Posted in Life

Free To Be Me :) An Introvert, That Is…

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In case you didn’t know… I’m an introvert.

I used to feel like it was something to hide, be ashamed of, liked I’d failed at interacting with society, inferior, etc. etc. etc.

Now I feel like shouting it from the rooftops,  I’m so happy about it, about this description that so wonderfully encompasses… me.

I feel free.

Free to be me.

And it’s awesome.

People have thrown that word at me over and over – it used to be shy, quiet, anti-social, nervous, anxious, afraid, weak even – and I never really took the time to completely understand it. I think I might have alot of forgiving to do – of all the acquaintances, teachers, professors, leaders, speakers – all those who crossed my path and just had no clue.

That I didn’t have to be like them to be a “normal” part of society.

That being me was, in fact, a good thing. And not something to be “fixed”.

Ya – do you sense a little ‘tude in my words? Maybe I do have something to work on 🙂

But it’s not me – not the core of me, the essence of me – that can wholeheartedly stay.

Being an introvert, a perfectionist, a people-pleaser, a pastor’s wife, and the oldest child of British parents is quite a recipe for potential angst, don’t you think?

I’m sure we’ve all got our own ingredients to throw into whatever recipe we’re trying to make ourselves into.

Mine? I have longed for a peaceful, fun, adventurous, meaningful, contributing, healthy life since I can remember. I treasure a couple of hours with a good book, a bike ride along the lake, a hike through the forest, a conversation with close friends or family, and a night at the movies.

And I LOVE watching my guys in their different activities. All 3 of them – from Josh preaching to Josiah and Elijah on their sports teams. And I love when sometimes I’m the only one that gets to see their antics – like when we went for a walk in the forest just the four of us the other week. They got up to their usual playfulness, and I was the only spectator… what a treat! Once in a while I’ll even join in with them… once in a while.

You know what? THAT’S OK!

I’m really coming to terms with it, no more trying to be someone else, because then the world would miss out on… me. Whatever it is that I can bring to the lives of my family and friends and whoever I cross paths with in my introverted way.

I guess I just wanted to encourage any of you fellow introverts out there… you’re good. You’re so good. You’re ALL good. Deny it no longer. Believe nothing else.

You are free to be you.

Like I’m free to be me.

Maybe one day you’ll tell me about it.

But probably not. You’ll probably write me about it, if you tell me at all. And you know what? THAT’S OK!

Because I really, truly get it.

Take this quick quiz if you’re curious about whether or not you might be an introvert at heart.

I’ll probably write at least a little more about being an introvert in the next couple of blog posts… I’ve just been holding this stuff in for too long!

And writing is usually the way I get things out… to you.

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Posted in Motherhood

Happy 14th Caleb

Yesterday was our annual balloon launch.

We sent you balloons from one of your brother’s cliff-jumping spots just outside of town.

I thought you were getting too old for our usual playground launches.

Maybe you would have been cliff-jumping by now too.

Maybe not 🙂

There’s so much I don’t know about you. So much I’ll never know. You live somewhere I Can Only Imagine and I only catch the faintest glimpses of it where I live.

But every time I catch a glimpse I think of you. I look forward to you. Seeing you, knowing you, being with you. As only my human mind can grasp.

It’s also a mother’s mind, and sometimes I can hardly wait for… you.

Your two brothers give me so many wonderful things to fill my days just now.

And of course there’s your daddy 😉

Yet there is always this sense of waiting when I think of you.

And I wonder… about you waiting to meet us…

I think maybe you’ve never waited. You are with God and God exists out of time. So you’ve never waited. Another thing I cannot grasp. But it’s a good thought… that you’ve never felt our absence. That all you’ve felt is the all-consuming love of God surrounding you. Always.

Warms my mother’s heart. Makes it easier in the waiting… in the missing…

This was your 13th year of being part of our lives, of us trying to let you loose where we live to see how God might want to use your tiny life here.

It was a doozy Caleb – we sent out the invitation for people to give and build a clinic in your honour – in the village of Ascension in Dominican Republic. We asked for $7000 and it came in so fast, Caleb, and the clinic has been up and running for months now. Your daddy visited it just a couple of weeks ago, he put your name over the doorway.

Caleb’s Hope

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It was a dream that lived in his heart, inspired by you, to help other families get the medical care that can be so hard to come by in other parts of the world.

