Monday, November 7, 2016

YIELD!




(Don't give up on the journey!) 
On my drive through the states on the weekend The Lord started showing me some things through trees. First there were so many hills filled with intense bright, beautiful trees! Honestly they were breathtaking! Next there were bare trees, the ones that had already yielded their leaves to the fall process. Both examples of trees were submitting to their individual journeys and seasons. As I continued to drive I saw a tree with a very long branch that was holding on to heaps of dead, brown, crusty leaves. This tree at one time had had an abundance of bright, full leaves but clearly didn't submit to the full process and season it was in. Although the leaves were dead, Im sure the tree must have taken comfort in knowing it still had leaves. I began meditating on these three examples. One was in fullness. At one time this tree had many buds, then small leaves, then big green leaves and now was at a point of complete fullness and beauty. The next one would have gone through the similar process but when the time was right it submitted to the next season, it shed its leaves and is now waiting patiently for the next season of growth and beauty. The last tree went through the first process of having buds, green leaves and beauty but got stale and refused to submit to the full process. Clearly making it not only an ugly eye sore but also unproductive. You see, trees need to shed their leaves in order to conserve water and energy. The trees that had shed their leaves aren't dead, in fact they're very much alive but relatively inactive externally. As believers we are so quick to try to look as bright and beautiful as others forgetting that none of our seasons are the same. We miss out on being bright and colourful when it's our time, because we didn't yield to the full process and transformation. We hold on to seasons we are to let go of because we fear man, or don't trust the process God has for us. 

There are some that will have their season of brightness and beauty when we are gearing up to yield our leaves. There are some that will be displaying their beauty when we are very much alive on the inside but we are waiting patiently on God for his perfect timing in allowing us to release another incredible crop. But there will also be times when we will be shining brightly and beautifully because we submitted tonGod and trusted the process. All three of these stages are vital in producing something beautiful!  

  1. When we are in what may feel like an externally dormant season we need to stay focused and alive in Christ regardless of what people perceive on the outside. 
  2. When He asks us to yield to the process...we need to do it, trusting He's ordaining our next steps.
  3. We need to shine bright and beautifully! 

(The pictures of the children were taken from a Thanksgiving
Hike)
(Want to study more on this. Read over John 15 is an awesome parallel to this... than take a walk tonight down trees path and ask Him to speak to you about the season you're in.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

BY FAITH....

Miracle!! Yesterday at the Tough Mudder about halfway through the 16km course I had a shooting pain start to go through my ACL. The impact of running down the big slopes triggered something and the pain was intense. I tried to continue running but it was to much pain to bare.  I still managed to do the obstacles but any type of incline or downward hill brought intense pain. As much as I wanted to give up, I couldn't. When running I kept picturing the men and women who fight on the front lines through injury and pain for our freedom. I also kept declaring 'I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.' This along with my very patient team gave me the mental focus to keep going. Flat ground I could manage, inclines and declines were terribly painful. I was trying different strategies to lessen the pain, I skipped and hobbled on my stronger leg to relieve the pain. I tried taking off my headband and the tape from another injury to wrap around my knee...this did not help and in fact intensified the pain.  People running ahead of me had shirts on that said 'I'm a FINISHER' This helped me kept my eye on the prize. Eventually we finished the race, as a team!  (What a group) We were out for dinner last night and again any step and getting in and out of the vehicle, or any slight incline or decline shot pain through my knee. I went up and down stairs like a child one step at a time... This morning again the same thing, small strides were the way to go...anything more than that brought pain.
Here's the amazing part!!! My friend Ash  I are teaching our children's ministry this month. I was going to have my group pray for me when our groups divided, BUT after snack she immediately asked the children who believed and had faith that God still heals. One by one their little hands shot up. She encouraged them to come around me and to lay their hands on my knee in faith that God could and would heal my knee. We encouraged them to agree with what was being prayed for. They laid hands on my knee and prayed, not an overly fancy prayer but a prayer of faith  asking God, the Healer,  to heal my knee. After the prayer our classes divided up for our lesson. As I was teaching in my room I hadn't thought much about it and all of a sudden I thought 'I've been walking all over and there is no pain in my knee!' I got in the car after service with no issue. None!! Ash text me and asked how it was, I said 'Honestly? It's  healed!!!! I was still waiting for my crew to get in the car, so I got back out of the car to move and bend it, COMPLETELY HEALED in Jesus Mighty name!
When I got to my moms at lunch, I went up her steps and PAIN FREE, not even a trace or hint of pain. Our God, the one and only Jesus Christ is still the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is still healing people! We've seen it time and time again in our church and through our people stepping out in faith believing God can still do the miraculous. What is so amazing about this particular healing is that I'm often one of the ones praying and believing for someone else's healing, but this time I was on the receiving end!! Praise God!
I wanted to testify of Gods goodness! His WORD is alive and powerful. We may not have the biggest and flashiest church, but we are a unified body who believes God is who He says He is! Im so thankful that a group of kids ages 5-10 years old along with their Sunday school teacher had the faith to believe God for my healing!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Today I am thankful that although Canada may have it's flaws, it's bringing healing to the nations....

