Making Space

Sometimes it’s as simple as a pile of piano music, out of place on a black bench. My window seat is occupied, I cannot sit there for my quiet time. So I sit on the couch. This goes on for days. I tell myself it doesn’t matter. Quiet time is quiet time. The couch is more comfortable anyway. What does it matter?

But on the couch, I am less inspired. On the couch, though I can look out the window across the room, I am still there, right in the middle of the house, a part of everyday life. Going routinely through the motions of my day.

When I sit on the black bench between the piano and the wall, it becomes my window seat. I am tucked into a corner, away from the rest of the world. My gaze is irresistibly drawn out the window right beside me, my thoughts dancing in the breeze with the leaf-laden branches. I sense God in the vastness of the blue sky. Quiet time is a special time, when the natural rubs shoulders with the supernatural, and I perceive it clearly.

I can blame the pile of piano books for my lack of creative inspiration lately. Really, though, it has been a buildup of multiple factors, not least of which is a post-pandemic schedule shift this school year, which I still haven’t fully gotten a handle on. There have been late nights and early mornings, countless to-dos, and my family to prioritize. There are many reasons, and many things to start tweaking, because my soul needs inspiration. Creativity is part of who I am. But there are so many things to consider that it can feel overwhelming. And then nothing changes.

So, I’ll just start with one step. I’ll put away the piano books. And as I clear off my window seat, the path to inspiration will be made a little clearer, too.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Create Anyway”.


Cheers to the New Year!

Our family has made it a tradition to go on a big road trip in the summer for the last two years. This past summer, we made it all the way up to the shore of the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories. Even though our journey to Newfoundland and back had been longer, in some ways it felt like we went further this time. Not many people, relatively, cross the Arctic Circle, and I think the feeling of going to such a remote location leant that extra sense of adventure to the trip. We were going further north than many had gone before.

Last year was a year of uncharted territory in more ways than one. The Lord has been teaching me about listening to His Holy Spirit more intentionally for a while now, and 2022 was no different. Though I wasn’t consciously aware of it at first, He has led me into a bigger role of ministering to the women of our church. It’s one of those beautiful things that I know is completely of Him, because I never sought to get into women’s ministry. And yet, starting with our pastor asking me and a friend to lead the evening ladies’ Bible study, step by step God, has been growing a heart in me to serve the women of our church. I’m not always sure I know what I’m doing, but He gives me what I need in each situation He leads me into. Such has also been the case in both my marriage and my parenting, as I learn more and more to fully surrender to the Holy Spirit and pay attention to the things He prompts me to do in the moment. I can’t help remembering back to those Christian bracelets that were all the rage in the early 2000’s. You know the ones? “W.W.J.D.,” “P.U.S.H.,” “F.R.O.G.”… There were more, I’m sure, but it’s that last one I think of often these days. I had no idea what fully relying on God really meant back in junior high, but these days I’m starting to get more of an idea as I practise day by day. Jesus is a good and gentle teacher.

This coming year will bring even more opportunity to practise trusting God to lead us in unknown situations. My husband will be finishing the second degree he’s been working on for the last five years, bringing a multitude of possibilities for how he will use his time moving forward. In the fall, my daughter will enter grade one, and we will officially be homeschooling two children. I also keep thinking that, as both kids enter the school-age season, it’s time to level up in our parenting. We will certainly be creating a new normal, if life can ever be called normal! As much as those big changes carry some uncertainty and challenge with them, the word I keep coming back to as I consider this year is “adventure.” My husband and I will have been married 15 years this coming August, and over the period of our relationship, God has led us through many. We know that He has good things in store for us and have come to trust Him more with each one. More than anything, I’m excited to see where He will lead us through these big life shifts! We also have some other adventures planned, from helping to implement new endeavours at our church, to lots of travelling in the summer (can anyone say, “Grand Canyon?”). Lord willing, those will also be wonderful opportunities to step forward in faith and see what He has for us. 