The organization that built it wrote about it here.

Dreams can come true…

Thank you.

So happy birthday baby boy, much more grown up in our hearts this year, I hope you liked your balloons 🙂

I love you, always,

Mommy

Posted in Life

Trying to Be Still

Sometimes when you’re trying to grab hold of the opportunities it’s hard to live in the moments.

Sometimes stillness is elusive when it seems a million things are vying for your attention.

But I’ll keep trying 🙂

There’s God things coming for our family… good things, big changes, lots of unknowns, exciting adventures ahead.

We’ll be moving to a place that’s about 5 hours from where we’ve been raising our boys the past 13 years. But it’s closer to family, near our old stomping grounds, and there’s lots of opportunity there for all of us.

Josh will be taking a new job as a senior pastor.

I’ll be making my way back to school part-time for a Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Our boys will be navigating new schools and new neighbourhoods.

We’ll all be saying goodbye to a place and a people that have poured into us for more than a decade. And we’ve poured into this place and these people too.

Some people are sure to visit us in our new place, and we’ll continue to pour into one another’s lives.

And there are new places and people coming – new places and people to pour into and allow them to pour into us.

Much transition.

It’s been a whirlwind of finishing the last of the to-dos on our house, and cleaning/fixing our rental house so we can list them on the real estate market. And narrowing it down to the right neighbourhood in the place we’re moving to.

But I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We’re rounding third and heading into the home stretch.

We’ve done our bit and we wait to see God do his bit.

It can be pretty fun to watch Him work out the details, can’t it?

Like only He can.

And I can see more moments of stillness coming.

Thank God…

Posted in Helping Others

12 Months of Giving – Free or $10 Ideas – International Wheelchair Day

For a bit of background on 12 Months of Giving read this post 🙂

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – Luke 14:13

March 1st is International Wheelchair Day

This is an annual day of events and activities which take place around the World when wheelchair users celebrate the positive impact a wheelchair has on their lives. 

For more information visit the International Wheelchair Day website.

Free Giving Idea:

Collect can tabs to purchase a wheelchair.  There are at least a few people out there who funnel collected tabs from “pop, juice, cat food, olives or any other can of your choice” – Robert Hampson of Toronto, Canada who runs Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs.

I have given this local man a few bags of tabs from my family, and he is always so grateful. Now the children’s ministry at our church is pitching in and I love to see the kid’s faces as they fill up our tab collection containers!

Do an online search for people in your area who are collecting tabs for wheelchairs.

$10 Giving Ideas:

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Sole Hope is a wonderful organization that helps those in Uganda, Africa with an epidemic called jiggers. This illness can take away the ability to walk, which can be devastating for families and communities.

I have hosted Sole Hope parties where participants cut out denim patterns from old jeans to send to Sole Hope seamstresses in Uganda. They will then be made into shoes.

Sole Hope also has an Amazon Wish List where many items are $10 or less and will be shipped to the organization once purchased.

Posted in Helping Others

Dreams Can Come True…

My husband had this dream that made its home in his heart for many years. We would talk about it off and on, consider options for its fulfillment, realize we didn’t have the means for it at that point in time, and lay it back down to rest some more.

Then suddenly it seemed right. The time was now. We had saved some money to give – somewhere. And we remembered the dream. And we connected with our friend in Dominican. And we discovered a need that the dream would meet. So we let the dream loose and shared it with others. We watched its fulfillment happen – it was more beautiful than we could imagine!

The dream was a medical clinic. Somewhere families could take their children to give them back their health. It was a way for us to remember Caleb, our middle son who was stillborn in 2003 – he would have been 13 now. We like to mark the milestones of life, and becoming a teenager is a big one. Marking Caleb’s 13th was no different, we needed a marker, and the clinic seemed to fit. The clinic is located in the village of Ascension – the first village Josh and I visited together on my first overseas mission trip. That was a dream that lived in my heart for decades. Dreams have a way of multiplying once you let them loose. Sharing dreams leads to realizing dreams which leads to dreaming more dreams.

Once we shared the clinic dream, the response was immediate. I suspect the dream to give and help and support and encourage lives in most other hearts, just waiting for its chance. I suspect it takes many forms, every day, without the dreamer even realizing it. I think that’s one dream that never really goes away. I’m thankful for those hearts that dream.

