Category Archives: learning life, breaths of grace

{what do you have to prove?}

a week ago my friend Allie said, “remember that blog you wrote on words..?”
it took me a minute.
then a few days later it came up on my Facebook memory thing.
so I clicked over and read.
I first wrote this in 2012!
but the same lesson is still being learned
and the truths just as needed.

grateful for a God that never gives up on me!

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whoever said,

“sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

obviously must have lived life as a monk. a silent one. surrounded by other silent monks.
because if you live. if you participate in community. engage in relationship..
step foot outside your door –
you’re going to, at some time or another, be hurt by words.

words that cut deeper than any stick. hit harder than any stone.

words that wound, and leave scars far longer than physical ones.
scars that scab. but never fully disappear.

funny, how the smallest bump against them can instantly reopen.
and though perhaps the sting not as potent now, still..
you feel your eyes wince, your heart quicken.

and always the whispering doubt, “maybe.. maybe, after all, they were right?”

do you notice how we remember the negative words spoken to us
far more than the positive?

I know, without question, more good and kind words have been spoken to me in my life –
ask me some, and I might be able to paraphrase.
but the mean, unkind words? I can probably quote verbatim.

they stick to you like a spider’s web.
that sense of not always knowing exactly where they are, but feeling them cling.
so you swat, and tug, and pull, because you!!!

some words stick longer than others. are harder to peel away.

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I know forgiveness is the antidote.

but I’m not going to pretend I always even know what forgiveness is.
I mean, truly is.

I’ve heard it said, it’s a choice. thing is, I don’t always choose it. or want to.

when Scripture says we’re to “do good” to those who’ve hurt us.
what is that? bake a plate of cookies, compliment their hair?
Or is doing good just not doing the bad we might want to?

like, pull up their prized petunias in the middle of the night.
or, the more difficult one that’s way more of a temptation..
slam and hurt them the way they have me.

sometimes the whole “doing good to your enemies” thing can seem so phony to me.
maybe because I’ve been on the receiving end of that at times..
that sense where someone really can’t stand you,
but they’re just going to love you to Jesus anyway!

please. keep your good and just pull my prized petunias.

but for me, I feel before I can even get to “doing good” from a genuine heart,
I first have to grasp what real forgiveness looks like – what it honestly is.
I think I do. but I don’t want it to be just what I was taught. how I was raised.
what I know the right answer is.
I don’t want a life filled with the right answers –
I want a heart that BELIEVES those answers!

that I have been forgiven much, and therefore, need to give it freely.
but pride clouds my vision of self.  

and though forgiven much, yes.
undeserving, yes.
there’s that part inside that still wants to stand up and declare
the other person less deserving.

and having lived in the pit of bitterness, why ever go there again?
the climb out way more difficult than sermons and books make it sound.
but. there’s that part that “wants” to be there. to not want out.
to not let the other person off so easily.
that somehow by climbing out of that pit, the other person wins.

silly thought that by holding on to our anger we can punish someone!!
truth is. they often have no idea.
and we only hurt ourselves more.

they don’t “win.” satan does.

he’s the true destroyer and he’ll do anything he can to do just that to our lives.
I think through the words of others is one of his favorite tactics! 

I’m sure he’d love to see us persecuted more by the world –
but he knows he doesn’t even have to step foot outside most christian circles.
forget persecution from without.
we’re doing a fine job all by ourselves of destroying one another from within! 

I’m always amazed at the number of people I’ve encountered that want
nothing to do with God.. and more often than not, because of something hurtful
that happened to them by another christian.

sad to think that we as christians are so often a TOOL in the hands of the enemy.

and I can just imagine his menacing grin..
how very easy we as christians have made his job of stealing our focus.


I don’t want him to win.

that motivates me out of the pit.
that motivates me to genuine forgiveness.

I don’t want him to win in my heart. in my family. 

this past week as I battled some old wounds,
I saw how slippery the ground around the pits of our life can be.
the lies that somehow the pit is “safer.”
the anger that wells.
the phantom conversations with the critics in our minds..

maybe only one or two, but with them, creating a mass of faces echoing,
“and I’m not the only one that feels this way. there are others.”
and the “others” of that accusation haunt you like shadows in the night.
never quite sure where or who.
but once those words spoken.. yes, they stick to you hard.

I don’t know about anyone else reading this..
but for me, with hurt has often come the need to prove myself.

to prove the critics wrong.
to show that person who thought they were so right about me, they’re not.

but. that’s a heavy way to live. with something to prove.

I can remember times in my life of even feeling I had to prove how
spiritual I was by how loving I could be..
acting as if I was forgiving.

anyone else get that with me?

of “doing good” as I was saying above, but with the motive of “proving myself.”

I guess bottom line, I’m done proving. {or, so want to be}

the irony is that we can spend so much of our lives striving for that person
or particular group’s approval when, if they’ve already judged us, cut us off,
determined we’re not worthy of grace..
all the proving we could do won’t change that!

it all leaves me exhausted.
feeling I must prove myself to those who choose to believe the worst of me.
and I’m tired of living exhausted.

Shayne said to me yesterday, you need to live for {invest, pour yourself into}
those who are going to cry at your funeral.
that narrows the field quite a bit. 

I was recently on my old blog, hutch5, and saw what my last entry said..

