Overwhelming Goodness.

Yesterday Andrew and I were on a stage with mikes and got to tell our stories.

What an incredible opportunity! We SO wanted our voices to resonate, to connect, to be relevant and real!

Because we serve, are filled with, and love a POWERFUL, GOOD God.

And we want to honour Him!

And it’s His story at work in us that is so unique, so captivating, so compelling.

The worship team proceeded us, and the songs they chose just wrecked me with gratitude.

“Glorious Day” is one of my favourite songs because it talks about how a dead man was called to life by Jesus and he leaves his tomb behind in a hurry!

How I know this truth! My heart was dead, and then it was alive! And I left the old me behind in a real hurry!

But when you are dead (especially in those ancient days) you were wrapped tightly. The wrappings on your body kept you, covered you, and weighed you down.

And I saw for the first time that in that story, Jesus asked the people around the newly-alive man to take the bandages off him, to free him! John 11:44

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+11&version=NIV

We need each other to help rip the bandages off. This is the work of the people of God- freeing, loving, providing, aiding and living in the full colour world of truth outside our our graves.

When you could only see darkness, there were actually a world of colour, love, and miracles.

When you could only feel bindings, there were actually warm hands, rough bread, comforting hugs awaiting.

When you couldn’t walk because your feet were tied, there were actually sandals that fit and endless adventure around you.

The story we tell after we meet Jesus is GOOD NEWS.

We can see what He sees. Feel what He feels. Know what He knows.  And go with Him as He brings dead to life.

Today I woke up to a normal day, but His goodness ran over.

I have cried tears of thankfulness all day.

We have One who actually fights for us. We have One who understands us. We have One who cares about the details. We have One who prepares for the situations we face. We have One who doesn’t answer us as we want, but as His goodness says. We have One who is always faithful (He’s got it.) when my best intentions fail. We have One who mercifully is always bringing us up before the Father, talking about us, crying with us, loving on us, being with us, confronting us, transforming us.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the tangible goodness has been rolling in…

Parents who sacrifice, love and support their kids in their adventures. So selfless!

Understanding and incredible friends on all sides.

A church family who welcomes us forward, and a church family who graciously pushes us onward.

A thoughtful gift with a prayer journal for the journey.

A administrator who loves with the biggest heart possible, and sees deeper.

A family doctor who offers to care for us in our new home.

Dinners offered with love, notes of encouragement, prayer blankets and hearts following Jesus together.

How is it possible to live in a world full of pain and brokeness, and have your own pain and brokenness but still be surrounded, poured into, lavished on and totally overcome by the GENEROUS goodness of Jesus?

Can we say Miracles still happen every moment of the day?

I know that much of this is because of the people who are building in the Kingdom of Jesus- unraveling the fears and shining light in the dark places.

So get out there people of God– getting unraveling each other!!! The day has come! It’s full of TRUTH and GOODNESS!

He is good. Let that sit with you today.

(And here’s my new favourite song!)

 

 

A little different.

Morning.

Just a quick laugh today!

Apparently, this is how 10 year old boys feel banana bread should be sliced. 🙂

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And if I backed up a few years, this would have set me off. We would have had “slicing-demonstrations” and “lectures on respect for all” and “heart-healthy portion size discussions.”

Today? I took a photo, laughed and moved on.

Why?
Because he did it himself. He took initiative. He got dressed, made a lunch, ate a breakfast and got on the bus all in reasonable time without complaining.

Thank goodness.

The backstory here is that our youngest son has a brain tumour, asthma, low iron and sensory processing issues. Lately (given anxiety about our upcoming move) he’s really, really, really struggled to get his socks on.

(Like, screaming for 2 hours every morning kind of struggle.)

Socks hurt. They scratch. They are too tight. They slip. They are too loose. They aren’t soft enough.
We have compensated (and spent too much!!)- no socks, socks that have no seams, socks that stay up and never slouch down, the same socks day after day, socks that haven’t been washed, and finally today, socks and shoes to sleep in.

(I think we should move to Florida. Flip flops year round?)

Yup. Socks and shoes to bed last night. (Uncomfortable anyone? Is the idea of dirt in their clean sheets giving anyone a constricted chest?)

