Dream Stealers

Do you have a private cemetery where you bury your dreams. The ones that have been broken, shattered or destroyed? What about the stolen dreams…the ones you can’t bury?…do you carry around the shadow of the memory of them like me? Have you ever wondered what happened to them, how it happened?

I have my share of dreams that have died…dreams that will never be…but I carry around the traces of many “stolen” dreams.  Dreams that are not quite dead, but I can’t really “see” them anymore either…

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Sometimes I think it would be so much easier to imagine that it’s some outside force, some monster that swoops into my life and steals away my dreams. It would be easier than admitting the truth…

That sometimes… I throw them away, that I let them go into the wind because of fear.

It’d be easier to call fear a dragon, because then I’d be able to say it’s out of my control. That I  have no part to play in the story, other than that of the victim.

But often that is just not the case.

More often than not, I am not the victim.

Sometimes, I am the dragon.

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Sometimes I kill my own dreams.

With my fear, with my words, with indecision, with comparison, with “reason”, with passivity…

Yes, I have killed some of my own dreams…because I thought they weren’t worthy.

Because I thought I wasn’t worthy.

Because I thought I didn’t have what it took.

I thought didn’t deserve them to come true.

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and here’s the truth.

I don’t deserve them… not in myself. I’m a dead man, dead to sin, I deserve nothing good…

But Grace…

Grace made a way…I didn’t stay dead… in Emily Freeman’s book ~ A Million Little Ways she says it like this…

“I can dare to move into the world as the person I fully am, because I am forgiven, empowered and united with Christ in His death and resurrection. Discovering what makes you come alive (your dreams) isn’t the goal of life, it is evidence of life.”    Emily P Freeman~A Million Little Ways (emphasis mine)

So my dreams, they actually are His dreams.His purpose for me. Things He prepared for me from before time began…

When I kill  or throw those dreams away…I truly am the dragon…walking about devouring the gifts of God. So, I must remember to walk in the light…because I am a child of the light. Not a dragon, not a child of darkness, not a dream stealer or killer.

When we embrace our true design, we experience little tastes of the resurrection, of Jesus coming alive in us, of us coming alive within ourselves… Mourning precedes morning, death comes before the dream… Emily P Freeman

I am made in the image of God, an image bearer…born to reflect His Light, His visionary, creative, image…in love.

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Here’s some good news. Dreams are born in light…and they have a way of coming back to life.

Like a flame that flares up in the ashes of the fire pit when the wood is all gone.All they need is to be stirred up a bit and add a little bit more dry wood…and a breath from heaven.

…and just like that, dreams can take on a new life, and burn warmth and vitality into our cold darkness.

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And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. … That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. 

That dream, that spark, that life inside of us, does not originate with us. It is from outside of us, and yet is within us, from before time.

It is drawn from that same source that birthed all of creation.

One spark can dispel the darkness.

One spark can destroy the dragons.

The dragon that prowls around us, and the one that tries to rise up within us…and we become dragon slayers by living out our dreams.

The Light has come…and the darkness is overcome.

Our Journey Through Infertility…Conclusion

Hi there!  If you are joining us for the first time today, you may want to go back to the beginning of the story part one is here , part two is here , part three is herepart 4 is here. and part 5 is here. As promised …here is the conclusion…

This time, we didn’t wait to tell our friends and family. I figured, most of them have walked most of this journey with us, might as well have them pray and walk along this stage with us too. So my younger sisters helped me a prepare a dinner for some good friends and we surprised them with the news…it was so. much. fun.

I don’t remember when we settled on the name Lucas, but I do remember speaking to him long before I could feel him moving around…I had minimal morning sickness and because I was still on Sabbatical I wasn’t overly tired because I could sleep whenever I wanted. But soon my sabbatical would be over and I would be returning to ministry and the school in the midst of a lot of upheaval…but I knew it would be short term for me because of mat leave, so the stress of it didn’t really effect me thankfully. The summer weeks flew by.

We had been invited to the wedding of some former students and now very good friends and had made plans to travel to Florida at the end of the summer…it would be just past the 12 week mark.

I was at work the day I was supposed to begin packing and I noticed some spotting…there was a moment when I felt all the fear and torment from the past 5 years rush up and try to overwhelm me…I rushed home without telling Chris, and ran around the house tearing open drawers and cupboards.

I had to find it…please don’t laugh, or roll your eyes, or get overly analytical.  I was looking for oil. It was this “anointing oil” a guest speaker had given out at a church meeting…I had scoffed at the time, thinking that if it’s in the bible, it doesn’t matter if you use olive oil, or coconut oil to pray with… I had not been convinced it was “special” , but “just in case I’m wrong” I hadn’t thrown it away…(BTW, I’m Still not sure it was special) but “just in case” I had dumped it all over myself and started thanking God that my joy would be full. FULL. FULL.

