Weekend Favorites

We spent the weekend in the city.

Whenever we come into Winnipeg, Ben’s parents welcome us into their home to feed us, babysit for us, and borrow an extra vehicle to us so that Ben and I can run off in opposite directions and get twice as many errands done as we divide and conquer.

We are so, so thankful for all that they do to help out. I keep waiting for the day they get tired of us, but it doesn’t seem to happen.

So we move in and make ourselves at home.

During this time of preparing to move, and dealing with transition, it’s been very helpful to have this place to retreat to.

Our weekend was a mixture of relaxing, and running around like crazy, crossing off a long list of errands.

We even got in a last-minute date night! Can’t remember the last time that happened.

It’s hard to tell which was more enjoyable – the 3-D movie, or the glasses….

Hope you had a great weekend, too!

What My Parents Taught Me About Prayer

It’s funny how when you’re a kid, however you are raised is what you believe to be normal.

When I was younger, I thought that everybody did morning devotions as a family at breakfast before school. I thought it was really weird when I found out that they didn’t.

I thought that all married couples prayed together. I thought it was really sad when I found out that they didn’t.

The older I get, the more thankful I am for all of the different things that my parents raised me to think were “normal”. I’m thankful for habits that were instilled in me so early that I didn’t even realize they were habits – they are just part of life, part of me.

So much of what I learned about prayer at home was learned without realizing it. It was “caught” instead of “taught”.

Here’s the three things I learned from my parents about prayer:

1) Pray together as a family.

When I was in school, we ate breakfast at 7:30. Every single morning. And then my dad would read to us out of the “Daily Bread” devotional book, then he’d read from the Bible, and finally ended with prayer. That was just the way that it was. We were never late for school because of it, we always had time for it, because that was just the way things were done. I didn’t always understand what he was reading, but I caught on to bits and pieces, and understood more as I got older. He prayed simply and sincerely, and I never had to be taught how to pray, because I heard my dad doing it, every single day. You just talked to God. Nothing fancy or complicate. A normal part of the day.

2) Pray by yourself.

I have many memories of going to look for my mom, and finally finding her in my parents’ bedroom. She would be sitting in a rocker in the corner by the windows, and in my memories, the sun was always shining! There was something so peaceful and comforting about finding her there in the sunshine, reading her Bible and praying.

I’m sure that my parents taught me that doing daily devotions was important, but I don’t remember it. What I do remember is seeing my mom doing it regularly.

3) Pray together as a couple.

Interestingly enough, this is the one that has impacted me the most. I read once that the way to have happy children is to have a happy, secure marriage. Kids need to see their parents together, enjoying each other, talking, and even better, praying.

I knew that every single night, if I needed something of my parents after I had gone to bed, I was guaranteed to find them in their room, reading the Bible and praying together. When I think of what “safe” looks like in the home, to me, it looks like my mom and dad praying together by that little bedside lamp. It’s like a warm glow, shining on me still.

During my first year of college, I got my first boyfriend, and then my first break-up. It was the hardest thing I had experienced in my life up to that point. I came home for Christmas holidays right after it happened, and that first night at home, I crawled right into bed with my parents, and they prayed for me. I was safe again.

I knew that whatever happened in the big world outside, there would always be that safe circle of light. Even now, I cannot describe what it feels like to know that every single night, my parents are praying for me still.

By choosing to do those three things so consistently during my growing up years, they gave me one of the greatest gifts they could. They demonstrated for me what it looks like to live a life of prayer, to be in relationship with God in a simple, lifelasting kind of way. Because they engrained those things into my life, they are now a part of who I am.

If I want the same for our girls, I start now. Anika does not “get” prayer. She doesn’t really understand what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like. But we still read her Bible and pray every night, because that’s just the way we do things. She can choose to reject it later on in life, but I hope and pray that it will rather become so ingrained in her life, too, that as she grows in understanding, it will become her choice. Not because she has to, but because she’s already seen her whole life that there is peace, comfort, and safety in those times of prayer.

I wish there was a guarantee that she and Kaylia would choose Jesus. But then I guess it wouldn’t be a “choice”. So the best thing I can do is pray, with them, with Ben, by myself, and trust that Jesus will take care of them, just like He’s taken care of me.

What’s the best thing your parents taught you?


We’re here! And it’s beautiful.

We had to get up at 3:30am to get to the airport on time this morning, so needless to say, we’re all a little sleep-deprived. But the day went surprising well! The girls were great, and my 2 1/2 hour night was apparently enough to get me through the day. Who knew. (Why am I sleeping 8 hours a night, anyway? I could be getting so much more done in a day…)

So anyway, here’s a bunch of travel pictures for you to enjoy!



This whole trip is happening because Ben has a camp conference to attend in Florida. Since my parents live in Florida for part of the year, they suggested that I bring the girls down for a visit. When Ben’s done with his conference, he’ll join the rest of us at my parents’ house.

Personally, I think I get the better deal. Ben has to work/attend a conference, and write papers for his Masters while he’s in Florida, and I get to spend the time with our girls, swimming, shopping and vacationing. We’ll see if it ends up being as perfect as it sounds!

