January 29, 2012

losing my life


I adore this quote from C.S. Lewis. It embodies many of the thoughts rolling around in my heart of late, thoughts I simply need to put into words. 

God is calling through many sources and through inward questions, to consider the idea that there is so much more to life than what I see. So much more than what my worldly senses desire. More to life than owning a home, having a job and being a wife. Soul cravings only God can satisfy.

When I look at my cravings, I notice a tendency to look to physical things, like certain foods (*ahem* chocolate!), creating pretty things, relaxing with a good book, or spending time with my husband, to satisfy deep longings in my soul. Not that any of these activities are in and of themselves 'bad' (except perhaps eating too much chocolate...), but I haven't found any of them to be enough. I could never eat enough chocolate, never create enough pretty things and never spend enough time with my husband to fill my soul. Is it possible I am guilty of trying to fill God-given desires with His gifts, instead of Himself? 

I think it is possible, and I am guilty. I think we have an enemy who whispers crafty lies as to what will satisfy. An enemy who tempts us to look to earthly things to fill our souls. An enemy who wants to take our focus away from the One who truly satisfies.

When I think back to my daily habits before the fire, I see this tendency to fill my soul on my own in an even more pronounced way. I was 'too busy' or 'too tired' to take daily quiet time with God, I ran around trying to be a 'good' teacher, a 'good' wife and a 'good' neighbour. But I soon found that 'I' wasn't enough. I burnt out. A huge part of my heart knew I was trying to fill a void. If only my circumstances would change (eg: get pregnant!), I would be fulfilled. I would try to focus on God, yet as days went by, I reverted to trying to live on my own strength. Not that I wasn't learning lessons along the way, but oh, how much deeper might I have learned if my heart was wholly focused and dependent on Him.

Little did I know just what that would take.

Standing here now, looking back at last spring, I see transformational growth in my relationship with God. I am a rather 'quiet' person, but underneath the 'quiet' there is a stubborn, strong will, and a massive natural bent to self-sufficiency. A bent towards looking at earthly things, like having children in my dream home and enjoying a nice bank account for security and fulfillment, instead of leaning on everlasting arms. 

I learned a bit about leaning when He took my 'security' away. After the fire we had no home, and have learned to live off 25% of what we are used to earning. Talk about a blow to your personal security! Yet, because He had led me through hard times before, I knew I could trust Him. 

Instead of hiding in bitterness, I ran into His arms and drew close to Him. Then, slowly and gently, He began the process of turning my heart. Away from myself, back to Him.

Do you know what I have found? I've found treasure in a field I would sell everything to possess. I've found that my 'quiet time' (making time each morning for reading the Bible and listening) is my absolute favourite time of the day. As I read His word, He speaks to my heart. At times He speaks in ways that involve tears, or in ways which bring a smile, encouragement or conviction. 

Do I need a pretty farmhouse filled with chocolate and children to be happy? For truly, that would be my Promised Land (many thanks to Nikki for that post, it affected me deeply!). Am I waiting for my circumstances to change, thinking that will fill me up?

I was. And there are times when I still struggle - but I think I'm making progress

I have found my heart only truly overflows when it is wholly focused on God. He Is... and isn't that the reason I am here, to serve Him and not myself? I forget sometimes! But yes, I am here for Him. This earth and all that is in it will pass away, heaven is my true home.

Ideal circumstances will not fulfill if my heart is seeking fulfillment in the circumstances and not in the Lord. His gifts will not fulfill if I am not focused on the source of those gifts.

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"

I think Jesus is speaking about more than losing your life in a physical sense here. Could it be He is speaking about the giving over of our day-to-day lives for His sake as well? I must 'lose my life' for Him on a daily basis, to truly find life and fulfillment for my soul. My focus must be on His kingdom.

I've found I can best turn my focus to Him when I spend time each morning reading His word, giving thanks for His gifts throughout the day, turning to prayer for guidance instead of making decisions on my own, and listening to worship music. Little things in my daily routine which make a HUGE difference in my heart.

I am so thankful for a patient God. He is nowhere near being finished with me, 'losing my life' is a daily act of surrender. Yet He is faithful.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Laura Story - 'Blessings'

"We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe.

What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy


And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights,

Are Your mercies in disguise"


January 24, 2012

Come on in!

A picture-post, 
touring corners of our new place...


a sunny nook

kitchen knick knacks

good memories

Sir... there's a lobster in my banana basket...

still lovin' it!

on my night-stand



Come put your feet up. We'll chat and have a cup o' tea!




January 23, 2012

something new, and brimming thankfulness

 The next step in our new home adventure has begun.
We are renting a little ''treehouse" (as Leslie would call it) :)
and are happy to have somewhere to call our own for the next little while.
It all happened quickly, coming together in less than a week, so its been a bit of a whirlwind around here!

