Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Moving Day

Today, I have some exciting news!

No, no, no. I am NOT pregnant. Very funny.

Maybe I prefaced that wrong... I have some news to share that is very exciting to me. I have no idea whether it will turn your crank.

After much labor (pun intended) on the part of a couple very special women, my real, live, grown-up web site is ready to go!

E. Tyler Rowan

You'll notice that my website is .ca - that's because I'm Canadian. :) But, you'll also find it if you use .com. Go ahead, try it! Cool, eh? (I know. My adolescent excitement is a bit much.)

I do hope my giddiness hasn't scared you away from coming along with me on this interwebby move!

Technical Details:

If you are a regular reader here, and you get blog posts by following, through RSS feed, or via email, I'd love it if you headed over there and subscribed to the new feed!

But, if you're like me (lazy), you don't have to. From now on, when you come here, you'll get sent there. And if you subscribe through my feedburner feed, I do believe you'll get forwarded. Dontcha just love it when you don't have to do any work?!

However... If you do not get a post delivered to you tomorrow through whatever feed means you use, please remember me and subscribe to the new site! (You never know when those technical glitches will affect things.)

Just to make sure they get their props:

Thank you so much to Holly of Crown Laid Down Designs. She is responsible for all that you see on the new site, with the exception of the words. Holly has spent many hours over the past two weeks dealing with my constant emails asking to switch this and tweak that. She is incredibly patient and detailed, and she was not satisfied until I was utterly in love with every detail! If we met in person, I just know we'd get along fantastically!

And a special thanks to my friend, Louise, of real life, Facebook, and Twitter, without whom I wouldn't have even begun to try. Louise patiently sat with me for hours (in a hotel room with sketchy wifi access), holding my hand through the process of starting up a wordpress page, cheering me on every time I wanted to cry and give up. Her confidence and creative genius convinced me that "I can do it!" I love you, Louise. Not just for all your help, but for who you are.

And to my old friend Blogger... I thank you for making it easy for me to get my thoughts out there onto the world wide web. And for being free. And for being easy to use. In spite of your limitations and technical difficulties, I will forever have fond memories of you.

So, what're you waiting for? Go check it out!

1. My blog was imported over there a while ago for testing purposes, so it's missing a few posts. It will be totally up-to-date by tomorrow morning when my new post is up.
2. Also, if you're like me and you hate the "click to continue reading" thingie, you'll notice a tab for Blog along the top of the page. To avoid the "click to..." and to not see my little "welcome window" (as I fondly refer to it) every time you visit, you can either subscribe (via RSS or email) or add the blog page to your favourites. Does that make sense?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pouring Out

We've all heard it said, "We can't pour out until we're filled up."

It's our way of saying that, unless we're close to God ourselves, we can't really bring His love into the lives of others.

Or perhaps it's our excuse to delay sharing His love with the world until we feel perfectly prepared and equipped.

Here is a statement that I believe to be more accurate...

Until we empty ourselves, pouring out in service of others, there's no room for God to pour into us.

Think of mixing a pitcher of juice. The pitcher starts out empty and is filled. But even before that initial filling up, the goal is to empty the pitcher. The juice is poured out, cup after cup, until the pitcher is empty. We don't try to keep the pitcher in a perpetually full state. And if we try to refill it when it's only partially empty, the result is often juice that is either too sweet or too weak. But if we fill up cups until the pitcher is empty, it is in the perfect state to be refilled with fresh, cold, perfectly-mixed fruity goodness.

Perhaps we just need to begin emptying ourselves and loving others, regardless of how "filled up" we feel. And through the act of pouring ourselves out, we will discover the true refreshment that comes when God fills us back up.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I recall a few times in my life when I was truly 'others focused.'

I thought about how I could bless someone else before I thought about what I wanted. If a friend was in need, I would sacrifice my own desires in order to be there for them. I was open and listening to the nudgings of the Holy Spirit, even though adjusting my own plans was an inconvenience.

I had a heart to serve others. But it appears I had an undiagnosed heart attack along the way.

These days, serving others seems to be the exception to the rule.

The rule: Convenience, comfort, my plans, my timeline... Self.

My schedule is pretty full, so instead of dropping the housework in order to join a friend at the playground we fumble around trying to schedule a coffee/play date in a gap in our calendars. I don't have any $1 or $2 coins handy - only the $50 bill I've set aside to put in a wedding card - so I tell the man humbly begging for money in the grocery store parking lot that I'm sorry. I've grown weary and discouraged of being the sole initiator in a couple relationships, so I just gave up and let go.

Sure, there have been moments mixed in there... Moments of generosity, of self-sacrifice, of offering up my time and resources to serve others. But having spent great lengths of time in a culture of 'giving life' to others, I'm no longer satisfied with moments.

The occasional generosity lesson won't teach me all that God wants me to learn; I need full immersion.

The longer we walk with God, the more willingly we serve and obey Him, the less satisfied we become with a life that is anything less than radical.

We grow restless when we feel 'settled,' because we've experienced the Holy Spirit inspired rush that comes with living a life of sacrifice. We are dissatisfied with mediocre, for our hearts have lived the passionate outpouring of full-out serving God and others.

So as I seek (once again) to live a life that leaves me unsettled but inspired, self-sacrificial but passionate, uncomfortable yet wildly blessed, this verse thrums in my spirit...

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
~ Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing...nothing...not even one thing. Value others above yourself. Do nothing - no, not a single thing - with selfish motivations. Nothing...

It's a challenge issued to us - believers. A challenge to "up our game." To serve wholeheartedly rather than half-heartedly. To be willing to give up some self for the love of others.

I've decided to accept the challenge. Will you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dinner Table Chatter

At the supper table last night, Pat was asking each of the kids about their day. He came up with the idea of asking them if they had done something loving for someone else.

A couple of the kids named things like playing with the new student in class and sharing a toy. A couple of them couldn't think of anything.

