Don’t Just Act Like You Know Where You’re Going

I recently had the privilege of sitting in a meeting with someone 4 bajillion times smarter than I am. I’m not kidding. This woman knew stuff.

I use to find myself quite nervous in situations where I knew there was a vast chasm between my knowledge base and that of the person I was talking to. My mind would tell me I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or have enough letters behind my name. (FYI: I have zero) My posture would overcompensate for my lack of college degrees and I would follow the advice a random stranger gave me while I was wandering the streets of Chicago with my camera many moons ago.

“Just act like you know where you’re going. Act like you have every purpose to be where you are and you’ll be fine.”

It hadn’t crossed my mind to be worried about where I was going but clearly the gentleman saw a naive girl nearing territory she may not want to be in and felt compelled to warn her. I thanked him and stuck to the main streets from then on.

Act like you know where you’re going might be decent advice when you’re lost and don’t want to fumble in dark alleys with a map. I can see that. But as far as wisdom for life, I’ve come to learn it’s pretty terrible.

If we pretend like we know where we’re going, how on earth do we know where we’ll end up?

If being in a certain place at a certain time is all about acting like I belong there, faking it to fit in, impersonating those who’ve figured it out – then all I do is a sham.

I know it sounds high school-esque and trying to get in with the popular crowd but it goes so far beyond that. I know, we like to believe we’ve advanced as we head out into the real world post graduation, but how often have we soaked in the culture of a work place and made it our mission to fit in. Or maybe we’ve taken part in a bible study and been worried about speaking out loud for fear our words might not be big enough or christian enough for those listening. We stay silent until we know which words the culture in that room uses and then we spout forth our wisdom once we know we’ll get it right, once we’ve assimilated enough.

It can happen in any setting even as adults. We like to fit it, to belong, to be a part of and this can become a lot of acting when our minds or our hearts don’t know the right notes to sing with a particular group just yet. We’re not so great at harmonizing with a crowd, each of us taking on our part. Instead we long to sing the same note that everyone else is singing because at least that way we don’t stand out quite so much if we happen to get our part wrong.

Over the years I’ve learned that the older I get the less I actually know. Turns out, the less I know the more I need to learn and the more I need to learn the more open I had better be to dropping the disguise and getting on with the business of asking questions.

If I take one man’s advice and act like I know where I’m going, sure it might keep me safe this time. But is it not wisdom, rather, to ask some questions and learn which path I should actually be on? Isn’t that what will keep me safe in the long run.

It’s taken time but I find myself rarely intimidated by those who possess much greater wisdom than I do. Instead, I want to sidle up next to them and ask them all of the questions I have no answers to. I want to sit with them for hours and pick all of the facets of their minds and hearts and like a toddler pepper them with a thousand, “but why’s.”

If we look at the world, our country, our cities, our schools, our churches, our neighbours, our spouses and our kids and we stop pretending like we know where we’re going and in humility admit we don’t have all of the answers does it not force us to ask a few more questions? To find the people who know more and ask them why without simply assimilating for the sake of looking smart or fitting in or whatever our excuse is. Would we not know so much more if we opened our hearts to hear some answers as to why instead of waxing poetically all the live long day but never really understanding the truth.

Before I left the meeting with the woman whose mind knew so many things, I looked her straight in the face, craving one last nugget of truth, and asked, “Do you have any more wisdom for me?”

“No,” she said. “But if you have any more questions you may ask.”

I laughed. Of course she didn’t. She had already given me everything I needed. Because sometimes there’s no need to belabour a thing you’ve already been given the answer to.

She told me to walk forward in confidence. Right. I could use a dose of that just now. I’m learning the pattern, slowly slowly slowly learning the pattern. Obstacle. Humble heart. Ask questions. Petition God. Rely on His Spirit. Move forward in confidence. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,

his righteousness live in the fertile field.

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;

its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

Isaiah 32: 16-17

(Read the whole chapter for context here)

A Life of Ease is Not My Prayer

Many months ago we started the plan in motion and prayed that the Lord’s will be done. Francis Chan says in one of his books (though I will butcher it in my paraphrase) that as Christians we ought to assume that we are to do the things that God commands. He says to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27) and so we just should. We don’t need to wait for it to ‘feel right’ but rather we ought to walk forward because it’s what He tells us to do in scripture. Of course, He can stop us in our tracks and change our course if He sees fit. But that’s His job – not ours. Ours is obedience.

Our plan was to head somewhere as a family with the purpose of serving the poor, using our hands, our voice and whatever else God has gifted us with. We explored options and landed on a small town in Mexico.

I know short term missions trips have gained a bad reputation in recent years. There are books and blogs written about when helping hurts and story after story about trips that become poverty tourism and not service at all. I don’t know the logistics of all of these things. Quite honestly, it’s beyond my scope of understanding. I do know that there are great organizations who need many things – one of which is hands on deck. We found one and prepared for our journey.

