The Longest Journey


In the wee hours of this morning, I fell asleep with a Bible pressing into my forehead.

I kid you not.

It was a Superhero Bible with a red and blue cover, with tabs inside to mark each book – so that it’s easier to find verses when you’re looking them up.

The Bible belongs to my youngest son, and he had a bad dream last night.

The most scared he’s ever been.

He crawled in with us (the second time in as many weeks), and I prayed with him and cuddled up next to him, and then moved back over to his bed with him to do the same.

Back in his room, we were finding it hard to go back to sleep.

Every little noise seemed bigger and scarier than it actually was.

So he asked if I’d read from his Superhero Bible.

We’ve been reading through it together, slowly but surely, for at least a year now.

Page by page, chapter by chapter, book by book.

We’ve been reading the stories in the Word of God since he was born.

But now we’re reading them as they are (with some parts skipped over for age-appropriateness!).

And I smiled when he asked me to read, because I knew which story was next.

I knew that we had just read about God’s provision for Elijah as ravens fed him by a river and a widow fed and housed him from the little she had.

Next was Elijah’s battle against the false prophets.

And Elijah’s victory.

God’s victory.

And rain after a long drought.

And the defeat of the most wicked queen in the Bible.

So yes, yes, yes, we can read Elijah.

We didn’t quite make it through the whole story – it’s a LONG chapter and we usually break those down into 2 or 3 nights of reading.

But my youngest knows the story, and he remembered that God is bigger than anything.

And our hearts quieted down, and the noises of our old house faded into sleep, and there was just peace and safety and knowing God is on our side.

This always makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

I have struggled with nightmares most of my life.

Ever since I was a little girl, bad dreams were often a part of my nightly routine.

I had some amazing people pray for me before Joshua was on the scene.

That seemed to calm them when they were at their worst – out in Calgary while I was at Rocky Mountain Bible College – I was 23 years old.

The strapping young man I married told me to wake him whenever the nightmares came – he prayed for me and held me and I felt safe and loved.

So when Elijah came to our bed last night, I told him about his daddy’s talent, and Josh prayed for him too.

Then Elijah felt safe enough and loved enough to go back to his room – as long as I would go with him.

Gladly, my son, gladly.

I am becoming more and more aware that these times will come to an end as he just keeps getting older and older.

Growing more and more into a young man – right before my eyes.

So we lay under cozy blankets, we try to settle our hearts, we read about Elijah in the Bible, and I fall asleep with the Word of God pressed into my head on the pillow.

You see, I’d told Elijah about a secret trick I used to have when the nightmares were really bad…

I would fall asleep clutching my Bible to my chest.

Not always comfortable if it was my hard-cover Bible!

But absolutely always – this trick helped me every time.

So the Bible stayed on the pillow as we drifted off to sleep.

He’d tried my trick for a while, clutching the red and blue Superhero Bible to his chest.

Then he’d laid it on the pillow beside him.

My pillow.

And I woke up feeling like something was on my forehead, and I remembered the Bible, and I smiled.

And I remembered hearing a preacher out in Calgary say that “Sometimes the longest journey is from our head to our heart.”

Even though the literal distance is so short.

Sometimes all our Bible reading and all our knowledge about God just stays in our heads.

Never makes it to our hearts.

Never changes us.

Never changes our world.

And so I’m left wondering, praying, pondering this morning…

Where am I at with the journey?

The Longest Journey… from head to heart.

Where have I got you perched in my life right now, Lord?

I suppose that’s a good question to wonder about every once in a while…

Just Keep It Simple Anna

I need to have these words on repeat in my head and my heart this year.

When I see so many options, so many “good” things to fill my life, so many paths before me, I need to remember to Just Keep It Simple Anna.

It helps to revisit the beginning of things.

Like what were the first words that were whispered in my heart, before I dared to speak them out loud, before I shared them with others, before I wrote them down and they became a “real” part of my life?

Every fall it seems I need to go back to the beginning.

And look at things with fresh eyes and make sure I’m still on track with what God whispered in my heart way back when.

Make sure all that has been spoken out loud, or shared with others, or written down and become part of “real” life is still in line with those first whispers.

Remember Elijah on the mountain? When he was waiting for the Lord to pass by? He recognized God in the gentle whisper.

Not in the the powerful wind that tore mountains apart and shattered rocks, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire.

God was in the whisper.

So when I go back to beginnings, to the first whispers, I have to look past the loud things of life, the distractions, the noise – I have to listen for the gentle whispers.

Not always easy, is it?

The loud things are so loud, the distractions are so many, and the noise is everywhere.

But if I wait for it, listen with my whole heart, the gentle whispers never fade, and they out-last the others – always.

