The Wellspring

I did not want to volunteer at The Wellspring. My priority was health and staying well. I didn’t have room for children. They require too much. Attention. Snuggles. Care. Love. They require LOVE.


And I wasn’t sure I had any left to give without shattering into a million pieces.
 


A text message appeared on my phone last October. With the ask - would I be willing to help with kids at The Wellspring the next morning. And not just one ask, but three, before I said yes. 


I showed up the following morning feeling like a fish out of water and wanting nothing more than to run and hide somewhere no one would find me. I didn’t want to make social talk with women I didn’t know and better yet didn’t relate to – I’m not a mom – my heart was angry for the yes I had given the day before and guilt and shame trampled all over me when I raised my phone and contemplated sending a text to say, “sorry, I can’t make it”. It took everything in me to keep my feet planted on the sidewalk and raise my hand to open the door – and not to send that text – and walk into the church. My skin was crawling and my stomach was doing back flips...



My Goal:

• Get in 

• Get out
• Avoid all people – except babies

• Prepare a list of excuses to not return if asked again


Not an impossible mission... but more difficult than I had anticipated.


Jesus had other plans.


As moms began to hand their babies over, something inside me shifted. My heart was flooded with the rawest of emotions. My plans to go unseen and list of excuses to not be available the following Tuesday’s vanished. Holding a little baby, all traces of anger and anxiety dissipated. One little hand reached out to touch mine and, in that moment, I had realized how hardened and guarded my heart had become.


My heart became undone in that moment as I realized that Jesus was waiting for me to let Him enter in.


I had been excellent at building walls.

Survival walls – they aren’t about keeping people out, right? They’re about hunkering down and waiting until the storm has passed... And my season was stormy.


That’s the lie that I believed. Walls do keep people out – survival or not.


And those children...Jesus used each one of them in such incredible ways.


He knew it would take the innocence of a child for me to let my guard down and to let Him in, and do the work that only He could do. It took caring for a child to realize my own inner child needed to return home and allow the Father to heal.


Week after week I would sit and hold babies who were content to simply be held.
 


Me. Those children. The Holy Spirit.

And I would pray.


As I prayed, I could feel the Holy Spirit love me, through these children. I could feel as He took His sewing kit to my heart and sewed up the broken pieces. I don’t know what kind of ‘thread’ the Holy Spirit uses but I do know this – His stitches are intentional; His stitches are perfect. And when He has completed sewing there is no evidence of what once was. It isn’t some patch job.



There is complete transformation, wholeness and newness.


The heart that once was, will never be again. He has sewn a new heart.


It’s the newness of heart in me now that is not much different from the newness of heart that’s in those children. It’s through that newness the Holy Spirit was able to work. Because those little ones had hearts that were open to receive Him, I was healed. And because I now hold that newness of heart I am able to go and do the same for others, what those children did for me....LOVE.


The Wellspring came to a close in December, I knew that I wanted to return and give my time in the nursery so my prayer in the waiting became one of transformation. I believed there were more, like me, who were desperate to see their lives be transformed by the Living Power of the Holy Spirit. And so, I began to pray that Jesus would draw volunteers to The Wellspring, not only to serve and give of their time but that He would place volunteers who were longing to draw on Jesus to be their Wellspring of Life. I prayed that the nursery would be a place of complete healing, restoration, fulfilment and an overflowing of the joy of the Lord.


The Wellspring started up in March, and was asked if I would ‘oversee’ the nursery and the volunteers that came each week ... They have been some of the most incredible people. Each person on a journey to become more like Jesus. Each with their own stories. Each on their own healing pathway to freedom and transformation. Each being refined every day, moment by moment.


For two months I sat, as a witness, in that nursery as Jesus worked in the hearts of each volunteer and I watched as transformation took place. The same way Jesus used those children last Fall to work on my heart, is the same way He used those children to work on so many more hearts this Spring.


Jesus used a church program, children and a very angry yes to wildly transform my heart and gave me eyes to see that The Wellspring is less about program and more about a way of life.

Guest Writer: Han Kathleen. Han is a passionate faith-filled follower of Jesus. She’s a beautiful, joy-filled, happy person who loves to laugh and make others laugh; sees struggle as an opportunity to grow in faith and love others better; and always has an encouraging word to say, and a smile to share.

Photo Cred: Stephanie Unger

We are always looking for more volunteers to love on our kids during The Wellspring. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer on Thursday mornings, we would love to hear from you!

Enter In

He brings you out to bring you in

Tucked away in one of the books I was recently reading, were these eight little words that caused me to pause and reflect. ‘He brings you out to bring you in’. What a powerful perspective shifter and reminder to keep on keeping on. A reminder that He is always behind the scenes. That you can never arrive – He always has MORE. More heart to expose, more mysteries to share, more revelation to bestow, more dreams and plans and purpose with our names on it – if we choose to let Him take us there.

Often what looks crazy to the world or those watching what we’re doing – is exactly what he’s called us to. The question is…do we have it in us to remain obedient, surrendered, soft to his voice INSPITE of the judgement and criticism of others. INSPITE of the conversations and tossed about opinions that you know are going on out of earshot.

Often it’s these callings that expose hearts. 

He brings us out to bring us in. Out of our ‘comfortable’ and safe havens. Out of our element and well laid out plans – Do we dig in our heels and refuse to be moved? Or do we let go of the ideas and plans we have for ourselves – So He can bring us in. In to the inner recesses of his heart. In to make us privy to the mystery’s of heaven. In to grow us, mold us and draw us continually closer. In to partner with him to unlock heaven on earth. 

Recently, I asked him what the point of some of the things I ventured out in – moved from -gave up on – was. What was the point if it didn’t turn out the way I was dreaming. What was the purpose if the goals I set weren’t attained? What was the point if it didn’t turn out the way it does for others? What was the point of investing so much time, focus and energy in something that to the outsiders perspective maybe looked like a joke? And He said “I didn’t lead you there to remain – I brought you there to learn what I needed you to learn and then to keep moving”. So many times, what I thought was meant as an arrival, He meant as a pit stop on the way to the next.

There have been seasons I have been allowed to enter into, moves we’ve made, opportunities I’ve been released to pursue. In my mind and limited understanding I thought the purpose was for one thing, but God has always been 20,000 steps ahead. In much of what I’ve said yes to, even some things I thought were meant to be long term … He kept leading me forward. Only allowing me to pause long enough to learn what I needed before closing the door and leading me out to bring me in – somewhere new, where the skills and training gained from the last door made it possible for me to be ready to walk thru the next.

Some things – that to the outside eye would be the definition of failure, inconsistency or giving up, were only really ever meant to refine and train up. To the outside eye it looks one way  when in reality – He’s bringing you out to bring you in.

And it’s in these pivots – these being ‘led out’ moments, that often feel like wilderness seasons, lonely journeys when we wonder if we heard him wrong, those heart piercing transitions – we again realize it’s not about us the way our selfish tendencies would assume. It’s not about our own personal advancement or worldly success. How much ‘knowledge’ we can spew for others to hear. How much praise and approval and esteem we can garner from others. Its not about what others may think. Its always been about our hearts. about obedience. It’s always been about walking intentionally and intimately with the Father. Learning his heart – catching HIS vision and loving people the way He does.

It’s always been about living loved. Living from a place of freedom, secure in our Christ centered identity, soft hearted and quick to obey – even when it doesn’t make sense. 

If I don’t check my heart regularly and renew my mind in Truth I can easily move from a position of discerning wisdom and tender heartedness to puffed up pride with empty words that only add to the endless chatter and noise infiltrating our wave lengths. I can get comfortable in my current reality and be content to ‘remain’. But we’re not meant to get comfortable and remain. We weren’t created to coast until He comes. We were created and purposed to reflect the very heart of our Father. And so He will always be leading us out when it’s time to ‘enter in’

It’s not easy to see the beauty in the midst of the drawing out – the transitions – the closed chapters – but the reflection on the other side always catches my breath and captures my awe, because all I ever see in the aftermath is the love song He has never stopped weaving throughout my life. I am so very thankful He doesn’t leave us to just remain.

He brings us out to bring us in. 

 

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. (Isaiah 45:3)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Guest Writer: Jenna Hildebrandt. Jenna is a lover of Truth and purity. She has seen the hand of God work miracles over and over again not only in her own life, but in the lives of those around her and is passionate about sharing the love of Jesus and the freedom truly knowing him brings. You can find more of her at authenticallyhis.com

Fear and Faith

I will never forget the moment in my life when I frantically called my husband to come to the medical imaging centre immediately.

