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life

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

Stopping Burnout In Its Tracks

“Oh no…” I moan to myself as the tell tale signs of burnout come creeping in. The short temper, irritated at …well nothing really. The gloomy looking future as my perspective is clouded. Don’t forget the pity party that sneaks in there too.

We are wired as parents to keep going and going, like the energizer bunny. Funny thing is we don’t have that long lasting battery. Unless we recharge or put new batteries in -we are hopelessly frozen in place. We are no use to anyone around us. In fact we may be doing more harm than good when we sacrifice our well-being to continue taking care of the demands of life when our current gas tank is on ‘E’.

It was recently pointed out to me from the opposite gender how wives/mothers need to get paid too. This can look different in many ways, but they all have a common denominator with the end result being refreshed and renewed. Many studies have been conducted in the work force revealing if you want your employee operating at top-notch there are steps to take to ensure productivity. This is not intended to encourage you to only think about yourself, but rather the opposite so you can give your best to others. If we are divided too many times over with programs, boards, volunteer work, activities and so forth we will only be able to give 5% to each category and sadly leave our family with cold, stale leftovers. My life has collided with burnout more often than I would like to admit, so I have been consciously seeking, trying and testing different ways to stop burnout in its tracks before it consumes me again. We are all so very unique and different that what fills me up may not necessarily fill you. Here are a few ideas I have had success with to help before it hits with full force…

Recognize what brings you joy. This may sound simple enough, but as life keeps moving forward and changing my interests have as well. I am still that person I was before I married and had children. I am also in a very busy season of life right now so I try to keep it simple. Coffee with a good friend, a supper date, or even a hair cut. Those things make me feel like an individual and not the “invisible mom”.

Volunteer in areas you actually enjoy and realistically have time for. Almost everyone I know volunteers in some shape or form. I am a planner so I really like putting together fun activities, parties and crafts for kids programs. It really takes the “work” right out of it when I enjoy it. Life stages change however, so I have to analyze how much I can actually do on a yearly basis.

Scheduling in breaks. When I have a block of time carved out in the day/week/month I am more likely to be more patient and have a better outlook. Similar to a small light at the end of the tunnel. When I can see the bit of light coming, I can breathe deep and keep going knowing my mind/body will have a chance to rest eventually. I try to combine what brings me joy with these scheduled “breaks” for the biggest impact on my state of mind.

Prepare for the worst and make an action plan. The signs begin to emerge that life is demanding too much and taking its toll, burnout may be around the corner. Plan for it. Which balls am I juggling that I can drop or delegate? For myself this may be taking a “snow day”. All activities for the day get cancelled and we stay in our pajamas and lounge around, reading a good book, baking cookies or drinking coffee all. day. long. The minimum gets done for housework and ordering pizza in for supper sounds fantastic. Other times this is simply impossible due to other obligations, so I make a mental list of what has to be done and what I can cut out later that week.

What are your thoughts on overcoming burnout? What helps you when life spins out of control? Are there certain steps you take to get a good grip on the reigns again? Whatever secret weapon you have I would love to be in on it, feel free to email or write it in the comments section, it’s always a joy to hear from my readers!

 

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1

“And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds…” Eph. 4:23

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” Proverbs 11:25

-Amber

 

A Dearest Hello

Dropping in to say hello,

The end of May is nearly upon us, and with all the activities that surround the coming summer months I find spare time a sought after commodity. We are wrapping up a few more subjects with our schooling; math won’t be wrapped up until the first week in July (or so.) As for other things claiming my attention, the house is in transit with all the final steps for the Missy’s room and an unplanned bathroom gut job along the exterior wall- due to mold revealing itself. Definitely an uninvited house guest. I really feel as though I just run circles all day, perhaps because as I accomplish one task, I turn around to find it undone. I suppose if I did not keep going in circles, (as my husband pointed out) our house would become unliveable. Another option available would be to camp out in the backyard all summer long. 😛

Things have been going well around here, the kids get up at the crack of dawn and I (usually) don’t mind. The part where I do mind is when the sibling squabbles (or maybe full-out wrestling matches?) start at 6am and go until bedtime. I suppose I should hand it to them,  they are not pushovers. Maybe our next (bossy) world leaders? I honestly do not know where they get their stubbornness from, ha! Strongly guided in the right direction it will serve them well in the future.

As for my spiritual filling these days, I get it in small doses wherever I can fit it in. I never know if I will have peace and quiet for 5 minutes at 7am, or will have to wait until 4pm. It is taxing on the best of days having the uncertainty of knowing when I can “schedule” God into my day. However, He is faithful- it never ceases to amaze me that whenever I flip open the good book the scripture is waiting for me and very relevant to my heart that day. Bonus is I have a ‘Moms Bible’ filled with devotionals on every other page pertaining to the scriptures throughout the entire bible. I receive the word of God and a devotional regarding one of the more important roles in my life. A scripture I came across just today, and have a feeling I am going to write it out and post it on my fridge is-

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:3-4

In other words I will keep looking up to God and He will calm the storms around me. Whether that is minimizing problems that seemed important and become trivial, or giving me clarity on certain issues. All else seems to fade away when we look up to our heavenly Father.  It also becomes natural to give grace and love to others when our thoughts and actions are eternity centered. Surprisingly also- strength abounds.

