{a safe place}

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i sorta ran away home because i needed to get away.
sometimes when life seems closing in i feel i need to do that.
run.
back to familiar.
back to my country.
back to chick-fil-a.
and american target.
they have it in canada but it’s not the same.
lots of things aren’t.
i often feel i’m not.
that i don’t breathe as easy here.
feel my head clear.
so i pack up.
throw the younger ones in.
take a girlfriend along too.
and away we set.
and always, this happy little settling inside when i cross the border.
think i’m home.
and it is.
but home changes.
or maybe it’s me.
and i ran to where i thought would be a safe place.
aren’t we always –
looking for shelter?
where to turn?
our husband.
a friend.
a country.
a place.
family.
security.
stability.
and it felt all directions i was coming up lacking.
and then my mom says to me – because moms know the struggles we never really verbalize.
“i know you’re looking for a safe place..
you want it to be your husband. you want it here at home..
but amber
there is only one
and God is your safe place.
the strong tower where you must run to find all you’re looking for.”

and her words were for me.
but i thought maybe they might be for you too.
just from a mom’s heart to another.
a sister in Christ.
a friend.
a slight smile and tap on the arm that reminds you the same.

we DO have a safe place.
and it’s name is,  Jesus.

“show me the path of life
in your presence there is fullness of JOY.” ps.16:11

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happy monday all you sweet ones who stop in here~

{a life spilling joy}

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i woke today feeling overwhelmed with things beyond my control.

i wanted to stay in bed with the pillows over my head.
sometimes giving in is easier.
darkness inviting.

but it is never the way to joy.

joy comes only as i trust that God is bigger and He IS at work.
that He cares. and all He allows is only His absolute love for me.
because He knows best. because He knows what i need.

“may the God of hope fill you with all joy as you trust in Him, so that you overflow.” rom.15

i want that –  a life spilling joy.
but first, i must come to a place trust.

one is the prerequisite to the other.

the position of joy comes only through a posture of trust.

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so i got out of bed.
flung the curtains wide.
embraced the light.
chose joy.

chose trust.

“and if trust must be earned hasn’t God unequivocally earned our trust
with the bark on the raw wounds..
the thorns pressed into the brow. your name on cracked lips?
how will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right?
He’s already given the incomprehensible.
Christ our crossbeam.

the radical wonder of it stuns me happy. hushes me still.
it’s all Christ.
every moment. every event. every happening.

it’s all Christ and in Christ we are always safe.” -one thousand gifts

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“oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord.” ps.40

{sunday sweetness & giveaway winner}

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yesterday was good and full.
starting at 6:30 a.m.
heading north to be with shayne’s family for church and lunch.
then a tour of the town daddy grew up in for the kids.
they’ve seen it before but always like hearing his stories.
a romp through a random field in our bare feet.
driving home in the rain.
trying out the new yogurt shop by the lake.
dipping our feet in the water to feel how chilly it was.
taking a walk.
meeting an old man with two birds on this shoulders.
watching the kids all play together.
the two older. the two younger.
the fascinating dynamics of siblings.
finishing the night at the park.
with poutine’s, sweet potato fries and dollar drinks from mcdonald’s.
shayne pushing the little girls on the tire swing.
the older ones sitting at the picnic table by me.
ben says, “I like our family..
we might not have a lot of money to do stuff but we make our own fun.”

i immediately felt a lump in my throat, “aw, ben!”

“well, it’s true,” he went on.
“we just have a good time no matter what. and we laugh a lot.”
then he got that cute little boy grin
that even though he’s not so little anymore, still comes out.
“we’re a cool family!”

now tears are full on brimming..
you have to know. ben doesn’t just say these kinds of things.

“that’s the best mother’s day present right there, bud. what you just said.”

and he smiled, then turned to watch his sisters playing, while i kept watching him.
a moment i’ll remember for a long, long time to come.

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>>>><<<<

on saturday kate took me to a pottery sale and told me to pick out whatever i wanted.
i choose these adorable tiny pots with succulents.

i’ve never had succulents but i’d been wanting some.
i’ll have to google how to care for them so i don’t kill them.
for now i’m just admiring their daintiness.
they’re my new favorite things!

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when i came home. ben had made me this arrow from an old pallet.
i had shown him a picture of some and said i would love one.
and i do. it’s perfect.
i’d like three more so i have a set of four.

