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May 12, 2020

noisy silence



Sometimes we find ourselves in a place of stillness and the silence can be deafening. I think the world is finding itself there now. We have so many things that we know need to be done, could be done but if you are like me the noise of the silence is distracting. As a rebellious soul I find it hard to focus on the things I could be doing but and would rather do all the things that I can't do. The truth is though, if I really think about it, I'm not doing anything different from normal aside from seeing friends and taking part in church and school activities with the boys. I miss those things for sure but teaching them here at home has been a form of fun as well. Life is certainly different but there are a lot of things to find joy in if we look. My boys are fighting less, they are learning quickly that they are each others friend, not just a brother and that is something that will follow them for their entire lives. I am able to sit and teach each kid on a one to one basis and as a result I have seen each one grow in confidence and knowledge, about things they are actually interested in. It is fun to hear them giggle with each other as they have mock battles upstairs, or have long political talks with them about things they are hearing and seeing on the news. Yesterday we discussed the Black Lives movement, the why and the reasons although neither boys could understand why it was an issue to begin with (which makes me hopeful for our future). They are the minority in their school and it's a good thing, they fully accept all people, all races, all genders and I love that they don't understand why people treat people differently because of their skin colour or gender or religion and it breaks my heart that I have to tell them that there are people in the world that don't feel the same way. It led us to other conversations, deeper ones about the world and it's brokenness, the pain, and suffering that we will all eventually have to face, most likely multiple times and Kaleb pulled out a story that we read a few nights ago from Aesop's Fables:

The Oak and The Reed

The mighty Oak tree grew by a river. One day a fierce storm knocked the tree down. After the storm ended the Oak tree was amazed to see the river reeds were still standing, and he asked them how this was possible. 
"It is simple" one reed replied. "when the wind came, you were too proud to bend even a little, but I know that I am only a humble reed, so when the wind blew I bend over. That is why I am still here"
And so we learn that it is better to bend than to break.

So as I sit in the noisy silence,  I need to allow my heart to hear the beauty in the daily grind of boredom, I have to see the fun in what we can do and stop looking for things I can't do. I need to be less like an Oak tree, and much more like the river reed.

L

P.S. I was featured as the author spotlight of the month at Word Alive Press this month - check out the blog by following this link! Word Alive Press Blog

April 23, 2020

How do we hope when fear is the virus?

I find myself in a strange place this week, similar to a rollercoaster I feel hopeful one moment and then frustrated and angry the next. Life just isn't normal, and part of me understands that it will not be normal for a very long time but then another part of me wants to run out in the streets and hug, touch, speak side by side with someone, anyone. I miss my parents, I dread the thought of summer alone in the house with the kids with nothing to do.  I worry about the social impact of this on my kids, my youngest in particular as he's the active extroverted one. I worry about the closed doors that are hiding deep problems of abuse. Kids who have no escape, nowhere to run if things get bad. The women who are even now being kicked, hit, or battered with words, who have no one to turn too, nowhere to hide. I worry about the men and women who are alone, slowing the isolation will creep into their soul and the loneliness will eat at them. I struggle when I hear of people who are ill from non-Covid related diseases but who can't access help because our hospitals are in a holding pattern waiting for a surge that may never happen, or the clinical trials that people count on that have been shut down, the research that has stopped, I worry about all the non-Covid things that are being left to rot because of the fear of Covid. I don't believe in what the US is doing, the protests and callousness that I see, or the silly remarks I have heard that Covid is made up but I wonder, deep down if we are allowing fear to take us too far down a dark path that will be very very hard to come back from. We can't discount everything for the sake of Covid 19. We have to find a way forward that helps and heals, we have to care for those at risk while also caring for the people who aren't. I wish I had the answers, but I know that hope is a huge part of what pulls people through times of crisis and I watch the news and I lose the hope that I was clinging too. When will someone, anyone, start talking about a plan to move forward, a plan that offers hope, a plan that shines a light down the tunnel for us? I see so much fear, and I worry that the fear will guide us, not our heads.

