Confession Time

I have a confession:

 

I’m addicted to social media.

Not in the way many people seem to be, constantly checking to see if their posts have new likes or comments, seeking validation. I actually barely notice whether things I post get any response and don’t really mind if no one likes my photo or status update.

It seems that my problem is a combination of fear of missing out and a desire to obtain information and knowledge. For example, I may open the Facebook app to see if I have any notifications, any questions to answer (I have both a blog page and a business page and recently made a group to sell some of my Usborne), any updates from family members, etc. But whether I have notifications or not, I inevitably start the scroll. I’ve read about this behaviour before – you scroll down and your aunt has posted something about her dog, your neighbour posted an item for sale, your sister posted pictures of her kids. None of these things are new to you – they are sorted to the top by a particular algorithm – and so you keep scrolling.

In my case, I always feel this concern that I might miss something that someone posted that is important. What if my cousin or a good friend posts a pregnancy announcement and I don’t respond? What if a barbecue is posted for a really good price on Marketplace or a buy and sell group and I miss it? We need a new one and I wouldn’t want to miss a good deal! What if there is a new article or blog post that I haven’t seen before that will help me to better understand my kids, my faith, marriage or something else? So when the first five or six posts on my feed are old or not interesting to me, I scroll. Sometimes for a very long time. Then I catch myself doing it – this usually seems to happen without very much conscious thought – and I put my phone down. Time goes by – five minutes or even a few hours – and I pick up my phone again. The cycle starts over.

What amazes me is that I can and do go days without Facebook and do so without any anxiety over it or missing it at all. This is where it is not quite drug like for me – I don’t have withdrawals, rather I have a weight lifted off of me. I have less swirling thoughts in my head due to much less useless information landing there. I suspect that I could go weeks like this pretty easily.

But then I go back to “normal” (my Facebook free times happen most often when I am out of cell service for a few days or am doing a media fast) and as much as I want to be moderate in my use of it, I go back to the same habit. “Oh, I haven’t been on here in three days, I wonder what happened with that friend’s doctor’s appointment or my brother’s job?” And for some bizarre reason, I am more likely to scroll, scroll, scroll than I am to go straight to that person’s Facebook to find out what is happening with them. Like I think the answer is going to appear before me in my hours of daily scrolling.

At the moment, I have the Facebook app on my phone. I don’t remember exactly what happened to make me download it again after years of only using my phone browser to access Facebook but I do know that when I got it again, I set my “time on Facebook” reminder to two hours. So every day that I reach two hours on Facebook, the app alerts me. And I close the alert and keep scrolling.

So is the answer leaving Facebook completely? Sometimes I think so. But I live very far away from my family and it has been a good way to connect with all of them. Do I set rules for myself about how often and how long I check Facebook? Maybe that could work, but I’ve tried it before and found myself back to the same habits again.

For now, I start with this confession, and another one: I don’t like this and I want to stop. I know it clutters my thoughts, I know it distracts me from my work and the ability to be present for my kids. I know it steals time from God and His calling on my life. But I don’t totally know what to do about it.

Today I will start by deleting the app again. And trying to limit myself to checking Facebook on the computer, which does not hold the same scrolling appeal as my phone (anyone else agree with me here?). But what really needs to be done is addressing the root issue here. I have a need to know that must be dealt with. My fear of missing out must be dealt with. So I will go to the Father and ask Him to show me how to do this. I pretend too often that He doesn’t care what my relationship is with social media but I know that is not true. I believe He mourns for the lost opportunities while I was distracted and that He has a greater plan for me than this.

If this has never been an issue for you and you are shocked by my confession and just can’t understand it, then this post was probably not for you. But if you are also tied to the scroll – on Facebook or some other platform – and can’t seem to break yourself free of this thing, now you know that you are not alone. Ask God how He wants you to fill your time each day. Ask Him what it is that you are missing that needs to be addressed so that you can find freedom from this. He is gracious and compassionate and quick to forgive us, and I know He has the answer.

