The Jesus Factor

Yesterday was my first day at home with both kids in school for the day. It was quiet and calm, my house was pretty clean, so I decided to do something I don’t usually do. I sat down and watched a scary movie.

First, let me explain the magnitude of this. I’ve never been one to just watch be scary movie and be okay. I have friends and family who love the horror genre, who can stand up as the credits start rolling and go on with their lives. Not me. Oh, not ever me. I think about it. Perseverate on it. Walk in fear afterwards, even for days after. If the film is watched on my house, I feel it. Like a dark, heavy presence lurks in the depths of every corner. Something almost demonic.

Several years ago, when my children were very little, my husband convinced me to watch a scary movie. He likes to watch them occassionally, and because I love my husband we popped some popcorn and watched it. The film was about an evil force using mirrors as a gateway to haunt a family. It was absolutely terrifying. When it was over jt was over and we went to bed, I had a hard time falling asleep. The next morning, my husband took the boys to McDonald’s for breakfast so I could sleep in. I was just waking up when heard small voices and felt little hands placed on my bak shove me from the side of the bed. I opened my eyes and rolled over, expecting to see my three year old son. He wasn’t there. Completely awake, I got out of bed and walked into every room of our apartment. Everything seemed normal, but something was wrong. They weren’t home yet.

I don’t know exactly what that was that morning, all those years ago. I just know these two things: those hands and that shove weren’t something that imagined, and the demonic is absolutely real.

I couldn’t watch horror movies after that. Every few years, my husband would suggest one and I would shoot it down. In the last year or two, we’d discovered I don’t mind slasher movies like Scream and we watched the entire Final Destination series and that was okay too. It was just the paranormal ones that did something that completely terrified me. That was, until a year ago.

Everyone I know was raving about the movie The Bird Box. There were memes all over every social media app. It popped up in my Netflix suggestions and I told my husband we should watch it because everyone else was doing it (I know, I know.) We knew nothing about it, and the Netflix synopsis was extremely vauge. We pressed play and after thirty minutes, I knew I’d made a mistake. But I couldn’t just turn it off. I had to see the whole thing through to the end.

As usual, once the movie was over my husband was fine. But I couldn’t stop perseverating on that creature. Unseen, powerful and completely terrifying. But, something didn’t sit well with me. In the film, the people who see the creature immediately commit suicide. So in a short period of time, whole cities were completely deserted as all the inhabitants died. As I thought about it, I wondered but what about the Christians? Of course Hollywood didn’t factor them in when making a movie. How would a demonic force react when the presence of Jesus in their life flowed out of them? Well, I guess that wouldn’t make a good horror film. But it did do something in me.

Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law. Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him. Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee. Mark 1:21-28

Demons, evil spirits and the evil forces in this world know who Jesus is. Not only do they know of Him, they fear Him.

This week a new album came out that my boys couldn’t wait to listen to. (Okay, I’ll admit it – me too!) One of our favourite bands, Rend Collective, put out an album of children’s songs called SPARKLE. POP. RAMPAGE. One of the songs is called Not Afraid, and it features these perfect lyrics:

If you say I’m an overomer

I will overcome the monsters

I may be small but I’m a fighter

Cause you are strong and fear is a liar

I’m not afraid of the dark, the dark is afraid of me

I’m not afraid cause your heart is shining bright in me

Be bold, be strong, be brave, hold on

I’m not afraid anymore, your love glows in the dark

Today I put on heaven’s armour

The sword and shield can not be conquered

I raise a shout cause I’m a warrior

Your battle cry will lead me onward

I know this song is intended for children – but friend, in stopped me in me tracks. I don’t need to be afraid because with Jesus in my heart and with soul fixated on Him, the demons in this world are afraid of me. So yesterday, I sat down with my husband and watched IT! which has lots of creepy and scary moments throughout and I was not afraid. I even laughed at some parts. And last night, when I lay my head down on my pillow, I drifted off to sleep in peace.

I’m not writing this to suggest you take advantage of the next rainy weekend and binge watch a bunch of horror movies. In fact, I hope you don’t. We are accountable for all our time spent and overloading on one thing is probably not good idea when we should be taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). I’m of the opinion that what we watch, read, listen to and prioritize in our lives vastly affects our attitude and actions. Instead, I’m writing this just to share the freedom I’ve found in knowing Jesus. Even in a small (but not significant) part of my life.

