Growing in unexpected seasons.

Growing in unexpected seasons.


There are roses outside my church that I notice each year in the fall. They are a little rebellious and cheeky because in a season when they are supposed to be done, they are in full bloom and still growing. (Roses are more of a June thing in Canada) It’s October, and last week as I was leaving church –  there they were again. Boldly blooming in the fall, in a season when everything else is fading away.

“Hello pretty roses,” I say as I walk by. I don’t normally talk to flowers, but this is our 3rd unexpected fall together.  I feel like I need to acknowledge that they made it this far, again.  

I know they won’t last forever (although one year they made it to the first snowfall and were beautifully encased in ice) and in a couple weeks they will be gone as the cold winds come. But right now they are standing strong, surrounding the building in a row of colour. Trying to get their last bit of beauty-hurrah displayed before the long winter arrives.

Showing that what grows in one season, can still thrive in another. 

Even when you don’t expect it. 

We all walk through seasons of growth and bloom, and seasons when things feel like they are dying and fading away. In a few weeks when those pink petals hit the ground and begin to compost into the earth, no one will be looking at the rose bushes anymore. The immediate beauty is lost, and there is nothing to show. The season has run it’s course. Who’s going to get excited about prickly twigs sticking up through the ground?  Cold hard dirt that doesn’t look pretty? Instead we will walk by the straggly branches, sometimes even trampling them. Not remembering the glorious display they once held. Yet, underneath in the cold hard soil  the roots are working hard.

We forget. 

Without the branches, there would be no bloom. 

The beauty is in the getting ready.

The beauty is in the growth. 

The beauty comes from the deep places

Life is not always a glorious display. When seasons change and things look different, we often panic and don’t know what to do. We don’t know when the next bloom will come. But there is a time when we have to let the old go. Make room for something new to thrive while absorbing what has just taken place. Let those petals die in the ground, so they can prepare the soil for the future. 

Value the growth as much as the display.

Bloom when you can, and give it all you have.

Then wait.

You can’t see the blooms in every season, but they come back. 

They might even surprise you.

Like a June rose, living an unexpected October life. 

Find your bricks

Find your bricks


I was just a girl, walking down the lane.

The lane that led from the blue house on the hill down to the water. I loved that path. It was hugged by wildflowers and a wire fence, and I was captivated by the old homes still standing that had belonged to my family in the past. Some of the houses were deserted and empty and I snapped some pictures and wished I knew all the stories that the walls contained.

If time travel actually existed, I’d love to go back. Just for one day.

To see the lives lived inside now boarded-up places. 

At the end of the lane was perfectly-clear blue water that filled every crack deep in my soul. I walked down the creaky steps to the dock that had been in my family for generations, and I unwrapped the sandwich that I brought with me. I sat on the dock and ate my little picnic in quiet and let myself be filled with the beauty around me, as I processed all that was happening in my heart. 

I was in the middle of a trip that was about my past, yet so connected to my present and future. I sat there and I drank it all in.

I recall once expressing to my high school writing teacher that I would always look at bright lights, sky scrapers and homes on hills and wonder about the people inside.

Who were they?

What life were they living?

What does family look like for them?

I remember him telling me that what I was feeling was a “sense of history.” If I did have a sense of history, it was alive and well as I sat on the dock and imagined all the past life that had been lived in present places. 

I decided to do some more exploring. I walked down the to beach and I climbed over the rocks and I got a little brazen. I felt a little greedy asking for more. I knew the trip was gift enough.

But I went ahead. I prayed a little prayer to my Maker.

“Send me a treasure.” 

Sometimes in deep places I cry out for more. 

I walked around and then I noticed something on the beach amidst all the stones, rocks and sticks that had washed up on shore. It was an old brick. It seemed a little strange to find a brick on the beach. I took a closer look and picked it up. I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

It was faded and hard to make out.

But that brick had a word on it. 


Maybe I read too much into things, but I had just asked for a treasure. I was on a trip that was all about family. And there in the sand was a beaten up brick with the one common thread that ran through my whole journey.

My mother’s family name.

My family name.

What a precious reminder.

I took a picture to show everyone but I wasn’t content with just that. Later, I went back down to the beach and got that brick before I went home. I wrapped it up and packed it in my suitcase, and that piece of weathered stone is now in my house. From the beaches of Newfoundland to the vineyards of Niagara. A reminder that God hears me when I call, and that I have a treasure in legacy.

Sometimes legacy might seem like it’s fading. Maybe we have to look hard to find it. It gets worn and beaten down. Boarded up, like empty houses on a lane. But no matter the journey, no matter the cracks and imperfections – legacy is the cornerstone from which we come, and the motivation to keep pursuing the future. 

Legacy helps defines who we are, and pushes us to who we want to be. 

