a little bit of Christmas in the heart

i loved christmas as a child. and i love christmas now. even if it's a significant amount more work & sacrifice to love it now.  christmas has become a real skill & discipline. a discipline in keeping perspective. a guarding of my child-likeness & a submitting of my heart. to be able to tune out all the hassle & hussel & clamour & keep tight grasp of the quiet truth & revelation behind it all. because if i'm not careful all the shopping & wrapping becomes tiring, meaningless ritual. the cost & discomforts of travelling to see family & friends from afar will rob me of the fellowship of the heart. the early mornings & late nights will overtake the giving heart.

and so i am trading tradition for truth, selfishness for selflessness. i chose to enjoy these sleep scarce, sometimes thankless, uncomfortable, tiring few days because i know it's all about an encounter. an encounter than started long, long ago that has grown into this grinch-like heart. that it is an encounter with the Giver of all good things. and it's from Him that i can give past my capacity. and it's that continual encounter that i carry in my heart all year long.

"he who has not christmas in his heart will never will never find it under a tree."
 {roy l. smith}
"we consider christmas as the encounter, the great encounter, the historical encounter, the decisive encounter, between God & mankind. he who has faith knows this truly; let him rejoice." 
{Pope Paul VI}
"christmas, my child, is love in action. every time we love, every time we give, it's christmas." 
{dale evans}
"love same down & rescued me." {jesus culture}
"i will honor christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
{charles dickens}

* looking to change some things next year to more accurately reflect our heart in bold new ways. doing some reading on some very cool 'traditions of truth' that others are embracing {posting anything interesting in the sidebar.. feel free to read alongside me!}


early bird

i actually wrote this really early, a few weeks ago to be exact but forgot to post. so here it is... late but still early. :)
my husband is away in the uk at the moment.  and whenever he is away, i love to set little projects & goals to complete while he's away.  like a focus. almost like a distraction, but better because it's productive! any other time and those little projects would just be tedious.  but for some reason, while hubby is away, they become an exciting challenge. sometimes the goals are simple, other times they're huge.  but either way, it's always rewarding & something to look forward to. they usually surround some kind of training with the kids {establishing a new bedtime routine, weaning susu's & sippy cups, getting on top of unbecoming behaviour, etc.}. but this trip, i got so carried away that i set my new year's resolutions... i know, i know... waaaay to early! but as said before, i am an avid goal setter.

so ready or not... here they are!
1. to value knowledge: in the age of google, i have so much knowledge that i rarely pay heed to it.  i know refined sugar is bad, but i eat it. i know the great outdoors are a great healer, but i watch tv. i don't really value the knowledge that i have, otherwise i'd be living it.  so here's to valuing knowledge.

2. to value the Presence: i have been woman of great principles with excursions in & out of the Presence. i want to be a woman of His Presence, who rarely has to use her principles. nothing wrong with principles. they are there for when we can't hear but the ambition should never be to live by principles alone because they then becomes law. which leads me to my next resolution...

3. to live grace: the difference between law & grace isn't that law has commands & grace doesn't. grace has much harder commands.
"the law says sacrifice an animal on a certain day, grace says be perfect. the law says rest on the seventh day. grace says heal the sick & raise the dead." 
{bill johnson} 
it's not like one has commands & the other doesn't. the difference is that the law commands us to perform, to act a certain way. but with grace, when the command comes so does the Presence. and He comes to enable. it's the only way i can be perfect. the only way i can heal the sick & raise the dead. His presence enables, He performed. {romans 7* just in case there were any theological questions there} and to truly rest in grace, is life changing.

and last but certainly not least... and maybe it should be the even the first...

4. to be loved: to truly learn how to be the 'beloved'. to just be an object of His love. to see Him in a way i've never dared see Him. in all of His overwhelming affection towards me. and to really believe it.

and that's all. everything else will fall into place.

it's gonna be a good year marked by a revelation & experience of His love, His grace & His presence. and that deep well of knowledge bubbling up as tangible in all areas of my life.
happy early new year!


the God in him

we have had a tremendous weekend. yes, even through the hurried, sleepless, christmas clutter of a season.  even after swells of demands this month, i just feel full to the tip top of my spirit.  i just can't wipe the silly grin off my face or stop humming as i buzz around. God is just that good.

i could say that it's because we've just spent some time with Chris Gore as a body, a great encourager & equipper who happens to walk in the supernatural gift of miracles everywhere he goes. but that's not really the reason for the humming or the grinning. nor was it the time i spent watching him operate in his gift or listening to his life-lived convictions. it's the time i spent with the God in him & his team. the imparting of the very nature of that mighty, loving King.

i write a lot when i am learning. it's like a line in the sand, marking the spot where everything changed, where tangible transformation happened. and so i thought i might highlight some of those moments for me. but as this humble writer knows, some things are just impossible to articulate. words just can't entirely express Spirit in all it's fullness.  i could probably explain it much more intelligibly in tongues.

here is my feeble attempt at documenting just some of those nuggets of gold from this weekend for those who didn't get the chance to be there {i realize some of these may sound a bit strange outside of the context of the conference but hopefully they make sense & bring life as they were intended... these are just the coles notes}:

it's all of Him in & through all of us, that is the transformation of the mind. it's not just who we are in Him but who He is in us.

walking in healing miracles is just about walking in an absolute confidence in Him & His heart, in an unshakeable confidence that my prayers are already answered. it's impossible for my prayers not to be answered.

