The Back Road

Wandering down the abandoned prairie road brought her peace.

It was the kind of trail she imagined once held horses and buggies and later old jalopies. The one where the cool summer breeze rustled through trees and down shady lanes full of dandelions and wild flowers. If she silenced her heart enough, she could still hear the clip clop of the horse hooves and the giggles of young children running free in the warm summer sun. Melancholy. Nostalgic. There’s no other way to put it. She was longing for a simpler time.

The days were long and worry-filled, she thought, as she journeyed down the back road. She had been out for a drive just prior and had seen the trail from the highway. Throwing caution to the wind, she stopped to explore—her curiosity always got the best of her. She had that way about her.

The earth felt solid beneath her feet. Sometimes you just need that—to feel something stronger than your body and your spirit, especially when they’re broken. The realness, the constancy of the ground, and the consistency of something between your fingers. To smell the grass and flowers. To hear the birds and the buzzing of the bees. There’s security in the constant turning of the seasons. There’s peace in the beauty God made by His voice.

If only we could hide on the back road. Instead we go, we stay awhile, and we heal. We hope, do we ever hope. We ask—for more, for something to make sense, for love. Sure we break but we mend on that back road. We welcome in the Divine and let Him heal us. Then we bring that peace back to the chaos within ourselves and the world. We go back. We always go back.

So here’s to you finding your adventure today. Discover your own back road and come back with more peace for you and for us. Take it all in and live again,

Tiffany x

God, Dreams & Entrepreneurship: Part I

I’m not talking about daydreaming. 💤

▫︎Don’t get me wrong. Having dreams is important, but I’m talking about the dreams you have when you’re asleep. The ones that shake you, rock you, and leave you wondering if they actually happened. 💭

For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds,

Job 33:14-15

▫︎God is so good! Quite often He reveals Himself to us in dreams and last night was no exception for me. Historically speaking, so many of my night dreams come true. Call me an old man if you must.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Acts 2:17

▫︎In my dream I was by the river in Manitoba, Canada and a woman came up to me and said “Because of your hard work with your business lately I am giving you my car.” It was a Hyundai. I was so grateful and happy!

▫︎Not long after, she came up to me again and said “No, I changed my mind.” “I’m going to give you my new Mercedes Benz instead!” It looked quite like the one in the above photo. White, shiny, and new. Stunning.

Um, yes please! Thank You Lord!

▫︎So today I’m saying to you work hard at all you do. Show up. Try your best and do all you do unto the Lord! Listen—there’s upgrades and level-ups available when you do! Daydreaming is great but unless you put the hard work in, those types of dreams will stay just that. Dreams.

There’s upgrades and level-ups available!

▫︎God gives good gifts—the best of which was the free gift of salvation when He gave His only Son to die for us and our sins. He is still in the business of giving good gifts to His sons and daughters!

▫︎When I awoke from my dream, the word “favor” stood out to me audibly. So today I pray for favor, and also endurance, strategy, perseverance, and upgrades for you and me as we continue to work heartily in all of entrepreneurial and career endeavours today!

fa·vor

/ˈfāvər/

noun

something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act

friendly or well-disposed regard; goodwill

the state of being approved or held in regard

excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” – Psalm 90:17

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24

“You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” – Psalm 128:2

▫︎Are you an entrepreneur? Share your business and link below! May you have favor with God and man and success in your endeavours as you look to God for strategies and guidance in all you do! Blessings!👇🏻

Tiffany x

When Things are Overwhelming: My Story of Panic Attacks, Meds, and the Man 👆🏻

I don’t know what I would have done without that pill last night. 💊

Lorazepam.

⦶ I was actually too afraid to take one for the longest time. That’s the nature of the beast I guess. Anxiety seems to put you in hyper-vigilance mode and even the things meant to help you can seem like the enemy.

This magic pill has saved my butt a few times. Last night too. Grateful.

