Honouring Dad

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

My sister and I used to always bicker over who got to sit in the seat (in the car) behind our mom. I’m sure in a desperate attempt to cease the endless arguing, my dad bent down one day and said something simple, yet life-changing, to me. “Honey, why don’t you sit behind Daddy today?! You can be my girl!”

From that day on my seat was the seat behind Dad’s, and I claimed it very proudly!

Growing up my dad was not only my hero, but my best friend. Oftentimes you could find both of our heads under a car, hands filled with grease, chatting the Saturday sun away. We had similar habits, shared an identical birthmark and laughed at the same jokes! Being ‘his girl’ was simply who I was created to be.

Through the years my dad has become an invaluable source of strength to me. When situations in life arise that leave me feeling heartbroken, lonely, or anxious; I always know who I can call to get an encouraging and positive answer: Dad. He can lift my spirits with just a few simple words, even from 2500 kilometres away; and those words will without a doubt be directing me to The Lord.

I’ve watched my dad endure some pretty tough situations in my lifetime. Multiple layoffs, financial hardship, loss, and several medical illnesses often leaving him vulnerable and hurting. Never once did I hear him complain; instead he always directed his focus on The Lord and praised Him through every circumstance. As a parent he not only directs me to The Lord, he lives his life as a rich example of such behaviour.

I only pray that I can be as big of a blessing to my children, as my parents were (and are) to me! I will always be ‘your girl’, Dad, no matter how old I am, or how far away I may be.

Save my seat, ok?

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Blessed Are The Rejected

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Rejection. Even the word makes me shudder a little. In my lifetime I have experienced a wide variety of rejections; big, small and everything in between. Rejection is one of those funny circumstances that leaves your heart a mess, oftentimes with no clear direction in how to start the clean-up.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast of a message my pastor spoke entitled: “Have You Found What You’re Looking For?” He shared the story of the woman at the well and reminded us how symbolic the time of day was for her to be gathering water. Most women would gather water early in the morning when it was cooler to avoid the noon-day sun. This woman however, made a point to wait and go midday because she knew she would be the only one at the well during that time. She was bound by the chains of her past (5 failed marriages) and on top of that she was living with a man who was not her husband, but Jesus met her at the well.

We often look at this story and see only her sin. But, if you set her sin aside for just a moment I think you might become overwhelmed by the pain this woman was probably experiencing because of her many rejections. Five different men took her as a wife but then abandoned her— that’s no easy pill to swallow.

What I love so much about this story is how intentional God is about taking this rejected woman’s life and completely flipping it upside-down. His intention was never to leave her in that awful place. He took her rejection and exchanged it for everlasting love! After she left this encounter with Jesus, she rushed back home with an urgency to see her community changed by the power of love she had just discovered. The bible says in John 4:30, “So the people came streaming from the village to see Him.” Her community was drawn to Jesus after simply hearing the words of her testimony.

The world rejected the woman at the well, but she was handpicked by Jesus.

And Jesus, not only set her free, but gave her life purpose.

There are others from within the pages of the bible who experienced devastating seasons of rejection — but God gloriously intervened in their lives and brought incredible meaning to what appeared to be obvious ruins. I think of Joseph who was rejected by his brothers (Genesis 37-50) and David, who was overlooked and rejected by his father Jesse, when Samuel was looking for the new king (1 Samuel 16).

If you’re feeling enslaved by the chains of rejection, look to God. Seek Him fervently and wait on Him to bring meaning to your suffering. He WILL meet you, my friend.

The world may reject you, but you too are handpicked by God.

Mirror, Mirror On My Heart

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Confidence has never been my strong suit.

I had a conversation with a friend a few years back where I shared the reality of my struggle with self-confidence.

I wish I could tell you that this open and vulnerable discussion with a trusted friend initiated a process of healing and that I am now overflowing in confidence. But that is not the case.

You see, even a couple of years after that conversation with my friend, the struggle is more real than ever before. When I look in the mirror and ask myself “mirror, mirror on the wall”…this is what I see:

— A woman who often feels like her age far surpasses her achievements and successes.

— A woman who often struggles with this mothering thing and her lack of a pinterest-y perfect
life for her beautiful family.

— A woman who regrets each time she fails and gives into the chaos of a moment and…yells in frustration at her husband or children.

— A woman who reacts to an offence in a way that is not loving and forgiving.

— A woman who did not finish university because of her fear of failure.

— A woman who is desperately disappointed with the way she looks and merits a few dozen extra pounds as a perfectly good reason to lose worth in the eyes of herself and others.

Despite how completely depleted of confidence I might feel on any given day, this truth remains: God made me who I am—every single detail—and it grieves God when I stand in front of the mirror berating the very person He created me to be.

