Monday, November 30, 2015


It was two years ago.

I gazed at the twinkling lights on my Christmas tree and with a sudden pang realized that it would be the first Christmas tree that Jer and I had ever ever had  that his Dad would not see. It was a strange thought that hit me out of nowhere. Not that our tree was much different than any of the other years - a couple more ornaments, but the same theme.

 It was a season of firsts; a season of finding our footing in the new “normal” of our lives. There was a big piece of the puzzle missing and we were discovering ways of moving forward. 

 It wasn’t just Dad’s death that Christmas. There were a million other difficult things happening in my life in that season. A mountain of worries and concerns and battles that I was fighting both personally and for others.  It was a tough time and one that I felt truly lonely in.

 Christmas is my favourite time of year by far. I LOVE Christmas shopping.   I love the lights, the bling, the beautiful Christmas paper, the colourful ribbons. My heart literally leaps as I round the corner near my mall because I KNOW there will be tons of beauty, smiling faces, laughing children.   Wild, chaotic, mesmerizing fun everywhere.

 But that Christmas, for a split second, I wondered if I was in the Christmas “spirit”. I wondered if I felt like celebrating. I was talking to someone who was going through some dark waters herself and she said, “I was going to put up my decorations and I just decided not to, because I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit.” I nodded in understanding and empathy. I wondered if I should convince her to put up some stuff around her house anyways - no matter what she was going through - but for what purpose? Her life was in a difficult season right then. Why can’t she just skip Christmas altogether this year and get to the part where she gets through this difficult season? I totally understood her pain.

But suddenly it hit me; something that I had forgotten just for a moment.   She needed to decorate. She needed to put stuff up around her house. She needed to celebrate. And I needed to too.

 Why? Because even though our lives were going through some painful times, even though our hearts felt like giant boulders stuck in our chest -  though it seemed hard to hang on to anything that will hold our souls - there is a reason that we celebrate Christmas season.    There is a reason that we do ALL of this.

Sometimes, in the busy-ness of the season and in the crazy adventures we find ourselves on, we forget.  Truly forget.   It's not about the lights, and the bling and the presents.   And it’s not because we need to get gifts or because we need a giant month long interruption in our lives. It’s not because we need to spend money that we don’t have.

 It’s because we need to remind our selves that no matter how hard life gets - we always have hope. That’s what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about hope. Christmas is about a Mom and Dad cradling a tiny baby in the crook of their arms - that came to earth to save the world. It is about a God who left a perfect world to step into a fallen world and give them hope. There is always hope because there is always God.

 That day I chose faith instead of fear. I chose hope instead of doubt. I chose beauty instead of ashes.

 This year, if it just seems too hard to get through the day; if the world around you seems hopeless, come a little closer. Close your weary eyes and picture a baby born for you. Picture an innocent baby that came into a guilty world to give you hope.

 If you can only light a candle, do that. If you can only put some music on, do that. Find something to do to celebrate His hope. Because that is what it is all about...

He came for me.

He came for you. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wow! More Than 10 000 Views!!!

A Special Thank You Gift

I have been very excited this last week!! On my blog, I have reached over 10,000 views!! I so appreciate every view, every comment and every like on my journey as a writer. I wanted to thank each of you in a way that would bless you as if you have blessed me. I am giving away three original hand drawn doodle Christmas colouring sheets. Please use the form below and sign up for my newsletter and I will email them to you.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

On loving well...

I used to see only black and white.

I was that person that got mad at you if you didn’t treat me right going through the till.  I was the one that let you know swiftly if my coffee wasn’t hot enough.  I was that person who  honked at the cars that cut me off - not to let them know that I was there but to let them know that I was super angry at them.  In my mind, you were either right or wrong.  Lifestyles were either right or wrong.  It was black and white and I left no room for colour or for gray.

I am not the opposite of who I was - I will still send my coffee back if it’s too cold.  I will still ask the teller if I am inconveniencing her if she acts like I have interrupted her day. I am rarely embarrassed or hesitant to state my true feelings.  But these days,  I am more often asking strangers if they want prayer; if they know that Jesus loves them or if they need anything.  Now,  I find myself looking beyond their outward actions and looking deep within their heart, knowing that there is a person who goes through pain just like me.  There before me stands a person fighting for freedom in his/her life; struggling to stay above the water.  I am realizing more and more that people often carry heavy loads on their shoulders that they can’t possibly lay down at the door of their work.  Instead of a rebuke, they need an outstretched hand, they need a loving and kind word from a stranger.   A snide remark will stick arrows in their back for a week, while a beautiful gesture of love might possibly change their life.  

