Tag Archives: Marriage

Jesus in the Ordinary

Enough time has passed that I’m no longer mortified that I did this video. I was going to share it awhile back and write a whole post entitled, “Hi. My Name is Bria and I’m Awkward”…but at the time I didn’t feel like sharing the video yet. So here it is now.

About a day after we shot the video everything came together in my mind and I figured out how I felt about the question. I texted our pastor with my modified but unusable answer. So here’s what I would have liked to say:

I think if I could go back, I’d add that I experience Christ in the risk, and in the trust. In the mess of the day to day. In the exhaustion. In the mundane it’s easy to miss all of it, it’s easy to not listen and not look but when I do, He’s there. He’s asking me to risk and trust and step out and look. Whispering that through all of the unsure, He’s right there, walking beside me, loving me and teaching me. Often through the simple. Sometimes through the grand. Always through the ordinary.


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Ten Years

Come October 16th, James and I will have been married for ten years. Ten years! Where has the time gone? I can’t believe it. Seems like it was just yesterday that we were anxiously putting the finishing touches on our big day, but pictures don’t lie. Yes, ten years have passed. We are no longer the little baby-faced immature kids that dove into marriage somewhat blindly. We are now the not-so-little (c’mon, I’ve had three kids) starting-to-wrinkle not-much-closer-to-mature 30-somethings that trudge through parenting completely blindly. However, we are still in love and that, my friends and readers, is something to celebrate. So celebrate we did!

Soon after we got married way back in 2004 I had a thought. “Bria” I said to myself, “If you make it 10 years, you should do a vow renewal because that’s something to be proud of.” James and I both come from ‘broken’ homes, so every milestone in marriage is important to us. A few years ago, when my belly was full with baby #3, I attended my step-sister-in-law’s ten year vow renewal and it was beautiful. Right then and there it solidified in my mind that it was something that needed to happen for James and I.

Earlier this year I started sorting the details out and slowly the ball started rolling with planning our anniversary party. The closer it got, the more nervous I became. Last week I was totally regretting ever planning it. A friend pointed out that I was just like a jittery bride. That made me smile. I suppose I was. I wanted everything to come together. It wasn’t anything fancy, but I just wanted our family and close friends to show-up and have a good time. We planned it for this past weekend because we have another wedding to be at in a couple of weeks and with James all-over-the-place schedule, this is what worked.


The weather was wet and cold, but our hearts were full and happy. We packed everyone into my mother’s house, filled it with wine and beer and delicious food, said some very teary-eyed things to each other and our kids and everyone there and went on to have a grand old-time. I even sang a song…after some of the crowd had left of course.

When it was all said and done, I was glad we decided to celebrate. The past ten years haven’t been easy. They’ve been trying and difficult and all over the map. Both James and I wanted to have something to recognize how far we’d come, where we are at right now and where we would like to go as a couple and as a family. I think this was a great way to do just that.

It’s good to take time to celebrate love and life and family. We need to be reminded of why we do what we do day-in and day-out. We need to be reminded of why we work through the valleys and the really hard times. It’s so that we can get to those mountain tops, take a big breath and see the spectacular view of the life God has given us and appreciate the fact that we did it, together.

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This Girl

Who has an amazingly awesome husband?

This girl!

Who gets to celebrate their 30th birthday and 9th anniversary with a surprise trip to Vegas?

This girl!

Who is beyond excited to spend six days on an actual child-free vacation?


(Seriously though, what a guy! All I have to do is pack a bag because he took care of everything else! Eeek! I can’t wait.)

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I have a crippling fear of failure.

I’m excited. There’s a feeling that’s bubbling in me, underneath the surface, that is filling me with hope. My creative wheels are turning and there are soft whisperings that have me looking forward to what the next few years might have in store.

James and I give each other one thing to work on every year. It could be anything at all…sort of a free pass to name the thing that has bothered us or that we find irritating, or possibly a bad habit that has started that the other one doesn’t appreciate. Or maybe there is a need that goes unmet that we would like to highlight. It has been good and productive and healthy to have this in our marriage.

This year (because this is something we do in the summer) James didn’t want me to change anything, but rather, he wanted me to give some of my time and energy to a…hm…shall we say, project?

