26 October 2016

A Doxology of Praise

This morning I took my usual time to scroll through my Instagram feed, but this time one post captured my attention and it resounded so deeply in my soul.

It penetrated my heart in a way I haven't felt in a long time, and I couldn't help but share it in hopes that it will penetrate others as well.

I just recently started following Ruth from Gracelaced on Instagram. This morning she shared a post displaying one of her art pieces alongside Ann Voskamp's new book, The Broken Way.

In the post, Ann Voskamp is quoted, "Fight back the dark with doxology...doxology can detox the day."

Ruth then added, "The Doxology...is a reminder to turn our heart to praise, finding Him worthy and wholly able to make us, the broken, whole...tell me in the comments how praising God fights back the darkness for you?"

And as I read that, I felt as though what I've been wrestling with so deeply, what I've been struggling with in the darkness, came into the Light so boldly.

It was so simple, and yet I was missing it. The answer came so clearly -

Praise God.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...

In the darkness, we struggle with all sorts of doubts. The darkness clouds our vision and we muddle in self-pity. Feeling as though God has forgotten about us, or hasn't blessed us they way we wanted Him to. The darkness loves comparison; and jealousy; and resentment.

But in the Light, the Truth is that there are blessings surrounding us each and every day.

Life. Grace. Love. Food. Children. Provision.

How do we even dare to complain? And yet so often we do.

Praise Him all creatures here below...

Nature displays His creativity; His provision. The beauty of the fall leaves.

In the midst of whatever we're facing, we need to choose to praise Him. To resist the darkness and soak in the Light of His blessings and promises. To surrender our hurts; our brokenness; our pain. We will face hard times; we will face difficult circumstances. But choose joy; choose to see; choose to praise.

Praise Him above ye heavenly host...

This is what resounded so deeply. Our babies we've lost in miscarriage; my niece, Rose, who died nearly a year ago in childbirth; grandparents and loved ones who have already passed away but knew the Lord.

They are with the heavenly host - praising the Lord.

Forever. Always. There is no darkness in heaven, only Light. Only a chorus of praise in the presence of the Lord, surrounded by the Glory of the Lord.

Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost...

And we on earth will one day join with the heavenly chorus. But even now - today - we can choose the Light and Praise the Lord with them.

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 150:6)

Please understand that I am not minimizing grief. It is a very real part of our hearts and the losses all of us face here in life. But in your grief, don't be overcome by the darkness. Come into the Light and be joyful in hope (Romans 12:12).

May the hope of eternity and the joy of that glorious reunion flood your heart with praise.


Doxology by Gracelaced

1 July 2016

Projects in the Queue

For starters, let me just share that in the past I've mainly posted about projects around our home, as I love renovating and creating a home within our house. However, the post that I wrote after Mother's Day this year about our journey through multiple miscarriages reached more people than I ever could've expected! I was amazed, but also saddened as I knew that my story resonated with many other hurting hearts. I believe that God calls each of us to a unique journey, and that journey is mixed with pain and suffering this side of heaven. But we are not alone, and we can walk it together. I was so thankful that many took the time to send me personal messages following that post - it really impacts me to share our vulnerability and offer encouragement to each other.

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I haven't written many blog posts lately, as our renovations have slowed down, but in the past few weeks quite a few friends have asked about our house! They assumed that since I haven't written, that we must be done! Oh friends, renovations are in my blood - I don't think I'll ever be truly done. I have lots of ideas queued up in my creative brain!

Carl and I had a spontaneous opportunity to get out one evening a few weeks ago, and we weren't sure what we should do. So, we drove around new neighbourhoods and chatted about the new designs and colours, etc. that we saw among the new builds. I even pulled out a napkin and was sketching ideas for our house as we spent time just mulling ideas over and dreaming up designs. As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks, but we discovered that we both love to engage our creative sides, and house renovations - interior and exterior - are fascinating to us; therapeutic even.

Now, finances always come into play at this point. And sometimes I admit that I get a wee bit discouraged, as renovations are costly. We always save before we start a project so, slow and steady, things will unfold!

Here are how some of the rooms look at the moment...

We moved the MiniMen into a room together, and it's been a fun new stage for them! It took a bit of time to transition, but they're good little buddies, and sharing a room is a natural fit. I love hearing them whisper at night after we say good night!

And, let me tell you, that clock is ingenious. All parents out there know what I mean!

My brother made the headboards out of pallets, and last summer I sanded and stained them in Minwax Espresso. I love the look, and the rustic wood really suits a boy's bedroom.

