Sunday, April 7, 2013

Looking for Something New?

Hey, to all our readers! Paul and I will still be posting here from time to time, but I am putting a lot of my new posts up on so check it out :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Triumphant Inadequacy

I always thought I knew my limitations. And there were a great deal of them. I also had a fairly good grasp on my strengths, the things I excelled at or knew I didn't really need a lot of help with. One thing I always had in spades was passion for my kids. This fierce, protective love that just seemed to have been planted in my heart the minute they were born, or maybe even before that.

During the late summer of 2012, I developed a fairly serious health condition. I didn't realize it at the time (thank God), but this condition was going to last for a long time. About four months into it, I was pretty worn down. I still was doing my best to keep up with whatever demands life threw at me, as much as possible anyway.

One day in the middle of winter, my eldest daughter woke up with yet another cold sore. It spread from her lip and wound around the bottom of her nose in an angry blister. They've always bothered her, of course, but what made this even harder was that she was in her first year at a new school. Her first year in any school actually, since I had home-schooled her up until that year. So now she was going to be faced with classrooms, teachers, not-so-finished assignments, and the horror of trying to fit into the inner circle (aka the "cool crowd") with a perceived disfigurement growing on her face. Ack.

I gave her the usual medicated creams and pep-talk and prayed for her on the way to school. I asked her if she was going to be okay, and looked her in the eye to be sure. She said she was fine and gave me a shy smile. Oh, I can't stand this, I thought. Letting go is awful.

So as I'm pulling out of the parking lot, I sense Him speaking to me. Would you take the sore for her? He asked.

Now this is where every second of every day since the moment I first felt her roll over in my belly, my answer would have been a resounding Yes! But on that day, nearly covered in the relentless itching of a hive-like rash, abdominal pains that just wouldn't go away, and discomfort that had had me in it's merciless grip for months, I came up short. I failed.

In light of my constant need for authenticity and honesty, even if it's just between Him and me and no one else would need to know (well, until today), I had to be truthful. If He was really asking me if I would take her cold sore, my answer would be no. I couldn't take any more. Not one more thing. I just couldn't.

Thus began my day of misery and despair at being faced with the unavoidable reality of my weakness. Not only was I obviously selfish beyond measure and so self-absorbed I had no right to even call myself "mother", but perhaps the most rude awakening of all came with the stark realization that my love wasn't enough.

I soaked in the bitter truth for hours that day, feeling sick to my stomach, on top of everything else. Later on, during my Dead Sea salt bath (which was a daily necessity), He showed up again. As usual, he seemed to have all the time in the world (must be nice.) What are you so upset about? He asked.

I explained the depth of the realization of my failure and incompetence.

He smiled.

And then I realized, this is precisely what He's been teaching me for years. I need Him. I can't function without Him. I was designed to need Him. I only operate with Him inside me. Abiding in Him and Him in me. Nothing I have is enough without Him, and that is not failure but a pure, unadulterated, and blissful discovery. I was never made to be alone. I was never made to be enough.

I rose from my bath, still covered in sores, patted dry (so as to not disturb the remnants of the Dead Sea), donned my bathrobe, raised my weakened arms to the air in triumphant inadequacy and declared, "My love is not enough and I am not sorry about that."

And I'm not sorry. None of us should be. Because during all our efforts to do our best and prove our value, He sits on the side lines and waits for us to realize that He never asked us to do this on our own.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Fire and the Garden

The forest fire was so hot at her back she was sure it was going to eat her alive. She tried to ignore it, as usual, but even the sound of it was distracting, let alone the heat. She knelt down in the knee-high grass and wondered why it was still damp. It seemed like any moisture should have evaporated by now.

The shepherd was there and he crouched down so she could see his face more clearly. "Why is the fire still burning?" she asked, exhausted from running; tired of trying to believe it would one day finally burn out.

"It burns because it started many, many years ago, child," he answered as he reached forward and stroked her sweaty hair. His hand was pale and wrinkled, his beard grey and course. His eyes were a thousand years old. But his voice sounded like he was a young man and full of strength.

