To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Time to be Disciplined

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like 
a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Proverbs 25:28

It's that time of year again when we start to set goals, or make "resolutions" for the coming year. I have a love-hate relationship with this time because while I love the idea of starting fresh and setting goals for the new year, I hate that I will likely fail. I will start off excited and on fire to begin my newfound "plan" only to see the fire within die down after a few short months. And it is very discouraging. Thankfully God's Word comes jam-packed with encouragement for the disheartened! I can remind myself of verses like Matt.19:26: BUT with GOD all things are possible! (emphasis added) 

The past few weeks my mind has been consumed with thoughts of my grandfather, naturally. He is gone and I miss him and so I think about him and all the great memories I have of time spent with him. As I was thinking about my goals for the new year I realized how each goal I had required one thing...self-discipline. Which then reminded me of how disciplined my grandfather was and it seemed fitting that my goal for this year could somehow be a tribute to my grandfather. 

I went to the Bible and searched for a verse that would be my verse for the year, a verse that would challenge me and encourage me to pursue the goals that I wanted to set for myself; I was led to the one above. One thing I have learned is that if I want to meet a goal I have set, I have to have a plan and that plan must first begin with the understanding that it is only through God and His working in me that I will be successful in accomplishing that goal. I don't care how strong in the Lord you are (or think you are), there is nothing we do that we do on our own. God must get all the glory and all the credit for anything we have ever accomplished. Any accomplishment is His accomplishment; Anytime we overcome a trial, obstacle or sin in our lives it is because of Him! 

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
John 15:4-5
The next step for me, is to write down my goals and write down a plan on how I will work toward accomplishing that goal. This is not a fool-proof plan because remember...I fail...a lot! But writing everything down does mean I have more of a chance at succeeding so I do it. I have a journal that I am keeping and the first page has the goals and plan of action written down. It goes something like this:

1. Daily Bible Reading: 52 Week Bible reading program; journal key thoughts after reading
*I've done this one in the past and I like it because it mixes things up; I like variety. Print off the chart and keep it in your Bible.

2. Exercise at least 3 X a week: DVD workouts at home 
*Because I still have little people at home and going out to exercise is not really an option, I find I am more successful with this goal if I find something that I can do at home. I really like Jillian Micheals  30-Day Shred DVD and it is effective if you stick with it....that is the!

3. Better eating habits: Journal Food
* Everyone is different but in the past I have found that I make better food choices if I am writing down what I eat. 

These are my goals and I am praying I am able to stay the course throughout the whole year. Two tools that I am implementing to help me stay focused are an accountability partner and reading a book that goes along with my goal of being more disciplined. When I was serving as a counselor at a Christian camp this summer we had staff devotions each morning. The devotions that we heard were taken from a book called: The Disciplines of Life by V.Raymond Edman. I have started the book but it is a challenging read and there is much to chew on so I think giving myself the year to read it is reasonable! I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something good to read! 

Have any of you reading set similar goals for yourself this year or in the past? Were you successful or not? I would love to hear your stories so I can glean from your victories and learn from your failures! Maybe you don't have any goals other than to survive another year...that's okay too! I've definitely been there. I am just in a season in my life where I have the time to consider making some significant changes to my daily routine and I am trusting God to help me!

I can do all things through Christ which strentheneth me. 
Philippians 4:13

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Time for a Eulogy

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts 
and minds through Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:7

Last week my family had to say goodbye to my grandfather, unexpectedly. He was crossing the street in the town I grew up in and was hit by a car. It is a terrible accident that of course, we wish had not happened...but it did so we accept the reality and we grieve our loss. This is not my first time experiencing this kind of unexpected loss; my other grandfather was also hit by a car crossing the street...the same the same town. I was about 11 then. He died from the injuries he sustained in that accident. If we go back even further, when I was about 8, my mom was also hit by a car, on Halloween night, on the same the same town. She suffered major injuries, but, thankfully, survived. Crazy, right?!

I had the honor of giving my grandfather's eulogy at the funeral this past Thursday and I want to share it with those of you who could not attend the funeral, or who didn't know him. He was an amazing man and I already miss him so much. He was a very big part of my life, one of my biggest fans, always letting me know how proud of me he was. I adored him and I was thankful for the chance to share with other's the kind of man he was.