As I was heading to bed last night, my usual thoughts crept up – what if Pennywise tries to prey on my kids while I’m asleep? And then laughter bubbled up as I crawled into bed. No, it would be afraid of them too. We all have the Jesus Factor.


Lay It Down

If my heart was a boat, it would be beaten and battered by wind and stormy seas. If my heart was a ship, it would have been wrecked from all the burdens I carry and don’t know how to throw overboard. It hurts sometimes, to let go. And yet, I feel in some way I am constantly being asked to let go. Let go of expectations, let go of hopes and dreams, let go of hurt, just lay it all down and walk away.

And I know it will be good for me, and I know it will show obedience, but I can’t seem to let go of some things. Because some things break my heart. Some things just aren’t fair.

This weekend, a bunch of youth from our church went away to a large youth convention. They had a great time, I’m sure. They learned, they experienced and they grew in love for Jesus. They had fun together, being together. I loved seeing their pictures, but then it hurt a little too… because my sons didn’t get to go. It was a choice we made as parents – and it was the right choice – but it still hurts.

It’s not fair that they can’t go away for a fun overnight trip. That they can’t enjoy being together with others. That their lives are just a bit too complicated for something like that to work. But it’s not just that, really. On a smaller scale, it’s difficult even to get together with the youth on a Friday night. They just don’t fit in. And it’s not fair.

I used to love youth group, when I was a teen. I went off with friends and did my own thing for a few hours a week. I learned things, I laughed a lot and I got to enjoy being in a safe place. I imagined it would be the same for my kids. I imagined it would be a place where they could be themselves, listen to the word being taught and have fun with their friends. But, it’s not like that for them. At all.

I cried myself to sleep thinking about how it’s not fair that it’s not always a safe place and it’s because they’re there. It’s not always fun, they’re not always laughing, they’re not ever going to have the same experience as I did, or my husband did, or our friends did. They don’t really fit the mold. They don’t really fit anywhere, and it’s just that little bit that crushes my heart. They don’t fit.

I had to lay it down and let it go and it was so hard. It was so soul crushingly hard to weep for the normal experiences my children will never really have. It was so awful to think about the fact that the only friend they truly have are each other, when I’ve always had good friendships that enriched my soul. So I cried, and cried and cried.

But then something amazing happened. As I surrendered it all, a peace settled in my heart and I was able to see the things I couldn’t see before, when the injustices of normality were choking me.

My kids may not be able to go to a large conference to grow and be encouraged in their faith, but God meets them when they’re sitting on their beds reading His word or blasting worship music at full volume. They may not really fit the mold at youth group, but there’s a whole group of AMAZING leaders who work with them to make it an enjoyable experience for them and every week they can’t wait to go back. And while they don’t really have many friends, they have a whole village of adults who love them and cheer them on in their own way.

Maybe it doesn’t look the same as my experience, and maybe it never will. But the important things are still there. And it’s so beautiful to see.

We are on the cusp of summer break, just a few weeks away. And after what I’m praying will be a peaceful and relaxing summer (because I for one, could use a little break from the crazy), we are heading into a season of the unknown. A season of fears, tears, and a whole lot of rocking the boat. But somehow I’m not as afraid as I thought I’d be. Because the best part of letting go is laying it down and surrendering it over to a Mighty God who is sovereign and who already knows the outcome.

And even though I feel like we are going to come up to some pretty rocky seas, and we might overturn our vessel a few times, we aren’t going to drown. Because no matter how heavy laden our lives are, no matter how many extra burdens I carry for these kids so they don’t have to, He’s guiding us through it all. And He won’t let us sink.



Hello, 2 year old me. I see your wide eyed wonder. I hear your peals of laughter. I see the joy bubbling up inside of your soul. I see your happy. I’m so glad you held onto all of that as you forged through life’s journey.

Hello, 6 year old me. I see your curly hair that you hate (you will miss it later). I see your happy home and your white piano whose music breathes life into your soul. I see the light in your eyes but I know you miss your Grandpa and you’re jealous of your baby sister. (Spoiler alert – she’s awesome and you’ll be best friends). Hold on, little girl. It’s going to be okay.