I was sitting on the floor in the room with the crib, covered in oil, when Chris got home later that evening.  BUT the spotting had stopped.  (I’ll leave it up to you what to believe, I’m just relaying my desperation in that moment to try anything…and I do give God credit for his grace throughout the journey, and for my children, and do believe I was healed that day, or earlier).

We called off the trip just to be safe…but after that day, there were no other problems in the pregnancy. The fall and winter came and went, I got bigger and bigger and happier and happier.

I started Mat leave about a month before my due date, and the next day my friends threw us a gigantic shower. Everything we needed and more was provided…we put everything away that night and I packed my hospital bag – well most of it…and the next day…He, the baby that is, decided to arrive early. Lucas would be our only baby to arrive 3 weeks early, the only one to be early period. I can’t begin to convey the joy in the hospital room…in fact the waiting room was full of people who had to be there when he arrived. Thankfully, it was in the afternoon. It was like a party hit the hospital. (Remember the friend who had called me while I was driving in Alberta? Her baby had been born the day before, in the same hospital, she was surprised to see us, because we were so early, but she just joined in the party) It was so much fun – after the grueling work of delivery that is!


After Lucas, 2 more boys arrived within four years…and I wasn’t sure if God thought he was just being funny – I mean 3 boys? I have 4 sisters, no brothers…”what does one do with boys?”… and then 6 years later our baby girl. Each of the rest of the babies took. their. blessed. time in arriving. Believe you me. But after each one, I knew, my joy was full. My cup ran over in fact. His grace is sufficient, and his love indescribable. But His joy, His joy is complete.

151017_Heaslip_048 (2)An interesting little note… in 2014 we were blessed to have Isabelle join our family. She is from China  and she is staying with us for all of high school. We love her parents like family, and she is definitely family, she fits right in, you’d never know she was an only child. She was born the year we lost Maggie. Isabelle makes every day more joyful for me, and our family. I had always said that I hoped to adopt a little girl from Asia someday, and maybe we will still…but maybe not. But I do know, that Isabelle was destined to be a part of our family from that day, and our hearts were being prepared to share life with her today, way back then. I thank God for her (and her family) everyday. Truly, our joy is full.

151017_Heaslip_024 (2)Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. Thank you for your encouragement and kind words. Someone had asked me why I decided to share now, and honestly, because I was finally ready. I want to keep writing, and I know writing through the hard stuff  is part of the process. I hope you’ll come back, I hope you’ll share some of your stories with me. I love hearing from you and thank you for your friendship and love,

xoxo

Tammara

 

 

Our Journey through Infertility Part 3

Hi there, if you are joining us for the first time today, you may want to go back to the beginning of the story part one is here and part two is here.

As a worship leader, I couldn’t do my job.

I don’t know how to explain this…I couldn’t sing. I literally could not get a melody out. For about 6 weeks… I do not know why…physically, psychologically? Yes, I was confused, hurt and angry with God… I became obsessed with finding out why? Why us? Why me? What had I done? What had I not done? Was I not supposed to have children? Take this cup from me…

It felt like the loving God who had never let me down like this, was suddenly absent. Nothing. No answers, no peace. My journey to embracing grace, had begun that day…

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Then, on a Sunday morning in December, I remember, we crept into the church. It was the Christmas season, so part way through the opening songs we found a seat in the back.– I had started arriving late, because I couldn’t sing, and I couldn’t just stand there and pretend everything was OK, and I was trying to avoid the uncomfortable conversations.

Everyone else was happy and I was definitely not…

Then the band started playing this song which was not a Christmas song and…I knew for a fact, had been kind of “banned” because the pastor had found it theologically questionable (and even I didn’t really “get it” I mean it was catchy, but it was “me” focused and had this chorus that didn’t jive with the verses…I digress)

… and yet…

The band, the choir, my friends and co-workers…my people… began to sing it quietly…

“I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my shame…”

I almost walked out right then… but instead hung my head and let it wash over me. It crescendos you know… and I heard that sweet, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit tell me to try and sing… and I tried…

Choking and squawking I spoke-sang those words through tears until my voice rang out clear…

“Though the sorrows may last for the night, joy comes in the morning!”

and that chorus that never made sense to me…

“Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes, Yes Lord” became my cry, to walk in the awareness of trading that sorrow…would be a willful act, everyday.

Once my voice was free, my journey toward healing and wholeness had begun.

But that’s another story, it would be another 3 years before I held my son…

I’ll share how we got there, next week.