How do you sum up Pepere’s life in 5 minutes? I don’t think you can, because in his 88 years on this earth, this giant of a man, one of my heroes, brought more love, laughter, courage and fun into our lives than a mere 5 minutes can convey. What I would like to do is give you a glimpse into the life of this man we loved so, so much.
So who was Reginald Boucher? He was first a son and brother, born to O’Neil and Eva Boucher in 1928. One story I remember him telling me from when he was a child was about the worst Christmas he ever had. He had wanted a pair of ice skates very badly. Some presents were under the tree and I am unsure if it was Christmas Eve or the days leading up to Christmas but, he was so eager to find out if he got skates that when his parents were not around, he opened the box with his name on it. Sure enough, his wish had come true, he was going to get a new pair of skates. He attempted to get the box back to how it was so his parents wouldn’t know he had opened the package, but they knew. On Christmas morning when he opened his gift he was surprised to find that in the box, where once his ice skates had been, a large brick. He claims he never got those ice skates so I can’t tell you if they later gave him the skates…or if this story is actually true, since Pepere loved to tease us so much. It’s very possible Pepere was telling me this story to keep me honest and show me what opening my own presents too soon could lead to!
He was then a soldier in the United States Army, and fought in the Korean War. He shared with me that while he was in the military he was a boxer. My grandfather was a great athlete and always in very good shape, exercising till the last day! I haven’t known anyone more disciplined than Pepere. He also learned to cut hair in the military and even cut my husbands hair once, before we were married! My husband cuts our own boys hair so a few years back Pepere gave him his old hair cutting kit he used in the army. If you saw this kit you would understand why there’s no way Ben cuts our kid’s hair with it but it made Pepere happy to think that there was a chance it might still get used. He loved giving my husband his old tools, as much as Memere hated it because she felt Pepere was forcing us to take his junk. I assure you to my husband, it is not junk but very valuable treasures. So often Ben will be working on something and he will need a nut or bolt or some obscure tool and he will look through the hundreds of items Pepere gave him and sure enough he ends up finding what he needs.
Pepere was a loving and devoted husband to my Memere. They were married in April of 1950 and they were so happy. Pepere loved Memere so much and it was evident in everything he did. She loved him equally. Their love was an example to me and something I kept in mind as I chose my own husband. Pepere was hard working, at times working two jobs so he could provide the best for Memere and his girls. Memere & Pepere were wonderful hosts and they loved to dance and sing. I remember so many family dinners that usually ended in us singing French drinking songs like “prend un vers de bier mon mineu” and “C’est etait un jeudi soir” around the dinner table. My younger sister, Chrissy, and I loved it when Memere let us set the table for a meal because it meant that we could give Pepere all the unusual dishes at his place setting. It might have been a big serving fork for his dinner fork or a small tea cup plate for his dinner plate. He would pretend to be so upset about this and we would laugh. He was such a good sport. There was no person and no thing that Pepere loved more than Memere. What I will remember most about Pepere as a husband was how he took such good care of Memere. He made the coffee every single day. To some that may seem like a small thing but I assure you to my Memere this is a huge thing and it must have been a pretty big gesture for me to observe it and understand it to be an act of love and devotion.
He was then a father to three girls, who he adored and would do anything for. He was just so proud of the family he had built with Memere. My mom told me a story about how each Christmas Pepere would pretend to be Santa Claus and go up on the roof of their house and stomp on the roof above their bedrooms so they would think Santa had arrived. I don’t know too many other father’s who would do that! He was not only a wonderful father to his 3 daughters but he stepped up and played the role of father to his son-in-law, Dave. He loved Dave like his own son and they had such a fun relationship, the teasing never stopped between those two! Not too many people can say they were friends with their father-in-law, but Dave can, and it was a special friendship.
He was also a grandfather. And he was the absolute best grandfather three girls could ever ask for. He loved us so much and spoiled us like crazy! As a child I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with my grandparents. When my mom was hit by a car and in the hospital for a very long time my younger sister and I went to live with Memere & Pepere for quite awhile. It was just after Halloween when we went to stay with them and I remember Pepere teasing us that he would eat our Halloween candy while we were at school. I would hide my orange plastic pumpkin filled with candy so he couldn’t find it. He would find it and hide it from me and just loved getting a reaction out of me. He never actually ate any of my candy but he sure had fun letting me believe he did! Pepere and I had a close relationship and we had a special countdown that started as early as I can remember. Pepere would say to me, “Millie, when you turn 14, I can retire”. And each time I would go visit, I would sit on his lap (it was, after all, the best seat in the house!) and he would say that to me every time. Eventually the time came that I turned 14 and he did retire and he was so happy for that day! He would also always sing to me the song, “You are my sunshine”. That song has held a special place in my heart all these years and it always reminds me of the love he had for me and my sisters. Being the tease that he was, he loved pretending to be upset with us girls for eating all his food, especially his cheerios! Pepere taught me how to dive off of the party barge at the lake. One of our favorite things to do in summers was to have Pepere take out the party barge with all of us on it and go out to Peppermint beach where it was deep enough to jump and dive off the float. As I got older and had a home of my own he enjoyed sharing his love of gardening with me, giving me tips on how I could make my own flower beds nicer. He was always so proud to take me to his flower gardens and show me all the work he had been doing. The flower that will always remind me of Pepere is the orange tiger lily, which used to surround the camp when I was little.
Lastly, he was a great-grandfather to 8. And he loved those kids so much! I remember when the first great-grandchild, Andrew was born, how much both he and Memere adored him. I have one particular memory of when Andrew was little. It was a holiday I believe and Andrew was only about one or two. After dinner we were all sitting in the living room and Andrew was on the floor doing what one or two year old’s do…making noises, crawling around and maybe he even had a trick or two. Whatever it was that he was doing he had Memere and Pepere captivated. They loved every single thing he did and there was no child smarter in their eyes! Then my own seven children came along and they adored them just as much. They always took time to know my children. They asked them questions about their interests, school and friends. Pepere’s recent thing was to give my kids special coins when they came to visit. A couple of my kid’s special memories are playing the table top golf game he taught them and of course, drinking soda…because the only place they have ever been allowed to finish off a bottle of soda in one sitting is at Memere & Pepere’s! 
There is so much that can be said about this man who was a loving son, devoted husband, proud father and adoring grandfather, the brother & uncle, the athlete, the mill worker, the painter, the swimmer, the man who loved to shop and who loved his flower gardens…that time just won’t allow. For today though, hopefully you are left with a glimpse of the kind of man he was to all of us who loved him so much. He leaves a big hole in our hearts and we are so incredibly sad that we had to say goodbye to him in this tragic way. One thing we can be thankful for is that God allowed us to have this man on this earth for 88 years. Memere was allowed to be married to the love of her life for 66 years. Sharon, Joyce and Nancy were given over 60 years with their dad. Jenny, Chrissy and I were allowed to have Pepere for over 30 years and our children got to know their great-grandfather. While right now this seems of little consolation, it is so much more than many get in life. He lived a long, happy and healthy life and was able to enjoy so much of what this world had to offer.
There is a verse in the Bible that I have chosen to meditate on since finding out of Pepere’s passing. It is found in Romans 8:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
During difficult times like this it can be hard to believe that “all things work together for good”, and that God’s hand is in this because we are left with so many questions. Through my grief and through my pain I have to remind myself that the God who is the author and finisher of life never makes mistakes. He never moves without purpose or plan and because I love God and because I trust Him I am choosing to accept this plan God had for Pepere and I am trusting Him to comfort us and help us as we mourn the loss of this great man that we have loved so much.
The funeral may be over and we may be returning to our homes and going on with our lives, because you have to. Life goes on. But for my grandmother, life as she knew it, will never be the same. The person she spent over half her life with is now gone and she must remain and learn to live without him. Her grief has just begun and I would ask any of you reading this, who pray, to please pray for Memere. She has been incredibly strong but this is so very hard for her and it will continue to be for possibly the remainder of her life. Grief is a funny thing and you cannot put a time limit on it. We all
have our own ways of dealing with our grief and it is not anyone's place to say that a person is grieving too little or too much, or that how they are grieving is wrong. I am praying that those in my grandmother's life, my mom and my aunt's lives and in me and my sister's lives, to have compassion and sensitivity as we grieve, in our own way and on our own timetable. 

