It seems mundane. A task we ‘have’ to do when wood gets worn and unseemly. And it had already been a long day. My mother had gone into surgery this morning for a massive tumor and hysterectomy. The same surgery I had just gone through in January. Four months now but I still feel the tearing, the straining, the adjustments, and the pain.
As I began to stain over the worn out wood, I felt a sense of calm arise. Seeing something that looked so old and useless turn into a beautiful and nearly new object was quite satisfying. It all felt quite peaceful in a way—the swishing of the stain across the wood grain; the sound of the birds and the smell of the grill coming from my neighbor’s back yard. Therapeutic work; like an art form. I was grateful.
My mind finally felt freed up. The movement and the labor allowed me space to contemplate. To feel. And there were lots of those. Feelings, I mean. My heart and thoughts leapt from the anxiety of the day, wondering if mom had cancer, and if she would even make it out of surgery, to the loss of my own reproductive organs, and the stress and strain of the biopsies. The wondering and praying I didn’t have cancer all year, and now this. To be honest, I didn’t know if I’d even see mom again. It brought up the memories of when dad died. No final goodbye, just regrets.
As my paint brush jumped to a new piece of deck, my mind jumped too. What a difficult year. The quarantine, the losses, the homeschooling, and new business. The loss of friendships, my ministry, and church family. It all. just. seemed. to. be. too. much. But God.
As the stain soaked into the rotting wood, I felt hope arise. Seems odd if you look at everything practically. 30 years living with bipolar disorder and panic disorder. Adopting a child who suffers too. ADHD, depression, and now testing for autism. It’s been a long journey I can’t quite wrap into this small space in time but the grief is real. The whole “what could have been but never will be” thing is so real and stunningly painful. Only gratitude can help now. I think God still does miracles but for the most part He likes to do healings that take time and effort.
I stepped back to look at my work. Half of the deck looked nearly new. The other half pretty sketchy. It was really a picture of me. Worn out from so much life. So much experience. Sure there had been days where the party tunes were loud and the visitors full of laughter—when the deck was lively and full of promise. But the rain and heat and the constant usage wore it out. A little stain doesn’t make it new. It doesn’t erase what caused the wearing, or replace the wood beneath. Is it merely a cosmetic fix that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter?
Listen, you can continue to paint over what’s wrong when really you need to go deeper. Stain, stain, and re-stain, but at some point you might need to replace a rotting board or two. There’s no denying real construction is possible in the future when we choose to hide the truth. I choose the word “authentic” for my year in January and this is it my friends. No more simple coverups to avoid the real work.
There’s so much loss but so much gain. I see the hope with so much pain. I’ve heard your greatest ministry, your real life purpose is in your greatest pain and testimony. Well let it be then friends, let it be.
So allow yourself to feel, to grieve. Write, create, and express it! Be real, be authentic, be you. And use it to launch you into your greatest purpose and change. the. world! When you walk unleashed, you will unleash others around you and your greatest pain will be not only yours, but exactly the healing someone else needs too.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
♩God is so good and faithful. He has brought the most caring, loving and faithful people around us during the toughest time. I am so grateful. I’m going to publicly honour one of them a day this week thanks to a post one of my mamas made today.
♩Focusing on what He IS doing and IS providing and being grateful, honouring, and thankful is key. Keeping your eyes on Jesus when things look difficult brings our eyes UP to look in the beautiful face of Jesus instead of down on our problems.
♩It always amazes me to see how He works behind the scenes bringing help in ways you weren’t even expecting. Sometimes I think “well why don’t you just do it this way? Wouldn’t that be easier?” when He thinks in a completely different way and says “Yes, I could but if I do it this way instead then this and this will happen…”
♩Balancing being authentic and keeping it real and walking in faith has been an interesting journey full of learning and good fruit. Yes, things are tough right now but wow, I woke up to breathe a new breath and live another day. Praise the Lord!!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
♩God has been impressing this scripture upon me lately. I pray it brings you HOPE as well today:
Isaiah 55:8-9 – “”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
♩How have you been challenged to be grateful and thankful in the midst of trouble? Do you look to God for help and how has He pulled through for you in the past? Do you trust that God’s ways and thoughts are always for the best out of His immense love for you? I would love to hear your testimonies friends!! Have an amazing day looking to the heavens! 🧡✨👇🏻
✘ It’s the weight of the thing that’s hard. Kind of like that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach right before a dentist appointment, but worse. I think it’s the not knowing, the dread, the anxiety…the worst.
✘ A rush laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH). 49 when told this could be coming. Just 50 when it’s now my reality. 3 days away and the nerves are climbing. I guess I didn’t think this would be me right now. I just didn’t.
I guess I didn’t think this would be me right now. I just didn’t.
✘ My story starts a few years ago. I was at a Christian conference in Florida in 2008 and a prophetic man prayed for me and said he saw cancer trying to come into my reproductive system. I thought this dude was whack. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God could and would talk to His people but that I had had absolutely no female problems up to that point—no monthly cramps, no heavy periods, no irregularity or strange Pap smears, notta! Regardless, I let him pray. Everything else he said then was accurate and has since happened to one degree or another.
✘ Fast forward a few years and I start getting really heavy periods. The kind that leave you pale, weak, and tired, wondering what the heck is going on. Sorry men, but these are the ones that leave you gushing, leaking, and dreading the thought of having to stand up or go to bed (leaks, leaks galore). Periods became my nemesis and I wondered how long they would keep hitting me with such a vengeance and how much blood loss I would keep accumulating. It must be menopause, I thought. Soon this would be over so just keep going (ps. If you’re in a Christian church culture that teaches and reinforces this behaviour please do yourself a favour and get out now. But that’s for another post.)
✘ Time went on and I remember putting on a 12 hour worship and prayer Burn with churches from all over our region around this time. Not only was I setting it up and leading it the whole time but our worship team had a 2 hour set to boot. You guessed it. Of course I had my period. Sure I had been having heavy periods but I hadn’t thought much about it, to be honest. It wasn’t like I was planning my activities around it and frankly, it wasn’t like I even could. My periods had started coming at random times. Sometimes sooner than was expected and often a lot longer in time too. I was just grateful I had never really had much pain with them so I carried on and didn’t tell my doctor. I was also part of a religious culture that believed heavily in the healing power of God and, not that I don’t now but, when you’re really in that way of thinking you can have a tendency to just pray and hope for the best and not face reality.
✘ That particular period was the pits. Standing, singing and playing for 2 hours, plus running around for 16 and then going out to eat after with the crew proved to be too much this time. It was a long day and I wasn’t taking care of myself. Sitting there at the restaurant waiting for my order I felt a weakness come on me like I hadn’t known before. “Time to go, Trev,” I said. Nobody knew why but we hustled out of there. Apparently, the word for that year wasn’t “authentic” like it is now. I was used to hiding things. I was used to keeping going.
Apparently, my word for that year wasn’t “authentic” like it is now. I was used to hiding things. I was used to “being strong and keeping on”, “faking it until I was making it”, and “not speaking negative things into existence.” All completely unhealthy false teachings by the way.
✘ I dreaded standing up but I had to. It felt like my life force was draining away from me. We headed home but it was shortly after that I nearly passed out down the stairs and my heart rate remained high. We called an ambulance and they monitored me in the ER back in the city.
I dreaded standing up but I had to. It felt like my life force was draining away from me.
✘ The story only continues in a downward spiral since. Periods continued to wreak havoc landing me in the ER a couple more times with heavy bleeding and extreme pain. “Oh, it’s probably just menopause,” I was told during the last emergency trip and was sent home with tranexamic acid to help stop the bleeding, and narcotics for pain. Thanks God for a general physician who finally sent me for a transvaginal ultrasound (which took 3 months to even get in to) revealing a thickened uterus and fibroids.
Side note—Everything takes so long. If you’re having any suspicious bleeding, get it checked now because the medical system in Canada will normally make you wait, and then wait some more. In the meantime, you don’t know what is in there taking root and gaining more ground as the clock continues to tick due to cutbacks. Better safe then sorry. Go now.
✘ Thinking back to this ultrasound, that had to be at least a couple of years ago now! The uterine wall thickness flagged my doctor enough to continue investigating starting the wait to get into my gynecologist for a further assessment and biopsy. Like I said. Go as soon as things seem off.
✘ A few months later I’m finally in for an endometrial biopsy. Look ladies. I’m not going to beat around the bush here. They’re awkward and painful but I found that taking an extra strength Tylenol and Advil together an hour before helps. Also, go to someone who does it for a living! My GP popped one on me in her office and tried but couldn’t get into my cervix (not uncommon depending on where you are in your cycle and if you haven’t given birth before). After forwarding me on to my gynecologist it was a way better experience with much less pain because of his expertise. I was surprised at how quickly he was able to get the samples needed for pathology. I’m still so grateful for his skill level!
✘ It took a month to get my biopsy results back. I remember going into his office to hear the results. I was in a hurry. I had lots of commitments and things to do and I figure I had received no call so there was nothing strange in the report. Looking forward to hearing it so I could quickly dash out the door, I was instead met with a serious “you have abnormal cells”. I guess I looked shocked because he rushed out and brought a pamphlet back entitled “Endometrial Hyperplasia” and continued to explain which level I had. It reminded me of that dreaded moment in time when my mom handed me a pamphlet will letters scrolled on the front that said,” You’re a Woman Now.” The same but different, you know?
✘ Maybe you’re thinking big whoop. At least it wasn’t cancer. But I thought I was fine. I thought it was just menopause. I had things to do! I didn’t have time for this! The thoughts went through my head as my Doctor continued to explain I had the 2nd level called Complex Endometrial Hyperplasia with a 3% chance of having cancer so I would have to go on hormone treatment. 3%? “Ok chill,” I thought. But he seemed so serious. Well the story goes on.
“Ok chill,” I thought. But he seemed so serious.
Here’s the treatment options I was given:
Provera – hormone pills for 3 months. Over summer. Yay. I already have a mood disorder. Double yay.
IUD – focalized hormone treatment. I have a mood disorder. Yay.
Hysterectomy – are you kidding me? No thanks!
✘ I miserably choose Option 1 and waited a month to start the pills (mainly due to fear and secondly because I had no idea when I was even supposed to take the first one so figured I’d wait until my next cycle. The internet is full of misleading information. Duh.)
✘ Another month goes by and then 3 more while I take this progestin in hopes of it reversing the abnormal cells. Let me just say that my moods were all over the map with the predominate visitation of anger and rage. More YAY. I’m just lucky that my family didn’t walk out on me. It’s been an exhausting trip mentally.
✘ September rolls around and I get booked in for my 2nd biopsy in October and I figure “THIS IS IT!!!” I’m finally done with this run-around and I can move on with my life! Another month goes by and I get the call: “Your abnormal cells got worse. You now have atypia and could already have cancer.”
“Your abnormal cells got worse. You now have atypia and could already have cancer.” WHAT??!!
✘ This isn’t suppose to happen. Pretty much everyone gets better on this treatment!! Except for me apparently. I cried. I cried hard. I also had a pretty big “talk” with God. It’s ok. He can handle it.
✘ So at this point I have a 30% to 50% chance of getting endometrial cancer if I don’t already have it. Now I really have to decide what’s next. My gynecologist promptly forwards me on to CancerCare in Winnipeg and the wait continues for my appointment with the gynecologic oncologist. These are words I do not like.
✘ What the heck is happening? On the outside you would have never known. I grin and bear things. It’s what I’ve been taught. I’m trained peeps! Unless you live in the deep depths of my home you wouldn’t have known what I carry. Are you the same?