⦶ Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an either-or sitch. When I’ve called out to God He has helped in some way. Even in the midst of this last panic attack I could sense His presence. Sometimes He’s seemingly absent so it’s simply by faith that I know He’s there. Then there’s times, the best of times, when He’s so spiritually tangible I can almost feel Him. Last night I sensed Him in the form of my son’s powerful prayers and the calming presence of my husband. Regardless, He never leaves us. There’s a comfort in that even when going through the deepest, darkest trials.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

— Hebrews 13:5

⦶ Have you ever felt you weren’t going to make it?

Me at 1:00 am — “I need an ambulance!! Stat!! I’m having a heart attack!!!”

⦶ There’s been times when I’ve been ill and after crying out to God my symptoms suddenly disappear and peace comes upon me—this is the power and love of my God. He’s truly good! Do you know Him?

⦶ I wish it was always that way, that easy, but it’s not. I mean, He remains good but symptoms don’t always just disappear at the drop of a hat, in fact, more often than not they persist! My prayers and the prayers of others don’t always bring immediate healing and unicorns and rainbows. And last night was one of those times. I thought I was going to die.

Panic Attacks:

⦶ Panic attacks are one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. I’ve landed in the ER with electrodes hooked up to me because of them. I’ve suffered in silence for decades. They’re literally the worst. They’re like nonsensical terrorists of the mind and body that attack when you’re least expecting it. They especially don’t make sense when they wake you from peaceful slumber and leave you physically unable to breath or function properly. This seems to happen more when you’re subconsciously overwhelmed. In the quiet time, when you’re asleep, the body, brain and mind have time to catch up to one another. And then BAM. There it goes..

Symptoms:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment

⦶ My worst symptom is the racing, pounding heart rate with a hint of thoughts of impending doom—a mental health cocktail mix I hate to the core. So what’s up?

Being Overwhelmed:

⦶ This has definitely been a year for feeling overwhelmed. First with COVID, lockdowns, separation from friends and family, and then for some of us loss or gain of work, other life transitions, and illness. All of these can just catch up to a person, like me, and come out in the quiet times. Pair that with the fact that feeling easily overwhelmed seems to go hand in hand with anxiety and you have a cycle that needs to be broken. Let me just say there’s NO condemnation in this. Here me again if you suffer like me. There’s. No. Condemnation. We are all doing the best we can with what we have and sometimes our brains and bodies are just plain old exhausted and/or lacking a balance of necessary chemicals. Don’t suffer in silence. Tell someone. Get help. And don’t add to the stigma.

There’s. No. Condemnation.

⦶ I haven’t always been able to keep it real in the past. Or so I thought. In my last season, being in formal Christian ministry in the charismatic church was a great honour and blessing but also difficult in many ways.

⦶ Could I really be me? I mean, what would people think if they knew one of their supposedly fearless leaders that believed God healed and even prayed for others and saw them healed, had to still take some psychiatric meds to keep sane? Simply put, whether by my own doing or the unspoken one that comes with the territory, it was a battle I couldn’t do anymore. Be real. Be open. Be you. There’s more power in authenticity then there is in hiding and that’s when real help and real ministry can happen.

⦶ God can work through really difficult situations. I’ve seen it time and time again making me think of that scripture about His ways and thoughts being different than ours. Now THAT’S so the truth, isn’t it?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

—Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

⦶ Last night I had been in research mode. With an upcoming rush hysterectomy in a week and half, I don’t feel prepared for it. To be honest, I don’t feel prepared for the trip, for the COVID risks, for the surgery, for the meds, for the downtime, for the possible complications, for homeschooling afterwards, for the results of my pathology, for anything. I tried to keep away from the support groups that really just freak a person out more than anything (which was a good choice but not completely helpful). After putting the research away and nodding off into dreamland it still happened. My heart kicked into a 200 bpm nightmare jolting me out of bed and down the stairs to some sort of relief that didn’t exist. Reality began to disappear before me. My limbs went numb and I began to shake and lose control. The storm was upon me again. I was definitely overwhelmed.

Have your felt overwhelmed this past year? You’re not alone! Take a time out. Rest. Read. Get off social media. Exercise. Laugh. Play. Pray. Breathe deep. Take care of you.