Thank you to each one of you who has extended sympathy, love and compassion during this time. It truly has been overwhelming and we are incredibly grateful. I am wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and safe Christmas! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Time to Keep them Innocent

A couple weeks ago one of my sons walked through the door and asked me if I had heard about the "evil clowns" who were lurking in the woods waiting to kill children.  Not exactly the topic of conversation I was hoping to have with him after school but there it was. I had heard rumblings of clowns but honestly had not taken a lot of time to find out what it was all about. Was this true? Was it a rumor? Naturally now that it was in my home, staring me in the facing waiting for an answer, I needed to do some research! 

 I don't know how you are when it comes to informing your children about current events but I am one of those parents who feels strongly that my kids don't need to know about everything going on. I don't think young children should be burdened by current events. We don't allow them to watch the news and even do not watch videos of news clips in their presence. We skim the surface with regard to the police shootings and racial tensions. We shelter them from news stories involving violence. We make them aware that terrorists exist and why they want to cause harm but again, we leave out the gory details. And even in this volatile election season, we keep the information to a minimum; they know who is running and we talk about the election process but that's about the extent of it. I intentionally do this because I remember how I was as a child. I scared very easily and to this day I have a very active imagination. I don't need any help being afraid of evil. My mind conjures up scenarios perfectly fine on it's own! I guard myself against the news and truly don't spend a lot of time reading it. I ask my husband to tell me what I need to know because I absolutely WILL lose sleep if I have too much information. As a child the worst time of year for me was Halloween. Everything about Halloween creeps me out. I just don't like it, I never have. It was also my mom's favorite holiday so our house was always decked out with scary faces and a fake cemetery and to her credit, she did an amazing job decorating...which is why I was so successfully frightened. I remember not wanting to get up in the night to use the bathroom because some of the decorations scared me so much! 
Getting back to my kids. Clearly stories that children hear become exaggerated. In my research I never came across any credible report that supported the idea that clowns were murdering children, which is what a student on the bus told my son. I made sure to tell my son with much confidence, these were made up stories. Before I did that though I took the opportunity to talk to him about fear and what God's Word tells us. Since I struggle with fear, I have verses that I turn to and that help me put my fears to rest. I shared with my son my own struggle with fear and reminded him that God is with him no matter where he is. I pray every day when my children walk out of the house that God would put a hedge of protection around them and keep evil away. Every night when I go to bed I pray that God would put a hedge of protection around us and keep evil away. I have learned to have confidence in God to answer that prayer. This is not to say that God will never allow anything bad to happen because of my prayers. I just know that IF something bad does happen it is all in God's control and part of His perfect plan and I don't have to fear what man can do to me. Which leads me to the verse that I shared with my son and which helps me:
When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.                    ~Psalm 56:9-11

Unfortunately we live in a society where children have access to just about any news story they want. They own tablets and phones that allow them to search the internet and learn about every horrible thing that is going on. The sad part is that so much of what we read on the internet is either not true or grossly misleading and our young children do not have the discernment necessary to identify the truth from the fiction. I also feel we live in a society where adults want children to grow up much faster than they should. I understand that there will be some reading this that disagree with me, and I do respect that. For our family though, we have decided that it is in their best interest to shelter them from many of the issues facing our world, at least until they have the maturity to handle the information and we have had the time to lay a foundation, based on God's word, so that they can wisely handle the information. Sometimes, because they go to school and they hear what other kids are talking about, they are made aware of things I wish they wouldn't and that is something we need to leave in God's hands. As parents, we have to be ready to answer our children's questions and so when they come home asking about clowns, we do our due diligence but always bring it back to God's word...what does God's word say to help us understand how to handle this information or help put our fears to rest. Always, always it comes back to God and His Word. Parents, don't forget what we are told in Romans 16:19:

For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

We have a responsibility to keep our children innocent to evil. There will come a time when they need to know certain things and it is our responsibility to determine when that time is. Let's just be careful to not rush their childhood. Children today are under an incredible amount of stress; we see it all the time and it's sad. I have a hard time not being afraid of things I hear about and I am an adult who has some wisdom and some discernment to be able to process the information and bring it back to God and His Word. Imagine how a child feels when they hear some of these scary things but have a limited ability to process that information; many children also have limited resources at home to help them process the information! 

The reality is that there is a lot to be concerned about and even fear in this world but I don't believe our children need to carry the weight of that burden. That's our job as parents, that and to protect our kids as much as we can from harmful information that is just too readily accessible to them. I am thankful I have a God that is faithful and trustworthy to lean on in times of trouble, fear and uncertainty. I am thankful for the many reminders in His Word to not fear but to have faith and confidence in God that He is FOR us and is in control... that's the story we need to be sharing with our children!

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Time for a Few of My Favorite Things...

