= a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.; mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.

Such a funny word and yet the ultimate achievement for women around the world today. The last few months have challenged my choice of how I balance life…what priorities I put on being a wife, mother, daughter, employee, friend, volunteer, etc. The list for today’s woman goes on. I can choose to busy my schedule with unlimited activities, many of which I have incorporated into my routine: work, bible study, PAC, sports, newspaper route, child-minding, cooking, cleaning, baking, volunteering, organizing, educating myself and on it goes. I list these things not to receive praise but to acknowledge that we all fill out time with MANY, MANY activities. Then we lament the loss of simplier days!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not presuming to suggest that returning to the days when women stayed at home all day doing what women do is the answer to the desire to find balance. What I am suggesting is we need to re-evaluate how we prioritize. The reality that a day will come when we will regret the lack of time spent with our little ones, the loss of opportunity to prepare feasts of baking, cooking, snacks will hit us square in the face as we sit to a meal of two (or even one).

The moment that brought me to a screeching halt occurred about two months ago on a Tuesday morning at 8:30am as I pried the smallest fists from my neck and handed the small, tense body of my screaming two year old to my mother-in-law and walked away to go to work. I could hear her sobs even from a distance and her cries for “mommy” broke my heart. In that moment all I could ask myself was whether all the money in the world was truly worth the devastation I felt at leaving my youngest child in such a state. Of course, I knew she was safe, she would be loved and cared for but how could I walk away knowing her only desire in that moment was to be with her mommy. Thankfully, checking in later I was reassured that she was fine…a trip to McDonald’s and shopping with Nana was a quick fix to her discontentment.

It left me wondering all week what we hold dear. I haven’t quite determined what order the things in my life should take but I know one thing, I am tired of wasting the precious time I have with my little family. It’s not a matter of cutting everything out and holing up in my house but I am determined to be more intentional with my time. Be deliberate in everything I do. Schedule my hours so while my children are out of my home I am making the most of of “my” time so I can then focus my attention squarely on their needs.

As we enter the busy season of Christmas I am reminded how easily we get caught up. Often it’s the kind of caught up that has a negative connotation but for me it’s a purely postive kind of “caught up”. I personally love the peace I feel at driving with Christmas jingles playing in the car, hearing my children belt out tunes that are only played once a year but they are the same ones I sang as a child. I love the coziness that I feel about all things Christmas everywhere I go. The consistency that the next 6 weeks brings…it occurs every year, at the same time with the same amount of ferver.

What boggles my mind most is that as much as the world has tried to remove Christ from this season, I feel an inexplicable amount of anticipation and joy at what is coming. At this moment I will revel in that and try my best to carry that through the rest of the year. I challenge you as moms, daughters, sisters, wives, employees, volunteers…women of Christ to be caught up in what this season means. Be the light in a place that is very dark for some. Set aside time to share with your family the love you have received from your Heavenly Father. Be intentional about what you have to offer the people God has placed in your family and in your direct sphere of influence. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your priorities, in fact it’s an exercise you should engage in every six months or so. As the face of your commitment changes so do your priorities.

On a side note, my littlest has become much better about leaving me but I have the luxury of spending one day a week with just her for 6 hours straight and she is very aware that this is her “mommy-time”. We can’t all do that but there are so many resources available to help you plan the time with your children.

A few ideas off the top of my head (some my own and some from other families)
– choose one night during the week that everyone is at home (try to make it a weekly occurence or at the very least every second week). Plan nothing, be spontaneous but creative in the activities you do…games, movies, popcorn, etc. things that everyone can participate in.
– a date night once a month with each child (this can get pricey, time-consuming and overwhelming if you go overboard so keep it low-key). Something as simple as hot chocolate and a donut can bring an immense amount of joy to your child. It’s the fact that you took a few minutes to just get to know them.
– sun-up to sun-down…a girlfriend told me about this one. She took one of her sons to watch the sunrise, had breakfast with him, took him swimming, just spent the entire day with him and then they went home (they missed the sunset). This wouldn’t be something you’d do often but it’s worth it if you have a day and a few extra dollars to spend.
– date night in. My husband and I are aiming to do this once a week. We choose not to afford a sitter on a weekly basis and we have wonderful parents who watch our children so I can work so instead of going out we wait until the kids are in bed and have a nicely prepared meal, dessert, chat and movie together. It saves on the budget since we’re not going out but it affords us time together and focusing on our marriage.