Un-masked

Just wait, this has nothing to do with that kind of mask. I’m not going to get into that. Okay, read on.

 

For the last few weeks, this place has been filled with inspiration. I have written fluidly and have felt there was real meaning in what I was trying to say. Today I felt I should probably write something.

But what?

I have something important that I’m working on mentally but I’m not quite there yet, so not that.

Anything amusing to talk about? Not really.

I could talk about how I changed my hair colour again (it’s two colours now actually, split right down the middle), but I am so determined not to be shallow. Is it shallow to talk about dying my hair?

Maybe not. What if what should be said is that we really need to start taking off the mask? I wore one for a long time, one of a typical young mother, devoid of personality in what I wore or what I did with my hair or my face. To be clear, my face is still very much bare, but that is a choice I’ve made, rather than a decision based on my desire to look like something I wasn’t.

Listen, I’m not talking about vanity. I’m not talking about self-love in the self-centred way that the world is. I just mean, if the colour red draws you in but someone once told you that you shouldn’t wear it because it was attention grabbing, maybe it’s time to let that go and buy a red sweater. If you’ve always wanted to see what it was like to have pink hair because it just sounds like fun and for goodness sake, it’s just hair, maybe it’s time to go for it, barring any real world/work scenarios where it would be inappropriate to have pink hair.

When I shaved my head, it was a stripping off of one more layer of the mask. It was liberating. And it turns out, my husband actually loves me for me and enjoys watching me change my hair colour every so often (he was the one who shaved my head for me, too). Did everyone around me like that I had done it or approve of it? No, of course not. But that’s not the point.

I think I have been a people pleaser all my life. I did things right, did things well, worried that I wasn’t good enough – constantly – and said yes to things I shouldn’t have out of a sense of obligation. Here’s a heartbreaking thought – it’s likely I didn’t move away or call out for help when being groped by a total stranger in a public hot tub when I was ten because I didn’t want to cause a scene or upset anyone.

What are we saying to ourselves when we continue to wear these masks? What are we saying to God? He made me LOVE colour. I am filled with joy when I can put on a bright green hoodie with a floral print dress or a purple skirt. I buy a white shirt and have to tie dye it (not just because I spill on everything and could never keep a white shirt clean, honestly). So why would I tell myself to buy all black and blue and brown and just blend in with the crowd? I realize some people love the sleek look of all black and good for them! I know people who thrive on a neutral wardrobe. It’s just not me.

These are my thoughts tonight, ones I’ve had before and may have even shared, but maybe they need to be said again. Maybe my tiny bit of bravery will help someone else to pull off the mask they’ve worked so hard to perfect.

Sword in one hand, hammer in the other

For the first time that I can remember, I felt led to a page number in my Bible recently, rather than a book and chapter. Page 444 in my Bible is Nehemiah 4:3-5:7. It was verses 10-23 of chapter four that I felt drawn to, possibly because the title of this section is “Opposition through Discouragement.”

When Nehemiah led the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, much was against him. Threats, rumours, bribery, slander and more were thrown at him and the Israelites building the wall. Here in chapter four, they find discouragement because they expect their adversaries to come and overtake them while they work. Nehemiah has a solution for this and it is one I believe we should pay close attention to right now.

Nehemiah 4:17-18a “They which built on the wall, and they that bore burdens, with those that loaded, every one with one of his hands wrought in (carried on) the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so built.”

We all have work to do here. This work varies for all of us, beyond the things we are all called to do when we are saved. But how easy it is to get swept up in work – even ministry work – and forget that we have an enemy that prowls about. And how easy it can also be to become overwhelmed and discouraged by that enemy and neglect the work we ought to be doing.

The answer is not one or the other; some believers working and others fighting. The answer is in carrying the tools of work in one hand and the weapons of our warfare in the other.

They had guards and took shifts solely watching and guarding as well but what struck me was that these people were ready for work and war at the same time. Have you forgotten your work while you wage warfare? Or have you forgotten to hold your sword while you get the work done on Earth?