My husband told me once, "you have such big emotions for things". Coming from a guy whose emotions are basically a flat line, I, of course, seem extremely feelings driven. And I think to an extent that is true; though, as I mature and grow in Christ I am trying to be more Spirit-led and less feelings-led. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't and that's life! 
Photo Credit: Nutritious Skin

What is true is that I tend to either LOVE something or HATE something and I believe that is what he was mostly referring to. With so many new readers as of late I thought it would be fun to introduce myself by sharing with you some of my favorite things...because there are things that I. JUST. LOVE.  To make this fun though I have decided that as a thank you to my new and old readers for sticking by me even when I lack the time to write and interact with you as much as I would like I decided to have a giveaway! My sister-in-law recently began making soaps as as hobby and that hobby has turned into quite the business for her. She has taken her education as a Dietitian and has used that knowledge to create all natural, healthy for the body soaps that not only nourish the skin but are so pretty you hate to use them and so delicious looking you wish you could eat them! She and I are partnering up for this giveaway and we need your help! All you have to do to be entered to win one of these beautiful soaps is first, go to Facebook and like her page Nutritious Skin (click on the link) then head on over to my Facebook page, To Everything There is A Season (click on the link), and hit the "like" button . Then choose a post from EACH page to like or share and we will put your name in the drawing! For extra chances to win do one or all of the following:

-Become a follower of To Everything There is A Season blog
- Comment on a post at our Facebook pages
-Share one of your favorite things in the comment section of this blog
-Share with Nutritious Skin your favorite soap scent on their FB page

Now for the fun! Here are a few of my favorite things...

GOD      The Bible    Family   Friends   
Fall     Lobster    Games          Snow Storms             The Albert Camp
MADAWASAKA     Cowboy Boots     Skittles         Strong Coffee     JENA     Sunflowers
The Color Orange       Dresses           BEN      Planning & Organizing             Babies
Hosting & Attending Parties         Campfire's        Blogging           Meeting New People
Encouraging Others         See's Chocolate           Sports Movies     Music  
Pig Roasts        Fresh Peas                  OWEN
Yankee Candles         Purses/Bags         Storage Bins/Baskets         The Mountains        
POUTINE      Riding Motorcycle     TESS     Camping          Christmas              Kettlecorn       Thanksgiving Dinner    Manicures           Flip Flops         Traveling        Laughing      
Shopping      Painting         Raspberry Almond Cake from The Beach Pea    AMAZON         
Coffee Crisp        The Story of Ruth        Sweaters         Most Things Rustic    EMMA   TAKING A WALK                                       Lavender         GABE
Jewelry        All-Dressed Chips         Taking Pictures              Catan       Albert Shuffle
Flower Gardens      Lilac            My Memere's Chicken          Hot Tubs         
Mr. Sketch Markers          Spending Time with Ben   Dancing   Chinese Food   
Front Porches  Lakes  Christmas Lights

Whether you are new here or have been around for awhile, I want to hear from you! What are a few
Photo Credit: Nutritious Skin
of your favorite things? Let me know in the comment section and then head on over to Facebook and start liking some pages so you can be entered to win a homemade soap! The more you participate the interact with us, the more chances you have to win! 

*Contest begins today and will end in 7 days. We will announce the winner of the soap on our Facebook pages.* 


Monday, September 5, 2016

A Time to Go Across the Country

When Ben was a senior in high school his parents loaded up all 6 kids in their van, hauled a camper and took off to drive cross country. They began in. Madawaska and went to California, with many stops and many campgrounds in between. They came home through Canada and it all took 5 weeks. They planned and saved a long while for this trip and I have lived it through Ben's photo album complete with commentary. Our kids love taking this album out and seeing all the places they went to and hearing the funny stories. 
Ben and I have talked since very early in our marriage of taking a similar trip with our own family. Back then it seemed a lifetime away and yet, here we are beginning to plan. That lifetime is here and how fast it came! We want to take the trip when Noah is either a Junior or Senior in high school, depending on the circumstances at the time and that is only about 5 years away. 

***Excuse me while I die a little inside at this thought!***

We began praying about all of this about a year ago. Things have changed in the 20-years since Ben's parents took this trip, mainly the cost of everything! It seems at times daunting how much this has the potential of costing but we also know that the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills can provide for this trip and allow it to be affordable. The first thing we needed to figure out was how would we travel? Did we want to do hotels along the way? That seemed crazy since our family has to get two hotel rooms at any hotel we'd stay at! But camping in tents just seemed like way too much work. Setting up a tent site every other day and packing and unpacking...I'm tired just thinking about it. Then there was the thought of getting a camper...but any camper that fit us all would be way outside our budget. 

So we prayed. 

A few weeks ago Ben saw a camping trailer for sale just down the road from our house. He stopped in out of curiosity to look at it and see what they were asking. He sat on it for a couple weeks praying, not sure if we should get it. Finally he had decided, after consulting with a few people who had experience with these types of trailers, that the price was too good to pass up and if it ended up not working we could easily sell it for twice what we would be paying.  So he went up last night to get it and, come to find out, they were so desperate
to get rid of it that we got it for even less than what they originally were asking.  God is so good! 
What we appreciate about being allowed to purchase something so soon before the actual trip is this will allow us to test out camping in this way and see if it's for us. We will be allowed to practice hauling it before having to haul it across the country! We have also been given permission by a friend who owns many acres of land to store it on his property. So much goes into planning for a costly and lengthy trip like this and we are just feeling so blessed that as we pray for the different things necessary for the trip and all the little details, God is hearing and providing!

As we map out our routes and destinations we want to see, I ask you fellow travelers...what MUST we see? 

*** You can pray with us ***

1. That we would continue to be able to set aside money each month to build up our trip fund...gas money, food, camp site fees, laundering fees, entrance fees to the places we want to go and any unforeseen expenses along the way. 
2. Pray God would provide the right vehicle and that we would have the patience to wait on Him. Our current vehicle is a 1/2 ton and we really need a 3/4 ton in order to haul this trailer long distance. It also has to be 9-passenger or accommodate our 4th row bench seat. 
3. Wisdom as we map out routes. 
4. That God would prepare our hearts for any changes to our plans He intends to make...A lot can happen in 5 years!