A few thoughts to leave you with. I would love to hear your ideas on ways you keep your family and marriage connected! So post a comment below:)

Peace…it’s a funny thing! Easy to talk about, easy to teach about, easy to think about, BUT not so easy to actually embrace and feel.

I was teaching the kids in Children’s Church this last Sunday on the passage found in Matthew 6:25-34! It’s the scripture that talks about how God has clothed the lilies of the valley and how much more He loves us…so we should not worry about our lives (a brief synopsis but feel free to read the whole passage). I found this really cool object lesson so the kids, leaders and I traipsed outside to find dandelions. They all came back with these weeds in various stages of growth and we talked about how amazing it is that God has provided these things, that we try to destroy and kill every year, with the means to survive, grow well and even reproduce.

Although some of it was common sense I felt inspired again by the creativity of our Father as I read to the children some of the amazing facts about these silly little “flowers”. Did you know that the reason the stem is hollow is so that in rain and wind they bend without breaking and then stand straight again? Did you also know that the reason the leaves are so jagged and ugly is because they are perfect shape for collecting and draining rain water to the root of the weed? On a seedhead, have you ever noticed that it’s shaped a bit like a parachute? It’s so that when you blow it off it spins far away so as not to compete with other seeds for earth to grow! And of course, if you look at a seed under a microscope it’s shaped like a screw so that as it’s falling to the ground it actually SCREWS itself into the earth giving it a better chance to take root and grow!!!!

I’m not sure the kids were as in awe as I was over this whole description but I felt like I was seeing this concept for the very first time. When I asked the kids to put their hands up if they thought God loved them as much as the dandelions, I thought for sure a sea of hands would fly to the air but you know what…our smart, faithful, godly children reminded me of exactly what I was about to tell them…GOD LOVES US MORE!!!!!!

The funny thing was that immediately following our lesson I texted my husband (who was at home trying to tackle some yard work because he rarely has time to accomplish it) and asked him how things were going. He promptly responded with “not good, talk later”! In true human fashion I immediately took to worrying. The peace I was just preaching about eluded my grasp and I set my mind to a million different things that could bring such a response.

He called, apologetic for making me concerned but informed me that our garage door had literally fallen off the hinges and each panel had rolled off the track and when he arrived home from dropping the kids at church it was hanging all askew. Needless to say I felt sick to my stomach. Thankfully I have an amazing husband and an amazing father, who both took it to themselves to fix this problem with immense speed so as not to have to witness a frantic woman return home to such an issue:)

As I drove home after church, it hit me square in the face…what good had it been for me to teach this lesson if I couldn’t even bring myself to try and practise it? Is God not so much bigger than the broken garage door? Is He not capable of providing for my every need when people around the world live in poverty but that same God gives them their daily bread? Why is it so hard for me to practise these simple life lessons when I have such abundance. It was a good, practically applicable moment of teaching FOR ME in the finer points of faith in God!

Perhaps this Sunday, as I teach about patience I should expect to find a situation in my path that actually challenges me to live the concept out! I do hope it doesn’t follow suit with the passage though because I KNOW I am not ready to live the life of Job:)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted…mainly because there hasn’t been much to say aside from the normal busyness of life. There are moments here and there that catch me and I think of writing but the moment passes and I choose to file it in my mind instead.

This morning a deep feeling has lodged itself in my soul. I can’t explain what it is because it’s not really one feeling but many, many feelings that I can only describe in one word…”DADDY”.

