13.12.13

home

This morning I reached for my new coffee cup and thought of my granny.  Birds always make me think of her.  She knew about all kinds of local birds and took pleasure in feeding them.  She taught me how to call chickadees to let them know the feeder had been filled.

This will be her first Christmas in heaven.

I've always thought of heaven as kind of a big camp fire - everyone gathered around, sharing stories.  And as they share, they realize with complete clarity that Christ was with them every step of the way. Sometimes the stories will recount dark days of disappointment and sadness, but they won't be sad tales.  They will be testimonies of Jesus' presence.  Sometimes the stories will be interrupted with bursts of laughter because sometimes life is just crazy-hilarious.  But these moments won't leave the Lord out of the spotlight because then, too, will it be obvious that even if it seemed like a "non-spiritural" kind of event, He was there.  He was delighting in you and laughing with you.

This Christmas, I see Gramps, young and spry, grabbing Granny's arm saying "you've gotta see this."  Maybe they know they spent their earthly life as partners, but compared to being in the presence of Christ, it's really neither here nor there.

And when it's her turn to tell a story, she's ready!  Gramps laughs along, he remembers that time.  And the Lord's eyes smile as He always smiles when the ones He loves finally can see the big picture.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

My grandparents will have a wonderful Christmas with the Lord this year.  Don't we who are waiting for home want the same?  Oh, that we would have a glimpse of the glory of the One and Only and that, like Moses, our faces would shine for having seen Him.

He is not just a baby in the manger.  He is everything.
Glory.



3.12.13

in case i forget...

it can be good.

even when i feel so grumpy.
even when i feel hard-done-by.
it can be good.


even when i feel forced.
even when the youngest has expectations as high as the sky.
it can be good.


even when i'm tired.
even when it isn't "working for me."
it can be good.


even when he has another meeting.
even though she snaps at her sibling.
it can be good.


sit and breathe in the Word.
"Do not be afraid, I bring good news..."
Lord, You are good.


and after the good has washed over my soul,
there are cookies to make 
and stories to read.
soft cheeks that still welcome my kisses.


it's all good.

(photo credits: E & C Hall)


30.11.13

small fire

It got so cold so quickly around these parts.
A lovely fall one day, full-on winter the next, it seemed.

Isn't life just like that sometimes?
(and all the Manitobans said, "amen.")

But really, life, isn't it like that sometimes?

You're just walking through a season of beauty and warmth - you feel it all around you....

And suddenly - so very suddenly, it all gets cold.
And you find yourself in winter.
Not the winter that will go away by tomorrow, and you'll see grass again.  The one where the coldness gets colder and the showers are always flakes and pile and pile and pile.


But the warmth isn't all gone.


There's a small fire - a glimmer of grace, a feeling of love.  It pours down from heaven and this you hope will pile up and overflow.

And as you wait, it does overflow.

Truth and mercy.
Grace and goodness.


And it's still winter, but
the Light of love has come
and isn't going anywhere.


So all that's left to do is praise.


26.11.13

november 26

an average tuesday in most homes, but in our home we had a birthday to mark!

my beloved husband is (as he told the children) 10,047 today. (wink!)  unfortunately as busy days go, it wasn't the most magical of birthdays, but we tried to squeeze in a little celebrating.

here in these moments as he reads Narnia to the kids, i can take the opportunity to remember.

remembering is good for the soul.
good for a marriage.

my husband is God's gift to me.
we talk about that a lot in premarriage counselling.  if i believe it, which i do, how should i receive it...him?  i like presents, but a gift from God Himself? that's got to be the best!

my husband is not perfect.
but that's not what i'm here to talk about....

he is faithful and loving, truthful and kind.
and he loves me.
and he shows how much he loves me in a variety of ways.
he is an example to me of how to love.

he's not the same guy i fell in love with 19 years ago, though he has the same smile and same twinkle in his eye... i have had the privilege of court side seats to watch God at work in him.  the work isn't finished and hasn't always come quickly, but God is at work - isn't that what we hope for in ourselves?  he has grown to share more and more of himself.  just last week i learned something new!  he sets goals for himself ~usually secret goals~ and i only notice after he's met it.  growing and learning at 10,047? amazing!

i am not the same woman i was in 1994, either.  praise God!  my husband has been one of the primary chisels God has used to shape me to become more like Himself.  sometimes it's been through encouraging words.  he is my biggest fan and cheerleader!  sometimes it's been through learning to accept that i can't change him....hello humility, where have you been all my life?

overall, i'm just so thankful.
i'm thankful when he takes me to my favourite places, i'm thankful when he's in a bad mood for 2 days straight.  he is my gift and we fit together.

and if i ever stop being thankful for him, please tell me to get over myself and remind me to appreciate my gift.

18.11.13

tune in

it's a new day, a new week.

i got the kids off to school safely - everyone in these parts seem to still be getting used to the new snow...myself included!

i sit here with my coffee near by, as usual, wondering what to do with the day.  i'm looking at the week wondering how it will all turn out.

i feel pretty refreshed (now that i've some of said coffee) and fairly energized, but i feel compelled to sit still for a few moments.

