Weekend Favorites

Another beautiful fall weekend!

A friend asked me if it felt as though fall has sped by incredibly quickly, and I have to say, it’s been the perfect length. It feels to me as though we’ve had many wonderful chances to soak in the beauty of September and October. I have loved the colours, and the cooler temperature makes the outdoors exhilarating, and the indoors cozy.

The geese are loving the lakes in our development, and the sky is often full of them flying and honking, getting ready for the big trip south.

Everything is feeling a bit wild and cool and crisp outside right now, and I’m loving it.


We ran around in the backyard for a bit this weekend, playing with the leaves, and getting things ready for winter. Ben packed away our patio furniture, and the girls collected all the sand toys to bring inside. It was a nice feeling, somehow. We had a beautiful summer, and now I feel ready to move on to the next season.





branchesWhat are you loving about fall right now?

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.

In Search of Spring and a New Perspective

Whenever I need a change in perspective, I take my camera for a drive, and go find something pretty to photograph.


Yesterday was one of those days when I needed to get some new perspective. I was also hoping to find some spring.

Unfortunately, taking pictures around Niverville after six months of snow can get a little repetitive. I only have about three bunches of trees to photograph, so I was wondering if there was anything interesting left to find.



I had to work a little harder than usual, meaning that I waded through snowdrifts up past my knees, and I had to put more effort into being creative, but I came back feeling quite refreshed from the challenge.


And guess what – I did find spring! The snow is sticky and heavy, as though it doesn’t have much time left, and every branch holds the promise of buds, a few months from now.

Having conquered my challenge, I drove home to join my sweet family in the snow. They had been building forts while I was gone, and were ready to move on to snowdrift jumping.







We played until we were wet and rosy-cheeked, and then we went inside for soup and toast.


It was a perfect winter afternoon,  and knowing that it’s one of our last made it even better!

Weekend Favorites: Back at Camp

We spent our weekend at camp.

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Red Rock Bible Camp

It wasn’t our first time back, but we haven’t been back in a long time. I love our life in Niverville, but I think I was a little bit scared that going back would make me start thinking, “Why did we ever move??!”

Fortunately, it wasn’t that kind of experience at all. We had a wonderful time, and we loved being there, but the whole time, I felt such a peace that we are where we’re supposed to be. I felt closure to our time at camp, and it was a blessing to see how well the current staff have settled into their positions. They seem to be working and living together well out there.

It was fun to get a little taste of everything, and then it was fun to come home.

I still miss camp, but it helps to know that we can always go back and experience some of the great parts of being there.






I wish you a wonderful beginning to the week! May you also feel like you are right where you are meant to be!

Looking for Magic and Adventure

We were going to go the playground yesterday afternoon.

We were trying to decide which park to walk to, when suddenly, Ben and I had a “Genius Parent Moment”, and told the girls we were going to the river.

Anika was not impressed.

Deep down, I was pretty sure she’d be fine. I have seen, over and over again, what happens to our girls when they get out into nature. Playgrounds are fun and all, but there is something completely different and wonderful about wandering around in the trees and crunching through the leaves.

So instead of the playground, we set off on a little adventure.




It didn’t take very long for Anika’s attitude to change.

You can’t be in a place like that without starting to feel the wonder and magic of it.

We explored and crunched and climbed trees and gathered sticks for a special little project this week.


On the way home, Anika said, “I had a lot more fun than I thought I would.”

We will go to the playground some other time.

But I always, always want to remember to get away on adventures. When we moved away from camp, I thought afternoons like this would be over. I was worried about our family losing the delight of wandering through the trees.


I’m not worried anymore.



What I’ve Learned From Living at Camp

It’s hard to sum up five years of life, but I wanted to try. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, and tying up of mental loose ends. I love that quote from the movie “Hitch” when he says, “You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”

To get off to a good new start, I feel like I need to be intentional about figuring out what’s changed, what’s important, and what we’ve learned from our camp experience.

Here goes:

1) When things don’t go according to my plan, it means God is doing things according to His plan (which is always better!).

When Ben and I moved to Red Rock Bible Camp five years ago, we came with big dreams.

It was a time of feeling so alive, and anticipating the future with great expectation. We felt so ready for new challenges, and we had all these ideas of what we hoped would come out of our time at camp.

And then life happened.

Lots and lots of life!

