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How a Bucket List Eliminated My Mom Guilt

June 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement
Last summer, I’m going to be honest – I dealt with a lot of working mom guilt and jealousy. Guilt that I was schlepping my kids from camp to camp because my husband and I needed to work. Jealousy when I would see status updates of moms enjoying the pool with their kids in the middle of the work day.

Of course, these feelings were completely self-induced. My kids had a great summer and didn’t seem to resent my 9-5.

Only I did.

With summer break looming (my kids only have 11 school days left, but who’s counting), I have made a commitment that those feelings are not allowed to rise up this year.

How am I going to combat them?

A summer bucket list.

This week we wrote ours out on a piece of poster board. It has a glitter boarder because glitter makes all things better. On that glittery stock, we listed all the big and little activities the kids want to do this summer.

Library

Pool

Camping

The drive-in

The children’s museum

In total, we came up with 32 things we want to do together.

When we finished it, I said to my kids, “Are we going to have a good summer?”

My nearly 6-year-old daughter Adeline joyfully said, “No, we are going to have a GREAT summer!”

As I read over the list, I was reminded that the idea of what a perfect summer looks like was something I had created in my head and did not align with my kids’ ideas of a perfect summer. Their desires are simple. A family day at the zoo. A water balloon fight. A canoe ride on the river near our home. These are things we absolutely can and will do – even with me having a traditional day job.

It will be a GREAT summer.

If you have ever looked at another mom’s Instagram or Facebook feed in the summertime and thought, I wish that was my summer, I want to encourage you to change your thinking this year. Eliminate the mom guilt and jealousy.

It isn’t about what time of day you go to the pool, it’s about getting in the water when you go.

It isn’t about flying to another country, it’s about doing what makes sense for your family – even if that means a simple drive on the country roads near your home.

It isn’t about spending a lot of money, it’s about being together.

20 years from now we will look back on these summer months and not remember the stress of juggling camps and work, we’ll remember the splashes at the pool and the nights spent roasting marshmallows with neighbors.

Pay attention now to the moments that make summer great for your family.

And maybe, make a summer bucket list.

Let’s Blanket the City with #LoveThatSticks! Find Out How

June 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”
– 1 Corinthians 13:13

People will always remember the way you made them feel.  In today’s culture, we’re quick to judge others, we hear more stories of sadness, and we look out for ourselves first.

What if you had a simple way to lift others up? Even strangers.  Think of the last time someone encouraged you or gave you a compliment. How did it make you feel? I bet you’ve never forgotten the way it made you feel… because Love Sticks!

At CHRI events all summer pick-up a #LoveThatSticks Post-It-Note pack to encourage others & join us in showing the city a #LoveThatSticks. Share your ideas on social media to encourage others they can spread the message too! Use the hashtag #LoveThatSticks.

Leave a short, thoughtful note that make will the person feel special.

A few ideas of how to use them:

  • On your mail box for your mail delivery person
  • On a classmates or a co-workers desk
  • On a mirror in a public bathroom or change room
  • On a car windshield
  • On an item in the grocery store
  • In an elevator
  • On a gas pump
  • At Starbucks

What do you say? Try writing something like this:

  • “Everything will be okay”
  • “You are special”
  • “You are loved”
  • “You are beautiful”
  • “You are doing a good job”
  • “Cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you”
  • “Cast your cares on the Lordand he will sustain you”
  • “God will never leave your side”
  • “You’re a star in His eyes”
  • “God loves you unconditionally. Trust Him with all your heart”

We’re so excited to see your amazing ideas & to cover our city with a #LoveThatSticks!

Mandisa wants you to know you are not alone in your darkness.

May 1st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement

Mandisa’s music has been a source of comfort and inspiration..helping so many of us overcome..this morn she bravely shared how she came out of “the dark place” of depression and took back control of her own life.  – Robin Roberts

To the Single Mom at Christmas

December 1st, 2016 | 2 Comments | Posted in Encouragement
Dear Single Mom,I have been thinking of you since Thanksgiving.

As Christmas gets closer and closer, I have been praying for your heart.

This time of year is hard for you, I know. I was a single mom for almost five years. My sister was for seven. And my mother has been a single mom for almost the entirety of her four children’s lives.

The holidays were by far the most difficult times for me, as a single mom. I can still feel the intense sadness, mixed with grief and fear, alone at the Christmas Eve service that first year. A custody agreement always includes who has the kids when on every holiday. This year, it was my turn to celebrate without any kiddos lighting candles at the service, waking me up the next morning, looking for their stockings, eating Christmas tree shaped pancakes, and playing with new toys .

