Just a Minute devotional book cover release

Happy Monday everyone! We are gearing up for two weeks away as a family, but before we go, I wanted to release the cover of my devotional eBook/print book to be released in August.  I have struggled to write much of anything else lately, with this taking up most of my ‘free time’. But as it is now finished, I am so so excited to share it with you!

It’s 31 days of faith-filled blog posts over the past three years. As you read it, you will see the hand of God and His work through major transition in my life.

Who is it for? My writing primarily speaks to women, but I believe men can find life in it too. And this is for anyone in a transition stage of life and looking for gospel-filled hope and grace-filled truth of God’s Father heart… from my own life experience 😉

It will be available in both print and eBook versions, and I will share more information later in July.

To give you more insight into the book, I’ve included the introduction below…

JUST A MINUTE – INTRODUCTION

Change has been a constant in my life. When I got married at 33, I realized that I had never stayed in one place (house) for more than 2.5 years my entire adult life. From roommates, to moving for college, to living with my sister, then buying my own place, and living abroad, I feel like I have been constantly packing and unpacking.

But the one constant in my life has been Jesus. And it’s only been in these past three years of marriage and motherhood that I can honestly say I love Him deeper than ever through experiencing life’s biggest changes.

The Lord has taught me how to rest and abide in Him through all the transition. This book captures three years of blog posts written out of my quiet time – out of my minutes of seeking His presence as a new mother, or long moments over coffee and journal with the Lord.

I’m a firm believer that if we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8). And sometimes through all the craziness of life’s changes, all we need is a just a minute in His presence to reset and hear His voice.

As a new wife and mom, I know that my relationship with the Lord has changed and I’ve had to be flexible in learning new ways of meeting with Him. Whether it was singing Amazing Grace over my daughter as a newborn, or with 6:00am coffee before she woke up, His presence has changed me and sustained me.

Through the past few years of change, He has taught me and shown me the importance of abiding in Him, resting in His finished work, and ceasing from striving. I’m a planner and do-er, so this has not come easy! And while these are old blog posts written weeks and months a part, the work of the Lord was the same. Constant in His care, I began to learn how He really is good. From the beginning of our marriage, to now three years married with a toddler, you can be a witness to the process of healing and grace God has been doing in me. I certainly have not arrived, but God is at work, and there is hope in that. I pray that this book is a great encouragement to you, whatever season you find yourself in.

I challenge and encourage you, take just a minute, meet with Him, learn to know Him deeper, and you will be changed by His love. Guaranteed.

You can use this as a 31-day devotional, with each chapter laying out a scripture to meditate on. Or read through at whatever pace you are comfortable with. I pray you are encouraged to pursue something deeper with God after reading my story!

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Stay tuned later in July for a giveaway and more information on the upcoming release date! Have a great week everyone! I’m out for some much-needed holidays… xo

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A tale of two sisters: why you can love your personality

 

For much of my life, I wanted someone else’s personality. There. I said it. I recently did 16personalities.com and had the 1% of the population (rare), but was standing among the likes of Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, so that made me feel better. I am the ‘melancholy’, the feeler and peace-loving type. I often feel like everyone else is more ‘fun’ and I can’t even count how many conversations or boardroom discussions I have left kicking myself for not saying more. When I was single, I always thought I needed to be more fun and interesting to catch a guy. My personality type can be very hard on ourselves, with high standards, and a love for planning. Don’t we sound like fun?! 😉

That being said, I wouldn’t change my personality for anything (since God did this on purpose), and am slowly learning to give myself grace, lean into the strengths and give God my weaknesses for Him to redeem and do SOMETHING with (or leave them and let them rest in peace!).  Because I know even 1% of the personality population has something to contribute!

I think we all have a part of us that feels like we need to do or be something else to get what we want – even from the Lord. As though we need to be quieter, talk more, journal more, pray more… more more more. All these things are good. And in there right place. But you know what the beautiful thing is? No matter what our personality, or what season we are in, Jesus knows how to meet with us. And give us what WE need in OUR season.

Watch this story unfold… John 11. Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this, don’t quit on me now! The story…

Their brother had just died. DIED. They were some of Jesus’ closest friends. He ate at their table many times. Picture the kinds of friends who are really more like family. They were these people. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. We’ve heard that story of Mary at Jesus’ feet, and Martha in the kitchen preached multiple times (read Luke 10:38-42). Well, Jesus got word in John 10 that Lazarus was ill, and by the time He got to them, Lazarus had been gone for four days.

