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... 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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

God Doesn't Waste a Hurt

Stay tuned for more great posts written by five 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 friend, Louise, is the one responsible for getting me started as a blogger. She's also the one responsible for teaching me the healing power of being real, transparent, and authentic in our interactions with others. It's because of her open and honest blogging (and life), that I found the courage to share about my "issues" with anger as a mother.

Louise is one of the most courageous women I know. Not because she has no fear, but because she keeps moving ahead in spite of her fear, leaning hard into the arms of Jesus.

This is a glimpse into her story...

Hello, my name is Louise. I am a grateful believer in Jesus that struggles with anger and is in recovery for relationship addiction.

It wasn't one moment that got me to the place I am, much like many of you, it was a road in which I chose to take. A road that brought me to a place of brokeness and despair, filled with hopelessness and barely a thread of faith left.

My story is not one of a good Christian woman, faithful in study nor raising her children in the way of the Lord. My story is one of an abuser, a victim, a suicidal, a lesbian, a mistress, a girl.

In April, after losing my job due much in part to life choices I had made, I went to my first Celebrate Recovery meeting at my church.
It was three years prior that I had sat in the same pew, having returned from an overseas mission trip with my family full of excitement. It was also three years prior that I sat in that same pew alone, left by my husband for another woman.

Instead of pulling close to God in that time, I ran to fill the void in another relationship - redefining my sexuality, redefining my values and my life and my everything. While at the time, I justified and reasoned with my choices it is only now that the veil is lifted that I can see the light of how my true hurt and habit formed.

From the outside, I appeared the happiest I had ever been. Even after that relationship ended, and I moved out and on with my kids did the pattern continue. New relationship, new sin, old patterns. Behind closed doors, I was angry and hurting my children both emotionally and physically. I pushed too hard, yelled too loud and spoke words of death. I became what I despised in life. I wished I was dead.

I couldn't be the woman I wanted to be. No matter how hard I tried, I would eventually fall back to old hang ups and habits of dealing with situations. It was then that I realized I was powerless and needed God's healing in my life. In faith, I wad reminded (by Tyler!) the words spoken over me, and despite the fear of showing up every week to puke my life out to a small group of women, held to it with whatever small strength I felt I had in me.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This verse has been a significant part of my life since coming to Christ in 2004. It has been prayed over my family in service, in counselling, by strangers, on t-shirts, and in the most unlikely of circumstances. In essence, it defines my life and a call from God in to live a life of reckless faith.

It isn't my mission on this earth to do anything more than what God commands of me in the moment. I cannot control what defines my happiness, where I will work, or even the relationship I will one day be in (despite my persistent and slightly pathetic begging).

For the past 4+ months I have been privileged, by no mistake, to meet and share in a study with a group of 12 women (chick disciples - hello!) on Tuesday evenings and a larger group every Friday. It hasn't been easy, or without intense struggle. There have been many times that I stuttered to share my junk and times that I have wanted to quit.

I am entering an inventory section of my life, one where I must share all my hurts, hang ups and habits in detail with God, myself and a woman I trust. It's not easy to see my sin sitting on sheet after sheet after sheet of paper in front of me, let alone say it out loud but as I walk in this process I have faith in the following verse.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16

When Tyler sent an email my way, asking if I would write a post my immediate reaction was to laugh. Our God is a God of restoration. It has been years since I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide my life and even within this recent walk I have been reluctant and too ashamed to feel as if I had the right to call myself a Christian women. But! You know what? I learned early on in this process that God doesn't waste a hurt and while this road is still a long one for me (and you!) to walk, I know (and hope you are!) encouraged to let God lead you through a process of reflection and healing.

Thanks for letting me share.
Louise is plowing through life as a single mom to four - three boys and a daughter. Despite never wanting the life of a "working woman," she's discovered some hidden talents and, I think, found a bit of enjoyment being in the workforce. She doesn't blog these days (which is a sad thing for me), but you can follow her on Twitter. She says a lot of funny stuff on there.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why I Want to Respond, not React

Stay tuned for more great posts written by six 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.

Today's guest post is from my real-life American friend, Angela. We met last summer at a conference, and it has definitely been a God-ordained friendship. She is a huge source of encouragement to me, and I love that we get to chat on Skype regularly about what God is doing in our lives. When Ang has something to say, I listen. I trust that the words she shares will speak to you today.

“Mommmmmmyyyyyyyyyy,” she shrieked from upstairs, “There has been a disaster!” 

“What now?” my mind raced as my shoulders tensed even more and my headache returned. My three-year-old just pooped in his pants, I was trying for about half an hour to make dinner, and then a disaster. 

A hose we were using to water some bushes had cracked and water gushed onto our concrete. I ran out into the 110-degree heat and turned the water off. Then I got my son cleaned up, and finally got back to fixing dinner. 

