Sunday, January 1, 2017

My New Word!

I always choose a new word for my life in the coming year.  I have thought about this as the year has approached and I am going to do something that I have never done since that first year that I started doing this.  I am not choosing a new word.  I am staying with the word that I had last year.

In times past,  at Christmastime,  my month has looked like this: 

We hosted a Church banquet with our church and then hosted a Christmas party at our house for our home group. 

I hosted Muppet Christmas Carol for family and friends and had tons of goodies and appetizers and had a GREAT time.

I hosted a pyjama party for the ladies (watching a chick flick and exchanging gift pyjamas.).

 I hosted an elegant ladies tea serving specialty tea in real china cups and offering yummy goodies on my beautifully landscaped Christmas table. 

I hosted our family Christmas - every other year it’s on Christmas.  On the other year, we choose a different day to celebrate Christmas.

I co-host an Empty Arms group and in this group,  every year we went to the grave and lit candles and sang carols for our angel babies.  Often we went back to our place for hot chocolate.    Then during that season,  many of us would all go out and have a nice dinner together because we have formed a tight group of friendships bonded by hard times. 

On the 28th of December is my son’s birthday and because December is the hardest month to be born in,  I always wanted to make sure that his birthday got recognized and wasn’t just glossed over because of the busy month.  I have always had elaborate birthday parties with elaborate goody bags at my house for all of his friends.  Then as his friends trickle out and go home, I clean up so that I can have the family birthday party. 

On New Years Eve,  I would (with the help of Tiffany - she was a big help in this) clear out everything Christmas and decorate the entire house with the theme of the murder mystery we were doing that night.    This was a HUGE event and we invited tons of people and at that time,  our church was primarily a young adult church.  This would be a party not just for the midnight partiers but it would go way past midnight, into the wee hours of the morning. 

This was all in between Christmas shopping, an evening set aside to look at the lights  and Christmas bake exchanges and all of the other normal things one does for Christmas.  

Are you tired yet? 

This year,  my December looked quite different. 

 You see, this is hard for me because I am a party girl at heart and I love to do everything.   But one year,  I had meningitis on the New Year’s Eve.  We didn’t know what I had but we knew that I was sick so I just kind of propped up on the couch and as people came for the party (because goodness,  we CAN’T cancel)  I stayed there on the couch the entire evening in quite a bit of pain.  I did manage to have fun though because I AM a social person.  

The next year,  found us in the ER with Jeremy’s blood pressure through the roof.  At this time,  Jeremy and I looked at each other and said “We are putting too much on our plate at Christmastime.  Something has got to give.”

Over the last years,  I have intentionally learned the rhythm of a slower life.  I have listened to my body more - I have stopped pushing and pulling it into submission to my big plans and goals and listened to when it said I had had enough.

I have decided that if I felt stressed and my stomach was tied up in knots,  I am to sit and reassess as to whether I am doing too much or not.  I don’t want to live in stress anymore.  I don’t want to be driven by programs and obligations or even parties.  I don’t want to drill my body into the ground  thinking that I have to do it all to enjoy the season.

This year was perfect.  I chose only the things that were my priority this year.  I chose family.  I had Christmas.  I had muppet Christmas Carol.  

I had a beautiful tea with fabulous work friends and went to the sweet candle light service at Victory.  

I am learning about myself.  I am learning about what I really want - what really makes me tick; what really fulfills me and makes my heart full.   I loved doing all the things that I did in the past but there was a season for it and the season has definitely passed.  Sometimes we aren’t aware when our seasons have passed.  Sometimes it ceases to be a party and begins to be an obligation that you are stressed over.  Often we forget to listen to us.

Last year,  was a crazy year.   So much learning about myself; about what was really important; about what I really want to do and where I want to make a difference.

Last year,  we had to let our Church of 10 years go.  It was a painful time in our lives - one that still invokes questions and will for some time be a soft splintery spot in our heart.

Last year,  I had a cardio version to help stop the palpitations that were plaguing me almost every day.  I am much healthier for it.   I am very grateful for that.  

In August,  I got to watch my brand new baby grand daughter enter this world.  She is adorable!

