A Father’s Hands…

Today was a day that reminded me of a  really bad day I blogged about a few years back.  I’m not sure if it’s the full moon, or what, but I needed a reminder that I’ve had worse days and just like then, today was “handled” – once I handed it over. Today it took a trip to the dog park, but it really did turn around too. I hope you enjoy today’s post from back in 2013…
Yesterday was one of those days.
It started out ok…
Then quickly spiraled down and out of control.
The oldest boy had ATTITUDE.
The middle boy was EMOTIONAL with ATTITUDE.
The youngest boy was WHINY.
They were all fighting, running in the house, making wrong choices.
The baby was cranky…teething? diaper rash? fussy?
All of the above.
Even the dog was annoying.
That morning I’d been reminded of a few personal setbacks…
Waves of  worry, fear, doubting self, doubting God…
Feeling like the little we had, would never be enough to meet the need.
Feeling unsettled, words in my mind wearing away at the Peace
That usually keeps me calm in the midst of these storms.
Feeling pretty ugly inside and out.
So I kept losing my cool…
yelling…
threatening…
lashing out…
probably worse,
I’ve blocked it from my memory.
We were all ready for a change of pace, a change of scenery.
I remember driving to the organic farm to pick up the veggies
On the verge of tears.
At the farm, the dear farmer sensed my duress.
She made me laugh.
A moment outside of the moment.
She encouraged me like only a mama of mamas can.
We drove home in almost silence. A hymn was playing on the radio.
The quiet was needed…appreciated.
The baby had fallen asleep.
The boys were not fighting, not even talking.
I pulled into the drive.
Thinking about what to make for dinner.
Giving instructions for unloading the veggies…
The middle boy was not in the van…
 Momentary panic.
Call the farmer.
He’s there. Relief.
Drive 25 mins back there to get him.
Beat myself up most of the way.
After all…how could I not notice he wasn’t in the van?!
Sigh…
I really felt like crying on the way home again.
Decided, that the day was basically lost now
A lost day…
When I should have loved my kids better…
When I should have been gentle, and kind.
 And now it was half hour to bedtime…
No time to make dinner…
MacDonald’s it is.
At least the boys were thrilled.
I beat myself up for not providing a healthier dinner.
In the drive-thru…I had to dig into the recesses of my wallet to pay.
Tucked inside a pocket, was shoved one of these.
I haven’t seen one in years.
(for my American friends – we have dollar coins here)
For some reason, it reminded me of my dad.
How his hands hardened by work, would always offer to give me money.
When I was around 9 and first allowed to ride my bike to the corner store.
When I was 16 and driving the car and needed gas.
When I was visiting home from college and always in need of a little extra cash.
How on a day like this, he would have put his arms around me…
And the world would have felt better again.
Sometimes we’d just sit in the garden, quiet.
I thought about how much I miss those hands,
How that final goodbye felt a few short years ago…
How much I wanted my daddy at that moment.
Mercy, the tears would not stop…
I almost had to pull over the van.
Then the kindest whisper…
A reminder really.
That there was another set of hands…
Readily available…
Hands that were not only work hardened…
But pierced.
For me.
Hands, eagerly waiting for me to surrender the day
Ready to provide,
Ready to take fish and bread, and meet those needs and more.
Restoring peace, reminding me of Eternity
and how my earthly daddy lives there now, with Him.
Redeeming the day, in a moment.
Making the world feel better again.
Oh how wonderful to to fall into my Heavenly Father’s Hands
To be enveloped in His grace and mercy.
Psalm 31:14
But as for me, I trust You, oh Lord,
I say,”You are my God”
My Times are in your hand…
 
And as the day came to a close,
Kissing soft cheeks, whispering thanks
whispering “I love yous”
Watching the steady rise and fall of little bodies at rest.
Peace…I am still.
Knowing the day is saved, and a new one is at hand.
A new one, that is in His hand,
As I am.
Advertisements

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 One

InfertilityMyStory

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…

096

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.

141010_Heaslip_12

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.