It does for me. I don’t like it at all.

But I love my kid. And I want him to win. I want him to wake up and walk out the door dressed, happy and full of victory. I want him to be confident that socks don’t own his life.

So, shoes and socks on. (And guess what? It worked! For today anyhow.) He left this morning happy and joyful, feeling like a winner.

And that’s why pie-shaped banana bread makes us laugh. Because we see them winning. Trying new things, learning independence and we get to watch them with joy. Delight.

(and, we wish we would’ve thought about slicing it that way– really, he got the best piece!)

Mama’s and Papa’s– there’s lots to feel worried about, but most of it is not as big as we think.  Laugh more. Again. It’s ok to smile!  (and not run downstairs and clean the sheets right away.)

(and if you have more sock ideas, feel free to let us know!)

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A little beauty.

Sitting at the dinner table a few nights ago, the most interesting conversation erupted.

Apparently  my son Alex (who has a crazy creative mind) had managed to rope several classmates into helping him write a comic book. Since he can’t write or draw, he enlisted his troops to help him with the fine motor skill tasks, while he generated plot lines, characters and ideas.

One of his superheroes is a woman (I can’t remember her name because I didn’t really listen to the whole comic book download, can you blame me?) whose super power is….

Squats.  Right. She squats like a champ and lifts heavy stuff. (Gym class for inspiration? why not?!) Squat-girl anyone? (Maybe not a bestseller?)

Anyhow, he had been looking at women to see if their legs were strong, and so he told us at the dinner table about one lady who he admired deeply because her legs were strong and large.

He wanted to go and tell her– and we had (unfortunately) to tell him that not everyone would take his kind gesture as kindness. That some women were very sensitive about their bodies, and that the media hasn’t always been kind to portraying the wonder of a women’s body.

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So he asked me: “Mom- do you feel bad about your body?” and I answered: “Sometimes, yes.”

He replied: “Dad- I just feel like I want to shake her– doesn’t she have an sense at all? Can’t she see she is beautiful?”

I smiled, hugged and thanked him and we moved on.

So I thought.

Later that night, he and Olivia were in the car on the way to dance class, as we were chatting, Olivia brought up the dinner conversation.

She quietly said “Guys. Sometimes I feel like I don’t stand out, like I’m not fast enough, smart enough, good enough, pretty enough or strong enough.”

I thought Alex might blow a gasket on the spot. He is so sweet!

So, I quickly asked the Lord for guidance (He’s always there for me, always!) and He answered immediately!

We were just driving past an entire BLOCK planted with the most BRILLIANT red maple trees ever! There was a whole long row of them all the very same stunning shade of red!

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We oooed and awwwed, and then I asked the kids: “Hey kids. Do you think these trees would be as pretty, or spectacular or noticed if ALL the trees were red, tall and stunning?”
“What makes them so amazing to see is that there are so many trees around them to HELP them stand out.  If there were no pine trees, no walnut trees, no cedars or birch then they just wouldn’t be as unique.”
“You are like a maple tree. You stand out because you are you, special, and incredibly beautiful- but never forget that it is the other trees that help make you so. It’s a team- a forest effort. You owe your strength, your beauty, your smartness, your goodness to the the people around you who by being who they are, allow you to shine. And more than anything, you owe your awesomeness to your Creator who made you to be this beautiful.”
“Don’t forget to say thanks to Him and help the trees around you shine too.”

Olivia sat there stunned for a moment, and then beamed. “Mom. That’s exactly how it is. I am me. And I am different than the other kids, but not better. We all have something amazing to share, to be. ”

All the way home from dance I mulled over this thought: that so much of life is about trying to be someone else. Trying to minimize that part of us we don’t like. Trying to shine when we don’t need to. Not understanding our value and worth, and not taking deep pleasure in seeing how we make the people around us shine.

I thought about how the maples are really stealing the show right now- bright, bold and incredible!

But in the spring? It’s the tulips, the hyacinth and the crocus who give us joy, hope and excitement.
If the maple trees sat around trying to be tulips in the spring, they would miss being spectacular bringers of pumpkin spice lattes, cool autumn walks, and many Sunday afternoon autumn drives.

