Saturday, November 3, 2012

When the Road gets Tough...

"Sometimes we have to feel weak before we can know how strong we are and sometimes we have to be broken to know that we will never be shattered again"

What a Journey!

For a person who does not naturally love change, I sure have had my fill of it in the past couple of years. 
Some amazing....some excruciating and some that are both all at the same time.
I've stretched and grown and changed right along with all of these changes. I have had to take a long look at myself on many occasions and make decisions based on what I saw deep inside. 
Some things were hard to look at and even harder to deal with or change....some were pleasantly surprising.
By far, this has been the hardest, most tiring and time consuming chapter of my life but standing where I am right in this moment, I know I am also more really Me than I have ever been in my entire life too.
Growing up as a person who needed to have everything perfect or to at least have the illusion of perfection....has made making the tough and unpopular decisions that much harder. 
I have felt weaker, more broken and less capable than I have since I was a young girl yet, the quote above has proven itself so absolutely true.
In the middle of it all, I have surprised myself with all that I have taken on, over come and learned. 
As I told my kids many months ago concerning the dramatic changes that were unfolding,
"It's not the end of the world, it just feel like it right now"
I know even they would agree.

Going through dark days, weeks, months....
is hard and sometimes even feels like we won't make it but that is not truth.
The truth is, change and difficulties are an opportunity to become.
What we become through it all is up to us even if the circumstances or hardships are not.
I've said it all my life, 
"stepping stones or stumbling blocks"
It's up to me.
I have stumbled, I have fallen and even felt crushed but I have chosen stepping stones.

Along the way, I have discovered that in the deepest crevices of what at times felt like the darkest coal of my heart....there existed veins of the brightest, most pure gold. 
It's hard work to chip away at the coal, it's sometimes even harder to let God do it for you.
In the end, it is all worth it and my Faith in the fact that I am being held by the biggest most gentle and loving hands of the universe is strengthened once again.

He truly is my strength when I am weak and has shown me that He created me to be strong and whole and to shine like pure gold.
Dark times will come, to all of us in one form or another....but whether we can see the sun or the stars....or maybe even a light house in the storm....there is a always a light.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Believe I Can Fly

When I first saw this picture, it brought tears from my heart to my eyes and down my cheeks.
It is so full of symbolism that has been spoken to the depths of my heart and spirit over the past many months.
Any bird would have spoken to me deeply but here on the eve. of Mother's Day weekend, a picture that holds life changing meaning for me....complete with a Hummingbird.
My Mother's very favorite and one that always brings a smile as it reminds me of her.

For many, many months my heart has been in tremendous turmoil.
As I cried out to God, searched my heart, sought counsel and tried desperately to know both the truth of my heart and the path I was to journey; a picture came to my mind and my heart.

It was of a beautiful golden, domed bird cage, there was a fragile little bird inside and the door to the cage was open.
The cage could not be more beautiful...gilded in polished gold, ornate, a prize among bird cages. was indeed a cage.
It felt safe.
It was all the little bird had ever known but it was lonely and the heart of that little bird bore so much unuttered pain.

Over time, I would see that little bird inch ever closer to the open door of the gilded cage.
There were times that she stood on the very threshold of that open door and even caught glimpses of what was beyond.
There were times where she would hop to the farthest recesses of that cage in sheer panic.

In her heart of hearts, she knew she belonged on the other side of that open door....but fear gripped at her tiny heart, what if she had forgotten how to fly? The panic would set in as well as the gripping fear and the little bird would become paralyzed from moving beyond the safety of all that was familiar to her.

Pressure, circumstances, heartache and disappointment would push the little bird to the precipice time and time again but that little bird knew that none of these things were what was to propel her forward.
She knew, even in her wounded state that courage, bravery, strength....the need to be free, to feel, to be whole, to experience the fullness of life; to value who she was created to be; were to be her driving force.
The way had been made....the door was open....but the choice was hers.

Many months past and much had taken place, then I saw the little bird and the golden domed cage once again.

This time, I realized that the little, still so weak and fragile bird was indeed on the other side of the open door yet she remained full of fear that taunted and tormented her ravaged mind...what was she thinking? She would never be able to fly again.

A week ago, I went to a women's conference and had it not been hosted by someone I knew and trusted I probably would never have gone. 
In-fact, the whole time I was driving there on the Friday eve. my entire being was recoiling at the idea of being around so many people. I went because deep in my heart of hearts I knew there was something very real and very personal for me there.

