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Archive for the ‘Journey to Texas for SUM Conference’ Category

 

Part 3: Moving Forward by Gillian Russell Meisner

Gill Intl Life
(Flying home again from Texas I was really tired, and a little bit sad to be leaving, and it would have been so easy to just let myself come crashing down…but I had said no, I’m not going to live that way anymore—”I will live in FREEDOM!! Right now, going back home is Your will and in it I will rejoice!”)

On the flight home it was a much quieter trip, and I had lots of time to think. It began to hit me just how much time I have spent striving! How much energy I had wasted! I really had been trying way too hard! Jesus tells us, His yoke is EASY! His burden, is light!!! Staying close to God in His arms by following His leading: letting go in that place of complete trust is effortless, and it makes everything else so easy! *

As I looked back at how God had taken care of me that week, the care and attention He had taken in all these little details for me, I felt His love on a whole new level. In particular, it was not lost on me that my trip was ending on Divine Mercy Sunday. I had had a week of adventures, the conference, the incredible lessons, all culminating with confession and Mass for the feast of Divine Mercy THE SAME DAY; an abundance of sacramental graces to infuse these truths even more, and give me a completely fresh start in life.  And I was just in awe at the thought:  as most certainly the only Catholic attending this conference at a Lutheran church, did God really time the conference, perfectly with Divine Mercy Sunday, JUST FOR ME?! *

One other thing, Lynn had spoken freedom to me just to enjoy my kids again. I had gotten so caught up in all the other aspects of parenting and trying to bring obedience out in them, I had forgotten how to just enjoy their company and the incredible gifts that they are to me.

 

 

 

Back home I could see a major change in myself. Of course over the next few weeks I had to figure out how to integrate this new outlook of freedom into my life, but already I was catching my thoughts and surrendering when I never could before.  I had really been plagued by worry and negativity and now I could often catch myself in that thinking and take those thoughts captive to Christ instead. But the biggest thing is that freedom from stress.

A HUGE weight had been lifted.

I knew control was a lie, and I had known better, but I hadn’t lived it. Honestly I don’t think I even knew practically how to let God be in control before. It was incredible, and I just knew this was going to bring new freedom to every area of my life! It was going to permeate every one of my relationships: with my husband, with my kids!

I have been quite controlling at times, particularly of my kids, especially because I felt that if I didn’t make sure X happened then it would be the end of the world. It was like a compulsive thing. I have had a deep need to be in control, and in the past it used to make me incredibly anxious, stressed and upset, every time something did not go how I wanted and felt it should. (which as a parent of young children, is, a LOT of the time!)

I used to spend so much time and energy worrying about how to fix things: my kids not obeying or cleaning up etc…our daily schedule not working – and I’d have to stop everything else and fix it, right now!

Instead, I’m learning that all these things will work out eventually, in God’s time. And the mess and clutter in the house, I can let go even more, because I know ultimately my heart (and theirs’) are more important than any tidy rooms…

 

 

 

(The other change I see is with my oldest. To this day he has a zeal for his faith that none of my other boys have. I noticed the day he came home, that something was different about my five year old.  He just seemed so different, that I asked him straight out if he met Jesus while I was away, and  he said yes!  He said Jesus was there at the end of Nanny’s bed, and Nanny was asleep, but he was awake. His hair was black and his clothes were brown and white… He told me, “Jesus said if I be bad, then I don’t get candy.”
I am still blown away by the simultaneous stories God wrote for me, my son and this family all while we were miles apart! Seriously, I just love how God works because back home I actually felt relaxed enough to let them have candy/treats– especially because they were being so good!  Meanwhile God had told that to my son he’d get candy if he was good, and then He put on my heart that it was ok for me to give them some!! God is too funny. 🙂 And my son seems different, he is so much more obedient. It’s like he’s made up his mind now that HE wants to obey, and there is also a fresh enthusiasm to his faith (which was really only mine before). He is so excited for Jesus. We were singing the rise up song from the Easter flash mob and he was dancing around. I played the Newsboys song, God’s Not Dead a few times around them, and then one night he was just screaming it over and over! ‘God’s not dead, He’s surely alive!’ It was so funny 🙂

 

I still struggle with trying to take control in small situations, conversations, frustrations etc, but stepping out of the driver’s seat of my life and letting God take over has brought unbelievable freedom and an abundance of blessings for me and for my family that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I know this freedom is nothing I could ever do. I could never break those chains that held me, ** It has been entirely His grace, for this freedom that I discovered is nothing short of the power of Christ, who lives in me.

I still typically make some kind of plan for the day, but I try to do it WITH Him, and then just let Him work out my day, my week, moment by moment. I also really try not to make firm decisions myself anymore, even in areas where I do have control. I know how strong my will is when I decide something, so I prefer to let God have the first say. Ideally, I try to take my own desires of it and then let God speak through my circumstances and through others. (Last summer we decided to move from our first little home. I knew I wanted the house that God had for us, so while I gave input in what I liked and didn’t, I really left the final decision up to DH and his friend who would be renting from us, trusting God to lead us all to the place where He wanted us. The house they both picked in the end wasn’t my favorite at the time, but it has turned out to be the perfect fit for us and I know we are exactly where we are meant to be.)

 

God has taught me in a very real and practical way how to let go and give up control of every detail of my life, so that He can be the One in charge.

He taught me that true surrender can only happen when we are willing to accept the real possibility of what we don’t want, happening. 

And in that profound lesson He gave me the freedom I needed to say ‘well, if my son misses praying first thing in the morning today, it’s no big deal, God’s got it! God will take care of him.’

And so, on this trip, along with the freedom, God birthed in me incredible, unconditional trust. An unconditional surrender that He knew I would need down the road.

Jesus calls to us, come, ‘shoulder My yoke and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ It is only in the moments when I surrender completely to God that I find that rest that my soul longs for.

Everything God did for me He wants to do for you too, and for all of His children, if we will only surrender and put all our trust in Him. It all begins with a simple prayer from the heart, even if you feel nothing, if you have the desire to know or trust Him more, 5 small words is all it takes: ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’ Those 5 words could change your life forever, because you can bet, He’s listening.

God is good. He is in control. And if we will surrender ourselves completely into His hands, He will take us on the most amazing adventures! It is my great hope that my story will encourage you to step out and trust God more in your own lives. He really does have every little thing under control. And at the heart of everything He does, is love.

 

 

 

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Part 2: Freedom: God Always Knows Best

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Part 2: Freedom: God Always Knows Best by Gillian Russell Meisner

Because the trip to Texas for the SUM conference was entirely God’s idea, I knew this was a tremendous opportunity, and I didn’t want to miss ANYTHING that He might have planned for me, so I gave the entire week over to Him.

The whole time God took excellent care of his little girl, but He didn’t make it easy, (the cold, getting lost, discovering I was without my passport the night before an early flight) and yet through it all I discovered incredible freedom: For example: after a day and a half of travel, when the cabbie and I were driving around at 2 in the morning unable to find the house I was to stay in, I discovered to my astonishment I wasn’t upset, or frustrated or stressed about it. I didn’t even care, because I knew God had a plan and would not just leave me there stranded. And eventually we found the only house with a light on downstairs at 2am.

I continued in this spirit of surrender and experienced such peace and joy all week, until Friday. The day started out fine but by the evening, as I was heading to the church for the meet and greet w the ladies I just felt so scattered. My peace was gone and it was like I couldn’t even enter into the moment.

Then I was inside and I saw Lynn and Dineen standing by the table and I was like, ‘ahh! I’m not ready for this!’ So I tried to find a spot off by myself to try to get back to God, and then Lynn came over and found me. 🙂

But driving home that night I realized what had happened. That morning I had made a simple list of the things I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on before I left the house where I was staying. I wasn’t obsessive and I had let the Holy Spirit remind me of things I almost forgot, but in making that simple but deliberate list, I had taken back control from God. I had my own plan and was no longer open to other things He might have asked of me should they have interfered with what I wanted.

When I realized what had happened I knew I never wanted to do that again, here I was unable to really enjoy the amazing experiences I was having and now the conference was tomorrow! After all, that was the whole reason God had led me down here in the first place, so I knew I had to find a way to give the control back to God, not just a simple ‘I surrender God’, but from my heart. And there was a sacrifice I knew I had to be willing to make in order to do this.

That evening Lynn had told me there would be a dinner after the conference for some church ladies and the ladies of our community. I very much wanted to attend especially to have more time to talk face to face, but before coming down I had already committed to going to Mass on Saturday afternoon since I’d be flying all day Sunday. And I knew from the website Mass was right at 5:30, dinner time. And so, if I wanted to give control back to God and experience everything He had for me I knew I had to be willing to let the dinner go. And so, I did. Whatever God did have for me, even if it didn’t include the dinner was more important. And as soon as I surrendered my heart wholly back to His will, my peace and joy came flooding back again.

At the Conference: At the time I felt that 2 months of suffering had better birth tremendous grace and let me tell you, God does NOT disappoint! I felt like a brand new woman!

Lynn talked about the lies we believe and how to replace them with truth, and Dineen spelled out 4 awesome principles for trusting God. It was exactly what I needed to hear:

  1. God is good. God is good, God is always good, God can not be anything but good. 2. God is in control. 3. God is an equipper (if He calls you to do something He will make it happen, even changing the hearts of people who stand in the way). 4. God is a redeemer, He brings good out of everything, it’s who He is. )

During the freedom portion of the conference when Lynn and Dineen were praying and people were going up to the front, laying down the lies they had believed and coming for prayer, I was still working through my own stuff and the band was wrapping up their song  and I heard Lynn say, ‘Lord, someone in here isn’t finished…’ I just knew, that was me.

So the band played another song and God kept speaking truth into me and blowing me away. After everything He had been teaching me this week, I knew one of my biggest lies was that I needed to be in control. I remember it was the moment God’s voice just broke through everything and He spoke to my heart : “You will have absolutely EVERYTHING you desire, you dream about, just leave it in My hands.”

