Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Challenging my view of God. By Karen Mitchell

I was so thrilled when Karen agreed to putting a guest blog together. Her life has been a beautiful testimony of James 1:2-4. God does not put hardship in our lives or trials to test us. But he does take what comes our way and gives us the opportunity to learn and grow from it. Karen's grace through even the toughest times in the last couple years has been amazing to watch. Each step that I have seen her take has been focused on God and what she can do to serve Him and her family. I know it hasn't been a perfect and easy road but I find it amazing how time and time again God blesses those who's hearts desire is to follow Him.

Karen, may your faith continue to be found strong, your eyes continue to be focused completely on God and favor to be lavishly poured over your family. There are many of us women who are standing believing for everything to line up perfectly for your family and for your hearts desire for a home come to pass!!!!

Thank you so much Karen. You have such a huge heart for others and a huge heart for your family. You are an amazing women and I am honoured to have you as a friend.


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Challenging my view of God.
By Karen Mitchell



I was asked by Nicole to write a guest blog about my recent situation and I procrastinated and even asked her to wait until the fall.  I have to admit that I made this request partly because I didn’t feel I had anything of interest to write since I am still “in it” and I secretly hoped that once my situation changed I would then have so much to share.   Boy did that open the door for a revelation! 

I have 3 little boys and a number of months ago I began feeling like I was loosing control.  It was recommended that I read a book called “loving your kids on purpose”.  When I started reading the book, I was expecting to get all kinds of new discipline ideas and real insight into why my kids were misbehaving.  This was not quite the way it worked out….  The first few chapters opened my eyes to a totally different issue that was going on in my heart and this was also affecting my connection with my boys.  The book began challenging my view of God as my father.  What was the basis of my relationship? And how did I see God when it came to discipline and correction?  I know God loves me and values me and that I am His child but I began to realize that I have often seen Him as the Controller and the Punisher. 

Life has not been an easy road and I can remember on numerous occasions, deciding to diligently attend church and do daily devotions with the mindset that this must be “what’s missing”.  My perception of the bad things that happened in my past, regardless of my choices, was that I must have deserved it or that God must have needed to teach me something.  Every time something bad happened I would trace it back to my failures. When my husband and I lost our business, house and vehicles and we moved in with my parents I blamed myself for not being a good employer and not seeing the signs.  I must have forgotten to tithe, I must not have been the best wife, I must have yelled at my kids too much, and…. The list went on and on.  Although I was angry and hurt I knew that I had to continue to go to church because otherwise things could get worse.   I was always determined to try harder and do better!    Last year things were really looking up and we put an offer on a house conditional on financing.  Circumstances changed not only were we unable to firm up but there was no option for a house in the near future.  I immediately concluded that I had “jumped the gun” and God was teaching me a lesson in patience.  Now don’t get me wrong, God does use these negative things to teach us but I have begun to learn that He did not CAUSE them! 

God is a God of freedom not control!  I want to share a quote from the book that brought me to tears as I began to get revelation of this concept.  The Father’s attitude towards our sin is “It’s alright.  But I need you to trust me, and I need you to hear Me.  We’re going to be OK.  We’re going to make it through this.  I can win any hand that’s dealt to Me.  You’re on my side and I’m on your side.  We’ll pick up that which the devil meant for evil and turn it around and because of that I want you to come to Me in the midst of your failure.  I’m not mad.  I got really mad one time and poured out all My wrath and punishment for sin on the Lamb that I supplied, because He’s the only One that could handle it. (John 2:2).  Jesus was punished unto death for all your mistakes, so why would I have anger and punishment for you now?  I need you to come close to Me, not be afraid of Me and run away.  I need you to trust that I love you and that I am with you and for you.  Come here.”

I can’t even describe the emotion that this brought out.  As I already stated, I continued to go to church and follow all the “rules” even when rough times came but I always felt like there was still something missing and that I couldn’t break through.  I am beginning to recognize that I have always felt tremendous anxiety about whether God is pleased with me.





I know I have only barely scratched the surface of all God has to offer!  I have learned that my feelings of anger, hurt, and anxiety need to be directed towards the devil who is the source of the evil!!  The battle is ongoing but I know I will better serve God, myself and my family by trusting that His plan and desire is for me and my household to be blessed!!








Monday, July 30, 2012

Did You Know You're Perfect? - by Janette Drost

Janette Drost is an inspiring woman who I have thoroughly enjoyed spending many moments with. We have prayed together, encouraged and inspired one another!!! Even through busy schedules, new babies, and the visits being further apart. Janette holds a special part of my heart.

I have been so impressed with how she and her husband has handled the last couple years as a married couple through the good times and really tough times. Seeing Janette and Dennis rely on God even when things were looking pretty discouraging is a testimony to God's faithfulness when your eyes are focused on Him.

Her post today is a really intriguing topic especially since I have been on a journey of letting go of my "perfect" mask. Since then I have only seen the word perfect as being a negative thing. I absolutely love this different take on the concept of us being "perfect."

Janette, thank you again for taking the time to put this together. I love the picture you posted a while back of you doing work with Caleb on your lap... I can almost imagine seeing him with you while you are typing this up. Multi-tasking amazing mommy. Blessings to you and your family, as you pursue fulfilling your hearts desires and calling on your life while being an awesome mom and wife!!!!

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Did You Know You're Perfect?

By Janette Drost



Our culture really celebrates "imperfection" these days, from messy hairstyles to shabby-chic decor to the fact that well, simply, none of us are perfect! And there's nothing wrong with that, but I want to take a moment to share another side of it with you, too. I believe there's something even more beautiful that can really bring new freedom to your life.



