Cast Your Parenting Anxiety On Him

My son is nine today! He’s my firstborn, so his birthday always makes me extra sentimental. His birth signifies the beginning of parenthood for me. This means nine years of laughter and joy, but in my case it also means nine years of worrying.

I’ll never forget the intense anxiety I experienced as a new mom. My sons life seemed so fragile and I was worried about everything from SIDS and choking to random disasters. I remember constantly sticking my finger under his nose to make sure that he was breathing okay. I was so afraid all the time and emotionally I was feeling the weight of it all.

When I became a new mom I realized just how much of a control freak I am. Not with everyday things, I’m not one to try and micromanage, but with life. Trusting God was easier when it was just me. I could resign to His plans pretty easily, but when I became a mom trusting God felt a million times harder. Trusting God required me to let go of control of my baby and say, “I trust you with him God. I trust you no matter what happens. Good or bad.” It required surrender and I wasn’t ready to do that. I wasn’t ready to surrender. I wanted to control everything and naively thought that I could shield my son from pain.

It’s funny, because we never really have control, and yet we believe we do and try desperately to keep it. The truth is though, life was going to play out whether or not I liked it, I just had to choose who would walk us through it. Would I be driven by fear and constant worry, or trust in the God who would lead me through?

After months of worry and wrestling with God, I finally surrendered. Little did I know just how much I would need God to guide me through. The following years brought us three more babies, health scares and troubling diagnoses. In fact on more than one occasion I wondered if I would lose the precious babies that God had given me. Did surrendering my babies to God make me stop worrying? Nope! But it gave me hope.

When my daughter was in the hospital, tubes everywhere and progressively getting worse, I would sing and cry out to God. I was terrified, but I knew we were not alone. What a comfort that was. What a comfort that is to this day.

The truth is being a parent is scary. Kids are accidents waiting to happen and that can increase any parents anxiety tenfold, but we serve a God who is with us through it all, and He wants to lighten our load. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” What a comfort this is! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been worried lately. I’ve been reading one too many news articles and the world seems overwhelmed with fear over another possible pandemic. I can’t help but worry about all the implications it could have on us, but I’m reminded that God can handle my worries and fears. I know that whatever comes, we will not walk it alone.

I have experienced God’s comfort and peace my whole life, but never more than in the past nine years of becoming a parent. So today, on my oldest son’s birthday, I will not only celebrate him, but all that God has done, and how I found comfort in the surrender.

God Help Me See the Joy

I was at a boiling point. The kids had been sick for days and I was up every night worrying and tending to fevers. They were finally on the mend, but I hadn’t recovered from my exhaustion and my house was a literal disaster with laundry overload, dish laden counters, and toys everywhere. A week of sickness had left the housework neglected and everyone tightly wound. I wasn’t coping well.

It’s not that I was actually losing it on anyone, it’s just that I felt like a ticking time bomb. Every whine was making me twitch, and I was becoming increasingly agitated and overwhelmed as I looked at the mess around me. Generally I default to ranting, but it’s not something I’m proud of, so I mustered all of my strength to try and not verbalize my growing list of grievances.

I felt like I needed a pause button, but that doesn’t really exist when it comes to life does it?

Some people call vacations a pause button, but my bank account didn’t allow for one, and even if it did, I needed to pause right that minute!

I was trying so hard to keep it together, because I didn’t want to lose it on my kids or my husband. I’ve been the angry ranting mom before, and I’ve always regretted my soapbox speech after I stepped down.

My kids have had moments when they’ve gotten frustrated and they just boil over and freak out. Each time I’ve said to them, “Your emotions are okay. It’s okay to be frustrated and angry, but you’re still responsible for how you deal with them. So you need to calm down.”

I wonder though, how am I supposed to teach them to calm down and control their emotions if I can barely do it myself?