I was overcome with emotion and His love and I just melted! But, what I didn’t know until later was the chains that He broke at that moment: my desperate need for control and the negative thought patterns that seemed to follow me – they were a great source of stress and both of them used to trap me in great prisons of frustration and discouragement. Now, by His grace, I had a way out. (These were major major issues, I figured ‘thorn in the flesh’ type, or maybe just MAYBE with enough patience and perseverance, really gradually, they might be broken, months or even years from now. But no. God said enough, she’s struggled enough, set her free! )

After the conference that day at the other church as I sat w my little one asleep in my arms I could hear my thoughts, ‘I need to take this photo and Lord, I still have to prep my confession and … And I so want x….’ And He just cut straight through all of that: “Haven’t I shown you I can take good care of you?? Haven’t I shown you that you can trust Me???”

“Yes Lord, but…”

“No. Stop. Be IN Me. You let go and let Me take charge, and You will see and I will give you everything. Just let go and trust Me.”

So I let go and gave the whole day to Him. And in return He gave me everything: time for confession, and thus to receive divine mercy, Mass, and time with my hands free to take photos of the beautiful church afterwards, AND to go to the dinner as well, photos at both churches, a picture with Lynn and Dineen, my book signed by both, and even time to sit and chat w Lynn as old friends for close to an hour! Looking back on my day there is not ONE thing where I think, ‘oh I just/still wish that…..’ because God gave me everything!!!!!

So then that night, getting ready for my early flight next morning, the person I was staying with asked, “Have you got your purse? Yep. You got your passport?” I looked in my purse, the other bags – and it wasn’t there! I felt God say ‘Trust Me’, so I reluctantly agreed that I would go along for the ride… But then as I stepped outside for a moment I heard myself say, “Really?! Really, Lord???” And woah it hit me, that’s fighting Him, that’s not trust! I resigned from living that way, I don’t want to live like that again. When I fight God, that’s when I get frustrated, that’s when I get hurt! – He has shown me all week that He is MORE than capable of taking care of me so why take that back from Him now? And so instead I let go and told God I accepted it, and to have His way with this too.

I knew control was a lie, and I had known better, but I hadn’t lived it. Honestly I don’t think I knew practically how to let God be in control before. It was incredible, and I just knew this was going to bring new freedom to every area of my life! It was going to permeate every one of my relationships: with my hubby, with my kids!

 

I have been quite controlling at times, particularly of my kids, especially because I felt that if I didn’t make sure X happened then it would be the end of the world. It was like a compulsive thing. I have a deep need to be in control, and in the past it used to make me incredibly anxious and stressed every time something did not go how I wanted and felt it should. (which as a parent of young children, is, a LOT of the time!)

Instead, God taught me in a very real and practical way how to let go and give up control of every detail of my life, and on a moment by moment basis, to let Him work out my day,(instead of planning and then anxiously seeking to control everyone around me to make sure everything worked out. ) He taught me that  true surrender means being willing to accept the possibility of what you don’t want to happen.  And in that profound lesson, He gave me the freedom I needed to say ‘well, if my son misses praying first thing in the morning today, it’s no big deal, God’s got it! God will take care of him.’

And so, on this trip, along with the freedom, God birthed in me incredible, unconditional trust. An unconditional surrender that He knew I would need down the road. And of course, it all worked out in the end.

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I wrote this series of posts for the SUM Mismatched And Thriving Site 🙂 This is Part 1.

Providence
by Gillian Russell Meisner

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Back in the winter of 2012/2013 there was an announcement on the SUM blog, a special conference, for the Sumites ( and others too). I saw the post and immediately my heart soared at the possibility, but I knew I had 3 small boys at home, and it was such a long way to travel from Canada for a one day conference, so I smiled at the thought, decided it wasn’t the time, and let it go.

But then about a month later something happened as I read one of the SUM posts and all of a sudden, I really, really wanted to go. It was as if I no longer had peace with my decision. The same thing has happened a few times before, I will have, in peace, made a decision to decline an opportunity, and God will swoop in and change my heart. That’s how I know it’s Him.

I did a bit more thinking and discerning about the conference. It started after I woke up from a strange (as in how did that get there) dream about tornados – little ones that would spring up out of nowhere… and winds that were so strong you had to bunker down. Like every 5 minutes :S

Besides the whole I’d never done this before, the thought of flying by myself was nerve racking because what if I missed my flight or even get on the wrong plane! There was a certain amount of fear associated with traveling all alone, with an infant, to a state down south where I’d never been. Strange city, young woman all alone… you know… Fear… I had just been reading something about fear the other day! Fear: A catalyst for growth, This would be a chance to really, practically put my trust in God. And really, if the main reason I was leaning towards not going was based on fear, then it suddenly seemed pretty clear.

It still seemed pretty crazy, to want to fly all the way from Canada down to Texas for a one day conference, but in particular I recalled something I had been reading in Rediscover Catholicism, about living for God alone:

The saints simply asked themselves, “What is God’s will for this moment” If they concluded that something would help them draw nearer to God and the best version of themselves God desired them to be, then they embraced it. If they decided that it wouldn’t, then they turned their backs on it regardless of how alluring the opportunity was.”

