A Church in Transition: Staying When it Hurts

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Eph 5:25-27

A church in transition is never an easy thing. Of the three churches I’ve attended in my life, two out three went through a major change while I was attending, the first resulting in the doors being permanently closed. One thing I can attest to from those, is that transition hurts. I’m not talking about the little minor changes a church goes through, I’m talking leadership transitions, congregational splits, financial crisis type transitions. The ones that force the issue: should I stay or go?

It’s easy to think about going to a different “healthy” church. One that doesn’t have people who have offended and hurt you. One that seemingly has their finances together. One that has a great preacher who’s been there since they began digging the foundation. But God may have different words for those of us considering “church shopping”.

First of all, let me be clear that bible does speak of times when we must leave. In fact Jesus says in Matthew 10 that if we enter a city that isn’t worthy to shake the dust off our feet and keep moving (v. 13-14). There are all kinds of reasons that we could move on, but one major reason to stay: what is God’s will for me in this transition?

When we look at the above Ephesians passage, we see Jesus and the church being referred to as a marriage, a holy union. Remember those famous marriage vows?

for better or worse

for richer or poorer

in sickness and in health

We are not physically joined to our spouses, thus making it impossible to leave. We are joined by choice, and stay because of love. We chose our spouse, and we choose to stay even when it’s worse, sick or poor (and let’s be honest, sometimes those moments are pretty ugly, and far worse then we could’ve ever imagined when we first uttered those vows!). It’s not easy to stay in our marriages when we go through those periods of time, but love isn’t easy. It’s bleak in those moments, and often hope goes missing. But, when we choose to stay regardless of the sacrifices we must make, and come out on the other side, we see blessing. We develop a deeper love and understanding of each other. We become more intimately knitted together and our marriage is strengthened.

we are joined by choice

Much like marriage, staying at church when it hurts requires sacrifice on our parts. To stay in union with the church body through the worse, the sick, and the financial crisis isn’t easy. But Jesus took the first sacrifice in our union when he hung on the cross for our sins, our imperfections, and our failures. When we entered in to a life with him, we chose to be bonded in a Holy union with him, and thus joining in with the rest of the His Body (the church). We chose to join the church we attend, and we stay out of love, just like our marriage. It’s that deep love that stays even when it hurts, to work through it, to see it the other side, that causes a deeper bond with the very ones that may have hurt us most. It causes us to see that deep kind of love that God has for us, a love that surpasses hurt, complications, and frustrations.

So, may I encourage you, if you’re dreading Sunday mornings. Before you bolt for the door to find a new church (and let me just say, no church is perfect), to seriously consider asking if God wants you to stay through the current hardship. If so, then stay. There will be blessing for you on the other side of the hurt. Forgive the ones who’ve hurt you, ask for forgiveness where you’ve wronged others, and stay focused on God’s perfect will, not on the mess and transition that’s occurring at ground level. When we act in obedience, even when it’s hard, it’s then that we learn new things about our relationship with Christ, and his loving character.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… 1 Cor 13:4-8a



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Nothing but the blood.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.

Psalm 139:1-3

I was four when I was first baptized.  I remember standing up in front of my church with my parents and sister. I was so terrified to be up there in front of so many people that I pinched my Moms legs so hard with my wee hands that I tore a hole in her stockings. This was my first memorable moment in church.

As a kid I grew up in a small community, and most people, if not all the people attended the same church, their kids went to school with me and we all shopped at the same store.  I didn’t really think of salvation at all while growing up.  I truly believed in my heart that because I had come from a good home; a Christian home, had been baptized at four, and spent my life attending Calvinettes as was custom in my church, and then chatechism that I was a shoe in to heaven.  I grew up, did what most kids in my small town did and spent Friday’s and Saturdays staying out late. On Sundays I was too tired to go to church, or I’d get bored mid way though the service and quietly excuse myself and take off for home.  I had effectively quit church around age 16.  At 19, I met my husband and we began our relationship backward and started our family almost immediately.  After I became a Mother I suddenly felt a duty to take my family to church. This proved to be rather awkward and difficult because my husband was not raised in the church, nor was he a Christian.  The first thing he said to me following an old school liturgical service was “it feels like a cult in there with all those people talking back and forth between the minister”. Because of his first impression at my childhood Christian Reformed Church, he rarely if ever went back. We would go with my family if we happened to be in town, and if I persisted enough we would go to a CRC near our home. While visiting the CRC in our town one weekend, we were invited out to a church members house for lunch the following Sunday. That entire week I fretted about what to wear, pondered a fruit basket vs a box of chocolates and worried that they would not think I was good enough? I half wished they’d call and cancel because my anxiety levels were steadily rising.  Sunday came and we arrived after church. I had my face pasted with a smile. I donned my semi-formal attire and I basically over exaggerated my so called christian faith to match whatever it was that they were talking about.  Truthfully I had no idea about what they were talking about when they had said things like “surrender” and ” discern”.  I was still that same four year old in my head..the kid sitting up at the front of the church not knowing what was going on.

