Monday, November 27, 2017

Exercising Forgiveness

I remember years ago being in a parenting class in the basement of Faith Tabernacle. We had been talking for a few weeks on forgiveness and how to really walk through it successfully. I remember my one friend, Sheryl, she was completely vulnerable and uttered a comment wrapped in a question that really resembled what so many of us struggled with. She said, "I go and pray and when I start to pray my desire is to bless my enemy but it takes everything in me in that instant for me not to start cursing them.” What a profound statement, why? Because we’ve all been there! How many times have we gone to pray and we’ve really really reallllllly wanted to extend forgiveness to someone, but in the same instance our brain is being rattled as it recalls all that this person has done to us!
So many times I’ve come to the Father and started praying for someone I’ve been struggling with. I’ll ask The Lord to bless them and literally as I pray that, my mind ceases… and I think, “Well, I dont’ want the to be blessed more than I am!” Oh God forgive me, bless them. I pray you would give them the desires of their heart” And the whole time I'm trying to pray, my flesh and my spirit are waring! Really, You have to exercise forgiveness. You have to WORK.. and I mean sometimes you really have to WOOORRRK at forgiving people. They’ll be the same people that will walk all over you. They’ll be the ones that will dismiss your gifts, take advantage of you, slight you and abuse you. Our job is to release it, and to trust God.
The world tells us pay them back, that they dont’ deserve you, they don’t deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t saying let’s have coffee once a week and be BFF’s. Forgiveness is releasing them. It’s the art of letting go of unfulfilled expectation. It’s the art of letting go of being wronged. It’s picking up those heavy bags, dropping them off at the foot of the cross and trusting that God will heal all things in due time and take care of what needs to be taken care of. I remember one summer we took our youth to a youth conference in Indiana. The Youth Pastor, Gary Osborne was sharing about forgiveness. He was giving an example of how we’ll say we’ve forgiven someone, but when that person does us wrong again, we go over to the filing cabinet, take out the file with their name on it and go over EVERYTHING they’ve done and every wrong they’ve made against us! How many times have we said, “You’re forgiven!” Only to be wronged again! We march right over to that filing cabinet, yank our their file and throw it in their face. I’m telling you, I am SOOO thankful that when I do a bonehead thing the Lord doesn’t march over to the filing cabinet and pull out my file! I’m thankful that He’s gracious to forgive and cleanse me from all unrighteousness!
The Psalms say, "As far as the east is from the west that’s how far our transgressions are from Him.”
So when I start to feel justified, when I start to feel entitled, when I want to pin someone to the wall, I pray, "God remind me what I’ve been forgiven of! Remind me of how clean you’ve made my slate!" When Jamie was young in his faith, he prayed for the Father’s Heart. A heart of love and compassion, a heart of forgiveness, he prayed for an unoffendable heart” and wow, He has been a great encouragement in this for me. There are many people who have done us wrong, many who have walked out, many who have slighted, many who have abandoned, many who have hurt us/me. But we continually pray for God’s best over them, honestly that’s the best medicine. It’s the best advice. It sounds CRAZYYYYY!! Especially because some wrongs are deep. Some leave DEEP DEEP wounds in our lives. Some leave holes and scars. Sometimes we are left with other peoples messes. They come into our life, leave it it shambles, they dust their hands off, move on and leave us struggling to pick up the pieces. Those are the hard ones. Those are the ones we have to pray and ask God to guard our hearts and we HAVE to call our thoughts to attention. Pray. Trust God as the great judge, and not in a way that says, “GO GET EM” GOD!” But God, give me the grace to be able to walk through this with a clean heart, a clean mind and pure motives. There are some who have done things to hurt us and they have absolutely no idea they have. Release it. Look at it through a clean lens. Take off the offended glasses, cast off previous hurts and rejection so you can assess the situation properly. So many have years and years of hurt, of unforgiveness, rejection, and bitterness pent up that even the tiniest of situations can offend them. Ask the Lord to heal your heart and mind, or your wounds WILL go deeper, and deeper and deeper. When you ask Him to heal you, you know what? He will!
I remember one day I was driving to a women’s group. I remember on the way there thinking of these ladies and all the crazy lives they’ve had. Some women have been abused, abandoned, trafficked, addicted, divorced, widowed, etc… as I was sitting at the intersection of Huron and Clark, I started weeping feeling completely inadequate. I remember crying out to God, “Why did you choose me to minister to these women? WHY? How do I tell them to move on? How do I tell them to forgive and let go? God I can’t even relate to them, why me?! I am completely unqualified to do this! And just like that a WAVE hit me, and I mean HIT ME HARD! Holy Spirit started FLASHING situations I'd gone through in my life, that I had come through and COMPLETELY forgotten about. I mean completely! At that moment I needed windshield wipers for my eyeballs because I was out of control. My God, had literally healed my heart from some really, really dark times. Dark times as a teen mom, dark times in my marriage, dark times of abandonment, dark times of failures, dark times of rejection. I was the perfect one to minister to this group! Now it was GAME ON! Oh man, when Holy Spirit lights me up from the inside you better watch out! Game over, the lies have been revealed and the truth was about to be unleashed and these women set free! I have been healed, I have extended forgiveness, I have come out of the fire untouched and unscorched, come on people just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I had no SMELL OF FIRE on my clothing!! If you could have seen me walk into that Group, it was Game OVER! I had been a testimony! I had gone through some GARBAGGGGE! I had had some people do some terrible things to me, but when I asked, when I contended for their forgiveness, when I went to bat in prayer asking God to bless them and like my friend said at the same time wrestling with not wanting to curse them, God started working!Why? Because I continually went back to the foot of the cross! See forgiveness doesn’t help the one whose offended or hurt you, forgiveness helps you! It takes your hard heart and softens it again. It will clear your thought life, it will allow you to think on people and really hope for the best for them. You WILL have to FIGHT for forgiveness and fighting is messy. Fighting is painful, but when you come out on top, it will be worth it! Blame comes natural for us. But when we learn to step up to the plate, when we learn to take ownership of our own thoughts and heart and release forgiveness, we WIN, EVERY SINGLE TIME!
If God before us, who can be against us!
John Bevere said it best, “Those who can’t forgive, have forgotten what they’ve been forgiven of.’
No matter how hard, no matter how bad, God can literally renew your mind. God can heal your heart. God can heal your thought patterns, how do I know? Because He’s done it for me!

