Monday, 6 January 2020

The Need to Reignite Wonder in Adulthood

wonder for adults
photo credit: The Backyard Missionary

Holding my grandmother’s hand we walked up the stairs and down the long dark corridor to her bedroom. As she quietly rummaged through dresser drawers to find a missing birthday card for the recipient in waiting I stood in the middle of her room. My grandma was an artist and knew the most valuable aspect of any exceptional piece of art: light. It was artistic wisdom that I would later inherit as I fell in love with photography and have been chasing the beauty of light ever since. Her home was filled with strategically crafted light that would entice you to linger in any corner of her house. Her bedroom was no exception. As I stood there waiting, I watched the light from her two small lamps dance around the room kissing every surface with a warm and inviting glow. Absorbing that moment with all my senses I can still tell you the smell of her perfume that night, the feel of the soft wrinkly carpet under my tiny feet, the sound of her quiet breath as she rustled through papers, the muffled sound of the birthday party voices one floor below. Like a picture frozen in time, yet oddly interactive, it's permanently placed in my memory storage bank. It was a moment of childhood wonder that has become a part of my mental photo album of younger years.

This Christmas we sat in that very home, my Grandma no longer with us, my Grandpa weathered by time. I looked around the living room and could see the ghosts of moments from time gone past in every corner. Once again, the wonder of childhood washed over me, soothing my soul like the quiet hush of my grandmother’s voice that I so dearly miss. It occurred to me in that moment how my rushed life had crept in and stolen my sense of wonder. No longer driven by curiosity the need to complete the mundane and move on has taken over.

I watched my kids as they vibrated with excitement from the day, so tired, and yet, unwilling to stop absorbing the sweetness of the day unfolding around them. I knew that night would be etched forever in their scrapbook of life hidden away in their hearts, and I wished that their sense of wonder would linger, knowing fully that if not protected it too would fade. 

What is wonder?

Wonder is that moment where curiosity, awe, and amazement collide. A moment where our brains are challenged to absorb such extraordinary beauty unravelling in front of us. Just for a moment our breathing is slowed, our eyes are wide, and hearts are filled to the brim with contentment so full it’s almost too much to hold. The fullness of wonder often leaking from our eyes as we cry tears of shear delight. 

Wonder is a gift from God, a small treasure from Heaven. It subtly arrives in the unexpected and interrupts the mundane. For a brief moment we are blanketed in fascination and awe as God reveals the most stunning display around us. 

Wonder is placed in everyone of us, partly in anticipation for a time when we will stand before a glassy sea gazing into the fiery eyes of God himself. Can you imagine the wonder we will have when we witness this extraordinary scene for the first time?

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind…(Rev. 4:2-6)

Wonder is also for right now.

God never meant for wonder to fade with childhood. He meant it to spur us on in awe and amazement of him. Have you ever starred up at the billions of stars on a clear night and been in awe at how many there were? Have you ever stood on the edge of the ocean and listened to the roar of the waves? How about those few seconds of witnessing a baby fill their lungs with the first breath of life? These moment were meant to stir awe in us. They were to ignite a sense of wonder as we stop in the ordinary and long for the extraordinary. Like fuel for our empty tanks, they are sweet drops of Heaven embedding themselves into our hearts, refuelling our worship, and replenishing our joy. 

As adults we must intentionally slow down our lives and reignite this wonder. It strengthens our faith, it deepens our knowledge of God. The rolling thunder across the prairie allows us to hear his power. The brilliance of a harvest sunset reveals the smallest of glimpses of His beauty. The intricacy of a single snowflake reveals how important even the most minute of details are to God. Each one of these a reflection of a time to come. A time when wonder will be in every waking aspect of our lives as we walk in the cool of the evenings once again with God.

It’s time to slow down and wonder.

As a mom I have the benefit of children to help me to see wonder. I can watch them, and take my cue from them. Why have they stopped? What are they gazing at so intently? Their childhood wisdom is bestowed upon me if only I am willing to stop moving and look with them. Wonder is readily given, but only if we are willing to trust God to hold time for the briefest moments (or longer should we be drawn in to linger). Whether your kids are young or grown, the call remains the same. Slow down, wonder at the amazing beauty of the glimpse of God’s goodness in every corner of our world. Gaze with delight at the Heavenly treasures found in the ordinary hours of the day. 

And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” (Luke 5:26)


all photo credits The Backyard Missionary

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

30-something and Feeling Lost in Motherhood

slow down and be less busy as a mom
photo credit: The Backyard Missionary

I just took two Advil, cranked the heat in the house, and dragged my sorry carcass, complete with mascara-smeared cheeks, and a now side-ways ponytail to my computer desk to write for a brief moment while my husband graciously took the kids out so I could have a much needed time-out. Run-on sentence? Yup. Am I going to fix it? Nope.