I am so grateful for the life God has given us. From the stresses of university and the roller coaster of parenting to the sweet times spent connecting and growing within our literal and church families, He is with us. After we returned from our Arctic trip, my grandma gave me a little angel ornament engraved with the apt phrase, “Faith Over Fear.” As I reflect on 2022 and envision the rest of 2023, this phrase settles in my heart as both a summary of the past year and a motto to practise more deeply moving forward. God is good, so here’s to this new year: bring it on!

Moana Musings

“See the line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me…” 

Yes, that line is from a song in Disney’s Moana – let it not be said that I don’t give credit where it’s due. Yet as well-written as the Disney lyrics are, the meaning I’ve lately come to attribute to this song must be credited to another Author: my Heavenly Father. 

I love how the Lord speaks in so many different ways. This song, “How Far I’ll Go,” first struck me a few years ago. I’d seen the movie long before, but this one afternoon when I was sitting in my car between piano lessons, I heard the song and sensed it had some kind of spiritual significance for me. Recently, as I fumbled my way through playing the same song in a new piano book, it finally clicked. 

It was like a watershed moment, bringing multiple elements from the song, and even the movie itself, into line with what I knew God was telling me about my own life. No, the ocean isn’t calling me, but the Holy Spirit sure is. I have been learning to follow Him more practically, intentionally submitting to His leading on a moment-to-moment basis. I know God wants me to keep practicing, keep pursuing Him with passion, and if I do… “there’s just no telling how far I’ll go.” I saw Moana’s home island as “the world,” a reminder that God wants me in the world but not of the world, and that the world will often try to hold me back from following Him. Even the fact that her people used to be seafaring people and had forgotten their ancient ways out of fear reminded me of the old story of how we were created for communion with God but have forgotten our original purpose due to sin. How I personally sometimes let fear get in the way of pursuing my purpose. And just as the ocean kept spitting Moana back up onto the raft every time Maui knocked her off, it is the Holy Spirit’s efforts, not my own, that propel me along the path He has chosen for me. Everything just fits.

God has done so much in me, and He isn’t finished yet. He taught me a lot last year, bringing me through struggle into His glorious light. I am so very thankful to have learned and grown, and now I’m on the lookout for what’s next. How can I continue to fully rely on God in every area of my life? How can I keep flexing the muscles I’ve gained in Him and continue to strengthen them? These are the questions that flow regularly through my mind, often rolling on the waves of the Disney song that has become my inspiration. I am seeing some of the ways He’s calling me to bring Him glory, and I’m sure more are yet beyond the horizon. No matter what happens, if I am intentional about letting Him be the “wind in my sail,” all I have to do is step into the boat, and who knows where He will guide me.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Lyrical”. 


Prayer for Peace

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for our veterans, and all those who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. For the veterans, and those left bereft, I pray for peace. Your peace, that passes understanding, no matter what else they may be feeling. Bring them healing, bring them love. Let them feel Your Presence strongly.

I also pray for those soldiers currently fighting for peace in different parts of the world. May they never lose sight of what they’re fighting for. May they never lose sight of You. Please bring them strength, and peace to their hearts.

For the rest of us, the civilians who know facts but not experiences, please give us understanding. May we never take the sacrifices of soldiers for granted. May we do what we can in our everyday lives to promote peace — our own way of fighting for what is good and right.

Thank You, Jesus, that You are the Prince of Peace. I am so glad You brought peace between me and my Heavenly Father.

In Your precious Name,


Pauses for Prayer

Lately I have been feeling convicted to pray more intentionally and specifically. I have also been convicted to put more efforts into writing and sharing it again. So, during the month of November, I will be writing and sharing some prayers! I would love it if you wanted to join me in prayer for these different areas of life, whether you use my words or your own. Here is the first one: a prayer for family. God bless you all!

Prayer for My Family

Heavenly Father, thank You for my family. Your family, truly, that You have graciously leant to me on this earth.