I've made lots of mistakes and been through my share of challenges. For example, I know what it's like to put on a fair amount of weight (I did that in my first year of college), and Dennis and I experienced a pretty big challenge a little while ago (that's a story for another day). Last week I put Caleb in his bumbo on the counter, which I KNEW was a bad idea, and he fell and fractured his little arm. Ahhh, the guilt...

But throughout my life, there's a truth that has held me steady and confident in my identity in Christ. It's this: I'm perfect! :) Well, in fact, I actually do lots of dumb things on a regular basis. Hehe. But I know with 100% certainty that my life is hidden in Christ, and when God looks at me, he sees perfection. That makes me feel very small, very happy, and very, very much in awe.



Hebrews 10:14: "For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy." 




Crazy! We're still "being made holy" – which means we still have a lot of things to work on (and I'm not talking about becoming a perfectionist) – but we've been made perfect: future, past AND present. When Nicole invited me, I instantly knew I wanted to write about this! God has been challenging and teaching me so much lately to live each day as if I truly am a perfect wife, mom and woman. It makes me get up each morning with such a different attitude, and with so much more purpose.



I see so many Christian girls who are held back because they don't really believe that they have been made perfect. (It's kind of funny, because I actually feel like I have the opposite problem now… I deal more with pride than with insecurity. Jeepers. There's always something to watch out for!) But I really believe that there's something major at stake here. Satan wants to keep us girls as babies, still drinking the "milk" of God's word which is learning to embrace Jesus' sacrifice which has made us perfect in God's eyes. If that's you, I really want to encourage you to move on to the "meat and potatoes" of going out boldly and living it out. We make it a lot harder than it needs to be, but I believe it really is a simple choice to believe it and act like it. Rather than “not worrying because you’re imperfect anyways," you're free to be your beautiful, perfect self! (Is this making any sense anymore?)



Paul says in Phil. 3:12, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." He knows he doesn't act like this all the time, but he presses on with that goal in mind. Even David (after committing adultery!) was able to say "I have led a pure and blameless life." He knew that his mistakes were completely washed away, as if they had never happened.




I absolutely love Flavia's post from the other day because she described it so beautifully. If you can't truly believe you've been made perfect, this is a tall order (and the Proverbs 31 woman seems very intimidating!). But once you absolutely know that your life is hidden in Jesus, you will be full of joy knowing that you already ARE a perfect mom, a perfect wife, or a perfect woman, and that you can do all things through Christ. And to me, that is the most freeing thought in the whole world!



Friday, July 27, 2012

Thank you!!!!

As we head into another weekend. I feel blessed.

I am completely overwhelmed with the responses so far from all of you who have been getting involved in guest posts or from you who have written to encourage me. I have been blessed beyond belief with the stories and testimonies from all of you so far, some of which I have not even gotten the chance to post.

In the last year or so I have felt a bit intimidated to do something that I really don't have a whole lot of experience with. In school I was a terrible English student. Just between you and me... I think in my whole high school career I wrote 4 essays. Yup that's it. I thankfully graduated high school, but barely. I squeezed through with a giggle and a smile hoping that I had done enough to make the mark. My spelling is atrocious... (as I pop on the spell check) and I really have no idea any of the grammar rules. It has taken me two years to figure out how to even get this blog up and looking as close to the way that I have envisioned. But here I am. And God is blessing this blog. Not because of my "talent" or aptitude for eloquent words, and not because it has a "million hits". But because of all of you. All of you who are reading and writing and getting involved.  I believe wholeheartedly that God has called us to shine a light. To shine a light in an area that can be full of darkness. I feel the presence of God all over each of your guest blogs as you come together to encourage and edify one another. Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."

My reason for telling all of you this is because I would love to hear from more of you. If God has put something on your heart that you would love to be able to share with other women I would be honoured to have you as part of the journey. You don't have to be great with writing or part of the "crowd." All you need is a humble heart who loves God and desires to grow. Plus a passion to see women of all walks of life inspired and learning from one another. Please email me at nicoleandadam@hotmail.com and I can let you know the details.

Another reason is to ask you who are keeping up and following along, to be sure to write and encourage all those who have put something together. Either by replying on the blog or if you have seen this on Facebook by inboxing the guest writer personally. It takes a lot of courage to open up your heart and have it posted for all to see. So, if you can, take a moment and let them know how their words have impacted you.

What an amazing opportunity to bless others by encouraging them in their own homes, workplace or spare time.


Seeing the real purpose and calling of this blog coming together is an absolute joy. My prayer is that God is the center and His Glory and Power is seen in every word and sentence on this blog.

"If ever there comes a time, when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known." - Matthew Arnold

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kids are a gift from God. - by Alysia Jantzi


Alysia Jantzi, is a beautiful friend of mine. It has been a honour getting to know her through the years. I have a great admiration for her heart and desire to grow. I asked Alysia to specifically write a post on parenting because I have been continually impressed with her hunger and humility to do everything she can to become a better mom. I am so excited to see their 3 incredible little power house babes do great things for the Lord. I whole heartedly believe that it's the journey of parenting that creates amazing kids, not just the few awesome moments. It's through our reliance on God and the desperate need for more of Him in our lives that gives us the insight that we need in perfect timing. Alysia's openness in this area is an inspiration to me, she has shown me how I need to continue to have women who are in the stages ahead of  me pouring into my life and helping me gain wisdom in how to handle either the more difficult situations with our kids, or to prepare for the stages to come.

Alysia, thank you so much for putting this together. I am in awe of all that God is teaching you in the area of parenting. You and Brad are amazing purposeful parents!!! We as a family are blessed to be part of your lives.