“They think I have breast cancer! Just come!” That is about the only thing I remember saying after a very sobering conversation with the Radiologist.

While my husband was en route, I was immediately taken for my very first mammogram. I had just turned 43 and I had no history of breast cancer in my family. Moments later in the office, I collapsed into my husbands arms and pounded on his chest, crying and saying “this can’t be me, this can’t be me!”
My life was turned upside down in an instant.

Referrals, painful biopsies, appointments, waiting, results confirming my worst fear all rushed in like a massive wave.

A major collision of my fear and faith.

“Jesus, I need you”

Those first days and weeks were ones of the wildest ranges of emotions I have ever experienced. My faith was challenged at every level. Crumbling under the weight of fear and darkness one moment, and rising up in faith for my healing the next. God was in each of those moments. He saw me in my broken fragile state, and also saw my hands reaching for Him. He assured me that He could handle it all.

This major detour in my life undoubtedly brought me to my knees. I have experienced the power, presence, and closeness of the Holy Spirit like never before. Worship became my weapon.

Family and friends far and wide have rallied around me. A “team” cheering me on. Battling in prayer in my behalf. I desperately wanted, and needed that. I realized that it would be so easy to be completely dependent on that in a situation like this. These people, my “team”, have been Jesus with skin on to me. They have changed the atmosphere with their prayers and spoken life over me. For that, I am so grateful.

But, in those first days and weeks, the Lord gently challenged me, His daughter.
“It has to start with you... Your faith, your trust, your dependency on Me, your security in Me, your belief in healing has to start with you. Alone, in the quiet, when no one else is watching. When the tears are streaming down your face in the shower, when your hair is falling out, and you are too weak to stand, it is Me, and Me alone that will rescue you.”

I had to be the one to pitch this game. No one was going to sub me out. My “team” was going to play a critical role, but I was the only one that would be standing on the mound having to pitch the game of my life with God as my Manager.

“Jesus, show me how”

Breathe in and breathe out. I am in YOU, and YOU are in me. Your heartbeat next to mine. Healing me from the inside out. Revealing compassion towards me. A God of mercy. Suffering when I suffer. His eyes seeing the pain that I have to endure. His hands catching every tear that falls.

This diagnosis, this disease did NOT come from His nail scarred hand.

He shows me, tells me, reminds me the significance of the cross. Not just for the forgiveness of sins, but for every curse placed on us. Every evil assignment. Every sickness and disease. Psalm 103:3. Isaiah 55:3

The provision of Salvation, Healing, Rescue.....
A renewed revelation.

“Jesus, manifest this in me”

Guest Blogger: Barb Fredlund. Barb resides in Saskatoon and attends Elim Church. She has been happily married to her husband Murray for 24 years and they have 3 amazing children. She is a hairdresser by trade and has worked out of her home for years. She lead Women’s Bible studies at Elim for a number of years, but these days she keeps busy with family life, and being a “sports Mom” cheering on her 3 kids in their various activities.

Guest Blogger: Barb Fredlund. Barb resides in Saskatoon and attends Elim Church. She has been happily married to her husband Murray for 24 years and they have 3 amazing children. She is a hairdresser by trade and has worked out of her home for years. She lead Women’s Bible studies at Elim for a number of years, but these days she keeps busy with family life, and being a “sports Mom” cheering on her 3 kids in their various activities.

Living With Intention

“Breathe. Just Breathe. You’re not dying. You’re not dying. You’re not dying.”

These were the words I repeated all night long for weeks as I would awaken to another full

fledged panic attack - heart racing, chest crushing, stomach turning, thoughts scattered -

detached - full of insatiable fear. Fear that I was having a heart attack. Fear that my sons would

be left motherless. Fear of fear itself.

When I hit the proverbial wall of debilitating anxiety, it seemed to come out of nowhere to most

onlookers. I was the one who had it all together; A good life, a happy family, a thriving business

- a person with passion and purpose. And then suddenly, one autumn day, I surged into the

deepest pit of darkness. I crashed and burned so quickly that my family was left reeling to pick

up the pieces of a wife and mother who had absolutely nothing left and was wrought with a

mental illness she never thought possible for herself.

It didn’t happen suddenly, though.

It was a slow fall which perhaps wasn’t evident to most passers by. The previous 3 years of my

life had been years I wouldn’t ever want to redo. My husband suffered through a debilitating

injury which left him laying on the hardwood floor 24/7 for 8 weeks. A miscarriage. A high risk

twin pregnancy which left me unable to get off the couch due to illness and pain. And then,

twin newborns. Two years of survival, another serious injury for my husband and then the

events of fall 2018 arrived; Two friends lost their battle with cancer, one was diagnosed with

breast cancer and underwent a lifesaving double mastectomy all while I was trying to be a

good mother to three little boys who depended on me- a good wife to a husband I felt I rarely

talked to anymore - a good business leader to a team I was so grateful for but completely

overwhelmed by - and I couldn’t take another thing.

I broke.

I broke into tiny fragments so deeply shattered I didn’t think the pieces would ever be found let

alone put back together again.

How do you live a life of intention when you’re in the midst of mental, emotional, and spiritual

chaos?

How do you live an abundant life when you can’t even find the will to get out of bed in the

morning?

And where on earth is God in all of this?

in.ten.tion (n) - 1. a thing intended: an aim or plan.

2. Medicine - the healing process of a wound.

At my deepest part of darkness, I sat in a walk in clinic with tears pouring down my cheeks,

begging the nurse to help me. “My boys need their Mom back. I don’t know what’s happening

to me. I can’t live like this anymore.”

And thus began INTENTION. At this point, my healing began. It didn’t feel like I was healed,

and truth be told it’s a daily struggle, but the moment I voiced my aim and plan - “My boys

need their Mom back. I can’t live like this anymore,” I voiced my intention and thus declared

the truth; “Anxiety will not define me.”

“God has bigger plans for my life than this.”

I sought out help both medically and spiritually. I began to renounce the lies OUT LOUD that I

had been telling myself about my illness and instead replaced them with the truth. Things like “I

will always have anxiety” became “ God did not give me a spirit of anxiety. There is no anxiety

within me.” “I am a horrible mother and my kids are better off without me” became “I am a

good Mom and God made me my boys’ mother for a specific reason.” Every time a lie or

negative thought entered my head, I intentionally spoke against it OUT LOUD. I declared God’s

truth over and over again whether I believed it in the moment or not because the one thing I did

believe is that God did not create me for this. I INTENTIONALLY spoke truth out loud to

combat the lies I had come to believe.

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit — you choose.”

Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

If the last years have taught me anything, they’ve taught me the value of my choices. I could

have chosen to sit and wallow in life’s circumstances (and believe me, for a while I did) or I

could strap on my belt of intention and CHOOSE to move forward. To take what I had been

dealt and walk through it because it was either that or be strangled and victimized by it.

Jesus carried his own cross. He literally bore the weight of his own death on his shoulders and

chose to walk through it because his intention was to save those he most loved (the entire

world) from our deepest sins and struggles. He could have sat down and wept over his

victimization and unfair circumstances, but instead He chose to take what he had been handed

and use it for good.

Another way I chose to live with intention was to set better boundaries in my life and realize

that I wasn’t a failure for admitting that I needed help. I cut down on my work load. I hired child

care a few days a week. I scheduled things into my week that I legitimately enjoyed - things

that some might say are frivolous but truly ignited joy and passion into my heart again. I

realized that I needed to be intentional with my time, not just for the sake of others in my life,

but for ME. I was devaluing my own worth simply because I was a Mom. I love my kids so

much that I gave every part of me to them and ended up with nothing left for them or me.

God gave Moms dreams to be fulfilled just as much as he gave others dreams to be fulfilled. I

needed to realize that those dreams and passions hadn’t died with the birth of my children, but

were simply left on the back burner to simmer while my attention focused on the needs of my

babies. It’s okay to give attention to those dreams and desires. It’s okay to pursue the things

that ignite a flame of passion and excitement to change the world because God put them

there. I needed to lay aside the guilt of not being able to “do it all” and instead rest in the fact

that I didn’t need to “do” anything but trust Him; trust that He loved me. Trust that He had

things under control even when things felt like they were spiralling.

“Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has

made us to be more than conquerers (MORE!!!!), and his demonstrated love is

our glorious victory over everything! So now I live in confidence that there is

nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m

convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or

dark rulers in the heavens. There is NOTHING in our present or future

circumstances that can weaken his love.” Romans 8:37-38 (The Passion

Translation, emphasis mine)

Where was God in all of this? He was continually loving me. He was holding my hand through

the darkest of valley’s, prodding me to keep going; to walk through these terrible

circumstances and to follow His lead. To take up the situations that I had been given in that

season and to walk through it. To use what I had been given for good because while it may

have been unfair and unjust, He had a bigger plan for me. A better plan. A plan of overcoming

a terrible illness with His help so that I could empathize and walk alongside women who would

face a similar battle with grace and compassion. That I could offer them not just words of

comfort, but hope.

Anxiety took a lot from me but it also gave me a new perspective and understanding of living

an abundant life.

Living a life of intention was not what I thought it was. It isn’t simply living a peace-filled,

structured life. Instead, it’s using our God given authority and choosing how we meet our

circumstances, whether good or bad.

Will we fold and wallow?

Or will we wake up in the morning and CHOOSE to believe God?

Guest Blogger: Raelynn Reimer. Raelynn is a model-turned-Mom to three busy boys living in a dreamy little Manitoban lake town. When she’s not running after one of her boys you can find her sharing pieces her life on Instagram @raelynnsreadingroom

Forward Motion

Just four months ago I was sent home from the mission field. I was in over my head. I felt terribly lost. But I was not without hope. I sensed that I was about to enter a very dark tunnel, but I remembered that it was a tunnel and a tunnel always has an end. These are the words I penned in my journal as I looked for even a glimpse of good in saying, “yes” to walking through this tunnel with the Lord.“I’m going into a long dark tunnel that feels like it’s never going to end... but what do I know about a tunnel? It may feel like there is no ending but it does end. There will be light. My future is bright, and the path is already lit... what does He expect of me? Baby steps.”

This season would be transformational for me as I submitted and surrendered exactly where I was at to the Lord. I was certain it would be the brightest light I’ve ever seen. Freedom unimaginable! Though the circumstances were hard, in God’s mercy He gave me confidence to know that though at times dim, there would be a constant light with me, which was His presence and also told me to not forget about the flickering lights that passed by, the people who He intentionally placed in my life to walk with me through it all. 

I came home due to extreme anxiety and panic attacks and knew it was going to be a long hard journey ahead, but I knew it would be so worth the hard work I was about to put in. Not just for me, but for all I encounter. The Lord would use this season in my life for His glory and His alone. I learned that from the last dark hard season I thought would never end in overcoming anorexia 6 years ago. Praise the Lord that His work that He completes in us is sealed. I learned I was not a victim, so I was able to enter this season believing I was a victor in Christ. I did not have to go backwards. 

I have experienced healing in ways I’ve never dreamt possible. Normally when it comes to working on me, I am hard on myself, I drill it into my head until it finally sticks. But in this case, I didn’t really have the strength to do that. This has been a time of slow but sure healing. Where I’ve had days so anxious all I could do is lay in my bed and allow my Father to hold me. The Lord has given me a fresh understanding of grace, and I’m finally beginning to know what it means to be unconditionally loved by my heavenly  Father. I am beginning to see change. My thoughts that once were patterned in one way, slowly changing and creating whole new paths, healthy life-giving paths. I am beginning to know that I have inherent worth that comes from the simple fact that I am made in the image of God. Before I was even born, He chose me. And I’m learning to encounter God in all new ways. 

During this season of healing I reluctantly committed to the Her Influence 6 week bible study that Sisterhood had released. It was through this study that I began to sense my purpose in this season and that was—to encounter God. In discovering my purpose, I discovered contentment. I was able to accept this season and gained confidence in the Lord that He did in fact have good for me in this, whether I would see it here on earth or not. He does not waste anything. I learned that encountering God isn’t just a one time thing so that I can then go out and preach the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s continual. It’s a cycle. It’s a moment by moment choice. To allow Him to be a part in every moment, whether I’m falling at His feet rejoicing, or flat out ugly crying. He’s in it for the long haul and He’s not afraid of my mess.

 My dear friend Pastor Kait also said something to me at the time that I’ll never forget. This is a paraphrase of what she said... “God loves you exactly the same NOW, and He sees you the same RIGHT now as He did one year ago when you felt like you were conquering the world! His love and acceptance and delight in you is not dependent on your performance, current state or status. He loves you because he loves you because he loves you.”

Go in peace my sisters! ️

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”‭‭. Ephesians‬ ‭3:14-21‬ ‭

Guest Blogger: Rebekah Clearwater. - “In a world of noise, writing is the catalyst that drives my focus back to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and reminds me of the hope I have in Him— nothing has changed, yet everything has changed.” Rebekah is a Saskatchewan girl, author, blogger, following hard after the heart of Jesus. For more of Rebekah you can find her at www.lifeabundantandfree.com


Letting God be God

A few years ago, I attended a mission conference with my sister. As we listened to the stories of brothers and sisters far and wide, I was incredibly moved by their stories of perseverance and obedience and couldn’t wait for my own chance to get out on the field with them. Eventually it came to the time in the meeting for the offering basket to be passed around. As the ushers came forward, the leader prayed over what was to be collected and suddenly I felt an overwhelming conviction to give a certain number, one that was quite high for my bank account at the time. Panicked, I rushed to rationalize my way out of the situation: I was a freshly-graduated student who barely had any money, and not only that, I was setting things up to head overseas myself in the next few months. I needed all that money, and for kingdom work at that! No, no, surely God recognized that I needed to be realistic and responsible. So, I ignored the nudging feeling whispering in the back of my head and let the offering bag pass by.

Several months later I was across Canada, completing training for that overseas experience and wrapped up in all the preparation it entailed. My mission-conference-offering-refusal was long forgotten; after all, I was actually going on mission, wasn’t that holier or better somehow anyway? However, one day I called my sister who, at the time, was planning to head overseas herself for a study exchange. Almost in passing, she casually mentioned, “Oh, something kind of cool happened to me today.”

 “Hmm, what?” I asked, half-listening as I puttered around my room.

 “Well, one night when we were at the mission conference together, I felt really convicted to give $700. I knew I could really use that money for this semester, but I couldn’t say no, so I gave the money anyway. A while before that, I’d applied for a grant for the exchange, and they said the maximum amount that a person could receive was $1200, and that I had been approved for $1000. But today I got the money, and somehow out of the blue they decided to change my amount to $1700.”

 I don’t think I was able to say anything in reply.

 I can’t remember for sure, I might have mumbled something, but what I do remember is how stupid I felt, how embarrassed and ashamed and humbled I was as the memory of that night came flooding back and the smallness of my faith and stubborn self-dependence of my heart was suddenly made unbearably clear.

 I don’t share this story to give anyone any kind of health-and-wealth ideas; heaven quite literally knows I could just as quickly share another story where I knew there was something very precious that I had to give up for the sake of my faith, and in that case I did not receive anything material in return. That sacrifice took years to recover from, and I still find myself “without” in that area of life. But while God did not give me something in return for what He asked of me in that circumstance, what He did give me was far better and far more valuable: Himself.

 And that’s what I think was most valuable in my sister’s case as well. While the $700 gift was helpful on a practical level, the greatest blessing in the situation was that she got to see God actually being God in her own life, showing real attention to her and acting tangibly in her circumstances. Yet I wonder, in our Western lives with insurance, savings accounts, apps to track our schedules, watches to track our health, and plans A, B, C, and D for every eventuality, how often do we give God the chance to really be God? To show Himself mighty, the Healer, the Rescuer, the Provider, the Lord over every tiny detail, over every massive obstacle? Even when I decided to become a missionary myself, it was on my own plan, something I had worked out and had fully under control before I hopped on a plane and went. My faith was just as much in my own planning and the people I knew would be behind me as it was in my God. Obviously there’s a sense in which this isn’t all bad; I do believe Proverbs and some of Paul’s letters make it clear that we are to be good stewards of the resources and opportunities God gives us, and part of being good examples of integrity to the outside world involves us being wise and responsible about our actions and plans. However, we can’t ultimately let our trust and faith transfer from our unfailing, all-knowing God over to our fallible savings accounts and imperfect self-ordained plans in the process.

 I wonder if this is what is stopping some of us from witnessing the reality of God in our lives in ways that seem present in the lives of others. If God asked something crazy of you tomorrow, would you ignore the calling as I did that day as the offering bag passed me by on that church pew? Would you be kept up at night if you didn’t have any safety nets in place? If God put you in a place where you had only Him and Him alone to trust, would you be able to handle it?

