Thursday, April 17, 2014


The other day a friend of mine sent me this picture.  Immediately I smiled.  I remember when I slipped it in her Bible.  She had left her Bible at my place so before I gave it to her,  I slipped a few notes in her bible like this.  And suddenly I remembered all those words I have written to people.   There are literally people all over the world that bare my words on their heart.   You see,  I decided a long time ago that I wanted my words to carry life.  I want my words to carry healing.  I want adults to remember a woman when they were children - I want them to remember a woman with a flowing, crazy sparkling dress and flower in her hair that said,  "You can" when they lived in a world of "you can'ts."

Do you remember those people in your lifetime?  Do you remember those people who believed in you;  who encouraged you to not give up and to dreams big dreams?  I have those people in my life.  I remember one such lady in my 8th grade.  She was my English teacher.  I can't even remember her name.  I loved that woman.  I was going through a difficult time in my life at that time.  She picked up on it.  I don't remember why.  I don't remember if my grades were slipping or if I shared something in my journal writing or what.  But she had me stay after class so that she could talk to me.  And really she just listened.  She just listened to me tell her everything in my life that was upside down right at that moment.  She listened and she encouraged me.  She encouraged me to write.  She encouraged me to dream.  She told me that it would be okay.  I won't ever forget that.  I have never told her how or what that meant to me.  She may never know.  But she touched a chord in my heart.  She made a difference in my life.  I want to be her - I want to be my English teacher to other people around me.

I've thought of people in the states, in Japan, in Canada, in the Philipines, in Thailand - that I have spoken words of encouragement to; words of hope.   How many of them still have those pieces of paper, those text messages, those cards, those emails?  How many still remember?

We have to remember that our words hold life or death in them.  We have to remember the power of those words.  Because what my friend didn't know is that the exact time when she sent that picture to me,  I was asking God if I had made a big enough impact; if I had been enough, if there were enough people changed and healed and loved through my actions and through my words.  She doesn't know (until now) how much that one text message impacted me.

This is gold.  This is what the Christian life is all about.  This is what community is all about.  Life giving words.  I believe that this is what Jesus meant when he said,  "Your faith has made you whole."  He was encouraging - he was saying "good for you."  He was patting them on the back for a job well done.

I want to leave in the wake of my life,  people impacted by my words - whether or not I ever knew it.  At the end of the day,  I want a line-up of people clutching little pieces of paper; holding text messages, remembering words spoken like gold; like treasures.

In this crazy mixed up world that we live in, everyone needs to be loved; everyone needs to dream; everyone needs to believe that they are worth it.  I want to be that voice; I want to be that whisper into their soul:

You can do it.
You are worth it.
You are loved.

Who do you need to encourage this week?  Who do you need to speak words of life to?  Close your eyes.  Ask God - he will tell you.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

We grew up together and together we learned.

We were just kids when we got married; hardly dry behind the ears.   We were young enough to know nothing, but believe that we knew everything.

I married Jeremy,  obviously because I love him deeply, but also because I knew that life wouldn't be boring with him.   I never wanted to be one of THOSE women.  You know the kind -  the kind that most girls dream of becoming.  I never wanted to be the woman who got married and had kids and lived in a sweet little house with a white picket fence and did laundry and made meals and lived happily ever after.   That sounded boring to me.  I wanted adventure;  I wanted the unexpected; I wanted big dreams.  I must admit, on a side note,  that since I married Jeremy,  I have indeed prayed for" boring" just a few times for a little while.

I remember when I first started dating him - he took my breath away.  I could hardly stand when I was around him.  You can ask everyone who went to Bible College with me - my heart would melt when he played the piano or sang.  I would end up laughing giddily while I clutched my heart.  I was a mess.  I would pay people to drive me across town where he worked at Farrells Ice Cream Parlour -   even though there was one much closer to where the Bible College was.   And he never got to sit with us.  He was too busy.  He only got to wave.  That's all.  I paid people so that I could see him wave.   He really got me.  I absolutely knew that he was the one.  Who cares that neither of us knew how to do anything but preach?  Who cares that we didn't have a dime to our name and he didn't have a job in his home town?  We were in love. 