Finally this last year,  I published,  not ONE but TWO beautiful colouring books with inspirational prose.  Wow,  something that I have wanted to do for years and something that has opened up a new way of thinking and living.

There were a myriad of other things that happened this last year - my almost 16 year old dog was laid to rest.   My son moved out on his own this year also.   Both of those things make for very very quiet evenings when my husband is out of the country.

When 2015 came to a close,  I wrote a blogpost about my word.  It was ME.  (Check it out here)  This year,  it’s the same.  There are still things that I need to concentrate on here.  There are still things that I need to discover about myself.  There are still things that I know the Lord is tugging on my heart to work on. 

So I camp here a little longer at this word. 


Not because I am not creative or I am mildly selfish, but because I am still discovering who I am - even more now than ever.  I am discovering what I want, who I am.  I have come so far, but not fully ready to move on, in a good way.  NO need to move from this spot so quickly.  NO need to run away.  I am here. It’s important here.  It’s sacred here and I will stay here until it’s time to look to other goals, other words, other focus. 

I am here.  Just here.  And it’s beautiful.

Monday, November 28, 2016


                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure...

When I was pregnant with my daughter, 28 years ago, there was a moment in time when no one thought that she would survive.  Doctors shook their head sadly as they relayed the heartbreaking news that I would probably lose this baby.  One doctor tried unsuccessfully to make an appointment for an abortion.

As I sat there in the silent hospital room with only the breeze from a nearby vent blowing on my face I looked out of the window at the snow covered mountains in Vancouver.  Suddenly in the midst of this heart crushing news I got a picture.  It was as clear as if someone showed me a photograph,  I saw a picture of me standing in front of my church with my husband, my son and my little baby - the baby I carried  inside of me.  I shook my head.  I felt like I was going crazy that right then at that time when I needed all my wits about me,  my mind was failing.

It felt like a mockery.  My heart was trying to prepare for loss, when all my mind could see was this picture.

This was hope trying to poke its way through the stony bits of my heart.   In the very beginning of my pregnancy it was just a tiny flicker, that flickered on and off, in the black silent night.  At first I couldn't tell if it was a mockery of all that I was going through or a flicker of hope from God.

As time wore on in my pregnancy this hope grew with a raging force, beating within my chest.  I clung to it - I clung to that picture in my head with a grip that wouldn't let go.  I held it like a teddy bear that I never wanted to lay down.  I needed it when the tears of fear fell softly down my cheeks in the darkest  of days.

At the end of my pregnancy, I held a tiny baby girl in front of the church that was praying for me and I shared with them my story - the story of hope.

You see hope isn't wispy or weak.  It isn't scared or shy.  It is strong.  It is powerful and it fills our life with that unwavering strength; that trust in a God who loves us deeply in spite of the circumstances we may be going through, a God who can do anything.  A God who wants to see us dream and then meet those dreams.

Hope is about promises.
Hope is about trust.
Hope is unwrapping his gift of faith.

He is a God of hope.  Our hope is safe within his name softly spoken in our spirits.  .  Let the fire of his hope burn up all your pain and hopelessness.   What does your heart need today? What fears do you face? What circumstances are overtaking you??

As you close your eyes and really look deep inside your soul to where Jesus makes his home - he will show you a picture.  Don't wave it away.  Don't shake your head like I did.  Instead take the picture,  and treasure it.  Hold it close to your chest and remember what it looks like when your life seems far from what He is showing  you today.  Remember how you felt when he gave it to you.  Remember the quiet assurance that came softly to lay at your feet; the sweet calm over the chaos.  Remember and don't let go.

"We have this hope..."

Monday, August 29, 2016


It was a horrible dream.  I had flown somewhere.  I was somewhere unknown and unfamiliar to me and we landed in a devastating storm.  I remember peering out the windows of the airplane and I gasped sharply as I saw the airplane was submerged under the water and we would have to swim to shore.  What's more,  I wasn’t a strong swimmer.

As I studied the murky, ugly waters, I gasped again - this time in sheer horror,  my breath caught in my throat almost cutting off the circulation from the rest of my body.  To my utter disbelief, I saw crocodiles and poisonous snakes meandering and surrounding our plane - some of them looked ominously agitated and hungry. 

