Sunday, October 04, 2015

Simply Tuesday Book Club

The team over at (in)courage is starting up a book club on October 6. They'll be reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman. I'm going to try to keep up with them. If anyone out there would like to join us/me, please do. I love to read but love to read with people and share thoughts about what we read even more! You can find out more at

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Catching up

So I know that I said back in June that I was back and going to get to writing again and here we are, several months later, with only a post or two to my credit. 

What can I say? It's been busy! 

He seems so little here. Time really does fly! 
The first, and clearly one of the biggest, things that has changed our world was the birth of our son, Benjamin, back in March. He sure is something. I know it sounds cliche but I can't believe how instantly I fell head over heels in love with him. It truly has been love at first sight. Obviously not without its challenges and incredibly tired and stretching moments but, my goodness, is this little man a gift. I want to write out his birth story one day soon as his arrival certainly didn't go as planned but he's here, happy and healthy and learning new things every day. I'm sure that I'll find time to share some of his shenanigans as we go along. Right now Daddy aptly describes him as a roomba. He's not crawling yet but he sure has figured out how to roam a room! So now my days are consumed by frequency and color of "gifts" left in diapers, feeding and sleep schedules, how to encourage and engage an infant, what and when to start solid foods and how to create an environment to inspire faith in one of God's smallest. Such a change from pool chemistry and city wide programming, and, you know what? I love it. I feel like being momma is exactly, EXACTLY, what I'm supposed to be doing right now. 

And then there's his big sisters. Life with them has been an eb and flow similar to that of the ocean. Sometimes peaceful tides rolling in and out and sometimes crashing waves. There have been big changes in that regard too. As of last October, the older Miss has been with us full time and together we all survived grade 12! How crazy is that?! She graduated last May, finished classes and wrote the last exams of her high school career in June and is now figuring out how to navigate the working world. Just when we thought we had things settled into routine, the younger Miss decided that she, too, was wanting to make her full time home with us. I wish I could communicate the answer to prayer that this has been, specifically as we prayed for truth to find its home in our family and for hearts to be softened. She has entered into family life with us with a whole lot of energy and spark and loves on her little brother like nobody's business. Just when we thought we were done with high school, here we go again as she enters grade 10. We are excited for her to branch into some new things as far as classes, to make new friends at school and to find her way in our home. 

Its crazy to think that last August, there were two of us living in our little home and now there's five. We sure are glad we finished the basement now and doubled our square footage. We're using every inch. Every. Single. Inch. I can't say it's been all sunshine and roses. There is so much adjustment and compromise and every ounce of my patience and every last strand of hope has been used up some days. Remember that ocean I mentioned? Some days I feel like I'm drowning in it. Being a step mom is hard, you guys!! Honestly so hard. There are days where it is lonely and I feel like I am lost in the bigness of it all. There are so many stories and habits and histories that I am not a part of and it makes it hard to feel like I'm a part of what's going on moving forward. Like I'm a little bit on the outside looking in and my house is not my home. Does that make sense? 

In it all, I'm trying to give myself grace. When another day has gone by and the house is still a mess (which I swear steals a piece of my soul) and I'm grumpy and tired, I have to remember there's another day. When I haven't been writing here like I really, really want to, I have to know that this is a season and a new one will come. Grace is required for me to be the grown up I need to be when sometimes all I want to do is build a blanket fort and read books. 

And I have read books. Tons of books. Mostly stories that take me far away (and don't make me think too much) and parenting books but tons. Maybe I'll find a few of the top picks to share with you here too. Maybe. Give me grace. Until then, I post keep my goodreads list pretty up to date. You know, if you're curious. 

One of my life rafts in it all has been our church. Seriously, God knew what he was doing when he pushed us in that direction. The timing was perfect and the people are wonderful. They are becoming family and they love on my family in so many beautiful, welcoming, heart-healing ways. Oh, and they have me leading music again too. Music feels good. Using my gifts to lead people in His worship feels good too. Finding His voice speaking to me in songs again is like a balm. 

What else? I know there's been more. So much more. Let's see....

My husband, one of his best friend's and my dad finished our basement just in the nick of time. Mere weeks before Ben was born, the carpet went in. Phew. Its great and I'm so proud of my sweet husband for all the time, effort and going beyond what he knew to learn and create for us and so thankful for all the helping hands that made it possible. Its necessary space for us. Now to figure out how to get my library incorporated into it....