“I don’t live here anymore. I live here –”

and I stared at those words for several seconds thinking. yes, exactly.

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That’s where I want to live. to really live.
that grace to be right where I am..

in all my mess and figuring things out, and wanting to get it right,
but not always doing so.

recognizing where I’m at is okay. because I’m not staying here.
this is a process. every step necessary to proceed to the next –
you cannot manufacture the heart of genuine forgiveness and love.
God builds it.

I truly believe that. over time. a long time. a lifetime really.
of coming back to Him again and again and again..

and there with our scabs peeled and bleeding, and tears streaming,
and maybe confusion and questions –

He, every time, does what He always does –
tenderly soothes and draws us in closer.

is it the pain. the reminders of the pain that are
part of the process of Him drawing us?
I think so. though I don’t like it.  but I see why.

I see that He loves me just the way I am.
but too much to let me stay that way.
and so, He brings change.

He allows circumstances that bring my focus back to Him.
that reveal my true heart condition –
and He is far more interested in what He’s doing IN me,
than what is going on around me!!

He digs up the hard ground of my heart.
tilling newness..
breaking away the old, planting tenderness.
and pain tills the deepest. 

I feel this urge to say that if pain produces that, then I’m glad for it.
but I can’t really say it loud. not yet. just a whisper still.
but it’s there. the belief. though small. it’s there.

right now. I just want to be moldable to His change.
to not, in the process of getting free from bitterness grow bitter at Him…
to question His Sovereignty.
to wonder why He doesn’t change circumstances
or why He doesn’t change the one that hurt me.

trust is hard in places like this.
but all I can do is pick up my own mess and take it to Him.


I desire to live above the noise of past voices.
to grab hold of His joy again that bitterness seeks to steal.
and to feel the light..
the light in places where darkness once filled.

that’s the light of FREEDOM!
and in that light there is no need to prove myself to anyone.

but if something needs to be proved it is this…
and only this.
that no matter how flawed.
how scarred. the pain. the mess of me.

God is bigger!

and because of that,
there is no pit too deep that His grace doesn’t go deeper still.

and THAT is the life I’m holding onto today!!!

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*all photos {but two} credit to Ben!

{for those times it’s hard to parent}

she looks at me from where she sits at the kitchen table and i see her eyes brimmed with tears.
her lip quivers and i know it hurts worse than she’s saying.
this whole flood of emotions dammed up inside her that seems to burst inside me instead –
because when you’re a mom and you see your child hurting it does that.
their feelings bursting your heart right open and they really have no idea how fiercely we love them.

i gulp hard. wanting to be strong for her. wanting to be wise.
but in these times when something makes no sense and you feel as equally confused,
it’s hard to say the right thing, do the right thing, when you’re struggling yourself to do it.

and when she whispers, “i’m done!” i get it. i feel done too.

and my wrestling heart wants to tell her to draw back. draw in. turtle. don’t trust.
not to make herself vulnerable again.
and yet i know.. know when we’re faced with hurt the solution is never to withdraw.
to give up believing and to think we don’t need others. that we’re fine on our own.

it’s when life hurts most that we have the most to give.
loving through our pain is the most real love there is.
the kind that breathes hope to others of a God that’s bigger~

because giving is never about what we get back –
we give because of what has been given to us.
unmerited, unconditional grace.
and when others don’t meet up to what we thought.
when people disappoint.
even deceive us.
still, grace is what we give –
not because it’s what we feel like giving, but because it’s what’s been given to us.

but, wow. is it hard to parent in times like this.
when you have to leave the room to hide your anger.
when your own faith feels so shaky.
and when you tell her, “God has something better.”
but your battling doubts confirm what her eyes ask, “does He really?”
and you answer with what you know you have to say… but really, what is the only way to choose,
“we have to keep believing that together.”

and that’s really it. when we don’t have the answer as parents.
when we feel just as lost and questioning
we simply and only, and what we always must do no matter what~
grab the hand of that child and say just that. i don’t get it either but let’s go to The One who does.

to a Heavenly Parent who Fathers us both with such tender compassions and mercies that never fail.
who is faithful since the beginning and finishes what He’s begun.
and though now confused and not understanding, one thing we can hold to is only the wisest of love is forming us.
and hurts, no matter how painful, are too His ultimate love.
for He only gives what is best and what we truly need.

“so welcome the hurts.” i choke out to her.

the hurt keeps us dependent.
the hurt deepens us.
the hurt sets us apart.
and while others might seem to have it easier. get what they want.
let’s not look at the others, dear. let’s look to Jesus.
take my hand, i’m in this with you.

every day. walking towards the light.