I pray many blessings upon you my friends!

Amber

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request of you all with joy,” Philippians 1:2-4

The heart of a Mother [updated]

Whether you are a mom, an aunt, a god mother you have little cherubs in your life…

Being part of a child’s life is one of the most rewarding and hardest blessings. Whether that is longing to conceive your very own child, adopting or having several children, they are in our hearts. The ones we long to hold, the ones we can hold, the ones we dream of. We do not need to biologically have children of our own to celebrate mother’s day. I believe it is celebrating the little ones we have the opportunity loving that are currently in our lives. Whether that be a great-aunt spending time with her great-nieces/nephews, or moms celebrating their first mothers day with their newborns, to those who long to hold and have one to call their own.

As you well all know, we have 5 children. These cherubs bring me so much love and joy, my heart is constantly overflowing. I have heard many say to new moms that there will come a day when you want to pull your hair out. However, at the end of the day they smile at you and giggle- melting your heart right along with their laughter, dissolving all frustrations. The guilt starts to creep in, stealing the joy of the moment as you remember all the imperfections on your part throughout the day. Fear not fellow moms (and dads) the only one who is suffering is you (unless you have never felt this way, in that case please let me in on your secret!). Kids are very resilient and you are still the best and favorite person in their world. What I have learned over the years- the sooner I cross out the big ‘G’ (guilty-verdict) and move on, the kids move on also. I am not doing my kids any favors by giving into things I may not have, due to being guilt-ridden for my impatience and mistakes. I apologize to my kids, letting them know I am human too- then I move forward. As our heavenly Father does with us once we repent.

Fellow moms I do not have to tell you the sacrifices we make daily, or the mundane chores we wade through each and every day also. You are living it! I don’t intend to write a whole post on the sacrifices we make, then in essence building ourselves up until we feel like a queen. Rather I feel the need to bring the whole hallmark holiday down a notch. As a new mom I was very excited about this holiday. Finally I was a mother and would be celebrated! I had high expectations for my husband to shower me with flowers simply because I was a ‘new mother’, and he must celebrate with me because the babies were too small to know what mother’s day was. How wrong I was! I look back and see how the frills and media and hallmark-ness was skewing my judgement and views making me feel entitled. I don’t know if any of you have fallen into this, but I am ashamed to admit I have. Thankfully I recognized what was going on and was able to un-cloud my mind and steer my views and thoughts in the right direction. Recognizing the blessing of motherhood for what it is. I don’t need flowers or cards to tell me I am the most loved and favorite person in the eyes of 5 precious little ones. The joy and the gift of what motherhood is can never be bought with money. Remembering my mother, my mother-in-law and every other mother out there trying to raise her kids the best way she knows how, giving all she can give. Keep strong, stay encouraged and get rid of the big ‘G’ that comes sneaking in from time to time, you are so loved!

Mother and daughter with flower

 

One other thing I felt compelled sharing about is to not forget to take care of your physical, mental and spiritual well being. How important all 3 of those are. Before we can fill up and pour into others as well as being the person we would like to be, we must first make sure our fuel tanks in all 3 areas are filled. I know sometimes it is impossible, most of the time hard, and of course when we do get a chance we feel guilty. I am telling you from experience it is healthy and needed to have a few minutes alone to re-group and decompress in whichever form that may look like in your life… An evening stroll alone? a cup of coffee before the kids get up? A pedicure? A bubble bath? Perhaps a monthly ladies coffee night out to chat and share with others? These few suggestions (and most likely everything you can think of) requires a bit of forethought and planning. However, I will say it again- its worth it!

Think about this-

If you signed yourself up for a marathon you would take certain steps to ready yourself and strengthen your body for the big day, wouldn’t you? If you were taking a class and it was exam time, you would spend time mentally preparing and studying for it, wouldn’t you? When we want to do our best on something we prepare ourselves for it, so why wouldn’t we do this with parenting? Think on this the next time that letter ‘G’ invades your thoughts.

I am so thankful I have mother’s day 365 days of the year. My kids tell me they love me, come up close for cuddles and when they are hurt or scared they want me to comfort them, and with that I am content. Tomorrow is another day, like all the rest- filled with love! Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. A day we can reflect on our blessings and celebrate our own mothers who have given up so much for us and would do it all over again if they could.

Happy-Mothers-Day-1080x1920-H

-Amber

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Proverbs 31:26-27