3 Steps to Take During Uncertainty

Ben and I are going through a period of uncertainty right now. There are some things we’re praying about, and trying to discern our next steps.

For most of my life, I’ve hated these kinds of situations. I want to have a plan, and know exactly what’s going to happen. But this last year, God has been teaching me a lot about trusting Him, and walking in faith, taking one day at a time. I don’t get it right every time, but I can definitely see that He’s been strengthening my faith muscles!

Every once in a while, though, the temptation to think too far ahead trips me up. Suddenly I catch myself worrying about all the things I’m trying to leave in God’s hands.

This recently happened again, early one morning. For some reason, I just woke up feeling anxious, and before long, I was all busy in my head, wondering how we would work everything out.

Realizing I was heading into dangerous territory, I got out of bed and started on the little things I do each morning, until I finally settled down with my Bible. I’ve been reading through Matthew, and that morning, I was up to the passage about Jesus feeding the five thousand.

As I started reading, a verse I’ve read many, many times suddenly grabbed my attention. I didn’t even know why at first, but it seemed to jump out at me, so I read it again a couple of times to figure out why it felt important.

“He directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.” (Matt. 14:19)

As I read it over, I realized there in front of me were laid out three steps for how to move ahead when the way doesn’t look clear.

What Jesus did in that specific situation can be done any time we are waiting for direction from God: He looked to heaven, He gave thanks, and He took action, having faith that God would make a move.

Look to Heaven

When I keep my focus on God, I don’t worry about stuff. But when I start looking too far ahead and trying to control everything, anxiety kicks in. If I remember to keep my eyes on Jesus, “looking up to heaven”, there is peace.

It’s like that old song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”…

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

I sing that song when I need to remind myself to keep looking to heaven, instead of all the distractions around me, which cause me to lose trust in God’s care and provision for my life.

Give Thanks

Gratitude has the power to melt away all kinds of negative feelings. It’s very hard to feel worried when I start thanking God for all of the ways He’s been faithful.

We can thank God for all He’s already done, but in this verse, Jesus thanks God for what He hasn’t even done yet. I’m trying to do this, too. God knows our needs. In times of uncertainty, I’m choosing to trust that God will make a way, even before we see what it is. I’m thanking Him in advance for all He will do in the future!

Take Action

The Bible doesn’t say exactly when the miracle of multiplication occurs in this story. Does it happen somehow as Jesus is tearing the food into pieces? Does it happen before He breaks the bread? Who knows, but I love how Jesus digs in and gets to work!

It reminds me to start walking in faith before I know exactly how everything will work out. I can’t sit around waiting until I know every detail – sometimes I need to get moving, and put my faith into action.

It reminds me of a quote by Charles Stanley that I’ve always loved, which goes something like this: “If God asks you to run through a brick wall, just start running, and pray He’ll make a hole.”

It would be so much easier to get the miracle first, and then take action, but a lot of the time in the Bible, miracles happen on the way.

I would absolutely love to know how everything is going to work out for our family, but there is actually something beautiful and exciting about not having a clue, and keeping on our path anyway. Even when our way is uncertain, I want to travel it in a way that honours Him. I could get very stressed and worried right now (I’ve done it before in other situations when waiting on God), but how much better to do it with peace, joy, and a thankful heart!

Look to heaven, give thanks, take action. I’m not saying it’s a magic formula that leads to a perfect, wealthy, successful life. I’ve learned that most of the time, things don’t turn out at all the way I think they will, or want them to. But somehow, even the hard times can become good and beautiful because Jesus guides us through.

It’s not easy to do these three things – it takes a lot of practice, and it’s hard to keep the mind disciplined enough to stick with it. But the Spirit enables us to do what we can’t, and the more I practice, the more appealing it becomes to live a life of faith.

Look to heaven, give thanks, start moving. And then, who knows what will happen next?!

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Chasing Dreams

We were at the lake for a few days on a little family vacation last week, and decided to visit some of our old favourite spots in the area. There’s a goose sanctuary we’ve gone to a number of times over the years, starting when Ben and I were working together at camp while we were dating. We went back a bunch of times with our kids during the years we lived at Red Rock Bible Camp, but Kaylia said she didn’t remember it at all, so it was definitely time to go back!

It’s a beautiful spot, even when there aren’t many geese there this time of year. I’ve always loved the trails and bridges. Everett did too, which led to elaborate stories about how we were pirates exploring the jungle, hunting for treasure.

As we walked, the thought I kept returning to was this: How exactly does one go about creating a goose sanctuary? What makes a person that passionate about geese, and then how do they go about bringing this to life? How do you get the word out to all the geese that you have a cool, new place for them to hang out with all their friends?

When we got back to the visitor center, Everett wanted to look at all the information signs with pictures (because he said, “I’m very curious.”), so I hung back with him while everyone else went to the van.