This is a simple concept, probably not very profound, but it meant something to me. My workload feels insurmountable sometimes and so does the state of things in the spiritual, especially right now. Now is the time to ask God what your work is meant to be, which part of the wall are you supposed to be rebuilding, and then remember your sword and keep watch while you build.

Fearfully and wonderfully made

A few days ago, I was back at it with an old foe. Self-image, weight issues, hearing words from long ago echoing in my mind. Thinking about how I can’t seem to lose weight without obsession or extreme deprivation, thinking about what certain members of my family might be saying about me behind my back if they could see me right now. It’s something I’ve dealt with for a very long time and is just not something I’ve beaten yet.

It’s easy to imagine what other people think and then start feeling like God probably feels the same way. Disappointed that I still have baby weight from last time, disappointed that I am not athletic, that I am not a socially accepted size. I was going down that road when I felt Him whisper, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

I turned in my Bible to Psalms 139 and read this familiar verse again:

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:

marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knows right well.”

I have for many years imagined myself to be overweight, even when I wasn’t. When I was a young teenager and had to stop wearing junior sizes and wear women’s clothing, I thought this meant I was now fat. When my friends wore size fours and I wore a size ten, I thought this meant I was huge. I look back at photos of myself and feel grieved that I spent so many years thinking that way. So why do I still do that? I’m not talking about making excuses for bad eating or sitting around doing nothing – those are things I’ve been working on for a very long time – I mean focusing too much on clothing size and the shape of my body and what I look like in photos.

He has done marvelous works in my life, both physically and spiritually. I have been delivered from depression, healed of allergies and given the opportunity to carry and birth eight children, even though I once said I wouldn’t have more than three and when I got married, assumed I would be done by the time I was thirty. My body certainly shows the signs of carrying those babies but why don’t I wear it as a badge of honour? Why do I obsess?

The day after this gentle reminder, I asked God how I could lose a bit more weight. He answered quietly, “Just stop eating so much.” I tend to believe that I need to calorie count, work out all the time, eat perfectly, etc. to lose any weight at all and because of my weakness when it comes to perfectionism, I often give up when I realize I can’t do all of that perfectly. But what if I don’t need to be a size ten again? God knows what is right for me and I believe that the first step is moderation. Moderation in what I eat and how I exercise. Not giving into gluttony but not starving myself or becoming obsessive either – that side of things isn’t moderation any more than eating at a buffet every day would be. Not sitting around doing nothing but not spending all my extra time on exercise.

There are practical things I can do to lose weight or at least stop gaining but if my view of myself is broken and I do not see myself through God’s eyes, my motives will always be wrong. I have watched people with a terrible self-image have amazing success at losing weight and it’s just never enough – they still see themselves as too fat or not fit enough. I’ve been down that road, doing crazy things to just lose a few more pounds to hit a goal. That’s not what I want. I want to look at myself and know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I need to love myself regardless of extra weight, wrinkles, stretch marks or blemishes. If I can figure this out, it won’t matter what I look like and I can finally win this long battle.

 

Search and Rescue

I had a dream in early July that again, I knew had meaning as soon as I woke up. After sharing it with my church, I knew I wasn’t wrong, but it is probably a hard message for the Church as a whole. I pray it is received with grace.

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In my dream, a cousin who lives in the States had a son, around three years old. He and his son were in the backyard together and one minute he was there, the next he was gone. Searches were conducted but everything pointed to an abduction, not a death. One day a month or two later, I received a program in the mail for his funeral – it had his date of birth and the day he disappeared as his date of death. I was angry. I felt like they were giving up hope. I went to the funeral anyway and while I was there, I was in deep intercession for him, praying for his safety and for his return. I prayed in tongues for most of the time and wept as I did so. I seem to remember that people thought I was strange for my behaviour. I am also certain that at the top of the program, it read “social distancing,” as a reminder not to get close to people. I thought about how awful it was that we could not hug people at a funeral.

