Cleaning up, letting go, dreaming a little

Nearly every January, I get motivated to declutter and clean up. Last year I was seven hours away from home for most of January and then had a newborn when I got home, so the annual work was postponed, and then never really done. I came home to a clean house thanks to my mother-in-law putting in loads of work while we were away. It was a huge blessing, but of course, she wasn’t getting rid of my stuff, so it was all still there, just organized.

I signed up for a two week declutter challenge starting on the first and did well sticking to the schedule for the first few days but then we went away for the weekend and I was behind when I got home. I did my best to catch up and focus on the areas targeted but it’s far from done. A few days ago, I tackled my *incredibly* messy kitchen. Like, no joke, cluttered, dirty, etc. Not pretty. It felt amazing to get that done as I had done my bathroom completely before our weekend away and my boys cleaned the entire basement last week. One thing at a time, right?

Part of this process is of course getting rid of things. I like what I’ve heard about making certain you’re not keeping things that only fit the ideal version of yourself in your head. Honestly, the hardest aspect of this for me is craft things. I LOVE to create. I poured myself into a busy board project in December as a Christmas gift for my youngest boys and it was so much fun. I have great storage for craft supplies which actually means that I probably keep more than I should. For now, I’m focusing on the more public areas of my house but eventually I know I’ll have to weed through all of it and get rid of things that really only suit the me that has loads of spare time to work on crafts.

As my house improves a little bit at a time, I imagine things that could be different in my home, that would make organization and storage easier. And I dream about building a house and all the things I would do differently there. They aren’t always practical dreams but it’s hard to shut them down in favour of more realistic ideas. At the moment, I know my goals need to be focused on this house and getting rid of things so that eventually, we can fix all the broken things (there are many) and sell it and move on.

I remember when we were in this position with our little house (2 bed, 1 bath, 768 sq feet and FIVE kids). We packed things away that didn’t fit but we wanted when we moved, decluttered, organized, fixed things and made it pretty. And then we sold it rather quickly. The issues in this house are so much bigger than they were at the little house and will cost us far more to fix. It is possible that the process will take us years longer than it did there, but we have acknowledged that without a major renovation and possibly adding on, this house will not suit us long term. When we moved in, we didn’t see it as temporary, but the small things we didn’t like when we first bought it have been magnified and are now fairly major issues as we’ve added three kids since then and the oldest ones are taking up a lot more space as they grow.

For now, the goal is decluttering and cleaning. Next it will be fixing things while maintaining the organization we plan to put in place. Eventually I know we will be able to dream about another house without it being a distant and unrealistic dream.

 

 

 

Count it all joy

The amount of time that has passed since I last wrote anything is evidence of what a hard few months it has been; November in particular. In this case, sick kids, a teething baby and a busy schedule clashed in such a way to make sleep hard to come by and down time almost non-existent it seemed. I am exhausted going into December and looking forward to a break from extra activities between Christmas and New Year’s. Exacerbating our busyness was a shift in my husband’s job where he had loads more work show up but lost all his help in the lab around the same time. So staying home for a day or two is out of the question for now at least.

I read something great yesterday about God using the very little that the widow had in 2 Kings chapter 4 and making sure she didn’t run out. I feel drained right now, with very little in reserve in terms of energy or the ability to give much. I still feel so much hope and excitement about things I believe I’ve been called to but when it comes down to it, just don’t feel I have time to pursue most of it for longer than five minutes (another reason I haven’t blogged since October). What I read yesterday encouraged me to give those five minutes back to the Lord and let Him use it anyway, even when that’s all I have.

Today, this is my five minutes. It is likely that any extra time I have today will be spent on household chores that have been put on the back burner for awhile, or even more likely on a day like today, having a nap. Maybe it will be months before I have more than five minutes to give but I know that God can use these five minutes for His glory when I give them back to Him.

NOT too much to do

I was going to title this post, “Too much to do,” but then I realized that if it is something God has called me to do, it is never too much. And just now as I’m writing this, I happen to hear the words to the song playing at this moment: “You are the God of the impossible.” How fitting.

Mike and I both have things in our hearts and minds to do now and in the future that seem HUGE, especially when compared to what normal life has looked like for us. And this is coming from someone whose normal life includes eight children, no debt other than a mortgage and whose husband got his long term good paying job without any experience, training or a degree. God provides and has been there in BIG stuff before, things that certainly would have seemed impossible leading into them. Having a large family, becoming financially responsible, finding reliable work, etc.