Instead of, “mirror, mirror on the wall…,” I believe a better question to ask might be, “mirror, mirror, on my heart….” And, when asking myself this important question, I must be prepared to answer in the way that the mirror reflects the love of Jesus that pumps through my veins. It is ONLY because of God and His grace, mercy, and love that I am who I am. Without Him, my life would be but a vapour, enduring an eternity in Hell.

That perspective sort of brings you to your knees with overwhelming gratitude, does it not?

Psalm 139:13-16
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvellously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

All glory be to God. For His works are made well. Believe it, friend. God made me, and He made you—and we are both made in His image. We are marvellously made indeed.

Say Yes to God

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Up to the time of Samuel the prophet, God provided judges to lead them. But then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, out of the tribe of Benjamin. After Saul had ruled forty years, God removed him from office and put King David in his place, with this commendation: ‘I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.’ (Acts 13:21-22)

I am learning lots about being obedient to Gods calling on my life. I love this quote “We need not fear what our obedience will cause to happen in our life. We should only fear what our disobedience will cause us to miss.” –Lysa TerKeurst, What Happens When Women Walk In Faith.

Isn’t that so true?! How many times has God called you to do something and you were hesitant to be obedient because of what comfort you would need to sacrifice, or what it might cost you.

If God is calling you to do something, he promises to take care of you. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

I don’t know about you but I certainly want all the good that God has for me and my family! Sometimes God asks something small, sometimes He asks us to do something big; something radical. Whichever the case, we need to be open and willing to be obedient to His call however that looks, regardless of what it will cost us.

We must also seriously consider the fact that we will be missing out on God’s rich goodness and provision if we chose to disobey.

Is there something God is asking you to do? Does it require making a sacrifice? Whether big or small, say YES to God. Persevere through the ever-so-tempting choice to remain in your ‘comfy place’ and step out in obedience to the darling of heaven! Dare to be a woman who like David, did what God told him and had aligned his heart with The Lord himself.

Father God, we are so thankful for Your provision when You ask us to do something for You. We are thankful for the promise that when You call us to serve You in any way, big or small, You will work things together for our good. I know God that You are calling some of us to take steps of faith in our life journey’s and I pray for my sisters who are in that scary place of ‘deciding’. I pray for confirmation, clarity and a boldness of courage. Thank You, God for calling ordinary women to do extraordinary things for You. We love You so much! Amen.

No More Empty Promises

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Have you ever been chatting with someone who says “Would you mind praying about [this] for me?!” Being in ministry or not, the opportunity and privilege to pray for someone is always available in our messed-up world.

Recently, the Lord has been convicting my heart about my response to this type of request. It is so very easy for me to respond with “Absolutely, I will pray!”, “Praying for you!”, or something like that. The Lord has challenged me however to notice how often I say these things and more so, to examine how often I actually follow through with these promises to pray.

I recall back to a few years ago when I needed surgery to fix up some issues I had been experiencing since having our son Gray. There were moments when the pain I experienced was more intense than others and in those moments I called on my husband to pray. Each time my husband would come into our bedroom, hold my hand and call on our children to join him in praying for their Mommy. Their prayers presented beautiful opportunities for me to catch a glimpse of their heart- they wanted to see their Mommy better- and they genuinely believed in the God they were calling on to fix her. They also did not hesitate to pray in that very moment; no empty promises to pray at a later time.

My intentions are always good when I agree to bring a request to The Lord in prayer; but I would be dishonest to say I ALWAYS follow through. I began to ask The Lord how I can change this forgetfulness and He spoke to me through the willingness of my beautiful prayer-ready children.

To confirm His speaking to me, a good friend texted me recently and asked “How are you doing, my friend?” I shared with her a specific request. Within a few minutes she texted me back a beautifully written prayer. I can’t tell you how encouraged I was by her willingness to pause and pray for me.

To help with my prayer endeavours I have also been using an app for my iPhone called “Echo Prayer”. This app allows me to add prayer requests, set timers and there is even a section where I am able to journal about answers to specific prayer requests! Now, in addition to me praying the moment I am asked, I am also able to genuinely agree to pray continually as time goes on.

Will you take up the challenge with me? When someone asks you to pray, will you pause and offer a prayer on their behalf in that very moment, however that may look (laying a hand on their shoulder and praying for them in person, texting/Facebook/emailing them a prayer, or praying over the phone) and then be prepared to pray for their request continually thereafter? I believe if we all agreed to do this, not only would we all grow closer to The Lord, but those asking us to pray would feel encouraged and blessed by our willingness to pause and intercede on their behalf.

Will you join me?