"coincidentally," i came across this beautiful rendition of Come Thou Fount:


Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love


Lord, at the start of this new day, this new week, would You tune my heart to Your grace - how I need it!  As a musician tightens loose strings to tune their instrument, would You have Your way with my heart strings, even if it stretches me.  May I be an instrument of Your grace.  You are the never ending fountain of blessing in my life, let me be on the hunt for all the ways You love me.  Give me the strength to stand firm on You, the solid foundation that will never be shaken.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

A day doesn't go by, Lord, that I don't find a new way to need Your grace, it seems.  Bind my heart to Yours, beat by beat.  Help me to catch myself each time I feel like I'm about to wander; Remind me who You are.  Take my heart, give me the courage to be the woman You are calling me to be this day.  I love You and give You all praise and glory.

"And the LORD replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" Exodus 33:14


16.11.13

a moment

in a flash, a memory...

driving down the road the other day, i reached for my starbucks and gave it a little shake.  just a little coffee left.  thankful, i tilt the cup waaaay back to get every last drop.

in that moment, as though looking through a photo album, i see three babies.  my babies.  each them with a sippy cup, angled just so, head thrown back enjoying the last sips of milk.

(i always feel like i'm drinking from a sippy cup when i have coffee out...)

double fisting the sippers

everyone will say it, but man, time flies.

those days felt so long, but the years truly are, as they say, short.

i kept those sippy cups around for a few years after my youngest outgrew them (much sooner than the other two, as these things go).  i told myself it was a good thing to have on hand for when baby-friends came to visit.

i think we can be honest and agree, i just didn't want to stop seeing them in my cupboard!

ages and stages, this too shall pass, cherish every moment....


take from this what you will.

i took a few moments to look through old pictures and remember with a smile.  i looked at my kids and wondered what i will miss the most about the stage they're in now.

and then i decided to be here now, present and alert.

and i chose to say Thank You.

6.9.13

today

take a deep breath
and listen closely...

what's that sound?

it's silence.
quiet.
calm.

it's the coffee percolating,
the washer spinning,
the air conditioner blowing.

stillness.

it's Bible pages turning,
pen writing,
keyboard tapping.

peace.

no questions asking,
no distant fighting,
no tv blaring.

hush.

finally,
and yet suddenly?
the day has arrived.

backpacks,
lunches,
squeaky new shoes.

the first day of school.

breathe deeply
and enjoy the sound
of silence.

25.6.13




24.6.13

hello again

It's been a few weeks since I've posted here, but this place has often been on my mind.  I've been wondering ~again~ if I should bother with this writing.... what's the point, why not just journal for myself, blah, blah, blah.  Same old.

But each time I consider walking away, there's something that pulls me back.  I read around the blogosphere that I am what they call a "bad blogger."  I don't post often enough, or predictably enough, or maybe I haven't found my niche.

Well, I'm here to say that I will continue to resist that label and I will continue to resist being bound by those rules.

Rules are typically a comfort to me, but those rules make me want to rebel!

And I've also decided ~again~ that I'm not going to worry too much about what you, dear reader, think.  Harsh?  I hope you don't hear that way!  What I mean is that I'm going to be as honest as I feel called and trust that you will receive it with grace and understanding.

I've said before, that I'm guilty of caring too much about what people think, about pleasing someone-everyone.

But one of my goals is to release myself from thinking too much of what others think of me.  I am prone to worry if someone doesn't respond well to me in any given situation (did I offend them??) and can spend days obsessing wondering what it could have been that made them not like me.  Sadly, I wish everyone liked me.  Is that normal?  (maybe don't answer...)

The thing I'm learning, and am working on continuing to learn, is that everyone has their own stuff going on.  Just because someone seems annoyed or distant or unfriendly or ambivilant toward me, it's not necessarily a reflection on me.  It could have been the traffic they just faced, the bad news they just received, the argument they just had, the heartbreak they've had, the toe they just stubbed....

nothing remotely about ME.

The Lord has been showing me that it is my PRIDE that needs to be released.  While it feels like insecurity, it's actually pride.  How else could one define the notion that everyone around you is thinking about you all the time??

Romans 12:3 (NIV)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Proverbs 29:25 (CEB)

 People are trapped by their fear of others;
    those who trust the Lord are secure.

Huh!  So there goes God's Word perfectly describing my circumstance again!  I feel trapped by worry and performance anxiety when I think only of what people think of me.  Security comes from trusting in the Lord alone.  Thank you gracious Lord!

And so, the blog stays and along with it comes all the familiar inconsistancy and irregularity.  Like it or lump it, as they say!

May we continue to keep in step with the Spirit, looking to Him for our sense of acceptance and approval above and beyond all else!

31.5.13

remembering & a recipe

Yesterday afternoon I was preparing to have company that evening, but all the while I was missing my Granny - she's been gone to Glory for a week now.

Then it struck me....

What better way to reminisce the life of a lady I loved so dearly than to make one of her "famous" recipes for our guests!

At her funeral a couple of days ago, almost everyone who shared a memory spoke of her hospitality.  Her daughters said her simple and unapologetic style was a lesson to them, while her grandkids all remembered many, many delicious meals.  Homemade bread and jelly would have been the most traditional thing I could have served our friends last night, but I decided to pull out a recipe that she made often when the ladies of the church were required to bring "dainties" and always at Christmas time.

In my recipe book, it is simply called "Granny's Cheesecake" (though there is no cheese in it!).


I love this recipe because it's simple - no mixer required! - and light.  Like many recipes in my family book, the instructions are ....brief.  But really, brief is plenty in this case!

Granny's Cheesecake

Mix together:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (crush them yourself if you like extra work!)
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter


Press half the mixture into the bottom of a 5x7 pan. (I used an 8x8 that's teflon.  The recipe didn't say to grease it...so I didn't, but if your pan is not non-stick, maybe you want to?)