I always try to end a post on a hopeful note... I'm afraid my head isn't in it today. I against my better judgement watched the news this morning and just became frustrated and angry instead. I should have written yesterday when I felt more hopeful. Instead I guess I will ask you to pray, for me and for our leaders, for our friends and for the people who are working to keep this virus contained. We can't kill it, eventually it will have to run it's course and I pray that fear will not block the wisdom needed to make the hard decisions on when we start to move from fear to healing.  That God will lead our leaders in making wise decisions.

Pray too for those who have small businesses, the local shops that are at high risk of losing it all. If you are one, if you know one, please post in the comments the link so that people can shop locally while this continues.

I will start with one sweet little bookstore that I know called Ellaminnow on Queen st east.  Your kids need to read, they need something to do, why not help a local shop while also doing something nice for your kids.  

There is so much to be praying for in these odd times. I will pray for you, please, take a moment  to stop and pray for us.


L

April 17, 2020

Step out ...


Toronto - Closed


Pandemic week 4 or 5: It has been a long few weeks. I have sat down to write a thousand times and either one of the kids comes to ask a question (usually preceeded by the announcement that they are hungry) or I sit and stare at the blank screen lost in thought and unable to articulate my feelings. I know what I want to say sometimes, but the truth is it all seems to so redundant. No one knows what is happeneing and it's easy to lose yourself in the unknown and just wallow in it. Losing patience is the first thing to go. At first it's so unreal and different that it's almost comical but horribly so. The first week of this insanity I found myself laughing at all the memes and jokes,sharing them on social media and getting a kick out of sharing them. Week two they seemed less humerous. I came back to Toronto from the cottage because Tim and I wanted some normalcy for the boys. We started a schedule, we cleaned the house from top to bottom, I baked, we walked and got outside everyday. Week three I cried. I cried a lot. I was frustrated, I felt hopeless, angry, easily irritated by the guys I love most. (All three of them). I began searching for anything that would be different. Tim has to run an errand? We are in! That sounds exciting! It is humiliating how desperate I have become for any answers as to an end date. It is frustrating how fast I am losing my mind when they extend the date yet again. 


So this is the thing. To live in faith with doubts is to stop, look back at the past victories and then see how God worked, then step out with trust that he will again work, redeem, comfort, show mercy, and most important in times like this... offer hope. 

I wake up every morning with the same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had in the weeks following Joshua's birth. All the days and nights of not knowing when this would end, how it would end, if it would end, all the hours of begging for answers and getting nowhere. The moments when I sat in silence not hearing God's voice. The moments when I realized that I wasn't in control and it nearly drove me out of my mind. 

I have been in this place before, 12 years ago I lived it. So I sit down and I start to think about how God worked, I see his hand over every part of that time in our life. I look across the table now at the kid who sits in front of me doing his home work, the kid I worried so much about and I know that I can step out in trust again on this. I can't hear God speaking but I know from past experience that it means he is here, he's listening, and when the time is right his voice will cover me like a blanket of comfort. That is what I know without doubt because I am not in control and he is, and if he is then the outcome will be okay. It may not be easy, it rarely is, but it will be okay, we won't be alone. If he's in this, which he is, then we can rest in him. We can use this time as a blessed rest, a time of sabbath and put aside the fears, the anxiety, the unknowns. 

So I guess my message today would be for you to take a moment, sit somewhere quiet. Identify the feeling in your gut and remember the last time you felt it, then look back at how God managed and redeemed it. Then, and this is the hard part. Talk to him, tell him how you feel and what you fear, and step out, take his hand and walk on the faith that he has planted under your feet. 

a moment that wouldn't have happened if they had been in school and not in lockdown

Be safe, keep hope.

Laurie


March 25, 2020

We aren't alone.