I often ponder the majesty of creation, specifically in relation to the differences between men and women. Being a woman I cannot fathom how a man functions, perceives life, copes with struggles or feels with each passing day. What I feel, is so often vibrant and consuming…each situation brings a new set of emotions and everything is intertwined. We joke about the differences in men and women, we laugh at how it affects our communication with each other, we strive to overcome it but all to often it is the reason for hurts, frustration and even anger. But when things boil down we need each other, we need the differences, we need the change in scenery that makes our unique perspective.

Today the thing that I have felt so deeply is the relationship that each woman craves and it has been designed to come from one individual. Some women may say they DO NOT want this, they are independant and free, a man just complicates things…I beg to differ. As a grown woman I still feel the “princess” inside me calling for his approval, his love, his gentle embrace. My daddy, the one who protects, who loves, who cherishes, who gives of himself, who hugs, kisses, dances, tickles, and so much more.

As a child, my dad worked hard, he drove long haul and often wasn’t home. To be honest I don’t remember the not being home part but I remember vividly the feeling of unsettledness at certain times. The creaking in the house was louder, the roar of the furnace sounded like a monster, the movement of my siblings and mom in the night were foreign, nothing was as it should be when daddy wasn’t safe and sound in his bed. The protection I wanted was not readily available to me as it should be…my daddy was not there to spring into action at a moment’s notice.

From my teen years until a few years ago I really took for granted the relationship I had with my dad. We have never been super close, not the kind of close that some fathers and daughters share. My mom and I had a great relationship and she was the one I went to when life was too much or problems needed solving. It didn’t mean less love for dad it just wasn’t expressed outwardly. Over the last few years I’ve come to appreciate so many things about my father. He’s stoic, hard-working, kind, caring and giving. Many more things spring to mind but these are a few of his obviously strong points. We both have come to recognize the need for a more intentional relationship and try, as time allows, to keep up-to-date on each other’s lives. The one thing I don’t think I’ve ever shared with my dad is just how much he means to me. As he prepares to, yet again, put the needs of his family first, and spend the next few years commuting between his home here and his work up North, I am struck by how his presence affects the dynamic of our family and how much I value and cherish his presence in my life. Although I have a wonderful man who meets all my “princess” needs now, I count on the presence of my father to be there, “just in case”. I love him dearly and am so glad that I still have this time with him.

Maybe the last few years have touched a nerve in my soul at the shortness of life. I see around me dear friends who have never had a dad, or a dad who was there but not really there, or even worse have just lost their father and my heart aches for each one and serves as a reminder for me that as God has graced my life with an earthly father within my reach, I should not let a moment be wasted. It serves as a reminder to me to encourage the men I know that have daughters to seek those cherished times. The little princess’ that dance around your living room and look with emploring eyes for your approval, give them what they crave…give them what God has created you to give them…love, care, nurturing, hugs, kisses and dancing. I listened to the song by Steven Curtis Chapman this morning, “Cinderella” and the words struck my soul. All every little girl wants is to find the protection and security that “dancing” with her father offers. A place where hope thrives, where joy can be rediscovered, where we feel all is right and the palace is but a step away. A place of refuge in a lonely, hurting world. The arms of a father to lean into when the storms of life hit, when all seems lost, one place to seek solace and comfort.


And for those who cannot find that here on earth, I am struck by how we can turn to our Abba Father…the one who created us to be this way, to need protection and comfort, the one who longs to “dance” with us, to be the Prince we seek. The Psalmist tells us that God has seen our troubles and he alone will help the fatherless. We can call on him to bring the peace and joy that surpasses human understanding and He WILL comfort.

So dad, if you read this rest assured that you are a staple in my life…a man I trust and count on. I thank God everyday that although our story is not neat and tidy that He brought us together and keeps us in each other’s lives. I am thankful that you have been the model for me that allows me to seek my Heavenly Father when you’re not near. That I am not fearful of what God is like because I know that a small part of Him is modelled in you. Thank you for being my dad and for loving me as I am.

As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve been working through a study on 1 Samuel. One of the more recent sessions began a discussion that really struck a nerve with me. I’ve never been in a situation that has left my faith shattered to pieces. I haven’t experienced that moment that makes me really question if God is real or if I’ve chosen the wrong path for my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have questions…they just aren’t devastating, life-altering questions.