 What miracles are to be done when everything is safe and sound? How is God to act and show His power when we have everything under our own control? Do we listen for His leading, watch for His directing, wait on His guiding, or are we too wrapped up and busy with our own plans for His kingdom to notice what He has to say about them?

 Do you prioritize your safety nets over His purpose for you? Do your own ideas for God’s work keep you from His? Is He whispering a melody in your ear that you’re tuning out? Has He been pressing something on your heart that you’re pushing away?

 Often we fear punishment for disobedience, but my biggest hurt from that day I ignored God’s call to give wasn’t any punishment, it was the regret and sadness I felt as I realized I had willfully pushed aside the opportunity God had offered me to see Him at work. It made me wonder how many other opportunities to see God be God that I had missed out in all my other acts of disobedience and distrust over the years. It’s a feeling I’ve reminded myself of countless times in the years since, knowing no earthly loss is comparable to the weight of disobeying the perfect, holy God and missing out on being whatever part of His perfect Kingdom plan that He’s ordained for me. There have been situations that have sorely tested this idea, but I’m glad to say that, while some losses admittedly are painful and confusing for far longer than I would like them to be, I now have enough past experience of His faithfulness to look back on and praise God in advance of the healing, in advance of events making sense, in advance of any sort of clear benefit coming out of the situation. We live for His delight, we delight in His pleasure, and we persevere knowing His perfect sovereignty, perfect love for us, and eternal victory over all broken things. Knowing all this, I can hear His directing and, whatever it is, react with abounding joy and thankfulness that He has shared Himself and His work with me, regardless of the cost. When we let God be God, anything we give up can hardly even be called a cost; any loss isn’t even worth mentioning in comparison with the unimaginable eternal bounty He blesses and shares with us in return.


- - - C.J. Hinz is a proud Saskatchewan born-and-raised girl that has spent almost all of her adult life away from the place. She currently spends her time between her home province and the U.K., where she teaches, writes, and generally semi-successfully tries to adult. She shares her mistakes, adventures, and progress in life and faith at her blog, theeasyyoke.com

My Martha

Just over a year ago I had a number of health complications that left me bed ridden and I had to have daily help with my kids and basically all my household duties. Someone else vacuuming and doing laundry for a family of 6 sounds like a dream right?! I have wished for that exact thing on many occasions until it happened to me and I was forced to let it ALL go. 


Yep, that was me letting go of the way I run my home, the type of food I cook, the way I organize my pantry, the way I dress my kids and how I do my daughter’s hair every day. The generous loving hearts that pitched in during this time, staying with us and making meals for my 4 children and husband would ask if I had "this item" or "that ingredient" on hand to make dinner and I honestly had to tell them that I had no idea. I had become so far removed from the daily ins and outs of my normally very thoroughly managed home. This to me was bone rattling. I mean this was MY OWN fridge we were talking about! I was so grateful for the help I was receiving but a deep frustration and fury was building up inside of me that I did not see coming AT ALL. 

Harder than the physical things I was dealing with was the complete helplessness I experienced. And in the back of my mind was the constant nagging of deep-seated expectations of what I SHOULD be doing but yet physically could not carry out. It made me feel “weak” and like I was “failing”.  

Now this is probably so obvious to all of you reading but one day I had a moment lying in my bed where it all became clear and I, in shock, realized how much of a control freak I was! 


I was NOT okay with not knowing what was going on with my kids.  It drove me half-crazy that as I was stuck “resting” on the couch in our half-renovated house with “projects” and “things to do” all around but that my healthy, strong husband would rather sit and spend time with his sick wife when he got home from work. (which is actually so sweet.) I was DYING to get my hands on the house projects I had spent hours and hours just sitting there looking at and now I also had to endure sitting and watching someone else doing “nothing” right alongside me when in my mind there were so many things to do. I found myself starting to lash out at those I loved in an ugly attempt to get a handle on my world again. 


One day God spoke to me while I was laying in my bed, right smack dab in the middle of the frustration and the pain. The words He whispered were so brief and so simple, but they radiated right through me.  The Father, my Creator spoke directly to the centre of who I am and how I see myself.  


He said, “My Martha. Rest.”


Of the two sisters that are spoken of in the Bible I definitely have always identified with Martha more than with her sister Mary and to be honest, I was under the impression that Martha was the “bad one” and the “lesser” sister.


In Luke chapter 10 we read about how Martha, Mary and their family welcomed Jesus into their home. As Martha is hurriedly making preparations, her sister Mary is content to simply sit and listen to what Jesus’ is saying. Finally, in frustration Martha exclaims to Jesus, “Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"  Jesus responds to her with this, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." 


I always have read these words of Jesus’ in a disappointed, sighing voice, “Martha, Martha”.  To me His words felt like chastisement and scolding but on the day that God spoke those words straight to MY HEART the truth about God’s “tone” and the love in His voice became clear.


“My Martha. Rest”  


He was not handing out judgement to Martha or to me but instead He saw us for who we are, and made a declaration that we belonged to Him, exactly the way He made us, and on top of that Jesus offers us something …. a gift. 


As the perfect gift to all the Martha’s out there His is the offer to LIFT OUR BURDENS!! 


Lifting our burdens isn’t just giving us a helping hand once in a while but instead He’s offering to completely REMOVE the weightiness of the responsibility and the tasks we carry. 


His gift gives us permission to stop.


It’s a green light to enjoy the moment, a VIP pass that grants us access to a life of letting go and having a little fun or finding needed rest — guilt free. 


In His eyes we are NOT less if we aren’t busy. 

He’s not disappointed if we aren’t doing.


These past 18months I’ve learned that healing often takes longer than you think, healing is painful, and healing can be hard work. It's also often an extremely lonely place.  This is no different if we are talking about physical healing or healing of the soul. I have needed Jesus to heal my heart, my mind AND my body. It has not been as easy or as quick as I was promised. The process of letting go has led me through bouts of depression and anxiety, feeling completely overwhelmed by fear and failure and with that, the extremely humbling realization of how utterly human I am.  


At this point I don’t often get it right and day by day I have to work at unclenching my fists. It turns out that living burden free takes some practice. However, I now have a vision of what life could look like and I am fully committed to embracing that I am a Martha and that’s good; I am a Martha and I belong; I am Martha and the only things left for me to carry are HIS deep-seated JOY and unshakeable PEACE.


Guest Writer - Alison Dyck. Alison is a mom by day and a graphic designer by night. She is “Mom” to 4 kiddos, and can relate with the saying, that most days are like turning on a blender with the lid off. Somehow by God’s grace everyone is taken care of and His love and truth shine through the cracks and crevices along the way. Her husband Jonathan is the perfect balance to her creative, practical, homebody ways and luckily he doesn’t mind that she tends to “re-arrange” and tidy everything in sight. Alison enjoys a good cup of tea in the sunshine, gardening with her kids and her chickens.

Surrendering My Plans

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. - Matthew 7:20

I’ve had faith. I’ve trusted. I’ve believed. I’ve prayed. I’ve been bold. I’ve given it to God. But still my mountain hasn’t moved. It’s firmly, stubbornly stuck in place. My dreams for children remain that – a distant dream; a hope; a longing.

What do you do, when faith doesn’t move the mountain? Is this Scripture a lie? Or is my faith so shallow that it’s smaller even than a mustard seed? My answer: none of the above! Even in the depths of my sorrow and grief I know that my faith has never left me. I’ve been mad at God – absolutely! But I still know that He loves me and hears me. I also know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Scripture doesn’t lie. So there must be another answer.

I’d been pondering these thoughts for weeks and then heard a great sermon on precisely this topic – thanks Stephen! Sometimes God knows what you need to hear. It’s Not About “How Much Faith”. I’m not responsible for not being pregnant. Or more specifically, I still wouldn’t be pregnant if I had more faith. The important thing is not how much faith I have, but in whom I have faith.

My faith is in the same God who gave both Sarah and Elizabeth children in their old age. It’s in the God who created the whole universe. The Spirit of the God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in me. Whether I have a speck of faith or am completely faith filled … it’s still God who moves the mountain. He can do anything with my tiny bit of faith.

I Need To Redefine My Mountain

When I read these verses I see the mountain as my infertility. So when I don’t get pregnant, it feels like God hasn’t moved my mountain. But is it? It’s easy to look at Sarah and Elizabeth and claim their miraculous pregnancies for myself. But God had specifically spoken into both these situations, promising a child so as to fulfil His plans.