“as arrows are in the hand of a warrior so are children of thy youth…” ps.127

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and the little girls showered me with homemade notes and cards and flowers.

when i asked reese what her card said she took it and in all seriousness began to read-
“i love you mom. you are my favorite. you are my best friend. and i love you.”
of course that’s what those purple swirls said!

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my heart just spills right over in thankfulness that i get to be their mom.
every day that thankfulness grows even more.
no matter what – it is so worthwhile.~

i am your mother
you are my child
i am your quiet place.
you are my wild.
i am your calm face.
you are my giggle.
i am your wait.
you are my wiggle.
i am your dinner.
you are my cake.
i am your bedtime.
you are my wide awake.
i am your lullaby.
you are my peekaboo.
i am your goodnight kiss.
you are my “i love you.” -maryann k cusimano

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happy monday moms!

>>>><<<<

AND… the giveaway winner is: sherri
i’ll be emailing you deets!
thanks to all who entered.
let’s do it again SOON. xo

{we love you, moms}

kat and mama
I love my mom because she has more integrity than anyone else I’ve ever met in my life. She is true to what she believes, through and through, and I respect her so much for it.

holly and mama
I love my mom for the personal sacrifices she made for me, not fully comprehended until I, too, became a mom.

my mom and I
I love my mom for her service to others. Putting other’s needs above her own, time and time again.

michelle and mama
I love my mom for the way that she has loved us without limits. Despite every circumstance, the highs and the lows she has never stopped showing us love.

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I love my mom because there has never been a day in my life I have not felt loved! With her having Stage 4 Cancer, I do carry a bit of sadness in my heart for the type of relationship I will never have with her – but a lot of joy in my heart as well that I do still in-fact have her here.

laura and mama
I love my mom because of the example she sets as a godly women who loves The Lord.

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I love my mom because of her deep passion for God, her sense of humor, and her always perfect skin! We can laugh about the stupidest things that no one else would understand. I’ll count myself lucky if i can ever turn out to be half the Mom that she is.

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I love my mom for how she has taught me to trust the Lord, even in the worst of
circumstances. How to love those who continue to hurt us. How to work hard and laugh
harder (especially at myself!)

sarah and susie
I love my mom {in law} for the way she lavishes Scripture, love, presence, and wisdom upon my life. Christ is clearly her hope of glory. {And for our 1 a.m. Taco Bell feasts!}

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I love my mother for the way that she has always believed in me, prayed for me, and spoken blessings over me. I am richly blessed in so many ways because of her.

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I love my Mother because she’s the only one who loves my children like I do. she patiently listens. she’s a Godly woman with a tremendous amount of wisdom. she’s scrappy. she is what I strive to be.~selfless~compassionate~bold~faithful~

amber and mama
I love my mom for being grace personified in my life. For being my best friend.

grace and mama
I love my mom for her unwavering commitment to loving and serving her husband and family.

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I love my mom because her love for Jesus pours out into my life, and everyone she meets.

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I love my mom for teaching me through years of example what it means to PRAY. I love her for allowing my brothers and I to grow up in a family that’s not torn up by unfaithfulness and deceit. I love her for her heart of compassion and kindness for those in need.

cindy and mama
I love my mom for her gentleness.

eastlyn and mama
I love my mom for being undaunted and tender.

mom and sisters
I love my mom for how she taught us four girls by example to honor and respect our husbands because she lives that out, and she taught me to love being a mother because of the way I saw her delight in it.

Mom and I
I love my Mom for being the amazing woman she is. Her laughter from the heart warms every room she enters!

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I love my mom for being consistent, for being content & for choosing an attitude of grace. For being faithful & loving Jesus.

jenn and mama
I love my mom because she is the most selfless and caring person I know. We have the best laughs together and she knows what I am thinking without me having to say a word.

robin and mama
I love my mom for being everything that I am not and showing me that differences make the world a better place. I love her smell, the feel of her hands, her smile, her accent, her soft cheeks and the way she makes me feel loved.

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I love my mom because she is always there to listen to me and help me through
problems. She is gracious and always tells me everything will be okay.

shannon and mama
I love my Mom for always being there for me.

jenny and mama
I love how my life overlaps with my mom’s on a daily basis. Not in an intrusive, smothering way, but on a way where we don’t need to get “all caught up” each time we see each other.

anna and mama
I love my mom for teaching me what it means to love God and love others.

maddy and mama2
I love my mom because she is always showing me what it looks like to be a woman of Christ. She is always there to care, love and support me in everything.