Donations poured in, work in Ascension began (after a major flooding delay!), and now we get to see how the clinic will bless other hearts. Maybe lead to more dreams still? I’m excited to hear the stories that will come from dreaming this dream.

Thank you for dreaming along with us… here’s a few pictures of the dream being realized these past few months 🙂

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Josh’s original drawing of his dream for a clinic in honour of Caleb

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Existing space in a community centre was the location chosen for the clinic

GoMAD reports on January 24th: Super excited to be able to report that construction has begun for the children’s medical clinic in Ascension. We look forward to the grand opening in the coming weeks. We want to say a special thank you to Anna Collier Sklar for heading up the fundraising effort to make this project possible. This clinic will make a difference in the lives of thousands of children.

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GoMAD reports on January 31st: Making progress on the clinic build out for Ascension. Next will be the installation of doors, some electrical work and finally painting. Then it will be time to furnish it and open it up to see patients.

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GoMAD reports on February 22nd: The clinic in Ascension is up and running! Still have work to do on furnishing it properly, but patients are being seen and that is the main thing. The people in the village are very excited and thankful to have Dr. Katz and Nurse Ana caring for their children.
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Posted in Helping Others

12 Months of Giving- Free or $10 Ideas – World Day of the Sick

I was sick and you looked after me… – Matthew 25:36

February 11th is World Day of the Sick

This special  day was introduced by Pope John Paul II as a way for believers to offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses.

Free Giving Ideas:

  1. Collect empty milk bags and donate to a group who makes Milk Bag Mats, make the mats yourself, or start a group to make mats! *I will share about this idea in more depth in a soon-to-come blog post! I have enjoyed making mats myself and also with children at summer camp and church.*
  2. Click on tabs dedicated to the sick at Greater Good.com. Every click makes a difference 🙂

$10 Giving Idea:

There are many items for sale under $10 at the Greater Good Shop. “At the GreaterGood Shop, every purchase gives back to a worthy cause, at no extra cost to you! Each of our cause-related websites partners with non-profits and provides support through many different easy actions. A portion of the purchase price of each item you buy goes to your choice of these important causes…”

$30 Giving Idea:

I am highlighting one more idea because I just love it…

World Vision – Medicines for Children – “You can give a gift of healing with this life-saving gift. Thanks to donations from partner companies, your gift multiplies 9X in value to purchase, ship and distribute antibiotics and other vital medicines.”

Medicines for Children

 

Posted in Faith

NEW BOOK – The Jesus Tree – 48 Family Devotions for Lent

The Jesus Tree - 48 Family Devotions for Lent

The newest book is ready… it’s identical to The Jesse Tree for Advent except this resource focuses on Lent and includes 48 family devotions!

This year Lent begins on March 1, so it’s a great time to grab the resources you’ll need to celebrate with your family 🙂

I have three versions – one is a small paperback book on Amazon, one is a downloadable pdf on Etsy, and one is an ebook on Kindle.

Let me introduce you to…

The Jesus Tree – 48 Family Devotions for Lent – Each devotion highlights a story of Jesus’ life, a scripture reference to read, a discussion idea and a prayer reading.

What is Lent?

Lent is a special time of year. It leads us right up to Easter and helps us focus on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Many people choose to give up something for Lent, to help them remember Jesus giving up his life for us on the cross. Others practice Lent by doing something kind for people every day. There are many ideas for making Lent a wonderful time with your family.

What is The Jesus Tree?

The Jesus Tree is one of those wonderful ideas I just mentioned! I’ve put together a set of 48 daily devotions for your family to use during this season of Lent. Included each day is a story from Jesus’ life, a scripture reading, a discussion question, and a prayer. These devotions can be made into ornaments to hang on a tree, or an Easter garland, or wherever you like! Your family will learn all about Jesus’ life – from birth to resurrection. Watch your family’s faith grow as The Jesus Tree grows!

How To Use The Jesus Tree Family Devotions

On the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday), read the first story in The Jesus Tree book. Children can turn to the scripture passage in their Bible if they are old enough. Discuss the question(s) in the Talk About section and read the prayer with the children. Do this every day during the season of Lent, in numerical order, finishing up on Easter Monday.    