The other day I skimmed an article about the voice in your head, and I realized that mine is often negative. Not all the time obviously, but more often than I’d like to admit my inner voice is anxious, angry, and self righteous. No wonder I feel the need for a pause button so often! In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” See I know that at the root of it I need to work on self control, but I can’t do it on my own. Self control takes surrender. It takes me giving over my negative mindset to God and saying, “Here! Take it God. Help me to see things in a new way. Show me the joy that I’m struggling to see!”

The truth is I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, but on days like this, I’ve had a hard time seeing it. This stage of my life is often so chaotic, and somedays it’s hard to see all the joy in the midst of it. So I’m starting something new. When my inner narrative becomes sour, when I feel like a kettle ready to blow, I’m going to take my thoughts captive. I’m surrendering my soapbox to Christ and asking for a fresh perspective in return. I must, because I know there is joy in every story, but so often I struggle to see it on my own.

Slowly, God is teaching me to see all of my blessings. I’m tired, but it’s because I’m blessed with four amazing kids to keep me up at night. My living room may be strewn with toys, but it’s also filled with laughter. And though my counters are a mess of plates, cups, and bowls, it’s because I have plenty of food to dirty my dishes. In the grand scheme of things, I’m living the good life!

It’s not gonna be easy changing my thought process. I’ve developed a bad habit of dwelling in negativity and self pity, but I know surrendering my thoughts to God is the only answer.

Sure a vacation sounds dreamy, but a pause on life isn’t what I truly need at the core. An escape is a temporary fix, and sure I would love some rest and relaxation, but what I truly need is a change of perspective that only God can give me.

I guess I’m not looking for a pause after all. Instead I’m asking God to hit the reset button for my mind, so I don’t have to check out, but can check in with a new mindset. I want to see my life for all it’s beauty and spend my days soaking it in instead of grumbling as it passes me by.

Jesus Please Hold My Hand in the Dark

We’ve been going through a bit of a tough season lately. A season where we don’t know what’s next and it feels like we’re walking through the dark grasping for a hand to guide us. In this season everything feels fragile and I fear it may all fall apart.

God is here with us in this season, I know it. He is guiding us through. I see His work in the all the little things that are carrying us. A cheque from a friend that arrives at just the right time, the support and encouragement of another, and that day when my online job went glitchy and I had no choice but to finally rest.

I’m scared though, because sometimes I don’t feel God’s hand guiding me and as someone who is security minded, I don’t like walking through life in the dark. I want … scratch that, I need to know what’s next. I need to feel secure and stable.

Instead I find myself asking “why”. Why us? Why are we standing here and it feels like the ground is crumbling beneath us? Is it me? Do I lack faith? That last question is rhetorical. I already know the answer. I do lack faith, BUT I also know God isn’t punishing me for it. Sometimes I have faith that is baffling in bleak circumstances, but this thing called security, it’s my kryptonite.

It’s crazy really, because I often fondly talk about years ago when we were in transition between jobs and had more money in our bank account than made sense. It was literally loaves and fishes, and yet here I am panicking, a complete and utter wreck.

I’ve always believed that we need to trust God no matter what, but that can be hard to do when you know bad things happen to Christians too.

How do I have faith, when so much is at stake. And is God really faithful in every circumstance? The truth is yes. God is faithful in the dark. God is faithful when I can’t feel His hand. He is always there. I can’t say I have constant peace in this season. It comes in waves, and then fear creeps back in, but thankfully I can say that He does provide.

I’ve been here before. I’ve walked through the dark when I couldn’t see. I felt alone, abandoned even, but in the end I’m glad to say I saw He was with me. He works in ways I do not understand, and many times it seems to not make sense, but He guides me through it. Now on the days when it doesn’t make any sense I will cling to Matthew 6:26-27 where Jesus says, “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 than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

If God takes care of the birds, then surely we can trust Him to takes care of us! So even though I’m afraid and my legs feel shaky, I will step forward trusting He’s there to guide me, even when I can’t see His hand.

Dear Friend,

I wrote this months ago in a tough season. I am happy to report that so much has changed and God has taken care of us in big ways. I decided to share this to encourage others who need hope in a difficult time. If that’s you, don’t lose faith! God is with you and even though you can’t see it, there is light around the corner.