I'd never heard of the key note speaker but she was transparent, funny and full of wisdom. Something about her mannerisms, her stories and the way she spoke reminded me of my mom's two sisters. 
I liked her immediately.

She closed one service with a song that was so unexpected, so timely and so inspired, it caught me completely off guard and I was undone.
At first, I could not even sing the words due to the pain that gripped my spirit.
Time and time again, they sang the chorus and one fragile layer at a time, it penetrated my spirit and my heart and freed my voice....

Suddenly, I saw that little bird once again.
No longer did she look weak, frail and wounded.
She had taken flight and had discovered that she was stronger than she'd ever known and indeed was created to soar.
As she spread her wings and discovered all that had been beyond her understanding, her heart too began to soar, experiencing a depth of freedom it hadn't known in many years.
The weight and turmoil began to fall away and the little bird felt whole, free and capable of fulfilling all of the purpose she had been created for.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Learning the Joy of The Path Less Travelled

 Jianna and I went for a hike in beautiful O'Dell Park today. 
Our time enjoying the gorgeous weather, nature and a little exercise turned into a life lesson and transformation for my Littlest Princess Diva Jianna.

Now, in order to understand the magnitude of this transformation, 
you'd have to understand a few things. Although it is only mid April, Jianna would not agree to go on this outing with me unless I first bought bug spray.
She is a city girl through and through, initially the moss growing on the trees and rocks grossed her out and every sound sent her head on a swivel 
looking for some ominous creature waiting to pounce on her. 
(O'Dell Park is literally in the centre of the is not some wilderness in a remote location but that reassurance did not help Jianna)

Getting Jianna to leave the graveled walking paths was at first a challenge, she hated this rock crevice as she was convinced it was a cave and something was lurking inside.
The rocks actually meet...there is no hole...only a corner but this was as close as I could get her.

The more I had Jianna stop and listen to only the wind rustling the leaves or to tune out everything except the babbling of a brook; the more comfortable she became. She no longer feared we were getting too far from the main paths and was actually mildly annoyed if another human dared happen along, invading our private little sanctuary.

I told her about all my long walks as a young girl and how walking in nature always made me think of God. 
I pointed out some large rocks and told her about my "Praying Rock" where  I used to spend hours at as a teen living on the Ranch, how it had a perfect little seat carved out of it and I would climb up there and spend time talking to God. 
Jianna loved this.
 (this was Jianna trying to get close to a chipmunk and showing him that she had no weapons 
and was harmless LOL)

 I talked to Jianna about being an adventurer, about how sometimes you can miss out on a new discovery by being afraid to try something new or blazing your own path.

By this point, Jianna had decided she would do whatever she had to, in order to avoid the carved out path. She was hesitant as to how she might cross the water and ice but I cheered her on (from the bridge pictured below), 
reminding her that the water was only ankle deep and that the worst that would happen is that she would get wet.

As Jianna climbed back up to meet me she was exhilarated at having crossed the water without getting wet and we talked about being victorious. She commented that she had been scared and I reminded her that doing something that scares you makes you a conqueror and she loved that.

When Jianna was determined not to use this bridge for the purpose it was intended...
I caught a glimpse of the "monster" I had created in my attempt to have her experience more than what was comfortable to her.

...albeit a very cute monster ;)

Mighty, Princess Diva Jianna the Conqueror!!!

Jianna told me that she and I should come out on these adventure hikes every weekend from here on, which I think is a lovely idea! 
She also made a comment at one point, as we walked along a particularly quiet and lovely part of the park with the sun peeking through the trees:
"Wouldn't this make a very romantic date?"
I agreed...yes, it really would...I guess she comes by it all naturally. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Relecting of the Heart

As I spent time in reflection this morning, I came across this note I had written 1 year ago...almost to the day.
So many circumstances have changed since the day this was written...and yet it mirrors my heart now as if I had just written it.
It reminds me that the seasons of our lives continue to cycle, just as the seasons in nature cycle. 
Though Winter may have me once again frozen in limbo...Spring is indeed around the corner 
and with Spring comes freedom.

I am sitting here tonight wondering, reflecting, thinking, praying.

My thoughts return to the end of Summer which quickly led to the beginning of Autumn.
Such an incredibly Bitter Sweet heart stretched to what I thought were it's limits, as my first born spread his wings and flew so very far away.
My sadness was quickly over taken by the purest of Joys.
To watch a child...your own child, grow and flourish. To watch them as their every dream begins to evolve and to take observe with such pleasure as they seem to effortlessly attract all that they ever imagined for themselves. To know that what you are witnessing is simply the beginning of the favor you prayed for over them since your were many years their junior yourself.