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Time for Memories

My family and I just returned from a 3-week long vacation to visit family in our hometown on the Canadian border. It was an incredible and much needed time away from our busy and sometimes hectic lives. We were so blessed to be able to spend that time at my family's camp on the lake. I have so many wonderful memories that were made in my childhood here. Fourth of July pig roasts my grandfather would put on, time playing with cousins on the beach, the big black inner tubes we spent hours playing on

in the lake, playing the "Albert Shuffle", a game some of my uncles created. There were nights of hide 'n' seek in the dark, fireworks on the lake and my great-aunt yelling at us kids, "don't slam the door!". Having the opportunity to share this place with my own kids and them having a chance to create their own memories at the camp means more to me than I can express here. Their fondness of this place will look different then mine, but I am sure will mean just as much to them. For them the memories are kayaking on the lake, walks across the beach to visit Mrs. Bouchard, sleeping outside in the "little cabin", canoe rides with Pepere, fishing on the lake, playing golf, finding clam shells in the lake, seeing who can make the bigger and better city on the beach and of course....learning to play the Albert Shuffle!

When I was growing up we were lucky enough to be able to drive a few miles down the road to the "other camp". On my mom's side of the family we had a camp also, on the same lake. I have just as many great memories spent there. The swimming wasn't as good or the beach as big but there were days spent on the party barge going to Peppermint Beach and having my Pepere teach me to dive. There were walks with Memere to pick wild strawberries and then bringing them home to eat them in a bowl with cream and sugar. There was fighting over the beds sisters and I all wanted the middle bed because the mattress was the best! There were nights of playing Scat for nickels and playing restaurant with a wooden caraf and goblet set my Memere had. I remember my grandfather's flowers and how anxious I was to be able to cut some Tiger Lily's to put in a vase. I remember him walking me around the yard telling me the names of the different things he had planted and smelling mint for the first time. This camp had a wooden glider swing that sat 4 people and I looked forward to being able to sit there with my Memere each day. Then of course my two favorite activities at this camp...skipping rocks and paddle boat rides!

Only those of us lucky enough to have grown up in this unique small town can truly appreciate it. While it is small and isolated and today offers very little employment opportunity we still love coming back to visit and share it with our own kids. I love that my husband also grew up here and loves coming back to visit as much as I do. This particular visit both my sisters were there at the same time I was! We took this rare opportunity and decided to explore our old stomping grounds in a
Me about to enter the garage
of our old house!
different way than we had before. When we lived in Madawaska we had a house on Main St. It was my grandparents house first, the house my dad grew up in. Behind us lived my grandparents and behind them my aunt and uncle. It was a great street to grow up on. One of the best friends I had as a child also lived on that street and we still make time to see each other today! When we moved an insurance agency bought our house and did many renovations. This visit my sisters and I went to the business and asked if they minded if we walked around the place. We explained that we had lived in the house years ago and wanted to see if anything was the same. As we began walking around it didn't seem like we would see anything that existed when we lived there. As we entered the basement we found a small door that we were certain was the door to the old root cellar. Sure enough when we opened the door the root cellar was as it was when we were kids. The same small, scary, cob-webbed, cement room we had remembered, complete with the same smell! My favorite part though was finding the door in the basement that led to the garage. When we entered the garage we were amazed with what we found. A red ten-speed bike that had belonged to my older sister, still hanging there! A bathroom sink that was in our bathroom and the vanity that belonged in my great-aunt's bathroom in the apartment she lived in above our house were also there. What we realized that day on our visit through memory lane was that our house was not as big as we remembered it, the street was not as long and the field behind all the houses on that street that we spent so many hours playing in was not as far away from home as we had thought when we were kids!

 Everything is larger than life when you are a kid and that's the way it should be! Things and people pass away but our memories remain with us forever. Hang onto the good memories and make them larger than life! Share them with your kids because they are a part of you and have played a part in making you who you are today. Encourage your kids to make memories and be an active participant in them. As we are told in God's Word:

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." 

James 4:14
 Life is too short and fleeting to not make the most of the moments life sends your way. Life is too short to wait until tomorrow to show your kids where you grew up and what you spent your time doing in your youth. Life is too short to get caught up with things that hold no value. What is valuable is creating memories and sharing memories. As kids we didn't take expensive vacations to Disney or Hawaii. We didn't have our summers filled with activities. We went to the lake and played with our cousins, we spent time with our grandparents and great-aunt's & uncle's. We looked forward to trips to Tastee Freez and Brian's for penny candy. Our days were not elaborate and jam packed with water parks and amusement parks. We spent time making club houses, riding our bikes and occasionally fighting with the neighborhood kids! We had simple, fun and creative days and this is the kind of childhood I want my kids to have. I want their memories to be filled with cousins, and building forts and riding their bikes and the occasional fight with the neighborhood kid....because
those are the things a great childhood is made of! I want them to have stories to tell their own kids someday and having the chance to spend time at a camp where I made so many of my childhood memories to create their own memories is something I don't take for granted and will forever be thankful for!

For my "foodie" readers, we know that a trip back home isn't complete without a trip to the grocery store to get the food we no longer have access to! And don't be confused by the bag of All-Dressed don't know All-Dressed until you've had the authentic Canadian ones! Oh, and yes, Smarties really ARE better than M & M's! 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Women Building:The Blueprint

Every wise woman builds her house; but the foolish plucks it down with her hands. ~Proverbs 14:1

In this series I am talking about what the verse above states...a woman who is wise builds up but a foolish one tears down. It was important to me though, before getting to the meat of what the Lord showed me about how we can build up rather than tear down, that I touch upon a few basics. What is "basic" to one may be very new and not-so-basic to another and I don't want to take for granted that someone reading understands what I'm talking about! In the last post we talked about laying down a solid foundation. If you missed it, you can read it HERE

Today I want to talk about the blueprint we are given for building. Every good and wise builder uses plans when he builds. A blueprint is simply a "detailed plan of action"and tells the builder everything he needs to know about the structure he is working on from the layout to materials. As women who are desiring to wisely build up we too need to have a detailed plan of action if we want to be successful in our building. So where do we go?  I go to God's Word, the Bible. In it you will find all the information you will need to build successfully and you will also find out how you can be foolishly tearing down! Too often we think we can be self-sufficient and do this thing called life on our own...and maybe we can. But I believe if you want to successfully build up your life and the lives of those around you it is imperative that you turn to God and search His Word, our blueprint, for a detailed plan of action. 

