Wednesday, 28 September 2016

A glorious unfolding – a glimpse into the story of us!

In a God ordained moment, we connected through Christian Mingle. It was my last attempt at using this tool to meet a good Christian man and Sean’s first attempt, as recommended by one of his mentor’s, to expand his horizons. After all, “a date is but a place and time where two people agree to meet, nothing more, nothing less.”

I was a little apprehensive because I had been divorced for 10 years and was finally ready to close that chapter of my life and move on to the next chapter. Sean’s profile seemed too good to be true except for the fact that it said he was only 5’6”, in the end I sent him a smile. Sean was also apprehensive when he viewed my profile, he thought that he didn’t have a chance and that I was out of his league (we can see now that God has a sense of humor and a purpose for our connection).

Once we had connected but before we went out on a “date” our apprehensions subsided. We were able to connect authentically and share our faith and our struggles without fear of judgment. We each had a renewed hope for a Godly covenant relationship. Our first date went from coffee to dinner to an awkward hand shake – it was a glorious unfolding!

As the romance continued to unfold and we got to know each other better it was clear that we would get married. We joked about engagement rings and their value, I was practical and he was romantic (or what I would later start calling “sappy”).

Sean has a genuine character and if he loves you, the whole world will know it (particular thanks to Facebook noted). In July, 2014, during our first extended time apart and only a few short months after our first date, he texted me while I was at Algonquin Park to refresh his memory about our discussion on engagement rings. Odd, I thought, this could wait until I was back home from my family vacation? Then upon my return, he was eager to get together…finally on the Tuesday evening we met face to face – he wasn’t himself – to this day, I can’t describe it but he definitely was acting like himself! We were in the east end of town visiting some friends and he insisted that before I go home we head out to the west end of town so I hesitantly obliged – I told my girlfriend that he was acting oddly and that I believed he was going to propose – she joked and said two things; “Call me if he does and if he doesn’t please promise you won’t get angry with him.” Long story short we went out to Andrew Hayden Park after stopping by his house in Kanata (minor detour) and although it was dusk and the mosquitoes were bothersome, he got down on one knee and asked me to spend my life with him and marry him to which I said yes – it was a glorious unfolding!

In the meantime, I had begun to notice that something wasn’t quite right with Sean’s digestive health. First of all, I am the observant type. Secondly, I have personal experience with digestive issues. And, finally, I have over 9 years of experience working with cancer patients and researchers. When Sean describe his symptoms to me, I quickly prompted him to get checked, his family doctor promptly referred him for a colonoscopy and within eight weeks, we knew almost beyond the shadow of a doubt that Sean had a stage 2 tumor in his colon/rectum that was the size of a grapefruit. Treatment was inevitable!

On September 30th, 2014, following the doctor’s assessment of Sean’s colonoscopy and hearing the words “I am 99% sure that it is a cancerous tumor”, we held each other close and cried. Sean blamed himself and I felt helpless yet when we recovered I expressed that “no matter how silly or out of place it sounds, I am ready to marry you now.” – it was a glorious unfolding!

The next few weeks were a blur and by God’s grace we held it together! Much healing and many miracles took place! Most of which could only be orchestrated because Sean now had cancer! First, he had an opportunity to reconcile with his son Matthew. Second, he had an opportunity to gain closure from his first marriage. Third, he was accepted into a clinical trial which would not involve radiation therefore he would not be required to trek to the hospital each day for 28 days for treatment. Finally, we were able to plan our wedding at the Stonebridge Golf Club (formerly his grandfather’s family farm) within a few weeks and over 125 people joined us in the celebration. And we were gifted with a beautiful honeymoon in Mont-Tremblant! – it was a glorious unfolding!

Days following our return, Sean started his first round of chemotherapy! Some days were harder than others yet he never missed a church service or an opportunity to help out or comfort a friend! I held on to the belief that this was just a bump in the road and that God would not bring me to Sean only to have him taken away from me so soon! Because of my job there were many times when I couldn’t accompany him to treatment yet I wanted him to know that I was there in spirit and gave him a heart shaped nail lapel pin which I also encouraged him to share with others – it served as a reminder of love and greater faith in God. Every last one of those lapel pins has been handed out and I believe that it has had a ripple effect on the lives of others – it was a glorious unfolding!