Fall was a difficult season, we were so busy renovating and preparing our home for the Real Estate Market, learning to live our daily lives as a family of 5.
In the midst of all that was new to me, the start up of another school year,
another son beginning High School....the return of old homework routines; there was a new heart stretching beginning.
One that involved the letting go of old dreams....and trying to imagine, to allow my heart to visualize the new dreams that were being formed within.
In the midst of the struggles, of the tearing, of the absolute insanity that became our new pace...there was hope and excitement.
Visions of all that this next, brand new chapter would own dreams began to push their way through all that was occupying my heart and my mind.
I was able to see the possibilities...the future that God had laid out not only for my family and their greater good....but for my own as well.
I was catching glimpses of the purposes, the plans and the fullfillment of dreams that were very personal to me.
Not only to me the wife or the mother but ME....the individual.

Winter brought with it many questions.
Life was not becoming what I had imagined....or at the very least, it was taking a much slower path with far more twists and turns than I had ever anticipated.
The long, dark days of winter not only brought questions but disappointment and even darkness. My whole world seemed to become something completely foreign to me.
Something I'd never dreamed or planned....something I had not chosen.
Yet, here I was....seemingly frozen in time and place just as so much of the nature that surrounds me had become frozen.
Hard decisions had to be made....some of the hardest I'd ever faced.
More stretching...only this time there was also a tearing within my heart....and eventually it broke.
Even in that place of brokenness and yes, pain...there was redemption.
A deeper level of vulnerability than I had known in decades....maybe a life time began to take the place of the hardened and protected recesses of my heart.
An unveiling of all that I truly was....
and not all of it was easy to look upon.

As I sit and contemplate tonight, I am very aware that Winter is not yet over.
Most of the questions remain unanswered.
I am still very much frozen in time....even left behind as I adjust to this incredibly foreign routine.
As my family of six is now split between two provinces with many miles and hours separating us; I am adjusting to the day to day routine of three...all girls.
From the everyday of learning to cook on a much smaller scale, to the sleeplessness that tends to come when my plate is once again overflowing with responsibility.
To parent two children as the sole caregiver of their daily needs....and two others from such a distance I do not even know their daily routines.
Of course carrying in my heart the entire time, the concerns and even worries of how all of this was impacting each of my 4 children.
 Learning that yes, we are indeed stronger than we knew....
and yet so much weaker and more vulnerable all at the same time.

Week three has brought us a new level of peace in our place of uncertainty.
We are learning to enjoy life, to take advantage of the opportunities that are unique to where we are at today.
To find that balance of taking care of one another, taking care of ourselves and allowing the One who has always been there for us to care for us.

Tonight, it may very well still be Winter but as I sit surounded by darkness and contemplate where we are and where we are headed...
I hear the cool refreshing rain.
Oh there are many days of this long Winter yet to be endured and enjoyed but the rain brings with it the hope of Spring.
The HOPE of Spring.
With Spring comes color, warmth, fragrance, growth, beauty
and another season of
New Beginnings.

Oh the Possibilities...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Conquering Christmas Shopping

As the first Christmas decorations began to grace the retail world, I knew I was going to be challenged this year. 
Working 8 hours more a week than last year at this time may not seem like a leap of extraordinary proportions but let me assure you as a professional mother of 4; every single hour becomes pivotal in the battle between staying on top of it all and life getting carried away.

Although, I rarely decorate before Maria's birthday, last weekend, amidst her birthday preparation, I realized I had a brief window of opportunity to gather the Christmas decorating troops. With three teens and a wanna be teen all running in different directions on any given day, I  was not about to let my opportunity flit away from me.

As I surveyed our handiwork and smiled over the laughs we had while completing our personal masterpiece, hope began to rise in me. Hope that this Christmas would not in any way feel the sacrifice of  my taking on more of the world beyond my own roof and walls.

As much as I enjoyed the homey ambiance, one challenge became increasingly ominous as I enjoyed my Norman Rockwell worthy Christmas tree each evening. 
The sight of her barrenness beneath her pine cone and snow laden boughs, caused a slight panic at the realization that scarcely a single gift had been purchased to date.