I struggled with how to prepare, exactly. Oh, packing was the easy part but how do we ready our eyes to see things they’ve never seen before. How do we ready our minds to comprehend what we’re seeing and our ears to hear stories that feel altogether too much. Most importantly, how on earth do we prepare our hearts. What do we pray? I found myself completely lost.

The Lord brought Psalm 107 to my heart and I read it over and over again. Throughout this Psalm, time and time again the people are brought to the end of themselves through various trials. In each situation, when they come to the end of themselves is when they cry out to the Lord in their trouble and time and time again it says that He saved them from their distress.

My soul felt compelled to pray simply that each member of our family would be brought to the end of ourselves so that we might cry out to God and the work would be His. That we would feel so beyond our capabilities that we had nowhere to turn but to Him. That we could take no credit for anything we did but all of the glory would be His.

It can be scary to pray hard things for our families. For our very lives to be challenged. My heart longs to pray that my kids be comfortable and their life be easy. But I know full well that in times of ease I learn very little and rely on my own strength very much. But in times of trouble, where can we turn? In times of calamity, what choice do we have? When our efforts are exhausted and our mouths are parched and our knuckles bloody and bruised, we can no longer walk in our own strength, but rely solely on His. This is what I prayed.

My husband was heading home on his last day of work before we left and he got only ten minutes up the highway when lights started flashing on his dash and shortly thereafter I got the call. Vehicle not running. Tow truck required. Help?

What terrible timing. Does he not know I have my own work to finish up? And packing to do? And many important things that need to happen? What a nuisance. I can’t believe it. We don’t have time for this!

But when we’re troubled where do we turn?

My son had one more day of work the following day and  we awoke to a call at 2 am saying that we needed to get right down to where he was. He had hurt himself. I heard the word stitches. My husband got up and headed out and I figured they’d be back in a few hours. At 6 am I stirred and there was still no sign of them. At 7 am I got a call. Stitches, yes. But also, he’s lost mobility in part of his finger. I heard the word surgery. It all got foggy.

Are you kidding me? We hop on a plane tomorrow. What terrible timing! We don’t have time for 13 hours in the E.R. Our plans don’t have room for surgery. We’re trying to serve your people, Lord. Now we may not be able to go?

When we’re in distress where do we turn?

Our trip hadn’t even begun and the Lord was bringing us to the end of ourselves. He was forcing us to our knees and showing us in no uncertain terms that we need Him. We can make all of the plans that we want. We can do all of the laundry. We can buy the plane tickets, and we should. But the Lord decides whether we go.

It’s an illusion to think that we accomplish such things on our own, and I have the worst form of this delusion. I’m organized and efficient and have lists of all of my lists. But the Lord, in all of His graciousness, began to answer my prayers before we even left home.

We would accomplish nothing without utter reliance on Him. We wouldn’t even make it on the plane without Him. We left broken, we left injured, we left stitched and medicated. We left tired and worried and processing all of the emotion of what had just happened.

We left at the end of ourselves and crying out to the Lord in our trouble. He saved us from our distress.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
    and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Psalm 107:8 (and 15 and 21 and 31)

When We Thought We Knew Everything

I see 20 year olds now and from this vantage point they look like babies. But on this morning 20 years ago, at 20 years old, I awoke in my bedroom in my parents house and set about with the primping – preparing to marry the man of my dreams.

This year it’s official – I’ve been married longer than I was not married.

When I think of the first 20 years of my life it feels like so much more changed. From tiny baby to toddler to riding a bike on my very own. School and then high school, and sports and clubs. I learned to speak, to feed myself, to be a friend, to drive….plus all of the words to some pretty terrible salt n’ peppa songs.

It’s hard to think that anything can top the learning curve of the first 20 years of life. But I dare say I’ve learned just as much in the second 20 years simply by being married.

Sure I already knew how to talk but I certainly wasn’t a good communicator. I might have known how to be a friend but I knew nothing about being a wife. I’m going to bet I’ve even become a better driver. And learned to appreciate better music.

The learning curve hasn’t stopped even for a second.

Of course I set off into marriage thinking I knew all. We knew exactly what our life was going to look like and of course we knew exactly how we were going to raise our kids. Expertly, I might add.

But that first year was an eye opener of so many kinds. While setting up home was fun and cooking together was always interesting, we were caught up in our own selfishness. We were blinded by our own expectations of the other – sometimes even of ourselves. We had no idea how to serve the other above ourselves, let alone communicate our wants or needs.

Did we have some fun? Of course.

Was the world our oyster and everyone a tad bit dumber than us? Yes and amen.

I couldn’t have believed it at the time – all of those ‘old’ couples who told us it only gets better. How could it? Time only means more responsibilities, children who drain you financially, bad hair and an even worse wardrobe!

