Authenticity · Cake Decorating · Faith

Learning through the Little Things

I share a lot about my failures and what I learn from them on my blog.

I don’t do this because I think we should always focus what we’re doing wrong. My purpose in sharing these things, is that many times I think we go through life feeling that we are alone in the many difficult things that happen. We allow these situations (whether actual sins or honest mistakes) to hinder us from growing or trying things again.

In my life, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that we cannot let hard experiences from the past harden us or keep us from trying new things in the future.

This weekend I made a cake for my niece. It was valentines themed, covered in cream cheese icing with white chocolate decorations. I made it pretty simple, so it wasn’t extravagant or anything and when it was finished I was happy with how it turned out.

I had been wanting to try a white chocolate raspberry cake for a long time, so I asked my sister if I could make one for my niece.

I used a DELICIOUS blueberry cake recipe and swapped the blueberries for raspberries, assuming it would still be as moist as always. What I failed to consider is that raspberries don’t add the moisture that blueberries do.

The result? A dry and dense cake.

At first I felt terrible! Of course my mind went to all my past failures and I began to wallow in those familiar thoughts: that “I was losing my knack for cakes” and that “I would never bake for other people again!!”

What I failed to realize is that trying new things (like the last time I did) doesn’t always work out. There are in fact, many new things I tried this time that worked out really well!

I made up a new filling, that I will definitely be using again. It tasted amazing! I added raspberries, strawberries, melted white chocolate, cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla and I beat it together. Then I beat (in a separate bowl) whipped cream, adding no sugar or flavouring to it. Once it was totally whipped, I stirred the two together.

Oh. My. Word.

The result was heavenly!

But… going back to my terrible feeling about the cake. I had wasted about $20 and four hours of my time.

I felt so much shame that I just wanted to quit.

But as I’ve been doing a lot lately, I took these feelings to Jesus in the most simple and practical way because He Cares.

He actually cares! So often we don’t go to him with these feelings and we instead hide them deep inside. We make ourselves promises such as, “I’m never doing this again!” and those harmful promises hinder our future.

So I went to him. Here’s a simple conversation we had:

Me: Today I tried my best on a cake and it really didn’t turn out. So disappointing! Father, do I need to just stop making cakes for people? This seems to happen far too often! I feel so stupid when my best work fails.

God: How would you feel if you purchased something that didn’t quite turn out?

Me: Honestly, I hate spending money on homemade things. So I’d be pretty disappointed.

God: Disappointed enough to hold it against the person who made it? Or to make a big deal and not pay for it?

Me: No. I just probably wouldn’t order again from that person.

God: You always have options Heather! What do you want to do? You have two choices:

1) Say nothing and collect the money, taking the chance that (the person) won’t order from you again.

2) Charge nothing and tell her that her honesty helped you learn important baking lesson for the future. You will be remembered for your integrity and probably ordered from again. It’s your choice! Do you want to do use this experience to grow your skill as a baker and your integrity? Or would you rather stop doing something that you have an obvious talent for?

Me: Wow I never saw it that way! That sounds so simple. Thanks for listening Jesus.

Sometimes simple wisdom seems complicated in the moment.

How often do we miss the peace God has for us by stressing about things we could have simply talked to him about? How often in the past have I shut myself off to a simple lesson because I’m so busy wallowing in shame?

I think it’s best said in the simplicity of the age old song:

What a friend we have in Jesus!
All our sins and griefs to bear,
And what a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit!
Oh, what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer!
Jesus, help us to do this. Even in the little things.
Writing

Eating My Humble Pie

I’ve always loved a good slice of pie.

As we all know, some pies taste better than others. There’s the premium kind Mom serves at gatherings. It has the perfect crust with that smooth, but slightly flaky texture, so easy to swallow. The filling is sweet, with just the right spices. Then there’s the bakery pies. Delicious, but not quite the same as Mom makes it. And then there’s the pie from the convenience store, which has a shelf life of a decade and tastes like it too.