How to Get Out of a Panic Attack:

⦶ You can find lots of techniques and theories for getting rid of panic attacks on the internet so I won’t repeat them all here. But these are honestly the only ones that have helped me personally over the decades. None are foolproof and sometimes you have to try and try again, mix and match, and press on. NOTE: the key is to ask your Doctor first. I am NOT a medical professional, this is just what I do or have done in the past.

  • Take a fast-acting anti-anxiety med like Lorazepam (be cautious – ask your doctor first and don’t take if you are prone to addictions)
  • Take antidepressants (longer term solution)
  • Move. Run. Walk. Pace.
  • Take a deep breath or 2 or 200 in cold fresh air
  • Pray and have others pray for you
  • Splash cold water on your face
  • Bear down (can help with racing heart)
  • Eat some protein and have a drink of juice
  • Get a distraction – tv, movie, have another person talk to you
  • Touch something. Hard.
  • Do deep breathing – inhale slow, hold, exhale slow
  • See your doctor and/or therapist

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:6-7

⦶ Do you suffer from panic attacks? What has helped you? Will you try any of the above pointers? I’m rooting for you in this strange time of life and would love to keep you in my prayers. Send me a message or comment below! If you’re suffering please seek professional help. I’m here with you giving you a virtual hug tonight. We’ve got this!! He’s got us!!

Tiffany x

Vision Boards: Making the Vision Plain for 2021

Pop open the bubbly and say cheers to a Happy New Year! 🍾

🍾 Moving on to the new is easy. It seems to be human nature to toss out anything that isn’t shiny anymore, and obviously 2020 NEVER was. But before we totally kick this year to the curb, let’s take a moment, shall we, to just thank God for all we discovered, simplified, and learned this past year! I’ve learned what’s important and what’s really not. I’ve learned to take care of myself or I won’t be around for anything or anyone. I learned to be more grateful on the daily and to believe in all God has put inside me. I’ve learned so much, I think more than any amazingly wonderful year could have taught me—how about you?

🍾 So with eyes set on 2021, let’s set our visions out before us so we can run with all God has for us. You know those dreams deep down in your heart? The ones that scare you and make you think there’s no way they’re possible. Ya those. God put them there. Let’s get them out and RUN with them shall we?!

How to Make a Vision Board

🍾 I have a secret plan to rule the world. Mwahahaha… Ok, maybe not THE world, but MY world! Goal setting is the Little Black Dress we all need, and Vision Boards are one way to visually lay out these goals and dreams for the year by using a collage of words and images. My goal with the vision board is to not only get all my hopes down for the new year but to also utilize it as a sort of roadmap to success, especially on those days that I need a reminder as to why I even started and where I’m trying to go. So let’s do this!

Goal setting is the Little Black Dress we all need, and Vision Boards are one way to visually lay out these goals and dreams for the year by using a collage of words and images.

🍾 This afternoon, I lovingly forced my family to get their computers and glue sticks and scissors out as well and we all hunkered down for an hour of visioneering. Ok, so I live in reality and my son only handled it for 20 minutes (yay I’ll take it) and my husband had to ditch out for work (says he’ll do it later) but we did get a bit of it done already and we still have a few hours left in the year! I might even take tomorrow as an off-work day and it get it all finished up and ready to go.

“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.”

Habakkuk 2:2

🍾 The Word says to “record the vision and make it plain” so that ” the one who reads it may run with it“. Talk about a step by step way to a. know where you’re going, b. why you’re going there in the first place, c. in a simple way, and d. so the reader can run with it. I absolutely love this scripture and the practicality of much of the Bible such as this scripture and the Book of Proverbs (check it out!). Make plans with God and then set your boots to the ground to complete them. BOOM.

🍾 I’ve always been a dreamer. And I’ve also been a goal setter in the past. But most of my goals were so hard to reach, without the necessary steps to get there, that I lost hope and fell of the wagon quickly! I think that’s why New Year’s resolutions usually fail so miserably. Most of us have great intentions but it’s just the way to get to where we want to go is missing something.

🍾 I think I figured it out. A wise business mentor told me, focus your goals on process not unrealistic end goals. This will help you achieve them by focusing on the steps to get to where you want to go! So let’s do this baby!