In a separate bowl, mix together:

1 can Eagle Brand milk (there was a time that this was a very popular baking ingredient!)
1/2 cup lemon juice (I used one fresh squeezed lemon to make 1/4 cup and filled the rest with bottled juice.  I know my Granny never would have used fresh lemon - too expensive, but I happened to have one on hand.)
1 tsp lemon extract


Pour into pan and top with the rest of the crumb mixture.  Lightly press.

(You can turn the pan different angles to get the filling into the corners!)



Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.  (I think I should have done 25 min in the 8x8 pan, but it still turned out great!)

I left it in the pan for the afternoon and cut it just before our guests arrived.  The crumb mixture is very crumbly (go figure) but the filling holds it together just right!



As I pressed the crumbs on top of the filling, I noticed I left a few hand prints.  I smiled as I could imagine my hands becoming Granny's hands, her rings on swollen-from-work fingers, delicately but quickly pressing the crumbs in - there are other chores to be done!  I thought about how many of her hand prints I hand eaten over the years in her cheesecake, breads, toffee, and many other specialties.

Of course I never thought of such crazy things at the time... but I guess that's what memories are for.

20.5.13

Monday

walking in the room
i felt drawn to her
as i always have

she would greet me with a smile
a big hug
"my girl"
something cooking on the stove

i looked at her face-
was her brow furrowed
or are the lines there from years of squinting in the sun?

her eyes laid closed
but i remember their sparkle
blue like love

i held her hand
it was warmer than the other day
her breathing has changed

i looked at her arm and asked about the bruises
i thought about her watch and
how i used to turn and stretch it as she held my hand
and i studied her skin

i stroked her hand and saw her wedding ring
such a lovely setting
her heart belonging only to him even after he was gone

i listened to her breathe
like a deep sleep
with a sense of urgency
and i prayed

we love her, Jesus
we know You do too
be her Comfort
be her Peace

amen.

16.5.13

Thursday

Today has been an average Thursday.



I got my teeth cleaned.
I went to our weekly staff meeting at the church.
I did some laundry and tidied the house.
The kids had music lessons.
I didn't make supper (thank you McHelper).
We had some sweet couples over for our young marrieds small group.
I tucked kids in, listened to prayers and kissed soft cheeks.

But this average Thursday has had a sound track that has been running through my mind (and playing on my computer) all day.

"O Love That Will Not Let Me Go" by George Matheson

This beautiful old hymn has been my sound track as I stretched out on the dentist's chair, as I washed sheets and put away lego pieces and stacked books.  These words have rung on as I have driven to and fro, as I made coffee and waved good bye to our guests.  Lyrics have become prayer as I thought of my loved ones walking through scary and deep waters, as I pondered the coming days, weeks, months.


  1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O light that foll’west all my way,
    I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
    My heart restores its borrowed ray,
    That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
    May brighter, fairer be.
  3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.
  4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
    I dare not ask to fly from thee;
    I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
    And from the ground there blossoms red
    Life that shall endless be.


And on an average Thursday, I trace the rainbow through the rain and feel - as best as I can - the promise is not vain.  I lift up my burdens and the burdens of those I love and I try to trust enough for all of us.  


O Love, You will not let us go.




7.5.13

Jesus

I broke my promise to myself.  At the beginning of the year, I committed to reading the Bible through in a year, and this time I wasn't going to let myself get more than a week behind.

So far today I've read the scripture passages for April 27 and 28.
sigh.

BUT, I'm reading and I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit whispering to me.  The kids ran out the door for school and my eyes fell on the new issue of Better Homes and Gardens that I picked up yesterday.  I was saving it for today... but I heard the whisper "do not neglect My Word."

Picking up my Daily Devotional Bible, I knew what was coming (and maybe that's why I was putting it off a little): Job.  Not exactly uplifting material. Very real life.

And yet!

I saw something today that I hadn't noticed before.  (If you have, please smile knowingly as I share my "discovery.")

You know the story of Job - super good guy, considered "the finest man in all the earth- a man of complete integrity" by the Lord Himself.  Satan assumes Job is this way because of all the blessing he has received from the Lord, so God allows Satan to take away everything - everything - except Job's life.  Job is obviously very shaken by this turn of events but never curses God...questions, yes, but never curses.

But what I noticed today was a certain longing that Job expressed as he sat with his friends and they tried to counsel and comfort him.  Two times (in the 14 chapters I've read so far!) Job speaks in "if only" terms that seem to point to someone he didn't know - Jesus.

In chapter 9, Job addresses his buddy Bildad, reminding him of how awesome and in control God is.  At the end of the chapter, you can almost see his gaze change from looking into the face of his friend, to looking far off - maybe to the sky - as he wonders aloud:

"If only there were a mediator who could bring us [God and people] together, but there is none." (v33)

Did a scripture just pop into your mind?

"For there is one God and one mediator 
between God and mankind, 
the man Christ Jesus." 
1 Timothy 2:5

Later in chapter 14, Job laments that life is all there is - he assumes there is nothing after the last breath.

"If mortals die, can they live again? This thought would give me hope, and through my struggle I would eagerly wait for release.  You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.  For then you would count my steps, instead of watching for my sins.  My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover over my iniquity."

He dreams of time where His sins are covered and His relationship with God is clean.  

"We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place 
by the blood of Jesus...
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart 
and with the full assurance that faith brings, 
having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us 
from a guilty conscience and 
having our bodies washed with pure water." 
Hebrews 10:19-22

He dreams of restoration and newness that we know comes when God fulfills His promise of a new heaven and new earth...all because of the finished work of Jesus.