This particular topic though has given me something to think about over the last few weeks and I’m sure it will resonate with many fellow, Christ-followers.

It started with a read of 1 Samuel 16:1-23…if you have a moment, read the passage because it’s a great portion of scripture but what led to the big question can be found in verse 14, “Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” I have read the story of Samuel, Saul, David and Jonathan but have NEVER come across that passage in a meaningful way. Do you see what it says and what the implications of that scripture could be? I read it, I studied my bible study notes, I poured over that small passage for days. How could the evil spirit that tormented Saul have possibly come from God. First I couldn’t fathom the God I know to be in any kind of relation with evil and second, that He would choose to SEND an evil spirit to torment His own creation. It seemed to have so many implications…does that mean God controls all the evil in this world, does He purposefully send bad things to the lives of His children, how can He love us so much but do these types of horrible things to us. I struggled with this question into the next week as we talked about Hannah and her barrenness. I questioned how a loving God could then purposefully close the womb of such a godly woman (if you read the story of Hannah, you see that she LOVED God and served Him, yet He continued to keep her womb closed). Does this same loving God close the wombs of women today and why does He do this? Does He give cancer to those sitting in hospital waiting to die? Does He purposefully cause floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, that devastate nations to their very center?

My brain continued to argue and my heart began feeling weighted with this terrible sorrow for the image of who MY God was and that I was losing that image to a much darker picture. It wasn’t so much that I felt He wasn’t/isn’t God but that MY God of grace, mercy, HAPPILY EVER AFTER…wasn’t so true. My picture was becoming tainted with reality and understanding of a MUCH BIGGER God!!!

Maybe age really does bring wisdom, maybe experience brings wisdom, maybe it’s both or maybe it’s just the true desire and seeking after God’s heart brings clarity to faith.

A few things came across my path the following week and a half that gave me a more stable perspective but I just couldn’t let go of this idea that God has somehow caused great suffering in those who love Him and a feeling of great letdown at this revelation. Why? Why would you do that…How could you do that…Don’t you love us so much more than that???

My heart’s desire is to know and follow but my intellectual mind cries for understanding and justification.

I prayed and peace came…I wasn’t about to let Satan have a stronghold like that and I know that God was fighting that battle too. But I came across a short article posted by a co-worker that nailed it on the head for me.


Again if you have time read the whole article but if not then here’s a brief synopsis and what really struck me. This pastor is famous (I’ve never heard of him but he preaches in the states to a congregation of 7000). He’s young, married with three children. As he puts it everything he’d touched turned to gold…until the day he was diagnosed with cancer of the brain. Brain surgery, chemo, seizure, recovery, not a hopeful prognosis at all but this was his response…

“There’s this part of me that’s so grateful that the Lord counted me worthy for this.”

This was, of course, the first flash of, “wow, I think I need a shift in perspective of this whole, what is God doing thing”! Then he followed it up with these thoughts…

“After all, if he believes God is sovereign in all things and that events in a Christian’s life are God’s will, does that mean God gave him cancer? And if He didn’t, what does that say about His sovereignty and perfect will?”…”Chandler says. “I don’t think God gave me cancer … but He knew it was coming. He certainly didn’t stop it, and He’s certainly able to. The whole Scripture is: bad things happen in a fallen world, and God is enough in those things and uses those things to the Glory of His own name.”…“It’s not punitive; it’s not random; and it has not been given to us by God to show us who’s boss,” Chandler says. “There’s a purpose in it; there’s a limit in it; and in the end, God is not going to give to us what He will not sustain us in. And I believe at that moment, the Holy Spirit gives you the power to stand. That’s exactly what we found out. And I’m rejoicing in what He’s doing in it.”

How on earth could I possibly argue the Sovereignty of a God I’ve committed my life to when all the “earth-shaking” that’s happened in my life is a simple bible study on 1 Samuel. I’ve never experienced this type of life-or-death situation so why would I need to question who God is and why He does what He does.