Or the following year, when my boys were with me. It felt like we were surrounded by all the dads carrying kids on their shoulders at the mall, videotaping the first grade holiday concert, dragging Christmas trees out of the lot, standing in line for Santa pictures while their wives shopped for gifts.

I remember exactly how it felt. It felt lonely. It felt different. It felt somehow less than.

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The most difficult part about being a single mom for me, was the intense pressure of responsibility.

Every single day, it was all on me — providing, nurturing, caring for, teaching, disciplining — it felt like there was no safe place to just be.

Then add all the holiday stuff: the shopping, the gift wrapping, remembering the advent calendar, getting the tree, hanging up the decorations. I wanted my boys to have a “normal Christmas.” And every year, I was completely overwhelmed.

Being a single mom can be crushing, especially this time of year.

So as we get closer to Christmas, I want to gently, lovingly say: You are not alone.

Even if you have absolutely no help…

Even if you have been a widow since your child was a baby…

Even if your children’s father left you without any involvement on his part…

You are not alone.

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God has you in this. He is the best Father there is — for you sweet momma, and for you little ones.

It’s the reason we celebrate this season in the first place. Jesus came for you, for me, for our children.

I pray this year, that He would help you feel lighter and so lavishly loved.

I pray that no matter how difficult your circumstances may be right now, He would remind you that He doesn’t make mistakes. You are exactly where you are supposed to be in God’s economy. So are your children.

I pray you get some rest, somehow.

I pray you get a sweet handmade card or craft from school.

I pray the people who love you shower you with attention and help around the house.

I pray your children give you an extra hug, sweet snuggles, and plenty of smiles.

And even if none of this happens, I pray that deep down, you would hear me, would believe me when I say:

You are a mother. You are so very special and important and powerful.

I am celebrating you this Christmas.

There is no one like you in your child’s life. You can do this and, by the grace of God, you will do this.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Love, Shawna

Homelife Calendar and Scripture Art

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement

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Faith helps Canada’s fastest woman race to Rio

August 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement
Khamica BinghamKhamica Bingham’s OIympic dream began when Perdita Felicien’s ended.

One of Canada’s medal hopefuls in the 2016 Summer Olympics was initially inspired by one of Canada’s greatest Olympic disappointments. At the 2004 Olympics, Perdita was the favourite to win gold in the 100m hurdles, but in the final, she hit the first hurdle and crashed to the track.

As Perdita sat on the track, devastated, a 10-year-old Khamica, over 8000 kilometers away, was caught up in the emotion of the moment.

“My first Olympic memory was Perdita,” says Khamica. “I didn’t know what it was, there was just thisrace. Everyone was getting all amped up about it, talking about ‘Perdita, Perdita, Perdita.’ And then when she fell, the emotion in the room changed.”

Up until this point, she had never even thought about the Olympics, but the way her family reacted to the race, both the highs and the lows, captured her attention: “I was just like, ‘I want to do that! I want to do something where I’m on TV and everyone’s cheering for me and hoping that I bring home a gold medal.’”

Twelve years later, Khamica’s dream is on the verge of coming true, as she heads to Rio de Janeiro in August for her first Olympic games, carrying Canada’s hopes for a medal in the women’s 100m and running the anchor leg for the 4x100m team.

As a sprinter, Khamica craves the speed and simplicity of the 100m, but her journey to the Olympics has had its fair share of complications.

“As athletes,” she says, “we just want a straight path. But anything that we really want—our true dreams—it’s never that easy.”

The first obstacle came when she could no longer pursue her chosen sport, which was gymnastics, not track.

“My two siblings went to university, so my parents were trying to pay for their tuition as well as my gymnastics fees,” she says, “But there was a part of me that always had a love for track. I just knew instantly once I was done [gymnastics]: track is what can take me to the Olympics.”

She quickly found success in the sport, winning high school championships and competing on the world stage. Her athletic career hit new heights in 2015, but it was a tumultuous year filled with both triumph and tragedy.

Through it all, her faith kept her focussed as she learned to trust more and more in God’s timing. It’s fitting, then, that 2015 started with a landmark event in her spiritual journey.

“In January, I was talking to Herbie and verbally gave my heart to Jesus,” she says.

That would be Herbie Kuhn, Athletes in Action staff member and the chaplain for the Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Raptors, who has been providing the same service for the Olympic sprinting team. With the constant training and travel, it was tough for Khamica to keep connected to her church, so having Herbie available to the team to lead Bible studies and provide spiritual mentorship bridged the gap.