No, life at 20 and marriage in year one was where it was at. Earl’s Restaurant cooking us dinner pretty much nightly, movies and concerts whenever we wanted, skateboarding around the city to get where we needed to go. What could be better?

Turns out it really does get better with time. Because above the need to be cool we now totally get that we’re not and are 100% good with that. In fact, we’re happy to be the ‘old’ people now telling other couples that it only gets better. Because there’s a knowing behind our smiles now. A knowing that the vows we said when we had no idea what life would look like were actually ones kept. It’s easy to say richer or poorer when you’ve never been poorer. And it’s simple to think you’ll stay in sickness and health when there’s never been an illness beyond a cold. We scoffed at the better or worse because it would always be better but, my oh my, did we learn that there was going to be a worse.

And yet – here we are. Having waded through muck and mire, seasons of storms, and so much more. We still look at each other and smile – though we smirk a little more now. Sometimes we downright laugh at all of the things we thought we knew and where God has brought us today. It’s a life we could never have dreamed.

The beauty comes in having lived the good, the bad and the ugly together and still being able to walk away holding hands. The best parts of marriage are realizing that you don’t have to win or be right, but that we can totally disagree and still love and respect each other unendingly. The mystery comes from realizing we have a few more wrinkles, a less hip wardrobe, 4 teenagers that suck every one of our resources away and yet we still have love, in fact, an even deeper love, respect and appreciation for each other.

If we’ve learned this much in 20 years I simply can’t wait to see what the next 20 hold. We still have so far to go!

Gary Thomas says that cherishing is seeking to enhance the life of the other in both big and small ways. I can’t wait until we rock at that. We try. But so often we’re tired or stressed or still a li’l bit selfish. It’s our year 20 goal. Enhance each others life in small ways. We already do it in so many ways but we want to do it even more.

Because we can’t wait to be 60 with even more wrinkles, a worse wardrobe and yet still look at each other and smirk because those 40 year olds who think they’ve got it all together? Well, they look like babies now.

Here’s to 20 more, my love! You are not my everything. I hope you never will be. I can’t wait to get my first grandma perm and to see you wear your first pair of suspenders. Walking this path of life with you is the best gift.


When School Isn’t Made For Your Kid

Early in his school years a teacher stated to my son that if he didn’t sit down on his chair, which he never did, she would take it away. He said, “Okay!” handed in his chair and continued to happily stand for the remainder of the year.

In seventh grade he failed to tell me there were any sort of sign ups for sports. It wasn’t until nearly Christmas when I clued in he was fairly free after school and there hadn’t been any sort of after school sign ups. When asked about it he said, “Oh yeah. I didn’t sign up. I don’t want to play sports.”

When the other kids were outside running around the neighbourhood my boy was filming them with a video camera. When they went inside for dinner, he took his spot behind the computer screen and edited it all into a little montage complete with title sequence and closing credits.

His days were spent writing scripts for plays that he could never rally enough kids to actually participate in. His nights were spent with his nose buried deep in books.

In eighth grade he begged for piano lessons.

All along I couldn’t help but think – who is this kid? While I loved every facet of what he was doing and the creative things he was pouring himself into, I also worried. Because kids need an outlet and when the outlet is creativity and not sports, they don’t necessarily fit in naturally at school.

I’m so thankful for a teacher who told me, when he was still so young, this kid of mine – he was an outside the box thinker and school wouldn’t necessarily be the place he shone. She understood a regular sit, read, answer questions curriculum didn’t resonate with him, though we also agreed sometimes you have to do the things you don’t love in order to learn important facts.

She told me to get him through. Don’t worry myself too much with grades. He’ll do big things once he’s out of school and off in the world where there is more to explore out from the confines of a desk. Where there’s a place for diving into your passions, creating things that are beautiful and where you might even find a few more people who think like you do.


That teacher saved me from years of questioning my parenting with her words. She clarified what I couldn’t. She told me that he would go places, that he would find his niche, probably a bit later in life because the younger school world didn’t cater to this type of kid.

I wrapped those words up as a gift and kept giving them to myself whenever I needed them. Whenever I worried about him. Whenever I felt like he just didn’t fit in.

Through middle school he stayed inside and read novels through lunch. He poured through Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and dove into cult favourites like A Wrinkle in Time, The Outsiders and soaked up characters like Holden Caufield in A Catcher in the Rye. I couldn’t keep up with his reading so I finally just had to let him troop on and choose what he liked.

Friends in the arts assured me that he’d be okay. As long as he had an outlet.


He found his outlet in writing. Every single night we’d find him curled up somewhere frantically typing out a new story. Or adding to his novel. Or casually saying, “Hey Mom, want to read my new poem?”

When your kid doesn’t fit the mould, when they don’t fit into categories of ‘normal’ or just do what all of their peers are doing, it can be difficult as a parent. We can wonder if they’re going to be okay. We can question if we’ve done it all wrong. We can fear for their future.