If the tulips made an effort right now, they would use up all the energy they’ve stored for the next spring, and would pale beside the trees. It would be so wasteful and tragic.

There are seasons my friends. Moments for you to shine, like a maple. And there are seasons where your “ordinary-ness” is ESSENTIAL for others to shine. The world needs beauty, originality, hope and change and steadiness, gentleness and admirers.

We all have seasons to be the bringers of joy- and we have seasons to admire, celebrate, grow and delight when others are the joy-carriers.

But make no mistake: all are beautiful. All are needed. All have purpose. And are all special.

Eph 2:10

“For we (ALL OF US!) are GOD’S handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  

Today, look around. If you are shining, keep on shining, and be thankful for the people all around you helping you shine! We need your season as surely as we need spring and autumn and summer and winter.

If it’s not your season right now – look around and see if you can support, help and grow along side some one else who is in a shining season.  Your time will come.

 

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The maples always turn red and we love them every fall. The tulips always bloom in the spring, and bring us hope and fresh life.

Be who you are meant to be in this season. And love the seasons the people around you are in. We need each other.

 

 

Anxious?

Let’s talk about anxious days. (If you are in a chronic season- please check in with a health care provider!)

Specifically about health.

It’s my dirty little secret. I worry about my health.

A cold becomes the flu, which becomes full-blown cancer.

A sore back is obviously tumours.

Clearly, I have diabetes because I peed a lot today.

A pain mass of varicose veins are surely just a symptom of a heart condition which imminently threatens my survival.

(even typing these out and reading them makes me laugh. They are just so over the top but when you are worried, they seem so legit!)

Anyone with me?? Anyone else used Dr. Google and left terrified ?

The first real big battle I had was when Hudson was  diagnosed with a brain tumour and we were all shocked.

Yesterday he had to go to school and say good bye to one of his classmates who died tragically this weekend in 2nd grade.

And I don’t feel so good. (Probably a cold.)

1+1 =Trigger.

So (honest here) after we got the kids on the bus, and hubby kissed me good bye, I cried in bed for 1/2hr and laid there feeling sorry for myself. Feeling sorry for my kids. Feeling sorry for the kids at my kids school. Feeling so sorry for the family of the little one.

But I got to thinking about why it was hitting me so hard. Why was I so worried about my own health and then about Hudson?  Why was that worry keeping me from a good day?

I believed deep down that if I was unwell, I would be unable to care for my son Hudson who needs a lot of extra care.
And if he DOESN’T get my care, somehow he will be scarred, wrecked or totally unable to face his life. (Isn’t that what Doctors/parenting mags/blogs/ fb posts tell us? Isn’t that what we are all scared of? being incapable of facing the things in life we have to face? feeling like we’ll come up short? wondering if we’ll make it?)

I believed that- (deep breath here)  if I’m not well, no-one will care for my family like I do, and they will suffer, and suffering is bad, and my family will be ruined, and that means my kids will be disasters for the rest of their lives, with no hope.

I believed that I was the only one who could process life with them, and do it well.

And what I believe drives my actions.

It’s all about me.

I’m the only one.

I’m the solution.

I’m the caregiver (and the only caregiver that matters.)

I’m in control and need to fix everything, and need to be there for every moment.

I’m the perfect problem solver.

Only I know the right way. Only I can find the solutions. Only I can handle my kids issues. Only I make them feel better. Only I can help them. Only I am the reasonable assurance of their outcome as decent human beings.

(apparently in this scenario, my children have no will, no thoughts and no care for their own lives or outcomes. I alone manage them. Haha! see the lie there?)

OUCH. Ouch. ouch.

What about Dad? What about Grandparents? What about Teachers? Neighbours?Friends?
What about God?

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Notice that it doesn’t say “Your mom made you, (fairly well because she ate healthy and sometimes took her pre-natal vitamin while avoiding alcohol)  and your mom will carry you (because even though she’s only 5 feet tall, she’s awesomely perseverant and can do more than she thinks, and she has a complete grip on everything in her own life and can carry hers and yours)  and your mom will sustain you (when you hit hard times, adolescent years and when you just need a break from homework) and your mom will rescue you (because obviously she will be at the hospital, finding you on the street, helping you get a job, setting you up in counselling and making you chicken noodle soup when you are sick.)

But that’s what anxiety keeps telling me. And what I have believed. Sneaky.

I take the place of God. Ouch.

But I’m a child of God. Not God. How much more comforting is it to know that I don’t have to know everything, be everywhere, make no mistakes, have infinite energy?

That I can be me- beautifully and wonderfully made, and He can be God?

My worrying was robbing God of His first-love-always-moving-towards-us-never-giving-up-on-us kind of caregiving.

But isn’t He the one who decided to give up His everything to become one of us? And then to suffer as us? And then to die as one of us? For us?

Surely, He is a better caregiver than I.

A more informed partner who sees every outcome and has a plan for each one.

A decent and thoughtful doctor, who prescribes leaving the things that bother us at His office, so that we can head into our days light and free—-with joy even! (If you are still shocked that we are called to live through dark days with Joy! join the club! It’s scandalous! and a bit delightful! and it’s true!)

THERE IS MORE. THERE IS A BIGGER PURPOSE.
Jesus love requires that we let Him care for us. And that we receive His love.

He offers the same reassurance to us all. That He cares (Care-gives) for us.

What about you? Maybe you don’t fuss over kids, or health like I do. But I bet you have something that you don’t trust God with. Something that’s exclusively yours to worry about.

Let’s let Jesus love cover us. Wreck us. Wash over us. Knowing that He is a better Care-giver. That He’s got what it takes to see us through. To see our kids through. To see our families, dreams, desires, and hopes through. To help us finish well. And even enough love for us to lavish out on the world around us.

Because LOVE requires me to learn to keep bringing anxiety to Him.  I’m sure I will keep experiencing it from season to season, but He wants to be in it all with me. To be the One who is God-with-me. God with you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

(He cares. It’s His job, His right, His nature, His character, His promise, His bent, His will, His desire, His want, His make-up, His personality, His duty- His deep LOVE.)

Practically, here is a workbook that I have found to be helpful if this is an area you struggle with:

https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself/Health-Anxiety

And, knowing that people do care about you even at your worst, (like this hunky husband) isn’t too bad either! He brought flowers, right from the florist! What a guy!!!

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Perspective.

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Isn’t it true that how you see the things you face changes how you face them?
This week, I had to take Alex and Hudson to the GP for their flu-shots.
(Now before you go debating the merits of the flu-shot, just know that I have a child who has a brain tumour and respiratory issues and has spent far too long in the hospital. For our family, it works.)

Nobody likes getting a needle. But even if you are the parent of a child who has regular injections, there’s something very emotional about subjecting your child to painful procedure.

But it’s what love requires. I’ve been asking myself most days now, how to really love the people around me.

And it’s hard, because as I look, I realize that my value-system has been skewed. Broken.

I don’t value things rightly, and so I make strange judgements about what love should or shouldn’t look like.

And, most of the time, I’m too soft. I don’t look ahead enough to see the consequences of my actions. I just want to do the kind, easy thing in the moment.

(Mostly because I value immediate peace over long-term gain…

I think I need a value-system upgrade.)

The flu-shot helped. I sat with my kids, watched and held them as they learned to lean into fear and walked right through it. It was so healing.

Instead of sheltering my kids from pain (normal response from me) I actively placed them in a situation where pain was inflicted, and then felt like CHEERING from the roof tops as I observed them find strength to walk THROUGH the pain.

They became just a little more confident about navigating hard things. Just a little more sure that they could make it. That they had what it will take to get through. Kids know life is hard.

It is certain that difficulties come. What we all need, is to know that we have what it takes to weather any storm. And that we’ve done it before, and can do it again.

Your kids have more than you know. You have more than you know.

Sometimes Love means we have to remember that they are in God’s hands, and He has got a handle on their lives. Pain, storms, life, it’s all part of the process.