God also said “No” or “Not Yet” to people with a great faith. Paul prayed that his thorn be taken from him but God said “no”.

On other occasions, God’s people chose to trust Him, not knowing what the outcome would be. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that God could save them but, as they stepped into the fire, they didn’t know if he would. They stepped in anyway. What was the greatest miracle here? The fact that God saved them from burning, or the fact that they chose the fire over bowing down and worshipping the king?

Is my mountain my ability to surrender? Is it my trust in God? Is God helping me to grow closer to Him through this experience?

My prayer is that others will come to know Jesus through my life, or even through this blog. That is a mountain I know God wants to move!

Guest Writer: Helen Reimer. Helen cares passionately about justice, always fights for the underdog and loves Jesus with her whole heart. You can find more of her at jarsofclay.ca

Photo: CassievancampPhotography

Purpose Remains

Did you know that your purpose doesn’t end just because your plans have changed? Let me explain what I mean by that...

Six and a half years ago, after losing his battle with cancer, my husband took his last breath on this side of heaven. I held his hand and kissed his forehead and said, “Go, be with Jesus. We will be ok.” And then he was gone. Everything changed from that moment on. Our dreams, our future, our plans, everything gone. I remember walking out of the room and thinking, “But how God?! How am I going to be ok?”

To be honest, those first few years I was in survival mode. When Jeff passed away, my kids were 7,5, and 2 years old, and I was pregnant with our fourth, who would not be born for another 5 weeks. My only thought throughout the day was, when can it be bedtime? To even think about anything more than that was too much. I loved my kids dearly, but I missed being a wife so much. I missed having my partner; I missed doing life together the way we had planned. My dream since I was a little girl was to be married, to be a wife, and maybe to have a baby or two. I never dreamed of becoming a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer or anything else!! I never desired a career. All I wanted was to be a wife.

If I was honest with myself, my desire to be a wife had become an idol I desired more than anything else in the world. So after a few years of single parenting I felt kind of lost. It seemed like God had forgotten about me and my dreams and desires. I started to question what the purpose of life was even about! I wondered, “What's the point if you live and then just die, with absolutely no control over it?” I was allowing my anger and bitterness towards my circumstance to take root. I had even begun to see my kids through a lens of bitterness. I asked, ”Why God would you give me 4 kids to raise on my own??” I don't think I realized how much my identity was wrapped up in being a wife. And when it was gone, I was lost.

So I decided that I needed to find my “wife” identity again. I decided that I needed a new partner, another person to fill that void. I started to date, and let’s just say that it didn't end well. However, in the messiness of the breakup, God did bring me to a place where I started to search Him out, like REALLY search Him out.

I ended up spending 2 months in the Dube centre at the RUH in Saskatoon, and this is when God began to work in my heart. Although I had been a wife and I am a mother, those things are not my purpose. My purpose is to acknowledge and understand God’s gift of sending His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for me. My true purpose is to accept that He did it for me because He loved me and to live fully in that knowledge every day. No matter where I am or what I do, my purpose on this earth is to live an intentional God filled life!!

The last two years of my life have been this incredible journey of discovery about who I am in Christ. I spend time in the Word daily!! I have deepened my knowledge of God, and, more importantly, I have a close relationship with Him. I live life intentionally and parent the same way too. My relationship with my children has changed immensely, and we all have benefited from keeping our eyes focused on Him alone. My circumstances haven't changed, BUT GOD HAS CHANGED ME in my circumstances! I have no idea where life will lead me and my children, but I do know who leads us! And I know that God hasn’t called just me to this purpose; He has called us ALL to it. We are all called to share the good news of the gospel! How will you do it? Well that is what you and God will work out. As you study the word, you start to understand the passions God has given you. Those passions have DIVINE PURPOSE and HE will direct your path!

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (NLT). Trust God in your journey. Even if your plans change many times, He still has a purpose for your life, and IT’S GOOD!!

Guest Writer: Tamara Leland. Tamara is a busy mom of Brock, Halle, Bodhi and Sophie. They recently moved to Melfort, SK where they are setting down roots! She is a believer of Jesus Christ and is learning what all that means, as that is where her TRUE identity rests. She is excited to walk forward in this walk of Faith with every bump and hiccup... because she knows who walks beside her.

Seasons of Purpose

“Know the importance of the season you are in and wise you will be. But what a waste when an incompetent one sleeps through their day of opportunity.” - Proverbs 10:5 (TPT)

I’ve always been one to be holding out for “one day”, I found the Lord asking me to let go of my “what if” and “it will be better when” mentalities. He asked to me step back and see that it wasn’t going to be destinations or monumental moments that would be the highlights of my life - but the everyday, here and now, sometimes monotonous, moments that were woven together to form a diverse and seasoned life.

Seasons are ever changing, different, and purposeful, in all of our lives. They don’t often feel monumental, or exciting.

Ever the one to sit within the four walls of my home, staring out the window at the ice and cold, wondering when winter will pass, I felt the Lord whisper that even when I didn’t like the season, it still was necessary. It wasn’t without purpose.

And here the writer echos the whisper of the Lord: know the importance of the season you are in. 
Why is it important? Because even when it’s not a season that you enjoy, it still holds an opportunity.

It’s not always a harvest. But it may be an opportunity to sow. 
It’s not always warm. But it may be refreshing. 
It’s not necessarily colourful, but it could be a blank canvas.

It won’t always look like opportunity. 
Sometimes it’s disguised as waiting, and patience. Other times it shows up like discomfort, and stretching. 
Most of the time it arrives as trust, and faith.

I know what it is to embrace an opportunity in a season, and I know what it is to completely disregard the process, and miss the opportunity that the Lord has for me. Trust me when I say that no matter what the current season of your life looks like, He is orchestrating everything, for your good.

Don’t disregard the season that is in front of you. 
Sometimes it looks small, and insignificant. Sometimes it feels long and drawn out. 
Sometimes it seems cruel and unfair.

Ask the Lord to reveal to you the importance of the season that you are in, so you can embrace the unique and purposeful opportunity that He has for you.

Guest Writer: Taigan Bombay. Taigan is a wife, mom, dental hygienist and writer. She loves to write about her everyday struggles, victories, and encounters with God. Her hope is that through sharing her stories, it would be a source of encouragement and hope for others.

Moment by Moment

I recently visited my friend Mary in her quiet room tucked in the corner of an old folk’s home. It had been weeks since I had visited and typically, the longer I go without stopping by, the less I want to show my face. I begin to feel guilt for my absence, and this pushes me away. Lately, I’ve had good intentions to go, but my actions have not been in alignment. I had purposed to go, but I just kept making other choices. I think this is a common human struggle. Sometimes our intentions and our actions get out of alignment. When this persists, our hearts feel fragmented and our lives become off-kilter. 

I wonder if Mary the Mother of Jesus felt out of alignment as her life and plans crumbled before her? I wonder if she questioned and doubted and feared and felt the rigmarole of uncertainty as her tummy began to make room for the Giver of Life? 

Carrying Jesus to term wasn’t something that happened to Mary – it was something that she purposed to do. The Angel spoke the intention of God for Mary’s life and she responded from her heart – she allowed His intentions to become hers and as a result, His purposes became hers too.

Purpose means to intend. What lies at the root of our intentions? 

Who we are choosing to be, in that given moment. 

Mary chose to align her intentions with the Father’s and her willingness created a pathway for the conception and coming of the Christ child.

God’s intentions for you this December have greater purpose than your own plans could produce. He longs to shift your very being, moment by moment, to be more like Him. In the world of medicine, intention refers to the process of wounds healing. God heals us when he molds our intentions to be shaped by His complete love and unreserved acceptance of us. This is undeserved grace. When this happens, we become fully alive and available for His supernatural purposes.

This is how we, like Mary, are commissioned to carry the presence of God into the world desperate for His roaring hope. Instead of asking what you intend to do this December, I wonder, Who do you intend to be? Take some time to write about her and define her. 


What does she act like? 


How would you describe her presence? 


And when your intentions don’t align with your behavior, refuse to pile guilt or shame on yourself. Instead, receive full forgiveness and acceptance purchased for you on Calvary – and from that place of power – make your choice. Moment by moment.