And I couldn't help but imagine the look on Job's face when he got to heaven, after a life devoted to God in good times and very difficult times.  I picture the Father pointing to His Son, and imagine Job's face as he looked into the eyes of Jesus.  Can you just see the slow recognition, as the bigger picture came into view?  Don't your eyes burn with tears as you envision Job, his own tears streaming down his face as he slowly falls to his knees in worship.  I imagine I can hear his voice whisper through his tears, "thank you. thank you. thank you."  

For he now knows it was Jesus all along.  Jesus was the Hope, the Mediator, the Plan.

Take the whisper with you all day long: thank you.

23.4.13

competition

From the time girls are small, they tend to be very relational.


This often comes in the form of "me too!"

"I got a new toy," a girl might mention, and her friend will happily chirp, "Me too!" even if her new toy was 6 months ago...  Or, "my favorite food is pizza!" to which one of the girls in her circle will reply, "Me too!  I like pepperoni!" even when her real favorite is spaghetti...

This desire to be relational, to say "me too!" can also take the form of "notice me! I'm the same!"

I saw it more than once in the line up in front of my daughter's preschool class.  "That's a pretty dress, Cassidy!" a little cutie would comment.  And if my child didn't immediately reciprocate, I would see the girl start to sway her own twirly skirt until my daughter would see and respond, "I like you're dress too!"

This doesn't end in the preschool, or even middle school...  As women, we want to belong and we want to be noticed.  We attempt to prove our worth to the people around us to gain their approval and to feel good about ourselves.  We compete with the other women in our lives - whether that is what we would like to call it or not.  We don't compete like men.  This is no head-to-head combat, where the winner takes all (and they walk away still friends).  This is more subtle than that, and we might not even really realize what it is happening.  If we are not careful, we will find ourselves trying to one-up the people we care about.  Oh you did that?  ...Well listen to what I did!

We can see it through social networking.  Often.


status update:  "Today I cleaned out my storage closet.  What a job!"

comment: "wow, great job!  i cleaned out my closet today too.  and my garage, and all my kitchen cupboards! :)"

instragram photo: "Here's a picture of the cake I made for my son's birthday"

comment:  "looks great!  i wish i had time to make cakes, i've been so busy growing organic produce in my backyard."

tweet: "So proud of my child for winning the spelling bee!"

comment:  "how fun!  i remember my child's first spelling bee win..."

And that's how we respond on a good day, a day when our self esteem is in a good place!

On a day when we feel low or insecure or responses would be different:

status update:  "Today I cleaned out my storage closet.  What a job!"

comment:  "I wish I had a storage closet to clean out.  I have no storage at all."

or,
comment: "You are so lucky to have so much free time!"

instragram photo: "Here's a picture of the cake I made for my son's birthday"

comment: "my last attempt at a cake was a total disaster.  i wish i could make cakes like you."

tweet: "So proud of my child for winning the spelling bee!"

comment: "my kid couldn't win a spelling bee if the words were taped to her face. :( "

Of course, we probably wouldn't post those ones.  We'd just think it... and walk away feeling less-than.

Is there a way to share our lives with each other without measuring ourselves by the successes and failures of the people around us?  Is there a way we can celebrate with our friends without lamenting ourselves?  Can we choose to just be happy for someone and have it not be about us at all?

Today I remind myself that scripture has the answer!  If I want to know what love in action looks like, what it means to be humble (because that will help!), and how God is calling me to live, His Word is where to find it.  Today I'm thinking about Romans 12.  I want to give all of myself - heart, mind and body to the Lord.  I want to keep a right perspective of myself.  And I want to be sincere in my love for others!  I will, with the help of the Holy Spirit, get myself out of the way when I look at others and let it just be about them.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice;" Romans 12:15 says, "mourn with those who mourn."

Let's look for ways to encourage others today, without expecting anything in return!

17.4.13

thinking about thinking

Sunday morning as we drove to church, my son commented on a few geese we saw in the sky.  "It's amazing, isn't it, that God made animals' brains to know when to go and when to stay, even though they don't think like humans?" he said.  We agreed.  "The human brain is even more amazing," he continued, "That in itself is proof that there is a Creator."  We agreed again.

It got me to thinking...

The human brain is an amazing thing, and yet at the same time, it can sometimes feel like our undoing.

Thinking thoughts... always thinking.



Good thoughts, happy memories, dreams and positivity.

But all to often...

Angry mental tirades, regrets, worry and negative thinking.

Thoughts seem to come out of nowhere, and in the past few days I've been burdened by thoughts that are bringing me down and I can't explain why these things have popped up.  Every time these unwelcome thoughts enter my mind, I pray they would just as quickly leave.  And when they return, I pray again.

Where do thoughts come from and how do we manage our thought life?

Scripture says to "take every thought captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5)... That came to mind right away, and I believe it!  I also believe that in order to get rid of ugly thoughts, I need to replace them with positive things.

So I searched biblegateway.com.

thoughts, think, mind...

The Bible has much to say on these topics!

The book of Romans contrasts a mind set on fleshly desires (worldly things) vs. a mind set on spiritual things and describes the mind as the starting point of my actions. (Romans 8:5)  It also challenges me to "renew" my mind (Romans 12:2), for that is the way to true transformation to becoming more like Christ.

When Colossians 3:2 tells me to "set my mind on things above," does it mean to think about pearly gates and streets of gold?