Tables turned, and the kids asked us if we had done anything loving during the day. Pat replied that he hadn't, but he would work on it.

I was about to voice the same sentiment. I worked, I came home, but I wasn't especially kind or thoughtful to anyone.

But before I finished speaking, Shea piped up, "You got me a drink!"

Megan shouted (if you know Meg, you know that nothing she says is particularly subdued), "You made supper!"

Abbey, Braeden, and Kai all named things, too. They spoke at the same time, so all I heard was, "You clean/laundry/help/dishes/cook/bathrooms [garbledegook]!"

They were mostly naming my jobs around the house, so I felt compelled to correct them. I think it was the guilt - because I do all those things, but not necessarily with love in my heart.

But when Shea proclaimed, "Wow, Mom! You sure do a lot of stuff!" everyone's laughter would have drowned out my objections.

Don't you just love those family moments filled with laughter?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Everyday Offering

Take your everyday, ordinary life -
your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life -
and place it before God as an offering.
~ Romans 12:1 (Msg)

I often feel like I need to offer God something big. That if I don't make a massive sacrifice, I'm not really loving and serving Him.

But I'm beginning to think that this way of thinking is actually more selfish than self-sacrificial.

The grand gesture is...well...grand. It's an event. It's notable. It often brings us glory. Oh, look how willing they are to serve God! It's, dare I say, easier.

Easier than...

...choosing not to call the driver who keeps braking for green lights an idiot.

...turning away from the dishes to make eye contact with a child telling you an nonsensical story.

...taking time to talk to God before sitting down with email, Facebook, TV, etc. - daily.

...thanking your husband for all that he does and choosing to hold your tongue on those things you wish he'd do differently.

...heading to work with joy in your heart and on your face, even if (or especially if) your job stinks.

It's easier to go on a big diet for a month than to change your eating habits every day for the rest of your life.

But God isn't satisfied with our crash diet acts of service. He longs for our everyday, our ordinary. The daily laying down of our own wants, our bad habits, and our selfish attitudes - these are the offerings He desires.

This is the hard stuff, the true sacrifice... An everyday offering.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Musings of a Working Mom

Sitting in front of a computer for five hours each day brings with it an inexplicable sense of exhaustion.

Not only is it difficult to cook supper after working, it's next to impossible to decide what supper should be!

Children really do thrive when given responsibilities, and will usually rise to meet your expectations.

When your work is all at the computer, you lack any desire to sit in front of the computer at home.

Suddenly, your husband's need for a few minutes of "alone time" right after work makes a lot more sense.

Sometimes, a movie marathon weekend is the best idea for family fun.

Packing lunch the day before is vital if one wants to eat during her half hour lunch break.

If you can't do laundry daily (or even every few days), you better pray everyone has enough clothing to keep them going for a week.

When laundry is only done weekly, it is an all-day marathon.

When do working moms wash bedding?!

Date night at home becomes more appealing than date night out. (At home you can wear exercise pants and sprawl on the couch.)

You are awe-struck by the working moms who do it forty hours per week. Especially single moms. Wow. Heroes.


On a little side note... So far, I am really enjoying my job! There is a lot to learn, but I feel like I'm "getting it." I've always loved planning events, so the fact that we're all working towards one big event is highly motivating.

Through a series of God-ordained circumstances, I am actually working in a different position than originally planned; I am the Speaker/Artist Coordinator. My job is to help find speakers and musicians for the conference, then to keep in touch with them and their needs. How cool is that?!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Malakai's Birthday Blessing

A birthday blessing for you, my baby boy. The one we named with God's purpose and plan in mind. (Malakai means "messenger of God.")

Malakai, I pray that you will know and do all that the LORD requires of you.
And what does the LORD requires of you?
To act justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. 
~ Micah 6:8 (NIV)

* I have decided to find a verse of blessing to pray over each of my children this year. On their birthdays (or - ahem - this Christmas), I will give each child his/her verse in a frame to hang above his/her bed. Have you ever done something like this for your kids?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potty Training Boys 101

Okay, I've only potty trained two boys, so I may not be an expert in the matter. But I have potty trained five kids total, so I'd say I'm well-versed in the subject of potty training.

I want to give you one simple tip that will help your little man "get" potty training faster.

Let him pee standing up.

Some of you are thinking, "Duh. Of course." But I know that when I had my first boy, I was convinced that all children must first learn to pee while sitting. After all, their aim is a little precarious at the age of two. I'm making an assumption that I'm not the only Mom who believed in the 'sitting to pee while potty training rule.'

Anyway, change your rule. Let him pee standing up. And if at all possible, let him see other boys standing to pee (Daddy, big brother, etc.).

If he's not quite tall enough, buy a little step stool.

If his aim is terrible, drop a couple Cheerios in the bowl for him to aim at.

I assure you, this little tip will make potty training way more fun for him! And boys are all about the fun...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Counter-Culture Decisions

courtesty of squidoo.com

In the spring, Pat and I spent some time re-evaluating what our family does and why we do it. We had gotten so very busy - overwhelmingly busy - and needed to figure out how much extra-curricular involvement was really necessary.

When we first moved here, we enrolled the kids in sports. Gymnastics, soccer, skating, karate... We felt that having an activity to engage in would help the kids "feel at home" in our new community. Our hearts were in the right place.

The results, however, were not at all what I'd hoped for. Rather than finding that one thing, each of our kids wanted to try a smorgasbord of activities. When one activity's eight-week cycle ended, the next would begin. We were all over the place, practically every day of the week.

So we began to ask ourselves what really mattered to us...

Building a close connection with a small group from our church.

Investing in others in our church and community, through acts of service and good old friendship.

Learning to love the people in our family deeply.

Having time to read the Bible and pray together as a family.

Being a family who is active and healthy.

Having lives of peace.

Interestingly, none of our goals included driving around every night of the week, being frenzied and impatient because we always have somewhere to go, training up Olympian gymnasts and black belt karate experts.

