Courage for 2016

For a number of years, I’ve heard people talk about choosing a word for the year – a personal theme they want to focus on. I didn’t ever feel drawn to this tradition, until now. A friend on Facebook was talking about bringing prayer into the process of choosing a word, and asking God to provide a focus for the year. This captured my attention, and became something I wanted to try.

I had no idea what kind of word God might give me, or even if He would give me anything, but I started praying about it, and the word which became stuck in my mind was “courage”. Suddenly, the word “courage” is popping up everywhere – verses I’m reading, the new book I got for Christmas, whatever.


I can see how “courage” is a common theme in my life right now, in a few different ways:

Personal Relationships

Last summer, I read a couple of books about boundaries by Henry Cloud, and spent a lot of time talking with a counselor about what I was learning. I came to realize that I’d struggled with people-pleasing issues for so long, I didn’t even recognize the problem. It’s been insanely hard for me to be honest about certain opinions, because I couldn’t bear to have anyone disagree with me. I would only tend to open up about my true opinions once I was sure someone would agree with me.

Friends who read my blog can’t understand this, because I seem like a very open person with strong opinions, but the weird truth is, it’s much easier for me to be honest in front of a computer screen about certain issues than it is to tell someone face to face what I’m really thinking. I would far rather email someone about an uncomfortable topic, than talk to them in person. I like to take my time processing things, choosing my words carefully, and when I have to do that on the spot with someone, I tend to clam up.

My hesitance to be open and honest about what I’ve truly needed or wanted has led to a lot of unhappiness, stress, and confusion in my personal relationships. It is my desire to grow in my ability to own my issues, preferences, and opinions, and to work up the courage to be truthful and gently direct. When I have recently gathered up the courage to be honest about what I really think or want, it doesn’t usually offend anyone! And if it does, I’m starting to see how it isn’t my problem if people don’t want the same things I do – no one should try to force another person to do something they are not comfortable with. They share their opinion, I share mine, and we piece something together that works for both of us. I can see great things happening if I speak with honesty and courage.

Physical Strength

My therapists agree it’s time to take my physical therapy to the next level. Until now, my therapists have focused on getting my muscles loosened up from years of pain, tension, and having babies. As long as I don’t go too long between appointments, and keep up with my stretches and yoga, I’m okay – not great, but okay. It doesn’t take much to put my neck or back out, though, which means extra trips to the chiropractor and massage therapist, so now it’s time to strengthen all those weak muscles, in order to prevent further injury. This scares me, because it’s painful, and really hard to know what my body’s limits are when I’m trying new things. Pushing myself too far immediately sends my body into a downward spiral, and sometimes it can take months to get back to a good place.

But it’s time! And it will definitely take a lot of courage to push through the pain, keeping at this until my body gets stronger.

New Opportunities

I have the chance to do some speaking/teaching this year, and it freaks me out. I’m not afraid to be up in front of people – I’ve always felt completely comfortable with that. What makes me nervous is the amount of work it takes to get ready for these types of things. Since having postpartum anxiety, I’ve really cut back on how much I’m involved with each week. I’m feeling good now, but I don’t want to pile things back on my plate. Going back to all the things I used to do isn’t the same – we have three kids now, so our family has changed, and I’ve changed. It makes me apprehensive to push myself, because I don’t know my new limits in this area, either. Some stress is okay, but I never want to go back to the place I was at emotionally this last summer.

It also takes courage to try new things, because I have no idea if it will work. I’ve got an idea cooking in my head, and it could be awesome….or it could totally flop. I have limited control over the outcome, which scares me. But it’s an idea I believe God gave me, and the outcome is not really my problem! I can only do my part, and then surrender the rest to God.


So those are some pretty big things I already know I will need courage for, and the New Year has barely begun! I’m sure there are other things I haven’t even caught a glimpse of yet….


What do you need courage for in 2016?

Birthday Favorites: Spiritual Growth

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Today I want to talk a bit about the spiritual growth opportunities I’ve been exposed to over the past year. Some exciting, uncomfortable, awesome things happened in my 35th year of life! Here’s what impacted me the most:

1) Taking a Prophesy Class at Church of the Rock

I’ve written about this a number of times before (like here and here), but I’ll say it again: This class changed me. I didn’t want to go at all, but I’m so glad I did! Here’s to taking risks. Let’s see what this next year holds!!

2) Leading a Prayer Class at my Church

Another uncomfortable experience that ended up being one of my favorite things this year! I’ve led that class for a year, and by the time it ended in June, I still didn’t feel like I had a clue what I was doing. But God is so awesome, and did so many amazing things in that class, we were just all glad to be a part of it, I think.

3) My “December Challenge”

Another one I wrote about a number of times in the past (here and here). Probably the most life-changing experience of my year. If I hadn’t taken that leap of faith, I would not be sitting here today with our little baby boy in my belly, kicking me repeatedly as I type! Still can’t believe it – God has done what seemed impossible, and I’m blown away by it all!