I tried to scream - tell everyone to stay on the plane but no words would come out.  As the people calmly began exiting the plane and casually swimming to a building,  I had no choice but to fight the wildlife that was finding it’s way into the plane, struggling to swim to safety and hope that my prayers would be answered this time.

As luck and dreams would have it,  I made it to my destination unscathed physically. But I experienced severe trauma to my emotions.

I walked up to a few people I knew in my dream - they seemed to be close to me.  I began to share my trauma,  my story with them.  One by one no one listened.  They were all paying attention to something or someone else.  One such man even “shushed” me as I was talking to him.

 I was utterly and devastatingly alone.

I walked away, my lip quivering and found a tiny cardboard box.  Folding my body up into a tiny ball,  I lay in this box and I bawled and bawled and bawled.  I wanted to tell people my story.  I wanted to tell them how happy I was to be alive but how terrified I was to be swimming with the crocodiles and the snakes, and how I thought I wouldn’t come out alive,  and no one was there to help me.  I was all alone.  I wanted to tell them how heartbroken I was that I would never be able to go back home - that I was stuck in this lonely place.  And I so desperately missed home already.

I woke up in a fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably.  I felt beside me for my husband and then remembered that he was in Taiwan.   Even though I realized that the dream wasn't real,  I  couldn’t control my sobbing.  I had been so desperate in my dream.  I realized that the dream mirrored the story that seemed to be unfolding in my own real life. 

And I sobbed,  “When does it get better God?  When does it not hurt so  much - losing my father
in law?  Losing my church,  close friends, family relationships, - all of it.   When does it get better?”

I felt the Lord very clearly speak to me in that tiny room in my house with the darkness all around me and my heart broken in two.  He said,  “It doesn't get better.  It doesn’t.  But it gets different.   And the different begins to feel okay and then it begins to feel like home again.”

You see it doesn’t get better.  Not a better version of this.  Losing my church will never get better.  Losing my father in law will never feel better.  All of the loss and the change and the hurt - it doesn’t get better.   

But it’s like buying a house.  Even if you like the house that you bought,  you rarely feel like it’s your home the minute you pay your down payment and step across the threshold.  It feels strange; like you are staying in someone else's home.

 Like you are an imposter.

It doesn’t feel like home until you begin to put up your familiar pictures,  until you start to wake up in your bed everyday and look out at the view that you fell in love with.  And then one day you scrub your black tile countertop for the thousandth time and run your finger across that one spot that doesn’t seem to get as clean as the rest and you smile. You realize that you are home.  You are comfortable.  You are happy. You made it through.

You can pass by your old place and all the lovely, fun and deeply moving memories come back to flood your heart and they will never go away.  They will always be there tucked in the folds of your heart to recall when you want to recall that old beautiful life.   But now you have a new life. 

God reminded me of a time a few years ago when he told me that he was reinventing me.  This is all part of that reinvention and right now,  I am not home.  Right now,  it hurts.  But one day,  after I peel away the extra stuff that doesn’t belong there,  one day I will look around me and say that it is good indeed.

I will say,  I am home.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Wear Jewelry Everyday

 Her name was Lorna.  She was full of vitality and  lived life with abandonment.   She was beautiful,  grace-filled   and  loved her family relentlessly.   Bold, fierce,  passionate, soft and incredibly humble.  Lorna was teeny tiny in stature but a  grande giant in character.

  I visited her almost everyday and we  laughed about crazy things and cried about sad things.   She would send her kids down to the corner  store to buy something - anything that would taste good in muffins-  then she  transformed all those random ingredients into the most yummy muffins right before my eyes.     She got that wooden cutting board out and cut  thick slices of cheese and we sat at the table and shared our dreams and our secrets and our hearts.

Then one day it all changed.  I woke myself up in the middle of the night crying.  My body was shaking like a leaf and I was sweating.  I dreamed that I was sitting beside her bed in the hospital and she looked at me with those piercing, loving, demanding eyes.  She was dying and there was nothing that I could do.

