Fake fire and burnt pots: how I want to mother

The fake fire is crackling on the tv; it will do for now.

Carrot soup is beginning to simmer on the stove; it’s become a favourite.

And I’m left with time to decide how to use it! Do any other new moms struggle with deciding how to use their free moments the best? I can be horrible at sticking to a goal or plan; even though I’m a planner.

What I wanted to write about was a moment I had last week; the random ones that come unexpectedly when Father God hugs your heart. I’d asked for it, just not in that moment. He seems to like to show up when I least expect it 😉

I was driving into the city to meet my husband at the mall to take our now 8-month-old daughter to meet Santa. She’d begun exploring syllables, and was doing a sweet ‘ba ba ba’ in the backseat. I looked in the rearview mirror and called back to her, “You are such a good talker, honey!” And the thought immediately came to me, “I want to mother out of healing, not out of perfection.” And like clockwork, Adele, Water Under the Bridge, came on the radio. Be it Adele’s powerful vocals or just simply the presence of God wrapping me up, I cried. Like He just hugged me and said to mother out of the renewed heart He is giving me, and not out of my expectations or having everything ‘just so’. For the past several years, I have felt like the gospel has been illuminated in a real way – and the truth of what Christ accomplished on the cross holds me closer in a way it never did before. I could almost cry just typing that. I am learning to see my sin for what it is, and how much hope we have in the cross. How much we miss of the cross, even as Christians! Oh let Him do His work, people. Let Him do His work.

Back to that moment…

Was Elizabeth actually talking in the backseat? She was trying. And doing great, in her way, at the stage she is at. And I want to mother, wife, daughter, friend, sister, homemake, write… out of healing, out of renewal … not out of my perfect stressed-out expectations. Even if they are slow-going attempts at first.

What does that look like? It’s taking shape. It means sipping tea with my husband before I feel I need to clean up the kitchen. It means getting on the floor with Elizabeth…a lot. It means being okay with having an emotional day, a tired day, a stressed day. Knowing God has it all. For me it means being okay with not knowing everything that is to come.

That moment for me as we drove to see Santa at the mall was a reminder that I am at my best, when I let God reveal, heal, and love me how He wants to.

Because if truth be told – the fake fire is on because all day, in the cold of winter, when you’re at home alone… can be long and lonely.

And the soup? It’s in the only big pot I HAVEN’T burnt something in lately. Yeah. “New mother-multitasking” I call it 😉

And this post? It’s not perfect. But my daughter is waking, and I want to go mother AND write without having all the things done I wanted to.

Colossians 3:17 (Amplified) says, “Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

I want to do what is before me out of the renewed-love-for-the-gospel-heart that God has given to me – be it as a wife, mother, friend, or family member. Doing it in dependence on Him.

So crackle on dear fake fire, I can enjoy you just as you are.

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Down by the sea

It’s been 2am podcasts, reading a devo on my phone, or a verse here and there the past couple of weeks since Elizabeth arrived! This afternoon she was good and milk drunk so I warmed up this morning’s coffee, grabbed a couple of gingersnaps from the cookie jar, and snuggled under the fur blanket in our living room. There were floors to be cleaned, laundry to do, people to call… but I just needed a few minutes. Pippa curled up beside me, eventually snoring, and I laid into Mark 4, where I had left off about three weeks ago.

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I’m trying to revel in quality, not quantity these days. Mulling over a single verse or portion, rather than trying to digest a whole buffet of verses.  Asking myself, “what does this show me about Jesus, myself, my sin, his redemption….?” I’d rather walk away from 10 minutes with the Lord and have Him speak to me in the short quiet, than ravage through an hour of reading and walk away, patting myself on the back for doing my duty as my spirit remains unfilled.

As I reread Mark 4, asking myself, “What does this show me about Jesus?” I stopped and mulled over the first verse… “Again, he began to teach beside the sea. A very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.”

First off, why did Mark even bother putting in this minute detail? I let myself envision what this would look like…. hundreds of people gathering around Jesus as he edged closer to the tickling of the cold sea water.  Jesus wasn’t one to have a ‘bubble’ or not want people close, so why, I asked myself, did HE get in a boat away from the people? Why didn’t he just have his disciples push people back like security at a U2 concert? Back away, give him some room, let him speak people.

