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In which I choose a word for 2011

I gave up on New Years Resolutions because it seemed that they were always the same and rather uninspiring: lose weight, read my Bible more, lose weight, do and be more and more and more. Two years ago, I surrendered the manic need to “improve” myself and decided to choose one word as a theme for my year. I’m not alone in this – many others have done the same thing.

My word for 2009 was “Moments.” I wanted to slow down and notice the moments of my life more. It gave birth to an entire category of my favourite writing here at Emerging Mummy as I tried to write down all of the moments that I was noticing, the times when I felt my heart say “This moment matters!” It was part of a major shift in my life that continues today – the discipline and joy of being a noticer, of being fully present in the moments of my life, however small they may seem to the outside eye. God has profoundly changed me through that practice.

Then, for 2010, I chose the phrase “Abundant Life.” I wanted a graciousness in my life, a focus on the people and events around me. I didn’t want to be preoccupied anymore with a thousand things at once.  I felt drawn to John 10. In particular, the words of Jesus when he says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” I felt drawn over and over again to the idea of rest and peace – sometimes in my calendar and schedule, other times in a more spiritual and emotional way. Then I went through a period of acedia this year, a spiritual depression of sorts which greatly tested me, leaving me wondering what of my life mattered. I emerged from it, incredibly thankful that God had given me that word as I kept returning over and over to what I knew God had promised – abundant life.

This discerning and deciding has become a deeply spiritual practice for me. I take the time after Christmas and before New Years to pray, to wait, to journal, to read Scripture and wait some more. I’m waiting for a word from God  – for me. Sometimes it’s a deep knowing in my own heart, other times it’s a word in Scripture. This year, it was an intersection of my own heart, scripture, conversations with mentors and life circumstances that lead to the theme for 2011.

So that brought me to 2011.  These past few days, as I have prayed and waited, the word that kept coming back to me is this:

ENOUGH

I suppose I should have seen it coming. Not only did I just finish reading this life-changing book by Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and ‘Women’s Work’ but there was also this pivotal conversation with my mother just a few weeks ago that arose out of my own exhaustion and angst, my own issues of never feeling like I’m enough.

She is gentle now. “Have you ever thought that it’s not about the things you do, Sarah? That you can do all of those things and be all of those things and still it wouldn’t be enough. Because really, the accomplishment of stuff or things won’t give you that feeling of being enough. You just wear yourself out on a treadmill of expectations.  

Enough doesn’t come by accomplishment.  

Enough is just contentment. Joy is contentment.  With who you are, where God has placed you and resting in the season and work he’s call you to – today. That’s how you simply know, right now – it’s enough. And it makes your soul glad.”

Like most people who grew up in the 80s and 90s, I am absolutely stuffed with a hero complex. Whether it’s around parenting or my marriage, my relationships in my extended family and friendships, the care and daily running of our home and finances, our church, our faith, our city, our country and our world, I feel overwhelmed sometimes by all of the things that I should be doing or need to be doing. It’s hard not to feel like you are responsible for it all. Like you’re never enough, you should always be doing more, like your life must be BIGGER and BETTER to really matter. In a way, this issue is likely deeply ecclesiastical in its nature for many of my generation.

My biggest battle is contentment. And it seems that this is the year to lay down my expectations for my own life.

I feel God drawing me to know this, truly know and experience it in my heart of hearts, in my daily life:

He is enough.

And then, growing off of that deep root of knowing, there are tendrils announcing that where He has placed me, in this season of my life – that’s enough, too. My finances are enough. The work I do? It’s enough. The mother I am? It’s enough. The woman that I am? She’s enough, too. What I can do, the gift that I can give now, will be enough. I am enough when I am in Him. I don’t need the treadmill of expectations anymore. I need contentment, I need the truth of knowing that He is enough.

The scriptures that I feel drawn to for this year ahead are in Philippians, chapter 4. The entire chapter will probably keep me for the year but here are a few verses so that you can see the road that I am turning down.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

I also wanted to say thank you to all of you who read, comment and lurk around here. You mean a lot to me and I’m looking forward to another year together. I value your voice in my life.

Blessings on you and your families as you welcome a new year.

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Linked up at Ann’s Walk With Him Wednesday (even though it wasn’t published until Thursday.)

Continue Reading · 2009 in review, 2010 in review, abundant life, enough, faith, moments, Mum, parenting, prayer, scripture, walk with him wednesday, women, work · 22

In which these are my favourite posts of 2009

Taking some time to look back on my year has been good for me. (And it’s made me understand why I’m rather tired.)
Why don’t you do this, too? Go over your blog and choose your favourite posts of the year by month. Then come back and leave the link to it in the comments – I’d love to read them.

These weren’t necessarily the most popular (who am I kidding? What’s popular about a personal blog?) but they are the ones I look back and still love, the ones that were big ones to write or the ones that made me laugh.


January

In which listening is part of life together – and I’d rather do thatI’m weary of your talking. I’m weary of your notes and your blogging. I’m weary of your opinions and your apologetics. I’m weary of your magazines and your radio shows. I’m weary of your services. I’m weary of your building programs and your worship extravaganzas. I’m weary of your books.”

February

In which I am tired of poor peopleIt’s uncomfortable at times. After all, I just want to go to the Starbucks. I don’t want to have to avert my eyes everytime I try to cross 6th Street, looking anywhere but at the man begging by the crosswalk.

March
(no blogging due to a fast during Lent.)

April

The start of my ongoing chat about “Can God Be Trusted?” (yes, still ongoing. I have about 7 more posts sitting in Draft form.)