I will spare you the other details of Sean’s cancer journey except to say that with treatment the tumor shrunk 67%, was successfully removed and the reconnection surgery was completed in October 2015. He has been back to work full-time since January 2016. Throughout this time Sean has been nothing but positive, encouraging others to get checked and a testimony of faith to all he meets. He would be more than happy to speak to anyone about his experience. (

Being a cancer patient also has a profound impact on the caregiver. Only since January am I learning to be a wife instead of a caregiver with responses coming more from love than caring – although the two go hand in hand we respond differently when we are caring for someone’s body and health (life and death) versus loving them day to day. In the first year, I was mindful of Sean’s stress level, physical activity and nutrition and while I still harp on him about his nutrition I need to remind myself that he is no longer the patient who needs to be doted on an protected therefore I am learning to be more loving and allowing him to be more responsible for his choices thus making me a better wife – it is a glorious unfolding!

As a result of being a caregiver I believe that I experienced some delayed responses to this stress which is now manifesting itself in my own physical and mental well being. Despite doing all the right things and taking the right medications I have reached a point in my journey where a reset is required – my struggles with heart palpitations, hormonal fluctuations and generalized anxiety are affecting my ability to function productively and effectively.

This week at the cottage has been a most welcome change, an opportunity to reset and reflect on what is important to us. A time to rest and rediscover what it is to be husband and wife instead of patient and caregiver. A time to explore our dreams and forge ahead in our plans for the future. – it is a glorious unfolding!

It marks the end of a tumultuous season which would have been impossible to overcome were it not for our faith in our loving God, supportive family, encouraging friends and a multitude of prayers.

With grateful hearts, prayers and in the spirit of friendship, thank you for your generosity, hospitality and kindness. Your cottage has been a great blessing to Sean and I. As we go from here and explore our dreams please know that you have touched our hearts and impacted our lives – it is a glorious unfolding!


Saturday, 18 June 2016

What is your heart telling you?

I am coming out of a season of refinement, the exhaustion has lifted and I am refreshed, renewed and ready to move forward. It is amazing how much the cares and struggles of every day life can weigh down our heart and more amazing still how God can take those very cares and restore our wounded hearts to wholeness.

Since my last post, I have experienced too many episodes of tachycardia and visits to the emergency to count. Last Fall, I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, a condition which although not life threatening can be pervasive and affected my heart on all levels, body, soul and spirit. This particular arrythmia manifested itself without rythmn or reason. Randomly, my heart would begin to beat at 200 beats per minute instead of the normal 60 to 100 bpm. This would go on for hours causing dizziness, shortness of breath, lack of clarity and extreme fatigue. Despite the cardiologists assuring me that there was nothing I could do or not do to prevent an episode, I became fearful about taking on any type of exercise or activities that would limit by ability to work full-time and serve at church. My body was broken and I couldn't walk in my purpose.

As a result, my soul (emotional heart) was also impacted. I am challenged with a mood disorder that causes me to be a beast half the time and beauty the other half. Premenstrual Disphoric Disfunction (PMDD) is a mood disorder which is greatly influenced by your menstrual cycle so two weeks out of EACH month I can be a real beast - as with many mood disorders it can be managed with therapy, medication, proper nutrition, sleep AND exercise. However, because I was barely exercising and connecting with others my emotional health went awry. I was irritable, angry, unsatisfied, critical and judgmental. Regrettably the target of my fiery arrows were those nearest and dearest to me, those I loved and cherished most, particularly my husband. Thankfully, because I am insightful and can connect the dots easily most of these emotional exchanges occured in my thoughts minimizing the casualties however I was not left unharmed as my emotional heart was weighed down by these cares and attitudes. My soul was leading my life and I couldn't walk in my purpose.