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Kids are a gift from God
by Alysia Jantzi





Kids are a gift from God. My goal is to teach our kids to Love God and serve Him with all of their hearts and to walk in the purpose God has for them. Wow, that is a huge responsibility that I don’t want to take lightly. Sometimes I find myself falling into a daily routine of getting through the day. Suddenly, I realize the day was about what I wanted for them only to forget what the end goal is.

Alora
Layne
Lana





I have been blessed with 3 Kids, Alora 7, Lana 5, and Layne who is almost three. Three great kids, with 3 wildly different personalities. I never thought that was possible
While seeking God and asking what I should write about He prompted me with a topic that he has been speaking to me about recently. A topic that is complex and something I have to seek him daily on how to execute.



Am I parenting based on my preference (or my personality) or the What God wants for them?


What do I mean by that? Am I trying to form them into a mini Alysia or a mini Brad? (Or something that we want them to be because we were not? This is huge! PS. I am not trying to say that if I was trying to mould them into a mini Brad or Alysia it would be against Gods’ will. But rather I am saying that I have to first seek God with my kids, and to teach my kids to hear from HIM  compared to an agenda that lay’s out my priorities on my kids. The Lord has recently brought conviction to me in this area on more than one occasion.

I want to celebrate the gifts (personality) our children have. I do not want to form them into products of my preferred way of parenting. I do not want to direct their little personalities, but rather, I am postured to seek God on how to parent each specific child and personality that I am working with. This approach requires me seeking God daily, and learning daily. I am continually asking: “Alysia, is this your preference or what God wants? What am I communicating to my kids and what is the impact that it is having on them? Are they becoming mini-disciples of Jesus, or a mini-Alysia?”. Side note, I am okay if they copy me as I copy Christ...I am not referring to being an example to be followed, but imposing personality development based on non-spirit led parenting.


For example our middle child Lana is a little fireball. What I mean by that is she is fearless. She loves to meet new people, try new things and has no fear of (almost) anything. She LOVES babies and helping out to do tasks I give her. She likes a challenge. This is an awesome personality that I wish I had (in some respects). But the flip side of this strong personality is that she can be aggressive and quick to respond inappropriately if there is an injustice done, whether it be to her or someone else, it doesn’t matter. My first reaction is to “get rid” of that strong  will, or aggressiveness if it is the last thing I do!!! (since brad and I aren’t like that ….heaven forbid)


However, I believe if I would act on that and “stifle” that strongness about her I would also be squashing the good that comes with that personality. Would I like her to be quieter sometimes? Yes. Would I like to not have to deal with the 15th episode that day of being aggressive either with words or actions? Yes! However, God is teaching me to direct the negative about that personality trait in a way that it promotes the positive in her. There are MANY positive results from having Lana’s strong personality traits. (ie: I can see her being a confident person that isn’t easily affected by peer pressure).


This personality trait doesn’t come natural for me to parent nor does some aspects of my others kids personalities at times. I find myself constantly asking the Holy Spirit to help me find creative ways (out of my comfort zone, yikes!) to parent what God has given me and treat all 3 little personalities, as a gift.

As we have heard several times more of you Lord, less of me. I want them to accomplish what the Lord has for them and not miss or redirect them in anyway because of me not parenting with God’s help and intentional strategies.

~
Alysia

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God opened a door of opportunity. By Anne Stevens

Anne Steven's is a teacher, a mother, a wife, a friend... the list goes on and on. She has inspired me from the moment I met her with consitant encouragement and smiles in passing. When thinking about who I wanted to write a guest blog for me Anne was one of my first contacts. She has had an amazing journey following God's path for her family. It encouraged me again to embrace the seasons and remember that Gods plan for our lives is so much greater than anything we could think of.

Anne thank you so much for taking the time for putting this together. I am incredibly thankful for mothers like you to set and example for us who are starting out or in the middle of it all. Blessings as you head into a brand new season as your oldest son gets married this SATURDAY!!! WOOHOOO!!!!! Sooo excited for your family!!!


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God opened a door of opportunity.
By Anne Stevens


In 1998 I was an independent and efficient stay-at-home, homeschooling Mom of 4 young children, ages 9, 7, 5 and 3.  Growing up, I had always dreamed of being a Mom, teacher and missionary (in that order of preference); 2 of those dreams had been realized and I was living a very fulfilled life.  I did not think I was looking for anything further, but God opened a door of opportunity that would change our lives.  A door of opportunity, yes … also, a door of change and challenge; a door that led to a life that seemed to strip me of my strong self confidence and sense of identity for a time. 



My husband, John, applied for a job with an Egyptian company for which he knew he was well qualified.  His initial thoughts were, “Maybe I’ll get an interview in Egypt!”  One thing led to another, and within 3 months he was offered a job in Alexandria, Egypt, and we had a decision to make.  We were actively involved in a vibrant and growing local church; our children had many friends; John and I each had a large extended family living close by (our children have 45 first cousins!); and, we loved our home in the country.  What began initially as curiosity continued to be fed by teaching we were receiving in church regarding business people having opportunities to evangelize in “closed” countries.  After much discussion, prayer, counsel and an exploratory visit to Alexandria, we felt that God was leading us to make this move.



Thus, February 1998 found us boarding a plane in Toronto, bound for Alexandria, via Frankfurt.  What an emotional rollercoaster to that point!  It was difficult to say good-bye.  I cried myself to sleep at night.  How do you begin to reduce all that you own and is precious to 12 suitcases?  Which items were needed? Which items were important?  Actually, there was not much room left for “important” items once we had packed clothing and personal belongings for each one of us.



The first feeling when we stepped into the airport terminal in Alexandria was one of absolute loss of control of our circumstances as we entered a foreign, 2nd-world, Muslim country.  Not only did we not speak the language, but how do you begin to read something that looks like this … ترحيب في الاسكندرية. أرجو منكم تدل على سيطرة ضابط الجوازات. 