“I’ve always had a belief in God,” says Khamica, crediting her mother for teaching her about faith growing up. “And I’ve always wanted to know more about God, to work on that relationship and get closer. But my walk with Christ really happened when I met Herbie.”

In March, Khamica raced in the CIS Championships, winning gold in the 60m and setting a new Canadian university record in the process. But later in the month, tragedy struck.

While the Canadian sprinters were training in St. Kitts, Daundre Barnaby, who competed for Canada in the 400m at the 2012 Olympics, died while swimming in the ocean.

Khamica and Daundre joined several other teammates at the beach to cool off after a workout. “We were in the water and he was just a little bit further out than us,” she recalls. “I didn’t even realize that he was asking for help. By the time one of our teammates tried to actually help him, he was getting too far out and he drowned.”

Herbie was there the next day to support the athletes as they grieved and returned to training with heavy hearts. Khamica was particularly impacted.

“He was like a brother,” she said at his funeral a few weeks later and talked about how he made her laugh and was always there for her. Looking back now, she recognizes that his death gave her a new perspective.

“It made me realize how short life is,” she says, “and it really brought me closer to God, learning to rely on him and depend on him. To not take things for granted.”

“I’ve learned to stop complaining so much,” she adds, “because one day when it’s all over I’m going to really miss it and regret it. I think about Daundre and I think about everything that he wanted to do, so he’s my motivator: I try and do it for him.”

That was the mindset for her and the rest of the team heading into the Pan Am Games in Toronto that July.

Khamica made the final for the 100m, finishing 6th behind some of the fastest sprinters in the world. But the true highlight came a few days later as she ran the anchor leg for the women’s 4x100m relay.

With Jamaica and the USA running neck and neck for the lead, Khamica received the baton for her run with the runner from Brazil breathing down her neck. Khamica ran hard to the finish, dipped hard at the line, and held off Brazil for bronze.

“That was one of the best feelings that I’ve ever encountered in track,” she says. “We got a bronze, but I felt like we won gold. Because it was at home, knowing that my parents and my friends were in the crowd, it felt like we were at the Olympics.”

“To finally get that medal and for us to be in Toronto where everybody’s watching and wants to support us and cheer for us, it was perfect.”

2015 saw one more success for the 4x100m team, as they broke the Canadian record at the World Championships in August, even though they finished off the podium. Now, in 2016, Khamica has a different record in her sights.

The Canadian record for women in the 100m is 10.98 seconds. It was set nearly 30 years ago by Angela Bailey.

“That record has to go!” says Khamica emphatically. “It has to go!”

While Khamica has run a wind-aided 11.0 seconds, she has never broken the 11-second barrier, a defining moment for elite female sprinters. Her personal best is 11.13 seconds, set during the Pan Am 100m final.

“Once you go under 11 seconds,” she says, “anything can happen at that point. So right now we’re looking through my race plan and figuring out my weaknesses and my strengths and how we can improve so that by the time Rio comes, I am at my fastest.”

In order to reach the podium or even just the finals in Rio, Khamica feels that she will have to run a sub-11 race. The slowest qualifying time for the finals in the 2012 Olympic Games in London was 11.01 seconds.

“That’s why I feel that record has to go,” she repeats. “It has to go! The sooner the better, especially in a year of the Olympics where it really matters, this is the year where everything has to come together.”

That straight path she desires took one more unexpected curve this year when she suffered a knee injury. The injury will keep her from competing in the 200m event in Rio, for which she had already qualified.

“I had a cartilage tear in my knee and a fat pad impingement,” she says. “It took me out for about a month and a half of my training, so I’m just getting back now. My therapist and coach agree that I’m going to stay away from the 200 this year, because we don’t want to have any setbacks or risks running on the turn.”

For Khamica, the injury has been a lesson in patience and also in trusting God’s timing. The upside for her is that she is now able to focus solely on the 100m event. She hopes that devoting all her attention to the 100m will make her that much better in Rio.

As she sets her sights on success at the Olympics, she recognizes that success doesn’t define her, as her growing faith has helped her define a different path.

“Obviously as athletes we want to win,” she says, “But it’s about doing your best, glorifying God, and knowing that it’s him that gives me the talent and the blessing to do what I do.”

“Herbie’s the one that taught me about that,” she adds. “In everything I do, I glorify God. God created me and I just want to make sure that I’m doing what he has made me to do.”

Gymnast Shawn Johnson: How Her Olympic Career Led Her to Faith

August 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement