Coming Home

Moving is super hard, and I would happily stay exactly where we are for the rest of my life, but I have to admit, there are wonderful advantages to having two homes. When you go to visit, you feel like you’re going “home”. And then after the visit is over, you go back home, and it’s like going home all over again.

We spent one beautiful week of the summer pretending to live at camp again, and it was quite wonderful. It took a bit to get into our groove – our kids weren’t quite sure what to do with themselves, and Ben and I needed to spend a fair amount of time preparing to speak in chapel each night. But we settled into a routine, and had such a great time.

We were asked a number of times of it was hard to be back, and in some ways it was, a little bit. It’s been six years, and things have changed, and of course we miss the way it used to be. 🙂 But for the most part, we were just super thankful for the opportunity to be there, and to be able to experience camp together as a family.

And now that we’re it feels like time is moving full steam ahead towards fall, and I’m trying to wrap my head around this! Kaylia made a list this morning of 40 things she wanted to get done TODAY, but I suggested making it a weeklong list. She seemed good with this, so we will dig in!

How are you getting ready for fall?!

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Weekend Favourites

The forecast was for the hottest weekend of the summer, and we had visions of dehydration and heat stroke, but we headed out to the lake anyway. Mostly because I told Ben I just needed to get away. I rarely feel that way – most of the time, I could stay home every day of the week and be perfectly happy, but for some reason, I was itching for a change this time.

So we went, and the weather was much more comfortable than forecasted, thank goodness!! It reminded me all over again that we really never know how something will go until we actually try it and see.

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Quiet Ones Can Change the World

Today I’m loving this quote:

God’s goal is that we come alive in his presence, and then we bring life to every environment we enter. (John Mark Comer)

At first I felt all inspired by those words, but then it quickly faded – I suddenly felt very unsure about how well I am able to “bring life”. The doubts and insecurities started whispering to me, telling me the same lies about how I’m too introverted to bring much energy, life, or change to a space. Maybe God needs to use somebody else – someone more outgoing and full of energy. That kind of person would be much better at bringing life to every environment….

But here’s the truth I’ve been hanging onto recently: I have a hidden superpower.

The power I’m focusing on a lot right now is the introverted me, the Kendra in my head. I’ve spent most of my life feeling a little bit invisible, but the more I dig into personality stuff, the more freedom I find.

Because here’s the deal: All of us have a way of connecting with the outside world, and a way of connecting with ourselves, inside our heads. Extroverts are in the world first, and in their head second. Because I’m an introvert, I spend more time in my head, but I still have a way to connect with what’s going on around me. We all have both inside and outside abilities, but we prefer one over the other.

So when an extrovert shows up, they are all there. They are ready to engage with people or situations, ready for action, ready with their awesomeness. Their gifts and abilities show immediately, loud and strong, and I love it all. I spent years wanting to be that way, instead of feeling too quiet and timid.

But lately, I’ve been remembering that I have a superpower – I feel awkward on the outside sometimes because my best part is the part that’s hidden in my head. In social situations, I’m not functioning with my strongest abilities. I do still have a way of connecting with people, and there are some pretty great things that can come out of that, but introverts can be a bit like Cadbury eggs – we may look like a plain chocolate egg on the outside, but we’ve got surprising, delicious things happening on the inside.

Every time I show up in public, I can’t be in my head – if I want to connect in a healthy way with people, I have to go to my secondary strength, which is Extroverted. I cannot show up in public with my #1 strength, like an extrovert can. This means that the Kendra most people see is only a part of who I really am. Those who know me really well get to see more of the me inside my head, but it takes some effort, so a lot of people have no idea what they’re missing and what kind of amazing world is hiding inside.

This used to frustrate and discourage me, but now, I carry it around like a mischievous secret. I watch all the beautiful extroverts, doing their thing and looking awesome, and I silence the insecurity by thinking, “If only they knew….” Not in a prideful way, just in fun, private, secret kind of way.

I have a lovely neighbour whose social life is vibrant and a bit dizzying to someone like me. She has shown me what a celebration of people and friendship can look like. I’ve heard someone describe her as “a gatherer of people”, and this is true. She pulls them in with her warmth, and loves the variety of many friends. Her schedule used to completely overwhelm me, and make me wonder why on earth I didn’t have more energy or desire to socialize. I didn’t understand different personalities then, and instead of celebrating strengths, I felt insecure about weaknesses. I spent time comparing, and wondering what I was missing out on.

