Last month I went home to New Brunswick for a visit.

I use the term “home” loosely, because even though I grew up there, I couldn’t leave fast enough.

Home was a small town in the middle of nowhere with one grocery store, three stop signs, eight churches, and 918 people. I ducked behind the newspaper office on my walk home from school because my grandma worked in the front office and I knew if she saw me she’d call me in to fix my hair, usually with a paperclip. Most days I would be stopped two or three times by kind neighbours asking me if I wanted a ride up the hill. I usually declined – not because I was afraid of being abducted, but because I genuinely liked the walk.

Everybody knew everybody and the biggest news day of the entire year was when the ice broke up in the spring and started moving beneath our famous covered bridge.   Would it or wouldn’t it knock out a pillar? The tough kids hung out and smoked in the library parking lot on main street in clear view of anybody who walked by, and although I think my cousin once streaked through the courtyard after dark, they never did anything really bad.

My sisters and I played outside in the fields and forest behind our house without a care in the world until darkness fell and my mother called us in for dinner.

But home isn’t home anymore after 15 years away.

It’s still a small town, but now there are two grocery stores, countless stop signs, and even more churches. The newspaper office was torn down years ago to make room for a parking lot, and the beautiful, hundred-plus-year-old heritage houses that stood next to it are slated for the same fate later this fall.

The town has been in the news more often in recent years for break-ins, beatings, and occasionally worse. The library parking lot isn’t the main hangout anymore, since the youth have become interested in things a bit more severe than cigarettes. The inside of our famous kissing bridge is covered with vulgar graffiti in place of love notes signed by tourists.

To an outsider – which is what I felt like, after 15 years away! – my hometown felt like a fallen down ghost town.

My trip last month was my first solo trip back east since Nathan and I started dating, and interestingly enough, it was also the first time I caught myself hesitating before I referred to New Brunswick as home.

See, for the past decade I’ve made my home in Edmonton with Nathan. He certainly considers Edmonton “home”: It’s where he grew up, and most of his family still lives here.   I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself a big city girl, but I’m comfortable here. We live on the outskirts of the city: A ten minute drive in one direction can take us to the downtown core while a five minute drive in the other direction can take me to wheat fields, corn fields, and the barn! I love having choices and easy access to good schools, great hospitals, and all the shopping – but still, Edmonton doesn’t feel like home.

It’s strange, really. When I’m here I long for there, but when I’m there I can’t wait to come back here …

I’ve struggled with the concept of “home” for years.  Whenever somebody asks me where I’m from I still say “New Brunswick” – even though I’ve now lived in Alberta for more than a third of my life. At what point does this become home?

Last month I came to the conclusion that maybe it never will.

Maybe it’s not supposed to.

* * *

While I was on my trip I realized that I need to hold on my idea of home loosely – not only because of the inevitable way places change over time, but because this isn’t my home. Hebrews 13:14 says that “This world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (NLT). I’m no theologian, but I’m pretty confident that doesn’t mean a physical home! I like the way Eugene Peterson phrased it in the Message: “He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.” (2 Corinthians 5)

I love New Brunswick and I love Alberta – but neither of them are my true home. I need to focus less on where my home is – and more on the people around me. I am where I am for a reason, and there’s more to it than buying a comfortable couch and painting the walls a nice, neutral shade of gray.



“Do you see her?  That girl, the one with the long blonde hair in a ponytail?  That’s who I am.  That’s what I look like.”  I was playing pretend with my sister, and of course I wanted to look different.  Short and thin with mousey brown hair and enormous pink glasses wasn’t who I wanted to be – in real life, or pretend.  Most days I wanted to be tall, thin, and blonde, with my hair pulled back into a bouncy ponytail or a long braid.  Sometimes I would even go the extra mile and put a pair of pantyhose on my head to get the desired effect of long hair!

For whatever reason, I thought that if I looked different, I was different.  As silly as it sounds, pantyhose on my head made me stand taller, be more bold, and act more confident.  When the game ended I went back to being regular old Holly, shy and quiet, afraid of making mistakes.

Not a lot has changed since those days.

Some days I’m happy with who I am:  A wife and mother, writer and business owner.  I have a loving husband and two amazing children. I’m happy with who I am and who where I am.

But then I see Amy, and nothing in my world seems good enough.

I’m not good enough.

* * *

See, Amy is everything I’m not.

She has three children under the age of five, but somehow she never looks less than amazing.  Her Pinterest boards are full of hairstyles and outfit combinations she clearly has the time to try.  Her girls are always dressed beautifully – and fashionably! – with their soft, untangled curls pulled back into perfect, complicated braids.  Her son doesn’t have any unruly cowlicks or dirt under his fingernails. Her children are always spotless and unwrinkled, and they are unfailingly polite.

Amy is never harried, never frantic, and never out of breath.

She’s a stay at home mom just like me, but she runs a direct from home sales business that makes enough money for her and her husband to escape on tropical vacations a couple of times each year.