How interesting that Jesus actually came to earth to fulfill the law so that he could replace it with one word - love.   That’s not to say that he wanted us to run around killing each other in the name of freedom. He didn't take away boundaries or conscience.  But he taught us that we need to follow a path that is so much greater and at the same time, much much harder.   People that live in black and white think that love is a grand cop-out.   Sure, just love people.  But when you think about it, when you live by the principle of love, it’s much harder than following a set of rules and the results so much better.

Jesus left us with two commands.  Love God and love one another.  When we live by the higher law we are freer.  We have added color to our lives.  Life is not a simple answer.  Sometimes there aren’t any easy solutions. In my years of ministry and counseling, I have learned that often there aren’t hard and fast rules for a lot of things in this life.  Often, it’s hard to untangle the truth from the lie - the right from the wrong.   There are so many variables.   So instead of living in judgement, suddenly you realize that the better way is love.  The noble gesture is a soft hand on a tired shoulder.

All of us need to be loved.  All of us, no matter what age, race or religion need to feel important - we need to know that we matter deeply to the world around us.  

I love the story in the Bible of the woman caught in adultery.   The Pharisees brought the terrified woman before Jesus and told Him of her sin.  Clutching stones in their hands, they were waiting for the signal from Jesus to stone her.  It was simple to them.  This woman was a sinner - she was caught.  Stone her.   What Jesus did next is a mystery to this day.  As the crowd waited for his approval, silently He bent down in the dirt and began writing words on the ground.  Then He  looked up and simply said,  “Okay,  the person without any sin in their lives - YOU cast the first stone.”  No one could be that person because they all knew that they had sinned in their lifetime.   He then turned to the panic stricken lady who was looking on with awe in her eyes.   This is what he said,  “Go and sin no more.”  How could he say that so casually?  How could it be that easy for her to just go "and sin no more." Maybe she was in love with the man with whom she was committing adultery with.  Maybe it was an addiction to her.  There are so many things that we don't know about this story.    This is how He was able to say it with such confidence; such conviction.   Because instead of stones,  she had experienced love.  Instead of hate,  she was bathed in kindness.  Her very life was saved.   And because her very life was saved with love, her soul was saved.  She experienced the love of God and she was a different person.

Our love will change people.

When you go to the grocery store, look for people that need your love.  Keep your eyes and heart open for those that need to hear a kind word or receive a smile.

Jesus didn’t tell us to love people that believed the same as us.  He didn’t tell us to love in spite of... He didn’t tell us to love even though...

He simply told us to love people.  Simply love people no matter the race, no matter the religion, no matter the beliefs, and no matter the actions.


 That’s it.

Let's take a look at three ways to love well.  

1. Don't keep score.   Don't love only those people who can love you back.  Don't just love people to show them you are great - you are lovely.  Love them because they need to be loved, they want to be loved.  Even if they can't love you back.  Even if you love them in ways that are anonymous.   Love them.  Love someone for no reason.  Love someone who you will never ever see again.   Do it even if it doesn't make your name more popular; it doesn't bring anyone else into the church; it doesn't advertise ANYTHING at all - you are just showing genuine love to show love. 

2.   Love the way you want to be loved.  What is your love language?  On any given day, what would YOU want?  What would make your day?  Would it bless you if someone gave you a gift - just because...?  Then choose someone to give a gift to.  Would you love it if someone just came up to you and gave you a compliment;  told you how much they appreciate you?  Then do the same for someone.   Would it make your day if someone left a card for Starbucks under your windshield?  Then find someone who would love the same and do it for them.  Do you know what that does?  It heals you.  It refreshes you.  It uplifts you.  Because love doesn't only help the one who receives it, it helps the one who gives it as well.

