Tuesday, September 30, 2014


September always flies by, and here we are, nearly in October. Though it seems much longer, Labour Day was less than a month ago. 

It's fast becoming an annual tradition, going away for one night over Labour Day weekend with our long time dear friends, the Bells and the Clarys. This year it was just with the Bells, but we have good faith that the Clarys will join us again next year. :) 

After what was a wonderful but very full summer (and one that hadn't up until this point included camping), a night of camping at Lake Huron was just the thing to conclude the summer. The weather was perfect. The water was warm. The campfire was cozy. The fellowship was sweet. We left rested, refreshed, and excited for the year ahead.  

On our way back to Toronto we stopped in Stratford to visit with Great Grandpa Turnbull and Great Aunt Jane. It's always so good to see them! Below is a picture of the kids with my Grandpa.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


For many years before having children I taught dance full time at a ballet studio in Toronto. When my first son was born, I took a break from teaching and didn’t return to studio life, even part time, until my second son was almost a year old. During those three years away from teaching and with the busyness of babies, I didn’t do much directly related to the dance world. But then when I returned to the studio three years and two children later, I immediately realized that, in some ways at least, I had become a better dance teacher.

Becoming a mother had made me a better teacher.

Here’s why: prior to being a mother myself, though I always loved my students and believed each one was valuable, and though I of course intellectually realized that each student I taught was the daughter of parents, it wasn’t until after I had children myself that I fully understood just how valuable each one of these young dancers was to their mother and their father.

Before having kids, I was more easily annoyed with annoying children. Before having my own, I wasn’t as quick to search for qualities that made each child special. Quite simply, before, I wasn’t able to look at each child and, during both easy and challenging moments alike, think to myself, This is someone’s beloved daughter. She could be mine. I will treat her as I hope someone would treat my very own child.

Becoming a mother made me a better teacher because I found myself valuing each child more—especially in the tough moments—and looking at them not only as my student but as some mother's beloved, cherished child.

Life is often organic like this, isn’t it? Something shifts in one part of our experience and, without even realizing it, another part of us grows and changes into something better than it was before.  

In the dance studio just as in life, not all children are equally talented or equally enjoyable to teach. That’s just the way it is. But though not equally talented or enjoyable, all children are equally valuable because their worth is not connected to their flexibility, their turn out, their feet, or their cuteness. Their value is connected to who they are despite all these other things.  

And this is why becoming a mother not only made me a better ballet teacher but also a better Christian.

When we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ, we’re not looking at people we should love because of their gracefulness, talent, ability, likability, or personality; we love them because they’re adopted and beloved children of the living God.

There have been moments of being a pastor’s wife when I’ve gotten annoyed with some of God’s kids. Let’s be honest. We all have. Pastor’s wife or not. But something I’ve appreciated, something that has reoriented  my heart in those times when I’m annoyed or angry or resentful of others has been Justin’s gentle reminder: Elisha, don’t forget who this person is; this is someone who Christ died for; this is a son, a daughter, God loves; this is a beloved child of your Father; when it doesn’t come naturally, love them because He loves them; don’t forget who they are.

Before I had children of my own, someone once said to me that the quickest way to any parent’s heart is to love their children. Three kids later, and oh how I know this to be true. If you want to love me, love my children.

Our Father says the same.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. ~ 1 John 5:1-2

Friday, September 19, 2014


For the past few weeks, every so often, one of my boys might look at me with a goofy grin and say, ‘Hey, Mom. Remember when you karate chopped that guy at Target?” And I’ll give them a kiss and say, “That’s right. No one messes with my kids.”

It’s a very strange story…

My three children and I were at the Target near our home. It had been a fun and relatively chilled shopping trip and after paying for our few items, we made our way to the escalator that would take us down to street level. Like many children their age, my two boys love escalators. Big, moving, mechanical stairs—what’s not to love, right? The descending stairs in front of us were empty so, while Ella stood beside me holding my hand, I let Jake and Josh carefully walked down the stairs ahead of me. Though not far away, they wound up stepping off the escalator while Ella and I were still only about halfway down.