4) Beth Moore’s Bible Study on “Jesus, the One and Only”

This was such a powerful Bible study! It’s always hard for me to drag myself out of the house on a cold, dark winter night, to get over to our church for a Bible study. But every time I do, I’M SO GLAD I WENT!! Learned a ton from this one. If you ever get the chance to do it, go for it!!

Jesus, the One and Only

5) Speaking About Moses at a Ladies’ Retreat in Spring

You know how they say the one teaching always learns the most? True, yet again! I loved learning about the life of Moses and Egyptian history as I prepared for this retreat. There was an absolute TON on information I devoured but never shared, and I would love to find a way to share it at some point. Not sure how. But much of what God taught me during that time about faith and believing God to do the impossible held me together in the months after that retreat.

Any awesome classes, Bible studies, or books you took in this past year? How has God been challenging you? Give me some new book ideas!!

Learning to be Still

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m here today to share Session #2 from the weekend with you.

I’d shared earlier how God told me to expect the unexpected for this weekend, and this definitely happened with Session 2!

I had prepared everything at home beforehand, and knew what I wanted to say on Saturday evening. I had plans to prep a bit more for it on Saturday afternoon, but first I took a two hour nap (which felt completely amazing!) It took me a long time to wake up from my deep sleep, and as I was lying there, God suddenly brought a memory so clearly to my mind which fit so perfectly with what I hoped to communicate that evening, I knew my entire session had just been changed as I was lying there.

Here’s the awesome part: My greatest fear about God promising to do the unexpected was that I’d miss it. But it came so clearly to me, I needn’t have worried at all. And rewriting my session was not a problem, either – it just fell into place, and I just knew what I was going to say.

I don’t know who needed to hear this message more – me, or the ladies! Probably me, because it’s been on my mind ever since! God is speaking to me about surrender, and learning resting in Him. He is so loving and faithful! His goodness overwhelms me.

Let God

Here’s surprise session #2:

How do we become still in the face of fear, uncertainty, stress, and pain? How do we surrender everything over into His care? How do we “grow our surrender muscles” until it becomes a habit? “Be still and know that I am God!”

A Retreat Report, and a Recording:)

What a weekend! Oh my goodness, God is so good, and we had such an awesome time!

First of all, those St. Vital EMC ladies are completely amazing. I spent about a quarter of my weekend crying. Women shared their testimonies throughout the weekend, and every time, their honest words and open hearts just got me. And the worship times were absolutely incredible.

Someone said to me, “I hope you will soon feel filled again, after pouring yourself out this weekend.”

I never felt empty! I’d take in the testimonies and worship times until I felt like I would burst with the fullness of God, and then I’d pour out my talk, and then I’d get filled again right away! Such a great time.

Having my friend Svea with me was also completely amazing. It makes me smile to think of how opposite we are in so many ways, outside and in – she’s tall, blonde, and as extroverted as they come! It brought me so much joy to see how God could use us in different ways over the weekend!


Every time I caught a glimpse of her in the crowd, she was praying or hugging or encouraging somebody. She was out there doing her thing, and I felt so much freedom to rest or prepare for another session, knowing that if anyone wanted to talk or pray, Svea would be all over it.

And she did the same for me! Her words of encouragement just carried me through the weekend, and getting her feedback after each session was such a blessing.

I was able to record the sessions, so if anyone is interested, here’s Session One:

The sessions were all based on Exodus 14, the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. This first session basically sets the scene, and compares the Israelites’ situation with our own – when we find ourselves in the desert, who is truly chasing us? Praise God, He pursues us beyond anything else we ever feel is coming after us in this world! He is doing a new thing the in the desert!

Around Here Right Now

Well, I think it’s about time for another one of these posts. Here’s what we’ve been filling our snowy days with:

1) Dress-up!


Kaylia is suddenly obsessed with dressing up, which is hilarious. Also, a bit time consuming, because whenever we need to leave the house, I have to convince her to take off the five necklaces that swoop down past her knees, just for safety reasons. Of course, she does not understand this at all, and we have had a few difficult exits from the house…

2) Zucchini Muffins

Gluten-free, of course, and very delicious. To my delight, I’ve discovered that my girls don’t notice at all if I replace chocolate chips with unsweetened baking chocolate. Less sugar is always a good thing around here.:)


3) Everything is awesome.

And I will be forever reminded of that, thanks to the new Lego movie theme song, which is now permanently in my head. The girls request this song multiple times a day, and I can’t decide if I think this is fun, or just getting annoying…;)

4) Preparing for a retreat!

I’m speaking at a retreat at the end of March, and around here right now, it’s all Moses, all the time. I can’t believe how I keep stumbling across the most interesting tidbits everywhere where I go, and it all connects back to things I’m thinking about as I prepare for the retreat.

It’s actually making it really hard to have a blog, because I can’t only write about Moses for the entire month of March, but that’s basically all I’ve been learning about, so I’m trying really hard to come up with something original to share around here!

What have you been up to lately?