17 1/2 years into this deal I’ve learned that he will be okay. I learned early that there’s nothing wrong with him.  I learned to stop trying to make him answer questions the way I thought they should be answered. I learned that I didn’t need to explain why he wasn’t in sports to other parents.  I learned not to worry because he’s different then his peers. It can be a hard place to parent a kid who’d rather discuss the latest character in a novel he’s read than the latest comic book hero and who thinks his generation is being ruined by every selfie posted and every meme made.


At 17 he doesn’t understand his generation. He feels like he’s been born in the wrong era and yet he knows that God made him for just such a time as this. To have no social media accounts in a world of snapchat. To write books in a sea of video game obsessed children. To wear jeans with rips made because he doesn’t care about fashion and his jeans have literally worn threadbare, not because rips are cool and so he needs the latest trends.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that he’d want out of high school as quickly as possible and that he’d choose to graduate early and get out of the place he deems all drama and narcissism. And it shouldn’t surprise me that he didn’t attend his graduation ceremony two nights ago when he should have been donning cap and gown and received his diploma.


“I don’t understand festivities,” was his answer. “So I finished classes I was supposed to finish – why does that need a celebration?”

So I have no photo of him walking across that stage or in his school colours and I’m totally fine with it. Because to have a kid like him, one who doesn’t follow the crowd, one who maintains strong convictions of who he is and what he believes, one who doesn’t care if everyone is doing it or not – well, that’s something special.

It’s such a privilege to raise each of our kids, mamas and dads – no matter what they’re like. Sure there are days we don’t get it, there are times we wish they would have said something different in public, there may even be times we’ve been embarrassed – but looking back at what I’ve learned from him and what I’m continuing to learn every day – I wouldn’t change it for anything.



When We’re Short on Time but Big on Love

My husband snuck into the house late last night. It’s been that sort of season. So much work. Travel. On set shoots. Long days. Little sleep. Even less time at home.

I rolled over but I couldn’t lift my head off of my pillow to greet him properly. This many days of single parenting and keeping up with the schedules of 4 teenagers takes a toll. A toll that means once I crawl into bed I’m not moving for a solid 8 hours. (don’t judge. some of us like our sleep!)

It’s not how we like our schedules to be. The visions of happiness in my mind look more like kneading bread dough on the counter, growing vegetables in our own soil, writing with pen and paper and long drawn out talks around the fire late into the night.

These days, however, look more like frozen pizza and a bag of baby carrots, quick text messages with all of the abbreviations possible, and Cole’s notes versions of all of the things we want to share.

It may not look exactly how we want life to be just now, but we’ve also been married long enough to know that these seasons don’t last forever. They show up with force, barging their way in and then they slowly mosey along and leave the door swinging behind them.

The thing is – what’s a couple supposed to do in the meantime?

One day together in the last eight is not the best streak. Most days we aren’t even able to see each others eyes (either because we’re not in the same city, or because mine are already closed!)  And yet we know that in order for our family to maintain its strength, integrity and any semblance of sanity – we need to stay connected – the hubs and I.

We’ve figured out a few ways that work for us, thank the Lord, and while they aren’t as good as Saturday morning coffee in bed, or long walks along dusty trails under a canopy of trees, they do what we need them to do in this particular season of crazy.

What do we do? We rely fully and completely on technology!

I know you’ll find a thousand articles online stating that communication through technology is not true connection. But when there are no other options for a married couple to talk – I contend it beats letter writing and waiting 2 weeks for our thoughts to arrive!

So we text constantly. Of course there are good mornings and good night’s but there’s also everything in between. There are quick questions about home details or kid schedules or weekend plans. There are long paragraphs about what we’re thinking about or going through at the moment. There are one liners of encouragement when we know the other is in a tough spot. There are apologies for the irritated tone we got the day before. There are prayers lifted up, inside jokes thrown back and forth and basketball games watched ‘together’ though we aren’t together at all.

I can’t even explain what a gift this is to our marriage. When hubs is at work and I’m working/kid driving/all of the other things – we can’t very often sync up times to actually talk for more than 4 minutes. But texting back and forth gives us opportunity to reply when we can and feel connected all day long.

This constant way of staying connected to my husband has given me a new picture of what scripture means when it tells us to, “pray without ceasing.”  I could never grasp just exactly what that meant – how can we be constantly in prayer and yet live life? But I think I get it just a little bit more. Because while I’m not endlessly on my phone texting my husband, I am constantly in communication with him, whether listening or reading what he has to say, or formulating my own thoughts back. The action isn’t the unceasing part, the mode of the heart is. So I would say that, “I text with my husband all day!” But of course that doesn’t mean I’m texting every second. In the same way, I think we’re called to be constantly in connection with our Heavenly Father. Does that mean our mouths can never speak a word to another human and interrupt our prayers? Of course not. It means that our hearts and minds are always turned to Him in everything that we’re doing. The same way my heart is staying connected to my husband when we aren’t in the same city or province!