But so are hope, joy and laughter! The thing about flu shots, is they are meant to keep my kids from a great pain.  The purpose is for hope for good to come. A good winter season. A good time at home, not the hospital. A good deep breath of air without coughing.  So we willing walk through suffering knowing that Good is in it, and just around the corner.  We see provision in the pain.
Isn’t it great that John says that God is good? He’s in the moment, and around the corner? And that He is the one who has complete understanding of everything, so only He can fix/provide a system of value that will make sense in our storms?

What about you? Does your perspective on the difficulties you are facing need an update? Do you need to remember that you can weather this storm? You’ve done it before, you can do it again! And if you’ve never done it before, Jesus has. You can anchor to someOne if you find it’s all too much.

(Love also required me laughing as Alex decided to be a ninja at the Costco checkout! Enjoy!)

 

 

The Next Move. Just say yes.

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield,  your very great reward.”

Genesis 15:1

Last Christmas, Andrew and I started to feel a change coming. We had no idea what the change was going to be, but we knew if we took the time to search for God’s directions, He would be the One to tell us what was next.

So we did. While we were in Florida during our winter holidays, He spoke to us and asked us to resign our pastoral position as Family Ministry Pastors at Plattsville Church. 

He didn’t tell us anything else. Just to resign.

So with heavy hearts, we did. (We LOVE Plattsville!!!!!) https://pemchurch.ca

Then came the uncertainty, and wondering what was next.

But we know that the best thing to do is just say YES. Just say Yes to God.

And then came the next step. (He really does light our path, one step at a time!) 

We said YES to a position for Andrew as the Executive Pastor at Bethany Community Church in St. Catharines, beginning in April of 2019.

(If you want to check it out look here:) https://bethanycc.ca

Our family is looking ahead to what God is doing for us and through us with certainty that He will provide for us, and will direct us each step of the way.

Involving the kids (because a sweet friend reminded me that our family is a team– these kids are awesome listeners to God!) was so perfect.

Alex woke up in the night with a song, and told us that God says “Go”  because  “where You go, we will go, where You stay, we will stay, we will follow You Jesus.”

And with that, all the kids have hopped onto to this adventure ride with us. They said “Yes” too.

(Hudson is still hesitant- he isn’t sure that our furniture will make it to the new house. 😉

And now, (in a new way)  we will rely on Jesus who is faithful, who is God with Us, and begin the slow process of final renovations on this church house, and the packing that goes with a move.

(The painter comes this week, and I have to move lots already– always a mess before beauty. Isn’t that the way of life?)

This decision has been really hard, because we LOVE everything about our current situation.  It has seemed strange to us to move, because we had finally settled in and found a community we adore, friends who we don’t want to live without, a school which has been great, and neighbours that we never want to leave. This has been a dream home, dream life, and yet….

You can have everything you’ve ever wanted, but when you hear God calling, it stirs your spirit and you can only do two things: harden your heart to not hear or leave everything and do what He asks and trust He is who He says He is. He is good. He is Love. So we have hope expectantly that He holds us as He always has.

So, God has called us, and we WANT to be obedient. We said “Yes.” 

These choices are hard, but Andrew and I deeply know that that we are all living eternal lives. These 80 years will fly by in a blink, and then we will spend eternity understanding the love, grace and care He lavished on us as we moved with Him.

As for  practical plans, we will most likely move after our kids have completed the 2018/2019 school year in the end of June. We’ve got a house to finish and sell, business to work through and a few holidays upcoming.

And, if you would like to join with us, we would love for you to pray the same blessing Abram received from God over our family. That He would be our shield, and He would be our very great reward in this new season. And that He would do the same for the friends and neighbours who we love so deeply and have to say good bye to. 

Big love,

The Epp Family (Andrew, Gen, Olivia, Alex and Hudson)

#EppsSayYES

 

you stick to it!

Last night marked just over a year.

That’s right. One + years of Hudson having the most amazing health ever– no trips to ER for one year. No asthma attacks for one year. No prednisolone for one year. No antibiotics for one year. No hospital stays for one year.

Last year, I asked God for one year for Hudson.

In January, He answered with this word: “Breakthrough.”
I laughed at Him and told Him that only charismatic, super weird people lived their lives based on a word for the year.

He challenged me by giving me that word CONSISTENTLY for days. It finally soaked in.

So we lived like it. We lived as if we were in “Breakthrough” mode.

