Reflections & Wisdom Through Hardship

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

Psalm 33:1

I believe our human nature makes it extremely hard to share how we are truly doing; certainly when things are not going well. We are tempted to feel ‘less than’ or ‘not good enough’ and almost always ‘not strong enough’. However God’s word is true (For the word of the Lord is right and true… -Psalm 33:4) and when we are in the midst of trials,  God promises that relying on him will ensure full victory (“… But victory belongs to the Lord.” -Proverbs 21:31) Let us be humble, honest; disposing our pride. When we open up with the good, the bad and the ugly, others will also feel safe to open up and that is where real connections are made. Jesus didn’t go it alone, he chose twelve men to surround himself with, and those men grew with one another in their walk. There is real value in relationships.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” -2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Wisdom, character, empathy, thoughtfulness, joy, patience, perseverance… are ours to claim. I could go on for a long time with the things God equips us with during hardships, knowing there is always purpose behind it. Nothing is trivial or meaningless with God. (The Lord foils the plans of nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:10-11)

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:2-4
I’d like to share my testimony with you and the valley our family has been walking in. As hard as it is to pen down these words, I can only praise God and have the joy and peace that can only come from him. For it is only through him that we receive our strength, putting my pride aside here it is…
A scarce winter, a slow work force, a job change and sickness in the form of mental health have preceded us into the last 6 months. To the point that things have become pretty grim over here by North American standards. Our reserves being empty from the winter and not being able to make one of our payment arrangements this past spring with our gas company caused us to have our energy shut off. Meaning no hot water. For almost 4 months I boiled every pot of water to wash dishes and bathe kiddos… it was a lot of manual labor. Our pantry and fridge became non existent in the form of perishables and non-perishables, along with our deep freeze as the year is coming to a close from last year’s hunting season. Besides no hot water, struggling to eat and being a couple of months behind in all of our bills, we had to say no to the kids- swimming lessons, camping, our family trip we had planned, fun outings with family friends, and just the everyday summer fun things like ice cream and bubbles. And of course whenever I glanced at social media, it was sure to point out what fun everyone else was having this summer and where their vacations took them. The struggle is real. But you see, that is not where the story ends, nor is it finished. We are still biding our time for all our paychecks to come in, but God has continually been faithful throughout it all.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them…” Psalm 33:18-19
the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles…see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:6-8
I have kept a journal of God’s faithfulness and gifts over this past summer, and it consumes a whole page in my notebook (in point form I might add). Not to mention the invaluable lessons our children (and ourselves) have learned, the entreprenuership skills and creativity we have all acquired are nuggets of gold. When I’ve been able to live in faith daily, trusting Him to provide for each and every new day, he is able to step in and show me his love and faithfulness. I prayed, he answered. I pleaded, cried and petitioned, he answered. It was exhausting and uncomfortable on so many levels, but I will never be the same without this season of my life. And the glory! The glory I can give while praising him. With that background leading up to this point, I can tell you about the miracles, answered prayers and gifts he has provided us over this past summer. Which just so happens to be my favorite part. While trusting God, I pulled a ‘George Muller’ and did not ask friends or family for things we needed, leaving God the opportunity to answer our prayers and provide all of our needs.
–Delight yourself in the LORD; and he will give you the desires of your heart.– Psalm 37:4
  • I have a great fondness for cut flowers. They bring me so much joy, yet I maybe receive one or two bouquets a year. The rest of the time I enjoy flowers outside when they are in season. Shortly into this journey I was gifted a beautiful array of flowers and they made me smile everyday of the two weeks they adorned my kitchen table. Such a small thing, to brighten a whole household. It might not seem very significant, but you see those flowers were from a recently widowed, amazing woman who had no idea the hardships I was facing. Going away to visit family she wanted someone to enjoy those flowers, instead of them being left to wither in an empty household. I am blessed to know her.
  • Our kids love going to Bible Camp every summer. Every year we have been in a position to pay the full price. This year we had to break it to them that they couldn’t go. God had another idea, the morning of registration he provided a full campership fund for our second oldest to go to camp with his cousin.
  • Not homeschooling over the summer months has given me the opportunity to reopen my daycare for casual drop ins, the income generated from that has helped with groceries and letting the kids attend the town and country fair.
  • The coffee pot broke… And I thrive on coffee. My morning devotion and coffee go hand in hand, so does my coffee on the patio, and when I am doing dishes. All day long really. I took it in stride, for a day anyway. A friend caught wind of it and brought us out supper and her Tassimo machine with a full package of coffee pods as a love gift. Friends truly are God’s angels in disguise. Did I forget to mention the awesome dessert she included? Yum. God doesn’t just provide for our needs, he goes the extra mile.
  • Our oldest desperately wanted to go to camp, family stepped in and sponsored her, with enough leftover to even buy a t-shirt. Did I mention this camp includes red cross swim lessons? Level 6, check.
  • Lemonade stands and bake sales (planned and executed by the kids) all brought in revenue to pay for pool days, park program and ice cream treats. The generous spirit in our small town is no coincidence. This also showed our kids how hard we have to work to enjoy these privileges, ones which they no longer take for granted.
The list and stories continue of practical answers to prayer of our needs (and wants!!) including the love gift of a Costco grocery run in the middle of summer, to the sharing of freshly butchered meat, bounty from gardens and canned fruits and jams, along with home baked goodness and shared picnics.
–Carry each other’s burdens.– Galations 6:2 
~Too Blessed to Be Stressed~ An unrivaled gift I received is the knowledge and wisdom that you are never too poor to give and bless others, no matter the circumstances. A smile, an encouraging word, cookies or a cup of coffee all have value and can be shared with someone. Another valuable gift I have been given through this season has been the people God has surrounded me with, who lifted my family up in prayer, love and support and always there to lend a sympathetic ear or shoulder to lean on. I recently read an old adage which has much wisdom “Measure your wealth not by the things you have, but by the things which you would not take money.” Truth.
–We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up…May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other as Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.– Romans 15:1-6
I don’t know the bumps in the road life has thrown at you right now, but I know they are there. We are living in this irrevocably broken world and are all flawed people, making it a guarantee that we will face trials and hardships of many kinds. Surround yourself with others who keep you looking at the glass half FULL and in the direction of The One who can fill your cup. For with God the glass is never half empty. Knowing we are not in this alone, it is just as important to share in our burdens as well our successes.
–I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.– Philippians 4:12-13
-Amber