And she homeschools.

* * *

On the outside, Amy looks like she has it all, and she has it all together – but does she really?

Do any of us?  

Or are we all just wearing pantyhose on our heads, trying to be something we’re not?

* * *

Sometimes I think that if I could be anyone in the entire world, I would be Amy.

But God didn’t make me Amy, he made me me.

Sometimes I wonder why he made me the way he did. Why do I have to be so short? Why doesn’t my hair cooperate when I try anything other than a simple ponytail? Why can’t I be more stylish? More outgoing? More easygoing? More confident?

Why can’t I be anybody but me?

Then I remember that God made “all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13, NLT) He made me short and thin, he made my mousey brown hair, he made the eyes that require enormous glasses. He created me, he knows me – and all of my insecurities.

I am a daughter of the King, and that is enough.

I am enough.

And so are you.

Link Love

What a week!

Topher and Ellie both started school – Topher in grade one, Ellie in preschool.


Topher was a little bit nervous about being gone all day after only doing half-day kindergarten, but he was super excited to get the teacher he wanted and have most of his friends in his class!  When I picked him up the first words he said to me were “I wish school was as long as Daddy’s work, because I love, love, LOVE it!”


And Ellie was thrilled to be starting school just like her big brother.  When her teacher bent down to introduce herself, Ellie jumped right into her arms for a big hug!

Clearly we need to watch her with strangers …

I’m most likely going to be spending a good chunk of my weekend lost in a corn maze, so here are a few posts from some of my favourite writers to keep you entertained!  Enjoy!

* * *

I love everything Hannah Brencher writes, but Men in Blue Jumpsuits is one of my absolute favourite posts.

“I think we– as the eager, self-sufficient perfectionists that we are– ignore red flags and the nudging to slow down as long as we possibly can. We drink more coffee. We worship the hustle. We grow tired of waiting on a God who sometimes seems to be slower than dial-up internet. We say hasty things like, “You aren’t handling this mess fast enough so I am going to take it into my own two hands.”

More mess comes.

And still, God is not afraid to assume the role of custodian.”

In her post, A Creative, Suzy Krause asks “Who has time to be a Creative when one is a Mom?”

Colleen Pastoor shared some Thoughts on Kindness – a reminder to be friendly on the internet.  I don’t know why it’s so hard for some people to remember that they’re talking to real people when they leave nasty comments!

And I loved The Fleece by Ashlee Gadd.  Nothing good ever comes easy – not even if it’s your calling.

* * *

Happy long weekend!  

Faith & Hockey Sticks


Two years ago my husband and I signed our son up for skating lessons.  He’s been dreaming about playing hockey since he was old enough to walk.  He was born in Oil Country, he bleeds copper and blue – heck, he even eats dinner sitting below a framed photo of his dad with Ryan Smyth!

We figured it was time.

Topher was ecstatic!  Never mind that he was enrolled in beginner figure skating – he was convinced he had been drafted to the Oilers!

But skating wasn’t as easy as Topher thought it would be.  It’s one thing to zip up and down the hallway with a plastic hockey stick and entirely another to do the real thing!

In his first lesson the coaches taught the kids how to fall down and how to get back up, first on mats and then on the ice.  Topher was a pro … until he stepped onto the ice.   He did exactly what his coaches told him:  get on your hands and knees, wag your tail like a dog, get one foot up, brace one hand on your knee and use the other to push off on the ice and stand up.

But Topher couldn’t do it.

Not in the first lesson, or the second, or the third.  Eventually one of his coaches would help him to his feet so he could participate in the other activities, but Topher was so afraid to fall that he would barely move. Then one of the other kids would accidentally bump into him and knock him over, and he would be back to Square 1, shaking his little bum in the middle of the rink.

Halfway through his fourth lesson I was starting to wonder how much patience his teachers had.  Would they recommend remedial beginner skating lessons?

Join me at Anchored Voices to read the rest!

When Dreams Change

“Well?” he said, waiting for an answer. “What are you going to do?”

We were sitting in his office – him, leaning back in his chair with his feet on his desk, me, in the swivel chair across from him with my feet tucked beneath me, spinning myself around and around and around as I tried to make a decision.

I had been planning the cross-country move for more than a decade. I attended university after high school like my parents wanted, even earning a “sensible degree” in economics – but my passion had always been horses. The deal was that if I graduated from university, my parents would support me in whatever I chose to do next, even if that meant moving 3000 miles away to study horses at the best school of its kind in the country.

Hours earlier I had received a letter from that school informing me that I had been wait listed. They allowed ten students into the English Horsemanship program and I was unlucky number eleven. I had flown across the country a month before to tour the school and perform a riding test. I made one mistake – picking up the wrong canter lead and not correcting it quickly enough – and I was done. “You’re welcome to try again next year!” the letter said.

What was I going to do? 

I shared the answer (and the rest of this post!)  at Anchored Voices earlier this month.  I hope you’ll join me there!