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I love my mom because she’s just as wacky as I am; because she dances and sings to Taylor Swift with me; because she sits with me when there are tornado warnings and I’m terrified.

image(3)
I love my Mom for always being willing and happy to help others. Her selfless example of service is an inspiration to me and so many others.

emily and mama
I love my mom because when I look at her, I see what the best version of myself would look like. My dream is to be just like her!

 

_MG_1425script

{a village that smiles & a mom’s day giveaway}

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i love moms!

love mine.
love being one.
love being part of this community.
the craziness.
the comfort.
the comradery.

whoever said it takes a village, sure got it right!
how we need each other.

and our lives spin non-stop most days..
we don’t always have the time we’d like to sit and talk over tea.
but i’ll never forget what an older lady said to me once.
“let your smile say what your words often can’t.”

and i think of that in regards to motherhood.

when i see a mom in the check out lane with her screaming toddler.
that chance i have to just smile an, “i’ve been there,” kind of smile.

or the mom yesterday, sitting in her car next to me in the school parking lot..
holding her coffee cup up in the air and i nodded and smiled back big.
i knew what she was saying.

the mom who’s balancing a baby on her hip, another by the hand,
and one strolling behind.
the mom whose girl is getting married a week from saturday.
the mom who’s heartbroken her son’s turned his back on the Lord.
the mom whose daughter lives 800 miles away.
the mom who just tragically lost her 3-year-old last friday.
the new mom full of nervous excitement.
the old mom with an empty nest.
the moms in heart only.
the moms who wait for us in heaven.

in the busyness of our lives, no matter what..
may we always have time for that understanding smile.
as we pass, whether face to face, or here across this screen.
may we not allow preconceived ideas to cause us to stand back.
assumptions to cloud. or differing opinions divide.
may comparison not steal what we have to offer.
and may jealousy not blind our eyes to who someone really is.
may we simply see moms. just like us. doing the best they can.
clinging hard. carrying on. needing encouragement. needing support.
fellow travelers on this journey, same as us.
and may we take the time, if even ever so briefly,
and if only every now and again, to stop.
to notice that one across the path.

may we be a village known for its smiles.
and may it be contagious!

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>>>><<<<

_MG_1425give away

i’m so happy to be able to do a giveaway in honor of MOMS!
i chose one of my favorite quotes on parenting by beth woolsey~
jana from the chalk shop so beautifully designed it..
and i think she said within a half hour sitting at starbucks! {crazy talented girl}

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to enter::

please leave a comment here on the blog
{facebook comments will not be counted, sorry!}
telling me why you love being a mom, or what you love most about yours!

multiples entries accepted for sharing this giveaway on facebook or instagram
{please link to blog on fb or tag me on instagram @ _amberhutchins}

this giveaway is open to all who would like to enter
and will close sunday, the 11th, at 6 p.m.
winner announced monday, may 12th, and will be notified by email.
{please make sure to leave a valid email with your entry}

giveawaygiveaway3

 

happy entering and …

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{the parts you can}

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a few weeks back one of the young moms in my bible study group was
saying how she was no martha stewart…

“homemade playdough – fail.”
“homemade bread – fail.”
“cute craft – fail.”

and haven’t we all so been there!

when the doubts creep in and we feel we’re not measuring up.
that somehow we’re not enough or doing well.

and i’m not sure who actually makes up the list of expectations we feel.
some from within, i’m sure.
a lot from without.

every mom generation has had its struggles, no doubt
but maybe not to the intensity we can feel these things now.
the highlight of everyone’s life right at our finger tips.

being a mom is exhausting enough.
however when our souls run exhausted from feelings of inadequacy
that’s an exhaustion that goes right through and we never feel rested.

and though it might appear from some of our social media feed that we’re the
only woman in the world not home educating. raising gap model looking kids.
keeping chickens. or making anthropologie envy clothes. trust me..
even those have their struggles, because everyone does, and there’s no such thing as “doing it all.”

i’m not sure God intended us to do every.single.part of womanhood.
not all of us can sew and decorate and craft and bake.
not everyone is a great teacher or has a green thumb.
but there ARE parts we can do and those are the ones we must discover and embrace.

we spend far too much worrying over all we DON’T DO-
we need to start seeing all we DO.
the parts we’re getting right!

