Reflections of 2011

Naples sunset

As I sit here and reflect on this past year I am deeply grateful to the Lord for all he has done in our hearts and lives! 2011 has been a year of establishment and growth for our family. We have been challenged and changed because of the many blessings and trials we have encountered on this journey. The Lord has grated us the strength we needed during the hard time and given us peace to rest and enjoy the simple and beautiful moments along the way.

Here are some of the amazing memories that 2011 has left us with:

~ Moved into our new home!

Unpacking our entrance the day we moved in:)

~ Spent our first winter unpacking and getting settled, many renovations, and many long nights working on our new home!

~ Took a two week vacation in Naples, FL, visited Disney World and had a wonderful restful time as a family

Enjoying Florida!

~ Celebrated many Jewish feasts and festivals as a family and with our local church

~ Started a blog – A Simply Beautiful Life!

He loved snack as much as he loved playing soccar!

 ~ Judah started playing soccar which was a fun family event to go and cheer the little guy on:)

~ This summer we picked strawberries and enjoyed weekly vegetable shares from a local farm, it was delicious and fresh!

Heading out on the tractor to pick some berries!!

 ~ Enjoyed many family bonfires in our new backyard, we love having bush behind our home, it has provided us with many new adventures, such a blessing to us!

~ Welcomed our baby girl – Atirah Kaiya Prayse into the world on July 28th – what a gift she has been to our family!!!

Our little blessing from God

~ Jim was able to take a month off in the summer at the arrival of our baby and we spend some amazing time together

~ Built a deck on the back of our house and landscaped the yard

Helping daddy build the deck

~ Travelled to Ottawa to attend a nation wide day of prayer and fasting

~ Spent many afternoons swimming in Lake Nipissing

Ottawa Ontario

~ Enjoyed many walks while exploring treed trails near our home with the kids

~ Started homeschooling our son Judah

Playing in the pumpkins

~ Enjoyed a beautiful fall season here in Northern Ontario. We had fun in the pumpkin patch at Thanksgiving, reflecting on the many things we have to be thankful for!

~ Took the youth from the Harbour to an event in Hamilton Ontario called Acquire the Fire

We had SO much fun with all the leaves on our new property

~ Enjoyed the beautiful weather of fall and had a wondering time of Advent, preparing our hearts for the promised Messiah.

~ Had an amazing Christmas with friends and family. Enjoyed the first year of the gold, frankincense and myrrh gifts with our children.

Opening his frankincense gift on Christmas morning

~Brought in the new year with our wonderful friends The Weenings and their 4 children, we had a blast! (There were 7 kids, 6 years and under and it was incredible!)

Moving forward into 2012 we are hopeful and full of vision and purpose for the upcoming year. Jim and I have been able to sit and talk together about the upcoming year and we look forward to a year of intimacy and stillness before the Lord. We feel that we need to learn to seek the face of God, NOT for what he can give us or do for us but just simply to love Him and bless His heart.

Atirah in her favorite seat

“Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you” Matt 6:32-34. We believe that as we do this we will hear His voice and he will show us the will and desires of His heart for us. We are excited to spend time in prayer, worship and fasting.

We have had some time to refocus and revisit our finances, our goals, savings, insurance, givings and our time schedule for this upcoming year. It has been really amazing to look back and see how God and blessed us and then reassess our goals in these areas. We want to be WISE in every aspect of our lives. I am hopeful that we will walk in the center of His will for our lives and that new things are on the horizon for our family.

Left to right: Violet, Florey, Anabelle, Mercy, Judah, Atirah, and Sterling didnt make the picture:)

I feel as though I have grown a lot in the realm of motherhood. I have learned that I am NOT in control and that I need to ease up more to enjoy the simplicity of my children in this stage. I am looking forward to sharing more of my life, the good, the bad and the ugly, with all my blog friends in this upcoming year.

Pure Joy!

I believe that the Lord is going to speak and encourage us all in 2012. I believe the best is yet to come!

May you experience joy and peace today as you rest in His love!!