This led to an attack on my spirit. I began to doubt that I would be able to get out of the vicious cycle of critical thoughts, shame, guilt and focused on sin management instead of Holy Spirit empowerment. I took my eyes off Jesus and fed my heart with the lies of the enemy that had me believing - we got married too soon, I married the wrong person, he should make me feel loved, he needs to change or at least help out more. These lies weaved a tangled ball of yarn in my heart and in my mind - I could only see the wrong in him, I became blind to his goodness and was wrapped in shame and guilt for thinking those critical thoughts and speaking them out loud partly because we had only been married 18 months and mostly because  I was tearing him down. Rather than build up my partner (we are on the same team), the very person who loved me most, who overlooked my moods, quirkiness and frustrations and saw me only through the eyes of grace - who loved me and built me up no matter what I did or how I acted, I was emasculating (refusing to need and trust him, hung up on controlling, correcting and criticizing) and I hated myself for it. My spirit was crushed and I couldn't walk in my purpose.

My frustration grew; all I desired was to accept him unconditionally as he acccepted me., to walk in my purpose to LOVE abundantly and exude grace to others particularly my husband. After all,  if I couldn't do so at home how would I do so in the world. It's not like I hadn't tried before - I often repented for my critical and judgmental thoughts and words yet they returned...I broke the stronghold during my journey in the 12 step recovery program (Celebrate Recovery), surrendered it to God in prayer, confessed it to my husband and practically bound my mouth shut with tape to keep from speaking those thoughts! Although this later is a bit of an exageration, it accurately reflects the challenge I was dealing with on a daily basis. I couldn't walk in my purpose.

Finally, I was presented with an opportunity to retreat (in every sense of the word) and draw closer to God - this was quite welcomed because, I had become aware that my anxiety was on the increase and things were spinning in my life. I was easily overloaded and no longer had control of even the simple things. The manifestation of anxiety in my life is usually an indication that I am trying to serve everyone, it is exhausting and fear based instead of faith based - I knew I was going off the rails and desperately needed some God time to get be back on track and resume walking in my purpose.

May you be encouraged in knowing that life is a journey not a destination! It is about the progress we make towards walking out our purpose so continue to press in and persevere. Be patient and kind with yourself allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you. Remember, the goal is not perfection of our heart but connection to the perfect One! My personal journey to this discovery and freedom from critical and judgmental words  unfolded differently then I may of expected but brought so many blessings and beautiful people along the way...

This past spring, as I retreated at Cedar Ridge Camp with 160 other women equally thirsting to draw closer to God, I had an opportunity to stop and hear what God was already speaking to my heart and chose to take action. I nailed my critical and judgmental behavior to the cross and prayed "Lord, how can I be life giving in my pursuit to awaken my husband's masculinity? Show me encouraging ways to help him rise up! Amen." Things improved for a few weeks then the frustration began again. This past week, every devotional brought a similar message about loving my husband and how. I also attended a mastermind group where I intentionally looked at my relationships and recognized that change would only be possible if I chose to change my perspective or shift my mindset - that very night, I prayed to God for a renewal of my heart and asked Him to empower me with love and grace towards my husband and I committed to make his lunch, write him a note of appreciation and speak words that breathe life (Fortunately for me, I could do this mostly without questions because his 50th birthday was approaching, my recovery from heart surgery was going well and my moods were improving - even in my mistakes God was being faithful, and I may not have to explain my changed behavior, love that).

The next evening, as I was sharing my frustrations with my small group I became aware that I was allowing Satan to deceive me in my marriage, he was trying to interfere and mess with what I had already submitted to God; thankfully God doesn't mind hot messes and I can rest knowing that although I am no match for the enemy, the enemy is no match for God. James 4:7-10 states: " humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor." As you can tell by my story so far, although I submitted to God and prayed, my heart didn't change overnight - I have come to recognize that in the case of my growth with Jesus - I need to live it learn it! It has been 48 hours since I chose to change my perspective towards my husband and shift my mindset and I am amazed to say that my words have been much more uplifting and even my thoughts have been less critical and judgmental. The words that sealed my heart and healed my wounds were words that I spoke at my own wedding less than 2 years ago: "Love is a choice"! Please consider that and the choices you can make as you meditate on 1 Corinthians 13 "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." Love is a choice, one that you can choose to walk in on purpose time and time again, day after day. Delighted to be walking in God's purpose for my life yet again!