11180015_10153043650869219_300433324_n

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

My Favourite Blogs

If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I’m an avid reader. I will rip through scores of books on various topics. There is nothing quite like the experience of reading a great book. For me it’s like going on a new adventure, literally like I’ve taken a trip and come back to share about the journey.

Though I love actual books, I love to read blogs too. I’ve included a list of blogs that I would categorize as reading on a regular basis. I hope you’ll check them out and that you find something interesting, inspiring or encouraging, as I have.

For Reflection

A Holy Experience – Ann VosKamp… what can I say? She’s Canadian, she’s authentic in her delivery.Her books are great.  I appreciate her lifestyle. She lives on a farm, loves her family, embraces the rustic, has a huge world view, she homeschools… though I don’t embrace all of her theology, her thoughts on grace and gratitude (Eucharistia) are hands down paradigm shifting. If she’s got a new post, I take the time and read it.

Beyond Evangelical – Frank Viola… his writings on the New Testament church and God’s Eternal Purpose rocked my world. Literally, I think I systematically read everything he wrote on that subject. (maybe 15 books? I don’t remember specifics, but now when I refer in mind to one thing, I can’t remember which book it came from, they are all like one giant book mushed up in my brain. Good thing I own most of them so I can go back for reference) – I must note at this point that I also read through almost everything Gene Edwards wrote on the same subject, though his were written in semi-fictitious form. Good for left-right brain development. Anyways, back to the blog, I love that he is not afraid to ask many questions, but unlike Rob Bell, he at least points you to where to find the answers, if not attempting to share his own thoughts first. He’s also not afraid to take heat and to be controversial. I read his blog because it makes me think.

Disrupting Culture – The husband and I have only discovered Jonathon Welton recently, but we’ve been gobbling up his stuff on the blog and youtube and his books. As students of the New Covenant it’s refreshing to find resources that embrace a) sound doctrine  b) the supernatural  c) the grace of God and walking in our identity in Christ d) putting the great commission in action. Often you can find some of these things, but less often do you find them all in one.

Life In Grace – I don’t remember how I got connected to Edie’s blog. But shortly after following this blog, she and her family lost everything in a house fire a couple days before Christmas. I was moved by the outpouring of support from the internet and ultimately the depth of her writing following such devastation…I’ve been hooked ever since. She’s got a great style, posts awesome recipes (many I’ve tried and added to my repertoire), she’s a Lutheran and classical reader, former homeschooler and has that southern charm that draws you back again and again.

Shauna Niequist – My sister turned me on to Shauna. Love her blog, though it’s sporadic, her books are awesome and after you’ve read one of her books, you feel like she’s a friend, so you read her blog because it’s like catching up with a friend.

Homefries – I must clarify that this is not a blog, though you can link to blogs from this site. I love this site because it features several podcasts on a variety of subjects from a variety of people. I particularly love the interviews with Tsh Oxenreider. Podcasts are great for listening to while working in the kitchen.

For Fun

Pioneer Woman – Started reading Ree Drummond’s posts years ago after a friend recommended her. I guess  a lot of people like her food posts (which I admit are pretty awesome) – I do own one of her cookbooks and love it, but I honestly love her Confessions blog. It just makes me laugh. She’s got some great stories about her life on a ranch in Oklahoma. She’s had so many embarassing things happen to her, it seems impossible…but oh it’s funny.

Home with Boys – Honestly I just started reading her blogs because she has 3 boys and started homeschooling around the same time as me. I’ve since come to find her simple approach to life refreshing.

Martha Stewart – I honestly just read Martha’s blog to see how “the other side lives” – you know, the fabulously rich… Plus I get great tips on gardening, etc from her posts.

For the Heart & Home

AKA Design – this husband and wife team are Canadian. They live not far away, so they have the same harsh Canadian winters, the same weird summers, celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time, etc. etc.  They do a lot of DIY projects that are totally do-able for people like me, she’s got great style and is super organized. Plus she homeschools… that’s inspiring to me. There’s also a personal connection as I’m very good friends with her sister, so even though I don’t think I’ve ever met them in person, I feel like I know them.

