A Celebration of LOVE

My little lovebugs

Many people have asked me if we celebrate Valentines Day seeing as it is not “christian” holiday. My response: Absolutely!!! Any opportunity that we can get to celebrate LOVE we’re going for it! In our home “LOVE DAY” as we call it is a day when we can reflect on God’s love and remember His beautiful sacrifice for us. We do crafts, read bible verses on love, make hearts shaped cookies, sandwiches, and have a special Valentines dinner. (Heart shaped pizza with heart shaped toppings:) It is a day to reflect once again of God’s great love for us!

Raspberry finger puppets

I remember before I had children I would spend the entire day preparing to celebrate a nice evening out somewhere special with Jim. I would have a shower, dress up, do my nails and often wear heels. Oh have things changed!:) Today I have NOT showered, I am NOT dressed up, the kids made me wear a red shirt, jeans and red socks to be “like Valentines”, nails are unpolished and I will NOT be wearing heels:)

Dinner table

I now celebrate all day with the kids and when Jim gets home from work we have a fun dinner together. I think it is becoming a tradition in our home to stay home with the kids on Valentines evening and to tell the truth, I love it! During this season of my life I have learned to embrace the reality that being home with the kids is a blessing and sometimes it is much easier than trying

Jim bought Mercy her first bouquet of roses, she was so happy, she kept repeating "oh thank you daddy"

to get someone else to look after them or taking them out. I am sure that one day our children will grow up and Jim and I will once again go out of Valentine’s night. (At that point I’ll probably miss being home with my babies:)

Yummy fruit kabobs

I believe that as mothers we walk in a new level of LOVE. A selfless, and serving love. We use all our strength to serve our children and our husbands. We choose daily to let go of our own wants and desires to pursue a higher standard of love. I believe that this is the love we as humans are called to. To lay down our lives for one another, just as Christ laid down his life for us. I know that this is something I need to work on in my own life. Not always being concerned with myself but shifting the focus to others, and asking how can I serve? how can I help?

Getting ready to do a craft

When was the last time you had a selfless love for someone?

We used tape, less mess:)

Today we made these fun mobiles to decorate at the table. They were a great craft idea from our Awana cubbies book. The kids loved it and it was easy, no mess, no clean up! I’ve included a couple pictures so you can see them.

Finished product!

The Bible is full of verses on LOVE. I was read some of them this morning and I’d like to share a few with you.

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. Om tjos way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fear.” 1 John 4:16-18

Heart-shaped Grilled Cheese

“The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal 5

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how high, how long, how deep and how wide his love is!” Eph 3:18

Pizza prep, I used the easy pizza dough recipe and it tastes amazing!

“We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:19

“We should love one another” 1 John 3:11b

Heart Pizza

May to feel His love today, may you come to know the depth, height, width and length of this deep love He has for you. God loved us and sent His son! This is worth celebrating!!

Happy LOVE Day!

The Weight of Worry

Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?Matthew 6:26 NIV

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Matthew 6:26 Msg

Have you ever worried about you life? What you will eat? Where you will live?  Will you ever get married? How many kids you will have? How will you be able to afford a home?

This verse in Matthew serves as a continual reminder to me that worrying about my life is really pointless. When I sit back and consider things that I worry about, thinking about them isn’t going to be bring resolve and worrying about them is definitely not going to accomplish anything. I often struggle with faith in God and truly trusting Him with every aspect of my life. I worry about my children, my future, the youth, and our finances. Many days I will sit in my living room and watch the birds eating off the feeders in our backyard. They are well fed, beautiful little creatures. And here I am sitting in the warmth of my home, completely clothed and fed, worrying about my life. What’s up with that??

Why don’t I trust God? Why do I feel the need to take control and make things happen? Why can’t I just wait patiently and watch Him move mountains before me?

I think our human nature likes to be in control. We think we are so smart and have it all figured out. We believe lies that say: “If I don’t take care of it, it won’t get done”, “If I don’t work hard enough I will go without”, “if I obey God now I will have little in my future”, or “if I don’t have a plan or working knowledge of something than I can’t go ahead with it”. Imagine the birds said that? What would happen if all the birds stopped flying around because they wanted to store up their energy incase they didnt get food that day? How silly would that be? The fact that they fly around in faith is what brings them into the provision of God. If they didn’t fly through our backyard they would never find the abundance of seed we have out for them. The same is true of us. If we choose NOT to fly until we are certain of the outcome we will never enter into the promises that God has for us!