We made a tough decision in May - we decided that we would take a break from extra-curricular activities, with a couple exceptions. (I insisted that Pat continue to play hockey, as most games are later and don't interfere with family time and I believe in the importance of him having an outlet and some "guy time." We also chose to keep Braeden (13) enrolled in Air Cadets. We've seen a marked change in his level of independence, confidence, and attitude, and as such saw value for our whole family if he continued.)

But the other stuff that had us going like crazy people all week - it's gone. For now.

Last night, we spent some dedicated time as a family reading God's Word and praying together. This is the second time we've done so since school started.

Before that, the kids were out riding bikes, getting exercise and having fun together. They've been able to do that almost every day.

Once everyone was tucked into bed for the night, I commented to Pat on how much time we have this fall. Then I smiled, because I felt peace in my heart.

Later, Pat and I talked about our plans for small group this year, and sent an email off to the other couples about our start date. Rather than dreading the weekly commitment, we're excited!

I won't say that we're done with activities forever. But I can't say that I'm eager to sign anyone up for anything anytime soon.

Going counter-culture isn't easy, but sometimes it's the only way to set things right again. Kinda reminds me of our TV and video game decision...

What side of the fence are you on? Pro activities? Anti-activities? Somewhere in the middle?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Protection? Or Presence?

Last week I mentioned a couple difficult situations that my children (and I) are walking through...

I've been thinking and praying about those things on behalf of my kids. A lot.

God's been answering me, speaking to my heart about life's struggles. What He's been saying surprised me. For example...

I asked Him for help for Malakai. I prayed that drop off time at daycare wouldn't be so difficult for him, that he would be less sad and afraid. I asked God to be with him, protect him, and comfort him. I asked God to turn Kai's experience around, so that he would be excited about the fun days he would have.

At first, I heard what I expected to hear from the Lord...

Tyler, I love your little boy even more than you do. I have his best interests at heart. I am always with him, protecting and comforting him. You can trust Me with him.

But then, God started saying (not out loud, but into my heart) things that took me by surprise.

Just as I use every situation - especially the difficult ones - to shape you to serve Me, I will use this trial in Malakai's life for My Kingdom purposes.

Do not think that your children will be exempt from hardship simply because you love and serve Me. If their faith and strength and character are "by default," they will be weak. But a faith in Me that comes from truly needing Me will be their own. Yes, daughter, even in their preschool years I am already shaping them for My service.

Imagine the great things that a child named "Messenger of God" can do for My Kingdom. Then multiply that by 1,000. Those are the kind of plans I have for Malakai...and for each of your children.

But just as you needed to walk through hardships, grow in faith, allow yourself to lean into My strength, and become mature in character in order to serve Me - so will they. If I protect them from these trials that come their way, they will miss out on something greater I have for them.

Trust Me.

As God and I had this conversation, and I wanted to argue with Him about what was best for my children, I was reminded of how Beth Moore prays for her daughters... She has often mentioned praying along the lines of, "Lord, please do not protect these children from that which will bring them into Your Presence." (Not a direct quote. But if someone has her exact words handy, please share!)

I've often thought how wildly brave that prayer is, and how cowardly my own prayers for my children seem in comparison. I ask for His protection for them, but fail to ask for them to experience the reality of His presence in their lives.

And that begs the question... What would I rather have for my children - His protection or His presence?

Have you ever prayed that wildly brave prayer for your children?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life Isn't Fair

Do you remember proclaiming this truth as a kid? Anything and everything that didn't go my way was met with a whining, "It's not fair!"

My kids say it all the time (annoying). The funny thing is, they usually complain about how unfair I'm being when, in truth, what's happening is completely fair. For example, no snack right before dinner. I repeat the same line five times over, as each kid requests a snack. At least a couple of them reply with, "But Mom, that's not fair!"

My response to their proclamation varies (depending on my mood, I think). Sometimes I just ignore it. Other times I chuckle and inform them that it is fair. And periodically I let them know that, "Life isn't always fair. Get used to it." Don't you hate that?! (I hated hearing it when I was young, but now that I know how true it is, it seems I can't help myself from saying it.)

The thing is, I can easily tell my kids that life just is not fair when it comes to rules and discipline and expectations around the house. But when the unfairness is brought on by someone or something other than me...

My little man's breaking heart when I drop him off at daycare in the morning - it's not fair.

My kind and sweet daughter being picked on by a couple less kind and sweet girls in her class - it's not fair.

My special needs son being refused funding that he is eligible for based on illogical reasoning - it's not fair.

Somehow, in these situations, my standard response seems cold and uncaring.

What I want to tell them is that they deserve better. I want them to know that I will fight for them. I want to promise them that everything will be okay.

But I can't.

Because life isn't fair. In this world, you will have trouble.

My inner Mama Bear can't come crashing into a situation and make it all better for my cubs. It's not possible for me to protect them from all of life's unkindness. So what's a Mama Bear to do, when her cubs are hurting?

Offer them the only thing she can...the only assurance she has... But take heart! [Jesus] has overcome the world!

As I deliver my "baby" to daycare, I can rest in the peace and assurance that my Jesus is there with my boy, and I can pray God's blessing and protection over him.

When my girl spills out tears and heartache, I can remind her of the Help that she has to lean on and the promises He gives: plans for her, a hope, a future, peace that passes understanding, comfort, and more.

When my young man is unable to experience an opportunity, I can assure him of the equality that will one day come, of the abilities his mind and body will one day have, of how precious he is - today - in the eyes of the One who created him.

Life isn't fair. Thankfully, this life isn't all that we're here for. I just pray that this truth will imbed itself in the hearts of my children...and their Mama.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Love My Kids, But Do I Like Them?

I recently listened to a commentary on Titus 2 that honed in on the phrase, "teach the younger women to love their husbands and children." I heard something new, something that I had never considered...