Hello, 10 year old me. I see you rocking that oversized t-shirt as you lounge around the cottage on a rainy day reading a book. I’m glad you never lost your love for reading. It will help you a little later when you’re struggling with overwhelming emotions and you just need to write about it. Write away, girl. It’s good for you.

Hello, 15 year old me. It’s been awhile. Looking so cool and confident, loving your place in life. Hold on, my friend. Your world is about to get torn out from under you. Moving to another province, leaving behind all you know. All your friends, all your relatives, everything. It’s going to break your heart. But you’re going to be thankful for it in the end, I promise.

Hello, 20 year old me. You’ve come a long way since that heartbreaking move. You’ve made friends, you’ve almost finished university, and you’re just about to meet your husband. Most importantly, you’ve found Jesus. You’ve joined a church you love and you’re ready for whatever life brings.

Hello, 25 year old me. I see that joy from two year old me still lives on. Good. Keep laughing, girl. You’ve been married for a few years and have the cutest little toddler. You don’t know it yet, but before the year is up you’ll have another baby boy. But buckle up, buttercup. Things are going to get tough.

Hello, 28 year old me. I see your grey hair. It’s been earned, I know. You are mere weeks away from the first autism diagnosis. You’re worried about why your legs are so sore and you’re fearful for what is to come. But you’re beautiful sister is getting married today and you’re the maid of honour, so you smile. And you look beautiful, too.

Hello, 33 year old me. It’s been an awful year so far. And it’s going to get worse. Your beloved grandmother just died. A sweet childhood friend will go home to glory just a few months later. And another close friend a few weeks after that. You’ve been told your chronic illness is killing you and you have mere months to live. Your son is having difficulty transitioning to a new school and things are going to be tough for awhile. But that’s a genuine smile. And there’s a hope in your soul that cannot be tamed.

Hello, 36 year old me. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve had a lot of high highs and really low lows. You’ve fought a good fight and the Lord has been gracious. You’re not dying anymore, though the road ahead is long and burdensome. You’re finally comfortable in your own skin and don’t really care what others say or think about you because your identity isn’t wrapped up in that, it’s wrapped up in Christ. You finally got that nose ring you’ve been wanting since you were 15. Finally.

Life is a journey. Up and down, this way and that way. There’s lots of exciting things, and there’s lots of difficult things too. Some days I don’t know how we keep trucking along. But we do. All of us together, wrapped up into one package. It’s a little bruised, very deformed, but beautiful in its own way. Everything that makes us me.

There’s a lot of stuff to come that will be challenging and heartbreaking. But there’s this gift that two year old me discovered and that’s laughter. It’s so freeing, so healing. And then there is Spirit given joy which conquers every heartbreaking thing we’ve gone through so far and will conquer every difficult thing we go through in the future.

Hello, future me. Stop worrying about things you can’t control and lay it down at His feet. It’s going to be okay.


Words Burn

I had a dream that my house was burning down. Flames of fire, flickering throughout. Smoke billowing from every room. Heat rising, paint bubbling, ash smouldering. And in the midst of it, my family was standing in our living room together, holding each other close. Until someone was burning. And all the while, I’d had advance notice the house was going to go.

Why didn’t we leave? Why did we stay? As if that burning question wasn’t enough, I’d somehow known the fire was coming.

I woke with a start, my heart racing and my palms sweaty. As if I’d just been through something uncomfortable. In a way, I had. I fumbled through my morning tasks, but my mind always returned to my dream. To the fire, to my son being burned. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And then it slowly started to make sense to me, and everything was clear.

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:3-6

Earlier that evening, I’d read this passage to my son, who has been struggling with controlling his tongue. It seemed like the perfect end to a lecture about him being more respectful of us as parents, about him stopping himself before he starts. About him praying for wisdom, and asking for help if he can’t do it himself. So I read that passage and didn’t think about it again.

Until that dream.

Sometimes God uses dreams to get our attention. To teach us something, to correct us. And this dream spoke some truth over my life. Because my son is my heart, but sometimes he’s a lot like me. Sometimes teenager me comes raging back into my life through his words. And sometimes, if I’m being honest, adult me needs to watch her words too.

When emotions are high, words burn. When feelings are hurt, words burn. Words burn, and if we’re not careful, they can set our whole life on fire. And sometimes we know that, but we don’t take heed. Sometimes we stand in a burning room and watch the fire swirling around us until it’s too late.

