Archives

A Heart of Love

image1

“One of the hardest things in life is having works in your heart that you can’t utter.”  – James Earl Jones

 

Tonight I received a text relaying some news that was not easy to receive.     Life stopped short for someone I knew, someone who lived in the moment, and someone who loved her daughter with all her heart and always showed a smile despite difficulty.   

Looking back on the moments I shared with this beautiful lady, I was in shock, unable to utter the words to describe how I felt.   I suddenly began to realize that I am heading into a new phase of life.  A phase in which people will leave me, life is flying by.

I look back on all of the phases in my life, phases as a child, where I couldn’t wait for the school year to end.  The school year would turtle by but then the summer would flash by in a blink of an eye.  As I began university, I couldn’t wait to finish so I could begin my ideal life.  Then the next phases were marriage, kids, a working career, death of grandparents – and before I knew it, there was a women looking back at me that had aged so quickly.  As I look in the mirror, the woman looking back is entering her 40s and I gaze in complete disbelief of how quickly life has gone by.

Through this journey of life, we all have a story to share.  Each story cannot be compared.   There are moments of complete gratification and then moments that hurt so deeply, that the words cannot describe the feelings.  But a question I ponder as I look back in time, what gets us through it all??

I will tell you LOVE.

Love – A four letter word that can push us forward and bring strength to every situation.       It is that simple.

Love for self allows us to give grace for ourselves when we fall.

Love for others allows us to sympathize, identify with, gives us compassion and understanding of the human condition.

Love for our family pushes us through the times where we feel we can’t take that next step forward.

Love for our children drives us to be more and to show adversity in the face of pain.   This love runs through every inch of our souls.

Love for our significant other or spouse, helps us to feel strong when we are weak, and equally bares the burdens we may feel at times.

Love for the Source beyond us.   Knowing that there is something out there (God for me) that is guiding us, directing us on our path and reassuring us along the way.

Love pushes us forward, ushers us in the direction we need to go.     In all of the moments, LOVE is a source that we need to draw from and leverage.   If love can be our navigator, we can always take any step we need to in the right direction.

Today I pause for the love of a friend that smiled every time you saw her, and showed strength.  Moments and time are so precious.   I know she will be one of the most beautiful angels in heaven with her beautiful red hair.

May you pause today and concentrate on the love you have for someone else, and reflect on how fortunate we all are able to experience love in this life.

Dear Lord God, thank-you so much for giving me a heart that feels deeply.  Thank-you for allowing me to reflect on my blessings today.    I pray for those who are going through difficulty and loss, may you bring them sunshine through the rain.  In Jesus Name Amen

Be blessed

Vanessa

Advertisements

Love Wins

love winsWe live in a hurting and broken world.   But amidst this hurting and broken world are moments of love, joy and peace.   Life is good, life is grand if you allow yourself to experience it in its entirety; and observe and be still.  

What drives your sense of being?  When do you feel full? What moments in your life were defining for you?  Could it be moments that you experience deep love and joy? 

I use to think that love could only be experienced when the moments were just perfect.   Happiness is present, joy is present, and everything seems like perfection. 

Over the past years, our family has had their share of pain, suffering and hurting.   There were moments where I stood back and pinched myself, and asked, “Is this for real??”   But I will tell you this much, in those moments I felt the deepest unconditional love that one could ever experience.  

  • A fractured C1, in an 8lb halo, observing my children laughing in the household, my husband holding it together, my parents unsure of what is next for their daughter, my brother calling and checking in, my in-laws travelling to see us and show that they care, feeling so thankful and much gratitude for my beautiful messy life.  I had a second chance and was fully alive.
  • My father in law and my mom both going through health issues that were unbelievable, moments where you wondered if they would live a normal life.   Two moments I recall in my mind, the day I shaved my mom’s hair for the first time, trying to be strong and at the same time feeling like a child.  My mother, so beautiful, so strong, always there for me. Smiling as I glanced at my mom, and told her how beautiful she was.  I was in complete and utter adoration.  Another moment, heading to see my mother in law  in another city.  She was trying to keep everything together, trying to be strong, and at the same time shed a smile for me as we heated up a nice Ukrainian meal for her and one to take to my father in law in the hospital.   I made her laugh in the pain.  She was so appreciative, and felt so loved, and so was my father in law.  He was overjoyed with us coming to see him, not so much the meal but coming and really being there.  I remember thinking, I love these people so much and was so thankful to be able to help in some small way. Unconditional love.