When we first started going out we were both cautioned - both of us separately;  we were told that this wouldn't last; that this wasn't wise.   I had just (and when i say "just" I mean two weeks prior) gotten out of a long term relationship and really they were right - for the typical couple, it wasn't wise or the right timing.  But for us,  it worked.  It's not something we would ever advise anyone to do but for us it was perfect.  We were perfect.

When the year at Bible College was over,  he came back to Lethbridge and I went back to California where my family was living at the time.  Now keep in mind that this was before the internet and before iphones and before skyping and facetiming and twittering and instagram and all of the other wonderful things that keep us connected now.  We did snail mail and we did 20 minutes on the phone weekly.  He called one week and i called the next.  And yet we survived.   We survived during our dating, during our courtship and during our engagement.

I remember Jeremy telling me about our apartment that we were moving into.  Tiny, run down in an edgy part of town.  But it was perfect for us.  One of the times he called me he told me about the brown couch that was given to us.  That tacky, brown fold out plastic couch was what we had for the first four years of our marriage until God miraculously provided for us the couch of my dreams.

In essence,  Jer and I grew up together.  Together we learned the value of life.   Together we learned the value of commitment and together we learned the value of budgeting.   Together we learned to trust God when we didn't have money for our rent or for our groceries and for our toilet paper.  And boy did we see God provide - time and time again.  We were raised in families that lived by faith; now we were growing up together - learning first hand what our parents had taught us from tiny children.  

We may have had nothing when we got married and yet we had each other - so we had everything. Our lives were full and rich.  I would never advise a couple to get married so young - so fresh out of high school.  And yet,  more importantly,  I would never advise NOT to either.      It was the right time for us.  I don't regret a minute of being married.

 Marriage is a challenge anytime you do it - whether you are 18, 20 or 45.  Each age brings its own special challenges.   Marriage means you can't store up your arguments or the hurtful things you said to each other or the disappointments you have in each other inside your soul and stack them up to make a fortress for protection.  Marriage means you have to learn when to let go or when to hold on for dear life.  Marriage means you have to have a soft heart and thick skin at the same time.   It means you have to be willing to stay up into the night and with tears streaming down your weary cheeks,  talk about some really hard things.   It means you have to really invest and fight for what you hold dear because you know that good things are really hard work.  Good marriages don't come easily. 

Jeremy and I have been through moves, and church splits and losses, and pain and job searching and identity searches and rebellious teens, and terrible twos and crazy, scary pregnancies,  beautiful grandkids, lovely vacations and treacherous vacations. We have been through it all together.   Now, we look at each other and we know what the other person is thinking.  We can finish each other's sentences most of the time or start in the middle of a thought we were thinking months ago because we know what we are talking about.  Because it's been 30 years.

There were times in our lives when all we knew was that we had each other and we had God.  And that was enough - for a time, that was enough.

Thirty years of watching those around us moving on,  getting divorces, having affairs - and yet we have been the lucky ones.  We have been the ones who got dealt a very good hand - and that was each other.

Together we learned things about each other.  I learned that I was NEVER to call the waitress back and have her bring his dish back if it was wrong (did I say NEVER?) and he learned to NEVER tell me that my tears were "just my period."  I learned that if he punched me in the middle of the night,  he was truly just asleep and would never remember in the morning - therefore he wouldn't know why I wasn't talking to him.  And he learned that he should never write new music and or look up new things on his computer when I was trying to share with him the deep issues of my heart.

We learned that we may be really angry with each other today,  but tomorrow was coming and if we didn't forget about it entirely,  it just might not matter so much anymore.