✘ If you’ve ever waited for an oncologist to call you I am giving you a virtual hug right now. It’s hard, it’s stressful, and I don’t envy anyone in this position. If you’re battling cancer I give you the biggest hug. My news was good, I thought! When the oncologist called he decided that since it wasn’t for sure that I had cancer that his services weren’t needed and hopefully wouldn’t be ever again. He then recommended the IUD or a stronger drug called Megace or the hysterectomy and said that the treatment standard for these types of cells is hysterectomy. After much discussion with my husband and doctors I hesitantly decided on the latter. I also thought I was in the clear in a way. Being that we were in the middle of a massive COVID outbreak, surgeries were pushed way back and I could always change my mind. Plus, I didn’t have cancer, right? Time to move on with the dreams I had put on hold awaiting this appointment.
✘ My gynecologist then forwarded me to a gynecologic surgeonwho decided I needed rush surgery. With the current surgery que I wouldn’t be able to get it out until July and he said I need it done now. Urgently. Hold up again. He says if I don’t already have cancer somewhere else in my uterus then I likely would by July. So here we are. Going in in under 3 days and I’m not ready. I’m not ready for anything because I still don’t believe him. I have to trust that he knows best. And I have to trust God has me and the pathology report will be clear.
✘ Anyone else been in denial about their life and health? I’m convinced it’s a coping mechanism put in place by the brain and body when you’re in overdrive already. We all know this has been a tough year in so many other ways. I think a person can only deal with so much.
✘ So if you’re the praying type, keep me in yours. If this post helped you on your journey to a hysterectomy, let me know. I really hope that all of the things I write helps someone in even some minor way. Even if it’s to just inspire you not to be like me or just to let you know that you’re not alone. This is the last post I’ll do until I’m hopefully on my way to recovery (unless I find some half written post I can put up to appease the algorithm gods). If I don’t answer you anytime soon, I’m not ignoring you. I just have bigger fish to fry and probably some major drugs to take. I will be posting when I can on the whole 9 yards of pre-op, surgery, post-op recovery, and pathology reports. Bless you and hopefully talk soon! 🧡
I don’t know what I would have done without that pill last night. 💊
⦶ 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.
⦶ 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 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..
Sense of impending doom or danger
Fear of loss of control or death
Rapid, pounding heart rate
Trembling or shaking
Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
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?
⦶ 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.
⦶ 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!!
‣ How was yours? I spent mine with online Church, some rest, and finally starting to prep for my surgery in a couple weeks. I’m starting some lists at least.
Where’s my ‘Hyster Sisters’ at?!
‣ A rushed hysterectomy during COVID is not on my must-do bucket list for 2021 so I’m not feeling it friends. I’m just not. I really hope it will be like the 2020 situation for me. You know, the poopshow year that turns into a blessing of sorts when you look hard enough and keep your eyes on God. I’ll be writing new blog posts as I go which will hopefully help any of you on or about to be on the same journey as me! In keeping with my 2021 word “Authentic”, I’m going to be just that. It might get raw but it’s going to be nothing but real.
‣ As I’m sitting here with a million tabs open (literally on my computer and in my brain) I also wanted to post how much I dearly appreciate your support and business right now! I want to re-share my Colour Match Quiz link for anyone that wants a Perfect Foundation or Complete Concealer colour match and then my website for anyone needing any other professional, vegan, gluten free, and cruelty free skin care and makeup. I’m in a race to get active by the 15th plus meet some fast start goals this month all before I head to the city for surgery so if you need anything get on your girl’s links ASAP!