Stop Making Excuses and Use Your Outdoor Voice

I’m a chatty person and yet I have spent so much of my life using my indoor voice. I don’t mean that literally, I mean I’ve been quiet about my faith, making up excuses that it wasn’t my time to share.

See I felt like I wasn’t ready yet. I was a work in progress, so how could I possibly have a voice when I didn’t have my act together. Here’s the thing though, I don’t know where that thought came from, but it isn’t biblical. The people we read about in the Bible weren’t finished works, they were very much in progress, and yet through them we have learned about love, grace, and hope. In fact, if the Bible only had people who had their act together, I’m pretty sure it would be a much smaller book!

In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about asking God to remove the thorn in his side and it says in verse 9-11 , “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Now I’m no theologian, but it seems to me like Paul thought this thorn, or “weakness” rather, needed to be removed for him to serve God, and yet God says no! NO?! What’s up with that? Why wouldn’t God remove his weakness? Wouldn’t he want Paul to be serving him in his prime? Nope, He says His grace is enough and His power is shown through weakness! Can I get an AMEN?!

I wasted so long being quiet, literally telling God I wasn’t ready yet, humming and hawing through life, not because God didn’t want to use me, it was my fear and insecurity holding me back! Yet God was there waiting for me to trust Him and be used. Not because I’ve got the answers, or I’m an excellent role model of perfect Christianity. Nope! I wish! He has been waiting to extend me grace, and to show His power through my weakness as He works through me.

How beautiful is that? We serve a God who writes a beautiful story of grace and redemption in the midst of the mess and pain. He changes the narrative when all seems lost. He offers us a message of hope that the world needs to hear, and we just need to have the courage to share it.

Don’t be like me. Don’t waste time minimizing the story that God has written for you. No more excuses! Use your outdoor voice! Be bold! Speak up! Share what God has put on your heart. Maybe your story is just what someone else needs to hear. Maybe they need to hear what you’ve got to say to remind them of God’s love and grace. Your story may be exactly what someone needs to know they are not alone.

The first blog I wrote was about how inadequate I felt, but you know what’s interesting, the more I use my voice to share what God has put on my heart, the more confident and secure I feel. Not in a cocky way, it’s different than that. I have a sense of purpose and determination that fuels me now. See I think sometimes as Christians we can excuse insecurity. We can be deceived into thinking our insecurity is humility, but that’s a lie. You can be confident in what God has called you to and still be humble. You can use your outdoor voice and still be meek and mild.

The other day I was watching Reese Witherspoon’s new show, Shine On. She was interviewing America Ferrerra and she said something so profound that I rewound it several times just to soak it in. She said, “The number one thing that it takes to take action is courage. You have to be the one to say, ‘My voice matters, my experiences matter. I’m gonna find the courage to use my voice even if my voice shakes.’” Now I realize that this doesn’t directly apply. We are not alone in this as Christians. The Holy Spirit gives us boldness, but in order to speak we still have to obey, and that takes courage on our end. It takes guts to open our mouth and speak up. For me, I’ve chosen to obey and use my voice for this blog, and even though I’ve started and put a few blogs out there, it still takes courage. Some of these blogs are so personal, that my voice feels shaky even as I use it on these pages, but I know that God has called me to use it, so I will.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone is called to blog or speak. I couldn’t possibly assume that, but I know you all have a story to share. God has given you a voice and talents and He wants you to use them in a unique way. Maybe you’re not sure what He wants you to say or maybe you are, but you’re scared. Either way, spend time, listen to him, and have the courage to obey. Don’t make excuses, for goodness sakes! Ditch the silence of insecurity and use your outdoor voice!

Don’t Just Dream It, Do It

It’s that time of year. The time when we recap all of the good and bad of the last 12 months and make goals to move forward. It’s exciting as we anticipate the new year and the opportunities it will bring.