God isn't sitting in heaven choosing who He will & won't heal. He already chose to heal everyone at the cross. 

disappointment, if not dealt with, shuts down fruitfulness. both the burden {of not seeing people healed} & the glory {of seeing people healed} were never designed for you. both the glory & the burden belong to Christ. and i am trust.

when someone dies or isn't healed we bury them. we grieve with the family, we take it to the Lord & then we get back up again & pray for the next one. grieving is biblical {grieve with those who grieve} as long as it doesn't lead us to a place of unbelief, a hardness of heart. * {there was much more on this, i just couldn't write it all... including his incredible testimony of his daughter... he's seen thousands healed, including other kids with CP totally set free, but his daughter still has severe CP}

we owe the world an encounter with God's love. that's what heals. an encounter with God's love. the cross isn't about how much we love Him but how much He loves us. he doesn't heal because of how much we love Him but how much He loves us. it's the revelation of how much we are loved & we are alway in need of a greater revelation of how much He loves us. i am not just a son but a beloved son. knowing you are loved & believing you are loved are two different things.

the foundation to everything we do is intimacy with Jesus. all fruitfulness comes out of that. lovers make better workers.

we are learning to not just celebrate results {like when someone gets healed} but also celebrating risk. celebrating fearless faith. otherwise it's can become performance. we position ourselves for risk for heaven to back us up. it increases the anointing we walk in. we redefine failure. failure isn't not doing anything with what you were given. success is doing something with what you've been given.

hunger without breakthrough or an encounter with Him will lead to frustration which can lead to unbelief. 

are you a thermostat or a thermometer? do you set the temperature or just take it? we carry the atmosphere inside us {it's not when the atmosphere is right around us}. glory will fall when someone knows who are walks into the room. i am aware of the One in me more than the ones around me. i focus on the answer not magnifying the problem. minister to people out of how God sees them, not how you do. He doesn't see the missing arm, He sees the arm that's missing.

it doesn't matter if i feel the presence. the bible talks a lot more about trust than it does feelings.  by looking for the God outside of us we are despising the God inside of us. 

like His disciple John, He only reveals the secrets of His heart to those who know they are loved, those dependant on His love for them, who lay their heads on his chest & listen to His heartbeat. 

english {french, spanish...etc.} is not God's first language. He speaks through colours, nature, music, numbers... He isn't limited. so don't box Him in & wait for Him to speak in english. 

the fear of God does not make me run from God but to him. i don't repent for forgiveness but because i am forgiven.

i will always be a novice. but when we plateau in experience, we lower our experience. our role model, our perfect theology is Jesus. when Jesus prayed 100% were healed and we can't be satisfied until we see the same.  we minister out of HIs track record not ours. i refuse to create an identity or a theology around our 'perceived' powerlessness to justify our lack of understand. the peace that passes understanding comes when we give up our right to understand. feast on Gods goodness instead of changing my theology to suit my experience. 

revival is a choice not an event. as for me & my house we are going to have revival.


lessons in the losses: lay your burdens down & other elliptical epiphanies

lesson #8: laying your burdens down & picking up your choices

i am quite proud of my gym experience. not just the physical progress but more the social progress {relationships}. as any other "shellfish" out there might empathize, making new friends can be hard when you're afraid to talk to new people. and this "shellfish" just happens to be married to the world's greatest extrovert {which means i almost never have to work on my shyness}. but i go to a women's only gym which means no extroverted mediator for me.  and so i was surprised when relationships kinda happened, accidentally. without meaning to, i mean. i think if i have thought about them too hard, they might have never happened.

anyways, the relationship i'm most proud of, isn't the grey haired spandex ladies who love to kiss the babies, or the super friendly trainers alway joking with me about my "mommy curves" but katie.  she's like me.  four kids, having a break at the gym.  she often appears beside me on the elliptical at the exact right time. and we bare our unusual stories together as we unravel "the hard part" of what we are currently facing between cardio pulsing breaths & the latest diaper blowout story.  and as out of breath we both end up being after realizing that we've jogged quite a few miles further than we meant to, i always feel like i have finally caught my breath in real life.

at one such perfect time, she told me about this family therapist she's heard about.  the one who is known as the saviour of parents, strengthening feeble knees. katie says this dr. mammon is wise to the mother's plight.  that she knows how to dismantle their low self-esteem & pick up their shattered dreams & breath life into the woman they want to be. she's not really about parenting methods.  she's more about choices.  the many choices that make up a mother's life. she boils down everything to a choice. dr. mammon says there are very few things in a day that you have to do. you don't have to do the laundry.  you don't have to wipe the counter.  you don't have to sweep the floor.  you don't have to answer that baby's cry in the night. you don't have to go to that mommy & me class. and by being conscious of the choices that we are making & not seeing them as something you have to do, but rather something we choose to do, we are empowered.  she wants us to change our language from i have to, to i'm going to.  i am going to do the grocery shopping. i am going to get dressed today. i am going to have a great day.  it's responsible & decisive instead of burdensome & victim-ish. sometimes all a burden needs is the simple tweak of perspective. and it's being aware of how my own perspective, my own words can burden or liberate me.  it's the power of words. and it is powerful to know that i control what i do, even with a great many little people who occasionally appear like they're in control.  but there is always a choice available.  it's choices that make up any great day and it's choices that make up any great mom.


so shake him off

florence & the machine is one of those secular prophets to me. although it is unclear as to whether or not florence is a bonafide christian, i suspect that she may have had an encounter or two with Jesus.  regardless of where the lyrics came from, this song has been deliverance to me. and it is one of those marker songs, that mark a changing point.  they transformed my struggle.  empowered my constitution. changed me. this one is an absolute must on this song journey.

and it's hard to dance with the devil on your back
so shake him off. 