Still playing away with my camera and trying to teach myself new skills. I've learned a lot about light and, although I still feel like I have a long way to go and so much to learn, I can see the improvement in what I can capture and it motivates me. It helps to have the cutest little one around for target practice too, I will admit. I don't post a lot to Facebook but instagram, well, you can find me there and #sorrynotsorry for any oversharing that might happen. 

One day I'll have to share about my journey in health and nutrition. It's always been a value to me, good food, as I've been able to see the connection between what we put into our bodies and how they operate. Finding whole, healthy, natural foods to fuel our bodies and understanding the power of good food for immunity and overall health is not just a skill to me but an essential and so I've spent tons of time learning and growing in this area. One of the things that I've had to overcome is a sensitivity to wheat, eggs and milk and so I've almost entirely cut all three out. Cheese. Seriously! And eggs. Delicious, wonderful, protein filled eggs. Learning how to cook all over again has been quite the journey with some failed experiments and some serious wins. 

As a part of that, I've been playing with essential oils. Husband calls it my witch craft but, honestly, I'm thrilled to be able to use natural god given plants turned into oils to do the work of what we'd normally use chemicals for. I'm specifically a fan of Young Living Oils and am sure that I'll refer to them from time to time as I find new fun ways to use them. 

With a new baby comes maternity leave and a whole new way of doing life and seeing oneself. Time with grown ups is not quite so "ready made" as it was when I was at work, even if some of the grown ups then were less than welcome company (honestly, the pool brings out the weirdest of the weird). Sleep is not so readily available but is always welcome. We take naps and go out to places like Spruce Meadows or the Saskatoon farm in the middle of the day. The MIDDLE of the day. Some days heading out for groceries is a win and I'm learning that that's okay, even if it is contrary to my personality. Watch, I'm going to get so good at this pace of life that when it's time to go back to work, I just won't be ready for it! 

Speaking of which, that's something that has really taken over my mind, really since my last day of work before our son arrived. I've thought of it as a bit of a sabbatical to refocus and reshape what my work life will look like. I feel ready for different, for something that uses my skills and abilities and is more honouring to my time with my family. Working nights and weekends is for the birds and doing things the way they've always been done has, well, been done. I want to be able to make my family a priority. I want to create. I want to figure out (again) what gifts and abilities God has given me and use them. Don't get me wrong, the pool was exactly what it needed to be for a season and I am thankful that I had that to fall back on in order to take time to heal and grow while still making an income. I'm thankful that, when my sweet husband was out of work, it provided enough of an income for us. As we've literally been replacing every appliance in the house over the past year, I've been thankful for the continued income of maternity leave and the additional benefits provided in the package. Its been, and will continue to be, an area that I know has stretched my faith, my willingness to be patient and my ability to listen for His still small voice leading in every area of my life. God cares about our work. 

There's so many big and little things filling life. Like hockey. Ben will be a fan, just not a flames fan. If he thinks about it we move. The whole Oiler upper management change leaves me hopeful that things will turn around and he'll make the right choice. Like visits with friends. Like bbq's and visits with family. More projects around the house than we know what to do with. More and full and some days exhausting but ours, none the less. So, in a nutshell, that's the us. That's the comings and goings. Now that we're all caught up, perhaps its time to fill in the gaps, one at a time, as grace allows. 

Learning to Wait: John Ortberg

I didn't write this one but I read it this morning and it hit home. A full on home run, knocked my current state out of the park type read.

So here it is....

Learning to Wait
by John Ortberg, from If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

Meet John Ortberg
What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. — Matthew 14:32

Waiting is the hardest work of hope. ~ Lewis Smedes

Waiting patiently is not a strong suit in American society.

A woman’s car stalls in traffic. She looks in vain under the hood to identify the cause, while the driver behind her leans relentlessly on his horn. Finally she has had enough. She walks back to his car and offers sweetly, “I don’t know what the matter is with my car. But if you want to go look under the hood, I’ll be glad to stay here and honk for you.”

We are not a patient people. We tend to be in a horn-honking, microwaving, Fed-Ex mailing, fast-food eating, express-lane shopping hurry. People don’t like to wait in traffic, on the phone, in the store, or at the post office.

Robert Levine, in a wonderful book called A Geography of Time, suggests the creation of a new unit of time called the honko-second — “the time between when the light changes and the person behind you honks his horn.” He claims it is the smallest measure of time known to science.