For me, 2019 had a lot of lows, but it’s still a year I’ll never forget. 2019 is when I finally realized a dream I’d carried for years. This year I stepped out of my comfort zone and started this blog. It’s funny, because as I set out for this year I had absolutely no intention of starting anything. In fact, I felt a little lost.

I’ve been a stay at home mom for years, and I had no idea what my life would look like once all of my kids went off to school. That day seemed like it would never come and yet here I am less than a year out from having large amounts of actual free time. As exciting as this is, I found myself becoming more anxious at the thought of freedom, not because I’d miss my kids, I mean I will of course, but because I didn’t know myself. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had no clue what my purpose was beyond being a mom, and in you’re thirties, that’s a scary thing to admit!

Up until now my purpose has been clear, to focus on my kids. Caring for them and loving them 24/7. It’s been challenging, but also simple, comfortable even. Sure I’ve been pushed to the brink of exhaustion and I’ve had a lot of growing up to do, but my purpose was clear and I knew exactly what I had to do.

This year has been filled with uncertainty as I figured out what was next for me in 2020. I’ve spent countless hours worrying about what’s next. What am I supposed to do with my life? Do I chase a paycheque or work towards a dream? What exactly are my dreams?

In the spring, my husband started a blog and began to ask me to guest post. He mentioned it often and each time I would shrug it off saying, “I dunno. What would I write?”. Finally, on a sunny day in June, I was inspired. The words rushed out of me like water out of a tap. I wrote about my struggles. It was cathartic. It felt important. A couple of weeks later it happened again, and I poured my heart out into another guest post. Like a diary, for all to see. Suddenly I began to dream!

Now I’m usually a starter, not a finisher, but I felt this dream birthed in me. I felt a sense of purpose, so I prepared and launched this blog with intention.

I say all of this to say, what’s your purpose? What dream has God birthed in your heart? Are you doing your part to see it come to life?

I didn’t really realize it, but it turns out writing has been a passion of mine all along. Since starting my blog I’ve found embarrassing diary entries from my preteen years, odd little short stories, and blogs from two years ago that I didn’t have the courage to share. I found a dream that had been put aside too many times and was finally stumbled upon. I discovered my dream from long ago and I finally pushed my insecurities aside and stepped into my purpose.

So what is your 2020 going to look like? Are you finally going to step out and see your dreams realized, because if you’re like me you can become complacent in comfort. You can procrastinate on fulfilling your purpose. Dreams can seem like impossible fantasies, but God has called us to the impossible. He calls us to things we can’t do in our own strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”. We can achieve our God given purpose, because of HIM! We know we have found our purpose, when we are living out our dreams that are just plain impossible without God. Let me tell you, it’s scary! It requires trust, and risk, and a whole lot of vulnerability, BUT it’s exhilarating! It’s a thrill relying on God for strength each step of the way as you navigate the unknown and dare to dream even more.

So in 2020, don’t settle for comfort, but beyond that, do more than just dream, actually do. When you’re captivated by your dreams, with the purpose God has given you, take action! You’ve heard it said, “Don’t just dream it, do it!”. Let this be the year! Step out and may your dreams become reality, as you “do it” in His strength.

Awe and Wonder

Today I will wake up to awe and wonder. To squeals of joy as my son opens the car track he’s been hinting at for months. There will be a lot of “WHOA!”, and “I always wanted a _______”, and “Thank you!!!”. I have spent the last couple of months carefully selecting special gifts in anticipation of this moment, and I will soak it all in.

I love these special Christmas mornings, but I confess I often get lost in all the giving and receiving. The morning exchange is only a small fraction of the awe and wonder of Christmas. There is so much more!

This year I’ve been trying to refocus. Trying to take time and really meditate on the true meaning of Christmas. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I know that’s not your typical Christmas verse, but in my opinion it sums up the basics of the true meaning of Christmas. As I read it, a new perspective stood out. He GAVE His one and only son, not only did He give Him, He lived as one of us. THIS IS A BIG DEAL!