When words burn, we are hurting ourselves. When words burn, we are hurting others. I couldn’t stop thinking about my dream, and I can replay it in my mind as I watch my son’s arm burn. I see the angry embers sizzle and pop, landing on him and catching fire. He doesn’t scream. He doesn’t cry. He just looks at me, and through his eyes I can see right into his soul. And I know I’ve failed him.

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:20-21

Our tongues have the power of life and death. We can choose to speak life into our words, or let the fire take over with words that spark flames. We can be helpful and encouraging, or we can tear another person down. But we can’t tame our tongue. Only God can.

His wisdom is what tames the tongue. His peace is like crashing waves over our lives, putting out fire and healing our hearts. Words burn, but He heals the wounds they leave behind.

In my dream, my choices burned my house to the ground. Words burn, and my life was on fire. My words, my actions, my choices hurt others. But the story doesn’t end there. When I saw my son burning, I screamed – which is always what my first reaction is in an emergency. But then I prayed, crying out to God to help and have mercy on us. And the house dissolved away, and we were standing by an ocean. Holding hands, all four of us. Watching the waves. I looked down at our hands, and my son’s arm was perfect. I looked at his eyes, and they were filled with joy. His eyes, as blue as the ocean stretched before us.

Words burn. But perfect peace can heal more than we can ever imagine.


The Marriage Garden

I remember what it was like to fall in love. When everything was fresh, new and exciting. That little jolt you’d feel when you looked at each other. How it felt to hold hands. To kiss for the first time. That on top of the world feeling. You ride that wave for a time, and then comes a proposal. All fresh and new and exciting. And then a wedding, honeymoon and newlywed life follows. Everything is bliss.

But…sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you wake up and your life seems strange. The bliss is gone and all you know is never ending housework, making meals, babies and parenthood. It’s all jumbled up and messy and it seems that everything you knew once is gone. Lost forever in a memory.

People give up when sparks don’t fly. When it isn’t easy anymore. When you’ve asked your spouse to please pick up their laundry off the floor and it’s still laying there. When you’re the only one patenting the children. When you’re at work all day and you barely know the person that you’re married to anymore. People give up.

People give up and it breaks my heart. I hate seeing it. I hate hearing about it. I’ve cried over other people’s marriages ending. Maybe that’s crazy, but it’s true. It makes me ache for them because they quit and they haven’t even seen the best part.

I’m not a gardener. I have such a black thumb that I kill everything in my wake. But I do know that gardens are a lot of work. Like, a ton. You have to prepare your garden bed by tilling the soil and removing rocks and weeds. When the soil is ready, you shop for your plants. You pick out the prettiest flowers you can find, bring them home and then plant your garden. It’s so fresh and new and clean. But it doesn’t stay that way for long.

Before you know it, weeds have cropped up. You know that you need to get down on your hands and knees and pull those weeds out, because if you don’t they’ll take over. I had a garden like that once. I didn’t want to put the work into it, so I left it for a day or two. And then those days turned into weeks and my garden was overrun with weeds. It looked awful, and I gave up. I was left with a muddy, weedy mess.

Marriage can become a muddy mess when we give up. When we don’t work at it. When we struggle because we don’t know how to fix things. When our partner is deeply hurting and we can’t think of how to make it better so we just go through the motions day after day. When every day life is hard, it is easy for marriage to become muddy because a marriage is every day life.

After a year or so with a muddy, weedy messy garden, I decided I wanted to put the work in, so I put in a call for help. We upturned the soil, and removed the rocks. We laid out landscaping fabric to protect it from weeds. We carefully chose and planted the plants. Then we laid woodchips over the fabric we had laid down. In the end, the garden looked so much nicer than it had before because we’d worked hard at it. And every time I walked past my garden I smiled because I enjoyed how lovely it looked.

Spring is coming soon, it really should be here already. I know in a few weeks time I’m going to have to get out there and work on the garden. To remove dead leaves, to lay fresh woodchips down. To get rid of whatever might cause my flowers to die. Because having a garden means working to keep it happy and healthy. And when your garden is happy and healthy, it makes you happy too.