I guess that could be part of it, but I think it's more about training myself not to dwell on unlovely thoughts.  By that I don't mean unconfessed sin or something of that nature (because those things would need to be dealt with before the Lord), but anything that is untrue or discouraging  - things that make me feel like a failure, or unloveable.

When unexpected thoughts come into my mind, I shoo them away by replacing them with Truth!  I remind myself of Who God is and what He has done in my life and in the world.  I look to the Word or sing praise songs to His name.  I fix my heart and mind on the saving work of Jesus.  I recite one of the verses I haven't forgotten (Phil 4:8).

I don't know why these thoughts come in when they are never entertained for long and are certainly not welcome - you'd think they'd get the hint!  But I do believe Isaiah 26:3 is true:

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.

And so I trust, I train myself to focus on His good and I thank God for a reasonably sound mind (most days!)

How do you keep yourself from drowning in your thoughts?

2.4.13

united

one of my favourite feelings is "us against them."


jeremyhiebert.ca



does that require some explanation?

ok then.  what i mean is, one of my favourite feelings within my family is "parents against the kids."

there are days that husband and wife struggle to see eye to eye on parenting (or life in general).  but there are those better days when the kids are bananas and the parents can't help but laugh together, conspire together, and plan to put the kids to bed early just to be together.

those days are great!

...so much better than feeling like i'm smarter and know more about how to handle every parenting situation that comes our way.

...so much better that feeling right.

...so much better than being on the side of the kids.

being on the same side with him is much more fun.
i need to remember this.

27.3.13

back in time

scents of cinnamon and spice waft through the kitchen.  the monkey bread smells almost done.
i fluff the pillows and straighten things up in the living room as we wait for our guests to arrive.
moving back to the kitchen, i pull out my bright green colander and some colourful fresh fruit for washing.

strawberries, raspberries and bright green grapes.

washing carefully, i methodically hull and quarter the strawberries.  i remove the stems of the grapes.  as i place them mixed in my favourite bowl, i add the raspberries.  but not before i pop one in my mouth.


in an instant, i am transported through time.

i am ten years old, in my granny's garden looking for the biggest, ripest raspberries, trying not to take them all from the same area.

i am running with my brother or a cousin past the property line marked by tall grasses and rocks.  i am hopeful that the old school house will be open for exploration like it was just that one time.  i am hopeful that i haven't collected too many wood ticks.

i am visiting the crates filled with bunnies.  i pause at the babies and stick my finger through the wire to feel soft white fur.

i am watching my grandpa chop wood and stack it carefully in the pile, row upon row for a winter's worth of warmth.

i am cleaning the playhouse.  organizing empty spice jars filled with twigs and rocks and opening the window for fresh air.

i am hearing my granny's voice, calling me in for lunch.  homemade soup, fresh warm bannock, raisin spice cookies, grandpa's favourite.

and then the doorbell rings, our guests are here.  i shake my head into today and smile.

and i have another raspberry.

20.3.13

modest

I like clothes.
And I like to look nice.
I'm pretty sure I've always been like that.

My grandma has a picture in her collection of me and my cousin standing together the year we coincidentally ended up with very similar swimsuits.  We were probably around 9 or 10, and while we were both very much "children" in our appearance, one of us was standing like a regular kid and the other was posing like (what she thought was) a super model.

I'll let you guess which was which...

I've always cared about my appearance and my clothes - sometimes too much.  In the last number of years, however, I've thought a lot more about modesty.  I certainly went through a phase where modesty was of no concern to me, but as I've gotten a little older and watched the styles and trends change; as have had two daughters of my own, modesty has been something I've spent more time considering.  Why is modesty important?  Who is modesty for?  What does modesty look like?

Last summer at teen camp, my husband asked me to speak to the girls about godly sexuality, and modesty again came to mind.  Today I was reminded of some of things the Lord taught me in preparing for that talk.  A facebook friend/relative of mine posted a link to an article written by Sharon Hodde Miller for Relavant magazine which also included another link to a separate article she had written for her-meneuntics (a division of Christianity Today).
[click the links to read both articles]

Let me just say, this lady and I are of one mind!

As I read (and "amen-ed") these two pieces, I thought of my seven year old daughter.  This girl cares about her personal style.  She likes colourful dresses and fun tshirts, and she loves to be complimented on her outfit!  As a toddler, she was the one who could be seen twirling her skirt for the attention it brought her.  More than once I wondered about the fashion choices she would want to make as a teen....

she's poser - just like her mom!
I'm not sure when I first introduced the idea of modesty to her.  I don't remember it being intentional.  But at some point the word came out and the concept must have been explained, because she knows what it means.  As we watched the red carpet for the Oscars together (doesn't everyone do that with their 7 yr old?), she had much to say about the dresses she admired!

What made my heart swell at the time was that she wasn't judgemental of the choices the actresses had made, she showed discernment.  "oh, her dress is such a pretty colour and I love the way it ruffles in the back," she would say, "but it probably is a little immodest at the front top part...."

It makes me think.  Here is a girl who doesn't yet understand the feeling of power a young woman can feel by dressing in a way that makes boys swoon (which is sweet way of saying something that likely isn't sweet).  She's learning to assess outfits and choices based on whether or not it's appropriate for her and honouring to God.  Maybe she doesn't think it exactly in those terms, but she is thinking.

I want modesty for my daughters, but I don't want it for them if it means they think their bodies are bad or dirty or irreverant just because they're female.  I want my girls to honour the bodies God has made for them by feeding them well, exercising them for health, and dressing them appropriately - so that they are fit (in all senses of the word) for the things God is calling them to do.

