Sunday, April 29, 2018

Trust the Path

I am a planner. I like to make a plan and stick to it. Whenever my husband and I take our kids somewhere I always have a plan in my mind of how everything is going to work. Before we leave I'm making a mental list of whether the kids will be hungry, tired, grumpy, etc. and what we will need to pack or talk about ahead of time to make the outing a success. I like to plan ahead for my day by making a To Do list. I like to plan ahead for my week by making a meal plan for each meal. I love calendars and have a big one on my fridge where I write everything down so that I know what each month will look like. I like to think ahead to a new season before it comes and write down some things that I'd like to accomplish during that season and things I'd like to enjoy as a family. I love organization and structure and knowing what is going to happen next so that I can anticipate needs and gear up for whatever energy level they will require. I have always felt that having a plan is better than not having a plan. I'm not good at dealing with things on the fly and tend to make bad decisions in the moment if I haven't had a chance to think things through. Maybe someone else can relate to this.

This need to know what is going to happen next affects all areas of my life. When I watch a movie or TV show I am constantly trying to predict (in my head of course) what is going to happen next and where the writers of the show are going with it. I love foreshadowing and am always looking for hints of what is to come.

Just like with TV I tend to try to figure out God's plan for me before it happens. I like to think about past events in my life, figure out why they happened and then use that information to guess where God is going with things. But God doesn't work like TV or a good book. He may use foreshadowing as he guides us through life but we almost never understand it until after and most of the time his plans will still not make sense to us at all. In Isaiah 55:8 it God says "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," and I have come to realize that this is so true and that I need to stop trying to guess what he is thinking and doing because I'm not going to figure it out.

Last year Matt and I had been trying to decide if we should have another baby or not and I found this decision to be incredibly difficult. I was not having clear feelings either way and kept going back and forth about what would be best for our family. During the months of making this decision I kept trying to predict what God was going to do with this and would always end up frustrated because I couldn't understand or decipher any sort of plan. I had so many ideas of why God was giving me the feelings I was having or why certain things happened the way they did but none of it turned out in a way that made any sort of sense to me.

During the summer I read the book "Looking for Lovely" by Annie F. Downs. In this book she uses the phrase "Trust the Path." She talks about trying to control things in her own life and the metaphor God gave her one day as she was hiking and started to lose track of where she was. As she began to panic she realized that if she just continued to follow the path she would surely reach where she was supposed to go. She just had to trust the path maker instead or relying on her own instincts of where she was and how far she had to go. This illustration really struck a chord with me because I realized how much I like to rely on my own plans and intuition instead of just walking the path that God sets out before me and trusting that he has a good plan for me. I realized that instead of trying to be one step ahead of God all the time I needed to learn to follow behind and take my cue from him. At first this seemed so scary but soon it became clear that this way of living reduced so much anxiety and overwhelming feelings of responsibility. It is so freeing that I don't always need to know what will happen next and am not even supposed to know or be focused on that. All I need to do is stay in touch with the good shepherd and follow where he leads and then trust that the path he has me on will take me where I need to go.

This realization has been something I've really had to hold on to over this past year especially as I ended up getting pregnant with our third child. Don't get me wrong, we are super excited for this new little one but it is also overwhelming at times to think of going back to the baby stage when our youngest is almost 4 already! Everything in my feels that I need to control everything about how this will go but as I plan I can't seem to come up with anything that will make things go perfectly or smoothly. This whole third kid thing is going to be tricky no matter how much I try to plan ahead. I've written down the words "Trust the Path" and have them up in my room to remind me multiple times a day that I need to trust God's path and not try to make my own. It is a struggle but as I learn to let go I find a new kind of freedom and peace.

Monday, September 18, 2017


As I parent I often feel like I'm running on empty. I don't have enough energy, imagination, creativity and so on, to be the mom I'd really like to be. I'm often asking God to please give me patience for this situation or that car ride. I'm reminding God that I just need a little more kindness to make it through the day and often times I feel like the well has run dry and there is just none left. I have used everything that is available to me and now I'm out. This is usually when I give up and most often deal with the situations that arise in ways that I wish I wouldn't have later. 