I quieted my heart, and this is what came to me… because Jesus responds to our hunger and always moves for OUR benefit. He never pushes us away, or makes our desiring seem like an unnecessary thing. He moves. He gets where we can hear him, see him, learn from him, in whatever way is best. And immediately my heart felt silenced with His love…

Sometimes when we feel he is moving away from us, the Lord is actually getting ready for us to see him better. Clearer. More profoundly than we ever have before.

And those few moments I had with God as Lizzie napped was all my soul needed for today. Manna for today. As we speak, she is still napping, the laundry is spinning, and my coffee is now cold. Oh well. My heart is full 🙂

 

 

 

10 little things we did in our home this year (that made a big difference!)

2015 has been a year of creating our home as husband and wife. I fell in love with cooking and hosting in ways I never thought I would. I’ve always loved making a place cozy and pretty (ask my parents!), but to have such a big space has been both daunting and delightful 🙂 It’s a work in progress that takes time, so I am learning.

But there have been a few simple, practical, and life changing things that we experienced or did around our home that I think are worthy of sharing. I could name many many more and go into great length about all the things we’ve learned this year, but as I wrote this out, this list got long enough!

Enjoy my little list of 10 things we did in our home that made huge impact…

#1 – We bought bikes

IMG_0443The last bike I ever owned was pink, with a banana boat denim seat. Yep, that was back in the farm days. In my adult life, I’ve never owned one, but for years have wanted to. In an effort to find something outdoors that we both liked and was easy to do almost anywhere, we went to SportChek in the spring and each bought a bike. We didn’t get high end ones, because for me, it’s mostly street and trails that I’m after.

On warm summer evenings, it was an easy way to get in some free quality time together, explore our new community, and get some exercise. Win, win, win and money well spent!

#2 – Read the book Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler, within the last year.

IMG_1823I couldn’t get enough of it, so I read it twice. I have been a Christian since I was about four-years-old, but never have I ever heard the gospel, Christ’s redeeming work and sovereignty so well explained as in this book. I’ve walked through a few years of untangling some false belief systems about myself that were more based on fear than faith, and to be honest, am still processing with the Holy Spirit areas of my life where my ‘good behaviour and nature’ was born out of fear. He talks in depth about our life ultimately being for God’s glory, and if so, then why would God ever leave you to your own devices as far as sanctification goes? His chapters on moralism, grace-driven effort, and how our churches can be led by the three b’s more than discipleship (butts, budgets, buildings), really hit home!  If you want to grasp the depth and grace of the gospel, then we totally recommend this book as a must!

#3 – Vinegar and water all-purpose spray

vinegar-bottleI know there is a BIG push to go all natural in our homes. DIY and simplify. And I’ll admit, I’m onboard that in some ways. But it takes time, trial and error, and money to get it right!  In an attempt to use less chemicals on everyday used areas, one simple thing I’ve done is mixed 1-1 vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and keep it under our kitchen sink. I use this for a counter top cleaner and a floor cleaner. And sometimes even in the bathrooms. It cleans like a dream and no nasty chemicals! Troy will often come in and smell vinegar everywhere and say, “You’ve been cleaning!” Now that I’ve got used to the lack of toxic smell, whenever I smell something like Vim or Spray ‘N Wash, I nearly gag. And now with baby coming, I am ever more mindful of chemical smells. Slowly but surely, I’d like to eliminate them all, but for now, my vinegar and water is a great inexpensive compromise!

#4 – Always kiss goodnight, and good morning

We’ve just always done it, and I love it. It connects us at the end of the day and at the start of the day. It reminds us that we’re a team, in this together. Try it, I’m sure you’ll love it!

#5 – Cut cable 

We found before summer that the main channels we watched were HGTV and maybe a sports channel. In an effort to find ways to trim our budget, we opted to keep Netflix, and cut our cable, which saves us now about $75 a month. We still watch what seems like enough TV (it’s a relaxer for us both!), but I like that we aren’t governed by what is on at a certain time. We can watch when we want, what we want.

 

#6 – DIY and thrifted finds

IMG_0824It’s no surprise if you’ve read my blog before, that we love to restore and repurpose and add our own touch to our home. We moved into this 2500 sq ft home last Christmas, and suddenly found ourselves with a lot of rooms and space to fill. Which we are still working on 😉 I’m not one to walk into a showhome and love it all usually. I find they lack character and personality. I love things that make a home particular to the ones that own it.

DIY and shopping on kijiji or garage sales are a great way to customize your home on a budget. Everything from our kitchen table to office desk, to coffee table have been refinished or built, along with many things on our walls. We are currently saving up for some new chairs, and we are super excited about NEW! 🙂 But for now, this has certainly helped us stay within budget and add our own touch to our home. You can read more about our home and thrifted finds in this post here.