My parents came to pick us up from the airport this afternoon:


The drive to my parents’ house was beautiful. Even though we were all super tired, when my parents asked if we wanted to take a different way home so that we could drive over this really amazing bridge, I said, “Sure!”




The girls finally fell asleep, which was good, because Kaylia had definitely reached her limit for the day. But she was extremely chipper upon waking up when we got to my parents’ house, and Anika headed off to the pool with my dad.


Crazy day, managed to enjoy almost all of it, glad it’s over, ready to enjoy the rest of our vacation!

Been Thinking About Greenhouses

Paul Scanlon is a pastor in the UK who writes:

“Our native environment is not the church: it’s the world – not the comfortable club, but the dangerous ocean. We were born to thrive in the adversity and hostility of a broken world. Like fish, who do better in water, we do better among a lost world because, like fish, we were designed to always stay in that native environment. Remove a fish from the water and it dies. Remove a flower from the soil and it dies. Remove the church from the world and we die.”  (from The Love Revolution, p. 144)

I feel like I’m a fish who has grown up in the comfortable club.

I was raised in a Christian home, lived in a small Mennonite town where almost everybody was a Christian, and went to a school where almost everybody was a Christian. The question was not “Should I go to church?” but rather, “Which one of the Mennonite churches in this town should I go to?”

Then I left to go to Bible school for 3 years. Once I was done there, I taught piano in a Christian school, married Ben, and moved to another Mennonite town where he became a youth pastor.

And now, we have entered the most sheltered environment of all, a Bible camp in the middle of nowhere.

Sometimes that bothers me.

Sure, the nearest town is about as unchurched as you can get, but it’s 20 minutes away. We don’t really “rub shoulders” with the world on a regular basis.

I have nothing against Christian “bubbles” – there is an important time and purpose for them. And I know that many, many people have been blessed in life-changing ways because of the ministry of Red Rock Bible Camp. It is so amazing to have a quiet place to get away to where you can slow down, be surrounded by nature, and experience God in ways that you often can’t in the regular busyness of life.

But living at camp has made me see how important it is to remain in the bubble only for a time.

We need to come away from everything so that we can be refreshed and strengthened to go out into it all again.

That’s the point.

Ben and I have often talked about how Red Rock is like a greenhouse. Plants can thrive in a greenhouse because they get the perfect amount of sunshine, the perfect amount of water, the perfect temperature. Everything is controlled in that environment to provide the optimal experience for growth. The plants grow big and strong so that they can be planted out in the real world with a “head start”.

photo © 2008 Wendy Piersall (via: Wylio)

There is an important purpose for a greenhouse.

And so I think that sometimes Christians need “greenhouses” too.

But only for a time. And then it’s so important to get back out into the real world, before we start to think that the comfortable, safe, “easy-to-grow-in” environment is actually “normal”.

I think I’ve forgotten what “normal” is. Actually, I change that – I don’t think I’ve ever fully known what “normal” is. I am so very thankful for the life that God has blessed me with – the home I grew up in, my parents, the churches I attended, my Christian friends – but these days I’m asking myself what I’m going to do with it. I’m like the plant in the greenhouse wondering how it will survive in the real world.

It reminds me of playing Prisoner’s Base. Two teams, each team has their own line, and you keep trying to tag people from the other team. Whoever was on their own side of the line most recently is “freshest” and can tag other people who have been out in the middle longer, who aren’t as “fresh”.

So you run around yelling “Fresher!” at the top of your lungs. If you just hang out around home base, it’s a really boring game. You miss out on all the excitement and action.

Camps are great and churches are great, but I’m just feeling like it’s been a really long time since I’ve gone running out into the world yelling “Fresher!” at the top of my lungs. I’ve been swimming in the safe, comfortable waters, instead of in the dangerous ocean. I’m not blaming this on camp or churches – I’ve chosen to stay in my comfort zone. It was all I knew how to do. And learning new stuff can be scary. Excuses? Yes.

But I’m realizing that while fantastic quiet times with God, or amazing times of prayer and worship with other Christians feeds me and helps me to grow stronger, it can’t be the end of how I live out my life of faith. The point of being a Christian is not just to try to increase my own level of “holiness” or to continually bask in the glow of knowing that Jesus loves me, just for the sake of feeling great about it.

It’s not supposed to be like Tupperware, keeping the freshness all sealed up inside.

So how can I live in the bubble of camp and not feel like Tupperware?

How can I make the most of this “greenhouse experience” while still realizing that it is most definitely not “normal”?

And when the time comes, will I learn to thrive in the dangerous ocean when I’ve never really done it before?

These are the questions I’m asking myself these days…

So how about you? Do you feel like you need to get away from the craziness of life, and have a greenhouse experience? Or do you feel like your life has been a bit too sheltered, and you’re longing to get out into the ocean? Or maybe you’re completely comfortable swimming in the dangerous ocean, and you could give me some tips!

At the Cabin

We spent the afternoon yesterday at my parents’ cabin, enjoying some football on TV, games, and food.

My dad is renovating the cabin, which is adding to the fun right now. The girls loved having rides:

And they were introduced to fridge jumping, which is something we did a lot of when I was younger:

My mom gave Kaylia her own set of cards to play with – the old ones that don’t matter if they get bent:

It was a great afternoon!