Marriage is a lot like gardening. It takes a lot of work to keep it happy and healthy. It’s not a one shot thing but you can deal with once and then be done with it. The continually changes and grows from season to season. And in every season, it needs to be tended to. Conflicts need to be forgiven, compromises need to be made. It’s never easy, and it’s always emotional. But hard work makes things beautiful.

The reward for hard work in a marriage is even better than a beautiful garden. From season-to-season things grow and change. When you first marry, your love is like a tiny rosebud you plant in the ground. Without care, it can easily die. With care, it can blossom and grow into something beautiful. Instead of the little jolt you feel when your look at each other, there’s depth and love. Tender caresses of the one who knows you best.

The best part of marriage isn’t the first year or two of marriage. It’s the every day, hard work that blossoms into a lasting love that can’t break. It’s a lifetime of never giving up. It’s a well tended garden.



Once I saw a picture of the Grand Canyon and imagined standing on the edge and looking into its cavernous depths. Looking out below and wondering what was there. Unreachable. Mysterious.

Once I sat for hours looking at a painting my mother had on her wall of lush green trees and a dirt road path. Looking at that path and imagining where it went after the bend. Unreachable. Mysterious.

Once I used to wonder what it would be like to be inside that photo, inside that painting on the wall. To have answers to the unasked questions. To solve the mystery of what lies beyond. I don’t wonder anymore, because I have new mysteries and unasked questions. I don’t wonder anymore because I have you.

You. From the moment I saw your sweet face, a delight and a joy.

You. Whose smile is something magical that lights up my life.

You. Whose heart is kind and compassionate.

You. Whose life is sometimes still a mystery, even to those who have the keys to unlock and the tools to solve.


When I look at you, lying sweetly in your bed with the blankets tucked around you I can’t believe you’re such a mystery. You look just like any other boy, tucked in his bed and snoozing away on a school night. And so I stay there a minute and wonder what its like to be you.

Sometimes, it’s as a minefield. I can’t even bear the thought of stepping in, because the heartbreaking things so might find could explode right before me. Other times, it’s as cavernous as the Grand Canyon and I can’t see anything. Still other times, it’s that bend in the road that leads to a place I can’t see.

The hardest part about the mysteries are all the what-ifs that come crashing in like rough ocean waves. Tossing and turning about, stirring up fears and worries I thought I’d already laid down. And it hurts my heart to think about, to know I may never know the mysteries of you.

But then I’m reminded of something that soothes my hurting heart and lifts my head. I might not know how to solve your mysteries, but I know your Creator.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us and we are His. We are his people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with Thanksgiving, go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. The Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100

He made you and you are His. You are His. He knows the deep mysteries locked up inside your mind. He’s faithful. He’s good. And He loves you. So even if I’m failing at understanding, even if I can’t navigate through the minefield, even if it’s a mystery I’ll never solve, you are loved. You are understood. You are beautifully and wonderfully made by a Master Craftsman.

Autism is a mystery sometimes. But you are not completely a mystery to me. Your heart and mine are connected forever. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Sometimes the future scares me. But you are His, and you are mine too.

Forever I love YOU.


First Fruits

I love bright colours. They are cheerful and they make me happy. I love splashes of colour here and there and everywhere. Colours everywhere – my clothes, my car, the walls of my house. But if there is one colour I can’t stand, it’s grey. I know technically it is not even a colour, it is just a shade. But I can’t stand it, and I know I am one of the few people out there in the world, since everything seems to be grey these days. But there you have it. I hate grey.

It’s coming to that time of year when all you see is grey. I’m not just talking about paint colours or clothing. I’m talking about the skies, the roads, the snow banks. Spring is coming, but until then, soul sucking grey everywhere. Blah.

Every year at this time of year, my husband will buy me a bouquet or two of cheery tulips just to get me through to next few weeks. They are my absolute favourite flower, even more than roses or lillies. They can be pink, purple, red, orange – the colours don’t really matter, I love them all. Why? Because to me, tulips are the first fruits of spring. Tulip bulbs are hearty and live deep within the earth all winter long. And then, slowly peek out of the ground, sometimes even through the snow.

After the tulips come the buds on the trees, the melting snow, the sweet songs of birds. But first, the tulips. It’s like a sweet little sign that more is coming. But after a long, cold winter – the first sign of spring is the sweetest.

