Authenticity · Faith · Vulnerability

Exterior Walls

We put up exteriors daily. As if we don’t care about what people think.

As if I don’t care.

As if I don’t notice the likes, the comments or the lack-there-of. As if I’m stronger than those who need to be told every day that they are valuable in someway. As if I don’t need to hear the words of people confirming me and the things I do.

Deep down we just want to be understood, desperately, pathetically.

Humanly.

Listen, as much as you fight it and act like you are above such longings, if you’re human, those feelings are there.

There’s nothing wrong with you.

To the world, you may look confident. Or you may look hopeless. You may look like someone who has it all together or you’re falling apart at every turn. You may even give a phony smile, and say some cliche things. Or you may spew every careless thought that comes from your mouth in hopes of being real and bold.

But whoever you are… you hate it. Because deep down, we all know that that’s not what it’s about, is it?

As if one kind of wrong is better than the other.

Thank God, you are worth more than than your feelings tell you.

Can I just say something here?

Maybe we are all more alike than we want to admit. Maybe I’m just like that too-faced, self-righteous, rich snob we all avoid. That hypocrite in the church pews. That political maniac who rants day and night on social media, believing that those who are on the other side are the enemy. Or the “tolerant” crowd who are tolerant of everyone… except for those who are intolerant.

Maybe, that drunk homeless man, who reeks of alcohol, sitting on the side of the road asking “food” money, is just like me inside.

In fact, I’m convinced of it.

Pride tells me I’m better than all of the above, but there’s one thing that tells me I’m not.

The Cross.

Because on that cross, Jesus gave his life as much for the hypocrite, as for the drunkard, as for the bitter-old-soul who can’t forgive.

Think you’re better? Then maybe the cross isn’t for you.

…Or maybe, it’s especially for you. Because, friends, the ground at the bottom of the cross is equal. And not one of us deserved it.

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Faith · Peace

I Choose Peace

For the past week, peace has evaded me. From morning until evening my life has been packed with schedules, work and routine.

It’s busy in the public school world.

I guess that’s why I always loved homeschooling, home life, and relaxed schedules. Because I believe rest and boredom are essential for our souls. The unrest this generation is facing is possibly as damaging as starvation to our souls.

We do not rest.

And I’m not used to this. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m going to get used to this. In fact, I refuse to get used to the chaos inside of me… Outside chaos can only be handled well with inside peace.

There has to be another way.

As I was meditating on Psalm 23 this morning, I heard God’s gentle rebuke:

“Heather, you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed… choose what is better and it will not be taken from you.”

Friends, we get to choose.

Chaos or peace.

Fear or trust.

Striving or being.

It’s a daily choice. One that I have been forgetting. I choose peace. I choose trust. I choose living in each moment. I choose to stop and admire the beauty of the fall leaves. I choose to slow down and listen to what my kids are actually saying. I choose to make eye contact and respond.

I choose peace.

Peace – Hillsong

Faith

The Betrayal of a Friend

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.

But it is you,

a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked among the worshippers.”

Psalm 55:12-14

One of the greatest pains you can face is the utter betrayal of a close and trusted friend. Indeed, I have felt no greater pain than when I was rejected by those I loved dearly.

It is the ultimate rejection – to be known and then forgotten.

Wounds that deep are not easily healed. But take heart, there is a path to healing.

Healing takes time. Don’t rush it! Instead rush to God:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

Those who run to God in their distress will not fall. When others fail you, trust God.

Faith · Forgiveness · Reconcilliation

It was Never Your Grudge to Hold

There’s a family who has completely shut mine out for almost four years now.

At one time I loved them like my own family. We spent many days a week together. And then suddenly, we were shut out. Just like that. They shut us out of their lives. Out of their church. Out of their friendship circles.

Out of everything.

In fact, if I meet up with either of them, they will try to look past me as if I do not exist. If I smile and say hi anyway, they barely nod, mumbling an inaudible greeting in return and only because they know it would make them look bad to say nothing.

Why, you may ask, am I sharing this? Because of the warning their lives have become for me.

I do not know them anymore, because they have made sure that we can’t. They were once great people, godly people. They weren’t some angry, bitter souls that looked to destroy and tear others down. They were helpful people. They had a strong family and a beautiful faith. They were talented and inspiring.