Where Do I Start, Girlfriend?
  1. Write down a list of your goals and dreams. Pray and see what God is saying to you about your life and your upcoming year. Plan with Him and listen to what He’s put inside your heart (you know—those things you’ve always wanted to do, that make you excited to even think about, and that scare the pants right off you!). Jot them down!
Your Vision Board could include the following areas:
  1. Personal
  2. Finances
  3. Business
  4. Education
  5. Spirituality
  6. Fitness
  7. Travel
  8. Health
  9. Whatever else you can think of…

2. Get yourself the following supplies:

  • a large piece of white paper or poster board
  • if you don’t want to use paper, go digital! Get on Canva (a FREE app) and find a photo template you love!
  • glue sticks
  • scissors
  • markers
  • a glass of wine or cup of tea
  • some good tunage for a fun time! It’s New Year’s Eve!!

3. Now have fun! Write down your areas of focus with markers or print them off of Pinterest or an editing program (Pinterest has FREE download links that have super nice and swirly text for topic headings). Get some old magazines and cut out photo’s of your goals OR if you can’t find any (and your local corner store isn’t selling them anymore due to COVID) then print off photos from your computer and cut them out! The best part about this is literally the cutting and pasting. Takes me wayyyyy back to Kindergarten in a good way!

4. Take a photo of your finished product and send it to me! I’d seriously love to see them and make of post of them but ok, if not, just find a great place in your home to post it up so you can look at it daily and remember where you’re going!

SPECIAL NOTE FOLKS – plans change. Plans CAN change. And that’s ok! As we’ve seen with 2020, things don’t always go according to plan. God’s plans are higher and greater and sometimes we can’t always see them (kind of like a forest for the trees scenario). All you can do is plan your best, set your goals high with achievable steps, dream big with God and GO! If things change you can reset your vision as the year progresses. In fact, you should! Add photos. Glue on top of others. Don’t stress! If something unexpected comes up, learn to adapt and change course keeping as much as you can and adding or subtracting what need be! I know since I’m now having unexpected surgery at the end of January, I am having to realign my goals to much smaller ones for the first half of the year (like just surviving and resting lots so I heal up well). Roll with the punches and rock this year my friend! You’ve got this!

🍾 It’s really that easy! I’m looking forward to getting my Vision Board completed and up on my wall in my home office. Those days where I feel like “I can’t do this” or “what was I thinking” or “squirrel” (you know what I’m saying, right?), I’m going to have this Vision Board to remind me, and to get me re-motivated, inspired, and back on track!

🍾 Have you ever made a Vision Board before? Are you going to make one tonight? Let me know below, I’d love to hear from you! Post one goal you have for 2021!

Happy New Year Peachy Queens + Gents!

Tiffany x

Digging Deeper: A Christmas Story

I’ve had to dig a little deeper this year. 🎁

☆ I mean really dig. In the quiet times, alone. Sometimes in tears and usually after I feel I failed as a mother. We all know. “It’s a different year.” A different Christmas. It just all hits different right now, doesn’t it?

It’s a different year.

Tiffany Butler—pointing out the obvious

☆ I made myself sit and ponder. Maybe it was the Christmas star that did it for me, but in the mix of depression and work, melancholy and delight, there lies the truth of it all. And sometimes we just have to dig deep to find it.

☆ It seems I don’t know how to do that very well in the midst of the craziness. When I pull away I can see Christ in His splendor, in His peace, beckoning me to just come away with Him and stay awhile. It’s where I know I can just be. With Him. I question why it becomes such a quest to find the meaning in it all at times? Truth and simplicity can be glazed over by work, tinsel and bows, presents, and stress.

☆ But in a manger, far from the crowds and social media, here for you and me, He came. To bring us the best gift of all. Himself. Born for our sins. For our freedom. For us.

☆ Finding the time to find the truth is the most important thing right now. I hope you can find it—Him. I also hope you can find it in the midst of all you do—I know I’m trying although it seems to come easier when I just rest.

☆ He is here with us now. In the loneliness. In the strain. In the mess. And He’s the best part of it all! Take a moment to welcome Him in and say thanks—for another day, for life, for it all. Even these deep depths of sadness and questioning that lead us closer to Him and one another—to the important stuff. Thank God.