Loving our Husbands

I’m SO thankful for the gift of marriage. My husband and I have been married for 7 1/2 years now and I can honestly say that it is a relationship matched by no other. He is my best friend. Our relationship has taught me SO much about myself. If you want to learn first-hand about selflessness, grace, kindness, justice, forgiveness, humility, mercy, love, joy, peace and patience…get married!:)

I remember in our early days of marriage we would spend ALL our time doing pretty much whatever we wanted to do. Date nights, movies, candlelite dinners, weekend getaways, we backpacked through Europe for 6 weeks, travelled to the States on several occassions as I was finishing up my degree, we were spontaneous and free! Then the Lord brought us into the season on being parents……

After we had our first child life wasn’t that different, our son was kind of like an accessory that we took with us wherever we went. But then we had another and another, and now with 3 children the dynamics of our home have drastically changed! The dynamics of our relationship have changed as well and I have learned alot over the past 4 1/2 years with having children.

I have realized that not only am I called to serve my children but even more importantly I am called to serve my husband. To love him and nurture him as well. As a mommy I can get overwhelmed and consumed with the immediate and urgent needs of my kids and sometimes overlook my poor hubby:( He is so gracious and kind, not demanding of his own needs but continuing to give and serve our family. He is an amazing provider. He works harder than any man I know.

We, as wives, need to recognize that, just like our children, our husbands have emotionaly and physical needs that we need to tend to. We need to make our husbands a priority. It is pretty easy to continue to take care of our kids and households and neglect our husbands. However when we do this, they suffer, we suffer and eventually our kids will suffer. I believe that if we do not make time for each other we can put a wedge in our relationship and eventually we can grow apart. How sad would it be to get to the end of our lives and realize that we grew apart in the midst of a life that we both wanted? I am challenged to remember that the Lord is first priority in my life, second is my husband and third are my children.

Do you know your husbands love language? When we did premarital counseling before our wedding we read a book together called the 5 Love Languages (www.5lovelanguages.com), it helped us to overstand how we give and receive love, I challenge you to read it together! It has taught me how to express my love to my husband in a way that he can understand and receive.

Jim and I have been challenged to make our relationship a priority. We have learned that the only way we can do this is to plan for it! We have intentionally put things in place to make sure that this happens. Here is a list of a couple things we do to safeguard our relationship and invest our time wisely.

1. We have a date night twice a month, no kids allowed, just the two of us. (Minimum of 2 hours away – sometimes I bring the baby because she is still nursing but she usually sleeps)

2. We put our kids to bed at 8:30pm every night so that we have a couple hours to talk and spend together before we go to bed. We try to read together or talk about our days. (If you don’t have kids you might think establishing a bed time is not necessary, let me tell you from experience, IT IS!)

3. We have chosen to spend one night a week playing a board game together, rather than watching the TV, interacting on some type of social media, or reponding to emails.It helps us to engage, laugh and connect on a lighter level. (Remember TV can be a time stealer, you can both sit in front of the TV for hours and not even talk to each other!)

4. We have 15 minute talk time. Either before or after dinner we tell our kids that mommy and daddy need uninterrupted talk time and we spend this time catching up on our daily events, its nice to have eachothers undivided attention, it ends up feeling longer than 15 minutes:)

We have found that these simple events keep us connected and allow us time to experience life together. Even in the midst of whinny toddlers, poopy diapers, tantrums, time-outs, and being extremely over tired we are madly in love! We are continuing to grow together and learning to love eachother more each day. I challenge you no matter what your situation is to take time for your relationship when you can. The moments may be few and far between but seize the one you get, they are worth it!

Marriages are the foundation of our families. If the foundation crumbles the whole house will fall. I encourage you to build a strong foundation and continue to build it as your household grows. A house is only as strong as its foundation! Take the time, it’s well worth your investment!

May we ALL honor the Lord with our marriages today!!

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

I had the opportunity to hear about a fun, family-focused way of giving gifts to our children this year. My friend Jenn shared a link with me on facebook and after reading it, my husband and I were confident that this was the approach on gift-giving that we were going to take with our family this year, and now I want to share it with all of you.