Most of us do not like waiting very much, so we like the fact that Matthew shows Jesus to be the Lord of urgent action. Three times in just a few sentences Matthew uses the word immediately — always of Jesus: Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and go on ahead of Him “immediately.” When the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost and cried out in fear, Jesus answered them “immediately.” When Peter began to sink and cried out for help, Jesus “immediately” reached out his hand and caught him.

Jesus’ actions are swift, discerning, and decisive. He doesn’t waste a honko-second. And yet, this is also a story about waiting. Matthew tells us that Jesus comes to the disciples “during the fourth watch of the night.”

The Romans divided the night into four shifts: 6:00–9:00; 9:00-midnight; midnight–3:00; and 3:00–6:00. So Jesus came to the disciples sometime after 3 o’clock. But they had been in the boat since before sundown the previous day. Why the long delay? If I were one of the disciples, I think I would prefer Jesus to show up at the same time or even slightly ahead of the storm. I’d like Him there in a honko-second.

But Matthew has good reasons for noting the time. A. E. J. Rawlinson notes that early Christians suffering their own storm of persecution may have taken great comfort in this delay:

Faint hearts may even have begun to wonder whether the Lord Himself had not abandoned them to their fate, or to doubt the reality of Christ. They are to learn from this story that they are not forsaken, that the Lord watches over them unseen… [that] the Living One, Master of wind and waves, will surely come quickly for their salvation, even though it be in the “fourth watch of the night.”

Matthew wanted his readers to learn to wait.

Another moment of waiting involves Peter’s decision to leave the boat. He cannot do this on the strength of his own impulse; he must ask Jesus’ permission first, then wait for an answer — for the light to turn green. I wonder if another type of waiting was involved for Peter. What do you suppose his very first steps on the water looked like? I expect that Jesus was an accomplished water-walker. But for Peter, I wonder if there wasn’t a learning curve involved. Maybe, like the Bill Murray character in the movie What About Bob?, he had to start with baby steps.

Learning to walk always requires patience.

It was not until the whole episode was over that the disciples got what they wanted — “the wind died down.” Why couldn’t Jesus have made the wind die down “immediately” — as soon as He saw the disciples’ fear? It would have made Peter’s walk easier. But apparently Jesus felt they would gain something by waiting.

Consider the activity that Peter and the other disciples had to engage in right up to the very end: waiting.

Let’s say you decide to get out of the boat. You trust God. You take a step of faith — you courageously choose to leave a comfortable job to devote yourself to God’s calling; you will use a gift you believe God has given you even though you are scared to death; you will take relational risks even though you hate rejection; you will go back to school even though people tell you it makes no sense financially; you decide to trust God and get out of the boat. What happens next?

Well, maybe you will experience a tremendous, nonstop rush of excitement. Maybe there will be an immediate confirmation of your decision — circumstances will click, every risk will pay off, your efforts will be crowned with success, your spiritual life will thrive, your faith will double, and your friends will marvel, all in the space of a honko-second. Maybe. But not always. For good reasons, God does not always move at our frantic pace. We are too often double espresso followers of a decaf Sovereign.

Some forms of waiting — on expressways and in doctor’s offices — are fairly trivial in the overall scheme of things. But there are more serious and difficult kinds of waiting:

  • The waiting of a single person who hopes God might have marriage in store but is beginning to despair
  • The waiting of a childless couple who desperately want to start a family
  • The waiting of Nelson Mandela as he sits in a prison cell for twenty-seven years and wonders if he will ever be free or if his country will ever know justice
  • The waiting of someone who longs to have work that is meaningful and significant and yet cannot seem to find it
  • The waiting of a deeply depressed person for a morning when she will wake up wanting to live
  • The waiting of a child who feels awkward and clumsy and longs for the day when he gets picked first on the playground
  • The waiting of persons of color for the day when everyone’s children will be judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”
  • The waiting of an elderly senior citizen in a nursing home — alone, seriously ill, just waiting to die
Every one of us, at some junctures of our lives, will have to learn to wait.

Waiting may be the hardest single thing we are called to do. So it is frustrating when we turn to the Bible and find that God Himself, who is all-powerful and all-wise, keeps saying to his people, Wait.

Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for Him… Wait for the LORD, and keep to His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land.

God comes to Abraham when he is seventy-five and tells him he is going to be a father, the ancestor of a great nation. How long was it before that promise was fulfilled? Twenty-four years. Abraham had to wait.