Regrets collect like old friends Here to relive your darkest moments I can see no way, I can see no way And all of the ghouls come out to play And every demon wants his pound of flesh But I like to keep some things to myself I like to keep my issues drawn It's always darkest before the dawn
And I've been a fool and I've been blind I can never leave the past behind I can see no way, I can see no way I'm always dragging that horse around And our love is pastured such a mournful sound Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground So I like to keep my issues drawn But it's always darkest before the dawn

I am done with my graceless heart So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart Cause I like to keep my issues drawn It's always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back So shake him off, oh woah


to see me in Your eyes.

just this. soaking this in this afternoon. learning to live as one who is outrageously loved. being set free from myself, from my small thinking about myself. expanding my ability to receive.

love basking if you will. :)


show me Your glory

 it is 6:30 am. four little sleepy bundles are carried out to a cold mini van. no sign of day yet. the starry sky still hung out from the night before.  one little bundle peaks over my shoulder as i carry her down grandma & grandpa's front stoop. 'wow.' she whispers to the dark sky splendour.  she's never seen the heavens sparkle before.
there's not another soul in sight, other than the silhouette of two groggy grandparents waving goodbye from the barely lit doorway. we pull out of the driveway & begin our journey home down winding roads. a deep, dark fog envelops our van.  cloud so thick it sticks to the windshield. i wonder if this is what moses saw? i wonder if this is what glory looks like? nothing else distinguishable. everything, all swallowed up in this all consuming cloud. this closeness that dwells, that burns from the outside in.  this face-to-face intimacy.
"You cannot see My face, for no man can see my face and live!" 
{exodus 33:20}
"but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was." 
{exodus 20:20-21}
seeing God is costly.  something has to die. something is always transfigured.  like Jacob's limp.  there is always a cost.  do i truly want to meet Him in all His reality? in all His truth? in all His grace? 
formless vapour blankets us as we rise & fall on rolling hilltops. we're intensely focused on navigating the fog now, only anticipating a few feet ahead of us at a time, aware of the veiled peril on each side of these country roads.
"when God only gives us the guidance we need for the moment, it tends to keep us closer"
{bill johnson}
i've felt that glory before. that sweet glory.  the presence that answers that desperate hannah cry. the glory that cloaks, that hides, that sheathes & shelters.
waves billow over the hood as we descend into another valley until we disappear again. what does glory, so purifying it could kill, look like? sound like? smell like? 
"all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.  they said to moses, 'speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us or we will die." {exodus 20:18-19}
those poor israelites, terrified they'd die if they heard His voice not realizing that the death they feared was in the absence of His all sustaining voice.  they chose to have a mediator to have those death-defying encounters with their God. they outsourced to moses.  i look at my own life, and i realize i'm not so different from my israelite brothers. and i know there can be no authentic relationship with Him for those who prefer a mediator.  there is no outsourcing for this kind of intimacy. no shortcut. no substitute. no lamb to sacrifice. just me. all of me.  a living sacrifice to be burnt up by His purifying presence.
the fog begins to disperse as the stars get rolled up and the sunrise lifts on the horizon. the outlines of roofs & treetops appear.   cloud lingers at the base of trees & livestock begin to emerge as heavy sky begins to ascend. butterflies flutter around in my stomach. i'm not sure if i'm carsick or glory hungry. the more i think, the more i wonder. what does His face look like?  what does it feel like to look into His eyes?
"i saw the Lord... with the train of His robe filling the temple." {isaiah 6:1} 
filling, like a cloud that came but also kept coming & billowing in, wave upon wave. i look at how far i have ridden on my past encounters with Him & i think of the potency of those now seemingly small experiences. what could happen if out of desperation i cried out for that weighty, thick Presence continually? what would happen to me? i'd be ruined for anything else. how could i ever be content knowing there is more of the One who never ends to explore & experience? how could i ever conceptualize something like this? there is no framework, no theory, no words in any language that could support this kind of an encounter. impossible to impart or mediate to someone else. and i am jealous for it and i am suddenly starving, desperate for glory.
“safe?” said mr. beaver; “don’t you hear what mrs. beaver tells you? who said anything about safe? ‘course he isn’t safe. he's wild, you know. not like a tame lion. but he’s good. he’s the King, i tell you.” 

His presence is never safe but He is always the good & rightful King. 
this is what i was created for.  this is where i belong.
to see the cloud & step in...


as long as i live {what a privilege}

this song has spent a year or two at the top of my favourite list. it demands my best. demands my all. in every situation, every circumstance.
...praise the Lord, oh my soul, and let all that's within me praise His name...
it is truth to me.  perspective altering truth, no matter where i find myself.
...i get to love You through, whatever comes, what a privilege,
that i get to love You through, whatever comes, oh how sweet it is...
it is my declaration. my lifesong, i think.
...and nothings gonna take your praise out of mouth, as long as i shall live...


three in diapers does have a silver lining...

box diapers were on sale for half price at loblaws this week. so we cleaned them out & decided it was a great day for a diaper fort! we're saving up those pampers points for something good. 6000 points & counting... {and who said there wasn't an upside to having 3 in diapers!} this is definitely on the gift list today!

it was much harder than it looks!
that plastic is slippery!


the eye of the storm {emotional tsunami's & the like}

they say hurricane sandy is headed our way with her pummelling rains, her wicked winds & rising torrents.  they're calling her the 'frankenstorm'. they say to expect power outages & flash flooding.  they've started to evacuate new york but we wait. they say she'll begin to lose her power before she hits us, with no water body to feed off.  and so we wait.

and so i wait.  the doctors say that i am in the middle of my own storm. after having four kids in two-in-a-half years, my body has sustained a pretty awesome estrogen high for a significant period of time.  the doctors say it's estrogen withdrawal, like a drug withdrawal.  who knew you could be addicted to pregnancy & breast feeding. and who knew a body could throw such a temper tantrum with crazy symptoms like heart palpitations, chest pain, headaches & migraines, intense nausea, fatigue, hallucinations, sweating & flushed face, muscle tension, irritability or agitation, anxiety, poor concentration, lack of motivation for daily tasks, changes in appetite, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, trouble sleeping, lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities, social isolation or being withdrawn or unconnected & depression... just to name a few. :)

i have weathered this storm before & have been equipped for the journey ahead. i have made a jogging date with a good friend.  my cupboards are stocked with menotea & estrosmart.  my ipod is fully loaded for worship basking & new books on the night stand to scrub the mind.  i am guarding my confession & self-esteem in the Word above all other words.  the gratitude journal is open and i have found solace in the tips & encouragement from friends & resources. from people who have done this & conquered not just survived.

