COVID-19 · Education · Homeschooling

Are you Homeschooling?

I’m hearing this particular question often these days. Whether from friends, family or mere acquaintances (who used to ask the question with a hint of judgement in their voice), now suddenly are interested, and inquiring as they make decisions for their own family.

“Yes, some of my kids.” Is the usual reply before I get barraged by a host of questions about curriculum, how I made my decision and where to even start with planning a school year.

I relax. Take a deep breath. And then reply that after 7 years of homeschooling, I have realized that I am not ever prepared to homeschool.

Yes, I’ve chosen my curriculum.

Yes, I’ve made a schedule.

Yes, I even have a special room.

But with kids, things rarely go as we imagine them to.

I have five kids and each one is unique. The have all been a blessing to teach, but every single one of them have had their struggles, in different areas. I can pick the perfect curriculum for one child, while the next child absolutely hates it. Then I switch things up for the next year and the other child loves the rigid teaching style, while the other four struggle to thrive. And then I face the problem with missing important things because I’m switching curriculum year to year. It’s never simple, but we’ve always made it work.

For those new to homeschooling, here’s a little secret: You simply will not achieve the perfect school year… BUT, you can definitely achieve a productive and rewarding one.

This year is different for everyone.

There are so many uncertainties each person has to face. Many, who would’ve never previously considered homeschooling before, are now delving into it.

I’ve also had some thinking to do.

I’ve homeschooled each of my kids through their elementary years. I always planned to send them back in middle school. The purpose of this was to make the transition to public school easier and for the opportunity for friendships to be formed before they entered a high school where one rarely has two classes with the same people.

Still, this didn’t stop me from reconsidering for this year.

I have never wanted to teach high school, and truthfully, I looked into it this year for my oldest son, but felt a tad overwhelmed. The stakes are higher with the older grades and questions that are pretty irrelevant for the younger years, are sobering now. What if I miss something and he falls behind? What if I miss the courses he needs for getting into college? What if the university/college he applies for doesn’t recognize a homeschool graduation diploma? And finally… these are his final years to form healthy friendships as an adolescent, how can I keep him home? So finally, I made the decision… he will be entering grade nine this fall in a local private school.

I was less sure about my middle schoolers, especially my son who struggles with asthma and can barely stand a mask on his face for five minutes before he starts flailing his hands, begging me to take it off. I offered both my daughter in grade seven, and my son in grade six that they could homeschool this year. I even ordered curriculum for them, but they both would really like to try out public school with their friends this fall. So, I agreed to let them try it out. If huge issues arise, we will simply take them back home.

As for my youngest two, they will be at home with me. They are in grades 1 and 3 and are the best of friends. Both enjoy being taught at home. They love the extra time they have in the afternoons to play and enjoy the slower pace of homeschool life.

I sit here and write, knowing full well I should be working and lesson planning because… well… school’s now just two weeks away, it’s canning season, and we are in the middle of basement renovations.

Each room is stacked with boxes and tables and furniture that should really be downstairs. I know some people fly through life with stuff thrown everywhere and don’t seem to mind. But as for me, when things aren’t in their rightful place, it leaves me feeling scatter-brained and frustrated.

Not a great way to start off the school year.

However, I know from experience that I can have the most organized classroom, but if my heart is not ready to teach, it will be a difficult year.

I have to be ready for a messy house some days, while I ignore the clutter and teach when I want to clean.

I have to be ready to adjust my plans when things aren’t working out.

I have to be ready to put away my phone during the teaching hours so that my children have their mother’s undivided attention.

I have to let some things be less than perfect.

I have to be ready for bad attitudes, sick days, children who are out of sorts ,and fighting siblings… I have to be ready for a lot of patience and selflessness.

I have to be ready to put of finishing my book for just one more year.

This year, my room doesn’t look ready… but my heart definitely is.

How about you? Are you sending your kids to school? Homeschooling for the first time? Are you ready? Let me know in the comments!

Faith · Prayer

Without a Thought

One of the most unsettling stories in the Bible, comes from the chapters 38 and 39 in the book of Isaiah.