These were moments that made time stand still.   My discovery –  there is purpose in pain, and love shines through.    There can be moments where we feel complete loss, but at the same time, love shines through.   People come together to help, to contribute, and to show how much they care. Unconditional love, expecting nothing in return.

With the recent events in Paris we all are in tune to what is happening.  A beautiful friend of mine is currently in France.   The first person I thought of when all of the events happened was her.  She was recently married, and I wondered where they were.     After connecting, I was reassured she is healthy and good.   She gave me a picture of her experience in the pain.   She has exposed me to a wonderful perspective of purpose in pain:

My favorite part of the news coverage is the words of survivors, because it’s actual quite balanced, revealing all aspects of the situation, not hateful.   Many survivors are saying such wonderful things.  Yes it was a horror.  But they talk about the love, watching people protect their loved ones, the kindness of strangers in helping them escape or hide, and the kindness of strangers in consoling them.   But the most comforting statements of all are about watching people cradle their loved ones as they lay injured/dying, and noting these last conversations were all about love, and the people they loved most.   I love the thought that people’s last thoughts as they suffered were not in fact of the terrorists, were not hateful – but instead positive in that people were thinking of their loved ones.  No, it may not be happiness they were feeling, but it was love.  Such a beautiful thought that in some way, its proof that in those last moments, love won out over hate.  

Love Wins my friends, love shows through the pain, and the adoration we feel for one another is amplified.      No matter what happens, we can choose our response.      Love Wins. 

 

Dear Lord God,

Thank-you for this perspective today, I am rest assured that the happiness and pain bring love.   Love always shines through, and love wins God.   Today I am still, and observe Your great works in the pain.   No one can overcome this.   I pray for those family going through difficulty, illness, or loss right now, help bring them purpose in the pain.   I pray for your love to erode their lives in actions and the reactions of others.   Through this, we will reign.  I pray for this in Jesus Name Amen.

 

May you be blessed today my friend, Be Still and Know that He is God and that His Love will always overcome.  

The Power of Pride

image1It’s that time of year again.    The hustle and bustle begins, schedules start up again.     Over the years, and after experiencing some major life changing events, I remind myself that NOW is all we really have.  I also cannot shake the feeling that I need to be still.    

As the boys get ready for school, anxiousness bubbles all around.  As the school year begins, the first thing that comes to their little minds, is that they hope to be with their favourite friends in their classes.     Once the boys see their class lists, they are beaming, out of the corner of my eye I notice another boy in tears.   My heart breaks.    His mother tries to console him and tries to maintain composure.   I head to my car and pray for him, I pray that his day gets easier.    This may seem like a small problem, but in their little world it is everything.  Someone loses.   It is like a lens is shining on my past.      The new girls sits and looks around, she knows it’s up to her to find friends.    Acceptance is all that she wants.

Days start to fly by, and schedules begin. Classes, try-outs, prep camps are all in motion.    My boys are busy again, and I feel frazzled, as the family time starts to diminish.     How can I control all of this?  One activity – but seems to be taking up so much time.   Is it that I am overwhelmed and is it only me?   My boys seem to be full of excitement.   Why is it I feel so unsettled?  

It is such a fine balance, we want to support our children, but who is driving the schedule?   Is it me?  

The drive to be the best, to be an individual surrounds me, and overwhelms me.    It is everywhere, at school, in the workplace and has become part of our culture.    