As I sit here reflecting on the last five years, I can see that our time out here has been very different than what I expected, and that’s not a bad thing.

Although we’ve been blessed to see exciting things happening at camp, it has often felt as though God was teaching us a whole lot more than we were teaching anyone else.

Once, during a struggle we were facing here at camp, I said to Ben, “I was so sure God led us here because camp needed us.”

And Ben said, “Maybe God brought us here because we needed it.”

The lessons we have learned are huge, and we are different people than when we first came here. I don’t know how much it shows on the outside, but I feel different on the inside.

I needed this experience. And if we were able to do any good along the way, that’s awesome.

But at the very least, we were changed. We have seen God, and He has been good.

2) We were created for community.

We need to keep people close, but sometimes that cramps our style. It can be good, and it can be hard, but it is always rich.

I don’t always want to be in community, but I was still made for it.

I need to be in a setting where my rough edges are rubbing against other people, wearing me down. I need to be uncomfortable, I need to be kept from the perfect little world I would form around myself if I never had to deal with people.

There is so much love and growth and grace needed when we live in community.

I have not always appreciated this, but it will be one of the things I miss the most about camp. I will miss how easy it is for people to be part of absolutely everything I do, whether it’s doing the laundry, hanging out in our yard, or eating meals together every day.

The other afternoon, our family wandered into the backyard to find our neighbors doing spring cleaning. The entire contents of their shed were spread out over the yard, the kids were playing, the bonfire was going.

We hadn’t been planning a shed party, but we joined in, spurred on by their motivation, and spent a wonderful afternoon, working side by side. More camp families wandered over, and we ended the whole thing with a wiener roast.

And I sat there thinking, “I am going to miss this.”

3) It is all about discipleship.

We came to camp thinking we were passionate about discipleship. We leave camp knowing that we are. It’s what we want to do for the rest of our lives – we want to be mentored, and we want to mentor others.

We want to be part of deep, intense, honest relationships which challenge us to the point of discomfort, and cause us to learn and grow in the most unpredictable ways.

We have loved every relationship we could be a part of here at camp that reached this level, and we are so thankful for every staff member who went there with us.

4) God loves people more than trees.

I can hardly stand the thought of living my life away from the lake and the trees. It is so beautiful here, sometimes I think we’re completely crazy for leaving.

But we didn’t come here for the trees, and we can’t stay here for the trees, and it was always about the people, anyway. We have loved the people here at camp, but we are so looking forward to having relationships that are less “binge and purge” style – with people every second of the day in the summer, and isolated in the winter.

I have loved living in a never-ending vacation. Even taking out the garbage gives me a glimpse of the lake, and there you go: instantly on vacation.

photo credit: Victoria James

But seeing as it’s not about the lake or the trees, we will embrace whatever view comes next.

5) God, Family, Ministry.

Very early on in our marriage and our involvement with full-time ministry, we realized we would need to set some pretty serious boundaries in order to keep life somewhat balanced.

When we came to camp, it was our goal to continue on with those boundaries to protect our family time. Being here has helped me to see, more than ever, how important this is. Living where Ben works has brought a lot of challenges, but I am so, so thankful that as we leave camp, I get to take all my favorite people with me, and we love each other just as much as ever.

Our family relationships are healthy, and I don’t feel as though our family has suffered from this adventure. This last winter was very tough, with Ben’s involvement in the discipleship program and the traveling involved – we could not continue at that pace, but we’re leaving at a good time, family intact.

photo credit: Morgan Braun

God has blessed us in so many ways during these past five years, and I am very thankful for the experience we’ve been able to have. Looking back on everything, I would have to call it a success!

Up next on my list for mental processing: What makes me most nervous about moving back to civilization. I’ll write it, and see if it’s fit for the public or not! 😉

God is Longing For My Freedom

Freedom has been on my mind recently.

I posted recently about some of my past experiences with spiritual warfare, but I’m feeling the need to share what I am presently experiencing. Because it’s been bothering me so much, I’m thinking I must not be the only one, and it’s an important message to share.

But I like sharing in past tense better. I guess my pride likes to make it sound as though I don’t struggle with stuff anymore. Ha! We’ll remedy that by being painfully honest here…

The truth is, I’ve been challenged over and over and over again this past winter to gain control over my thought life. You may have noticed the theme of “worry” coming up often on my blog, the reason being I struggle with fear and anxiety and worry running away with my thoughts so often, you’d think I’d be exhausted and sick of it.