I just finished taking a marketing class in effort to understand social media. Can I just say that it makes me feel ultra-old that I need someone to tell me how to work social media? I won’t even tell you how much it has made my head hurt these past few weeks. But you know what the worst portion was? All the talk about finding your niche. 

Questions for finding your niche part one: what is that you can talk about all day? Hmm…I’ve been a mom for so long that the only thing I know how to talk about is motherhood. And I’ll probably do it in short sentences so a four year old can follow along. Don’t mind me if I insert a few “good girls” or “atta boys” into my conversation (be grateful you aren't sitting next me or you might find yourself with a pat on the head or a high five just because I love you). 

Next niche finding question posed to my struggling brain: what lights you up when you talk about it? There’s the real kicker because here’s the thing, I could tell you all about motherhood, I could tell you about being a parent and all the lovely things about it. I could talk about the importance of getting out on date nights to keep the sparkle alive. But at the end of the day, I’m tired. Just.Plain.Tired. I’m tired of talking about making meals, doing laundry, driving people to every event that ever there was. I’m tired of talking about the struggles of getting a four year old to wear mitts (the battle is real folks!).

It took me awhile to process all these deep and philosophical questions as I began to realize that I couldn't answer them for my business because I couldn't answer them for myself. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (there might be a little Star Wars excitement brewing in our house), there lived a young lady who knew what she wanted to do and what lit her up. But then, motherhood rolled in a like tanker and she got to work. Life sped up leaving very little room to process. Somewhere in the chaos and sleepless nights she got lost. I got lost, like really lost! 

My dad recently commented upon asking how my life was going that I sure had a lot of balls in the air. He was right, and that comment stung deeper than his nonchalant attitude obviously intended to. Call it desperation, or call it clutter, either way I realized I had put way too much in the books in effort to give myself value. Dad had pulled the thread and it only unravelled from there. I realized that I had started to cling to every little sparkle of life that past me by (because everything felt like it was passing by while I stood frozen in an endless cycle of "mom-life". Do I sound as depressed in writing as it seems when I read this back to myself? I assure you I'm not certifiably crazy...or is that what crazy people say?!).

Hang on...

Just had to chase a dog around my basement to pull an old bandaid out of her mouth. *sigh* See? Not exactly material worth lighting up for...or is it?

My dad was onto something. He shone light on the very issue at hand that I hadn't realized was even world is so chalked full of clutter that I can’t see what’s important anymore! I had been trying to measure my value by doing more. I paused and thought back to my younger version of me. The version of me that seems more relaxed, more confident. You know what that younger version of me had that I don't have now (other than amazing abs and a belly button that doesn't look like an inverted deflated ballon)? Time. She had time. 

The beauty of the gift of time is that it soothes a restless soul and causes us to see the God-given beauty around us. I'm not talking about the beauty of soft, dewy light of the early morning streaming through your window, as poetic as that is to say. I'm talking about the beauty of a simple life lived with God. I have become weary, not because motherhood is a burden, but because I have cluttered the expectations of mom-life with worldly clutter that tells me to do more or run the risk of failing myself, my family, my husband, the community, the church, the world, the dog, the neighbour's cat…you get the point.

So, Mr. Questions #2, what makes me light up you say? Well, quite frankly Jesus, but for the most part I'd say he faded into the background as I created a bizarre and frantic version of what I perceived motherhood to be. There He is disappearing into the background of my three ring circus. Sometimes I lay down at night to pray and I wonder why He seems so distant and where my Light has disappeared to. I get so wrapped up in "busy" attempting to find something that gives life forgetting that He IS the life and light (John 1:4). He really is all I need. He really does give me value, and not because I’ve strategically filled a calendar with lovely events to fill our days with, nor because I have created some amazing ministry. Busy does not make God proud of me. He is proud of me simply because He knows how much I love Him. He values me just because I am His. 

I had a friend on why her most precious moments with God are in the middle of the night. The answer is simple: time, silence, zero distractions. That's why. 

God never meant for us to run frantically from one spot to another. The Bible doesn't tell us to schedule our weeks to give our kids the most opportunities we can possibly jam into the week to round them out. God's word certainly doesn't say "do it all." Nope. None of it. Whatever you've made motherhood out to be, if it's frantic and has left you deplete, it wasn't in God's plans. He didn't ask you to live that life. And yes, younger version of me, I can still have time, even in motherhood!