Guest Writer: Kaitlyn Cey. Sisterhood Pastor at Elim Church. Through her work, play, rest and writing, Kaitlyn endeavours to promote the growth, engagement and flourishing of all people. You can find more of her at www.kaitlyncey.com

Shifting Atmospheres

There’s a shift in the atmosphere today. A smell of snow in the air. The crunchy fall leaves have been laden with the damp that makes them droopy and dull. I think it might snow tonight.


Seasons. Short, too long, bleak, or exhilarating. The one constant is that they are always changing. 


If I could sit across the coffee shop table from a young woman of faith today, I would like to tell her


Live the season you are in. Don’t wish for another, where you could be doing more

for the Kingdom

for the church

for the world.


If you are a devoted follower of Jesus you already have everything you need. You are already changing the world

one little-runny-nose at a time

one spread-sheet at a time

one kind-word-to-a-stranger at a time.


Because, it’s not about doing. It’s about being. 

Being available. 

Being kind. 

Being exactly who God created you to be. 


What is your one priority in this season of your life? Is it your family? Your job? Your friends? Choose wisely and prayerfully. 

Then, be. 

Be all you can be in that one priority. See where that takes you.

You might just shift atmospheres.


********


I get up in the middle of the night and peek out of the window. Fresh snow blankets the lawn, giving a shimmer to the dark that wasn’t there the night before. Hello snow. Hello Winter. I wonder what this season will bring … 


“Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” Andy Stanley


“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”  Matt. 11:28-30

Guest Writer: Joy Bailey. A wife, mom, grandma, writer, and lover of all things chocolate. You can find her at www.scrapsofjoy.com.

 

Shine On


We all have a calling on our lives. Every. Single. One of us.  We all have a reason that we are here, a purpose for our daily rhythms. I am a big believer in God taking even the terrible situations we sometimes find ourselves in, and turning them into something good. Something beautiful that can bring glory to His name, if we let Him. I often find myself asking “what was the purpose of that?” and maybe I don’t hear the answer right away, and maybe sometimes we never will, but I believe without a doubt that if we open our lives to Him, He will use that event in some way. There is a purpose for your life. For what you are going through, if you let God use you, He will.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Not exactly anyway…

When you hear the phrase “This is my calling” you most likely think of a career or ministry opportunity. You were called to go on that missions trip, you felt lead to go to a specific event where your life was changed, you felt called to go into a profession etc. And while yes, I too feel a calling over my life in certain areas, I also know women who have no idea what their ‘calling’ is or would be and they feel like they are left out of the club. Or maybe you have a calling that is unreachable right now so as you work towards it (or don’t) you stay where you are saying “maybe one day…”, “that’ll be nice when…”.

I believe that I (and you) have multiple “callings”. That God has created me (and you) for great things. In John 14:12, the Bible says “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done and even greater works…”. Even GREATER works! I don’t know how much you’ve read the Bible, but Jesus did some pretty amazing things.

As Christians I think we often hear the word “calling” and sluff it off too quickly. Because the truth is that we ALL have a calling and even if you don’t feel called to be a children’s pastor, a police officer or a lawyer who does good work,  you are still called to do even GREATER works than Jesus did while He was on earth. We are called to be a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14) shining brightly so that we cannot be hidden. We are called to be children of light (Ephesians 5:8… but you should read all of chapter 5, it’s all on living in the light)! We are called to be salt (Matthew 5:13). That one is my favorite. You are called to be salt, not sugar. Not everyone is going to like you my friends, but stand firm in the confidence you have in Christ. It’s very obvious that in our society we don’t have the most popular of beliefs. Jesus never said this was going to be easy or that everyone would agree with the Bible. He didn’t say “It’s okayy if you only believe half of what I say. Take what you want and leave the rest… I’m sure it’ll work out”. No no, He says we’ll actually be persecuted for living a godly life (2 Timothy 3:12). But we are called to be salt. Not Sugar. Yea? Okayy back to our callings.

WE ARE CALLED.

I believe we all have one calling in common, and that is, to be a light in the darkness. To shine.

When you decide to live your life for Christ, inviting Holy Spirit into your life to lead you and counsel you, asking Jesus to be your friend and to walk with you, when you call on God the Father to step in and take over, you are taking on the name of Christ. And we should not do that lightly. You are now known as a CHRIST-ian. You carry His name along with yours. Let’s all just let that sink in for a minute. You carry Jesus, wherever you go. To the grocery store, into the mall to buy christmas presents, when you go to your neighbors house for coffee and when you sit at your desk at work, you are representing Christ. And who was He? The Light of the world (John 8:12).

No pressure!

So what on earth am I talking about? What does this mean? Let me give you 3 examples of what this calling means in your life, today. How to ‘shine on’ if you will.

1. You release light wherever you go.

When I was young I remember walking into a little shop with my mom downtown, Saskatoon. I have no idea what was in it or what it was called but I can remember entering through the door and feeling a weight hit me. I felt heavy and dark and I didn’t know what to do with that feeling. I left immediately and told my mom that shop wasn’t right, it wasn’t okayy to go in there, so we moved on. Even as a young girl I could sense the darkness. I didn’t understand it, but I knew it was there.

The only difference between that young girl and who I am now (okayy there is actually a lot of differences thank you Lord!) is that now I know in whose authority I walk in. I know that if I were to walk into that shop today, I would be releasing the light of Christ into that place and it would no longer be dark, because we all know that where there is light, darkness can no longer be! Praise GOD!  

You are called to walk with Jesus every step of the way sister! So take His hand, and walk confidently knowing that He, the one who loves you so much that he gave His life for you, is walking with you and has your back. That makes me so excited! Are you walking with Him today? Is your Shine on?

2. You can pray into any and all situations, right now.

Prayer can sometimes be this intimidating thing. Like we don’t know the right scriptures to use or the right “christian-ese” phrase for something so we just stay quiet in hopes someone else might pray. But how are we ever supposed to get any better at something if we don’t start from where we are today? Just. Start. Praying. Let Holy Spirit (who lives IN you and has obvious connections to the big guy) lead you, and even if you start small with one or two sentences, that's enough. Father is waiting to hear from you, His beloved daughter.

Pray with your boyfriend. Husband. kids. Mom. Grandpa. Best friend. The teller at your bank. The homeless man on the corner. Your waitress at dinner. A prayer doesn’t have to be 10 minutes long, although sometimes we need a good long chat with our Dad. He hears you. He sees you. Pray, talk to Him, thank Him, give Him the glory. This small step will grow your relationship with Him stronger and stronger daily.

I remember the first time my best friend and I prayed for a headache in the middle of the hallway at our high school. Her hands touched my head “In Jesus name, I command this headache to be gone”. That was it. It even started out as almost a joke, like “as if it works like this, but wouldn’t that be cool?!” and then I froze. Because that horrible migraine I had been facing all day was gone with the snap of a finger. Lifted. I was free. It was like Jesus whispered to us “I am right here, just ask” and we giggled and ran away with Joy.

You are called to do GREATER works than Him. Jesus turned the water into wine and healed the crippled walk, he can absolutely take away that headache. But you have to first call on Him. You have to have a relationship with Him. Just. Start. Praying. Don’t wait until you are in the safety of your home where no one else is around! You bump into someone at the mall who complains of being sick, Is your shine on?  

3. You share it with the world.

Matthew 28:19 says “...go and make disciples of all the nations…”! He doesn’t say “If you feel called to be the lead Pastor, speak from the pulpit once a week and hope the word spreads!”, can you imagine? He says “GO!” You sister, are called to spread the good news of the gospel of Christ with the world! For some of you that may mean traveling across the world and for some of you it might mean stay in this city and be Jesus to those around you! Make disciples. Walk with Jesus and help others do the same.

THAT, is your calling. That Is my calling.

So dear sister, that leaves us with one question. Is your shine on?

Xo

Guest Writer: Julia Friesen warrior-mama.ca

Photo Credit: Lovely Roots Photography

Finding Freedom

Where are you?

Who told you that?

What are you seeking?

Why are you afraid?

How much MORE?

The first time God asked these questions was in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had just been deceived by the serpent, and had eaten the fruit. Before then, they were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 3:5). Living FREE in who God created them to be. With eyes completely focused on their father. But then they ate the fruit ...

 and the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.  Then [they] heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from [Him] among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 

He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.” 

God said, “Who told you you were naked?

One moment - SECURE in their identity. Eyes focused on their creator. Living out their purpose in the freedom they had been given.

The next moment - Their identity compromised, eyes focused inward, ashamed of their 'nakedness' that had become a part of them.