In this historical account, King Hezekiah becomes very sick… to the point of death. In walks the great prophet Isaiah. He has no fancy message, no hopeful encouragement, he just states the word of the Lord: “Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

I don’t know about you, but with Isaiah’s perfect track record, I would of wept in complete despair. For when the Lord speaks to Isaiah, those words are concrete.

He’s a prophet of God, tested and true.

I think it’s important here to note that a word from the Lord is true and final – however, God has given us a secret weapon that can change everything: Intercession.

He does this so that when we get a prophetic word, we do not need to sit in despair. We can DO something! We can turn to him and pray! In this sense, prophetic words are rarely concrete. In the hands of a prophet, God’s words are to be shared with others. But for the receiver of the words, they are to be brought to heartfelt prayer!!

Hezekiah does exactly this. He breaks down and prays; weeping and begging God to let him live, to not cut him down in the prime of his life. God hears him and listens.

Do we get this?!?

God hears him AND listens!!!

God gave the word, which was final: Death.

But then he saw his beloved child, weeping in despair, pleading for more time to serve him and God relents.

If this message doesn’t wake us up to prayer, I don’t know what will. Our prayers have the power to change our outcome.

How often do we do this? How little we take advantage of this precious gift!

King Hezekiah is healed! How I wish the story ended here!

After King Hezekiah gets better, the king of Babylon sends an envoy with gifts to celebrate Hezekiah’s recovery. Hezekiah shows them everything in his kingdom, all his possessions. We aren’t given a reason for this, but one would assume he did so out of pride. Then the prophet Isaiah asks about the envoy and specifically, what the king all showed them.

“Everything” is Hezekiah’s reply.

And Isaiah utters another prophecy: “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace… will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord Almighty. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood born to you, will be taken away and become eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon.”

And we collectively hold our breath, awaiting another impassioned prayer by the king who changed his own outcome. Surely, after seeing the Lord change what was to come over his own life, he will cry out on his knees for the future generations!

Here’s Hezekiah’s response: “ The word of the Lord you have spoken here is good.” For he thought, “there will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

My children… taken into captivity!!

The word of the Lord is “GOOD”?!?
Shackles on these precious ones…

“The word of the Lord is GOOD?!?”

If this is not the most disturbing display of selfishness, I don’t know what is!

Where is the desperation? Where is the man who reminded God of his promises? Who reminded God of his righteousness? Where is the repentance? Where is the humility that he had claimed he would live out for the rest of his days?

Silence.

Reminding me of my generation:

Hours pined away on social media and screens. We know how damaging these things are for our children. We know it already! Yet… “It’s the easy thing to do.”

“I can’t adult today.”

Five minute devotional books sold by the dozen because we “don’t have the time for long devotions” while we laughingly post on Facebook about our five hour Netflix binge and ask “Is there anything else to watch?!?”

Our generation, splurging on frivolous and unnecessary things: expensive outings, over priced coffees, beauty care and home decoré… all while adamantly claiming: “we barely make enough to scrape by.”

Trust me, North Americans, we simply do not know what these words mean!

Our government spending outrageously, knowingly, unsustainably. Obviously with no care at all for the future generations, because “We want to live prosperously NOW!”

“We deserve better.”

Without a thought for future generations. What a hauntingly disturbing response from a selfish generation in the midst of a pandemic.

Who knows what lies ahead? Who has the wisdom to discern the times?

I think we would do well to remember King Hezekiah. Do we only care about the here, the now? We may not have the future told to us, but we most definitely can get on our knees and change the course of it.

What are we waiting for?

Authenticity · Vulnerability

Something Changed

Something has changed.

It was a slow change. From childhood when I was adored, to that awkward stage in between cuteness and puberty. Then again in youth (when I was the center of the world… and quite possibly the universe), until I became a young mom, who people wanted to help. And EVERYONE is eager to help a teen mom. (No, I’m not being sarcastic, this is my experience.)

I mean there were sometimes when I actually yearned to have some independence!!

Now I’m thirty-two.

Faith-filled. Strong. Steady.