Our Journey through Infertility…Part One

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We got married in the late nineties, newly graduated from bible school and ready to change the world with big dreams and what we thought, was unshakable faith. As one who was recruited to remain on staff of aforementioned bible school, we were in a unique social circle. Most of our close friends and fellow graduates had either moved on to further studies in other cities or they had taken posts in missions around the world. We were suddenly bereft of a social circle of friends who were like us, married, no kids. We were surrounded mostly by high school graduates starting out in Bible School or couples who’d been married several years ahead of us and were now moving on into the next phase of typical family life, having children.

Not having kids yet probably wouldn’t have been a big deal in a different place and time. But at that point, we felt a bit like we couldn’t relate to anyone. After a few months of marriage, the negative side effects of taking birth control caused us to decide that if we got pregnant that year, it was ok because we had both wanted a big family. A year passed and we enjoyed our couple-hood. He was busy travelling in his new job and I was working in full time ministry – I was happy to go to work every day and be with my students and co-workers. I was working in a Creative Arts in Ministry school, leading worship every morning, and also working in the music ministry of a vibrant church.

After that first year, we put a little more thought into family planning. We wanted kids, and my mom had never had any trouble getting pregnant (I have four younger sisters), so I figured it would be a piece of cake. I was almost 25 now. Time to make it happen if I wanted to be done by 30. Silly me, I thought it was up to me, this having babies thing. When another year passed, the niggling doubts started to creep in. Maybe something was wrong with one or both of us. So we went and got things checked out. The doctor said everything was in working order. Stop worrying about it, it would happen, eventually.

But, there was stress. The stress of things not being in my control. Of course this stress would mess with my biology. A vicious 28 day cycle of anxiety, hope and crushing disappointment became my new normal. For another year, I would slap on a happy face each day, because I was in ministry, and these were the days of faith without visible struggle. When doubts and fears and negativity in general were not acceptable. I didn’t want to be that woman, obsessed with her infertility. I had a friend, she cried with me every month, she already had 2 kids, and I’d even been in the room when the second was born. She mourned with me well. But the happy face was driving a wedge between God and I, because not being real on the outside, was causing me to not be real on the inside.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

And then, one day… the light shone in. The cycle was interrupted. Hope was not followed by crushing disappointment. The darkness of the previous years was lost in the light of this little seed of hope. My heart came alive, my dreams took flight. I saw this baby in my heart. I prayed like never before, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of protection and love. I had one of those books that had pictures of how she was developing each week – and each day I would offer up thanksgiving for the heart, the limbs, the feet, the spine…my joy was full. We heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks. I had been keeping a pregnancy journal and it was filled with hopes, dreams and plans.

My expectation  and my joy grew daily. We had decided to share our good news with friends and family on my husband’s birthday. We’d be just past the first trimester by then, so planned the party and waited eagerly for that November to arrive.

I had a feeling in my heart it was a girl. I liked the name Marion – the name was in both our families. We told my parents, and my father in law – with a balloon that said “Grandpa” – he was overjoyed. (He’d been asking for grandbabies since the wedding). He loved the name…”can I call her Maggie?” and I’d hear him whistle the Foster and Allen song – Maggie to himself, over and over. We also told that friend, the one who cried with me, and we laughed like school girls. That fall, everyday felt like I awoke to a world of sunshine and butterflies…

Until the night before the party…when the dark clouds began to gather…

 

Do People Wear Sweat Pants in Hawaii?

hawaii sweatsI heard somewhere recently that when someone wears sweat pants in public, it’s a sign that they’ve given up on life. It’s a thought that burrowed into one of the hidden shadows of my mind, and then began to itch, as most annoying little things do, like a mosquito bite. It’s been bothering me for a while now, and is now at that throbbing, can’t ignore it, what will make it stop? itching stage.

So here’s the rub…

You see, I have spent a good portion of my life in the company of people who have taught me to nurture having a hunger for something more…more money, more success, more happiness, just more. That abundance is good, and lack, is well, lack is bad. That having more was a sign of God’s blessing, and therefore, if you don’t have more, you are not quite as blessed as those that do. Mind you it was not always about material things, in fact it was often very balanced between having more things, or more money (so we can be a blessing to others) but also to have more opportunities, more fun, more friends, more spiritual gifts, more wisdom, you get the idea.

Then a number of years ago, we started having trouble with the more, (even though it was nowhere close to where we thought it should be). We couldn’t manage it properly. We started losing money and opportunities, and losing them fast. Then we started losing people too (literally and figuratively). We had had so many people in our lives we couldn’t take care of them all. We also lost TIME. So, so much time. Watching dreams and years of work go up in smoke. Our peace was shaken, almost destroyed by circumstances, and stress. Faith became work. Hard, impossible work. The harder we tried to hold onto things… the more we tried to scramble and be honourable, the worse it got. Our family was beginning to suffer.

Then the thoughts of “maybe we were wrong” crept in.