I want this for myself too, and for all women.  Let us offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is our spiritual act of worship. (Rom 12:1)  And may we be motivated by love for our loving Creator and a desire to serve and please Him.

18.3.13

faith in the faithful One

In case you need a reminder today, 
here's our precious first born at 2 years old singing 
"Faithful One."


Perfect truth from the mouth of a baby.


Thank You, Lord

12.3.13

love/hate

today i must speak of coffee.

oh, coffee, i love you...and sometimes hate you.

a little history:

i started drinking coffee when i was 16 and at summer camp for the entire season.  long days and short nights for weeks on end will make you do crazy things.  like drink coffee.  even when it's yucky.  i didn't continue throughout the school year, but back at camp for the following summers, it became my routine.

bible school would seem like a good time to start drinking coffee, but my land lady ruled the kitchen and made a very unpleasant combination of ground beans and water.  so with the exception of a couple of all-nighters i pretended to pull, i didn't drink it.

it wasn't until after i was married and began working at a new job that started at 6:30am that i really started drinking coffee.  this place had the most wonderful cafeteria with delicious, fresh coffee.  all i had to do was swipe my little card and the cost would be deducted from my paycheck.  yes, sometimes it seemed like my pay went directly back to the company.  will work for coffee....

by the time i got pregnant, i was "committed" enough to my habit that going without left me with piercing headaches.  (booo, coffee!)  i continued to drink a small cup of half-caf each morning and outside of the fact that someone once speculated that my daughter was "so crazy" because i drank coffee in my pregnancy, my doctor said it was fine.  oh, and actually, she was a toddler.  that's all.  not some crazed caffeine addict.  nevertheless....

strangely, the next 2 pregnancies, i couldn't touch the stuff.  in fact, i would make it every day and pour myself a cup, but every time i walked past it, i would shudder.  ugh, don't want that!  (took me a long time to stop making it every morning....let's call it pregnancy brain.)

the times when my kiddos where the youngest is the time i drank the most.  for the caffeine, sure, but also just to have that moment - just that quiet few seconds: sip, ahhhh.... ok where are they now??

love.

but last year when this strange new thing started to become a strange common thing - this heart racing, shallow breathing, panic feeling thing - i thought about my friend beverage, coffee.  i read online and i searched my heart.  i cut back, but felt like i needed to do more.

a friend (and mentor) suggested decaf.  fearful of headaches that leave me debilitated (i really try not to make drastic changes in my life/diet that will cause my family to pay the price), i started mixing my own beans.  i found the most delightful decaf that doesn't taste different at all (to me) and now mix 2 parts decaf with one part regular.

the best result for me is that because i did it gradually, i no longer wake up (most days) feeling like i need coffee.  it's a pleasant part of my morning routine, that is all.  i'm thankful because i no longer feel mastered by it.

oooh, and i also started making my own vanilla coffee syrup, which i like better than the expen$ive types i used to buy.  thankyouverymuch, paula deen via pinterest!

how 'bout you?  do you love or hate coffee?


5.3.13

more or less

everyone has their opinion about stuff.

some people are comforted by being surrounded by the things they love, and sparse decor makes them feel cold and uncomfortable.

others feel suffocated by too many things out and around, and clutter makes them anxious and on edge.

i definitely fall into the latter category.

i have always preferred a tidy space.  my friends in high school used to "mess" with me by moving things on my dresser and in my room a quarter inch when i left the room and would laugh hysterically as i not-so-subtly slid them back into their proper position.

order.
organization.
clutter-free.

without these i have a tendency to feel quickly overwhelmed and the anxiety levels rise.  (yes, pray for me!)

my little secret, though, is that sometimes the solution to my neatfreak tidy needs is a good closet or drawer.  sweep it all away and close that door!  instant relief.

until, that is, you need something from said closet.  oy.

this is the position in which i found myself after neglecting my annual post-Christmas purge.  the century home we live in has loads of great character and very little closet and storage space, so we have created a space in our laundry room fondly known as the "behind the curtain storage."  we cleverly came up with name to define an area of storage that we've hung a curtain in front of.  i know, genius.

after many, many months of no care, this area had gotten out of control!  and every time i needed something from it (which is often) or had an idea to do some kind of sewing project (this is where all my supplies are kept), i just couldn't "go there."

ok, do you want to see it?

this is where we keep G's suit jackets, all our games,
misc linens, all sewing supplies, random wires and manuals for things,
gift bags & tissue paper, some other toys not in use as well as
a couple of infrequently used kitchen pans.

now, i can admit that this doesn't actually look that bad.  the problem for me is that every basket and container that was meant to help with the organization had become a huge hodge-podge of random mess.  (including a fair bit of junk that apparently at some point i thought i needed to keep...)

but that's just the problem - it's the "what if i need this?" that can lead to a situation like this.  i know my space has limited storage (every space has it's limits), and so i know that right now i don't have the luxury of keeping things "just in case."  if i don't have space for it, it has to go.

and so i got down to it - peter walsh's show playing in the background.  i sorted every basket and box, i looked at every item and cleaned in, around and behind.  i grabbed some big bags and began to fill them with things that i may actually wish i had one day (and so what?).  as i released things from my life, i felt other burdens lift.  burdens of what if and if only.  where the empty spaces of the closet appeared, peace filled my soul.

and after the bags were out the back door ready for a trip to the goodwill store, i pulled back the curtain again to behold the fruit of my labor.