Now before I go any further let me just say this: there are many times when my kids might be hyper and active, or even outright misbehaving. But in this instance they were not. They literally walked off and stood to the side, quietly waiting for me.

An older man probably in his early sixties had been walking toward the escalator and, when he got near the boys, abruptly and for no reason turned to 4 year old Joshua and in a loud, angry voice pointed a finger in his face and yelled, “You need to stand still and start behaving!” Alarmed, and still a few feet up with Ella at my side, I spoke firmly but pleasantly, “Sir, he’s with me. He’s not doing anything wrong.” Though hearing me, he looked back at Josh, leaned forward, roughly grabbed his shoulder and yelled, “You need to start listening!”

This all happened in mere moments. I was still a few steps away. A whole bunch of different thoughts flickered across my mind all at once: I realized this man might have a mental illness and deserved my compassion; I realized he might not be intending any harm and might just be a gruff old man; I was aware that there were several other people around and my typical instinct is quiet, social appropriateness.

But when you’re a parent, there’s this instinctive almost uncontrollable thing that happens when a child you love is in danger: all other thoughts fade into a hazy, unimportant background and the only thing that matters is that your child needs protection. As I watched this man grab my son’s shoulder, a voice I barely recognized, almost a growl, escaped from my lips. “Sir, you get your hand off my son right now.” He jerked upright. The people around us stopped and stared. By this time I was at the bottom beside my sons and, without thinking about what was the right thing to do and only following instinct, said, “Boys, walk beside me right now.” My heart was pounding with fear and also with the weirdness of what had just happened. Glancing at my sons’ faces I could tell they were scared, too.

We walked for a few moments in silence and then I saw Josh look up at me with a hint of smile. He reached over and took my hand. Then Jake looked over and simply said, “Wow, Mom. That was awesome.” Josh, starting to relax now, added his thoughts. “When he grabbed my shoulder and you yelled, I thought you were going to karate chop him, Mom!” And without slowing his stride he demonstrated a few fierce kicks and karate chops with some karate yells to boot.

The conversation then quickly degenerated as my sons brainstormed about various other quasi-violent things I could have done to this man. Gently stopping them, we wound up instead having a sweet conversation about loving others and showing compassion, especially to strange characters, but how protecting children from harm comes first.

This probably seems like such a weird incident to want to write down and remember, but in the weeks since, there’s a whole bunch of things I’ve grown to love about this strange little story.

~ I love that my children were proud of me and were reminded that if their Mom’s around, they’re safe.

~ I love that God took what began as a creepy, dark moment for our family and within moments transformed it into something joyful, something beautiful.

~ I love that as a parent, I’ve been created with this protective instinct that mirrors the instinct of the One who created me.

~ I love that my boys were able to clearly witness that if they’ve not done wrong, I won’t condemn them based on another adult’s accusation.

~ I love that as a frail, imperfect human parent, my instinct to love and protect points to a perfect, protective Father.

~ I love that God writes little stories like this into our bigger story to remind us of His fierce love for His children.

~ I love the reminder that even as I would do anything to protect my children God already did everything to protect His.

And so every time I smile and playfully say to my boys, “That’s right. No one messes with my kids,” I’m reminded that though in this life we’ll go through incredibly difficult stuff, in the most ultimate sense, God has said that very thing to us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

Thursday, September 11, 2014



It's a word full of hope. A word brimming with fresh starts, new light, and waiting opportunity. Yes, tomorrow will be the day I'll finally get this right.

Today's failures fade in the cheerful, glimmering promise of a better tomorrow. Yes, I'll do better tomorrow.

But the promise of tomorrow deceives because tomorrow always becomes today.  

And in that never-changing ever-constant rhythm of day into night into day, yesterday's failures never magically transform into tomorrow's victories because they always become today's struggles. 

