Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Love Like This

I cried last week.
Not all-out-weeping mind you, but tears of both hard reality mingled with thankfulness.

Last week was the last time I will visit my grandparents in their present home.

Over a year ago, they both required extra care in order to live as independently as possible. My mom, their passionate care giver and advocate, found the best care possible at the time, worked endlessly to make the move (which was significant) all come together. And, for the first time ever, I found myself living in the same community as my grandparents.

With our learn-at-home lifestyle last year, it was much easier to scoot over for a 1/2 hour visit every few weeks. I treasured these times, though it wasn't always easy!!, because I knew that they were limited.

My grandparents are in the minority - they are both aging (and forgetting!) things at the same time. Typically, one spouse goes through this process much sooner than the other, requiring the two, who've spent the majority of their lives together, to be forced to live apart. Even though it's hard to watch them forget, at least they are in it together!!

Grandma and Grandpa are still so affectionate with each other. Every one I talk to who has seen them comments on this. The trials and lessons of life have, over the years, brought them even closer. Both having been widowed early in life, they blended families, careers, interests and love for God and family. These days, they often sit side by side on the couch, holding hands, still enjoying each other's company. Their camaraderie is evident, even when the fog of hazy memory sets in.

The other side of this love story is my own mom, who has devoted much time and energy to their care. To anyone who finds themselves caring for aging loved ones, I pray for you. Yours is not an easy task. It hurts to remember when others forget; it can be painful to care for those who once cared for you.

And yet - you remember. You serve. You care.
And how often in our fast-paced world do we not care, not serve, not remember.

These are the examples I have before me, and I am thankful.

I came home from that last visit and called my mom. I am so thankful she took the time to care for my grandparents. They are now at a stage where they require even more care, and instead of separating them (which is the standard procedure is), she has advocated their situation once again and now they will move on to more supportive care together. This is "never done"because "it goes against policy." She didn't take "no" for an answer. How grateful I am.

Once the hub-bub of christmas life passes, we will go and visit them in their new space. I will continue to share the stories of our times together with them and my girls. They no longer remember, but I do. We will laugh. We will say "I love you."

And when we leave, their minds may forget that we've even been there, but their hearts won't.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Creating Quiet

It's been a while since I posted.
I could blame full days, sleep-lacking nights, trying to fit as much as I can into one day.

But, I don't think that's it.

I've created posts that are stuck in draft mode.
I've sat down to type, and experience the frustration of writers block. Ack!
I've mentally written as I move throughout the day, but none of it clicks.

Every so often, I think, you move into a place that words just aren't adequate for.
I'm in that place.
I can't say it's a bad place; stretching, often perplexing, a bit lot disorienting maybe.
But it'd not bad.

It's at times like these I wish I could take pictures.
Like GOOD ones :).
Using images instead of words for expression.
But alas, that is not my forte. :)

I often turn to music; allowing the prayer and poetry others have set down to bring clarity and focus when my own feels lacking.

And sometimes, I think, it's just quiet I crave.

Our world is so full of noise - internet chatter, media, little ones needing attention, the hum of the activities of life.
And there is internal clutter as well - not knowing what to finish next :) (I don't usually have a hard time starting something, it's finishing something that feels like such a challenge!). Wrestling. Waiting.

It's in the stillness, when we move beyond words, that we can hear what is going on behind this sound.

When I used to "work outside the home," I would sometimes come home after a full full day, and say when I walked in the door, "no one make a sound." Funny thing was, I was home before Jon, this was a day and age before puppy and kids :), and there WAS no one to make a sound :). I would walk as quietly as possible, leaving radio off, AND it was a day before we had internet at home (can you even imagine!???). And I would just soak in the silence until my ears stopped ringing and my heart felt settled again.

This fall as been about new adjustments, new routines, new anticipations.
It has also been about learning to listen again; and for me, that seems to be taking some time.

In the meantime, these are some of my favorite quiet sounds...
- the sound of the coffee maker finishing it's job
- the sound of snow falling
- a sick baby finally sleeping
- the delight of a whispered thank you
- the sound of a friend laughing
- the settled sigh of the only puppy I've ever loved :)
- an unexpected time of quiet to just be

I'm curious.
What images, words, songs, or lack of all the above is quieting for you ;)?

Friday, October 12, 2012

How can it be.....

Here I sit, drinking a cup of hot tea.
The leaves are almost blown completely off the trees.
Our temperatures feel already-too-chilly for this time of year.
We've had sleet and snow and power outages due to weather.

How can it be that only a week and a half ago, this is how I spent my Saturday morning....

cruising along under a warm September sun...

tired spirit lifted by the colors and friend-comaraderie... 

thankful for all I have; praying for a growing heart to give...


listening to young ones singing...