Two weeks later, she invited me to her house and told me that she had been told that she had breast cancer.  It wasn't very hopeful.   But she was hopeful.  Suddenly I remembered the dream and my stomach got instantly sick.  I stared  straight into those beautiful eyes of hers and said that I would pray until she got better.  That she might get sick but she wasn't going to die on my watch.  She was going to live and see her children get married and hold her grandchildren.

I hated the dream that haunted me.   In fact, I don't think I have told anyone except for my husband.  I screamed at  Satan to let her go.  I screamed at God for allowing her to go through this and allowing me to even dream a dream that was so evil and I screamed at life for being so very cruel.

She got sicker.   She put up such a valiant fight and  went to church every time her body would let her walk and breathe and sometimes even when it didn't.  She went out with her friends until getting to her front door was too difficult.  Then I would visit her when she was very ill.   We held hands and prayed.     We prayed for her but only for a short time because she just really wanted to use the limited breath she had to  pray for her kids.    We prayed for our daughters because they were best friends.    We prayed that they would always understand the Father's love,  that they would always passionately serve the One who made them; that they would always know their purpose in life and walk in that purpose.  We prayed that they could always see their worth and that they would grow up to have beautiful families.    Even at the end of her life her grasp was  always strong.  Her hands were like a thin layer of skin separating me from her bones and at first glance I was worried that I would break her.  Then she would take my hand in hers and the grasp would take my breath away.  She loved nothing more than her family and her God and the passion was displayed in the strength of her grasp.

Then one day she told me something I will never forget.  Lorna told me many things that I will never forget but this one thing stuck with me; almost haunted me.  She told me that no one would talk to her about death.  She couldn't talk about death.  She couldn't talk about her fears; about her unknowns about what would happen to her kids; her family.  She had to go through death alone because all of her friends wanted to hold onto the fact that she would live - that God would heal her.  It broke my heart.   God loves healing.   God loves freedom.  But for whatever reason there are times that he doesn't grant it no matter how hard you war, no matter how hard you claim the scripture and you believe that he can move mountains.  He just does not move this mountain.    Sometimes we need to walk with our friends and our family no matter what they are going through in honesty and simply say,  "I don't know but I am here for you."  She told me that day through her gasps and coughing fits,  "I know what Jesus' book says.  But the doctor's book is very convincing right now."

Soon after that she was transported to the hospice.  One day I walked in there and walked to her bed side and held her tiny hand in mine.  I pleaded one more time that God would free her of this vile nasty disease of cancer.  I cried and my body shook and I felt all sorts of emotion that I couldn't contain in my body.  Then I bent down and kissed her forehead goodbye.   She looked up at me and said something.  I think she was trying to say "I love you."  I am not sure.  The next day she died peacefully in her sleep.

While she was alive she taught me so much.  She taught me how to pray, how to clean my house,  how to entertain and use those beautiful napkins so that company felt wanted and loved.  She taught me how to hug those big massive bear hugs that say,  "I think the world of you."  She taught  me about friendship and honesty even when it hurt.  She taught me how to earnestly and creatively love and how to fiercely stand up for my kids and to protect them.  I learned so much from hanging out with her. 

But in her death she taught me something else.  She taught me to love everyday.  I remember one time when she was helping me go through boxes and I came across some lovely  embroidered napkins.   I told her I was saving them.  She told me that life was too short to save anything.  She gave me a beautiful candle for my birthday that year that had little treasures in it as the candle burned down.  It was such a cool gift and when I opened it,  she made me promise that I wouldn't save it. That I would deem a day very close to that day special enough to burn a candle just for me.

One day, shortly after she died,  I stood at my jewelry and I looked at my beautiful pieces of jewelry that I only wore on special occasions.  Some were tucked away and I had never worn them.  I remembered Lorna saying,  "why don't you wear those everyday?"  

I looked at the exquisite jewelry, I picked up one of my chains and held it up to my neck.  I had never worn it on an ordinary day.  It was a special piece.  But I decided that day that even ordinary days were extraordinary.   I was aliveI was breathingToday warranted jewelry.  Today deserved my stamp of approval.

I wear jewelry everyday.   I wear jewelry on my day off and sometimes even in my jammies when I have not gone to bed yet.

 Every. Day.  

Because everyday is a special occasion.