Freedom can be fully experienced through the wholeness of your body, soul and spirit. Because, when your body is broken, you cannot hear God. When your soul is leading, you cannot hear God. When your spirit is crushed, you cannot hear God.  The road to restoration and freedom requires obedience and faith in God. I encourage you to get right with God - Trust Him with your whole heart! Body! Soul! Spirit! Ask Him what your purpose is, accept his response and begin to walk in it today. Living life on purpose is a miracle and a gift straight from heaven! Amen.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Do what needs to be done even though you don't want to!

Seeking God — really seeking — is more than just reading a few verses from the Bible in the morning and trying to be a good person that day. Seeking requires me to sacrifice the things I feel compelled to chase so I can be available to notice God’s clear direction.
Whatever we chase, like it or not, gains our full attention.
Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV) Lysa TerKeurst

A few weeks ago, our Pastor reminded us that the distance between desire and destiny is often only one discipline away. When I practice the things that I don't want/feel like doing it is an opportunity to draw closer to God and become more like Jesus. This is done not out of an effort to find approval but because in God's sight, I flourish in acceptance.

The Bible calls us to; Serve one another in love - Galatians 5:13, Draw near to God and he will draw near to you - James 4:8, delight in the law of the Lordmeditating on it day and night - Psalm 1:2 and abide in Him and He will abide in me - John 15:4. By gleaning the Word, we take the decision out of our hand so that we are not tempted to chase our own whims. Yet, despite knowing this both in my heart and mind, I find myself fighting internal resistance again and praying that this discipline would be ingrained in the depth of my soul. Consistency is key. Through the daily practice of any discipline we build, grow and train our muscles to endure.

A friend of mine, through his recent experience of training for a 10K, reminded me that often to overcome, succeed or reach the next level  we must take ourselves out of the equation, or more specifically our thinking! In his training, he follows the prompts of a running app which directs his steps - warm-up, pace, speed and cool down. Similarly God's Word when we choose to read, meditate, study and apply it provides us a course for building, growing, and training for endurance. Like training for a 10K, we must be intentional about our training; warming-up with a devotional, pacing ourselves with prayer, meditating with scripture and cooling down with worship. Add to this a willing heart fuelled by the Holy Spirit and a running club (Christian fellowship) which will challenge you, encourage you and hold you accountable and you are set to run the race and equipped to course correct when Satan and the things of this world chase you. With eternity in mind, stinking thinking out of the way, endurance and hope in Jesus doing what needs to be done even though you don't want to becomes possible!

Practically speaking, this means preparing a plan or creating a strategy to follow daily. Once you have done this, you can simply "press play" on your running app and "go". If you do not intentionally plan however, you will end up  "tripping", "stumbling" through and running into the danger of letting other things high jack your day. Unless you shift and provide a different course you will take the same paths previously taken sabotaging your ability to be all that you have been created to be (that's a blog for another day).

Personally, one of my barriers to the consistent practice of any discipline is perfection:

"a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable; especially : the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness."

Perfection is the very thing that in the past, has clouded my thinking (which is why my friend's advice on removing thinking from the equation is very wise) and prevented me from achieving my goals. For instance, I would tell myself things like:

"Why bother starting if I won't get it done?"
"Why do it if I won't get it done right?"
"I will never succeed at this so why try?"
"I am not capable of following through -  I didn't finish reading that chapter, I didn't pray before bed, I didn't go to the gym"
"It will only last three days then I will give up"

Another barrier to my consistent practice of any discipline is emotion:

Emotion is the very thing that in the past, has clouded my thinking and prevented me from achieving my goals. For instance, I would tell myself things like:

"I don't feel like it."
"I don't want to."
"I am too tired."
"I am overwhelmed."
"I am hungry."

Another barrier to my consistent practice of any discipline is procrastination:

Procrastination is the very thing that in the past, has clouded my thinking and prevented me from achieving my goals. For instance, I would tell myself things like:

"I will have time later."
"After this tv show."
"After I sleep another 5 minutes."
"I will start tomorrow."
"I will start the first day of the week, month or year..."