I am so thankful that God created tulips. They bring me out of the grey every single year. Sometimes when I look at the world and all that He created, I wonder what His favourite is. Maybe it’s not tulips, or even a flower. Maybe it’s sky and space, in all of it’s magnitude and ever changing expanse. Maybe it’s the sea and all that is in it – the coral reef and all it’s beauty, or the hundreds of thousands of creatures that He’s created to live within it. Maybe it’s the trees that stand strong in the forest, and the leaves that change their shape and colour to every changing season. I think of all that He is created, and I am humbled to know that the answer isn’t any of those things. It’s us. You and me.

In James 1:18, James says ‘He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” Like the tulips, being the first and sweetest part of spring. Or the juicy red strawberries in the summer. The first bite of an apple during the harvest. Or the very first snow of the season. Out of everything that He created, He created us to be the first, the best and the loveliest.

Like a tulip bulb is firmly planted in the fall, we can firmly plant His word in our hearts. Like the tulip bulb is watered and nourished during the long winter months while hiding under the ground, so our hearts are watered and nourished by the word of God in our lives. But in order to really grow, in order to push through the hard soil like the tulip, we need to do one more thing. And if we’re honest, sometimes this can get missed.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:19-27

We can’t just listen to the scriptures, or read the Bible and then be done with it. Otherwise, we would be like a tulip that never flowers.

A few years ago, the school my children attended was having a fundraiser by selling seeds. I looked through the catalogue to see if there was anything that I might be interested in buying. Let me just start and say that I am not a gardener, in any way shape or form. You can read more about my black thumb here. But I thought I would go ahead and give it a go since it was for a good cause. So I ordered a bag of tulip bulbs from each of my boys. They happily dropped them on the kitchen table when the order arrived and excitedly asked when I would start our garden. I said something like “someday soon” and it was soon forgotten by the promise of after school snacks. But then, I also forgot. And they got moved from the table to the counter. And then the counter to the top of the fridge. And there they sat for months and months. Okay, if I am being honest, it was probably a year. When I discovered them, the Mom guilt hit me hard so I went out in the pouring rain, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and I planted those bulbs. But when the winter came and went, the tulips never bloomed. I know that tulip bulbs are hearty, but I neglected them for a long time, and then hastily planted them in rocky soil that never let them take root.

If we lived our lives like that, neglecting being in the Word and then hastily spending a few minutes reading here and there – how would that take root? If we attend church and listen to the words but then forget them the minute we leave the parking lot – how will they take root? If we sit at a weekly meeting with our church friends, and listen to their prayer requests but never pray for them or try to help them in any way, are we really allowing the Word to take root?

Let’s be real for a minute. It is so very easy to pretend. To walk through life with the appearance that we are doing what is right, but then not really doing the right thing at all. Appearances can be deceiving – take it from someone who was a master deceiver for many years. It wasn’t until God intervened and softened my heart that things really change, allowing me to be able to have the opportunity to really let the Word settle in deep.

We need to be doers and hearers of the Word. The words that we read might just be words on the page to us unless we actually live them out. And here’s the thing – living them out is what makes us God’s first fruits of creation.

In Leviticus 23:9-14 we can read about the first fruits offering the Israelites were required to bring before the Lord. When the Israelites brought this offering to God, it became a pleasing aroma to him. I’ve often wondered about the term “pleasing aroma” and why a smell would make God happy. But at the heart of it all, it’s not the smell so much as what it represents – the Israelites obedience in doing what God had asked of them. If we do what God asks of us, by not only listening to the Word but also understanding it, it’s also pleasing to God.

When I get up close and take a whiff of the tulips, they smell pretty and give off a pleasing aroma. It makes me happy, but that’s not all that’s pleasing to me. I’m excited about the fact that they represent the season of spring which will soon come. The Hebrew word for first fruits is bikkurim which means “promise to come.” How fitting a word for us as we live out our faith right now? When we allow God’s Word to take root deep in our hearts, and we strive to live it out, we represent the firstfruits of creation. It gives us a glimpse at what is promised to come, when God’s Kingdom is revealed.

Every time I see a tulip, I’m going to be reminded that I’m one of God’s favourite creations. But I’m also going to use tulips as a reminder to be encouraged to actively live out what I’m reading in the Word. To be not only a reader, or a hearer – but to also wholeheartedly throw myself into doing whatever God asks of me. Spring is coming!