Grace sat up on her bed and turned to let her legs hang over the edge. She looked at the clock. 3am. Her feet hung just above the floor, and it made her feel like a little girl sometimes. She slid down and planted them on the thick carpet, and then walked pensively over to the window. The blinds were open and she she could see the white moon above the houses in the distance.

She sensed the shepherd come close and lean against the wall beside her. She couldn't see him, but she could feel his presence. His reassurance. He seemed younger. Perhaps he had come in his younger form  tonight.

"Why is it that my husband can tell me I am beautiful a hundred times, but one time say the wrong thing or look the wrong way, and it's undone?" she asked, still staring out at the moon.

"Because of the forest fire in your dream, love," he answered. He stayed quiet then and let her think about the dream and what it could mean.

"I do feel like it's a forest fire in my heart," she said. "I feel like it's this raging inferno and that, whenever he says, 'I love you,' or 'You're beautiful,' it's like he's throwing small buckets of water at the thing."

He moved closer and she could feel his hand touching the side of her neck, holding the back of her head. "Yes, that's exactly what it must feel like," he said softly.

"I don't get it," she said. "I thought the truth was more powerful than the lie. Why then does it seem like we believe the lie so easily—like one lie is so much more powerful?"

He paused a moment and she closed her eyes to listen to his response.

"Because this fire is not just about you, and it wasn't lit in your lifetime," he said. She opened her eyes and looked out at the night sky again, without really seeing it all. Orange flames danced in her mind's eye. "It was lit thousands of years ago," he continued. In a beautiful place, a garden we called Eden."

Grace turned and leaned her back against the wall. The time of night was pulling at her consciousness. She knew she'd have a hard time getting up in the morning.

"Is there any hope at all then?" she asked, tired of this fight. Tired of trying to understand. Tired.

"Of course," he said and she could almost feel him smiling. She slid down the wall and sat with her arms resting on her knees. Her forehead soon followed.

"How did it start?" she asked, "And why is it so important? Why is it still burning?"

"There are a million lies and a thousand fires that burn in the hearts of my people," he said. "This fire, though, is the one that has crippled you from the beginning. And it is not easily put out. Not at all."

"What is this fire?" she asked. "And are you saying it has crippled all of us? All of mankind from the beginning?"

"Not all of mankind, love," he answered. "Only the daughters of Eve."

She turned her head on her forearms so she could look into the space where she was sure he sat beside her.

"The fire is fuelled by a lie. And the lie was told by the enemy, but not through the mouth of the snake." He paused. "The lie was told through the mouth of Adam."

Her eyes filled with tears, but she wasn't sure why. She waited for him to continue.

"When we came looking for them in the garden, and found that they had eaten from the tree, he abandoned her. He uncovered her. He stepped aside and was willing for her to pay the price."

"What was the lie?" Grace asked, though she thought she knew what the answer would be.

"The lie was that she was not worth fighting for, my love."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In a Month of Flurry

Well, we don't normally do these types of informative blog entries, but we thought we'd make an exception since we've experienced some pretty significant milestones in the last couple of months that we wanted to share with the rest of the world!

It's difficult to know where to begin, so I'll just throw it all up in the air and see where it lands on this page . . .

First off, we're wrapping up filming season three of Decked Out which has been another great year, and even more hilarity. Paul has somehow managed to become even more creative and a little crazy with some of these designs so I'm sure all our avid watchers will really get a kick out of the season.
We also are wrapping up filming season one of a new show called Disaster Decks, which is a spin-off of Decked Out with a little more humour mixed in since Paul gets to make fun of wannabe deck builders and the monstrosities they've come up with in their back yards. It's all in good fun though, and we get to see some really cool transformations (I totally love makeovers so this is my cup of tea for sure!)