One thing as I talk with ladies that I hear pretty much from each of them is that finding time to be in God's Word daily and consistently is a challenge. And this crosses all age groups and seasons of life. What worked at one time in the life of a lady may not work anymore when circumstances change. I recently ran into this when one of my child's school schedule changed. My elementary school kids start school later but once they get to middle-school the time school starts is earlier and the school is farther away meaning a longer bus ride and much earlier pick up time. I was used to getting up early before any of the kids were up but with this change came the loss of that time because now I had a child to get up and get on a bus during the time I would normally use for reading in God's Word. I have continued to find it very challenging to find a time of day that works consistently for me to find that quiet time. I know I'm not alone in this. Over the years I have had wise women share with me different ways they have been successful in being in God's Word regularly...and the fruit of it is how  they are wisely building up their families and those around them. Here are a few things that I found to be gems of advice through the years:

1. Use night feedings as an opportunity to be in the Word. When Owen was a baby I was sharing with a more experienced mom how I was struggling to find the time to read my Bible every day. She could have been very critical and judgmental of me and pointed out all the ways I was foolishly using my time but instead she lovingly nodded her head in understanding and shared with me that she would use her night feedings with the babies to do her Bible reading. This made so much sense! It was the quietest time of day in a house with little children, no one to interrupt you and you had to be awake anyway to feed the baby so why not read. She even suggested writing some verses or passages of scripture on a note card and just meditating on the same verses for the week and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak in the silence. I don't know why I hadn't thought of doing that prior to our conversation but it turned out to be one of the best pieces of advice I received as a new mom. 

2. Feed your soul before you feed your stomach!  A few years ago I attended a Ladies Conference and the speaker was talking about being in the Word regularly. One thing she said that stood out to me and that I came home and implemented in my own life was how, if we are struggling to be in the Word consistently, to try disciplining ourselves to not eat anything until we have spent time feeding our soul with the Word of God. This was so practical and made so much sense! I can't say I have done this well every day since that time but overall it has helped me a lot to be in the Word more and reminded me how it is just as important, if not more so, to be fed from God's Word as it is to be fed with food. What is great about this advice is it not only places the priority on God rather than food but it also will likely cause you to do your Bible reading in the morning, at the start of your day...when we need it the most! I am not one to tell anyone that their Bible reading has to be done at a certain time of day but in my own life I know that when I start the day off with God I am going to be more successful in responding to my spouse, my children and the unexpected things that come up then if I neglect to spend time with God at the start of my day. 

3. Get Creative! Every season of life presents challenges. The mom of young children doesn't have it harder than the retired mother. The full-time working mom doesn't have it harder than the stay-at home-mom. The mom who homeschool's her children doesn't have it harder than the mom who sends her children to school. The unmarried lady doesn't have it harder than the married lady. EVERY life has challenges...the challenges just look different. One thing we need to stop doing as women is comparing our lives with each other. Because each of our lives is different and presents different obstacles, sometimes we need to get creative in how we spend time with God in His Word. Sometimes it's just reciting verses we have hidden in our heart and meditating on them when we are in the shower. Sometimes it's sitting down for 30 minutes each day, at the same time and reading the same amount of verses. Sometimes it's listening to the audio Bible on your commute. Sometimes it's reading between appointments on your smartphone Bible app. My point is that spending time in God's Word doesn't have to be the same for everyone. It's doesn't have to be a set amount of time, at the same time everyday. Your time in God's Word doesn't have to look like mine; what is important is that it is happening. Sometimes you have to get really creative in order to make it happen...and that's OKAY! Do you have creative ways you have implemented Bible reading into your day? I'd love to hear about it and I'm sure other reader's would too! 

If your desire is to be a woman who wisely builds other's up then you need to discipline yourself to be in God's Word regularly. Knowing what His Word says allows us to understand what He expects of us and then we can put that knowledge to use as we build. We are told in Psalm 19:7-8
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Everything we read in God's Word is right and perfect and what we glean from it makes the simple wise. You cannot expect to be wisely building if you are neglecting your time with the master builder and allowing Him to instruct you. If you have never taken the time to do a word study on the words wise and foolish I would encourage you to spend some time in God's Word doing just that. It is amazing how much God has to say about these two traits. Do you have a detailed plan of action for how you will build wisely? If not, then start today and begin by going to God's Word and allow Him to teach and instruct you and give you the plans you need for successful building.

***Next we will talk about WHERE we should build!***

Friday, April 22, 2016

Women Builders: Laying the Foundation

Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish
plucks it down with her hands. ~Proverbs 14:1

In my last post I mentioned how I was inspired to do a series because of a devotion I was asked to bring to a group of ladies. The above verse is the verse that was chosen as the theme of the banquet I was to speak at and I have spent the last year studying and meditating on this verse and all that it encompasses. What I learned is that every woman is a builder; and she is either building up or she is tearing down. Later in the series I want to talk about how we do just that and which tools we use to accomplish the task; first I think it is important for us to understand that before we can begin wisely building up we need a good foundation to build upon.

A few years ago my husband designed a garage addition and we had our contractor and his workers here for several months as they took his vision and made it a reality. The first thing they did though was lay down a foundation. If you've never had the opportunity to see a foundation go down, it's a really neat process to watch. There are many variables and things to take into consideration. The type of foundation you will lay depends on the kind of structure you are putting on it. Even the depth of the foundation will vary depending on soil conditions. It is (in my opinion) a very complicated and delicate process that requires knowledge and experience. The foundation is everything when building a structure. The mistakes you make in the foundation will only get worse as you go up. 