Let them DREAM!

This week Hunt was home for the American Thanksgiving, so we rallied the troops and had all the children for dinner a few times this week!! I’ll never forget how fun it is to have all our children around the table. We’re a fairly loud family who all find humour in our own stories. There can be multiple conversations going on at the table at the same time and somehow we can follow them all. I love that we can talk so deep about the things of God and yet laugh until we cry! Having everyone home, even if it’s just brief, does a mama’s heart good! We took him back to the airport tonight and as he walked away Syd took a picture of him heading towards the terminal doors with his skateboard in tow. It took me back to days I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget when he was a little boy, only 8 years old and had a heart to pursue ministry and skateboarding. He started a little company BOTT SKATES and sold T-shirts, stickers, and decks....oh good ol’ BOTTSKATES! 💛 He cast the vision to us and we prayed over it and helped him put handles on it.
Sometimes in life we feel we’re too young, too old, too in experienced or feel there are others could do it better than us. In those times surround yourself with those who will champion you and help and encourage you to get where God is leading you to be. Find those who will pray, believe, encourage and say the hard things to you!! Surround yourself with those who will help you put handles on your vision, so it goes from a dream to a reality! If you have children and they have desires, do your best to breath on them WHILE NOT trying to live your dreams out through them!!
There are those who will try to take over your vision, there are those who will try to sabotage it, annnnddd there are those who will feel threatened when you start walking out what you know you’re called to do. Consider the cost, keep the faith. Walk by faith and not by sight and eventually in His timing allllll of these things WILL come to pass! Trust the process, keep the faith and no matter how young or how old you are GO FOR IT!! #5to40