{heart for the new year}


::january journal entries::

all the christmas decorations are down except the tree.
it’s the only fake thing.

i could hear the needles of the real pines fall almost by the second.

i don’t think i’ve ever taken my christmas decor down so soon.
seems i just put it up.
but i felt ready for white space again.
and not walking up the stairs against the wall so not to knock the greenery on the banister.
they were literally just sticks left.

funny how the real stuff can’t hide when it’s dead.
it’s obvious. apparent.

the fake stuff can stand for months.
even the year. i’d never have to change it at all.

but though it might seem to outlast what is real it is never –
no matter how prettily dressed up –
as beautiful as the real deal!

real is always better.
even if it means at times showing our bare branches.

and of course, it comes with a bit of a mess.

grateful for those who aren’t afraid of the messes of my life!

give me real any day.
and i’m talking way more than greenery up the banister!



shayne said it to me years ago and i come back to it again and again –
when our faith falters and our belief fails, if not God? then who? what?

because everyone puts their trust in something. someone. somewhere.
even if they don’t realize it. we’re all holding to something.

and regardless of how weak it feels at times,
i know the main thing that makes my faith different than all the others out there-
it is never who i am holding onto..

but it is always, WHO IS HOLDING ONTO ME!

this is how we make it. how we get through.
not because we white knuckle it.
somehow conjuring up enough strength to hold on just long enough.
but the fact that an Almighty God is holding on to us!

He never tires or looses His grip or ever weakens.
when He takes hold of your life you are held for good.
there is never a time when you will not be held.

“the eternal God is my refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” deut. 33:27 {verse for the year!}

but honestly. i don’t always feel held.
i don’t feel His embrace. His presence.
the communion so many others talk about.
but just because i’m not feeling His hold doesn’t mean He’s stopped holding!
that His grip has lessened. let up.
often, it’s me who is struggling within that grip.

gripped by the God of grace doesn’t always feel so good.

like a newborn you’re trying to soothe and comfort and you pull them in close. hold them tight.
but they writhe and turn, wanting out. wanting free. thinking they can meet their own needs.
but what does any wise parent keep doing?
just keeps holding.

and then. finally.. that little one goes limp in their arms.

and is He not the wisest Parent of all?
to keep holding, even when we don’t want to be.


how that’s the prayer of my heart for this new year..
to let it all go and just go limp in His arms – rest.
the truest rest of all when there’s no struggle at all.

only absolute surrender and reliance on the arms that hold you.
laying down heavy. and deep. undisturbed.

i don’t know if i’ve ever really had that.
but i want it. want this to be my year for it.

to say no matter what circumstances come.
what changes surround.
what pain or heartache or fear or unknown..
i will burrow down. limp in surrender to His Sovereignty.

i think surrender comes only realizing, and i mean really realizing that we are not made for this world!

i was telling this to the older two kids the other day on our way home from somewhere.
the revelation when we grasp it. the freedom it brings. the clarity to all we do!

this world is temporary. it is not the totality of our story – only the beginning.

i was talking to my mom recently, telling her how frustrated i get with the unfairness of suffering.
why some seem to suffer when others don’t.
like my girlfriend who just buried her husband yesterday.
and another battling breast cancer…
and it’s easy at times to feel it doesn’t matter.
living right. trying to follow God.

“oh, but it will matter,” mom said to me. “it will!”

maybe we won’t see it all here. understand it now. but someday.
someday when we stand before God. IT WILL ALL MATTER!


if only i could live like that. and i said it to my kids too.

“let’s live like eternity matters!”

because at the end of it all and after it all and when it’s all said and done and over.
lives spent and gone. what is left?

only what we did for eternity.

this is my prayer for 2014.
limp in His arms.
live for eternity.

we are never not being held by an eternal Sovereign God –
and He can be trusted.

we can count on it.


at times i look and see the road loom before me.
the unknowns. the change.
the things that will be different.
and fear wants to set in. anxiety.
worry and all the what if’s?
but then i remember –

YOU are The Sustainer of worried moms just like me.
the Marriage Builder. the Fear Calmer. the Shaky Job Stabilizer.
The Provider. The Strength in our weakness.
the Burden Lifter. the Grace Bringer. the Mercy Carrier.
the crooked way Made Straight. the unknown Possible.
the journey Passable. the days Liveable.
and i know. i know!
i have been this way before with you sweet Lord –
YOUR faithfulness will walk with me the rest of the way. all the way.
because YOU ARE THE WAY.
and my heart rests in you.


{grace wins. parenting teens}


we went out last night just us two.
because sometimes when you’re the parent of a teenager you have to do that.
just grab your fourteen year old and go eat a burger together.
to sit and sip a milkshake and just listen.

i read somewhere recently that researchers say women speak an average of
20 thousand words a day and men an average of 7 thousand!

that’s 13,000 more words that we get out of our mouths a day than men!!

i don’t know much about raising teenage boys..
we’re kinda winging it here.
but i know this much so far –
that as a parent, as moms especially with our 20,000 words a day,
sometimes the best thing we can do is just shut our mouths. be quiet!

stop lecturing and asking and prying and stressing over every little thing.

it’s amazing the things i HEAR when i stop thinking of everything i need to SAY!
the person i discover inside my child.
the things i learn from them.

how else would i know that ollie off kickers, pop shov, boneless,
and tre flips weren’t actually appetizers at a restaurant but skateboard tricks!


it’s possible to spend years in the same house with someone and not even really know them.
you think you’re spending time with them because well, they’re just always around.
and you think you’re having conversations, but telling them to clean their room again
for the one hundredth eighty eleventh time doesn’t count.

i was feeling this way with my son not long ago..
this being with him but not really.
this talking but then realizing, i was the one doing all the talking.
this constant tension and that everything was about what he should be doing and wasn’t.
or did do and shouldn’t.
and i hated that the joy of just getting to know him was somehow being lost amidst all that.