Help me to teach my children well, and make me more like You, so they can understand a little of You by looking at me. I pray they would both come to a true, saving knowledge of You, that is personal and real. Shine Your light through them to others, too. Thank You for my husband, and all that he is to me and to our family. Please continue to provide work for his hands and the strength and skill he needs to do it. Thank You for leading him as he leads us. Give him wisdom in everything, Lord.

Help me to love them, and all my other family members, as You do. You see each one of them right where they are, and know them fully, and love them deeply. I pray that they would know You, and Your love, too. Please draw them nearer to Yourself each day, wherever they may be in their spiritual journey at this moment. Fill them with Your joy, hope, and peace.

Thank You that You know the needs and cares of each person in my family. Cover them with Your grace today, Father.

In Jesus’ name,


Whatever I’m Doing, It’s Working

Well, it’s been quite the year! The “school year,” which I mostly intend to follow for now in our homeschool, is not over yet, but the change of seasons has made me reflective all the same. Many parts of our studies are slowly wrapping up, and I’ve been shifting the focus in some topics as well.

I’ve been able to see for awhile now that Jared is progressing well with his reading in French, as well as his comprehension. However, I was unsure of his true abilities in writing and speaking, as we haven’t worked on those as systematically. I’ve been planning some different activities to practise his writing, and basically just trying to speak more French to him as an effort at oral practice. This has not been going quite as well as I’d like, as I am woefully out of the French-speaking habit.

Since the reading is going well, I’ve stopped asking Jared to read aloud to me every day, and instead have set up a French reading challenge for the spring, to encourage him to do more of it independently. Today I suggested he read a book while I was busy with his sister for a few minutes, and came back shortly to find it completed. Granted, it wasn’t a very long book, but still… “That was fast!” I thought. I casually asked which book he had read, and he gave it to me. It so happened that this reader had comprehension questions in the back, along with the answers, so I proceeded to quiz him. And this is where the title of this post comes in. Not only did he have a ready and detailed answer for each one of the handful of questions, he answered all but one of them in French. And he did it well! Not perfectly, no, but there were some complex sentence structures in there! Apparently, all of those snippets of conversation with me in French, the random oral French question exercises, the Monday morning French movies, all of those French stories… they’re working.

Homeschooling can be quite the mind game, sometimes. I’m always thinking about what we’ve done, what we’re doing next; wondering if we’re doing enough, or if we’re doing too much; endlessly debating the best ways to go about learning and teaching inside my head and on the internet. The fact that I’m attempting to do it bilingually, which is not the norm in the homeschooling community, only increases the mental whirlwind. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, discouraged, inadequate, and more, if I’m not careful.

But today, I stand encouraged. My son’s sponge-like mind, and more importantly, my faithful God, have set my mind at ease once again. We can do this. We are doing this! He has called me, I have answered, and He will get us through.

Winter Joy

I’ve been contemplating the theme of unexpected joy for a couple of weeks now, and I really wanted to write about something profound, something beautiful. I kept my eyes peeled for a magical moment in nature, noticing the one tree left in our neighbourhood with brilliant red leaves amidst all the gray dreariness that has come with the onset of winter. I tried to notice particularly special moments with my kids, like my daughter asking to kiss me on both cheeks before bed. I kept my spiritual joy radar attuned as much as possible amidst busy days and late nights. When I paid attention, I did notice many simple, yet profound things that brought me joy. Yet, though truly enjoyable, none of these things seemed wholly unexpected.

If I am to be completely honest, the one little thing that has brought me the most joy in the past few weeks, which has also been completely unexpected, is not beautiful, nor profound. On the contrary, it is utterly practical and mundane.

It is fleece-lined leggings.

For those who may not know, I live in Edmonton, Alberta. The winters here are long, and they are very cold.

I do not like the cold.

Of course, I always make do, managing to keep pretty warm using the many methods I’ve learned over the course of the fourteen winters I’ve now spent here. Layers are a must, slippers are always on my feet, and I can often be found sitting directly in front of the fireplace-shaped space heater in our living room on a winter’s evening. I’m blessed to have warm winter outerwear and a furnace to keep our house pleasant. Most of the time, it’s enough.

But there are those days. Those ultra-freezing, -40 degrees Celsius days, when any inch of exposed skin almost hurts, and even the smallest breeze makes it feel doubly cold. On those days, every extra effort toward warmth is required when I am stepping outside the house (or even staying in). Simply wearing my regular pants with a long winter coat and tall winter boots is not enough to keep my legs sufficiently warm. In the past, I would wear tights under my pants, or sometimes even the old yoga-style pants someone passed on to me years ago. My legs were usually warm enough, but it wasn’t always the most comfortable feeling.

This year, though we seemed to have a longer fall than usual, somehow winter also seemed to come upon us suddenly. The temperature is dropping and the snow is falling. At first, I was dismayed, but before my self-pitying thoughts began spiraling, I stopped myself short. No. If this is the beginning of six long months of winter, I cannot afford to be miserable about it. I am homeschooling, I have young kids, and I want us to be active and spend time outdoors, particularly during this time of pandemic. Beyond that, I want to be joyful and spread joy to those around me, winter or no winter.

So, I’m upping my winter game. I made sure my mom’s old ski suit she gave me years ago still fits. I’m getting good snow gloves for myself, not just for the kids. And the last time I was at Costco, I finally picked up some leggings for a more comfortable extra layer of warmth. Fleece-lined leggings, to be precise. Not having been a legging-wearer previously, I tried them on as soon as I got home to see how they fit. As soon as I slid them on, all I could think was, “Fleece-lined leggings, where have you been all my life?” They were warm, they were ever so soft, they were the most comfortable pants I’d ever worn – they felt like a second skin. Not only do I love to be warm, but I also like to be cozy, so for me this was utter textile bliss. I found myself wanting to wear them so much, I almost wished it would be colder out! Sure, I had expected the leggings to keep me warmer, but the absolute perfection I experienced was completely unexpected, and it made my day – my week!

We’ll see if my new seasonal measures lead to as many winter adventures as I’m hoping or not, and I’m sure I’ll still complain about the cold at least once or twice… or more. But I do know that my unassuming Costco purchase on a grey October afternoon has brought me some surprising winter happiness, and will continue to spark joy for me throughout the coming months. When the cold seems to last forever, I’ll have a little something positive to look forward to. Because sometimes the unexpected, simple things in life that bring joy are also the most ordinary. Sometimes all it takes is a pair of leggings.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Unexpected Joy”.

Every Good Gift

I sit in the window seat in my living room, and let the afternoon sunshine wash over me. I close my eyes and feel the warmth sink into my skin. I open them, and simply stare outside, taking in the blue sky, the white clouds, the last shivering yellow leaves still clinging to the trees – all of it brought to life by the glorious sunshine. In turn, my soul is filled with life. I could sit here like this forever.

For as long as I can remember, whenever I imagined my dream house, it always included a window seat. I never had one in my home when growing up, but on sunny afternoons I could often be found sitting in front of the sliding glass doors to the porch, soaking in the sun with a book in hand. After I left home and moved from place to place, my choices of dwelling were determined by finances more than anything, so I continued to just find whatever patch of indoor sunshine I could get. The years passed, and as our children arrived and we made lifestyle choices that continued to limit our budget, a house with a built-in window seat seemed more and more like a pie in the sky.

Then, two years ago, we decided to move our growing family out of our two-bedroom condo and into a house. As we searched for one that would accommodate our modest funds, a window seat was not even on my radar. By this time, though I still loved sitting in the sunshine, I had all but forgotten my dream of having a window seat one day. Even as things started falling into place, and God led us to a unique home that fit our tiny budget and still checked most of our other boxes, it was all about the size of the house, the yard, the neighbourhood, and the proximity to our church.

It wasn’t until we had moved in and had started unpacking boxes and arranging furniture that it happened. We had just moved the piano to a new spot in the living room, and as we stood back to assess the effect, I noticed the windows on either side of it with fresh eyes. These were not typically-shaped windows. They were taller and skinnier than average, and, as a result, the bottom of the window rested only about a foot and a half above the floor. With the piano framing the window on one side, and the corner wall of the house on the other, I suddenly saw it – I could have a window seat! I excitedly told my husband my idea, and he obligingly went and extracted our black ottoman storage bench from the piles of stuff still surrounding us. We slid it into the space between piano and wall, and it fit perfectly, just below the window sill. I finally had my window seat.

I love how God sometimes works like that. He gives us good gifts, often when it’s least expected. And He cares not just about our needs, but our wants, too. I certainly didn’t need a window seat, and I still don’t. I had become quite content without one. Yet, for whatever reason, He chose to surprise me with it. Maybe He saw that I was satisfied, not ungratefully yearning for something I didn’t have. Maybe He knew how often I would sit here and spend precious time with Him. Maybe He simply knew that it would delight my heart, over and over again.

Whatever the reason, I am grateful. I’ll never tire of sitting in my window seat, basking in the sunshine, enjoying an unexpected blessing from my loving Lord.

Here We Go!

Well, this is it. The moment we’ve been contemplating and planning for a few years now. We have officially started homeschooling!

Yep — that was the intro to this post that I’d typed… over a month ago. Proof of the fact that the homeschooling life is a busy one! But I truly am enjoying it. Since we were already planning to homeschool pre-pandemic, I was not suddenly thrown into this role as I know many have been this year. Instead, I have intentionally chosen to walk this road: I can explore a brand new way of applying my love of teaching and my love of French (not to mention my love of planning!), while simultaneously sharing my time and myself with my children.

Now, I fully admit that my positive attitude right now is probably partly influenced by the fact that we took the last week “off” from some of the things we’ve routinely been doing and had some fun with Thanksgiving-themed educational activities instead. But that’s the beauty of homeschooling! We CAN take a break if we need to. I’m not sure if I’d go right to saying we needed it this time, but Mr. J had started grumbling a little more about doing some of the things I was asking him to do, so I figured I’d head things off before they got too, well, grumbly.

This whole notion of routine (or not!) and breaks is just one of the many things I’m still figuring out, and will likely be regularly adjusting as our homeschooling journey advances. Part of the busyness that is homeschooling, for me, at least, is the mental space it takes up. I feel like I’m constantly analyzing myself and the things I’m doing with the kids, wondering if we should do more, or less, or something completely different… Not to mention frequently going down homeschooling resource rabbit holes when I see another new and shiny idea pass by. So besides adjusting my homeschooling techniques, I’m also learning to adjust my time management skills!

What exactly are we doing in our home school, then? Well, the short answer is… French! Yes, as I’ve hinted at above and in previous posts, just to make this journey a little crazier, I am doing my best to provide my children with a bilingual education at home. Why is this crazy? Well, maybe it’s not, but sometimes I feel like it is. I have been passionate about the French language for a long time, but I am not a native speaker, and I didn’t speak French to my kids from birth. Therefore, trying to provide an immersion-type learning environment at home, in my second language, one which my husband doesn’t speak, seems daunting at times. It certainly was when we first began discussing homeschooling. But I was determined, so I made a plan, and started doing little things (see more details here and here), and… it’s working! Without using any kind of specific barometer to measure Mr. J’s French skills, the simple fact that in the last week or two he has frequently been initiating basic French conversation with me has been so exciting and encouraging! If that is already happening after only one month of officially homeschooling… I think we can do this! 

There have certainly been some ups and downs to our homeschooling life, and there will likely be many more. But the advantages of more family time, schedule flexibility, and program individualization are only some of the many reasons I’m glad we’ve made this decision. I feel like God has been preparing us to take on this new challenge for a long time now, and I am confident He will continue to equip us. Learning adventures await — here we go!

Steps to Teaching Your Second Language to Your Kids (Part 2)

And now the conclusion to my last post! If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you do so. : ) The language learning journey continues!

  • Step 11: Enroll your child in French immersion preschool for age four. If you’re thinking about eventually homeschooling (we were), this will help give him a base in French that you can then build on at home. Slowly let “French fun time” dwindle down to just letting him play on the French app for 15 minutes here and there. You have a baby taking up your time, too, after all!
  • Step 12: Send your oldest child off to his first day of preschool. Watch in amazement throughout the year as he quickly learns colours and numbers, among many other things, in French. Start to toss out French phrases here and there at home, and see the language slowly become normalized in your child’s mind. Start contemplating the fact that maybe you should start thinking about this whole French thing for your younger child as well, but don’t do much about it because she’s still napping a lot and you just can’t settle on a plan anyway with all that’s going on in your life!
  • Step 13: After much debate, register your oldest in kindergarten at the French immersion school down the road. If you’re still thinking about homeschooling, this will continue to give him that solid base and the association of ‘school’ with French that you plan to continue if you do eventually school him at home. Plus, you’re still intimidated by the idea of teaching him to read in French and you’re just not sure.
  • Step 14: Determine to yourself that you will speak French with your kids more regularly over the summer, even mentioning it to your oldest and gaining his whole-hearted approval. Fail miserably in this endeavour.
  • Step 15: Repeat step 12, except with kindergarten. Be amazed at how much French your big little sponge is picking up, and continue to procrastinate in starting French input with your littler sponge. Randomly read a French book or watch a French show with the kids every once in awhile.
  • Step 16: After extensive research, thought, and discussion, decide to start homeschooling your oldest in grade one. Start gathering ideas and resources to teach French at home. Make a plan to start speaking French more at home with the kids, gradually increasing the amount throughout the rest of the school year and summer until you reach a level you’re happy with for immersion-style homeschooling.
  • Step 17: Due to a sudden global pandemic, find yourself thrown into a version of homeschooling much sooner than you’d anticipated. Scramble to prepare mentally, as you want to set a precedent for homeschooling in the fall and know that to do so, you need to have a strong French element from the beginning. Scour Facebook marketplace for cheap French books and get ready to start speaking French more at home.
  • Step 18: Do your best. Read a French story every morning, lean on the kindergarten teacher’s ideas for French themes, play French music in the background, let your oldest start a new French phonics app, watch some French shows, speak a little more French at home, but often not a lot. Be gentle with yourself. There is a pandemic going on, after all.
  • Step 19: One day, decide to see if your oldest can read an easy reader book in French on his own. Watch in amazement WHILE HE DOES! And with an excellent accent, too! Continue to randomly speak French in the mornings and find that often he makes an effort to respond to you in French. Feel immensely proud and encouraged.
  • Step 20: Keep it up. Take it one day at a time. Remember that a little bit of effort can still make a big difference, and that those little brains truly are sponges. Be intentional, but don’t force it – make it fun and as natural as you can. A second language is a gift, and any thing you do to give it to your kids is valuable!

Thanks for reading! Obviously my situation is unique, as is yours if you are seeking to teach your kids a second language. I’m not suggesting you need to follow every step I took in order to do so. It can really all be summed up in Step 20. We are imperfect human beings, but with language learning, even a little effort will make a difference. Instead of doing nothing because you can’t do what you might ideally like, I encourage you to do what you can. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing — it can be a lot of little somethings. And all those little somethings will merge and grow into something big and beautiful.


For those who are interested, here is a list of some resources I’ve used:

Books: Just like with first language development, reading aloud to your kids can do so much to help them learn a second language! We found lots of cheap used French books to have around and used the library a lot (when it wasn’t closed due to the pandemic).

Music: Charlotte Diamond, Spotify’s “Pour enfants seulement” playlist

Shows: Didou, dessine-moi (YouTube), Tintin, anything on Netflix or Disney+ that has French dubbing (I especially like SuperWhy in French!)

Apps: French Fun, DuoLingo Kids, Syllabique, Fin Lapin 3