For All Women, Everywhere

Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see everything I am. And I don’t like what I see. If I stand there long enough, I start to hate myself. Why can’t I look beautiful? I stand there and I hate myself because of the way my legs look – disfigured, large and difficult to maneuver. I hate myself for not being thin. I hate everything about myself. And then it all spirals from there. You’re not good enough. You’re ugly and you’re worthless. No one wants to be seen with you. You have nothing to offer. I’m not alone in these thoughts. These thoughts are your thoughts. And when you look in the mirror, you sometimes start hating yourself too.

I have so many beautiful friends. Thin, tall friends. Beautiful women with long hair, straight teeth, manicured fingernails, perfect eyebrows, nice clothing. Beautiful women with amazing legs that can carry them wherever they go. And I love my friends, but sometimes I hate them. At least I think I do. But when I really think about it, I know it’s not true. No, it’s not hate – it’s envy. A small little word for such a big thing.

Envy eats you up from the inside. It starts as a little whisper in your heart. Tiny, almost unnoticeable. But the more you allow the whisper to grow, the more it completely poisons your soul. Envy is the best friend of comparison. And ladies, we all get caught into the comparison trap. And it’s toxic. It’s completely savage in how much it can tear you apart from the inside out.

And that’s the thing – that’s the crazy, ironic thing. You can be a super model, with a “perfect” body and seemingly have it all. But if you don’t have a beautiful soul, you’re not really beautiful at all. Because the inside shines out, and that’s what people really see. That’s what God sees.

Like that time when Samuel was looking for a king. God had sent him to the place where the king He had appointed would be. But He didn’t tell him which one it would be. So Samuel traveled there, and stood among Jesse’s sons, looking. He looked at these handsome, strong men and thought they’d be the perfect fit. But they weren’t. Imagine Samuel’s surprise when God revealed the chosen king was just a young, small shepherd. So young that he wasn’t even called in to meet Samuel in the first place. But, God loved David so much – He loved David’s heart.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

And David loved God. David served God well. David became someone known as “a man after God’s own heart.” David might not have had it all together that day when Samuel went looking. But God could see his beauty. Do you want to know the real truth? God can see yours too.

You are beautiful. You are unique. You are beautifully unique when you are serving God. Like David, He’s created you for a purpose. He’s given you specific talents and abilities that you can use to serve Him well. And when you do these things, girl, you’re the most beautiful creature on earth.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3: 3-4

Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see everything I am. And I can appreciate what I see, even if it’s not considered to be beautiful to others. I see grey hair that I’ve decided not to cover up, because each grey hair reminds me I’m blessed to be growing older (and hopefully wiser). I see non manicured hands, and I am blessed because I’m and to use them to serve others and not be afraid of breaking a nail. I see my deformed legs, and even though it’s my worst, most awful feature, I know these legs still work. They still carry me through my days, and every day make me stronger in some way.

Girl, sometimes I look in the mirror and on a rare occasion, I see what God sees. Or at the very least, what others see of Him in me. And in those moments, I shine. In those moments, I feel confident and beautiful. In those moments, the longer I look, the more I love myself. You’re serving Him well. You’re the only one who can do what He’s asked of you. God is pleased with the work you’re doing here, so keep it going, girl! If you stand there long enough, looking for the Spirit in your life instead of your outward appearance, you’ll see it too. And you’ll see that you’re more beautiful than you thought you could be. You’ll see that every time you serve Him, you’ll just get more and more breathtaking.

I have many beautiful friends. Women who appear more beautiful each time I see them because I can see His light shining in their hearts. And it’s more powerful than the new outfit they’re wearing. Or their gorgeous hair. Or their manicures. It’s breathtaking and it lasts forever. And I don’t envy them then – but thank God for giving me such lovely women to encourage me and walk alongside me and to serve with. Instead of being toxic, it’s like sweet perfume for the soul.

Girl, go check yourself. What do you see? What do you really see? Find your inner beauty, and let it shine for Him. You are stunningly beautiful!



Tonight I looked at my baby as he lay on the couch. Long legs stretched out so his head lay on one end if the couch and his feet touched the other. And I marvelled at how not too long ago he was so small he could sleep in my arms. Remembered how he would wrap his tiny hand around my finger and nestle in for a snooze.