But, somehow, more alone then I’ve ever been before. For where there once were people and mentors to guide me, there is a void. A big, empty chasm so deep I can’t see to the bottom. Where there once were mothers who poured into me… now I am the mother, pouring out. Teachers were filling me with knowledge, now I am that teacher filling others.

A funny change, when one becomes grown. A sad change, to do so much on our own. But a necessary step, I suppose. Independence certainly isn’t what I imagined it would be, back when I dreamed of the days it would be mine.

Being mentored.

Who would’ve thought that something children so often take for granted, would become something so precious to me in my older years. For now I truly see how it is the people who showed love and care, who sat with me when I was alone, who offered comforting words of wisdom, who lent a hand when it was needed and gave much needed parenting advice… those are the people who I now think of as I try to live and love those around me.

But there has been a shift these past few years. Where I once mourned and wished to find a mentor, I am now finding the positives in the lonely place I am. Not that I would refuse advice or an older woman’s input, but I am comfortable and at peace being on my own.

When I was in my 20s there were a few women that I would often call for help, or for prayer if I needed anything. But to be suddenly alone, with no one to ask, that was unexpected for me and threw me into a very raw season where I felt completely paralyzed to do anything. I felt helpless!

Until I realized that I have many mentors, they may just look different than they once did.

Each book I open, a new mentor speaks. Some who lived centuries ago, others who are my age. Some who went through the worst trials I could imagine and came through victorious. Some who lived through famines and wars and came through stronger. Some who died for what they believed in, others who were tortured until almost dead. Those who lost husbands or children. Those who lived a lonely life, unloved.

These mentors speak to me. They share wisdom. They share correction. They give perspective.

And best of all, I can take or leave their advice and they don’t know any different. I can take the time to meditate on their stories and assess if what they say is applicable for me. It’s wonderful. It’s freeing. I am becoming “me” without being swayed this way or that to please people or try to impress those I admire.

I am becoming quieter, as I listen to these mentors. Where I used to feel that the world needed another “truthful voice” – I now realize that it needs far more someone to listen. I used to want to be known, now I yearn to know those who are unknown and alone.

The change was slow. The change is deep.

It’s a letting go kind of change, and a change of embracing a new sort of perspective: It’s not about me.

It’s not about me.

I used to say those words and believe that I was living them. But now I know that I am just beginning to understand them.

So I ask, my readers, what are you learning lately? Has there been a change in you? A shift? Do you long for a mentor? Someone to depend on? Or do you love independence?

I truly want to know. Because these days, the best part of my blog, it’s not the stuff that I write (who cares about that 😂)… it’s the people I meet.

Creative Writing

Sometimes I Observe

A writer is often telling a story within their own scene.

Let me paint mine:

Though the forecast called for sun and unbearable heat, it was a cloudy day. The wind felt steady but not chaotic. Just a soft, consistent cool from the humid haze.

I sat, aware of the family beside me speaking overly loud to catch the attention of those around them. Exaggerating stories, ever glancing at their imagined audience. As if those around would care, be impressed, about the tent that collapsed on their holiday and the amazing burgers they made for supper the previous day.

I observe, my heart melts, at the innocent, awkward motions of the younger swimmers, trying desperately to follow the detailed instructions on how to perfect each stroke. They try to correct those crooked legs. Oh, how they try!

It looks exactly the same as before.

Aware of the self conscious woman, who hides her body under the water, even though the water where she stands is knee deep. Who by society’s standards is overweight, but her son smiles at her as if she’s the most beautiful person he’s ever seen.

She’s gorgeous.

Far more so than the tanned, chiseled man across the pool, who stands out – as a movie star would stick out in a soup kitchen. He looks… flawless. He beams his perfect white teeth and flirts shamelessly with the woman beside him.

Though he’s married. I saw his wife here yesterday.

I also notice the corner perv, who stares at his phone as if intently interested in it, but he’s watching the lifeguard through his camera lens.

People.

They’re a funny sort, wherever I go.

All so different. Also, the same.

Sometimes, it’s too hard to see it all. I notice things. I see too much. So I duck my head and close my eyes, I hide behind a book.

I write on my blog.

