Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Word of the Year: COURAGE

I used to be a courageous gal.  A little TOO courageous in fact.  I was that girl who would say whatever I thought  - often without tact - whether you wanted to hear me or not.  Let's just say I lost some friends along the way.

Lesson learned: LET YOUR GENTLENESS BE EVIDENT TO ALL.  -Phillipians 4:5.

Oh, and it helped that I moved to Canada, one of the most polite countries in the world.  People here don't speak up much (in general) for fear of hurting or offending others.  It was a good culture for my personality to become immersed in.  But, tending toward all-or-nothing, I became quiet, and as PC as I could.  My pendulum swung clear to the other side, and my goal was to be liked by everyone.


Turns out, no matter what I did, I still wasn't liked by some people.  Some people still got mad at me, didn't want to be my friend, or asked me to be quiet.  Turns out, you can't please everyone.

So, this is the year that I say: I'm going to have real courage.


I'm finding my balance between the extremes.  2015 is the year of true courage.

More to come.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Well, that was easy...

A little background before I share the story of this last week...

We purchased our first home (this home!) almost three years ago in the fall.  Our plan was always to stay here for about 5 years or so, depending on how life progressed.  And, oh has it progressed!  When we moved in, we immediately made this home everything we wanted it to be - we put in all the little details that we knew we would enjoy and I got to decorate to my creative heart's content!  We didn't take it slow, most likely because we have been so used to living in spaces for a short time - usually about a year or two.  Those "short" times have added up to our first decade of marriage!  What if every space we lived in I put off decorating and making our own?  Then, we would have spent the last ten years never feeling at home in our little suites, apartments, and first house.  We're glad we did our upgrades as soon as possible...it paid off not only for us, but also for the sale of our first home (more on that!)

For the last few years, this house has served us exceptionally well.  But, of course, with a growing family comes the desire for a bit more space.  Not that we NEED it.  "Need" is such a relative term!  We are always aware of our tremendous abundance - the vast majority of the world live in conditions far below what North Americans would ever consider acceptable.  We love to give; we love to serve; we love people.  We have always dedicated this home and all who enter it to the Lord.  He is the One who ACTUALLY owns this house, and who actually owns everything.  Nothing we have is ours - it's all His.

All that to say, we have what some of our friends refer to as a "revolving door"!  We're constantly entertaining, having people live and stay with us, throwing parties, and welcoming people into our home.  After all, that's what we want to use our house for - to bless others, warm others, provide a refuge for those who need it.  With our newest addition - little baby Annelise Virginia - we don't have a guestroom anymore.  We also don't have a floor plan that has allowed for the large parties we love to host.  Hence the motivation for a change...

David and I have a long list that makes up our "dream home."  After weeks of discussion, deliberation, viewing lots, considering building, arguing, praying, and of course pinning (lol!), we finally thought we would find a realtor (Jennel Youssef with Remax - a sister of a friend whom we met at a child's birthday party) who could actually show us a bit of what's available.  Never in a million years did we think that the events of this last week would unfold:

- Friday, Day 1: casually viewing houses (have been for a few days).  Our long wish list is 99% met by a random viewing.

- Saturday, Day 2: view many more houses.  David wants to know more about what's out there and what's available.  Erika is along for the ride, because she thinks that 99% checked boxes is pretty darn good.  But, they're still not sure, because it wasn't the plan to actually BUY a house and MOVE right now!  Plus, the 1% problem is that the house is on a busier street than they had hoped...will that be a major deterrent?
- Sunday, Day 3: Nope, turns out that one deterrent is doable, considering the perfection of the house.  We decide to put in an offer on the house, negotiate a price, and have an ACCEPTED OFFER by the end of the day!   WHAT!?  We are buying a house!?  Much prayer.  Our greatest desire: If God doesn't want us to have this house, He will stop it from happening.  We don't want to live somewhere He doesn't want us to be!  