The things we are feeling called into are just so different and so much bigger than anything we ever thought we’d be experiencing. Think writing books, inventing things, leadership, leading worship, business. BIG. And my tendency would be to look at it all, say it’s too much and then not really do any of it. The beauty of this journey at present is that Mike is just as much or even more on board with these changes as I am. This gives me great hope that we are going to see these things come to pass in the next few years and that even if it’s hard and uncertain at times, we are in it together.

What is your “too much” right now? What is it that God has called you to or you are passionate about but are holding back from because it looks too big for you to manage? Remember that when you give it to Him and it’s from Him, He will help in its completion. I love what Sammy Robinson said a few years ago when he was here in Fort St. John: “A vision from Heaven will be funded by Heaven,” and that includes all the resources needed to get it done.

Acting like a grown up

Today I did something that I’ve been putting off for a long time. Like, for thirteen years or so. When I moved to Canada, I had not had my Washington State driver’s license for very long. I used public transportation AND hated tests, so I didn’t get my license until I was nineteen and engaged. When I moved up here and needed a BC license, I went in with my full fledged WA license and found out that because I hadn’t had it long enough, I would have to be a “Novice” driver and have a lower license on the graduated licensing system here. I have had various reasons throughout the years for why I would not just take the test and get rid of it (namely, the fact that I hate tests…did I mention that?) but this year I just felt like it was long past time. My license was up for its five year renewal which seemed like the perfect time to deal with it. Over time, it had become something that I hardly ever told anyone because it was downright embarrassing. Most people here get their learner’s at sixteen, get their N as soon as they can and then get rid of their N within two years. Here I am, about to turn thirty-six with eight kids and an N!
 
I knew I couldn’t use my Hutterite White (our 15 passenger van) to take the test as it has some engine issues and needs a new windshield. Plus it just seemed like it would be a lot easier with a smaller vehicle. I took a 90 minute training course to familiarize myself with the vehicle and also with road rules that I either wasn’t aware of fully or I had just gotten out of the habit of doing after driving for sixteen years. I went in this morning, did a pre-test drive with the instructor to clear up a few issues I had the week before and then took my test. I was all kinds of nervous all week but in the end, had a very pleasant experience and did so well that he didn’t even have to test me on everything because I didn’t have any demerits knocking my score down. We finished in twenty minutes when there is around thirty-five in the test period. The hilarious thing is that I had a dream last night that this exact thing had happened – that I did so well I was done in twenty minutes.
 
I made a decision recently that there are some things I have put off over time or have avoided because they honestly scare me a bit. This was one of those challenges that I needed to deal with and get over. I think the next thing is going to be skating again…didn’t grow up skating on ice regularly and I haven’t done it EVER in Canada, believe it or not. But it was something I always loved to do before I moved here even though I was never very good at it. I’m not sure what will come after that but it feels good to check one thing off the list!

Where Revival Begins

This is not an original thought. This is something that people say and mean all the time. But this is a thought that never penetrated my heart fully until very recently.

Revival begins in me.

Revival begins in me.

We are being revived, changed, transformed, restored. We are experiencing breakthrough and victory. We are living for the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and trusting God for some big things that would be completely impossible for us to do on our own.

We are waking up with worship songs in our minds and on our lips. We are reading Scripture that is suddenly made alive and new and beautiful. We are listening and acting on His leading and WOW. Wow. Life is exciting for us as we make a re-commitment to our saviour and what He has for us. The things of this world just do not have the same pull and I am finally seeing how I am having victory over battles I’ve been fighting – or not fighting – for years. I am seeing clearly when the thorns (Matthew 13:7) and wind and waves  (Matthew 14:30) are tempting me and distracting me from my calling.

Over and over, people have said that there is something special happening in Fort St. John and someone said that we shouldn’t expect revival here to look exactly as it has in the past. I believe that it is because it is really beginning in the hearts of individuals who are full of passion for the Kingdom and His righteousness. We will not be spectators anymore and we will not walk into a building looking for revival because we know very well that it is happening within us.