*happy sigh*

i feel better.

from there i moved to the kids closets and the front entrance.  it felt so good to be productive and have order in some hidden spaces - of my home and of my heart.

Do you have a (home or heart) closet that needs purging?

20.2.13

encouraged

I slumped into my mini van tonight at just after 5pm.  It had been a long day already and I was feeling tired.  discouraged.  disheartened.  My set list for the night's practice was not ready, and nothing about it felt right.

I've said many times that I love my job, and it's true I do.

However, there is the artistic side of the worship planning I do that can produce the same angst that any artist knows well.   Maybe for you it's when your painting looks great to everyone else, but you see the space that's missing...something.  Maybe it's your scrapbook layout that looks a little off, or your cake that is a little...different.

Art can be anything, and for me it's music and scripture.  The Spirit leads and the most days the set comes together without too much trouble, but every once in a while it comes with much struggle.  The song sheets pile high as nothing feels right or works or sounds exactly like I hear it in my head.

Like I say, angst.

But after the struggle, I humbly present my offering to the Lord and to my team and they receive it with grace.  My friend strums his guitar to the opening song (too familiar? too over-done?) and his lovely wife starts to play the piano.  The song begins to come alive and the Spirit nudges, "See? I told you it was the right one."

Another friend walks in and looks at the closing song and exclaims, "I was just playing this song earlier today!  Man, I love that song!"

Song by song we rehearse and my spirit rises with the beauty of the music, the truth of the lyrics and by the hand of the Spirit.

And when we finish, we rush down the hall to start our choir rehearsal where I introduce one of our Easter selections.  My flesh worries "will they like it?"  At the first notes of the song, the fun begins!  Everyone loves the song, enjoying the challenge of the score.  There is laughter and singing and praise to our risen Lord.  These are my friends who I also get to sing with!  Thank you, Lord!



I lock up the church and hop back into my mini van at 9:50pm.  I find myself smiling as I drive back home and then I find myself praying.  Thanking the Lord for His goodness and provision.  Thanking Him for music, for struggle, for truth and for friends.


Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
 because you, brother, 
have refreshed the hearts 
of the Lord’s people. 
(Philemon 1:7)

14.2.13

mushy

i always get a little mushy on this day.

valentine's day.

i know most people are "chill" about it saying it's a made up holiday to sell cards and flowers, but i love it.  my feeling is, if there's one day when you're kind of forced into telling the people in your life how much you love them and why, that can't be a bad thing!  let it propel you into lovin' on your loved ones for the other 364 days of the year!

so today i'm a little mushy and i'm thinking back once again.

and when i get mushy, i pull out old photos.

this is the first photo i have of just the two of us.  
it was an anniversary party for my aunt and uncle and i asked my dad to try and "sneak" a picture of us together.


this one is from Christmas Eve.  
he started coming to our traditional family gathering in 1995 and we still go every year (with our 3 kids!).


this was his birthday party thrown by his mom.
was i surprised to see party hats at a 29th birthday?
why yes, i was!


this was the last summer before we were married.
we're at camp - "our" camp.
the place that brought us (and many others) together;
where we fell in love 
(and always fall a little more in love when we serve there each summer).



the next summer!
august 8, 1997
someone gave me this snapshot of us just after we said 
"i do!"


this was taken at our dear friends' wedding.
we had just celebrated our last christmas as two.
little did we know what the Lord had in store for us in 2000!


i am so thankful to have many happy memories to look back on
even when there were (and will continue to be) 
rough patches and deep waters.
i know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are an excellent fit as partners and i praise God that we continue to have lots of fun together - with the kids, and plenty without!

love u, G!


12.2.13

ready?

Have you thought about practicing Lent this year?

I actually kind of forgot it was coming up so quickly....as in tomorrow it starts.  I was reminded when I read Ann Voskamp's blog - she explains it really well.

A Holy Experience
link to post

When I started searching for ways to do it as a family, I found this really interesting looking daily devotional with some neat ideas.

Then as I continued searching and started thinking about the Holy Week services I'll need to start planning, I came across this video.



What a beautifully illustrated story of Jesus in the wilderness.  How He loves us.  How He gave Himself - Him Self - up for us.

What can I give up, even for just a few weeks to practice sacrifice, to practice dying to myself...to gain life in Him?

8.2.13

practice

yes, i took this just as the light turned green.
the drummer is the light in the middle of the picture.
Last night as I was heading out for the evening, I got stopped at a stoplight very close to home.  I had just missed the light, so I knew I would be there for a couple of minutes.  Some movement caught my eye.  I looked up toward to the apartment block directly in front of me and found the window where something was happening inside.

It took me a second to realize what the person was doing, but somehow, I couldn't take my eyes off that little rectangle of light.  I saw that this person was playing the drums!  All I could see was the bob of their head to rhythm of their own beat and the rise of their sticks, but I knew that's what they were doing.  It looked so fun! I wanted to be in there listening.  (Though I did hope it was electric drum pads he or she was playing, what with the apartment living and all!)

"Practice, practice," I encouraged him silently in my head. "You will get better and better and enjoy you instrument more and more as you practice."

I suddenly remembered a blog post I read the other day about the benefits of music lessons for children.  I agreed with it all (naturally) but one part stuck out to me as something I hadn't thought of before.  Number 2 on list of benefits was that practicing is a lesson in perseverance.  Oh, that's so true!  Why have I never thought of it like that?  At the time I planned to encourage my kids with this truth to assist them in getting their practicing done.

