Faith

The Testimony that Forever Transformed my Devotional Life

I hear it all the time: I don’t do devotions.

Guilt ridden people share about their struggles, giving every excuse from lack of time, to distraction and even to doubt that it is necessary.

I was once one of them. My devotions were mindless prayers before the table as my thoughts were a hundred miles away. My time spent with God was non-existent.

But in 2014, I heard a testimony that changed everything. Being with God was no longer a list on my things to do, it was the first thing I wanted to do. In fact, I was so radically changed that I believed I was better off spending time with God than eating or sleeping. This meant in a very real way that if I had to chose between spending time with God and sleep, it wasn’t even a question in my mind – I chose God.

Ah yes, 2014. The year I had a 7 year old, 5 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old and a colicky newborn.

I remember it well, well meaning folks telling me as a young mom that seeking God is unimportant in those years… God understands, they say.

The truth is yes, he understands. It’s true. He’s not angry with anyone for not spending time with him.

But the thing is, that’s not the point!

Our entire existence was never meant to be about trying to avoid angering God – what a terrible way to live! What a false and warped view of God!

The point is that overtired, overworked and unappreciated Mother’s need him desperately, and devotions were never meant to be spending time with God out of some religious guilt.

It becoming so convinced that your faith is the only thing you have of value, that you actually begin to live like it is.

So 2014… I was going through depression, I was physically in the worst shape of my life, I had five kids and very little help with them. I was constantly overwhelmed. I couldn’t fit in five minutes to pray.

And I went to a conference that changed me forever.

A young woman came on stage to tell her testimony. She spoke of her years getting a masters degree in a difficult field (I forget what it was) and how much time a day she had to herself… which was NO time. She literally went to school, did homework, went to work, did homework and then maybe got four hours of sleep in before she had to repeat the exhausting cycle all over again. She was almost burnt out.

But then one day, she happened to cry out to God and she felt him telling her to tithe.

“But how God,” she responded, “I have no money!”

God responded simply: “I’m not talking about your money child, I’m asking for your time. Give me 10% of your time and I will multiply it.”

She obeyed. And slowly, she began spending more and more time with God, because she desired him so much! She eventually spent from 3-4 hours a day with him and had more time than ever before! Where it came from was a mystery to her. The rest of her story was remarkable. Her time was literally multiplied. She began getting six or more hours of sleep a night. Her grades went up.

Just from being with Jesus. The Creator.

He knows how we are formed. He knows how life works. The question was not, did I have time, rather, did I really believe that being with God was important? That it could change my life?

Now six years later…I’ve been asked by many people how I manage my time with five kids. How I get everything done, how we seem to be on time for the most part, how everything – from cooking, to cleaning, to sports, to homework and music lessons – how everything gets done… and I often just smile and say I don’t know.

But you know what it really is?

God has multiplied my time.

By spending time with God each day, he has taught me, slowly, step by step how to manage life. How to stretch my money to make ends meet. How to survive under the most difficult situations. How to organize chaos.

You see, it was never me! It’s my time with a God! Read my journal and you will see the difficult questions I ask him each day. I don’t have the answers!

But he does.

And learning this truth, that life just works so much better when it’s walked by his side, changed everything for me.

I challenge my readers to take this testimony to heart. You don’t have time? Then I’m definitely talking to you! Give God an hour, wake up early if you have to just to sit with him, listen to him. Pour out your thoughts and troubles, allowing him show you a better way. It will transform you.

I promise.

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Authenticity · Faith

The Art of Being Real

Just kidding.

There’s no art.

There’s no secrets.

It comes with realizing that people will pretty much think what they will of you and what you pretend to be (or not be) with have little effect on their opinions of you. Whether you’re honest or not, people will think what they’re inclined to think.

In fact, I would go as far to say that what people say about others, reflects their own heart more than anything else.

I’m not saying that everyone should be a total jerk and it doesn’t matter. Don’t be ridiculous. Be nice. Be kind. Chose to sometimes just close your mouth if you have nothing nice to say.

