Stuff I Love

Today’s post makes me really happy – all the best quotes I’ve read recently, all in one place. There’s a little bit of everything…:)



Introvert map


(Favorites: Land of Self Checkout Lanes and Isle of Netflix! I truly love people, but seriously? I need to escape to this island somewhat regularly!!)

The key to happinesssourcewinsource

happinesssource Best daysource -camille pissarrosource

Here’s wishing you a beautiful day – in this place, in this hour, whatever it may hold.

Stop and Take Note

Everyone in Manitoba seemed happy this weekend. It’s amazing what sunshine and some warm temperatures can do for people.

I was sitting in our backyard on Sunday afternoon, my bare toes in the dirt and the hot sun on my face, reading one of my favorite books ever, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life.

I came across this quote:

A mind that is fully in the moment is able to see, hear, and experience life’s moments in a whole new way, with heightened awareness. Aspects of life that you used to take for granted you can now see with a keener, more respectful eye. You become able to appreciate the magic and incredible miracle of life, perhaps for the first time. (Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey)

After I read this, I put my book down, and I just sat there. I tried to notice everything around me, soaking it in while I was just still.


I listened to the birds, and I realized that it smelled like summer. I watched the girls playing in the sandbox, and thought about how warm the dirt felt to my feet.



It’s still pretty barren out there – not much beauty, when you first start looking for it.

But when I took the time to be still and notice the beauty with all of my senses, there was so much there to enjoy. I love the idea of “heightened awareness.”

I don’t want to miss a moment of what’s going on around me.

Tap into the beauty and uniqueness of this moment instead of anticipating how wonderful the next one is going to be or remembering how special a past moment was.

Each moment is new and unique. You’ve never had this moment before, and you never will again. (Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey)


Here’s to a week of enjoying every moment!

This Present Moment

“Never let yourself think that because God has given you many things to do for Him…pressing routine jobs, a life full up with duties and demands of a very practical sort — that all these need separate you from communion with Him. God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament; however unexpected its outward form may be, receive Him in every sight and sound, joy, pain, opportunity and sacrifice.”  (Evelyn Underhill)



Kaylia's picture


Chicken salad

I’m praying this every morning – that I would see God in every moment. The sticky, warm, little hand that grabs hold of mine, the beautiful colours of vegetables, serious talks with my girly at bedtime, the world outside that’s waiting for spring to truly arrive….

When I am fully present in this moment, there is no worry, fear, stress, or discontentment. God is enough, and He is everything, and He reminds me of His blessings in the most unexpected ways.

My Inner Struggle Over Outer Appearance

I do not usually write about clothes or physical appearance on this blog.

You will not find “What I Wore Wednesday” posts around here. It just isn’t my thing.

But lately, I’ve been thinking about clothes, hair, and make-up, a lot more than usual.

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about Christian women and physical appearance. She shared how she was trying to see herself as God’s creation of beauty. If she truly believed God created her exactly the way He wanted her, she felt she had no business altering her appearance.

And immediately, I felt convicted, and challenged, and defensive, all at once.

Three months after the conversation, I still think of it every time I get ready in the morning. I struggle to figure out exactly what my opinion is about the whole thing. Do I have any business altering my appearance?

There is such a thin line between altering and enhancing beauty. I’m not a big fan of completely altering my appearance, but should I refrain from enhancing, as well?

As my friend talked, I thought about our yard, which was full of large weeds at the time. It’s a big leap, but those weeds are also God’s creation.

Now, I don’t want a yard full of weeds. We have been anxiously waiting for the rain to stop so we could get some sod on our yard before winter. You cannot imagine how giddy I was on the day that beautiful sod finally arrived.

But  God created both grass and weeds. Am I altering or enhancing what He has made when I choose to get rid of the weeds and plant grass?

My friend says that example doesn’t really count – God wants us to care for the Earth, and helping to beautify it is not the same as physical appearance. And she’s right, but sometimes it can help to try to find a comparison which will shed new light on the question.

So, bringing it back to my own physical appearance…

God gave me moody hair. Usually, it is neither straight, nor curly, but something weird in between. I have to put some effort into making it one or the other. If I left my hair alone and exposed it’s moodiness to the world, I’m sure everyone would survive. I might even get used to it.

But I choose to straighten it, because when I do, I don’t have to do much with my hair for about four days, which makes me very happy.