For a while there I was finding myself at the end of my rope more days than not and couldn't figure out why. I prayed the same prayer every morning asking God for the patience and kindness I would need for the day but it just seemed that he wasn't giving me enough. 

Over the summer I was fortunate enough to spend some time at my parents cottage at Winnipeg Beach. I love going there because something about that place makes me feel relaxed. The water at the cottage is not the best for drinking so sometimes we go buy water in town but often we go to the artesian well down the street to fill up our little clear jug. This well used to have a lever on it that you would have to pump to get the water out but now it's just always pouring out of a tap. As I approached the well one day it hit me how amazing it is that this water just keeps flowing. I filled up my water jug and everything in me wanted to be able to turn off that tap to conserve that water but having no way to turn it off, instead I walked away as the water kept on flowing. The next time we needed water I thought to myself, "Is it possible that the water has been flowing the whole time I've been gone and it will still be flowing when I go back?" How could it be? That's so much water! But when I walked back, sure enough, the water was still flowing. 

I think that sometimes I doubt God the same way I doubted that well. I think that he doesn't have enough for everyone and that he just gives me a little at a time so that he won't run out and so I won't waste his precious resources. I go to Him and ask for patience and kindness for my day and He gives me a little and I have to be careful to conserve so that I don't end up not having enough. As I think of that water pouring out of that tap, never stopping, never running dry, I realize that I've been thinking about this all wrong. God is like that well. He is a spring that never runs dry. He doesn't give me just enough patience and kindness to get through the day but he gives out of his abundance. He gives me enough patience that I could swim in it, more than I could ever use. It doesn't matter how crazy or chaotic the day is, he gives me so much that I could never possibly run out! I realize that I've been thinking that God has the same problems that we do in the world, that he doesn't have enough and is worried about running out. But he doesn't and he will never run out! 

As my perspective shifted from scarcity to abundance, I noticed a huge change in my day to day life. Instead of being worried that I would not have enough patience and kindness for everything that my day would bring I could richly lavish both on my kids knowing that I would never run out. I stopped asking God for enough patience and kindness each morning and started to ask him to remind me of the amazing abundance that he has for me in the moments that I need to remember. When a situation would arise that would really push my buttons I would remember that I have more than enough of whatever would be required of me. Did I still screw up lots? Yes, of course. But instead of wallowing in my shame for each mistake and I would remember that God has an abundance of patience and grace for me too! 

Here are some verses that speak to this:

John 14:27 
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." 

Isaiah 55:8-9 
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Isaiah 58:11 
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

John 7:37-38
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

John 4:13-14
Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks the water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Friday, May 13, 2016


Lately I've been having trouble getting my daughter to listen to me. I say, "Hey Claire, can you please put your shoes on? It's time to go." And she says, "No." I say "Hey Claire, we are going to eat supper right away. Can you please wash your hands and come sit at the table?" And she says, "No." I say, "Hi sweet girl! Mommy would love some help with cleaning up. Could you please pick up the socks you just threw on the ground and put them in your room?" And she says, "No" and adds in an eye roll for good measure.

This past week in hopes that I could help her say yes more often I made a yes/no chart to illustrate for her how often she was being disobedient.

As we went through the day I would remind her as I asked her to do things that her answer would be recorded on the chart. I was amazed how quickly her behaviour changed. She really didn't want me to put any tally marks under the no side and would quickly say yes and obey so that she could see the tally marks building on the yes side. She would even ask me to ask her to do things so that she could get more yes tallies!

I was feeling pretty great about this parenting win until I met with my small group that evening and we ended the night talking about being obedient to God. As I thought about the day I had with my daughter I began to wonder what my yes/no chart would look like for my own obedience. I thought about all the times I've felt him nudging me to go do or say something and said no or, like my daughter often does, I just ignored that he was asking me to do something and made myself look really busy so that I could feel justified in ignoring what He was saying.

My daughter usually has a long list of reasons why she can't do what I'm asking her to do. She's often too busy doing something that she feels is very important or she is just happy doing what she's doing and is not sure if she'll be happy doing what I've asked her to do. I think my list of reasons for not obeying God is probably quite similar.  So often I tell God that I am too busy. I have errands to run and laundry to do and I've decided that those things are the most important, instead of asking Him to show me what my priority should be. Like Claire, sometimes I avoid what God is asking me to do because I fear that if I do it I may not be happy and may even end up feeling uncomfortable.  Just like my daughter, I like my life the way it is when I am in control of things and would rather not have God coming in and messing things up.