Oh Canada,

Throughout the day I've watched and seen fellow Canadians posting pictures of their families and friends as they gather together to celebrate the freedom and great country we are blessed to call home, Canada.

This past winter God confirmed in our hearts to run a community soccer league in the spring and summer. The league would be for Canadian newcomers and children in our church community who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to play in an organized soccer league. Through many roadblocks but many, many more miracles this league came to fruition. I'm thankful for my co-workers, community partners and our church family for making this dream a reality for 60 Canadian children. Continually laying the vision and the needs before The Lord, He has met each need this far. Uniforms, equipment, coaches, volunteers, snacks, water, team pictures and whatever else we have needed and desired God has made a way!  

Each week we are surrounded with some amazing up and coming athletes. Some were born in Canada but majority of these children  were relocated to Canada because of crisis in their homeland. As I look across the fields each week the beauty in the diversity of these children is breathtaking. Children from Nepal, Uganda, Rwanda, India, Korea, Syria, Iraq, Jamaica, Qatar, Bhutan and so many more, fill these fields. 

Weekly, my eyes well up as I hear another parent try to translate their story. I am amazed at their courage and bravery and feel honoured to be able to speak into their lives.  These children have witnessed and experienced tremendous heartbreak. Many have fled to Canada recently and have had to leave loved ones behind. Some are now fatherless. Some have witnessed their families being murdered. Many have lived in refugee camps before ever experiencing real freedom. A handful of players knew only a few english words their first week of playing causing their anxieties to be high, only to realize their coaches were filled with the Love of Christ causing them to feel loved, accepted and at peace. 

Today I am thankful for a country that has opened its arms to the hurting. I am thankful for a country that has opened it's arms to those who are at risk. I am thankful that God has placed these children on our paths and that as much love as we give out, they give right back.  I'm thankful that through so much loss and tremendous heartaches these children have faced that as they run the fields each week they still have the ability to laugh and smile! Their little faces light up as they play in thanksgiving for the opportunity to wear a real jersey and to play a sport they love, in a fun, safe environment. And I'm super thankful these children are not only being cheered on by their families and coaches but by their fellow teammates who resemble the nations of the world. 

Today I am thankful that although Canada may have it's flaws,  it's bringing healing to the nations.... 


Monday, June 6, 2016

Instructions are vital, not optional....

Two weeks ago my mother had the opportunity to teach my children. They got in the van after class, full of excitement shouting 'She's the best teacher ever!' In class they'd each been given a stocking, a styrofoam cup and seeds that were guaranteed to produce a dirt buddy. (My excitement was a little more contained as I realized these dirt balls.. I mean, precious dirt buddies would be sitting in my windowsill.) Instantly when we arrived home and put the truck in park, the truck doors flew open and off they went! They bolted in the house where they quickly grabbed bowls and placed their dirt buddies in the shallow water for 20 minutes as instructed. Following the soaking session they proceeded to sit their buddies on the windowsill.

Two days went by and our youngest daughter as eager as could be pulled the island stool over to the windowsill, grabbed her buddy and gave it another drink.
A few days went by again and day after day, nothing. Not one sprout. She wasn't discouraged in the least but was full of anticipation for what was to come. So again, she grabbed the stool, she grabbed the dirt ball, and she placed it yet again in a bowl of water just like she was instructed. This continued day after day and finally after much water, sun, and care her buddy sprouted!! Excitement ripped through house 'My buddy has hair!' In the next few days his hair continued to grow and multiply far above his windowsill friends. Our youngest did not gloat but celebrated her buddy's new hairdo. The day it first sprouted our second youngest was spurred on by the results of his sisters  faithfulness, so he re-soaked his dirt buddy. Again in a few days when his buddy had needed a drink he had completely forgotten to water his buddy as other things had taken his time and attention and he quickly forgot about his responsibility to water, and the promise that was attached to it. 

The child who was the best gardener wasn't the oldest or the smartest. She was the youngest. The one who had the most obstacles ahead of her. She was the one who couldn't reach the bowls or the windowsill, but she didn't let that stop her.  She found a way to do what she was instructed to do. She was given the same instructions, and saw the same disappointing results day after day but she held onto the promise, not ever striving or giving up! Not ever comparing or complaining but with childlike faith knowing that if she did what she was required and asked to do, the results and promise would surely come to pass! 'Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It gives us assurance about things we cannot see.' Hebrews 11:1

Each child started out with what they needed in order to conquer the task. All were equally as excited about what promise laid ahead. But not all were faithful. Sure they all had vision and dreams for their buddies, but one child stopped there. Surely one watered periodically.... but that wasn't what was was required.. Other pleasures took their focus. The one who was faithful received the prize, the promise and the reward.

Continue to water...

Often times in our faith walk we wonder why we aren't seeing fruit. We grow weary, frustrated and may even envy others. Go back to the instructions, and be faithful. Don't compare your walk, success, or spheres of influence with those around you, as each one of us has been given a different promise, attached to a different yet similar set of instructions. Don't water in vain, don't run with a cup of water and soak sporadically when it's convenient. Don't water when you see fruit in others lives...Water out of devotion for the Father. Follow the instructions He's given you...and when you don't see anything, when you're about to give up... keep watering! 'Don't grow weary in well doing, for in due time you will receive the harvest if you faint not.' Galatians 6:9

Be faithful, continue to water....


Monday, April 11, 2016

Mondays...

Mondays...

Mondays for me is nothing but intense housework. The day I organize all that is wrong and make it right. It's a day that shows me just how full our previous week or weekend has been. The laundry pile is daunting, the closets are jammed, the tupperware cupboard empty and the dishwasher is full.

As soon as the children were on the bus this morning I poured myself a cup of tea and went back up to my big old comfy blue chair and began to read the Word. I was reading in 1 Timothy where Paul was encouraging his son in the faith. Today as I was cleaning and going through the children's room it took me down a trail of memories from their previous week. I kept pondering certain portions of the book of Timothy as I was cleaning, drawing parallels and desiring to be a mother that encourages and sees those areas in my children's lives where they may need rearing, encouragement or to be realigned.

Here's another fresh start to a new week of memories....
As I cleaned today I learned so much more about my children. I learned what clothes they liked by looking at the overflowing hampers. I learned which ones they didn't like by finding them shoved behind toy boxes. I saw remnants of school snacks in empty tupperware containers which made me realize which snacks they devoured and loved, and I saw soggy cucumbers under a desk which made me aware that cucumbers were not my sons preference.  I saw a card made for a friend who had recently moved away and my daughters heart poured out so much love on it sharing how much she missed their dear family. I pulled a scrap paper out of the vacuum and saw a written note that said " I'm sad because..." and listed all the things one child was sad about that day. I'm thankful I got a glimpse of what was on her heart.  I saw prayer lists with friends, family and desires of their little hearts written on them. I saw bookmarks in certain passages in their bibles and books which showed me what they loved to read and what they were spending their time on. I found endless amounts of paper airplanes all over my one sons room. They were different sizes, shapes and colours which showed me he was eager to create and design, making each creation better than the first. I saw my lipgloss nicely snug in my daughters bucket. It must be the one she thinks looks best on her mommy so she wanted to try it too. So many times as moms we rush through cleaning because it's just one more thing on our list that needs to be done in order to keep things running smoothly. But I'm here to encourage you when you're cleaning be thankful and try to remember the memories that were made by these messes. Remember the ones you're picking up after or preparing for were little ones you once cried out for.  In the hustle, bustle and busyness of your days be thankful for the glimpses of hidden treasures, cucumbers, airplanes and more that remind you and show you a little more about the little people you've been entrusted with.


- Monday Mom....

(And yes, if you're wondering, my children are responsible for cleaning their rooms but every Monday is the good old Mom purge and clean!)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Between The Lines...

We often post pictures or blurbs on our social media feeds that allow our friends and family to capture glimpses of our days, lives, journeys and adventures. 
We have fun scrolling through and catching up with friends and relatives watching them conquer, battle and celebrate different milestones along their journey.   Social media pages scream out daily for likes, shares and acceptance. Depending on who is posting what, many emotions are felt by those scrolling through daily feeds. Some make us feel great, some cause us to get excited, and some can make us feel like we aren't measuring up. As we focus on the highlights of ones life, and magnify one portion, segment or moment of ones journey, we forget they too have real life happening 'Between the Lines'.  You see we all have stories, we all have what we call 'real life' happening each and every day. The one moment we tend to post may actually only be 1% of the reality we faced that day.

Over the last 10 days many of you have seen pictures of our time in Rwanda. You've seen pictures of us scouting out land, celebrating the purchase of land, holding precious babies and so much more. Those were all the amazing highlights! Truth is traveling is extremely  hard on my body. This trip in particular as we are on our final lag home from Rwanda, after a few delays, 18 hours of air time, and an 8 hour layover I find myself weeping on the plane as I listen to Healing is here. Crying out before the Lord to heal my stomach, to heal my mouth. Smells and certain foods can make my stomach rumble, leaving  me quite queazy. Africa can be one of the hardest places for me to be as my stomach can be temperamental and once I leave the hotel setting, washrooms are  rare not the norm. As I eat foods my body isn't use to, it can send signals almost instantly to my stomach which causes me to sweat and desperately look for a restroom. There were many bouts of an unsettled stomach this trip, but one time specifically this week where it was more than I could bare. We were in a coffee shop and it hit me.... Jamie pointed to a restroom. As I bolted for the not so inviting door I was hesitant to go in as what lied just beyond it was a mystery. But at this point I knew there was no other option. I raced through the door and saw a beautiful sink... praise The Lord,  looking just past the sink my eyes looked through the stall ...and there it was, a hole... an itty bitty drain hole. How in the world?!!
Oh God, come to my rescue!! THERE IS NO WAY!! I ran back out to Jamie and asked him to lay hands on me. We cried out to The Lord to settle my stomach. God was faithful! My stomach settled for the rest of the day. That may seem like a small feat to some but for me that was a miracle and a major answer to prayer. Truth is, each day as we left the hotel in the morning and again in the evening there was part of me always calculating how close the next bathroom would be. Would there be one? Would my body be okay?  Oh God, help me. Not only do I wrestle with my stomach but also with my mouth. I am prone to cankers. Seriously, these things are terrible. With lack of sleep and acidic foods they roll in. I'm not just talking about one or two of them, but they seem to sound the alarm and rally the troops filling my whole mouth and depending on their location can radically effect how and what I'm able to eat.
Why am I writing this? Why am I giving you a little too much information? Because pictures don't paint reality. 
We simply don't just hop on a plane, enter a dream,  take a few pictures and head back home.There are things we have suffered through when The Lord called us. There will potentially be things you could suffer with when The Lord calls you. Laying in airports, awaiting planes and delays, putting up with cramping and rumbling stomach issues, a mouth full of sores and pain is the 'between the lines' portion of the vision. Making arrangements for children, church, school and work to allow us to GO, is the 'Between the Lines', portion of our lives. Leaving the comfort of our home, vehicles, food, finances and precious children, is all for the glory of God. It purifies my faith and helps develop my perseverance. 
You see I never asked The Lord  to call me to missions, but I did ask The Lord to give me the nations as an inheritance. I did cry out the Lord and prayed 'SEND ME!!' I did cry out to the Lord and said, 'USE ME!' There are so many things in life we dismiss and give up on because when we start walking it out we leave what we thought would be bliss and enter suffering... so we walk away. We give up the faith we once had, the dreams we once dreamt and the visions we once saw because we thought they'd look and feel different. . We look at others public lives and roads and forget to realize they too have 'Between the Lines' moments.' 1 Peter 1:7-9 is a verse I cling to. 'These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold- though your faith is far more precious than gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials. It will bring you much praise and glory on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed.'

House of Hope was nothing I ever imagined The Lord would call me to, and when He called me these struggles were not something that was for seen (by me). But in spite of the physical challenges I've tried to be obedient to His call, to cling to the verse 'I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens ME!'  God showed me the vision, but I can't do it alone. I rely on His voice, His strength, His healing, His peace and His Wisdom, to lead me, guide me and gird me up each and every hour of each and everyday and through that and through Him is where I find the JOY in the process. 
 
After all the physical shenanigans when we finally landed in Toronto
we got to our vehicle and saw our two tires had been slashed. So
we arrived home in a tow truck after 33 hours of travel!
We honestly laughed when we saw our car. God is good. We have
learned to try to find the humour in the chaos!! 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Dirt on Marriage...

Now that I have your attention, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty!  Let’s be real, marriage is NO joke and is definitely not easy!!  Marriage involves the good, the bad and the ugly.  Seriously, did you think your spouse would look like that in the morning?  All joking aside, I LOVE LOVE LOVE being married.  When we first got married I remember thinking, “Who said marriage was a gift?  A gift!!  Really?!  What kind of sick joke was this?  If this was a gift then I wanted a FULL refund!”  This was NOT what I ordered, and definitely not what I signed up for.  Only to realize this waaaas what I ordered, and this waaaas what I signed up for.
Not only did I sign up for it, but I also made a covenant, not only with this man, but before Almighty God.  I declared to my friends, family and the world that I would love, honour and cherish him.  Do you remember declaring those words too?  The ones you so boldly recited?  I can almost hear them now… I, HEATHER, take you, Jamie, to be my husband.  For better, for worse, rich or poor, in sickness and in health..shallowly focusing on the “better”, the “rich” and the “healthy” portions of my vows and quickly skimming over the thoughts of the worse, the poor and the sick.  After all we were going to live on love and nothing could touch us, right?!
This man, the one I stood and declared my love for, the one I smiled from ear to ear when he asked me to marry him….was the very one I wished would walk out, would walk away.  My life would be better, right?  I could do it better on my own, couldn’t I?  We battled, oh did we battle.  I still remember the day I had spaghetti thrown at me, and the day I was so mad I locked him in the garage…for a long period of time.  I remember him pounding on the interior door and me leaning against it laughing, thinking “I won this round pal!”  Yes, we battled…and battled hard about nothing significant, nothing really worth battling over.  We are the all or nothing type of couple.  Gloves off, let’s see whose will is stronger.
Come on, here’s another scenario you may be familiar with…No you shut the lights off, no you shut the lights off…only to both be in bed with the overhead light blazing your face all hours of the night because neither one of you would humble yourselves and shut the light off.  Hogging the covers?  Oh wow, now you’ve really done it… only to rip them off and throw them over the banister to the level below and shivering all night because you wouldn’t cave and go get them.  Looking back now I see neither one of us won… we both lost big time.  We were both stubborn and to be honest very selfish… after all why should I have to unload the dishwasher…oh the audacity!!  Change the baby??!!  Are you serious?  Can’t you?!  After all you’re just sitting there, I know I’m just sitting here too, but I’ve been with the children all day while you were at work!