In many of the small choices of our lives, we don't face a decision between right or wrong--those choices are clearer and easier. So often, we make a choice between okay or good, between fruitless or fruitful, between futility or productivity, between passivity or activity, between stagnancy or growth. 

Yet tomorrow still cheerfully beckons. 

Tomorrow I'll rise early...
Tomorrow I'll stop indulging...
Tomorrow I'll start memorizing Scripture...
Tomorrow I'll get off of Facebook...
Tomorrow I'll pray with my spouse...
Tomorrow I'll read God's word longer...
Tomorrow I'll begin showing hospitality...
Tomorrow I'll start being more patient...
Tomorrow I'll go to bed earlier...
Tomorrow I'll start giving more generously...
Tomorrow I'll stop wasting time online...

I'm just so tired today. It's been such a full day. It'll be easier tomorrow. I'll make the right choice tomorrow.  

The promise of tomorrow becomes a quietly whispered deception that we comfortably and knowingly choose to believe.  The truth is that who we are is never defined by the future choices we make in a dreamy, hopeful tomorrow but rather the immediate choices we make in the grit and toil and struggle of right now.

We can fool ourselves and think that we really desire change, that we really desire growth, that we really desire to do what's right. But we're choosing to be fooled. We know the difference, because we've experienced authentic desire and have seen how it actually spurs us on. True desire is when we're not only overwhelmed with wanting what's good, but when we want it badly enough to actually choose it and do it.  

For the past couple years my heart's been flickering with the desire to memorize Romans chapter eight. Flickering. It's one of those desires that comes and goes and I keep thinking I'll do it in one of the many tomorrows I presume I'll be given. 

I have an 88 year old friend named Don who's a grace-filled, dignified, holy man. He's also lighthearted and fun to hang out with. He's the kind of Christian who makes you intuitively happy you're a Christian. When you pray with Don, when you hear the words that flow from his heart to his lips, you know you're praying with a guy who knows His Father with an intimacy that you've not yet known. And you want it! You want the relationship that he has.

I was talking with Don recently, telling him how for a couple years I've been wanting to memorize the eighth chapter of Romans word for word, but just haven't gotten to it yet. Tomorrow, when there's more time. In a voice seasoned by grace and quivering with age, he began speaking from that chapter, a chapter that he'd memorized many decades ago but that has remained in his heart. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

The person that Don is at nearly 90 years old is the beautiful, textured culmination of all his yesterdays added together. That will be true for each one of us. That already is true for each one of us, at any age.

So before today joins all the yesterdays that have gone before it, will I choose what is right, what is best, what is fruitful? Or will I foolishly wait until things slow down--wait till tomorrow--before I start treasuring Romans chapter eight in my heart?

Because life doesn't slow down. It only speeds up.  
And as time speeds along, we have all these seemingly small choices along the way. Choices that on their own only add up to a few minutes here and there. But the minutes become hours become days become our life. And just like that--in a breath--the small choices we make determine who we become.  

There are ways we want to grow, change, and do better; there are ways that the person we hope to be tomorrow is different than the person we are today. But tomorrow is always elusive, always just out of reach. 

What's within our reach is the choice that is right in front of usDo I click on Facebook or do I open my Bible to Romans chapter eight? Because that one small choice becomes a thousand others like it.  
"Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than it was before." ~ CS Lewis
What is our hope in all this? When we see patterns of failure, of waiting till tomorrow, of delayed choice, do we have hope for any real change? 

Our hope is not in tomorrow.  
Our hope is not in today.  
Our hope is not in our ability to make the right choice. 

Our hope is in a sovereign God who created us with the ability to choose.
Our hope is in a loving God who gave us new hearts and new desires.
Our hope is in a patient God who supplies grace freely, abundantly, and faithfully. 

We believe these truths about Him, but the questions still linger. God, I've seen you do this in others, but will You do this for me? Will you provide the grace I need to choose what is right today? 

He isn't quiet. He has answered.
"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" ~ Romans 8:32
He who did not spare His Son, will he not provide for us? With every choice before us, there is more grace than we could ever need. This day, will we choose what is right?