Sometimes I observe. But usually, I prefer to ignore.

Authenticity · Faith

Jekyll or Hyde?

“Jekyll and Hyde,” he called me.

That I’m like two different people living in one me. The funny thing is that I agree wholeheartedly. I know what he’s talking about.

One side: sweet, caring, and nice.

The other: filled with anger, rejection, and fear.

One side: accepted & loved.

The other: rejected & condemned.

Aren’t we all, really? Jekyll one day. Hyde the next. Trying to stay Jekyll.

Failing miserably.

But the good news? Jesus loves me as Mr. Hyde.

He loves my rejected side. Though people love me when I’m good and hate me when I’m not – Jesus takes me at all times.

He loves both “me’s”.

He has shown me that from day one. Through anger, shame, fear and deepest pain. Through embarrassing panic attacks to awkward moments. Even in full out rebellion.

Though we often turn our faces away from the “Hyde’s” of this world, God doesn’t shrink back. He reaches out his hand and calls them home. Though people reject “Hyde” (he’s horrible and socially awkward and often inappropriate) – God does not.

He tells us this through stories:

Remember the prostitutes? Rahab and Mary Magdeline to name a few…

Remember the government tax thieves? Zacchaeus and Matthew… probably more.

Remember the murderer(s)? Moses (and others)!

Or the adulterous murderer? David.

Or the liars? Isaac, Jacob.

Remember them. And then remember those who slammed stakes through his feet and hands?

“Father, forgive them.” He says.

To top it off, Jesus shares the ultimate story of his love through the parable of the prodigal son. A story of a son who squandered his inheritance, rejecting everything his father had raised him to be.

But the Father.

He waited with open arms for “Hyde” to return.

God loves us. ALL of us.

And he is ever working until I’m all better. Until I’m whole.

Until I’m just one person:

His child.

COVID-19 · Faith

Living in a COVID Fog

I used to write with such clarity. I used to spill out my feelings alongside God’s truth on the page with ease. Now it’s a struggle. My brain is in a fog and I can not do it. I start, only to lose my train of thought and my ideas jump around like a bunch of crickets set loose.

What I know:

  1. Something really big is happening in the world right now – a testing of the church, a revealing of hearts. I wouldn’t call this the “end times” maybe more like a prelude. We got a pop quiz… and we flunked it. Big time. Instead of rising up to meet the needs, we’ve hidden away watching them from afar. People are getting shaken – yet life goes on (almost normal even!)
  2. Most people seem confused or in a fog. A result is that they argue petty things on social media and comment sections. They are consumed with the news, as if reading and discussing it will change the world. Or even worse, they hide behind humour and ignore the fact that anything is going on at all. Posting memes, endless jokes… while there is tragedy everywhere.

But, we are missing the main narrative of what is happening here. So that Christians even, seem to be paralyzed. Some are paralyzed with fear, others with apathy.

Trial is supposed to be the churches finest hour! Yet I have never before been so disappointed in it!

Disappointed how?

We are spending these desperate times watching Netflix and doing home improvement projects!

We feast away in luxury while others starve.

We are becoming lazy, discontent, disconnected grumblers who seem to have little to no concern for those outside our circle of familiar faces.

Yes! I’m disappointed with the church. For I have found few who truly want to respond to the call of the gospel: to take time for the helpless, to meet and listen to the Lord together. I have found few who have any desire to worship together. Invite people for a free meal or a day in the backyard by the pool and they come rushing by the dozen.

But invite them to worship and pray, and crickets are my only companions.

How long, Lord, until you wake up your church? Or am I just supposed to watch it die out, one member at a time?

Something is very wrong. We’ve adjusted to comfort during a shaking that was meant to wake us up! Oh, God, wake us up! Help us to stop and listen, to be alert and watchful. You ask us to watch and pray, yet your followers are sleeping in the garden again.

Must you be on your own a second time?

Remove my mind from the fog, Lord Jesus!