Come on, while you’re reading this, it seems so immature… but it happens all the time.  Couples battling over the stupidest things, sacrificing the closeness and intimacies of marriage over childish things.  We witness in marriages all the time.  Watching those who have desired, prayed and cried out for spouses, now cuss and lose complete control over a 60 second diaper change.  Oh God help us…. open our eyes to see the big picture and not focus on our blessings as inconveniences.  Help us to see you’ve blessed us helpmates and not prison mates.
We had so much to learn, and so much to gain…if we would just die to self.  Could we?  Would we?  People ask us all the time for marriage advice and for counsel.  The answer we give them is this… Get closer to Jesus.  Pursue the Lord.  Some stare at us, wanting a magic pill or 3 step program and solution, but honestly that’s what we did.  We never had marriage counselling… even though we were prime candidates for it on many levels.  Literally, the closer and more serious we became about The Lord, the tighter knit we became.  We fell in love with Jesus and it caused us to fall in love with one another in a way we never thought possible.  The more we laid our lives down for one another, the stronger our relationship became.  We soon realized we weren’t enemies, but we were on the same team.  Team Paton, contending for the same things, the promises God spoke over our marriage and family.  We realized there was a major war on marriages, and that if we allowed it … ours would quickly become another statistic instead of a force to be reckoned with.
My marriage advice… Pursue the Lord with ALL your heart, He’s the only one that can and will ever completely fulfill you.  He’s the only one that will never let you down.  He will lead, guide and protect you when you live under His covering.  Love and cherish your spouse, I mean OOZE love…Go out of your way to serve them…they are YOUR helpmate.  Speak reaffirming words over them and watch your marriage radically transform.  Aim for selflessness not selfishness and watch how the resentment turns to joy.  Marriage is one of the oldest covenants between God and man.  Two people becoming one flesh.  The Word says what God has joined together let no man separate.  You’ve got to determine in your heart that giving up isn’t an option.  Marriage is not 50/50, but 100/100.  Don’t wait for your spouse to start…YOU start.  Don’t allow the enemy to get a foothold in your marriage and if he has one… take authority over it, and pray!
NOTHING is impossible with God!!  Believe that He who began a good work in you WILL complete it!  I’m not saying each day will be easy…I”m saying each day and each trial will be worth it when you come out the other side knowing you made it!
I encourage you to …Seek the Lord with all your heart.  Be selfless and learn to serve your spouse.  BE FUN TO LIVE WITH!  Cover your spouses weaknesses… if you won’t love, encourage, help and protect him, who will? Spice things up!
  • Whistle and wink when he walks in the room.
  • Plant a big wet kiss on him and gross your children out!
  • Pray with him and for him.
  • Go out for dinner… spend some money!!
  • Write a note and stick it on the bathroom mirror for him to see when he wakes up.
  • Throw a cup of freezing cold water on him while he’s singing in the shower….(remember be fun to live with).
  • Ask him what God’s saying to him or showing him.
  • Leave a gift card for his favourite coffee shop on his steering wheel so he can grab a treat on his way to work.
  • Throw out those nasty jogs he despises and invest in some fun lounge wear.
  • Text him mid day and let him know you’re thinking about him.
  • Text him a verse that came to mind when you were praying for him..( I don’t recommend, “Get thee behind me satan!”.)
  • Have sex… God created it, and it is GOOD!
Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s…our paths and journey’s are all so different.  Find the uniqueness and beauty in yours!