The word "love" in that passage is translated to the Greek word "philos." Philos refers to friendship.

As I listened, I wrote a note to myself, "Am I a friend to my kids? Do they feel as though I like them?"

My kids know I love them. I have no doubt of that. But do they feel liked by me? Do they feel as though I enjoy spending time with them? Do we have fun together? Do I tell them that I like them for who they are? Do I treat them with the same care and respect I do a friend, or even an acquaintance?

Sadly, I can't be sure.

But this is something I need to be sure about. So here are a few things I think I can do to let my kids know I really like them:

- Really listen and respond when they have something to tell me. Look at them and pay attention.

- Be willing to set aside my duties in order to do something fun.

- Say yes more often than no.

- Laugh more.

- Smile more.

- Tell them the things I like about them. Every day.

On the first day of school, the kids and I played a board game together when they got home. We had grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, and the dog hair never got swept up, but I'm pretty sure everyone crawled into bed with a smile that night.

And you know what I realized? I really do like my kids!

What do you do (or could you start doing) to help your kids (or husband, or parents...) see that you really do like them?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strength for the Weak

GROW STRONG IN YOUR WEAKNESS. Some of My children I've gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty. Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day. I am developing your ability to trust me, to lean on me, rather than on your understanding. your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when. My preference is for you to depend on Me continually, trusting me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. This is how you grow strong in your weakness.

James 4:13-15; Proverbs 3:5 (Amp); Isaiah 40:28-31

~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Devotions for Every Day of the Year)
When I read these words from Jesus to me last week, I folded the corner of the page down, knowing I would need them again soon. Perhaps I saved them for you, too. Where are you feeling weak today?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Today's List, with Commentary

1. Get kids ready. (This is usually a bit of a chaotic gong show for the first month of school.)

2. Get kids on bus. (Good news - the girls no longer have to be at the bus stop by early o'clock am! They gained 35 minutes this year...and a new bus.)

3. Get self ready. (Sometimes, even moms need to shower.)

4. Take Kai to day care. (This is likely to be the most not fun moment of my day until after Christmas. He is a cryer. However, they assure me he settles in nicely and has fun all day.)

5. Meet with school board folks about Logos program. (Yes, the school year has begun!)

6. Buy furnace filter. (Sad, sad day... September 1st and I needed the heat on this morning.)

7. Go to training appointment at Curves. (My "new year" begins in September. Thus, another new year's resolution.)

8. Organize my dresser drawers and closets. (I finally caved and bought myself some clothing that fits my larger-than-ideal body. But there's no room for any of it due to all the space being taken up by the imgonnafittheseagainsomedaysoibetternotgetridofthem wardrobe.)

9. Pick up Kai. (I expect that he'll be smiling and having fun, but ready to go home with his momma.)

10. Greet the thundering herd at the door. (No matter how hard I try, I am unable to train the children to enter the house without hollering and door slamming. What can I say? We're just a loud bunch!)

11. Feed the masses. (Darn. What am I supposed to make for dinner tonight? Bonus points to anyone who suggests something that requires pretty much no prep.)

12. Bathe the masses. (Yup, sometimes the kids need cleaning up, too.)

13. Tuck in five children, making rounds of prayers and bathroom and water and hugs and kisses, up the stairs and down the stairs. (Our kids are actually phenomenal at bedtime. But there's no way to speed the process up!)

14. Collapse in a heap and watch recorded episodes of So You Think You Can Dance? and America's Got Talent. (I'm not really a reality TV junkie, but House doesn't start back until October! Sheesh!)

Missing from today's agenda:

A. Help from the hubby. (My man is off in the mountains with quads and guns and other big boys. He's been looking forwad to it for a year. I don't get it, but I'm sure they're having a great time not talking to each other. lol)

B. Work. (No, I didn't quit or get fired or anything dramatic. After popping in for a couple hours this week, we decided that it will work best all around for me to "officially" start after the long weekend.)

What's on your to-do list today?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Back in my college days, after the arrival of my firstborn, I could often be heard speaking these words, "Oh, I could never be a stay at home mom! I'm just not wired that way. I'll be a better mom if I've got something for me."

Add a few years and two more babies. My story changed to, "One day I'll go back to work...when they're in school. I just can't afford to work right now. Childcare would eat up my whole pay cheque."

Add a couple more babies, more years, and a closer relationship with Jesus. "I'm not sure if I'll ever work again. Somewhere along the way, I learned not only to be content in my role as a homemaker, but to find joy in it. If we can afford for me to stay home forever, volunteering in ministry, that's what I'll do."

As a young, idealistic, opinionated twenty-year-old, I was certain that my life would be dull and lifeless if I were home with my kids 24/7. As a slightly older, slightly less opinionated, and just as idealistic thirty-year-old, I was convinced that being home 24/7 would be best for my family.

Today, I am a thirty-three (and a half) year old working mom. Here are three lessons God has been teaching me about His upside-down Kingdom over the years.

1. Never say never.

God's plan doesn't usually fit within our ideals. While sometimes our ideals are formed based on God speaking to us and teaching us, it's important to remember that the plan He has for each of us is not a "one and only" thing. God's plan (and our lives) cycle through seasons.

There will be years of quiet, times of service, days of stretching, and moments of storms. And we do not get to dictate the ebb and flow - God Almighty is the commander of the seasons of life.

2. Comfortable doesn't last.

We all enjoy times of peace, quiet, and routine. There is something wonderful about feeling "settled." The thing is, as we are settling in we can also begin settling for. We settle for a faith journey that is mediocre, at best.

God knows, though, that we can serve Him better, our lives can give Him more glory, our families can better reflect His love in our communities, when we are stretched outside that little comfort bubble we live in.

3. It's not about me.

Of course I believe that God has a special purpose and plan that is specific to me and my life. But sometimes, His plan for my life is not necessarily specifically for my benefit.