*

I believe that this dream is about the Church in North America (and maybe the attitude some have about commerce and the economy as well). Believers have given up hope. We have had things taken away from us suddenly – church and Bible studies one week and the next told that everything is shut down – disappeared. Instead of searching and praying for their return, we are having a funeral – and that without loving each other as we would need in a time like this (social distancing representing lack of unity, distance from each other both literal and figurative). We should be on our faces weeping and praying for the Church but instead we are planning her funeral.

Imagine a large field where a child has wandered off. A search party would line up, nearly shoulder to shoulder, possibly even arm in arm, and comb through that field looking for the child. They would search until they were told they had to stop and even then, experts would come in and look longer. They certainly would never hold a funeral a month later without any evidence that the child had died. There are parents who are still hopeful their son or daughter is alive thirty years after disappearing like this. This is the posture we need to take right now – maybe not literally, but certainly in the Spirit. Hopeful expectation, prayer and fasting, unity in the search.

God has a plan and I know He is making good from what the enemy meant for evil. Will everything look exactly the same when we get it back? Probably not, but let’s not give up, Church. Hold onto hope and keep searching for what He has for us.

Just walk through the door

This is a dream I had at the end of January and I am sure now that it was a personal warning of sorts. I felt recently that it was time to share this more publicly than I did then.

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February 2, 2020


The night before last, I had a mind-bending dream. It was so vivid, like watching a movie. In the house I lived in with many other people, there was a door. Everyone knew that the door led to what could best be described as an alternate reality – an adventure or a major change for a period of time. Everyone who went through did so without knowing what they would encounter, as everyone had completely different experiences there. Sometimes those things were hard and painful or scary but no one stayed there forever. Without fail, everyone who went through came back significantly taller. I knew in the dream that going through the door would change me – change my life – but I was afraid because I didn’t know what I would have to experience there.

One day, the house was bombed. As people screamed and fires burned around me I realized that my only route of escape was through the door. I couldn’t bring anyone with me (Mike or the kids) and if I didn’t go, I would die. So I threw open the door and jumped out – and fell into this life altering experience.

What happened there was bizarre and likely has meaning here and there, but in the end the meaning I see here is that the door is change – major change. I should take opportunity to choose change that is something I am led to, rather than having a hard situation or circumstance push me into change as my last option. The fact that people came back taller signified positive change in their lives as a result of what they experienced on the other side of the door.

Pastor Larry spoke on trust today and how when we trust, we see God’s love. When we know we are loved by Him, we will also find it easier to trust. It’s a cycle.


I thought of 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” The door in my life was change and the willing step through it was trust. Having no other choice is not trust. When we allow fear to dictate our lives and make our decisions for us, we miss God’s timing and sometimes are forced into hard things as a result. God still uses those times when we allow Him to but we would experience greater blessing if we stepped through the door on our own when He asks us to.

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I believe that COVID has been the explosion that pushed many people into change that they were not ready for or were previously afraid of. Losing a job, having your kids home when they were in school before, uncertainty around health and finances, all are major changes that we were taken off guard by.

Did I jump through the door before COVID? I don’t know. Have I thrived throughout the last few months? Thankfully I can say that I believe I mostly have.

I had another significant dream more recently. I will share that one in the next few days.

Exhort one another daily…

Each morning, I get up, sit on the couch and ask the Holy Spirit to lead me to a passage of Scripture that will benefit me in some way that day. Sometimes I don’t feel a firm response so I read the Proverb of the day or a few Psalms, a chapter in the New Testament, etc. Today I felt led to Hebrews 2 and 3. I often read most of what I feel I should without any major light bulbs only to find a single verse towards the end that is clearly my reason why. This morning, that verse was Hebrews 3:13.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (KJV)

What do most people think when they see the word “exhort?” In the NIV and NASB, this word is instead, “encourage,” but is that really what this word means? Encouraging other people is wonderful and usually fairly easy because it makes everyone feel great. It’s important but it’s not the whole picture.

The Greek word here is parakaléō and in this particular verse, it means “To call upon someone to do something, to exhort, to admonish.” This paints a larger picture than merely encouraging each other.