It seems like years have passed by in seconds, yet moments are frozen in time. Sometimes I wonder what makes a moment last forever. Big moments like when we took him home from the hospital for the first time and he cried the whole way home. Big moments like when he started school for the very first time. Big moments like the day he was diagnosed with autism. But small moments too. Like the day we were sitting on the floor when he was about 14 months old and he whipped through some preschool flash cards and shocked me with his knowledge. Like the day we drove down the highway with the windows down and his one tiny curl was blowing in the wind. Like the time he made me a cup of tea for the very first time. Like when he brought home his first perfect math test.

Moments happen daily. Sometimes we miss them if we aren’t careful. It’s in these moments that we see life. It’s in these moments that we experience love, anger, frustration, heartache, joy. And sometimes, in these moments we experience all of those at once.

Like today, when we were at Costco and he wanted a sample of stuffed chicken. I was checking my list and he asked if he could go. It wasn’t two steps away from where I was. He reached for a sample and the employee snapped at him asking if he was with an adult. Taken aback he put the sample he was holding back on the tray and walked back over to me. She rolled her eyes, threw it in the trash and mumbled something under her breath I couldn’t hear. I asked him what she’s said to him and he told me. Jilted, I told him he was indeed with an adult and to walk over and get his sample. He went back and told her he was with an adult and reached for his sample happily while she just about reached out to take it from him as I stepped beside him. She rudely asked if I was with him and I said yes. She proceeded to tell me I needed to be with him before he could have a sample in the rudest way possible. In this moment, my mama bear was awakened and I wanted to punch her in the face. He finished his sample, turned to her and to her surprise and mine said, “that was delicious! Thank you!”

The whole exchange hurt my heart so much. Maybe it’s because he’s been misinterpreted as a bad kid one too many times. Maybe it’s just because he’s nearly a teenager and people tend to group them all in the same troublemaker category. But my mama heart was wounded. Maybe I’m overly emotional – in fact, I probably am. I love my people fiercely. But what he did, that changed everything.

The thing is, he has worked incredibly hard to do what he did today. Social skills don’t come naturally to him. A few years ago, this exchange could have gone very differently. But it’s not even the social factor or the way he’s learned to navigate interacting with others. Today, I could see the Holy Spirit working in my son.

Contrary to popular belief, people with ASD aren’t completely clueless – they can understand when people are making fun of them and when they’re not being treated well. Two years ago, he might have had a meltdown. But today, he kept his composure, looked at this cranky Costco employee and treated her like Jesus would have – with grace.

I’m ashamed to say that my son chose to be gracious and I didn’t deserve to witness it because I wasn’t in the mood to be gracious. But I’m so thankful I did, because it gave me pause and I had to examine myself and my heart. Right there in the frozen foods aisle at Costco.

And so tonight, when I looked at this almost teenager as he was laying on the couch, I thanked the Lord God for giving me my sweet son. I thanked Him that I was able to see the Spirit at work in his life and it spurred me to pray for more of that. For more moments where he teaches me a thing or two about grace. And to pray that our moments will be ones I’ll remember for years to come, to tuck away in my mama’s heart, for times like this.


The Fire and the Dance 

Sometimes pain is like a fire.  Like a fire slowly dying, it’s embers glistening in a sea of ash. Constant, steady, and oddly comforting – because it’s presence means you’re still alive.  And yet, like on a cold winter’s day, it can be stoked and prodded until it flickers and roars. Until it rages and you come undone. 

Sometimes when the fire is roaring, you forget to feel. Or you don’t – and every spark and pop that sizzles breaks something inside one piece at a time.  Until all that is left is embers of a life once lived. And now you shift through dust, desperately looking for something to fan into flame. Because sometimes the fire is the only life you know.  The only life you understand. 

Sometimes life is like a dance.  Gliding through the easy, joyful movements that make happy, carefree memories. Until the music slows, and the embers stir.  And you slow dance with a dance partner you didn’t ask for.  A partner no one ever wishes for, but many have to face.  

The fire burns and you dance. Because sometimes the dance is the only way to survive.  And so you dance in slow, methodical movements.  No longer graceful, no longer beautiful.  But still yours. And you face the music as it plays a song only your heart can hear.

Music speaks to the soul.  It goes down deep, past the burning embers and touches the places no one can see. It pours a soothing balm over the wounds from the fire and the dance.  Raw places that threaten to burst open again.  It replaces rejection and repels fear.  

In fire, in the dance, He is the music. He breathes life into the wounded places. He picks up the charred pieces from the fire and makes them new.  He lifts these eyes to the heavens, and the dance becomes light and airy – like a feather gliding in the wind. He restores what is broken.  