- Monday - Wednesday, Days 4, 5, 6: Working on removing subjects, including SUBJECT TO SALE of our current beloved home.  We have to decide on a listing price, which is difficult.  We poured a lot of money into this home, but don't expect to get it back out...homes in our neighborhood tend to go for low prices (hence we are here!).  Upon finally deciding a price, we're worried it may be a bit too high...but we're hopeful nonetheless.  
So many emotions, so many thoughts!  Suddenly our house feels so much more valuable at the prospect of losing it.  We continue to pray, continue to question, continue to discuss.  We love this neighbourhood!  We love our neighbours!  We love our little first house!  What are we doing?!  On top of managing all of our previous commitments to this week, and continuing to care for a newborn (who, by the way, has been awake and stayed awake since 4 am all of these days!), we have mounds of phone calls, contracts, emails, meetings...the list is endless.  Oh, and don't forget the packing up, decluttering, depersonalizing, cleaning, and staging of our house!  Whew!

- Thursday, Day 7: Our real estate agent puts a sign on our front lawn.  The house will not actually be listed for sale until Friday (privately for estate agents only) and then Saturday (publicly on MLS).  She figures that the sign will build a little excitement for the weekend.  Oh, and today is our 10 year wedding anniversary!  We also have a photo shoot of the home this day...don't know if you've ever done that, but it's a little difficult with two napping children!  By the end of the day, we already have a request for a showing in the morning - yippee!

- Friday, Day 8 10:00 am: our first showing.  It's in the morning, so we run through our quick and easy checklist for staging the house and rush the girls out the door (deep breath: shut all toilet lids, make sure there are absolutely no dishes or crumbs or specs of dust anywhere, open all curtains and blinds, turn on lights, take out all garbage, make sure all laundry is put away, put on music, light a candle, have a plate of cookies ready, pick up the dog poop, clean the floor, PERFECT TIDYNESS...you know, no biggy...)  Meeting with our mortgage broker, grocery shopping, and breakfast out.  The first showing results in an offer!  We're thrilled!
- 2:30 pm: our second showing.  Wake the girls from naps (sadness!) and rush off again...repeat above list.  The second showing results in a second offer!  We're amazed!
-  5:30 pm: our agent informs us that a third party wants to view the house in an hour, and then they will write us an offer just after viewing.  The third showing results in a third offer!  We're dumbfounded!
- 7:15 pm: get Evalie Rose down for bed, and begin negotiations.  Our agent's phone is still ringing off the hook for requests for viewings.  Pray for God to give this house to the people who need it most; pray for direction and guidance and clarity; pray for the new owners that they will be blessed to live here.  Three realtors present three offers - all for over asking price.  After hours of prayer, discussion, and lots of phone calls, we accept an offer for significantly more than we ever dreamed our home would sell for!  Surprisingly, we didn't just go with the "highest bid" but we went with what we believed was the best overall offer.
- 11 pm: evaluate feelings, kiss each other, kiss our babies, and thank God for this wonderful whirlwind of a week!  Now for sleep...which happened to be through the night as baby finally didn't wake up at 4 am!  

As I write, we're awaiting removal of all subjects - which is to happen this coming week.  Lord willing, all will work out and we'll be moving in a month!  So, there's our crazy house-selling house-buying story!  What a wonderful adventure :) 

(Pictures by Lara McAllister with Red Wagon Photography (no longer in business) January 2012)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Scrapbooking Sharing

Hi Everyone!  I know it's been a while since I've blogged...Turns out I've been DOING so much!  Prepping for baby has meant a ton of scrapbooking projects!  And, I've been super motivated to try to "catch up" the best I can on my regular scrapbooking.  Last night I actually finished all of 2013 - woo hoo!  I'm sooo thankful to my mom and hubby who let me have hours of uninterrupted art time to enjoy!  

My apologies for the less than ideal photos...I decided that the ease and speed of quickly uploading things from my iPhone outweighed the need for perfectly exposed and edited shots ;)  I hope you still get the idea of the layouts and that they inspire you in your own scrapbooking journey!  (Side note: there are also some older layouts on here but I wasn't sure if I had posted them yet or not...so here they are!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Word of the Year 2014

{photos by Julie Christine Photography}

I am so excited to finally announce my word of the year for 2014.  It's taken me a while...in between raising a busy (yes, she's actually busy now) toddler and simply trying to stay awake through these exhausting pregnancy days...But here it is:



The Bible has a TON to say about NEWness.  It's something I love most about my particular faith: it's not about trying to REform, but being TRANSformed.  When Jesus came into my life - or when I allow Him control over an area of my life - He takes the old, burns it away (painful...that's what He was busy doing last year), and makes something NEW and more beautiful, more amazing, more divine come out of it.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” 
– Ecclesiastes 3:1

New year.
New baby.
New family.
New normal.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!" 
- Isaiah 43:18

New goals.
New purpose.
New intent.
New meaning.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 
- 2 Corinthians 5:17

New relationships.
New conversations.
New connections.