*You can also encourage the children to lead the Jesus Tree devotions with your family.*

The Jesus Tree - 48 Family Devotions for LentThe Jesus Tree – 48 Family Devotions for Lent – Each devotion highlights a story of Jesus’ life, a scripture reference to read, a discussion idea and a prayer reading.

Amazon     Etsy     Kindle

Posted in Helping Others

12 Months of Giving – Free Ideas & (Mostly) $10 Ideas

When Jesus was around He mentioned some special people He’d like us to make sure we care for.

Yes, He wants us to care for everyone as best we can, to love our neighbours as ourselves, to share His hope with all who come across our path.

Through the years I’ve seen certain people mentioned in a few different venues – Bible verses, articles, devotionals, books, sermons, etc.

And I’ve been doing the research, shaping this idea that grabbed hold of me many moons ago – all the while knowing I’d share it with you when it was ready.

It’s ready.

I’ve field-tested many of the ideas with my family, friends, camp groups, church groups – whoever would listen 🙂

There are ideas for giving at no cost to yourself whatsoever – I love this because sometimes there just isn’t enough to go around, but the desire to help others still remains, right?

And there are ideas for giving at little cost to you – I love this because sometimes there is enough, and it doesn’t take much to make a difference around the globe.

I love how giving feels and I love how it spreads.

I think it’s because we were just born to do it.

So whether it’s a smile to encourage someone, a hug to comfort someone, a wave to greet someone, a free giving idea, or a $10 giving idea – how about we give it a try and see what happens?

I know so many of you already give in ways you don’t even realize. You make a difference without even trying. Good on ya.

But I still want to share this idea 😉

A bit of background…

Those people Jesus asked us to take special care of and Bible verses to back it up…

  • Hungry, Thirsty, StrangersFor I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in – Matthew 25:35
  • Naked, Sick, Prisoners I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. – Matthew 25:36
  • Orphans, WidowsReligion 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 1:27
  •  LostFor the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. – Luke 19:10
  • Poor, Blind, OppressedThe Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free – Luke 4:18
  • Crippled, Lame But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – Luke 14:13
  • Lepers, DeafThe blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. – Matthew 11:5

That’s 15 people groups altogether – the Poor, Oppressed, and Lost are included in all the other people groups, so this leaves 12 groups.

12 groups provides us with an opportunity to focus on a different group each month of the year.

Or so my thinking goes 🙂

Then I found there are special days on the calendar to go along with remembering each of these special people groups. It is so good to know the focus is already there in many cases – it’s just a matter of plugging into what others are already doing 🙂

For example…

January 29th is World Leprosy Day

There is a wonderful group who ministers to those with leprosy…

effect:hope

Free Giving Idea: Collect stamps and mail them to effect:hope – stamp dealers pay for the used stamps and money is used to care for and cure someone with leprosy. More info here.

Stamps

$10 – $15 Giving Ideas:

Canes for $10

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Hospital Room Supplies for $11

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And so you see… whether it’s collecting stamps and mailing them to effect:hope once in a while, or it’s donating money for a cane or hospital supplies… you can certainly make a difference to those with leprosy around the world.

Feels great! 🙂

This idea is simply to make us more aware. Some of us help others in so many ways already, and some of us just need to find a place to start. Wherever you’re at – blessings on you as you reach out 🙂

Here’s a breakdown of the focus for upcoming months of giving…

  • February – Sick
  • March – Lame
  • April – Deaf
  • May – Hungry
  • June – Widows
  • July – Strangers
  • August – Prisoners
  • September – Naked
  • October – Blind
  • November – Orphans
  • December – Thirsty
Posted in Life

One Foot Forward – Walking Through the Pain Instead of Avoiding the Pain

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I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day – Finding Traction – it was about the ultra runner Nikki Kimball.  In 2012 she decided to attempt to break the record for completing the 273-mile Long Trail in Vermont. The record had been held by Jonathan Basham who completed it in 4 days, 12 hours, and 46 minutes in 2009. He was 31 at the time. Nikki pushed so hard to beat the time, and kept up the pace so well until the last day when she simply had to take a rest. She came away from her attempt with the absolutely amazing achievement of instead breaking the women’s record by a full two days. Nikki’s time was 5 days, 7 hours, and 42 minutes. She was 41 at the time.