The same can be said when we are talking about building spiritually. The mistakes we make as we choose the foundation we will lay for our lives will have consequences. If we are attempting to build on anything other than a firm foundation we are foolish and can expect what we are building to crumble in the face of life's storms. A wise woman knows and believes that the only way to build wisely is to make Jesus Christ her foundation. We are told in I Corinthians 3:11:

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, 
which is Jesus Christ. 

We have a children's song we sing and it is a particular favorite in this house. It's about a wise man and a foolish man. The wise man builds his house on the rock and when the rain comes down, and the floods go up, the house on the rock stands firm. The foolish man, however, builds his house on the sand and when the rain comes down and the floods go up, the house on the sand goes "splat!". The song concludes with the moral of the story which is to build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ and as your prayers go up, the blessings will come down; so build your life on the Lord. If this message is something that is new to you then I encourage you to get into your Bible and read in Matthew 7 and see for yourself how this is Biblical truth, that if we want to be building wisely, we need to believe and understand!

Just as the solid foundation of a building guarantees a durable future for the structure, so does a solid foundation built upon Christ guarantee a durable future for our lives. What your foundation consists of is essential to the success of the building process. Take some time this week to read about what the Bible says about what our foundation should be and evaluate your life against what you learn. If you have changes to make then make them because it is never too late to begin laying a new, stronger foundation that will be able to withstand what comes your way!

***Next week we will talk about the blueprint for building and where it can be found!***

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Time to Slow Down

Being still is something that I need reminding of often! I am not one to sit around and do nothing, I don't relax well and I definitely like to keep myself busy. While this can be positive in so many ways in one very big way it negatively impacts my life and that is when it comes to knowing God. I very often have to be reminded to slow down and spend time quietly with the Lord. Why is it that I know it is only through Him that I can accomplish anything and only because of Him I have the strength to get through each day and yet I have to constantly be reminded to "be still and know God"? 

These past few months have been a whirlwind of crazy for me. Each thing I had on my plate were things I believed the Lord was in favor of me doing and were given to me by Him as opportunities to be used of Him, but they were also things that required a great deal of time, study and perseverance. I was recently able to finish up my last class, earning me my diploma in Biblical Counseling. Now I can take a breath for a little bit until I begin taking classes for the Masters Diploma and focus on marriage and family counseling in the fall. While I am really looking forward to beginning this program, I am also thankful for the break from 4:30 mornings of listening to lectures and writing paper after paper! 

I was also asked last year to speak at a ladies banquet but just before it was to begin it was cancelled because of a family emergency. They asked me to keep what I had prepared and save it for this year and I just recently came back from speaking at this banquet. In the year that I had to study the theme verse and seek the Lord as to what direction He wanted me to take with it I learned so much more about who God is, who He wants me to be and what changes needed to be made in my heart so that I could be better used of Him for His glory. I am so thankful that I was given an extra year to prepare because the devotional took many shapes and forms over the course of that year as the Lord spoke to my heart. It finally became clear to me what He wanted me to say, just weeks before I was scheduled to present it. There were a lot of sleepless nights as I wrestled with whether or not I was handling His word appropriately and if I was having the right heart attitude as I wrote it...and of course pridefully worrying if I would meet their expectations!

The Lord gave me insight into a verse that I had never really seen and I believe it will help me tremendously as I attempt to counsel women. Last year I didn't see the connection between the verse and what I felt the Lord leading me to do with my life but today I am confident He used it to give me a vision that will be valuable as I try to help people. I also want to share what the Lord has shown me and reminded me of here with you and I plan to do just that. There was no way I could have shared at this banquet all that the Lord showed me because the time just wasn't there. On the blog though I can really dive into the different things the Lord showed me and hopefully be a blessing and encouragement to those reading. My plan is to create a series titled, "Women Builders"...or something like that....and it will consist of different blog posts over several weeks.

I'm excited to finally begin working on this series and I pray that it will be as much a blessing to the reader as it was to me as I studied it. For this week though, I plan to "be still and know God" because I have neglected this too much over the last few weeks. I trust that you too will be able to find a quiet space this week and allow the Lord to speak to your heart and show you all the great things He wants to do in and through you...if you will let Him!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Time for Senior Saints

The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head. 
~Proverbs 20:29

Let me explain to you what you will see when you walk into our church, the church we've been
members of for 10 years now. You will find a few families in their 50's & 60's, you will see our family and then you will see what the Bible calls the "grey head" and what we call our "senior saints". The majority of our membership is in their 70's & 80's, and while for some young families that would send them looking for a different, younger church, for us we have come to understand the blessing of being members of a church such as ours. With our senior saints comes a wisdom from a lifetime of experience and advice from a lifetime of decision making. With our senior saints comes the history of the church and a world gone by. To be wise means to recognize the precious gift we have in these senior saints and to take advantage of their knowledge while we still can; it's to build relationships with them and allow them to teach us. So many of these senior saints have shared with me stories of when they were raising their families. They teach me to not take life or myself too seriously because life is too short for that. They teach me to appreciate the days I have with my children, even the hard ones, because the days are fleeting and when they're all gone I'll be longing for those days again. 

I would be foolish to tell them they are wrong because they have lived and I am just beginning to. To think I know better than them is foolish because they have experience I lack. To treat them as though they have nothing to offer me is foolish because in reality they have everything to offer me. Like their prayers for one. There are no prayer warriors more faithful then our senior saints. While some young families run from the "grey head", we have learned to see the beauty in it and to appreciate all they have to offer us, and our children.

