Monday Morning Hope

Do you ever feel like Monday mornings could use just a little something extra?  Like a little more hope?

Today I’m letting you know about a new devotional on my site.  Monday Morning Hope.  When you sign up on my site, you will get a devotional entitled Hope Through Trials delivered to your inbox.  Then the next three Mondays you will receive an email devotional.

Disclaimer:  This is a lot of new technology for me!  Sequences, auto mailings, embedded forms, so this is the plan and I’ve tested a lot of it, but just pray along with me that this all actually works!

When you sign up at my site, you’re not signing up for all the blog posts or all the spam.  I won’t be emailing you everyday.  You don’t have time for that, I don’t have time for that.  So don’t worry that you’re going to suddenly hear from me way more than you want to!  Its just a way for me to keep in touch with you once in a while and start building a community together.

I’m really looking forward to sharing with you and I pray that these devotionals will be a blessing to you.

Look for the embedded form below:)


When The Bottom Falls Out

Some days it feels like the bottom dropped out of our world.  Maybe its a phone call, a diagnosis, bad news, family issues, financial issues – the possibilities are as endless and unique as there are people in the world.

There is hope for these days.

When the bottom drops out of our lives, it only serves to remind us that those things weren’t actually holding us up.

If you know Christ, He is your foundation.  And He never moves.  He is rock solid.

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Its so easy for us to base our lives on the things we control.  Or at least we think we control.  But then those things shift, move.  And we’re shaken.  What we believed about our family, our life, our body, ourselves, is suddenly not true.  And we don’t know where to stand.  We search around for solid rock.  We start to question things.  The things we thought were true, what the future will hold, how we will be able to move forward.

When darkness veils his lovely face,

I rest on his unchanging grace;

in every high and stormy gale,

my anchor holds within the veil.

Dear one, your worth was never based on anything you have done.  Or grown up as.  Or the relationships you have.  Or don’t have.  Not your worth, not your identity, not the core of who you are.  You have worth solely because Jesus loves you.  Your identity is that you are a child of God.  The core of who you are is based on those two facts.  Jesus loves you and He died so that you could be a child of God.  That’s it.  Nothing that happens to us in this world can change that.

His oath, his covenant, his blood

support me in the whelming flood;

when all around my soul gives way,

he then is all my hope and stay.

His oath, His covenant, His blood.  These are the things that we can stand on.  That sustain us when the bottom seems to fall out of our lives.  This is what we go back to over and over again.  When the bottom drops out, when the flood overwhelms us, when it seems that all is lost or shaken, He, then, is ALL my hope.  All my hope, and all I need.  The solid rock that my slipping feet are searching for.  The place I can plant my feet and feel secure on the foundation of my life.  When I’m standing on Christ the solid rock, it doesn’t matter if all other ground is sinking sand, I’m secure.  And that is all my hope.


I Wore a Scarf to Costco

I used to be known as the woman who always wore a necklace or a scarf.  I actually tried both at once, but was slightly mocked for that.  I also love colour.  Don’t get me wrong, black is my go-to basic, but I do own a screaming hot pink blazer.

It occurred to me last week that I haven’t worn accessories much since everything happened a few months ago.  And as I stood in my closet yesterday, I realized that I’ve been wearing an awful lot of black and grey.  For most people, this might seem like no big deal, but I realized that I haven’t felt like myself.  Deep down, I no longer cared about accessories or colour.  So yesterday, as I contemplated what to wear, I pulled down my screaming hot pink sweater (yes, I have more than one piece of clothing that is hot pink) and one of my favourite multi-coloured floral scarves.  All for the important day of going to…Costco.  Yup.  In the middle of winter where no one was going to see anything but my coat anyways.  Thankfully, I also took the girls to their piano lessons where it is usually warm enough for me to take off my coat.

For me, that scarf was saying, the time for mourning has passed.  There are times of mourning, and that’s ok.  And good.  I have spent the last three months clinging to the grace of God.  Every day I have gripped onto His grace to me, begged for His grace to flow through me, relied on His grace for the every day.  But now its time to remember that the joy of the Lord is my strength.  Oh, I’m very sure that I’ve not passed the stage of needing extra grace!  I’m still relying on that.

But its time to throw some joy in there.

Over Christmas, I had to decide.  Was I going to let circumstances and people steal my joy?  Because its so easy to let that happen, eh?

But God is so good.  For months I felt a supernatural grace, and now that I’m asking for it, I feel a supernatural joy starting to flood my soul once again.  With my struggles with depression and the fact that I’ve always said, I’ll never be a happy-happy person, my joy may look different than yours.  But its creeping back in.

Are you going through a period of mourning?  Are you “wearing black”?  Maybe its time to start praying for little bits of joy.  Maybe its time to pray for a flood of it.

You know what the hardest part was for me?  To say, its ok to be joyful.  I think God wants me to love my new church and be happy here.  I think God wants me to love my new city and my new home.  God wants me to have a joyful marriage.  I may not have chosen the circumstances of the past few months, and I certainly can’t control other people, but I can rest in the fact that God is ultimately in control.  And He doesn’t ask me to live a life in constant mourning.  So for today, I’m going to choose joy.  And the only way to do that is through His strength and His power.

Now, I do have a new grey sweater I was planning to wear to church on Sunday…I’ll try to find a flashy necklace…


When 2017 Doesn’t Look Like You Thought

New Years.  Brings thoughts of fresh beginnings, happy family pictures, resolutions, general joy and bliss.

But maybe not for you.  Are you looking at the start of 2017 and wondering what happened?  Maybe you’re beginning with family issues, health issues, grief, loss, change, depression.  Maybe its not even that serious, but you’re just not feeling the joy and bliss of the flip of the calendar.

If you had told me three months ago that my 2017 would look like it does, I would have told you you were off. your. rocker.  Then three days later, my life took a sudden turn that I would have never guessed.

But the other day I was listening to a podcast and the guest was talking about Exodus 13.  Verses 17 & 18 say,

“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.”

Essentially God was saying, I know these people, and for their own good, I’m going to lead them the long way around.

The long way.  The way that would have made zero sense to anyone watching.  Or with a map, or a plan.

And yet there was no denying that this was the way God wanted them to go.  There was a massive pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.  God was very clear that He wanted them to go the long way around.

God leads us the long way too.  Whether we can see the good right away, or whether it takes years to show up, or whether it seems as if we will never understand, God’s way really is for our good.  Even when its long and through the wilderness.

Over the next few books, we get to know these Israelites pretty well.  They had issues with trusting God, getting along, obedience, faith, complaining…starting to sound familiar?  It certainly does to me.  I can see why God sometimes needs to lead me the long way through the wilderness.  The wilderness became a place of purging sin, learning lessons, growing faith.  These things don’t happen on the easy path, the short path.  The biggest growth happens on the long journey, the difficult one.

But you know the best part of the story?  When they finally get to the Red Sea, they get to witness miracles.  They literally get to see God destroying their enemies, making a path through an impossible situation, taste total freedom from Egypt.  If they knew what was coming, they might have savoured that walk in the wilderness that was leading them to the miraculous.

So, my friend, at this, the start of 2017, we don’t know how long the road is going to be, how hard the journey, but we can rest assured in this: God road is always for our good.

And He is the God of the miraculous.


Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Twinkling lights, the smell of Christmas cookies, pine trees, Christmas carols playing softly.

Peace.  Comfort.  Joy.

This is what Christmas is supposed to be about.  But some days its hard to feel the peace, there seems to be no comfort, no joy.  So how do we recapture the magic?  Because we can’t just snap our fingers and decide that everything is fine.  Maybe like me, you’ve recently had a painful reminder of hurt, or may be going through a tough time.  Maybe you feel alone.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy
Wouldn’t that be nice.  Nothing you dismay.  Nothing.  How could anyone say that?  If you notice the first line, the comma is after merry.  The Old English meaning of this line is basically, Gentlemen, continue in being happy.  Continue being happy and be dismayed about nothing.  How is that possible?

Every carol that we’ve looked at together this month really comes down to the same message.

Jesus.

O tidings of comfort and joy.

Jesus – comfort and joy.

Because when you have Jesus, you have everything.  Jesus is your salvation, your hope, your best friend, your brother, your family, your comfort, your joy.

All you need is Jesus.

So enjoy all the wonderful things of the season, the lights, the cookies, the smells.  But if you need me to sing you tidings of comfort and joy, let me tell you about Jesus.  Only Jesus.  Always Jesus.

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy


I Heard the Bells

Christmas day may be my favourite day of the year.

Its way better than my birthday, which always falls during student convention, so I get to spend it with a bunch of teenagers.

Vacations are fun but a lot of work for moms.

Valentines Day has way too many expectations.

So for me, Christmas it is.

My siblings all live far away, so the Christmases that we’re all together are extra special.