God told the Israelites that they would leave their slavery in Egypt and become a nation. But the people had to wait four hundred years.

God told Moses he would lead the people to the Promised Land. But they had to wait forty years in the wilderness.

In the Bible, waiting is so closely associated with faith that sometimes the two words are used interchangeably. The great promise of the Old Testament was that a Messiah would come. But Israel had to wait — generation after generation, century after century. And when the Messiah came, He was recognized only by those who had their eyes fixed on his coming — like Simeon. He was an old man who “was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”

But even the arrival of Jesus did not mean that the waiting was over. Jesus lived, taught, was crucified, was resurrected, and was about to ascend when His friends asked Him, “Lord, will you restore the kingdom now?” That is, “Can we stop waiting?”

And Jesus had one more command:

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised.

And the Holy Spirit came — but that still did not mean that the time of waiting was over.

Paul wrote,

We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Forty-three times in the Old Testament alone, the people are commanded,

Wait. Wait on the LORD.

The last words in the Bible are about waiting:

The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’

It may not seem like it, but in light of eternity, it is soon. Hang on. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” All right, we’ll hang on. But come! We’re waiting for You.

Why? Why does God make us wait? If He can do anything, why doesn’t He bring us relief and help and answers now?

At least in part, to paraphrase Ben Patterson, what God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.

* * *
Excerpted with permission If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg, copyright Zondervan. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Love you, Grandma

Grief is a funny thing. Sometimes it rolls over you like waves. Sometimes it hits hard and fast like a cold bucket of water tossed and splashed around. Sometimes its nearly silent, the tide rolling out and in again. Sometimes its shared, like you're all in the boat together, and sometimes its isolating, like you're out on a life raft, waiting out the storm, until help comes along.

I don't know why it's been this week specifically, but I've been missing my Grandma. She passed away in March, just 10 days before my baby boy was born. She was so excited to meet him and loved him him from the minute she knew he was coming. Makes me sad to think that she missed holding his sweet hands and seeing his ridiculously big grin. He would have loved her like I do, I'm sure. I would have enjoyed calling her and sharing stories or asking for her advice. She was always so full of wisdom. I miss my grandma.

Because I was so close to my due date when she passed away, we made the decision to not go to her funeral. It was the wise decision. She would have kicked my bottom if she knew that I'd traveled at that point in my pregnancy. She really would have.

While I wasn't able to be there, I was able to write down some thoughts that were shared at her funeral. Dad had asked for a paragraph. I went a little bit over. It's how it goes. How do you sum up one of your favourite people in the world in just one paragraph? You don't. That's all there is to it. You don't.

This week, missing her again, still, I reread what I wrote and thought that perhaps I could share it here. Maybe by sharing her in this way, she'll feel a little closer today.

This is what I wrote:

I wish so much that we could have been there today to celebrate Grandma with you all but I know, too, the scolding I would have gotten from her if we did anything to risk the life of the little one we’re waiting for so this will have to do. 
I know that at 35, I’m probably lucky to have had my Grandma in my life as long as I have and yet still it doesn’t seem like long enough. Just a little bit longer. Just a few days more. One more hug. One more phone call. The chance for her to meet the baby we’ve both prayed for. One more “I love you.” Still, I know it would never be enough. I’m so thankful she’s at Jesus’ side – she’s probably up to some mischief there – but I sure do miss her here. 
As I was sitting last night and crocheting for our little one, I began making a mental list of all the ways that Grandma is with me still. Things that she taught me and ways that she has shaped me. 
  • Perogies taste better when boiled with garlic. 
  • If you find the right spot for a plant, you really don’t have to have a green thumb.
  • Sometimes equal doesn’t mean fair but equal is important too. What you do for one you do for the other. 
  • Life is more fun with a bit of mischief and some sharp wit. I will always remember, the raised eyebrow, the twinkle in her eye and the laugh when she was up to no good. 
  • Recipes are a guidelines and measuring cups matter sometimes…but not always. A bit of this and a bit of that often works. If all else fails, taste. Did you ever see a skinny chef? 
  • Oh, and don’t ignore spices. There’s no need for boring food. 
  • Handmade gifts are best. They come with the deep love. 
  • There’s always room at the table for one more. 
  • Family is family and family comes first. Sometimes, I think Grandma loved us so deep she was blind to our flaws (thank goodness) but you will never find a better cheerleader or more fierce defender. 
  • You will never know unless you try…from foods to new skills to new endeavors and adventures. You never know unless you try.
  • Smile. And stand up straight. Being tall is a gift. 
  • Always say “I love you.” You never know when it’ll be your last chance. 
  • Marriage can and should be forever. It’s work, but it’s good work. 
  • One stitch at a time. And if it doesn’t work, just back up and start again. 
  • You are lovely. And loved. 
  • Family, life, happens around the table. 
  • Hard work matters. 
  • Its ok to be a little sentimental about things from time to time. 
  • Stories are meant to be shared and savored. I loved listening to Grandma tell stories.
  • There are things worth getting upset over and there are things that aren’t. Choose wisely. 
  • Messes can be cleaned up. 
  • Family isn’t just by blood. There’s always room to adopt a few more. 
  • Laugh. 
  • Pray about everything. God hears and God answers.
  • Each day is a gift. There was never a day that I asked her how she was that she didn’t respond with “thankful that the good Lord has given me another day” or “nothing to complain about. No one wants to hear an old lady complain anyway.” 
Most importantly, she modeled for me how to love God and love people. In every conversation I had with her, our shared faith in our creator came up in some way. She prayed for all her kids, grandkids and great grandkids to know His great love for them in a real and personal way. And she loved deeply, because her love came from Him. 
Her legacy and her life is in each one of us. We carry her lessons and her love with us every day. Love you, Grandma. 