It’s what you leave behind but it’s also what you create while you live.

I don’t know where that brick came from but it was once part of a structure. It fell apart, broke down, got tossed around. The winds howled, the rain poured and the waves crashed, but it survived the storm. 

It’s history faded but not gone. Broken but not destroyed. Hard pressed but not overcome.

Resilient. Strong. Taking the past and influencing the future. 

Legacy built from all the bricks gathered through the years, by all the hearts joined in love. Some older, some new. Some freshly made, a few still in early formation. Others with worn down edges, a few exposing painful broken pieces. Imperfectly beautiful and bound together by a mortar so strong that no storm could tear it apart, built by people committed to weather any season together. 

That is family.

That is legacy.

Look for those treasures.

Collect those pieces. 

Find your bricks.

Keep on building.

Places of Belonging.

Places of Belonging.


Last week I had a moment that literally stood still for me. I was at the bedside of my darling Grandma, who I had not seen in over 10 years. Distance may have separated us but she has always been part of my heart and I love her with all I have. My greatest fear after all this time was that she (now in her 90’s) might not know me. I was almost afraid to get on the plane.

It had been so long.

Much had changed.

We settled into her house on the hill (another precious gift), and then took a trip to the beautiful home that now cares for her. We walked down the hall towards her room, and I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. My heart, that I often tuck so deep to protect it from things that might bring pain, felt as vulnerable as it ever had. My chest had been cracked open for surgery and all you could see was my exposed heart. Usually I avoid laying it out on the line. Normally I wouldn’t allow myself to be in a situation that could allow for such painful rejection. I never want to open the door for deep hurt to visit already shaky places.

I chose to be brave.

I had travelled far.

This is why I came.

My Aunt had gone in first and got Grandma ready for our visit. She was having a good day, and as I went and sat by her bedside in the home that I never knew her in, but was now the place she lived – I began to cry. I remembered all the childhood visits with my brothers and my parents, the smell of her fresh bread, running up on the hill behind her house, the joy when she came to my wedding, the pride when I brought my own children to meet her. So many memories as I sat and looked at her dear face.

My Aunt leaned over to her ear and whispered. “Mom, remember that little baby? The one that Sheila and Byron chose, and then brought her to the house to meet you? Do you remember her? Shelly?”

That was the moment. 

My little heart that longs for belonging with every beat, stood still.

“Indeed I do” she replied.

I felt my heart pulse again, those words bringing incredible life.

She knew me. I was remembered.

Loved. Accepted. Embraced.

My heart was filled in countless ways over the next few days. My soul poured into until it overflowed. Spending time feeding Grandma blueberries and holding her hand. Sitting with my own mom by the bedside of her mom. Visiting with family at a big celebration. Walking by the ocean and drinking in the beauty. Listening to the crashing of the waves. Watching and learning from the family around me how to love and care through all the stages of life.

Good and bad.

Joy and Pain.

Happiness and deep aches.

Though all my life, family has always been the greatest gift. 

Thank you God.

There are places that I know I will never belong. I’m learning not to care about those places. That’s not where I want to be, I’m letting them go.

I do belong.

In the places that matter most.

Where we are loved, is where we belong. Even if those places get run down, messy, beat up and broken. That makes the belonging all the more important. That is the belonging you fight for. That’s the love you never give up on. 

That is family. 

Find those places. Love those people. Take out your heart. Work through the mess and walk through the joy.

They might share your DNA, or they might not. There’s no limit, it doesn’t matter.

Give love. Share love. Receive love.

Love when it’s hard.

Will they remember you? Will they know you? 

Indeed they will.






Smashing Inspiration

Smashing Inspiration


I have a list of secret ambitions hidden deep down inside me. Usually I think them up while I am drying my hair. (Which is the time for me when all great ideas are born.) One of those hair-dryer inspired dreams is to make cool products with words on them. (Basically what most stores everywhere are already doing) I’m sure you’ve seen those cool mugs, pillows, prints, bowls, journals, etc. that have beautiful quotes that inspire you to take over the world.  I want to make all of those things in a pretty sparkly factory and send them all over the world to spread happiness.


But I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. 

A couple weeks ago, I walked through my favourite coffee-shop-within-a-bookstore-with-lots-of-quote-products and looked at all the cursive words lined up so perfectly in rows of complimentary colours and patterns. Then, I had this weird feeling. I had this genuine urge to knock all those hope-filled mugs off the shelf and hear them smash on the floor.

It was one of those days.

Once an embracer and promoter of the short inspirational phrase, I now wanted to punch it’s lights out. Dramatic? Yes. But you know what, sometimes life just gets real. Sometimes fancy words on a mug just make you mad. Let’s be honest. It’s hard to dream, it’s not easy to rise and shine and you start everyday with coffee because you’re exhausted. 