What are the whispers in my life?

Writing and encouraging have been there as long as I can remember.

When I rededicated my life to Christ at age 23 and travelled out to Rocky Mountain Bible College for a semester, the whispers were a question…

Will you give me your all Anna? I want to use you for the kingdom – will you let Me Anna?  Will you trust me?

Because He never forces us to do anything, does He?

It’s always our choice, and it’s a choice I have to continue to make in different seasons of life. A choice that comes easier some days than others. A choice that comes particularly hard when I don’t get a single thing about what He is up to in my life.

Then as I was getting to know a certain strapping young man named Joshua, the whispers were really girlish, childish, goofy, yet simple…

I’m going to marry Josh Sklar and have his babies.

Ya, told you, and we weren’t even dating yet!

Then when our second son was stillborn…

Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. 

Caleb in the Bible – he told the people that the giants who currently lived in the promised land were no match for God, and surely the Israelites could move on into the land God had promised to them. He focused on what they had (God!!) and not what they didn’t have (mighty armies, huge warriors, etc.).

And going back to our dating days, Josh and I have always headed north. It’s like a magnet that draws us constantly. It’s only fitting that is now our home.   The whispers God has for us are so simple…

Reach the north.

And more and more He shows us how to do that.

If I can just remember these few gentle whispers in my life…

  1. Will you give Me your all Anna? 
  2. Marriage to Josh and mothering Josiah, Caleb, and Elijah are top of the priority list.
  3. Reach the north – however He leads us to do that.
  4. Writing and encouraging others are big on my personal to-do list.
  5. The only way to keep going is to focus on what I have, not what I don’t have.

It gets quite simple if I can just tune my head and my heart in to the whispers.

So many things can fall to the wayside and it’s OK.


This lifts the weight so much.

What are the whispers in your life?

A Time to NOT Write


Sometimes I don’t have the words.

I can feel them piling up inside of me, getting all jumbled together, with nowhere to go…

But sometimes it’s best NOT to write them out.

Not here on this blog, not in my bedside journal, not anywhere.

Because life can get busy and confusing and loud.

And for me the words come from such a quiet place.

There are times when I can’t get to them.

Not the ones that should be written down and shared anyways.

Sure, there’s alot of words floating around in my head and my heart that are crying out for a spot on the paper, on the screen, on my lips.

But words are the overflow of what is inside of us, and what if the inside is just too messy?

Like inviting someone over and there is no place to sit because every surface is cluttered, and there is nothing to eat because the pantry is bare.

Sometimes I give all I’ve got in ways that empty me out fast, and there is no time or energy to get ready for the next “thing” before it comes.

These are not bad times, not unhappy times, just different times.

I wouldn’t change them.

When I’m this tired and the words are this jumbled and it’s time NOT to write – it means I’m really Living in the Moments.

Sure, if I had to keep going at this break-neck speed (by my watch, which tells time much differently than you, or you, or you), I would burn out like crazy.

But I know a different season is coming, a slower one, that will bring much time for sorting through the mess inside and the jumbled words.

It’s already starting.

This morning I see some words floating to the surface.

I see which ones come first, then second, then third, and so on.

They are still there.

Sometimes when I don’t have them for a time, I worry they won’t come back.

I sorta need them to figure out my days, my place, my roles in this world.

But for now, for another little while, they will remain inside.

More will heap on the pile, will come to rest in their rightful spot in the mess, to be sorted in the coming season.

I do love to sort out messes.

I’m weird that way.

I love to take things that are all over the place and make some sense out of them.

So it is the same with the words.

I hope you are enjoying the weeks of summer – there are still a few more to go!

I’ll be back when it’s time to write once again.

A Very Special Email…

Sometimes I sell these Lunchbox Jokes  that I made a few years back.

I have a little Etsy Shop that I don’t normally mention much – there’s not a whole lot in there right now – just 3 things at the moment.

It will often be weeks or months in between sales from my shop, but then I receive a notification that someone has purchased one of the creations


Last week I got such a notification.

This one was a little different, though.

This one came with such an enormous blessing attached.

Can I share the comment I received from the purchaser?

I am a volunteer with an organization called Blue Skies that provides families with children who have cancer a week of vacation at the beach. My plan was to use these cards at night as little surprises when I turn their covers down for them while they are out at the pool. I know how much children love jokes so I thought it would be fun. Thanks so much…

Mmmhmmm…. a very special email… blesses me to no end.

“Stop Sitting on the Premises”

I heard this from a preacher on the radio in Chicago a few years ago.

We were there for Josh’s graduation from Wheaton College.