Time is flying by, and I feel like I don’t know what is best.   The balance is hard to achieve.   I look to Him to guide me.

My goal as a parent is to develop kids that have a heart for the hurting, and realize that within they are good people, but mostly for them to be humble in their accomplishments.    Perhaps this is from going through being an underdog in my childhood – being the new girl and at times feeling like I needed to build a wall up so that I could protect myself against the disappointment.      Disappointment is all part of life; this is something I cannot protect my children from.   

The truth is, we live in a hurting world, and disappointment helps us grow.  Disappointment helps us develop if we are open to it.    I know this; there have been many times where disappointment has turned into something wonderful.   So why is it as parent I want so badly to protect and shelter my children from the reality? It is because I love so deeply.    I love my children, and the people that surround me.

Try-outs begin for sports, and I am reminded again of disappointments and accomplishments.  I see perfection in my children, as I watch them play.   They are so beautifully made.  So many parents looking the same, and at the same time many feeling worried for what is to become.  Why?  We want to shelter them from the disappointment.     But is it a reflection of their ability or ours?   Do you see where I am going with this?  Is it our pride that is driving this?  

Pride. 

 “That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  James 4:6b

What I have discovered through this process is that our kids are oblivious to the hierarchy.  They are also acutely aware of what we say and do.  They would not concern themselves with the hierarchy if we were not concerned.    The quest to be the best isn’t achievable.  It may be temporarily, but there are always winners and losers.   

The question I ask myself is what is the balance?   How do I set my kids up for success while ensuring that they live a humble life?

I think the answer is simple – I model it. I have not been always the greatest model, but I strive to be humble, kind, and show my thoughts through my actions.    The reality of every situation is that there will be ups and downs.   It is through the downs or disappointments that we learn adversity and how to overcome it.    But this has to come from within us.  

I will build my children up while reminding them, at the end of the day, some will win, and some will lose. It is in their reaction to the losses that our true selves become evident.

I believe in my children, but also tell them we all have learning to do.   

I recognize I am not in control, all I can control is how I choose to respond.

My choice is living in the moment, encouraging, and believing the best in everyone.  Hopefully by choosing this, my children will follow.

I wish there was a manual – God knows.  But there is not.  One thing I do know for sure – God is in control; when I try to control life – it gets messy.

Dear Lord God,

Open my eyes to reality, lead me in my actions and reactions.   Help me to be the parent my children need.   Life can be  chaotic, but it is through you that we achieve clarity.   Help me to be humbled and to be aware of my actions and reactions.  Show me  YOUR way father. I pray for this in Jesus Name Amen

Be blessed,

Ness

 

The Gift of Friendship

gift of friendshipFriendships – we all have them.    Over the years, I have come to realize that these gems in my life really help me navigate through life’s hills and valleys.    As a young girl, I wanted so bad to be accepted.    I wanted that special friendship that many girls had, and many times I was envious.     We moved around a lot and it sometimes was hard to make lasting relationships.      But life has come full circle for me, and I am so fortunate to have a few friends that make me laugh until my stomach hurts, and help me navigate through the ups and downs in this life.       God has been so good to me; He gave me what I needed in His perfect time.

I have sorted through what makes a good friend many times, and there has been times in my life where I thought the relationship was something it wasn’t.     There are seasons in friendships too, people change, we evolve, we shift, and our focus changes.  Sometimes we have to let go, and see where the relationship goes.   Sometimes it will leave and come back.     Flexibility with the changes is key – if the relationship can be flexible, it likely will last.  