so i started {trying} to not talk so much. nag less. let some things go…
close the door to his room so i couldn’t see the mess!!
and evaluate more carefully what i wanted to battle over.

and ya know what.. at the end of the day-
there’s actually very few things worth battling over! very few.

and i’m realizing the real battles are so not over tidy rooms and good manners.
not rules and outward conformity but relationship and keeping their heart.

and that battle is fought best on our knees not all up in their faces with our words!


the teen years can blindside you…
weren’t they three like only yesterday?
when your biggest problem was whether they’ll make it to the toilet in time without peeing their pants.
then suddenly they’re THIRTEEN!!! and you find yourself wishing for something as simple as just changing wet underwear! ;)

you see the struggles that pull so strong and want to rescue them. to spare them.
to say the magic word {or 20,000} that would make it all better.
to somehow bring light where darkness is coming in.
and because you love so fiercely your fear grips harder and you want to hold on tighter.

but forcing outcomes. trying to control so nothing ever breaks only leads to withdraw
and kids that feel they can never measure up.

and i know there needs to be discipline and boundaries and we must parent our kids –
not just buddy them and try to be the cool bff.

but i know most of all in parenting that grace wins! always.

because it’s how He parents us.

we are people of grace from beginning to end.
every single last one of us!


last night after we got home ben sent me this text with this video.
“remember mom upside down is WOW!”

love my boy and the work that’s being done in both our hearts~
what a journey this all is!

the story of jim for my thursday.

“is it only wednesday?” ben asked.
and i stared at him for several seconds thinking..
i literally couldn’t remember at first.

yeah. it’s been one of those kind of weeks around here.

football practice and tennis practice and youth starting back up at church. gymnastics. dance. a birthday to plan. three photo shoots. laundry literally all over my family room because i carried it in there to fold and then of course got distracted, and then too busy since, and all the kids have just been going in there digging through it looking for what they need… i’m pretty sure one or two of them has been changing in there at night and leaving their dirty clothes mixed in with all the clean ones.

i finally took the piles of what belonged to each one and threw them on the floor in their rooms. i really don’t care how it gets put away or hung up as long as i don’t have to see it!! i thought that should have dwindled it down quite a lot but it seems to just keep growing – i’m starting to get my suspicions that the neighbors are sneaking over and throwing theirs in the window.  when your laundry pile gets so high you really would never notice a few strays!

shayne’s gone this week. which probably explains the first three paragraphs right there.

it’s his second week away now and funny how the first few nights start off all, “dad’s gone kids let’s get pizza and stay up late watching monk!” till about the fourth day in and then i’m feeling those late nights and pizza’s catching up. to the second WEEK where even the mention of anything processed makes me want to burst into tears! and who are these nocturnal creatures in my house and why don’t they ever sleep? {i have no idea where they get this wanting to stay up late stuff from anyway}.

i told the kids tonight at dinner if they needed to say anything to me to please not use the word, “mom,” anymore.. i discovered that after seven p.m. when dad’s out of town i’m kinda {totally seriously} done for the day and i go into a comatos stare as i imagine a desert island somewhere far far away

but reality is, desert islands and kids that don’t call me mom isn’t exactly life right now. this is it – the driving everyone here and there and hours of waiting through practices and dance classes and piles of papers to sign that i don’t even know what i’m signing off on anymore, “what? you donated a kidney to the science lab!!!!” and midnight hours of homework. and a kid that likes to tell me every detail of their day. another that i have to pursue and draw out. another that’s reading out loud to anyone who’ll listen nearby and another that never stops moving from the second they get up! and then let’s not even talk about trying to make sure they’re all fed and watered and bathed and wearing clean underwear!!!

climbing into bed at the end of it all when things have semi quieted for the night i picked up my journal to write some things down and it opens to the front page — i see across the top these words, “jim holdren, wrestler…” and i start reading what follows. it’s a story i copied down weeks back. a story i’ve heard my dad tell a dozen times. i was foggy on some of the details and called him one afternoon to ask specifically if he’d just tell it to me again – so i could write it down. tell my kids. remember.

it goes like this.

“jim holdren was a friend of mine who was on the wrestling team at my school. one year he won the school division. then regional’s. then state. which now meant he qualified for nationals. his coach told him that if he could make it into a lower weight bracket he would have a better chance at winning. the nationals were only weeks away so jim did everything he could to work off the extra pounds. by the time they came round he did make the weight class he wanted but was so very weak as a result – he found himself in the ring with his opponent being flipped around like a rag doll. jim would tell the story and say, “i had nothing. no strength left in me to fight. i decided to just let the other guy win.” but as his opponent flipped him on his back and was about to pin him to the mat jim suddenly heard something… as he turned his head he looked, and from over on the other side of the mat he saw his coach, down on all fours, looking him straight in the eyes and slapping the mat hard with his hand while he shouted, “don’t you quit, jim. don’t you quit. don’t you quit, jim. don’t you quit!” jim said his coach’s words gave him the resolve to not give up. he felt a new burst of energy and flipped and pinned his opponent and won the national championship.”

i finished reading and laid my head back against my pillow. i could hear my dad’s voice telling that story. the way his hand would slap down as he told it with such animation. and i smiled.