Humble pie tastes more like the convince store baking. And it’s not sweet, so the sugar can’t hide the flavour… it’s more like a dinner pie made with mixed veggies. Ugh. To top it off, these days I feel like I’m skipping the slice and eating the whole thing at once. And it doesn’t sit well.

Still, there are a few areas where I manage to feel immensely proud.

It just depends where I look.

The source of my pride is and always will be my children. They continually amaze me with their remarkable talents and personalities. Those who lack in “skill” most certainly make up for it in character.

Last week we received their report cards.

My oldest son, Isaiah did fine in his grades… especially after we handed in a couple of late assignments. But what pleased me most is when the teacher talked about the character of my young man. Respectful, thoughtful, always looking to put others first. He said that Isaiah has a good heart, both tender and wise. Trust me, when these words are said about your 13-year-old-boy, you listen.

My daughter got 100% on everything. A perfect report card. I hadn’t known that was possible until last week, but no matter how many times I blinked, there it was. I was more of an 70s/80s kid myself. She got chosen as one of the two girls in her grade at school to attend a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) event.

My next son, stuck right in the middle of five kids, excelled in his grades too. Jonas’ teacher was most astonished at his abilities in Mathematics. She said not only was he a leap ahead of everyone else, but he was brilliant, showing her and the class new methods to figure out problems that she hadn’t ever heard of in over a decade of teaching.

Dallas is also strong in math. He did really good in his other work as well, but he’s also our athletic one. Tells me he’s the fastest boy in his class. Whether this proves to be true, I have yet to see. But I don’t doubt it. He’s always kept me running.

And Emerson, my baby. He amazed me by learning the game of chess when he was four. By the time he was five, he could beat everyone in our family. His teacher was quite stunned when he showed off his skills at school, said that most kindergarteners can’t even grasp the game, never mind master it.

They’re not perfect. No-sir-ree. Sometimes their bickering drives me batty. And when they leave dirty socks on the kitchen counter I want to pull my hair out. But I’m proud of them, because when it comes down to it, they’re amazing people. I feel honored to be called their mother.

Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for:

HUMBLE PIE.

Because no one wants to hear how everyone else is excelling.

We wait for the grit.

We love the grit.

Especially when things aren’t going too great in our own lives.

I think it’s a social media thing: others successes making us feel like epic failures. If we lived face to face with our friends successes, we would feel along with their joy. Now we just watch from a 6″ window into their lives and feel shame.

And in some ways, we should. For having false expectations.

Social media will never give us true relationships because it is only a snapshot into the lives of those around us. The only way social media can become something more is if we decide to finally open the window further and give others a real look into our lives.

So let me open my window further for you…

I’ve been reading a lot lately and it made me realize something: I’m not very good at writing.

Ouch.

Did I really just say that? On WordPress? Among authors? As the handful of followers I have stampede away in droves…

That’s right.

You’re following an average joe. A stay at home mother, whose best accomplishment will most likely be raising five kids. Which is probably a good thing in a generation of fame seeking narcissists.

Don’t get me wrong… I want to be a bestseller. And for much of my life I believed I would be. But now, as I read my work compared to so many good authors, it’s pretty obvious: The wit, brilliance and effortless beauty that seems to come naturally to so many, has most definitely not been bestowed upon me.

I mean, I’ve had my moments.

I won second place in a local city competition for short stories and got a piece published in the paper. My high school teacher kept my best poems and says she still shows them off once in a while. I’m known to be authentic in my writing, which is what I want most of all. I once got a thousand views on a post I wrote. Must’ve been shared by the right person.

By the way, this isn’t me giving up. This is me getting real and putting an honest word out there to writers everywhere…

We just aren’t as good as we want to be.

Journaling my thoughts is one of the most amazing and effortless things I can think of. This makes me a natural writer. My best pieces come out of journal entries and poetry I’ve written. But writing for an audience is tough, gruelling and painful. This is the difference between a natural writer and a published one.

Writing my story was simple. Ok relatively simple.

But editing it and admitting that almost half of my story needs to get shuffled around or rewritten before it faces the publishers has been daunting. I mean, I thought I already finished the work! Now I read and reread every sentence until the words blur together and seem meaningless. But this work is necessary if I want it to be the best.