He is here with us now. In the loneliness. In the strain. In the mess. And He’s the best part of it all.

“BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.

-Matthew 1:23

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

– Luke 2:9-14

Do not be afraid. We can trust Him.

Good news of great joy. There’s joy in Him.

For all people. For EVERYONE including you.

A Savior.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

-Isaiah 9:6-7

Wonderful Counselor. He’s with you. For you.

Mighty God. What can’t He do?

Everlasting Father. Forever.

Prince of Peace. Even now.

He reigns. Not COVID, not sadness, not sickness, not loneliness, but Him.

☆ May you have a very merry Christmas, my friend. We wish you all the best as we wrap up 2020 and head into 2021. I think our digging this year has shown us what’s really important now and in the New Year. And it’s really one another. ♡

Much love and Merry Christmas from Us, The Butler's, in the thick of it all but near the streams of Living Water

Tiffany (and Trevor and Sam) x

My Peachy Gift Guide for Women: Tiffany’s Favorite Things

Here it is. My Peachy faves for Christmas! ❅

❅ I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite things as my 1st Annual ‘Peachy Gift Guide for Women’! Everything on the list is definitely under $80 CDN (and most way under that). I also seriously love each item and use each one, or I’m about to purchase one for myself!

❅ I hope we all know the drill right now. Try to shop small and local as much as possible because most businesses are really struggling right now. If the company that makes the item seems to be larger, you can still support a local store that carries it.

Now let’s get some amazing finds for our friends
  • Trumpet + Tassel – this local, small and woman-owned Canadian business makes handmade tassel jewelry for big causes. And I own it! Made in small-town Manitoba, Canada and operating from Etsy online, this jewelry is both super pretty and totally affordable to purchase. PLUS 10% currently goes to help The Canadian Cancer Society, a cause we can all get behind (gifting that gives back is the way to go whenever possible). There’s only 4 of these star and semi-circle tassel earrings available so snap them up quick! Buy all 4 for different outfits! A beautiful and thoughtful gift for the friend that loves accessories, and for every woman in your life this Christmas. $18.75 CDN. How to purchase: Trumpet + Tassel
  • Limelife by Alcon – this Perfect Lip Gloss. Based on the packaging alone, this makes an amazing gift for that peachy woman in your life. Seriously, how gorgeous is this? This non-stick formula can be used on its own or on top of your favorite Perfect Lipstick or Enduring Lip Color to add shine and the appearance of healthier, more voluminous lips. This one is in the colour ‘Peace’. Love it! I’ll be selling this stuff soon so you can buy from me then but in the meantime, go support my girl’s small business with your purchase. She’s a retired military veteran and a gem! This company also gives back (of course it does or would I even get involved?). An awesome stocking stuff idea for your daughters and mom friends. $24 CDN. How to purchase right now: Limelife by Alcon – Beauty is Fearless
  • Hosanna Revival – I found this small business on Instagram a few months ago and I adore their Bibles! This Provence theme caught my eye in their new ‘Winter 2020 Collection’. That lavender! Plus it has extra wide margins for journaling (which is something I want to get into) and it’s in my favourite ESV version. Small and woman-owned, the heart behind this business is so sweet. In 2015 while studying in Spain, the founder Katie had the idea to re-bind and paint her bilingual Bible. It was plain black — she wanted her Bible to be beautiful and personal, reflecting the way the words on the inside made her feel. As a business now, they’re convinced that a beautiful Bible can revive the heart of a believer gone astray by motivating them and reminding them of the truth beyond the cover. On my Christmas list! Put it on yours for your Christian bestie and that artistic Jesus lover! $79 CDN. How to purchase: Hosanna Revival
  • Carhartt -these toques are a must-have and this colour is so gorgeous! I have to find it for my toque collection! Look stylish and stay warm this winter with this on-trend brand. For every cold woman you know. $22 CDN. How to purchase: You can buy them at your local mall’s Boathouse store! This store has so many other great gift finds, I highly suggest it: Boathouse (they are also currently open for essential purchases in Brandon, MB at the Shoppers Mall so if you’re from the area, go support them!). If you don’t have a Boathouse, another Canadian store option: Western-Canadian-owned Peavey Mart.
  • Tiber River – I recently bought one of these candles in ‘Bourbon Pumpkin Smash’ and oh my gosh it’s to die for! This one smells amazing (it’s not one of those cheap and stinky smelling candles), and it has the crackling wood wick. Triple win! This company is Canadian and women-owned plus it’s based right here in Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. They also have so much more than candles and everything is made from naturally derived ingredients! I’m supporting my good friend Barbara Shram from Warman, Saskatchewan with this one. Buy from her and you won’t regret it she is one of the sweetest people I know. Great for that person that needs to relax. $34 CDN. How you can purchase: Tiber River – Barbara Shram
  • S’well – A Certified B Corp company. These water bottles are stainless steel and keep your water cold for so long! I love all of the designs! This one in particular is gorgeous and the wide traveler top is so handy as well. Many small and local shops carry their brand so you can choose one close to you and order away! I found a Coles store in our local mall that sells them and you can get curbside delivery right now. You can also order them online if need be. Perfect for your healthy workout friend! $45 CDN. How you can purchase: Canadian Coles/Indigo