But this Christmas is different than every one before.  Its been a hard couple of months.  We’re trying to find new traditions, in a new church, with new people.  And I don’t even have it that hard.

There are sick people.  And dying people.  People struggling with thoughts of suicide.  Older people who will be alone.

There’s war and dying and starving children.

There is ISIS and Aleppo.

But we don’t have to pretend that everything is perfect to have a great Christmas.

In fact, Christmas may be even better if we feel.  Acknowledge that not everything is perfect.

And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Sometimes the juxtaposition of Christmas and what’s happening in the world popping up on our news feed can leave us with the feeling of despair.  The realization that there is no peace on earth.  But Christmas is made for times like this.  Because Christmas is not really about peace on earth between people.  But of peace on earth in our hearts.

Because God came down.

And gave us the ability to have peace with God.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

You see, our hope is not in the present, but in the future.

In a time when God will make all things right.
When we will spend eternity with Him.

No matter what’s going on in your life this Christmas, you can still have peace with Jesus.  The whole point of Christmas was not to take away our earthly pain, but to allow us to have peace with God and spend our eternity with Him.  We can continually look forward to that day when we get to heaven and its like Christmas everyday.


O Holy Night

O Holy Night

Maybe this song conjures up memories of that time you heard an amazing soprano or a beautiful tenor sing this song, or a full choir, or a sweet child, or a small church congregation on Christmas Eve.  This is song is by far my favourite piece of Christmas music, and maybe my favourite piece of music ever.  It really is gorgeous with deep words.  One phrase stuck out to me this year.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.

Does your soul ever have trouble feeling its worth?

Mine does.

Especially at Christmas.

We can tie the hustle and bustle of the season to our worth, can’t we?  Its December 7th.  Have I finished my Christmas shopping?  Is my tree up?  Is my baking started?

Has everything become magical yet?

And when we stress out, burn the cookies, feel behind on our list, and our three little kids don’t seem to get that we’re supposed to be feeling the magic at 7pm, our soul seems to diminish in worth.

Up and down our worth goes, mailed out the cards before the 23rd – up, forgot about the teacher gift – down, until Christmas becomes a roller coaster that we’re not sure if we love or hate.

But there’s only one thing our soul needs.  One.

He appeared.

That’s it.  No striving, no worry, no special wrapping, no traditions, no magic.

Just, Jesus.

When He appeared, the soul felt its worth.  Christmas is about the fact that Jesus loved us, loved you, so much that He came to earth as a baby.

Your soul has worth simply because Jesus loves you.

Christmas cannot make you any less worthy, nor can it make you any more worthy.

When you realize that He appeared, for you, your soul can feel its worth.

So go ahead, make Christmas magical, as much or as little as you can, but remember that the real magic is, He appeared.  For you.


Fix my heart

Life is full of movement.

Sometimes it seems good.  We might say life is moving along well right now.  Or, I’m on the right track.  Running my race well.

But sometimes the movement is scary, a storm.  Like you’re in a little boat and a storm has come up.  The waves are crashing, tossing you to and fro.  Or maybe some days you feel like me.  Like a tornado somehow came while you were sleeping and you’re not in Kansas anymore.

One thing is sure, where there is life, there will be movement.  Good or bad.  Happy or sad.  Whether the movement is because of our own choices or the choices of others.

A phrase came up in my Bible reading the other day and I have been meditating on it all week.  Psalm 108 starts with the words, “O God, my heart is fixed;”  Not fixed as in, it was broken and now its not.  Not fixed as in, my problems have all been solved.  No, the first meaning of fixed in the dictionary is fastened securely in position.

Psalm 108 is a psalm where Israel is asking God for deliverance from their enemies.  They felt surrounded on all sides, yet the very first words of the psalmist were, my heart is fixed.  The type of movement, the direction, the uncertainty of life didn’t change one thing – his heart was fastened securely in position.

What does it mean to have your heart fixed?  This word has fascinated me all week because I love that it doesn’t all have to be fixed for your heart to be fixed.

You can have a broken heart and it can still be fixed.

You can be enduring pain and it can still be fixed.

You can be suffering, be uncertain, basically, be a mess, and your heart can still be fixed.

This is the one thing that you can have control over.  We can’t always control the movement of our life.  Storms come, tornadoes come, but we can fix our heart.  We can decide that our faith is unmovable.  That our trust cannot be tossed to and fro.  We can stand beside God’s word and say, I will not be moved.