Maybe LESS is best. Maybe we should let go a little. Maybe we should be content with what we have (even though it won’t be enough to get the kids through college, and at this rate we’ll never be able to go on those missions trips we’ve dreamed of, or write those books that will help people, or just be able to be a part of changing our world, heaven forbid an emergency comes up) Maybe we should throw in the towel and put all our stock in our kids…maybe we should just go quietly into the night. Maybe it’s game over for us doing anything notable.

But the old way of thinking, dreaming, hoping, imagining the world covered with God’s glory…well that was still there too. Though just a whisper…

Somewhere along the way, we started to give up a little. Letting go of little dreams at first. Then the big ones, not outwardly, but inwardly. Letting go of everyday opportunities for fear of making things worse. Having grown weary of the struggle, we stopped trying to do good with what we did have. We went into crisis mode and got stuck.

But you see, internally, I still had this subconscious voice telling me that “more is better”. So on top of giving up on so much, I started eating more, because more food made me feel better, even if momentarily…we used to talk about a trip to Hawaii, but then I began to think that was a selfish pipe dream…less is better.

And one day, I found myself going out in sweat pants.

Just once.

Then a couple times… and then it got to the point that none of my non-yoga/sweat pants even fit… and I didn’t have a choice in the matter. At that point, it was easy to take in more food, in fact I’d think that “I was never going to wear a bathing suit in Hawaii, so why not eat what I want today”…so I ate, but it didn’t help me deal with the itch long term.

The warring thoughts and beliefs needed to be put to rest and the appropriate choices must be made between more and less. I knew I would not be less tired by carrying around the extra poundage, but I will be energized by doing things that are exciting to me. And helping people is exciting to me. Travelling, making small differences in people’s lives energizes me. I am not meant to “go quietly into the night”. This decade of struggle will not be in vain. I have a reason, beyond myself for being alive. I repent, I turn away from this double minded thinking. I think the biggest struggle is not when your beliefs are challenged, but when you give yourself over to thinking the opposite of what you have always known to be true.

I have known that I am not here on this planet just for myself. I am here to be an image bearer of God, the one who created me. In order to bear His image, I have to reflect what I know to be true of His nature. His beauty, His grace and His love. His justice and mercy. His provision and compassion. The God who held nothing back, not even his Son, to save the entire world and to do away with sin, once for all.

Is living with less a fair representation of Him to my kids? Maybe regarding some things, yes. But with limitations on my joy, peace, ability to share and provide, health, dreams, creativity, adventures? Perhaps not.

On the other hand, is taking more of whatever I can get (like food) a good representation of Him? Absolutely not.

So, here’s what I walk away from the struggle with..

An open hand.

Not closed, not grasping.

But open.

Receiving in rest.

Resting in the One whose image I am to bear. A return to faith that is not work, but simply faith. Yet, knowing still that faith is exercised by works. Not for my own profit, but His, through faith, and not by my human strength or understanding, but through His rest.

As always, I’m reminded that this is nothing new, Paul the Apostle summed it up in Philippians 4 this way:

Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess – happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

So there was a moment, a few nights ago, when I said no to that night time snack. I said no, because I thought “just maybe when this battle over my weight has been won, when I can lose the sweatpants for good. Just maybe we’ll be ready to make that trip to Hawaii”… didn’t feel like a selfish pipe dream anymore.

It felt like a possibility. I returned to the way of thinking that maybe the Hawaii seed was dropped in there, because there’s a reason to go to Hawaii bigger than me… and that the goal to get rid of the sweatpants is bigger than me too…

There is the grace that I can be thankful for, even in this season. When I’m on the other side of hurdle, but still growing through the struggle. This old dream has been given new life, and the journey to renewed thoughts has begun again.

Pausing on May 1st

So many thoughts rumbling around today… but many of them with a similar theme…I guess someone is trying to get my attention…

I read this quote in my devotional today…

Going through life without pauses (big and small) would be like writing without punctuation! Commas, periods, or new paragraphs help us make sense of things., take a breath or organize, and to know where one chapter ends and a new one begins. We need these pauses in our lives as they unfold as well!              

~Amy Cooper Collier

from the devotional itself by Julie Bogart…

Maybe today we can all pause – simply long enough to be present to ourselves and to our families in this moment in time. To pause is to cease what you’re doing for a moment, giving yourself an opportunity to be.

and then this post from blogger Shauna…must pay attention…

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Pausing to think about a sisters birthday today. A sister who is lovely and gentle and kind. Silly and funny, quiet and thoughtful. Pleasant and loyal and deserves a really good year. A really, really good one. Happy birthday Aya – I love you always.