Here's what God does have to say to us weary mothers who are years into this gig and wondering how we are still standing:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 
(Matt 11:28-30)

The world puts busy on a pedestal. We applaud the moms who keep a clean house, explore the world with their children, and bake 5 dozen cookies for the bake sale all in one day. You know what I know for certain about those moms? They are tired too. It's just too much. It's a burden we were never meant to carry, and one I'm not willing to carrying with me into this new year. I'm laying "busyness" at the foot of the cross and refusing to pick it up again. I'm not one to have a "word" that sets the tone for my year, but this year I'm picking one (well, actually two because I don't feel like pulling out a thesaurus to work it out): slow down.

This year, I'm setting out to step back and slow down. I'm saying so long to the Joneses who I no longer desire to keep up with. I might lose a friend or two along the way who don’t like slowing down, that’s ok. God won’t leave my side, and right now it’s Him I need more than people. I’m waving farewell to my addiction of busy, as it has made me sick in the worst way possible. I'm reclaiming my time to be still and do less. I'm going to move forward into the new year with the notion that God's burden is light (even in motherhood). If I am going to seek, hear, and learn from Him as He calls me to, then I need space to breath and be still. I need to declutter my world including my expectations on myself. 

I invite you to join me this year as I take this journey to seek the stillness of life alongside Jesus in a frantic world to both serve and honour God from a place of rest. 


Wednesday, 11 December 2019

[VLOG] A Health Update and a Little Hope

Hi Friends,

Some of you have been following along with my crazy health journey this year and wondering how it's been going. First, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you for all your prayers and support this past year! Your kind words and most certainly your prayers have been propping me up through this difficult journey.

Moving forward, it seems as though I finally have some answers in a way that only God could do. I have shared the update with you in the video above. I was just going to share this with my family and close friends, but then I realized it is a message of hope and wanted to share it with all of you. Who doesn't need to hear a message of hope, really?!

For those of you who are wondering what on earth I'm talking about, that's ok, I'll fill you in as well in the video clip.

Love you all!

Thursday, 21 November 2019

One Important Lesson my Pup Taught me About the Good Shepherd

Meet Ollie our newest family member. Today Ollie taught me a little thing about shepherding. You see, Ollie is an Australian Shepherd and was born to herd animals. She has quickly become familiar with who her pack/herd/flock/whatever you want to call her family around here.

Today my son, Asher, and I took Ollie for one of her daily walks. About halfway through our walk Asher wasn’t feeling super, let’s just say that walking in snow pants and boots when you are only four years old tires out a guy pretty quickly! Rather than fight the boy’s need to sit every 5 steps, I decided to take a shortcut home. He was relieved to be out of his multiple layers of winter gear, I was relieved to be able to pick up the pace, and so I left him in the care of his two big sister to finish running the dog.

As we left our home for our walk-part-2 it became evident that Ollie was in distress. She kept pulling at her leash in the opposite direction to me. After much frustration, on both our parts, she sat down and refused to budge. I proceeded to ask her what was wrong, because, if you have pets, naturally you assume they will respond in english. “Well Sarah, I feel as though our vision for this outing is not currently compatible…oooo!! ooOO!!! KITTY!!” 

That’s not exactly how it went down, but she did jump at my legs and try to pull me towards home. Close enough, am I right?! I’m sure I broke every obedience training lesson in the book, but curiosity got the best of me and I’m glad it did! 

I let her lead ever so slightly to see where she would take me. She led me across the road, down the block, and right up our sidewalk. I opened the door and she ran in searching for Asher. When she found him she sat down beside him, look at me, and sighed with a huge sigh of contentment knowing she was right where she needed to be. Tail wags and a face wash for the boy followed.

Her shepherding instinct was so strong that after we dropped off Asher she recognized one of us was missing and she needed to find him and ensure we were all safely back together. Her desire to be with him outweighed her desire for a good walk. Together was better, whatever the cost.

As I thought of how diligently Ollie fought to turn back to get to Asher I thought of our own Good Shepherd. Not just once but twice do we get to hear the parable of the lost sheep, once in Matthew 18, and again in Luke 15. 

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (Matt 18:12-14)

The fight that my young pup had to get back to her “lost sheep” was nothing compared to the fight from God for the lost. While my pup was willing to give up her precious walk to be together, the Good Shepherd was willing to give up his life. Together is better, whatever the cost. 

Today Ollie gave me a tiny dog-sized visual of the deep love our Father has for us, His sheep. Nothing and no one can distract Him from us, nothing and no one can persuade Him away from us, nothing and no one can use enough brute force to pull us away from Him. What hope we can have for our lost loved ones knowing that God is chasing down His missing sheep. What rest and comfort we can find in our own lives knowing we can lay down and be securely tucked away in the protection of God’s presence. Together is always better.