Some of the elements that I believe are essential in a great friendship are:

  • The friendship is built on trust. What you see is what you get, if there is ever a bump or problem you can deal with it open and honestly.
  • There is no envy or jealousy that exists in the relationship. You truly are happy when something good happens to the friend you love.   You don’t wish for what they may have, rather you are excited for them and want to throw a party for their new opportunities.
  • You want the best for them no matter what.   Sometimes this means being the only honest one in their lives to tell them when something may not be working.   You hurt for them when they receive the information, but you know that you have their best interests at heart.
  • The relationship is easy. It is not forced in any way.   It should be effortless in all interactions. 
  • You pick up where you left off every time you see each other. No time has passed.  It seems like it was just yesterday that you saw each other.   
  • There are no expectations; the relationship is based on love and is unconditional. As we overlay expectations, if someone does not fulfill the expectation there is disappointment.   The expectations of ourselves are different, we are not facing what the other person is facing in their day to day life, and therefore we should remove judgement from the circumstance, and always respond in love and understanding. Seek first to understand.
  • You can be completely honest always.

I am so very fortunate to have a few relationships like this.   I am thankful for my girls that keep me strong and give me a strong cup of coffee when I need it.   I am also thankful for the times where we laugh so hard that our stomachs hurt.   Thank-you for the wrinkles.  I am thankful for you, and wanted you to know it.    

Love Ness

Mothers ~ A Gift Given from Up Above

imageMothers – we all have them, and when we reflect on these amazing women, we smile.   Women that give their 24 hours a day to the ones they love.  These amazing women often think about everyone else before they thinking about themselves.   

I am blessed, to have a mother of strength, and one that has always been there for me for anything I ever needed.  She has always been there through the dark times, and the light times.   I cannot imagine my life without her and am so very proud to call her my mother.  

We have been through the good, the bad and the ugly.   Every step of the way, each one of us has been strength for the other.    There are so many moments I will not forget, and moments that I felt like my mom put up with so much from me.   Every time she would turn the cheek and shower me with love and forgiveness.    My mom has showered me with unconditional love my entire life, and if I can be half of the mother she is – I would do a fantastic job.  

Together we have learnt reliance on something greater than ourselves to get through the hard times, and in the good times we are so grateful for each other.   Day after day God shows me His gentle hand. He is always there, and always promises triumph. God is in control and has shown us so many miracles, and much love.  

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

We are meant for an abundant life, if we learn that we are not in control – that He is there to lead, lift, carry and hold. I thank Him every day for the perspective in the pain, and the love that always shows through.  I thank God for blessing me with a mother that loves me unconditionally and is always there for me.

Today lets all reflect on how amazing our mothers are. For those of you that have children, we tend to be hard on ourselves on our ability to “mother”. We are our worst critics… Remember to always give yourself a basket of grace. REST.

I adore my mother, she is a testament of strength and has a heart full of gold. She has always put others before herself (sound familiar)?? In dedication to this amazing woman, I thought I would write a poem to capture my thoughts.

A Letter to My Mom by Vanessa Chesters

As a babe, I look up at my mom and see her blue eyes.

They are beautiful and bright.

The love radiates and flows.

A love that cannot be explained, unconditional.

A bond that is everlasting and shared by two.

Over the years, the eyes change – brought by love, hope, heart ache and pain.

The lines and creases begin to show.

The lines define the moments in time where there was much happiness and sometimes tears.

She is strength, she is life, she is warm, she is a fighter and she defines love.

She has helped me most to grow.

She has helped me through my life and my “lows”.

She feels my pain when I hurt, and over time as I grow, I feel her hurts too.

We are one; the bond can never be undone.

She healed my wounds when they were deep, she has whispered sweet words as a child to me when I sleep.

We share a bond, that is so strong.

All through the years, I know this much is true, I have become the woman I am today because of you.

You are my mother – a women of strength, determination, living with your heart and soul.

Two are better than One

imageTwo are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NAS)

Over the years I have been lucky enough for almost half of my life to have my best friend by my side. 

What I have realized is that together we are strong.   

We have been through many trials together, and have grown up together.  There are so many moments I reflect on, that without him by my side I would have been lost.  He is strong when I am weak.

The question I ponder as another year passes, is why do so many give up so quickly on the relationship.  

In this day, it seems that individuals are ready to call it quits when things get tough or their partner is not behaving as they would like them to.  The expectations grow and resentment spills into the relationship.