And when I thought about it in that light it didn’t sound so crazy anymore. I had already come to a place where I knew I wanted to trust God more. I knew it would force me to rely on God in a big way (travelling alone, navigating airports and even another country without anyone else to follow), it would teach me more about the world and people far away that I could better share God’s heart for them too, it would be the fulfillment of a dream to meet these ladies and I knew it would help me grow in my marriage as well. Also, I always find it easier to make a concrete change when I’m at a conference. I mean, when I just resolve 1 day to make a change, it usually doesn’t stick very well, it’s when the resolve is coupled with an EXPERIENCE that I find myself truly changing on a deeper level. So I made the decision in my heart and while my husband was concerned about the money and asked if it would be web cast etc… otherwise he seemed ok with it. He agreed I could go, but was clear with me that this trip was not in the budget. I had no choice, but to step out in faith and ask for help.

And God was faithful. Leading up to my trip God was already wowing me with His provision as He took care of every detail of getting me to the Southern US, while still honoring my husband’s wishes. God provided for my flights, and also abundant funding, more than I could have dreamed. Then in the span of about 15 minutes He provided me with a place to stay so I didn’t have to worry about hotels, food or cabs while I was down there either, except once from the airport.

CCO puts on retreats for young adults and I have gone every year since 2009, and there was one coming up that spring as well. Usually they have a priest or speaker flown in from somewhere in Canada, yet this spring they had chosen someone different. And as I was discerning I was blown away to see that the speaker they had chosen for this retreat was from Texas. Houston, Texas! Now, if that wasn’t confirmation from God I don’t know what was. That was that, I booked all my tickets, and would be leaving the Tuesday after Easter.

God wasn’t finished though. At the retreat later that March I sat eagerly in the front row w my youngest child on my lap. Out of the blue the speaker stopped his talk, looked right at me and asked, what’s the baby’s name? I told him Noah and his jaw dropped. He asked the middle name and I replied Joseph, and his jaw dropped further. Then he made some little comment about it being like a sign, and went on with his talk. After he finished I went over, knowing it was more coincidental than he thought, and knowing he was from the area intended to ask if he knew of a place to stay there, maybe a convent or something etc. I told him it was like a sign because I would be in Houston in April for a conference. I said nothing more yet right away he told me if I needed a place to stay I was welcome to stay with him and his family. That was that, I booked all my tickets, and would be leaving the Tuesday after Easter.

Yet for those 2 months leading up to my trip to Texas my whole family had been suffering from colds and sickness every weekend, and I had really been struggling with feelings of discouragement. People would question my decision to go, especially when I had a cold again, Easter weekend, right before my trip. But I had felt God’s call on my heart and had no peace in the thought of not going, and so, even though the thought of actually being on a plane and ending up in Texas still seemed impossible, I kept taking little steps, and was amazed to find myself actually sitting on the train that Tuesday, about to leave. And then, by the time I got to Toronto I already felt it had all been worth it. The whole way down I discovered that every person I met on my journey, every encounter, were all divinely ordained and planned out in advance by God, just for me. All the way He provided me with people to talk to and little opportunities to share about His Love and Truth with others. :).

And the whole trip He also taught me a lot about myself and about His provision and care. Over and over and OVER that whole week, God proved His incredible faithfulness to me as I watched my Daddy take care of His little girl like I had never seen before:

Travelling down I had to walk a lot with a young toddler and several heavy bags and every time I needed help, God sent somebody to help me carry my stuff, I never had to ask. Then early one morning a stranger on the train who hadn’t spoken a word to me the entire trip just walked over and put a homemade sandwich on the tray in front of me for my breakfast. Everywhere I went God made sure I had everything I needed and more: He provided food and drinks, directions, additional donations, rides, and even coffee! The way He put it on other people’s hearts to reach out to me, it just showed me in a very powerful way how very much this world is still under God’s control, much more than we realize.

Everything God did for me He wants to do for you too, and for all of His children, if we will only surrender and put all our trust in Him.

 

 

Action Points:

– remember God is in control, in your life and the world, even when you can’t see it.
– The God of love will care for ALL of your needs, and more if you let Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    Mar 22

    Re texas… Ever since I got sick and somewhat discouraged the first time, I haven’t been able to recapture that tremendous excitement and joy over this trip! Now, it’s the fact that I have to spend more money than planned, can’t use my funding for all the travel cause there are no seats and I am plagued with the thought that it’s my fault because it got left so late.

    I really thought this time it would be easy and here it is like Montreal again… and even moreso – I feel like it’s my own fault it’s that way…

    TRAIN: train cheaply 220, fly up 372, or have a really nice ride on the train for 550. (I really loved the train last time – except for trying to sleep – but when I had the sleeper car on the way back it was a lovely trip. )

    There is a certain humility to traveling 3rd class, but I wasn’t going to do it unless I knew that was what He wanted – because I’ve done it before and it was more humble, but it also wasn’t a very good night's sleep last time.. and the next night I fly and get in at 12:15am

    I also wish I could justify a sleeping car… I may have to fundraise a little more… I know I could take the train in the economy class, but it might give me a horribly bad night’s sleep –

    Still, if that’s what You want then of course I will- and suffer gladly , but I just need to know.

    I’m just feeling frustrated – and down – everything left so late, travel to and from Toronto w/o funding, the fact that I still have to spend a lot of money as a result – all the flights are sounding really intimidating… and now I have to leave so early that I really won’t have much Easter time here…

    But – thank You:

    -for getting me a flight to and from Houston that is covered by my funding so it doesn’t cost MORE!