First we had visited Josh’s brother in St. Louis for a few days, then we brought Uncle Jay with us and piled into a rented Jeep to drive to Chicago for the graduation.

It was a grand affair, visiting Wheaton was a magnificent experience, and the ceremony was inspiring to say the least.

On our last night in Chicago we were winding down in the hotel room with the boys.

Josh went for a swim in the hotel pool, and I tucked the boys into bed.

They used to listen to music as they fell asleep, so I was trying to find something soothing on the radio.

I found a preacher.

One of those southern gospel preachers, you know?

With the booming voice and the beautiful lilt to his words.

They always sound like they have something amazing to say.

I’ve always wanted to visit at least one of those churches – maybe one day.

That day the radio was enough.

I just couldn’t change the station.

I can still remember one line of the preacher’s sermon.

Just one line that has stuck with me and changed me in different ways.

One line that applies to so many areas of life.

“You got to stop sitting on the premises, and start STANDING on the promises.”

Ya, I just LOVE that!

Don’t you?

This one line has grown my faith immensely.

It has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone over and over.

And now it is encouraging me in areas of health.

You see, my body is sore – EVERY day.

Not just sometimes anymore.

ALL the time.

It started about a year ago, when I was writing my last exams for university and I knew the book would be published within a few months and church planting in Northern Ontario was the new direction we found ourselves on.

There was a whole heap of new things, big things, wonderful things going on.

And I’d gotten really used to sitting on the premises.

When big things loom in front of you – it’s not easy to stand up.

It’s much easier to just keep sitting down.

I’m not talking physically here – I can go through the motions as good as the next person.

I’m talking spiritually.

It’s this verse that sticks with me…

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. – James 2:26

I’ve been working out the “faith without deeds is dead” part for a couple of years now, and it’s been motivating me to “start standing on the promises” all over the world!  In my own neighbourhood to Northern Ontario to Dominican Republic. Such great adventures, with more coming I hope.

It seems it’s this part that I have to work on next – “the body without the spirit is dead”.

Going through the motions and neglecting to live in the moments of them is proving to make me worn and tired and sore.

I think I tend to leave my spirit at home when it’s time to stand on the promises.

I think I leave a chunk of me behind – to keep sitting on the premises.

It’s safe there, it’s under control, it’s familiar and warm and comforting.

Standing on the promises is often unfamiliar, cold, strange, confusing.

But it’s time to start moving.

The more I sit, the more sore I get.

The more I hurt.

It’s three simple words that had been on repeat for a while in my heart, but I’ve forgotten them the last little while.

Just… keep… going.

But not just physically, it’s got to be spiritually too.

It’s got to be all of me that stands up.

A wonderful lady sent me these words recently – she has Parkinson’s and this simple phrase is highlighted on one of the Parkinson’s exercise posters…

Yes, that sums it up nicely…

Sower and Seed

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

- Psalm 1:3

This verse has been turning up alot for me lately, and it reminded me of a blurb I wrote for a women’s online devotional series a couple of years ago…

A seed was planted by the most beautiful stream. Lovingly the rich earth was dug out, and the seed laid gently in the soil. A tender hand covered the seed over.

The seed seemed to know what it needed to grow. Tiny roots formed, and a sapling began to emerge.

The Sower came to check on His seed that was now a sapling. He was pleased and smiled at the hope He saw. He knew the river had seeped its life-giving water into the ground surrounding the sapling. Its roots grew big and strong, constantly thirsty for the life-giving water. Those roots became entwined with the roots of other trees and they grew tall and healthy together.

At times drought came to the grove. The sun shone hard and the heat was almost unbearable. Still the tree kept its green leaves and bore its fruit even in the driest weather. It never feared the heat, nor worried in the drought. It always trusted and always found its confidence in the life-giving water of the stream.

The Sower was never far from the seeds He planted, and was most happy when they grew to become all He envisioned them to be.

Scene From The Soul – Where Are You?


Just revisiting a really old post of mine… wrote this 15 years ago, just before I started dating my Joshua…

Originally posted on Living In The Moments:

She walked. Every day, and sometimes twice, she would saunter through the woods and across the fields, drinking in the presence of nature she felt all around her. She held a make-shift bouquet of wildflowers in her hand, and swayed them at the beckoning of the wind. These moments, alone with God, sustained her throughout the endless trials of her days. She felt lonely, but knew she was never really alone. She felt sad, but knew there lived inside of her an everlasting supply of joy. If she could only reach it. How does she reach it?
What stands in the way of her grabbing onto the happiness she knows would follow if only she’d trust? It is many things. It is free will, fear, memories, comfort in the constancy, loming rejection, and confusion. It is uncertainty and a self-consciousness that’s she’s not sure originated with her.
Does she really…

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