Have you ever been going through a tough time and felt like nobody understood you? Friends would try and offer their support, but you knew they didn’t understand. How could they? They’ve never been through what your going through! Not Jesus! He gets it!

Lost a loved one? So did Jesus. Scared? Terrified? Jesus has been there. Being bullied? Jesus knows exactly what that’s like. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Jesus gets you! He understands, because God loves you so much that He sent His one and only son to be born in a manger on that special day that would change history.

Christmas is about so much more than our gift giving on Christmas morning. It’s about celebrating the birth of God’s son. A man who lived as one of us, and loves us. A man who understands us and has compassion for us. A man whose life represents hope for each one of us.

So today I’m filled with awe and wonder, because He lives!

When Jealousy Comes Easier Than Joy

Lately I’ve been noticing a growing unrest in myself. A longing for something more and it’s taking it’s toll on me. See I’m not talking about ambition, I’m talking about jealousy.

This year has been tough! Despite our budgeting and saving, finances are tight. We’re emotionally and physically exhausted, and twenty nineteen has been filled with injuries and multiple frantic trips to the ER because one my kids couldn’t breathe. It has been hard and at times I find myself jealous and resentful even at others seemingly simple lives. I find myself questioning when our hardships will end. Overall I find myself growing in frustration as life seems to throw hurdle after hurdle at us.

Lately though, God has been speaking to me in the gentle way He often does, and it all boils down to one word. Grateful. Confusing I know. Twenty nineteen has been one for the books, BUT there has been so much good! Things that up until now, I have chosen to ignore in favour of self pity. 

My marriage is probably the best it’s been in 11 years, we’ve finally got our budgeting and savings on track, and I have four healthy children. Really that last one is huge for me. My kids have asthma, severe food allergies, and my daughter had sepsis when she was one. Each of them have nearly died, BUT they are here, and for the most part, they’re healthy. I have been fortunate enough to always leave the hospital with my child. God has blessed me beyond measure.

This week I have been reminded of the commandment to “not covet” and how important it is. When I was a kid we were often taught about the Ten Commandments and I remember thinking that one was weird. I mean the others make sense. Don’t kill, don’t worship other Gods, don’t cheat, those are givens, but coveting? What’s that and what’s the big deal with it anyway? 

As a little kid coveting was explained to me as the desire to have what someone else has. I can’t say I really understood the significance when I was little, but as I got older coveting has become a really big struggle. 

See at the surface this commandment seems really insignificant, but I think it may actually be at the root of a lot of our troubles. I think that most of us struggle with coveting on a daily basis, because what coveting truly is, is jealousy and dissatisfaction. It’s a dangerous blend of envy and ungratefulness. Often it’s what causes people to lie, cheat, and steal. You may be thinking “Phewf, not me! I’m in the clear on this one”, but if your like me, coveting is a daily issue, just in a more subtle way.

Now, coveting isn’t a commandment because God is gonna smite us for being jealous of our neighbour and wanting what others have. No! This commandment is for our own good. Jealousy has a sneaky way of stealing our joy. It makes us resentful and angry at God and man, instead of being grateful for all that we have been given. It paints our worldview with sadness, frustration and anger and causes us to be dissatisfied with life. It seems minor, but coveting has a domino effect. 

Truthfully I think I struggle with it almost every day. I covet my friends homes. I covet all the pretty things I see on Instagram. I even covet the success of others. This seemingly innocent act ends up having a big impact on my life. The more I covet, the less satisfied I am with life, and the more frustrated I become with God. I begin to feel like I’ve been gipped.

One of the things I really struggle with coveting is talent. Over the years I’ve questioned on more than one occasion why I couldn’t be talented like __________. I would talk to God and say, “Why didn’t you give me that? Why couldn’t I have that talent? How come they get to have all the gifts, and I have none.” In His gentle way, He would reply, “But I gave you talents Sarah. I just gave you different ones”.

He’s right. He has given me talents. He’s given me a voice to sing and words to write, and yet I have been so ungrateful. I have been greedy for more, I have been jealous of others blessings, and sometimes I’ve even resented them for it.

