My Canada Adventure: 3 days left.

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Did you know that ODFW stands for Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and that my mug is displaying just that? True story. Also, what is a true story is that my husband made me coffee at approximately 3:15 am and once again, deserves the Best Husband Award.

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When we woke up at 2:30 am and left by 3:20 on Wednesday the 8th of October, I was certain I might actually die. But then I didn't and now it is Monday the 13th and I am healthy as a bean. Loren did the fabulous servant thing of waking up with me, making me coffee, and driving me the 2 hours to Portland Airport so I could get there in time to check my bag, go through customs, and board the plane by 6:20 am. What. A. Babe!

Also, the moon. It was so bright and so bloody orange, and I could not get a better photo than that with my little iPhone.

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Long hallways + a full bladder don't mix well.

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So, I was completely blessed by the breathtaking sunrise. Thank you, Jesus, for creating such wonderful gifts for us to enjoy. It is calming.

Also - The Fault in Our Stars. I cried on that plane ride while reading this book. It was that good. I have decided I must make myself read fiction books again.

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I made sure that the man stamped my passport this time around. It is a new passport with a new name which means I don't have my stamps from Europe!

Naturally, the first thing I did when I landed in Canada was grab a Starbucks: caramel machiotto with soy, because I am on vacation and everyone knows that we must cheat our health on vacations.

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The theme of this trip should be: BABIES GALORE.

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What I dearly loved about this verse was that it isn't a question, but a statement. A statement that says our Heavenly Father gives us good gifts.

we are friends

Hi, we are friends and we love to walk.

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Should we talk about the absolute wonder of the photos above? I will let you soak them in. Fall. Brisk. Baby. Wagon. Pup (who is my actual nemseis, but I love her because she is my friends baby). Best Pal. Canada. Love.

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my canada adventure

Because I am not sharing a bed with my husband, I literally sleep on one half while my laptop, bible, journal, and knitting utensils sleep on the other half. I then wake up in the morning, roll over, and commence my time with Jesus as the golden sun peers in the window. Yes, it is a gift. A true, gift.

IMG_1524.JPG You're welcome.

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knitting a circle scarf

I started knitting again. Canada always does that to me. No, Haley always does that to me. Did I mention, it's an addiction? Almost as addicting as Tim Horton's coffee.

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Who wouldn't want flying utters as decoration for a coffee-ice cream shop.

The worst $17 I ever did spend, by the way.

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Scarf: finished on the drive to the beautiful lake.

the nunes family

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Leaves: crunched.

Baby: swung.

Strangers: captured. Their potluck smelled delicious.

IMG_1571.JPGspending moments with the LordI am certain that if I do not spend time in His presence, I will not feel rested. He is the key to rest, as He calls me into His presence and Peace. Thankful for His word and I fall in love with it, every time I gobble it up.

IMG_1611.JPG Last night was Round One of Canada Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a huge potluck of Thanksgiving deliciousness at Haley & Marcio's friends house: the Penners. They are beautiful, have 3 girls and 1 on the way. There was a plethora of children and adults crammed into this town house and it was simply beautiful to be a part of the body of Christ in another country. I always love being reminded how big and how real and how tangible He is through His church.

Today is Canada Thanksgiving. I am thankful that God is patient with me. I am thankful for a husband who is in love with Jesus Christ, and pursuing Him at a cost. I am thankful for a husband who misses me when I am gone, and tells me. I am thankful for a perfectly imperfect church family back home that I miss when I am away. I am thankful to be a Doula and serve families during the most precious and intense moments of life. I am thankful that I am in Canada with my dear friend Haley, who literally saved my life 4 years ago, October 4th 2010. She would have woken to a cold, stiff, dead roommate had she not taken me in - true story. Traumatizing.

I am thankful for Jesus, who is ever so close to my heart, especially when I am weary and exhausted. That He loves me and gives me worth and places an identity of Belovedness on me.

Happy Thanksgiving, from Canada!

Pulling my head out & headed to Canada!

nats canada adventures I'm off to Canada.

Last year around this time, I was riding the Bolt Bus from PDX to Seattle to Bellingham to Vancouver BC for $28. I then rode Something from the train station in BC to the airport and flew to Edmonton, AB, snapped this photo(<left) along the way, and was welcomed by this stud and his stunning momma.

That chin, though.

What's in Canada? My college roommate and very dear friend Haley. She has the cutest son who will soon be blowing up my Instagram. Rumor has it, she has a possible trip to Jasper or Banff planned. This girl is the best.

I have been forsaking my Jesus. My sabbath. My day of rest. I am gaining a deeper understanding of why God made "keeping a sabbath day holy, 1 day a week," an actual commandment. It is for our sanity, for our health, for our best well-being. I don't mean resting all day before the TV screen watching television or movies; I have never left the TV screen and felt empowered and rested. My brain is exhausted and stimulated after that. I mean resting in His presence, in His word, in His very real love for me. For you.