Love Stacey (Colin, Marissa, Jenae and wee baby Miller)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I'm back

I'm back. I want to be. Perhaps I even need to be.
I have no excuse for my hiatus. I let fear get in the way. I was afraid of a certain situation and a certain someone and so I took a break. This place has never been about added stress for myself or those around me but about expression and peace. When I felt like it had become something different, something other than what it was intended for, I was afraid of where it would go and so I took a pause to examine. I wrote and erased, I wrote and saved for later, but I always paused before pressing "publish."  And, like any other habit, once you pause, sometimes it's hard to get going again and it becomes easier to not. Ever tried going to the gym after being gone for a while? Ug. Same principle has applied here for me. 

Now, though, I find I'm being drawn to it. Compelled to write down what's going on in my mind and heart. It helps me process and its good for me to create. Words on paper, black on white, thoughts contained and captured. I need a space to string words and thoughts together. If you choose to join me, welcome. If not, I'm okay with that too. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

On Being Renewed

A year ago, when I prayerfully began asking for my word for 2014, I realize now I was thinking small. So small. And that God had much bigger, deeper things in store. I was thinking of so many of the difficult circumstances in life that needed change and, truly, God wasn't blind to those painful places. Looking back, though, I think that what God was more interested in was my heart, my soul, my perspective, and my place with Him.

Like I said, God HAS stepped in to some of those ugly places. Right around Remembrance Day, my husband and I were noting just how far this year has brought us. How different life is this year compared to this time last year. It was mid November last year that he had lost his job. Mine was not much better. We were alienated from both daughters. Finances were tight. We were just taking slow, painfully frightening steps into church community. Our basement was a disaster. The past was pushing into our present with painful perseverance. We had experienced loss after loss after loss and hope was hard to be found. In truth, I felt like I was drowning and wondering where on earth God was in it all.

This year, we have seen change in some of those circumstances. My wonderful husband has been provided with a new job. One in which he feels respected and challenged, able to provide for us as a family. One of our daughters has returned to us. We're only a few days work away from the basement being finished (we will never, NEVER, renovate again). And, spoiler alert, we have a baby on the way! There is a different feeling of hope this winter season, even though not all of the tough stuff is by any means fixed or "gone."

Hope is a funny thing. Rarely, if ever, does it come from circumstance. One of the biggest changes for me has been a softening of heart, a renewal of relationship with God and His church that is hard to explain fully but something I am increasingly aware of and thankful for. We have made some choices in that regard. One of them has been returning to church community.  I don't know if I have posted yet about how that all came about. Short version is this: summer vacation 2013. Colin and I were on the ferry to Victoria to visit some friends. I was sitting on the deck of the boat watching the beauty of the BC coast pass by and I knew, I just knew, that it was time to go back to church after our season of rest, if that's what its called, or at the very least, of absence. As is his nature, when I spoke to Colin about it, he was truly supportive. I think his words were something to the effect of "I've just been waiting for you. Where do you want to go?" We chose a church close to home (proximity to community is important to us) that we knew had similar values and theology to what is close to our hearts. After a meeting with the pastor to answer some of our questions, we decided to make it home. There was no church shopping for us. It was time to get back into community and this was the place. We were, or at least I was, tentative at first. I think its probably a natural tendency of the broken to be tentative and cautious. For me, this was a step, maybe even a leap, of vulnerability, not just with church and organization and community but with God himself. Let me be clear. This was not just about "going" to church. To me, its been about being open to God's timing and God's plan, which truly is perfect, even when it felt like He had completely and utterly forgotten us. We entered into His community just before crap really hit the fan for us.