3.  Give lavishly, wildly and generously out of your love bank today.   I had a pastor once who said it was always good to error on the side of grace.  I adopted that saying because I LOVE it.  But I want to take that a step further and say that you can never error on the side of love.    One of the things on my bucket list is to stand behind someone in the grocery store and step up and say,  "I want to buy her groceries."  I can't wait until one day I can do that.

I want to love with abandonment.   I want to see my waitresses through eyes of love.  I want to see my co-workers, my neighbors and those I meet,  through eyes of love.  I want to be motivated in my everyday life through eyes of love.   Because I know that one day 2000 years ago,  there was a Man who died for me.  His motivation was sincere, genuine, lovely and wild love.

Tomorrow, when you wake up in the morning,  choose to think this very question.  "Who can I love today?"  When you begin to wake up every morning with this thought,  it will change your life.

 I promise you.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Gift to Me

I was standing on the edge of a big decision and I wasn't sure if I was brave enough to jump off.  I deeply wanted to go to Taiwan and celebrate with the Church there but I was also terrified of the risk.  I was completely torn.  I had just spent two weeks in the hospital with meningitis.   The doctor that attended to me,  knew how badly I wanted to go to Taiwan but doubted that I would ever get there - not this time at least.  I could tell she felt sorry for me - was even trying to work it out for me but it seemed hopeless.  There were so many things to work out physically.

The clock was ticking and I still didn’t know if I was even able to go or not.  I wouldn’t even think about going without getting the okay from my family doctor,  my heart doctor, my rhinologist and my gynecologist (much was going on that could have led me right back to the ER so I needed her okay for sure.)   My last doctor to give me the okay was my gynecologist and it was looking like she was the most important one for me.  I was excited the day I was to visit her.  I needed to let everyone know whether I was going or not.

 Twenty minutes before I was to have an appointment,  I got a phone call telling me that she couldn’t make her appointments that day.  I had to reschedule which put me only two weeks away from the trip I had already purchased long before I got meningitis.   I was annoyed, but what can one do?  Nothing.  It seemed to take forever to get to the second appointment and then I got the phone call again - she had to go in to emergency surgery.    I had to reschedule.  Again.   I was starting to get panicky - I was beyond the annoyed part.  I still didn’t know what decision I was going to make even if everyone DID say that I could go!!

Knowing whether it was even a possibility was the first step to even making the decision.

Finally,  I got to my appointment a week and a half before my scheduled date to leave the country.  I sat there in her office.   I actually thought that she was going to tell me that I needed an emergency hysterectomy. Instead, she said that with the latest health issues that propped up, she wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole unless she knew she absolutely HAD to.


 I asked her about going to Taiwan and she didn’t understand why I wouldn’t go.  It was that simple.  But with my complications, what if I bleed and end up back in emergency?  That was my complicated question.    She didn’t really have an answer for that but still didn’t think it warranted me to do anything less than live my life normally like I would if nothing was wrong. 

It was pretty simple.  She was giving me the okay. 

I left the office that day with a spring in my step - but with an incredible weight on my shoulders.  It was easy for her to say that I should still live my life normally but the fact of the matter was, she could not guarantee that I wouldn’t end up back in emergency.  I was an unusual case.  She wasn’t sure what my body was doing.  That wasn’t great insurance for me.    There was so much about this trip that was nebulous - a bit like a flimsy piece of golden material swaying in the warm breeze or gusty wind.  It wasn’t concrete at all.  I like concrete; especially when it comes to my health.

I knew I needed to give Jeremy an answer.  There was only 10 days left.  My job needed to know and Taiwan needed to know.  I prayed about it for a day and talked to my family.  My family knew how much I have invested in Taiwan, both in going and in blessing my husband to spend so much time there.  They knew my love for Taiwan.  They said go. 

I decided to go.  The minute, I made the decision, I was literally panic-stricken.   I had pockets of excitement but mainly I was working with some serious questions in my spirit.  What if I got halfway around the world and my health started doing crazy things?  There were many scenarios that danced in my head.   I only had ten days to get ready for a last minute international trip.  I had to get some things ready at work and get a lot ready at home.  It was a crazy week.