But last night the lesson was for me.

I've recently gotten myself into a situation where I'm doing something I don't feel very good at and am not enjoying.  I've wished I could quit, but I feel kind of trapped (which makes me want to hide under the covers, makes me actually wish for the flu...).  I've asked the Lord if there's a classy way to get out this, but until last night I hadn't heard what He wanted from me.

I watched that drummer practice (and almost missed the green light!) and I knew the Lord was telling me,

"Practice, practice.  You will get better and enjoy it more as you practice.  You will learn as you persevere."

Honestly, not the answer I was hoping for, but knowing you're going in the right direction is always an encouragement!

What are you practicing these days?

2.2.13

please!

If you struggle with a little unofficially-named disorder called "People Pleasing" you will know that there are times when people can appear very, very scary.

There is a reasonable side to pleasing others that says you will seek to put the needs of others ahead of your own, in Christ-like fashion, but also know that you can't please everyone all the time.  There will be times that people don't agree with decisions you make, and that's OK.

That sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

If you are silently answering, "yes, but...." then you probably have the same disorder I fight.

People Pleasing can be debilitating and will produce stomach churning anxiety.  You will worry about what someone thinks, but not just in a calm, rational way.  You will turn that worry over and over and over until you feel something similar to motion sickness.  You will attempt to predict how they will respond - usually with the worst case scenerio.  You will want to avoid the Scary Person (who is, you realize, just a person....not so scary, but you can't stop seeing them through scary lenses).  You will tell yourself you are virtuous because, really, you just want them to be happy.  You tell yourself you just want to please them, when really what you want to do is jump up and down in front of them and cry,

"please, please like me!  don't be mad at me!  please accept me!  PLEASE!"

This is no way to live (I tell myself).


In the midst of some strange and very specific rules for the Israelites in the book of Leviticus, there are five verses that jumped off the page into my people-pleasing heart yesterday.  (From chapter 18:1-5)

Then the Lord said to Moses, 
“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. 
I am the Lord your God. 
So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, 
or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. 
You must not imitate their way of life. 
You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, 
for I am theLord your God. 
If you obey my decrees and my regulations, 
you will find life through them. 
I am the Lord.

I hear the Lord reminding me:  Don't look at how other people live.  Don't try and do things the way they do them just because you think they'll like you more.  Don't worry about what they think about the decisions you make.  Look at Me!  Look at Me and please Me.  Not because you're bound to rules but because I AM the One who gives you life.  I AM your Lord.

The disorder will not go away over night and the knot in my stomach is still there to a degree, but now it serves as a reminder to surrender my worries, my identity to Jesus.

31.1.13

ode to the laundry



O laundry you pile up before my eyes.
i blink and your baskets overflow.
i put you away clean and folded and you reappear
crumpled and worn.

O laundry you call my name.
you use the voices of others:
"i have no socks"
"where are my pants?"
"are you done the washing yet?"

O laundry you mark the time.
once you were tiny sleepers and onesies,
now you are are hoodies and t-shirts
and skinny jeans.

O laundry you are my weekly reminder
that times does indeed fly...
(oh, there it goes just now!)
and that we have much to be thankful for...
(another pair of his favourite jeans)
and that it's efficient machines i use
not rocks and a river.

O laundry.
How could I call you a blessing?
But you are.
Laundry, you are.

25.1.13

bright spot

it has been very cold up here in our little part of the world.

very.
cold.

like -45˚C (-49˚F) with the windchill kind of cold.

like the kind of weather many americans think we have all the time and that we're used to because we live in igloos, but that we're NOT used to, and we really dislike, no matter how tough we try to act about it!

car parts fall off.  yes, that happened to us this week.

house pipes freeze.  yes, that happened to friends this week.

exposed skin freezes in seconds so children stay indoors for days at a time. (and have a LOT of pent up energy.)

it's rough.

but there's one marvel that only happens in weather like this.

sundogs.

here's the wiki definition of a sundog, if you don't know (or if your kids have been asking and you just now remembered to look it up):

Sundogs are made commonly of plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus clouds or, during very cold weather, by ice crystals called diamond dust drifting in the air at low levels. These crystals act as prisms, bending the light rays passing through them with a minimum deflection of 22°. If the crystals are randomly oriented, a complete ring around the sun is seen — a halo. But often, as the crystals sink through the air they become vertically aligned, so sunlight is refracted horizontally — in this case, sundogs are seen.

sundogs are a beautiful phenomenon and always a delight to spot.  this morning i pulled back the curtains and saw the sundogs rising with the sun... there's something i've never in my 37 years seen before!
one of the sundogs

i couldn't get a good picture of the sun and it's two "dogs" because it was too close and too low and i certainly was NOT going outside to take a picture!

but here's a picture my friend took driving home from the northern US through the flat plains of north dakota:



it can be hard to find good in these cold days that can be such a bother, but this morning those sundogs were a gift.  a reminder that God is in the freezing cold, and creating beauty within.  after being "laid up" for 2 days with my silly back, it was just the reminder that i needed.  sometimes i need to be slowed down, stopped even, to see the greatness of my God.  sometimes it takes the struggle for us to start earnestly seeking the face of the Lord and finding true delight when we catch that little glimpse.

yes, there is a bright spot today, two in fact! one on either side of the sun.

a gift.

Psalm 136:1-8

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever. 
who made the great lights
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day, 
His love endures forever.

Can you find a bright spot to this day? 

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