i used to feel so guilty that i wasn’t more of a playing mom.
i’ve never been one who could sit for mind-blowing minutes pushing match box
cars around the floor or dressing polly pockets fifty million times.

but design a resort for polly and her friends. i’m all over it!
or a cool dirt track outside for match box cars, i’m there!

when the girls wanted to build a dollhouse, we turned the closet in the basement
into one instead. and on sunday when emma wanted me to play with her after i’d
just gotten home from a late morning meeting and i was tired and hungry, we came
up with playing restaurant where i was the customer who sat at the table while she
made my food.

she thought it was great she had free reign in the kitchen and she beamed over
the 5 dollar tip!!

so i do play with my kids.
only i’ve learned to play with them in the ways i enjoy..
the part i do well.
they love it and a huge reason being they can tell i’m loving it too.
truly engaged and into it, not just punching a clock.

there’s something about knowing who we are and being okay with that that brings
a calm and peace – not only into our hearts but our homes as well.

i don’t do the crafting mom well either. or the baking mom.
and i wasn’t the greatest homeschooling mom..
which was hard for me to admit for awhile.
that somehow i wasn’t supermom enough or strong enough spiritually.
but that’s been one of the best decision for our family.
such a weight lifted of carrying a conviction not our own.

and now i’ve been able to spend the money i was putting away in that jar for therapy i knew they’d need someday from me being their teacher on other things!! ;))

and that’s not to say God is never going to call us to do things we don’t want.
or that we feel ill-equipped in.
He kinda does that all the time.
but that’s why the most important part of all is to make sure we’re walking in obedience to Him.

i believe He calls us to different paths on purpose..
mostly to teach us to rely on Him above those around us.
to look and listen to His voice first and foremost despite what others are saying or doing.

we need to remember He’s the one that’s given us these kiddos.
and when He created us He created us with them in mind.
we are the moms they need.

so stop focusing on all you CAN’T DO.
focus on all you ARE. the parts you can.

besides.. homemade bread is over rated and store bought playdough works just fine.
and from what i hear our kids wouldn’t want martha stewart as their mom anyway.

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we’re in this together.

xo.

you know you’re a mom when..

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the other night when i was out at a fancy place..
desperately needing some lipstick and realizing i had forgotten mine at home.
i began digging in my bottomless, mary poppins bag. sure i’d find something that could work!
baby powder. crayons {that was a possibility}. candy wrappers. little drawings on church bulletins.
then, finally.. there in the furthest corner under piles of dirty kleenex and starbucks napkins-
a tiny bright blue tube of dora the explorer lip gloss! perfect.

so in the crowded bathroom of about half a dozen other women waiting or already primping in front of the mirror
i tried to act as nonchalant and natural about it as i could..
leaning in close and smearing the blueberry tasting stickiness on my lips.
the lady next to me, putting the lid back on her shiny gold tube of expensive looking fire engine red, looked over and laughed.

“you know you’re a mom when…”

and i laughed back.
oh, so true.

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you know you’re a mom when lancome has been replaced with dora the explorer!
and when you have more kids stuff in your purse than grown up stuff.
or that time the training underwear fell out with your wallet in american eagle.
the young college age guy just looking up at you with this weird look

and you know you’re a mom when college age kids look like they’re only about 10.

when your coffee’s always cold {i have a cup next to me now!}
when you forget what sleep is.
and yoga pants replace designer jeans.

when buying new soccer cleats take precedent over touching up your dark roots.
and listening to new readers sound out endless chapters finds you humming holy holy holy over in your mind.
when you drive a mini van.
that you never seem to get out of.
and somehow it always smells like mcdonald’s fries.
and there’s sweet and sour sauce spilled and hardened on the floor, but no one knows how it happened. {hmmmm….}

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you know you’re a mom when going to the grocery store alone is exciting to you.
when watching them take their foul shots at the basketball game makes your heart stop.
when you find yourself staring at them across the room wondering when they got so big.
when old pictures make you teary eyed.
and teenagers make you feel old.

when sleepless nights of pacing with a fussy baby turn to sleepless nights of praying for a wayward heart.
when you forgo a shower just to lay in bed and snuggle with them a bit longer.
when you hear someone in the store call out, “mom?” and you look around to answer.
when a baby makes your heart burst.
and a teenage son makes you crazy.

when you think that little one will never learn to walk.
and when you watch them walk into high school and wonder when exactly they did.

when the days can seem so long.
but suddenly, the years left are so short.
18 summers.
and here we are at 2 maybe 3 only left with the first ones.

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when you feel so proud one minute.
so humbled the next.
when you carry their hurts as if they were your own.
when cleaning up throw up and poop no longer bothers you.
and you’re forever baffled by how in the world pee got THERE!!

when you sit at the dinner table just smiling as you listen.
when you watch them sleep at night.
when you see them struggling. know you can’t rescue.
when you realize there’s no such thing as a super mom –
only one great big super God.

yeah. you know you’re a mom when …
you forever have your heart walking around outside your body!
and it’s tragic and triumphant. and messy and magical. and sacred and spectacular.
and always – so very fiercely worthwhile!

>>>><<<<

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this coming weekend is mother’s day –
so we’re going to make it all about mom’s this week on the blog!

i love moms.
love mine.
love being one.
love this community.
the comradery.

so join me in the celebration.

yay moms!!
yay YOU!!

happy monday, friends.

xo

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what would you add to the list.
you know you’re a mom when……
would love to hear.

 

p.s. stay tuned for a fun giveaway from the vintage chalk shop this week ~ gonna be good!!!

{ever blooming}

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he brought me flowers today.
because we argued last night.

and even though i just wrote about the night our marriage changed forever.
we’re still being changed each day.
and this is where we live.
this is real life.

learning.
ever learning.
about the kind of love that covers a multitude of sins.
and forgiveness that brings new beginnings.

waking each morning with the same choices.
more of Him. less of us.
taking grace by the hand and walking in it.
remembering what we’ve received in exchange for what we deserve and extending that same to the other.

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we are all flawed.
we are all in need of someone greater.
beyond ourselves.
beyond human relationship.
to heal us.
to help us.
to show us the way.

and praise God He’s not standing there somewhere off in the distance,
a fuzzy figure we can’t quite make out or get to.
but right next to us. a very present help in time of trouble.

He doesn’t point the way in which we should go.
He provides Himself.
who is THE WAY!
and in Him all truth.
and true LIFE.

and as we stand in the rainy days of spring.
the rain pouring down outside all around our home.
may His spirit pour down i n s i d e our home as well. alive and real.
flooding in.
filling up.
bringing growth.
new hope bursting forth.
fresh mercies running down.

maY we LoOk for iT.
dEsire it.
seeK it.
aNticIpatE it.

it’s there.

ever blooming.

 

“for He makes all things beautiful in His time.” ecc3:11

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{a little of easter}

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spring banner from book pages on burlap twine – easy. fast. free decorations!

easter weekend broke glorious in weather.
i was worried because only five days earlier we had woke to snow!
i envisioned the kids hunting for easter eggs in snow suits and mitts –
or, as ben suggested, we could just throw a bunch of white eggs out in the backyard.
now that would have been a hunt!!

but. typical canadian bipolar weather, by sunday it was sunny and green and a pleasant 60 degrees.

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once again we had our traditional easter meal, inviting friends whose families are not near.
or, sometimes just friends we like to have near us! even if they do have family here.

i started doing this a few years ago-
after a family in the church had invited us to their home our first easter here.
it had meant so much to have a place to go when everyone else is gathering with their family.
when you live far from your family you never stop missing them, but on holidays, it seems especially so.

i want to take the things i’ve felt.
the emotions. the homesickness.
and be able to turn what can often be a temptation to self pity
into a desire to minister to others who may be feeling the same. ~

i believe with all my heart that’s why God has us walk certain paths that we do..
more than the lesson He’s teaching us, it’s also to use those things to truly develop in us a heart for others.

it is one thing to sympathize – to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
but to empathize – to have stood in the exact same shoes.
that’s completely different.

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simple rainy day craft.. glitter dipped feathers.

hospitality has never been a strong point of mine.
i can be a bit of a loner which surprises a lot of people and i like my space!
my husband is the one that’s actually encouraged me in this area..
talking often of growing up and having memories of lots of company and big meals and crammed tables of people.
i think it’s what helped give him the servants spirit that he has – the friendliness and warmth.
i see the ease in which he interacts with people, his ability to make everyone feel accepted and welcomed and i think..
i want to be like that!

but always. without fail. whenever i have people over –
though i might stress beforehand or wish i had never asked! ha.
one thing, i never regret it!!
no matter how you feel it seems you can’t escape the principle of life that when you give you get.
you set out to minister and find in the end, you’re the one who’s been ministered to.

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i hadn’t planned on coloring eggs this year.
{which i came across this old blog post the other day and thought it was funny –
and a good reminder to me again of checking my motives for why i do what i do.}
but when emma, whose my arts and crafty one, gave me the big eyes of, “really?”
i told her we’d try to dye eggs the natural way – like i’d read about somewhere earlier in the week.

we only tried two ways, since those are the ingredients i had.
but they turned out so neat.

1/4 red cabbage cut into chunks. boiled. then 2 tbsp of vinegar = robin’s egg blue.

1 cup grape juice. 1 tsp vinegar = lavender/gray

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i will say if you decide to try this next year you might want to put them in the
dying solution about six months prior to easter!!!
it took a LONG time for the eggs to color.

the grape juice eggs probably took about 3 hours to turn the color we eventually got.
and the red cabbage ones – well they were white the whole day and i thought for sure it was just a dye job fail.
but we came back the next morning and wa-la!! we had blue eggs!!

they’re my favorites.

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the coolest thing to me was that every single egg, even though in the exact same solution -

turned out just slightly different.
the blue even had a hint of green on some! and the white painted marks? totally natural!

i love discovering little hidden secrets like this~
reminds me of what an intricate Creator we have and the creativity and thought behind all He has made!!

i told emma who would have thought that from an old red cabbage could come this beautiful shade of blue –
and we talked about what is IN something, someone, being where the true beauty is found!

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after church we snapped some family pics in the living room.
i know everyone must think that because we take alot of pictures in our family my kids are used to it
and just cooperate nicely –
nothing of the sort!!
every attempt at family pictures is always a crazy, chaotic experience.
everyone talking at once. everyone telling the other what to do. what not to do.
to scoot over. get off my skirt.
how many more, mom?
dad, make him stop!!!

cuh-razy!!!

i used to get so frustrated with it all – okay, i still do, but not nearly like i used to.
now i laugh it off easier and try to just roll with the punches.
every time i look at a picture i instantly think of all that was taking place during it –
i can hear the voices in my head. the loudness. the bickering. the laughter.
and it makes me smile
i imagine myself an old lady someday sitting for hours cackling over every shot – recalling the memories!

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“So come the Monday after Resurrection Sunday..
and now we get to be the Resurrection People:
we get to believe that hope rises from dead places,
that impossible stones can be rolled away,
that all the sad things are becoming undone.
We are the Resurrection People
& Hosanna is our song!”
ann voskamp

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favorite shot from the weekend.

{shayne’s 40th and the night our marriage changed forever}

lying in bed the other night i asked shayne, “what makes you happy?”
“i’ll tell you what made me happy today, ” he says.
and i listen to him talk and smile into the dark..
his list isn’t typical what i think alot of men would say makes them happy.
and this is what i love most about him.

“the way reese smiles at me every time she sees me.”
“when kate and i were singing along to a song together on the radio in my truck.”
“wrestling with ben.”
“emma coming and sitting next to me on the couch and putting her head on my shoulder.”
“having people into our home…”

his list of happy is all about others.
and that sums up what he is all about as a person.

i feel this sudden need to explain he’s not feminine or weak, or even remotely metro-sexual.
that’s our society rubbing off on me and the fear of man creeping in..
not wanting to portray him soft, less a man.
but what is wrong with a man who is soft? when it’s softness towards good and right and godliness.
why do we buy into stereotypes and think ruggedness can’t combine with tenderness?
truth is when God has a hold of someone He’s molding them to be like no stereotype out there.
a new creature. fashioned in His image. mirroring His character~
we need more men not afraid to climb on the Potter’s wheel and let God make them into men that are different.

the world tells us the way to respect is through power and position.
God says, the servant is greatest.
the world says a man must take charge, show who’s boss.
God’s way is lead by example.