Actually, I am. I was reading books about it, praying, and struggling through it, trying to fight the good fight against all those thoughts, without feeling like I was making much progress.

One night my emotional upheaval reached such a climax, it suddenly struck me that I was feeling completely frazzled, worried and stressed….without a single reason for it. I tried to think of why I was feeling so incredibly worried, and my mind kept trying to come up with a reason for being worried.

That scared me. Searching for a reason to be worried? That’s just out of hand.

When I described to Ben how I was feeling, he immediately said, “We should pray about it.”

Oh. Good idea. Funny how I didn’t think about doing that….

So he prayed, and immediately, it was as if a weight was lifted off me. I felt completely different.

I wish I could say it lasted forever. But that’s not how it went.

Sometimes, the worries and fears build up until they almost overwhelm me, and I pray like crazy to fight them back down.

And then things go back to normal, and I slack off, thinking it’s all fine, and then it all comes back. Part of me wants to get discouraged about it, but part of me knows (from experience) that I need to keep at it, it takes time, but it will get better.

I want to get stronger mentally. I want to be able to take every thought captive. But that doesn’t happen overnight. So I keep plugging away.

I went for a walk last week, and as usual, spent all my time looking up to the tips of those evergreens. It doesn’t matter how heavy my spirit feels, when I look way, way up to those tree tops, I feel like my soul flies high and free.

As I walked along, with my soul flying, some words came back to me from a new Beth Moore book I started – Breaking Free.

God always cares more for our freedom than even we do. He initiated the saving relationship between the people and the Liberator. “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7) God is intimately acquainted with the sorrows and suffering that result from slavery. He also has a remedy. He is the meeter of our needs….Christ sets us free by the power of His Spirit; then He maintains our freedom as we learn to live from day-to-day in the power of His free Spirit.”

I walked and thought over and over, “God cares more for my freedom that I do. God cares more…” Praise the Lord, He pursues me. That boggles my mind.

I so desperately want to be free, and to be strong in the joy of Jesus, and I fight, and strive, and beg God for it. But sometimes I forget that He wants it more for me that I do.

I read somewhere that this struggle is what’s meant by “working out your salvation”. We need to learn to live from day-to-day. Our human nature tells us it’s better to worry, fear, and be anxious. That sounds plain ridiculous, and yet it’s the age-old lie of Satan’s that we fall for every time we sin. As if anything could possibly be better than God’s glorious, right way!

Ann Voskamp writes,

Sometimes, too often, I don’t want to muster the energy. Stress and anxiety seem easier. Easier to let mind run wild with the worry than to exercise discipline. (p. 147, One Thousand Gifts)

Really, you could put any sin in there. It’s always easier to give in to the areas of weakness. Often, we even see the weakness as freedom. Who wants to burden of changing something we’ve grown comfortable with?

But then the Holy Spirit starts to open our eyes to where the true bondage is, and Ben always tells me this is the first step. I need to feel truly miserable and desperate before I will want to change.

I guess this, then, is the part where I’m working my way past miserable and desperate. I’m slowly rising.

Because God longs for my freedom more than I do.

Because if worry is a sin, and Jesus says “Fear not!” more times than there are days in a year, then surely, these habits, this sin, this bondage, can be overcome.

Getting Ready to Say Good-bye

It’s been five full, wonderful, challenging years since we moved to Red Rock Bible Camp.

I remember feeling like we’d moved to paradise.

I would lie in bed with the window open, and listen to the loons on the lake. And I couldn’t believe that God had blessed us so richly with the opportunity of being here, of having the chance to do something we’d always wanted to do.

And now it’s time to do something else.

Everyone who moves to camp knows it’s not forever. It’s so isolated, and pretty much everything about it is intense.

The schedule is intense, the ministry is intense, the location is intense, the beauty is intense.

Part of me is so tired, I know this is a good choice for our family, but part of me is aching.

I love intense.

This has always been my favorite place in the world. Last time I left, I hoped and hoped that I would come back. Countless times over the last five years, Ben and I have taken our girls on little adventures around camp, and I’ve almost had to pinch myself to believe that we’ve done this as a family.

We came back and made this ours. These memories will be ours forever. It’s in the story of our family.