Unpolished Stone

It’s quiet and everyone is sleeping. Everyone but me. I can’t get comfortable and my heart is heavy. So I quietly slip into the bathroom, fill the tub with warm water and bubbles and have a good cry. There is purpose in this season, but it’s hard to see it through all the messy bits. And so my heart just aches.

Maybe it’s because I’m the one who is always there. For every phone call, every confrontation, every poor choice, every meltdown, every hard lesson. I’ve heard from others that I would get to a point where I just don’t care, where I don’t feel the need to fight every fight and correct every mistake. But I don’t seem to ever get there, even after all these years of battle. Even though I’m exhausted, and broken, I can’t ever give up.

Once upon a time I was his world. His beautiful blues would sparkle at the sight of me. He would be thrilled to sit next to me, to show me the latest and greatest in his life. But that’s gone now. Time has shifted things, and now I’m just in the way. Now I’m just the one who doesn’t know anything. The one who rules with an iron fist. The boring one. I’ve watched his world since before he was born, and now his world is trying to squeeze me out.

I thought I was ready for these changes, but I wasn’t. I thought I would be stronger than this, but I’m not. The things he says to me break my heart, the things he does and mistakes he makes crush my spirit. Because understand this – this strange but wonderful thing – I remember the sweet child he once was, and I see the great man he could be.

If I was a sculptor, and he was my masterpiece, I’d take a mallet and smash this season right off. But that would be a mistake – the roughing out period is possibly the most important part of sculpting. While a mallet is a useful tool, any minor mistake could cause it to completely ruin the piece. And I’m no sculptor – but God is.

It’s a gift, really. To be able to see a glimpse of what he could be when God has finished the roughing out period and starts to finely chisel. All of these things that can be carefully removed by the Master Crafter. But it’s also tricky. Because while I may not be the Sculptor, some days I feel like I’m the mallet. One way or another, I’m directly involved in the roughing out period – and I’m feeling every strike, every blow, every scrape along the way.

Or maybe we’re just worked from the same block of stone. I’ve had a roughing out period too, long before his. I’ve been finely chiseled, but I’m still not a finished piece. Maybe when he’s being roughed out, I need some more chiseling. Maybe the purpose of his season is perfecting something in mine.

One way or another, we are in this together. Both of us just unpolished stone. Unfinished pieces, linked together by the Sculptor that gives us life. This season has a purpose – and I’m not going to give up. No matter how much we need roughing out, no matter how much work is ahead. He is worth every strike, worth the pain of every bit of stone that needs to be chiseled away.

Unpolished stone. Unfinished work. Forever intertwined, mother and son. One day made beautiful. But until then, we wait and work through this season.


Treading Water

I feel like a failure. A terrible teacher. A bad mother. Or maybe just a lazy one. It’s been thirteen years and I don’t feel like I’ve done enough, don’t feel like I’ve taught enough, directed enough, prayed enough or prepared enough. I feel like I’ve been asleep on the job, like I’ve slacked off. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been doing everything I can but it’s just coming up short.

Survival. If you had to label my parenting style, that would probably be it. Some people tell me they think I have it all together, and it takes all of me not to laugh out loud because it’s so far from the truth. For the last thirteen years, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve been grasping at straws. I’ve tried different things. Mostly I’ve just tried to survive. Sink or swim, sink or swim.

The honest truth? I’ve not done either. I’ve just been treading water for so long, trying to keep my head above the waves. I’ve not gone anywhere. For the last thirteen years, I’ve just thrashed around in one spot.

Those people who tell me I look like I have it all together didn’t see my tears when my sweet, kind hearted son was screaming and throwing chairs in his kindergarten class. They didn’t feel my heart break when he was labeled a violent child in grade three and as such spent the year in isolation. They didn’t see me sobbing on the floor when I got a phone call that he’d attempted to choke an educational assistant in grade six. They don’t see those storms from our past, or the one that is darkening the skies on our horizon.

I’ve spent these years fighting for them both. Meetings, phone calls, doctors appointments. Scheduling therapy, mentoring, respite, check ups. Keeping on top of medication, changes in appetite, managing behaviour. Because they can’t do it themselves. Because they need me. Because I’m Mom.