And breath returns, slowly and evenly. And hearts are lighter, and less burdened. Because He controls the fire.  He watches over the dance.  And He is the song.  Because the dance is not always easy, and the fire often rages and roars, but He is the song of our hearts.  Beautiful and sweet, it plays as the fire burns. And we dance, because the Music gives us joy that can never be extinguished.  


A year 

Another year has passed and a world of fresh, new beginnings is on the horizon. It all seems so positive, doesn’t it? But a year is filled with more than just beginnings.  A year brings change. A year brings happiness and heartbreak. A year brings opportunities. 

This past year is wrapping up, and already I can pinpoint significant events that happened. And some moments that took my breath away. 

A friend of mine passed away this fall. I had the opportunity to visit her a few months before she died, which was such a precious gift.  When we visited together she told me I looked beautiful – and I told her the same. She wasn’t looking at my fat, deformed body and I wasn’t looking at her cancer riddled one. We saw each other’s souls. It’s heartbreaking to lose someone who sees your soul. But it’s a beautiful thing to have had that sort of friend.
Even though I had to say goodbye to my sweet friend, God blessed me with a few new friendships. New friends are fun, especially when you can laugh together. Or sing rousing renditions of boy band songs from the 90s (those are the best kind of friends).  Friends who understand your physical limitations and who change plans to accommodate your needs are cherished. I’m so thankful for my friends. 

I’m thankful for my family, too. For two weeks spent visiting people I love this summer. For hot, sunny days and lazy afternoons by the water. For beautiful nieces. One of the best memories of this year was when we were seated around a campfire and my three year old niece was telling spooky stories about giant bugs. I hate bugs so it got a bit real and I half jokingly shouted out that I was afraid. My beautiful little niece grabbed my hand and started singing about how when we are afraid we can trust in God. It made me cry and my heart explode all at the same time. 

My own kids have grown so much this year. Conquered battles, valiantly fought as they face daily challenges just to survive in a world their brains aren’t programmed for. I see them shine and I feel blessed that God made me their mother.  I see less toys littering the floor, and more things that fit into their future. Brain teasers for one whose mind is constantly moving towards math and science. A floor littered with paper and pencil crayons for a creative brain whose impulse to always hold a writing utensil is strong. I can see how they’ve changed, how they’re changing.  

Change can be wonderful, but it can also be terrifying. Looking at how this year has brought so much change to my own health story – I waited over a decade for a diagnosis and now treatments will begin in this new year. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, because I’m afraid of the unknown. The unknown pain, the unknown expenses, the unknown everything. But like my niece sang to me that summer night, when I am afraid I can trust in God. The wonderful part of this change is that He already knows what is to come. 

Sometimes we know what is to come in a new year too. This year will be the fourteenth year that I’ve been married to the love of my life.  That’s a lot of days of serving each other. Many months of me washing his stinky socks and many days of him rubbing my legs to keep them healthy. Many hours of working towards the common goal of raising godly young men (we aren’t there yet). These seemingly menial tasks don’t go unappreciated or unnoticed just because they’re not romantic or lovely.  If anything, they’re greater than flowers and date nights because they’re just part of the life we live. Together. 

Together we have made many plans for the future. We’ve dreamed about what could be. We’ve cried when dreams have died. We’ve rejoiced and celebrated when our goals were reached. This year will be no different.  

The only thing that is different about  this year is that together we are seeking God. We don’t want to miss opportunities that He has for us. We want to reach the end of 2018 and know in our hearts that we both followed after Him wholeheartedly. And then we don’t have to fear for the future, a and what a year will bring. 

A year brings 52 weeks, 365 days on the calender. How will you fill your days?


One Still and Silent Night 

A few nights ago, the snow was falling softly down.  I was coming home from a Christmas party, and when I stepped out of the car it surprised me at how calm and quiet everything was. There were no traffic noises, no sirens. No bustle of activity on our usually busy street. Just a peaceful night. I stood there for a few minutes, and as I watched the silent snow I thought of another still and silent night, long ago in Bethlehem. 

I wonder why the song suggests it was a silent night. Bethlehem was a bustling, busy place in the middle of a census.  There wasn’t any room at the inn for Mary and Joseph because it was full.  Full of men, women and children.  And many of them likely had some animals with them. I imagine it was actually quite noisy, but I can’t be sure because I wasn’t there. All I can do is imagine…

Imagine what it would have been like to be able to witness the birth of Jesus. To see the manger bed. To stand beside the shepherds. To hear the sweet baby noises, and marvel at such a beautiful thing.  To kneel down on the dusty, crumbled ground and look into the face of a King. 