    -for giving us the opportunity to take the train again

    -sleeping car???

    Mar 23

    Yikes, DH told me to price it out everything… ugh, lol I wish I hadn’t haha… I can’t believe travel alone is still $1000, it’s cause we couldn’t get it all on the fundraising, but still…. And now, even with my own funds and the money was blessed with, I’m still several hundred short. (unless I take the train and sleep in that seat!) Which of course, if God makes it clear He wants me to do then I will, but even so I still need to fundraise more, last time it wasn’t about pleasing Dh it was following God but this time it’s very clear to me that I must do BOTH.

    Sure at times I still wonder, MAYBE it isn’t the right time – except then why is my flight covered? And why then did my church family give to me so generously to help fund my trip, and why do I HAVE A PLACE TO STAY WHEN I GO THERE WITH THE FAMILY OF THE GUY WHO CAME TO THE CCO RETREAT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH???? It’s just like with Montreal, God doesn’t provide LIKE THAT, if he DOESN’T want us to do something with it!!!

    Mar 24

    I talked with my close friend at church:

    -1 Colds-very dangerous to fly – so I will run it past a doctor and if necessary get a prescription so I can be better by then..

    -2 She was seriously questioning if it was the right time? Since it’s to strengthen your marriage etc.. and it’s costing more and your husband isn’t comfortable with the money…. ‘given the nature of the conference..)

    3. Then she handed me an envelope. DH had insisted I do up a full budget including ALL my expenses for this trip so I had done one up for each of the different methods of travel to get to my flight, as well as shifting a few other numbers around. So, after I opened the envelope and quickly crunched the numbers for my funds, I discovered with deep joy that with this added donation, on my lowest possible total expenses, I was now short the exact amount that DH had said I could borrow against.

    This was meaningful for 2 reasons.

    1. First, it showed once more how God is faithful and will continue to be faithful providing for all my needs to fulfill this calling from Him to go to Texas.2. And second, it showed me clearly that the best plan was to take the train up to Toronto in economy class.

    God wouldn’t provide like this if it was not the right time. Everything else is fear trying to get me to change my mind, fear, but…I do sense with her reservations about the money, that the best choice is to take the train cheaply, so now that I know I can book it. 🙂

    I’m meant to take the train cheaply and be a little uncomfortable – which knowing that’s what God wants I don’t mind doing, and will just offer it up as part of my trip experience.

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Fri Apr 5 – Texas Day 4

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Blue skies and sunshine
The shadow from a crucifix
Watching their 2 year old caring for a 2 month old baby
Watching my little guy lay his head down to look at the baby
House full of babies 🙂
Funky bottle rack
My ‘Baby’ snuggled in the doll playpen

Summer in April
Wearing my summer dress without leggings!!!
A catholic book on temperament
Playtime w girl toys
Ham sandwiches and chips

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A beautiful sunny afternoon in the back yard
Baby in his US shirt
Circles of light like coins shining on the deck
Watching baby run free w glee from one activity to another
Peekaboo in the playhouse windows
Boots by the front door
Spying baby through the open window washing dishes at his kitchen sink
Baby talking to me on the air phone
Star leaves
Real Palm trees just over the fence
Real geckos on the fence
Jumping on a trampoline again, even if only for 5 minutes

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Baby bananas
Hydro car – one of the Cars cars that drives on water
An army of power towers
Storefront signs in different fonts but all in white
A lot full of outdoor play centers w rainbow roofs
Ramps like something out of the Jetsons, over under around and through
Looking back to see baby had opened the car toy package
A line of excavators, yellow, red and blue
Learning all sorts of interesting things about Texas on the drive over to the conference
A Texas specialty, dinner at Whataburger
Baby playing w all the plastic order number markers
BBQ chicken strip sandwich on Texas toast mmmmmm
My little Texas adventurer w BBQ sauce on his face

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Christ the King at last
Walking in and Seeing Lynn and Dineen for the first time
Stacks of flourish magazines
Heart stickers to distinguish the SUMites
Welcome and a prayer
Lynn coming over to find me
Meeting other SUM members
Lynn and I chatting like old friends
My celebrity, my heart sister, carrying my bags out to the car!
Driving through some of the city center lit up at night
Praying through my penance before an almost lifesized painting of the divine mercy image

Sat Apr 6 – Texas Day 5 – Intentional Life Conference!

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Starting my day off the right way this time, by Giving all the control back to God
Stepping out into a summer morning
Birds singing and that fresh early morning smell
Baby walking free in the (quiet) street
Driving out w fresh perspective and trust in God and wild hope for the day ahead

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Intentional Life!