Pausing to reflect on my daughter. The joy it brings me to see those words before me. My daughter… all my life I wanted a daughter. She was worth the wait. Her name, Elaina, means light. I was thinking about how,she was born at the beginning of a new chapter. We’d had several years of darkness in our family so to speak. Death and disillusionment, disappointment and loss…and through it all we kept walking – rather stumbling, falling and crawling and even, being carried by grace. Grace and faith…at times, even hope was gone, and even the road didn’t look like a road leading anywhere good…but Jesus…he was there…and then, the road turned sharply, the clouds parted and the valley was behind us. Breathing deeply,the gasps of survivors. and we were bathed in light. The kind of light you can feel on your skin. The kind you can’t help but turn your face to. The kind that warms your insides, heals your soul, refreshes your hope and brings clarity to your mind…and the path ahead.

Light… reflecting on the daughter conceived in the final steps of that valley. Elaina, is certainly delightful, almost always happy, loved by everyone… last week I posted a cute pic of her online, and it had over 50 likes, overnight. She loves to jump and sing and dance. She loves hugs, and her family. She has this bright smile and sparkly eyes and this curly blonde hair that when the sun hits it on a certain angle, looks like a halo. She makes me pause…a million times a day. To hug, to sing “twinkle” – for of course – Twinkle, twinkle little star” –  a million times a day, to “jumpy mommy!”…she’s full of things to say and share and learn…a reflection of the promise.

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I pause to reflect on the years my womb was silent, when the hope for children was crushed again and again. I’ve often thought, why didn’t God just tell me then, what I know now…that it really was too early? That He had things for me to do that would be impossible to do with a family…and that I would look back on that hard season as one of the best of my life? That He knew me better than my 20 something self knew me… that I would want to share motherhood with my sisters who weren’t even married yet, rather than the friends who shared that season with me, but are no longer nearby? That  I would want my children to share memories with their cousins…not just grandparents. So the timing, though unexplained, difficult…  five years of waiting and loss, was in Him. Why didn’t he just whisper it to me? Maybe He had, and I just wasn’t listening. 20 somethings don’t often know how to pause.

Pausing to reflect on those sons – the first, the promise child – who causes me to cling to hope and continue to trust in the Lord’s promise, that the work of faith wasn’t fulfilled in his birth, but in the walking out of motherhood with him. The second son, the talker, the joker, the fun-maker. The one who pushed me away when he was months old, and still isn’t sure if he wants to pull me closer or push me away even now. A riddle I am challenged with loving in his own unique way, for forever. And the 3rd son. Born 6 months between the deaths of both grandfathers…the child who was peaceful… though rarely slept. Who cried every night, until you picked him up. Who just wanted to be held in the midnight hours…and now I wonder if instead it was he who was holding me…through his early years, the path our family walked, grew darker still and yet, this child continued to be a watchman – the one constantly seeking to comfort others. A picture of God’s peace in the midst of every imaginable storm…knowing now that God was holding us all up, together, and drawing us forward into a season of light.

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Pausing again, as our first chinese “daughter” returned to visit last night. Reflecting on 3 almost 4 years ago, and where we were then, at the very beginning of this chapter – when I was expecting Elaina and welcoming light in…and where we are now, where the Lord has brought us…wondering if she saw the difference? Wondering if the light I feel radiating inside me, is felt outside me at all yet?

Pausing, to reflect on Grace. Where we’ve been, where we’re going. To let the light shine, to let the light in and to give thanks.

“My name is now Christian, but my name used to be Graceless.” ― John BunyanThe Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come

Mama T

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by, some things have changed, primarily my blog host. I had been running into some technical hitches that actually hindered me from blogging, so it was time to move. Since it’s a new year, I figured, it was as good a time as any.

I’ve moved all my posts from the Whisper of Grace page, but as you can see, I’ve changed the name. I have a couple other blogs linked with this one. Whisper of Grace will still have more reflective content. The Heaslip Homestead Academy, our homeschooling journey and Life with Mama T – everything else in my life. I’ve got another one related to this in the draft stages, I’ll let you in on it as soon as I can.

Anyways, why the name change? Well, I needed something to do with Life – since it’s all the life stuff – and this works. Also, I think I’m finally coming to terms with my “search for significance” and that’s what the rest of this post is about…

5f3ab3b212b26f487f54786efb2806f7When I think about it, I’ve always been a mom…

long before I gave birth.

The oldest of 5 girls in a Greek-Canadian home of mixed faith and culture,

I don’t remember life without being responsible for someone else…

“mothering” my younger sisters even when it perhaps wasn’t appreciated

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In my teens I “mothered” as a camp counsellor for several happy, glorious summers.

For most of my 20’s and some of my 30’s I worked in a ministry with many young adults who were away from home for the first time, often needing lot’s of  love and nurture.

This is when I earned the nickname “Mama T” ironically, while struggling with unexplained infertility.

A sometimes smartass young guitar player from Prince Edward Island, saw the “mother” in me, long before I did.