And I’m so tired. Mentally drained. Emotionally exhausted. Weary. So I just keep treading water. Trying to survive, trying not to sink. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to swim. But I pray that they will get to. My two sweet loves, these little hearts that hold mine.

I don’t have long now. Time is slipping away faster than I’d ever imagined. Will all that I have done be enough? Sometimes the very thought of days disappearing and months fading away has me gasping for air. Have I done all I can do? Have I spent this time well?

No. And the answer breaks my heart even more. And when I truly stop to think about the overwhelming days to come, I feel myself sinking.

But then Someone grabs me and pulls me to the surface. I remember we don’t have to do this all alone.

Today, as I start sinking, I hear a song singing me to the surface.

We have found our hope

We have found our peace

We have found our rest

In the One who loves

He will light the way

He will lead us Home

As we offer all

to the One who saves Us

His love endures

Forever His love endures

Forever His love endures

Forever and ever

(The One Who Saves, Hillsong 2009)

And I remember that when fear is crippling me, I just have to lift my eyes. I just have to look to the One who saves us. Because even though it sometimes feels like we are drowning, we will never drown because He is holding us up, encircling us with His love and care. Like a lifesaver firmly wrapped around our middle.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s comforting to us, to quiet ourselves and think about. But it’s really a call to action. For me, my boys, for you. To put it bluntly, it’s saying SNAP OUT OF IT! Wake up! Stop stressing about the unknown! Look at who your God is and be amazed. Praise Him for what He has done in your life! Why are you worrying about the things to come? You know who I am! You know what I can do! Enough of this!

I know the days are slipping. The future is uncertain, terrifyingly looming overhead. Like those past heart aches from years of transition, another is coming. But I need to remember who my God is, and what He can do.

All this time, I’ve been treading water. Wasting energy, draining resources, pushing myself to do everything and then some. When all I really needed to do was stop, rest and focus on Him. If only I’d stopped sooner, I’d have seen He was holding me this whole time. ❤️


Twenty Years Later

It’s a dark, cold night. I’m standing outside with my friends. Laughing, happy. Sparklers light up the night sky as we write our names in the air. As we write whatever our hearts desire. No one is really looking, and even if they were, I doubt they could even make out what I’m writing. My deepest, heart felt desire. To be just like them. To be skinny. To feel like I belong.

My new year’s resolution is to lose weight. It always is. I’ll try every fad diet on the market, desperate to be thinner. Desperate to fit in. But none of them ever work.

I have many new year’s celebrations like that one. Many new year’s resolutions to lose weight. Many years of heartache when my maximum, sometimes over-the-top efforts to be thinner bear no fruit. Many years of tears. Long after I’ve married the love of my life, long long after that cold, dark night.

And now here we are, about twenty years later, in another brand new year. But I have no resolutions this year. Only reflections on the past, and revelations too…

I’m thirty six years old. If I could approach my sixteen year old self, writing her hopes and dreams in the night sky, I’d want to tell her a few things. I’d want to tell her to just be herself. I’d want her to buy herself that pretty sweater she had been eyeing at the mall and wear it proudly because she looks incredible, the thinnest she’ll ever be in her life. And I’d want to just give her a hug, if for nothing else than to let her know even though she’s in for a rocky two decades of amazing highs and deveststing lows, she’ll come out the other side perfectly okay.

Twenty years later, I know why I could never lose weight on all those fad diets I tried. Twenty years later, I’m okay with having a disease that makes me fat. Twenty years later, I’m happy in my own skin – I don’t need to be a supermodel. Twenty years later, I know who I am. And it has nothing to do with the outward appearance, and everything to do with the heart. Twenty years later, I feel beautiful because I am His.

Instead of making resolutions, I’m writing down revelations.

I am who He says I am. A daughter of the King. (Romans 8:5)

The world tells me that I’m worthless, because I don’t look a certain way. But He tells me I am as precious as rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)

I am beautiful. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

I was created for a purpose. (Ephesians 2:10)

I am a shining light. (Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 5:8)

Twenty years later these revelations are more important to me than anything else. Twenty years later, my only hearts desire is to live according to His will. And I’m so thankful that in this new year, these revelations speak truths into my life when the voices of the world seem overwhelming. Twenty years later, I understand to whom I belong.