Before my heart had time to settle down, there was another announcement from upstairs. 

“Mom, L threw up.” 

I was at a loss. L was not sick, what could she mean, where did she throw-up? I ran the stairs (I lovingly call my stairs my stair-master, they are why I stay somewhat trim when I don’t work out regularly). I cleaned up the vomit, bathed L, and everyone else while I was at it. While I was cleaning puke and bathing kids the story came out.

L walked upstairs with water in her mouth (no I do not know why, but she often does things that defy my understanding). Her older sister pushed on L’s puffed-out cheeks. However the water didn’t spew out of her mouth. Instead it went to the back of her throat and caused her to vomit. 

As I bathed my child, I realized the ridiculousness of my situation. I am an educated woman, a nurse, a writer, a speaker, a wife, and a mom. Yet I have no control over my child’s bowels, the hose outside, or my children’s choices. I can react with anger and frustration or I can chose to respond in grace. 

When I respond my answers and behaviors are thought out, measured, and filtered through God’s lens. I learn to enjoy the craziness of life instead of cling to how I think things should go. When I respond my children see my love for them instead of my frustration over the situation. In a measured response my children see God’s love pour out of me instead of my sinful nature spewing angry acid. 

My reactions make a stressful situation more stressful. But my responses change a stressful situation to a humorous situation. It is in my responses that my relationship with Jesus intersects my day-to-day life. In my reactions I become a hypocrite only talking about a Christian life instead of living it. 

Let us all fight our reactions and instead respond. Who is with me?


Angela Mackey lives in the Arkansas River Valley with her husband and three children. She desires to honor God in all she does and says. She writes about faith, learning to let God’s word transform your thinking, parenting, infertility, and anything else that comes to mind. You can connect with her on her blog at Rethinking My Thinking. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Expectations in Marriage

Stay tuned for more great posts written by six 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.

A few weeks ago at church Andy and I heard a sermon that both really spoke to us. It was so interesting, and I honestly feel like its changed my vision of our marriage!

When Andy and I first got married it was definitely a challenge adapting to being married, and living with someone. I was 19 years old, and had never lived anywhere but at home. So all of a sudden I was thrown (which I welcomed) into this job of being a wife. The small things and huge differences that at first intrigued me when we were dating, now at times drive me nuts because we're so different. Like night and day.

The first year of marriage was tough; I had to get used to living with someone else, how the other person does dishes, what type of milk to buy, what type of laundry detergent to buy, etc. The reason it was a hard adjustment is because we both came from different families, had different people raising us, and had different things modeled for us.

My aunt gave me a piece of advice before we got married. She said, "Karla, if you ask Andy to do the dishes after supper, and he doesn't do them as soon as you stand up from the dinner table, make sure you remember that he does things differently. You asked him to do the supper dishes. As long as they  are done when you wake up in the morning that is whats important." My skin actually crawls when I think about having a messy, kitchen after supper for the whole night, but my aunt is  right.

How Andy does things is way different than how I may do them. As long as he does eventually do what I ask him to do, and those dishes (or laundry, or vacuuming, or phone calls, or yard work, etc) are done within a timely manner, it doesn't mean he has to do them RIGHT NOW. 

There was a statement in the sermon that I mentioned about that got my attention, and I think Andy's too: The person who I fell in love with was different than some of the expectations that I had formed about marriage while I was growing up. Its not until we got into real life that those expectations were exposed.

That honestly couldn't be more bang on. I have this idea in my head of how my marriage needs to be, and look. I had my parents model (and still modeling) their marriage for me all through growing up, and in my mind the roles that each of them played are the expectations that I have for my marriage. 

The person who I fell in love with was different than some of the expectations that I had formed about marriage while I was growing up. Its not until we got into real life that those expectations were exposed. 

I am not my mom (although we're very much alike) and Andy is not my dad (although they're very much alike), and we do not have the same marriage as our parents.  

We've been married going on 5 years now, and I think that I've learned (but not quite mastered) that if I drop all expectations (and I admit, I do have some pretty high expectations for my dear husband at times) that our marriage and friendship will flow a lot better. As soon as I stop expecting that Andy does everything the way I would do it -- whether that is changing a diaper, cleaning the bathroom, yard work, or cooking supper -- and just let him be himself, we'll learn to get along a little better and fall even deeper in love.

Like I said, its something I'm still working on.  

If you'd like to listen to the sermon, visit this link.

Karla is a young stay at home mom to her very 2 year old son Eli, and wife to her dear husband Andy. She grew up in a Christian home, and has a passion for worship and people. She also enjoys dance and painting abstract art in her spare time...when she's not doing dishes or folding laundry. Karla blogs at The Hope Family.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Turning Adversity into Pearls, part 2

Stay tuned for more great posts written by seven 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.