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's Okay if it's Not Okay

I believe in living a life of gratitude.  I absolutely know that it’s important to look around you and to be thankful for the things that you have.

But this is what I am learning these days in my life.  I am learning that it’s important not to ignore the dark places,  in place of the words “I should be thankful for...”  It’s important not to stuff the pain in the pockets of my soul because I have a beautiful family, a beautiful life and a job I love.  It’s important to be able to stand, look around and say,  “I really don’t like this.    My heart is breaking.  I am depressed.  I am angry.  I am so so sad.   I don’t like what I am seeing or feeling.”  So many times we deny ourselves the negative emotions, the emotions that are hard to face because we SHOULD be feeling much better about the world around us.  We decide to “tough it out” and “man up” when we look at parts of the world that don’t have roofs over their heads or fresh water to drink or proper food to eat.  We are rich, we have life easy and we are spoiled in many ways where we live.   Yet still there are seasons in our lives where everything in our own  tiny world is not okay.  There are seasons in our lives where our hearts are aching with loneliness or heaviness.  I am here to say that it’s okay to recognize that.  In fact,  it’s harmful for your body to ignore the pain like an enemy or throw it out the window like a piece of garbage to be disposed of later.   Pain has a way of haunting you and if you won’t accept it in your emotions, it tries to come back to you in your physical body.

Why do you think that Jesus saves your every tear in a bottle?  He cares passionately about your pain.  He doesn’t flush it down the toilet and tell you not to bother about it.  He doesn’t tell you to move on; pull up your bootstraps.  He cares and your pain deeply matters to him. 

Long before I had meningitis, I was leaking brain fluid through my nose and the doctors didn't detect it.   It was so bad,  I couldn’t do anything with two  hands. One hand did the work I needed to do while the other plugged my nose with a tissue.   I had to do everything with one hand - loading the dishwasher, setting the table, making the bed.   When I put my shoes on, it was crazy...

  I remember crying out to God and my husband many times in desperation because I felt truly handicapped for almost a year.   But I had no pain.  None - my nose just ran.  And I was exhausted.  Truly more exhausted than I had been in all my life.  But because I felt no pain,  I felt so so so guilty for complaining; so guilty for being frustrated at my plight.  I kept reminding myself of all the good I had in my life.  I kept reminding myself of those that don’t have a quarter of what I have.  And instead of feeling full of gratitude,  I felt a smidgen of gratitude and FULL of guilt.  This isn’t the purpose of the gratitude lifestyle and it isn’t what God wants. 

You are not weak if you are in pain. You are human.  You aren’t ungrateful if you are lonely.  You are human.  You aren’t whiny if you are depressed.  You are human.  Let your self be human. 

Recognize the season that you are in.   When we have the physical season of winter,  we recognize it.  We have our coats and our mittens and our shovels for the snow.  In the same way,  we need to recognize our pain.  We need to live through the season instead of ignoring it.   We need to be prepared for it; armed for it even. 

What does this mean for us -  for you and I?  How do we recognize how we are feeling?   Does this mean that we get onto facebook and tell the world about every little pain and obstacle in our way?.  Does it mean we complain every day about every little thing and throw ourselves a pity party?

Absolutely not.  The Bible teaches about being in an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. It also teaches us to be truly honest with where we are at in healthy ways.

There are three things that you need to make a part of your life as you navigate through your life's winter.

1.  Admit  your weakness and your pain to yourself. 

First of all it means that we admit it to ourselves.  We admit it and we give ourselves permission to hurt.  Give ourselves permission for a season of pain.   Give ourselves permission to not always be helping the other guy; not always be the strong one.  I have learned the hard way that we are not designed to always be the strong one; always the reliable one; always the one helping others.  We need to jealously guard our own hearts and be completely honest with ourselves when we need extra self care.  This is so important.

2.  We admit it to God.

He knows it all anyways but somehow it just helps to talk or shout or cry.  It helps to be brutally honest with Jesus even if we are mad at Him.   Let's not pretend that we can hide our feelings or thoughts.  Let's not try to be strong in front of God when we feel so weak.   We aren't in the business of earning brownie points with God.  He isn't interested in our competition of trying to be good enough,  strong enough, hard working enough.  He loves us no matter who we are.  There is nothing more that we need to do to earn his love.  Ever.  Let's put that type of harmful thinking behind us and move forward in total and complete honesty.