And there it was – the whole story about how Alfred Hole had a dream to build a goose sanctuary. He started with one old goose, who mated with stray females, and things just grew from there.

I keep thinking about this – old Alfred with his dream, patiently waiting year after year to see if things would work out the way he hoped.

A couple of weeks ago, I met with a friend of mine and we talked about writing and book publishing, and all the dreams and ideas that we’re not sure what to do with. How do you know which dreams to pursue, and which ones should die on backburner? The only conclusion we could come to was that sometimes, it’s just really hard to know what to do. It takes time to figure it out.

So I think about Alfred Hole and his dream, and I like it that even though it took awhile, and he didn’t know exactly how things would turn out, he gave it a try. He found a good spot, got an old goose, and waited to see what would happen.

And because of that, we have this beautiful spot to enjoy all these years later, and thousands of geese have had a safe place to land each year as they make their long trip back and forth.

It inspires me to take action. What’s my goose?! How can I take one simple step towards something that could be amazing? Even if the dream or idea goes nowhere, wouldn’t it be worth trying? And what if it did turn out really well? Maybe that one goose could become thousands, and a beautiful spot would hold space in the world for the idea that’s only a dream right now.

Second Half (Some thoughts on trying to age well)

Today is my birthday, and I feel good. Nice change from last year – I kind of crashed into a new decade last year, and there was no grace in my aging. It was rough. I think I had a bit of a midlife crisis.

This year feels much more comfy, though. I can be friends now with this stage of my life – it just took a bit of time to adjust. But I have thought a lot about aging in the last year. We live in a culture obsessed with youth, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to guide us in how to age well.

I’ve watched people, asked questions, done some reading. From what I can see, it looks like either people don’t think aging is a big deal, and do well with it, or they live in denial and don’t do well with it. Obviously, I want to learn secrets to a happy life of aging gracefully from the first bunch, but often, they don’t know what to say, because they’re not really doing it intentionally – they just naturally seem to have a good attitude about aging, and don’t know what tips to pass on. Just be fine with it!!

It sounds easy, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had an easy time with emotions surrounding anything important – it’s ALL a big deal for me. The “Naturally Awesome At Aging” category is not where I find myself.

There have been two parts to my aging crisis. The first was that I just worried a ton about the future, and all the terrible possibilities it could hold as I get older. But God has been teaching me a lot about this in the past year, and I’m so thankful to feel more peace in this area of my life. Worrying can still be a temptation, but I’m learning to resist more often.

The second part of my aging crisis was trickier for me to identify. I’ve been thinking a lot about my purpose, what I want to accomplish in my life, and what my focus should be. I felt a bit like I was floundering a bit.

For basically my entire life, I’ve dreamed of getting married and having three kids. It was what I always wanted. I’ve done some other great things along the way, but marriage and kids were always my deepest desire.

It took us a little longer than expected to reach that goal, but after Everett was born, I found myself in such a strange place of having everything I’d dreamed of, and not really having a clue what was supposed to happen next. I mean, obviously I’m going to love, enjoy, and take care of my husband and three kids, but I didn’t have new dreams to look towards.

So last year on my birthday, I realized I was entering a new decade without any idea of what to dream about next, and it felt weird.

But at just the right time, a message series came my way which made sense of a lot of things for me. I’ve mentioned the Bridgetown Church podcast about a million times since I discovered it. I LOVE John Mark Comer’s preaching, and his recent series on the second half of life is just fantastic.

The series is about how we spend the first half of life working on our outward journey – who we’ll be in the world, if and who we’ll marry, having kids, pursuing a career, and making all the big life choices about the “container” in which we’re going to travel the world.

But the second half of life is about the inward journey – facing the deeper inner parts of ourselves that take maturity and hard work to face the things which aren’t so obvious to the people around us.

John Mark spoke about how our culture focuses so much on youth that we don’t see how rich and deep and beautiful life becomes, the further we go into the second half of life. In fact, he shared how his mentor told him his 60’s were the best years of his life. His 50’s were second best, and 70’s were third.

Who talks that way?! Mostly, we just hear nasty jokes about how “it’s all downhill from here!” and stuff like that.

I met someone last summer who said he just can’t wait to be an old grandpa, and drive his lawnmower around all day. He said it’s the part of his life he’s most excited about.

I love it. I can’t say that kind of stuff for myself, but I want to learn to anticipate all the good stuff yet to come.

And I realize now that I felt like I was floundering because I had my “container” figured out, but I needed to clarify the switch from my outward journey to the inward one. Of course, anything that happens inside will most likely show itself in an outward sense at some point. But for the most part, it sounds like a beautiful, private adventure in becoming more like Christ, learning to pursue Him more intentionally as I grow and age.

So as I sit here on my birthday, it feels like each passing year is looking more like an invitation to something exciting and intriguing, instead of a temptation to feel worried and afraid about the future.