After our visit I felt so dumb. I was uncomfortable with the fact that I had just faked my way through a dinner with other Christians I did not know well, and I felt ashamed for not being a carbon copy of these people.  I was so wracked by the experience we never went back to this church. These people called us the following week and left a message to ask us if everything was okay because they hadn’t seen us on Sunday. I never called them back.  Once I saw the woman in the grocery and I took off into another section of the store for fear of bumping in to her.  It was quite ridiculous, my behaviour at the time, but now that I look back I totally understand why I felt so strange about those encounters.  The truth of the matter was, even though this lady and her family ate up my fake Christianity like cake,  God had not and He knew I had zero understanding of the Gospel message.

God knew that I didnt “surrender” to Him and that I didn’t actually know I could speak to Him candidly anytime I needed or wanted to. I did not realize that I didn’t have to wear fancy clothes to come for worship, or smear a fake smile across my lips and lie through my teeth  about my belief in Him to those who asked. Most importantly He knew that I was hiding all of my muck behind these exterior things in order to please the people inside the church…..to fit in…to hide, and that I spent more time thinking about other people’s perception of me than how God might see me. He knew that I did not know anything about His character, or how Fatherly He truly was and that I had no idea that I hadn’t actually asked for forgiveness for my life spent apart from Him. I honestly thought that my upbringing, my little four year old self getting baptized and my occasional church attendance was good enough, that I was going to heaven and that I was saved.

I had never been presented with the gospel as an adult, although I knew the story and I understood that God created everything, I had never pondered my need for the Son, for Jesus Christ. I didn’t know that I had been making choices without God’s will and desire for my life in mind or that it was even important. I didn’t know that God knew me…..out of millions of His children. I didnt know that He loved me just the way I was, the unkept me, the one who had nasty thoughts in her brain from time to time, who swore and partied, who was impatient and mean,  the uglier side of me, the human me.  I didn’t know that He knew all there was to know about me and my life and that any pains and scars I had were in plain sight to Him.  I didn’t know that He had the power to heal me, and make me whole. To fill a void I had in my life, a God sized void.

I didn’t know that He sent his son Jesus Christ to the cross to die for me…..for all of my secrets, for all of my bad behaviour, for all of my hidden scars. I didn’t know that Jesus Christ’s death was a washing sacrifice for me and my fellow people, to wash away those terrible things. I did not take notice of His willingness to forgive me, to love me and accept me for me. I didn’t know that if I only looked harder that I could be spared, and set apart, set aside in safety for Him and to be given a new heart with new desires. If I had known these things sooner I would not have been afraid to go to that woman’s house for lunch, and I wouldn’t have felt the urge to fret about my attire for Sunday service, or to ponder fruit baskets vs chocolate or whether my story about my childhood faith was sounding right, or if I was using words like “surrender” and ” discern” properly.  I would have known that none of those things mattered and that the Lord loved me no matter if I was bad, or good…..I was still his child.

Maybe this is you my friend….Father knows you and He loves you. There really isn’t anything you could do to make Him not love you….He is your father too, just like He is mine.  Dad’s don’t stop loving their kids, and even when our earthly father has failed us, our Heavenly Father is perfect and divine. He will never fail us because He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Nothing but the Blood of Jesus Song


Gospel Presentation


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An Ode to My Dad- a Christmas Post for the Holidays

My Dad keeps me safe.

My Dad keeps me in line when I get unruly.

My Dad lets me sleep while he takes care of the tough stuff.

My Dad teaches me to be a better person.

My Dad can mend a broken heart just simply by being present.

Wherever I go my Dad has already been. He knows the places I can visit too, and also knows the places I need to avoid.

My Dad meets me in the most unexpected places mostly because he really gets around.

My Dad hides me away in a safe place when things get too scary.

My Dad is surprised by nothing.

My Dad desires to be with me more than anything!

