already written at least one post titled “Restless” so I bought it (on kindle because I was too impatient to wait for the next day when stores would be open and definitely too impatient to wait for shipping) 

Restless is probably one of the words I would use to describe my personality actually, I bore easily, I like to inspire change or new ideas and if I am not able to do that I get itchy and discontent. 

So when my friend challenged this idea I may have lost a bit of sleep. 

I think it is pretty obvious that the answer is good and bad depending on the discontent, so how do we know which is which? 

When I think of discontent (in the context of being restless) I think of not being content to sit and watch your life go by. I think of not being content to watch the people around you go through life and even die not knowing the Lord. I think of not being content to live a life of lukewarm Christianity or watching others around us do the same. I think of not being content to let atrocities happen and remain quiet or do nothing. I think of no being content to gain worldly wealth live a comfortable life while around me and around the world millions live in poverty physically and spiritually. 

That is Holy discontent. It leads to action, it causes us to leave our comfort zones and reach out to our neighbours, near and far. It causes us to obey the words of Christ and care for the orphans and widows and least of these, and to go and make disciples. This kind of discontent knows how richly I have been blessed and needs to share that with everyone. 

It looks different in different people. For some it means leaving this lifestyle and going somewhere else as a relief worker, teacher, missionary, medical help, pastor, or something like that. For most it means quietly living a faithful life right here, discipling one person at a time, being a light to neighbours and coworkers, or maybe even just raising your own children to love and serve the Lord. Either way it is choosing to not be idle and sit passively watching life go by. 

Then there is the other discontent. The kind that always wants more than they have. The kind that is grumpy and selfish doesn’t see the ways they have already been blessed. This kind of discontent doesn’t inspire change. It breeds lust and covetousness. It sits around and whines about how unfair life is. This is the person who is content to live a life for myself and my comforts and pleasure. This is the discontent that is content to be lukewarm and doesn’t want to be about people who are not lukewarm as well.

signed

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