God created us to serve Him, to worship Him, and to share His Good News throughout the world. He did not create us to be happy and content. (I'm sorry if that comes as a disappointment to anyone.) God is far more concerned with the salvation of the world than he is with our happiness.

The great thing is, if we embrace His plan with abandon, He will overflow our lives with joy and blessings! So the less we think of "me, me, me" the more likely we are to actually experience joy and satisfaction in this life.

I'd love to hear your stories! Here are a few prompting questions to help dig those stories out of you. Feel free to answer one or all...or something totally different, for that matter.

Have you ever said "never" to something only to have God change your plans?
Has He been asking you to let go of your comfortable so that your life can better reflect His glory?
What ways are you learning that it's not about you?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Crossroads

I am not generally an anxious person. I tend not to worry about things. Except for money, that is. For some reason tough money issues can plague my thoughts for hours upon hours. But I digress; that's an topic for another post. The point is, if I can't change it or have zero control over it, I usually won't fret about it.

Yesterday, I carried a massive knot in my stomach from the moment I woke. It didn't subside when I took 15 minutes to read a new novel. It wouldn't let go during small group fellowship. It's still there now. Thinking back, I didn't sleep well at all the night before last - I was probably all tied up in knots already.

The only word I can find to describe the emotion that is causing my discomfort is anxiety.

I am anxious about putting my baby in day care, when he still resisted preschool after 10 months of regular attendance.

I am anxious about the days where the older children may arrive home on the school bus slightly before I make it home after work.

I am anxious that I won't be able to hack the pressure of being Mommy and employee.

I am anxious that I'll get too busy and my writing and speaking opportunities will fritter away.

I am anxious about what to cook for dinner for the entire month of September.

As I write out my worries, I feel the knot in my gut my climbing up into the back of my throat.

I pause for a moment and wonder what this is all about. It's not like me to worry and fret. It's not like me to play the "what if" game. And when I bump into feelings and reactions that are just "not me," I remember that I have an enemy who likes to try and fill my head with lies. Lies with just enough truth behind them to be believable.

The father of lies wants me to worry that I can't do it... But I have a different Father, and my Daddy says something different.

The truth is, apart from Jesus, I can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The truth is, I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:13)

The truth is, God has a good plan for me that involves hope and a future, not disaster. (Jer. 29:11)

The truth is, He didn't give me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love. (2 Tim. 1:7)

So here I sit, hearing whispered lies yet knowing the truth. I'm at a crossroads, and I must choose. Will I believe the one who says I am weak, the one who predicts my failure, the one who wants me to walk through my days afraid? Or will I believe the One who loves me and has adopted me as His own child? (Eph. 1:5)

Whom will I believe?

And you - when you feel weak, afraid, weary, incompetent - whom will you believe?

I receive these words as a healing balm over my soul, and in turn pray them over you today...

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

~ Ephesians 3:16-21

Monday, August 29, 2011

Quotable Quotes

"What if you woke up today with only the things (or people) that you thanked God for yesterday?" ~ floating around Facebook (don't know the origin)

"God will not love you more if you carve out more time in your schedule for Him; but you may love HIM more because you'll know him better." ~ Donna Partow

"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid He might ask me the same question." ~ Lee Strobel

I've tried to skim past these quotes in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, but they just keep showing up. They're bumping up against me, rubbing themselves in my face, and taunting me. Not in a guilt-inducing way, but more an uncomfortable, Holy conviction.

What about you? Do these quotes - or any others - make you pause and take inventory?

(P.S. If you're wondering about the absence of vacation photos, wonder no longer! I'm having some issues with uploading. I'll get it figured out eventually. But in the meantime, you can see the majority of our vacation fun on my Facebook page.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Job/Ministry

...continued from yesterday's post, The Email...

I do apologize for leaving you hanging two days in a row like that (not, heehee). I will now fulfill your curiosity about the details. Unless you're not curious, in which case you may not want to read this post. But don't do that! Just read it anyway, okay? I'll return the favor. {grin}

The Ministry:

Break Forth Canada - A large (15,000 attendees) annual conference for the growth and encouragement of Christians across the country, hosted in Alberta's capital city, Edmonton. The place is teeming with top-notch speakers and worship artists, ready to share what God has put on their hearts.

I have had the privilege of attending Break Forth three (or is it four?) years in a row. Each year I showed up expecting God to speak to me personally, to change my heart, and to move in my life. I have not been disappointed.

So when I saw the position posted on their Facebook page, I could not resist the thought of being a part of something that has played such a significant role in my walk with the Lord.

The Job:

Facility and Exhibit Coordinator - The conference offers over 150 workshops, each requiring space, equipment, and volunteers. Those workshops are taught by various speakers, teachers, and musicians who will have specific needs, from accommodations to the room set-up. That's the "facility" part of the job. The conference also hosts a large 'trade fair' style exhibitors centre, where roughly 100 ministries can set up a table and share what they do. The exhibit hall also requires space, equipment, and volunteers. That's the "exhibit" part of the job.

Thankfully, this position was held by the same highly organized person for the past six years, so there will be a clear template for me to follow. And from what I hear, she also really loved lists!

The Hours:

The position is, overall, part-time. The number of hours per day and the number of days per week vary month-by-month, depending on how close we're approaching to Break Forth. The month of the conference (January) will be full-time. But the summer months - two, five-hour days per week. Pretty ideal for a mom.

The Childcare:

The more I talk to God about having my "baby" in care, the more calm I am about the whole idea. With the exception of January, it won't be full-time, so I will still have my time with him and he with me. And frankly, he is a wee bit clingy (understatement of the year); he could benefit from some time away from his Mama.

The Start Date:

I'll be going in next week for a few afternoons, just to get the lay of the land. I'll spend a few hours reading manuals and being shown around. My first "official" day will be September 6.

The Peace:

You might wonder, how do I know that now is the time (as opposed to years earlier or later)?

I don't know. But I trust God and His plan completely.