“don’t you quit, jim. don’t you quit.” are the words i know will be echoing around me as i walk into another crazy non stop day today.

sometimes it’s not some big mind blowing revelation or bible verse or inner strength we pull out to help us persevere during the tough times – sometimes it’s just something as simple as a childhood story that a sweet loving dad would take the time to tell us that fills the sails of our hearts and inspires us to keep going.

even when people are still using the word, “mom!” long after seven p.m.

cottage weekend-leamington 247

the ride of public school.

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i took emma to canada’s wonderland the last tuesday before school started…

it was her first time ever to an amusement park – well, that she remembers. she went when she was a baby. and for the last 3 years that we’ve lived here we’d pass this amusement park on the highway to and from toronto and she would sit with nose smashed to the window saying every time how she hoped someday she could go!

it was priceless pulling in that day. her not having a clue we were going and telling her THIS was our destination, not ikea like i had said! though i had planned to still get there before they closed for a return, but what was i thinking!! we were having way too much fun to leave. we stayed until they closed and then until they kicked us out of the gift shop – i think we were literally one of three cars left in the parking lot! made for getting out way easier!

the most perfect part of the day was how often emma would throw her arms around my waist hard and thank me again and again, and, “oh, mom!! this is a dream come true!”

whenever i get to feeling that my kids are deprived or lacking or wishing we could afford more often what others do on a regular basis i see in moments like this there’s something to be said for not getting all you want, all the time!

you lose the wonder. the gratefulness.
entitlement and boredom set in where once childish “dreams”  lived.

but as excited as i was to see her excitement. that smile that never left the entire day. i admit, the whole way down, and on every ride we stood in line for i had the thought, “what if it breaks? what if my baby’s on it and this is the one time in a millionth it malfunctions and 30 years of steel give way?”

so ya know what i did? i climbed on every one of those ding dang rides with her.
even the spinny ones that make you want to puke your brains out.

i think i’m still not walking in a straight line!




we do that though, don’t we? as moms. from the time we first know they’re inside us..
we wonder the “what if’s?” play out the maybe’s.

we rub our bellies and wait for those kicks.
hold our breath until we hear their first cry.
stand over their bed making sure they’re still breathing.

we can’t wait until they can roll over and not have their face all buried in the bed. but then they roll over and next on our minds.. “what if they get caught in the spindles?” if only they could stand then we’d worry less! but the minute we walk into their room and see them standing what do we think? “what if they flip out of their bed?” and when they do and survive, now it’s, “what if they get out of their bed open the door crawl down the hall climb up on the toilet onto the sink into the medicine cabinet and open the child proof bottle of tums!!! and, oh my word!! can tums kill you??”

so we rush right away to google it and find a whole beaucoup of other things that we never thought to worry about and now, we’re worrying about!

and so it goes.
this mothering thing.

and i don’t even consider myself someone who worries.
only all those things can pass through my mind in a matter of less than 3 minutes!!

it’s part of being a mom. wanting to protect these ones so much a part of us!!

men will never get it. it’s just different for them.
we carried these kiddos IN us! tucked right up there under our hearts!
i don’t think we ever lose that sense of connection..
that intensity of feeling for them. with them.
even knowing at times what it is they’re feeling before they even tell you!

moms just know.

i always wondered how mine did.
how she just knew. and still does.

well now i do!


but it seems the very thing that makes the mother child relationship one of the most special and unique and beautiful things can also become the ruin of it as well. if we hold on too tight! over protect. want to ride every ride and smother and make sure they’re wearing they’re helmet and life jacket and complete roll of bubble wrap

it’s certainly our job to protect. to make sure they are safe. that where they go is safe. and who they are with is safe. but as my kids get older this is what i’m learning – i instruct. i teach. i try to guide and gently correct. but i can’t always go! i won’t always be by their side… and hopefully, when i’m not there the instructions and teachings kick in, and they follow what they’ve been told.

but. sometimes they don’t!
what then?

it was one of my biggest fears with public school.

i don’t care what anyone says – public school is rough! especially high school.
it’s a place where the majority of kids are probably living totally opposite from how you’ve tried to train yours. there are condoms sold in the bathroom. drugs sold anywhere you like. the f-bomb dropped every other word. and God obsolete in conversation unless making fun of those who believe in Him.

it’s exactly all the things i had heard about it growing up, being homeschooled.
it’s one of the reasons we chose to homeschool our own kids.
it’s why i teetered back and forth the entire summer over homeschooling them again..

last school year was tough on one child in particular here.

i saw them veering from their relationship with Christ…there were things we went through and talked through that i thought i’d never have to deal with one of my children about. we went to therapy together. at first that reality embarrassed me. i didn’t want others to know. we were a family of therapy. it sounded so messed up to say. like we were such failures.

i blamed public school. i blamed friends. i blamed music and culture and society. even the church!

and what’s our instinct as moms when we think our kids are being threatened. jeopardized. falling away?
clear the path… push back the tidal wave and grab our babies and run! keep them safe. protected.

there was some of that.
rules and boundaries and tough love parenting.

but mainly there was grace and humbling. realizing our responsibility.
crying out to God individually and together. and learning and growing.
and… being okay if others knew we were in therapy!
accepting this as the storyline God was writing. and using.
holding on to the promise that He wastes nothing!

and over the summer there was such a transformation. a coming back!
with so much in our family.. not just this child. but yes! praise God, this child!!