We learned that being rich didn't always mean having money in our bank account and being happy didn't always mean having our ducks in a row.   We learned that we could have peace in really tough situations and we could give even when we had nothing.

Jeremy and I are totally opposite in just about everything in life.  I am actually not kidding.  If i look at some type of food or furniture or vacation choice - if I love it,  I can almost guarantee that Jer wouldn't like it at all.   I am a people person - my refreshing time is being in the midst of a loud party and people everywhere - his refreshing time is being alone with his guitar.   I think a meal is not a meal without meat.  Jer is a vegetarian when he can be.   I love to shop - especially at christmas time when all the lights and music and people and bling - so much bling everywhere.   At Christmastime,  Jer is on stimulation overload when at the mall.   He loves vanilla icecream and I just can't think  of why anyone would even like vanila ice cream when there is "chocolate with nuts and caramel and marshmallows and whatever else you can stick in there" icecream.

 One of our biggest differences is this:  I need to get things done RIGHT NOW and he needs to get things done RIGHT.   When we dieted,  I exercised 2 hours every day (no lie) and he did ONE MINUTE of jumping jacks perfectly.  The sad thing is,  he lost way faster and way more than I did.  What's up with that?!  Now this is the way we are in EVERYTHING in life.    We are so different.  And this is what we learned about our differences.    Instead of judging each other for our differences.  Instead of criticizing or mocking (Ok,  we mock in fun sometimes still)  we have learned to not only accept our differences but to celebrate them; to actually appreciate them.  At the end of the day I need his differences and he needs mine.  I need him to stabilize me.  I need him to be my rock.  And he needs me for inspiration.  He needs me to go shopping and buy stuff - otherwise we would still have that same tacky, brown, plastic couch that we had  30 years ago. 

We learned forgiveness - not just of each other but of ourselves as well.  Forgiveness for immaturity, for mistakes,  for wrong choices, for being imperfect; for being human.

Together we learned to give and give and give.  And we learned when it was time to take and take.  WE learned the rhythm of life together and with each other,  however  beautiful, painful, lovely and hard it is.  We learned it together as we grew up together. 

That was then and this is now.  We are still learning.  We are learning about life and God and each other and pain and laughter.   We will always be learning and there is no one I would rather learn with but Jeremy Hazell - Happy Anniversary!!!!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

God and Vacations

It was what I needed.  I needed a vacation.  I remember saying that I needed a pause button in life and I really and truly received exactly that.  I would almost say that it was life changing for me.

I met God on that cruise.

I met God through my mother.

I met God through the ocean.

I met God through the beautiful music, through the sunrise, through the sand.

And this is why.  I was so parched and dry and so lost and I was so so ready to feel God.  I was so ready to feel his presence and his life pulsing through me again.  I feel like God poured into  me the oil of his healing  and his life and his presence.  It was as if water and refreshing were poured out onto a really thirsty land.

Did I go into battle as soon as I got home?  You bet I did!  The second I got home actually and it felt like my world was falling apart.  But because of the pause, because I met God, I was strong enough for the battle.  I could carry the heavy sword onto the battleground.

The last day I was there, I remember sitting with my Mom in Central Park reveling in the beauty around us and the cozy spot that we had just discovered and a thought crossed my mind, "I wonder if this is the calm before the storm?"  And I realize now that it was a prophetic thought but that because of the peace and the joy and the laughter that God surrounded me with, I could weather this storm.  I could fight this battle.

So if you aren't lucky enough to go on an amazing cruise, if you aren't lucky enough to go for a week, set aside a day or a morning or an hour to sit and push the pause button.  Sit and breathe.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in the goodness of God and breath out the bad thoughts, the lies, the pain.  Breathe in his grace.  Breathe out condemnation and fear.  Pretty soon you will be breathing in and out his goodness and his love and his grace and  his joy.  And it won't hurt to breathe anymore.  It will feel good to take in big gulps of life.

Find out how you can push the pause button today.