Picture Story

Hey Y’all, apparently I just plain ‘ole suck at keeping up with the blog when life gets busy, unfortunately I don’t have a devotion to share today but I will give you a glimpse of our past few months in pictures …

S turns 11! Favorite Gift — a new horse for her dolls.

The twins are officially Preschool Graduates! (on to kindergarten…)

 

Beach Day! Enjoying the little creek 🙂

Youth Relay Race and Kid fest …. brought home 2nd place ( C — Archer and S — backpacker )

C turns 10!!! Wiener roast with the extended fam jam and sprinkle pancakes for breakfast, why not?!

Sisterly love — melts my heart.

Sweet ice cream treats with daddy


Here on the prairies in Canada we have (maybe) 3 months of gorgeous weather, my time has been spent outside in the garden and flower beds whilst adding a touch of pink to my nose and freckles scattered upon my face, loving every minute of it.

Nothing like enjoying coffee on the patio early in the morning watching the sunrise.

Cheers to your summer holidays, lazy weekends and sun kissed skin! {Vitamin D}

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

-Amber

Motherhood Musings

In light of mother’s day this month I wanted to share some musings of mine as I have searched the scriptures on motherhood…

Continue Reading…

Guarding your ‘Yes’

I don’t know if your like me, but my automatic response to a question usually ends with my saying yes. I love helping and I love “saving” the day.

‘Yes, I can help you those days!’

‘Yes, I can bake 10 dozen cookies for that.’

‘Yes, I can pick up the slack.’

‘Yes, I can fill in for you!’

‘Yes, I can watch your kids this day and that.’

I have realized that saying yes to every good thing (and these are good things) has taken away from being able to say yes to the best things. I am learning to put safe guards in place preventing the crash and burn. I have come to know that just because there is a need, I don’t have to be the one to fill it, regardless if there is nobody else willing to step up. Someone is always going to have an opinion out there, whether I am doing too much or not enough. I’m not here to please people, there is only one approval I seek. When I take the time, pray about an opportunity and seek His will for the situation everyone benefits.

I mentioned placing safe guards in my life to ensure I am functioning at my highest performance and I would love to elaborate on those…

1.) Carving time out for God daily in devotion and prayer. This is where I find clarification and direction.

2.) They say you are what you eat. I wish this one wasn’t true, oh how I love food! I find my mental health and physical wellness directly links to what I choose to put in my mouth. I am trying to make healthy choices for optimal energy.