In some ways life continued as usual – I schooled the kids and John went to work.  But many things also changed.  Our prayers took on deeper meaning.  Our church family at Alexandria Community Church (comprised of people from 13 different nations and many denominations) was of vital importance to us.  Attending church on Friday (in a Muslim country) was a refreshing break from the attention we attracted on our outings and the constant challenge of trying to communicate and be understood.  Our family, the 6 of us, became even closer than we had already been – 6 days a week with just each other for company.



Almost every day presented new adventures and challenges.  A drive to anywhere involved traffic jams – donkey carts spilling over with produce, trucks filled to overflowing with commuters, goods and camels; motorcycles with up to 6 passengers; so many people … galibayas and head coverings were the norm!  We took vacations that never would have otherwise been possible for our family.  The change in culture and language were difficult and tiring to contend with day after day; however, the greatest challenge came regarding our attitudes.  Would we be thankful, patient and kind?  Would we be quick to become annoyed?  Would we allow ourselves to feel that our rights were being violated?  Would we expect the Egyptians to understand our ways, or would we try to understand their ways?  Would we represent Christ well?  (Not until some of the local people told us, “Now we know what a real Christian is” did we realize how important this was.)



Those who are acquainted with me know that I have an endless number of stories and life lessons to share.  But, I will try to be concise:



-          God is faithful; He provided far more than I ever thought to ask or think

-          being connected to a body of believers is of vital importance

-          we can live with far less than we think (and still be living better than 90% of the world’s population)

-          having a family does not nullify all opportunities for overseas work

-          fear is not from God (besides, my pragmatic Dutch side also says that if 90 million people live in Egypt, how could I think that I would not be able to?!)

-          I try not to ever say, “I need (this or that) …” - the life I lead here in Canada leaves no “needs” in my life



We were in Egypt for almost 3 years, and the adjustment back was more difficult than our departure.  It has been almost 12 years since we came “home”.  Friendships with some from around the world have remained strong.  The impact on our thinking and world view is lasting; it affects how we raised our children and how I teach my students.  There were impressions and life lessons that we hoped we would never forget; they do not remain as strong as at the first, but of these things we remind each other often.




Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Our responsiblity in the midst of tragedy.

I have been thinking.

We all have been listening and keeping up to date with the latest tragedy in Colorado. My heart breaks as I go through stories of the victims. One specifically I read really made me start thinking. http://aminiatureclaypot.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/so-you-still-think-god-is-a-merciful-god/

Where was God in all of this... why did so many innocent people die? I think about how touchy of a topic it is. Especially to those who do not believe in God or if they do, believe that God is a being who ultimately doesn't care.

One part really popped out to me in the above blog written by a woman who survived the shooting. She said, "I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings. But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did."

Those words "something in me" really hit home. It brought back a flooding memory of when God gave me the dream of one of my girls falling off of a cliff and instead of us ignoring the dream and chalking it up as a typical nightmare, I took heed and prayed for safety along with my family for our hike up to Eagles Nest.  http://motheroffivelittleladies.blogspot.ca/2011/10/learning-to-listen-to-gods-voice-in-my.html

... then my mind really started rolling.

How IMMENSE of a responsibility do we have to listen to God's voice in our lives.

I believe that God is a merciful God. A God that cares about every single person on this earth. Even those who have chosen not to believe in Him. I believe He follows every step that we take with engrossed diligent attention. I also believe that our God created us with free will. A will to choose how we will live every aspect of our lives, to either heed to his gentle urging or ignore His desire for our lives. I believe even though He knows every step that we will take ultimately, He has still given us the free will to choose the path of life or the path of death.  I believe He is constantly giving us opportunities to change our future course and endless chances to choose to listen to the Holy Spirit. I believe that God loves us so much that He painfully grieves in sorrow when we take the final step on our free path to destruction.

God is always talking to us, sending people in our lives to show of his love and desire to give us eternal life. God has given us the greatest sacrifice known to man, Jesus Christ, His only son to pay the ultimate price for all of our sins so that we have the opportunity to live a fulfilled life in relationship with Him. THEN on top of it all He gave the Holy Spirit (intuition, "something in me"), to help lead us down a path of abundant blessing and reward.  

My heart just breaks. How many people, reject God's desperate cry out for our souls. How many of us choose to ignore the urging of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How many choose to fulfill selfish desires in the moment with out realizing the ultimate price it will cost on our future.

I can't help but feel the responsibility of staying open to hear every word that God speaks to my spirit. I won't live in fear of life but I pray that I never forget, the diligent consciousness that it takes in my role in the wellbeing and safety of my family and my own life.

May we not loose the sensitivity of our spirits to hear God's voice. I don't believe that this is some sort of loopy, pie in the sky idea. I believe God speaks to us so clearly whether or not we acknowledge Him as being a part of our lives. Listen, heed. My desperate desire is that we all come to realize our need for God.



Monday, July 23, 2012

The Big “D” Word - by Kathryn Hofer

Today I am welcoming a beautiful woman of God to Passionate Women named Kathryn Hofer. I was so blessed when she agreed to put a guest blog together because I know she has a pretty tight schedule. I was even more blessed and overwhelmed when I read what she had written. It takes a lot of courage to open up about struggles and even more courage to write it out for all to read. I believe with all of my heart that there is so much power in sharing the real life stories of struggles and trials. I believe it creates intimacy between us women and clearly examples time and time again of all the things that we can get through when our eyes are locked on God.

When we pull down our mask and let people in we have the opportunity to not only develop closer relationships but also make an impact on many lives. This is something that I have struggled with and was one of the reasons why I started this blog in the beginning. I needed to find a way to break down my tendency to put on a perfect show and to truly embrace God's leading through all situations in life.