You see, he gave me the nickname, not realizing, that my husband and I had been trying for years to get pregnant, and then, had a couple miscarriages… Mama T?!

Would I ever be a mama? Really?

But the nickname stuck…

For awhile, it silently hurt me to hear it…

But over time it built faith.

And then JOY!

Finally, after years of waiting and disappointments,

Our children began arriving in quick order…

3 boys in 4 years!

Then I became a children’s pastor for a bit.

Mama T, Mama T! It was such a sweet wonderful season…

We were done, or we thought so anyways.

Life outside our family had gotten HARD.

Compounded losses…and the ensuing chaos,

Almost tore us apart.

Then the storms ended, and the waters receded,

Unlikely direction came that turned our hearts home…

And while our lives were being rebuilt…

Our lovely baby girl came in, as if on angels wings…

A breath of grace from heaven…

And still, there were more “kids” who needed “mothering”…

We began hosting international students for various lengths of time

Chinese, Korean, Colombian, Danish…

My heart, and home

Are open and willing to pour out love…

I guess, I’ve just realized my “calling”, if I ever needed to have a name for it…

xoxo – Tammara

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I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post and I look forward to any comments or questions and will see you here again very soon….T

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The Palm Tree and Me

The Palm Tree and Me
I remember clearly the preacher describing how a Palm tree grows and it’s characteristics and purpose. I still get shivers when I think about it…

My thoughts in summary as it was about 22 years ago when I first heard it are written first. I’ve followed up with notes I’ve collected through the years on The Palm Tree (mostly from other preachers – I can’t site any by name as their are many and they all overlap. After 20 plus years of trying to find that specific sermon I heard on TV, I’ve never been successful in locating it. But it really did happen, and it changed my life. 

Most of the metaphors are pretty obvious. I’ve noted the ones that have hit me hardest through the years. That day, the preacher showed a video clip of this palm tree that had been leveled by a tropical storm. The video then showed how it was preserved through God’s design. When a palm tree grows, the roots go deep through the earth until it finds the bedrock and attaches itself to it. (the metaphors here and pretty awesome – Jesus the Rock) Because of this, it’s foundation is so secure, it is almost impossible to destroy a palm tree.

Also, it grows incredibly tall, reaching up to the heavens, deriving much strength from the sun.  (Jesus – the SON) Most palm trees are found in areas that are exposed to fierce storms, a lot of fierce storms.  Sometimes after a storm, the palm trees look like they are dead. They are horizontal and roots are exposed.
But they are not dead. Somehow, the light of the sun and their strong root system cause them to rise up and stand tall once again – sometimes even within a day.

I am definitely like a palm tree. Absolutely. 

The great news is though – we are all like palm trees, by the Grace of God.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
The Bible says, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree…” (Ps. 92:12) 
Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.2but his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. 4The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.…(Ps 1:1-3)

In fact Palm trees are mentioned more than 30 times in the Bible. The first mention of the palm tree occurs in Exodus 15:27, where, upon departing from Egyptian bondage, the Israelites “came to Elim, where there were 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees.” I’ve always thought that it was interesting that God’s people were brought first to a place with many palm trees, when they were brought out of captivity.

Palm Trees Grow Upright
A palm tree grows straight up. It has no branches, only fronds (leaves – which it will shed during a storm, to preserve life) Always looking up towards heaven the palm tree grows to great height, sometimes even hundred feet. A believer is always looking up towards heaven, trying to know and follow the Will of God. Rooted in a land whether fertile or not, it grows up sucking the moisture from the earth. Palm trees invoke a sense of paradise and peace. No matter which way they are planted, palm trees always grow towards the sun, even if it means that they must twist and contort themselves. A Christian centers his life on Christ, striving always to grow closer to God. We bend and twist ourselves as necessary both to avoid sin and resist temptation, while at the same time we reach for God.

Palm trees are lean and slender, shedding excess branches as they grow. The wind still blows on them, but there is less for the wind to grab ahold of. As we grow stronger in our faith, deepening our relationship with God, we shed our desire for worldly things. We become less vulnerable to temptation and center our lives on Christ. That way when the difficult times come we don’t worry about material loss, but rather we maintain our hope inwhat matters most, our salvation.

It Grows Tall
Palm trees are unique and have a distinct appearancein their height. They grow much taller than other trees. Even trees that are much older don’t compare to the height of the palms. As Christians we stand out in a crowd—or at least we should—since we are called to be the “light of the world.” It’s not to say that we are better than others, but the way we carry ourselves—our speech, our demeanor, our disposition—should be dramatically different than our non-believing counterparts. There is something special about us. People can see that you have something that they don’t have, and they want it. What we have is God’s grace. That is what makes us special. Palm trees are easily spotted and identified.  Palm trees are difficult to hide. They don’t blend in with their environment.
It Cannot be Grafted
Horticulturists say that to graft a palm tree is to kill it. 
1. The palm tree is distinctive and unusual. 
2. This is why grafting kills it. 
To graft a Christian into the world is to kill his testimony and influence. 
1. The Christian is to be distinctive, easily distinguished from the world. 
2. Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore brethren….” 