In truth it gave me perspective. Perhaps I will face tragedy in my life…I have no doubt I will face hardship but perhaps that tidbit of information will prepare me to make a statement such as Matt Chandler. Perhaps it will serve to strengthen my resolve to allow God complete control over my life instead of holding back.

If my deepest heart were known it would reveal that I still doubt, I still question, I still wonder how this all lines up but my conscious mind is choosing to leave some questions to be answered on the day I meet my Creator. Perhaps in the meantime I can find that balance between God’s Sovereignty and His utter devotion and deep love for His children that would soften His heart to hear our prayers as we DO seek to do His will.

Before Christmas we took the kids to Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. It was so beautiful and the kids really enjoyed themselves. We debated on the Stanley Park train but we wanted something different and this was something I remembered from my childhood.

I think for this one I’ll just focus on posting pictures. They pretty much speak for themselves. I will admit that this year has been super difficult for me to get back into the routine of school, life, work, everything in general after a very enjoyable Christmas vacation. James had the entire week off between Christmas and New Years and we really just focused on spending time as a family. We vegged, we played, we bonded, we relaxed…everything you do on holidays we managed to accomplish.

Christmas was fun. We spent December 18th with James’ family for Christmas this year because his younger brother and girlfriend were heading to Japan to spend Christmas with her family this year. It was a little strange and I think a little bizarre for my mother-in-law to have it so early but on the other hand it really helped to keep everything from being crammed into one weekend. Christmas eve we did our usual service at church and appys with James’ dad, mom and youngest brother. Christmas morning was just the six of us and the kids actually slept until 7:30:) Then we headed to my parents with my brothers, sister-in-laws and nephew. It was very relaxing and fun. My mom was really eager to start some new traditions with her grandkids this year so we acted out the Christmas story while my dad read it, then we sang some Christmas carols. My mom and James played their guitars, Ben played the djembe and the kids all had some small instruments (triangles, tambourines, shakers, etc.). Oh yeah, and we did an “ugly sweater” Christmas picture with my family too! It was very amusing. Christmas itself was wonderful and the days after were even better.

Life gets busy, Christmas is nearly upon us and in this moment I think I’m content! I have no other feelings or words to describe where I’m at. There isn’t anything significant that needs to be included in this blog…no big changes occurring in our lives, just living:)

James is more than happy at his new job and to see him love what he’s doing, come home with a smile on his face and hear his energy left to share with his children is so incredibly refreshing and such a blessing to us as the road we’ve travelled to get here seems long. Don’t get me wrong there are many others who have journeyed much, MUCH more difficult trials than us but when you live it, the trial is all consuming and sucks the life right out of you. To be in a place of contentment and rest just illuminates the place you’ve come from. I can honestly say that God has blessed my husband’s commitment and stick-to-itiveness (not a work I realize, but I’m sure you all get the meaning).

I enjoy what I do. It can be overwhelming at times living the life of working mom…I admire women who do it fulltime or, even more so, single moms who work and are both mom and dad. I find I have to consciously take off my work hat and put on my “mom” hat…on the days I don’t work the kids need me to focus on them and take time to just be with them. All in all I wouldn’t change a thing but I do have to keep perspective and continue to ask God for strength and wisdom.

The kids are all doing relatively well. The odd situation arises here and there as is the case in any household and parenting is hardwork but in most cases tremendously rewarding. As I watch my friends and see how we all strive to raise “good” children… I appreciate that God has given us all such individuality. Each household raises their kids so differently but watching such amazing children emerge is a testament to the spirit in which God created us…each unique and individual with different ideas, opinions and viewpoints. These continue in the generation that follows us and as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents we get to contribute to the molding these little beings. Such an immense blessing…I think that’s where I find it the most daunting…knowing that what I do does make a difference and I KNOW that I DO NOT always do it right. That’s why I cling to God’s grace.