Kathryn, thank you so much for your open heart to touch on such a timely topic. I know it's something that will open the door to healing in many lives. Blessings to you and Joseph as you continue to grow together and seek to follow God's amazing plan for your marriage and your lives.

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The Big “D” Word

By Kathryn Hofer





I would like to premise this post with the following: Life is a journey – one that can seem uncertain at times. For most of my life my journey has seemed straight forward and simple. I have been blessed with an amazing family, a solid upbringing and supportive church family. Having those things does not always guarantee success in life. There are so many personal choices that occur over time, belief systems that can unknowingly exist under the surface and circumstances outside of our control that affect the turns our life can take. Some of these choices, belief systems and circumstances are what led me to the part of my journey I am about to share.



Two and a half years ago I crashed: spirit, soul and body. This wasn’t the first time I had experienced pain or inconvenience in my life – injuries and pain had been a way of life for me for many years. However, this was the first time where I felt completely out of control of my thoughts, my body, my future and even each waking moment. For a control freak – this was terrifying.  In one moment everything I had been confident in, knew about myself, believed about my life was erased and a blank, empty and uncertain future lay before me. I was exhausted all the time and getting out of bed became a chore.



I had been engaged for only a matter of weeks. And the woman Joseph had fallen in love with no longer existed. Just an empty shell was in her place. Being the hard worker I was I continued giving the best I could to my job and my other responsibilities. I was confused, unaware of what was going on but determined to get through. Not understanding the struggle I was in, I gave Joseph many opportunities to postpone the wedding – but he knew that God wanted him to follow through. Little did he know how important his role would become in my recovery.



A mere six weeks after our wedding and I was in the hospital with a diaphragm spasm, followed by almost two months of physically being out of commission. My body was showing major signs of self destruction and I finally had to stop and listen, and realize that the stress I was putting on my body was wrecking havoc.



I was a full year into my struggle before I could say the “D” word out loud and face the reality that I had been diagnosed as being clinically depressed. That was a hard day, finally being able to acknowledge that my incorrect beliefs, insecurities, overachieving, constant giving to others and people pleasing had finally caught up with me. That is when the journey back to health began.



Through hours of counseling, gallons of tears poured out in prayer, and a very, very, very patient and loving husband who believed in me, I was able to gather the courage to face my giants. And let me tell you – there were a lot of them. It was an ugly, uphill and daily battle – not one I would wish on my worst enemy. Over time by bad days became farther and fewer between, and smiles came easier. I opened myself up to love again and began, brick by brick to rebuild relationships I had willingly abandoned.



Today I still struggle and still have bad days. But with my family’s love, God’s promises that I  hold onto tightly and Joseph – who has never left my side even when I had given up on myself – I am a depression survivor. I had the courage to stare that monster in the face and tell him he wasn’t going to beat me. I have had to change the way I see myself: as a valuable, worthy and loved woman. I have had to change my confession to a positive one, take time to be in God’s Word, and lower my expectations I put on myself. I have had to reassess where and how I spend my time, start taking care of my physical body and learn how to pause and enjoy life.



If you have never gone through depression or never known someone who has, here are a few things that may support someone when you do. Please be patient, don’t ask too many questions, and give them space. They have to choose to beat it, and when they do, they need you at their side every single painful step of the way. And they need you to speak positive, encouraging and life building words. They already have enough negative ones for both of you.



I never thought I would be one with a chapter about depression in my life. But I know that this is just another piece of my story that will continue to impact others for years to come. I have learned to never give up – and it was probably the easiest option at the time. I chose to continue serving. When we can get our eyes off of ourselves we’re able to see past our pain and see the struggle others are going through. I have learned that I need to have a few people in my life who I keep close – who are willing to love me through my good, bad and ugly. The last and most important lesson I learned was not to judge. We never, ever know what people are going through – and depression can carry such a stigma. People are people, and hurting people hurt people. They are also the ones that need our love. So let’s start loving.



 
                                                            ~ Kathryn Hofer






Friday, July 20, 2012

Why are we fighting each other?

Why do we do it?! Why do we compare, knock down or see the worst in other women. What is it in our make-up to want to turn around and point the finger at others instead of at ourselves.

I get so frustrated with myself sometimes because I get so wrapped up in comparison to the point that I almost "stall out" in who God created me to be. I have moments when I pretty much rejoice in others struggles because it makes me feel good to believe that I have it more together. GROSS. Then on top of it all I get overwhelmed with selfishly focusing on me... ugh!


I have been reading Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere. It's a vital book that I believe every woman should read in their life time. It stirred every part of my womanhood. My spirit couldn't sit still the entire time I was reading it. It resonated with everything that God has been putting on my heart for years and used God's creation to show such a clear picture of how we as women should be functioning.

The lionesses in a pack work together, hunt together, raise young together. God says to look to creation to learn. ("God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom, using birds and beasts to teach wisdom." Job 35:11 MSG Bible) The lionesses don't fight each other, they work together using each individual strength. They marvel at themselves in complete peace with who God created them to be and function in that.

So... I look around. Who do I do life with? Who do I need to go up to and apologize for knocking down or trying to one up? Who am I trying to prove something to that I need to just rest in peace and be who I am, and not who I want others to believe I am? Who are the women in my life that just need encouragement? Who can I bring words of healing and strength to? Who are the women in my life that I can help create a family with?

We as women need to bond together. We need to help support each other as we strive to become excellent mothers. Now I don't mean in the take over type of way that says, I can do it better than you. But by really getting into their shoes and see what you can do to give a hand. Put the personal advice aside to do some real time helping. Who can you offer to watch the kids for so your friend can get some vital time on her own or with her husband. Is there some type of small group you can put together for women, mom's or even girls, that will help support them to grow in their relationship with the Lord?