Paul was invited to be a judge on Canadian Handyman Challenge this year, which meant he was gone for most of September *tears* . . . BUT he got to have a great experience and hang out with Bryan Baeumler and Scott McGillivray for a few weeks and get to know them some more so that part was good.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . . er, suburban detached home . . . Glory was hospitalized for eight days with a burst appendix *poor baby* and Paul and I got to share her hospital room. #thankGodforchiropractors

She's much better now.
Glory at Sick Kids
We also got to celebrate our eldest daughter, Promise's, 12th birthday. It was a very special occasion since we adopted parts of an ancient Hebrew tradition and held a Bat Barakah for her. It was a beautiful Saturday under a big white tent with precious friends and family that we will always remember.

At some point during the commotion, some fairly non-trivial events took place, which I will outline below:

1) We bought a beach house on Georgian Bay.

2) Did I mention we bought a beach house on Georgian Bay?

3) My novel was published (by Safehouse Media, which is of course owned by us) and the first boxes arrived only a week ago. They look fantastico!

Click HERE for the Book Website and a Sneak Peek

4) Our audio CD was finally completed, printed, and shipped. This one is mostly Paul's baby. We started it over six (yes, six) years ago. It sounds really stinkin' good.

Click HERE for Music Website

We got to do an interview with Wayne Jacobsen on his podcast that went really well. You can listen to it by clicking HERE and then look for the short article called "When Grace Overruns Pain." Click on the "play" button near the bottom of that article.

So in the flurry of activity, homeschooling, writing, running the design company, Paul travelling, planning for the future, and making every effort to stay connected with friends and family, some very special things have occurred.

Last weekend, I sat on the deck of our new cottage under an unusually warm October sun and looked out over the sparkling and constant waves and thought, "Wow." I've been learning to allow myself to get excited about things. To stop being so internally reserved. Most people in these circumstances would probably be throwing a party. For me—and for now—my whispered "wow" was a good start.

Thanks for sharing this journey with us. And check back here now and then. Usually we are blogging about different spiritual and life insights and we *love* a good discussion! :P


Monday, July 16, 2012

Courage to Be

Last year, I read one of Brennan Manning's books, called The Furious Longing of God. One of the most impacting things I read there had to do with the power that each one of us has—albeit oftentimes latent power—to give one another the "courage to be."

Every human being desperately needs to be understood. To be known and to be loved. Ultimately, this love can only be pure when it is being received from the Creator. But each one of us has an opportunity, in the lives of those around us, to love others in a way that offers freedom for transparency and vulnerability.

The only way this works is if we are rid of our judgments and expectations of those around us. We must somehow come to the place where we hold each one with open arms and allow them to be exactly  who they are in this moment. Both perceived weakness and perceived strength must be welcome.

Just as we must learn to live lives that are not serving the expectations of others, if we want to truly embrace this freedom that Christ purchased for us, we must also let go of the expectations that we have placed on those around us. We have to allow Him to expose the thoughts that go on in the recesses of our minds; those thoughts that size up the people around us and cause us to secretly raise our eyebrows and wag our fingers in disapproval.

So many of us, without even realizing it, have appointed ourselves as the morality police and wear our gold star like some kind of symbol of governing authority over the people with whom we spend our days. If they suffer, we can't help but wonder if it's because of the way they gossip or that nasty smoking habit they have.

We preach the gospel of grace but we live our lives under the law of sewing and reaping—of performance and earned privilege. We're so worried people are going to be flagrantly wasteful with the precious grace by which we are saved, that we forget what grace even is.

If we hope to see people set free by the love that aches to be released from within us, then first we must stop living by the law of shame. We must rise above the way of religion and embrace the reality that Christ Jesus has already paid for our freedom and for theirs. That grace, is by definition, undeserved favour.

From the beginning, shame separated us from God. Shame is at the root of so much of our pain; our rebellion; our anger; our self-hatred; our fear.

Shame is lifted when we choose to embrace and live inside of His relentless and undeserved love, and when we choose to offer that same love, which has been offered to us, to those precious ones around us.