From previous blogs you have likely understood that I am not really into the whole materialistic idea that often accompanies Christmas is our Western world. The greed and hoarding that comes with this season is NOT something that I want to impart to my children. In fact, I want the opposite to be true; I want us to realize that giving is the greatest joy of this season and that God gave His son to us and commands us to give to others with the same spirit of generosity!

I received the following ideas from www.kyria.com and would encourage you to check out the website if you are interested as they have more detail on the site. I have shortened it down and explained it below.

The three wisemen brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Each of these gifts had significance and each had a specific meaning to the life of Christ. In the same way, we as a family will be giving gifts of “gold”, “frankincense” and “myrrh” to one another this Christmas.

1. Gold– in the times when Jesus was born gold was even more valuable than it is today. It was a gift that was given to a king or someone of kingly authority. Jesus received these gifts from the wise men, because He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. The “gold” present given should be something of great importance to suggest how valuable your child is to your family. Gold gifts often end up being our most expensive/valuable presents. For example, a gold gift might be the bicycle a child has been dreaming about, a doll house, an ipod, or a piece of jewelry that seems appropriate. I am going to wrap our gold gifts in gold wrapping paper.

2. Frankincense – another gift that was given to Jesus was the gift of frankincense. Frankincense is known for its antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. No wonder people in ancient times begged for it. It was probably one of the ancient world’s first “cure-all” medicines, healing everything from infections to headaches. It was a sacred substance. God commanded the Israelites to place frankincense in front of the Tent of Meeting to scent the place where he had promised to meet with them. Years after that temple was destroyed, God sent his own Son, Jesus, to be a symbolic “Tent of Meeting” for all people. The wise men brought frankincense as a gift for Mary’s baby. Jesus had become our Emmanuel: God with us. Your child’s “frankincense” gift should correspond with the way he “meets” with God. It should be somewhat of a spiritually challenging gift. For example, a new study Bible, teaching series, a devotional book, a journal, or worship CD. I got our children a BOZ the Bear DVD and a Hillsond worship DVD.  I am going to wrap the frankincense presents with bright white shiny paper with white bows to represent the sacred white incense that Jesus received.

3. Myrrh – rather than being white, myrrh is a dark, earthy color and has a rich aroma. In ancient times myrrh was used for anointing oils, perfumes, and embalming liquids. Today you can still find myrrh added to some soaps, oils, and lotions. Interestingly enough, the wisemen gave the gift of myrrh to Jesus, it  might have seemed strange that they gave embalming liquid as a baby gift but at the time they did not know that He would die on the cross for our sins and rise 3 days later!!! How amazing! As a family we are going to remember the amazing sacrifice that Christ made for us. “Myrrh” gifts for our chidlren are presents that “anoint” their bodies. For example, you might give scented bath soaps, perfume or cologne, lotion, or shampoo. For younger children, choose colorful bath bubbles or playful tub soaps. To stretch your options a little farther, consider buying combs, hair products, comfy towels, or even make-up if it’s age appropriate. The wrapping for this gift can be with earth-toned paper to represent myrrh’s rich dark color. I am going to use a blue wrapping paper simply because that is what I have.

Rememeber simplicity is what it is all about. Don’t feel the need to go out and buy all sorts of colourful papers, that is NOT the point, you can use what you have to keep it simple and beautiful at the same time. I am hoping one year once my kids get a little older to make our own wrapping paper to save on the costs. I also wanted to one year cut all of our leftover paper into smaller pieces and connect them to make collage paper for our gifts:)

We have experienced Christmases in the past where the kids are just SO overwhelmed with so many presents that they don’t really know what to do or who to thank for what. It is chaotic and I feel like they are not even able to appreciate the gifts they have recieved. Hopefully this year will be different and they will be surprised and thankful for their 3 gifts also realizing their importance and significance in their lives.

May you and your family experience the JOY of giving this Christmas!

Homeschooling starts tomorrow!!