One thing I will never forget is the day I realized how much God really cares about the little things we care about. I had seen and heard so many people share stories of miracles and testimonies of things God had done in their lives, and then this particular day, something so small but so personal happened to me.
It was Christmas time and we were living in Midland. We were young parents with young children and we were financially STRAPPED!!
There was NO wiggle room in the budget, and for some strange reason I had really, REALLY wanted a poinsettia. When I was buying groceries that week I looked at them and although they weren’t extremely expensive we just didn’t have the money to get one. A couple days later I was talking to Jamie on the phone and said, ‘Do you think we could just buy a poinsettia? I couldn’t explain why I wanted one, but just that I desired to have one in our home for Christmas. He reminded me things were just to tight and as much as he would have loved to, it wasn’t a priority.
So, I let it go and didn’t think much more about it. Well, later that afternoon the doorbell rang. As I walked towards the door, I couldn’t identify who was on the other side of the glass as all I saw was this huge object in front of the whomever was standing there. I ran to open the door and I heard a voice say, ‘This is for you’. I signed for what I was assuming was a massive bouquet of flowers, took them from the delivery man, and put it on the floor. As I started to peel back the paper of this super sized gift, I almost fell in the floor. It was a poinsettia PLANT!!! And Not just the little $14.99 ones I’d seen at the grocery store, this plant was at LEAST 3 feet tall!!! I had never EVER seen one this BIG!! It was SO big I wasn’t even sure where we could put it! I called Jamie immediately and said, ‘You’ll NEVER guess what just got delivered?!?!’ I proceeded to tell him a poinsettia!!!!! Annnddd, not just any poinsettia , the biggest one I’d ever seen!!!
I was shocked and yet not surprised, I was smiling from ear to ear. This wasn’t just a coincidence, this was God, my Heavenly Father providing a SMALLLL desire of my heart, for no other reason than to show me how much he cares about even the smallest things we care about.
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires.
God is so personal. These poinsettia’s were on point! He loves us and loves to bless us, not only with things we need but sometimes He goes over the top and blesses us with the things we want.
I challenge you today to keep a little journal or keep a little log of all of the crazy desires of our heart that are constantly coming to pass. Give thanks for all He is doing, and give thanks for all he’s done! This is just one small testimony that at this time in my life was MASSIVE!! It showed me just how real and personal God could be! Since then, I’ve seen hundreds of examples of how God has continued to do the unimaginable big and little things in our lives just to show us how vast His love is.
If you don’t know God personally, get to know Him! You WILL be blown away, just like I was of how personal our God can really be. 💛 #6to40

It's about what you GIVE, Not what you GET!

One thing I’ll always remember.
Jamie and I had felt the call move to Midland area after being married for just over three years. I had struggled with thinking this could actually be a good thing. Really?! Leaving a town of 400,000 people to go to a hick town of l5,000. Surely this wasn’t God’s leading. We had prayed and wanted it to be completely clear if this where we were to be. Sure enough, we both had received a peace about it in different ways and were now on the move! We packed up our home, left all we knew with our two young children and moved three hours north of our hometown. We purchased a beautiful home in a very small town, Victoria Harbour. The population in the Harbour was just over 1000 people. It was a beautiful town surrounded by Georgian Bay. Compared to city life it felt as though we landed smack dab in the middle of cottage country! It was so peaceful.
Jamie had taken a job with Kindred, which is what led us on this wild adventure. As this was all taking place we had received a Word that this journey wasn’t about the job, although the job is what would lead us to where we were to be. There were only a couple of churches in Midland to choose from. We had gone to one church that had similar beliefs. It was a smaller church but the people were so sweet, the worship was what we were use to, and the word was great! But there was one MAJOR downfall.....we were surrounded by a sea of grey hair. There were hardly any young families.
I remember talking with my Grandmother later that week and sharing with her about how we only saw a couple young families and that was pretty much it. I was 24, Jamie 25 and clearly this wasn’t the greatest place to meet and connect with other families our age. I will never forget my Grandmothers words. She said, ‘It’s not about what you’ll get, it’s about what you can give.’ She said, ‘How many others do you think had come in and out for that same reason?'
Her words pierced me. Not in a bad way, but in a good way. How could a church draw younger families, if no younger families were willing to stay? I remember my mentality changed from “We can’t stay here', to "We must stay here!’ Sure enough this is where we planted our feet. I would say this is the place we grew the most dramatically in our faith. We had a super fun Pastor who could PREACH! We had leaders who breathed wisdom, love and encouragement into us. They encouraged our gifts even when they were rough and not yet fully developed. They oozed love, they oozed encouragement and they put a demand on what was inside of us to come out! I will never forget how dramatically our lives were changed in those few short years.
When we first got to that specific church, we were looking through a selfish lens. We weren’t seeing through the lens of Christ. We originally looked at this carnally and would have missed out on these amazing relationships. Had we not decided to stay we would have missed out on the wisdom that was in this house and wouldn’t have been championed at such a young age. To be honest, up until that time, I really only hung out with people my age. But after being apart of this church, I couldn’t wait for Tuesday night bible study! I LOVED LIFE GROUP! These people with grey hair were a riot! They loved to laugh, they loved life and had so much wisdom to share!! When we left to move back to London years later the little church that once had only a couple families now had MANY young families in it!
These words have stuck with me in so many different situations since that day. What can I bring? What can I add? How can we serve? I think our churches, jobs, and spheres of influences CAN look RADICALLY different if we would choose to pick up the ‘What can I give’, ‘How can I serve? What can I bring to the Table? attitude instead of the, ‘There’s nothing for me here!” one.
So I encourage you today, don’t run from situations that don’t offer you something if it’s something you can offer! Step up, throw your hat in the ring and you never know, it could be just the opportunity you’ve been looking for and just the thing others coming behind you need!
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Don't Perform, Use Your Gift