I’ve heard the Christmas story for years.  From a very small child, I’ve heard of the story of a baby born in a manger. I’ve had nativity sets in my home. I’ve read the Bible passages and the cute little storybooks with the colourful pictures. I’ve seen (and acted in) plays and pageants. Perhaps, if I’m being honest, because of all of that it seemed a little stale to me. 

But as I stood watching the snow on that silent night, I was flooded with the truth. That a heavenly King, who on that still night, was nestled in the arms of a girl in a cave. That when laying in a manger, He looked like just another helpless baby. But this baby was the God who knew the thoughts and lives of all the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, and all those who came to see him. This baby was the One who would drive out demons, who would heal a man who couldn’t walk and one who couldn’t see. This baby was the One who would speak to the dead and make them alive again.  This baby would suffer and die a terrible death, reserved for the worst types of criminals, to be the hope of all the world. This baby knew what would be, and yet He still came. 

He came for the broken hearts. He came for the lonely, the sick, the weak, the poor, the neglected, the needy.  He came for those who feel unloved, unappreciated, uninvited, unacceptable. He came for you. He came for me. And He did it all because of love. Because love is the most powerful entity in the world. Love repairs what is broken.  Love unites us all. And Jesus, born in a manger, was the embodiment of love. 

The snow was falling harder and it was getting cold. A siren somewhere off in the distance pierced the silence. I crunched through the snow to the front door to my house, thankful for a baby who gives life and hope to anyone who chooses to receive Him. 

He truly is the best gift of all. 


On Christmases Past

The first snow is floating down covering the ground in a blanket of white. The twinkling and glistening of the colourful lights bring cheer to the dark skies. The smell of sweetness wafts through the air, special treats baked only once a year. It’s almost Christmas time. 

As I was redecorating our Christmas tree this evening I was flooded with memories.  Bittersweet memories. It all started when an ornament hit the floor. A loud pop, followed by a crunch. Broken pieces of a beautiful, rich red ornament splashed across my floor. The colour that onced graced the walls of my Grandma’s dining room – that daring colour that stirred my soul.  And now, shattered at my feet was yet another ornament passed down from my grandmother. I’ve broken five so far this year.  

And every time one fell a part of my heart broke with it. Because it’s hard losing something that once belonged to someone you once belonged to. Someone you loved and someone who loved you.  Even if it’s just something as small and trivial as a few Christmas ornaments. 

She’s been gone for a year and a half now and I’ve forgotten the sound of her voice. That’s the hard part, the things you miss – little things that you take for granted. Big things too. 

And suddenly I’m transported to her living room – with sticky, sap covered fingers my twelve year old self hangs ornaments on her Christmas tree. Standing with my siblings we decorate the tree. Commenting on the ornaments as we added them to the branches while she sat in a nearby chair, sipping tea she’d never finish. She always left tea in the bottom of her cup – I’d almost forgotten that too. On this day she sat watching us carefully adding her precious memories to her tree. The sharp smell of the pine needles assault my own memories now.  And it’s almost as if I can relive the moment when a delicate bulb slipped out of my fingers and onto the dark hardwood floor. Tears slid down my cheeks then.  Tears slid down them tonight, too, just for a moment.  

I can smell her pumpkin pies. Pecan pies, too. I can see them placed on the counter cooling. I can see her in the kitchen making Christmas dinner. Turkey, stuffing, creamed peas and more. I can hear the chatter of family talking. And I can see myself, in the TV room with my siblings and cousins, watching a Christmas movie and feeling bored.  Wishing we were home, playing with our new gifts – gifts I no longer remember.  To entertain ourselves we would run down the stairs to her unfinished basement, chasing each other as our socked feet pelted the cold cement floor. Running through the frames of future walls, squealing with delight and hoping desperately we wouldn’t find any dead mice.  Then when we grew tired and cold, we’d head back upstairs. If we were quiet and didn’t disturb the adults, we could play with the wooden carousel she had on the coffee table.  How we all loved that decoration, watching it spin around with its wooden people rushing past our faces and the candles trying desperately to hold on to our vigorous turning. 

I would love to have another Christmas day at my Grandma’s house.  To walk through the halls, to stand in the rooms where my memories live.  But those rooms have changed, and the basement has been finished by new owners. All traces of my grandmother are gone from that house. So it stings a little when traces of her crash to the floor and break. When my Christmas wreath is redecorated because dilapidated ornaments are loosened or missing.  And my heart aches from missing her. 