So, I started thinking about creating some products with real life quotes on them. Here are some of my top prospects:

I’m hangry

My pants are tight

Muffin-Top forever


I didn’t exercise today

World’s crankiest Mom

Stress headache

Is it Friday yet?

I’ve worn these sweats for a week

Who ate my chips?

I can see the product launch now. Hoards of tired people who didn’t have time to shower, lining up to get a piece of reality.

Listen. Sometimes, life is hard. It’s ok to admit where you’re at. It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s not a sign of weakness if you aren’t chasing dreams and knocking it out of the park.

Get up.

Do your best.

You might fail.

Try again.

Let’s give ourselves permission to be real. Everything in our lives is not inspirational and that’s ok. It’s so much easier to share the parts of ourselves that aren’t messy. But the illusion of perfection get exhausting, as I filter the heck out of my instagram pictures and care about what people who aren’t even thinking about me, think about me.

Aren’t we just all a bit of a grace-filled mess?

As dramatic as I made it sound, I won’t actually ever smash pretty mugs in the store. (Don’t be afraid to go shopping with me) I won’t ever give up on dreaming and I still want to make things with beautiful words in my pretty sparkly factory. 

I’ll always go looking for inspiration. I need it, it fuels my life and ignites creativity. There is a deeper place in my heart where all my inspiration ultimately comes from that holds strong through everything. That hope, that anchor to my soul cannot be moved. 

But, I’m giving myself permission to be messy and if you see me walking around with a mug with some illegible words scribbled on it with a sharpie – I’m just having a real day.

Those are good too.






A Season of Alone

A Season of Alone


I was at a gathering this week and after it was over, I realized that in the span of no more than 10 minutes, I had dished out exactly 8 or 9 really awkward hugs. I have written about my awkwardness before in The Awkward is Real. but this was a whole new level. I just couldn’t stop hugging people. People that maybe didn’t want a hug, but I hugged them anyway. Now that I’ve started this hugging, I’m afraid I might not be able to stop. If you have an aversion to hugs, you might want to stay clear of me until I sort this all out. It’s like I see a familiar person and my arms just flail out in a wide spread.

Come to Mama, give me a big old hug!

After being in a room full of people which led to this impulsive hugging, I realized that I have led a very secluded life this summer. You know how the turtle pulls itself into it’s shell? That’s been me. This has been my “season of alone.” I’ve pulled myself so far into the shell that you can only see my eyeballs peeking out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve left the house for groceries. I’ve had the best family time with my kids. I’ve had patio dates with my husband. I’ve been committed to work.  

And…that’s about it.

I’ve been very much by myself.

Alone, but not lonely.

I’ll be honest, it worried me a little at times. Am I turning into a hermit?  Is it ok to be so inward? Is the fact that I haven’t hosted a BBQ all summer, or been able to write, or make plans with friends – is that ok? Is introversion my new superpower? Am I depressed?  Is there something wrong with me? Do I need medication? Can you hide away and still live life?

This week it finally came to me, and I understood what it’s been all about. 


The other theme of my life. Deep, altering life change in a number of areas. It all started to make sense, I’ve been processing change in my season of alone. Some process change by sharing and talking. I apparently, do the complete opposite. And, it’s ok. 

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • I’m never really alone
  • Alone places are quiet places
  • Quiet places are God places
  • God places are where we need to be in change
  • It’s ok to have a season of alone with Him
  • I can’t stay in the season of alone forever

The good thing about seasons are that they don’t stay the same. They are ever evolving, and fluid. When one ends, another begins.

What you are in one season, can change in the next. 

What you don’t understand in one season, can be made clear when you look back. 

If you are in a season of alone, remember that a new season is coming. When it starts to stir, and you are ready to move on – GO! Jump in. Don’t hesitate. Look for the opposite of where you have been. Embrace a season of community, move into a focus of together, look at what is ahead. Call those friends, plans those BBQ’s and get out there.

Remember what God did in your alone places, and take that into your connected places. 

Maybe that new season will begin with an awkward hug.

Or 9.

Go with it.

No matter the season.

You’re never alone.


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens




Making the Rough Places Smooth.

Making the Rough Places Smooth.


There’s been construction happening all summer along the highway that I drive everyday to work. As they resurface the road, it seems like each week I come across a part of the lane that is half paved, and half rough. It’s really hard to drive on because one wheel of my car is on a smooth surface and the other is pulling against the force of the jagged unpaved ridges. It’s always a little challenging as I drive over it at 120kms. (Ok, I usually don’t go much faster than 110) It’s interesting because I’ve noticed that the rough side has the stronger pull, and that I have to work against the force to keep in the lane.