When everyday changes and nothing feels secure and no can give you answers it is easy to draw in, to think of yourself and be afraid, panicked even. All these feelings I have been feeling remind me of the weeks I sat in the CCCU waiting room not knowing what was going to happen with Joshua, would he live or die? Would our lives ever be the same again? Would we ever recover from it? Would anything ever be or at least feel normal again? I have had a hard time understanding what I have been feeling the last week and a half, struggling to understand the underlying pain and confusion and lack of control but yesterday I realized it for what it was and for the first time in a week I felt the water level lower to a point that I wasn't feeling like I would drown. This feeling we have, the lack of control, the struggle to understand, the chaos we feel ourselves stuck in and the frustration we feel that there are no answers, no clear end in sight... I have been here before, I have been here and I can attest to that fact that God is here, he's with us, he is in control and this too will be redeemed and this too will have beautiful things happen in the midst of it.

I hate it, I know how frustrating and awful it is. There is nothing more painful than sitting in the fear and unknown and not know what to do to make anything better. We are are watching a virus sweep through the world, stealing our parents and grandparents, mothers, daughter, fathers, sons, friends and neighbours and it is scary. We are sitting in front of the TV or computer watching the news waiting for someone, anyone to give us answers. We are worried about the financial implications of this for the world and for ourselves. We have no answers and we have no control and there 's nothing more human than being worried and anxious about that lack of control. Yet, I know that we will get through this. We will have moments of reprieve, moments of joy and laughter and a lot of tears and anger and frustration. We are after all, human and we will do what is naturally human.  BUT, this is what I learned in the CCCU waiting room. God is not a God of chaos, that isn't what he is about. He restores order, he works to redeem. It is him who is inspiring the beauty you see in the ashes, it's his hand at work in the first responders who are sacrificing to help others, it is his comfort that you see when you are contacted by a friend and loved one just to say hi. He is here, sitting with us, helping us, comforting us and he is even now working to redeem this mess.

I have been struggling to know what to say in a blog post about this pandemic, I have been scared, I have been worried about food shortages, I have been anxious about our finances, I have been worried about my kids who are higher risk, terrified for my parents who are very high risk, worried about Tim who is trying to hold it all together for the church, to keep things going so that the community will have at least one thing that is has some semblance of normalcy. I worry about the boys' educations and health and social lives and just when I feel like I am not going to be able to ever breathe normally again I am reminded of before, the days when I begged the doctors for answers that they didn't have, the time when we were given a crutial decision that could either take Joshua from us or save his life, we didn't know what to do so we asked God to make that call, to make the final decision for us. I believe that is where we are as a world community now, there are no real answers. There are a lot of bandaid fixes, people are doing their best but no one really knows what to do for sure, no one knows when this ends, or how it ends. It's time for us to give it to God. It is time to turn to him and see what he is already doing, time to do what we can for our neighbours, time to lay the anxiety at the cross and pray diligently for the future. It is not easy, the tightness in my gut and shoulders tells me I am still fighting it despite what I am saying and yet I know that sometimes we have to do what isn't natural to us before things really change.

We need to pull ourselves together, work together, not just as neighbours or citizens of the same country, or the same political group, we have to stand side by side with our world neighbours and work together, leading each other through this, loving each other through this.  What comes of this is not just up to God but also us, how we respond, how we help, how we show compassion, love, patience, generosity, hope. It is time to put aside politics, economy, race, religion, and gender and time to step up in love. It's time to stop using social media to denigrate people and instead use it to reach out and speak to those in isolation, time to spread love and not hate, time to protect, not just ourselves and our borders but life in general. Be really PRO LIFE and step up for the people in the world who came before us, who raised us, who took care of us, who taught us, who funded us and who protected us when we couldn't.

I wish I had simple, easy, clear answers for you. Sadly I don't and probably never will. I will continue to be praying for all of us. For you and for your loved ones and I ask you to pray for me and the people that I love. We are in this together and I promise you we are NOT alone. God's here in the worst of it and he cares very very much.

L

March 4, 2020

almost



There are words in our vocabulary that can inspire us, change us, break us or heal us, words that create and words that destroy, words of beginnings and words that speak of endings or, there are words that leave us hanging in the spaces in between.  