It’s been many years since I had a Christmas with my grandmother.  Decades have passed since I ate her pies and sat in her tv room. It feels like forever since I tried on her hats and stood in her foyer applying her lipstick. But it also feels like yesterday, and so it is unbearable to know I wished away those moments I now wish to have back. 

When I step out my door to turn on our Christmas lights I am standing on her steps, plugging in her lights as she stands in the window watching.  It’s funny how moments are fleeting but memories are everlasting.  Tonight as I breathe in the crisp air I remember the woman who loved me. And I think about the ones I love.  I think about my boys, and wonder what they’ll remember when they’re thirty-five and thinking on Christmases past.  And I smile, knowing they get to experience a little bit of my Christmases past. Because even if all the ornaments shatter and none remain, I still have Grandma’s pie recipes. 


Chronic Joy ~ Fruit of the Spirit Series 

I like to give my children gifts. I know what they enjoy, what they think about, what they need to do this life. When I want to give my children a gift, there is a lot of thought and time that go into it. Once the gift is purchased and wrapped, I can hardly wait to see the looks on their faces as they discover what they’ve received.  The look of excitement.  The look of happiness.  The look of joy.  

Joy.  It’s a word that’s thrown around a lot this time of year.  With the Christmas season closing in, people are stringing lights and shopping for gifts for those they love. Christmas cards are being written, wishing peace and joy to all. I love this season and all that it brings.  But does it really bring me joy?

If we look at the Bible we see that biblical joy isn’t a feeling of happiness based on your experiences or circumstances. Rather, it is a powerful picture of how Christ overflows in your life as you align your heart with His. It is one of the many fruits of the Spirit. 

What does Biblical joy look like? 

It Creates and Opportunity to Grow – James 1:2 states that we can be joyful when we experience trials of many kinds because it builds and shapes our character. When was the last time that you looked back over a situation in your life that was difficult to walk through, but you were thankful for it anyway? When you are through the fire and you are able to see things in a heavenly perspective – when you see the way God has changed and shaped you through this hardship, you experience biblical joy. 

It Becomes Our Strength – Nehemiah 8:10 –  This scripture is proclaimed during the feast of trumpets, where the Israelites were gathered together to hear Ezra read the law of Moses. As they were gathered here listening to all of these commands, they were affected by the realization of their sins and their disobedience to the law stirred their hearts to deep regret and sorrow. The Israelites were being reminded.that though they were devastated in the conviction of their sin, God was still at work in their lives. They felt sad, but could walk in joy because of God’s faithfulness to provide them with the strength to do the work set out before them. Sometimes we have days where we don’t feel like serving God, because we are unhappy or not “feeling it,” but God gives us the strength to continue His work and serve others with joy.

It is from God – Psalm 4:7, 16:11 – God can put joy in our hearts, and in His presence there is a fullness of joy. My husband has worked the same job for over 18 years. It’s dirty, it’s physically demanding, and it’s under appreciated. Yet in the midst of all of that, he really loves it. He enjoys caring for people, even on the hardest of days.  A few months ago he’d lost that love for his job. Different factors contributed to him coming home feeling deflated and void of any happiness or fulfillment. Bathing, feeding and dressing the elderly is a ministry that flows from his heart. So it nearly broke mine to see him that way. One evening at our life group, he asked for prayer for more joy. A few days later, others gathered to pray for him. Later that week, he had an awful day at work. As he was driving home, he couldn’t stop smiling.  His heart was lighter. He returned to work and found his joy had been restored, though none of the circumstances had. God just put His joy in my husband’s heart. 

It is the heart of Worship – Psalm 98:4 – Shout to the Lord , all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!  Have you ever been worshipping with fellow believers and felt a resounding presence of joy? It is an amazing feeling. When we experience the joy of the Lord it overflows out of us and is turned back into joyful praise to Him. Sing and don’t hold back! Dance for joy! Worship Him with all that is in you.  

Oh that I could have joy as often as I have pain! But the truth is, I can. Happiness is fleeting but biblical joy is everlasting.  It is a gift. It is produced in our lives when we serve God wholeheartedly. 

This Christmas season, I want to experience joy. But not the kind of joy written on a Christmas card. Not the kind of joy that comes bundled in a package with a pretty bow. I want to experience real joy – by serving Him, by worshipping Him, and yes, by even through Him shaping my life through trials.  Real joy, everlasting joy, is only from God.