My Dad always allows me to make my own choices, even though he knows my choices may hurt me more than I understand.

My Dad loves me no matter what I’ve done and who I am.

My Dad demolishes my enemies even when I haven’t noticed.

My Dad is in charge.

My Dad teaches me how to love and live.

My Dad fills my happy cup, with his love, I always have more than enough.

My Dad is the King and I am His princess.

My Dad gave me the best present for Christmas, and the ultimate sacrifice to be with me, His Son, my Saviour.

God, thanks for being my Dad!


Have a wonderful Christmas season celebrating the best gift ever given!


The Ladies at Mud and Mire




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Homeschooling Part 2- Getting Started

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-15

Much like Dovette, my story begins the same way. I sent my oldest daughter back to school after summer and my heart was broken for the fourth year in a row. I kept thinking that while I knew all mother’s feel some sort of sadness when the summer ends, that my heart felt differently. There was a restlessness growing in my heart that I knew I had to explore and homeschool wasn’t even on the radar yet. I began by checking out other programs offered at other local schools. I had interviews with principals at three different schools (including our own), trying to find what would satisfy my heart. It wasn’t until I sat with the principal at my daughter’s school that clarity began to take place. His words were simple. We are called to be the salt and the light in the world, but if we don’t have a solid foundation of what that means and who we are than how can we go out into the world and remain people of integrity who don’t bend and sway with the peer pressure? He was talking about growing our children within a Christian school, and yet God spoke with the utmost clarity to me in that moment. Next to God, who knows the needs of my children’s hearts better than us, their parents. Who knows their struggles, their strengths, and the way they think and behave better than us? And yet, each day I was depending on someone else to teach them to be the children, and one day young adults that God has called them to be. I knew in that moment that I wanted (along with my husband) to help my children grow their saltiness and burn the brightest light they can with a firm foundation that starts at home. It took some convincing to my husband that this was right, but after speaking to endless homeschoolers we were both convinced and began our journey. It’s now one year later, and I’m so thankful for this decision we made!

The moment we decided to homeschool opened up so many questions though. I can honestly say it was information overload leaving me with more and more questions, and a spinning head with where and how to start. Having just been there myself, I wanted to offer up what I learned in the first part of my journey in hopes of offering clarity to those of you just starting out or just beginning to think about homeschool. I apologize for the long winded post on this one, so my suggestion is to just keep to the questions you’re seeking clarity on and skip the rest.

Where do I begin?

Before you started signing papers and buying books take a minute to think about what you value. Maybe you’re a textbook lover who values facts and written knowledge and want to instill that in your kids. Perhaps the character of your child is more important to you than textbook knowledge. Maybe it’s faith, finances, creativity, of something else that you place value on in life. Whatever it is, write down the three most important foundations you think are most important for your child to learn. This will help you see where you want to invest the most time, money and effort into.

I keep hearing the terms traditional, blended, and aligned. What does this all mean?

In Alberta we have the option of choosing one the above mentioned options. Traditional means you are choosing all your curriculum based on what you want, without following any guidelines set out by Alberta Education for your child’s grade. It gives the least amount of funding (I believe it’s somewhere around the $850 mark this year)

Blended programs offer slightly more funding. The funding for this category this year sits around $1200. With blended you must be at least 50% aligned with Alberta Ed’s learning outcomes. One subject that must be fully aligned is either math or language arts, the rest is up to you and your board on where you wish to align. How you get the end objectives for the year is up to you and your board on what programs/ textbooks will work. You do not need Alberta schoolroom textbooks to achieve this.

Finally there’s aligned. As far as funding goes this category offers you the most funding (I believe it is around $1500 for this current year). Aligned means you’re matching all the required learning outcomes set out by Alberta Education. In much the same way blended programs work, you would need to discuss further with your board on programs /textbooks that would meet the standards.

Who holds me accountable?

Once you’ve got an idea of your values and have given some thought on the style of homeschooling you wish to do, begin your hunt for a school board. All students in Alberta are required to be part of a school board. This is not the same at the school your child attends daily. Homeschool boards are typically separate and there’s a long list of them. Quite often in the spring they will have open houses for you to come and check them out. Many offer school libraries, field trips, and plenty of help should your child need extra care. Take the time to explore them and speak with representatives to see if they make you feel comfortable. If you’re not comfortable with the facilitators or feel like you’re being pushed to teach something that doesn’t meet your core values than it’s not the right board for you and it’s time to keep looking. You can find a list of Alberta Homeschool boards here (click on #1 and download the Alberta boards).