I want to fly into the unknown. I want to be a woman of faith. I want the ability to trust no matter what. I want to be able to give credit to God for all areas and situations in my life whether they are simple or difficult. The future is uncertain to all of us. God is waiting for us to stretch out our wings and fly into the open skies, free of any cares that hold us back. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you 1 Peter 5:7. Imagine trying to run a marathon dragging a 50lbs weight? That is what it looks like to carry our worries with us. Let Go!

I am going to choose to relinguish control of that false sense of control. My sense of control is NOT reality and is NOT biblical. Last I checked in the book of Proverbs 3:5 we are called to “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean NOT of your own understanding, in ALL your ways acknowledge HIM and He will direct your steps”!

Let’s be woman of faith who trust in God, who lean on Him, and who choose not to have full understanding or comprehension of all of our ways.

What would your life look like if you gave it all to Him?

Don’t trade the freedom that Jesus bought for a 50lb weight of worry. I pray that you will have the courage to let go of that which holds you back and run free from and hindrances. I pray for faith and hope in what is to come. May you enter into His rest and His peace. May you experience the complete freedom that comes from a life surrendered to him. May to trust Him because he cares for you!

The Truth Behind the Fruit Snacks

I love how my children are always challenging me to evaulate my heart motives and my convictions. As a parent, there have been several times where I have chosen to “raise the bar” in certain areas of character and integrity. As leaders and influencers in our homes our ceiling will be our childrens floor, in other words, our highest standard has the potential to be the foundation for their lives.

My mother’s heart longs for my children to excel beyond where I am, I want them to go further than where I’ve been. I want my life to be an investment into theirs so that the return will be even greater. God has been challenging me to stand firm in my faith and to uphold His standards in our home. I dont’ know about you but I find it difficult NOT to compare myself with other mothers and woman who I look up to. I think it is great to have examples and role models in our lives but ultimately the word of God needs to be our greatest influence!

My son, Judah spearheaded another amazing challenge yesterday when he asked me to give him some fruit snacks in the morning. He told me that “daddy said I could have some”. I confirmed this statement with him several times and he kept giving me the same answer. Although I knew in my heart that Jim probably didn’t say that, I went along with it. I told Judah that I was going to ask daddy once he came downstairs if he did in fact tell him that. He said “ok”. I noticed at this point he looked a little sheepish and got very quiet as he ate. Once he was done we had a conversation with Jim. Jim’s response was that he told Judah he could have some fruit snacks “at some point today, not necessarily in the morning”. However, Judah assured me that daddy said he could have the fruit snacks right then.

So what’s the problem? To some it may appear that Judah was telling the truth: Jim DID say he could have the fruit snacks at some point, right? Wrong. In actuality Judah was lying BECAUSE he was trying to twist the truth to decieve me into giving him the snack when he wanted it. Ultimately, he was trying to deceive me in that moment. The definition of lying is: the intent to deceive. Whenever we try to twist the truth or hold back the entire truth we are lying. This definition takes lying from mental awareness to a heart/soul awareness. It begs the question of our true heart motives whenever we speak to others. It makes us responsible and accountable to be truthful in ALL circumstances.

This is a principle that our children NEED to learn in order to have pure hearts before God. The Bible is clear in the book of Matthew that “blessed are those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God“! I want to see Him and I want my children to see Him too!

Have you ever thought of lying as the intent to deceive?

In the above example with Judah, he was not given a consequence because we had not taught him this principle yet. Although, it was obvious, from his countenance and behavior that deep down he knew what he was trying to do, deceive me, and he knew it was wrong. Going forward he is now responsible for what he knows. If he chooses to lie in the future he will be accountable to his words and actions. This is the same with me, I am, as a mother, responsible and accountable for my words and actions, with my husband, my children and all the people I influence around me.

How can instilling this knowledge to your children be beneficial?

May you be blessed and honored as you live a honest and transparent life. May God give you the strength and the wisdom that you need to encourage your little ones be ALL that God created them to be. May all of our hearts to be pure and truthful before the Lord!