Since then, I have learned that I can choose my thinking, that with God all things are possible and that as I trust and obey Him he will catch me so there is no need to procrastinate, perfect and dwell on my emotions for he loves me as I am and yet too much to leave me as I am. I can be myself and do what needs to be done even when I don't want to!

As I thrive for eternity I recognize that the enemy has a strategy and a plan, he comes prepared and  so I choose to meet and defeat him armed and ready. Although this will take discipline, I am prepared to do what it takes to become armed!

May you be richly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved as you continue on your journey!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Spiritual Disciplines - my personal experience with chastity, sacrifice and submission

Context: I am never surprised yet always amazed by the topics my church leaders select for me to blog about. At times, I am equally frustrated by the process because I submit my blog for review before the sermon is even preached leaving me without context - yet as always God is faithful and he connects the dots. Every year, I pray for a word from God to carry me through. A word that will help me grow and draw nearer to Him and those I love. In the past, I have had words like, commit, rest, trust, rely. This year my word is discipline (grrr!!) so I was grateful when I learned that our church would be teaching on spiritual disciplines - I was excited to have the opportunity to narrow down the field of spiritual discipline. As part of my research I read the following article;
On Sunday mornings, I am also learning about the difference between disciplines of abstinence and those of engagement. Personally, prayer, service and worship are more appealing than frugality, sacrifice and fasting however, it appears that for 2016 I will be working on sacrifice and submission for the greater good of God's kingdom -that's a blog for another day! In the meantime, I leave you with my personal experience with chastity, sacrifice and submission!
Chastity, Sacrifice and Submission are disciplines of abstinence which require dying to self.  

I often cringe at the mention of the word discipline. I feel uncomfortable at the thought of doing something that will require a constant effort and my pride gets in the way often refusing to entertain daily practices which will in the end be of great benefit to my relationship with Jesus and others. Despite knowing that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and that I am not “hidden from God” (Psalm 139), “the passions of my flesh, wage war against my soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

I admit, there are times, that I am double-minded and waiver between God’s commands and my desires. Feelings become thoughts, thoughts become temptations, temptations become actions and actions become sin which separates me from God. This thread is possible because I can easily deceive myself; manipulating my thoughts to distort the truth and obtain what it is I want in that moment.

We're all searching for something…We're all searching for someone…We're all longing for love… It is this very thread that has deceived me in the past and led me to sexual immorality. In December 2004, following separation from my husband, I was extremely lonely and found myself looking for love in all the wrong places. I tended to pursue what/who it is I wanted, no matter the cost or consequences to others. As a result, I embraced a new intimate relationship and wasn’t alone for Christmas. Yet I still wasn’t fulfilled and was hurt in the end. Approximately two years later, I met someone through an online dating site and engaged in another intimate relationship which in the end resulted in unfulfilled comparisons to previous relationships, unmet expectations and pain. In 2008, my tactics hadn’t changed. I was lonely and longing for love and sought out yet another intimate relationship…this time I questioned my motives and whether or not this was God's will. Was I being righteous and obedient or just living in the flesh? This thread had a hold on me; it was the enemy's way of reminding me of words spoken over me in my childhood "you are nothing without a man by your side". We only had a couple of dates when God revealed to me that this was not His will...I already knew it in my spirit because I did not have peace about it. However, in the flesh we can manage to deceive even ourselves. I had to cut this thread that bound me once and for all.

As I was growing with Jesus and others, it was easy enough to find encouragement and accountability. I was reminded to Guard my heart "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” (Matthew 15:19). Meditate on God’s truth “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything...The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. And, Submit to God "Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey Gods laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God" (Romans 8:5-8).

Today, as a result of resisting, redirecting, and renewing my thoughts as well as rehearsing appropriate responses, and; seeking God first by guarding my heart, meditating on His word and submitting to Him, I find myself, in a Christ-centered, committed, caring marriage. Praise the Lord, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for not giving up on me and making it a moment by moment process weaving the best threads ever into my life!

Now I know that I know that, Only One can fill my longing…Only One can satisfy…His name is Jesus...The thread of everlasting hope!