Palm Trees Are Durable.
They are deep rooted. They will bend under extreme conditions but they rarely break or become uprooted. They are designed to weather storms. Although palm trees may look weak and scrawny, appearances can be deceiving. They sway to and fro in the wind, but they never break as opposed to the dense, bulky trees whose branches snap under pressure. Just like the palm trees, we have the special ability to weather the storm. That special ability is none other than the hand of God working in our lives. Christians don’t have fewer problems, but we do have an all-powerful God to help us get through them. We embrace our struggles, our difficulties, our crosses. We still feel the pain, but we don’t allow our pain to overcome us and we never lose hope. We bend and sway, but we never break!

The palm tree is noted for its hidden life. The life of most of the other trees is near the surface, just under the bark. All that is needed to kill them is to girdle the tree — just cut down to the wood, and the sap quits flowing, and the tree dies. There is a class of professed Christians who live near the surface. Their feelings are easily hurt, and a little persecution discourages them. They cannot stand a long siege of opposition. You may hack, peel, and girdle the palm tree, and it continues to live. This is true of a palm tree saint. You can peel, slander, and cut their reputations to pieces with cruel tongues, and still they have unbroken fellowship with God. 

It is A Tree Not Affected by Drought
Whatever the weather, a palm tree is not affected in any way, not even surface injuries, until you cut it down. Likewise the Christian life is not overcome by any trial or tribulation in life. He is completely dependent on God and takes everything according to the will of God. He draws his strength of life through his trust in God and always rejoices. The palm tree not only survives but flourishes in the desert. 

It Will not Burn 
It is not used for firewood because it refuses to burn as ordinary wood. The child of God will never, not even for a moment, suffer the fires of hell. He will never burn; he is a palm tree. 

It is Coniferous
The palm tree is perennially green throughout all seasons. Life flows within its being continually and keeps it fresh. Rains may fail. Storms may shake and sway the tree with great force. But nothing happens to the palm tree. ‘Palm-tree Christians’ are unique because they never change. They are the same vibrant witnesses of God’s grace throughout the day because Jesus Christ Himself is ‘the same yesterday, today and forever.’

Palm Trees Are Fruitful.
They were a major food source for the Israelites. They bear their best fruit when they are old. In fact the older the palm tree the sweeter the fruit (Psalm 92:14).
With over 3,000 species: The date palm produces over 300 pounds of dates annually. The African oil palm, very widely cultivated in the tropics, gives a higher oil yield per hectare than any other oil plant. It produces two quite different types of oil, and that from palm kernels, used for making margarine and soap, and that from the fleshy part of the fruit, used more widely for industrial processes. This is one of the most rapidly expanding plantation crops today. 

Palm Trees are Useful
Each and Every Part of it is Useful. The Palm tree is known for its usefulness, from top to bottom each and every part of the tree is useful. Found in warm climates, it gives the cooling effect in effect by its shade as well as its fruit. It also has many medicinal purposes. Palm leaves are known for their cooling effect and thatched roofs were made from these for thousands of years. Even today they are used as beams in construction. Until modern printing was invented,,a form of palm leaves/ Cyprus grasses had been used for making papyrus – a form of early paper – even that which was used for writing the Bible. 

The Syrians had over 360 uses for the palm tree. In addition to fruit:
1. Its sap could be mixed with water to make wine.
2. The seed from its fruit was ground and fed to livestock.
3. Fibers from its leaves were used to make rope.
4. The leaves were used to make baskets and mats.
5. Wood from the trunk was excellent for building.
6. Every part of the palm tree was useful. It was held in such high regard for its beauty and practicality, that it was a common name given to women in the OT–“tamar”.


It is a Universal Emblem of Victory
Palm trees were sympbolic of victory in many cultures through history. In Mesopotamia, the palm had long been sacred as a symbol of triumph, eternal life and peace. In Inda, the palm leaves were sent to the neighboring kings carrying messages of war and peace. Many ancient cultures celebrated victories with the palm tree. In ancient Greece, a palm branch was presented to winning athletes. The palm tree itself was associated with victory in the belief system of ancient Rome. 

Because victory can also signify an end of conflict, some cultures, such as Islam, associate the palm with peace and paradise. In a1ncient Egypt, the palm represented eternal life; in Jewish tradition, the palm was connected to the festival of Sukkot. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the palm branches that the people were placing before him already had symbolic value. It is also mentioned in the book of Revelations as a token of victory.  