I have gotten myself into a a place of busy. Note: I have done this. Not my job(s), not my family, not my church, not my responsibilities. I could blame my hectic and chaotic life on those things, but the reality of the matter is, I said yes. I am the one who piles on All The Things. I choose my calendar just as I choose my attitude. I choose to forsake my Sabbath Mondays and this last Monday I was deeply broken by my decision.

What I had forgotten was that, not only does my sweet time with Jesus mean so much to me and my soul, but it's special to Him too. He longs to spend time with us.

>>See how refreshed I looked after last year's trip? That's what I'm going for. I was in the same boat - coming off of a ridiculous summer, in the middle of a busy fall {HEAR THIS: allllll good things, just a lot of things}, and left for a week to spend Canada Thanksgiving (which is on a Monday in October) with one of my best friends. I needed rest. Rest in Him found in Canada. I needed to forcefully pull myself away. Here in this wonderful and charming and SO JOYOUS photo, I was sitting in the park waiting for the bus in the beautiful city of Vancouver, BC. I was knitting. KNITTING. Simply sitting and knitting. I know. So P31 of me.

My life is no different from yours, or maybe it probably is. But the reality is, you can say yes to things or you can say no. There are some things I think I can't say no to. But really, I can. For instance, it is unhealthy to fill your calendar full of 12 individual coffee dates/hikes/dinner guests/meetings in the time frame of 6 days + regular small groups + services + oh right, computer work, and photography, and studying birth. It is this thing of pride and fear that it boils down to. Every darn time. I wish that it wasn't so, but it so is.

>>I like to think of the money I make in photography and wedding coordinating and pillow making as my "allowance." We are on a very tight budget, and I don't have a steady enough income from these things to impact an area of budget, but it brings me a spending allowance that I did not have. So, I saved my allowance and I am heading to Canada. Thank you, clients! Literally wouldn't be going without you. I know that I won't always be able to simply get on a plane for a week of my choosing and peace out, leaving Loren with a few prepped meals and a long smooch goodbye. But while I can still do this, I best be taking advantage of it.

We all have things pushing at our seams, begging for our attention, filling our calendar. We all live in the world where busy seems to be the norm and what we use to give us value. And that's just the thing, it feels like it devalues me. Stretches me so thin that ME begins to be a non-existent reality. In order to serve others well, we must make time to do things we enjoy. At our leisure. Not squeezed into an hour time slot.

When I bury myself into this lifestyle of scheduling coffee dates two months out (true story, so embarrassing), I become so selfish, so centered on me = bitterness, SO not Natalie. I am not walking in the Spirit of peace that I have access to; I am not choosing to be grateful in the small things; I am not soaking in this truly beautiful and ridiculously privileged life. Because I am go-go-and going and never pausing. And that kills me. It breaks my own heart the state I can put it in -- and I desperately want to pursue His freedom. He is so full of freedom and joy and peace. These things come by slowing down. Pausing. Being still. I am forcing my head out of the calendar and placing it in Canada to breathe and pray and get on my knees. To be still and soak in His goodness.

So. To all humans everywhere:

We are not called or made to live busily.

Our identity does not lie in what we do (or do not do).

We are commanded a day of rest to truly rest in His presence. To be built up, to fight the enemy's lies with His words, to soak in His love and grace and freedom. T0 literally bask in His love for us. Not to sit in front of the computer or television screen. To rest in who He has made us to be.

The world will still go on if you slow down and enjoy life, choosing joy, living slowly. In actual fact, I have experienced it and the world exists as a place of beauty. (Shameless plug, visit my A Life of Joy category)

To the women called into a full time ministry: you cannot do it all. You cannot meet with everyone, you should not meet with everyone; in fact, you we are stealing someone else's chance to serve, love, minister. Take some time, look at your schedule, and pray about what to get rid of. Pray for ways to point people to other women. I have done this 2 times in the last week and it has been a gift to each woman involved. Find something you love, and make a day for it. For me, I love making our home. So I am finding a day of the week set apart to do solely homemaking things; and really seeing it as a priority. Rest in His presence. Every day, have those times of focus with Him. Cry in His presence, sing, dance, rejoice...be YOU.

>>To you women in ministry: I am carefully and prayerfully crafting a new series just for us.  My hope is that you would find encouragement in knowing you are not alone. That we can be honest and transparent and real, that we can love each other with honest vulnerability, and then go out and love our flocks.

I'm off to Canada to spend time praying and evaluating what Jesus has for me. I am discovering (over and over and over again) that selflessly denying my flesh is in the denying of my pride in trying to "do it all." It is saying no, no I cannot do that because I am incapable and I am human and I am fickle and weak. But He, He can do it. And He can do it through someone else.

Also. I already miss my church family and students and most of all my husband, so much. I am so much more a home body than I thought.

PS> on a side note, I seem to bounce between extremes of yes's and no's. If you relate, may I recommend a book? Books are great. Click on it to purchase.