Lets remember it's our #1 mandate to love one another. If we can't even do that, what kind of life are we leading? What kind of witness are we if we cant even get along with one another?

We need to shine of God's love, grace and strength. Partnered together to see all, not just one or a couple, ALL women succeed.

Lets choose to help each other succeed.

http://www.amazon.ca/Lioness-Arising-Wake-Change-World/dp/0307457788

Thursday, July 19, 2012

FREE MP3 download from Lisa Bevere!!!

Talk about crazy timing!!!

So, as many of you know I have been spreading news of my new found favorite author, LISA BEVERE!!! I went to a women's conference in Windsor and heard her speak and then I bought two of her books. Lioness Arising. (heads up, Cecile Turner and I will be doing a life group on it in the fall, super pumped!!!! (Wed. night most likely) at Koinonia Christian Fellowship in Bloomingdale), and Fight Like a Girl. I have finished Lioness Arising already. I KNOW GOOD BOOK!!! And I am into Fight like Girl. Which is stirring my spirit just as much.

SOOOO all that to say, I sent Lisa a letter saying how much I have been enjoying her books and how timely it all has been with my heart for this blog and for the relationships in my life. Plus how I have 5 girls now who look up to me to model their lives after, phew...

... well like I said crazy timing... that day she popped up a link on her Facebook page offering a free MP3 download from the Nurture curriculum! The purpose is to encourage & strengthen you & your daughters!

... my mouth hit the floor!! What a blessing. God is so good to know what you need just at the right time. Well I can't keep a blessing to myself soooo here it is... I don't know how long it will stay up as a free download, so do it soon before it's too late... BUT YAY!!! Lets all learn to connect to our daughters even more!!! And hey if you only have boys, well check it out anyways, one day you will have daughter-in-laws, and now you have sons to teach how to connect to their wives one day... ;) wink wink...

http://messengerinternational.org/downloads/making-your-connections/

Love you all!!!

Blessings!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Journey of Trust - by Emily Hawthorne

I really enjoyed this guest post because I dearly relate to Emily. I think it is so important for each of us to go an a journey to find out what God has for us. Then to believe what he has put on our heart will come to pass.

I was young when I got married. I really felt in my heart that God had called me to get married young. I loved being involved in the church and knew that was a desire but my #1 passion at that stage was to get married and have children. I had to trust and believe that what God had put in my heart would come to pass. As you all know... it did, in the right timing, it's not the way I would have thought it would all start, but it has been the most fulfilling journey I could ever have imagined. That period of time, waiting for God to confirm who was going to be my husband was one of the most hours I spent praying and relying on God. I would wake up praying and go to sleep praying. It was a hard season, but vital for me to become the woman that I am still growing into. I am thankful for the journey.

Emily, thank you for sharing your heart! It was refreshing and honest!!! I pray huge blessings for you in the upcoming months and years. May you continue to invest in relationships with couples that you look up to and trust, then listen to their wise counsel. And may the right knight in shining armor come your way in perfect timing, not to late and not to early!! Every part of your journey is for a reason embrace it with all that you have!

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A Journey of Trust

by Emily Hawthorne




A wise friend once told me, “You don’t realize God is all you need until He is all you have.” How true is that? I’m only beginning to learn…

I am a planner. I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, and how I’m going to do it. My mom often teases me because it could be something as simple as going for groceries, but if she tells me we’ll go at 4:00, when 3:59 rolls around and she’s still lost in her novel, I am there putting the bookmark in, taking it out of her hands, and pushing her towards the door. My plans keep my life organized, on track, and predictable. Unfortunately, this doesn’t allow a lot of room for faith and trust in God, because my faith is in my well-laid plans. (It also really isn’t a lot of fun… if I’m being honest, sometimes I envy those who can do things just spur-of-the-moment!)

Well, God has decided to shake my world.

Can I be real with you? I have this deep-down passion and desire to be a wife and a mom. It is what I long for, dream of, and make plans towards. Some people have a passion for teaching, or for sports, or arts. Some people want to be a chef, some want to be an accountant, while some want to travel the world. I want to be a mom. This is something I have received a lot of criticism for from peers, coworkers, and people who just don’t understand because it is not really the “norm”. When you meet people, generally the first question out of their mouth is what do you do and what are you in school for? I have always battled with this sense of failure because my answer is always that I did not go back to school because I simply cannot think of what I am so passionate about that can justify all that time and money.  I tried to ignore my passion, I mean, my life is nowhere near heading in the direction of marriage/motherhood right now so I thought, ‘hey, maybe I can find something else I’m passionate about and go to school.’ I have thought about it, I have searched; I have driven myself crazy trying to ignore my passion and find something else so that I could have SOME sort of a plan for my life. But all to no avail. God rooted this passion deep within me and has been watering it and making it flourish. I need to trust Him that He knows what He’s doing.

Sometimes, things happen in life and it would seem as though all of your hopes and dreams are culminating together into the plan you know must SURELY be from God. Really, though, it’s still your own plan; you have taken the wheel into your hands and insist on driving full-speed ahead. I know I, for one, have this constant problem of getting over excited about one little thing that may be happening and blowing it way out of proportion. I make plans and I tell God how it’s going to be instead of letting Him guide me.