But, for heavens sake, be honest.

For if someone speaks really well of you, they are most certainly a person who tries to see the best in others because, let’s face it, most things people do are really not that outstanding.

And if people speak negatively about you, then they are most likely an insecure person who feeds on negativity. They like putting others down because it makes them feel better about their own lives.

When you stop to see people, I mean – really see them – you begin to realize that there’s not really that many terrible people out there.

There are just people.

Having good days. Having bad days. Trying to do their best with the cards they’ve been dealt.

And sometimes they’re pretty awful cards. These people are trying to swim while they’re drowning and all the while keeping up with the Joneses, who are also keeping the Joneses beside them…

And being real, is a simple step of saying, “Hey, you and I are really just not cut out to live the lifestyle of Mr & Mrs Jones…and that’s Ok. I’m fine with just being me. And you’re pretty great too.

I’ll stick to being me.

In my beautiful country house.

On my not so beautiful country yard.

In my mom body (when did that start to be an insult?)

In my broken, but determined faith.

Eating my bacon cheese burgers and poutine.

Writing a blog to no one in particular about life in my large, crazy, beautiful family.

Because this is real.

And I really, really like it. Perhaps, others will like it too. And together we can be enjoy how beautiful differences really are.

Cake Decorating · Vulnerability

My Love/Hate Relationship with Cakes

So I decorate cakes sometimes. And for the most part I’m happy with how they turn out:

Usually.

But then you get those cakes, where they just turn out the worst. Like today’s cake.

Ugh.

It started out ok. I formed a cute little Dumbo.

And a cute little bow…

And then I thought, hey, I should try a new icing recipe because I am getting tired of the one I usually use.

Now I remember why I hate trying new things!The icing was super soft and would not form a crumb coat. If the cake was covered with fondant, this would’ve not been a problem. But as the customer had ordered a chocolate cake covered with white icing, this was a huge problem!

As you can see there’s already crumbs in my first coat. I count on this crumb coat to harden so that I can do another layer of icing over, therefore not getting any crumbs in the second coat.

Literally one hour later this was the best I could do:

Not smooth at all!!!

Here is my first take on the top of the cake. I was not happy with it at all. The icing is just not smooth enough, plus it was so soft which made my fondant literally sink into the icing. Adding extra icing sugar would’ve made it too sweet so I was stuck! So I tried to redo the top. This is what I ended up with:

I know, I know, it looks okay. And if this was for me I wouldn’t be complaining. But someone is paying for the cake and it definitely wasn’t my best work.

So the lessons I learnt today:

1) Only try new recipes for my own cakes, this way there’s no harm done if they don’t turn out.

2) I don’t do well under pressure (actually, I learn this daily)…

3) It’s ok to post about my mistakes. I could’ve edited this cake picture until it looked perfect, but then, everyone else has a false picture of my reality and honestly, when everyone else is airbrushed we begin to hold ourselves to those unrealistic expectations.

4) I’m tempted to say no to ever making another cake, but I won’t do that. I will try again.

So show your flaws. And when you fail, get back up again.

And please, at the very least, take lots of pictures and blog about it.

Autumn · Family · Food · Parenting

My First Week of “Freedom” – It was all a Hoax

Back to school! All the Mom’s cheer…

Really?

Don’t believe it for one second, I tell you!

That cup of coffee never got finished…just saying.

First week back, well, you heard about our first day, but let’s just say the next two didn’t go any better! On the third day of school I received a call that Dallas (in grade 2) had really hurt his foot during recess. Being laid back (and also, having dealt with many twisted ankles, sore legs and bruised bones), I sort of shrugged it off until the next day. Dallas still couldn’t put weight on it the second day, so away we went to ER and, long story short, he is in a cast for two weeks.

How we are going to keep him from wrecking the other leg…I do not know, because literally this is what it looks like a week later:

Yeah… he somehow decided to go on the zip line and jumped off into my garden. Barefoot!!!