The Treasure Tree

My kids love books! I am always looking for good literature for children. They enjoy sitting and listening while I read to them. Reading to our children is SO important, it teaches them many important life skills; how to sit, be still, how to listen and respond, how to focus, exercise concentration, patience and self-control. Reading and cultivating a love for books is a gift to any child.

We were given the book “The Treasure Tree” as a gift. (Thanks Grampie:) It is such a wonderful story that I wanted to recommend it to all my readers. I don’t want to give too much away but this book is a wholesome story about friendship and adventure. It teaches children about the importance of team work and the role that different personalities play in solving problems.

At the end of the book they have a checklist to help parents understand their children’s personalities. Being a therapist/counselor, I am already intrugied with personality, so it was nice to confirm my children’s personalities and begin the process of training them appreciate their giftings. It’s funny because we now realize that each member of our family are one of the 4 different personalities; I’m the Lion, Jim is the Retriever, Judah is the Beaver and Mercy is the Otter. (We haven’t figured baby Atirah our yet:) It has been fun to talk to the kids about their God-given personalities and how we can compliment and help eachother in life.

I highly recommend getting your hands on this book, you can order it on http://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/175-0670130-0616841?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=The+Treasure+Tree. Dr Gary Smalley co-authored the book and also has many other personality books for adults and couples which shed a lot of light on relationships. Many of his books have been beneficial in our family and our marriage relationship.

Hope you enjoy the Treasure Tree as much as we have. It has truly been a treasure to our family!

 

Be Still and Know that I am God…

Be still, and know that I am God!

I will be honored by every nation.

I will be honored throughout the world.

Psalm 46:10 NLT

This verse in Psalms can be a challenge for us busy woman, wives amd mothers as we tend to the many needs of our husbands, jobs, studies, and little ones during the day. So many things are causing us to be anything but still! I have been challenged by the Lord to take whatever moments in the day that I get to sit in the stillness and know that HE is God. To be aware of how great he really is!

When I get these quiet times I am NOT to be on the phone or the computer, NOT reading emails, facebook, catching up on blog comments, NOT doing chores or striving to make my house look spotless, but giving myself the freedom to STOP and BE STILL! (At least for a few minutes each day). All the other things will always be there and I can get to them later. Being filled up by the presence of God keeps me going each day. The more of God I have in me, the better momma I am to my little ones and wife to my husband.

When was the last time you just sat in the stillness to know that He is God?

I think that many times we forget to read the entire verse of Psalm 46:10. We read the beginning; “Be still and know that I am God”, but the second part of the verse is equally as amazing; “I will be honored in every nation, I will be honored throughout the world”. God is God. He is amazing and powerful. He is the reason we have breath in this moment. Be still and know Him. He WILL be honored by all nations and throughout the earth, let Him start to be honored in your heart today!

Honor Him today by recognizing Him in the moments of stillness. Believe, trust, and depend on His presence. May you be flooded with the knowledge of God today. May you be blessed beyond measure and may you truly know that He is God!

Shepherding our flocks

Photo Credit: Expressions Photography

I have been thinking alot about shepherds these days. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s because we have been watching the Nativity Story and the shepherds are highlighted several times in the movie. Or, it could be that I was blessed with incredible insight from a good friend of mine, Jenilee, about a week ago on shepherding our children. Either way the concept of shepherding has been on my heart!

As I sit here this afternoon all I can think about is how tired I am. All three of my children have been sick for the past 24hrs and I am exhausted. Moments like these really take a toll on me emotionally. I often begin to doubt my mothering abilities and start to become frustrated with my children and our present “sickly” situation. Thankfully the Lord has been gracious to me and has given me the strength that I asked for. Much like a shepherd I am taking care of my flock, through the good the bad and the ugly.

Since becoming a mommy it has been a real challenge to find time to be with the Lord in the midst of my daily happenings. Especially when the kids are sick, I feel like I am constantly running from child to child, wipping noses, changing diapers and washing my hands in between. I am humbled and lowly. I feel like I am serving their bodily functions all day long! What purpose is there?