A major bout of depression hit Nikki for the first time when she was in her early 20’s. She learned to adapt and then to thrive with running. She can outlast the best of them, and has gone on to claim many records for her efforts. I find her to be very inspiring 🙂

She found a way to put one foot forward during the darkest times of her life – when everything was confusing, when her hopes and dreams were slipping away, when she had to adapt everything and find new meaning in life.

I’m sure it started with just simply getting out of bed. Putting one foot on the floor, then the other, slipping on her running shoes, and stepping one foot out the door, then the other. One foot further down the street, into something new, facing each step as it came, one at a time, then the next, and the next.

It’s like living in the moments. It’s like simply living. One thing at a time, what’s right in front of you, taking it all in, just one moment, then the next, enjoying what comes.

Pain will inevitably come – physical and emotional and spiritual – all sorts of pain. Confusion will come even as you take one step then the next, out there beyond the safe walls of your house, beyond the safe comfort of your family and friends. Out there in the unknown. But all you have to see is one step. And once you’ve taken that one step, all you have to see is the next step. That’s all. Looking too far down the road, too far beyond the comfort, too far beyond the safe, will only make the first step that much more impossible to take.

Which is probably why I’ve struggled for so long with getting back to walking. I can’t seem to take that first step. It sounds so silly to me – not being able to open my door, and step outside, and put one foot in front of the other. But this is a pretty annoying hurdle to face – being one who loves to go for walks, one who needs to get some sunshine even through the looming winter sky, one who thrives on glimpses of nature to lift my moods.

When I watched Nikki run her Long Trail race, it was about putting one foot in front of the other. And I saw that as she did that, she gained confidence in her ability to take the next step, even if it was slower than she hoped, even if it was cold, even if she hurt in ways we couldn’t see as we watched her race. I also saw that she knew when to admit it was time for a rest, after pushing herself to her absolute limits. This lady knew when to push for that next step and when to stop taking steps for a time. She knew when to tape up her feet and her legs and eat more bacon and get back on the trail. She also knew when to curl up in a blanket in the back of a van and close her eyes for a little while. She let herself cry, laugh, sing, shout, and be silent. There was always someone travelling with her, always supporters ready at the next rest stop. So I guess that’s why I wanted to write about this particular struggle of mine. Because in the sharing usually comes some relief for me, the burden seems lighter, the struggle seems easier to face. And hopefully I will gain some ground. Starting with that first step.

The colder temperatures definitely make it harder – but I have lots of warm clothing.

The barren white landscape outside doesn’t excite me much – but there is always something to see.

The people I meet along the way might not be nice and friendly – but I’ve got many who love me already.

The distance I travel may not be as far as I hope – but it’s only about one foot in front of the other.

And so I’ll give it a shot today, even if the winter storm continues to rage outside. Even if I only step outside to shovel the front deck and grab the mail. Or maybe just take a few more steps down the street. Maybe around the corner to catch a glimpse of the frozen lake. Maybe. I’ll start with one foot in front of the other, and see where the journey takes me 🙂

Posted in Life

My Word for 2017

STILL

That’s my word for 2017.

still

And I love to have a Bible verse to go with the word…

Be still, and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10

(A dear friend made this plaque for me many years ago… Hi Sarah!🙂 )

And I love to have a song…

As I searched for songs with Still in the title, I discovered Hillsong has a song…

Some of the lyrics of Still by Hillsong go like this…

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father you are King over the flood
I will be still, know You are God

Which reminded me of this song I LOVE… I’m already on my 3rd time listening to it as I type out this blog post 🙂

And this quote I LOVE… I remember grabbing it from my mum’s house years and years ago… she had it in a daily quotes package… I carried it around in my purse for about a decade…

I can trust the waves for I know the One who made the ocean.

I mentioned that quote and song in a blog post almost 3 years ago.

I’ve been drawn to that song for so long.

So I’ll grab hold of it for this year, to go with my word, to anchor me in the rising oceans and the waves that will inevitably come this year. Don’t they always come? Isn’t there always waves in life? Would I want it any other way?

Sometimes.

Be they good waves or bad, easy or hard, I will focus on STILL.

I know this requires trust. I know this requires submission. I know this requires obedience. But most of all I know this requires love. Knowing that I am loved. Beyond anything I can imagine. And it’s OK to STILL when I’m loved that way.

I will try to remember.

Do you have a word for 2017?

I’d love to hear it 🙂