This morning as I fought against the rough surface once again, I thought to myself, “I am like this road.” It was a random thought, I don’t usually identify with pavement but those highway lanes painted a visual picture to me. 

There’s always something trying to pull me off my road. 

If ever I have lived through a time in my life that has combined amazing highs and celebrations with all out deep places pain – this would be the season. One day I will share the journey but for now it’s a hard one to navigate. It’s a road I wouldn’t choose to travel.

It’s not on my bucket list. 

It’s tempting to give into the pull of the hard and difficult. To get tired of trying to keep things under control. Instead, there can be the desire to veer out of the lane and bounce and lurch off the road.  To make an abrupt stop in the gravel, put the car in park, lock the doors and just stay in that safe location forever. Hiding away from continuing the journey because it’s too much work to drive on that uneven lane. It’s draining to manage the pull and tension between hope for the future, and the reality of the present.

The smooth and the jagged.

The joy and the pain. 

How can that be navigated?

Who can drive on that road?

Then I remember.

My favourite part about driving on the uneven lanes is that eventually they come to an end. I love the feeling of the pull being over, and I sigh with relief and loosen my grip once I hit that smooth surface.  I made it over the rough patches and am again able to navigate with confidence.

It didn’t last forever.

While we are on the rough roads, they try to pull us from our purpose. They try to erase grace and crush out hope. If we aren’t careful we can be left looking at our dreams in the rearview mirror. But thankfully the road ahead is not always rough and jagged, and more importantly – we don’t have to travel it alone. 

He can create smooth places from rough journeys.

He redeems hard stories with flowing grace.

Keep going fellow road travellers. Don’t pull off to the side and give up on the destination. Whether it’s smooth, rocky, uneven, full of stones or the dust is flying straight up in your face – hold on tight and steer through whatever road you are on. 

His grace-filled, love-filled, purpose-filled, healing-filled new road is ahead.

It won’t always be smooth, but you’ll never be alone. 


He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled….

Joshua 24






The World is a Bully

The World is a Bully


The world is a bully.

Imagine your husband was running for political office in a very controversial campaign that dominates almost every headline. You have to give a speech, one that you know will be watched by millions. I would imagine all the beauty and confidence in the world would still make this a daunting task. As soon as your speech starts, the haters come out. Within moments you are a trending hashtag, a meme, and the whole world is taking shots at you. Within an hour you are being ridiculed on every media outlet and the headline writers are rubbing their hand together in glee.

On the playground of life, you are huddled in a little corner by a brick wall while the big bullies stand over you screaming and yelling about how ridiculous you are, and that you don’t have an original thought in your mind. 

I wonder what the feelings are when you scroll through the public opinion on social media and listen to the news later that night? Yes, you knew you were signing up for this. Yes, there is a price to pay when you are in the public eye and your husband produces such polarizing reactions. Yes, you come from wealth and privilege. Yes, there are haters and critics and you can’t expect everyone to love you.

Guess what?

Everyone deserves respect.

Isn’t that the other collective call out there right now?

 Is there no common decency anymore? Not even a shred?

This is not an isolated event. This is not a political event.

Every day there is someone being torn down and dismantled, and there are dances of celebration and glee as another one falls. There’s a daily special of scorn and ridicule and people are lining up to get a plateful. 

I find public opinion conflicting. One day we are moved by the tragedies around us and calling for peace, change and love. The next day our claws are out and we are rejoicing and celebrating what we see as failures in humanity. We mock and we ridicule as our hashtags for compassion change to hashtags that rip and shred people apart.

Stop it world.

Stop being a bully.

At this stage of my life.  I can sort things out, I know that that there are good people out there. I know how to evaluate things from a perspective that has developed over my lifetime. But it’s not about me. 

I look over my should and I remember – 

There is a generation behind us.

Always watching.

We have anti-bullying assemblies with them in schools, we teach them character traits in classrooms and encourage initiatives to build attributes in their life. We tell them to be kind, to show compassion and to speak words that build up and not tear down.

Then, they look out into a world that has become a bully.

They watch adults hurl insults and sludge at each other, and then turn around and create campaigns that encourage children to wear pink because bullying is wrong.

The hypocrisy of our message must change.

If we want a generation of world-changers to thrive, we need to stop this culture of bullying. It seems so naive to think that kindness can change things, but we need a restart. Is it too simple? Perhaps. But the complicated doesn’t seem to be working for us.

Our world is broken up and beat down. My first hope is in my faith, my next hope is in kindness and love taking centre stage. There are kind people everywhere. Not everyone is a bully. I see goodness all around me, but those voices need to rise up and shout loud.

Kindness need to spread.

Kindness needs to grow.

Raise your voice. 

Bring hope.

The world doesn’t have to be a bully.