but as the school year approached i feared that what had been done in their tender heart would be undone.

ah, those are the moments with your nearly grown ones where you feel like you’re standing over their crib all over again just waiting to see their chest rise and fall. are they breathing? are they okay? will they make it?

but this was thing that God was and is opening my eyes to big time~

parenting isn’t about trying to raise kids who never make mistakes.
who are never exposed to anything that might bring them some kind of hurt or harm.
we live in a fallen world. it’s inevitable they will not always make the right choices.
we can teach and instruct and guide but we cannot change hearts!

sometimes in trying to make sure we get it all right, we forget the number one thing of all we should be doing – consistently running ourselves to the Redeemer and Maker of all things new, and reminding our kids to do the same!

and if that isn’t happening it doesn’t matter where my kids go to school.
home. public. or out under a rock!
they will not know the joy of the Lord and the power of His salvation.


throughout the summer the more i cut everything away i began to see more clearly my reason for wanting to bring the kids home again for school – it was wanting some kind of “guarantee” that they were going to turn out how i thought they should. searching for how to make that happen.

my motive were rooted in fear!

and i’m not saying that’s why others homeschool. not at all.
i love homeschooling and think it’s great. if it’s what God has called you to.
it was for us for years. and then God changed our hearts and is leading in a new direction…
it’s okay if others aren’t going in the same direction.

that’s where faith comes into play – that regardless of what others are doing or saying, or how we were raised we will listen to God’s voice for ourselves and seek to follow what He directs for our lives and what is best for our family.

and when others say, “well God hasn’t led me that way!” amen!! it’s how it should be.
God is diverse and seems to like to shake things up that way..sending us all down different paths.
i have a feeling it has something to do with causing us to be able to expand and reach out and better be His channels.

and also what keeps us so desperately needing Him.

which is all it’s ever about. all of this.

when i saw my child struggling i looked for where to put the blame. where to find the answers.
i thought it was because we had put them in school.
that if we had kept them home none of that would have happened.

but i’ve seen God use public school in my children’s lives like nothing could have.
i also saw how God used homeschool in my children’s lives like nothing could have!
that’s the thing – He is not limited. and He is not restricted.
He uses it all.
not because of us. but often in spite of us!

homeschooling isn’t the answer. just as public school isn’t the answer.
neither one is any different than any other thing we can look to for relief or rescue or outcome.

the answer is Jesus.

always has been. always will be.

because He is the only one that can transform a heart and put within someone a desire to live their life for Him!
no set of rules or standards or curriculum or well meaning parent or all the therapy in the world can do that~

only Him.


…the very last ride we rode on that day at wonderland was a roller coaster called thunder run. a fast jolting ride that spiraled through a mountain in the pitch black. we stood in line waiting. inching our way forward slowly. the whole way emma going back and forth on whether or not she wanted to ride. “do you know how fast it goes?” “what if i get on it and it scares me?” “what if i don’t like it?” she nervously watched one car after the other load and take off. people screaming! she clasp her hands together tight and held them under her chin looking up at me, her voice lowering to a whisper, “what… what if i change my mind and want off?”

“well,” i said bending down near her. “just get in. hold on. and keep your eyes shut really, really tight the entire time….”

ben who was standing behind us leaned down to join the huddle and said rather nonchalantly, but in a tone that held some conviction, “or. you could just remember, The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.. and trust Him!”

i looked up at him and batted my eyes a few times in surprise. then smiled.

“yeah. or …you could just do that!”

because the Lord is my Shepherd i shall not want –
for direction. for guidance. for wisdom. for grace. for how to raise my kids.

He leads and guides and parents us all.

so on this ride of public school.
it’s no different than anything else.

i’m learning to hold on to HIM!


´¸.·¨) ¸.·¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ (¸.·¨¯`♥ amber

the last pages of summer.

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the first of september seemed to instantly usher in cozy cable knits, falling leaves, and the craving for a pumpkin spice latte. you can feel the shift in the air. the switch of the bright blue skies to their grayish green hue…

the cooler days seem to bring with them calmness. a slowing of sorts as routines restart and schedules corral the loose craziness of summer.

i love that God designed seasons. new beginnings.
the finishing of one and folding out of another.
our souls seem to need that.

but with every close of summer i usually feel the same – this catch of hesitation inside as i first step into fall. that nervous question of uncertainty. wanting to move forward but still wanting to hold on to the familiar… {sounds like a theme’s going on here}

and how many seasons have i walked through and yet still can feel like a 12 year old in need of mom and chocolate chip cookies and the reassurance it’s going to be okay.

then i remember every september starts this way. a gradual letting go. acceptance of change. and just like every other time i’ll find myself soon enough embracing this new rhythm and wondering why i ever doubted i would!

and i smile just now thinking of something someone said to me recently –
“grace is already there. just sitting there waiting on you.
it’s not as if it’s scrambling to keep up. or trying to quickly cover your steps..
it’s already paved the way! all the way.
so walk on in confidence and joy!”

yes, walk on.