I know our lists probably look different but I’m sure you’ve been in a season of busy, as well. What do you do to foster connection with your spouse when you’re just not getting tons of face time together?


Small Changes Matter

I learned something about myself last week that I’m sure everyone around me already knew.

I like routine, order and structure. I like systems and rules.

To this my family gave a collective – uh, we know! You had to go to a workshop to learn THAT?!

It’s interesting when we have others pinpoint things about ourselves though because sometimes our actions and minds and passions and wants line up and sometimes they don’t.

Let me just tell you, it’s not easy having a creative mind that craves routine. Often artists thrive on chaos and are moved to inspiration at the oddest times. My best work comes when things are planned, when I have set aside time and order surrounds me.

So what does this mean for my life? Well, it means that I’m not prone to making drastic moves, grand goals or casting major visions that I feel I can’t attain. Instead, I find my happy place – the place I feel and thrive best – is when I make small changes that I implement for the long haul.

Practically this means that while I can’t afford organic meat for our tribe of 4 teenagers – I can consult the dirty dozen list and implement food change in the areas of worst offence.

It means I’m not going to do a 7 day juice cleanse but I love incorporating 2 veggie-heavy, wheat grass/probiotic/spirulina filled drinks into my daily routine.

It means that I make small changes every now and then and I work them out until they just become part of the routine and don’t feel like a big deal.

I did the same when it came to finding products that are toxin and carcinogen free for our home. I couldn’t immediately throw out all of our furniture, but I could invest in safe cleaning products and safe beauty products.

This month is my one year anniversary of using Beautycounter!

In case you don’t know what that means – Beautycounter is a line of beauty products that puts our health and safety first. Before profit, before quick product release, before everything! They’re main purpose is to ensure that everyone has access to safe products that we use everyday.

And in my typical fashion, did I instantly change all of my products? No. Because I was already using some (emphasis on the some!) great ones – but the ones that weren’t great, I switched up.

People often feel overwhelmed as to where to start on a journey to a less chemical-laden life and I think the best way is to just start with one thing and make it normal. Once you’ve got that down – find the next thing and change that. It’s the little changes over time that add up to make a real difference rather than doing a “clean” binge and then going back to fast food after a few weeks.

To celebrate one year of safe make-up and skin care I thought I’d answer the most popular question I get. What are your top 5 products if you could only change that many.

The first two are super simple: change your cleanser and your moisturizer. These are things we use twice each day. That’s 4 x a day that we’re rubbing potentially harmful chemicals into our skin. Simply change two items and you’re on your way.

Looking to change just one thing?

The next 3 are a toss up as to the order but are hands down my best Beautycounter switches and the products I love the most.

Post 17

While I’m thrilled with the products, my biggest goal is to share the information about safe products with more and more people. As I was inching close to my year anniversary of being with Beautycounter I thought – what do I want?

The truth is, I want more people to be using safe products. I want people to be educated about what’s in the stuff they’re buying off the shelves at their local stores and I want women to know that these things do affect our health and the health of our families. Does this mean using only Beautycounter? No! It means being smart about our choices. Beautycounter is just the easiest way I’ve found to cover all my beauty basics with one company.

And in case you were wondering – the products aren’t just safe – they’re awesome!

If safer products are something you love – why not share about it with a friend? Your Mom? Your Grandma? Your co-workers? Your Mommy group? You can be as big of a part of the mission as I am. Spread the word for the health of the people you love. Educate one another on the things we’re doing in life to battle cancers and hormone disruption and the many other things toxic chemicals can cause.

It’s been one year and my skin has never been better – but more than that – I’m not worried for a second about what’s soaking in to my families skin. And that’s worth everything.

If you want more information on any of these things, send me a message! I love helping people navigate the oft-overwhelming waters and because I’m passionate about it – I could talk about it all day!

p.s. if you’re interested in joining my team – drop me a line here!

How to Survive Anything: Parent Edition

My son has a book entitled, How to Survive Anything. It walks you through various calamities such as shark attacks and embarrassing parents, blizzards, being adrift at sea, being the topic of your classmates gossip, and other such perilous situations.

It made me think about what chapters I’d include if I wrote a book for parents on how to survive anything. I could only come up with three super perilous chapter titles thus far.  At seventeen years into this parenting gig and the most catastrophic places I’ve found myself are year 3, year 9 and year 14. (Yours may be different but the point is – there are some strange phases kids go through, amiright?)

There are already dozens of books written about the terrible two’s so I’d likely just copy what they had to say and replace the two with a three. Two’s were easy compared to three. At least in my world.

At 9, my children became weird and ridiculous and I’d find myself unable to relate to them on any level. They’d grown out of the cute stage and their teeth were just altogether too big for their mouths. The things they say are no longer adorable but eyebrow raising. At 9 my boys think potty humour is the most hilarious thing on the planet and they want to talk endlessly (and I do mean endlessly) about things like Pokemon and snakes. I just don’t get it. It’s all a bit alien like.

Thankfully, there are a few years grace before they hit 14 because 14 is a strange culmination of 3 and 9 all put together. Don’t think on that for too long. Parents, I’m not trying to frighten you – just let you know that when your kids go through hard/weird phases that you don’t understand at all – it’s normal. Put on the armour which forces you to laugh, only to keep from crying, and know above all else, you are not alone.

It seems to me that at 14 our children are plagued with some sort of illness. It’s symptoms run like the warnings at the end of a pharmaceutical commercial.

Warning:  being 14 years old may cause your child to speak incoherently about everything while simultaneously knowing everything about everything. It may cause eye rolls and general attitude all aimed in your direction because clearly, as a parent, you know NOTHING about everything.

Being 14  may also bring about lowered voices, pimples, hairy legs and a general bambi-like awkwardness as your child learns to cope with their limbs which are oddly long and flailing at this stage of the game.

The hardest part about 14 is the limit testing. Somehow 14 brings about this feeling of grown-upness in our children and yet their minds regress back to their 3 year old defiant self. They’re constantly shifting between adult and toddler, and I assure you, they’re just as confused about it as we are!

I’d love to say I have some sage wisdom on how to parent the 14 year old, but the truth is, I don’t. I’m simply here to affirm to you that your child is not the only one to have succumbed to the disease. It happens. Even to the sweetest and most loving of them, I’ve learned.

There are a few ways to cope, however. I’ve found the simple knowing that it will pass to be of enormous value. There were times I truly feared that this was who they’d become and that I’d somehow failed in every realm of parenting. That this person, who now towers above me and yet can’t remember one simple set of instructions, is going to have to function out in the world like this.  But, thank the Lord, it passes. It really does.

Secondly, give them enormous amounts of grace along with your many (MANY!) words of discipline. Remember 3? When you felt like all you did was discipline all day? Yeah, it might feel like that again and that everything they do is just off and wrong and not what you expect of them. They feel it too, like they’re constantly messing up and just can’t get anything right enough for us. I know the temptation is to rant at them about all the ways they’ve gone wrong but at 14 they can simply tune that out. Instead, talk rationally and kindly.  This is something they don’t hear from their peers and it might just confuse them into listening.

Lastly, love them well. There is no greater way to show our kids the love of Christ than when we love them hard through the messy, awkward and frustrating times. Keep hugging them, keep pointing out their beautiful qualities, (look hard – they’re in there!) and keep telling them with your words that you really do love them so much even when you think they’re ignoring you. They hear it. It’s going in. Keep filling their minds with your love and soon enough they’ll be 15.  <enter huge sigh of relief here>

If Mother’s Day Was Hard

Mid-way through Mother’s Day I got a message. It said, “I am sucking at Mother’s Day this year. In the full throws of disappointed pouting.”

I love honesty and I love the Mama who sent it.

I wonder if you didn’t have a similar day or even moment of your day. I’ve sucked at Mother’s Day so many times I’ve lost count. My boys can easily recall one in particular. “Remember the one where you were crying in the office?” they say. Yeah. Yeah, I do.

Thing is, Mother’s Day is hard. It’s hard because we’re human and we believe lies – especially lies about our mothering. On a good day we’re quick to assume we’re failing, or at very best just staying afloat. We can easily translate someone’s glance in our direction as judgement on our child’s behaviour. How many days do we throw up our hands wondering if we’ve done everything wrong?

We believe a different sort of lie though, on Mother’s Day. The same sort of lie our sister, Eve, fell prey to in the garden. We believe that we deserve something on Mother’s Day. I’m not sure what that looks like for you – it could be anything from lavish gifts to obedient children to having children at all – but either way it ruins the day for us.

It ruins the day when we get anything less than what we feel we are rightly owed. Eve was owed the fruit from that tree. I remember feeling like I was owed not having to lift a finger and all of the gifts in my mind that I’d never verbalized to any member of my family I even want. And then, when that didn’t happen every horrible scenario would run through my head and I would think my entire family are jerks and I wonder if they’ll ever not be selfish. They probably will be forever, I surmise. I think about all of the time and energy I put into planning the perfect birthdays for them. The gifts, the balloons, the birthday wake up song. The dinner, the cake, the card with all of the words I want them to know about how much I love them and how thankful I am for them. Then I would move onto every other thing I do for them. The sports, the driving, the constant grocery shopping and cooking. I would run through every unselfish act I did for them in the past 364 days and wonder why on earth they couldn’t do one thing right on just this one day! For me!