31 Riders - almost half were young ones
Amount raised - $7846.00 dollar-love for the CPC and RFR projects
Joining - 146 riders in total
Riding for - 16 various projects and ministries all fuelled by passion for hope and healing

Chaim. Life!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A gal can only dream :)....

So one of the ideas I've had for a while is to make COOKIES to sell for the Ride for Refuge.
And not just ANY cookies --- cookies that are a work of he[ART].
I have spent (too much!) time browsing a blog I stumbled across just before summer mayhem hit!

This woman is a cookie-creating-GENIUS!!, and I stand in amazement (especially after my own feeble attempts!!). If you want to drool and learn a thing or two about flow icing and the art of a sugar cookie please pay a visit ---

Here are a few ways I've played with dough and icing ;)....

Sweet Cupcake cookies for L's 2nd birthday party - cupcakes without the mess :)

I also made daisy cookies for a Neighborhood Cookie Party I hosted this summer.
Somehow I forgot to whip out the camera on that one :)....

And with practice, hopefully the lines will be a little straighter, the process will be smoother and perhaps a little quicker too :).
And life, and a cup of coffee, are both a little sweeter with a cookie don't you think :)?

Week 1: Mission Accomplished!

It feels like so long ago since we heard the news that K had received full time funding for THREE years; and since that very moment, I've been preparing myself for these past two weeks when our two oldest girls would be headed back into public school.

The last week of August flew right by. In the midst of the swirl, we talked about the upcoming transition, we organized school supplies, and set out the first-day-of-school clothing.

Thankfully, the transition was gradual.

FIRST, I should say, we got Jon settled back into school :). It is a change around here without him around, and his days are long and full trying to help other kids find their way (he works in the public school system).

The next week we got M settled in her class. She embraced the change like she does many things in life - with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. She's sure been more tired these days :), but each day she comes home with tales to tell, and is taking it in well.

And finally, oh finally, it was Sweet K's turn. There is a certain ache-of-heart that only mothers know. As I prepared her little back pack the night before, tears came quickly. She has tolerated, but never enjoyed, preschool. How would she do with THIS? How much did she understand as we tried to prepare her? I prayed that morning that she would know that Jesus is near.

Seems like God has been preparing her heart for this challenge. When I asked her if she was ready to meet her teacher, she says, "Yup!" And into the school she went. Not one look back. Not one panicky moment (and I was definitely one of "those parents" peeking in the windows, watching her walk down the hallway, checking to make sure everything was alright!). When I pick her up at lunch time, there is encouragement from each grown up in her life. She is participating, talking, learning and having fun!! And when I ask her if she wants to go back, she says YES!!


It is hard to know, sometimes, which path is best.
We plan and pray, pray and plan, and then w.a.i.t. for the LORD to show us the way.
The wrestle is hard work.
And sometimes it makes perfect sense, and sometimes it doesn't.
However, at the end of it there is peace, and it is good.

And now ... more time for myself!
Who can complain about that ;)???
Seems like there's always something that needs attention, but now there is a bit more space to accommodate that :).

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Ride To Remember...

When it comes to life, we are offered a plethora of opportunities! Everything around us calls for our time and energy, beckons for our commitment; hails for our money.

Sometimes it is hard to know when to say "no."
Sometimes it is even harder to know when to say "yes."

I struggle with feeling overwhelmed, especially when life is already full and there is always more need. I often deal with this by shutting down and shutting out. If there is too much on the to-do list, and not a pencil-marked game plan, I allow myself to postpone, procrastinate, get stalled on email, facebook or pintrest :)!!

OR. A new challenge beckons and in great excitement, I say YES, only to wish I hadn't once the enthusiasm fades and I'm slugging through commitments, drained of life and energy, thinking, what was I thinking!????

So, when my friend Ruth contacted me about this opportunity, I wondered .... yes? But why?

Of course it is good to raise funds. I will connect with a few people and see if they will be willing to share a few shillings, and as the collection grows we will offer it to the fine folks at the Crisis Pregnancy Centre (Winnipeg) to do good things; to minister to people in need, to walk alongside those in grief.

It is good to let others know. When I send out my emails, I am fully aware that there are folks on the list  that do not share the same values that I do. Facebook friends? The same. This is a challenge to myself to let what is in my heart shine, whether or not others agree.

It is a good example for my family. From time to time we talk about these issues. When life gets hard and different from what we know. As I teach my children, the LORD teaches me.

It is good to remember. Last year I thought of those who had no home to call their own.
Or a house that lacked the love and nurture and support and didn't feel like a home.

This year I will think of those who have yet to hear their name spoken in Love.
Perhaps it is an unborn child whose presence is a challenge.
Perhaps it is a mom, who has been a daughter unloved, or a friend wounded.
Perhaps it is a father, confused, scared, angry, sad.

