Monday, 26 October 2015

Seasons of Transition

Hi All! I’ve had the topic of transitions on my heart for a while, and I just want to name some things God’s been teaching me in this season of transition. For us, the transition has been a long time coming and the transition still isn’t over. We left our jobs, moved across the country a year and a half ago, had a baby, moved to a new home that we’re renting temporarily, and my husband has two courses left at seminary to complete his Masters degree. Baby #2 is on the way and we have no idea what the next step is for us. 

Your transition in life might not be quite as dramatic, but no matter when or what the transition is, transitions are just downright hard for most of us. Transition means change. And change is not easy. Maybe, for you, it’s that you’re graduating and wondering what you'll be doing next or you’re getting married or you’re in a new relationship or you’re moving to a new house or you’re switching churches or your kids are starting school. Whatever it may be, I hope you’ll find encouragement here today and can know that transition doesn’t have to be this horrible, dreaded thing. There can actually be a lot of fruit and growth and blessing in seasons of transition. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”

There are seasons of transition, but the biggest thing that keeps me hopeful in seasons of transition is knowing that it won’t last forever. :) My husband and I often tell each other, “This is just a season.”

So, three big things that have helped me in this season of transition?
  1. Seeing God’s provision. In season’s of transition, we are often losing something. But what’s amazing is the opportunity we get to recognize God’s provision, where perhaps we may have taken it for granted before. During this season, God has provided me with friends, peace, a home for us, funds to pay for our home and Kevin’s school while neither of us are working, and a church community…just to name a few. If you’re in a season of transition, use it as an opportunity to take notice of what God is doing and how he is providing for you. It's also okay to be sad about those things you have left or lost. Give yourself grace to grieve and lay it all at Jesus' feet.
  2. Learning to trust. Sometimes there are seasons where there is literally nothing else we can do but trust Him. Trusting him is pretty easy when things in our lives are going smoothly. When a lot is up in the air and we’re unsure of where he’s taking us, it’s downright hard to trust. But instead of living in doubt and fear, we can use this time as a beautiful opportunity to build our trust in the Lord. And then we simply pray and wait for him to show us the next step.
  3. The growth I’ve experienced. I can honestly say that I’ve had a ‘growth spurt’ during this season of transition. And by that, I mean a 'spiritual' growth spurt. It’s not that I think I’m more ‘spiritual’ than I was before. But I see how God has used this season to grow me. For some reason, this season has given him access to parts of my heart I had buried for a while. He has taught me so much in this season. He's reminded me of who I am in Him, how my security is in Him alone, how I don’t have to strive and I can simply be, how He is so much bigger than my problems and His love is so much bigger than fear. I know that I probably won’t completely understand the growth He has done in me and my family during this time until later on. But it’s real. He is with us in this season and He is not allowing it go to to waste. He’s using it all for His glory and His Kingdom. I believe that. 

These are things I cling to when this season of transition just seems really hard. When I’m feeling discouraged in this season and am wondering will we ever know the next step or will God really come through for us, I can remember that He has already come through for us, over and over and over again. And my security is not in knowing our future plans. My security is ever and only all in Him alone. 

Thank you, Jesus, that seasons of transition are never wasted. Thank you that you use each and every season of our lives to draw us closer to your heart. Encourage those those who are in seasons of transition in their lives. Help us to use these seasons to simply abide in you while we seek your wisdom and guidance for the future. Amen.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Does God Still Speak To Us?

Do you ever wonder if God still speaks to us today? Like really speaks to us? 

When I think of some examples of God speaking, I think about when he showed up to Moses in a burning bush and commissioned him to go and rescue His people. Or when he revealed to the virgin Mary through one of his angels that she would conceive of a son, named Jesus, who would be the Son of God. Or the time he caused the scales to fall from Paul’s eyes so that he finally understood Jesus truly was the Son of God and he was wrong in his persecution of the Christians.

These are major, huge, pivotal moments in history. And there are countless stories of God speaking to his people in the bible, in both big and small ways. He didn’t just speak to ‘important’ people. No. Do you remember who showed up at his manger after he was born? The shepherds. Men who took care of sheep weren’t particularly important or distinguished members of society. Yet they were invited to this momentous, sacred, unbelievable moment in history. There is no criteria for who God speaks to. He longs for relationship with us all.

Sometimes hearing God’s voice seems impossible to us. Why is that? We seem to think we need to work hard to figure out how to hear his voice. Like it’s this big mystery. But I think its a lot more simple than that. 

I’ve been thinking about what it means for us to simply reach out to Jesus. Because, when it comes down to it, he simply desires relationship with us. 

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. -Matthew 9:20-22

This poor woman had suffered for years. I’m sure she questioned God. I’m certain she felt angry about her condition at times, that she would pray and nothing would change. Yet, in this moment, she sees an opportunity to reach out to Jesus. She touches the edge of his cloak. And He tells her that her faith has healed her. 

Why didn’t Jesus heal this woman’s plight sooner? Why didn’t he reach out to her in that moment? I don’t know the answers to those questions. What I do see and the truth I love in this story is that it matters that we reach out to Him. He takes notice. He loves us. And he wants a relationship with us. He will never ignore us. I also see that, when we have even a tiny, little bit of faith, this is pleasing to Him.

So when I come back to this question, does God still speak to us today? Yes. Absolutely. He speaks in His time and in His way, but He absolutely speaks. I have most definitely had seasons where his voice has been quieter, even silent at times. I think God has his reasons for this and those seasons serve a purpose. But perhaps, he’s simply waiting for you to reach out to Him in faith. Maybe there’s actually a lot he wants to say to you right now. 