In which I recall moonlit kissesApril nights in Tulsa more than ten years ago. Brian and I, slow dancing on the side of the road to an AM radio from his borrowed Chevy Blazer.

In which I wonder where my stitches at?I feel connected by knitting. It’s tactile and forces me to be present there in the moment. It’s humble, repetitive, challenging and, most of all, meditative. It’s been the easiest way I’ve found so far to be fully present.


May

In which I threaten a spanking – Okay, to be honest, the number one search that brings people to my blog is the word “spanking“. (And if you knew all the weird searches with the word “spanking” in it, you would share my deep wonder of the human race.)

In which I tell a tale of housekeepingOnce upon a time…I was a good housekeeper. No, I take that back. I was an immaculate housekeeper.

June

In which I am bested by the crow – If you need a laugh (at my expense), this is the pick of the year.

In which it is Super Target vs. MeOver the past few years, you know that I’ve been on a bit of a journey towards a simpler way of life…. Part of that has meant letting go of our western mindset that more is always better. And if it’s on sale, even better.

July

In which love is here to stay – For all my fellow old married people, this is it.

In which I am learning to relax into this relationshipI’m trying to stop striving. You know, trying harder. Always trying harder. It’s down right exhausting. I don’t know if it’s the older sibling thing, the Canadian-Scotch-Irish thing, the prairie kid thing or the evangelical Christian thing but sometimes it’s hard to let go of my need to FIX IT and MAKE IT BETTER and EVERYTHING WORKS OUT AS LONG AS YOU TRY HARDER.

In which I wonder what comes firstWhen we were at our last church, we were hired through the usual process of resumes and interviews. Now? Not so sure.

In which we may end up with a deep freeze after all – Alternately titled, “In which we lay down vocational ministry.”

August

In which I am not heavy – Another moment with my eldest, reminding me that I steward a gift that I don’t own. It still makes me a bit weepy.

In which she went to Sunday School to pass out crayons – An old story about my mother’s humility in her first steps along her journey.

September

In which we are building the walls with prayer – A holy night spent at the new Mercy house before renovation began.

In which I have some bad karma – The moral of the story? Never, ever laugh at another mother’s story about poo.

In which I am still learning a new song – A vulnerable post about my weight that almost didn’t get published.

In which he is called here too – This is not what he ever imagined himself doing. Especially not as he studied and trained, interned and worked for years in vocational ministry.

October

In which I am changing the world today – Probably my favourite post of the year, it’s my ode to mothers everywhere.

In which I am learning to parent how God parents meDo I want quaking instant obedience? Marionettes of fear? Or do I want their heart knit to mine, obedience out of love and understanding, a connection of joy and gentleness, self-control, kindness, wholeness and love?

November

In which it is time to face the truth – My baby sitter probably thinks I’m old.

In which we need to calm our hearts – The key to many things with my tinies.

December
In which I remember Chancellor Roberts – “Whatever you can say about his life – and much has been and will be said – he was obedient to what he believed God had told him. Even if it cost him dearly. Sometimes he was spectacularly wrong.”

In which he might have come from Moose Jaw – I’m getting braver about sharing poetry.

In which I’m in the midst of an avalancheI miss it, walk right by, disregard it when those prayers are answered.

In which I have a heritage of faith – About being a part of a real family.


The tinies’ birthday video posts:
(It’s 3 minutes of sweetness and whimsy that makes my uterus ache.)

I am working my way to a Thousand Gifts and I’m up to 223.


Thanks for walking through the year with me. I cherish your emails and comments. I look forward to another year with all of you.
Looking forward to reading your end-of-the-year posts as well.
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Continue Reading · 2009 in review, blogging, links · 0

In which these are my favourite books of 2009

I’ve got a post about my favourite posts of 2009 coming up in a day or two but in the meantime, here were my favourite books that I read this year.

(Sidenote: They weren’t necessarily published this year but still. My list, my rules. In the nicest possible way.)
Handmade Home and The Creative Family, both by Amanda Blake Soule
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows
Now enjoy spending your Christmas money!
Edited to Add: What do you think should be on my reading list in 2010?
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Continue Reading · 2009 in review, book review, books · 5

In which I have a heritage of faith

It is the evening of Christmas Day. The presents have been opened. Supper is over – what a supper! – and the kitchen is sparkling with the dishwasher doing overtime. The tinies are all snug in their Granny-and-Papa-Beds (Anne in the heritage room, Joseph in the crib downstairs, Addy in her pack-n-play in the spare room, Heidi the dog wanting somewhere to snuggle). We are all tired but happy.

My mum and dad are curled around each other in the chair-and-a-half. My sister is leaning back, her legs across her husband’s lap. I am in the single chair with Brian at my feet, holding my socks in his hands.
We begin to share what we think about our past year, our struggles and our victories. We each tell of what we want for the year ahead: not resolutions, but heart-desires for our families, our children, our work, our marriages.
My parents read Scripture. The candles flicker and we sit in the glow of the Christmas tree lights to pray together. We pray for one another, placing our hands on each other, and even crying a bit. This is the best part of the day.
I hear Anne singing in her bed and go upstairs to tuck her back in. Afterwards, I stand at the top of the stairs, looking down at my family in the light of Christmas. I am rooted and grounded.
They are gathered together, a strong cord, holding me fast. They all anchor me, adore me, infuriate me, love me, encourage me, pray for me, laugh with me, hold me up and remind me who I really am.
They have all given me a lineage of faith, a tradition of love and grace, a rich heritage of quilted dreams and prayers that covers every cold and lonely spot.
I am blessed among women.

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Continue Reading · 2009 in review, advent, christmas, Dad, faith, family, gratitude, journey, Mum, prayer, simple living · 2