But one day, as I was heading down my driveway for a quiet evening walk, I saw her driving away with yet another friend for yet another exciting adventure, and the old lies started playing in my mind – all the junk about missing out, and not being social enough, and needing more energy and life and blah, blah, blah, when suddenly…there was a deep new realization, except I think I’d known it all along: there was no place I’d rather be in that very moment than where I was, heading out on my sunset walk.

I stood at the end of my driveway, looking to the left as my friend drove off, and then I looked to the right, where the street stretched off into the distance, my usual route for walking/dreaming/sunset exploration, and I realized that I had everything I needed right there. I could explore my inner world while I walked the outer world forever and never get bored. It’s what I was made to do best. And for whatever reason, I’d bought into the lie that it was less than, and not good enough, and invisible.

I have no idea what it’s like inside the mind of an extrovert, and I am in no way trying to downplay what goes on between their ears. All I know is that I’ve learned to celebrate what goes on in my own head. I’ve become a huge fan of the rich inner world, and the power that lies in embracing my own strengths, when I stop comparing myself to others.

A lovely, lively extroverted friend of mine says she brings the circle ever wider, pushing us out further, while I pull her down ever deeper, into the depths of thoughts and good conversation. So we go further out, deeper down, further out, deeper down, and cover so much more ground together.

All of this is to say, if you are an extrovert, bring it all – we need you to shine, to bring the life, and be the party and the energy, in all your crazy goodness and exuberance.

But if you are an introvert, we need you, too – to bring balance, to add more layers, to explore new inner territory, to change the atmosphere.

And that quote at the beginning? As the Holy Spirit grows in you, you will bring life, in the best way possible. New life can come quietly. I’ve spent too many years thinking new life needed to be about the loudest bursts of energy. But new life can look like seeds planted, hidden deep down in the soil, gently awakening, and stretching to the surface, fresh and vibrant green leaves slowly uncurling.

Do it loudly, or do it quietly. Stir up the enthusiasm and motivate, or coax it out with your hidden gifts. Either way, we’ve each been given strengths and abilities, and God wants to use it all.

And never underestimate. That shy, quiet person in the corner has deep wells of ability, whether they themselves are fully aware of it or not. Don’t overlook them – their very presence could be affecting the whole atmosphere, and sometimes, it’s the quiet ones in the corner who can change the world.

5 Questions to Ask When You’re Struggling With Comparison

I tend to see comparison as a doorway to all kinds of nasty feelings like jealously, insecurity, and discouragement. When I head down that path, and finally catch myself, I feel even worse, because I know it’s such a poor use of my time to get caught in the comparison trap.

But what if comparison could became an opportunity, instead of just something to feel guilty about? What if catching ourselves in comparison was a warning bell to stop and consider more deeply where the need for comparison was coming from?

There are actually some helpful clues we can discover in comparison, if we ask ourselves a few questions:

1) How am I outsourcing my value and worth?

Often comparison happens because we feel the need for a measuring stick. Am I doing enough? Am I doing well enough? Am I enough?

When we look around at what others are doing as a way of answering those questions, we’re outsourcing our measure of success or happiness. It means that somewhere along the way, we’ve disconnected from asking ourselves what we really want or value or hope to gain, and we’ve stopped going to God to find out what He desires for us.

Comparison is like an alarm that tells us we need to get back to quiet time with Jesus, asking Him and searching inside ourselves to evaluate how we’re doing and if we’re staying true to our deepest values, instead of looking to others as a measuring stick.

2) What does comparison reveal about my deep longings?

Wanting the rewards others are enjoying without putting in the same effort myself is just “longing for my neighbour’s things”, and can lead to jealousy, but it’s also possible for it to stir up a positive desire to try harder, accomplish more, and push ourselves because we see others doing it, so we know it’s possible. Sometimes we don’t recognize our longing for something until we see someone else enjoying it.