Now, this does mean that my nursery is empty. I will admit that I kept MiniMan #2 in his crib far too long, but it was a tad bit emotional to admit that we were no longer in the baby stage. So, this room stays cute and ready! However, it is handy to have a nursery as many of my friends have babies and this space is used once in a while for naps and changing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As for future projects, my list is lengthy! Here are a few that I have in the queue for this summer...

Still from our original "Phase 1" of renovations, the kitchen backsplash has yet to be done. However, I've finally picked a tile, and ordered it, so this project should become a reality soon!

I picked up this gray buffalo check fabric locally, and plan to make a set of drapes for the family room. I have visions of a custom built-in entertainment unit, but that's not going to happen for a while. In the meantime, a set of drapes will add some dimension and coziness to the room

The basement in completely untouched since we bought the house. It's the MiniMen's toy room, and Carl's man cave complete with a custom home theatre set up. Ultimately we'd like to drywall it and finish it properly; I've considered painting the paneling white, which is a great solution for paneling, but with the MiniMen around, it's just more practical to give them this area and let them be boys. Especially when Daddy plays hockey with them.

But the stairway was getting to me!

Just look at that wall! {shudder} It needs a fresh coat of paint so badly

I also have a vision for the exterior...folks, that '70s almond and chocolate brown is dated! I've love to add a peak to the roof, and a portico over the front door and porch with some craftsman-style pillars, but again, that project is a few years down the road!

In the meantime, I've picked out paint to re-paint the garage and shutters, just to update them a bit

And, our craftsman front door! I'm also planning to paint the front door. I love the crisp white of it, but the trend is to add a pop of colour on a front door, and I figure I can always paint it white again someday if I grow tired of it, right? I'll keep my colour choices for a surprise!

And finally, this set was a good deal on my local swap and sell site, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to try my hand at a bigger refinishing project. I'm hoping to resell this set once I stain, paint, and reupholster it, hopefully for a profit, which will offset some of my other project costs!

So, here's to a full line-up of summer projects! If you wonder where I am, you now know where to find me.

A Tale of Two Endtables

Everyone loves a good furniture makeover, especially a side-by-side photo of the before and after!

(my apologies for the bad photo quality)

I purchased this set of end tables on my local swap and sell site in January, and it was a process to get them to where I envisioned them. But in the end, I'm incredibly pleased with how they turned out!

I didn't take pictures of the process, as there are many, many blog tutorials on furniture refinishing, but I'll list the products I used:

- First I sanded down the tops and restained them in Minwax Jacobean, and then finished them with  polycrylic

- For the base, I used Dulux X-pert Waterborne Alkyd in melamine, tinted in Benjamin Moore's Iron Mountain. I did 3 coats of paint, followed by a finish of polycrylic

9 May 2016



I became a mom in September 2011, 4-1/2 years ago, and in April 2014 I also became a Hope Mom when I lost a baby in miscarriage. I am now a mom to my two sons, my MiniMen, and three Hope babies. In 4 years God gave me 5 babies! He has entrusted two of them to us, and three of them are with Jesus and my heart longs for the day we will be reunited in heaven!

The journey has been painful, but I have found support, encouragement, and been challenged so deeply in my faith by an amazing organization called Hope Mommies. This spring I joined a Hope Group, which is an online support and study group. We've been divided into small groups with a facilitator and come together weekly to discuss a chapter of the book we are studying, "Anchored: A Bible Study for Miscarriage, Stillbirth, & Infant Loss", by Erin Cushman. Sharing with other women who have walked such similar journeys - sharing the dark pain of grief together and pointing each other to the Hope of Christ - nothing has impacted me in so many ways before. I feel as though my joy is being restored!

I'd like to share my journey of faith today in the hopes that it will encourage and bless others who are struggling with the grief of losing a baby.

There are dark days when the grief hits like a tidal wave, threatening to drown. It is an indescribable feeling, but there were days I wasn't sure I could make it.

"My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word!"
Psalm 119:28

In my Christian faith I know that God is in control and that His ways are not always our ways. I know the Truth in my head, but feeling the confidence in my heart has been the hardest part.

During one of my prayer times I cried out to God for reassurance, and I felt a strong peace come over me when I felt He said to me, "Alicia, I love your babies". I took great comfort in this - yes, God loved my babies and they were safe and secure in His arms. But I did not feel loved by God personally; I felt abandoned and broken. And at times I felt ashamed that I didn't feel that unconditional Love, even though I knew in my head that it was always there.

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26

The more I struggled on my own to stay afloat, I now realize that I gave way for the enemy to subtly torment my thoughts and fill me with lies. I tried to find answers for why this kept happening to me - why is God giving me babies, only to take them away? The enemy would whisper lies that perhaps I wasn't a good mom to my MiniMen or that God changed His mind on seeing me fit to raise more children. While my husband immediately stopped me from spiraling downwards in my thoughts, I couldn't help but feel guilty and feel that there must've been something I had done wrong.

"Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too one walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."
Colossians 3:5-10

A mama in grief is so vulnerable to the enemy's lies. You see, he couldn't shake my faith - I was confident in my salvation and that my babies were in heaven. So he used envy, anger, slander, covetousness, etc. and I struggled emotionally and mentally.

I tried to remain confident in my hope - in the hope that I would one day be reunited with my Hope babies, and also in the hope of my prayers that God would bless us with more children one day.

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:3-4

However, I now realize that my hope was misdirected. I was placing my hope in a desire, rather than in the true source of Hope - Christ. The Hope that I have in Him is not about my babies, but rather the Grace that He has died for me, forgiven me, walks daily with me, and will one day call me home to be with Him in heaven. It's only because of Christ's Love and Grace that I am His.

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him...For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love."
Lamentations 3: 21-25, 31

I also started to see that every day of life is a gift from God. He is the Giver of Life, and our days are numbered. I then realized that I had been given life with all of my children. I've spent 4-1/2 and 3 years with my MiniMen so far, and my third I had 11 weeks and 2 days with, my fourth I had 10 weeks with, and my fifth I had 5 weeks, 5 days with. That time is all a gift, even though it was cut short in our human eyes. But it was God's perfect plan - their lives were not actually cut short - they lived with me for a short time but are now living out God's plan in heaven. I may wonder what my life with them might have looked like - their gender, their facial features, what character traits they would have, their birthday parties, their wedding days, etc. But their lives were never meant for this world, and I cannot imagine something that was never part God's design - I have to surrender their lives to Him each and every day.

This Mother's Day weekend I realized that I used to long to hold my Hope babies and nurse them and comfort them. But they have never been hungry, have never cried, have never been sick, and have not needed our parental discipline. They are perfect, healthy, and indescribably happy! What more could a mother ask for?

With that realization the cloud of grief began to lift and I felt peace. I could see the gift of my MiniMen and my strong responsibility to raise them and to be grateful for their lives. God hasn't given me only two children - He's given me two children!

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him."
1 Samuel 1:27

Now, does this mean that the grief is behind me and that I am at perfect peace? No. One of the hardest realities to accept is the fact that our lives are marked by loss. Every life - every marriage - will face trials. But it's how we walk the journey we've been called to; and I had to realize that my journey wasn't anyone else's to walk. Others would not and even could not understand what we were going to. I had to turn to the Lord and find Him as my Comforter, my Source of strength, and my Redeemer. Do I walk the journey perfectly? No - I fail often and I'm still regularly tempted by self-pity and jealousy. The losses will always be with me this side of heaven, but the shades of grief will change, and I have to submit those feelings to the Lord each time they seek to overwhelm me.

But through this journey, one of the things I'm most thankful for in the midst of the loss, is my ability to empathize with others who have suffered a miscarriage, or even those facing infertility. I'm thankful that I now understand what the journey looks like, and how to share with others and find comfort in each other.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

To those who regularly ask, "are you thinking of having more children?" Yes; it's the strong desire of our hearts. We will accept any children the Lord blesses us with, but the knowledge of when and how many are completely out of my control. I may have more miscarriages, we may face death at any stage of our children's lives, but we are unbelievably grateful for the lives God has given us, and any others He may choose to one day entrust to us.

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."
1 Peter 1:6-7

19 March 2016

DIY Easter Bunting Tutorial

This week I tackled a quick project to decorate my mantle for Easter. I'll share the steps I did here in case you'd like to make one of your own!

Fabric of choice for letters
WunderUnder fabric stabilizer
Bias tape in colour of choice
Sewing machine

I printed the letters out in Word as mirror images (this is very important - always trace your letters as mirror images or the finished product will be backwards!). I then traced them onto WunderUnder fabric stabilizer.

Next, I ironed the stabilizer to the wrong side of my fabric

And then cut out the letters

I used a paper bunting that I had as a template to cut out the burlap flags. Then, I ironed the letters to the bunting. I was worried that they wouldn't adhere well to the burlap, but I didn't have any problems.

Next, I used a bias tape to stitch the flags together. I measured and pinned the letters 1" apart, and added 2" on either side of "IS" so that the word was a bit separate to help distinguish it.

I sewed a double line to stitch the flags together, and then it was ready to hang!

(The decor is a work in progress...it would've been lovely to have had fresh baby's breath in the mason jar, and some candles on the candlesticks! I'll finesse it a bit more this upcoming week)

Here's how our family room is looking these days...

And, as it's always fun to see...where it started out!

Such an improvement!

Happy Easter friends...Christ is risen - He is risen indeed!