We cancelled 5 of his specialists and doctors except his GP, Neurosurgeon and Respirologist.

I took the kids and we marched “Jericho-style” around our home for 7 days and blew our toilet paper roll trumpets to mark the destruction of the walls around our hearts and minds- to begin the conquering of the challenges we had each submitted to God… spelling, reading, health, and fear.

We have all see INCREDIBLE triumphs in each of these areas.

But today I want YOU to celebrate with US in our area of VICTORY! WE got our YEAR! Hudson went to the ER last night with a nasty fever, but he’s perfectly well this morning. (Thank you Jesus!)

We also were told by his Grade one teacher that we no longer need his IEP because he has CRUSHED his anxiety issues and is able to participate FULL TIME with no issues in learning. (In fact, he’s almost the top of his class! with NO language issues at all! He’s gobbling up the french language!) HA! Miracles ARE happening here!!!!!

ALL THIS FOR GOD’S GLORY! How can He personally give you a promise and then not keep it??? HE IS GOOD!

And, we continue to move in Jesus to slay the giants that are before us still.
So cheer with us as we ask still for full healing of this tumour Hudson has. Pray with us as we keep listening to God’s voice and His guidance for this next year of life.

And if you have an ear, and hear God’s voice speaking to you- JUST STICK WITH IT, and LIVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!

Abel vs Cain.

IT WAS A FORESHADOWING!!!

How did I miss it????

Today’s blog might be brief, might be nothing, might be everything.

Abel was the brother of Cain. They were birthed by Adam and Eve.

Abel offered up a pure lamb, a sacrifice which God accepted and was pleased by.

Cain offered up the first of his vegetables, the best he had, but God was not pleased. God said it wasn’t enough.

So Cain looked at Abel, and instead of asking Abel to help him, to share a lamb with him, and to learn from him how to please God, Cain decided to kill Abel out of anger, jealousy and spite. He was determined that his offering should be just as good as Abel’s, but it was not.

If Cain couldn’t have God’s favour, then no one could.

Guess what?

Jesus was born of Adam’s line. So were we all. He was called a lamb. He offered up Himself, as the Son (representing Abel), as the child of God to be a pleasing sacrifice, and He was accepted. He and He alone was a pleasing sacrifice. And we, like Cain, killed Him.

Nothing we (as represented by Cain) could offer would ever be good enough. Even if we were like the Pharisees- perfect in every single one of the laws that God has given. All of it would be tainted by our hearts motives, our imperfections, our violence and greed, and God saw through it all.

We didn’t offer ourselves to Him so that we could be made pure.

We offered so we could get more. (Let’s get rich because He’ll like us more if we sacrifice and will bless us.)

We offered so we could be more. (Let’s have more power, because He’ll give us more influence if we establish that we are the perfect ones who know the ways of God best.)

We offered to feel good. (Let’s have God reward us and make us feel good about us being so good, so obedient, addicted to positive feedback, not goodness itself.)

We failed to see that He could see through us like a parent sees through a child who is trying to manipulate them.

We have determined that we are good enough. If we do the laws of religion, we are good enough. If we help others and live with good karma, we are good enough. If we spend life looking at love and kindness and empty out ourselves and become nothing, we will be erased, and good enough. If we just live decent and don’t kill everyone around us, we are probably good enough, right?

WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. We have vegetables.

We need a lamb. How can we get one?

Jesus did not manipulate God. His offering was simple. Pure. Serving others, not Himself.
Cain (Us) needed to imitate Able, but couldn’t, because his heart had no other way to follow. All he knew was burning envy, lust for power, intense guilt and frustration, and thwarted curiosity.

How GREAT is the love of God to offer on our behalf?! To accept Jesus’s offering as pleasing, and to welcome us (because of Him) into that pleasure and goodwill?

When we believe in Jesus, it’s like saying: “I don’t have anything but vegetables, but Jesus said I could share his lamb- I am offering with Him, because of Him, and by Him. He provided for me. It was better than my vegetables.”

He is the lamb we needed. We are in, God is pleased, because Jesus offered.

Whoa.

A New Year.

Yesterday the snow fell softly. It was the stillest, most silent day.