I'll always remember the mannnyyyy years we helped with a community outreach program, SPIKE. Week after week we would open up the local elementary school and host well over 100 students. We'd play dodgeball, kings court, volleyball, set up obstacles courses, and SOOOO much more. It was a riot week after week! Some students came hungry, some students came full. Some came with winter clothing, some came with no coats, hats or boots. Some families were well off, some had no idea where their children were. We fell innnn LOOOVE with these kids. Many of them we are still in relationship with today! My dad head up the program, assisted by a team of volunteers. My Papa who was the oldest volunteer by far, came most weeks to help out wherever he could. Each week we would rally the students in the gym before we broke off into the two separate gyms and we'd encourage and challenge them to apply a key characteristic or value to their lives. I remember this one specific night, it was my night to open. Usually this was pretty easy for me, I loved the students and the students loved me! But this one particular night these kids were HYPPPPED UP! I could not get them to focus! Now picture this, I was the youngest volunteer who was a ton of fun to hang out with! I was easy to relate with, not to mention I had the sweetest Jennifer Aniston haircut! I was rocking my high waisted Tommy Hilfiger jeans, and not just any jeans ladies and gentlemen, the one and only PAINTER STYLE Tommy Hilfiger Jeans!!! Even with a cool hairstyle and great clothes I couldn't get these students to calm down. I gave them the old, "I'll stand here all night if I have to, I'll stand here until you're done talking! If you dont' be quiet we're not going to play dodgeball" routine, well, they didn't care! They were tooooo hyped up to care about my empty threats! No matter what I or the other volunteers tried, they would not settle! All of a sudden I remember my Papa, who was monitoring the front door, left his post and came into the gym. He didn't say a word, he just walked past the other volunteers to the edge of the circle. He reached in his pocket, pulled out a $20 bill and in the quietest voice said, 'Can anyone tell me who this is?' INSTANTLY.... silence swept around the circle and the students hands started shooting up. I have NEVER seen anything like it! They COMPLETELY zoned in to what he was saying. He didn't yell or manipulate, he simply stepped up to the plate and walked in his teaching gifting.
I learned right then and there as a very young leader, that it's now how cool you look, or how young you are that makes you successful. What makes you successful is walking in the sphere you're called to walk in. It's stepping up to the plate and using the gifts He's given you to bring change to the sphere you're operating in. When you walk in what He's called you to, you won't have to jump up and down to try to command everyones attention. You'll simply come as you are, present your gifts and watch the atmosphere around you change.