Almost makes me feel guilty for the way I’ve read books in the past; skipping over pages to get to the good parts. Those authors deserved more than a quick skim of the words they mulled over and over again.

As a result, I’m now back to 30,000 words on my book. Down from just over 85,000. But they’re a promising 30,000 words. They mark my best work. Worthy to be published.

At least I think they are. Maybe the publishers will feed me more humble pie. In fact, I’m expecting it. But it’s not the worst thing that could happen to me. The worst thing would be for me to stop eating at all for fear of being giving this bitter tasting food.

Humble pie may not taste great, but I’ve found it is the most nourishing food for the soul. It’s nothing, if not filling. And it even teaches me; inspiring me to be honest with myself and to learn from my mistakes.

Given enough time, humble pie actually doesn’t look as bad as it sounds. The fact of the matter is, eating humble pie may be my best chance of becoming that bestseller. It might even end up being the key to my success. So, I’m going to eat my pie and enjoy this meal, knowing that someday, I’m going to get a taste of Mom’s Homemade pie again. Until then, this humble pie will keep me alive, so I will be grateful for it.

I may even ask for seconds.

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.

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.

Uncategorized

To Those who Understand

To Those who Understand: Thank you.

Thank you for not only caring, but for listening and responding with compassion. Thank you for taking the time to really see what is needed, instead of just offering a quick fix solution. Thank you for your mercy, for your grace, for your kindness. You will indeed be blessed for all your care.

Because you know what’s really lacking in the world today? People who care and who know how to show it.

I remember a time when someone shared with me their deepest pain and I absolutely cared, but completely lacked the wisdom in showing compassion. Their heart wrenching tears were met with my know-it-all, matter of fact advice, instead of with a listening ear. It came from a well-meaning heart, but it also came from an unwillingness to understand and feel along with people. Because most of the time, those of us who feel like we have all the answers to life are merely just turning a blind eye to others around us and their pain.

Pain that don’t fit with our point of view or theories.

Pain that uncomfortably questions our way of thinking.

So instead of digging deep for truth- biblical, loving truth – we brush these people off and give them scripted responses to their situation. And somethings are really too deep to try to figure out. Somethings are just too heartbreaking to try to reason and explain with logic.

Can you imagine someone going to a funeral of child and then approaching the Mother and trying to offer an explanation for why it happened?

That would be imaginable. We have names for people who would dare do such a thing:

Heartless.

Cold.

Insensitive.

You don’t go to a funeral and give logic to why it happened. You show emotion and you care.

Yet again and again we try to we fix people and logically deal with them in the midst of their pain and difficulties. We often jump the gun and try to solve the issues we see, before taking the time to listen and care.

And this was me…until it was my heart that broke into pieces. Until my pain was brushed aside by well meaning people. Until I was met with solutions instead of sympathy.

My challenge to all those reading this: Step outside your world and instead of pretending to be humble, BE humble. Don’t act like you have the answers when your friend just needs a shoulder to cry on. Don’t tell a person who is hurting that they are doing it all wrong, even if they are making tons of mistakes. Because the chances are that your cold-hearted, self-righteous attitude will cause more harm than good.

So gently, lovingly listen.

Keep your solutions to yourself…even when your advice is asked for, give it sparingly. For God can do more through our prayers than through a thousand know-it-all words.

If you disagree with me, and feel like God has called you to be someone else’s Holy Spirit, then I would ask you this one question: Is your faith actually in the powerful working of a Holy God, or is it in yourself?

To those who understand this: You didn’t learn this the easy way. I now understand.

Uncategorized

You are Not Your Sin

There have been people throughout history that have used ridicule and shame in attempt train a child, thinking that the lower the child feels about himself and his/her accomplishments, the harder they’ll work to succeed. This has actually been proven one of the most ineffective methods to train a child, and it’s obvious why: if a child believes he is worthless and can not make any difference in the world, he will often give up even trying. It has been proven again and again; the lowest scoring and most troubled students often come from difficult, broken homes. This is why childhood educators are taught that positive reinforcement goes a much further way in a child’s life then yet another detention. We all love to hear those uplifting stories of children who felt completely worthless in life, yet completely turned around and succeeded the moment that one adult/teacher took time to see good in them and believe in them!