I know there are some who are reading this who are saying “Yes!” Who are saying, “You aren’t the only one, I feel it too!” God, I ask you to bring us together. Not for chitchat and coffee, but together, seeking you on our knees.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” Matthew 18:20

Faith

Summer Shenanigans

So it’s been a while since I’ve written an actual update on my day to day life. We have absolutely no schedule. School’s over!! Summer plans have been mostly cancelled. But we’re still keeping busy, albeit at a slower kind of pace…

Our favourite spot in summer. The weather has been SO HOT this year and I’m loving every second of it!
First broken bone for Emerson. Heartbreaking as it was to see his pain, there were a few warm memories from this day. He wanted me to be the one to hold him and take him to emergency. There he asked plagued me with his questions: “Have you ever broken a bone?” Yes, many.
“Did you cry?” Not for two of them but I did when I broke my nose the first time.
“Does it ever heal?” Aww, of course it will!
By the time he got the cast put on, (he got to choose the color) his smile was back and he was talking everyone’s ears off.
Finding the end of the rainbow on my run. My daughter wanted to go run to it. I
said it wasn’t possible to ever reach the end.
She doesn’t believe me, of course, and secretly I wanted to humor her and run through the fields together. But they were so wet right with all the rain we had, and the soil gets so sticky that in no time we would’ve been stuck in the middle of it wearing two foot high mud-stilts.
…which I’ve experienced before and didn’t particularly enjoy the situation enough to repeat.
A weekend away, just us two ❤️
“Away” meaning, still in Manitoba. But a scenery change. Exploring the Canadian Shield and loving the peace of it all.
Fancy homemade dinners on a picnic table for two.
Open prairie skylines. At sunset. Which makes me fall in love with the “boring” open view that surrounds me daily.
I’ve also been reading a bit more.
My favorite cozy corner to read 💗
Or this corner… also, “Kisses from Katie” is such an inspiring story of God’s heart for ALL people!! I’d definitely recommend to put it on your summer reading list.
Oh, kids, Finding joy… even with a broken arm.
Us trying a new fruit… Tastes like a “yucky grape” they said! LOL! I thought it was good, but definitely a unique flavour.
Also they may have been overripe.
First church service in over 16 weeks!! Felt so good to be back. Emerson put on his “social distancing” shirt. Haha.
Also… take note: His cast is off!!! Fast healing process with those young bones 😜

And that’s what we’ve been up to! Life. Sometimes joyful, other days just surviving. I get it, these are all happy pictures, they don’t show the pain or stress behind some of the harder moments. But they do give you a glimpse of one simple truth:

God is good through it all.

Even when we feel lonely. Even when we have way too many screams in one day. Even when the bones break and sun burns our pale skin. Even when the world seems to be in bitter turmoil and all reason is drowned out.

God is good.

He is faithful today and will be faithful tomorrow. And that is the hope we hold onto.

Faith

On Failure and Getting Back Up

I often feel like a total dirtbag.

It usually is because I say/write/do something careless and then I realize it too late.

Once the words have been said.

Once the text has been sent.

Once the mistake has been made.

A few such things have happened this past week.

A week ago it was Father’s Day. I knew this, as we had already celebrated twice, but that particular morning it didn’t cross my mind at all. My husband was preparing food to BBQ, which he does quite well. I mean it tastes amazing... But it often lacks in the health department.

And without thinking twice I decide: This is the day that I am going to bring up my concerns about how unhealthy I feel and blame it on him.

Really, I am just stressed about my weight as I have gained 15 pounds since COVID-19 happened. And it’s easier to blame others than to look in the mirror.

Stupid.

On a good day, it is a stupid thing to say. But it wasn’t just a good day, it was Father’s Day. And not only was he making DELICIOUS food on Father’s Day, he was joyfully making food. No complaints, it is what he loves to do.

But I chose to tear him down and five minutes into my rant, it dawns on me: Just shut up already.

So I close my mouth. And then in the 10 seconds of awkward silence, I realize – with horror – that today is a day to celebrate the man I was just criticizing.

I apologize immediately. I call the kids to the table to bless him, and say what they love about the man I was just tearing down.

I tell him what I appreciate about him: He never criticizes me.