New perspectives on old things.

"I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven."  
- Philippians 3:14

New thoughts.
New feelings.
New actions.
New heart.
New ME.

"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you."  
- Ezekiel 36:26

That is SO what I need this year.

Last year, I did a lot of hard emotional work.  I'll continue to press forward with that work, because it's in valuable.  And, sometimes that work means simply submitting, surrendering, letting go.  There has come a season in my life (as one who is committed to self-improvement) in which I will finally get to take a deep breath and reap the benefits of all those tears.  Reap the new joy of all that sorrow.  Reap the new lightness of all that heaviness.  Reap the new respite of all that diligence.

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The
 old has gone, the new is here!” 
- 2 Corinthians 5:17


Saturday, January 11, 2014

One Little Word

Any of you hear of the One Little Word project?  You can read all about it here: http://aliedwards.com/shop/one-little-word-2014

It's an amazing idea: Choose a word for your year.  Then, do something with that word.  Make art.  Write.  Wear your word.  Share it.

I've done this project before, and found it a fun and helpful way to focus my resolutions for the year around one idea.  Here are my old posts about it:


Last year in 2013, my word chose me.  I didn't blog about it.  I just went through it.  Those of you who are close to me know about my struggles with certain relationships last year…and you can probably guess what 2013 was all about for me:

FORGIVE.  (posting pictures of my cute puppy Jolie Violet because I'm pretty sure no one forgives better than a dog!)

I'm obviously not going to go into unnecessary details on the world wide web…but what I WILL do is share about what I learned this last year.  Because, I'm a different person today as a result of these painful experiences.  God has allowed me just enough pain so that, by harnessing it's opportunity for growth, I could become a NEW person this year!


Forgive.  The Bible is one of the most potent resources on this topic.  God actually goes so far as to say in Matthew 6:15, "If you don't forgive each other, I don't forgive you."  WOAH.  Back the truck up.  Salvation is dependent on me forgiving other people?  Sounds like that's what he's saying…After all, if we've humbly asked God's forgiveness recognizing that we're unworthy of heaven do to our imperfect nature, who are we to hold a grudge against another imperfect human?  It makes a lot of sense for me to realize that I'm no better than the people who have hurt me in my life…so I have no right to hold a grudge.


The other thing about forgiveness that the Bible has taught me loud and clear is that it's a one-sided activity.  Romans 12:18 says, "As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."  I cannot make the other person like me, or talk with me, or work it out, or even forgiven me no matter how much I plead.  I cannot make RECONCILIATION happen, but I can be open to it.  I can let things go so that I am in a position of love, grace, and kindness toward people who have caused me great harm. 


So…what exactly IS forgiveness?  I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what forgiveness is out there.  I know it's NOT unhealthy boundaries, being a punching bag, or chasing endlessly after someone who doesn't want you anymore.  I have come up with this definition: to let go of the right to hold someone accountable for perceived wrongs against me.  In other words, they don't owe me anything.  I'm going to put myself in a position where I won't get hurt anymore (to the best of my ability) and let that person be that person.  I'm not going to try to change the person, make them understand me, or give me an apology.  I've let it go…all on my own.  Why?  Because forgiveness is for ME!


For me, it's a continued practice of handing over thoughts to God.  Whenever my mind starts circling (over and over) about the things that have hurt me so deeply, I go to God and say, "You take this.  This isn't my project to fix - it's yours.  I trust you and I pray that I will have a heart of forgiveness.  Soften me and let no bitter root take hold."  


Forgiveness is a continual process…it doesn't happen like magic in one sitting (unfortunately!)  After many months of continuing to practice this…I'm excited to share with you my Word for 2014…in my next post!


Thanks for listening…and feel free to share your thoughts about forgiveness :)
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