Am I altering what God has created?

I choose to wear a little bit of make-up. I have struggled with my complexion since I was a teenager, and I enjoy covering up the evidence. Whenever the subject comes up, people are surprised to learn that I’m wearing any make-up, so I guess it’s pretty natural-looking.

Am I enhancing or altering?

I’ve never thought it was wrong to put on a little bit of make-up, but one day Kaylia came into the bathroom while I was putting on some eye shadow, and said with a huge smile on her sweet face, “Mommy, can I make my eyebrows pretty, too?!”

My heart hurt as I looked down at her perfectly smooth, chubby cheeks and sparkling eyes, and I could not imagine how anything could possibly make her more beautiful.

Does God feel like that about us?

Is it wrong to have a little bit of fun with hairstyles  or nice clothes?

I can’t figure it out. I never want it to consume my life, and I desire balance.

But God created us to enjoy beauty.

That crazy-perfect woman in Proverbs 31 was “clothed in fine linen and purple.”

Do I get to enjoy the beauty of “fine linen and purple”, or is that going down the slippery path towards materialism and vanity?

I loved this blog post I read recently regarding beauty and vanity:

…I also have my mother’s fear of vanity. Whenever someone comments on how handsome my sons are, I catch myself saying, “I know, it worries me,” instead of, “Thank you,” and I need to stop this. By assigning fear or worry to looks, we give them more power than they deserve.

Why are we afraid? My mum thought beauty could lead to vanity could lead to an eating disorder. So then I got one anyways.

I am learning to celebrate my children in the same way I celebrate a piece of art. I do not fear the beauty found in a sunrise, in mountains, in a cathedral, in a Van Gogh. It’s a beauty that points to a gracious and loving God. So why, then, should I fear it in the flesh?

What does it mean to celebrate beauty in our own physical appearance?

If we’re celebrating it, should we only enjoy it in it’s unaltered form, or is God okay with our desire to dress things up a little bit?

I don’t have the answer to that question, which means…

1) I’ll have to keep wrestling through it


2) I’m hoping you will all comment like crazy, and get some discussion going here, because I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts. I think we could learn from each other. Anyone have some words of wisdom?


There’s No Right Way of Doing This

The other evening, I met up with my dear friend Julia for an evening to talk, eat, and enjoy some photography together. We walked around by the Legislative Building, and went down to the river, taking pictures of anything that caught our attention.

It was an absolutely beautiful evening, and I loved sharing one of my favorite hobbies with her.

What kept impressing itself upon me repeatedly was that although we were in the same place, often taking pictures of the same thing, we both have completely different ways of seeing things.

Juls loves to focus on the close-up stuff, while I am newer at this whole photography thing, and am still shooting all over the place, trying to get a feel for everything, and often feeling a little lost with my fancy new camera.

But when I mentioned this feeling to Julia, she reminded me that there’s no “right way” to do photography. It’s supposed to be art, and art can be whatever you want it to be.

For the rest of the evening, I kept thinking about Burt on “Mary Poppins” – he sings that song about his artwork, and says, “I draws what I likes, and I likes what I sees.”

Photography is such a powerful way of saying, “This is me. This is what I like, this is what the world looks like through my eyes.”

I learned to appreciate nature from my dad. He is always pointing out things he finds beautiful, and he was always thrilled when I would bring in branches of apple blossoms or berries from the trees in our yard. He said it showed how much I noticed things like that.

And I have always loved finding beauty in my surroundings, but I feel like photography enables me to share it with others. For that one moment when someone sees a picture I took, they are seeing the same beauty I see, too.

Maybe they wouldn’t have seen it if I didn’t point it out by taking a picture.

Maybe they would have rushed by without taking a second glance.

Sometimes I rush by, too. That’s the best part of taking an evening just to take pictures.

We walked slow, and looked long, and found treasure after treasure.

And slowly, I’m finding freedom in expressing myself in this way – in my way, whatever way it happens to be.

The Topic I Most Hate to Talk About

So I’m sure you all know by now that I love camp. For a multitude of reasons.

But there is one thing I hated about every summer. It was the night each year when I had to do the “Girls’ Talk”.

The “Girls’ Talk” was when one lucky female full-time staff member got to meet with all the female summer staff members, and talk about dress-code, and dating, and anything else related to “appropriate” female behaviour.