The rest of the morning I feel terrible. I want to crawl into a hole and stay there. I want to cover up my face and hide away. I consider having my tongue surgically removed. I wonder if there’s anyone out there who can be as two-faced as me.

Because friends, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

How does one move on from feeling low? How does one reconcile themselves to the fact that to the core of their being, they are not what they want to be, what they mean to be, what they claim to be?

I’ll tell you how I get back up: Jesus.

Jesus.

It’s why he needed to die on the cross. Because of me. Because of my hurtful words, my careless tongue.

This is what faith in Jesus is all about. Knowing our true state, that we are not good enough and running to a Father who loves us anyways. As we repent, as we turn to him, an incredible thing happens.

He covers us up. He covers our sin with his blood.

I can come out of my hole, because he entered that hole of shame for me! My life becomes “hidden” in Christ.

But in the same way, I must never claim anything good inside myself as “who I am”. For I know very well who I am apart from Christ: Just a shameful girl, hiding in a hole.

I am tired of messing up. Tired of sin. Tired of my words getting me into trouble.

“Who will rescue me from this body, that brings death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-26

Writing

Late Night Ramblings of an Insomniac

I’m not tired.

I probably shouldn’t even call myself an insomniac at this point in my life because I rarely have bad nights anymore. And really, I’m just awake right now because I drank too much coffee, but that’s besides the point… for years I did have insomnia, and this reminds me of it and sounded like a great title, so it is what it is.

You are probably thinking that I should stop writing now, because I’m rambling about nothing.

You are probably correct.

But my husband prefers me talking to the internet right now than having me whisper, “Are you still awake?” every minute or so before entering into a rapid one-sided conversation at a speed that would rival any auctioneer. Or worse. Trying to stay silent while my eyes blink so rapidly that you can hear them.

So, I left the room to blog and now you will have to suffer. But, on the bright side, my marriage will be saved.

I’ve been in the mood to write more lately. This means my book is being worked on again. YAY!

Yes my finished book.

That I printed off… and then decided to change a character which meant deleting him out of half the book and entering a better version. So my “finished” book is now only 32,000 words and I now am at the halfway point… again.

BUT, oh, it’s SOOO much better! It WILL be worth the time I’ve spent on it. Plus, I can now enter in some really neat, post “COVID world” material which makes the book even more believable. I haven’t written or talked much about the book at all, mainly because I’ve been terrified at the thought of someone else stealing the idea I’ve worked so hard on and beating me to the editors. But, never fear, lucky readers… I am in the mood to share, so you’re in for a treat!

“Project Slone” was written as sort of a healing process to me after a very painful season in my life. Writing was my therapy. Poetry became my outlet. One of my objectives in the story was to awaken the love of poetry in young people and to expose the dangers of abusive leadership.  So, I dove in and created a fictional story set in a world not so different than our own, dominated by a tyrannical genius with a deeply flawed philosophy. The hero? A talented young writer and victim of the man, named Macy Grale, who becomes a uniquely poetic and modern-day Nellie Bly. To start, here’s a bit of an overview of the story, the ‘back of the book’ pitch, so to speak:

Macy Grale, has lived her whole life moving from Unit to Unit with her twin brother Sam. Knowing no other way of life – Sam embraces the community and thrives underneath their many caretakers. Macy, however, just can’t seem to fit the mold, feeling deep down that something is amiss in this strange place where talk of family is hushed and creativity is frowned upon. The peculiar community is actually one of many and was founded by the powerful and deeply admired Dr. Jacob Slone. It was built upon his Five Foundational Truths to stop “The Coming Catastrophe”. Only upon her Transition years, when Macy meets the doctor who brought her into the city, does she unlock the past secrets that haunt her dreams and discover for herself why Slone City must be abolished forever – but first, she needs to get the rest of the country on board. With irresistible courage and wisdom far beyond her years, Macy uses her gift of writing to open the eyes of the world around her to the horrors behind Slone’s walls, reminding them of the importance of love, family and beauty.

The book addresses culturally relevant topics such as the value of human life, leadership abuse, government involvement in society, broken families, and healing from past wounds that cannot be undone. 