So, my journey lately has been one of trust. Trust in my God who knows all my needs, knows me inside and out, and has my ultimate best interests in mind. Trusting Him, instead of trying to plan everything, is a scary process for me, one that has me flat on my back, terrified, a lot of the time. But it is so fulfilling. I was never meant to be in control and so my life will never be successful if I try to be the driver in this thing called life. God has given me these passions, these gifts, and these desires for a reason. I trust Him. I trust that He knows what He is doing, that He has a plan through all of this so I don’t need to have one. I continue to use my gifts in a way to bless others and bring glory to God and one day, the dreams He has placed deep within my heart will be fulfilled.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Love, Sexuality and the Family - By Julie Schroth

It's really been dawning on me recently how important it is to get feedback and wisdom from mothers who have gone before me.  I want to head into the coming stages with eyes wide open and with a plan. With that in mind, I realized that I was friends on Facebook with a woman named Julie. Julie is a mom of three pre-teen/teenagers. I was soooo excited when she agreed to put a post together and I was even more ecstatic when I received it.  I didn't give Julie a specific topic, just asked to share some wisdom with us moms of young girls. And to my amazement, she touched on a topic that was incredibly timely. As some of you know, I am slowly making my way through trying to talk to the girls about "the birds and the bee's" YUP S-E-X and been overwhelmed trying to figure out how to go about it in a natural and age appropriate way.  Reading this has given me so much insight! I am charged and excited and ready for the next step in my girls learning!!!

Julie thank you sooo much for listening to the Holy Spirit and writing from the heart! I loved this post and will be referring back to it many times!!! Blessings to you and your family, as you continue to navigate through parenting teens. WOOHOO!!!!

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Love, Sexuality and the Family

By Julie Schroth

Family as God designed – so beautiful. Different personalities, different preferences, different perspectives, each with our own faults, defeats, and frustrations; together spurring each other on to good deeds, betterment and growing in love. And though we often fall short, my heart still hopes that we will be a reflection of Jesus' love as God intended. I am a mother of three girls – Talitha 13, Emily 12 and Magdalena 11. And at this stage of the game; I feel most passionate about guiding my children toward a God centred understanding of His plan for love, sex, marriage and family.

 I firmly believe this training is OUR God given responsibility – not our schools, nurses and our
children's peers. And I believe that we need to bring our children into this understanding from little
wee. We don't need to have 'the talk' with our children, we need continual conversation. When the girls were very little, we talked about bodies and the special parts that God gave us. “and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unrepresentable are treated with special modesty,” 1 Corinthians 12:23.  I love the way this verse presents our 'unrepresentable body parts' – not with shame, but honor that requires special modesty. I explained to the girlies that special modesty includes the clothes we wear and the way we talk about those special parts. So we don't show special honor when we make jokes about them or expose them for all the world to see. And now that my girlies are older this verse still rings true when they are deciding what to wear to school or if that outfit they are thinking of purchasing is even appropriate for them to wear.

From there we observed in nature, that God made males and females. Females with female parts and
males with male parts. And that in order for there to be babies – you need both a male and a female.
Sometimes they just took in the info I offered and sometimes it generated questions. Of course details
should be age appropriate, but I believe that honest answers to their questions are important. I found it beneficial to think about what I wanted to say before the questions came. There are lots of great resources (books, advice from respected individuals etc...). These are a couple that stood out to me:
God's Design for Sex Series, by Stan Jones & Brenna Jones (a series of books presenting these ideas and information in age appropriate detail that you read together with your children), From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children by Debra W Haffner, Secret Keeper Girl by Dannah Gresh,www.focusonthefamily.com

Everyday common things and situations can easily become a tool for a teachable moment if we are
prepared: the lyrics to a song on the radio; the selection of bathing suits at your local mall; the feminine hygiene isle at the grocery store; weddings (especially the part where the pastor reads Ephesians 5:22-33 here I ask my girls, if God wants us to submit to our husbands, can they see how
important it is to find the right qualities in a man?).

We have conversations about modesty, dating, falling in love, praying for and waiting for a guy who
loves Jesus with all his heart, who will love her as Christ loves the church. “Promise me, O women of
Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.” Song of Solomon 8:4. To me this verse says,
don't play around with love. Date only when you feel you are ready for marriage and a family. We talk about true beauty in God's eyes and how the world's idea of “sexy” does not necessarily make you a good mate. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

At this stage of the game my girls have an understanding of sex, but even more important than information is the moral context we strive to put sexuality into. I hope I have helped the girls understand that sex is not shameful, but is God's wonderful way of bringing a husband and wife
together and children into the world. God's plan for the family - One man and one woman unite as one flesh and become a family, then come children.

Just a few weeks ago my oldest daughter graduated grade 8. We had fun picking out a dress and
shoes. We purchased some lip gloss and mascara. Our young lady was beautiful. It suddenly occurred
to me that we may only be a few years away from boyfriends. I am so glad that we have been
conversing with our girlies all these years about love, marriage, sex and family. And I am mindful that when we do fall short, even then God's grace is not too short to reach us. I hope that I have stirred you to consider how you will frame your children's understanding of these things at whatever stage you are in. I hope you will start the conversation.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another Man's Treasure. by Marci Kreek

Marci, is a beautiful woman with a huge heart. I was blessed to be invited to a girls night at her house recently and experience her generosity and desire to see women connect. To be honest I was so nervous to go, no real good reason why, other than possibly a bit of intimidation of a newer combination of women. She put me at ease within moments of being there and her popping a rose in my hair. I was inspired by Marci as a person and encouraged to open my home freely again.

I so enjoyed reading Marci's post last week. Beautiful and from the heart. It touched me so deeply that it was a very difficult challenge to wait until today to share!!!!

Marci, thank you for your heart and your words. It was like I said before almost poetic in content. God is so good and so faithful. That shines so clearly in your blog. I look forward to get to know you better in the future!!! Blessings my friend!!!!

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 Another Man's Treasure
 By Marci Kreek

 All my life I have appreciated nature. I loved being outside and I especially loved finding cool rocks or stones. Some tiny, some the size of my hand (which was still pretty small as a 6 year old). Smooth stones, sparkling gem-like "jewels", fossilized rocks and rocks that had the most amazing colour or pattern. I moved, traveled, roamed, and ran away. All the time collecting rocks and saving them in a plastic grocery bag (back when they were free and there was no shame in using one).