God has been faithful. He has found me in my vulnerability and reluctant obedience and given me what I didn't know I needed - not the renewal of circumstance I expected but a renewal of Spirit. Through the people there He has provided community, friendship, support and encouragement. In the last year He has spoken deeply into my Spirit. He has healed, or at least, is healing, this broken heart of mine. Because of what He has been allowed to do there, more has come. I know I am different, perhaps more whole, than I was a year ago because I have allowed Him to move in me. God has taken my one step of obedience, one tentative step towards what I knew to be true, to change me. He is dragging me, slowly and patiently, out of the darkness I felt like I was in and returning me to the lightness of His spirit.

He has me doing things I wouldn't have imagined a year ago. Our church does what they call Covenant Community. I suppose you could call it membership. Just recently, my husband and I made the commitment to join community. It wasn't about being "members" for us, about whether we could vote or be on the "in" with decisions. It had very little to do with organizational church of structure to me at all. I felt like it was another important step, a building of an alter if you will, like in the Old Testament when they built alters to mark significant meetings with God. We were saying that we're here. We're not going anywhere. These people will be our family and this place will be our home. We commit to following God together and allowing Him to continue to change and shape our perspective, to continue to provide the hope and renewal He has begun. We will allow Him to use us there, in service, to do what He needs to do.

An important part of the process was reflecting on and writing down my journey of faith. This was the testimony I gave to the church that day:

I was practically born into the church. I am the oldest child of a dad who was an elder and founding member of our church, a well known teacher in our small farming community and a farmer and friend to many. My mom was a leader and servant in her own right, an integral part of our church and community. Our church became an extension of my family and I learned early that one of the joys of community is doing life together. Through that family, I learned the stories of the Bible and watched it lived out in real life. It was because of the lessons learned there that I met Jesus early, praying a child’s prayer at around 4 years old, asking Jesus into my life. I had opportunities to serve, to lead and to search out God’s will and gifting for me. 
My faith became real and truly hit home when I was about 9. I remember it clearly. I was at summer camp and the speaker was talking about just how much God loves us. He read John 3:16 and then asked us each to repeat it with him, putting our own name into the verse. “For God so loved Stacey, that He gave his only Son that she should have eternal life.” I knew that that was true and that that was a God I wanted to follow. That message of unconditional love, deep and unending, has been the foundation of my life and faith. 

It has been my goal to love and to serve Him since. I was baptized in June of 1998, after my first year of Bible College. I went on to get my Religious Education degree and have had the privilege of serving in ministry for almost 15 years, walking closer with Jesus, learning more about who God made me and having the opportunity to journey with so many dear people who were also getting to know Jesus better. Together we learned to love God and love people.

In 2010, things began to fall to pieces, making the last 4 years some of the hardest of my life. I have wrestled in my faith, moved out of ministry, struggled with my belief and trust in people and had my self esteem beaten and battered. I have wondered if God is there and wondered if there is anything good left for me. Hope has been hard to find.

Yet through it all, even though I didn’t always feel it in my heart, two truths that have shaped my life remained: God loves me and He wants us to walk in community. 

Last July (2013), I knew it was time to return to church. Even though I was afraid and even though I was wounded, I knew that was what God wanted for us. There was something there for us that was important. Our first Sunday was a timid step of obedience. Sunwest has been our home since.