I have a sense of confirmation about how this door opened so easily when many other doors slammed in my face. I have a sense of confirmation about how the little details seem to be working out with ease. I have a sense of confirmation through my communications with the ministry founders and leaders, as I know that they are seeking God fervently and constantly.

But if I'm wrong, I still trust God and His plan completely.

I trust that God will work in my life, my family, and the ministry of Break Forth. I trust that He can take things that are wrong, misdirected, or even bad and use them for good. I trust that His desire is for all of His children to grow more like Him, and He can use all situations for our growth. And I trust that His plan is for our hope and future, not for our harm.

The Ministry:

And what of the ministry I've felt called to? The writing and speaking stuff?

I don't have a sense that any of that has changed. But in case you hadn't noticed {tongue in cheek}, the growth and progress of those areas has been glacial fairly slow.

While I could invest hundreds of hours into efforts to grow things, I truly believe that my ministry cannot grow any faster than God's pace. And He's taking it slow with me.

Perhaps because I have more to learn. Perhaps my family needs more time. Perhaps He has a certain time in mind that just hasn't come to pass yet. Perhaps because time spent serving is the most fertile garden for growing a Godly leader.

So for now, I will serve. I will wait. I will write. I will speak. And I will grow.

Tomorrow, fun and random summer vacation pictures.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Email

...continued from yesterday's post, The Interview...

On day twelve of our holidays, we were back in an area with phone reception. As others worked hard tearing down camp so we could hit the road, I snuck in a quick email check.

I immediately noticed an email in the middle of the pack with the subject line, "Welcome." My heart rate picked up as I scrolled down to open it. I read the email over twice, looked out the camper door and said, "They offered me the job."

I was stunned. Terrified. Thrilled.

They were awaiting a reply from me to confirm my acceptance of the position. But could I really do this?

An hour later we were on the road and I shared my runaway thoughts with my husband.

What if it's too much? What if I can't manage working and home and kids? What if I can't keep on top of writing or get speaking engagements? What if I can't find childcare? And do I really want my littlest one to spend half his days with a sitter? And all those other things I'm involved with - which to keep, which to give up? When will I have time for friendships? What if I can't do it? I'm so used to being in charge, what if I stink at being an employee and taking direction? And it's a lot of responsibility - what if I screw it up?

All those questions poured from my mouth in one breath. Instead of addressing my worries, Pat suggested, "Why don't we pray about it?"

I nodded. Then we sat in awkward silence for a good minute. He looked at me and said, "Oh, did you want me to pray?!" We cracked up (great tension relief) and then, with his eyes still fixed on the highway, my husband committed the situation, our family, and me to God.

Questions, worries, and fears drifted away as peace slipped over my soul.

I replied to that email, thanking them for the opportunity...

...And letting them know that I couldn't wait for my first day!

...more to come...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Interview

I sat in my truck just around the corner, air conditioner turned to high, and prayed.

I had arrived nearly half an hour early for a job interview. I didn't know why I was there.

Over the years, I had applied for many jobs. Nothing. Several dozen resumes sent out with only one interview four years back. Mostly, I received no reply to my applications. I took that lack of response as guidance from God - a door being closed. Yet I continued to apply as I saw positions that interested me.

Sometimes I wondered if I was being disobedient by continuing to send out resumes every few months. But I didn't get that sense. And to be honest, with each resume emailed I was certain that I'd receive the same reply I'd been getting for years - a closed door.

So I sat outside that office building and prayed...

Lord, am I wasting their time by showing up for this interview? You have kept this door firmly closed for so long, and I've been okay with that. I've been needed at home, and there's the writing and speaking ministry...

Father, I don't think I can do this. What if they offer me the job? I'll need to figure out some part time childcare; I don't think my clingy little boy can handle that. I'll have to find time to still write and speak and take care of the house.

I don't know why I'm here, Lord. You've shut this door so many times. But for some reason, this door appears to be opening. I'm terrified at the thought of it. The changes, the adjustments, the expectations.

Please fill me with Your peace, help me to present myself and You well in this interview, and have Your will be done in my life and for this ministry.

The peace came just two breaths after I asked for it. My nerves calmed. My questions ceased. And I knew - it was in His hands.

I left the interview with a spring in my step. It was so comfortable. I felt so confident. And I believed even more in the importance of what the ministry does to draw people closer to Jesus.

I packed for vacation with a light heart. No worries, no anxiety, no waiting. I would be okay either way. No job offer - life would continue on as it had and that would be great. Job offer - things would change, and change is good for our growth.

Given the past history of applications and rejections, though, I secretly suspected that the job would be offered to someone else. I had settled in my heart that this was still my season to be at home full-time. I expected to return home to a voicemail message confirming my suspicions...

...to be continued...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Can My Husand Really Be Mr. Mom?

Today is the last in a series of great posts written by eight fantastic and inspiring women. A bittersweet moment - the conclusion of my two week vacation and my return to the online vortex of blogging. How I've missed you! I do hope you've been blessed by what these super cool ladies had to share, and I trust that you've been encourging them with some comment love. {wink} See ya tomorrow!

I tend to consider myself not much of an organized person.  However, when I need to pull out the stops on organizing I can carry my own.  So as this week approached I had some heavy organizing to do.

I had a business trip to make and three children to find a place for if my husband would not be able to get off work for the days I would need to be gone.

I registered Aaron, my 12 yr old and Joel my 9 yr old for Circle Square Ranch which was to start Sunday, the day after I was to leave for my trip.  My 3 yr old Gabriel was excited to find out that he was to be spending his first sleepover at Grandma and Grandpas.  My husband Evan could take care of the pets and hold down the fort.

This left me packing 4 different suitcases going in 4 different locations.  Now I am not sure if you have ever had to do this, but it gets quite complicated.  For example, does your family share toothpaste?  Mine does!  So we needed more tubes!!