All the trees were bearing the weight of the feathery soft flakes that made the whole forest look Narnian.

And I got to walk in it. I got to lift my eyes and feel snow on my eyelashes.

It was magical. White. Cold. Still.

And very, very sleepy. Everything was tucked in under a blanket of brilliant white.

It made me think of gratitude-audacious thankfulness despite the cold.

There was a warm home waiting with a roaring woodstove. There were family inside, bursting with life in them. There was food to be shared.

Winter is a time of rest. A time for the soul to be still. A time to reflect.

And I love the juxtaposition of the summer and winter.

Hudson health journey has thrown us as parents into the seasons of the soul.

Lately, it’s been a growth season for Hudson.

We purposed this year to explore all avenues of health and see if we could uncover what was keeping him chronically ill.

He saw an ENT who found enlarged tonsils and adnoids, and suspected sleep apnea. This brings us sleep tests and tonsil-adnoid surgery in the spring sometime.

He saw a psychiatrist at the hospital to help him with managing his emotions and fears around his health. This has brought him a wonderful art therapist and child life specialist who meet and entertain him everytime we are in London.

He saw an oncological naturopath who preventatively has been assisting in building his immune system and nutritionally fortifying him. This has lead to 8 straight weeks of health for Hudson-even when his sister brought home the flu.

He was given an IEP for his SK year at school. This has given him the time he needs to build his stamina, adjust to being away from mom, and reduce his exposure to illnesses.

He was given a mom and dad who care about his health and spiritual welfare, and have tried to help him understand Jesus. This has led him to asking Jesus to forgive him, live with him, and be his friend forever on Dec 6.

Finally, he met with his neurosurgeon in November and it was decided that his tumour looks stable and he doesn’t need another MRI until April.

And Hudson is loving this time of year. He is conquering his fears, he is learning to live life even when life is complicated with doctors.

He even went to the nursing home with to visit great grandma and let the little old ladies kiss and touch him! Unheard of!

We welcome this time of growth and rest-rest for our parent souls, and growth for our son.

And we urge you, that no matter where you find yourself-under the weight of accumulated sorrows, out in the cold, staring at a frosty life, or in the home, surrounded by goodness-find Jesus. He is with you. He goes before you. He is behind you. Or He is like Aslan-waiting for you to find for Him in a world that is new and uncertain to you.

 

Clarified. (Again.)

Kids. What wouldn’t we do for our kids? How many dreams would we fill for them if we could?

Hudson got a letter in the mail about 2 months ago letting us know that he is eligible for the “Make a Wish” program, which is available to any child battling a life-threatening illness.

A couple nights ago, he and the big kids sat down with me to google “Make a Wish” and we watched Youtube video after video of all the fun wishes that kids had received. Some went to Disney, some got new rooms, some had a favourite person come and meet with them, and they were all very sweet.

The thing is: when you get a “Make a Wish” letter in the mail, you have this terrible realization as a parent that if the hardness of the journey isn’t real yet, it suddenly becomes terrifyingly real.

You have a heart-sinking-like-a-rock realization that you are now the parent of a child who is battling for their life. This is not how you typically imagine your parenting journey will be when you are planning your coming babies nursery. Not how you would imagine your parenting journey when you are thinking about RESP’s and planning which schools they should attend. Not what you think about when you prepare to return to work after your mat leave.

It’s a weird, weird place to be. To be confronted with your child’s mortality every day. Those of us who are younger suppose that it is a normal place for some people to be- after all, the aged in their retirement homes are supposed to be grateful for each day they have and try to “live life to the fullest” because they don’t know how much longer they will have.

But it’s not typically how you start your parenting journey.

And so a slow slide has happened for me in my soul. I’m just realizing it now.

After we got the letter, a friend of mine reminded me of what a beautiful AWESOME gift it is that we’ve been provided with- imagine! Any wish Hudson’s wants will come true when he’s ready! He can even take the whole immediate family to Disney World if he wants. Crazy!