Boys, I tell you! It’s like they have a built in self-destruct button!

The second week I have had some busy moments and some calm ones, but I’m in the process of harvesting the last of my vegetables for the season and canning takes SO much time! But I got to canning some pasta sauce, which is my least favourite thing to can, so now it’s just salsa!

I also did a lot of baking because, oh my word, are school lunches ever expensive!!

And last but not least I am making cakes for others again!! This is something I have a love/hate relationship with. I love it because it is like doing arts and crafts…but I hate it because I literally make about $4 an hour for my time. Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on but I think I’ll do a separate post about it later:

And burger week! I can’t forget burger week!!We have such a thing in our small city as burger week and participating restaurants each make their own specialty, limited-time, burger to be voted on …so of course Ryan and I had to go to try at least one:

It was amazing!! And I still feel full. Yes, I did finish the whole thing. 😋

So there you have it! My first four-day-week of having half-days with no kids around in over 13 years!! It’s amazing how much I can pack into a day with them gone. However, when they come home the life returns to our house and once again it’s chaotic and loud….and I realize that I truly have missed them.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from them. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the one whose quiver is full of them…”

Psalm 127:3-5

Family · Parenting

I was Almost Supermom…

The key word being almost.

That is my back to school line up of kids…such a good looking bunch! The photo was taken after school, because, well, I literally flopped the first morning of our family public/private school experience.

We were up at 6am. Every last one of us. Breakfast was eaten. We even did family devos. The kids made their own lunches. I looked like Super Mom!

Can I stop right there?

No.

Because that, my friends, is where life came in. My daughter was full of nerves and was stressing about what to wear and such. She wanted her hair curled so I offered to do it for her. Her hair is thick, and I’m no hairdresser (there’s a reason the good Lord gave me four boys and only one daughter). So, granted, it took a bit longer than I expected. But we had time…I thought. When who should pull up but the bus driver a good 5-10 minutes early. My daughter was horrified (the boys were ready faster than her) and she ran out with one shoe on halfway.

Ok. Whew… three down. Two to go.

My older son, now being in a private school, comes out in sweatpants that could fit my youngest. I stare at him, aghast. Where did I go wrong?!?

“Your not wearing that.” I say shuddering. It’s a command, not a statement.

“It’s all I have.” He shrugs.

I look through his selection. Sure enough, he must’ve grown half a foot over summer. All of them are ankle pants. Every single one of them. It’s too cold for shorts. How did I not notice this before today?!?

So I grab the keys. I’m about to go on a spontaneous shopping spree, 25 minutes before school starts. Glancing in the rear view mirror, I stare back at the morning glory that appears before my eyes. Hair sticks out in all the wrong places, circles under my eyes reveal the true story behind getting five kids ready for the day.

Shouldn’t have looked.

Oh well. It’s my kids that matter, right?!? I mean, if they look good, I look good – I reason to myself. So away we go. We arrive at Superstore.

15 minutes. I have 15 minutes to find pants and get my son to school.

I’m not fussy. We’ll make it. I know we will.

Except for one problem. Superstore, the clerk informs me after a frantic 5 minute search, does not sell clothes for teenage boys. Yup. You heard me. There are about 5 million pairs of pants for women and girls. But not one single pair that fits my boy. Nor do they sell belts (I asked).

Now frantic, because my son is wearing sweatpants that I wouldn’t want to be buried in, I grumble out a thank you to the clerk and rush out of the store. I am now in overwhelm. Nothing else is open in my small town that calls itself a city. Wally’s world it is.

I run in as if I’m participating in an Amazing Race Episode, grab the first pair of $8 pants I see and race back to the car (stopping to pay of course, because if I’m going to steal, it definitely won’t be an ugly pair of Walmart pants).

I force my horrified son to change as we drive. We pull up to the school. Five minutes late. My mind flashes back to the Gilmore Girls episode where Lorelai brings Rory late to her first day of fancy private school dressed in a slutty cowboy outfit. I have become Lorelai Gilmore. I am literally the world’s worst mom.