This happened to me a couple of years ago when I was meeting with a couple of friends for a Bible study night. I still saw myself as being in “baby recovery mode” after having Everett, and although I was doing devotions regularly, they felt pretty lackluster, and I felt like I didn’t really have the time or energy to put more effort in. But my friends were excited, passionate, and on fire, and I actually started feeling a little envious of where they were at in their relationship with God.

I knew it was wrong to feel envy, but it was stirring up a longing for something good in me. I prayed about the way I was feeling, and asked God, “Why do they have all that excitement and passion? I want it too.” And the words that clearly came into my mind were “Come and get it.”

Suddenly I realized that God wasn’t withholding anything from me, it was me who wasn’t putting in the time and making it a priority.

I started setting my alarm earlier, and getting up regularly before the rest of my family, and I started seeing God doing some cool things in me, too.

Sometimes we need other people to spur us on, and motivate us with their actions and example. Instead of comparing myself to others and feeling bad about myself, I can see what is possible for others, and know there is enough to go around for all of us. It can become an inspiring call to action, and a reminder of what is available to me if I also choose to put in the effort.

3) Am I looking at the full picture?

Often, when we compare ourselves to others, we’re only looking at bits and pieces – usually their best snippets, in comparison to our worst parts.

We see the perfect house, vacation, or perfectly behaved children, or the ability to juggle a job plus all the other stuff and make it look easy.

But there are many parts to other people’s lives that we can’t possibly see or know, and it helps to take a moment to ask ourselves if we are really, truly thinking about the whole picture, or just picking our favourite parts to envy and compare with our own life, from the surface we can see.

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I’ve had to do this a lot over the years with the different health challenges I’ve dealt with while having kids. I see other moms “doing it all”, and I feel tired just watching them. I can slip into thinking that I can’t do enough, and I’m failing my family by not accomplishing all that other women are able to.

But when I pull back and start to think about the bigger picture, things begin to look different – I have to do two and a half hours a day of physio exercises and stretches, which takes a big chunk of my time. I would probably be accomplishing a lot more if I had that extra time to do other things, too.

I have different priorities and make different choices, and I really love my life the way it is – our family has made the best choices we could with the situation we’re in. I don’t know how other moms spend their time, money, health, resources, etc, but I know that I feel good about my choices, so I can’t compare my situation to someone else’s. There’s a very different background to each of our big pictures.

4) How am I doing compared to where I used to be?

If you think back to where you were yesterday, or a year ago, or ten years ago, you’re probably doing awesome. The only life you can do anything about is your own, so think about how you can keep getting better at doing your own thing, instead of getting caught up in what others are doing.

5) Do I need to ignore this distraction?

If there’s nothing good or helpful to be gained from comparison, if the previous questions don’t bring up any beneficial thoughts or ideas, then it’s time to sharpen your focus, and get past the distraction of comparison.

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These questions can help us to determine if our thoughts of comparison come from a place that needs healing, or a deep longing for growth, and we can intentionally deal with whatever is the root cause.

In all of this, the biggest thing is to examine what is going on when comparison happens, and bring that emptiness to God. Ask Him if the longing is good, and something He wants for you, or if it’s something that needs to be laid aside to make room for a different way in which He wants to provide.

Jealousy and discontentment are always a sign that our thoughts have gone in the wrong direction, and it’s an opportunity to get back to the helpful feedback we can gain from comparison.

The most beautiful part in all of this is that God knows what you need, and what you long for. He knows the person you were created to be. Take your longings to Him, and He will show you the right path to take. He will make clear how much is enough, and that you are enough.

Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in guilt about comparison, but rather use it as a reminder to go back to the One who made you, and wants to help you discern the best ways to pursue the life He means for you to have.

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These are the questions I’ve been asking myself, but I’d love to hear if you have any others to add, or experiences to share about how you’ve dealt with comparison. Please share!

A Winner and a Staycation!

Hello, Friends!

I have a winner to announce today!! Carissa Rempel is the recipient of an Amazon gift card! I’ll send that out to you today! 🙂

THANK YOU to everyone who left a comment this last week! All of the comments and interaction is what makes this week so much fun, and I have absolutely loved reading all the responses! Like always, I come away from this with all kinds of things I want to try!