The Sunday after I made the decision and just a week before I was to board that plane,  I stood in my Church and asked God for peace.  Our worship leader started leading a song that hit me in the gut.  The chorus was “I’m no longer a slave to fear.  I am a child of God.”  I raised my hands as I sung the song and let the peace wash over me - from the top of my head to the tip of my toes - over and over again.  I felt like I had taken a shower in grace after the meeting.  It was exactly what my soul needed.  Peace had overwhelmed my spirit.  It was a spiritual meeting with God.  For the first time since I had made that decision,  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was a good one.

But as fear is what it is,  the next day when I woke up,  I felt a knawing again at the corners of my heart.  I battled it.  I talked to God a lot and asked him to confirm that I was supposed to go.  Again.

Immediately, he brought a story to my mind from the bible.  It was the story of Peter.   Peter was in the boat and as he stood looking out over the oceans suddenly he saw a figure of a man or ghost walking on the water.  He didn’t really know what it was.  It terrified him and intrigued him at the same time.  Immediately, he wondered if it was Jesus.  He said,  “Jesus if that is you - tell me to come to you.”  I am sure that Peter did not think Jesus would say come even if it was him.  Only Jesus could walk on water.  But Peter was eager.  He was one of those guys who wanted to please,  wanted to experience life with everything he had.   He gave life 110 per cent.  Sometimes, he said silly things and this was one of those times.  I wonder if he thought Jesus would just sort of rebuke him and say just wait for me to get there.  Why was Peter so anxious to meet him?  Why couldn’t he just wait.   Because with all that was within Peter,  he wanted to see Jesus.  That was his life's passion.  He was willing to risk anything - even death in order to be with Jesus.

Jesus said,  “Come.” and Peter knew it was him.  He knew that this was Jesus who held out his arms to him - it was not a ghost and nothing - not even a vast ocean or the waves that were bigger than the boat was going to stop him from meeting with the one that he loved most. 

He climbed out of the boat.  I am sure his legs were wobbling.  It was exhilirating and terrifying at the same time.    As Peter stepped out of that boat,  he was taking the biggest faith step that he had ever taken.  He was leaving the boat that  was so comfortable to him.  He was leaving the familiarity of the friends, and the safety that the boat represented.  He was leaving it all behind in order to walk on water - something that humans can’t do.

  This is what I felt the Lord saying to me.  I was leaving everything familiar to me.  I was leaving the hospital that had kept me alive in the summer.  I was leaving the doctors who knew my case inside and out and I was leaving family.   I was leaving it all to follow Jesus and Jesus was asking me to make that faith step.  It was such revelation to me that I knew the Lord would be with me.

The next day at our little Christian school, we had Bible time with all the students.  The young man got up and said, “I want to tell you a little story.  His name was Peter and he walked on water...”   

Two weeks later, as I stood in a group of two thousand people crammed into the Banner Church - others pressing to get into the shut doors,  I stood with my hands raised I realized that that day was a significant day.

 Some people never get to see the fruit of their labour.  Some people spend hours, weeks, years working, striving, pushing toward certain goals,  toward breakthrough in something and often people never see the outcome of all that hard work; they never see it come dancing fully alive before their eyes.

  That day, I saw it.

 I saw the fruit of leaving my kids, many years in a row to go to Taiwan.  I saw the fruit of kissing my husband good bye even when it felt better to keep him home.  Through pregnancy, through treacherous teen years, through difficult toddler years - saying good bye and giving my husband the blessing to go - knowing that God would take care of me.  I saw the pay-off of hours of prayers and tears and love poured out to a Church that was our home when we were in Taiwan.    As I stood there,  I realized that the Lord was giving me this - all the sacrifice of all those years wrapped up in a big red bow and handing it back to me.  It felt freeing.  It felt right and  itt felt humbling.

Standing there,  arms open wide,  heart full to the brim,  I knew that even though I didn't have a lot of money, I was a very rich lady indeed. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

When the Son Sets You Free...

 "I have lost almost 40 pounds,"  I said triumphantly.

 My heart doctor just looked at me. I thought he would be thrilled.  Instead, he totally ignored me.  For a second I wondered if he even believed me.  Maybe he thought I was embellishing the fact.  (Mind you, I DID lose twenty of those pounds with my "meningitis diet", which is by the way not endorsed by doctors and certainly not recommended by me.)