 

 

Revelation, Identity, Summer, Time Flies

On time flying:

We’re halfway through August. We’ve done all our camps, aren’t going on holidays, have only a few more weeks before it will be labour day and fall birthdays and the baby is almost seven months old already. It isn’t anything new but it always shocks me a bit.

Summer or the lack thereof:

We have not had the warmest summer this year. We’ve had so much rain that the berries on my mountain ash are a different colour than in past years (rain is what I’m thanking for this change anyway), the backyard looks like a jungle and I’ve suddenly realized that every tree on my lot needs pruning (and a few that are growing into my yard from the neighbours’ as well). I’ve dunked myself in an ice cold river a few times but the last time I wondered why, as the sun wasn’t beating down on me when I came out and I shivered my way back to my cabin and a hot shower half an hour later. Today the older kids are hanging out in a tent in the backyard and hoping that maybe the forecast will change and it won’t rain tonight or tomorrow. Today it’s hot. It feels like summer. Tomorrow we have a 90% chance of more rain. No forest fires this year, though. That we can be thankful for. And we’ll hope that maybe winter will wait until the end of October again.

Identity:

This is something I’ve been wrestling with yet again but feeling like I’m on the cusp of figuring it out. I’m getting better at owning who I am and trying to learn who I am in Christ. I was singing a worship song not long ago: “All I am is yours,” it repeats in the chorus. I’ve always sang this song feeling that I was declaring all I have/am as belonging to Him. It suddenly came to me that ALL I AM is His. If everything was stripped away, I am His. Right now, I’m mother, wife, writer, etc. but at the core of me, I am His. What I have and who I am belongs to Him but being His should be my first identity.

Revelation:

We visited a nearby church a few weeks ago. Our church doesn’t meet on Sundays over the summer so we thought we would visit somewhere else every so often on Sundays.I don’t remember what it was that the worship leader said, but I spent some time waiting on God and He spoke to my heart very clearly. I had been stressing so much over weight loss lately and while I had been trying to go walking more often and eat less sugar, more vegetables, etc. the calorie counting/obsessive exercise lifestyle was reaching out more and more as a solution, even though I know how damaging it has been in the past. The word I received that Sunday morning was simple. He said, “You don’t have to lose weight for me to love you.” Ouch. I know this. I know it’s true. He doesn’t love anyone less because of their weight. But growing up, there was an undercurrent of, “thin and fit is holier, better, more Christ like.” It did its damage and I’ve had a hard time moving past it as an adult. When you start talking about this, many well-meaning believers launch into diatribes about gluttony and sloth as though those are the only reasons people might be heavier than others. After this simple word, He asked me a question. “Would you still eat well and exercise if you didn’t lose weight?” My honest answer had to be, “probably not.” I have been so focused on fitting into the mold that this culture finds appealing that I’d lost the plot on the purpose of eating a balanced diet and moving my body enough. With people around me pushing Beachbody, supplements, weight loss challenges, Keto, Paleo, etc. I had gotten distracted. Yes, I would like my body to feel better than it does right now. But I know that weight loss cannot be my focus or I will lean into obsessive behaviour. In the past, I’ve tried to take my focus off of pounds and put it on inches lost or clothing sizes changed but even that leads into obsessing. Meanwhile, I’m missing the whole point. I should eat well because I feel better when I do. Because God made my body to function best when it is in balance. I should go walking with my husband because it is good for our relationship and good for my body.

Anyway, I’m a work in progress. I ate too much sugar at camp and I’m having to adjust back to normal now that we’re home again. I need to think a bit more about what I’m eating and maybe prepping things for myself will help but the last thing I need to do is start weighing or measuring those things before I eat them, or eating only the things on a certain list of good/bad. That is dangerous territory that I know better than to walk into again.

 

 

10:43

10:43, put the baby to bed.

Finally.

And that’s it.

The day is done.

Essentially.

And what have I done today?

Ate too much of the wrong things.

Sat for too long, looking at a screen.

Window shopped on Amazon.

Called myself fat.

Felt overwhelmed.

Cried.

Promised myself better for tomorrow.

And got a little angry at the day being over.

Why is it over and I can’t change a thing?

And why do I look to tomorrow and know deep down

That it won’t be much different?

10:59.

Sixteen minutes passed and all these thoughts and fears

Are here, whether I like it or not.

I guess I’ll hope for better tomorrow

And try not to feel this way again if it isn’t any better than today.