We use shame to manipulate one another to conform to our rules and expectations, and we allow the enemy to hold us down under a blanket of our own shame that clouds our vision and forces us to our knees when we were made to fly.

We have an incredible opportunity—YOU have an incredible opportunity—to stand up and walk out of the shame that has imprisoned generations of His precious children. I believe that freedom will be inseparably linked to the way we love others. The degree with which we allow His grace to flow through us toward those around us will be the degree to which we experience that grace ourselves.

True freedom comes when we are able to stand in the light. When we find a safe place in which we can truly be ourselves—truly express our doubts and our fears—where we can be honest about what we enjoy and where we struggle—where we can be embraced by kindness and acceptance and be looked upon with love and the absence of judgment.

The Father embraces the son covered in stench, and welcomes him home. The Son embraces the girl who soaks him in poignant perfume oil that wreaks of a whorehouse.

This is who we are. Foul-smelling and dripping in the excrement wrought by independence. That is who we all are. And that is who He loves—passionately and infinitely.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Dawn is Coming

I have had this reoccurring vision of a dawning sun. It is bright. Glorious. This glowing orange orb nearly too bright to look upon without squinting. It burns away the darkness and the cold. It spreads out its wings across the land and sky. And it is imminent.

Over the last several years, so many loved ones have suffered. At times it has been almost unbearable to walk along-side. At times, we have had to stop to just cry. The lyrics from Florence and the Machine's anthem, "Shake it Out," resonate in my spirit: It's always darkest before the dawn.

At times, we have sensed God's golden purpose threading its way through the tapestry of conflict, betrayal, and uncertainty. We have heard the faintest whisper of His promises. And there are days when we are overwhelmed by them. Moments when all we can see or feel is His all-consuming Love. Thank God for those days.

Today, my heart is squeezed. Too much on my plate. Too many loved ones broken. Weak.

And He whispers, "My strength is perfected in your weakness, my child. My love." Could it be His grace to allow this suffering? Could it be His furious love that allows us . . . even leads us down a path that seems to end in absolute darkness?

Could it be His long-suffering passion that allows us to hate Him? To question Him? To feel betrayed by Him?  Because He knows that we were created to be in-dwelt by Him. To be fully reliant upon Him. To live inside of His strength. To be one with Him.

Does He allow us to follow this dark path, which we have chosen because we still have some measure of independence—some notion of self-importance and indispensability, because He knows that, once we have come to the end of ourselves, we will finally be ready? We will finally say, "Not my will but Yours." We will finally experience that surge of power that comes from His Spirit within us, which raises us to our feet with the triumphant cry of the resurrected!

Yannah Mary

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Carpenter's Cry

Have you ever been in a church service or meeting of believers engaged in worship where everyone is singing in unified song, something about asking God to come and meet with us?

I have been involved in some of the most utterly amazing meetings like that.  A thousand voices lifted in song, dozens of drums beating in varied unison.  We cry out to God, "Let it rain! Let it rain! Open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain!"

The other day, I was listening to that very song.  It was a live recording, and I was moved to tears listening to the multitude of voices bellowing out this prayer.  My heart lifted and swelled in agreement.

And then the strangest vision came to mind.  I saw Him.  The Carpenter.  He stood on the earth, His face raised, eyes closed, and arms stretched out to His heavens. And He cried out, "Let it rain!  Let it rain!  Open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain!"

"This was My prayer first," He said.  "This is My intercession.  You have heard My cry and have come into agreement with Me."

Sometimes I think we think we are stretching and trying to reach God, who we believe is just out of reach.  We couldn't be more wrong.  We are crying out and fasting and praying for Him to move.  For Him to visit us.  For Him to heal us.

The truth is, He is closer than our skin, and this was all His idea to begin with.  He came to us before we ever asked.  He suffered and bled for us when we had abandoned Him.  And He is our Intercessor.  He cries out to the heavens and - every now and then - we come into a place where we can hear His prayer and we join in.  We lift our hands to His heavens and invite the rest of the story right along side Him.