(photography by Morgan Braun)

I don’t really know how to move on from that.

I’m getting that feeling you get on vacation – the feeling at the end, when your days have almost run out, and you’re trying to get in as much as you can. You know you can’t stay on vacation forever. It has to end, but you try to make it last as long as possible, and as you walk away for the last time, you keep looking back over your shoulder, trying to memorize every sight, every sound, every smell…

I’ve actually been walking around camp with my eyes closed a lot, lately. I can smell the trees better with my eyes closed! I can hear the silence better with my eyes closed. And then I open my eyes, and there’s the moon shining through the trees, and I ache.

We hear about summer staff who are planning to come on spring staff this year, and I ache. It makes me want to ditch the new plans and just stay. Oh, the people. We love camp ministry. We believe in it.

There are a lot of reasons why we’re going. I’ll cover those in a different post, for those of you who are curious. It’s another story about how God leads, and how we’ve gone about coming to this decision. It’s been a struggle.

But now it’s time to go. And I just keep looking over my shoulder…

Been Thinking About Fishing

I used to love going fishing with my dad.

That may surprise some people who know me, because I don’t think I really come across as a “roughing it out in the wild” kind of a girl.

But that’s exactly what we’d do. We would go to these remote lakes, and camp out in the middle of nowhere. We’d canoe, and we’d fish. And I loved it.

I loved the lake, the trees, and floating around all day in the peace and quiet. I loved talking with my dad about anything and everything.

And then sometimes, all of this peace and quiet would be put on hold for a little while, as we faced the excitement of catching a fish.

I love that rush that comes when your fishing line starts yanking like crazy and everybody gets all worked up, and the adrenaline starts flowing, and it’s this big moment.

(I do not like anything that happens after the fish comes out of the water. You could not pay me to touch a fish. Enjoyment stops after the thrill of the chase.)

Anyway. After all the excitement of catching the fish, my sisters and I would name the fish – starting with “A” and working our way through the alphabet. Amelia, Betsy, Caroline, etc.

And then we would go back to the peace and quiet of floating. Enjoying the day and the nature and the quiet.

You could almost say that I loved the act of fishing more than actually catching anything…

Sometimes we think that fishing is about catching fish. But you can go out for a day of fishing, and enjoy fishing, even if you go home without catching any fish. Obviously, you’d like to catch fish, and that’s kind of the point, but it is completely possible to spend an enjoyable day of fishing without catching any fish. It kind of depends on your attitude.

I once read that praying is like fishing.

Sometimes we think praying is about getting answers to our prayers. But you can spend time talking to God, and enjoy praying, even if you don’t end up getting an answer right away. Obviously, you’d like to get answers to your prayers, but it is completely possible to spend an enjoyable time talking to God without getting an actual and immediate answer to your prayers. It kind of depends on your attitude…

I read that prayer is actually all about waiting – learning to wait on God, and learning to just enjoy being in His presence, learning to enjoy the act of praying.

This waiting thing is a hard one for me sometimes. I am capable of focusing on something so intensely that the impatience builds and builds until it feels like I’ll explode because I can’t stand waiting for one more second.

Obviously, my focus is not in the right place when that happens.

And I’m noticing a pattern in my life – I’m noticing that the act of waiting for things, and waiting for answers to my prayers, is happening a lot.

When I was single, but wanting to get married and have kids, I had to wait awhile. After Ben and I got married, there were many other kinds of things to wait for. We had to wait for God to work out the details for a ministry opportunity that we really wanted. We had to wait 9 months for Anika to be born. We had to wait for God to provide in a number of different ways. And then we dealt with infertility, and had to wait for 4 years for Kaylia to come along. And I thought that I wouldn’t survive. I thought that if God would ask me to wait one day longer for a baby, I would go completely crazy.

There are times in my life when I have just plain hated waiting.

But I’ve also read that life is about waiting. We are always waiting for something.

So if life is about waiting, and prayer is about waiting, it would seem as though I need to learn to enjoy…WAITING.

If I can enjoy floating, water, sky and trees, the peace and quiet, the getting-away-from-it-all, can I learn to surrender, soaking in God’s presence, a sense of His Spirit, a trust that while there is more to come, that right now, there is something for me to enjoy, just in waiting?

(picture taken by Chelsea Rempel)