❅ Which items are you going to get for a friend or yourself? Let me know in the comments! I’m looking forward to hearing from you! Happy Christmas shopping!

Tiffany x

30-Day Gratitude Challenge

Grateful. 🙏 

◈ Today we are starting a “30-day Gratitude Challenge” in our homeschool. My sister started one about 10 days ago on Facebook so I joined her. It’s been an amazing way to start or end the day, focusing on what we are truly thankful for instead of the mess going on around us. My son does a daily journal, and in the midst of the Christmas “I-wants”, I thought what better way to refocus on what’s important then to write 1-3 things each day that he is already grateful for.

In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Gratefulness Challenge Day 10 – ‘Today I’m grateful for the gift of creativity.’ – Tiffany

Gratitude is a word used to express thankfulness and praise. 

grat·i·tude/ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/noun

the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

◈ Remaining in a state of gratefulness is a skill and it takes practice. Teaching our children early to be grateful and thankful in all things is a gift that will last them their entire lifetimes. It’s a gift that especially pays off in difficult times, as we can all attest to now. Not only that, but it’s God’s will for each of us. He always knows best.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

◈ Only a few days into the challenge, I have already noticed a huge difference in my attitude. I must admit it was getting quite stinky before I started. Getting burdened down with the cares of life, rising COVID numbers, being in quarantine, cabin fever, and various health challenges can just get to you. Especially if you let it. Being grateful can bring us greater peace and inner joy and it refocuses our gaze onto the positive things in life instead of the negatives.

◈ When you’re in that state of gratefulness, it’s important to remember who it is you’re actually grateful to – it’s not some outer planetary source called the universe or some joojoobah energy (don’t know where I got that word from haha!). It’s GOD! He’s the one that supplies us with all we need and He does more than we can even ask.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:19

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

—Ephesians 3:20

◈ The Story of Hannah and Samuel in 1 Samuel 1 is such a beautiful Biblical testament to true gratitude. This story really shaped my life around the time we adopted our son (I of course ended up naming him Samuel). I encourage you to take some time to read the entire chapter, maybe for the first time or as a review. Here’s a portion of the scripture where Hannah shows here gratefulness to the Lord, saying to the priest Eli:

And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

—1 Samuel 1:26-28
How can YOU join in?
  • Set an example – take the challenge yourself. I’m currently doing the challenge with family as a Facebook status on my personal page. You might not want to do it in such a public way but the one good thing about that is that it helps keep you accountable. Remembering to do it is key! Another way to take part is to buy yourself a beautiful journal and keep track in it. There’s lots of journals made specifically for gratitude challenges but if you’re wanting to start with us today, pick anything you have laying around the house and just do it! Another great idea is the many free app’s on the Apple or Google Play Stores. I recently downloaded a free app called ‘Gratitude: Journal & Reminders’ onto my iPhone. There’s also the ‘365 Gratitude Journal’. Be careful though. Some app’s require payment after you’ve already started (that may be okay with you, but just a heads up). Another super easy idea is Etsy! You can even buy digital downloads of pre-designed Gratitude journal pages. Here’s one example I found. So, start with us today and we will have a whole month of gratefulness posts done just in time for Christmas! What a way to celebrate Advent and Christmas (I already know what I’m going to post on Christmas Eve – guess!)
  • Have your child/ren start their own Gratitude Journal in your homeschool or home. We use the simple and free Google Docs app on my son’s school computer as a daily journal. You could pizzazz that idea up by using a paper journal that your child can decorate. They can colour a picture, take a photo of, or draw what they are grateful for each day. Go whole hog and use markers, paint, GLITTER, glue, found objects, etc. You could also try posting a white or chalk board up where they can post to each day. Maybe the whole family would want to get in on it if it’s up in a public space such as the kitchen. You could also have your child improve their writing skills by using this challenge to encourage them to write letters of gratitude to people in their lives, public servants, etc. The sky’s the limit! We are going to be making a ‘Thank you Health Care Workers’ sign for our living room window in art class this Friday. Join us!
  • Start a family gratitude jar on January 1st. Have your family write what they’re grateful for on little pieces of paper and in a year open them up! You’ll have an amazing list of things that happened throughout the year on your next New Year’s Eve!
  • Combine this challenge with a Random Acts of Kindness lesson. As I wrote about in a previous post on random acts of kindness, this would be a super way to combine gratefulness with this lesson. Have your child/ren write a list of people they are grateful for and then one random act of kindness they could do for each. In this time of quarantine there are still various ways you could do this. Write a letter, draw a picture, drop a gift at a door, shovel a sidewalk, send a text or email, call a friend or family member, share the love!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

—Psalm 100:4-5

◈ What are you going to do to show your gratefulness? Are you going to join me on this challenge? How about your homeschool?

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

—Hebrews 12:28-29

◈ I would LOVE to hear from you if you’re going to join in! Send me an note! If you homeschool, let me know what your kids will be doing for the challenge! I’m really looking forward to doing this with you in community! Follow along with me on Instagram. I’m trying to post a “What are you thankful for” post on my Stories each day. You can even post along with me on there daily if you’d like!

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◈ I’m grateful for you,

Tiffany x

A Fence With a Gate

Boundaries. 🛑

⊗ Healthy boundaries. God is teaching me lately. How ironic though. I remember a time when I was a newly saved and zealous Christian back in a charismatic church in Canmore, Alberta. We had a good old book burning. For real. You know, the kind where you dig up all the stuff you were reading in your old life and just light ‘er up, bonfire-style? Well, during this fiery explosion of my new-found faith, I started grabbing other people’s “maybe-keep” piles. It was during this moment of passion that I clearly remember burning a book my friend owned on boundaries. “Too pop-culture-pseudo-Christian-psychology garbage,” I thought. Man, maybe I should have read it before I burnt it.

⊗ Boundaries. So hard to have yet so necessary. Why is it that nice people think having them is so mean. Us ‘nice guys’ think, “doesn’t a boundary keep people out and say I’m more important than you?” And then there’s the issue of being a person who follows Jesus. In Christianity, aren’t we taught the opposite? I mean how did Christ have boundaries? In this day of COVID-19, the big argument many have had against mask usage is that Jesus touched the lepers. Where’s the boundaries in that?

Doesn’t a boundary keep people out and say I’m more important than you?

⊗ Let’s dig into the Word a bit. Remember when Jesus said, “you stay here while I go pray”? He didn’t allow anyone to come with Him. He loved them but he said, you stay here. I have a boundary. I need this time alone with My Father.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” – Matthew 26:36

⊗ Even when people needed Him, he would withdraw when He knew He had to. He could have stuck around and taught and healed more sick people but He didn’t.

But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. – Luke 5:15-16

⊗ I’ve had a hard time setting healthy boundaries, have you? Maybe you let people walk all over you like a “door-mat” and see that as being a loving servant. Or maybe you’ve burnt yourself out so much for the sake of others that you now can’t do what the Lord wants you to. You are not being selfish for setting healthy boundaries. Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:30).