Do they know they are loved? 
Through their CPC connections, I hope that they will hear their name spoken not with harsh anger, shame, disdain or condemnation, but perhaps for the first time, spoken with kindness, gentleness, respect. Love.

And that is why I ride.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:15-16

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The King's glory in unexpected places

During our final camp-out of the summer, I ran into a gal who I used to work with. We don't know each other very well, but had shared a few conversations many years ago, so I didn't hesitate to say hello and catch up a little bit :). My how time flies :)!!!

We chatted about the kids and school and what we were doing these days :), and in the course of conversation, I shared that one of our daughters had learning difficulties.

Her response was a very genuine, I am so sorry.

And I wasn't quite sure what to say.

I knew her heart, and the intention behind the statement, but something in me resisted. I acknowledged that it had not been easy, shared the short short version of the story. And it can be hard, and sometimes it still hurts, but... I can't say I'm sorry.

I was a bit flustered, I admit. And I think, in hindsight, I would respond differently.....

Here is my unsightly tomato patch. It is presently full of thistles and weeds because of an undeclared resistance to weeding during the hottest, craziest, busiest months of the year (aka. summer holidays!!).

It is not beautiful, but it yields fruit (or veggies, still not sure where the argument sits on that!).

And woven through all this tangle of green and life and growth is Glory - a morning glory in fact; an unpredicted gift that has been fun to watch. And sometimes life is a bit messy. It is not simple. There are things that could be different, but aren't. But doesn't His Glory shine more brightly because of it!?

I think so.

I will speak of the hard stuff.
And I will cling tightly to what is good.
And I'm not sorry. 

Because, if knowing her means knowing how to learn differently, then I'd do it all again in a heart beat.

And if knowing this journey means knowing our Jesus more intimately, then I wouldn't hesitate a single second.

Because in the end, His Glory is there, creating a life meant to be shared with others.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Haze 2012 - My Reading List

Since Law & Order, Parenthood and the Mentalist don't air new episodes during the summer :), I've been getting a lot more reading done!!! I guess that's a good thing (though I am ready for a good crime drama plot!).

Here are a few highlights....

When it comes to fiction, very little comes close to a Lisa Samson novel. She and her husband are working towards justice in suburban North America (and have co-written a book on the topic). Her most recent book, The Passion of Mary Margaret, is so breath-takingly fabulous. I read it earlier this spring (does that count as pre-summer reading :P?). I re-read this book (something I very seldom do) upon the recommendation of my sister because of work that the LORD is stirring in my heart.
Quaker Summer

This summer I longed to read books by people who had (or were) walking the journey of raising children who had (what some would consider) disabilities. While I longed for inspiration (which I got a healthy dose of in the following two books) I was also looking for someone to honestly comment on how frustrating and isolating the experience can be. These books did not provide that.

However, they were a great read, and I often sat turning page after page (somehow, almost always after the kids were in bed, waaaay too late into the night!) with tears streaming down my face. This was really speaking to me in a way I hadn't imagined. If you read them, and have not wrestled with the whole child-with-disabilities thing, it might come across as slightly romanticized. As though living with children with disabilities is all about daily miracles and nostalgia. It is not. It can be heart-aching and a lot of work. But it is WORTH it! Did you know that many many children that have detected "disabilities" are aborted before they are born!? WHY!? So that we are not "inconvenienced"? So that our life doesn't have to be "interrupted"? with additional responsibility?? less "predictable" and "safe"??? What these books did beautifully is contend for life regardless of the challenge. 

Eagle Doctor
Expecting Adam

I also thumbed through a book talking about the more technical side of developmental issues. I am not finished it yet, and I only intended to read snippets - but it's surprisingly good, and I find I am reading most, if not all, of every chapter. She's a very sensitive author and has a lot of good insight to share.
Different Learners

Oh my goodness!!! If you've ever delivered a baby, wrestled with cultural concepts of whether or not to do this at home - to midwife or not to midwife, to deliver at home (comfort, natural) vs. hospitals and doctors, this is a beautiful story. There are some circumstances that some readers might have issues with - marital violence (and the choice to abort a baby in an aging, abused mother), infant death, and some extra-marital sexual relationships. However, these portions of the stories are well-written, and contribute to the overall understanding of the time period in which they were written.
The Birth House

Here again, another tear-jerker. I have thought about heaven from time to time, but not like this!! If you're interested, there is also a youtube video of an interview with this family.
Heaven Is For Real
What it means to life a Christ-like life, in a culture saturated with much-ness and with a pervasive sense of entitlement, is something I've been reflecting on for a long while. I am needing some input and guidance into my thought processes. It's a work in progress, meaning I read it sometimes during my morning quiet time. This one would really really benefit from having a discussion group - not just to discuss, but to walk it out, together, with accountability and camaraderie!!
180 Degree Christian

As you can probably tell, my blog reading (and writing) really slows down during the summer. I do follow a few blogs regularly, but here are two that I will highlight for now :): - a friend of mine is literally in the process of building her own home. Under the guidance of a professional builder, she and her husband are sawing, hammering, measuring and constructing. Here's their adventure! - as K transitions into kindergarten, we will be starting her off part time. Presently, our school runs kindergarten full days, every other day. On her full days at home, I will be spending intentional time with her, working on the basics. On her half days at home, we will spend more time reading in the afternoon. This is a website I've spent hours scouring, and it is a good one!!

