Balloons for Paisley

This past weekend was so special for us. Our God is so faithful.

Two weeks ago, the morning after Ron and I got home from the hospital, it was a gloomy one. We enjoyed fresh baked market muffins (delivered by a friend) and warm coffee on our bed with the twins. There was lots of snuggling and hugs and lots of sadness and tears too. But I also vividly remember feeling an unspeakable joy. A joy that comes only from Him. From the reassurance in knowing that my God is so good and so faithful and that He holds our family in His hands. And that we have that complete reassurance that we will one day be reunited with our baby girl and see her healthy and whole and hear her cries and giggles for the very first time. What a wonderful day that will be.

That morning two weeks back as we sat on the bed together, we decided with the twins that we would make pictures and notes for Paisley that we would send to her in balloons up to heaven. The boys both took this task very seriously as they drew her the most beautiful pictures and dictated to us what they wanted to tell her in notes on the back of their pictures. It brought so many laughs and smiles as they imagined her opening their pictures and suggested that God would probably pop the balloons for her because she might be too scared. We folded up the notes and told them that we would take them to a beach sometime soon when the weather was a bit nicer and send them to her then. The weather was not so great the few weeks following so we waited patiently for the right time to come.

About a week ago, I started chatting with a stranger on facebook who had come across Paisley’s story and reached out because she too experienced a still birth a year ago around the same time and our due dates were just days a part. I felt so connected by our stories and as we kept talking, we realized how much we truly had in common. Before I signed off that evening, she asked me if we would like to use her cottage on the lake that coming weekend just to get away as a family together. I was in tears reading her offer because I just couldn’t believe that a complete stranger would offer such a thing. It just felt like it was completely God using her because we were hoping to get to a beach that weekend as the weather forecast was looking so good and we wanted to send up our balloons. I should mention that the beach was where we wanted to let up the balloons because Paisley’s due date was during beach season and the boys would always talk about how excited they were to take her there and show her the water and  help her splash around. So it was a special spot for us.  My God cares about the little things.  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26  

We were so blown away by this act of kindness but so incredibly grateful for this stranger who listened to His voice and reached out to us in our time of need.

It was such a special weekend for us and we felt God’s overwhelming presence so strongly from the start of the trip so I know without a doubt that it was so orchestrated by Him.  As we started out on the two hour drive, I sat there in the car feeling so thankful for this time to get away as a family but so saddened at the same time because our next cottage trip was supposed to include our baby girl.  A friend on ig had sent me a message prior with this verse “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief”. Proverbs 14:13. She went on to say that our God knows the struggle of feeling two very opposing emotions at the same time but that also there’s such reassurance that we’re not alone in feeling that confusion. He’s right along side us.

I started to get a bit teary. And then I saw the first road sign. Ron had mapped out the route ahead of time and chosen 1 of 3 possible routes. This particular route took us through a town called “Paisley” 5 km away. WHAT?!?!? I didn’t even know that town existed, let alone that we would go through it on this exact trip and at the exact moment that I was feeling so many mixed emotions. I was shaking and crying uncontrollably by this point because it was just so clearly evident to me that my Jesus cares. He looks down upon his children and He cares and He will show us He does so evidently if we just invite Him in and look for His faithfulness in the littlest everyday things. My sweet baby girl is so safe up there with Jesus and I smiled so big through my tears that evening as I was so reassured of this truth.

This weekend, we flew kites and threw stones in the lake. We cried but we laughed a whole lot more. We snuggled and we prayed. We listened to worship music and read His word together. It was such a special time. On the Sunday morning, we went into town and bought the white balloons. We put our pictures and notes inside them and later that evening before sunset, we held hands and prayed together on the beach and sent them up to heaven, to Paisley.

I wish I could say I came back from our weekend away feeling so much better and stronger and happier than before. But that would be lying. As much as it was a healing time for us and memories we’ll always cherish, the void still remains and I still miss her miserably each and every day. I can’t help but think about all the things we have to do without her as the weeks and months go on and it hurts so, so much.

But I do know, that He will give me the strength to keep going when I feel I can’t. And no matter what heartbreak and loneliness and tragedy I face, He says in His word, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Thank you Jesus, for your faithfulness. Even in the hardest of times, you are so so good.

Your brothers love you baby girl. 

Thank you so much for reading.