i am determined to not give this storm anything to feed off, like a hurricane without water. storms come our way and we can either fuel them or fight them.  i am determined that this storm will dry up as it progresses. i know i am still going to feel it but i am not going to fuel it. i have been a storm survivor in the past & i will be a storm tamer only because the best Storm Tamer is in me.

but as all good storm hunters know, the heart of the hurricane is the key.  the place that makes all the storm chasing worth it.  the eye of the storm, the centre of revelation, where the storm is rendered helpless & all of it's secrets are offered up for those who fight to get to the centre. the secrets to true joy & revelations of real love all wrapped up in battering winds & temperamental typhoon. they say the eye of the storm is where comparatively light winds & fair weather can be found, amidst the ravaging gales.  where little or no precipitation & sometimes even blue skies or stars can be seen. it's finding that place that makes you better.  makes you stronger to face the other side.

this is where the rubber hits the road. where belief meets reality.  and i am strong & courageous. not deterred by pain or danger. focussed on my target, chasing the eye of the storm.

"and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." 
{roman 8:28}
"and then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm..." {job 38:1}


lessons in the losses: prophetic identity

i started this little series long ago, and thought i might dust it off & revive it...

lesson #7: you're not your past or your performance

post-partum blah, or any kind of mood funk really, has a way of corrupting, twisting what we already know.  subverting the truth about our circumstances, our relationships, our realities & ourselves.
gideon meets his prophetic identity
i once heard someone say the two most important questions in life are, who do you say Jesus is & who do you say you are.  the answer to the first question, for me, has never changed only expanded in it's vastness.  however, the second question seems to change depending on how i perceive my past & my performance.
hence, the need for an i am statement. i want to take every prophetic word over my life, both scriptural & individual, and use it to rewrite my biography. taking the meat of the prophetic word & boiling it down to who that word says i am, not just what it says i will do.  to make an i am statement, helping me see my identity, not subject to my past failure or triumph, but seeing my identity from heaven's perspective & then living like it is already true, if only because God says it's true.
"the truest thing in the universe is what God says about you." 
{dano mccullam}                   
when you know who you were made to be, then what you do becomes defined by who heaven says you are, instead of the other way around (doing to become in stead of becoming to do).  i don't just want to be aware of the truth but secure in it.  i want to be transformed by it like that glum chum gideon turned valiant warrior.  this is my gideon's angel, declaring the truth into becoming.  the angel didn't just meet gideon where he was at but changed where he was at by speaking life.  no more agreement with my own dowdy perspective & current failures. but total trust, in the Great I Am in whom i find my i am.
"but moses said to God, 'who am i?'.... and God said 'I will be with you'." 
{exodus 3:11-12}


burn like a fire in me

never before has letting go felt so good.  never has losing control looked so attractive.

there are moments, outside of real life, where God seemingly pauses time to highlight something.  this is one of those moments for me.  never have i been more aware of why i was created. for total surrender.  for His glory. because there is no other way but the way of total surrender.

and so it is with learning this path of total surrender, that we glory seekers find our truest pleasure in life.  we find Him on His throne, in His sanctuary.  sometimes, i get so caught up in asking God to come & fill my space, my sanctuary, that I forget, worship is also about entering His.

"Praise the Lord.  Praise Him in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens" {psalm 150:1}

and that is where this glory seeker has her eyes set now.  not just on pulling Him in all His glory down, but also ascending the mountain, climbing to the heavens to meet Him face to face.
burn like a fire in me.


the anniversary of a miracle

she was twelve long days overdue. those twelve days were longer than her brother's record fifteen days overdue.  those twelve days seemed longer than the many weeks before her due date. we were convinced by this belly stretched goodness that she would surely make her arrival soon but the waiting, so long. it seemed long because we really had been waiting from fifteen weeks gestation on, uncertain if she'd be born alive.  uncertain that she'd have a working heart.  and so a year ago today, all the anticipation & waiting had come to a head. the time to test the miracle had come.
in the middle of labour, the cardiologist called my cell phone too early, expecting that surely the baby had been born already.  she called to see the state of the heart... in the middle of labour... in the middle of the labour & delivery ward, where all the other mothers were pushing out healthy hearted babies with roars of faith that they'd for sure hold their little promises at the end of that push.  but not me.  not so sure after that phone call.  i knew this baby had been miraculously healed of downs syndrome.  every chromosome knitted together in perfection. how really could i doubt that she would make her arrival as anything less than perfectly healed?  but there was still a lingering question mark.  i had been certain she was perfect, until the cardiologist called... in the middle of contraction squeezing labour.
and then the time had come.  i was done waiting. done being induced.  done hearing those adrenaline pulsing screams from the other labour rooms.  i wanted my baby.  i wanted my promise safe in my arms. and once i had decided that i was ready, everything went fast.  they whisked us into the chilly operating room until minutes later... we heard that glorious fear shattering cry of our long awaited promise, taking her first breath of life.

and so today is a special day.  it's a special day, not because we haven't celebrated birthdays before but because this is the anniversary of the very first, life altering miracle i had ever seen & held with my own arms. holding my little victorious conquering peace.


a captive with the keys

i've been out of the habit.  out of the habit of blogging.  out of the habit of practicing the Presence.  out of the habit being me.  i could say i had been swallowed up by a big, mean, deep, dark hole but the truth is, i am not a victim.  i am a conquerer.  i could say that i got locked up in a place where the truth gets so fuzzy sometimes it's hard to recognize myself.  but the truth is, i am not a prisoner. maybe a captive, but a captive with the keys in my hands.  the truth is, i forgot.  i forgot who i am.  where i was going. forgot to say thanks. forgot the benefits.

"praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits." 
{psalm 103:2}

the truth of the matter is, i lost my habits.  the habits of health.  the habits of healing.  the habits of growth.  habits of glory to glory.  the little things that change big things. and then there's the BIG thing that changes everything.  and it's only Him that ministers peace when anxiety clenches the chest, when my emotions thunder & throb through my head, nurses nauseated spirit, speaks order to the chaos, health to the sick.

and so i am choosing to learn. choosing to see.  choosing to trust.  choosing to dig my feet in & fight.  this is where i thrive. where i become. where i live the promise.

"people with their minds set on You, You keep completely whole..." 
{isaiah 26:3, msg}


for the dark spots.

"often i have heard people say, "how good God is! we prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic, and look at the lovely weather!" yes, God is good when He sends good weather. but God was also good when He allowed my sister, betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a german concentration camp. i remember one occasion when i was very discouraged there. everything around us was dark, and there was darkness in my heart. i remember telling betsie that i thought God had forgotten us. "no, corrie," said betsie, "He has not forgotten us. remember His Word: "for as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him." there is an ocean of God's love available - there is plenty for everyone. may God grant you never to doubt that victorious love - whatever the circumstances."

corrie ten boom

"do not close your eyes during the bad parts, as those are parts of God's grace too."

ann voskamp


summer lovin'

well, as you may have deduced from my long-ish absence from blogging... we have been summer lovin',  soaking up every last drop of sunshine. we were away for about a month, galavanting from cape breton to peterborough & onto kennebec lake. there have been many momentous occasions & milestones reached over these summer months.
here's a few snapshots that capture a few of our summer shenanigans...
first bike ride with all four kids
hammock naps
we learned how to play hide-and-go seek :)

and made new friends

we heart swimming
and lots of giggling
look who learned how to crawl!

and alligators... oh my!

bush babies
tree forts
canoe rides


summer shinanagans

just a little update... we just got back from a fantastic time with some folks in cape breton, nova scotia {more to come!}. we've had a whole two days at home & in that time, we decided to switch everyone's bedrooms, paint the girls room, buy & build bunk beds {pictures to come} & then in the mix of it all we made two trips to emerg to get a few ear/throat infections diagnosed {everyone is on the mend now!}.  we pack up to leave tomorrow morning for an almost 2 week bon echo - peterborough tour.  so i am predicting that my blogging habits may not be the most regular over the next two weeks... don't worry, videos to come as per blog tradition!

hope everyone is living life to the fullest & soaking in that warm sun!


your who, not your do {calling & office}

there is a fight.  a fight to fit.  to find my function. to find fulfillment.  to find it... right here.  i felt like i had finally grasped it once i found my profession.  found a position. found something i was good at.  great at.  a way to express myself that was admirable.  an office that looked good on me.  and then i laid that office down to become a mother.  and i chased my fleeting fulfillment & fumbled over my fickle fit through the function of motherhood.  i lost it.  lost my grounding.  lost the perspective of truth.
the truth is i have a life calling.  my life is driven by a mission.  by a vision.  when i begin defining myself by what i do, that is dangerous.  when i weave my identity into an office, into a position it is a short lived fulfillment.  all positions, all offices are meant to simply be an expression of who i am, not define who i am.  position is intended to serve my calling, not be my calling.  with so much frazzle-dazzle around position, we get caught up in questions of position instead of how this office can serve my calling.  it's all about our personal truths. knowing who we are & what we were designed for. it's who you are not what you do.  and that means that the worst position i can be in, is a position i feel i cannot live without.

when i was younger, when someone would ask me what do you want to be when you grow up, i would say... " i would love to be a mom... or i would love to be a teacher"  instead of articulate a vision for my life.  instead of saying, "i want to serve children.  i want to empower the tiniest of kingdom.  i want to better cultivate the genius of our greatest natural resource, our children."  and i can do that whether i am a mom, a teacher... or a great many things.  the question isn't what position, but rather how can this position or this space in my life, help me achieve my vision.  when i hang my security & fulfillment on an office or a job, when i let those things define me, i dilute & minimize the original intent for my life. after all, positions are temporary, callings are eternal.  and i am shooting for the eternal.

"where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained." 
{proverbs 29:18}


centre of unbroken praise {a song diary}

i love it when old songs, songs you've sung for years without any awareness of their weight, suddenly hit you.
this is one of those.
it is being in the "centre of unbroken praise" that one really does find Joy. find unending pleasure. find eternity.

Joyful, Joyful we adore thee; God of glory, Lord of love; 
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee;
Opening to the sun above; Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away; Giver of immortal gladness;
Fill us with the light of day.

All thy works with joy surround thee; Earth and heaven reflect thy rays;
Stars and angels sing around thee; Center of unbroken praise;
Field and forest, wind and mountain; Flowery meadows, flashing seas;
Singing bird and flowing fountain; Call us to rejoice in thee

We sing in jubilation; Adoration to a joyful king;
You are spinning and you are singing; Zealous love over all your children

I've got the joy, I've got the joy, I've got the joy (repeat)

Mortals join the mighty chorus; Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o'er us; Brother love binds man to man;

Ever singing, march we onward; Victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music lifts us Sonward; In the triumph song of life.

In the presence of God there is fullness of Joy; At Your right hand Oh God
There are pleasures evermore; 


sobering up

i have been thinking a lot about how impressionable i am, how easily influenced. a holy dissatisfaction with my own lifestyle choices & habits is rising to the surface to be purified, purged. a deep desire to get back to the original plan & purpose i was called to.  the original gospel.  not the watered down version i've been illustrating. ready to wake up from the cultural mirage & live free.

