Friday, May 28, 2010

Leave the Grind Behind!

On Wednesday night our Women's ministry had a coffee house night. I was one of the women asked to share a testimony about what God has been teaching me this part year. A few friends of mine missed the evening and so I'm posting this so they can read it, (as I am a much better writer than speaker I think!). So it's a bit long, but if you want to know what God has been teaching me here is the very, very, very Reader's Digest version. Five to seven minutes is a very short amount of time, seriously I could have been a conference speaker with all God is lavishing on me!

My name is Amanda, which means 'worthy of love'. I became aware of the meaning of my name around my tenth birthday and for the past 20 years I've always thought it was fitting. Loving others has come easily to me. Being a servant is not a hard pill for me to swallow and I just love to love. It wasn't until about eight months ago that I began to see that God had chosen my name long before I was born as an instrument to teach me that not only am I worthy of loving- I am also worthy of being loved.

I grew up in a home where love seemed conditional, something I head to earn. I've always been surrounded by great friends, but each of those friends had a best friend who wasn't me. And I married a loving man, but even he can't love me exactly the way I need to be loved All. The. Time. In the past I've had a very human understanding of love.

Today I am excited about the foundation of God's love that my life is being firmly built on. I am so thankful for the lessons He's taught me and the truths He's been revealing to me in my every day life. I smile a little more, I walk a bit taller, I stress out a lot less and am more steadfast each day no matter what it throws at me. It's a great pit stop to have arrived at, but let me take you back to the beginning of this lap of my journey.

Almost exactly a year ago today my husband and I welcomed our fourth child to our family. Along with his arrival came a sense of grateful completeness. I had spent the better part of five years being pregnant and I had been looking forward to getting re-acquainted with my feet and bending at the waist and a long list of things I'd been missing.

But now that I was the mother of four children under the age of five my life was very full, in constant motion, definitely a work in progress and I was never alone. Yet I felt empty, stalled, without an individual purpose and lonely. I found it completely perplexing that I could simultaneously be crying out for a second to myself and a party to go to. I found it utterly maddening that I could be doing tasks all day but accomplishing nothing. I found it ironic that I could be the centre of four little universes but seemingly invisible to the world at large.

I was insecure and lost and when I feel that way I gravitate to what is comfortable and predictable and so I decided the logical thing to do to fix the loneliness and purposelessness and insecurity and restlessness I felt was obviously to have another baby.

Now I never was very good at being pregnant; I mean you wouldn't exactly say I glowed or anything like that, but when I was pregnant I had a definite purpose and many people were always asking me how I was or doing thing to help me out and my life had this excited anticipation surrounding it.

I really thought another baby would be the perfect solution. Thankfully my husband didn't see it that way and in September I finally started looking for an alternative route to the fill the voids in my heart.

God was already preparing me for this time of transition and through other situations and circumstances he had brought me into times of intimate relationship with Himself. Sadly those occasions had been few and far between as my spiritual discipline was sporadic at best. All around me people were indirectly encouraging me to 'Draw near to God', and as I met more and more consistently with Him I began to see the truth of Psalm 1:1-3

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields it's fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither."

Through my time with God I learned that the heart of my issues were that I had spent most of my life defining myself by what I had done and not who I am; and I honestly did that because I didn't believe there was anything all that special about me. That girls like me are a dime a dozen.

God started showing me how this grieved His heart, how it upset Him that I couldn't see that He had created me fearfully and wonderfully. That I was in essence doubting Him and His decision to create me to be me and His desire to use me for His purposes.

And God began to drive home hard to me that my purpose is to bring glory to Him and He has, and is, working out all things so I can.

As I've learned to lean into God's love for me and believe that He created me as a masterpiece I am blown away by His wisdom.

His love shows me daily how worthy of love He has made me and He has placed directly in my daily life four little people who will struggle with the same things I do, we all do: our insecurities and doubts. Our self-esteem and self-image, the lies the world tells me, tells you and will tell them to try and make them believe that they aren't worthy of being loved.

God is growing me and building me up in his unconditional, perfect, never-stopping, never-ending love and as I live surrendered to that love I will bring glory to Him by paying it forward.

How awesome is our God that in the big picture His love caused Him to send Jesus to save us and in the little picture we share His love through individual little acts of love that all contribute to the bigger picture.

This past year God has been teaching me that I am worthy of love and challenging me to be worthy of love. The Bible study at the last session of RENEW had a quote by Max Lucado which I find to be greatly encouraging when I feel myself being ground down by life;

"When it comes to the major league difficulties like death, disease, disaster and sin you know that God cares. But what about the smaller things? What about grouchy bosses or lost dogs or flat tires? What about broken dishes, late flights, toothaches or a crashed hard drive? Do these matter to God? I mean, he's got a universe to run. He's got planets to keep balanced and Presidents and Kings to watch over. He's got wars to worry about and famines to fix. Who am I to tell Him about my ingrown toenail?