‣ I’ll be moving much, much slower after my hysterectomy and won’t be as with it to keep my social media posts rolling for awhile. Thanks for helping me reach my goals and keep my sights up and not down in the dumps right now! Remember, sharing is caring, so if you can’t purchase right now, please share my Facebook lives, posts, and support me and small biz at least that way. So needed! I was also going to have had my new accessories launched with Trumpet + Tassel by today, but I just couldn’t do it. Everything takes so much work and I’m not sure I will be able to launch until I’m on the road to recovery. I’ll keep you posted though. Thanks for understanding. *hearts*
So ya, this is where the mascara comes in. That’s how my brain is. Making leaps and bounds from one thought to the next. AND IT ALL MAKES SENSE!!! …Ah-hem. It does. Seriously.
‣ After a couple of tears today, (ok, maybe more than a couple), that led me to the thought that I put some of our Making Waves Waterproof Mascara on yesterday and it’s still on! Totally didn’t take it off last night (don’t do this at home friends) But like what? Where was this when I was a hot mess worship leader with racoon eyes every time I led? It also has Shea Butter and Vitamin E which I love for my barely-there, needing-all-the-nutrients lashes.
Making Waves Mascara:
gives max volume and hold
made with Vitamin E to nourish and keep lashes soft
Shea butter for glossy not flaky lashes
creates the appearance of longer, fuller lashes
contains lengthening fibers
smooth and creamy wax based formula
creates natural looking long lashes
‣ So that’s the deets on our crazy awesome mascaras! Our Perfect Mascara is lengthening and super popular. You can also get a choice of one of these fab mascara with an eyeliner in our Take Two Collection:
Take Two Collection:
double up on our best-selling eye makeup and save
select your choice of our Perfect Eyeliner Pen or Enduring Eyeliner Pencil with our Perfect Mascara in Black or Brown or Waterproof Mascara in Black
create eyes that will make you do a double take
‣ I hope you all have a great night and great sleep and a blessed day tomorrow! First day back at school and first day back at being a homeschool teacher for me since Christmas break. Could be interesting!
◦ What do you hide behind it? Pain, fear, anger, jealousy, trauma, illness, sadness…? Are you authentic with those around you? Selah.
◦ I was taught to hide. To not say certain things or it could bring them on. Or maybe it would reveal I had no faith. In my mind, that was the kiss of death in ministry.
◦ I have more joy and strength of the Lord now just being me. I mean I’m still on a journey. Being authentic and transparent is a way to share both the good and the bad with those who may just need what you have to say. Your trial may be what showcases the glory of God more than any lying could have done.
◦ You don’t control the universe, He does. He is sovereign. You don’t need to sell His goodness like the world won’t believe it unless you’re fake. His goodness ABOUNDS y’all!!! It’s all around us through all the craziness we see on the surface.
◦ There’s a bridge to healing called truth. Walk it. Own it. Live it. Take the mask off and be you. God loves YOU. Not the fake you that you thought you had to portray to others.
◦ I’m gonna fly my freak flag high folks and hope you come to know the REAL me and that ya, this trial I’m going through sucks, and it’s real, and it’s raw, and it’s scary. Getting the word “cancer” thrown on you is NOT something I wish for anyone.
◦ Do you hide the real you behind a smile? What have trials taught you? Have you come to lean on God even more through them? Comment below! I’d love to hear any encouragement, wisdom, and your experiences!
❅ 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!
◈ 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.
◈ Gratitude is a word used to express thankfulness and praise.
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.
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,
◈ 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.
◈ 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.”
◈ 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!
♡ I haven’t been myself this week, have you? There’s so much going on in the world and, if you’re at all sensitive like me, you feel it. Boy, do you feel it.
♡ Let’s just take a moment to enjoy 5 little things…
♡ Don’t forget to breathe deep, take lots of time to relax, unplug, and care for your physical health. Getting good nutrition, sleep, and fresh air/exercise matters. (Yes, I’m preaching to myself). I’m also a huge fan of reading the Bible and prayer. I found a new prayer guide (well, actually it’s very old but new to me) called the Book of Common Prayer. Sometimes we just don’t know what to pray and this is super helpful. Here’s a Collect for peace in the midst of the storm. Much love, friend. ♡
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 2019)
⊗ 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.
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.
⊗ 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.