And so began the fight to recover our freedom.

What a love story.

I spent much of my late teens and early twenties desperately trying to discover my identityI loved Jesus, but I was more consumed with trying to fit in and look the part rather than seeing His outstretched hand calling me to just sit and be washed in His love and truth. I made it more complicated than it needed to be. I gave Him pieces of my heart but clung desperately to other areas of it - for what? For fear that I would lose control? For fear that I would be left with nothing? If I'm being 100% honest, I held on because I didn't fully trust Him...yet.

I was so good at getting in the way of my own advancement. My insecurities and fears kept me from living fully in who God created me to be. I allowed the world to define me and slap labels on me that didn't belong -- but I accepted them as part of myself and became hidden under the weight of trying to keep up appearances. Without fully realizing it, I let the enemy’s lies cycle on repeat in my mind -- accusing me of being less than, not worth it, unimportant, easily forgotten.

If the criteria for being one of His chosen was 'have it all together at all times' I would be a lost cause. I am so thankful for grace. For His patience with me as I've slooooowly discovered Whose I am and stepped into FULL freedom. It's taken me a good 30 years to finally rest securely in my identity. To stop searching and looking for acceptance from outside sources, to release EVERY. SINGLE. THREAD. of my heart to the Creator of all things.

                          So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Freedom

I didn't fully understand FREEDOM until just recently. Sure, I understood the concept. I claimed it and lived in it, but only in pieces. We sing about it in church and know we have been freed from the curse of sin and death (Rom 8:2) but FULL FREEDOM?! THAT is a game changer.

FULL FREEDOM means -- Confidence in your identity in Christ. It means loving FULLY the woman God created you to be (yes, every part of that woman). It means being so sure of Whose you are and who you are that comparison, judgement, insecurity, inferiority -- anything that would cause you to see another woman as a threat rather than a blessing loses its grip on you. It means not caring anymore what other people think, not being weighed down by the fear of being rejected by people, because you're so completely set on the heart of the Father. Full freedom means letting go completely of old mindsets and patterns of thought. It means releasing the limitations you've placed over yourself, letting go of needing to be in control, and stepping into the sweet purposes God has prepared you for. When you've experienced this freedom in FULL, you know it.

'What are you seeking?'

'Why are you afraid?'

I was only ever seeking more. More of Jesus, even though I was clinging to pieces of my heart I didn't want to surrender. I wanted freedom. I needed freedom. Still, parts of me were afraid to fully step into the abyss and free fall until He caught me, because I didn't fully trust Him yet. But I kept asking for MORE.

'How much More?'

MORE

how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!(Matt 7:11)

Because everyone who keeps asking will receive, and the person who keeps searching will find, and the person who keeps knocking will have the door opened.(Matt 7:8)

My journey towards freedom has come in small increments. He walked me through an eating disorder, saved me from myself and gave me freedom from it. He challenged the lies I had accepted as my truth, lies like 'I have no voice, I am insignificant, I am unlovable’, and replaced them with His words of affirmation. Even after ALL that, though I didn't realize it at the time, I was still living prisoner in other areas

Often, the path to claiming our freedom doesn't look the way we had anticipated. I would have been totally ok if my freedom had gone like this:

Me: Jesus. My mindset sucks. I'm so homesick for You. I'm tired of caring what people think, of feeling like I'm not good enough. I'm tired of being a prisoner to insecurity and comparison.

Jesus: waves His hands in the air *Freedom Granted

That's not exactly how things happened.

I remember specifically praying for freedom in a particular area where my health was involved. My dad called and told me he had been praying for me, and really felt like God was saying I needed to stop running. I was an AVID runner. Like...6 days a week, at LEAST 5 km a day. I didn't just run because I loved it, I ran because I was afraid of what would happen if I stopped. I heard what my dad said, but I shrugged it off. I distinctly remember thinking 'if God is actually speaking and telling me to stop running, He'll tell me Himself'.

Here ‘s the thing, there will ALWAYS be room for pruning, for refining. When He answers our prayers, often it’s in a way we weren't expecting. When we don’t keep our hearts teachable and trainable we risk stifling our growth by rejecting the life raft He sends for us. But the truth is, God loves us too much to leave us the way we are. So when we say "no thank you" to His answer, if it's something that is for our benefit, you better believe He will get our attention to prune that thing out one way or another.

A week after talking to my dad, I tripped on my own feet and broke my arm.

I couldn't run for six months.

By no means am I saying ‘God broke my arm’ but just as he allowed a large fish to swallow Jonah to get his attention, I know he allowed my feet to get caught up in my laces to get my attention. It's hilarious to look back at my hard headedness now, but that moment started the catapult of transformation and surrender of all the little pieces I was holding to so tightly.

And so He asks,

Where are you? Who told you that?  -- as if the God of the universe doesn't know where we are. But in His gentle love, He pursues us and lets us choose whether we answer Him or not. He gives us grace to share where our hearts are. He whispers,“Where is your heart, beloved?”And when we answer, with what we have allowed to steal our focus, what we have allowed to become apart of our identity, He swoops in gently and asks -- who told you that?

The reality is, if He didn't speak it over us, if it can't be lined up with His word, it has no place taking residence in our hearts and minds. This challenges me to live a life unhindered by cover-ups. To live in the fullness of the life we've been gifted with. To throw off the criticisms and opinions of others and keep my eyes FOCUSED on my truth. To keep my heart tender and renewed in His promises.

When you know Whose you are, when your identity is fully rooted in truth, when you experience the freedom that comes when you can finally LOVE yourself FULLY in all your perfectly imperfect ways -- look out world. A woman who is steadfast in her identity and confident in her Christ-given ability is a woman who changes atmospheres. Let’s choose to be those women who are so confident in His love for us and our own beauty that comparison and judgement are foreign concepts to us. Let’s choose to be those women that can embrace another woman's calling and influence without questioning our own.

You are on purpose.

Created for a purpose.

Planted where you are to fulfill that purpose.

You are not an accident, an afterthought, or an 'extra'

Your turn:

Where are you?

Who told you that?

What are you seeking?

Why are you afraid?

How much MORE?

My word will not return to me void [useless, without producing any effect] it will accomplish that which I please and purpose. It will prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

You will go out with joy and be led forth [by God himself and his word] with peace. (Isaiah 55:12)

 

Sisterhood Soul Roots

She stopped me suddenly and clenched my sweaty hands in her strong ones. I’ve come to appreciate the clasp of aged hands; they mean wisdom is being lavished.

Her crystal eyes penetrated with concern. She said, “You are going to burn yourself out if you don’t slow down. I know how it is—you are new and you want to prove you can do it all. Don’t do it! I’ve been there, I’ve experienced it and I don’t want it to happen to you…”

The day before, I sent a quick text asking a friend for help setting up a party. She graciously and wisely said no, and gave a suggestion for another avenue I could take. She knows the voice of Jesus and her highest aim is to walk in obedience to Him. She listens and moves in rhythms of grace and believes Jesus when He says:

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – MSG

She lives a grace dance with her soul roots stretched in grace ground.

Too often, I have kept moving because I thought I needed to … but I am learning that my utmost need is to be found at the feet of Jesus. Bowed low in surrender, listening, clearing clutter to get close to His heart.

Later that same day, a coffee shop table held cups of conversation –my friend Genny oozed new passion for wholeness and health. Her eyes dazzled as she explained surprises Jesus keeps leaving on her path, like a little girl on a treasure hunt, she described finding shimmering gifts and the joy of abiding.

Prayer before saying “yes”.
Knowing the wise “no”.
Risk-taking boldness.
Accessing The Holy Spirit for strength.

I want to know when to say no.
I want hands hard at work in response to God’s leading and timing.
There is rest here.
There is space to move and breathe and be sustained by Father God.

On October 29th, Sisterhoodyxe presents Restore My Soul, an event where God’s rest and His commission to care can beat together. After all, the world is transformed one heart at a time.

You are invited to participate as we expand, with many hands, the Kingdom of God in our city. Come with expectancy and tampons. (Yes, you read that correctly!) In fact, bring any of the following: tampons, pads, bars of soap, deodorant, small hand sanitizer, package of plain underwear, make-up remover wipes or a $5 Tim Horton’s or McDonalds card. Before the event, we will prepare individual, woman-to-woman, packages for girls in need in our community. These will be distributed through EGADZ Youth Center as a tangible expression of God’s love.

So come, those who are thirsty, and settle your soul roots in grounded grace and let love grow.