I kept doing it year after year for a few reasons: No one else wanted to do it, I generally love speaking/teaching publicly, and I loved those summer staff girls like crazy. I would do just about anything to save them from making the same mistakes I made when I was their age.

There was just one problem: Nobody wants to be saved from mistakes. They want the freedom to make them, or whatever other choices they need to make at that age.

Actually, there was another problem: I happen to possess controversial views on dress-code. My views have been labelled “very conservative”, and are usually unwelcome.

I really dislike the labels “liberal” and “conservative”. But that’s a whole different blog post. I will just say this: I used to dress in ways my mother would not have approved of. When you wear cut-off jean shorts, you can cut them any length you want. You can also change before you go home. Or unroll the cuffs to a more appropriate length.

I was 18 and independent, and I didn’t see anything wrong with wearing very short shorts, even though I was brought up in a home where modesty was taught.

I never tried to flaunt any cleavage though, because I’ve never had any. Who knows what would have happened if I did.

But there were a few events in my life which changed how I felt about the way I dressed, which I will share with you, although I still hate to talk about modesty. I think I’m emotionally scarred from trying to stand up for something I have experienced to be true in my own life, knowing it usually brings discomfort to those hearing it. This is not my desire.

My desire is for an open discussion, and for Christian women to ask what it means to dress in such a way that we are in the world but not of it. I may be totally, and completely wrong in my opinions, but I can have a story. Here’s what I’ve learned from my story:

1) Ogling has no age limit.

What women put out there, men will enjoy, whatever their age.

The summer before Ben and I got married, it was a hot summer, and I was still wearing my very short shorts. Ben’s job for the summer was running a franchise for College Pro Painters in Winnipeg. In order to get customers, he would hire people to go cold calling – going door to door, asking if people wanted a free estimate on a paint job. I helped him with this as often as I could.

It was the first summer I wasn’t at camp. At camp, short shorts meant a second look from cute boys my age, and I had always enjoyed the attention.

But that summer, as I went door to door, I was exposed to a completely different flavour of men than I had ever encountered before. I found out how different it felt to get a second look from men much older than me, and it was not enjoyable.

My wardrobe quickly changed.

I’m not saying my looks are so magnetically beautiful that I got loads of attention wherever I went. What I am saying is that if you dress to show a lot of skin, people will look at it. I hadn’t really given it much thought before, but suddenly it became very clear to me that I didn’t want attention from anyone but Ben, and I was pretty sure a few extra inches of fabric on my shorts would not make me that much hotter in summer.

Years later, when we were living at camp, I was driving past a nearby beach. There were two very beautiful girls in very small bikinis walking along the road, and I watched as two older men in a convertible pulled up behind them, and followed them very slowly down the road. Their facial expressions and hand gestures made it perfectly clear how much they were enjoying the view.

I am not interested in being a view enjoyed by random old men. Or any age of random men.

2) The mind automatically completes a picture.

It’s not something we need to consciously do. If we ever see a partial picture, we will fill in all the details.

This means that when women show men a partial picture, it will most likely be mentally completed. If you look around, it is amazing how many styles today are made up of incomplete pictures – bra straps can lead to picturing the whole thing. A bare stomach or a strip of exposed underwear make it easy for the mind to continue that mental image in greater detail.

I think it’s hard to fully understand this as women, because although it’s a huge generalization, we just are not wired in the same way.

Nevertheless, I experienced my own “completing of the partial picture”, and it was nasty. I was at a beach a few summers ago, and happened to see an older, very large woman wearing an extremely low-cut shirt which wasn’t leaving much to the imagination. Her shirt partially revealed a tatoo on one of her large, saggy breasts.

Trust me when I say I had absolutely no desire to mentally complete that picture, but before I saw it coming, there in my mind was a completed picture of this woman’s tatooed breast. Ew.

After this experience, it became personally clear to me that mental images can happen so quickly, there isn’t always time to stop it before it’s formed.

Shortly after Ben and I were married, we went to a wedding. As we sat down, I couldn’t help but notice the woman sitting a few rows in front of us. She was wearing a strapless dress, but the pew completely covered any trace of a dress, and at first glance, it looked as though she was sitting there completely naked.

Of course we all know she wasn’t attending that wedding in the nude. But it looked that way. And she had especially nice shoulder blades. I confess to spending a good amount of time wondering if Ben was noticing the woman with nice shoulder blades who appeared to be naked, even though she wasn’t. In my world, we were taught not just to avoid evil, but the appearance of evil as well. I’m not saying strapless dresses are evil, but I am saying that you should be careful how you sit if you’re wearing one.