#7 – Go for drives together

We realized something lately – we have the best conversations when we’re driving home from somewhere, the sun is setting or has set, and we’ve got time to kill. Just us and the wide open road. Some nights it’s been raining, and some nights have been beautifully warm. For whatever reason, driving inspires us to dream, talk deep and share our hearts. We’ve now joked that when baby comes, if we just need a date night, we’ll go for a drive! And hey, if you add ice cream to that then it’s even better 😉

 
#8 – Appreciation

IMG_1824It sounds so simple, but I think it’s had a profound effect on our first year of marriage and our home. A while back, I got these little notes through a newsletter subscription that I could print off and leave in a cupboard for us to fill out at whim. So we did. Leaving notes of ” God gave you…” or “I love it when you…” Or even the blank ones, that we would fill out whenever. But more than written notes, I find that a strength that Troy and I have cultivated is appreciating what each other brings to our marriage and home.

Troy is extremely hard working – a real man’s man. And this girly girl loves it! His heart near explodes when I tell him how thankful I am that I married him, that I love how hard he works for us, or when I recognize the heart and soul he’s put into a project. Likewise, Troy is over-the-top thankful for every meal I cook, how clean I keep the house, and for simple things I do like get the groceries. He thanks me.

It sounds so basic, but simple recognition and appreciation helps us both feel noticed and makes us want to do even more for the other!

 
#9 – Coconut oil

IMG_1822Seriously, Lord, well done. What an amazing creation! We have come to use coconut oil for everything from a cooking oil, lotion, lube (hey, let’s be honest!), polishing leather, in the dog’s water (fresh breath and soft coat), to oil pulling (makes me gag, so I can’t do it for long!). I can’t think of a purer product that has so many uses! We have found that Costco has the best price for the amount that you get.

 
#10 – Make decisions together

We just do it, naturally, and intentionally. Everything from how to spend our free nights together to finances – we talk about it all. I’m sure there’s some things that seem trivial, but I love that we just naturally consult with the other. I think it shows we care about what the other thinks, and that, again, we’re in this together. Neither of us has a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, and I do hope this is something we continue to cultivate over the years!

I hope you enjoyed my basic list of things that came top of mind that were simple and some deeper that have impacted our home this year!

Monday Minute: Give Him time

 

It was a rainy evening as we plowed through the highway puddles in his GMC truck. Troy and I had had a busy Saturday, and planned a date day for Sunday: brunch at a favourite bakery (reminiscent of Paris to me!) and massages.

As we drove home from dinner at his parents, I started to share about some of the heart work I feel the Lord has been doing. I’ve shared before, but over the past 2-3 years, the Lord has been bringing things from my head to my heart. The truth of the gospel and its complete and sustaining work has begun to take deeper root. And I just shared with Troy that that’s the one thing that has stood out to me the most out of all the teaching and reading and heart-searching we’ve been doing – is that God’s redemptive work is ongoing.

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I looked at Troy and said, “I knew God had saved me, but I think I felt like some of the sanctification was up to me.” Did I realize that? No. But some of my religious ways would testify that something was missing. Some things just hadn’t gone from my head to my heart. Only God can save AND change a heart. And when you finally start to realize this, you see both how far you have yet to go, but the weight of the journey is no longer on your shoulders. It’s actually so freeing!

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”

Saved. Stand. Being saved (sanctification!).

And yet even in that, I have days, or weeks, where I feel the Lord is distant. And all I can think to pray is, “Lord, I want to want you like nothing else. I want to desire you and crave You. More. But sometimes, I just don’t. My heart can be consumed with other things.”

Timothy Keller says that when we finally can admit that we want more of God but don’t know where to start and are just not where we want to be, that that is the start of faith, redemptive work. If we walk around thinking we’ve arrived and are living high on faith, then we just don’t get it. (my paraphrase) And I have to admit, I’d agree with him.

As Troy and I talked, we realized one of the biggest hindrances to growth is time. Time. Time with the Lord. Time in the Word. Time in letting Him do His work. We miss out on His redemptive work in us if either a) we don’t spend time knowing Him b) don’t give Him time to do His work in us

So as you start this week, I challenge you to give God more time. Daily. And progressively, as He does His redemptive work in you. Because I can guarantee that if you desire is for Him and you continue to move towards Him, not away, that He is at work, in ways we can hardly imagine.