Yet somewhere along the line, they have become convinced that what they perceive as wrong in our lives, is what God perceives as wrong… and that God is pleased with this grudge they continue to hold, this “godly shunning” of others.

Let me just say this: Other people’s sin is not for us to hold against them.

Ever.

God does not need us to hold on to the burden of hating others for his sake. He doesn’t need our help to convict them, to discipline them or to punish them in any way. In fact, there are very strong warnings in scripture against bitterness because that is really what bitterness is: holding other people’s sins against them, refusing to forgive. The only difference is that this has been done “for Christ’s sake” so it feels much more godly.

In some cultures this sort of zealous self-righteousness results in honor killings. A “sacrifice” to God.

Can I be so bold as to say that God takes no pleasure in honor killings? Neither does he take pleasure in grudges or in self righteous shunning. In fact there is a story where Jesus responded to this type of religiosity.

A woman was brought before him, caught red-handed in adultery. The real righteous folk, those leaders of the church, brought this woman to Jesus, trying to trap him. Smirking and desperate for bloodshed that day, they said:

“Good teacher, the law requires us to stone her. What should we do?”

Jesus bent down to write in the sand. And then he stood to say something absolutely phenomenal: “He who has no sin, cast the first stone.”

Every single person present silently walked away, one at a time. No one was worthy to cast it.

Not one.

Every single one of us has sinned. And when we judge one person’s sin as worse than ours, holding onto it, we are literally spitting on the grace that Christ has shown us. Holding onto the sins of others and feeling as if their mistakes are just somehow not worthy of the grace that God has shown us, is hypocrisy.

When Christ was being nailed to the cross, he did not say, “Father, once these vile sinners repent and realize their sin, forgive them.”

He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus did not hold on to grudges, regardless of the actions of those around him. He simply forgave and left the rest in God’s hands.

So why would we think it is our duty to live any differently?

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

Do I really want to hold onto another person‘s sin and take the risk that God will hold onto mine?

I’m not taking that chance.

Let it go, move on and love people deeply.

Because friends, it’s not our grudge to hold.

Faith · Family · Parenting

Remember the Little Guy

Growing up in a conservative background, one of the most remarkable trademarks of the adults around me was how selfless they were.

Traditionally, where I grew up, even clapping for others was seen as prideful and vain. Bragging about or praising anyone but God was unthinkable.

These people lived out what they sang: “I will not boast in anything, no strength, no power and wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ – his death and resurrection!”

I loved that line… I still do! What I’m writing about today is in no way putting down these beautiful truths because I do believe we live a time where people are way too self focused (…just see my previous post haha)!

We live in a world that praises many things.

It glorifies power, money, sex, careers, possessions, fame, yet places very little value on family, time, connecting, caring for the needy or serving without pay.

Why, even those in the church are beginning to buy into the idolization of wealth and power.

And I think the reason is quite simple:

We’ve forgotten what’s important, because while the world boasts loudly about what it sees as valuable, those who value true worth remain painfully silent about what really matters.

And we’re beginning to buy in to what the world is saying.

When I write about motherhood and how vital it is, about how valuable family is, and how important stay-at-home-mothers are in our society, I’m not just trying to toot my own horn and to gain recognition for what I’m doing.

My purpose isn’t to get praise for myself.

It’s alright when people misunderstand me, because if I was the only one affected by misconceptions about moms who don’t work outside the home, I would just keep my mouth closed. But the truth is, our lack of understanding and value of families… of stay at home mothers in particular, is changing a whole generation.

Every single comment about what I am doing with all my free time makes me understand more and more why women are ashamed to stay at home. It feels awkward to try and justify the value of cleaning, cooking, organizing, grocery shopping, driving around… it would be so much easier to just say, “Oh I work AND I am a mom of five.”

It just sounds better!

No one would flat out say stay-at-home moms are lazy. But… what are they doing at home? We wonder.

Sometimes even ask.

Have you ever asked that about someone who is at work?

Have you ever asked someone in an office, “Just what are you doing with all your time at work?” Have you ever asked someone at a workplace, “Sooo, what do you do with no children around?!?”