I am sure the statistics are stifling, divorce has become commonplace. What happened to sticking together through thick and thin? I believe that society gears our girls up to thinking that the princess will marry the prince who will carry her off on a white horse in a beautiful sunset.

The reality is, the princess marries the frog or vice versa (dependent on perception).

Marriage is not a fantasy  – it is a commitment.  

  • it takes work from both sides,
  • it takes forgiveness,
  • turning the cheek,
  • biting ones tongue,
  • seeing the good before the bad,
  • and taking a deep breath and letting go.  

I have learned that men and women speak and think quite differently. I have observed that many spouses don’t see divorce coming when it is at their door, primarily because the communication at some point ceases to exist. The female expects the male to “know” what she is thinking; meanwhile the male does not hear any complaints – so that must mean she is happy. Women think very fluidly, everything in life is interrelated. If someone has an issue with her at the beginning of the day, it seems to feed into all areas of her life. Whereas men seem to compartmentalize things, work is work, home is home, kids are kids. So if for example, there is an argument earlier in the day – that moment has since passed – it is not related to the evening time spent with his wife. I know I am talking in a somewhat stereotypical way, but for the most part this is how women vs. men think. Most men see love through intimacy, whereas most women see love through actions (whether it be physical, or words). A marriage break down occurs usually when one side of the equation does not want to understand the other side any more. He/She no longer understands me, no longer acknowledges my feelings, speaks for me…. Do you see the tone? It is the comparison trap. The comparison trap then lends to a sense of entitlement which in turn leads down a road where, the only option is for the marriage to cease to exist. “I am a different person now, we are on different paths”. I often wonder, if the person left the marriage and we were to fast forward down 5-10 years would it be the same pile?

I am not saying that everyone should stay in a marriage – because for some abuse exists, or staying in the relationship causes more harm than good.  

I am no expert, but here are the things I have learned in my relationship:

  • God brings us to the perfect partner that we can learn from and grow with.
  • No one is doing more than the other, we each have our strengths and the weaknesses are offset by the other spouses’ strengths.
  • We both have personalities that complement one another and make us stronger as a family.
  • Leading by example in our marriage will have a positive effect on our children in years to come.
  • My husband is my soul mate and my best friend, we will have times where we will not see eye to eye – but there is nothing we cannot get through together.
  • Resentment only leads to dysfunction within a marriage, and it will not be present in our home.
  • My husband is the greatest daddy I know, and has an amazing capacity for love like no other; I am blessed to have him in my life.
  • We need to seek to understand before judging any circumstance.
  • Work things out together before letting them fester.
  • I have his back and he has mine.
  • And last but not least, two are better than one.

Today I celebrate the strength and love that we share on our 16th wedding anniversary.  Thank-you sweetie for always being there for me.

May you be blessed. ❤

Celebrating My Roots ~ My Dad

imageWe all have roots.   The roots of our lives serve as a foundation in the people we have become, and contribute to where we want to be.

My dad has been a big part of my roots.   Today he celebrates his birthday, and I celebrate what he has given me.  Caring, loving, and gives his heart to every person he comes across.  He leads with his heart.    In the storms in our life, he has always tried to navigate through by looking at the positive, and putting one foot in front of the other.

Family and helping others is the center of his life.   That is what my dad has passed onto me.

My dad loves with his heart and soul.  

We love people, we love meeting them, learning about them, and lending a hand where we can.  You may call this aspect of our personalities  – wearing our hearts on our sleeves.  Many see this as a weakness, but I would argue it is an amazing strength.   It is the foundation that has helped us build relationships, and expect nothing in return.

 

This is a foundation of strength and love.

My dad taught me how to live, love, fall and get back up.   He also taught me that it is ok to wear your heart on your sleeve, because chances are if you do, many will love you back in the same way. What you put out there comes back full circle.

Thank-you God for my dad, that has contributed to my roots and the love in my life.   Happy Birthday Dad!!