He just kept talking about how I needed to lose weight.  "Even twenty or thirty pounds would help a lot."  He said it so flippantly - like every pound didn't cost me sweat, blood, tears, and more tears.  "Skinny mini, like me,"  I heard him say.  Then he laughed, amused at his own joke.  He  laughed like it didn't take months to shed every pound and weeks to gain it all back.

I felt disheartened for a second and then I realized that he was right.  I really wanted a pat on the back for the weight that I had already lost but the truth is,  I can't go on living at this rate either.  He was trying to push me forward - encourage me to keep pressing on - in a "skinny, eccentric doctor" sort of way.

The other day, I was talking to God about losing weight as I often do.  The difficulty, the frustration - all of that. I realize that it's a journey.  But sometimes,  it's a very hard journey.

 I was impressed with a Scripture that I thought, you as my readers, would like to hear as well.  It's in John 8:36 and it says,  "When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed."

I LOVE that!

 Do you have an addiction to food?  I know that I do.  Do you reach for the chocolate when you are depressed?  I know that I do!  Do you choose food to feed your soul when you should be choosing other things?  I do that as well.

For me, it may be food.  For you, it may be alcohol, or video games or sleep - whatever you are addicted to as a way to dull the pain that life sometimes brings.  

The point is, Jesus wants to set us free.  It says right there in the Bible - if He sets you free, then friend you ARE FREE!!!!  No more addictions, no more pain associated with food, no more imbalance when it comes to food.   It's time to invite,  Jesus the healer of our whole bodies,  into that part of our lives.  He wants to heal you from the inside out.  He desires our freedom - body, mind and spirit.

We can do this!!

Monday, November 2, 2015



“Do you deal with anxiety?”  The nurse asked me sharply.  Did I hear a hint of judgement in her voice?

I looked at her through half closed drugged eyes.  “Yes.”  was all I could say.

I turned and looked out the window.   My blood pressure was rapidly climbing a steep and dangerous hill, my heart rate was going through the roof,  they were talking about an emergency hysterectomy - all of which was totally unrelated to the illness of MENINGITIS that brought me to the hospital in the first place.

I guess that that was not enough to feel anxious,  I thought sarcastically as I looked at her.  I was too weak to say it to her.

“Just try to relax.”   She said as she hooked me up to some more antibiotics.  “Oh, " I thought,  "Yes, I could do that.  Completely forgot about THAT option.”  The thought danced through my head as I smiled weakly.

She wasn’t being mean.  She was a woman who had never experienced anything that I was experiencing at that moment.  That’s all.

I had been at home and trying to push thoughts of meningitis out of my head as my neck began its incline -  pounding and pounding more furiously.  Surely I wouldn’t have meningitis again.  I just had it three years ago.   I shook my head.  NO,  I was just nervous about it.  I asked Jeremy for a Tylenol 3 and kept doodling in my notebook as a way to distract my run away terrifying thoughts.

It was a beautiful day.  Warm,  no wind.  Simply lovely outside as we sat on our deck.  The Tylenol with codeine took the edge off of my headache.  Slightly at least.   We set up a table and started to play a game we like to play - Settlers of Catan.  

The pain came back with more intensity than before and it was only an hour after I had had my medicine.  I couldn’t take any more medicine at this point.
I kept playing the game.  I tried to convince myself that there was nothing to worry about - it would blow over.  Tomorrow would be a better day.   I was fast losing my argument.

I went inside to lay on the couch.  I put something under my neck as I laid my head on the arm of the  cool couch, pressing hard to take the pressure off just above the neck.  I hated laying like this because it reminded me of the last time I had meningitis.  Such awful memories.  I tried laying another way but this was the best way.  It took a little bit of the pressure pressure pressure that I was feeling.  Oh so much PRESSURE and pain.

The next time I had Tylenol, it didn’t touch the pain that was escalating.  It didn’t even take the edge off.    I was concerned.  Jeremy asked if he should plan to take me in to the hospital.  I didn’t know.  Darn,  I hate this.  The wondering, the fear, the complete and overwhelming pain.  I didn’t want to revisit this season of my life EVER.  EVER.

Surely surely if I just laid down again, if I just calmed myself down.

 Then it happened.