Leaving Room For Weakness

Ben once had the opportunity to meet a well-known pastor who preaches some of the best sermons we’ve listened to online. He’s written a great book, and whenever we listen to his messages, we continually find him to be full of wisdom and wit, with a very warm, approachable style. I always imagined he would be a very charismatic in person, and was a little disappointed when I heard that Ben would be meeting him without me.

But the most interesting thing happened. When Ben met this amazing, gifted pastor, he turned out to be quite socially awkward – not what Ben was expecting at all! They awkwardly conversed for a short time, and then the pastor had to go on stage to address the congregation.

Ben said it was the most amazing transformation – that socially awkward man turned back into the warm, passionate, charismatic preacher that Ben was used to listening to online.

I eagerly listened to Ben’s description of this transformation, not just because I would have loved to have been there myself – I drank it in because it gave me great hope.

I know what it feels like to swing from strength to weakness, and back again, wishing that those mountain-top experiences could just last forever.

Sometimes I feel confused about the balance of strengths and weaknesses in my life. Sometimes I wonder why God chose my combination of personality and giftings. I might have chosen differently!

And I was reminded of it again this week. I was invited to speak at a girls’ club event at my sister’s church in Altona. Although I have done that kind of thing often, I’ve never done it with a group of kids. But the whole thing was incredibly fun, and I enjoyed myself immensely.


God is awesome that way. We do what we’ve been gifted to do, and He makes it so much fun!

So I go out, and do my speaking/teaching thing, and every time, I experience such joy, such an energy, and a feeling that I’m doing what I was born to do. And I always think to myself, “I wish I could do this for the rest of my life.”

And then it ends, and I put down the microphone, or my audience moves on to the next thing, and I transform back to the usual, little old me, with my feelings of insecurity, and my tendency to feel slightly socially awkward in large group settings.

Lots of the time, that’s the part where I wonder why God didn’t make me super outgoing and bubbly, with a ton of natural energy, fed by large groups of people.

Why did He make me an introvert, preferring one-on-one conversations, and needing a ton of down-time for every loud, people-filled event? It makes my own “transformation” quite jarring, most times.

I want to question His judgement, but then I remember that pastor, and I think to myself that if he can find his way through, so shall I.

And I realize that there is much wisdom in this experience of shifting from strength to weakness:

God is strong in our weakness.

Because these spiritual gifts come from Him, it is amazing to me how God-given strengths shine more clearly against the backdrop of our human weaknesses.

It seems so freeing to me, once I get past my desire to appear strong and perfect in all areas, to think that I don’t have be able to do everything, or know everything, or be everything. My weakness lets other people see what I would truly be like all the time, if I didn’t ever get some help from the Holy Spirit. I could start pretending that those moments of divine intervention were really me. How wonderful that God keeps it from happening!

We need others in our weakness.

If we could do it all on our own, we probably would. And God knew that. It must be so beautiful to Him when we help each other out, and work together in love and unity.

I think of how it makes me feel when my girls are playing peacefully together – life at home seems pretty much perfect. Multiply that many times over, and we probably still can’t ever understand how God feels when we work together, and rely on each other.

I went to that girls’ club event, and I absolutely loved every minute of sharing with them. And then I loved every minute of watching my sister using some of her strengths, as she headed up the crafts time afterwards – every detail in place, every ribbon and paper cut as neatly and precisely as could be imagined. She coolly and calmly sails through challenges, always efficient. I was so thankful to her for saving me from details. Details stress me out to no end, and suck the energy out of me.

She seems to thrive on handling details. Although we may be sisters, it is extremely obvious to me that we were made to fill different roles in life. And this week, that was wonderful. Every time we talked on the phone to co-ordinate things, I was so thankful for the way in which she took care of details so that I could focus on preparing my little talk.

And then the next morning, I did the same talk at our homeschool group, but this time it was my sweet friend Becky who took care of all the details. She did it in a completely different way than my sister had, and it was just as wonderful.

When we are willing to step out and share our strengths, we free others from having to work out of their weakness. Everybody gets to do what is life-giving to them, and the job gets done together.

I love the feeling of it. But I wouldn’t ever get to experience it if I didn’t have any weaknesses. I wouldn’t fully appreciate others’ strengths. I wouldn’t be reminded that “my” strengths aren’t really mine, anyway.

And that is what has been giving me joy and freedom this week.

So, tell me – What do you wish you could be freed to do for the rest of your life?

Speaking and Dreaming

Ben was asked to speak at a retreat this last weekend, and he was generous enough to let me lead one of the sessions! And I had so much fun doing it. Would love to do it for the rest of my life. But I don’t know if I could find people to listen to me for the rest of my life! Know anyone who needs a speaker?!

Anyway, we spent a chunk of time prepping for it, so over the next couple of days, I’m excited to share with you some of the things I talked about during my session.

Future Plans: We think it would be fun to speak and teach together, and get a house somewhere with a fantastic view, so that we can sit there in our office overlooking that inspiring view and write books. And we’ll also need a deck to sit out on with our laptops while we write. Ben will write fiction, and I’ll write non-fiction. We will be very happy together. Well, we’re already very happy together – we just have fun imagining our exciting future!