Un-ending and extravagant THANKS go out to my family who put up with us for much longer than we intended, but dealt with it so graciously and hospitably that it made our whole ordeal, through fire and insurance, just that much easier to bear.
(really, if you had wanted us out earlier you should have stopped feeding Neal cheese...)  :)


Some say 'you can never go back home'... but I did, and Mom and Dad, we could never thank you enough.  The farm will always be a piece of home in my heart, no matter where I (or you) are living, and I'm so thankful for the sacrifices you have made over the years to make it a beautiful home-in-the-heart for all of us. More than merely walls and beams, it has always been the Jesus-love of family and a shared passion for the beautiful land that has truly made it a home. I will always look back fondly at the season I was privileged to call it 'home' again.

Lots of love,
your daughter Andrea



January 17, 2012

written not with ink...


The mercury reads - 35C on this frosty morning. A warm cup of honey water and a box of Kleenex are my companions as I cozy up to my desk, a scarf wrapped comfortingly around my throat. I have never been so thankful that I can enjoy the absolute luxury of cozying up warm at home and hibernating till the cold snap, the one outside and the one in my head, are over!

Besides the cold, a few noteworthy inspirations have kept me company this week. I began filling orders for quote scarves after advertising on a local 'buy and sell' page... casually throwing out a picture and a modest price, I never expected anyone to take much notice. Neal chuckled away as order after order came in, all in one evening! So the scarf factory began. It has been intimidating, exciting, and for the most part, I still can't believe people out there are interested in something I made. Despite some nagging self-doubt, I am totally enjoying this artistic venture, and am finding the hunt for little bits of inspiration quite exhilarating.

While on the hunt, I stumbled across a beautiful quote from Maltbie Davenport Babcock which became my previous post. I found myself suddenly and forcibly drawn into this life from the mid - late 1800's, an inspiration of faith as a pastor, assistant to refugees, a colourful orator, and a hymn composer, ("This Is My Father's World"). Upon reading further into his short life, one nugget struck me deeply,

"His theology was broad and deep, yet without a touch of present-day uncertainty. Added to the genius of spirituality he had the genius of work, and it was owing to his unselfish devotion to the great work of uplifting mankind that he literally wore himself out and died at the early age of forty-two. Noted for his impartial charity, he reached people in countless ways and exerted everywhere a remarkable personal magnetism. While he published no books he may be said to have 'lived, or sung his thoughts'." 

To live, to sing your thoughts. Such a beautiful idea. 

We are all a story, masterfully written by the Author of life itself. Some of us may write books, but oh, how much more inspiring for us to live, to sing our stories. To be our book, a living letter of hope and joy to others.

I carry this inspiration today, to be a living letter. To let the testimony of God's grace and joy in my life take on flesh, grow legs and hands, and serve others. 

He has graciously given us all things. Each one of us has special giftings and talents which, when used for His glory, have a massive impact. An eternal impact.

For many of us, this servanthood begins at home. Unseen, often thankless tasks; laundry, meals, children's needs, husband's needs, the long 'to do' list. This serving can become so routine that it does not feel at all like a great calling, like a life story valuable to others. Yet stop and think. What would the life of your husband, your children, your neighbours, be like if you were not there to serve? Serving our families and our community is assuredly of utmost importance, with eternal impact.

It is my earnest prayer, that in your tasks and in your thoughts today, your heavenly Father will make you so aware of your living letter that your heart will swell with gratitude. And then, through thankfulness, you can turn and keep on keeping on, with a lightened heart and a sincere sense of purpose in all that you do.

"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts." 

Blessings on you friend, as you be a letter from Christ today.

January 13, 2012

treasure for today

"We shall be glad - really glad - of everything that has come to us, 
no matter if it is sorrow or pain, 
when we find that our experience fits someone else's need - 
that someone else can build on our lives."


January 8, 2012

scarf + sharpies = happiness

to a new scarf I love in my closet!!

Starting with a blank canvas was intimidating at first, but being impatient I did not want to draw out a pattern and went totally freehand.

Scary but liberating!

The beginnings...
And all done!

Oh, and do you see my pretty necklace from Amazima Ministries also arrived! Double Love!

Now I get to decide how to wear this darling thing...
tied into infinity?


Or the simple wrap?

I may be addicted to sharpies and scarves...
just sayin' ;)

January 7, 2012

to remember when hope falters...

In the deepest night of trouble and sorrow,
God gives us so much to be thankful for that we
need never cease our singing. With all our wisdom
and foresight we can take a lesson in gladness
and gratitude from the happy bird that
sings all night, as if the day were not long
enough to tell its joy.

~ Samuel T. Coleridge ~

Learn patience from the lesson,
'Tho the night be drear and long,
To the darkest sorrow there comes a morrow,
A right to every wrong.

~ T. Trowbridge ~

Dear self,

keep giving thanks,
as a little bird singing in the darkness,
when womb remains empty,
when the future is yet hidden,
when all feels hollow,
when questions meet silence,
when joy is hard,

remember,

"though sorrow may last for the night,
joy comes in the morning"

embracing 'no' (where I talk a lot in parenthesis)

Have you ever struggled with an answer from God you just didn’t want to hear?