"i consider that the chief dangers that confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, and heaven without hell." 
{general william booth}

"how much more will the magnificence of marriage in the mind of God be unintelligible in a modern western culture, where the main idol is self; and it's main doctrine is autonomy; and its central act of worship is being entertained; and it's three main shrines are the television, the internet, and the cinema... my own sin & selfishness and cultural bondage makes it almost impossible for me to feel the wonder of God's purpose..."
{john piper}

"we are not relevant when we mirror the world around us, we are relevant when we model what they long to become."
{bill johnson}


in the fullness of time... all things {womb wisdom}

this was originally posted in september, while waiting for livi to arrive. but i feel even more pregnant today than i did when i first posted it. so here's to this blog's first official re-post.

we are all waiting.  waiting for the light to change.  waiting for the leaves to turn.  waiting for the day, the week, the month, the busyness to end & then start again.  waiting for round belly to birth precious child. waiting, expecting... seasons pass, rains fall & then dry.  and i wait with hand on belly. days roll into months, months into trimesters until the inner transformation begins to take outer shape heralding the news of a forth coming life.

and there are lots of false starts.  lots of almosts & not yets. lots of belly contracting preparation, sleepless night anticipation.  lots of lip quivering. lots of day dreaming.  and yet, with all this, no one can tell exactly when baby will decide to make her gracious entrance.  due dates fly by & babies huddle warm in space scarce wombs.  waiting.

waiting for change. isn't that what we all wait for?  and the Lord gently whispers to the impatient heart, in due time, change in it's due time.  we march into september with ideals held high, hope that this year's resolution will hold fast.  this year it will be different.  what was, will be no more. this year i will change. and yet somewhere deep inside, a small scared voice chants 'foolish to think this year will be different, foolish to think you will be different'.  dare we hope for time to be fulfilled, fulfilled in all we have ever hoped for, all we have dreamt of this long, long journey?  but somewhere, at some point, a seed was planted in the dark.  and it grew.  maybe unnoticeably at first, but now it swells, it flourishes round. despite all the wearied, discouragement, it grew. hidden in dark womb, veiled signs of life twitch & stir, growing into long limbed jabs. back twinges wearied from the weight of carrying the promise.  and then the time to birth comes, comes of it's own accord.  a mother cannot force it, rush it or will it. only in it's rightful time.

in due time.  in perfect time, it will be fulfilled.  all the dreams, all the hopes of Christ made full in me. fulfilled.

all i can be is a dwelling place, a dwelling place for change, a dwelling place for the seed of Christ to grow in all His fullness & abundance.  life's ultimate fruition, coming to term. for Him to live His life through me, not me through Him.

and so it is with this womb's last visitor, that i refuse to watch the clock, neglect to keep track of growing discomforts & stretched skin.  and instead i savour.  i revel in God's belly stretched goodness.  and i know the coming is imminent.

this womb waits expectant.

"but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son..." {gal 4:4}

originally posted: 9/20/11 7:33AM


shekinah glory come {a song diary}

Shekhiná, Shejiná, Shekinah, Shechinah, Shekina, Shechina, Schechinah

The word for the translation of the Hebrew for the glory, radiance or presence of God is derived from the Hebrew verb 'sakan'or 'shachar' which means to dwell or reside, and is used to denote the room or house of God, especially in the Jerusalem Temple
Exodus 40:35
"And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud [shakhan] settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle."

i have been wading deep into the anointing of this song this week.  swells of Spirit washing over old, tired bones, sowing sinew to bone, flesh to tendon. shekinah glory come.

if you have ever experienced the tangible presence of the living God, it leaves you wrecked for anything else. it leaves you starving for more.
and so, this song is my heart's prayer, after being witness to a great move of God... You move and we want more, You speak and we want more, i can't get enough of Your presence. release the fullness of Your spirit.  oh, shekinah glory come. shekinah glory come.