Custom notebooks!
The altar, palm trees, and crowns of Christ lit up with golden morning sun in the sanctuary
-Power like light from the cross
with my Eyes closed it’s a crucifix
Baby w only 1 shoe
Listening to Lynn LIVE!
some great iPhone captures
Dineen, on a God centred marriage and the basics of Trust
A Secluded room with speakers to listen to the talks while baby ran free
A Daycare room when baby just got too chatty
Hope and FREEDOM like I have never known

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The guy who I’ve been staying with and who’s car I left the carseat in when he dropped me off in the morning, right there in the parking lot w/o being asked, the minute I realized I needed him… (Carseat)
A holy water font with still water, black tile and an unique and decorative cross
Beautiful stained glass; the trinity of Love
Jesus on the crucifix a silhouette in front of the trinity stained glass, this is God!
Stepping into the chapel and His very presence, even if just for a moment.
Statues in behind the altar (sacristy?)
The leaf from last night still following me
Baby falling asleep so I could prepare for confession
Jesus; God’s gift of mercy
A beautiful painting of Jesus calling to us in the divine mercy
A gift for mummy – a flower petal from my toddler

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Special celebration dinner
Purple and glass centrepiece
Southern hospitality: a bag full of meals for the trip home
1 on 1 time to chat w Lynn
God granting my every desire for this day and more, as I surrendered it entirely to Him

A chance to really put my trust in God – no passport, seriously?
Practically applying what I have been learning to adjust my attitude and go with it
The caretaker of the catholic church driving up there to search for my missing passport after midnight when I called him
Time and spirit to write the letter

Sun Apr 7 – Texas Day 6 – Trip Home

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Airplane taxing driving on on the bridge overhead of us
Curb side baggage check in
Bypass security line
A ride to the gate- hop on
Golden sun lighting up the wing
Apple juice for the road
A new calling to contribute to the online community in a bigger way
Baby curled up on the seat after i put him down, determined to keep sleeping even though our flight was over and everyone was off the plane

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Looking in the mirror – I am a changed woman!
Sky train to our terminal
A great big window to watch the planes
Baby climbing the stairs
Wifi !!
frozen water molecules on the airplane window
Clouds like scoops of ice cream
Pillars of fluffy clouds right outside my window
Despite feeling incredibly nauseous during a rough landing, not actually being sick .

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-That bungee cord that made lugging everything plus the baby possible
-The kind man who made sure I was looked after, to get where I needed to be, plus getting something to eat and a coffee…

-My first divine appt- we could help each other out 🙂 The brand new mobility assistant who not only drove baby and our stuff around but watched pour things when I had to change him and dropped everything to help me find a way to get something printed- which should have been straight forward once we found the machine, but really wasn’t!
-Smoothie and iced coffee so refreshing
-Breaking through the clouds bursting into golden sunset/light
-Spying the city lights, Home sweet home, home sweet hubby!!!

-Holding hands w my man again
-Aw, Thank You Lord that You sent dmil to clean my house while I was gone. You didn’t have to do that…

Mon Apr 8

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Both of us Sleeping in till 10:30
Little hand and wrist and forearm resting in slumber
One of my prayer cards, on display on my stove shelf
A miracle, The Lord has freed me from the heavy iron chains of negativity and the need for control.
Jesus arms wide open to me in welcome on my windowsill
Realizing I can actually see my bedroom floor!
Divine inspiration, to finally change a long-time bad habit
Jesus with my toothbrush

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My big boys, standing on the other side of the front door!
-I missed you Mommy! – Tyler
Baby reaching his arms to hug his big brothers
Brother reunion
3 boys playing cars in the hallway
Nothing like going away for a week to make your kids start listening to you again!
Sharing my Texas testimony with my boys
Noticing a profound change in my oldest
Finding out my son prayed for me while I was away! He prayed I would come back home safe.
(even after he’d stomped his feet a little when I said we were going to do the rosary) – afterwards he was pleasant, agreeable and praying form the heart he said and I noticed… He seemed so different I asked him if he met Jesus while I was away! … and he said yes. ! )
-breaking the bread and sharing blessing with my boys
-finn-mcmissile-races down the ramp
A proper master bed, now up off the floor and complete with a headboard and footboard!

Tues Apr 9
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My oldest w his pope hat
Cars set up like a movie poster
Bungee cord Bridge
Our daily schedule, completed with pictures at last!
Styrofoam block tower
hubby went shopping, and brought home oj- for himself to drink

Wed Apr 10

A dime stuck to my leg when I got up
oj in the fridge, a small miracle
W god’s help getting everyone out the door in time for mass, and even having time to get juice for the kids!
that same sweet aroma for a moment when I walk into the chapel for adoration
kids praying good morning prayers before blessed sacrament
Sharing about my trip w church friends
Coffee and cake after mass

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The kids w the church pamphlets spread out eagerly looking through them
Holy giggles-Don’t eat Jesus, unless it’s at Holy Communion!
Just having fun w my boys again!
Baby sitting in his brother’s lap

Thurs Apr 11

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Baby noah: – pointed to the rosary page and said, ‘Je-susssss 🙂
Middle son, helping me pray people into the prayer jar
Our Father enthusiasm screaming the words!
My brother’s Lego great escape shirt
Baby trying to bless himself for the gospel
The boys arranging their snacks
3 kids around a plastic BBQ
The stains in my shirt that won’t come out, that remind me of deeper truths (sin)
The dust spilling like confetti from the fan blades..
Sonic free rider surfing in the living room

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Mar 13

Things have been moving along here and I have much more to share about my whole journey to Texas now. God has made it so clear He wants me to go there, I don’t know why yet, but I know it will be good and I am starting to get excited at times.