 I don’t want to live that way anymore, so I’m choosing to be grateful and ask God to give me contentment in all seasons. Some days it won’t be easy, but I think that even in the worst of times, we can all find something to be grateful for. To start, I’m thankful for a God who changes my perspective.

So though coveting seems like such a minor thing, I encourage you to look for it. Search your heart, because though it starts small and seems innocent, coveting is huge. It steals your joy, it distracts you, and it can make you greedy for things that were never intended to be yours. Coveting is a trap you can’t see until your already stuck in its clutches. God wants more for us. He wants us to live in gratitude and contentment. He wants us to see our lives as abundantly blessed and to use what He has given us instead of longing for what He has given to others. So, may we learn to claim our joy, instead of trading it for jealousy.

I Am the Girl Next Door

Most of my life I have felt pretty ordinary. Mostly for superficial reasons. I used to feel like my name was boring, and if you braid my hair I look like a shoo in for Anne of Green Gables. I’ve never been crazy about makeup and my curly hair often becomes so frizzy that I resemble Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus. Aside from all of that though, this feeling has filtered through my life on a deeper level. I’m a pastors wife, and the women I look up to in ministry and life in general are bold, trendy and look like they are ready for their book deal. I’m just the girl next door, plain and simple.

A few years ago I was going through a phase of deep insecurity. My husband and I had just moved and were about to plant a church. I’ve always been low maintenance, but I decided for the first time in my life I was going to be polished, I was going to be fashionable, I was going to be THAT woman! Everyday I straightened my hair, or brushed out my curls and put my hair into a neat and tidy bun. I wore jewelry, lots of jewelry, and makeup almost everyday. I Iooked GOOD, yet even the polished new me still felt unsatisfied and insecure. I didn’t know who I was!

My worth and identity were caught up in my appearance and what people thought of me. I wanted so badly to be admired, emulated, envied even. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. Thankfully, I had a powerful moment where God spoke to me reminding me of who I am and why I am. See I AM the girl next door. I’m a bit of a hot mess, I’m basic, but I am approachable. Those women that I admired are doing great things, thats true, but sometimes women like me can’t relate to them, in fact I’m often intimidated by them. On the other hand, I’ve only ever intimidated the big kids trying to butt in line at the school fair. I’m unassuming and approachable. Thats who God has made me to be. I can’t serve Him, all the while trying to be someone else. Honestly, at the root of it, I wasn’t even trying to serve Him in trying to be someone else. I was serving myself and my ego. I got side tracked. 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the dangers of the mold. See in ministry and life in general, I believe we’ve created a mold of sorts. There is this underlying concept that every person must look a certain way, speak a certain way, and act a certain way to serve God. It appears there is this unspoken mold, and I was trying so desperately to fit into it, but I can’t and more importantly, I shouldn’t. God didn’t make me to fit in someone else’s mold. He made some people that way, and they’re having great success living out their God given purpose, but life is not one size fits all, and the only person we should be emulating is Christ.

God made me ordinary, but there is beauty in my ordinary. There is beauty in the fact that though I fall short and am insecure, God has given me the opportunity to encourage others. There is beauty in the way God made you! The lie from the enemy is that we are JUST ordinary, because God’s plan for us is unique, and the mistake is trying to be someone else instead of who God created us to be. 

So here I am basic, plain, ordinary. I’m not the model wife, mom, leader, and I’m definitely not an influencer, but I am me. I know I am fulfilling my purpose, and I feel confident in that knowing that God is using me in extraordinary ways, just as ordinary as I am.

It’s ok if your the girl next door too. God can shine brightly through you, all you have to do is embrace it, and let God do His thing. Who knows what doors God is waiting to open for a girl like you.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Berringer Photography

When It’s All Too Heavy

Lately  I’ve been thinking a lot about life and how overwhelming it can be for so many of us. How heavy life can feel with work, family, sickness, and sometimes even tragedy . Right now, my life is just a little crazy, but there have been seasons when I was in way over my head and just plain drained.