I have loved my first half of life. God has been so good to me, and my “container” for the journey has turned out well. I love the people I get to travel this journey with, and I’m so thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned and adventures I’ve had along the way.

I’m ready for the second half! (A year late, but sometimes we all need a bit of time!)

Canada Day Favourites

We took a quick little trip out to the cabin for one night this weekend to celebrate Canada Day, and drop Kaylia off at camp. What a beautiful weekend!!

We swam, went for a long boat ride, played games, and did puzzles. It was much too short, so we’ll have to continue this next weekend when we go to pick Kaylia up!

Lake and boat

Cabin

Everett

sunset

Father’s Day

One summer when Ben and I were working at Red Rock Bible Camp as counselors, Ben was assigned to a blind camper for a week, working one on one with the little boy to help him navigate around camp.

I can’t remember if Ben and I were dating at the time, but I do remember watching him. He was consistently patient, helpful, and cheerful. I knew about two minutes after meeting him that he was goofy and loved to make people laugh, and that he was always looking for ways to be helpful. He noticed things that other people didn’t.

But that week of watching him with his blind camper made me see how there really didn’t seem to be a limit to how much he was willing to serve others.

Turns out, I was right – he doesn’t ever seem to run out of willingness to help. He is forever patient and kind, always with a good dose of goofiness thrown in. The other day, he had me laughing even while I was still wiping away my tears.

He is pretty wonderful to parent with.

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Celebrating Ben on Father’s Day was fun. It’s tradition to make a treasure hunt for him to find his gift, and this was the first year that Everett really got into it, giggling with delight the entire time as he followed Ben from clue to clue.

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We went to the Forks for supper, wandered through the shops, walked around by the river, and tried out the new play structure. Such a fun day!

10 Things I Learned This Spring

Emily P. Freeman, podcast queen of my heart, has a beautiful practice she’s carried on for years: listing 10 things she’s learned each season. Sometimes the lessons she lists are deep and spiritual, sometimes light and fun, but always interesting. She invites people to join in every three months, so at the end of last summer, I did, and loved the practice of it. I fully intended to carry on each season, but then life happened, and all the lessons felt long and heavy during fall and winter.But now it’s spring, life is good, things feel lighter again, and I’m ready to start (publicly!) listing the lessons once more, in all things big and small.

1) We can only do a few things well at a time.
Ann Voskamp once wrote, “You can do it all, you just can’t do it all at the same time.” I completely love that, because our culture constantly pressures us to do it all. In my opinion, the term “Super Mom” is one of the worst titles ever, because it glorifies a woman who is stretched very, very thin. Why do we consider it a desirable thing to be stretched thin?! Some women look like they can handle it all, but I definitely can’t, and I’m not very good at faking it.
This spring, after reading Essentialism, I made a list of what I want to do well. It was short: Be a wife, be a mom, improve my health, and love Jesus. That’s a lot. Right now, there’s not room for very much more. Making that list was a moment of realizing I was doing too much, and my Big Four were suffering because of it.
So this was the spring of saying no to some things.It was HARD, because they were good things. And there’s a fear that good chances won’t come again – say no now, and be passed over the rest of my life. But I gave it all to Jesus, and decided to trust that He has good things in store for my future, as He does in my present.Saying no is tough, but slowly my life started to feel more manageable and enjoyable than it had before. It actually feels really good to be very clear about my purpose in this season of life. I want to be fully present.
2) How casts are made.
Anika broke her wrist three weeks ago, and although there’s been some disappointment and pain involved, she’s been pretty great about the whole thing.Nobody in our family has ever broken anything before, so it’s been an interesting experience. I did not know how broken bones are set. I didn’t know you can pay $10 to make a cast waterproof, or that fiberglass casts start off as a roll of material that is unrolled on your arm, and fully hardens after an hour. The things you learn…

3)Balance bikes are the greatest parenting hack of all time.

Everett has LOVED his balance bike, and we always felt it was great for him to have, but when we bought him his first regular bike this spring, we were amazed – he hopped on and rode off down the street. No fear on his part, and Ben didn’t have to spend hours doing that backbreaking, crouching run down the street holding the bike steady. The learning happened so gradually for Everett on his balance bike, it was the most painless process imaginable. We are all huge fans of the balance bike!!

4)Winner’s has a natural personal care products section.
That whole store is fun to wander through, and you never know what you’ll find. But for some reason, I’d never ventured into the natural section. I found a bunch of my favourite products, at fantastic prices! I will be back.
5) A teenager is super fun to watch teeny bopper movies with.
(Okay, I knew this one before, but this spring brought new delights!) Ben has always teased me about my cheesy taste in movies, but I have persisted nonetheless. After years of enjoying chick flicks alone, it is loads of fun to enjoy them with a daughter who shares my love for cheesy teeny bopper movies and TV shows! We’ve thoroughly enjoyed “Heartland” together, and this spring, Netflix has come out with some great movies – “The Perfect Date” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” got us through many hours in the hospital while waiting for a new cast, in the best way possible!