When I ask Claire to do things (or not do things in some cases) it is usually to protect her, help her or because I see the bigger picture of things and know what the next step should be. I don't ask her to do things to humiliate her, enforce my dominance or to ruin all her fun, even though this is what she seems to think I'm doing. I'm realizing that when I say no to God I'm thinking of Him much the same as my little girl thinks of me. I think he doesn't understand how embarrassing the thing he is asking me to do is. I assume that he gets some sort of kick out of bossing me around and I that he doesn't want me to live a happy life. I assume that he wants something terrible for me instead of remembering what it says in Romans 8:28:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." 

If I really believe what is written here I should get excited when I hear God calling my name because I know that he is working for my good. Instead of pretending I can't hear him I would be like my daughter with her yes/no chart, going to God and asking what I could do for Him next. I would see past the little disturbance and discomfort that obeying might cause me and instead be completely motivated by knowing that I'm working towards God's good purpose.

Just like my daughter, sometimes I need to bring my disobedience into the light in order to see what is really going on in my heart. It is so easy to say no and forget about it or just ignore God all together but doing that is not actually doing me any favours. Instead of hiding from God's plans for my life I need to remember that he wants good things for me and start embracing his good plan, instead of trying to make my own.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Mystery of it All

I am always in awe of the mysterious ways that God works. Things never go the way I think they should. I think being kind to someone who bugs me will only result in more annoyance but somehow God makes the opposite happen. When I give more, I end up having more. When I am generous with my energy I somehow end up feeling energized. When I help someone else I end up being more blessed than the person I am helping. What a mystery!  

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Do you ever feel weary of trying to figure out God's will for things in your life? Do you feel overwhelmed by decisions about where you should serve and when you should say no? When I find myself having thoughts like this I remember John 15. It is in the beginning of this chapter that Jesus gives us the picture of him being the vine and God being the gardener. In verse 4 and 5 he says this:

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

When I used to hear the word "abide" I would get a picture in my head of me trying to cling to this branch with all my might. It was something that took so much effort and something that I was doing by myself, in my own strength. Now my picture of abiding is much different. I am now reminded of how I would carry my kids when they were just newborns. I had this really expensive piece of cloth called a cuddle wrap and when my little one was unhappy and really needed to be put to sleep, I would put them in there. It is really quite a complicated contraption but I would somehow manage to get them in there and all they had to do was relax, knowing they were right with me and that I was taking care of them. 

Sometimes in life even the idea of abiding with God, which really just means spending time with Him and getting on the same page about things, seems like too much work. We are tired and often confused. It is then that we need to remember that we don't need to figure everything out. Just as my newborns did not have to figure out how to get themselves into the cuddle wrap. We need to know that God has the complexities of life figured out for us and as we abide in Him he also abides in us. We do not have to do all the work. We, like a newborn baby, just have to cry out to Him and realize our need for him to take care of us. Then we can rest in His very capable arms knowing that He will do the work in our hearts that needs to be done. We can rely on Him for the energy, the passion, the direction and everything else we need. And unlike me and my newborns, we don't have to worry that when we get really comfy and cozy he will try to put us down in our cribs without us noticing so he can get some much needed housework done! Jesus isn't like that. He wants us to continue to rely on him for all we need and never try to self soothe or do anything on our own. What a wonderful saviour we have! 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Completely Irrational Art of Throwing a Tantrum

My oldest is the sweetest little girl you'll ever meet.


 She is adorable and kind and gentle and helpful and so many other wonderful things but if she is in a less than desirable mood and something does not go her way, she bears a striking resemblance to the hulk. As I've been trying to deal as constructively and positively as possible with the crazy emotions of my 4 year old, I've learned a lot. I've become a student, taking notes about each stage and truly learning the completely irrational art of throwing a tantrum. I thought I'd share my findings with you.