My dear friend Jenilee inquired of the Lord about this and this is what He told her, I believe that this word is for all mothers out there. “David was a shepherd, as you are.  He shepherded sheep, you shepherd your children.  He may have wanted to close his eyes and get lost in hours of blissful worship, as you do, but he couldn’t afford that.  He had many little sheep that needed constant attention.  He had to bring them to water, bring them to food, keep them corralled, chase them down when they wandered, keep a constant eye out for wolves, bears, lions, and then kill the beasts when they challenged the safety of his lambs…. much like you do.  You have to feed and nurture your children, keep them in safe places, watch constantly that the enemy is not attempting to prey on them, and then you must stand up against the enemy when he dares to touch your child.  You must constantly be alert, as a shepherd.  There are moments of quiet, but even in those moments of quiet, you are watching, listening, caring.  Just like my servant David.  Yet, he took the moments of love.  He sang while he watched.  He listened to my voice, while he scanned the herd for wandering sheep.  He drew on my strength and wisdom when he fought beasts.  He grew to know me, though his times with me did not look much like what you used to experience, yet he knew me and sought my heart, even amidst the distractions, the constant watching and tending.  And, though shepherding was a very simple job to the outside eye, I saw what it created inside him, and I saw him worthy to be established as a king.  You will shepherd children for many years, and it may feel somewhat aimless at times, and even like you’re giving up much of your greatest potential in order to just wipe noses or scrub behind ears, and it may feel that there is greatness within you just lying there, waiting, untapped.  Yet, at the right moment, those years of faithfulness and commitment and care are laying a foundation for you to step into the “kingship” seasons that you sense reside quietly inside.  When you feel your parenthood is an obstacle, the menial tasks of raising children “pointless”, remember my servant David, and continue on in your faithfulness, encouraged that it is not a waste, it is not fruitless, it is not wasting an ounce of what I’ve placed in you.   The greatest king of Israel spent the majority of his life raising sheep… and yet he made a great king of Israel because he seized the moments of love when they were available and allowed me to build him into a King.”

Photo Credit: Liz Lott, Snapdragon Photography

The great King David, written about in the Bible, was a shepherd before he became king of Israel. He would sit in the fields and take care of his sheep ALL DAY LONG FOR YEARS! He would fight off bears, bring back lost sheep, carry sheep that were sick, get them food, water and lead them all day long. Although he looked like a young boy, God was working in his life and training him to fulfill this destinee! After years of his service to sheep God saw fit to promote him to become a King! The King over Israel, a people whom God loved and cared for. Not only was he a king but he was also called “a man after God’s own heart”. How did this happen? From a pasture to a palace?

Photo Credit: Sara Crowe, Sara Naomi Photography

I am convinced that something happens to a person when they are put in a position of “shepherding” a flock.  When we are shepherds we become lowly and humble. We realize there there is nothing in ourelves that is worthy to serve, it is a priveledge and an honour. When we give ourselves completely to the life of another individual and expect nothing in return our heart and character is exercised! Embracing shepherdhood allows us to become all that God intended us to be! Humble, kind, generous, sacrificial, loving, forgiving, patient and the list goes on. Essentially we become more like Christ, the good Shepherd. He is the one who shepherds us on our journey and teaches us how to love others. What an amazing man He was and what an incredible example He left for us through his life.

My children are my flock in this stage of my life. God knows what I can handle. He knows when I am weary and tired. When I feel like I want to give up. Shepherding my kids is the most difficult job on the planet because it constantly tests my heart motives and character. Mommas are dealing with sickness and heart issues, with selfish toddlers and crying babies, these little people who do not know how to give back at this point in their young lives. I hope and pray that through the example I live as I shepherd them that they too will desire to be people to give of themselves daily to meet the needs of others. No matter what happens everything I do is unto the Lord, as I follow him, my children will follow me.

Photo Credit: Liz Lott, Snapdragon Photography

Who is your flock? How are you doing at shepherding them? I believe that all shepherds will be rewarded in this life or in the life to come. Think of the lowly shepherds living outside of Bethlehem, God sent an angel to them to announce that their savior was born, that is a pretty big deal considering that they were considered social outcasts in those days. God does not overlook anyone! King David was a shepherd who was overlooked by his own father and brothers. He became the great king of Israel and a man after God’s own heart. I am encouraged that one day I will see the fruit of my labour. That these tiny children who are coughing and sneezing all over me today will grow to be mighty servant of the Lord.

May you experience peace and rest as you shepherd your flock today!

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!!