 

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Some Recent Reads and my Running list of To-Reads

Today I thought I’d share some recent personal development books I’ve read and also what’s on my next-to-read list because I know I’m personally always looking for new reads myself! And before you completely write this post off, thinking to yourself, “how on earth does she find time to read?” let me tell you, I have the same struggles as any other mama out there. I do love to read but I often can not seem to find the time to. And it takes me 4 times as long to get through a book as it used to! However, over the past year, I’ve truly come to see the benefits of doing personal development on a regular basis and I also value the importance of modelling a love of literature to my kids so it’s become a priority. And I just make time for it. Even if it’s just 15-20 min. a handful of times a week.

The books I’m sharing below are quite the variety as they range in topics from Business, to Marriage, to Prayer, to Minimalism but they were all great reads so I wanted to share!

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The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy – This was one of the first books I read last year and was a big reason for WHY I continued to make reading a regular habit. It’s based on the principle that our decisions and habits shape our destiny. Little, everyday decisions will either push you towards the life you desire or to disaster by default. It’s little changes over time that lead to great results. 

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek – I read this one in the summer and basically its about how those of us who lead may not always understand the impact that our leadership roles have on those we lead. Essentially we need to focus on helping each other instead of “one-upping” each other.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo– This book really got me started on my journey towards minimalism. A must read if you want to de-clutter your home but have no idea where to start. So good!

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg– LOVED this one. Might be my favourite read of the year actually. It really changed so much for me in my entrepreneurial journey. It’s written like a novel and is the story of an young man who is searching for success. He learns from a successful business man who was willing to give him his time if he just followed the principles he gave, that changing his focus from getting to giving – putting others interests first and continually adding value to their lives, ultimately leads to unexpected returns.

You and Me Forever by Francis Chan – I actually haven’t finished this one yet but from what I have read, it’s amazing. It’s not like your typical marriage book…it talks about how marriage is not forever, it’s until death do us part. Then come eternal rewards and or regrets depending on how we spend our lives. It looks at marriage in light of eternity and it really shifts the way we see one of the most important relationships in our life. It’s a great book to read together with your spouse and I think that’s why I put it on pause. I wanted to make time to sit down and read it together with Ron.

People Over Profit by Dale Partridge – I started following Dale about 8 months ago and just love his startup camp podcast and his daily motivation on social media so I had to grab this book. It’s another great read for entrepreneurs as it really stresses how powerful and far love, care and respect can go when running a business. He shows strong evidence of how companies who value people over profit are actually more profitable.

Fervant by Priscilla Shirer – This past fall our woman’s bible study at my church did Priscilla’s Armour of God study and I heard that this one was great as well so I grabbed it and absolutely loved it. It really changed the way I look at prayer… not only my own prayer life but we also began to implement strong prayer habits within our family.

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – I’m currently reading this book!  I’m 3 chapters in and feel like I could have written it myself. It’s so relevant to where I’m at right now…not only wanting to de-clutter and minimize the material things in my life but also my schedule, my calendar, and the day-to-day things I say yes to. I would highly recommend it to EVERYONE!

Books I want to Read Next:

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

Contagious by Jonah Berger

Grace Not Perfection – Emily Ley

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Make it Happen by Laura Casey

The Joy of Less – Francine Jay

Essentialism  The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – By GregMckeown

Garden City  by John Mark Comer

 

Happy Reading!

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A Big Decision for Our Family…