bury your wife {entitlement & indulgence}

the soul indulges in its various delights. a movie & a glass of wine at the end of the day. delight. a day at the beach, making eye contact with no one but my book.  delight.  but say the word sacrifice & my flesh screams. say three more sleeps until daddy is home & i begin to cry. just mention the word airport or meeting or delayed flight & my soul sinks. there is sacrifice & then there is just life.  i have spent the greater part of this year learning to distinguish between the two.
when my two year old beckons me up twenty one stairs for the upteenth time well past bedtime. that's life.  when my husband is caught in traffic, two hours away or dinner has been burnt to a crisp & i am frizzed to a frazzle. c'est la vie.  when poop is pouring out of every clothing orifice on a sunday morning & i have less than a three wipes chance of saving that onesie.  that's having kids. sacrifice is all about the giver.  all about the heart. it isn't sacrifice until it's intentional. unless there is a choice. a setting apart. a giving of one's self willingly toward the other.  it cannot be forced or squeezed from one's heart, pried from one's fingers.  it is the tangible manifestation of a generous heart.  an overflow of love broken on the alter. an offering of one's conveniences, of one's comfort, of one's priorities, of one's plans. a surrendering of one's life.  a death to self.
it is the same with marriage & entitlement. gathering all of my husbands nights off to myself. entitlement. having him by my side for every uncomfortable moment in life. entitlement.  having my husband share the night shift with four sick kids.  entitlement.  having my heart awakened by my husband's passion for the kingdom, his fervour for the King. that's marriage. oh, how that makes my spirit leap. sharpening like iron meets iron, pushing me toward my Saviour. marriage.  illuminating & awakening the work of the Holy Spirit in me, pursuing the magnificent perfection of Christ's glory here on earth.  that, is covenant keeping marriage. he is not my fellow mom. he is not merely my aid. and although he is indeed a helper & a comforter, he is not the Comforter, the Councillor, the Helper. he is my God-given partner on this journey called life.
i have often made marriage something it is not.  i feel as though i have woken up from a "cultural mirage" as john piper puts it.
"how much more will the magnificence of marriage in the mind of God seem unintelligible in a modern western culture, where the main idol is self; and its main doctrine is autonomy, and its central act of worship is being entertained... such a culture will find the glory of marriage in the mind of Jesus virtually incomprehensible." 
{john piper, the momentary marriage}
marriage is not, in essence, about me. it is about the glory of God. there are times when marriage is sacrifice.  not necessarily to the other person but to God. it is a picture, a reflection, a display of the most intensely wild romance of all time, Christ's pursuit of the church, His pursuit of me.  i have only begun to scratch the surface of this revelation & i already feel like i've been set free from my "small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centred, Christ-ignoring, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical view of marriage" and released into the wild wonder of God's purpose for marriage {john piper, the momentary marriage}.
i once heard keri jones share a story about the best advice he had ever been given about marriage.  at the announcement of his engagement to his now wife of many years, a wise man said "don't forget to bury your wife".  keri thought he miss heard what he said and clarified that it was indeed a marriage they were to celebrate not a funeral.  the wise man said "i know. don't forget to bury your wife on the other side of the cross".  this story has completely radicalized my perspective & experience of marriage. the wise man was opening a revelation about putting the pursuit of your wife second to your pursuit of Christ.  some could argue that you serve Christ while serving your wife, a two-in-one deal.  and that is true to some extent.  but there is a seat in your heart that only one can sit on.  i have seen many enthrone their loved ones or themselves unknowingly on that throne, in the name of marriage, in the name of family, even in the name of Christ.  but there is only One worthy to sit in that throne.
i have made the mistake of thinking that because marriage & kids have been a part of my life long dream, because i have wanted it since i was small, that it was about me.  about my dream.  about serving my own happiness.  my own fulfillment.  but alas, it is the holy sacrifice of dreams.  it is an all consuming flame.  an alter to the King.  in essence, when marriage is purposed, for those who carry the same revelation, it is an invitation to come die with me everyday, in every way. it is but a door to the cross.
the time has come for me to make the choice to live for the King & build His kingdom instead of living for myself & building my life.  i know i could build a happy life, with my four beautiful kids, in my lovely home, with my loving husband, living in the top 1% of the world.  and i could be content.  it would be a good life.  but good is the enemy of great. i know i would rob the world, rob my children, rob my spouse, rob myself & my soul of what i was born to be. in truth, if what i live for at the end of the day is a glass of wine & couch time with my hubby i will be wholly unsatisfied & i will gradually lose myself. at the end of my life, when i stand before the Holy King of Kings, in all His majesty, i will stand as an individual, without the things of this world surrounding me & i will have to give an account for how i spent my soul.  and what i want say on that day, what i want to have lived without any doubt is that He is my Lover, my Pursuit, my Life and i cannot live for anything less than seeing the fullness of His glory perfected in me here as i am a wife, as i am mother... as i am a great many things. and this is the great mystery. when one gives up something of great cost to the Beloved, when they plunder their lives for Him they are found full. filled to overflowing satisfaction. complete. unwanting for anything. when they break themselves open for Him they are found whole.

"marriage refers to Christ & the church- every marriage, no matter how pendulum-like because of our sin; every marriage, even if the couple doesn't care a bit about Jesus...God designed marriage to be a picture.  that makes me ask myself, how clear & well focused is the portrait of Jesus that our marriage is displaying" {noel piper}


eye to eye, soul to soul

 eyes speak louder than words.  with one glance, a child experiences how a parent is experiencing them. he can tell by your eyes whether he is invisible.  whether he is truly accepted & valued.  whether you are pleased or disappointed with him. he can see your heart through your eyes. do your eyes light up when he comes into the room?  or is that ever critical eye searching for something to fix, something to mend, something to straighten? a loose thread, a peanut butter smudged cheek, a cowlick perhaps is where the eye might land.  i think i am showing them i love them.  i think i am showing them i care.  but what my eyes have been teaching them is how to be a subject of criticism.  the windows of my soul have needed some cleaning, some clarifying, some focus.  to express how i really feel about my love ones.
"one of the most powerful body language tools that a human being has is one of the subtlest movements we can make - eye contact." - tristan lee
do i see them when they enter a room? does my body language reflect how precious they are?  how dearly they are loved & wanted? how much they matter? it validates the soul to see someone.  to truly see.  to acknowledge their being.  to make contact with my eyes all aglow, all invigorated just by their presence. 
i have heard it said that the first point of disconnection in a marriage is eye contact.  when you become so preoccupied with life, hustling in & out of the house, drudging grocery bags in from the car & hanging up coats, mumbling the standard, 'hi hun. how was your day?' while rummaging through drawers, one can easily forget to make eye contact.  to see the other person.  to truly engage eye to eye, soul to soul.   eye contact can change the entire dynamic of any relationship.  
there is a verse in the bible that says "i will instruct you & teach you in the way you should go; i will guide you with my eye upon you" {psalm 32:8}.  it is not with the eye of punishment that the Father guides us. nor does He have a critical or perfectionist eye.  but it is with the eye of Love that He captures our hearts.  that He sees into our souls & validates our being.  and that is how i want to relate to my spouse, to my children, to those i love. looking eye to eye, soul to soul. to take my attention off of what is in front of me & put it all towards the one i love. to show them with my eyes, that they light up my soul every time they come near. 
that has been one of my greatest revelations as a parent. that more than obedience, more than compliance or good behaviour is my heart-to-heart connection with my child.  if i can guide my children with my eye, with all that is in my heart, than i have succeeded. to be able to have them look into my eyes, see my heart & change their decision to protect my heart because they value our relationship. when i can inspire them & empower them with the substance of our loving relationship then i have become a little more like the Father.
and it is the same with any relationship, in the end, we are all looking for the same thing...
to be seen & validated.
*this is a small fragment of a larger revelation that God has been unfolding in my life over the past year.  i am not so sure if what i have written makes sense without the greater context but such is the challenge of blogging, parcelling large chunks of soul into small bite sized packages.  i am still on a sharp learning curve when it comes to writing, and becoming the competent, concise writer i know i can be, instead of the blubbering, anthology of incomplete thoughts which i feel i wander into all too often.  writing is a journey, just like anything else & i am glad to be on this journey with you. :)