Stage 1: The child realizes that something is not going their way. Their face starts to scrunch up and the bottom lip begins to protrude more than anyone thought humanly possible and the screaming starts. It's not so high pitched at first but as it escalates it reaches a decibel that only dogs can hear and apparently my cat because she runs as far from the action as possible with her ears turned back and pained expression on her face.
Thoughts of the child at Stage 1: "I'm upset! I will be as noisy as possible to show that I am upset!"
Thoughts of the parent at Stage 1: "Oh no."

This is a picture of my son whose tantrums are still very underdeveloped compared to my daughter but you get the picture.

Stage 2: The tears begin to flow (as well as the snot) and the child sees that their parent has, in fact, noticed that they are upset. They continue to scream and cry and start to throw themselves around with no consideration for their own personal safety or the well being of those around them. They will often get hurt during this stage of the tantrum (a rogue hand hits a wall, their head collides with something hard as they throw themselves blindly on the floor, that sort of thing...) this only escalates the tantrum and they look at you like you were the one who hurt them when really they did it completely on their own.
Thoughts of the child at stage 2: "What did I do to deserve this!"
Thoughts of the parent at stage 2: "What did I do to deserve this?"

Stage 3: By stage 3 you as the parent have probably started to take some sort of action. If you are a very skilled manipulator and the tantrum was only a 1 or 2 on the richter scale you may have managed to quiet the child and are now trying to reason with them. Good for you! This never happens to me. At this point I am trying to convince my child that having a time out will help her calm down. I somehow manage to get her into her room and often have to hold the handle to keep out of harms way. She continues to scream and cry and is trying her best to pound down the door. 
Thoughts of the child at stage 3: "If I can just keep this up for a little longer I will surely get what I want!"
Thoughts of the parent at stage 3: "Maybe I should just give in. Then this child will stop screaming."

Stage 4: It didn't seem possible but the child has now reached a new level of upset. They are completely soaked with snot and tears and can hardly catch their breath between sobs and screams. They sound like they are dying. You try whatever you can to calm them down. My list goes something like this: 
1) Ask the child in calm and soothing voice to stop crying.
2) Ask the child if what they really need is a hug.
3) Assure the child that it does not matter how long or loud they scream that the answer is still no.
4) Give the child a few helpful ideas to aid in the calming down process (count to 10, stomp foot 3 times, hug a stuffy, take 3 deep breaths)
5) Tell the child if they do not calm down that a prized possession will be taken away. 
6) Speak a little more sternly, you may have to raise your voice  a little to be heard over all the screaming.
7) Even though they answered, "No" to #2 you courageously go in for the hug anyway despite the flaying limbs and snot soaked shirt and hair. 
8) You begin to google parenting tips on your iPhone and hope you'll find something you have not already tried.
Stage 4 seems to last an eternity.
Thoughts of the child at stage 4: "I'm so upset but I can't remember why!"
Thoughts of the parents at stage 4: "What started this again?"

Stage 5: At some point the child will calm down. You will talk to them about their behaviour and they will apologize regretfully or unwillingly but at this stage you don't really care. No one feels good about how things went down. There is no winner and everyone is a loser. You plan for better behaviour in the future and if you are having an especially good parenting day you will make some sort of chart or reward system to help see the plan through. 
Thoughts of the child at stage 5: "What should I play with next?"
Thoughts of the parent at stage 5: "Thank goodness that is over!"

In all my research I have yet to come up with a sure fire solution to the problem of the tantrum. One thing I know for sure is that it's a good thing kids are so cute because tantrums are the worst. They are loud and annoying and bring out the worst in everyone involved. I'm told that there is hope for all of us who suffer from a tantrum throwing child because apparently they grow out of it and soon reach another stage called teenager, where they are completely rational and just complete angels!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Thought #1

Image result for think before you speak

So everyone always says you should think before you speak and I would definitely agree that this is a good idea and know that I could vastly improve in this area. On the other hand it is important not to think too much before you speak or you may end up thinking that you did say what you were thinking about when you didn't really at all. This is a common source of frustration in my marriage. I bet you can hear the conversation already, "But I told you that I wanted to...," "No, you didn't." "Yes I did! I was thinking about it all day!" So in closing you should think before you speak, but not too much that you forget to say what you were thinking about.

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