It really is amazing how one incredible sale and one panic stricken mother can combine forces to conquer that ever present taunting voice that whispers of unpreparedness.

Armed with a mission, a strategy, a debit card and a single lunch hour, I made my way uptown.
The strategy was simple.
Since the line up to the checkout of the targeted retail outlet began at the door, I parked the father of my children in the line up. 
Equipped with his iphone, he worked on deals from the office as he progressed through the line. All the while I scurried around the store finding my own incredible deals.

The result, a trunk full of gifts giving proof that the determination of a Mother can conquer even the most annoying of whining, taunting voices!

With some ingredients purchased to begin the baking of the Christmas favorites, I am starting to wonder what all the fuss and worry was about. 
I still have a whole month until Christmas Day!

No matter how crazy this Holiday season finds you, try to take time to really enjoy the reason for all the fuss in the first place.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All Things Have Become New

Imagine the tearing down, remodelling, rebuilding and stretching that would be required if my Belleville home above had physically turned into my Fredericton home below...That is exactly what it feels like has and continues to take place in my entire person as I am stretched and changed to facilitate expansion.

Change, Stretching, Expansion...

It would seem these three words are not only the definition of my past year but continue to define all that surrounds me.
Change has become my norm.

Preparing to have my first child leave home for University two provinces away.
Deciding to sell our Belleville home and pursue our dream of returning to the Maritimes.
Renovating our home in preparation for listing it.
The long, drawn out process of showing and finally selling our home many months later.
Having my husband and second son leave for NB 4 1/2 months before the girls and I were to follow.
Learning to be a single parent to our girls, care for and show our home and still work full time all the while missing my boys more than I dared consider.
Coming to grips with leaving a career I had worked hard for and the future opportunities that came with that position.
Leaving the city that I had spent the most years of my entire life and that had been the only home any of my children had known or remembered.
...and the list continues.

For every one of those transitions out, there is the adjustment to the resulting transition in to our new home, city, province and overall environment.

At times, I feel like I have whip lash from trying to look around and observe all that has and continues to transpire around it is happening.
I am not certain that I am accustomed to all that is my life as a result of change but I have gotten quite used to the process of change itself.

Just when I feel like I can't process or cope with another change...I find myself in the midst of one more transition.

Transition forces me to look within and I am acutely aware that I truly am not strong enough.
If I solely relied on my own coping and processing tools...they would be sorely insufficient.
I really can't do this...YET, it is being required of me.

I have come to understand one thing for absolute certainty;
when I am weak, the One I have loved, trusted and served my entire life is made strong.
His strength is perfected in my weakness, He fills my every gap, He enables me when I feel I simply can't go on.
If He is leading me, (and the fact that He is has been made clear repeatedly), then he will make a way.
Part of His making a giving me the tools that are not mine by nature, to follow this new path and to walk through the doors that open before me.

Some things that I felt I had to give up were not really, they were added to. As is the case with my Belleville friendships.
Others like my home have been replaced yet in every case I am seeing the fulfillment of Ephesians...that my God is more than able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than I dare ask or even hope.
My new home is a stark reminder of that, though we loved and remodelled our Belleville home to be all that we had dreamed at that time...our new home is so much larger and more beautiful and has features I'd forgotten I ever even dreamed of.
Since I was a little girl, I always wanted a sunken living room and had forgotten until about three days after I walked through my new home for the first time. I'd been concentrating on the two wood burning fireplaces I always wanted, the ensuite, separate closets....then suddenly remembered my long forgotten dream.
God never loses sight of our dreams.

I never thought a "job" would be a hard thing for me to give up, I knew I would work eventually in Fredericton and as pay scales were much lower in this new province, my hope was to find something close to what I was making in ON.

Very suddenly and with so much less effort than I had anticipated...I found myself in a new career, back in my roots of banking and earning significantly more than I had left behind in ON.
I never would have anticipated that one!

I am so thankful that on this roller coaster of an adventure I call life...He is my safety and security and that he reassures me with every twist, turn, uphill climb and heart stopping drop into the unknown.

I could never have designed this path, this adventure...but I wholly trust the One who has and am determined not to look at my weakness but to feel His strength in me.
Besides, I have felt the desperation that comes with feeling like you are at a standstill too long.
I'll take the roller coaster adventure any day!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Freedom for the Broken Girls...

I heard this song for the first time today....and I was undone. I am sharing it here to bring hope, life and freedom to every Broken Girl who still needs to KNOW this message in the depths of their being.