I masterminded a plan and everything looked to be in place.  Now all it needed was to go off without a hitch.  Problem?  I was leaving BEFORE the plan was to be in motion.  This meant my husband had to step into my shoes and fulfill the script I had written.  I wrote notes and talked...a lot even though I knew half the time I probably sounded like Charlie Browns teacher!  I stressed a bit as I just wanted everything to go well.  I was counting on my family to make mommy being gone as painless as possible.  I am not sure how many times I said 'and this note is for...”

As I tried to cover every base I could think of to make sure my husband would be as close to what I would do as possible, something hit me.

Jesus wants us to be just like Him.  He wants us to do what He would do.  God gave us His word to make sure that we could do just that.  He reminds us we need to read it.  He nudges us we have not looked at His “notes” for awhile.  When Jesus left He told us He was going home to prepare a place for us, but He sent us a helper to make sure we can put His plan in motion.  He went before us and it is up to us to do the work He asks us to do.  We just need to keep referring to Gods Word, the “notes” He left for us.

That left me with two huge lessons.  Number One, Jesus wants me to keep studying His Word and to be more like Him, and Number two, I can worry and stress all I want about leaving my family, but it is not going to make it go any smoother.  I cannot do anything about it once I am 4000 Kilometers away so I might as well just pray about it and ask for peace as HE takes care of my precious kids and husband!

John 14:23-27 is an excellent reminder of this, but my favorite part is verse 27.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus trusted me to do what He asked me to do.  I think I am going to have to trust my Hubby to pull off a Mr. Mom (even though I sometimes believe I am irreplaceable!). 

Have a glorious blessed Day!

April Klippenstein is married to her husband Evan and and is a mother of three amazing boys ages 12, 9 and 3.  She homeschools her children and manages to balance a career with Mary Kay Cosmetics as a Independent Sales Director and Beauty Consultant.  She is also a writer and speaker when she can fit it in. 
April resides in Eckville, Alberta and dreams of one day being able to complete her first novel, even if she has to wait until the children fly the coop!! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Lazy Christian

Yes, I'm still on vacation. But I just had to take a second to send you over to Rachel's blog because I'm guest posting there today. How about you stop by and check it out?

Five Lazy Ways to be an Encourager

P.S. I've been missing you...Let's catch up soon! Say, Tuesday?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Stay tuned for more great posts written by two fantastic and inspiring women. Two weeks of vacation for me means two weeks of fresh content for you. Enjoy! (And don't forget to comment and let these ladies know that what they write matters.) See ya soon.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.(Titus 2:3-5) 

I'm sort of a social media nut.

I love Facebook and  I've forayed into Google+; Blogging makes me giddy, but Twitter has my heart. 

I have a bazillion and one reasons why this is true, but it really comes down to the hashtags. 

Man, I love hashtags.  

Imagine if everything in our lives could be that easily categorized?  


The same day that I learned of the opportunity to guest post here, before I knew that this would be the topic of my post, I was giggling to myself {hubby doesn't "get" Twitter} and silently categorizing everything I could with hashtags. 

Then I stopped, and thinking with honesty back on that day, realized that my actions with my son that day would probably be categorized as a #momfail. 

#Anger #harshwords #unneccessarysarcasm #frustraion  

There was very little of the Fruit of the Spirit in my speech towards him.

There was little to no #joy #peace #patience #kindness #goodness #self-control. 

Sure, there was #love, but would my son recognize that? 

Oh how I cried with the tears of that piercing conviction.

"Lord!" I cried. "How can I do this? You know my heart. You know that I love my son with all of my heart. You know that I am so horribly sinful, that aside from You there is nothing good in me. I need You. I need You to intervene, to fill me up, to clean me out. I can't have another day like today."

As a first generation believer, I confess to you, blog friends, that one of my greatest fears is that my son or daughter will not continue our legacy of faith; that they will reject the faith that has knit my family together; that one day someone will ask them, "Why?" and they will answer that their mom talked the talk, but didn't live it at home. 

I do have perspective. I understand that a bad day with a loss of patience is not the same as a lifetime of hypocrisy, but this fear has motivated me to search my heart, to ask God to cleanse me so that I will be so filled with His love that my children will not be able to deny that I loved God passionately, and my love for Him abundantly overflowed into love for them, into love for their Daddy.

O, Lord. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning, that You forgive so completely and never hold back wisdom and love from us. Fill each of us with such an overwhelming love for You that it overflows in our homes, in our jobs, in our marriages, and into our children's lives. Replace our anger with patience, give us what we need to choose joy. Intervene mightily Lord, that we, sinful moms and wives, will reflect You. Turn our #momfails into #spiritwins. Thank You in advance. Amen.


Heatherly Lane Sylvia is a mom, wife, homeschooler, speaker, aspiring writer, and apprentice grace-giver. Her greatest desire is to live a life following after God with abandon, and she hopes to be a blessing to as many people as she can while she figures out exactly how to do that. Het is passionate, loud, addicted to books, and loves her friends, old and new. She adores the blogosphere and would love to “meet” you there. She’s also pretty sure that blog comments and tweets  are her love language. Check out her blog A Pinkdaisy Life or follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why I Like Harry Potter

Stay tuned for more great posts written by three fantastic and inspiring women. Two weeks of vacation for me means two weeks of fresh content for you. Enjoy! (And don't forget to comment and let these ladies know that what they write matters.) See ya soon.

My Facebook tells people I attended the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which of course I didn’t because it’s a fictional school in the world of Harry Potter created by J.K. Rowling.  Apparently this is not obvious, because I’ve received messages from people who are concerned my immortal soul is in danger because I’m learning to be a warlock of some kind.

Social misconceptions aside, I find the story of Harry to be hugely relevant in this day and age, and especially in my personal life in recent days.  For those who aren’t all that familiar with HP, the basic rundown is a boy, Harry, is faced with the choice to be good or to be evil.  It sounds simple enough, but as the books go deeper you begin to see that there is a very strong part of Harry that wants to be evil.