Inner Conviction Stands Outer Pressure

I wanted to do my final 10 countdown, these ones all beginning with I’ll never forget.
I’ll never forget growing up I was NEVER allowed to go to the school dances. Ugh, alllll weeeeek long everyone would talk about the upcoming dance and everyone knew I wasn’t allowed to go! Not in grade 6, and not in Grade 7. Now in grade eight I was on the Student Council and since someone from the council had to sell pop and chips at the dance, I was the best candidate because I wouldn’t be missing out on the dance! I was encouraged by my friends Ang and Stacy that this was as good as it was ever going to get!! Never had there been a sales girl as eager as I. I do remember at the end of that dance my friends barged through the doors and said there’s one last dance/contest. They said it’s not even like a dance it’s a snowball dance, kind of like hot potato! Sounds fun! You walk around the circle and when the music stops you find a new partner and then it keeps going and going until there’s two people left! Well, I do remember my neighbour Joey and I won! I know some of you are thinking how do you remember that?! Come on people I’d been pleading with my parents for years to go to one of these dances, now selling pop and chips at one had led me to the Snowball championship dance/not really a dance contest! 😉That was as close as I got to any dance for years.
Skip ahead a few years. Good ol’ Grade 10 semi formal!! Once again I asked my dad if I could go. Can you believe he said ‘YES!?!’ I could NOOOTTTT believe it! Years of asking, and years of hearing NO! But not this time, my good ol’ Dad finally said, ‘Yes!’
My girlfriends were just as shocked as I was!! The weekend before a few of my girlfriends took the bus downtown to Galleria Mall and I bought the cutest dress from Mariposa! 😬 I know it’s hard to believe Mariposa would have a good dress but at one time that store was all the rage!!! Friday of the semi formal rolled around, that morning I had laid my dress out before I went to school!
The plan was to get ready at home after school and then get dropped off at my girlfriends house. From there her mom was going to drop us all off.
I wasss Pumped!! Well, when I got home from school that night my dad called me into the kitchen and told me he needed to talk to me. I did NOOOTTT see it coming! He said, ‘Heather, I don’t feel good about you going tonight, I’m sorry to do this but I’m not going to let you go.’ Screeeeechhhh hauuulllttttt What?! ‘Dad I have everything ready! My dress, my shoes, a ride and what am I going to tell my friends??!! Again he said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t let you go!’
This is the crazy part, I remember it wasn’t a discussion, it was just a gentle statement. I remember going to my room not yelling, not screaming, just trying to figure out what just happened. It didn’t overly shock me in some ways and yet, I was so close. I couldn’t believe he said, ‘no’, even after I’d bought my dress! And of course the first thing I saw when I walked upstairs to my room was the new dress hanging nicely over the end of my bed. I sat on the floor, picked up my see through telephone and called my friends and told them I wouldn’t be coming.
One thing I’ll never forget is that no matter how much pressure I put on my dad his conviction stood firm. No, I didn’t agree with it then, but looking back at it now, I’m proud of him for sticking with what he felt was best for me, even when it clearly wasn’t the popular thing to do. I look around in society today and so many parents cave to their children’s wants and desires, even when they don’t feel good about it. The children lead and the parents follow, which is completely backwards!! I’m thankful I had a dad that stood firmly by his convictions even when the pressure was on.
Parents, there are times we don’t know why something isn’t sitting right, it’s in those moments we can’t allow the amount of pressure our children, their friends, or other parents are putting on us to determine what decision we make.
God has given US the awesome responsibility of raising OUR children. He gave them to us, not to the neighbours, not to the vote of popularity, but to us. We are all doing our best to raise our children to be the best they can be.
Was the dance an awful place for me to be? We may never know! But I do know I wouldn’t have remembered the dance as much as I remembered the lesson. One thing I’ll always remember is that my Dad’s inner conviction stood the outer pressure. I respected him not because of the decision he made, but that he stood in the face of unpopularity and stood firm.
Parents, for you it may not be a dance. It may be a friend, social media, television, movies, clothing, cars, whatever!!
God’s given you His spirit as your guide! When something’s not sitting right, don’t give in. When the children are kicking and screaming, don’t cave! Stand by what you feel is right for you, for your children and your family, despite doing the unpopular thing! #10to40 #innerconviction

Team Work!

Designing Cozy corners!! Partner with people who can help make your dreams come true! We’re all part of the team. We do an incredible injustice to others when we think and try to play every position. Let people around you join and tag team in what you’re doing! Do what you excel at and let those around you do what they excel at, team work makes the dream work! #11to40 #teampaton #cantfindthepipecaps #leteveryoneplayapart