Or maybe don’t wear one if you are concerned about men sitting behind you, imagining you naked. Or admiring your shoulder blades.

The point is, our culture rams the message down our throats that it’s okay for women to wear whatever they want, and they are not responsible for men’s thoughts. Which leads to my next point…

3) Pornography is a ridiculously huge problem.

There is a statistic claiming 80% of all Christian men will struggle with pornography at some point in their lives.

After 10 years of working with youth, I would say our experiences have supported this statistic. Having lived a very sheltered life, and somehow managing to marry a man from the 20% category, it is very difficult for me to fully grasp the truth of this.

But it breaks my heart. I have seen what pornography can do to a Christian home, and I really don’t believe it’s possible to do too much to help men with this struggle.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument for why women should be able to wear whatever they want when there are men desperately fighting to control their thoughts and temptations.


I am not suggesting by all of this that women should spend their summers in long skirts and turtleneck sweaters. But I would like to suggest an openness to consider what is at stake, and what simple steps we can take to make a difference, and promote purity of thought and wardrobe.

So…any thoughts or comments? You are most definitely allowed to have a different opinion than me, and we can still be friends!

Slow Down For Spring

Happy First Day of Spring!

I’m kinda glad it’s “official”, aren’t you?! Anika sincerely believes that the weather (and life in general, really) will be dramatically different, now that the calendar says it’s spring.

We’re celebrating.

We went for the first stroller ride of the season.

We played on the play structure, and Kaylia ran through a snow drift in her flip flops.

And we ended up at the lake.

We decided to truly celebrate spring by practicing the fine art of jumping pictures.

And I’ve been thinking about soaking it all in. Oh, that smell in the air. It smells like spring, and evergreen trees. The sun is so warm, and Kaylia’s toes are so bare. These days, it’s good just to be alive.

I am so, so thankful that my “job” involves teaching my girlies to love spring. We play in the sun, and I try to teach them to notice. To slow down, and notice the little things, like the smell and the way something feels, and all the little things that are so easy to take for granted.

I loved this post about learning to slow down to notice, and to fully live:

“The frogs have returned, the frogs and their song.

 Why does the trilling in the throat of a frog do this wondrous thing inside of me?….

That sound. 

A symphony of sound, trilling low and deep, fills the spaces between the trees, lifts us too.

It is like the water, a looking glass of trunks and limbs, like the water itself croons.

With the everyday eyes, I can’t see the singers at all. It takes time for eyes to adjust to stillness, and only the slow really see….”

I want to have eyes that adjust to stillness. I want to truly see spring with all of its wonder and beauty.

It’s time to go slow, and leave behind “everyday eyes”!

Is There Beauty After Camp??

I’m in pursuit of it every day.

I’ve always looked to nature for reminders of the beautiful in the midst of the ordinary, but now that I feel like I’m on a time-limit out here, I’m even more conscious of it.

We went outside on one dreary, dreary day last week. I didn’t even know if any of the pictures I took would turn out. But when I looked at them again in the evening, there was still something strange and lovely about dead leaves and a grey sky.

How does God do that?

The air was crisp and clear, and I sat there in the snow, breathing all that fresh air in, while I gazed up at the tree tops.

Does this mean Niverville might have beautiful moments, too?!

There’s nothing wrong with Niverville – we thoroughly enjoyed living there before we moved to camp. But for scenery, it can’t really compete with the Whiteshell.

And that depresses me a bit. But I keep reminding myself that it is possible to find beauty anywhere. My dad says I’ll just have to look a bit harder from now on.;)

The Culture of ‘Hot’

Yesterday, I asked Ben if he had read anything really great recently that I should pass on to all of you. Being the wonderful, helpful husband that he is, he immediately set up this little link :

Walt Mueller’s blog

Something to read and something to watch! Be sure to check out the video at the end – it’s extremely interesting and very disturbing. Actually, I felt slightly ill after watching it. It’s about how our culture is twisting the views of beauty and the need to be “hot”. Having an eight-year-old little girl who is speeding her way to the teenage years, I’m left feeling sober. And with much more to say about all of this.

But we’ll leave it with the video for today…

How do you feel about the way our culture has spread this message?