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i haven’t always been grateful or seen the value of the man God gave me in shayne.
especially in recent years when the “for poorer” part of our wedding vows have filled the majority of our days
and pressures of jobs and future and location have near snapped us in two by their tension.
i’m ashamed to say there have been times i wished for someone richer. someone more set in their plans.
and yet, these years living in canada..
of having nearly a whole year of wrestling with lies and what if’s and blame of my unhappiness –
of thinking divorce would solve it all and then God just bringing me to a place of complete brokenness.
were it not for these years i doubt i’d know the love i do now.

one night shayne and i had probably the worst fight of our entire married life.
it was late. the kids in bed.
we had been going round for more than an hour..
finally, as anger escalated and selfishness controlled i said, “i’m done!” and walked out. slamming the door hard behind me.
i went downstairs and started digging in the closet for my shoes and coat and tears were streaming so hard i couldn’t even see.
then i felt shayne’s hands on my back as he turned me and i fell into his arms weeping,
saying i was so wrong. please forgive me.
and he said, forgive me too.
and never underestimate, men, the power of going after your woman! we like that. need that!

and we stood in the laundry room just holding each other for a long time and then prayed and committed those words would never come out our mouths again – “i’m done!” because at the end of the day it’s not money that holds you together or fun times or great sex or a fantastic job or big house or secure future~ we chase the illusion of an “easy life” and there’s no such thing. as long as there are people there will be hurts because we’re flawed and needy and seeking something and often someone to fill our gaps.. so we look to relationships. to love. but love brings vulnerability and the potential for pain and when that happens the enemy tries to convince us the answer is to shut down, pull away, run away, build walls, think only of our own happiness – but we were made for one another. and there is no greater joy than to love and be loved.

 

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but this was the thing for me of finally realizing..
knowing, yet not really – that my source of love cannot come from myself.
if so i will end up hurt and disappointed every time.
my source of love, the kind that stays and keeps giving regardless of circumstances or what i get in return..
that kind of love must come from the Lord!
not some conjured up false, phony spirituality.
but an emptying of self and pride and wrong mindsets and expectations and being filled with Him.

i used to think it sounded so unromantic. loving my spouse with the love of the Lord.
i wanted hot, passionate, shades of grey kind of fire!
but i’m discovering more and more when God is at your center, the source of your love, holy moses!! you better believe there is passion and fire!!
when we love from a place of selflessness –
seeing through the eyes of the other person and not through eyes of pride and comparison and entitlement.
that kind of love is the purest and deepest and truest and most passionate of all!

who knew the scripture was actually right when it said in dying to ourselves is how we discover true life.
and in losing ourselves we truly find who we were meant to be..

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the next day after that turning point night in our marriage i realized in our room when i had slammed the door it had knocked the picture off the wall, hitting three vases that sat on the dresser underneath. the vases were from the dollar section at target i had picked up several years ago, short, white, with black lettering across the front. one said LOVE. one said LAUGH. and the other, LIVE.

picking up the picture i saw that two of the vases sat unmoved and untouched, which was odd because the other, that was sitting between them actually had been knocked to the ground and broken. as i got down on my knees and began picking up the pieces i suddenly realized which vase it was. the one which said, LIVE. and i thought there couldn’t be a more perfect visual than right there in my hands of what God had done in my heart. and that the only way to find the life i longed to LIVE was through brokenness.

i still have those pieces. tucked away in my dresser drawer.
someday i want to put them in a shadow box and hang as a reminder of what must happen in order to find real love!

and i was thinking last night as i wrote in shayne’s birthday card how hard these few years have been..
and yet, i find myself so, so grateful for them.
grateful for my husband in this kind of deep way that is so beyond just liking someone and being glad they’re with you.
no. when you’ve ENDURED together.
almost quit TOGETHER.
screamed. yelled. cried. fallen in a heap. prayed TOGETHER!!
this is the kind of comradery born only out of war!
and we all better believe we’re at war for our marriages.
to be aware. intentional. active. watchful.

and the battle always starts in the mind..
so even if you feel you’re doing good by not letting your emotions show or temper flare –
it’s the thoughts that shape our actions and why we need to continually, daily, be renewing our mind with the truth of His word!

this might seem like a weird post to write for my husband’s birthday. that’s okay. :)
i’m past feeling everyone has to understand or the need to explain myself.
and really, there’s nothing to explain or try to make lighter or hide..
this has been our life and it hasn’t always been easy,
but i’m glad i can stand in this place and declare loud and clear for all the world to hear –
i wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else other than this man who was born on this day!!!!

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i am blessed beyond what i deserve.
i am grateful.
i learn from his humility, from his kindness.
and i’m excited about what God has done and is doing in our hearts.

He is writing a story so much bigger than just us.
and i’m glad i get to be on this journey of learning with the one i have grown to call, the love of my life.

happy birthday to my husband that never quits
pursuing God.
pursuing me.
pursuing the hearts of our children.
pursuing truth.

love that man!