3. We admit it to one of our praying, non judgmental friends. 

 This is an important step.  If you are normally a strong person, if you have been the one who has been depended upon,  it is easy for us to hide behind a cloak of shame.  We shouldn't feel weak; we shouldn't be in this difficult spot.   One of the biggest ploys Satan has is for us to hide behind some kind of fake mask so that we don't have to admit our weakness.  His greatest desire is for us to be isolated and ashamed.   If he can isolate us; if he can fill us with trepidation, take our friends away; take our support systems away,  he has been successful in building us a prison of shame.  Don't buy into this.

If you don't have friends that you can confide in, find them.  Find them.  Life was never meant to go at  alone.  Jesus always believed in friendship, he always believed in people shoulder to shoulder,  going forward into the destiny that God has for them.  Find those friends that you can journey with.  Find those friends that you can trust and that love you.  Then invest in them.   Carve out time for them.  Make them a priority. 

Lastly,  this is what I want you to remember most of all.  Close your eyes tightly and grasp onto this truth with the deepest part of your heart.  It won't be winter forever.  After the harsh winter is the breath of spring.   One day you will feel the warmth of the sun dancing overhead and  smell the sweetness of the flowers around you.  One day you will feel the grass growing beneath your toes and hear the birds singing their love songs in the graceful trees nearby.

One day...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What Does Colouring Look Like in Your Life?

I have been intrigued by conversations that I have had as of late with friends who have bought my colouring book.   Many people are so excited and start colouring right away.  Some have bought one or more books from me and tucked them away for a later date or for gifts.  But still others, open my book, stare at the page and get instantly overwhelmed by all the decisions that they have to make in order to make this page beautiful.  I am sure that colouring says a lot about our personalities.  In the future,  I will definitely research this but for now I have included a few tips to help you enjoy the whole experience of colouring.

1.  Let go of perfectionism.

What I want you to do is to grab a box marked with P.    Open the box slowly,  hold it carefully in your hands and stare at it for awhile.  Then reach deep inside of your soul and grab your perfectionism.  It's very slippery and quite devious so it might try to get away.  Once you have grasped it,  hang on tightly and then quickly place it in the box.  In ONE swoop of a motion,  slam the box shut.   Then very carefully,  place the box behind your back where you can't see it bouncing about trying to escape.

 Now you can open your colouring book and begin colouring.

Seriously,  though, the best way to enjoy colouring,  is to let your perfectionism go.  I know that's easier said than done.  I realize that.  It's like telling me to let the clutter behind the stairs in our classroom  go (right co-workers?) and I just can't let that go; no matter how many times I try.

I know.  You don't want to make a mistake.  You don't want to mess up your colouring page.  You don't want to make a decision and then decide that you didn't like the decision that you made after you put marker/pencil on it.  I get it.

There are a couple of things to consider here.  I have 39 layouts to colour in my book.  If you do one you are not happy with,  you have 38 more.

Some of my biggest mistakes have actually become my biggest accomplishments because as I fixed it,  I liked it better than originally planned.   So if you make a "mistake"  decide what you could do to make it better.  Think outside of your perfectionist box.  Remember, you placed that box behind your back, right.?

To be honest,  I struggle with indecision and perfectionism as well.  Often,  I will hold up a page to my husband and say,  "Will those lines look better with blue or pink."  He looks up from his ipad with eyes glazed over and  a 'I simply don't care' look on his face.  Then he says with all the mustered up sweetness he can find,  "Do what feels right, Faith."  Hhhhmmm.  Not helpful.  Then I do just that.   I do what feels right.  That's it.

The point is, we all suffer from perfectionism at one level or another.  However with this, as in all of life,  we just have to move PAST it in order to colour our pages and enjoy the experience.   Perfectionism is the fastest way to kill your adventure, your creativity and your dreams.  Don't let this happen to you. 