Most of us parents learn these things and recognize them in our own parenting. If I yell at my children from the next room for not cleaning up fast enough, they’re rarely encouraged to work harder. In fact, the next time I ask them to clean they seem to dread it and work slower than ever!

But if I take the time to work alongside my children and train them carefully, encouraging each positive step I see, rewarding them when they work hard, the result is amazing! After only doing this a short time, my son actually came and offered one day to help sort the laundry! He was seeing it as an opportunity, not a punishment!

When my child tells me a lie, which is the right way to train him? To call him a liar and to hurl insults at him, that he’s a terrible person and tell him that he’s on his way to hell?

No way!

We know that would never shape a child’s heart the right way! He needs to be corrected, disciplined, loved, and encouraged that what he did was bad, but that he has so much more potential for good! The lie was absolutely wrong, but that’s not WHO he is!

Yet as much as most of us would agree with this line of thinking, there are so many adults in the world today that believe they are what they’ve done.

I believe this is the number one thing that is keeping many people from turning to Jesus. They feel that they’ve been on the wrong path for too long, that they’ve chosen the wrong friends, that they are unworthy of anything else, that they’ve messed far too much to go back. If this is you, I want to tell you something completely life changing: YOU ARE NOT YOUR SIN. God is not repulsed by YOU, he’s repulsed by sin. God doesn’t hate YOU, he hates sin.

God doesn’t see you as you see yourself. He doesn’t even see you as others see you!!

Want to know how God sees you? Here’s a thought: ASK him! Then listen. You may be surprised by what happens next.

God truthfully HATES sin, and his anger at sin was shown by what happened on the cross. I’m not writing a blog post on how God is okay with sin. He’s absolutely not! He is furious at it. Sin caused his own Son’s death on a cross!

Sometimes we see injustice on the Earth and ask why God allows it all? Here’s why: Because he doesn’t see you as equal to your sin! He knows that the moment he comes to put an end to it all and make all the wrong things right, times up. The Bible says that God’s patiently waiting, for ALL people to turn to him. This is why God is ever beckoning us to leave our lives of sin, to turn from evil and repent! If he believed that we were equal to our sins, he wouldn’t wait! He’d demand justice NOW!

But he waits so patiently, you can almost hear him groaning, for he hates the injustice far more than we do, but he LOVES his people SO MUCH.

Now I’m actually not just writing this post for those who have not yet turned to Christ, because I really wanted to address something that I commonly see in Christians as well.

There is a heinous lie that is being taught in many churches that the lower you think of yourself, the more spiritual you must be.

This is completely false.

It sounds good, until you actually stop and read what God’s word has to say:

You are a child of God (John 1:12). You are God’s friend (John 15:15). You are the Apple of God’s Eye (Zechariah 2:8). He died because he loved YOU enough to sacrifice himself for YOU (John3:16). You are the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13). You are God’s Temple (1 Cor 3:16). You are a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor 12:27)!

Humility and low self-esteem aren’t the same thing, they are actually enemies.

One can not have true humility by thinking that you’re worth nothing, or that you are the problem with the world. That’s actually just self-hate.

True humility comes not from putting yourself down, but rather from lifting God up.

When you really see the greatness of God, you can’t help but be humbled…and when you realize that He chose YOU, you can no longer feel as if you are worth nothing. This brings about confidence AND humility.

Confidence because of your immeasurable worth to God, but humility because you had nothing to do with it! It was God’s work that made you clean, it was his Spirit living in you that changed you, it is him who works all things together for your good.

How do I end this? What do I say? I long with ALL my heart for everyone I know to KNOW the one true God, the one I love and I ache when those who do know him, still cannot see the difference between themselves and their sin. There is such a HUGE difference between godly conviction and the hopelessness of condemnation.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10

You are NOT your sin. You are CHERISHED. You are WANTED. You are LOVED.