I was upset that he named this thing because in my heart of hearts, it’s what I would love to do. I didn’t even acknowledge it for years because it seemed too far off, too lofty, too ambitious. I’ve only mentioned it to a select few and, even then, it’s hard to utter the words. Lately, it has been creeping up. I get excited, then I push it back down. I get an idea, then I quickly push it away. I get affirmation and then I go to great lengths to sabotage the compliments. I reason it all away.

Why? Because I have a crippling fear of failure. It would take a substantial amount of time for me to give you all the reasons I am afraid of failing, and I won’t go into them on this blog, not now, but the way that it manifests in me is that if I don’t start, if I don’t try, then I won’t fail.

I suppose that I’m tired of doubting my abilities and, evidently, so is James. He sees something in me and wants me to see it too.

Why is that so hard?


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Babies and Chaos.

I don’t know what it is about James and I, but chaos seems to surround the birth of our children (and, really, every other time in our lives).

Rhys was born on a Friday morning, early morning. We were discharged from the hospital on the Saturday morning. Then, on the Sunday, our car broke-down. Totally died. When Rhys was a few months old James was laid-off (a few weeks before Christmas, nice hey?) so we moved out to Otterburne, Manitoba so James could work at Providence College.

Broken vehicle. No job. Big move. But it all worked out.

When we were expecting Amelia, James made the difficult decision (for a number of reasons) to resign from his position of Youth Pastor at our church in Niverville. The week after that our (different) car broke down. That was a huge bill. This was a hard time for us and we decided to move out of the community. For the life of us we couldn’t find an apartment to rent anywhere in Winnipeg. Landlords were saying to us that because we had kids we probably wouldn’t get the places we were looking at. I was so stressed out of my mind because our lease was up on the house we were renting in town. Amelia was born and a few weeks after that we moved into my mother’s basement in order to look for a house to purchase. James had found a cabinet job in the city.

Broken vehicle. No job. Big move. But it all worked out.

Last year we decided to downsize and become resident managers of an apartment block to save money for a few years. Great plan! We moved, I became pregnant (very unplanned) and we decided that it just wouldn’t work with three kids in that small basement apartment so we moved back home. Stressful! Two moves in six months. We just had Eli two weeks ago. James had taken time off to ease us into being a family of five but four side-jobs came-up. He had a few days with us and then started working on the kitchens. Then our hot water tank broke last week. Okay, new tank it is! Then our truck broke-down yesterday. So far it’s been towed to two different places trying to figure-out what the heck the problem is.

Broken vehicle. Big move. But at least James has these side-jobs! They are financing our chaotic lives at this point so I really can’t complain about James not having his holidays to spend time with us. James bought me a bottle of wine a few days ago. My first glass of wine in a looong time. I had it while eating dinner yesterday. I decided to raise my glass and give a toast saying, “Here’s to the never-ending gong show that is our life!” James raised his beer and said, “No, a better toast. Here’s to us sticking together through thick and thin,” he paused and his eyes welled-up with tears as he looked at me, “I love you Bri. I really do.”

So there it is. Chaos comes with the birth of our children but we’ve made it through and, by the grace of God, we’re made stronger because of it. And it always works out in the end.


(Oh, and Happy 600th Post to I’ve Come Undone!!)


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Prayer and Devotion

Last night James and I had a difficult and, quite frankly, painful discussion about the state of things. It started-out as a petty argument and quickly turned into something much deeper as both of us could tell that there was an underlying current of frustration, bitterness and exhaustion with the way things have been.

This year has been more than hard on us. I’ve tried to take things in stride and deal accordingly, attempting to learn from where life has taken us but, truthfully, I feel completely defeated by it all. I don’t feel like I’m learning. I don’t feel like I’m becoming a more understanding or graceful or patient person. Things that I’m not proud of have seeped into my heart and I’ve allowed them a home, I’ve made room for them to take root. I know that James has felt the same.

Both of us came to the conclusion that everything that we are dissatisfied with (with our marriage, with our parenting, with our finances, with our selves)  is not really because it feels like the world is constantly taking a dump on our front yard, but it is all a result of our own shortcomings and our desire to find something else, or someone else, to blame. We then ignore the issues at hand and find distractions, escaping the hard work of making things right. But even when we do address the issues we look to ourselves for solutions and answers, which will inevitably end in ruin. Instead of looking to the One who will be healing and restoration, we try to rely on our own understanding…which is very limited indeed.

The only time I see positive personal growth in myself and my marriage is when I spend time in prayer and devotion. It’s as simple as that.