The enemy preys on our hearts and mind on this day, Mama’s. 364 days of the year I am so thankful for each of my kids. They are a gift from God and it’s an honour that I get to raise them. To be entrusted with their very lives is the biggest privilege I’ve ever had. I know that the work that I do for them is good. I know my job, while challenging on the best of days, is worth every second I pour in. I know this is kingdom stuff, the raising of our babies to adulthood, teaching them the ways of Christ. But for just one day our minds get all muddled up and we think it should be about us.

And in that moment, that moment where we believe the day is all about us, that’s where it all falls apart. Because if we believe it should be all about us and it isn’t, then we pout. Then we get angry, or worse, silent. Then we sulk around disappointed because how dare they!

No day was ever meant to be all about us, Mama’s. Not one. Ever. Each day is about Him and when we forget it, well –  it just never goes well. It doesn’t matter that our culture has placed our handle on this day. It doesn’t matter that every ad shows us what we deserve. Those aren’t the point and they certainly are never supposed to be our focus.

Each day is the Lord’s and how we live each day doesn’t change because someone somewhere said we should be celebrated. No, each day, including Mother’s Day, we are to treat other’s as better than ourselves. Each day we are to serve those around us. Each day we are to practice love, patience, peace and kindness. We’re never told to take a day off from those – even just one – y’know, to be selfish, entitled, mean and pouty.

It’s been years since we’ve had a pouty Mother’s Day around here but I can’t say it’s come easy and I feel everything for my friend who was smart enough and brave enough to fess up that the day wasn’t going well. I’ve been there more times than I want to admit and even still I can feel it trying to creep in.

It takes heart prep and much prayer and constantly reminding myself of who I am and who He is and what that means my life will look like. It takes time spent alone in prayer asking the Lord to show me ways that I can serve my family on that second Sunday in May. It takes waking up that morning and opening my hands in prayer asking Him to help me love well on this day as on any other. It takes words lifted up and pleading for heart protection as I move throughout the day because the lies are thick and so easily latched on to.

Don’t believe them for a second. Not one little second. Mama’s, know that you are doing a great job. Know that your children love you and appreciate you. Thing is, they don’t know how to show it because they’re 4 or 8 or 13. You haven’t failed to teach them. In fact, you’ve taught them so much. You’ve taught them that they are safe and they are loved every single day, so much so that they don’t even realize what they have. You’ve given so much to them and they don’t even know to acknowledge it because they’ve never felt lack. You’ve given them a beautiful gift of being loved beyond measure. They know nothing of heartache or hunger or loneliness. So yeah, they take you for granted because they’ve never been anywhere else but in your loving clutches.

It’s a beautiful thing, Mama’s. Your work is good. It is your worship. Don’t give that up for a day of disappointment and pouting. Keep on. It is worth it!


Do You Tea?

When a girl needs some help, what better place to turn than to the internet, amiright?

I kid. But she does turn to this beautiful little online community that has formed around words she never believed anyone would read. And so, my friends, I bring you a totally unimportant question that only unmasks my ignorance but reveals my willingness to learn.

I don’t know anything about tea.

I remember going in to David’s Tea the first time with a group of girlfriends who all needed their ‘fix’. I had already purchased my americano from another well known chain but I walked in with them regardless.

Upon entering, I felt immediate shame at the coffee I was holding and turned the logo of my cup around so as to be covered with my hand. Maybe they wouldn’t notice the green mermaid girl or smell the richness of the deep brew?

I lasted all of 60 seconds in there. I stared up at the menu of teas and immediately felt all hot and stuffy and like my senses were being overwhelmed at the grotesqueness of too much choice. My eyes were darting so quickly from one end of the menu to the next that my eyes couldn’t focus on a single thing. Let alone comprehend the difference between all these choices.

There’s another reason I only lasted 60 seconds, though. This one I don’t admit quite as publicly. (so what better place than the internet for the big reveal!) The place was packed with all women. There wasn’t a single man in the crowd. This heightened my senses and I wondered if it was cause for concern. What do men know that all of these women don’t? The place was awfully girlie – from the colours to the staff to the little hearts adorning the mugs that were for sale.

I bolted. I had to get out. It was all too much.

I haven’t been back since. I imagine it’s how Tim Horton’s folks might feel in Starbucks – I just want a coffee! I just sort of wanted tea. Sort of.

A few weeks ago now I was feeling lethargic and a bit – well, ugh(!) might be the best descriptor. I wasn’t sick, I was eating just fine, sure the weather has been the pits but I couldn’t pinpoint anything major that I could change to feel better.

I started googling things, as you do and the one repeat thing that wasn’t part of my life and yet kept popping up was drinking an insane amount of water. Now, hear me when I say I drink water. I do! But I think drinking water is very different then DRINKING WATER! And these people were DRINKING WATER! I googled further to find out just how much water I should be drinking in a day and I was shocked. Of course, the reports are all over the map so I just picked a number of litres that I thought would be appropriate for me and I set to conquer it each day.

Here’s what I learned. If you want to drink an appropriate amount of water each day you need to start in the morning and keep drinking aaaaallllllll day long.