Every year, instead of choosing a New Year’s resolution, I try to prayerfully choose a word. This year’s word has been renew. There are so many aspects of life that have needed (and still need) renewal. We are thankful to have Sunwest as a part of that renewing journey. 
I feel a little bit like I'm rambling and not fully getting to the depths of what God has, is doing. Let me put it this way: I feel like I am slowly climbing out the other side of a dark valley. It's uphill and has changed my perspective. It is hard work but I am not alone. He is walking with me and I'm beginning to see the light glimmering over the horizon at the top. I am learning that He who began a good work in me will follow it through to completion. If all I can is this, that God has not forgotten me, this I know, then I am better than where I was a year ago. Some days, that's what it is...still one fragile, broken step in front of the other, simply knowing I am not forgotten in the mess. Some days its more. Some days I feel like he's closer. Present. And I'm starting to see His movement in life around me again. It's not all sunshine and roses. Some areas are downright nightmarish. God is in those moments too.

That is a perspective I needed to have renewed. That is where there is hope to be found. There are so many little, circumstantial things that still need to change, so many that I need take responsibility for - habits to restore, mindsets to change, steps to take - but it all seems a little less daunting looking at it from a different perspective (someone remind me of that when I'm a tearful puddle on the floor next week!!).

Who would have thought that seeking a simple word could be used in such a way? Do I dare ask for more?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Life Aquatic :: Donkey's Day at the Pool

It's recreation. You'd think it would be fun, and some days it is, but usually it's 29.9 degrees, 79 percent humidity, grumpy people and, well, work.

So we make our own fun.

Donkey came to the pool. The girls took one look at him and were convinced that I have a fabulous ass. We spent all day chasing that ass around the pool, making bad jokes.

Look at that ass in the pool. There's always one, isn't there?
Lazy ass hitched a ride with Gertrude.

How on earth did you fit that ass into there!?

The diving board is broken! Get that ass off of there.

Sit that ass down on the slide. No standing.

Check out that hot ass in the hot tub!

You don't like our rules?  Think that lifeguard is a real ass?
A real ass? You might be right.
Then that ass decided he wasn't getting out of the pool.
Then that ass decided he wasn't going to get out of the pool when we closed.
Who can argue with an ass? This is how the morning staff found him.
He came back the next night. Silly ass.

And the next. That ass thinks he's really funny. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

To Love and Be Loved

**This post was written last October but, for a number of reasons, tucked away. Today I found it and decided to post it. **

Have you ever had that moment where something new and different - perhaps a new place, or a new group of people - bring you back to exactly where you began? I had one of those today. My sweet husband and I are embarking on a journey back to church community. For so many reasons, it is a journey back and while it is in so many ways old and comfortable and home and same and about obedience, it is still new and different and a little bit frightening. It is indeed a journey back.

That Sunday, participating as a part of this new community, I was reminded of one question. A question that drove me through my degree and the classes I took at the masters' level. The question that influences me in my day to day interactions. The question that for so long, took over the reading I did and the things I discussed with other church leaders. This one question motivated the lessons I planned and the way I taught my leaders in my different leadership and ministry roles. It was the foundation for the way I recruited. It, in many ways, shaped how (and why) we began this journey back to church.

What does it look like to live with a spirit transformed by Jesus?

I've come to the place where I sum it up like this, the way that Jesus did: to love God and to love people. I know I've said it before in my musing: the love that Jesus is talking about is active and all consuming. It changes how we think and live and move. It informs all things. Or at least it should.

See, living like Jesus can't be just about believing in him. In the message that Sunday, we were reminded of the scriptures teaching that even the demons, if Satan himself, believe in Jesus. They know he exists. They know he is real. They know he is the savior of the world and that he sacrificed himself.

But they don't live lives that are changed.

They don't follow him.

They don't love him.

And if we truly love Jesus and realize that he loves us, we can't help but live lives that are loving. We can't help but be transformed from the inside out. See, then it's not our actions that make us followers of Jesus. It's our hearts. And it's because our hearts are following Jesus that our actions change. 

Round 2

I've decided it's unlikely I'll have time to post an extended review on the playoffs - I've barely even been able to catch a game thanks to this crazy shift I'm working (working nights is hard on life). That said, I still have my four picks ready to go.

Eastern Conference
Boston over Montreal - I hate to say it. Loathe, really. I hope Carey Price can steal the series but, barring that, I still have to pick Boston.
Pittsburgh over New York - again, don't really like it, but here we are. It seems I'm all about the goaltenders this season - Lundquist could be the New York solution to Pittsburgh but I'm still not convinced.

Western Conference
Chicago over Minnesota - Have I mentioned I hate Chicago? And yet....
LA over Anaheim - This is the only series that I'd be pleased to see my pick actually win!

So there you have it. Time will tell.