Sighing I lead my son to his new classroom. Empty. I exhale hard. Ok fine then. Desperately, I search for any sign of life. The children are in the chapel. Poor Isaiah gets escorted to the front of the room to his classmates in front of the whole school.

And as I watch this scene play out before my eyes in deep shame, my gaze falls down to my boys new pants, which are sitting right above his ankles…

Man, and I thought homeschooling was hard.

Autumn · Family · Parenting

And Just Like That – It’s Fall!

Ahhh, September. Beautiful September!

It happens to be my favourite month of the year because…

A) It still has days that feel like summer.

B) Because autumn is beyond gorgeous. 🍂 😍Seriously Canada is beautiful in the fall! It even smells good. Okay aside from the farmers around me dumping manure on their fields…

C) Running gets better in fall. No more heatwaves that cause me to sweat before I’ve left the driveway… The scenery is 👌🏻.

D) Because I’m a nerd 🤓 and I love all things back to school! Yes, even when I homeschooled I looked forward to school. In every single grade of my childhood public and private school years, I looked forward to school AND now that my children are all leaving me (for the first time EVER!) to go to public school, I’M STILL EXCITED!!!

School is just such a privilege. Reading, writing, routine, friendships, classrooms, new books, and supplies! Gah! I could just go on and on about my love for it.

Someday I will go back to school… someday…

But for now, I will jealously watch my five kiddos taking it all in.

My daughter is nervous to go to school, and understandably so, because she is about to enter grade 6 and hasn’t been to public school since kindergarten. Bella has a quick wit though and is super outgoing, so I’m totally confident that these feelings will pass!

My four boys are all excited, like – they can’t wait – excited. I credit that to our homeschool years and us discovering that learning can be fun together. My kids also all love reading, because, well… let’s just say I make sure they read the right books that are well written.

We will pass on the “LEGO- Ninjago” and “Zac Powers” mind fluff thank you very much.

Seriously parents. If you want your kids to learn to love reading, give them something good to read!!

A few of our favorites for earlier chapter book readers:

“Frindle” by Andrew Clement

The “I Survived Series” were interesting for young boys because they were packed full of action. Ok, I personally found them a bit boring, but I loved my boys reading them because they were all based on different historical events! My boys now know more about the San Francisco Earthquakes of 1906 or the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 than I do, thanks to these books! (Written by Lauren Tarshis)

“Owls in the Family” by Farley Mowat

“Holes” by Louis Sachar

“A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“Number the Stars” and “The Giver” by Lois Lowry

“Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Ronald Dahl

“The War That Saved my Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

And one of my kid’s favourite mystery series, “The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stuart.

I could just go on and on here because there are so many books that they love! I hope you’ll pardon the rabbit trail, because I love sharing favourite book titles since I personally like it when others do! I’m always on the hunt for well written book (especially for my kids!) I should also add that once you find a good author, you often hit a jackpot of wealth and find good books for another few weeks!

Anyways, carrying on…

This month brings so much change for our family, but I can’t help but feel it is a very, very good thing. Change causes us to self reflect. It makes us take an honest look at everything we are currently doing and what choices have brought us to the place we are. Change causes us to think back on the good and bad changes we’ve made in the past.

This is so healthy to do yearly! When life gets rushed and all that you become focused on is staying afloat, it is very hard to stop and make the changes necessary to thrive.

BUT when the season shifts and things naturally change, I have learnt to take full advantage of it! Carefully combing through my schedule, I ask myself what is beneficial to us, that we need to keep in doing, what is harmful to us that we need to stop and what might need to be added.

There’s no one set formula of “the right way”, there’s no proven schedule to follow that will create the best adults. Rather, I believe life is about the small decisions, the little tweaks we make, which bring about the greatest impact in the end.

What about you? Do you love fall? Do you have a season that you stop to reassess? Any good book suggestions? 😁 (I’m going to follow up in a couple days and do a post about current Adult Fiction/Books that I’m enjoying so stay tuned!)