3.) Pulling back the reigns and re-evaluating my busyness. Asking the question- am I pouring into something that is also benefiting/pouring into others’ lives, or is all my energy going down the drain with no evidence of any fruits?

Change can be hard. Even unnerving at times, the unknown is a little scary and saying no sometimes “feels” selfish to the outsiders view. However, when we wait for those perfect opportunities to arise that we are called to do and resist the temptation by saying yes to every little thing, the results will be amazing. Our reserves will be filled and the fruits will be overflowing.

Saying no to a good thing is hard for me, but guarding my yeses has become more important. I want to be a blessing to those God has placed in my life and give them my best, I can’t do that if I am caught up in the rat race of life.

After having countless conversations with a couple close friends of mine about this very topic, I was blessed to receive this book full of life giving words-

Trading life draining obligations for freedom, passion and joy. I can feel a heavy weight lifting off my shoulders that was never intended to be there, and it is freeing.

Not to say we can’t have full busy lives, but the right kind of busy…

I hope you have enjoyed reading along as I learn what it takes to say no, and save my yes for the best.

Amber

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Creating a Quality-Rich Environment

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Everything in and around us begs for us to choose quantity over quality. Which is a stark contradiction of what we are taught within the scriptures. We are to strive for excellence in everything we do, and sometimes that means saying yes to less. I have always appreciated the status quote ‘quality over quantity’ and have applied it to different parts of my life for many years. One of my personal examples of this is the purchase of a coat. when I am purchasing a coat I choose a durable, high-quality jacket over a few cheaply made ones that may come apart at the seams or zippers, even though owning a variety of colors/styles may sound great, in the end they fall apart and use space in the closet waiting to be mended. Which then in turn is a hindrance and becomes an inconvenience. The cost of the well-made coat may be steep as a one-time purchase, but it will far outweigh the life of the other coats made with cheap and inexpensive materials that were never designed for the practical everyday use. It has always been easy for me to choose quality over quantity when it comes to material things. Even applying it to friendships and those who are a part of my everyday life I have used this mantra with; having chosen people who I have the time and energy to pour into a relationship, creating a life-long friendship that can pass the test of time. I have come to realize that these few things are only a small part of what it truly means to choose quality over quantity…

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17 NLT)

The Bible gives us a direct link of what it means to choose quality. The Apostle Paul traveled many places and accomplished many things beyond count in his lifetime. God used him for quality, which in the end produced quantity. The thing is however, he never brought attention to the quantity of all that he had done, but the quality of his work (I Thess. 1:2-10, Eph. 1:15-21, Phil. 1:9-11). Every work we accomplish will be judged. I am thankful to see this in a whole new light, for I want to be a God pleaser rather than a people pleaser. For God is the Quality. If I choose to try to accomplish 10 tasks, I would be graded a ‘C’ on them at best. Unless I had supernatural powers, I would never be able to give quality substance to all 10 subjects at one period of time/season. However, if I can strategically choose a handful of things to focus on and give my all to, giving my best, it would feel pretty great receiving an ‘A’ (at least for effort anyway, ha!) Honestly though, it does matter that we give our best to what has been placed in front of us. Sometimes I find I have to discern the things that are standing before me, with what is supposed to be in front of me. I try not to confuse the two. Some things are there to distract us from being fruitful. It pays off to hone in on the things that will produce quality, which then in turn yields more fruits that overflow into other areas. The enemy doesn’t want us to accomplish this, so he has provided much quantity, keeping us so busy running circles that nothing of eternal value is ever accomplished. Focusing on quality ensures that Gods will is being done. The minimalism movement (which goes directly against the grain of society, yet more and more people are feeling pulled towards) has a couple great points, one of which is how to live a more simple lifestyle with the reward of living a more quality, fulfilling life. I have yet to watch the documentary on Netflix on the minimalist’s, but I hear it’s rather good. As Aristotle once said, it takes practice to make excellence a habit and when we do something often enough it becomes a natural response. I am not one to make a “New Year’s Resolution” but rather a lifestyle resolution and this year I want to focus on quality of everything I do, from teaching my kids, my relationships with others, to my coffee (I am much obliged over this one 😉 ) as well as my family’s health and eating habits.

All in all, I am choosing to focus on one or two areas in my life at a time that I can bring more quality to, and as I practice this and put one foot in front of the other it is my hope that one day I will look back to see a quantity of many quality life choices over time.

I am looking forward to the overflowing perks of creating an environment rich in quality. Cheers to 2017!

Amber