Nesting Place – I’d followed this blog for a few years. I loved her philosophy and style…but then sort of drifted off for a bit. Then about a year and a bit ago they bought this run down old house on a great property with an even more run down barn. They shared their vision for it all, and slowly have been making it happen and I’m hooked with renewed interest.

The Inspired Room – to be honest, I just started following her because she seemed to love fall as much as me, and then I got hooked. I love her style and decorating philsophy. She’s has tremendous success in the world of home decor, and though I don’t aspire to have her home, I do appreciate the love she has for her home, and would like to continue to grow in that same kind of appreciation for my own.

New House New Home – Another Canadian not far from here. I love her gardening posts especially, but she shares some really great home projects too.

Living Well Spending Less – As the title implies, it has a plethora of tips on saving money while living well. The organizational resources are pretty awesome too.

For Food – I primarily go to pinterest for food recipes, but once in awhile I’ll find a blogger who I love to read their thoughts on food…as well as the recipes.

 Six Sisters – I was drawn to the name. They have very frequent posts and are adaptable.

Simple Bites – Another Canadian. I love her lifestyle, her passion is evident. The recipes are delish but not so crazy that you don’t want to try them. She’s got a great philosophy for bringing kids into the kitchen and they totally embrace the urban homesteading concept. Love!

Homeschooling – I peruse many other blogs on homeschooling, but most of them are very sporadic and don’t necessarily apply to what we’re doing at home. There are many many sites that I use often, but these are the top 3 for now. I will probably do a post on these resources and more on the Heaslip Homestead Academy soon.

Half a Hundred Acre Wood – I love this blog. She’s a classical homeschooler, and though we aspire to incorporate classical elements, we are not. I still find it inspiring and love their philosophy. Her organization is pretty great too.

 The Canadian Homeschooler – lot’s of great resources for homeschoolers in Canada. Frequent posts and current content.

The Unlikely Homeschool – for those who don’t homeschool. It’s super easy and at the same time the most difficult thing I’ve ever tackled. So I will find as many support resources as I can. For me, this site is one of them.

Divine Kisses

When I want to show my affection to my children the most natural impulse is for me to kiss them. It is a simple gesture, yet it implies much more.

Lucas kissIt implies that they are beautiful to me, that they are accepted. It denotes that I would withhold nothing from them, and I wouldn’t. I am filled with joy when I see how one of my kisses immediately brings a smile to their faces, they walk more confidently and laugh more fully. One of my kisses would magically “heal” a boo boo. When they were little, they were requested more than food or entertainment of any kind. My response to this… more kisses. Doesn’t our heavenly Father demonstrate His love to us with no less passion?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Because we have been given everything we could ever need, because we have been given Christ himself and He is all in all. More so, He loves us. He demonstrates his affection for us, constantly. It’s like He is blowing us kisses from heaven, perpetually. As His grace is extended to us every moment, we become more aware of His favour on us. When we have those moments of “seeing” his hand at work, we are being kissed. In her book- The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst defines those who fear God (follow after, honour and worship, be in awe of) as those who “see the hand of God in everything”. I love that. Sometimes we have to choose to see it, but it is always there.

We are “highly favoured”, but in addition to that, we have been made the “children” of God. We have been born into His family so that we could have fellowship with Him, eternally. Now, His influence on our hearts enables us to walk in the awareness of His strength, His wisdom, His vitality, His peace and His provision, in every area.

141010_Heaslip_45

And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work: 2 Cor 9:8

I believe that the more we recognize these “kisses” from heaven, the more we will respond to His affection. We will radiate His love. We will smile and laugh in the abundance of joy that salvation brings.We will walk in the light, as He is in the light. In essence, our worship is really like blowing kisses back to Him. In turn, He continues to shower us with His love! Is this not one way His glory will cover the earth?

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

a420517818120b1273dceacb9eab5fa3

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

1e4bbee08bc66a6f465420f8c8aa6a7b

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

Oh, ya! please follow me here, I couldn’t switch some PTP, function-blah blah blah – so if you want emails, etc… I think you need to follow me on this site now, since I’ll no longer be posting on Blogger. Have a great night!