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, later Christian leaders took the palm as a symbol of the victory that martyrs won over their oppressors and of the victory of the spirit over the desires of the flesh. Both of these meanings earned the palm a place on several flags and seals representing countries in later history.


The Palm Tree Shows the Place of Water
Palm tree has a very acute sense of finding water. Its roots go deep to find out water even in dry places. Even in a desert filled with hot sand, the palm tree survives bearing the scorching heat of the sun. As believers we find our livelihood in Christ ‘the living water’. He is the living water that can quench any thirst. Jesus said, “Those who drink of the water that I shall give will never be thirsty” (John 4: 14). A Christian can show the way towards ‘the living water’.


A Group Of Palm Trees Forms An Oasis. 
One palm tree standing alone will not provide much shade from the burning sun. A group of palm trees forms an oasis. Stay together and stand as Christians. Get in and stay in the N.T. church. These are even described at “families” – the group of trees. The oasis provides shade for the weary traveler. Often in the desert, you will find orange and lemon trees growing beneath the shade of the palms grouped together. When we group ourselves together in the church, we provide shade for those weaker than ourselves. This is why Hebrews 10:25 is so important to us. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” 
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isa 61:3 *This verse was read at my wedding, one of the things that spoke so clearly to my heart that my husband was a match for me, was that I saw him as a tree that I was planted together with – and this verse was our mandate for our family, our group of trees. That He might be glorified.

Dear Elaina

Dear Elaina,

We don’t know if we’ll ever be able to convey how much we love you…but we will spend all of our remaining days doing our best to show and tell you just that.  You are a special jewel in the crown of our lives. Our family is better because you are in it. We are all smitten with you.

We wish that we could protect you from all the sorrows and hardships that life will bring you, but we can’t. If we did, you would miss out on all the beauty and joy that is born out of pain. We can promise you that we will be there for you, and when we am not, we trust that we have and will have always pointed you towards the ONE who will never leave you.  Your name can always be a reminder to you on what our intention was in raising you.

Elaina means “shining light” or “torch”. It represents Jesus” the light of the world” and His victory. It represents Truth, Divine Wisdom and Victory…as well as Life, Peace and leaving a Legacy. Please always remember, you can never fulfill this apart from the Grace of God in your life…        

This leads to your middle name…

Grace is God’s undeserved favour and blessing. We live a life that we don’t deserve because Jesus took our place. We hope and plan on raising you in Grace…because that is the only way we can.

            We are so excited to fill these next years with great memories together and to live life to the fullest together as a family. As we dedicate ourselves to raising you for the Lord, we also reaffirm that this is our intention for all of our children, for your brothers – Lucas, Max and Carter. They will be your greatest friends, and bring you much joy. They will also bring you grief. This is good.

It is our responsibility to help you find your way, to know who you are in Christ and to live up to your names, as well as to know what it means to be a Heaslip. The Lord will help us, and give us the wisdom, provision and spiritual gifts we need for this.  As for us, and our House… We will serve the Lord.

            Happy first birthday Elaina! It’s been an amazing year of firsts with our baby girl, and we’re anticipating another year full of God’s richest blessings for, not because we deserve it, but because of His great love for all of us.

With all our Love,

                            Mommy & Daddy

She

On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend 5 collective minutes writing on a single prompt.
Here’s how it all got started, back story, details and all. The short version is:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word. (On your blog or in the comments).
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog footer}.
3. Go leave some comment props for the five minute artist who linked up before you.
It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week.
She

  She is turning one next week. 

My heart feels a little bruised, a little softer for wearing. Times flies…
All those moments that make up the first year, almost gone.
I’ve done my best to enjoy those moments, trying to savour them. 
The sweet smiles, the firsts, the chub, the giggles.
The brothers taking it all in with me.
My baby girl, is toddling into girlhood and I hope I’m ready.
I hope I’m soft enough for her.
To help her through this next chapter with grace.
I hope I continue to see what it’s like to be surrounded by boys,

that I never become blind to her heart.

I hope that I can get down on her level in these years, as much as I have this past year.
Bending over to see what she’s looking at, to show her something new, to keep her safe.
Bending down to pick her up, to play peak a boo, to help her take those first faltering steps.
I hope I remember to keep slowing down as I have this past year.
To feed her, to change her, to snuggle and comfort her.
To watch her sleep.
Lord, keep my heart soft and my eyes wide open.
So I won’t get caught up in the daily grind, as to miss the joy.
I hope that she continues to be the reminder to me to slow down, 
To enjoy every moment, 
to be softer, 
to smile more, 
to speak less and listen more.

Not just with her, but with the boys and my love and my friends too. 



She is my baby girl, and she is almost one.