2.   Relax.

The idea of colouring is supposed to be relaxing.   Do you remember when you were a little child and you were at a table, head bent down feverishly colouring your elephant?  When you looked up,  your head was spinny, you were concentrating so hard.  But as you stare at your rainbow coloured elephant with polka dotted ears,  you heart swells up with pride because you have created this masterpiece.  This is yours.  We need to grab that little child inside of us that loves what we do; that makes provision for art and relaxation.

Put some soft music on after the kids go to bed or after a hard day at work.  Put a candle on the table on the other side of the room, and some healthy dark chocolate on the table beside you and allow yourself to relax.

When my father in law was very sick a few years ago,  we didn't have a chance to go on vacation that summer.  So my son and I created mini vacations.  We got canvasses and splashed colour on them when we had a spare minute.  Many times, we would come home from a visit and Sean would exclaim, "Do we have time for a mini vacation?"  I carved time out of my very busy, very emotional days to make this a priority.  It was important to me that I didn't let the summer go by without any escapes and it ended up being a point of healing for both of us.   At the end of the summer,  we had three beautiful paintings that we will cherish forever.     Sometimes we need to create small pockets of time in order to have a mini vacation.

What can you do to create a relaxing space?  Often I like to either colour or create colouring pages in front of the TV.   Some people would hate that.  Sometimes,  I like to know that I am doing something other than watching TV - it feels more productive and then it's more fulfilling to me

The other thing that helps me to relax is to have a clean and tidy room in which to colour.  When my room is in disarray,  it's difficult for me to relax.  So often,  I will take 5 or 10 minutes just to tidy and then I can sit down and indulge.   For you, that might not be the case at all.  But figure out how to best create that relaxing atmosphere so that you can get the most out of this exercise.

3.  Have FUN!!!

In my little school, that I work at we have chapel every Tuesday. At the beginning of the time we have together,  they always go through all four rules carefully.  The last rule is "Have fun!"  The children know it and the teacher always says,  "Have.....?" and then the children scream,  "FUN!"  Then they repeat it,  Each time the children get louder and louder until the last time it's an earsplitting, head pounding scream that swallows you up in its moment.  I always think that I would like to have head phones just for that three minutes of time.

 This is what you need to know.  There are a million ways to colour EACH page.  There are million ways to use this book.   No one is telling you to do it in the conventional way.  Maybe you need to add lace to the girl page, or ribbon to the angel page.  Or maybe you would like to tear around the edges and make a cool border.   Or add blush to the girls face or pen marks to any of my doodles.  Add birds to my branch or stick beautiful 3D butterfly stickers to one of the pages.  When I first started doodling,  I didn't add any colour at all.  I love the stark contrast between the black and white and it's lovely without colour.

Do you use markers or pencil crayons?  I use both on the same page!  Am I supposed to do that?  I really don't know as I have never googled the proper way to colour doodles.   Is that a wrong thing - sort of like wearing black and navy together (I do this too.  gasp.)    But it works for me.  Sometimes I love the look of a soft pencil crayon in the background and the bold marker in the little spots. 

I use Sharpie markers and Staedtler triplus fineliner markers and my pencil crayons are Laurentian or Artists Loft.   Really experiment with what makes you comfortable and what you like. 

I have also used a marker set that I got for $3 at the dollar store.  They worked just fine but I was happy that I practiced on another sheet because they bled a little so I couldn't do fine spaces with them.  I could however do a tiny bit bigger spaces and get exactly the desired colour.

I do have some friends that do this.  They have bought two from me.  One to not touch and the other to colour.  It helps them to relax and let loose and give themselves permission to make a mistake or wreck the page.    Am I trying to sell more of my books?  Absolutely.  You bet I am.  But it's true too.  Even I have two in my coffee table- one I am colouring and one I am not going to touch.

Now, pick up your delicious colours, and colour a page!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Begin Again

The weird thing about publishing my first book (You can buy it here.)  and shutting down my church in the same week, is that it feels like the doctor gave me an arm I have been waiting  my entire life for but in the same breath told me that he had to cut off my leg.  It's a crazy mixed up way of living and feeling.  I feel that I am in the midst of sorting my feelings into little boxes so that they don't spill out into my everyday world in a big jumbled mess.