 The sick sick feeling in my stomach -the knowing that I was going to throw up.  I grabbed a bucket.  Yes, I needed to go in.  NOW.  It would only get worse and when you know you have meningitis then you know you only have a short window before this horrible disease could become your worst nightmare.   My son and his girlfriend were there so they could watch my youngest son, as Jer brought me to the ER.

Because this wasn’t the first time I had meningitis,  they took me right in.  They wheeled me to a tiny room.  As I lay there in the hospital bed with people working around me,  I couldn't stop the spinning of the room.  It spun faster and faster and faster until I threw up -again and again and again.  I couldn't stop throwing up and I felt like I was dying.  I wondered if I had gotten there too late.   They couldn’t give me anything for nausea or pain until the doctor saw me about four hours later.  Four hours later I was hooked up to pain medicines and nausea and a bunch of things for my heart and blood pressure.  I had nurses around me constantly attending to me.   They were as concerned about my heart as they were about my meningitis.  They seemed to be focusing on both - equally.

 After a couple of days of being in the hospital,  there was an issue with my uterus doing some crazy things and I was losing a lot of blood.   The doctor came in and told me she was considering a blood transfusion because my iron was so low and I was very critically anemic.  One morning,  I was visited by the on call doctor several times.  I was visited by my heart doc, my neurologist and they wanted to hook me up with a gynecologist.   

I was petrified.  It felt like I was stuck in a hopeless situation - like I was swimming with hungry sharks and at any second one was going to devour me for his snack.  There was nowhere to turn that was safe.  I sat there on my bed and thought ironically that  my life’s message was hope and here I found myself in this dark hole of endless hopelessness.    Nothing at that moment felt like it was going right.

 Then the Lord very clearly spoke to my spirit.  He said,  “Do you trust me?”  I answered honestly.  I answer the Lord honestly because he knows my thoughts anyways.  I simply said,  “I really really don’t know.  I don’t know if I can trust you.  And I am really scared.”  I didn’t feel his anger.  I didn’t feel his indignation.  I just felt honestly scared.

As I sat there to process it all my chest started hurting.  Not a lot but just a little.   I rubbed my back and chest a little.  I tried to forget about it.  Really I had pain everywhere.  Meningitis kicks you in the butt without all the other stuff that was happening in my body.   But the pain wouldn’t go away.  It wasn’t sharp - it was more like pressure pain.  I called the nurse and casually told her.  When you are in the hospital and they are worried about your heart,  there is no CASUALLY telling ANYONE that your heart is  hurting.   I was briskly wheeled down to the Cat Scan room where they did a Cat Scan of my lungs.  I was sure everything was okay.  I even felt a little bit embarrassed about the whole thing - I was just being silly and over aware of everything that was happening in my body.  As soon as I got wheeled back to the room a nurse rushed in and said that I had to have an emergency ultrasound on my legs.  She seemed nervous - this wasn’t routine.  Something about blood clots and where did they come from?  Panic gripped me with a strong and cruel grasp.  Things were spinning out of control. 

It felt like the world was closing in on me.  I was terrified.  More terrified than I have ever been.  It felt like the life was being choked out of me.  Everywhere I turned there was something to be afraid of.  And it wasn’t just little things - each one was life threatening.  Each thing could claim my life.  When the nurse left me alone, I wasn’t sure if I could make it another minute.  I looked up to the sky and said,  “yes, I trust you God because I just need to right now. I trust you. ”  I said that physically, but spiritually and emotionally it felt like I fell into his arms.  I needed Him more than anything. 

 Immediately, when I said that I felt my world expanding,  My breaths came in big refreshing gulps and it was as if a warm blanket of peace settled over me.  Nothing had changed.  Everything was still critical, but I had decided to trust Jesus through it all.

 In that very moment, I realized something.  Trust is not putting your hand in God’s and believing that everything will turn out all right. Trust is not KNOWING that you are going to be successful and free of pain and sickness.  Because in reality there is pain and sickness;  and Jesus never promised that we would be exempt from these things.  Trust is putting your tiny hand in God’s strong, mighty one and saying,  “I know that you can walk me through whatever lies before me in the big black hole of unknowing.”  Trust is a decision and trust is completely spiritual and utterly supernatural.

That day, I was changed.