Your board and facilitator will hold you accountable to the learning outcomes you desire to have for the year. It is their responsibility to make a report and send it to the government. Depending on whether you’ve decided tradition, blended or aligned will slightly change how they report back.

Do I need a membership of some sort as well as a school board to make it all legal?

One of the hardest things I struggled with was what and who I needed to sign up for. All you need is a school board, everything else is extra and YOUR choice on what to be part of pr not to be part of. Alberta Home Education Association (aka AHEA) is a great group with a wealth of homeschool information (seriously! go check out their website!), but not a requirement to join. They do offer a great annual conference with plenty of information and encouragement that I highly recommend attending if this this your first year (side note- plan on going to listen, but don’t buy anything, trust me it’s gets overwhelming). But again, the government does not require to be part of this association, or a local association either. These are more for social support. Another you may hear of is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (aka HSLDA). Again, it’s a great group and does have many benefits, but not a requirement (note: some memberships will also require you to have a membership with HSLDA).

Memberships aside, there are also many online social media groups for homeschoolers. And guess what? They’re free! They are groups of people who collectively get together for field trips (the more people you have the better the discount you may get :) ). I encourage you to join one of these. It’s a great way to make friends (for your kids and yourself), and offers great support when you need it (and trust me, there will be days when you’ll need support of some sort).

What’s the time commitment as a parent for all this?

When I first got started I had envisioned a 9am-3pm type of day with me standing at a chalkboard and teaching my children Monday to Friday from September to July. If you want the honest truth, I also envisioned myself in a long skirt, with perfectly curled hair, a table full of kids (FYI- we only have 2 kids plus one of the way), and they were also in well pressed clothes and washed, happy, and angelically peaceful. Ok, I pictured myself as Mrs. Duggar, because I was pretty sure that’s how homeschooling must look.

When I shared this with other moms they began to laugh and tell me how it actually goes.

  1. We work from about 9:30-11:30am on actual textbooks and then we are done for the day, with the exception of 15 minutes of reading before bed at night, and the fact that since we’re traditional I teach my kids all day using life. (ie- how to make cookies, how to take responsibility of pets, write and send an email to Grandma and tell her about your morning etc.). Do I stress about making sure that every minute after 11:30am is a teaching moment? Nope, sure don’t. Kids are smart! And having fun and playing and free time teaches them just as much!
  2. We didn’t start until October, it’s now December and we are halfway through all our textbooks. Since we are expecting a new baby in February, my daughter wanted to get as much done before then because, and I quote, “I want more time to help you and the baby, Mom!” (sweet kid hey?)
  3. Most homeschoolers are done by April, and that includes breaks at Christmas, Easter etc.
  4. You don’t need to look or be a Duggar to homeschool. We learn in our pj’s most days, it’s how we are most comfortable, and when you’re comfortable you’re brain works its best. Also, I am no where near as patient as the vision you may have of a homeschool mom. There have been many times I find myself forehead on the table counting to 10 wondering why she can’t grasp a simple concept.

What does it really all cost?

When I started hearing about funding and which route to take one of the things that I really wanted to know was what would it cost me and could I afford to not only be a stay-home mom, but also make all the purchases needed on one income? I knew I wanted to do traditional for an assortment of reasons, which also gave me plenty of flexibility, but I wanted numbers! So, for those of you who are number freaks like myself, here’s the breakdown of how our spending for this year has gone:

Language Arts 3 – program from A Beka…price: $80 (inc the workbook, teacher guide and shipping)

Math 3 – program from Bob Jones…price $100 (inc the workbook, teacher guide, and no shipping b/c I bought it at the store in town)

Geography book (not part of a program)…price: $20 (has all the countries and landmarks from the world, so it will be used for the next few years to say the least).

I also bought a few exercise books (the $1 kind for extra writing and math help).

Total for textbooks: $200 (all of which is covered by our funding)

My daughter is also in dance, which we chose and are able to use as physical education and get reimbursed for.

We use the library for many resources, and go on mini field trips (costing from free-$10).

There are also many free resources as well, like the following:




All our books were purchased new, but you can often find the teacher guides used at your local homeschool stores, which can save you a bit. And, I do highly recommend you get the teacher guide so you can quickly mark your child’s workbook and move on.


So there you have it, some answers to those frequently asked homeschool questions. I hope it helps you, and if you have more questions feel free to included them in the comments section.



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