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Dr. Brene Brown

⊗ I had difficulty making some clear boundaries the other day. I just knew in that moment that I had to call one of my good friends who always seems to know just what to say. And just as expected, she did. Do you have a friend who doesn’t abandon you even in your darkest times? Gives wise advice? Prays for you? Don’t lose them. These friends are definitely hard to come by in this day of backstabbing and betrayal, “leveling up”, ditching, and the popularity-gaining “cancel culture”.

A person of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

⊗ My friend’s advice was centered around the analogy of yards, fences, gates, and walls. By the way, many teach on boundaries, such as Dr. Henry Cloud (sorry Henry, yours was the aforementioned book I burnt and never read). This teaching may come from there, I don’t know, but I do know that the Word guides us in all truth and will give you the revelation you need on anything, including relationships.

⊗ So here’s the analogy. Once upon a time, there was a woman with children who lived in a house with a yard. The woman’s children loved to play outside in their yard. Rightly so. It was a beautiful, lush yard with green carpet-like grass and lots of trees to climb and swing from. The problem was that the woman’s next-door-neighbor had a dog, and that dog loved to come over to her yard and poop in it. That’s right, poop. Anytime the woman’s children went out to play in their yard, they would get this dog’s poop all over themselves. Not impressive and not fun.

⊗ So the woman decided to put up a fence. The fence was built around her own property with a clearly marked gate for her neighbor to use. The fence allowed her children to play freely and happily without getting dog poop on themselves. The problem was, the neighbor didn’t like it. And just like this woman, as soon as we set clear boundaries, there will be people in life who don’t like it. The truth is, we often don’t set boundaries because we are worried what people will think of us. Set them anyway. Jesus didn’t let others manipulate, guilt-trip, bait, or use entitlement against Him.

As soon as you set clear boundaries, there will likely be people in your life who don’t like it. We often don’t set boundaries because we are worried what people will think of us. Set them anyway. Jesus didn’t let others manipulate, guilt-trip, bait, or use entitlement against Him.

  • From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” – Matthew 16:21-23
  • While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12:46-50

⊗ So the dog-owning neighbor, in his anger, rang the woman’s doorbell and said, “How dare you put up a fence around your yard? My dog loved coming into your yard and now he can’t anymore!” The woman calmly replied, “I have not put up a wall to keep you out. There is a clearly marked gate in the fence for you and your dog to enter through. That being said, if you decide to use the gate to visit me, you must bring a doggy bag with you to clean up your dog mess before you leave. “Well, the nerve!” huffed the man as he stomped off towards his home.

⊗ After hearing this analogy, I put a few things together. I realized that I hadn’t been great at setting clear boundaries. Maybe I expected people to just know them without being assertive enough to say what they were. Really, I was afraid of rejection. I also realized I had been a person that went from having a wide-open yard without a fence and gate to being an immediate wall constructor. “Here, poop all over my yard until I go absolutely crazy and build a wall so you can’t ever get in again.” Nope, not healthy.

“Here, poop all over my yard until I go absolutely crazy and build a wall so you can’t ever get in again.”

⊗ Ask God where you’re at with having healthy boundaries in your relationships. Maybe you’re the ‘wide-open-yard-person’ or the ’50-foot-wall-builder’. Or maybe you’re the ‘dog-owning-neighbor’? (Oh man, that’s the hardest one to confess to). Be honest with yourself and let Him be honest with you. Taking on the yoke of Christ and knowing I have the freedom and ability to set clear and healthy boundaries for myself has been life-changing and I’m sure it will be for you too. My advice? Do it. Follow Christ in all things. Keep digging into the Word – it’s really all we need and it guides us in all truth. Pray. Ask God for His wisdom and strength to do what’s right for your life. And keep your wise friends close.

⊗ Today above all days may be extra stressful for you. There’s election results and opinions abounding, skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers, and greater and greater divisions happening amongst friends. Know that it’s okay to turn off your TV and radio. In fact I suggest it. It’s okay to stop scrolling on social media. It’s also ok to unfollow and unfriend, to snooze and “lose”. I am. Put up a fence with a gate. Go outside and enjoy the warm weather today. May the peace of Christ rest upon you today and always. And me too.

Tiffany x