All of those emotions course through my body, and yet it still feels surreal to me.  But Sunday as I sat in a completely different service in the first steps of "church shopping" the reality felt like a brick building tumbling down on top of me.  It seemed so crazy final.  I won't ever go to Mosaic again.  Sadder still,  there is no Mosaic in Lethbridge.  It was a season in our lives that is now gone forever.  And I wasn't really ready to see that season go.  I wasn't ready for Mosaic to simply be a memory.

It is like  reading a book and you get to the end of the book and you are angry that you have to close the book.  You aren't ready to begin to read the next adventure because you became friends with the people in this book.  You belonged.  You understood their adventures, their heartache, their victories.  You related and became so intricately carved into their future and their lives.  And it just doesn't seem fair to close the book and place it back on the shelf with all the others.  

The thing of it is,  I have had lots of people write me or ask me point blank,  “Why did  you really close the Church down.”  I think that people are looking for a big juicy story.  Whether they like it or not - they want to know the dirt.  They want to be involved in a story that is far more dramatic than it really is.

And then there are others (many more others) who are concerned about our health; or concerned that we have walked away from God.   Or just concerned - period.

And I am afraid that the true answer is a lot more boring than people would like to admit.

Our health is great.  Our hearts are great.  Our relationships with each other  and the ones that were in our beloved Mosaic are great.   

Here is the real reason.  We got tired.  But more importantly,  our team got tired.   They worked, and pushed and pulled and prodded and walked and ran and loved and worked some more - every Sunday and every week.   One day, we looked around and we realized that our team as loyal as they were, were beginning to see burn out.  And so were we!

We had people come to our Church, filled up, healed and go on their way.  We had broken people join our church for a season and then God would call them elsewhere to serve as whole people in their calling.  We saw miracles and we saw beautiful things.

My husband preached a powerful message on our last day that I think thousands should listen to.  Honestly.  He writes about it here .   He preached about everything having a season.  When that season is over then it’s time to let go.  Or the beautiful becomes ugly.    We wanted to let go while it was still beautiful.  We wanted to let go before burn out reached our hearts and our spirits.  We wanted to be smart about closing a season, a chapter down.

Am I disappointed?  Absolutely.

Am I angry at any of those who left the church in the last 10 years?  Not even remotely.  All of us have a journey.  All of us at the end of the journey,  have to stand before God and answer to Him for the journey that he set before us.   We are all following it the best of our ability. 

Am I angry at God?  Not right now, but I may be in the future.  If I am to be honest.  I know that he had the power.  I know that he had the means to bring hundreds of people and in the law of sowing and reaping,   we should have a thriving church by now.  We have done everything right.  We are good pastors and we have worked really really really hard.  And so has our team and our family.   But you know what?!  It’s really okay if I get angry with God because he is a "big Boy" and He can handle it.  I promise you.   He has broad shoulders and Paul in the Bible got super angry with him.    Job got angry with him.  In fact, there were many that got angry with God.   He either responded in love and compassion, or he put them in their place.  Either is okay with me as long as I can be brutally honest with the One who I have the closest relationship with.  

At the end of the day,  I love him.  At the end of the day, I will never walk away from him.   I know he has a plan and purpose and that plan is not to harm me or hurt me.  I have been through too much, seen too much, felt too much and forged that relationship deep and wide with Jesus - I can't run away from the very One who can help me the most. 

Am I heart broken?  I really am.    We had a vision.  We had plans and a strong purpose for this church.  It feels like death.  It's a death of a dream. In a short wisp, it's gone.  It's hard to pick up the pieces from that.

But this is what I know.  I have been heartbroken before.  I have been at a loss, totally not understanding the season that I was facing - and I made it.  I am still standing.  I am still smiling even.  Because I KNOW.  I KNOW.  I won’t feel this heartbreak forever.  I won’t feel this confusion forever.  I won’t feel this emptiness forever.  Tomorrow is another day.  There will be another season.  There will be another chapter.

This is what else I know.  It doesn't matter where I am at,  He will find me.  He will find me as the waters rush over my head and I feel myself drowning in a sea of doubt and cynicism.  He will find me in the mud when I have stumbled and I am too weak to lift my weary body onto my  feet.  He will find me and when he does he will gently lift my bare soul and bring it to His place of healing and warmth. 

He will find you too.