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word “exhort” is: “To incite by argument or advice, urge strongly; To give warnings or advice, make urgent appeals.” Dictionary.com says exhort means “To urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently. To give urgent advice, recommendations or warnings.”

Has anyone ever said something personal to you that stung a little? That you knew was true but was hard to swallow? This may have been an exhortation. Have you ever been instructed in the faith and felt stirred up, even if the instruction feels a bit heavy and serious? This may have been exhortation.

I do not claim to be an expert in this area. In fact, I feel very new to this concept. Christianity is full of wonderful encouragers, and I try to be one as well. I had a brief experience in the store today that showed me clearly the difference between encouraging and exhortation.

There were two young mothers in the store with children, one with a little girl with beautiful short curly hair like Jenny had when she was young. The other had a little girl who was around four or five and a boy probably a year and a half younger. I struck up a short conversation with both women about their children because the first girl reminded me of Jenny and the set of siblings reminded me of Jenny and Elias when they were young. I smiled and did what I could to be uplifting as both looked like parts of their shopping trip with young children were slightly stressful. This was encouragement. When I tell my kids how proud I am of them when they’ve done something good, that is a type of encouragement. But when I show them an area they need to look closely at and make changes in, it is exhortation, or at least my understanding of it. I had that opportunity today as well – something most parents have opportunity for each day.

The second half of this verse is crucial here: “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Exhortation is not to make you feel bad. Exhortation is to prevent you from being hardened by and tangled up in sin.

I have often struggled with correction. I was the kid who tried so hard to do everything perfectly right so I wouldn’t get in trouble. I didn’t rock the boat in school and have done everything in my power to obey the law. I even signal on country roads when there is no one in front of or behind me for kilometres. When I have faced correction (or possibly exhortation), I have not reacted well. It seems possible that I actually did not receive enough exhortation growing up to become accustomed to it and was actually hardened by the deceitfulness of sin – in this case, fear of failure, fear of man and perfectionism.

In the area of advice, I know many people want to give everybody advice about everything and another group doesn’t want advice from anyone. I have tried to graciously accept advice over time, particularly from people who have more experience than I do in some area. I have also tried to avoid giving advice when I know it is not welcome or when it is actually unnecessary and I’m just trying to toot my own horn. Godly counsel is a great need in the Church, though. Take a look at Proverbs and you will see how important counsel is. Proverbs 11:14 says “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

We are often quick to see a financial advisor when we’ve gotten ourselves into trouble with money or we want to secure our future. In school, we see a guidance counselor to help us make decisions about our life or college choices. Many people see counselors in the secular world or use a life coach to get them through trying times. None of these are bad, but we also need sound Godly counsel. This is the job of someone who exhorts.

I aim to take exhortation well in the future and also to do my part to exhort others when I feel led to do so. I believe the Church will benefit greatly when we take this verse and others on this topic more seriously. Yes, please keep encouraging, but don’t forget exhortation.

Starting Over, Again

More than ten years ago, I felt God breathe a word into my heart. That my words would help to revive the spirits of many people. I’ve blogged for a long time, since my kids were little and I still really hated the word “blog” (I’ve come to terms with it since then). Because I didn’t know what the word meant exactly, I floundered. I waited for more explanation, I wrote what I felt like writing but rarely got serious because I just wanted to see the whole picture.

Two years ago, I had a similar experience, feeling God call me to a number of things all at once, writing (and possibly speaking) being one of them. I reacted to this calling in a very similar way: I was confused, overwhelmed, uncertain and clinging to perfectionism that demanded the full picture be visible before I ever started to draw, so to speak.

Last year, I felt a renewal of this calling with more added to it. I started off well in the fall, but yet again, found myself back to square one, unsure, doubting, feeling lost, and still waiting for more – more followers, more comments, more knowledge of what I was supposed to be doing.