Or maybe you tried to keep so preoccupied with other things that you wouldn’t be open to listening to Him, knowing deep down that you may not like what He has to say? 

How easy it is to fill our hearts and minds with static when God is trying to tune us in. This is my recent struggle. Recent, because God has now slowed me down dramatically, and stripped me of many distractions. In this time, He has brought me to a place where I am desiring to listen, my heart is ready to hear.

For years in my previous marriage, and two+ years into my marriage to Neal, I have struggled every single month with the desire to be pregnant. Perhaps ‘desire’ is a mild way of putting it, let’s say, the obsession with being pregnant. I have prayed and prayed to be pregnant, and believe me we have 'tried', yet month after month the answer is ‘No’.

I walk through varying degrees of accepting this 'No' and our child-less-into-our-30's-household. At times I remain hopeful, 'maybe this month will be the YES month?' At times I wallow, 'why me?'. At times I convince myself it is crazy to even think about it when we are in such flux with living arrangements and jobs. Most often, I remain indifferent and try to console myself with the joys of lazy evenings, sleeping in on weekends and having most decisions revolve around our own schedule. Maybe we are too set in our ways? Maybe we are not ready to meet the parenting challenge?

Sometimes when people ask the innocent question, 'how are you?' I feel like saying 'I'm not pregnant' instead of the standby, 'I'm good, how are you?' Still not sure how to tackle the well-meaning 'do you have kids? You have kids don't you? I was sure you did!' So far I respond with a small smile, 'no, not yet.'

But can I really expect to one day answer YES?

What if I get my period until I hit menopause? 18 years (so far) of PMS and I can't catch a break? (save for two all too short months). How long do we keep trying? What if we try to adopt and everything goes wrong? How long do we wait? How long CAN I wait??

I remember standing in a golden field this past October and laying this all out before the Lord (for the thousandth time...). Yet, this time was different. This time, for the first time, I felt like maybe this whole infertility thing (ugh, that word I have avoided using) somehow is part of His plan; like maybe I would be missing out on important things He has for me now if my ultimate wish was granted.

That thought is all that keeps me going.

Sometimes 'No' is held with an open and trusting hand. Sometimes 'No' is mourned and strangled in a tight fist. Yet I know, believe, have faith, that no matter which camp my heart is in each month, God loves me and will love me through it. In some mysterious way, He will work out this longing (and pain) for good.

For those who can relate, I'm sending you a huge hug right now. Its not easy is it? This waiting, waiting, and yes, more waiting. Waiting for pink lines on a stick, or waiting to get direction on adopting, fostering, fostering-to-adopt, and waiting for wisdom in the millions of decisions. How many doctors appointments? How far do we go? If we adopt, then which adoption agency? Private? Public? International? Do we foster? Do we foster-to-adpot? My head spins.

I like ending my posts with an encouraging thought, a verse, or some kind of closure on the merry-go-round of my heart. I have only this to offer;

If you too are on this crazy ride, you are not alone. Spend time talking (praying, crying, wrestling) with God about it. I can't guarantee you answers, but I know He meets those who earnestly seek Him and will speak words to your own heart where mine fail. Take courage. If you need to chat I would love to spend some time just listening. You (and I) are not alone.

January 4, 2012

a special box of favourite things...

My oh my, is this post long overdue! But here it is...
a glimpse into a beautiful box of goodness sent my way from Chelle back in November,


I have devoured One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a book I could read over and over each time learning something new. The 'Merry & Bright' vintage paper banner is now lovingly packed away and looking forward to gracing a new home next Christmas, treats from Trader Joe's are being savoured slowly, can't wait to get crafty with those darling vintage fabrics and I've enjoyed the mellow sound of Rosie Golan on CD. 

The children's book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney teaches a sweet lesson to both children and adults alike. Not pictured here is treasure in a soap dispenser: Mrs Meyers parsley scented hand soap. Let me tell you - that soap is amazing! Lightly and freshly scented, and keeps the hands soft, I love it! I thankfully discovered you can order on-line, as this line of product is not on the shelves here in Canada. 

A sweet paper banner from Chelle's Etsy shop was also part of the package and added that special hand-made touch to our Christmas tree this year. 

Stop by the shop and check out the banner above and her other sweet creations...

And just in case you have not had the pleasure of reading Miss Rumphius for yourself, here is a little reading I found on-line - it will brighten your day!


Thank you Chelle - you are the sweetest and the best-est! :)


January 2, 2012

Introducing...

a little bit of life in our lives...

a fishy named Tennyson :)

He loves to hide and swim through his little pirate ship and wiggles at you whenever you pass the tank. 

And I must confess I teared up just a little when we were driving home with our little fishy and Neal said,

It will be nice to have something living in the house again besides just us.

Yes. Definitely. Not that we are in a house yet, we are currently house-sitting, looking at an apartment come February. But this little guy is quite transportable, and, well, we need something living in the house besides just us. 

See ya later! :)