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

Ordinary

Ordinary…

I’ve had a fear of being “ordinary” for as long as I can remember. It’s driven me to try to accomplish something, to “be” someone, to leave a legacy that is…special.

I haven’t wanted to be “just like everyone else”… and lately, as in the last few years, I’ve had to examine this drive. This sense of inadequacy and where it comes from.

Most people do not live to see the significance their life has or hasn’t had on their world and it’s far reaching effects…and yet I’ve been constantly aware of it. I’ve lived with a shadow on my heart because I didn’t find ‘significant’ education, or ‘significant’ success in business or ministry…

I think I’ve even tried to find ‘significance’ in my relationships with underlying motives of becoming significantly “wise”… what’s wrong with that you ask. Pretty sure that pretty much everything is wrong with that. I am a person, and the people in my life are significant because we are HERE. We all matter to someone. We all matter to God.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve developed some kind of psychological imbalance or spiritual deficit because I haven’t. I think I’ve just come to a place where I’ve realized that it’s not necessary for me to stand out from the crowd to be significant. I am no more or less significant than any other person…I am ordinary. Ordinary is not insignificant.

I matter to Him, but more than that, I’m not the only one that matters to Him. Yes I am beloved…highly favoured and blessed…but I don’t deserve it any more than the next person…none of us deserve His love, His forgiveness and grace…Yet He loves us anyways. We matter to him.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel that I have to matter to everyone else in order to matter to God. (And yes I know I am significant to my friends and family…my people – I am blessed among women). It’s just been a bit of a day of inward reckoning…

I’ve been very comfortable focusing on thinking about my place in the world, my place in history, the things I feel and think… without honestly giving a whole lot of thought to the fact that others maybe live like that too. I haven’t really thought about the role that others have might have NOTHING to do with ME. Thinking in that small minded way that everything happening around me, is about me. Crazy I know… I think I’ve been a slow learner at this… or maybe just an ordinary learner – lol.

This morning I read this post from a lovely soul (Thank you PW) who is an inspiration in her authenticity and transparency, it sums up how I’ve been feeling…

I sat in my usual spot.

I am a creature of habit.

I saw him coming down the bus aisle.

Pierced face.

Mohawk.

Pants hanging way past his waist.

“Please God don’t let him sit beside me”

I thought.

I put my purse down on the chair beside me.

Closed my eyes and leaned against the window.

Avoiding eye contact.

I felt his presence.

Standing beside me.

I opened my eyes.

He looked down at my purse and motioned me to move it.

“Fine” I thought to myself.

As I wondered why God had ignored my previous request.

He smelled like a mixture of drugs and alcohol.

I rolled up my sweatshirt and tried to ignore the smell.

I was feeling pretty sorry myself.

And wondering what I did to deserve this kick off to my Thanksgiving weekend.

I look over and noticed him texting someone.

“I want to die, everyone hates me”

The message said.

Whoosh…I could feel Jesus reminding me of where I use to be.

I started to take in this stranger beside me.

Starting at his feet.

His shoes were falling apart.

The back pack on his lap was held together with duct tape.

It was then that I noticed.

His arms.

There written with something sharp.

Were words like these:

Failure.

Worthless.

No value.

Garbage.

My eyes filled with tears.

I know what it feels.

To feel like that.

I started to pray.

For this man sharing.

My bus space.

“Are you ok” he asked.

“You aren’t worthless” I replied. “You have infinite value”

His eyes welled with tears.

“No one has ever said that to me before”

I gave him my cell number.

And said.

“Next time you feel like that, text me”

I got off at my stop.

Nodded my head goodbye.

And thanked Jesus for my new friend.

Be in prayer.

He has infinite value.

His creator said so.

Thankful that He who created me.

Sometimes says “No” to my selfish requests.

Blessed and Grateful.

For many things.

And that’s a great thought to kick off my Thanksgiving weekend.

It really is a great way to kick off the weekend!
Linking up here. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone (in Canada)!