6)Ben loudly proclaimed his love for me to the wilderness before I ever knew how he felt about me.

Even after being married for almost 19 years, Ben still surprises me with stories I’ve never heard from our dating years. His memory is very patchy, and you never know what will suddenly surface!This time, his memory was jogged because a friend of his from college became our interim pastor last year, and they’ve been hanging out. Ben casually mentioned that it was on a camping trip with David, during the very early days of our relationship, that he confessed his feelings for me to his friend, and David said, “I think you should shout it to the wilderness!” So Ben, my super private, close-holder-of-emotions husband, went and yelled “I LOVE KENDRA!!!” into the woods.

I was in complete disbelief as he was telling me this, partly because it sounded so out of character for Ben, and also because HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD THIS BEFORE???!!! This is the joy of being married to someone with an unpredictable memory! When I hear these new angles to our love story that I’ve never heard before, it feels a bit like getting the DVD of a favourite movie, and getting to watch deleted scenes and all the bonus features!!

*Also, I feel the need to clarify that Ben remembers things I CANNOT – like phone numbers and stuff like that. It’s not like he’s completely absent minded, he just forgets certain things – things I think is super “important”, like what we were wearing on our first date!

7) “There is an immense difference between TRAINING to do something and TRYING to do something.” (John Ortberg)

I love this quote, because I need to remember the grace that comes when we practice something, and don’t expect ourselves to know how to do everything right away, the first time we try. We train, and that takes time, and that’s a good thing!!!

8)”You don’t change the world by writing a self-help book, or by being an influencer – you do it by dealing with your own crap so that you change the trajectory of your life.” (Christine Hassler)
This is another quote I’ve been chewing on for a few months. It’s so powerful! I love the idea that we can make an impact by changing our own direction. We can’t change others, or force anything to happen for other people, but they will be touched by the impact of us dealing with our own junk.
9)When to use borrow/lend
Apparently I should have known this already, but I don’t remember learning it! And I never use the word “lend”, oddly enough. I just use “borrow” for everything! Now I know – “borrow” when you’re talking about asking for something, “lend” when you’re talking about giving it!
10) “The best changes are made gradually over time.
This one comes from my muscle therapist. He asked me recently if I noticed my pants fitting differently, and I said, “No, why?” He said I should be able to feel that my legs are more muscular. I told him that because I live in stretchy yoga pants, and because I have been working at strengthening my body FOREVER, changes have happened so gradually, I haven’t noticed any change.He said that was a good thing, because it’s the kind of change that will stick. I prefer fast, flashy, dramatic change because it’s so much more exciting, but it is good to remember that the little changes we make every single day will get us somewhere, with time. Hang in there, because those little positive choices are not wasted!!!
Speaking of small changes over time, when I sat down to write this list, I didn’t think I’d learned anything significant this spring. But when I look over that list, I have to say, my life is better with these 10 new things in it, however small they might be! I’m glad I learned them! Onward, to summer!
What did you learn this spring?

Kaylia Turns 10

Kaylia had her birthday last week. On the day of her party, this is where we were at:

The next day, I asked her, “So, was your party as good as you hoped it would be?” She sighed dreamily, and said, “It was even BETTER!!!!”

I feel like that is a very accurate example of what life is like with Kaylia – always full of elaborate ideas, but completely overjoyed with the smallest, simplest things. It doesn’t take much to make her very happy. Hers is a life of extremes.

She lives in the most colourful, imaginative world in her mind, where anything is possible and everything is beautiful, and my biggest challenge as her mom is helping to navigate through the emotions when her world collides with reality.

Kaylia leaves behind her a trail of paper, glue, tape, and fabric scraps. When she’s not producing elaborate craft projects or Lego creations, she is curled up with a book in a nest of pillows and blankets, or she’s playing with friends, moving all of her sewing projects and painted rock collections outside to build elaborate setups on our front step. I was not surprised to find pieces of felt in my flower pots. I don’t know what their purpose was, but I’m guessing some kind of toy had a bed or nest or den in my plants.

Kaylia has the softest, kindest heart. She can coax Everett to come around to any idea, no matter how stubborn his mood. She is a faithful and devoted fan of her big sister, and is always a willing listener and cheerleader.

Her thoughts run deep, and she is constantly surprising us with what surfaces after she’s had enough time to process things.

Her plans for the future include getting married, having kids, homeschooling them, and teaching art lessons in her home.

Whether that comes to pass or not, I am quite sure her life will include all the colourful dreams and creativity that she can possibly fit into it.

Ten years with our sweet girl! It’s always an adventure.