What good reads have been sitting on your bookshelf these days :)?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Learning how to share, even after 13 years....

Earlier in July, we decided to replace our computer rather than try to piece together the old one. It was so exciting receiving that package TWO WHOLE DAYS earlier than anticipated, and we've spent a lot of time (sometimes too much time???) trying to restore data (some precious pictures are lost, however. I am sad!!), work out the kinks, and learn the programs that are new(er) to us.

And, we've had to practice sharing :).

On July 24, Jon & I celebrated 13 years of married life.
Seriously, where has the time gone :)?
You mean to say I'm not still in my early twenties (twenty one to be exact, when this picture was taken!!!)???
I don't think we've aged a bit, do you :)?

Several years ago, when M was first entering into that "I don't wanna share" stage, her & I were discussing the "rules" for sharing - "sharables" are things we leave out when other friends come out to play (most of the toys); "breakables" are precious items (baby blankie, special dolly, etc.) that we don't need to share yet. It was a system that diffused some of the stress around sharing and seemed to work well for us. As we talked I explained to my wide-eyed three-year-old.... guess what baby, even GROWNUPS have to learn how to share!! Really??? She wondered. Oh yes, honey. It's a skill you get to practice for your whole entire life!!

We've had thirteen years of practice. Some of it has come easy(-ier :P), some of it has come with a lot of hard work. And it's one thing learning how to share your possessions, your interests, your space, your bathroom :). It's another thing to learn how to share your dreams and your heart, your passions, expectations (realistic or not, voiced is better than guessing!). We've had to practice sharing respectfully, diligently and what NOT to share (ummmm, it's my opinion that not ALL opinions need to be spoken :)!!).

This summer, we got to practice sharing our new computer :)!
All in all, I think it went well, all things considered :P.

PS - I wanted to share an updated picture of us, but unfortunately those are RARE indeed!!! I went to find our previous family picture, but alas, it was lost when our computer crashed. Sigh.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Haze 2012

It feels like it's been a while since I visited this page.

These prairie-humid days have been filled with sprinklers, camp outs, fire sides, Mr. Freeze, chai tea slushies (still working out the kinks on that recipe!!), and bike rides (learning to zoom through life on two wheels or four wheels :P).
Sharing laughs, a backyard swimming pool, afternoon visits and the town fair with friends.
A trip to the Manitoba Museum, tons of picnics and even the occasional, sweet nap for mama!!

These summer days are not all fun and games :). Sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in around us, and a bit of space and privacy wouldn't be a bad thing :).... housework must be worked in between family outings. Going camping means days of prep work and days of clean-up. We negotiate, complain and even argue :P.

And some how, the time whizzes right by.
And now we're into August.
The time of harvest, cooler nights and a few quieter moments.

It feels good to be back :).

What has your summer haze been like :)?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crash... Boom.... Bang

Well, it wasn't nearly that dramatic. More like a tic tic tic sound and the flashing folder of doom. If you've been near a Mac when the hard drive has crashed, you'll know what I mean. Last week, our hard drive crashed. And all of Life's little (big) lessons about "seizing the day" (and back up your hard drive) and "you just don't know what ya got till it's gone" (like several months worth of pictures, documents and misc files) and "it's my party and I'll cry if I want to" (that would be the pity party I threw for myself after I realized I hadn't seized the day or backed up the hard drive since fall....) flitted through my brain. It's been interesting. We still have access to the Internet because of an iPad that Jon actually WON several months ago, but it's not as reliable, convenient or as organized as the desktop we worked on for over 6 years. But there has been an element of withdrawal too, which has been unsettlingly uncomfortable from time to time. A bad sign that technology takes up too much space perhaps? I'm not sure how long it'll take before we're restored to full technology mode around here. We've been advised that our dear computer is actually VINTAGE and really not worth repairing (though if it works for me, perhaps it IS worth it??). And it really is stupefying that these gizmos are only built to last 3-5 years (that has north American issues written allllll over it!) Apparently our little machine lasted longer than most! However, it could be worse. We could've never backed up anything at all!!


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