Seeing Him coming, Martha ran out to Jesus, first. With her heart shattered and grieving, she “went and met him” (John 11:10). She said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Her statement sincere, but questioning. Why weren’t you here when we needed you? Jesus’ response? Matter-of-fact. Hope-filled. Truth-spoken. Challenging. To me, that’s what Martha’s personality responds to. She was a do-er, a go-getter. A get things done kind of girl.

Then Jesus walks a little further, and Mary runs to Jesus and falls at His feet (vs32). But get this, she makes the same statement, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus saw her weeping, and all those with her, and was deeply moved. And then the shortest verse in the whole Bible, “Jesus wept”. (vs 35) Jesus was moved to tears at Mary’s heart; at the loss of his friend family. He knew the outcome, what was about to happen. Yet he was moved to tears. Mary was tender. Soft. I would imagine a romantic and extravagant with her show of love. And how did Jesus respond? With great compassion.

I read this the other day and it made me stop. Jesus is so beautiful.

You see friends. Family. Strangers. Whoever is reading this. God gave you your personality for a reason. There are great strengths in it that no one else has. Yes, there are “weaknesses”, but that is meant to make us lean in to God even harder. And the beautiful thing is, He knows EXACTLY how to talk to you. Converse with you. Relate to you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), but I believe that God made His children so diverse because He loves to show different facets of His love and heart.

And He knows how to get to you. Your personality is no mistake or accident. It is very much beautiful and important. And maybe, you just needed to hear that today. Whether you are straight-up hard-working Martha, tender Mary, or someone who feels dead in a cave like Lazarus, Jesus can and wants to speak to you  xo

 

My big sister: Mommy & Me photo session

Love. My sister, Rhonalyn, loves loves her family. When we were little, we used to race off the school bus to see who could get to the house the fastest to hold our new baby brother (I was 6 and she was 9 when he was born). We’d say, “I get to hold him first!” She always won. 😉

She is the kind of sister who worries about you when you’re away. Brings a gift for you when she sees you. Is extremely compassionate and very hard working. She has two teenage step-sons who were at school when we did this shoot, but they are like her own. And we love that they are a part of our family now too! But these girls. Lily and Ellie. They light up my sister’s world. These are a few photos we snapped when Elizabeth and I recently visited!

You hear my sister often before you see her. Her laugh precedes her.

She is the motorbike sister, I am the moped.

She is the spice, I am the sugar.

She says hot, I’d say cold. We couldn’t be more different, yet we love each other to bits, and are thrilled to be new mammas at the same time!

Sister, I love you. I know these aren’t the kind of photos you frame. They are the kind you keep tucked away in a book. And 20 years from now, when these girls are grown up and off to university or wherever… these are the kinds of photos you will look back on and think, “Those were our days that no one else saw. Just us. They were often hard. Joyful. Frustrating and noisy. Full of kisses and dirty diapers and talking to Jesus. But those days were worth it. Oh so worth it.”

Here’s to motherhood and the gifts from heaven our littles ones are xo

And then there’s real life… 😉

First things first: Getting rooted

 

I remember the moment very clearly, when I met my husband, Troy. We met online, and communicated for about 10 days before we met. I was standing in the middle of the gardens of a downtown park, at 9:30 on a hot summer morning. I was so nervous that my first words, other than “nice to meet you”, were “I have to pee!” We had never talked on the phone, so I wondered what his voice would be like. Thankfully, it was instant ease for both of us. We spent every free moment of the next five days together as I showed him my favourite places around the city, went to a Latino market, took him to church, and even met his mom and step-dad. Love grew as we spent time together, and it wasn’t long before we both knew we never wanted to say good-bye.

As my love for Troy grew, as I learned his character and heart, my trust in Him grew too. I knew he’d be a man that would protect, provide, and cherish me. I could see how he’d be a great Dad, and a man who would challenge and support me. As I spent time with him, the roots of love grew deeper, and my trust grew alongside that.

Trust grows as love deepens.

The greatest commandment that Jesus gave us was to love the “Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength (Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30-31, Deuteronomy 6:5).