Someday, it will be published… someday. But until then, I will patiently wait for bits of inspiration and write at times like this, when the house is quiet and my mind is alive. Which has now inspired me to say “goodnight blogging world!”

A book is waiting to be finished.

Faith

A Hard Life Sucks… But it Makes You Real

I’ve shared many of my past struggles on this blog before:

My rebellion in my teens: drinking, parties, being abused by men twice my age and my teenage pregnancy. The responses of those around me, some of which were hurtful and some unbelievably supportive. Finally, getting touched by God’s love in an unforgettable way, turning my life around – leaving the parties, drunkenness and empty friendships behind.

My son being born and becoming deathly ill. Him being hospitalized the first year of his life; the financial struggles, the highs and lows of this season and the support and miracles we experienced.

My struggles with having five kids so close together, the havoc it reaped on my body and emotional state… the depression, and anxiety that followed.

The church we helped start and suddenly got removed from, though we did our best and fought for reconciliation. All our closest friends, who were dear to us like family, that betrayed us and shunned us as if we had died. The panic attacks that followed this.

The loneliness I’ve felt for much of my adult life.

And some things I have not shared… not because I’m ashamed to, but because there are some things that aren’t just my story to tell and so it’s not my place to publicly write about or share them.

BUT though I have suffered many, many times and sometimes even begged God to take my life, one thing is abundantly clear to me: There was a reason for everything.

God allowed these things to happen to me so that he could answer my prayers from all those years ago, when I first began walking with him. Do you know my biggest prayer as a pregnant teen was?

“God, make me like Jesus.”

And as I was praying one day, 15 years ago, he gave me a picture of his hand coming down from heaven. His finger touched my forehead and he marked me – with a cross. He drew a cross, in the middle of my forehead!

You bet, I was excited. Yet, I had no idea what that picture meant! I just knew that God had done something very significant. But, I had no clue what.

I do now.

The cross means pain. It’s the symbol of the finished work of Jesus.

“It is finished.”

I was just beginning my life… and he already saw my end. And what he was saying to me was: “You’re gonna get the answer to your prayer. But it’s going to come through a lot of trials and pain.

Every trial left a scar. Some physical, but I found the invisible ones were the most painful. Deep bleeding where nobody else could see. But every scar has a lesson. And every lesson has made me just a little more like Jesus.

So what did my teenage rebellion and the grace that I was shown teach me? Do you remember the story in the Bible of a sinful woman? Where is she wet Jesus’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair? “Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

It taught me to LOVE MUCH. For I experienced the UNBELIEVABLE love and grace of the Jesus – while I was at my worst!

My love for God became real.

What did I learn through watching my son suffer? That God is good, even in the worst situation imaginable. I learnt to trust him, even when I could not understand. I learnt to worship him through the pain and that pain actually brings about the deepest form of connection to God in worship. I learnt that he cared about the smallest requests I had. He heard my every prayer. And I learnt that he still does miracles.

What did I learn through motherhood? Oh, more lessons than I can name here! Humility. Gentleness. That I actually don’t have all of life’s answers. That peaceful love shapes a child’s heart better than requiring “good behaviour”. That I actually need a whole lot of grace myself, probably even more than I give out each day. That children will never do what you expect them to. And that they give the sweetest kisses and the deepest love. That I need to be more like them.

Through depression I learnt empathy. The power of listening. That silence can be the most loving thing to do.

Through rejection I learnt mercy and wisdom. I understood betrayal, and felt like Jesus knew this pain too. I learnt how to forgive… and how to let people go.

You know what I’ve learnt through the “good times” in my life. Where I have no problems and everything seems easy?

NOTHING.

Ok… Other than the fact that money doesn’t bring happiness and there’s only so many good shows on Netflix before it gets old!

So you see, the pain has a point.

I can see why James 1:2-4 says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Yeah. Those hardships all sucked. I certainly didn’t find them pure joy as I lived them. But it made me exactly who I was praying to be.

I still have a long way to go. Just saying that makes me cringe… I have a lot of trials ahead of me. But I’m convinced that I’ll get through them and come out on the other side with a scar.

Just like Jesus.