fruit flies, giants & the like {letters to evie}

"hi mom!"  you say from your perch on the step, scribbler & pen in hand.
"hi evie, we draw just on paper right? just on paper... not on legs or the deck or anything else, just paper..."i say as i string along a wet load of laundry onto the line, pinning tiny shirts & shorts after close inspection.
the backyard thrums with the sound of a distant whipper-snipper. i continue folding the previous load of laundry now dry on my makeshift hot-tub folding table. i wonder if i should add a booster to the wash from now on.  these clothes are never going to make it to livi if i don't start making an effort.  i seriously need to teach them to learn to eat with a spoon, this is ridiculous, is that a whole banana coin dried to the back of that...
a shreik shatters the strategic laundry meeting in my head...
"A BUG! a bug mommy a bug!" you scream, fists clenched up to your ears & face scrunched as you wince to avoid the most certain demise as a teeny fruit fly flutters by totally oblivious.
"just say shoo bug, don't bother me!"  i instruct, knowing that if i don't teach you how to do it yourself, you'll never be able to be outside without your mother, the bug squasher, by your side.
"shoo bug! shoo bug! shoo you!"   you say with as much command as that tiny voice of yours can carry with your finger in the air like you mean it.
i peer down to notice that you have coloured in your knee with blue pen.
"evie! what did mommy say about colouring?"
you are distracted from the bug momentarily to explain your knee's misfortune.
"oh no! my knee... no colour my knee.  i stop it me!" you say now pointing that finger at me.
"oh no, is right.  no more pen evie.  all done."  you fuss, unhappy with reaping the consequences of your body art.
sigh. i look for another distraction before this fussing snowballs into a fit.
"evie, can you go get those pants?" i appeal to your love of helping, as i point to a pair of shorts that have flown off the line.
"sure! i do it mom.  i do it."  you say enthusiastically. "i be right back!" you say, pointing that little finger again.
"good girl evie.  thanks sweet heart."
you haven't even made it to the bottom step before another shriek, followed by a wince & a scramble back to the top of the stairs.  it would appear as though the little unassuming fruit fly is hovering above the very shorts you were asked to pick up. sigh. i gently encourage you back down the stairs with my hand on your back.
"that's it evie.  you just say, shoo bug, shoo in Jesus name."
"shoo bug & Jesus!"  you shout as you suddenly spring down the that step & march across the lawn with conviction, grab the shorts & point your little finger threateningly off the end of your nose. "shoo, i say!" you flip your hair in disgust as if to say how dare that bug try to intimidate me!
i am impressed.  speechless even.  swelling with pride. moments ago terrified of this microscopic organism being in your space to walking right up to the source of your fear & giving it heck.  so proud to witness this first moment of many, where you fight for your ground, where a warrior woman is born.  where you stand fast & dig deep inside to find courage & conviction & resolve to fight the good fight. where you run to the battle line to take what is rightfully yours. oh, this is a victory indeed.  it may have been a fruit fly today but it was a giant in your eyes & you cut him to the quick, looked him in the eye & stood your ground.  beware world.  evie joy nouvelle knows who she is.  she has a finger & she knows how to use it!


recipe repertoire & the breakfast camels

we wilkins' are breakfast lovers.  for our kids, who rarely eat more than the mandatory two bites at dinner, breakfast cannot come fast enough & is much anticipated.  once kai ate 3 large bowls of steel cut oats, a scrambled egg, 2 bananas, a pear & 2 pieces of peanut butter toast. these kids are like breakfast camels.   they gorge on breakfast & then eat hardly anything for the rest of the day.
our wee wilkins thrive off of variety.  i started recording a little list of our recipe repertoire just to make sure i am using my recipe scavengering skills to their fullest potential & don't forget to include some of the awesome finds that often get crumpled between cookbooks.  we've been rotating through the usuals, toast & pb, smoothies, steel cut oats, breakfast quinoa, cereal & fruit, yogurt & granola, one eyed monsters, fortified french toast, green eggs & ham  and scrambled egg muffins... and then repeat.  i can get through our whole breakfast repertoire in almost a week which saddens a creative soul like me.  so much breakfast potential.  and so i took on the challenge to expand our repertoire of the grandest meal of the day and i found this super cool recipe that was a real hit.  the possibilities are endless!

"summer porridge": blueberry maple
overnight, no cook refrigerator oatmeal
source: theyummylife.com
strengths of recipe: high in protein, calcium & fibre, low in fat & sugar
1/4 cup uncooked old fashion rolled oats
1/3 cup skim milk (i used goat)
1/4 cup low fat greek yogurt (i used vanilla greek yogurt)
1-1/2 tsp dried chia seeds (you can get these little health boosters at the bulk barn but they are not essential to the recipe if you don't include them)
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 cup blueberries (or enough to fill jar)
* i used half pint mason jars & they worked perfectly!

in a half pint (1 cup) jar, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds & maple syrup.  put lid on jar & shake until well combined.  remove lid, add blueberries & stir until mixed throughout.  return lid to jar & refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.  eat chilled.
* these were really filling... i made three half pint jars & they lasted for two breakfasts, which was a miracle in this household!

other fantastic flavours are: mango almond, apple cinnamon, banana cocoa, banana peanut butter (* learned about this awesome but impossible product to get called PB2 - powered peanut butter with all of the protein & 85% of the fat removed, does anyone know where to get this?), raspberry vanilla
(click here for the specific recipes & pictures of directions)
we loved blueberry maple & tomorrow we're trying raspberry vanilla soon followed by all the rest!