But the only wish I’ve really wanted isn’t on the list. I’ve wanted Hudson’s health so badly. I’ve wanted for this exhausting circle of doctors, specialists, needles, coughing, medicines and supplements to be over. I’ve wanted to see Hudson strong, growing, running, going to school like a “normal” kid. I’ve believed my goals were noble, right, good and I’ve spent most of my time petitioning God for Hudson’s healing. It’s what I think about day and night, and it’s what I want more than anything.

Luke 14:25-35

” A large crowd was following Jesus. 

He turned around and said to them,  “If you want to be my disciple (my follower), you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 

 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?  Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (

“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again?  Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

With chronic illness, our hearts can wander into dangerous territory:

Coveting- because we wish we had the health of others.

Greed-because even if we are well for a time, it’s never enough.

Selfishness/Self-pity- because we are the ones who need more than others. It’s not fair.

Pride- because we don’t want to ask for help, we are tired of always being the one to ask for help.

Deception-if God really loved us, He would take this “cross” of illness off our shoulders and let us skip and run in the meadows…. therefore, does He love us?

Fear- looking into the future and feeling like there won’t be enough. Enough time, enough resources, enough patience or enough hope.

My heart has stayed into all these places at times, because the desire I have for Hudson’s healing burns within me so intensely everyday. But it has become a distraction. It has become a goal that has had me following Hudson, instead of Jesus.

I have made living life the goal. Staying alive and being well while being alive have become the goal.

And you know what? It feels hollow. Empty. Like something is missing.  That’s because it’s missing something more important- Jesus.

Jesus wanted us to make our relationship with Him the priority- and THEN He would provide life, even life that was overflowing.

Why? Because how hard would it be to keep a marriage alive with all the best bits of love (the mystery, romance, surprises, conversations) if you only married for the things that the other person offered you? What would you do if they could no longer offer you those things? Couldn’t it eventually destroy your relationship?

So following Jesus around these days, looking for a “healing-hand-out” so that I can get on with my normal life, and be a normal family again is exactly why I had to read this scripture this morning.

Following Jesus is about being with Him. Nothing held back. No secret manipulative, negotiating motives. Just being with Him because.

Because He made us. Because He will be the ultimate prize when we die. Not the stuff, the health, the experiences, the travel, the family, not even the very awesome heavenly home or rewards He promised us…. Just Him.

And the real catch? When I peel back the layers of what I really want, more than anything, I want peace and happiness in my home. I have allowed Hudson’s illness to rob me of peace and happiness in my heart, because I set my eyes on his health above all. (Hard not to, when you see your kids struggling to breathe- so don’t think I’m over here self-condemning– I get that this is strange and so tough.)

But I’m brought back– peace and happiness always are a place that is hidden inside our hearts, and are not given to us by our external circumstances. Because even when everything is perfect, we can be freaking out inside that the perfection will end someday and we don’t want it to.

So the inner bit of us matters more than the outer bits do. And the only One who has ever lastingly affected my inner-bits has been Jesus.  When I am with Him in my heart, I do have peace. I do have joy. I do have a face like steel that can face an uncertain circumstances and know that they do not dictate my present state of being.

Hear Jesus’s words: If I make Him first, I will finish the tower (accomplish the goals I set out), win the war (we will have peace and victory), be the salty salt (be a desirable and good mom, friend and pastor.)

If He is first, I will get to walk with Him as He walks with me carrying our crosses together. For I do not serve a God who is unwilling to experience pain, heart ache, and sorrow with me.

In fact, He suffered more than I will ever suffer. And He trusted His Father to the very end.

Oh, how He loves us!

Why shouldn’t I trust Him? And why shouldn’t I pray with, model and train my children that a relationship with Jesus is the lasting prize- (oh! how their faces light up when they get to hang out with Nana or Grandma or Papa- they prefer the people over gifts every time…)

So, walking with Him allows me to sink fully into the place of thankfulness, excitement and gratitude I want to be in when I consider “Make a Wish.” How cool, how insanely awesome it is to be in a world where people care about kids like Hudson! We are blessed, blessed, blessed! But it’s nice to know deep down that the “Wish” isn’t the goal, being with Jesus each day is. No one can take that, and that wish never ends….

I want to finish my life well– and as I run this marathon, it’s nice to have the goal re-clarified– it’s not what I can get from God, it is  being with God Himself.