I also learned that it made me crave tea. Weird, right?


So here’s where I admit my tea ignorance and ask for your help. I have SO many questions. Would you answer one or two if you have any insight?

  1. Are all teas created equal?
  2. Where do you buy tea that is actually good for you? By this I mean has ingredients that are beneficial to your health. I mean, you can buy green tea at the dollar store, at the grocery store, at the health food store, at David’s tea and then there’s another level altogether when you decide to order online. So which is actually good for you to drink?
  3. Is David’s tea the mecca for tea drinkers? I’m thinking no. Sure, they have every flavour a girl could ever want but I was altogether disappointed when I purchased a peach matcha and got it home and realized that there was sugar in it! This is not what I want mixed with my daily green obsession. So where do you get the good stuff?
  4. Do you prioritize flavour or health benefits?
  5. Which are your top 3 teas?

So far my fave that I’m drinking daily is Mighty Leaf’s Organic Detox Infusion. Of course I also love the Midnight Mint from Karla’s Special Teas.

And that’s all I’ve got! Help a girl out?

Birthdays + Culture + Rejoicing in Each Day

I sat on the couch in the living room curled up next to my husband of 19.5 years, looked around the room at our 4 boys who border the line of being called men gathered ’round and stated, “If this is 40, I’m a fan.”

Sure, I was only some 16 hours into this next decade of life so I don’t have a whole lot of comparisons I can make just yet but the Lord has been changing my heart over the past several years surrounding birthdays. (and a few other celebratory days too)

This year particularly it was impressed upon my heart that in this call to live counter-culturally, could there be a way for our birthdays to feel just a bit different too.

In the past, I’ll admit, I’ve boldly proclaimed to my family a month out from the big day that they have 30 days to find me a great present! They’ve heard my voice in weekly intervals breaking down the T-minus however many days until I need to be celebrated. It became a joke of sorts in our home. I patted myself on the back for teaching my many boys how to celebrate a woman well. But this year it just didn’t sit right.

In a culture that is already so ‘me’ focused I struggled to make a big hoopla about, well – me! And I assure you it’s not only the culture. My own murky sinful heart spends enough of her days self-focused – fighting against the sins of pride and self-righteousness. I daily battle the wants and longings that are only temporary satisfactions of my very human flesh. I press back against frustration that comes from self-entitlement and the feelings that I deserve more than what I’ve been given.

These all come on any given day. Often. Sin, wash, repeat.

My heart felt so unsettled as my favourite people asked what I was doing to celebrate the big day. My ever-loving husband (who knows immensely better than to plan any sort of surprised) consulted with me multiple times to see what I might enjoy. What might make me feel celebrated. Who I might like gathered around. What event or gift would make me feel entirely special.

I couldn’t help but find it completely opposite to the ways I’ve been journeying these past few years. As the Lord has been gracious to show me my struggles, my idols, the very icky places of my heart – a day that brought all of them out – that said I deserve this, this is what I want, celebrate me – just didn’t seem fitting to the life stage I’m in.

There’s a way we think we need to do things based on culture, tradition, or instagram. But why? Everyone seemed defeated by the fact that I was letting my birthday slide without much made about it. They questioned whether it was the age I was turning that made it hard. But the truth is, the age didn’t change a thing for me. I prayed hard and asked the Lord what celebrating should look like. What it could look like to allow those who love me to show it, but not conjure up sin in my heart that I deserve things a certain way.

A verse was impressed upon my heart repeatedly in the weeks before my birthday. “Today is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Each day is one He has made. Each is to be rejoiced in. Not this one simple day that holds the number on which I was born. But, every day. And on the flip side, this wasn’t a day to NOT celebrate because I didn’t want it to be about me, but it was to be rejoiced in, to be glad in for the same reason we ought to do it every day. Because HE made it. It’s His day. Let’s celebrate!

I walked through my birthday the most content I think I’ve ever been on a celebratory day. I normally conjure up expectations and then get upset when they don’t work out. But this day, instead of seeking the glory for myself, I simply turned it back to my maker. Lord, you made this day – thank you. So every text message that came my way, simply reminded me to thank Him. The chocolate and the flowers that were gifted reminded me to be thankful for the people He’s surrounded me with and to be glad. The dinner I didn’t have to cook made my heart rejoice.

But most of all, sitting on the sofa in the living room surrounded by my people and getting worked up at the ref’s in the Golden State Warriors game, looking around and seeing so tangibly how good and gracious the Lord has been to me, to us, to our family – secured in my heart what I knew I wanted this birthday to be about. It’s not the age that matters so much, or at least it doesn’t feel like it does, it’s not even the fact that it was my birthday. But rather when we simply rejoice in another day, right where we are, with whomever He has surrounded us with, our hearts will be glad.

I’ll say it again now that I’m 3 days in. If this is 40 – I’m a fan.