...continued from yesterday...

courtesy of

Adversity can be Good for us

Never having adversity is just plain bad for us. You all know what happens to someone who is given anything their heart desires, and never has to struggle through anything. That person becomes selfish, weak …someone who is self-centred, judgemental, angry when thwarted, and with no compassion. A former major league baseball player, Bobby Valentine said, “If life only had good things, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good things.” And that can be a cancer worse than cancer. 

Remember, no matter how unpleasant or fearful, everything that comes into our lives has been filtered by the fingers of God Himself. He has plan and a purpose for our lives as mentioned in Jer. 29:11. Sometimes that plan has to include adversity to bring us to the hope and the future that He has in store for us, to transform us into a not leave us in our “oyster” state.

When you experience a loss, God gives you an even greater gift or blessing in return....first of all, the gift of Himself.  Psalm 138:3 says,

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your loving kindness, O LORD, is everlasting.God himself becomes our gift. Nothing is more precious that that!

And, He is gracious with other life gifts as well. After divorce and 12 years of single parenthood, God brought the most amazing man into our lives, my son and I. He is a man filled with such love and faithfulness both to me and my son. My chubby, little, grey haired Barry has been just an amazing gift to my heart. He is my best friend. 

And of course, as I already mentioned, he now has his 2nd cancer. The idea of living without my husband...of losing this heartbreaking. But, if or when that happens, again, God’s gift to me still will be the great gift of God be my strength and be my be my joy. 

Each adversity and loss reveals our trustworthy God, who will never leave us nor forsake us, who gives us strength to persevere in every heartache. Our contentment is not based on  circumstances, but on our relationship with Christ.

Adversity can be Good for Others

Suffering is not superficial. I don’t want to minimize what adversity can do to us.  But, when God says “yes” and allows loss and anguish into our lives, it is for our own good. He may be trying to get our attention. He may be teaching us something.  He may be seeking to minister to those around us. But He hurts with us. He allows us to be human and weak, expects us to be honest…to weep when we need to weep. He treasures our tears.  hey are so precious and valuable to Him that He stores them in a bottle.  Psalm 56:8 says:

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” I love that! My tears stored in a bottle.

And, He wants us to cry out to Him in prayer and supplication. He is so filled with compassion when He hears from our hearts. In Revelation 8:4, we read:

“The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God's holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.

Now, I’m kind of a picture person, so the picture I see is God breathing in our prayers…our prayers becoming a part of His actual being. And of course, when you breath in, you must also breath out.  God breathes out his Presence and Power and Might into our situation. Through our adversity, God wants to show Himself to us and to the world.

We Can't Beat Adversity on our Own

Beyond your own prayers, don’t try to do this adversity thing on your own. Did you know, for safety sake, pearl divers usually work in pairs? Wisdom for our lives as well. Invite other pearl girls to enter into your adversity…for mutual safety, encouragement and strengthening in your adversity.

Sometimes we’re so busy trying to expel the adversity from our lives, rather than allowing the pearl to develop. Over the years, I have often prayed that God do whatever it takes in my life or the lives of my loved ones to accomplish His will. Many of my loved ones still live in the mud and mire…they are far from God.

Could it be that God is answering my prayer by bringing adversity into my life? So they can see how God turned me, an oyster like mess, into a pearl. So that they can see God in the layers? So that God can break into their lives? If yes, then truly God, do whatever it takes. Kind of a frightening prayer, but I really mean it.

Another purpose God may have for your adversity is to be a living pearl to others. There are others silently suffering around you, making the same mistakes you made, experiencing the same heartaches or betrayal you experienced, trying to expel that grit or irritation in all the wrong ways. Did you know, the pearl is the only gemstone created from a still living organism? 

So, use your adversity to minister to living, hurting people around you. Some where, somehow, God came into your life and created a gem…a living pearl, from your pain. God doesn’t want you to waste your pain…He has a purpose for it…use it to help someone else. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says

“The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Pearls from Adversity

Remember the oyster, just living in the mud when something happened. A piece of sand got stuck inside its shell and caused great pain. Rather than expel the sand, the piece of sand became coated. At first, there was no beauty to be seen, but layer after microscopic layer, and with the passing of time, that unexpected source of pain was transformed into a beautiful pearl.

God’s grace covers our pain and transforms it into a beautiful pearl, iridescent, lustrous, reflecting Christ....layers of salvation, raw transparency, honesty, prayer, assurance, trust, patience, rejoicing, gratitude, hope, intimacy, compassion, resting, surrender.

God, who is infinitely wise and skilled, knows just how to care for you. Trust that He is shaping you, layer after pearl layer, into someone beautiful, honourable, and good…able to reflect His glory.

Let God turn the grit of your life into something beautiful…a beautiful pearl, a gem made from a living person, YOU!  A PEARL OF GREAT WORTH!

What adversities have you experienced that God has turned (or still is turning) into pearls?