I think where we tend to give up is when we think “Well, I don’t know if thats my voice or God’s voice?” I started attending a six week workshop on this very topic last week and the pastor said this about that issue… When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we become one with Him. His Spirit comes into our hearts. So if we have a thought and we’re not sure whether it’s God’s voice or our own, we can simply test it. Does this line up scripturally? Is it encouraging and not condemning? Then it can be trusted. I’m sure we get it wrong at times and listen to our own voice instead of God’s. But I also believe He is faithful and, over time, as we learn to hear His voice and distinguish it from our own, it will become more and more clear. Just like how you can distinguish your mom’s voice or your husband’s or your best friend’s on the phone. Over time, it’s unmistakable. 

I hope this encourages you today, especially if you’ve been feeling like the Lord’s voice is quieter or silent in your life right now. He wants to speak to us. He is faithful. We can reach out in faith and trust that the God who created us, knows us intimately, and loves us unconditionally, is listening and will respond.

Monday, 19 October 2015

My Daily Routine With a 1 1/2 Year Old

Right now, I’m a stay at home mama of one. Our one and a half year old boy is at a really fun stage and I’m loving that we have a more consistent routine than we did when he was a baby. Before being at home, I was a kindergarten teacher so my days were very routined and organized and I loved that. The past year and a half has been quite a shift in what my daily routine looks like, and I know that routine is about to change again in five months when the next little babe comes along!

I wanted to do a post about some of the things that make our daily routine enjoyable, smooth, and what that routine looks like for us right now. It will be interesting to compare this routine to what a routine with two looks like in several months! To be honest, I can’t quite imagine it and mostly I imagine a bit of chaos. :) Which I’m sure it will be at first. 

In the mornings, we wake up (whenever Landon decides to wake us up. That time has switched a lot over the year. For a time it was consistently 6:00. The last few weeks it’s been 7:00 or a bit later, which we relish in!)

We’re in a unique situation right now in that my husband is in school and not working so we get a lot of ‘daddy time’ too, which we love. One of us gets up to make coffee, get Landon’s breakfast ready, and L inevitably points to the remote and says “Paw?!” (his cute way of asking to watch Paw Patrol- his favourite Netflix show.) We usually let him watch an episode while he eats breakfast and Kevin and I get a few minutes to wake up and chat. If Kevin is not home, I use this time to wake up, check my phone, read a quick devotional, etc. 

Once we’re done with breakfast, Landon usually plays with his toys for a good while. Right now, he loves his Little People castle and also loves playing with his cars. He also loves having books read to him. 

He is finally down to one nap, which is really nice because it gives us time to have some kind of morning outing. This usually consists of going for a walk or to somewhere like the library for story time or playing with the train table and taking out books. After an outing, we come home, make some lunch, and L goes down for a nap around 12:00. 

Ahhh, break time for Mama. Sometimes I wish I was a little more productive with nap time. I usually use the first half hour to unload the dishwasher or tidy up. But I really try to prioritize doing something for myself during this time. Whether thats checking blogs I like, calling a friend, writing, reading, etc. Depending on how long he naps, sometimes I’ll just lay down and try to nap a bit myself. 

L usually wakes up around 2-2:30. I find we need an afternoon outing because there is just way too much time between waking up from nap time and dinner time. Places I love to go are Indigo (they also have some fun toys and a train table that L loves), to visit a friend and do a play date, a walk with my mom or a friend, or we do something simply like grab groceries and run a few errands. This usually takes us about an hour and then we come home and L will play some more. Lately, I’ll put a show on for him while I start making dinner. A few other shows he likes right now are Clifford and Ruby & Max. I always kind of struggle with putting on the TV for him, but I feel comfortable with it if it is limited. 

We are early dinner eaters. It’s nice because Kevin is usually home early other than a couple of days he’s in school so we have the flexibility to eat early. We’ll sit down for dinner around 5-5:30. After dinner, we usually do an activity together as a family (like a walk or just playing around with toys). However, if we ate something like spaghetti, Landon usually goes up with one of us for his bath while the other cleans up. 

Generally, bath time starts at 6:30 and we put Landon down for bed at 7:00. We’ve done a bath every single night basically since he was born. It just seems to be a nice activity to start settling him for bed time and he's used to it now so it just kind of stuck. I think we started putting him down at 7:00 for bed when he was around 4-5 months. He didn’t sleep through the night more consistently until 11 months, but I have to say that having the evening with my husband is just the best. I’m sure once baby #2 arrives, we will miss that quality time together. 

Kevin and I like to keep things low key in the evening. Sometimes he has homework and I’ll do my own thing. Usually, I’m pretty exhausted from being pregnant and chasing around a 1 1/2 year old all day. :) We love to watch Netflix together or play a card game and eat dessert. 

I have to go to bed really early when I’m pregnant. In my first trimester, I start fading around 8:00! Now that I’m in my second trimester, I usually last until 9-9:30. I’ll usually get ready for bed around then, read a little bit in bed and try to have the lights out at 10-10:30. I’m not an amazing sleeper (especially when pregnant) so I have to stick to a good routine when it comes to bedtime if I want to try and get a good night’s rest.

Sleep, wake up, and repeat!

I really love our routine right now and am loving the crisp, fall weather! I’m a bit nervous for when the cold winter temperatures arrive, but I’m determined to continue to get outside with L. It will just take an hour of bundling up beforehand. ;)

Being home is so different from having a consistent work schedule so I find that sticking to a routine makes me feel a little more ‘normal’ as a stay at home mama. What about you? What routines work for you if you have young kiddos? What was the switch in routine like from having one to two?