Yesterday I heard a very personal message from someone I had just met. She talked about missed opportunities when we disobey or delay our obedience. But instead of drilling in how important obedience is or how much she had missed out on, she focused on the importance of accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving ourselves. I realized right away that God was using her to speak to me. Reminding me that it wasn’t too late. That it might look different now than it would have ten years ago, two years ago or last year. But that it wasn’t a lost cause and I needed to let go of the perfectionism, turn over a new leaf, forgive myself and move on. I believe that God wants to use me to speak to people. Sometimes I think He just wants me to make them laugh, and honestly, that’s my favourite part. “A merry heart does good like a medicine,” and it is refreshing to me as well as the reader. Other times, I share what is on my heart and hope that it helps someone else to know they aren’t alone, that there is at least one person out there that gets it. Whether that is in relation to parenting, unschooling, the challenges of a big family, etc. I know that someone needs to hear it.

I am sorry if I had something to say that you needed to hear. I am sorry that I allowed perfectionism to speak to me and make me give up when I couldn’t get it all just perfect. It’s a battle I’ve been fighting for a long time and I really want to win. I can’t make promises but I do know that I want to be obedient and I want to follow where the Spirit leads. I have forgiven myself and have talked to a few people about this, hoping for the help of accountability this time around.

I don’t know what the future holds but I do know I cannot be silent when even one person needs to hear my voice. I cannot stand back in doubt or fear when one person needs my prayers for healing.  I pray now for grace to continue this task. For a multiplication of time and resources that will allow me to accomplish it.

If you have let something slip by because of fear or disobedience, it’s not too late to change course. The work might look different now – the person who needs prayer, discipleship or encouragement might be someone new – but it’s still worth it. God forgives when we ask Him and so forgiving ourselves is the crucial next step.

The New Normal

Listen, I know you’re likely in one camp or the other: you embrace this term or you reject it. I have swayed back and forth for various reasons, some of which I will explain.

On the one hand, yes, we will have a “new normal” because none of us has ever experienced anything like this. Yes, our oldest generation has gone through worse. I believe that: think of the world wars, the great depression, genocides, etc. But this is different. COVID has happened in an age of information that is historically unrivaled. News travels fast – lightning fast – whether it’s true or not, and often influences so efficiently that if it is later debunked, it is hard for people to believe the actual truth. I believe we also live in a very fearful age. I actually think that safety has ironically made us more fearful. We live so safe and clean and healthy (at least we perceive life to be this way) that we are terrified of a bad cold, needing a few stitches or a surgery, offending people, the list goes on and on. And so this fear fed the narrative – I don’t think you can disagree with this no matter what side you fall in your beliefs about this virus and its socioeconomic effects. And when you have been taught to fear something, it is very hard to walk away from that.  Worldwide lockdowns, terminology no one had ever heard before (social distancing, anyone??), confusing science and data have left us in a very different place than we were five months ago. And those living in epicentres or who have lost friends or family members will be scarred and will never go back to the normal they knew before.

On the other hand, I can see that there are freedoms we have given up in the name of health and safety that I still believe we should get back. Using the terminology “new normal” has the potential of convincing people that these freedoms are no longer our right. That we are too vulnerable to stand closer than six feet apart as we might get sick or get someone else sick. That we will accept the prices of groceries that have steeply risen or the extra taxes we’ll inevitably be paying to handle the government financial aid that many of us have received. I know these things are par for the course in the middle of it all but I am concerned that over time, these things will continue even though the virus itself passes. That we will be quick to do things we are told even when they are unreasonable. People aren’t meant to live alone and stay apart. I certainly intend to fight the new normal in that area at least.

So here’s the third perspective. Hopefully a Godly one.

I embrace the New Normal. Not the losses in freedoms or the fear of disease. I wholeheartedly embrace what God has been doing in the Church during this time. I believe that many who were lukewarm have become hot in this time. I know that there will be some who let their love grow cold, and will fall away. I do not deny that. But I feel revival in my heart, in my family, in the Church. I have experienced beautiful community borne out of trial and I don’t ever want to lose that, not to go back to what was “normal” before. I have prayed more, worshiped more, read more of the Word. I am revived, even in the middle of global crisis.