Our journey is about to begin! Starting tomorrow I will be taking on the role of homeschooling mom to my 4 year-old-son. (And my 2 year-old daughter – she will most likely be colouring and doing crafts during our classroom time.) Hopefully our one-month old little girl will start to regularly take her morning naps during this time as well! I feel so blessed to have the oppotunity to teach my children, I always remember thinking that it would be so much fun to be a teacher, who knew that I would school my own kids one day:) I love watching them grow and learn! I feel like it is a priviledge to be able to spend each day with them, knowing that the season of childhood goes by so fast and each day brings about new changes. Over the past year I have sought out many people who have had experiences with homeschooling, friends, family, complete strangers, all of them had their own bits and pieces of wisdom and insight that I could glean from. I spoke with homeschooling parents, students, some who were homeschooled all the way through others who were just schooled for a couple years. I read articles and listened to radio programs, read statistics and compared the numbers, I think I went a bit overboard. But through it all I loved learning about everyone’s different experiences and it made me that much more excited to start our oun journey. Judah, my son, is so excited as well, he has been telling me for over a year nw that he really wants to be homeschooled, he doesn’t want to go to school, he wants me to be his teacher. I was actually surprised at first but then thankful that God has been preparing his heart and that he too is looking forward to the experience. My husband has been amazing as well, he and I are a team in this and have preparing through much prayer and discussion for this new season!! It will take discipline and sacrifice. We have decided that we are going to oversee different parts of the curriculum and add in our own classes as well. For example, Jim is going to be doing the french portion and I will be doing the phonics, numbers and letters. It is nice to know that we can teach in the areas of our strengths to give them the best we can and cover more courses. I was sitting in the room this mornig, praying for God’s will to be done in our home. I was asking for strength, endurance and creativity as I embark apong this adventure in the education world. I look forward to watching them grow in the academic area of their lives and ultimately my prayer is that; God would give me the grace I need for this season and that HE would teach my children everything that HE wants them to learn so they can be all HE created them to be!

Atirah’s Birth Story

Atirah Kaiya Prayse

“Prayer, Life and Praise!”

July 28, 2011

7lbs 1.90z, 19 inches

4.28pm

The events surrounding Atirah’s birth are truly a blessing from God. As a mother I have been challenged and humbled through them, the Lord has taught me much through bringing this little girl into the world, for which, I am truly grateful! The name Atirah means “prayer” in hebrew and little did we know that you would rely so much on prayer leading up to your arrival as well as during labour and birth. You came to us on July 28th at 4:28pm. You were 2 weeks and 2 days past your due date but still a tiny little peanut, the smallest of all my children thus far. The final month of my pregnancy leading up to your birth was frustrating and challenging for me. I had tons of prelabour contractions, I would be awoken in the middle of the night because these contrations were  so intense. It was hot and I was getting impatient. However I was having a great pregnancy and I was determined to rely on the Lord’s timing and to allow Him to bring your forth at the right time! There were many nights when I thought that you were going to come but by the next morning things would stop. I listened to many of my fellow pregnant moms and tried all the “tricks in the book”; evening of primrose oil at 36 weeks, hot baths, spicy food, long brisk walks, we even restorted to castor oil at the end but you didnt budge:) The midwives started doing stretch and sweeps at 38 weeks but it still didnt do anything! I should also mention that we were planning a homebirth if I went naturally however I was somewhat doubtful because your brother and sister were both overdue and we had to be induced at the hospital. Judah was 8 days over, induced with prostin gel and born 12 hours later at 8lbs 1oz. Mercy was two weeks over, induced with prostin gel and born 5 hours later at 8lbs 5oz. Both healthy beautiful babies but both very much overdue. There were a couple issues such as an aged placenta and meconium aspirations that we were warned about so naturally we wanted to be sure that we would make a choice that was the best for you. July 12th, my due date, came and went as did the next two weeks. I had one ultrasound that we thought may be more accurate and it was for July 20th, however that date came and went as well. I think you were pretty cosy in my belly little one:)