I imagine it was this kind of faith that allowed Jesus to sleep on the boat, Paul to endure persecution, Silas to sing in chains.

Its the faith that allows believers today to continue in difficult situations.  To face cancer, death, betrayal, financial difficulty, depression, sickness, pain of all types.

The rest of the verse continues, “O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.”

Not only was his heart fixed on God, but he was determined to praise God, no matter what.  This praise did not come after God had delivered him from his enemies, but before and no matter if He did or did not.  The psalmists heart was fixed on God no matter the direction his life was about to take.

While life moves fast, raging all around me, I believe I can say with the psalmist, my heart is fixed O God.  Will you determine today to fix your heart?

heart


Embracing Imperfection

We’re moving!  We’ll still be at the camp but we’re switching houses.  For those of you who know the camp, we’ll be living in the log house or former girl’s dorm.  I cannot tell you how excited I am, or will be actually.  Right now I’m just mostly really sick of painting.  And caulking.  And waiting.  But we are in the home stretch right now.  Mostly because we have to move this week whether its ready or not, but I think it will be.

In the picture you can see my new floors.  Well, new to me.  They are actually quite old and just plywood.  I think some people were quite surprised when I said we weren’t going to be putting in flooring and would just paint the existing plywood.  I showed them pictures on pinterest so they could be sure I wasn’t the only crazy person out there!  Part of the reason I decided this was because I don’t own this house, its big, and I would rather spend the money on a nice kitchen!

But the other reason is that this house is teaching me some important lessons.  As I’ve been painting these floors, I have fallen in love with them.  More than the fact that I feel like they look like they could be on Fixer Upper, I have noticed all the holes, the gaps, the cracks, and yet with a coat of fresh white paint, they look beautiful.  This log home that we’re moving into is beautiful, yet has many flaws.  There are so many things that we are not going to be able to make look perfect.  But it will still be beautiful.  And for the first time in my life, I’m really ok with that.  In fact, I’m embracing it.  This home blogger that I follow always says, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.  So if you come visit me you’re going to see weird gaps, old floors, cracked logs, but hopefully you’ll also see the love poured into this house.  Also, this house has a room with doors that close where the laundry and shoes stay so I can’t make it all perfect, but at least I can now hide the crazy!

Embrasing-3


International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

I have a lot of thoughts about today and was debating what to write about.  I thought about writing about women in general, or about some strong women in my life.  Maybe a letter to my girls about how society wants to objectify them, but since they are 11 and 8 I decided to wait a few more years for that.  It could be a good opportunity to write a letter to my son about how to treat women.  The list went on.

But there was a picture I saw yesterday that I could not get out of my mind.  All.  Day.

IMG_2952

These two little girls are from Cambodia.  I don’t know their particular stories yet, but I do know that it is literally possible that just yesterday these two little girls were saved from a horrible future.

Let me back up and tell you the story from this side of the world.

A while back we partnered with a couple from Cambodia who were already running a children’s ministry from their church.  They had a church that ministered to the garbage dump.  Yes, you read that right.  Because when a country is very poor, people live on the dump to scrounge for food and things to sell.  This couple would invite children over every Saturday, let them wash, give them clean clothes, a good meal, and tell them of God’s love.  They had a dream of starting a children’s home but lacked the funds to support it.  As we partnered with them, they were able to take in some children.

Last week, our church was miraculously able to purchase a large building in Phnom Penh.  I say miraculously because although it seemed like the money poured in, and the purchase went through without problems, I never want to look at the start of something like this like it was just a business transaction.  This building was built to be a hotel but never finished – the perfect set up for a children’s home.  The Savouens moved in last week.  It didn’t matter that they don’t have all the furniture or fixtures, they were anxious to start bringing in more children.

Yesterday that picture showed up in my twitter feed.  (@savoue if you’re interested in following the future of this home)  Cambodia has been known in the past as having one of the largest child sex trades in the world.  I have been reading many stories lately about how heroic and passionate Cambodians are fighting this trade and winning, but we know this is a problem all over the world.  Its completely heart breaking to look at those two little girls and wonder what would’ve happened to them if they did not end up at our children’s home.  I know our Pastor said that one of the little girls who came earlier is with us because her mother was going to sell her otherwise.

This International Women’s Day, I’m reminded again to be passionate about the plight of women and girls in the world.  I can pray, I can give, I can look at these pictures and just think.  Just let my heart be broken for this world.  Because its when my heart is broken for them that God can really start to tell me how to be used.