I'm glad you asked. Let me tell you who you are. In fact, let me proclaim who you are. You are an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ. You are eternal-like an angel. You have a crown that will last forever. You are a holy priest, a treasured possession. But more than any of the above- more significant than any title or position- is the simple fact that you are God's child."

What an amazing love that I am blessed to be worthy of. That you are blessed to be worthy of. Worthy of receiving it and worthy of giving it away for God's glory now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saturday Morings.

We have been doing swimming lessons at the local pool for the last few weeks. I tried to arrange that we would only have to be at the pool for an hour, with two kids having lessons simultaneously for each half hour block. I was a bit late with our registrations though and the class for Brooklyn's age group was filled.

She gets to swim all by herself in the pool. Well, almost all by herself. There is one other girl in her class, and only one other class with two children in it that swim at the same time. She absolutely loves the pool and she loves swimming without us. I wasn't sure she was ready for her first parent-less class but she is doing remarkably well. I see a lot of other kids in her age come for the next session, a class of five with two teachers. The teachers spend literally the entire class trying to coax the kids into the water. I'm kind of glad I was late with the registrations.

There isn't anyone else there first thing in the morning and we get the run of the place, which Nolan appreciates as he fully explores the entire building.

Kathryn likes to spend the 30 minutes asking if it's her turn. And when we stop answering her questions she just slyly begins taking off her clothes, which doesn't make the time go any faster, but I think she thinks it does.

Brooklyn has an amazing swimming teacher whom she adores. But the best part of all swimming lessons at our local pool, is the Duck slide. Loads of fun, for everyone!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mum's the Word.

For Mother's Day this year we went to the zoo. It was a nice treat because we didn't have to be in our incredibly messy house for the day, (it's been very busy at my paying gig lately). So we took some time for some pictures just off one of the main treks in the zoo.
Katy has posed with this particular statue a million times, but this time she discovered the the orangutan's hand has nails. She was beyond impressed.
This particular Mother's Day saw flurries in the morning and I did not feel like eating out in the cold, so we splurged on a restaurant dinner. The girls' were super excited to be eating at "Hannah Montana's". They did a fabulous job eating there even though it was busy and there were many distractions. Our waiter was awesome and brought the kids meals with our appetizers and their dessert while Nick and I were finishing. I think I ate a hot meal! Some other highlights were when Isabella spelt 'zoo' on the tablecloth and Nolan's uber cuteness. Even a spontaneous family shot via a waitress turned out okay. It was nice to have someone else cook and clean for a night!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


I think I read somewhere that our strongest sense is the sense of smell. I believe what I was reading had more to do with the way that we connect smells to certain events or people. Perhaps the smell of gingerbread makes you think of Christmas, or mothballs cause you to recall your Great Aunt Gertrude, or a certain flower's scent reminds you of your wedding.

I've been considering what my home smells like lately. Usually it's dirty diapers, (seriously that smell just lingers!), or that burnt aroma announcing to the world that my oven needs to be cleaned again. Sometimes it's chocolate chip cookies or pot roast. I don't think I have a home that has a consistently appealing aroma, most likely due to the fact that I only think about lighting candles instead of actually doing it and I never remember to Febreeze.

But the concept I've been dwelling on reaches far beyond physical smell. I wonder if my home has a Godsence. When people step into my home can they smell the presence of God? Perhaps they don't know what that smell is, but they know they're smelling it and that they don't smell it everywhere. I wish for my home to be surrounded in a mist of Godsence, like the tabernacle would have been flooded with incense. And I wonder what does that smell like? How do I create that smell?

I've also been thinking about what I smell like. You know how some people can tell what you've had for dinner when you go to an evening meeting? Or how aware you are of that sweaty smell at the gym? Do I have a signature scent? I'm sure in recent days past it would have been Eau du Baby Barf. If I have time to actually get ready before going somewhere I do wear my favourite perfume and I love the way I smell on those days. And the way it lingers on my pillow case for a night or two. Wouldn't it be amazing if I walked past people in the mall and they got a wiff of God?

I know my desire is to reek of my home and for my home to smell like the presence of God.

At the moment I think a more accurate description of my surrounding scents would be: whale vomit.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Passing the Torch?

Spring is in full bloom around these parts. The flowers and the bellies! Our church is sure riding the waves of the next baby boom, or so it seems! Brooklyn has always been our most matronly child and so its no surprise that every time a pregnant lady passes our path she says something along the lines of; "That girl has a baby in her tummy just like you!"

I look her straight in the eyes and remind her for the umpteenth time that we aren't going to be having any more brothers or sisters. That there aren't any babies in my tummy, (who needs more motivation to get to the gym than that?). Last week I think she finally understood what I was explaining to her and that she would just have to accept it.

For now she's content to carry dolls in her shirt and when a pregnant lady passes us she reminds me that one day she'll go to the hospital and get a baby! I am soooooo glad that's a long, long, long way off but I can already see that she will be a blessing as a mom and that is pretty cool.