Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Me Today


I read something this week that bothered me, though I know it to be true. It was about social media and the fact that we only portray the parts of our world that we want to – which is, of course, a hundred thousand billion percent true.

I only tell you what I want you to know.

The article went on to talk about the sunshine factor and how our portrayal was only good. How we put our best foot forward and only talk about the pretty, shiny things in our lives. It was at this point that I wanted to jump up and down and yell, “Nuh huh!”

C’mon, how many times have I told you what an awful job I was doing at something, how I dropped the parenting ball again, how I didn’t make my kid a homemade birthday cake and how I was feeling insecure about everything? Need more – dig through the archives.

So while yes, I choose what I put forward – don’t we all, in all facets of our lives? Just because we see each other face to face doesn’t mean we’re being any more truthful – does it? We can all look pretty put together and plaster on a smile if that’s what we want the world to see, whether it’s online or over coffee.

I was chatting with my son last night, one who is much like me on many levels, and his very unrefined comment was that he couldn’t stand people who were happy all the time. The people who laugh too loud and are always grinning and who always look like they just stepped out of a magazine.

While his judgement is too broad and sweeping – I understood his heart in the matter. And I could nod my head along with his reflections as he talked of people who put forth the perfect life and the perfect kids and who probably sing kumbaya each night together.

Again – unfair, and yes I talked to him about judging people when we don’t know their story but I also heard him. And I agreed with him. I don’t function well under a facade. I don’t live well behind a mask. Yes, I might share too much sometimes but I’d rather the vulnerability of that than the stress of trying to be something I could never be. And something I’m not expected to be. And a picture of someone who doesn’t need Jesus because I’ve got it all together all by themselves. Trust me, I’ve got nothing together by myself.

So with that – I’m here to tell you exactly about how I am. Right now.

There are a few avenues I’m pursuing that are giving me life and joy and passion right now. I love the work that I do. I get to be part of a team that’s goal is to bring help and hope to every marriage and family – it’s an honour.

And I often feel completely incapable. Like I’m winging it amongst professionals and somehow I’ve duped them into thinking I have a handle on it all. I don’t. I’m doing my best and using my gifts but it’s rare that I don’t feel a bit in over my head – at least at some point in my week.

I’m a really great at home mom. Before you hate me for saying those words, let me explain. When my kids get home from school – and we get to sit around on kitchen counters and talk and laugh and discuss our days over random snacks pulled out of various cupboards – I’m a great mom. When it comes to my kids handing me papers to fill out from school, things that are expected of me, having structured homework time and studying for tests – I’m a horrible mom. Don’t argue with me. You have no clue, and it’s true. I expect my kids to do their homework on their own, study on their own, and I’ve never really instilled in them a, ‘let me sit and help you and we’ll get through this together’ vibe. Instead I say things like, “that’s your responsibility and if you need help you need to talk to your teacher.” I love school. I just don’t love doing my kids school. It feels like a lot of work and I pass the buck to their dad or anyone else who may be able to help. I fear I haven’t set them up well for future education.

I’ve been led into a new area of ministry over the past few months and it got real last night as I went for volunteer training at our local federal prison. I don’t know how to explain it but having done prison ministry many (many!) years ago, it felt good to be back within the gated yard and buzzered doors. Everyone is called to different things and somehow I feel like these are my people. These are the women I want to be around. Not to change them or turn them into versions of me but to get to know, to be a face that wants to hear their story, to let them know that they are valuable and worthy of dignity and respect. My heart longs for them to know deeply that they are image bearers of Christ and nothing they have done can keep them from His love. I want them to know that I’m not judging them or coming in with preconceived notions of who they are, but rather – just like on social media – they can present themselves as whomever they wish to be, no judgement, no shame, and no matter what I will be back. I want them to know that I’m not a voyeur wanting an inside scoop on what they’ve done but instead for them to know that they have support from someone outside of those walls.

Think that sounds all good, right? Right. Except I’ve been neglecting my husband as of late. So whatever picture you had of me and sainthood? You can just put a big X through my face. He’s a grown up and so I tend to think he needs me the least. I tend to think he can manage on his own. (which, of course, he can) When life gets busy or other things are more urgent – he’s the first to have to take a back seat with my time and my affection. It sucks for him. Or – I think it does. Cause somehow preparing food for Thanksgiving meals becomes more important than spending time with him, and ministry outside of the home can seem more gratifying than loving him well, and because I know that he’ll be there next week – other imminent things win over putting work into our relationship. And let’s be honest – a working mama with 3 teens and an outside ministry? She’s tired.

I’m also not nailing meals – if you really want to know. Last night was turkey soup (thank you – leftovers) and grilled cheese eaten on the fly and without a vegetable in sight.

I’m pretty sure I said something mean about one of our neighbours yesterday. Like, out loud. And I went in public last week in the clothes I slept in the night before. And I don’t understand the pumpkin spice phenomenon. And I want to bury my head in the sand and not hear another word about American politics for as long as I live and I’m praying Jesus just comes before we know who makes it into office.

There you have it, folks. 1,200 words of your time that you can never get back.

I never want to just put forth the pretty or the good, but I also know I can err on laying out the bad in a way that is unrepentant for it but just laughs because #momfail – neither is good or right. And dare I say this could be a place where the internet gets a bit honest? I think so.

When my kids were in their younger schooling years they had to do something called 3 stars and a wish. They had to basically write down 3 things they were good at and then one thing they hoped to be better at. It annoyed me because I had to help them.

But now I’m thinking it’s kind of awesome. My 3 stars today are this – taking a leap on a new ministry that I feel quite unqualified for, managing to raise 3 boys and keep them alive for so many years and saying no to a few things that I REALLY wanted to say yes to but knew would just take too much from other things I was already committed to. Yay, me!

My wish? That veggies would find their way back to our table beyond the form of baby carrots and that my husband would move back up the veritable list on things of importance. He’s the most important and he needs to know it.

Warning: these could all change by tomorrow!

What are you nailing these days? Tell me your 3 stars and a wish!

This Love Affair Needs to End


If you don’t love coffee as much as I do, I’m not sure you’ll understand what I’m about to say. I mean, I guess there are other things you could love besides coffee – like tea or whatever – but I just don’t think it will hold the same weight.

I love coffee so much that people think I drink a lot of it, but I don’t. It’s just one cup in the morning and that’s it. This might be part of why I love it so much. I don’t overdo it. I never get bored of it. It’s just there for me each morning.

Ask me if I want a cup in the evening and I’ll say no. But you will set my mind to dreaming about the next morning and how I can’t wait to go to sleep so I can wake up and have a cup. I’ve clearly digressed…

My husband, bless his heart, agreed to one of my hair-brained ideas a month back. See, he gets migraines and I can’t help but think that there’s some sort of food trigger behind it. Y’know – having zero med-school experience I feel like I can call these sorts of things. So,  I decided doing an elimination diet might help us figure out what the trigger is and for some crazy reason he agreed and I said I would do it alongside him.

This is all fine and dandy cause I enjoy hitting the heath reset button every now and then so getting rid of processed foods and all things white from our diet wasn’t really a stretch, or even hard. We’ve done it slowly and steadily, taking sugar out and then flour and dairy and it’s all been fine. But guys, this week – like tomorrow – we’re supposed to eliminate coffee!

I started thinking about it last week because I thought I should probably prep myself. Y’know, start weaning my body off of my morning coffee by drinking less and less each day so that I wouldn’t shock my system. But each morning as I let the liquid gold pour into my cup, I couldn’t stop myself from pouring it all the way to the top.

I mean, it’s not that I couldn’t. It’s just – I didn’t want to!

Because it’s not just the caffeine and it’s not just the flavour it’s the whole package. It’s the process and the ritual. It’s waking up to a quiet and dark house and walking to the kitchen by myself. It’s the silence broken by the grinding of the beans and the beautiful smell that unearths. It’s the way the process unfolds without having to even think about it. Click button, pour cream, steam to 160 while beans grind. Scoop grounds, grab mug, push next button to start the espresso shots. Fill cup to just the right spot, pour in cream, wipe everything down and flick on the fireplace. Sit on couch, put feet up on coffee table, hold mug – which is the perfect weight, shape and handle size for my hands – and sip in the silence.

Yes, the coffee itself is delicious. But it’s not just the coffee. Who would want to give up all of that?

It got me thinking about my morning habits and how passionately I do not want to give them up. I wondered if I would feel the same about anything else. I wondered if I had to give up reading my bible for a week  if I would fight it even a quarter of how much I’m fighting giving up my morning coffee. I wonder if I wouldn’t shrug and just think – okay, it’s just a week. No big deal.

I want to love my time with the Lord as much as I love my morning coffee habit. I want to feel as deeply about it, as drawn to it. I want to think about it in the evening and start to dream about how great it will be, and how I can’t wait to get up in the morning so I can spend time with Jesus. I want to be passionate about it. I want to tell people about it cause it’s the greatest part of my day and I just don’t know how I’d get through without it.

I want it to be my greatest habit. My addiction. My place of pleasure. The thing I yearn for, the time I can’t wait to get to.

When I think about comparing Jesus to coffee it seem ludicrous. Of course they’re not even fit for the same scale of measurement. But the truth of it is, I think I care way more about giving up my coffee. Because if I happen to skip a morning of bible reading it’s no big deal. I just shrug and move on and know I can get to it the next day.

What if I couldn’t shrug it off, though? Cause I don’t want to be able to. What if nothing could keep me from it like nothing can keep me from my coffee. It doesn’t matter what I have going on in the day, how early I have to be up or what the day holds, I fit my coffee in first and foremost.

I wish I could say the same thing about my time with Jesus. That nothing could get in the way. But kids wake up early or work has to get done or something comes up and that time of bible reading and prayer in the morning is often the first to go. I won’t skip my make-up. I won’t skip doing my hair. (okay sometimes I do, but I still make sure the hat looks okay) I won’t skip putting time into what I’m wearing and  I certainly won’t skip my coffee. But I will skip my time in the Word.

God is teaching me things through the elimination of food. He’s showing me what my treasures are and where I invest my time. He’s making it very clear that He isn’t always my greatest desire but I told Him this morning –  I want Him to be. Above coffee, even. I’m repenting of the ways that I can sluff Him off because I know He’ll be there when I get to Him. It’s true, He will be there – but He wants the first position of my heart, not the leftovers. I’m asking Him to help me get there.

And – I’m giving up coffee. But just until it matters a bit less.


Saturday Morning Rituals


Sugar cereal and cartoons were the mark of my Saturday mornings growing up. It’s never been the same for my kids as we didn’t have cable for the first 10+ years of their life, but we have some rituals nonetheless! We call it Documentary Saturday.

There are so many amazing documentaries on Netflix even if your kids are little. We started off watching many of the nature, animal or geography ones about our earth. Now that they’re older we’ve branched out into politics, art, government and so on.

Of course, we know that every documentary has a slant. The storyteller is coming at it from their worldview and this has spearheaded many interesting conversations amongst our family. Whether its evolution or conspiracy theories or that time we accidentally started one about a performance art project where all of the models were naked! Oops! (Thankfully the opening scene showed all and I screamed “look away, look away!” and that was the end of that. ha)

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Most Saturday mornings you can find us curled up with cups of coffee or bowls of cereal taking in whatever happens to jump out at us that day under the documentary genre. We’ve learned a lot from it and it’s exposed my kids to things I simply couldn’t teach them on my own.

I thought I’d share a few of our favourites!

Exit Through the Gift Shop

This is an insider’s look at the world of street art and artists. It offers a look at some pretty quirky lives as well as a peak into the world of artists/criminals. Because tagging and graffiti is against the law it gave our family lots to talk about but also opened up this interesting art form as an actual art form. Graffiti isn’t just done by thugs looking to cause trouble. It’s actual artists with actual talent and actual motives – whether right or wrong. This was one of our favourites and we would definitely recommend it, specifically if you have teens – the twists are fantastic and we sure didn’t see them coming!

Food documentaries are some of my faves as I try to make sense of the world, the rise of allergies, the way our food is processed and what my family is eating. These documentaries are so good to watch along with your children – to open their eyes a bit to what they are actually eating and begging for. Watching these as a family have been game changers for us. I no longer have to be the bad guy always laying down the law on the food we buy and don’t buy – but our kids are educated and I can let them help make decisions.

We had been at the grocery store on a Friday and my boys asked if we could buy grape juice. I said no (juice isn’t something we do) and they argued that the label said it was 100% real fruit and no sugar. I stuck to my guns and left with disgruntled children. The next Saturday morning we just happened to watch Sugar Coated and they spoke exactly to the same grape juice that my boys had been wanting the day before. They talked of labeling and marketing and how much sugar was actually in the juice though it said no sugar with an asterisk! Talk about perfect reinforcement to my parenting!

Black Fish

Not exactly a nature story but an interesting look at whales in captivity and some of the stories behind the deaths of trainers. Before watching this, I had no idea about these stories, even though a famous moment happened right in our backyard in Victoria! I wouldn’t watch this with young children as some of the footage is shocking but again, for teens, it’s a great thing to watch and discuss as they form their own worldview and opinions on these sorts of matters around us.

The Human Experiment

This was our latest Saturday watch and it made me both irate and passionate for change. It was nothing I didn’t already know but confirmed so many things about the business behind chemical corporations. It shows us what’s going on in our food, in our beauty products, in our furniture and paint. It shows us what’s going on in congress and who is actually fighting for safety. It shows us some families dealing with the repercussions of toxin build up in the body. I’ll be writing more on this one soon – but I’m too riled up just now! ha

Born Into Brothels

This oft hard-to-watch documentary gives us a glimpse into the lives of the children in Calucutta’s red light district. The work they do, the way they’re treated, the streets they run down and what they know about what their mama’s do is all a bit much for a heart like mine but it’s also stuff I need to know. This documentary is the story of a photographer who moves in amongst these children of prostitutes and teaches them the art of photography. It’s a beautiful picture of someone who cares as well as what can happen when kids are taught something and know a different way of life. As well as, what doesn’t happen – while my heart wanted each child to adopt this new way of life they were shown, of course they don’t all choose it.

I would totally encourage your family to hop onto Netflix and find some documentaries that will open your eyes to new things! Whether it’s new animals, new ways to cook or new insight into this world we live in – documentaries are a great way to spend time together and open up lots of great conversation.

What ones have you watched and loved? What should we check out next?

A few other faves to check out:

Living on One Dollar


Craigslist Joe


Talking to Our Kids About Pornography


Pornography is something that we don’t even want to think about, let alone consider talking to our kids about. But when we open our eyes to the world around us, the digital world in particular, we simply can’t be ignorant about it.

Sexually explicit content is everywhere. Whether it’s the lyrics to a song on the radio, the massive posters at the mall, or right in our very own homes via tv and internet. Thinking that we can avoid it would mean hunkering down in a cave and never embarking out into culture.

Of course that’s not realistic, nor is it sensible. We can’t hide from the world or what’s in it for many reasons but a key one being that our kids certainly aren’t hiding from it! Having a plan to face the culture we encounter is critical. We’re wise when we work to ensure our kids have a plan, as well.

*I’m over at FamilyLife Canada today talking about some great resources for parents in order to help protect their kids from pornography, resources to help you talk to your kids about it and how to make a plan both for you and your child for when they see it. (Unfortunately, it’s not IF anymore, friends.) Read the rest of the article here.

Public School + Love + Stretching the Soup [and a winner!]


I worry about my teens being in public school. But only sometimes. It’s usually on the nights when my mind gets the best of me and I concoct all sorts of random happenings in my head, none of which have ever come close to occurring. My thoughts get the better of me at times and run rampant all around my head and I can’t help but lie awake thinking that my kids are for sure going to do horrific things because they’re clearly surrounded with horrific people. Because – public school.

And while yes, they’ve been offered drugs and been told exactly how to take them, it’s true. And there was the time they were on lockdown because of a gun scare, sure. And no, they don’t go to prayer meeting at lunch time but sit around and talk nonsense with their friends. Because – public school.

We very intentionally chose public school for our kids and while I know it’s not for everyone, it is for us, even amidst the drugs and lockdowns. (I’m not here to debate schooling styles but simply talk about our choice. You can make your choice and I’ll be your biggest fan!)

Public school for us was a simple way that we could be involved in our community and quite easily get to know families who are different from us. As a christian it’s all too easy for me to surround myself with people who look and talk and think just like me. Public school pushes us out of that in a way that I’m not sure we could do otherwise and while each day is a struggle for the balance between loving it and worrying about it, I know it’s right for our family for right now. But I’m getting sidetracked…..

I got a text today at exactly the moment that school got out.  Mom can some friends come over?

As parents we have choices to make in these moments. Big choices, I think. Because my mind flashed to the beautiful floors I’d vacuumed and mopped only hours earlier. And I thought about the dinner that I didn’t have made yet. I lingered for just a second on the fact that I’d have to drive all these kids home later tonight and that they’d hog all the good snacks and monopolize the tv.

For all of these reasons it would be so easy to say no. No, not today. How about another day because, y’know, the floors?! No, it won’t work right now because I haven’t made dinner and at this point I don’t even know what it will be. No, I’m tired. No, I just don’t want all the noise. No, it might inconvenience me. No, it will use up my time.

I contend, however, that love says yes. Love says yes when it’s inconvenient and yes when we’re tired and yes when we have no idea what we’ll feed them. Love goes out of it’s way for others at a cost to ourselves. Love gives and serves and says come over, yes, be with me. Love says our home is open and who cares about the floors, you’re more important. Love says dinner will find it’s way. Love casts all of those other thoughts aside, the ones that all revolve around me and my comfort and my ease and my luxury. Love reaches out and gives and shares and doesn’t consider the cost.

Or at least that’s what the love of Jesus looks like.

I posted a photo on Instagram today and I mentioned that we were changing a room in our home. It’s been a spare bedroom for four years now as we’ve waited to be approved as a foster home. But after four years and no answers I posted that we’re moving on. We’re changing the room and we’re realizing that foster care is certainly not happening for us.

I got so many messages of love and care and encouragement for our family. I guess I didn’t realize that, of course, this was news to my insta-tribe though of course we’ve thought it through over 4 years now and this conclusion is something we’ve known for months.

It doesn’t come with sadness for us, this ending of a plan. Some disappointment, maybe, but even that can’t last because we know that we only want to be where God wants us and if He’s not paving the way into foster care then there really isn’t much we can do.

I was reading these lovely thoughts and messages from so many people and feeling a bit bad. People were sad for us, and I get that and I’m thankful but also, I turned around to see 7 teenagers around my table that I was feeding. Two more randomly showed up along the way. I saw them gulping down the chicken and rice soup that I prayed would stretch far enough. I heard them laughing as they took another helping of salad. I got to sit down beside them and engage with them about life and school and friends and what it all looks like for them as they gorged themselves on garlic parmesan buns I sort of threw together. I can’t be sad about foster care when I’ve got this whole other thing happening right here, right in my home, right before my eyes.

It’s moments like this that my worry about public school goes clear away and I know that we made the right choice for our family. I can’t see any other way that I would have 9 amazing teens that come from so many backgrounds and world views and life circumstances in my home on a random Monday afternoon. I can’t see any other way that I would be practicing hospitality in my home, often daily, to those who have never heard the love of Christ before. How else would I get the chance to love on a group of misfit teenagers with blue hair and band t-shirts and language that I have to correct at times for the sake of the youngest.

It’s okay that we’re not fostering. There are a million ways to love people. There are a million ways to show people who are different from us that it doesn’t matter if you’re pierced and have no idea what to do when we pray – you’re welcome here. Please come over, sit at the table with us and eat, talk, laugh. There’s room for you here in our home and at our table. You don’t have to look like us or think like us to be here. You don’t have to like the same music and movies as us to be our friends. We just want to know you, just as you are.

When my son asked if he could have friends over I said yes. His next immediate question was – how many? All of them, I answered.

What a privilege it is that these kids want to be in our home. Want to take over our sofa all lounging and sprawling all over each other. Want to eat our food though it’s nothing more than soup and there isn’t a sugary beverage in sight. What an honour it is to share our home, our time and all that we have.

My table was full, my dishwasher is fuller and my heart is the fullest of all.

Say yes. Because love is an action that we’re called to do and there is joy in the doing. Guaranteed you’ll forget about the floors and you won’t even remember you were tired because love fills us up and overflows our hearts and gives us what we need when we practice it.

[Winner of the book giveaway, Falling Free by Shannan Martin, is Laura Luyt! Yay!]

New Years in September + What I’m Working On



You all know by now that I consider September my New Year, right? It’s the time I set goals, make changes, reminisce about the past and look to the future! I mentioned this at work the other day. The office was full for the first time in a long time after summer vacations, and working from home cause kids are there, and all of the other things that July and August bring. Everyone seemed to agree that September feels new and fresh and next time we should decorate with banners and noise makers! My kind of people!

I know some people choose words for their year (something I’ve never been intuitive enough to do) and others make grand goals. I know myself well enough to know that none of these are a good idea.

If I choose a word I’ll want to change it mid-stream or I’ll taint everything that happens against it or for it. Neither of which is healthy, obviously.

Say I choose “brave” for example. I’ll do everything. Every. dang. thing. Thinking that this is how one is brave. Or, if I do nothing I’ll be mad at myself for not living up to the word. It’s just too much pressure, people.

Plus, I tend to buck against trends and this whole word thing has just gotten out of hand.


What I do along with my fam is look back at the last year. We talk about the things that were awesome and we keep at those. We talk about the places we lacked and how we might adjust to make them better. We talk about character traits we need to work on (patience has been mine for 4 years running and I’m pleased to announced it’s finally moved on and kindness, bless its heart, has taken its place!)

These are the things we’re adjusting around our home this New Year. Most of them aren’t lofty, because we know better. They’re doable, fit with our life and yet challenge just enough to keep us moving forward!


Get Back to Better Eating:  After a summer of s’mores it’s a good time to reign in the sugar consumption and meals on the fly and get back to well rounded dinners and sitting together at the table. I love the spontaneity and simpleness of summer meals but I’m also excited to get back to real cooking and chatter around the table.

Fall Cleaning:  I know most of you get at this in the spring but we’re such summer lovers around here that by the end of it the house is chaos, rooms are disastrous and sand is everywhere! I wish I’d taken a picture because I didn’t tell my kids to clean their room once this summer. It was a nightmare. So I committed to going through every closet, cupboard, and drawer. Getting rid of what’s no longer needed, no longer fits or was just a dumb purchase. (Hey – it happens!) I wiped everything out, vacuumed all the corners and got all rooms back to where they should be – with the help of my family, of course!

Keep Momentum towards Safe Products:  You all know that it’s important to me to know what’s in our food, what we clean our house with and what we put on our bodies. It seems like just when I get to where I want to be with it all, I learn something new! But I love that. It means that we don’t ever get stagnant but keep learning and growing and changing our ways to be better and smarter. I’m thankful for the friends around me who are further along on this path than I am (you know who you are!) and I’d encourage you to find one too! If you’re just starting to make changes to safer products it can feel overwhelming and a friend is sure to help you keep it less daunting. My motto has always been change what you can – even one thing can make a difference. One thing this year, one thing next – over time adds up to a lot of changes and healthier, safer living! (If this interests you and you want to make changes you can find my all-purpose cleaning recipe here, how we changed the way we eat here and the beauty products I use here)

Create Space for Non-hectic Homework time:   We generally start out strong in September but somewhere around November life gets a little crazy and we forget about the important things. Somehow I find myself barking out on the way to bed, “Does anyone have homework?” Of course if they do, it’s the worst time to start it and generally everyone is frustrated and near tears by the end. My kids hate coming straight home and doing it after being in school all day and I agree! They need to get outside, get some air and destress after their days. But we also need not wait until the very end of our days. I’m not sure what this will look like just yet but I’d love your suggestions! In the meantime, we’re working on an office revamp to create more space for my hubs working from home, and also a quiet space for homework. More on that once it’s done!


Work on Voice Tones:  From the time my kids could speak we’ve been talking about voice tones in our house. We left zero room for whining as it made my mind want to explode. As they got older we had to work on angry tones and sarcastic tones and disrespectful tones – so this is nothing new to our home. It turns out, however, that I have a tone that my kids don’t like. It was brought to my attention recently that a certain tone makes them feel belittled. *ouch* It’s not what I meant them to feel, but I can see that it was a bit of a persuasive and commanding tone that questioned their motives and intentions. I don’t know where they got belittling from. (ahem) So, I’m working to change it. I’m thankful they could express it to me and I never want them to feel like I’m shaming them or making them feel less than human.

What are you changing, shifting or adjusting this season? Tell me, tell me, tell me!!

’twas the night before back to school


It’s the eve before the whole back to school deal and I’m always left feeling so torn. I love having my kids home so stinkin’ much. I love calmer mornings and eating food that doesn’t have to be packed in a bag. I love my people near. Though I admit, a few times this summer they all got a bit too near and mama needed some space!

But we’ve chosen public school for our kids for our own reasons and I know you choose the type of school your kids do for yours. We all know our kids best and what their lives need and I won’t question your choice for a second and I know you won’t raise an eyebrow at mine either. Cause you guys are the coolest.

But here we are, backpacks packed and P.E. wear ready. Hearts challenged and minds made up and we’re kinda sorta ready to do this thing.

I’m sure no matter what type of school your kids do there are challenges. We simply know the ones of public school and they can be vast. So tonight weights my heart just a little and tomorrow morning when they all head back I have a little ritual that I do.

I wrote about it a few years ago on my hardest year sending my kids back.

I wanted to touch on it again because it’s become a beautiful gift to me and my kids all through the year.

On the first day of school I block off an hour to pray. I drop everyone off in their proper places and then I choose a spot near to the school (often walking the track or around the school neighbourhood) and I pray specifically for each boy and the year they will have.

I pray for the relationships that will be deepened or newly formed. I pray for their teachers and their coaches and their principals. I pray for safety in that place for every student and I pray for wisdom for my boys. I pray that they’ll hold fast to the things we’ve taught them in terms of drugs and parties and alcohol and driving and all of the potential dangers that may be offered them. I pray for relationships with girls that may form and that they would be honouring and right in the eyes of God, that my boys actions and words would only be respectable and good. I pray that in that place, the halls, the gym, the change rooms, the classes, sitting around the art tables or walking around outside that they would be challenged, that they would be strong and courageous, that they would stand – always – for what they believe.

This time sets us up for the entire year. Because when hard things come along, I talk about how I prayed that they would be challenged and how we also prayed for wisdom and maybe this is just that moment. When new friendships are formed I remind them that we prayed for that and we give the thanks to Jesus for all of them. When conflicts arise with teachers or hard moments and choices come when they’re with their team, they can remember that they have a mom (and dad!) who have prayed for these very moments.

It’s simply a way to start the year with Christ as the centre. Of course, we pray for them all through the year, but I want them to know that on these big days, we’re setting aside even more time. When events in their life are happening we want them to do the same and learning by example is the best tool we can offer.

I’m sure you have your own things that you do, but if you don’t – start one! I know you’ll be so glad that you did. It doesn’t have to be like mine – though feel free to use it – but you can also make it yours. Year to year I look forward to this time and the tradition of it and committing the school year to God in my own little way.

New Neighbours + Awkward Social Skills + A Giveaway!


Things in my life always seem to come at me over time. Like wave after wave rolling onto the shore, the repetition finally seeping in to my soul.

I’m a stubborn girl who thinks she knows best most of the time and I need the pounding waves on my rocky shores to smooth me slowly and repeatedly and over much time.

I’m sure you learn the first time. I’m sure you listen when others speak. I know for sure that you perk up your ears and change your ways immediately at the words of Jesus.

I wish I did. But alas, I’m slow to learn and slower to change. I need a repeat button in my life and I’m unendingly grateful that the Lord offers me one in His ever-so-gracious and patient way. (I could definitely take some parenting tips from his ways…)

The lesson over time has been an easy one to hear and a hard one to put into practice. It’s so simple to listen to the words saying that we should love our neighbour, but right alongside the expert in the law, the self-justifier, the one who wants to be let off the hook easy I say, “But who is my neighbour?”

I can convince myself that my family is most important and loving my husband well comes first. I can speak of time pressures at work and how that’s an important ministry in itself. And yet all of these, while right and noble, don’t let us off the hook when it comes to Jesus specific words. His second command. On one side we have that we are to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. And right cozied up next to those words, which we deem all important, are the words love your neighbour.


John Piper, who always says things excellently had this to say,

The second commandment seems to me to be an overwhelming commandment. It seems to demand that I tear the skin off my body and wrap it around another person so that I feel that I am that other person; and all the longings that I have for my own safety and health and success and happiness I now feel for that 0ther person as though they were me.

Right. *crickets*

That’s a little hard to hear for a self driven culture and my self driven….well, self.

I started praying for our neighbourhood months ago. I know by now that I ought to be careful what I pray for because often times we’re actually given what we ask. We don’t know our neighbours. We’re the newbies on the block. No one really introduced themselves when we moved in and we just sort of fell into our small streets ways of mind your own bees wax and just waving sort of cordially as we pass each other.

So I prayed. That was the first thing. What stirred my heart for this was just my normal bible reading. The words leaping off the page and moving my heart and causing me to think about how we’re operating with those who live, literally, right beside us.

Then I was sent a book. Shannan Martin’s words in these precious pages she’s written cut daggers into my heart, made me cry quiet tears and at times left me feeling sucker punched. She holds no bars and yet she is gracious and kind.

I read words like this;

Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted is the very drumbeat of my soul, that in God’s eternal kingdom where down is actually up, His more for us often looks like less.

I sat and wrote it all down, the pain, the relief, the rescue and the freedom. I pleaded for the courage to tell the truth about finding the life I was created for in the rubble of the one that had kindly been dismantled, beam by beam. It turns out, we weren’t made to want what the world craves.

This is my back-alley redemption story,  and we continue to grow and fail. We over-complicate and default to pride. We commit the most cringe-worthy faux pas in the history of ever while standing in our kitchen trying so hard (too hard!) to “love” our neighbor. (< spoiler alert) But when we run hard toward the pain around us, we discover more of the foolish love of God, who owed us none of these unexpected gifts, but gave them anyway.


Her words were the second or third wave of what Christ has been teaching me. They came at a perfect time. That perfect time is in the midst of this housing market boom where people are selling and buying and snapping up whatever they can to hold their family. It’s been a bit crazy around here and 3 of the houses right in our little space have new neighbours moving in.

I feel God giving us a do-over. I feel him saying – you’ve been praying for this neighbourhood and for ways to love your neighbours. Well, guess what – you aren’t the new kids on the block anymore but all of these new families are. What are you going to do about it?

What AM I going to do about it?

Wave 16 or 17 came this morning from our church that we love so much. As our pastor from Pakistan spoke about cultural barriers we erect in our minds that tend to justify why we don’t engage our neighbours. The ways we let ourselves off the hook in terms of what Jesus is calling us to.

We don’t speak the same language, or we don’t cook the same foods. How can we communicate when our lives are so different and there are no connecting points to be seen for miles? Surely God can’t expect us to engage there? That’s too hard, we whine.


I remind myself that God didn’t say to do it if it was easy. He said to do it. Period.

So we’re praying and we’re bracing ourselves for all of the awkwardness that we’ll exude on these unsuspecting neighbours once they start to move their life onto this cul de sac. We’re having discussions with our kids at how weird it’ll feel to walk over and say hi. We are a heaping pile of ridiculousness in our house, with the social graces of a gold fish. We rush to the edge of our bowl, let out a few bubbles and then just stare cause that’s all we’ve got.

So we walk forward, and I’m sure we’ll mess it up, and we feel completely like we wish someone else could do it but if we believe what we believe then we believe that Jesus said to love and so love we will. Our literal neighbours. Because what better place to start?

We don’t know what that looks like yet but we’re buckling up for the journey, because I have no doubt we’re about to learn!

*Shannan Martin has offered my readers the gift of one of her books. One of you will get to be the recipient of her new (not yet out) book; Falling Free. I wish I could give one to ALL of you and we could have a big ‘ol book club about it but one is the deal for now.

To enter, just leave me a comment along with your email so I can contact you! Tell me why you want the book, or a story of an #awkwardneighbourmoment or what you had for breakfast today! I don’t care. Just let me know  you want it and I hope I pull your name for the win!

If you don’t win, you can pre-order Shannan’s book here.

**Contest ends Sunday September 10, 2016.

***Winner will be drawn and notified Monday September 11, 2016.


An App to Help Manage Your Kids Devices


Years ago, women would gather on front porches or in market places and general stores and share their stories of life. As they met up with their friends I can imagine they discussed family events, favourite recipes and the things they got up to that day.

It’s different now, obviously. Gathering together to share info doesn’t always happen as much as I’d like. More often now, women work and it means that we can’t be quite as easily connected to other women as we may want to be.

It’s for this reason that I’m endlessly thankful for social media!

How else would I get to see pictures of my friends trips to Nova Scotia, Paris and Iceland? How else would I know about that amazing Thai Noodle Salad that has now become a family staple in our home? And how else would I have heard about my new favourite parenting App?

I wouldn’t have! But I’m so glad that people use this avenue to share the things they’re loving and doing! That they show me their best finds and just how cute their baby is just now, and what they’re making for dessert and that they broadcast apps that they think others should know about!

Immediately upon seeing the high praise for OurPact on social media, I looked it up. Within ten minutes I was downloading it and within 15 I was using it seamlessly!

OurPact is a parents best friend if your kids have online devices!

We’ve never let our kids have their devices with them in their rooms behind closed doors or in their beds at night. It’s just not good practice. Internet and all that it holds, in our home, is to be used in public portions of the house.

We ran into difficulty though, when our kids wanted to fall asleep listening to music or podcasts (which we totally allow!) Transferring everything to old iPods (the kind without internet access) was tedious and they no longer stayed charged long enough and it was just a pain to be doing when they had all they really wanted on their iPads already.

But, we still didn’t want them in their beds at night so, we went through the painstaking procedures.

Until now!

OurPact manages your child’s screen time, helps teach them time management by setting time parameters around internet/app use, blocks internet and apps when you want, and can be scheduled to kick in at times and on days that you choose!

And it’s simple, which is brilliant.

I quickly downloaded the app on my phone and followed the step by step instructions on how to add each of your child’s devices into your management system. Once I had each kids device set up (just a few clicks), I could set it up how I wanted it. I chose internet and apps to be blocked from 9 pm – 7 am on Sunday-Thursday, and I broadened the hours a bit for the weekends.

You can also set up a homework schedule or a dinner time schedule, so that around the hours that you set, internet and apps all (literally) disappear from your kids device.

Like, Instagram isn’t even visible anymore. But then once the time hits that you’ve set it to come back on – voila! They all appear back.

So cool.

The only thing I see us using it for right now is at night, because our kids can have their devices in bed with them to fall asleep listening to the Chronicle s of Narnia audiobooks or our church’s podcasts without us worrying about them playing games or snap chatting without us knowing.

However, if my kids were younger and less compliant than they are, I can see it being super helpful for homework/chore/dinner times as well.

Even if you just think your kids are checking their phones too often to see who uploaded a new picture in the last 2 minutes, you can schedule blocked hours so they won’t even be tempted to look. Cause Facebook isn’t there! ha

I’ve only known about it for a few hours and I’m already a fan. If you’re a parent, I suggest you check OurPact out. I’m glad I did!

**OurPact can not disable phone or text features as those are phone programs and not apps. But let’s face it, our kids don’t use iMessage to chat with their friends – only us!

3 Ways to Save on Back to School


As of this back-to-school year I have officially made it through prepping for every grade. I’ve done Kindergarten – Grade 8 three times over and as my oldest gets thing organized for his final year of high school I feel like we’ve learned a thing or two (or 40!)

If I could go back in time, of course, I would do things a bit differently from the start. But I didn’t know. Now that I do, I thought I’d share a few of the things that were my biggest learns and how we implement them from year to year.

Back to school does NOT have to be expensive. It just doesn’t. Think about the fact that every single family, from the highest of incomes to the lowest, are all sending their kids back and with that in mind – there’s no way it has to be hundreds of dollars per child (which I feel like we were once spending!)


  1. Buy a GREAT Backpack – Yes, your child is going to want the Spiderman or the Paw Patrol or the [insert whatever kids are into these days] backpack if you let them choose. They just are. However, if you don’t let them choose – you can save a ton of cash over the years. A good backpack is expensive to start out with but your kids will end up using it for years and the savings in the long run is huge! El Cheapo backpacks will still cost you $20 per kid and most of them barely survive the year. Purchase a good backpack and it’ll be paid off by year 3 and they’ll still be using it 5-6 if not 8 years from now. The backpacks we’ve found to last the best are from MEC. Plus, they stand behind their products. Zipper breaks – return it and get a new one. Try THAT with your Spiderman backpack. Not gonna happen. We also learned that Dakine has a lifetime warranty on their backpacks which means essentially for $70 or so you could only purchase your child one pack for all 13 years of school. That’s a savings of $190 per kid. Plus, there’s no reason my son can’t still use his (that he’s already had for 5 years) well into his college/travel/whatever years. It’s still perfect. And we haven’t even taken advantage of the warranty yet!
  2. Reuse School Supplies – In a generation that is taught to reduce, reuse and recycle, I find it ludicrous that we were buying brand new pencil crayons each year. Sure, in the younger years they may wear them down but we found ours could easily get 2 years use. Never mind all of those pens, fine liners, and what goes wrong with a ruler? There’s simply no way our kids need a new one every year. At the end of each year we go through everything they bring home and toss the little nubs of pencils and keep anything that’s of decent size in a reusable grocery bag and pop it into the closet. The week before school starts again, we grab the bag, go through the supply list and reload backpacks. This year for all 3 children the only thing we need to rebuy is one ruler (because it was lost), a few erasers and one binder (these don’t last forever so after 3 years of use, it was time for a new one for one boy!) Not only does this save money but it also helps teach our kids the things we want them to know. Like, if something is still good – we don’t toss it and buy new just because. We use what we have. We steward it well. We certainly have to fight their consumeristic tendencies (and mine!) and this is just one more way to do it!
  3. Buy Clothes Throughout the Year – One thing is for certain, stores know that we’re going to be stocking up for ‘back-to-school’ clothes and they do everything they can to capitalize on it. Of course, it’s tempting not to cave to the newest in fall fashions, but you can save way more money by purchasing clothes that your kids actually NEED throughout the year as they need it. It means you aren’t shopping solely for the purpose of shopping and getting caught up in a ton of wants instead of needs. When my kids need jeans – we buy them. There’s no way they all suddenly need jeans in September! Shopping throughout the year also helps you take advantage of stocking up when things are on sale and purchasing at better times. January is the best time to buy shoes and buying things like jackets and shorts off-season can help save a lot.  As we took stock of closets this week we found that 2 boys could use a few t-shirts and one boy needs a hoodie or two. That’s it!

So back to school for us isn’t something we have to save for or even something that’s a big deal. Back when we were purchasing everyone’s shoes (indoor/outdoor/athletic) and everyone backpacks and lunch bags plus school supplies all new and fresh it was costing hundreds and hundreds for all three boys – and that’s before clothes.

Now, it’s not even a big deal. The final total is smaller than a quick trip to the grocery store for a few staples. Plus, our kids are learning the two steps that are way more important before we get to the recycle one – they’re reducing and reusing and those are the things that are going to make a bigger impact on our planet, lives and budget than recycling will!