Did you know that right now there are women working their tail off, with no children at home, and, there are also women at work scrolling through their Facebook feed?

Did you know that laziness is a heart issue, not an occupation issue?

This goes both ways people!

Of course there are stay at home mothers who don’t spend their time wisely! Just like there are students who skip class or don’t do their work, just like there are employees who take advantage of their employers by taking a ten minutes smoke break every hour. There are also leaders who live in luxury, taking advantage of taxpayers hard earned money to go on elaborate vacations or hire not one but two expensive full time nannies… ahem. Not naming any names here.

Yes there are people who take advantage of others. Some of them are on welfare, some of them are in the workplace, some of them are stay at home moms.

Working hard has very little to do with capacity or position… it has everything to do with the heart.

I know people who physically could not be a firefighter or a labourer. Yet they work incredibly hard in an office. Just like there are people who are physically strong but who would not have a hot clue how to navigate what many people do in an office.

Personally, I could never do what my husband does. As a part owner of an Internet company he’s smart, incredibly efficient and able figure out problems that I would stare dumbly at. He’s able to deal with hundreds of emails in a day. He’s able to maintain a cool when there’s power outages and frustrated customers who are depending on him.

However, he admits that the coordination of finances, schedules, meals, gardening, cleaning, and taxing people around is something he could never do.

Working hard, with or without pay, deserves recognition. Period. It’s about time we stop valuing people for their net worth.

Let’s boast in the janitor who shows up every single day and works with all his might for the whole shift. We need him! Let’s recognize the children who take their schoolwork seriously and do their best in each class. Let’s praise the stay at home parents, who do all the unseen things to keep the families lives running smoothly. Let’s give honor to the cooks, the artists, the singers and writers who bring enjoyment to life. Let’s bless the truckers who keep the shelves stocked so we can eat and the volunteers at the soup kitchen, who care for the needy.

For when we recognize the forgotten ones in society, it’s then we remember that the little things often hold the greatest worth. And some of those we hold in high regard, when stripped of the fame and power, may seem very small indeed.

It’s time we remember what and who matters the most. Then, let’s boast in it.

Compassion · Faith · Seeing Others

It’s Sometimes Not All About Me…

Ok, fine… usually it’s not about me.

It’s almost never about me, actually.

Yet as much as I know these things, I still live much of life thinking about number one.

Me.

I mean, doesn’t the world cease to exist when I’m not around?

I’m only half kidding here.

Some people call it narcissism. I just call it being a human being in the 21st century.

We are a very self focused generation.

Take an only *slightly* exaggerated example that we can all relate to:

I’m in a line up in a busy store. There are one hundred people ahead of me and only one employee that seems to be part Zootopian sloth, slowly dragging each item across the scanner. She stops to do a price check. She yawns and glances causally at the line. There’s no hint of her trying to pick up the pace whatsoever….

I think to myself. Oh My Word. Her Dad must own this place or she would be fired by now.

Tempers are flaring.

Babies are crying while their mothers are anxiously shoving fistfuls of goldfish into their mouths in a vain attempt to quiet them.

A woman angrily throws her one item to the side and storms out of the store.

I seriously consider following her lead with a bit more stomping for show.

A middle aged man starts muttering obscenities under his breath.

And then, hold up….. A senior cuts in front of me!!!

Which draws the line.

Who do you think you are?!? I immediately want to shout. But for once, thank goodness, God gave me the grace to hold my tongue, and in the second it takes me to draw in a deep breath, my eyes catch his.

I notice his grimaced expression.

A face full of suffering.

In his shaking hand he holds a prescription that I can only assume is related.

One second prior, I was thinking about me. My schedule, my busy day, my wasted time, me, me ME!!

I look at the line up of people. We’re all healthy and young. To our shame, not one of us noticed this poor man. We were all way too busy thinking about ourselves.

In that selfish moment I missed it. I missed the most basic human compassion because I wasn’t able to see past myself.

Another cashier appears. She begins to open a new line but her eyes aren’t on the angry customers, or the full carts. Her eyes are on this old gentleman who can barely walk himself to the line. He gives a surprised thank you as she slowly shuffles him to the front of it.

On my way out I thank her. I thank her for seeing him.

And I vow that next time I’ll see him too.

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.