James and I both agreed that this is something that has been lacking and that we can no longer put it off. This morning, over a cup of coffee, James found a devotion on the internet for us to do. He read it aloud and, when he was done, I had a good bout of laughter.

“Did you google ‘most fitting devotional for James and Bria EVER‘?” I asked

“No” James replied, “I just looked for a devotion for today and the only one I recognized was My Utmost for His Highest.

It was like it was written specifically for us on this very day. Here is an expert from it (you can read the rest of it here if you like):

“Are we partakers of Christ’s sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp out our personal ambitions? Are we prepared for God to destroy our individual decisions by supernaturally transforming them? It will mean not knowing why God is taking us that way, because knowing would make us spiritually proud. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through— we go through it more or less without understanding. Then suddenly we come to a place of enlightenment, and realize— “God has strengthened me and I didn’t even know it!”

-Oswald Chambers

I feel so encouraged after our talk last night and our devotion this morning. Are things perfect? No, not in the least bit, but I finally feel as though a light has gotten through our thick skulls and it’s refreshing.

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What colony are you from?

Right before James and I had Amelia we decided to hold a garage sale. It’s amazing how much junk we’d collected in our few short years of marriage. We had kept saying that we should get rid of it or sell some of it, but things get in the way and time passes. Well, the beginning of summer is a perfect time to set-up some tables and display for the whole neighbourhood just how cluttered your life is. It seems that once the weather warms-up hoarders start getting that junk-hunting itch, so we decided to give them an opportunity to scratch it.

We were living in Niverville at the time. 217 2nd Street North I believe. Our rental house was a little run-down but it was a good size yard situated on a sleepy street. For the most part the area was quiet and people kept to themselves. In the year that we had lived on 2nd Street North I had only encountered a handful of our neighbours.

We put a few ads in some papers, set-up our tables, carefully arranged our un-wanted items, stock piled change and waited for the customers. It was slow at first but by mid-morning we were getting a steady stream of thrifters. I sat in a chair, carefully positioned in the shade, for the majority of the day while James set-about selling books and vases and teacups. I noticed a lady scoping out a table rather close to where I was sitting. She seemed to be looking at the books. Rather, she seemed to be making herself seem as though she were looking at the books when in actuality she seemed to be looking at me. I thought it was strange but, let’s face it, I’ve worked on Osborne. I’ve seen some pretty strange things. The woman slowly got closer, picking up a book and ‘inspecting’ it every few minutes. My attention became divided when I needed to tend to my toddler and, during my distracted minute, the lady left.

An hour or two went by and I noticed her walking up the street, coming towards our house again. She played the same game for a few moments and then made a b-line for James and I.

James and I.

Being 7 or 8 months pregnant while following around a one-and-a-half year old can take its toll on how much your care about your personal hygiene or, shall we say, grooming. I had been wearing a lot of bandana’s to keep my hair back and slipping on my most comfortable maternity jean skirts. I was a pretty cute pregnant 24 year-old.

James had grown and maintained a full beard for quite some time. I liked the back-woods look on him. It seemed to cover-up his baby-face. He also, almost exclusively, wore pearly button cowboy shirts. I also liked these on him. We made a pretty cute couple.

I spent my days being pregnant, wearing jean skirts and going for walks with my little toddler while James spent his days pastoring, building and driving a big black Chevy Astro van.

“What colony are you from?” the woman barked.

“Pardon me?” James asked. She was a bit hard to understand, her words rumbling around her thick Hutterite accent.

“I said, what colony are you from?”

Pause. James and I look at each other. A more awkward pause.

“Oh, we’re not from a colony” James replied.

“What? Really? I thought for sure you guys had left a colony.” Her brow was furrowed. Everything added-up. The young woman pumping babies out while staying home baking pies and sewing. The young man with a full beard wearing plaid tucked-in shirts working as a pastor and carpenter. The simple family attending church, having a yard sales, driving a big black van. It all added-up!

We had a short chat with her about how she had left the colony and how we hadn’t left a colony and were, in fact, non-mennonite city kids. We made sure she was out of ear-shot before we burst out laughing.

“She thought we were Hutterite! She thought we were Hutterite! That’s AWESOME!”

We relayed the story to all of our friends as soon as we could, all-the-while suppressing bouts of laughter until the punch-line was delivered.

This is by far one of the best stories that has come from our 7 year marriage. How many people can say they’ve been mistaken for Hutterites by a Hutterite!??!


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