I think if I were to try to use one word to encapsulate this period of my life I would definitely use the word GRACE! Grace for my mistakes, grace in providing for our needs above and beyond, grace for my impatience, etc. the list goes on of course but most importantly I feel a sense of presence, God’s presence that just gives me peace. I am learning not to worry, learning to let go, learning to allow who He is to literally surround who I am in turn, pour out of me. I’m sure to some I am desperately lacking but even in this I am learning to just concern myself with what God thinks. It’s a freeing concept (my girlfriends are laughing at this word because of a previous conversation we’ve had, sorry about the inside joke, but I mean this in the spiritual sense, ladies). It’s allowing to mull spiritual questions, have deep conversations with God alone and although I seek council of wise, respected individuals I need less and less approval of others and find more joy in just being.

I’ve digressed a great deal so I should probably sign-off but for those who are still checking my blog occasionally, I’m still here just not necessarily making it a priority to blog. Thanks for reading and as always I value any insight you might have ir thoughts you might like to share:)

I just wanted to keep record of a few funny things that have happened in our home the last few days and what better place to do that then to share it with a few of my friends as well.

It should be no surprise to anyone who knows Lanae that she has very set ideas on when it will be appropriate for her to kiss a boy. She has already determined that she doesn’t kiss anyone on the lips unless she’s married to them, and that includes me! It’s funny and strange all at the same time and I have it in my mind to remind her of that when she turns 14 or 15 and wants to start kissing boys. The other day we were reading a story of Cinderella and she was quite interested in if they got married at the end or not. They didn’t because it wasn’t the original Cinderella but I commented on how she would love to plan her wedding and that she would hopefully get a wonderful man whom she could kiss once she got married. She proceeded to inform me that she would not let him kiss her on the lips but that she would let him kiss her on the hand IF she was wearing her glove. Such a funny comment but again a reminder of how determined and adamant she can be about ideas she gets in her head.

Another great moment this past week was our experience deciding whether or not to register Jake for dance class. Jake has always been an extremely rhythmic person so it hasn’t been hard coming to grips with his excitement for a dance class. We took him to a jazz/musical theater class to try but determined that because it was all girls he would eventually not appreciate that dynamic. We thought it might be a good idea to try the hip hop class that followed for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into the entire class and 2 hours later Jake had successfully completed two full classes. He came home exuberant about the Christmas performance and adamant that he wanted to take the hip hop class. Later that evening he informed me that he really liked his instructor. He said, “Miss Marissa, has the best skin to touch mom because it’s so warm!” Ahh, that’s my Jakie, a lover to the core. Needless to say dance/dramatic arts will be a success with my second son and I’m sure he will excel in it just as Sam has excelled in football.

The last time we had a visit to the aquarium Jake was about the same age Annie is now. I loved seeing the reactions of the boys to the many aquatic displays and just enjoying time as a family in a new environment.

This time was a little different because we had all four of the kids and we ventured there with all of James’ family as well. It was a great experience and what I think I enjoyed the most was the trek in as James’ reminisced a bit about his childhood. James’ Nana used to live in North Vancouver and he told us that his family, of 5, would often make the trek out after church on Sunday for a visit. He took the route they traveled and showed us the general area where she lived. Then off for an afternoon of observation.

Something about trips like this bring us together. I think it has to do with God’s creation and the beauty about it that intrigues us and allows us to enjoy the experience together. The kids were eager and I’m quite certain liked all they saw.

Watching the dolphins was probably the highlight for us. They are such a beautiful animal and incredibly smart. The kids were enthralled with their performance and I was again reminded of the majesty of creation around us and the little I actually know about the many amazing things in the world around me.

I also really like jellyfish. I’m not exactly sure what it is about this display that I like but I think it’s the color of the tank water and the florescent creatures that can be potentially dangerous.

These last two pictures just reminded me of why people get these crazy stories of “swamp” monsters and undersea creatures that turn into blown out of proportion myths that go on for years and years.

We stopped for dinner on the way back at a place James and his family often ate. I’d been there once before and although I still don’t understand the appeal I can appreciate the sentimental attachment they have to a place where many fond memories remain. The kids were quiet on the way back and the three youngest were asleep before we reached the bridge.