Flights:
First thing I did was I went to my husband and asked him if he thought I could go and to my surprise he didn’t mind me taking off for Texas for several days, and being gone away with the baby – but he didn’t want to pay for any of it.
So, I prayed about it, and God put on my heart to ask the ladies in my faith study group at church, especially the one I have so connected with, the one who I’ve been leading the studies with. She told me that while I was talking someone came to mind that I should ask. So, when I got the chance I did, and about a week later that person told me they would cover all my flights! Just like that. I was blown away by God’s care, His kindness, but He wasn’t finished yet.

More Fundraising:
The Holy Spirit had also put on my heart to ask these ladies, and so, not knowing what other expenses I would still incur, I made a short announcement at the end of our lesson: that God had called me to go to this conference in Texas, and my husband had agreed I could go but didn’t want to pay for it. I told them praise the Lord my flights were already covered now, but there would still be other expenses such as passports and cabs, perhaps a place to stay as well, and it would really honor my husband if I didn’t have to use our money to pay for it. These ladies were extremely generous, and I felt so loved when the following week one after another people were bringing me envelopes. ❤

A place to stay:
The 2nd weekend in March the SMU chaplaincy had a retreat. I knew about it ahead of time, it was called BUILD and it was all about the New Evangelization. I was especially intrigued because Evangelization is one of my passions. However, I was also thinking about this trip to Texas and I had taken note, the speaker to our little corner of the world for the retreat, was form Texas, Houston Texas. I knew this was only further confirmation that I was meant to be at this conference somehow.

So, there we were, baby and I, in the front row at the retreat and as the speaker was about to finish up his first talk he looked over and asked the baby’s name. I told him it was Noah, and his jaw dropped. Then he asked what his middle name was, and when I told him his jaw dropped even further. Noah is the name they have picked out for when they have a boy and his middle name is the middle name they have chosen for all of their future boys. He commented that it was ‘like a sign’.

After the talk I went up to him and said ‘ it is kind of like a sign, see I’m going to be in Houston, Texas for a conference at the beginning of April! And he just said it, ‘ you are welcome to stay with us if you need a place to stay’ . !!!! So now, I have my flights covered, extra money for other expenses AND a free place to stay!!!! God is soo good!

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Quick takes posted up from Texas!
Such is the power of the iPhone 🙂

3 things I’ve learned so far:
-1. At least when traveling west, the right side of the train/bus always has the best views (and I sat on the left every time)
-2. It makes a difference to ask the Lord’s help even in little personal endeavours. I wanted to take a photo of the night sky outside the plane but the light was so low it would take a very low shutter just to get anything close to capturing the beauty before me, and I was pretty sure It was well beyond my own capacity and that of my camera… but I tried anyway and I asked Jesus to hold the camera steady because I couldn’t and I have never been able to keep it that still for that kind of time frame without at least partially resting it on something.. And with His help I actually got a couple photos clear enough that did capture the incredible sight, though they don’t fully so it justice of course…
-3. Everything really is bigger in Texas!!!

I don’t have all 7 days worth with me because my Good Friday notes were all on paper. Also, I was pretty wiped yesterday and didn’t write anything yet…

Fri Mar 29 – Good Friday
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An accumulation of cans piled by DH’s computer desk
Baby out in the sunshine exploring outside for the first time
Red sword thorn
Kisses for Jesus

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Pretzel crosses stuck in bread, we remember
Pretzel paper man
Lone cross on sandwich hill
3 boys tucking in their baby and singing a lullaby of Jesus Loves Me
Pretzel rosary crucifix

Sat Mar 30

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No line at the bank the 2nd time
Getting through divine mercy- small miracle
at the last moment, remembering to get my keys from the counter at Chapters
Agony ( agonizing) in a fake garden
Beating pecans
A third small miracle, Finally remembering to take the box of Cheerios so I could put them in a donation box!

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A deep need to be at mass tonight
Vigil Darkness
Candlelight
Holy water showers
My Candle snuffed out when it and I were drenched w holy water
Daring to believe he rose again
That my Lord would do so much for me!! Go so far to love me
Paschal joy
the aroma of love again

Easter Sun mar 31

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The birds all a twitter
Praying the glorious mysteries again!
Deep symbolism in the addition of a simple white ribbon
Easter all over my house
2 cartons of eggs filled and ready to be hidden in the yard
Baskets of goodies
Bright coloured plastic eggs peeking out around our back yard

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Chocolate fingers ( and grabby hands too)
A stack cup Easter egg
Baby with my camera, say cheese Mummy!
Egg hunt in our backyard
Baby tripping with his Easter egg only to discover candy fell out
little hands holding plastic eggs with candy
Baby’s with his little basket

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Spring branches
Wiggly patches of grass
Easter snow
a leaf standing straight up in the snow, God saying hello to me 🙂
Time alone to walk with God in the yard from my childhood
The old climbing tree
Branches catching afternoon sun
Old forgotten hockey net

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Piggie at the window
Easter towers at each place
Trains in Grandma’s Easter baskets
The adopted piggie, they can’t WAIT to be parents lol
Brown sugar ham
Lemon ice cream and meringue cookies, next best thing to pie 🙂
Story Time
Theological discussion w my family surrounding Passover

Mon Apr 1

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Waving game
2 awesome online pranks (google and ‘in a relationship’)
Words of hope from SUM
Words of freedom from DH’s radio