Almost, it’s the 'leave you hanging in between' of words, it’s the ‘wait’ it’s the ‘not now’ and yet there is just enough hope in it to be wistful, slightly beautiful in the ugliness of it’s unfinished incompleteness.

I have found that life here in the ‘in between’ of birth and death, of before and after Jesus, of the space between Genesis and Revelation there is a place called almost. We live here, it is our address, our home, our residence. We are almost there, almost finished, almost whole, almost happy, almost satisfied, almost, almost.  Almost but not now, not yet, soon, later, Almost

Living in the almost will always be uncomfortable because it’s not real, not finished, not permanent. We can’t move in and unpack because it’s not done, we aren’t ‘there’ just almost there. We strive, we struggle, we fight, we work, we worry, we try different things to get there but always when we stop we are still just in the almost. We get tired. It is like being in the middle of the lake and swimming hard, looking up and seeing that the horizon is still just as far as it was before, it may seem like you are almost there but you are not there yet. You are hungry, you want to eat and you are told ‘it’s almost time’ but it’s not time yet. Not yet.

Almost isn’t No, it’s wait, it’s soon but not yet, not now; later. Almost is both wistfully hopeful and painfully sad. It can fill you with wonder and anticipation or It can leave you winded and tired, excited or frustrated, peaceful or angry.  Ready or Not.


Almost is more than it seems when you first hear it, it’s a choice given that is given to you, you can live in almost with joy and excitement, or you can wallow there in bitterness and grief. You can find the wonder, breathe in the waiting, dream of the soon ;You can rise and unpack, beautify this space in between or you can sit with the boxes doing nothing while you wait.  You can stare at walls, yell at the wait, dread the not now. We can choose what almost is, is it no or is it later; is it bitter or wistful, is it stand or sit?

February 26, 2020

New Song




Every morning, starting in mid January every single year the boys and I start to have the same conversations. When is winter over? When will it start to get warmer? Can I wear my spring coat? Why is it always dark? Can I wear my running shoes today? Do you think it will be warmer tomorow? Will the sun be shining today, tomorrow, next week? Is it going to rain again today? How come it's always so long until spring? Why? When? How long?

It started a week later than normal this year because we had a nicer winter but this morning it was particularly bad because the last few days the boys allowed themeselves to believe that spring had sprung and this morning there were two very grumpy boys trudging through the cold (cold being relative compared to yesterday) and damp weather this monrning in boots. Kaleb's "whole day was ruined because he couldn't wear the outfit that went with his spring coat and runners) and Joshua was just annoyed that it wasn't either snowing or sunny but just sort of in between yuckiness.

I always get my walk in first thing in the morning, so part of it is spent with the boys as they start their day, after leaving them at school I go on and finish the walk and as I walked yesterday I couldn't help but empathize with them. All the way to school I listened to the groaning and I felt their pain. I hate winter, in particular I hate winter that is not snow but not warm, I hate the wet, dismal, slushy cold and I hate the dark. This winter has been so lovely that it seems awful to compain about a few days of yuckiness but it's leading me somewhere so stick with me.

I left the boys, grabbed a coffee and started my walk. As I walked I thought about them and the growing feeling of unrest that comes at this time of year, the time of year when you can taste spring, smell it on the breeze, feel the suns rays warming, and  the evenings get lighter, longer. It's not here yet, but it's coming.

Life is like that, I feel like I am in that space right now, the almost spring place, I can see it, the lighter days, the warming sun, the dry bright days but then I am reminded that winter isn't quite over, there are threats of snow, there is the anxiety that tomorrow it will be cold again. The nights are long enough and dark enough still to remind me that we are not fully into spring.  I do not yet fully trust the warming days, I still hesitate when hope springs up in the form of sunshine because I fear that winter will strike back in a final free for all at the end of the season, those april blizzards that jump out at you and make you want to weep. The seasons, all four of them have a purpose, a reason, a beauty to them but they also have an end and in the midst of the winter season I have been in for the last few years I have forgotten that; I have forgotten that I have not woken up in the land of eternal winter.  Spring is coming. There is hope, longer days, sunnier moments, sunny,  vitamin D filled moments await me, the beach and the hot sand will be at my feet and rest will come. It's just about holding on.