When my kids were very little I was living in a season of exhaustion. I remember feeling tapped out, like I had nothing more to give. Josh and I didn’t have the extra cash for any kind of a trip away, so there seemed to be little chance of a break. It felt hopeless, like I was doomed to a perpetual lack sleep and running on empty. In my desperation, I used to fantasize about being hospitalized for something minor like dehydration, just so I could have a good nights rest, and binge watch Netflix in peace. Crazy? Maybe, but it was my reality. I was burnt out with life!

Around that time when I was worn out and having a hard time coping, we were given the opportunity to go on a retreat in Quebec City at the luxurious Chateau Frontenac hotel. It was all expenses paid, no kids, and just what we needed. I remember at the end of it ugly crying into a mic in front of three hundred people about how much it meant to me. It was such a blessing, and was the rest I needed as a weary mom. A much needed refresh button when life felt too heavy.

Fast forward to today, life is pretty good. It’s hectic at times, but it’s slowed down a bit, and I’m finally getting some sleep. Would I love a vacation, sure, but I can manage okay without one. Over the past couple of weeks though, I’ve spoken to people who have a lot on their plates, and as I thought about them I was reminded of this verse in Matthew 11:28,  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” It made me think of that retreat. Or a couple of months ago when money was tight and I was working crazy hours tutoring English online. One day I logged on but my internet was faulty, so I had no choice but to rest and be encouraged by a good friend. It made me think about shortly after, when we didn’t know how we were going to pay our bills and someone gave us an extremely generous cheque, so we were finally able to breathe without the pressure of finances on our shoulders. 

That day when my internet went glitchy I was able to get together with my friend Lisa. It’s not often that we can get together and have a good chat, but I was so stressed and panicked, I couldn’t enjoy it. “I NEED to work!” I exclaimed, “I’ve got bills to pay!”. She looked at me as the tears fell down my cheeks and said, “Maybe this is God’s way of making you take a break, so you can rest and spend time with Him”. I never thought of the technical issues as a gift, I was too busy worrying, and yet it was just what I needed. A free day where I had no choice but to rest and to listen to God. Maybe thats your rest too. Maybe it’s not obvious, it could be a blessing in disguise, but when we go to God he refreshes us in unexpected ways. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it, and when we surrender to Him He provides. He takes the weight off our shoulders, even if it’s just for a few hours, and sometimes He even lightens our load.

I don’t know what your life looks like right now, but I do know what rest in Jesus looks like. It may not be a free retreat to a glitzy hotel or a generous cheque, it could as simple as peace, wisdom, and the support of friends and family. Whatever season you’re in, whether one of balance and simplicity or one of chaos, I encourage you to seek after God, and pay attention to what He’s doing. You might be surprised with the rest your given, and how it not only refreshes your body, but your soul. 

Even as I finish writing this I’m feeling tired and a little weary. I stayed up too late (yet again) milking every second of peace and quiet to watch tv. Just as I finally surrendered to my heavy eyes and snuggled into my pillow my daughter woke up crying in her bed, so up I went, to tuck her in and wipe her tears. Now it’s nearly midnight and I know I will trudge through the next day tired, but I will press on because I know tomorrow holds it’s own little blessing. Tomorrow I get together with Lisa for a mom’s night out and tacos. It’s only a little rest, but I’m gonna eat my fill and soak it all in!

Kiss the Joneses Goodbye

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … I am insecure. It’s true, I am and insecurity is an ugly thing. Our culture breeds it, this feeling that we’re missing something. We need to have what other people have, we need to be who other people are. The more I think about it, it feels like so much of our lives is one big ad. One big marketing scheme. I struggle with it, daily. This feeling of never being enough, of always needing more. 