For much of my life, I think I’ve tried to put trust before love. I tried to do and obey and be the good Christian girl I wanted and needed to be. I truly wanted Him, but something still felt missing. I’d ask myself, “Do I reaaaallly love Him? Like I want to?” When you live out of a ‘do-er’ heart, rather than a simple and beautiful love for Jesus, you can easily get swept up in religiosity, anxiety, comparison, and all things that are works and striving motivated.

Then enters grace.

As my prayer has turned more to, “Reveal Yourself to me, Lord” and asking Him to help me to love Him for Him, and not what He can do for me, I find that my heart is changing to, “But I WANT to obey and trust Him, BECAUSE I love Him so much.” He is changing my heart to love Him, on the good days and the hard days. And in the meantime, he is removing the weight of all the things that I often add to our relationship 😉

In Ephesians 3:17-19 we read, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

That phrase “rooted and grounded” refers to building a house. If you look at the cross-reference for grounded (BlueLetterBible.org is a great resource!), it refers to where Jesus was talking about building our house on a rock – Jesus! (Matthew 7:24-25, Luke 6:48)

I planted some parsley and some pansies this week. We went to this beautiful greenhouse and café for Family Day, and I was just itching to buy some seeds and plant something. When we got home, I was ready to dive in to the dirt, and just get it done. But I chose to research how to grow parsley inside, and it suggested to soak the seeds overnight, thus speeding up the normally slow germinating process. I decided to go the route that would give me the best seeds, rather than what was quick. It sounds small, but for me to wait, to take the time to do it right, is evidence of God working in my heart to submit to processes so that roots can go down deep! Small progress, right?!

We were created to love and enjoy Jesus. There will be so many things in this life that vie for that attention, but we must start here, or everything else is a struggle.

Jesus wants us to know Him, to love Him, AND to trust Him. But let’s start by letting Him reveal Himself. Start by waiting in His presence, getting rooted. Start by studying His character, His heart. Put aside everything we think we need to do to become who He wants us to be. And let Him change our hearts first, to ground us in Him. And watch trust flow naturally out of that changed and rooted heart.

Monday Minute: He delights

 

Her little head lay on the pillow; cozy and just five-days-old, like an angel floating on a cloud. Our photographer graciously allowed us to hover and do what we needed to do as new parents. This was as foreign to us as it was to our little girl. How do we do this? Some parenting comes naturally, and the rest, I am learning, you figure out along the way. But the one thing that just comes without effort?

Love. It’s there in amounts beyond measure.

I’m generally an ‘exact’ person. I like to know what’s expected, what the recipe calls for so to speak. If it says “1 cup pressed flour” I know that I have to tamp it. But if it says “1 cup loose flour” say, that means scoop and throw it in.

But love, it can’t be measured – loose or tamped. It can’t be contained; doesn’t run out. It keeps growing, like a fig tree with roots that get deeper and deeper as the years pass.

That day? He could’ve popped a button he was so proud. Troy stood over the photographer as she tucked and propped our little girl into the perfect angelic position. I stood back, watching it all, capturing the moment. New Daddy or not, he was in love with his little girl.

As she grows, we both have commented on how much we are enamored and in love with our daughter. She doesn’t have to do anything special, she’s just ours and that’s enough. We look at pictures and videos of her after she has gone to bed. We delight in her because she is our daughter, before she does anything special or loves us back. In a heartbeat, we will do whatever it takes for her to grow and become all that God has destined for her.

Delight would be an appropriate word. We delight in her. And as the days and months pass, it makes me think how Father God feels about me. Yet it’s beyond the scope of what we feel for Elizabeth, a love that we can experience, but surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). And like friends told me, you can’t really grasp it until you have your own. I now understand the mama-bear, panic-gripped, tear-stinging, heart-jumping, joy-filled love that you only experience as a mommy or daddy.

We are there for her. Will there be days when we make decisions she doesn’t like? You betcha. Will there be discipline and ways we love her that don’t feel like love at the moment, but are for her good? Yep. Hard days, I’m sure. With love as the driving force, we will train her up in the way she should go (Proverbs 22:6). And cover her with our delight.

This picture of peace, of rest, as Daddy watches… let it be a reminder today of how much God is for you. How much He is there, loving, ready in a heartbeat to catch you if you fall. Ready to train you, delight in you; yes to challenge and cause you to grow. But, all in love.