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

Jesus, thank You for the privilege to pray for others as they request. I pray for confidence and growth in this area of my life and for more opportunities to bless others by praying for their needs and requests. In Your name, Amen.

Balancing Time

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

As I was feeling overwhelmed with my list of things to do recently, I thought to myself that – if ever there was a lottery where the prize was time – I would be the first in line for a ticket. Do you ever feel like there are just not enough hours in the day, days in the week or months in the year?!

What I could accomplish with an extra couple of hours a week, even! Yes, time would certainly be an invaluable win for me.

As I chatted with my friend over coffee recently, I silently felt deep conviction over my long list of work that needed to be done. When I got home I began to mentally brainstorm ways that I could fit in everything I needed to do. Imagine my frustration when my mental list kept being crumpled up by the many demands of my family:

“Mommy, look at this superman I drew. I think it’s my best one yet!!”

“Mommy, can you come and hear the song I can play on the piano? I bet you’ll think I’m so much better than yesterday!”

“Mommy, can you play with me?”

“Want to go for a walk to the park this afternoon with the kids?”

…wait. What!? you ask. You were frustrated with those things?! Those are wonderful things.

I’m over here– raising a guilty hand confirming a big, ugly: yes.

My life is filled with a whole-lot-of-wonderful. My guess, is that if you take a step back and look into your life using a different lens that you too will see that your life is full of wonderful things as well.

If we aren’t careful to budget our time wisely – ensuring there is a balance between work, play and rest- we will most certainly gain frustration as an end result. Instead of making those precious memories at the park with my family or playing tractors on the floor with my five-year-old, I stewed about how little time I have to do all I need to do.

We must be careful not to have our plates so full that we can’t make time for the precious lives that we are so honoured to be a part of.

God has blessed us all in incredible ways, friends. Take a moment today to thank God for your many blessings and endeavour to improve that balance between work, play and rest. (Yes, even rest, my friend.)

Father God, please help us to be better stewards of the time you have so graciously given to us. We love you and we want to honour you with each and every moment. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

Like a Lioness


Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Reminiscing over my journey as a mom I can think of so many blessings. My heart bursts with gratitude as I vividly remember my hearts cry for children just a few years ago; and after many years of infertility how the Lord so beautifully met my heart’s desire by blessing my husband and I with not only one, two, or three but FOUR children to make our family complete.

We have endured numerous health hardships from: troublesome pregnancies, premature deliveries, miscarriages, NICU stays with our little ones, surgeries for our little ones, and countless hospitalizations- yet looking back I can not help but see God’s faithfulness and provision over all of those situations. While during those times of trouble I couldn’t fathom (and most often times feared) what the future held; I learned over time to wholeheartedly trust the one who holds the future in the Palm of His hand.

When I think of motherhood my mind drifts to the lioness. The lioness possesses an obvious power; you know better than to mess with her precious cubs. Yet, studies have shown that a lioness at times doubts her own abilities to protect.

Cubs are usually hidden in dense bush by their Mother for approximately six weeks, at which time they are old enough to join the pride. During the six weeks the cubs rely entirely on their mother looking after them and feeding on their mothers milk. Occasionally mothers will abandon their cubs if they are unable to provide for them. Mothers must remain in top condition in order to provide for their cubs and become visibly distressed if they can not.”

While being a mother naturally brings on the ability to nurture, protect and provide for our precious blessings- we also naturally doubt our abilities; similarly to the lioness. To others looking in, our abilities as Mothers are both trustworthy and acceptable; much the same as the manner in which we view the lioness. Who knew such an amazing animal is capable of doubting her ability to care for her children?

Here’s the secret Mom’s: We are truly nothing without The Lord. It is He who equips us, empowers us and enables us for the position as Mom.

The very best Mom doesn’t worry about what’s in front of her; she is confident because she knows the very one who is behind her.

Mom’s, this Mother’s Day renew your relationship with the one who holds all of your tomorrow’s. Hand over the reigns, the control and the worry; and allow Him to be your guiding light. It will be the best decision you ever make as a Mom to trust the very one who entrusted you to your honoured role.

Bless you, Moms.

Keeping Boundaries


Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

God created Adam and Eve and gave them endless blessings; however He did ask them to refrain from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

He gave them one boundary.

The enemy found Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and convinced them that the boundary God put in place was not for their own good, rather to keep them from something better. “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.” (Genesis 3:6)

The enemy can be mighty crafty, don’t you find? We tend to have difficulty with boundaries and the enemy will do everything in his limited power to convince us that boundaries are not necessary.

Even when we know that they are.