One thing I was disappointed about was not having the time to respond to all the lovely comments. This last week was our family’s annual “staycation”, which was super fun and relaxing, especially over my birthday, but it did make things a bit tricky on the blog front!! But know that I enjoyed hearing from each and every one of you! I’ll just have to rethink scheduling for next year! 🙂

In staycation news, it was a most enjoyable week, and if you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it! It feels a bit like a weeklong weekend, except better! We make a list together as a family of all the things that would be fun to do, plan some special outings and special food, and do things we wouldn’t normally do. And we can splurge on stuff a bit, because it’s still much cheaper than going anywhere. Our kids love it! And there’s no work of packing and unpacking, and everyone sleeps great in their own beds!! It’s been great.

We’ve had a wonderful time, but it’s almost come to an end. I think Monday morning will be a bit rough for Everett when he realizes that Daddy has to go back to work! But fortunately, there are many beautiful weeks of summer left to be enjoyed.

What are summer family traditions you’d recommend?

Random Favourite Things

Today is the last day to leave a comment and enter the draw for an Amazon gift card! (So far we’ve covered food, health, books, and podcasts, so feel free to go back and comment on any of those posts.)

This post is for all the odds and ends that don’t fit in the other categories. 🙂

The Greatest Showman and Soundtrack

This is a pretty unoriginal favourite, because this movie was huge this year, but I have to add it, because I don’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a movie this much. Anika and I went to see it in the theatre, and as we were leaving, I felt like I could turn right back and watch the whole thing over again immediately. That never happens to me!

The next week was Ben’s birthday, so we went to see it for a birthday date, and I got to enjoy it all over again.

So of course we needed to buy the soundtrack, which we all love, and listen to far too often, but even though I’m tired of the music by now, I can’t seem to stop myself!

Purple Shampoo

I often get asked about the blueish/lavender tinge to my hair, and this stuff is my secret weapon. I wash my hair about twice a week, and use this every time, and I love it. Even my hairdresser has been impressed with how well it tones my hair, and I love that it’s natural. Once I get tired of blue-toned hair, I’ll just use it less often, but for now it’s kinda fun. 🙂

Homemade Dishwasher Soap

We’ve been making our own dishwasher soap for awhile, but it’s always bugged Ben that our glasses had water spots on them. He kept wanting to go back to regular dishwasher soap, but the cost difference was too painful! Also, I can’t stand it when dishwasher soap smells really perfume-y, because that just seems wrong when combined with food.

So I was delighted to find this recipe for dishwasher soap on the Wellness Mama blog which uses the same ingredients as our old recipe, but adds two more ingredients to get rid of water spots.

I order most of the ingredients on Amazon, except for Borax which is actually cheaper at our grocery store in town, mix up a huge batch to store in the pantry, and keep a smaller container to refill close to the dishwasher.

Makeup

I think I wrote about this brand of makeup last year, but what’s new this year is that I switched to a liquid foundation, and I really love it. I haven’t used a liquid in years, because the kind I used to have felt very heavy and made my skin feel claustrophobic! Pressed powder worked great, and I love this brand, but I knew I should probably switch, since I’m at that magical age when women are apparently supposed to stop highlighting their wrinkles with powder (or so I’ve read – no make-up expert over here!!), and use liquid foundation instead.

I was pleasantly surprised by how nice this stuff feels – no claustrophobic skin, and now I would wear this even if I didn’t have wrinkles. 🙂 The cream concealer is also very nice. I like that it’s hard, and you soften it and apply it with your finger, so it’s easier to use small amounts instead of a liquid you squeeze from a container.

Alright, that’s my list! What are you loving right now? The contest will run until midnight, and I’ll draw a name tomorrow!

Favourite Podcasts

Today I’m sharing the podcasts I listen to the most. You guys, I loooove podcasts so much!! I listen to them every single day.

In the morning I listen to a message or devotional type of podcast. If I’m driving somewhere, I’ll listen to something, and every night when I have a bath, I fit one more in. There are so many good ones to enjoy, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot this past year from all the listening I’ve done. 🙂

Someone asked me the other day, “How do you find good podcasts?” I didn’t really know how to answer that, because I’ve kinda stumbled across them and tried stuff out until I found my favourites!