Thick fog on the highway, Heading into the unknown
Watching baby play dinosaurs
Twilight and blue
The light from the door down the hall and the adventure baby and I start tomorrow 🙂

Texas Adventure Day 1, Tues Apr 2

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Ty for the gift of this day, wild with possibility!
Feeling a little better
Stepping into the sunlight

Baby all buckled up in the backseat going somewhere exciting!
My little guy chillin on the bench at the train station
Fond farewell to my mom at the station
DH coming by on his lunch break to see me off
Graffiti under the bridges
My little responsible passenger reading the safety pamphlet
Green lake
iPhone to entertain baby
Baby under the seat playing iPhone

Baby falling asleep looking out the train window
God moment as I read the first sentence of the SUM book
Tiny person walking tiny hallways
Rays of hope bursting in the sky
Slits in the clouds, hope wounds with light bursting through

Looking up to see a string of leaves blowing right into the window in front of me
baby iphone apps
Old love- an older man reaching his hand out to steady his wife on the swaying/moving train
Comfort food chicken soup w noodles from my childhood

Bedtime sillies-Baby giggling rolling on the seat beside me in his train jammies
Warped patches on the window glass
The sound of birds from 2 seats back
Peekaboo and a game of fetch with our friends on the train

Wed Apr 3 Day 2

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2 seats!!
Kind Man who offered to get me a coffee
Another gift, a delicious salmon and egg sandwich
Quiet time to read and let God teach me… Jesus friend of sinners…
My book – having it’s own adventure
Another kind gentleman, Noah’s buddy from 2 rows back, helping with my bags through the train station 🙂
Baby w his new buddy
Tall grass reeds poking out of the ice
Cute farms out the window
Snowman metal lunchbox (egg sandwich and cous cous salad)
Ty for providing for all my needs and MORE on this trip
Baby peekaboo in the netting cubby
Ty for locking me out of the iPhone so I don’t miss any of the encounters and opportunities You have for me
Blue and green coastal skyline
Kermit headphones
An opportunity to reach out and share God’s love and truth

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the resourceful / practical ingenuity of my inlaws
Tall buildings
Glimpsing an airplane between buildings, flying through downtown Toronto
CGI bushes??
A bunch of cranes all in one view
Baby in the baggage cart basket
US flight registration at last
Baby on the luggage scale- I think he’s around 20 pounds
Catholic customs officer
Passports and tickets, off we go!
That my husband doesn’t like reading, no worry of him reading much Dawkins…
Someone to help me carry everything every time I needed a little help
Airport at sunset

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Baby looking out the plane window in wonder
A Patchwork of snowy fields below
Cities through fog and twilight out the opposite window
Ginger ale, my fav on a plane
Entertainment for a 1 yr old toddler, a plastic cup and an ice cube
An opportunity to share my choice to walk with faith
Ty for providing for me and never leaving my side
Baby staying close and not running off so mummy could just rest between flights
The body of Christ everywhere-Fellow Canadians and followers of Christ in the Chicago airport
Finding A tiny orange truck in my coat pocket
Meeting a lovely Catholic couple, fascinated by the unequal marriage ministry
Rediscover Catholicism x2
Future Tyler and James w their dad
Every encounter, divinely ordained and planned out in advance by God!

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Watching an airplane just taking off, and actually catching it with my camera!!
A stand up comedian for a flight attendant
Flying a short distance on a clear night
City lights stretched out below like circuits on a motherboard
A sea of blue lights
Blue cold pills
Breathtaking night views
A fluffy white cloud floor and a vast / endless starry ceiling – a little like skyroads, a place of dreams
A steady hand, from outside of me-My camera held so steady by the hand of God
Actually Capturing a glimmer of the night beauty that lay before me
Praying powerfully on a plane
On Every leg of the journey, an empty seat for Jesus

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Houston cow of welcome
Peace from deep within as the cabbie and I searched for the house at 1 in the morning
Easter like Christmas
At 2am finally, a house with a light on
A Catholic hotel

Thurs Apr 4 Day 3

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A blue china bedroom
My book, with coffee and bathroom tissue; having its own adventure
Statues and other religious items everywhere
Ear popping good time (every time I blew my nose)
Cars camera
A present for each of my boys back home
coffee! Some days that’s all that will get you through, coffee and Jesus!
A lazy morning with a big leisurely breakfast
Catholic chat over coffee

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A beautifully decorated catholic home to photograph
A beautiful red cross
Little lamps, everywhere
A master bedroom like a chapel!
A most beautiful crucifix
Large windows and natural light
Baby in a house full of things he’s not supposed to touch
One curtain, not hanging quite right
Lovely queen of heaven – assumption statue
Baby excited to be set free to explore!
Learning all about this woman’s life, as a close friend

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Looking out the window into the backyard at the next house to see a trampoline!!
An Easter mantle complete with eggs and butterflies
A lantern of eggs
A dedicated kid space apart from the main living area
Photo identifying Lynn so I can access fb here in Texas
Being asked to identify my husband haha!

A house bustling with people and kids and activity
A love note on my iPhone from baby
Pastel spring flowers hanging from the chandelier
delicious homecooked dinner
Texas’ best BBQ sauce
Watching how their oldest took my toddler under her wing

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