What do boundaries look like? To name a few: 1) Sticking to a budget and not letting your expenses exceed your income. 2) Eating to satisfy your hunger, not overindulging or eating emotionally. 3) Keeping your mind, eyes, and body in your marriage relationship, and not seeking outside your spouse for intimacy or pleasure.

In our ministry journey, my husband and I find that those are the most common boundaries that the enemy will challenge. We have chatted with lots of people who fall into one of those three boundary struggles. Of course there are many others as well, the enemy is relentless….but the good news is we all have victory in Jesus.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

Do you have trouble with keeping boundaries? Here is what the bible says:

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:14-17)

We have everything we need in Jesus to hold true to our boundaries. Claim victory in Jesus’ name, my friends, and walk in His freedom today.

Authenticity


Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.” (Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭2-4‬)

Let me start by asking a simple question today; How is your relationship with God?

Is your relationship with God a priority?!

Is your relationship with God something you put effort into?!

Are you actively seeking ways to serve Him, and grow Your faith?!

These are important questions to ask yourself— often. My answers are likely much different than your answers because we are all in different places. How can we better gauge our answers?

1. Know Him on a personal level.
What’s SO important to remember is simply growing in Him; your way. Don’t look around at this one or that one, and wish for their life. Don’t wish for their relationship with God. Don’t wish for their faith. Instead, focus on growing your own relationship with God. Focus on seeking Him daily and getting to know Him as ‘your’ own personal God.

2. Focus on our own journey.
Facebook can be great for a lot of things, but it can also be detrimental in many ways. Generally, (myself included), people post the ‘best of’ in statuses, photos, and the like. But, it’s crucial to remember that no matter how super-spiritual, or how active, or how great a parent/spouse etc someone may seem; we are all human beings. While I wouldn’t advise airing your ‘dirty laundry’ out in statuses, photos and the like, it’s important to remain authentic. Wisdom is knowing that there is much more to what people share, and learning not to feel challenged by someone else’s greatest moments; rather focus instead on seeking your own.

3. Show and receive grace.
It’s also important to lend grace when someone shows a side of ‘their’ authenticity that you are uncomfortable with. They’re in a different place in their relationship with God than you are, remember?! In the same way, you may need some grace of your own someday; receive it. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But [we] are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭23-24‬)

4. Bless and serve without expectation of accolades.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded! By what principle? Of works? No, but by the principle of faith!” (Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭27‬) Friends, it’s time that we stop trying to earn our faith, and simply seek it for ourselves. Stop serving others for attention; bless someone without the expectation of gratification or accolades. Just bless because you are able. Let the act of blessing increase your faith.

The Other Half of Sorry…..


Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Has your spouse ever made you really angry? Maybe he forgot to take out the trash for the third week in a row. Maybe he broke a promise to you that you were really counting on. Perhaps he made an important decision without conferring with you first. Perhaps the reason for your anger was pretty menial….but he caught you at a bad time.

Friend, I’d be lying if I said I never get angry with my husband. I do. Often. Sometimes I get really angry about really stupid things.

My hubby and I have this age-old tradition where no matter how busy our day has been, no matter what we have done that day, we set a time at the end of the night to watch an episode from one of our favourite Netflix series. We usually grab a little snack and just spend our last moments of the day relaxing together. Sounds nice, right? Well, if I’m being honest, on the really long, hard, stressful days….the sound of my hubby’s chewing makes me really angry. What’s worse than the chewing is the swallowing of that mouthful of snack. It seems agonizingly loud, friends. And it makes me really angry.

We all get angry. Sometimes we get angry for reasons that feel legit and justified. Other times, like my hubby’s chewing and swallowing, our reasoning is slightly off kilter and unnecessary.

There are two things that God has been working on my heart about regarding forgiveness.

1. Ask for it.
When we react in anger foolishly (like the example I shared about my hubby) it is our responsibility to ask for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we simply ask for forgiveness, God will continue to be faithful in keeping no record of our wrongs and forgiving us of our sins. Forget your pride, friend. Asking for forgiveness is SO important.

2. The other half of sorry.
There is more than just that flood of satisfaction when someone who has treated you wrongly apologizes. We have just as much responsibility when someone asks for our forgiveness; we must actually forgive them. How often do we walk away from an apology with bitterness still permeating our hearts? If I’m still being honest…..I do it far too often. Our flesh is incapable of shrugging off hurt and bitter feelings. However, the Holy Spirit can and will help us with that as long as we ask Him to. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (‭Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭32‬ NIV)

Is there an area of your heart that God has given a little nudge after reading this post today? Do you need to improve on asking for forgiveness when you find yourself reacting in anger unnecessarily or does God desire you to improve on your ability to extend forgiveness?

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

(‭Mark‬ ‭11‬:‭25‬ NIV)