Yes, I still get frustrated. I still feel sorrow over what has transpired, over lives lost or in ruin. I still wonder when it’s going to end. But then I actually didn’t want it to end too soon. I wanted a chance for more of the Church to grab hold of something incredible.

In the first few weeks of lockdowns and health orders, I woke up with part of a song in my head: “You take what the enemy meant for evil, and you turn it for good.” I have tried to make that my anthem for the last few months. No matter what was meant for evil, He can turn it for good.

The provision of God

I have been telling these stories for a long time and in this time of financial insecurity for so many, I want to tell them again. Sometimes I forget just how obvious this provision was at the time but then telling the story reminds me and I am in awe.

Mike and I got married in February of 2004. He was working a pretty good job but when we got home from our honeymoon, he was called to go to camp for a week. Not a great start to a marriage, especially when you add the fact that I had just moved 1,400 kilometres from home and didn’t really know anyone here. He quit that job about a month later because we knew we didn’t want that lifestyle and then we lived off of our savings for a few months, just enjoying our time together and settling in. That summer, he started looking a little harder for a job as the money had nearly run out. He had a few opportunities but took a cash job on trial at an auto body shop. He did detailing on cars for a short time and eventually moved to prep work. At this time, I was surprised we were not expecting yet (because we were not trying to prevent) and started praying more earnestly for a baby. Right around the time that I would have conceived, he got a “real” job for the company and a simultaneous $4 raise. By a year later, he was making $4 more than that per hour and not only did we have enough to provide for the baby that came in June of 2005, but we had enough to buy a home that summer. The timing of everything was just too perfect to call it coincidence.

In January of 2008, we were expecting our third baby and Mike had moved on to another auto body shop where his Dad worked and was even talking about going to school for some certification in body work. He didn’t exactly love the work but he did like the people he worked with and the company took care of their employees. He had only been there for six months when things slowed down and he got laid off. When I think of the year 2008, I think “recession.” It didn’t hit Canada in exactly the same way but I know many people had a hard time. It was early in the year, though, and all I could think was that we didn’t have any substantial savings, had a mortgage to pay and were about to have three kids, three and under. I was shocked and didn’t know what would happen. Mike started looking for work, applied for EI (unemployment) and we listed our ’85 Honda Accord for sale, hoping that would bring in a bit of cash. Not even two weeks into the layoff, we were sitting down with his sister and her husband for supper and talking about Mike’s need for a job when our brother-in-law told us that the small engineering firm he worked for might have a job but it was unlikely that it would interest Mike at all. He started to explain the job to us and rather than finding it off-putting, Mike was intrigued. He got an interview with the owner of the company and then we went on a trip for a conference that we had already had planned months before. I forget the fine details of when things happened, but we definitely got a call when we were in the Edmonton Ikea that they had a job for him and he could start work by the middle of February. Shortly after, our 23 year old car sold for $1,200 – the exact amount of a two week paycheque at that time. Not only was this job a Godsend in timing, it turned out to be something Mike loved and has continued doing for 12 years now, working through a company buy out and a everyone else in the company leaving over time.

Now, 2020 and the COVID crisis. Early this year, we went over our budget and determined that we had around $600 in excess every month if I kept my spending relatively tight. We had changed the way we budgeted and so we could see where money had been wasted or unaccounted for before. We talked about investments or just putting it into savings but in the end, we needed the extra for a few things in January and February so we didn’t make any final decisions about it. In March, we were told that the company would be implementing a 10% wage reduction due to COVID. It wasn’t long before I determined that the difference in wages for us was almost exactly the amount of extra money in our budget. We had never squirreled it away anywhere and so it was just there, available to make up the difference for us.

We have had countless times when God has provided for our needs – both tangible and otherwise. Sometimes these cases of extra provision have been totally obvious. Other times, we have had to look back and realize how incredible they really were. They have all pointed us to a God who knows what we need and has provided.

Psalm 37:25

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Psalm 50:10

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.”

Matthew 6:28-32

 “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”