Where you lead I will follow. So much easier said than done right? Right. It’s a scary thing to commit to following wherever He takes us no matter what. Terrifying actually. Because what if it has nothing to do with the dreams and visions we have for ourselves? For our future? For our family?
I want to share something with you that is really scary for me. Scary because although I feel such a peace about this big decision we’ve made for our family, there are still days when I have my doubts. Days when I don’t think I’m cut out to do it. Days when I don’t think I’ll have the patience or I’ll completely regret my decision all together.
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Besides running my photography business, I’ve jumped around from project to project over the past few years. From writing a blog with a friend, to fitness coaching, to actually beginning the planning stages of opening a coffee shop (HA!)…to a million other ideas that I had in the works. But since this past August, when I quit coaching because I felt I was being called out of it (even though it was something I loved), I really felt that the Lord was strongly telling me to wait on Him. To take nothing else on over the next 6 months except for the remaining shoots I had booked. This was hard you guys. Especially when you’re a dreamer and a planner like me. I’m constantly dreaming up new goals and business ideas I want to pursue. I’m a creative, and an entrepreneur at heart. It’s HARD for me to sit still.  But while I’ve been working at de-cluttering and minimizing our home, I felt so strongly that we were also to start getting rid of the clutter in our lives, the busyness of our calendar, the over-committing to things that weren’t important or weren’t lining up with where He wanted us to be as a family. I felt I was being called to really just pause and seek what He had in store for me next. And see, what I thought was coming, was totally not what God had coming. I thought He wanted me to take a time out because He was preparing me for this huge business opportunity that was going to present itself any day now. I was anxiously looking out for anything that I thought might be a sign of what I was supposed to jump into next. While a couple ideas and collaborating opportunities came up, each one slowly fizzled out and I continued to  patiently not so patiently wait. It was a hard season for me and my closest friends and family all know this. It was so hard for me to just be. But at the same time, it was the absolute best thing and now I know, the most God-orchestrated thing ever. I spent more time reading, listening to podcasts, more intentional time with my kids, my family and friends. With a push from my best friend, I started to attend our weekly woman’s bible study at church while the twins are in pre-school – time that I normally spent “getting things done”. 
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Right before Christmas, I stumbled upon a quote by Andy Stanley that said “Your greatest accomplishment may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I remember smiling to myself and thinking…aw that’s nice. While raising my children is so important to me, it surely wouldn’t be my biggest accomplishment. I had SO many big business ideas and I was waiting on God to tell me which one to go after so I could get moving and start making things happen again. It was around this time (before and around the Christmas holidays) that there began to be talk of registering the kids in school for next year. All my friends with kids the same age were talking about it, taking tours and filling out registration forms. I started to feel really anxious as we were currently trying to decide between 3 different school options and I didn’t feel a peace about any of them. While homeschooling had crossed my mind in the past, (after all, I was homeschooled growing up and a few of my close friends have been considering it for a while) it sure wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. Especially with a new babe on the way, arriving right before the school year begins. I was picturing my life with so much free time to be able to work on new projects while the twins were in full-day school and my newborn napped.
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But that quote I read at the end of the year continued to stick in my head. I saw it pop up a few more times and I still had no idea why. “Your greatest accomplishment may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” Ah.
At a play date with our best friends one afternoon in early January, Britt and I got chatting about school options for next year and she was telling me she was still very much considering home-schooling. Hmmm homeschooling. This was the first time I really thought about it in a long time. While we had casually chatted about it in the past, I intently listened to her tell me about the reasons they were strongly considering it and I remember leaving that day feeling a bigger peace about this crazy idea of homeschooling then any of the other school options we had. But no, that was crazy. I still didn’t believe it was the right thing for us. But of course, I got home and couldn’t get it out of my mind. I started to look up other homeschooling mama’s on instagram, started reading homeschooling blogs and listening to homeschooling podcasts. I did a lot of research over the next couple weeks while having lengthy discussions with my husband and praying about it too. Of course I began to run into more moms who homeschooled or were considering homeschooling for next year…coincidentally or maybe God was strategically putting them in my path…who knows!  Some other crazy things fell into place around that time as well…like Ron getting a promotion at work, meaning my monthly income can be a little more flexible.
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SO. You guessed it. With a lot of careful consideration and prayer over the past month, we’ve made the decision to homeschool next year. And as I said above, the idea still scares me. I’m definitely more excited then scared but on the days when I want to pull my hair out now, I think Lord what are you asking me to do?!?!  But I’m trusting that since He’s placed this desire on my heart and made it clear in so many ways, that He will be my strength when I don’t think I have it in me. I’m trusting that this is the right decision for our family even when it feels like it’s not. Who know’s what else He has in store for me in the months and years to come but I know without a doubt now why I was supposed to wait and not start anything else. It was definitely not what was on my own agenda but I am choosing to follow where He is leading and put my desires and dreams on hold to pursue what I feel He is calling me to at this time. I will continue to run my photography business but will take minimal bookings. We don’t know how long we will do it. Maybe just kindergarten or maybe all the way through elementary school but we’ll take it one day at a time, one month at a time, one year at a time. I am going to share some of the reason’s I have come to feel so passionately about homeschooling in a second post because I didn’t realize how long this would get! But I’m excited to share this journey with you so thanks for reading and following a long!
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 p.s. how cute is this shirt by Rosalynne Love as a constant reminder of all of this?! You can check out more of her awesome products here! 
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