It’s a slippery slope. The more I try to keep up with cultural expectations and trends, the more I try to keep up with the Joneses, the more I lose myself. I am not the Joneses and deep down I don’t really want to be, but I want to be loved and accepted and for some reason my insecurity tells me that requires more of the Joneses and less of me. Truthfully, I’m not really good at the whole Joneses thing. I have four kids so that’s supposedly in my favour for the whole #supermom thing, but my house is almost always in chaos, I have no idea how to apply makeup, and I’m in serious need of dry shampoo.

I’ve noticed that the more I feel the need to keep up, the more I hide, tired of the charade. I put up walls, keeping people at bay for fear of ultimately being rejected. 

Today I sit here and wonder just how many of you feel it too? The pressure of it all. How many people are tired of the facade? If you know me you know I love social media, almost too much, but surely I’m not the only mama that’s tired of trying to filter life to fit in pretty square pictures. Surely I’m not the only woman who only takes a selfie on the rare day I have makeup on. I’m certain I’m not the only one who pushes the clutter out of the way to take that perfect photo. I know I’m not the only person who has looked for my self worth in likes and flattering selfie comments. 

Though I’ve always struggled with insecurity and wanting to fit in, I really have tried to be me. In high school I felt so much pressure to wear makeup, that I didn’t wear a drop of it for most of grade eleven, as a protest of sorts. Nowadays I try to be that girl, the one who despite her own struggles stands in defiance of culture and does her own thing, but I find it hard.

So I guess I’m writing this as a call to action. I’m almost sad to do it. I love all the perfect pretty pictures and the dream of the “Joneses”, but somehow I think for most of us, our pictures do not reflect our reality, and its not good to live a lie, even if it’s just in public. 

What would our real lives look like? Would people still double tap our messy rooms, mom bun selfies, and morning (or afternoon) snaps of our kids with bedhead? I’m not sure, but those are the pictures that would give me joy. Those snapshots of real life would encourage me that I’m not alone and help me to accept me for me.

I have always said that we could all look like movie stars if we had stylists and makeup artists and I used to wonder how fabulous I would look if I had the help of a pro. A few years ago I found out. A local makeup artist was looking for people who would have their makeup done for her look book. I jumped at the opportunity. This was my moment, I was going to look like a star! In preparation, I planned a whole night around it. I would get my makeup done, and then do dinner with friends, it would be perfect!

That day I sat in her chair as she did me up. I had full foundation, false eyelashes, the works. At the end of the session, I was eager to see the finished product, but as she turned the mirror towards me, I wasn’t so sure of what I saw. Sure, I looked beautiful. My face was flawless and my eyes popped, but I wasn’t so sure I liked it. That night at dinner, instead of feeling confident I felt insecure, like I was wearing a mask or pretending to be someone else. See all the makeup and pro techniques made me look gorgeous, but I didn’t look like me, in fact I looked like a completely different person.

Somedays I feel plain and unattractive. I’m simple, often makeup free, and I have hair that tends to go frizzy and makes me look like Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, yet when I think of how I looked and felt that day, I’d take simple me any day. 

The Bible says in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” If that’s true, why do we spend so much time picking ourselves apart? Why do we as women try so hard to look like everyone else? When will we accept ourselves just as God made us?

All of this leads me to a thought I had the other day, what if we normalized reality? What would life be like, if we could be ourselves, if we didn’t feel the need to change so much to be accepted. In last weeks blog, I wrote that I was hidden, but I think part of being seen is choosing to live in reality. Choosing to live out who we truly are, instead of trying to be someone else. I’m not saying we should all boycott our beauty routines or do an Insta story exposing our dish laden kitchens, I just think we have to shift our culture to one that allows us to be who we are.

Are you a bit of a hot mess in life right now? Great! Me too! Welcome to the club! We’re not living in a magazine, so our lives don’t need to look like one.

So here’s the challenge, I dare you to be you! No more playing pretend. Be a breath of fresh air at the bus stop, work, and on Instagram. Kiss the “Joneses” goodbye once and for all! Accept yourself just as God made you, and give yourself grace for all the messy parts of life. Our culture likes polish and shine, but for most of us that’s rare, not our everyday and I for one not only want to live in reality, I want to see it!