Our children. To reflect on the relationship my children have built with the senior saints in our church causes me to well up. It has been such a beautiful thing to watch. Each of my children has built special bonds with certain senior saints in our church; they run up to them when they see them and
offer hugs, they beg to sit with them on Sunday evenings, they ask if we can please invite them to their birthday celebrations. I believe too many young people are lacking a relationship with this older generation. I am so close to my grandparents and it is hard for me now to live so far away from them. It is hard for me that my children rarely see their own grandparents because of the distance. The relationships my kids are building with our senior saints is making up for that though and they are blessed to have so many in our church who love on them like they were their own grandchildren. They pray for them, they want to know what their interests are, they ask them how school is going, they compliment them when they have a new haircut or outfit on, and they spoil them like crazy! In return my children commit to praying for our senior saints and send them pictures and letters throughout the year. They sit with them in church, when they don't have anyone else to sit with. And sometimes they have to say goodbye. 

That is the thing with belonging to a church with an aging generation. We have to say goodbye often and that can be very hard. Though we know we will see them again someday, we are sad because we miss them. Just a couple weeks ago we had to say goodbye to one senior saint who was such an encouragement to us. Some senior saints we have lost we think about on a daily basis, like Mrs. E. We have had to say goodbye (or see ya later, actually!) to 2-3 of these precious saints a year for the past 5 or so years now. As hard as it is to say goodbye, the blessings far outweigh our sadness when
they go. Sure it would be would be really nice actually, if there were families our age in the church with other children for our own kids to become friends with but what we have received from our senior saints is a gift we will treasure. Our churches need the young families because they are the future of the church but the future of the church needs the wisdom and experience of the past and when we neglect that generation and treat them like they have nothing to offer we become fools. If you have senior saints in your church but you have not taken the time to reach out to them, I encourage you to do that. You have no idea what a blessing it will be to you! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


It can sometimes be hard to know what you can do to be a blessing to someone else. Sometimes we have difficulty because we have not gone through what that person is going through so knowing what they need can escape us. Sometimes we are just too busy to take the time necessary to be a blessing and sometimes it comes down to just plain laziness. Making a choice to be a blessing to other's takes effort, planning and thought and sometimes we just don't want to make the time for it...I say want because I believe we HAVE the time we just don't always want to MAKE the time. Whenever I catch myself using, "I don't have time" as an excuse, I force myself to think of all the other things I made time for and if something like watching tv makes the list then I am reminded that I do in fact have time, I just don't want to make the time. It's a good reality check!

Our best friends (and family because he is my cousin) are transitioning into a fairly big life change. They are moving 6 hours away from the only home their children have known because the husband is assuming a new role within an organization he has worked for for several years. As exciting as this transition is it also comes with more responsibility and facing the loss of a church family they've come to love and friends who've become like family to start all over building new relationships with a new church family and friends. Moving can be hard. I remember moving in 6th grade from a small french community to a place four hours away that was not french and not at all like anything I'd known previously. Making new friends and learning a new culture ( the communities were so different that it really was a culture shock to me) can be terrifying. I also moved several times in adulthood and had to start over with a new church and establishing new relationships in a new community and while all of that can be exciting, it can also be hard and it requires time and patience. Because I understand this and want to help our friends in this transition but live too far away to really be of much use I decided I would send a care package. This is one way you can be a blessing to someone else. Whether they are moving, just had a new baby or facing an on-going illness, a well thought out care package can go a long way to say "I love you" and "I want to bear this experience with you". Here is what I included in our friend's care package:

- Hot Chocolate and Chocolate (for when they need comfort)
- Gum and lollipops (for when they need a little sweetness in their life...or to survive a long car ride!)
- A movie & popcorn (to babysit the kids for a couple hours while mom and dad pack and unpack)
- Lavender body wash (for when they need to relax!)
- An age appropriate learning activity for each child, that they can do independently, for when they arrive at their new home (this will help the home schooling mom feel less guilty about how behind they are falling due to the move!)
- Tissues (for when the tears come...and they will)
- A note letting them know we are praying for them with a verse to help encourage and lift them up.

Not everyone will have the means or ability to send a care package to someone and I do understand that, but there are a lot of other ways you can be a blessing. All it takes is a little thought and effort...and some prayers asking the Holy Spirit to guide you because HE knows what they need. Some ideas that I've seen or experienced for a variety of reasons would be:

-bringing a meal (great for people moving, sick, just had a baby or a neighbor who has helped you out)

-send a card with a thoughtful message: remind them you are praying, that you love them and miss them; whatever would be appropriate to say, say it...don't be cheap with your words!

-offer to help watch a friends children so she can get away for an hour or two and encourage her to do something for herself! Do this even if you ARE that mom...taking the focus off ourselves is often the best remedy when we fall into a "woe is me" pattern of thinking.

-Send an email or text when you know someone is going through a trial or life change; send one if you haven't seen them in awhile and you miss them; send one just are paying for that phone plan so put it to better use than just browsing Facebook and taking "selfies"!

-If you don't cook and truly are too busy to bring a meal then plan to order pizza for the family just moving into a new home, or just getting home from the hospital or maybe even just because you know they've had a tough week and you want to encourage them.

-Take an hour to visit someone who isn't able to get out and may be lonely

-Make a phone call! Sometimes we have no idea that someone is struggling and just needs to hear someone's voice of encouragement and love. Allow your voice to be that voice!
-Have your children draw pictures or write notes to family and friends; teach them young how to encourage others and be a blessing

-Ask someone how you can pray for them specifically...and then follow-up!

There are so many ways to be a blessing to others and my encouragement to you would be this: Be willing to go out of your way for other people and purpose to set aside even just 10 minutes a day to focus on someone else, even if it's just in prayer. Don't stress about what you should do but rather ask God to show you how you could bless someone that day and then be willing to follow his leading. Sometimes he leads us to do things that put us outside our comfort zone! Do it anyway! In this 'me-centered' society we live in the idea of sacrificing a little of our own 'me-time' in order to go out of our way for someone else is not encouraged and we really need to get away from the 'me-first' way of thinking. God wants us to bear one another's burdens, He wants us to put other's first; we will be much happier individuals when we take the focus off of ourselves, place it on the ONE who gives us life and let Him decide what we fill that life with! What are some way's you have been blessed by other's that really lifted you up and encouraged you?