Get Your Hopes Up

Get your h o p e s up.

"...with joy let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance of eternal salvation. Such hope in God’s promises never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 2:3-5

I've been listening to this song called "Get Your Hopes" up, for the past few weeks. I really like it, it's positive and up beat. I want to believe the things that it declares, but I will admit that there is a part of me that always says in the back of my mind, "Being hopeful is good, but I have to be realistic. The chances of ... happening are really unlikely."

There is this innate thing with in me that says "I won't get my hopes up too much, because then if it doesn't happen, or it doesn't work out, or I never get delivered from this problem, I won't be too disappointed."

I had an off week. I felt distant from God. Tired. Discouraged. Fed up. Maybe even a bit hopeless.

Yesterday as I was "having it out" with God, I felt Him leading me to scripture and YouTube clips that had to do with being steadfast. Building a history with Him. Remaining hopeful and faithful in the midst of unanswered prayers, and questions.

I felt this passage in Romans breath life into me, and then it reminded me of James 1.

"Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith, through experience, produces endurance leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed in your faith, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

In hindsight, I can see the Lords hand in my life, working this verse out. Often someone who would rather run from a problem, than wait for a solution - believing that I just wasn't important enough to Him to experience peace, or answered prayer - time and time again, I come back to this verse.

We don't just wake up mature in the Lord. No matter how many bible verses we memorize as a child, or sermons we take in, the developing of our faith - the kind that leaves us lacking nothing - comes from pain, trials, discomfort, pressure, experience.

If we don't run. 
Give up. 
Throw our hands in the air, and resolve that doing it our own way is better.

The promise of James 1 is that we will lack nothing, if we don't stop. That our patient endurance comes from experience. And this will lead us to a maturity in Him. The kind that builds a history with God.

And the result is that we learn to remain in this state of unwavering hope, time and time again, because we know, through our own experience, that it never disappoints.

Because He never disappoints.

When we remember this truth, there is no falling into the slump of "what if He doesn't come through." or "I won't get my hopes up, just in case."

It's time to get your hopes up.

Covering hope with a safety net isn't necessary, because it doesn't fail. It doesn't disappoint.

Strength and wisdom in the kingdom looks foolish to the world. Naturally, our mind wants to say "don't get too positive, don't get too hopeful, because if it doesn't come to pass, I can say I was prepared for the outcome."

Pride tells us that we need to remain cautiously optimistic, because the chances of something bad happening are greater than the chances of something good happening. And it's best to be prepared for the worst.

When your mind takes you to worry, for the places that the Lord has already spoken for, remind yourself of the promise of Romans 5:

Problems require patience endurance.
Patient endurance produces proven character, and hope. 
Hope never disappoints.

Over and over again.

If He hasn't brought the answer to your problem, keep enduring. Sometimes the answer is a deeper level of maturity, something you didn't even know you needed.

There is no room for "I told you so's." Or "I figured it wouldn't work out". His Hope never disappoints.

This is the beauty of remaining hopeful in the Lord: He is faithful to answer, and the more we remain patient, and endure the race, the more we see His goodness. It develops our relationship with Him, and it allows us to look back, when we face another hardship, and remember what He brought us through before. That is more valuable than any deliverance, or timely word.

Remain steadfast. 
Patiently endure. 
Keep going.

Let your guard down. 
Get your hopes up.

Prove God is Real

Many of us ask God to prove that He is real.

We need a sign. 
An answer. 
A divine encounter.

You name it, we've asked for it. Our whole faith and belief can be hinged on the conditions that we place on Him, and what we think is proof of His reality. I've done this almost my entire life, up until about 6 months ago.

I asked God why some people stay where they are in their relationship with Him, and why others seem to progress, and hear from Him more. Does He choose favourites? Does He predestine who can hear from Him? Are there some that are just better "set up" to know Him more.

Quietly He whispered "You will seek me, and find me. When you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

The answer isn't it performance or worth. It's not based on jumping through hoops, or a score sheet, that He is constantly keeping track of.

It's in the seeking.

YOU will need to seek Him if you want to know Him.

In our drive thru, breakthrough society, we have this idea that when we want something, we should immediately get it. And we don't stop with God.

"God reveal yourself to me." 
"God why do you let bad things happen to good people?" 
"God why don't you fix this?" 
"God if you are real you'll _______ for me."

We demand instead of seek. 
We wait instead of work. 
We talk instead of listen.

He's got a lot to say, but He isn't a clanging symbol, He's a gentle whisper.

If you want to find Him. If you want to see Him. If you want to hear Him. If you want to know Him, beyond your kindergarten level of knowing, you will need to seek Him.

You'll need to pray, and listen. 
You'll need to read, and digest. 
You'll need to push through when it's hard. When it's exhausting. When you don't want to.

You'll need to do all of that, with all of your heart. 
Like your life depends on it, because it does.

It's not enough to just have proof that He is real. You need to desire to know Him, until you can't live without Him. Until you so deeply know that He is real, that none of this is worth it, without Him.

All of His promises are yes + amen. 
And this is the promise: You. WILL. Find. Me. 
When? 
When you seek me with ALL of your heart.

That is the difference: the all.

If you are asking God for a sign, I challenge you to start asking Him who He is, rather than proof.

He doesn't ask you to jump through hoops before He believes in you, and you shouldn't require that of Him.

Just seek Him. 
Talk to Him.
Read His word.
Ask Him to give you the drive to seek with ALL of you.

When you do, you will find Him.

Feels Like Taking Steps Backwards

Sometimes it feels like I am taking great steps backwards.

As I think back over the last few years of my life, I often think about where I would have been, if I hadn't have taken so many steps backwards.

This past week I was kind of stuck on that.

What I have come through, where I am going. Moments of feeling anything but progressive, and everything like time wasted.

Regressed. 
Stagnant. 
In a holding pattern.

As I was *working through this* with the Lord, I instantly saw a picture of a sling shot appear in my mind.

"You weren't regressing, you were catapulting."

Sometimes the things that we see as the biggest set backs in life, aren't that at all.

They are the tension that is drawing you backwards, so that you can be launched into the future thing you wouldn't have accessed, unless you had the pullback.

I am learning that often times when we say yes to God, He will walk us through seasons that aren't even necessarily for us, but so that when others walk them, we can take out our itinerary from that journey, and guide them through it.

And it feels a lot like regression.

Slingshots aren't meant to hurl large objects. They require small, light, and seemingly unimportant things, to function properly.

Stones. 
Marbles.
Acorns.

When I looked up what the best things for sling shots to launch, almost everyone said "If it is something small, light, and well rounded, your accuracy will be much better."

When you make a decision to be used by God, you choose to bow low. Becoming humble and useful in His hands. Small, in the presence of a big God.

A lot of us come to Him with rough edges. We are anything but smooth. The jealousy, anger, need for attention, or being right - they are all harsh responses, that keep us in rough shape.

He asks us to shake off the heavy things. 
The anxiety, depression, worry, doubt, and fear. So we can be set free. Weightless, and light.

And when He works out our imperfections, with His perfect love, He can use us.

It takes time. And He is so patient, and set on doing it right. He's not in a rush.

"Now I'm ready God, I can feel it. Use me. Send me. Give me a purpose. A blessing. A breakthrough, I'll take any of it!"

We feel his hands picking us up, and placing us in His purposes. Secure in Him.

And just when we think that we have arrived, we feel the tension.

The pull of the sling shot taking us backwards.

One hand pulling us back, the other hand stabilizing the sling, and His eye on the destination, where He is launching us.

I told my husband that I had never felt such exponential spiritual growth in all of my life, like I have on the last 6 months. I thought maybe God was just giving me a summer school class on life, to make up for all of the lost time, and failed assignments.

All of the steps backwards.

Now I am seeing that He was preparing and teaching me, the whole time.

He doesn't have to make up for what I didn't do right, He takes it all from the onset to the end, and He uses it for my good.

He is outside of time, and seasons. He sees it all as our collective journey. And He isn't concerned with when we get to where we are going, but rather the state in which we arrive, when we get there.

He picks us up.
He prepares us. 
He holds us in His hand. 
He conditions us.

He makes sure we are light, small, and well rounded.

And just when we think that we are too far gone, and have travelled a million steps backwards, He releases us from the sling, and launches us.

Using us from the onset. 
Placing tension on us for a season. 
Launching us in an instant.
Preparing us the whole time.

Catapulting us into our destiny. 🏹