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thanks to everyone who commented and messaged here or on facebook concerning my last post about my hard drive. i already shared with some of you, but for those who didn’t hear there was some good news – the computer repair guy was able to retrieve several thousand photos from his computer, not mine. apparently he “cut” the files from my computer, whatever that means, but he had run them through his checking for viruses and so was able to save the ones he could that way~

it’s far from all. but when i opened the recovered folder to see reese’s baby pictures – weeks of life. well i flat out cried happy happy tears!!

so thankful for each sweet memory that could be saved.

here’s a collage of pictures from some of our august times that the computer guy was able to get off my camera memory cards even though the pictures had already been deleted from them.. amazing what they can do!!


lots of water time –

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we visited a husky kennel where they keep the sled dogs for the summer..
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i never tire of the landscape here…

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it was the summer emma finally got up on skis…

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ben perfected his wake skating..

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and shayne showed he still has it…

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we spent time with good friends…

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and time just alone too…

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the summer of 2013 will go down in the books as one of the best ever. and as the last of it’s pages turn over in closing we throw out the welcome mat and say, hello to the new chapter of fall!



but can we trust Him?

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there’s this story of a boy who made a kite with his dad…

“with wood glue, poles, and newspaper, we fashioned a sky dancing masterpiece. red, white, and blue, and shaped like a box. we launched our creation on the back of a march wind. but after some minutes it caught a downdraft and plunged. i tightened the string, raced in reverse, and did all i could to maintain elevation. but it was too late….

envision a redheaded heartsick twelve year old standing over his collapsed kite.
that was me.

envision a square bodied man with ruddy skin and coverall placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder.
that was my kite making dad.

he surveyed the heap of sticks and paper and assured, “it’s okay. we can fix this.”

i believed him. why not?
he spoke with authority.

so does Christ.

to all whose lives feel like a crashed kite He says, “we can fix this. let me teach you…

let me teach me how to handle your money, long mondays, and cranky inlaws. let me teach you why people fight, death comes, and forgiveness counts…

but most of all, let me teach you why you are on this earth.”

don’t we need to learn?
we know so much, and yet we know so little.

the age of information is the age of confusion:
much know-how, hardly any know-why.

we need answers.
Jesus offers them.

but can we trust Him?
only one way to know.

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human wisdom tells us to get as much as we can.
believe only what we can see.
enjoy pleasures and avoid pain.

God’s wisdom tells us to give all we can.
believe what we can’t see.
enjoy service and expect persecution.

trust makes all the difference.”

{excerpts from 3:16 by max lucado}



“the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God stronger then men…” 1 cor2:8

if we can’t trust Him what other option is there?
where else can lives be anchored and hope secured.

i’ve not walked with Him as long as some but i’ve walked with Him long enough to know –
we can trust our ordinary lives into the hands of an extraordinary God.

there is no other way to peace.


´¸.·¨) ¸.·¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ (¸.·¨¯`♥ amber



hi! and welcome to the new space~
look forward to staying connected with old blog friends and meeting new ones.
and of course, documenting this crazy adventure of life as i learn to embrace the
wherever i am, right in this very moment.

more soon.

´¸.·¨) ¸.·¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ (¸.·¨¯`♥ amber



moving here. staying here. learning to be all here.

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i was always that kid that couldn’t go to sleepovers.
i never made it.
i always ended up in tears, my parents having to be called.

even as a teenager i wasn’t a whole lot better.
i remember at fifteen flying to this girls conference thing with the homeschool group we were part of.
i hated that week. i was miserable.

tracey, a girl from my hometown that i didn’t really know at the time flew out to the conference with me.
she would later tell me how i talked incessantly the whole way about a recent trip to my aunt’s house in atlanta, georgia where i was supposed to stay with her for several weeks until her baby was born but i only lasted like three days and i had no idea how i was going to survive that week at the conference because i was already so homesick.

tracey would later go on to become one of my closest friends.

and we still laugh about our first flight together. though i tell her i have no memory of carrying on that way!  i mean, over sharing with basically total strangers doesn’t sound like me at all!! ; )

so, it’s kinda funny when you think the kid who couldn’t stand to leave home would move 800 miles away. and twice!

the first time, as a newlywed, felt much different than the second.

the first time it was about beginning a new life. an adventure…

maybe i read too many janette oke books growing up. her canadian west series!
and the idea of the rugged northern frontier and canadian mounties and wolves all held a wide eyed fascination.

but in reality i was like every other normal girl that fell in love with a guy –
and wherever he happened to be is what would become my home. location didn’t matter!!
though that was before i’d lived a winter here. ;)

the second time i moved here was much harder…

instead of beginning a life, we were uprooting one we loved.
and though i still felt a bit of that canadian adventure in me, i was far more concerned with how the “adventure” would effect the four tender souls entrusted to my care.

but my reason for moving hadn’t changed. i loved this man and where he went i wanted to be.

and though i can’t imagine not being married to him and doing life next to him it doesn’t take away from longing for others i love. i just long for and love him most! :)

homesickness is a strange sort of feeling. it just kinda settles in right around your heart and never really leaves.
and the silliest things can trigger the tears.
like standing in the brand new opened panera line yesterday..
a lady behind me mentions how glad she is to finally have panera in canada.
saying how she and her husband eat at them all the time when they go to florida.

“they’re just all the way down 75 south..”

i smile. and tell her i know.