Like our sin nature.  We have this internal drive to be self-serving, to do what pleasures us with no regard for the consequences.  And it is often far easier to give into that then to step outside of ourselves and look to what is right, to what is good.  Despite the fact that it makes so much sense to live a God-centered life, it’s just so natural to live a self-centered life.

I like HP because it conceptualizes something for me that I’ve struggled with.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!“ ( 2 Corinthians 5:16-18)

This makes it sound so easy. I’ve been reborn in Christ, my sin nature is defeated in him, ergo I am now free of its influences.


If you skip back a little, you’ll see that this chapter starts out with Paul discussing the differences between our existence in this world and our future existence in perfection, and he makes it clear that we’re still stuck here in these naked bodies, aching for the perfect wardrobe. Then he launches into this conversation about being new and displaying the righteousness of Christ, where we get the old and new comment.

I think where we go awry is when we skim the surface of this with fluffy smiles and nods.  We immediately remind ourselves that we’re new creations and we don’t have to act the way we used to, so don’t.  Like if you get a new car. Why are you driving the old beater to work when you’ve got a brand new car to drive?

Makes it sound so easy.  So simple.  Except it’s not like a new car at all.  It’s more like going on a diet. You crave chocolate, chips, candy, whatever your snack of choice is. You want it.  You love it.  It’s soooo good.  Admit it.  You’re hungry now.  But you know that stuff’s not good for you.  Oh sure, there are lots of tasty foods out there that are healthy and good for you, and you know you should eat those instead, but is that a box of Honey Cruller Timbits???

Being a new creation doesn’t erase our sin nature.  We still fight with it, we still war with it.  We’re not slaves to our sin nature anymore, but it still influences us.  That old creature is lying right beneath the new and poking at the surface to get attention.  It’s hard to say no to it.  I think that’s what Paul is saying by pointing out that we’re naked and longing for heavenly clothes.  I think he’s saying, “Hey, this is tough, living on this planet.  This is hard.  It’s going to keep being hard until we’re fully restored.  But the great thing is that we are new creations and now we’ve got God.  So reach out, hold onto him and live new.”

Harry Potter has to battle with this in a very literal sense.  As his story unfolds, we see that the evil inside him has a strong connection to the antagonist, Lord Voldemort.  The more depraved Voldemort reveals himself to be, the more you see the darkness Harry is struggling with.  Eventually this culminates in a showdown where Harry has to sacrifice himself in order to destroy that internal evil and ultimately through that is able to defeat Voldemort.

Paul’s words used to bother me. I felt like there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t able to just automatically jump into that new car and drive off.  The saga of Harry Potter made me go back to that passage and re-examine it in a new light.  There’s a lot of hope in acknowledging that something is hard and that I need God’s help to rise above it.

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” – Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter, in The Goblet of Fire.

Faye Polson is a single 30 year old nerd who loves hanging out with kids, thinking about stuff, public speaking and web design. You can find her on Twitter any day of the week.

Ironically, I think Faye and I have "talked" more since I moved than we did when we lived in the same city. I always enjoy reading Faye's funny (and sometimes gross) Facebook statuses (or is it stati?), and I knew she'd have something thought-provoking to share.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Heart of Flesh

Stay tuned for more great posts written by four fantastic and inspiring women. Two weeks of vacation for me means two weeks of fresh content for you. Enjoy! (And don't forget to comment and let these ladies know that what they write matters.) See ya soon.

The words rushed over me with a slow, deep sting; and I felt judgment and misunderstanding and trembling and fear start to overtake me.
The person before me continued on; uttering unkind words meant to hurt, meant to cause havoc; casually flinging them at me like fiery darts full of poison. I swayed under the onslaught, longing oh so suddenly for that old heart of mine to come rushing to my rescue.
I reveled briefly in the remembrance of my old comforting friend; the dappled pebbles of indifference and smooth sleek skipping rocks of avoidance and huge weighty boulders of perceived control building an impenetrable fortress high and tall and impossible to break through around my bruising heart~ that heart of stone I had carried around most of my life like a ball and chain, dragging darkness and hopelessness and condemnation around with me as I stumbled through days where Jesus was no where to be found.
But oh the grace~ oh the sweet mercy~ the beauty of His love and salvation…
I blink and take a step back, letting THAT remembrance and THESE words overtake me; a salve to my weary soul…
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
~Ezekiel 36:26, NIV
I think as the rant continues that the new spirit I’ve been given is a gift to be shared. The steady beat of a heart of flesh; filled to the brim with His glorious love and acceptance and worthiness and joy~ filled to the brim with a new life meant to be proclaimed.
And when my heart is being attacked, when it is constricted with the pain and sorrows and unfairness of this world, I now have the choice to rush back to my old defenses, or to allow His defenses to stand firm.
When pressed to my limits, when my heart is being squeezed so tight I can barely see a way out; that’s when I can allow His love to overflow out of the new spirit He’s given me. That’s when I can shed grace on those that are unseeing.
Maybe that love will show them that they also can be covered; that their heart of stone can be a heart of flesh.
So I start to listen, start to ask questions, start to try to better understand why the other person is hurting so deep and so far that they feel poison words are the only answer.
We sit and share, and the first small seeds of faith are planted in a fellow sufferer’s heart as I share Jesus and pray they continue to run straight into His arms.
I’ve never been more grateful for a heart of flesh as the Gospel comes alive right before my eyes.
Is there a situation in your life that makes you want to run to old defenses? How can you allow the grace and love of Jesus to overcome?
Today's post is from a fellow BLASTer (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers and Teachers), Lindsey Hartz. We haven't met in person, but I'm sure when we do our conversation will take us through a whole pot of coffee.

Lindsey has a passion to see lives changed, and she's willing to bare it all if her story will bring you one step closer to Him.
You can get to know Lindsey at A New Life, Twitter, and Facebook.