There were times in my life of not having a place to call home and in these times it seemed especially dumb to lug along or ask a friend to store for me, a grocery bag of rocks, but I could never bring myself to part with them. They were one of the few survivors after almost everything that was once "mine" was gone, simply because they were worth nothing- at least not to anyone but me.

 2 years ago we bought our second house as a married couple. The beginning of the summer we dug up a 20'x2' garden at the side of the house. I planted wild flowers in it. A week ago we cleaned our garage and found my infamous bag of rocks. I felt my usual wave of embarrassment at the awkwardness of a grown woman having a rock collection, but my sweetheart hubby never made it "weird". It suddenly struck me to scatter the rocks in our new garden. I was quite excited about the idea so I went straight to it. After a brief moment they were all in. I sighed in satisfaction. They had a home. A place to belong. Then, like a crashing wave from behind it just hit me that I did too. I started to cry and I couldn't stop. My poor husband held me while I snotted into his shirt in our dusty garage.

God was not always important to me, but, I'm learning that I mattered to Him. He held onto me when no one else did (for some strange reason). He carried me along and brought me here (in the philosophical sense). I'm not sure what the next part of the journey will bring, but I know I want to grow in my understanding of Him and His love. As for now, I'm happy my rocks (and I) have a place to belong.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"When God closes a door..." by Lindsey Anderson


It's amazing how much you can learn about someone with just the simple question, "What is God doing in your life?" Time and time again, I get amazing stories of the journey God has faithfully seen people through and Lindsey Anderson is definately one of them. I was in tears reading this blog. It touched my heart because, it's a familiar story one that many of us can relate to.

Lindsey, is one of my girls favorites. They talk about her often, inspired to become all that they are created to be. I absolutely love love love it!!! Thank you Lindsey, for being open enough to allow God to show you who you are. You have such a vital place in this world and in our church. Thank you for being another woman who leads by example.
Lots of love and huge blessings to you as you begin another part of your journey, I am so excited for you!!!!


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"When God closes a door...."
By Lindsey Anderson

I have just recently finished a leadership intern program at my church and all I can say about the internship is that it was INTENSE! I spent 10 months learning about God, being a leader and serving in the church. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much time hearing about God in all my life. A big thing that I learned about myself during this 10 month internship is that I don’t value myself and I put my value in others. I have struggled with this issue since grade 2. The day I realized this I was completely shocked! I never thought that I could not value myself. At that time in my life I was heavily involved in the dance team, I was teaching dance, children’s ministry and had an amazing passion for God. I was on top of the world… till I learned this core belief about myself. I didn’t like who I was… now for someone like me who is bubbly and loud and emotional beyond belief, that realization hit me really hard.

Throughout my internship I was depressed… none of my classmates knew it, but I’m pretty sure that they had an idea of what was going on. I didn’t know how to overcome this core belief. The only way I saw myself overcoming it was if people would tell me how amazing I am. But that I knew was never going to happen so my depression got worse. I stopped talking in class (which if none of you know is pretty much a requirement). I avoided my classmates when they asked me how I was doing and I isolated myself from the world and God. If none of you know yet I am a dancer at Koinonia Christian Fellowship, a very passionate dancer. Good Friday was just around the corner and I was practicing a dance for it. I like to take a few minutes and listen to the words of the song, close my eyes and feel how that singer is singing it. When I did this I had this sense of peace come over me and I knew that God was healing my heart. After Good Friday I realized that my value needs to come from God and no one else. So to this day I’m still trying to walk out that realization but it is tricky at times and I know that I need to continue to stay in the word of God and hold on to that truth.

What God is doing now in my life… hmm well there has been a lot happening in my life; you already know of that first but the second is dance. I auditioned at George Brown College for a dance program but didn’t get in.  They told me right after the audition was finished and at that moment I didn’t feel anything. My parents had come with me to support me and once I saw my dad I felt this huge weight in my chest and I crumbled emotionally. After that day I didn’t want to dance any more. I hated the fact that I lost my balance a lot because I had such small toes you wouldn’t even believe, I also hated the fact that I wasn’t good enough to get into a dance school. It has been my dream to get into a dance school and be like the girls on those dance movies. A few weeks later God told me that my identity is not in what I do but in who I am. When God told me this I cried for a good hour and thought over my life to this point dance wise. I have danced for years but never competitively, I was kicked off the dance team which almost ended my passion for dance and my life. I had many thoughts of suicide, but God had other plans for me. I got past suicide and got into God more and more throughout my internship this year. My vision for dance was always about me and what ‘I’ could do. I went to Winnipeg’s Springs Church and my vision for dance changed after talking and watching their dance team. My vision for dance changed from ‘I’ to ‘we’. What can ‘we’ as dancers do to influence the next generation and preach about God through dance. Dance has such a powerful way to express a story, dance can heal hearts, mend broken lives, and ultimately bring you closer to God. An amazing mom told me the day I auditioned that: “When God closes a door he opens another one.” When she told me this I didn’t want to believe it till one day when I applied for a job on kijiji, I found this one job that teaches dance to kids in different schools and community centers all over Kitchener/Waterloo, Brantford, London, Toronto and more. A few weeks later I was hired and realized that this job was the other door that God has opened for me!

I am so excited to be doing this job and my encouragement to all of you is to remember that your identity comes from God and your identity in others will not satisfy your hunger for feeling valued. Another thing is that God may close a door that you were hoping believing ad praying you would be able to walk through, but he will open a door that is SO much better than the door he closed. You just need to trust God and never give up!