As the days passed I felt like an israelite wandering in the dessert, wondering when I would see the promised land! I would grumble and complain, I was getting frustrated that I couldnt got into labour by myself and wondered what was wrong with me? Everyone else was having their babies and there were a lot of them! My sister in law was due after me and ended up having her little guy 5 days before me! But through prayer the Lord would gently remind me of His faithfulness and plans for my life, I knew that He was good and knew what He was doing so I would surrender, repent and move on. I finally decided to fully surrend it to the Lord and completely trust that whatever happened I would trust Him as he worked in my heart! We spoke a lot with the midwives about your birth and discussed for how long we should wait. There were no signs that you were dropping into the pelvis, and there was no dialation of the cervix that would lend itself to labour coming anytime soon. Your dad and I prayed A LOT about it, and felt like with my history and the amount of time that had already passed we would wait as long as we could before scheduling an induction, and we did. We trusted the Lord to intervene if he wanted to but we both felt peace about being induced with the prostin gel if we came to the 28th of July. And we did. To be quite honest I doubted that it would even work as the baby’s head was high and I hadnt dialated much. We now realize that because you were so small there was no need for you to “drop” and therefore there was no pressue on my cervix wchi was the reason for little to no dialation. You may have stayed in there for another few weeks which could pose as a threat for your health and mine. The day prior to our induction I tried castor oil to see if it would “naturally” induce me but it only gave me contrations 3 minutes apart lasting 1 minute for about 6 hours and then they stopped and after it was all over I was really tired. On wednesday night our kids had a sleepoverat Gramie and Grampies house, so we enjoyed a nice evening together and had a great night sleep, which would prove to be a blessing the next day. On Thursday morning we woke up and headed up to the hospital for 7:30am. We met our midwife Kathy there as well as the oncall OB, Dr. Egboula (amazing ob, very kind and respectful), and they induced me at 8:30am. Immediately the contractions started, they were intense and about every 2 minutes. Jim texted our family and friends and everyone began to pray for our journey ahead, and boy would we need it! I laid in the bed for an hour and then walked the halls for 45 minutes, as I walked they intensified and at 10:30am the nurse checked me, I was 4-5cm and having regular intense contactions. I was still doubtful at this point, thinking that it could stop at any time, I had felt this before and nothing came of it. They decided to admit me and I immediately got in the shower, unfortunately there were no tubs at the hospital so I had to settle for the shower. My mom met up with us and our midwife returned. Everyone thought that it was going to be really fast, and so did I. I laboured in the shower, still doubtful but hoping that this was it. As the water teamed down on my back I began to sing with the music that Jim had put on and worship the Lord, I felt his presence in that room and knew that he was in control. I was continuing to surrender this labour to him and I began to weep as I thought of the reality of meeting my little girl. I was overwhelmed by love, excited and anxious and in pain all at the same time. I was praising him to the priveledge of carrying this life. Labour continued for the next 4 1/2 hours, contractions 2 minutes apart, lasting for a minutes, I was getting tired. Everyone was just waiting for my water to break, wondering what the hold up was. I was getting pretty tired by this point, so Kathy my midwife decided to check me to see if there was any progress. Again Jim sent out an email asking our intercessors to keep praying for the health of the baby and myself. In my mind I was thinking I should almost be fully dialated after all this work but I wasn’t. At 3:15pm I braced myself the uncomfortable exam and we found out that after 6 1/2 hours of labour I was still 5cm and the head wasnt engaged at all! I felt God’s peace come over me in that moment and felt like I zoned out. I heard Jim and Kathy talking about pain management, breaking my water, etc. But I felt like I wasnt really present. I had peace that Jim could make that decision as I was too tired to think about anything. He knew me, he knew that medication wasnt an option for me and I trusted his discernement. We decided to break my water, Dr. Egboula was still there and he agreed to do it. At 3:40pm he returned to my room and broke my water, it was painful and I felt a bit scared as I knew that this was it and at any moment I was going to feel this labour kick into high gear. They put me on the monitor to make sure that the baby could handle these contractions and she did perfectly. In 5 minutes of my water breaking, I began to feel the most intense conctractions of my life. They would last at least a minute and were one on top of each other. It was in agony, I had never experienced such intensity. I sat at the edge of the bed, and held onto my mom while Jim pressed into my lower back. After the first 5 contractions my body began to transition into the pushing phase, I began to bear down uncontrollably. This continued with each contraction. In my mind I knew that it wasnt going to be long now. I just needed to make it through each contraction. The pain was enduring and it was all I could do to breathe. I cried out to the Lord and clung onto my mom and my wonderful husband. In the next half hour I went from 5cm to 10cm and I could actually feel the head descending into my pelvis. My body began to push and with three short contractions I push out our precious baby girl! (my pushing was completely involuntary, my body just knew what to do, it was amazing). Our second midwife Audrey showed up 2 minutes prior to her birth so she was able to assist in the birth which was amazing because both Kathy and Audrey have attending all of our children’s births. Jim told me afterwards that at the end I said “I can’t do this” and within 5 seconds Jim handed me our beautiful baby girl. It was amazing! I love that her daddy caught her and brought her into the world. We were all in tears and in awe of this new little life. It is such an amazing and humbling experience to know that you are the only one in the whole world who can comfort your child in that moment. As soon as she heard my voice she was silent! Jim cut the chord and immediately Kathy started collecting the chord blood so we could send it away for storage. Once Atirah was born I felt like a million bucks! That feeling of complete relief is amazing! I was so in love with this little baby lying in my arms, feeling her and seeing her brought such great joy to my life. I was so thankful to the Lord for bringing me through such a hard and long labour. As I lay there with her on me, everyone kept saying how tiny she looked, at this point I thought she was about 9lbs because of how overdue she was so they weighed you and I was in shock that I had such a tiny baby, you were an answer to prayer! I had always prayed and asked the Lord for a little baby and he gave me you, we nicknamed you “little prayer”:) I feel as though with each baby the wells of my heart grow deeper and I have the capacity to love even more. I have such a deep love for you Atirah, word cannot express it. Perhaps, it is because I had be anticipating your arrival for SO long or many it is simply because God gave me this love, whatever it is, I fully embrace you little one! You are perfect and you are another precious gift from the Lord. Atirah Kaiya Prayse, birthed through life-giving prayer and praise you came to us. May your life testify to the goodness and faithfulness of our God!