I probably shared a few of these last year already, but if so, it means they’re so good, I’m still loving them a year later! I’ve also come across some new ones that are fantastic, so here’s what I’m listening to right now:

Bridgetown Church

I jokingly tell people that although Ben and I may attend the same church each Sunday, we attend different churches online. Bridgetown is mine, and I completely love the teaching. John Mark Comer is exactly the right balance of biblical teaching and instructing, and suggestions for practical application.

I read about this podcast on a blog a year or two ago, and was drawn to it because a new series on spiritual disciplines was just starting, and it was described as being very practical.

Since that time, this church has continued to put out such amazing teaching on all kinds of great topics, including:

  • prayer
  • hospitality
  • hearing God’s voice
  • fasting
  • identity
  • healing past relationships
  • silence and solitude
  • a variety of series working through books of the Bible (I’m currently working through Philippians

The Next Right Thing

This is the most beautiful podcast I’ve ever listened to. Emily P. Freeman is all about “creating space for your soul to breathe”, and she has such a gentle, life-giving way of sharing deep insights, stories, and tips for making better decisions.

The episodes are short – usually around 15 minutes, and are such a great way to start the day. I always feel more centered and calm after listening to one of these, and I look forward to each new episode.

Over It and On With It

This is my newest favourite, and Ben has told me not to say something is life-changing, because that’s too dramatic, but in this case, it’s actually true. I have listened to so many episodes that I find myself quoting Christine Hasslet regularly.

Each episode is a recording of a coaching call with different people, which I thought could be annoying when I heard the discription of this podcast, but most of the time, I find myself relating to the different callers, and really appreciating the insight Christine brings to people’s problems.

She promises to give “spiritual and practical advice” to each person, and I’ve used a lot of her techniques for changing thought patterns, but some of the spiritual stuff is a bit weird, so it takes a bit of discernment to sort through some of the advice she offers.

But for the most part, I absolutely love the stuff what she has to say. My favourite topics have included:

  • healing your past
  • getting over a victim mentality
  • figuring out the root cause of emotions
  • letting go of negative thought patterns
  • dealing with stress and anxiety

Respectful Parenting

I’ve decided that this will be the only parenting podcast I listen to. It’s hard to decide what to do when you’re taking in too much information, especially from conflicting sources, so I’m sticking with this one!

Janet Lansbury uses a very gentle but firm, respectful approach which I love. She talks a lot about making space for children to have the deep emotions, but staying present to help them work through the emotions in a healthy way. She presents practical suggestions for how to allow a child to make their own choices, and learn from the consequences.

Her focus is mainly on babies and toddlers, but I keep finding that her wisdom applies to older children and even adults!

The episodes I’ve found most useful include topics like:

  • children who refuse to get dressed
  • handling behaviour we can’t physically control
  • alternatives to “time outs”
  • tantrums
  • sibling relationships

Young House Love

This one is just for fun! I listen to this podcast when I’ve had a long day, and I want to listen to something that won’t require much thinking. John and Sherry have a popular home decor blog, but they started a podcast a couple of years ago, and it’s just fun to listen to a married couple talk about different projects they’re doing on their home, or the beach house they’re renovating. They also talk about budgeting, decluttering, books or products they’re loving, all kinds of stuff.

The Model Health Show

Every walk I went on this last winter was accompanied by this podcast. It is SO BORING to walk inside, but this podcast saved me! It makes me feel extra healthy to be doing something healthy and listening to something healthy.

This podcast is very well done – fascinating topics, well researched, entertaining, extremely practical. I love it all, and have learned a ton from it.

When I recommended it to a friend recently, she was a bit surprised by the picture, as she didn’t think it looked like something I would listen to, but I’m telling you, this one is a keeper! If you want to learn about anything health related, or want some extra motivation to stick with healthy habits, this will do it for you.

Episode topics I’ve been enjoying recently :

  • Healthy meal prep
  • Cutting out sugar
  • Self-esteem and self talk
  • Morning/evening routines
  • Better sleep
  • Preventing disease
  • Balancing hormones

Now I’m curious to hear what you’re listening to! Any podcasts you’d recommend? Leave a comment to have your name entered in a draw for an Amazon gift card at the end of the week! :)