“75 south is what takes me home. i’m from cincinnati.”

and then she slaps my arm and starts talking all excited about the times they have stopped there and what a pretty city it is. and i listen and feel tears, not because i’m sad. not really. but because we both share this mutual love for a place dear to my heart and yes, i miss it.

but the thing is this. i can’t let my missing what once was cause me to miss what’s right in front of me!

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i really came face to face with this a few weeks ago when shayne started his first monday morning back in the land of the self employed.
it was a change i knew was coming. we had talked about it for months. it was all in the works.
the company he was with this past year had been great! and he’s still doing some subcontracting for them…
but financially we needed other options.
and when some opportunities to be in business for himself again came up, shayne thought it was the best route.

it’s weird though how you can know something’s coming.. and yet it still take you by surprise!
like the drop on a roller coaster. you’re slowly going up.up.up. higher and higher. and you know what’s on the other side. you anticipate it. it’s why you’re on there to begin with. that thrill!
but then. then there’s that pause at the top. that pause for a split second that’s just long enough for your life to flash before your eyes and suddenly you think this isn’t such a great idea after all!  you want off. you want out. and hey! those stairs that run alongside the tracks are there for a reason!! thing is, there’s that heavy metal bar across your chest holding you in. you’re already committed. there’s no backing out. so what do you do? the only thing you can – – shut your eyes hard. hold on tight. and scream at the top of your lungs as you plunge straight forward down towards the earth at eye watering speed!

i’d say we’re still in that “drop mode” around here. or maybe that’s just what it means to be self employed. ha!
but the biggest adjustment for me wasn’t the switch from the norm. the security of an every two week paycheck. the loss of  benefits. or having a company truck or computer or perks… it was coming to terms with the realization we’d be staying here longer!

i remember the first time it hit me. we were driving somewhere together, shayne and i. he was talking about things with the business and since i’m not really a very business minded kind of gal i just sat and smiled pretty and nodded my head. but then, he mentioned something about 6, 7, 8 years down the road and i felt like my brain went fuzzy. i think i was still smiling and nodding but i wasn’t hearing a word he said. after awhile he asked, “babe? you listening?”

“huh?” i said snapping back to attention, “uh.. no. you kinda lost me at the 6, 7, 8 year thing…”

this move here was never supposed to be long term. it was never the plan.
and though i said i “surrendered” my plans to God, suddenly surrender looked entirely different.
and that moment in the car was one of those moments on top of the roller coaster. that pause.
hello! let me off this thing. this is not what i thought it was!!

because yes. surrender rarely is what i think it is.

giving in to something just because i know there’s no other option or way around it is not surrender.
doing what i need to do to get by until i can get back to the plan i wanted is not surrender.
even resolving to not be miserable but look for the joy and live in the moment, is not surrender either.

surrender only looks one way.
arms out. hands open. self abandoned. holding onto nothing except Jesus.

there’s been way too many times in my life where outwardly i had all the right appearances of surrender.
good at looking the part. but inside – a heart full of resentment, even bitterness at what God was doing.

i’m done with that. i want it to be real.
i want what i’ve grown up my whole life saying i believe to truly be what i believe!

it’s not easy. surrender never is.
oh, talking about it. singing the songs and quoting the verses is easy.

but when God says, “now live it.” and maybe living it means living it someplace 800 miles from family we love and friends we miss. a place that’s familiar and a country that’s ours. maybe living it means giving up how i thought life was supposed to go.. yeah, that’s the hard part.

yet i want peace in my life. i want a calm and assurance that isn’t rocked by any circumstance or trial. and i know there’s only way to that kind of peace – it’s not found in chasing the american dream or having a great job. it’s not living by family or having security stashed away in a bank account. it’s found only in the person of Jesus. only.

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but even as i write that.. even now. i know i’m not going to consistently live like i believe that.
i’m going to forget what i write here. i’m going to get tired. i’m going to doubt. i’m going to think all this surrender stuff is for the birds!
i’m going to stand up and want off this ride.

but i also know this …

no matter what, i’ll come back to the same conclusion. i always do.
this isn’t unfamiliar territory to me. trusting an unknown future to an all wise God.
He and i have traveled this way before together. many times now.
and same as before, i’ll struggle. i’ll want to give in. to give up…
but He’ll love me just the same and let mercy draw me back.

i’ve always liked that bible verse that talks about the Lord rejoicing over you with singing.
but it wasn’t until recently the first half of it really stood out to me –

“The Lord your God in the midst of you is mighty.. He will save.”

and it’s that word midst. in the middle. right in the thick of it.
that’s what i loved. what i needed a visual of.

He’s not on the outskirts. standing by. merely cheering us on.
He’s not an observer of our life. He’s a participant.
not standing there hoping we make it through.
but helping us through. walking us through. sometimes, yes, even carrying us through.

He’s in the middle of our lives. He is mighty and He never stops saving us!

“many are the plans in a person’s heart..
but God’s purpose’s shall prevail.” prov. 19:21

i don’t want to be here simply because i’m here, i want to be all here.
maybe it’s not forever. maybe it’s for who knows how long. but it is for now.
and i don’t want to live life waiting on the life i want and miss the life of TODAY!

i might be screaming at the top of my lungs.
and my knuckles might go white from holding on so tight.
but i’m holding.

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“Your journey has molded you for the greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be.
Don’t think you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now.
And now is right on time.”