Building…

Wow I feel like it has been ages since I last blogged, although it has really only been 2 weeks. For me, that is a long time, I am used to journaling and writing down my thoughts daily. Life has been busy with the Wilson tribe. We are currently building a home and with building comes much sacrifice! Our family time is sacred during these days as Jim is often working in the evening at the house. We had a wonderful Father’s day yesturday and are gearing up for another exciting week!

The entire foundation of our home is now complete, praise the Lord! It has felt like a long time, although I am told that it was actually faster than normal.

It amazes me as I stand back and observe this large amount of concrete in the group that this will one day be the foundation of my home. Our lives will revolved around this place, it will be where my babies grow up, where we make memories, where the walls of our house and lives will be built. I am in awe of how much sweat and labour has gone into this part of the house (and money). The foundation is completely buried underground yet the true test of its strength depends on what we see above ground. I feel a spiritual parrallel coming on:)

Isn’t it true that the foundation of our lives is what really matters? The exterior can be beautiful and decorative yet if the foundation is faulty EVERYTHING will crumble! We need to be people who a committed to developing a firm foundation and making sure that we are connected to God who is our strength! I firmly believe that we cannot rush our relationship with Him. Just like we cannot lay the foundation of a house quickly, we cannot rush through our relationship with Him – our foundation. It takes time. Life takes time. To heal, to be made whole, to trust, to love, to have faith. It takes precious time to build these things, just like it takes time to build a home. If you rush you will miss important steps that could jeopardize the security and stability of your home.

We live in a culture that craves speed, power, and efficiency. We are constantly stimulating our minds on computers, cell phones, videos, games, and various types of multi-taking in order to accomplish as much as possible. We need to make time to rest. To be still. To be quiet. To know that HE is God so that all nations will be blessed! Our physiological make up is designed for down time, if we deprived our body and our minds of sleep for long enough we would actually die! I believe this is true spiritually as well, if we do not slow down and rest we will run out of steam. Take a couple minutes today to be still…rest your Spirit and listen to the Lord…what is He saying?

May to experience a time of peace and quiet where you can reflect and know that HE is God!