Family

That Poor Survey Woman…

A couple weeks ago Statistics Canada called me on my camping vacation to participate in “month two” of my four month survey – mandatory by law – of course, or no one would sit through a second (or honestly even the first).

The survey topic? Work and Employment.

Which quite honestly hit a few nerves on the first week for this mother of five. Even on a good day, asking a mother who has worked from before the sun rises most mornings for absolutely nothing in return other than the well being of her family, “if she has done anything in the past week that qualifies as work” and then EXPECTING her to say “no” is not only insensitive, it’s foolish.

Being asked that after a week of sleepless nights and VERY difficult behavioural issues with a couple of children and what can you expect, but a very, very emotional and upset response?

The questionnaire, which is repeatedly done for four months, asks questions such as:

Have you done anything qualifying as work the past week?

Are you currently looking for work?

Why are you not looking for work?

With the childcare available in Canada, what is keeping you from wanting to work?

All of the questions above, taking into consideration, is a slap in the face to a stay at home mom.

And suddenly I snapped.

“Pardon me,” I cut in sharply, “But I would like to let you know that this whole survey is really offensive to me! I mean, I know you personally didn’t make this survey,” I told the poor lady on the phone, “But what right do you have to ask a hardworking mother of five, why I’m not sticking my kids in daycare to make money?!? What right does someone have to assume that is a sensitive or appropriate question?!? And that mothering doesn’t “qualify for work”, but working in a daycare does? What right does my government have to make me feel useless for choosing my own children over a job that makes money?”

And yes, I did pity the poor woman as she stumbled and stammered out a compassionate response about this survey “not trying to put down hard working mothers” but desperate to get my point across I continued:

“Seriously,” I said, “I would like you to make a note of this on my survey. That this survey is inappropriate for countless reasons. Because quite honestly, I believe the purpose in asking these questions four months in a row is to put on some pressure on those who are “unemployed.”

The survey woman paused and said, I kid you not, “Well, I’m sure as soon as your kids are in school you’ll be able to finally get a job. No one is saying you are lazy.”

At this point, I began to cry, because I was heartbroken that our culture has drifted so far in just a few short years.  My grandmother would’ve never been expected to “return to work” once her children were in school. Because the things that she did in that day and age were valued.

Growing a garden and canning has value.

Making homemade, healthy meals, has value.

Volunteering has value.

Disciplining children and helping with homework has value.

So does cleaning, organizing, and mending clothes.

Someone has to drive those kids to sports, music lessons and social events.

Babysitting for others. Blessing neighbours with baked goods. Taking meals to younger mothers who’ve just had a baby or families who’ve lost loved ones.

These things have value!

And if I do something that “qualifies as work” in Canada…all those things I just mentioned, will be pushed off onto someone else or not done at all. And we wonder why everyone is depressed and anxious! Why neighbours don’t talk anymore? Why people suffer their hardships alone?

It’s because somewhere along the way, someone decided that mothering and running a household doesn’t have value!

Dear Canada,

I wonder if we decided to value mothers, how much less we’d spend on the foster care system, on juvenile detention centres, on prisons, on mental healthcare. I wonder if families would stay together, if divorce rates would drop,  if children were given a safe place to grow up?

I wonder if we defined importance, not by monetary value, but by character and ethics, what types of people would be honoured most highly? I wonder if we’d see through the cracked foundations we are so quickly and carelessly pouring for the next generation – if we’d really stop and consider what the effects are of our face-paced, workaholic world… I wonder if we would change.

Would we value mothers, if we slowed down enough to see them?

Why not do a compulsory survey about the despairing effects of distracted parenting? Of workaholism?

I believe the results would be staggering.

Maybe, just maybe, getting more civilians into the workforce to pay taxes isn’t the answer to our countries reckless debt and spending issues. Maybe, it all comes down to those cracked foundations we’re building on. Maybe it’s not about the money. Maybe it’s about the people.

Sincerely,

A Mother who does Valuable Work at Home