The first time I ever really heard or paid any attention to Psalm 40 was when I heard the song by U2:



I waited patiently for the Lord

He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the mire and clay
I will sing, sing a new song

I will sing, sing a new song
How long to sing this song

How long to sing this song
How long, how long, how long
How long, to sing this song
He set my feet upon a rock

And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing,

U2 
Mother nature is not in charge here, God has this within the palm of his hand, he has a reason to walk me through this season, he has a purpose to this new spring season that is coming. It brings new life, new hope and it brings joy but;  I have to wait, we are not quite there yet. As I walked I realized I have a choice in how I anticipate this new season. I can choose to do what my guys do, what I do, and grumble about the fact that it isn't spring yet, that it's colder than I want, that it's raining or wet snow, or cloudy ], or dark or .... you get the idea, the list could go on and on...  or I could choose a different reaction to mornings that aren't what I had hoped for, where I wish that the sun was shining, I could sigh and accept it for what it is. A wonderful season of hope, hope for new life lying just below the surface of the thawing earth, life flowing on the warmer breeze, life filtering through the warming rays of the sun. I could stop and allow myself to feel not sorrow or dissapointment but rather anticipation. 

It always seems to come back to this truth, life will happen, how will we respond is the question we all need to answer at some point. We always have a choice. Rise or Fall, cry and wail or smile and hope. 

So, this is me trying to sing a new song, this is me trying to stop asking 'how long O Lord?' and just live in this moment, trusting that it willl happen, believing in the evidence and breathing in the fragrant air. Spring is indeed going to come. Just beneath the snow and dirt there are there are buds that need a little more time before they break through the soil and bloom. 

L

February 21, 2020

bumps



Yesterday I woke up feeling like I had taken a horrible fall back into the darkness, after talking just the day before about the rays of beautiful light and the hope and the healing I woke up desperately sad and then very angry to be back in the fog and dark. I hate the bumps in the road that knock us off course. I walked the boys to school and after dropping them I put my earphones in and hit play on the music hoping to create a bubble for just God and I but it didn't help. I felt heaviness and temptations to go backward, I wanted so badly to just go to sleep and wait for the day to end. Instead I just sat still in my chair by the window, music on, and I prayed; all day. No easy answers sprang up but I kept praying a simple 'please help me'. The kids came home and were playing so I continued to sit, and finally, after hours of silence, I heard his voice whisper through scripture.

"in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.." Ephesians 1:7-8

I just need to accept the freedom was the overwhelming message I received...

  'Just accept the freedom I have already won for you with my blood. Accept that you are loved, accept that I have forgiven you, accept that you stand before me spotless, accept it, accept me.' 

It seems so stinking simple right?? There is so much breathing room in that simple reality, so much freedom. All of a sudden the clouds lifted and I felt th weightless feeling of freedom fill my spirit.

Every day is new, everyday I am given a choice. Stay up and fight, or go back to bed. There are days when it is easier than others, days when I don't need to use all my strength  just to keep going. There are days when, like yesterday, it would be so much simpler to allow the darkness to draw me back to my bed and the comfort of sleep; those days are fewer though and I am getting stronger at fighting. I have God standing beside me and fighting with me and it makes all the difference. Somehow I had forgotten to lean on him, maybe I was afraid to lean back because I thought he wasn't there anymore, or maybe I just felt that I had done enough leaning and he was needed elsewhere... I am not really sure. This I do know, this story, as with all good stories, will have ups and downs.

God is always going to be pulling me, stretching me, teaching me, asking more of me and while it sometimes hurts, or stings or aches or just downright sucks, it also means he still loves me enough to want us to be closer, to have an even deeper relationship than we had before. He is still pursuing my heart and that, that is pretty awesome.