Thursday, March 31, 2011

bringing the children - 5

i hadn't brought them yet... But then - in a twist of circumstances like one of the many twists circumstances are bound to take, i found that i was going to the clinic on my own & decided on a whim to bring them to play at the adjacent park.
We did as much homeschool as we could in those first fresh hours of the day - & then threw food into a paper bag - granola bars, crackers, cheese, fruit, veggies - even a bag of cheesies & a couple of bottles of water.
As we trooped out to the Silver Fox, i felt my heart quicken.
i don't love driving in the city - & i enjoy driving even less when my van is FULL with my boisterous crew, "But," i told myself while deep breathing down the Deerfoot, "this is worth it..."
We pulled up & walked across to the little park that is still half covered in snow.
My little ones ran off to play and i went to the sidewalk's corner at the border of the bubble zone to pray. As i shoved my hands in my pockets, i was suddenly undone... overcome with *loneliness*.
"Father God - i don't want to stand here all by myself..." i blurted out in tears.
But did i need Him to join me?
Or was it i that was joining Him - already there - present, caring and watching His loved ones in confusion, walking into a building that counsels death?
Within moments, two women joined me - a mother and daughter - and before pulling out their rosaries to pray - they encouraged me with beautiful rolling Indian accents - that the time spent here, in prayer, is worthwhile.
They prayed almost an hour with me - during part of which, our numbers reached capacity at 4 as another woman walked up and down the sidewalk.
Suddenly, i noticed a mother and young daughter walking on the other side of the road. i thought surely they were here to pray, and i wanted to call out to them that they were on the wrong side of the road and that we needed to abide by the court injunction and stay outside of the bubble zone. They walked back and forth in front of the clinic - before finally entering that parking lot - and the door opened... and closed.
Soon, my friends had to go and i found myself alone on our side of the street. My time had elapsed, but i didn't want to go. i hated to leave that little corner of the sidewalk empty - and i prayed for another to come take my place.
But littles were tired - pants were grubby and shoes filled with damp. Baby was aching for his nap... and i knew my time was up. As i got ready to go, a man tried to catch my attention from his vehicle as he drove past. As we made eye contact - he waved his finger around his ear and mouthed, "You're crazy..."
& sometimes... those are the last voices you hear as you leave the corner under the watchful eyes of a Holy God who never slumbers or sleeps.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

times 4

& maybe you're getting sick of these posts... but i feel a prompting in my spirit that despite my discomfort, i should write about these visits i make to 5th Ave.

The sun was out - i took off my hat and turned my face to the sky to soak in it's warmth. For the first time, the sidewalk was full. The court injunction states that a maximum of 4 people are allowed to gather on the sidewalk across the street from the clinic. If more than 4 gather, they can stand half way across a small playground just beyond a set of power poles. We glance across the playground and see a solitary figure standing there too - with the breeze gently blowing her pink scarf.
For some reason this makes me cry.
My friend carries her baby daughter in a sling, and we begin to make our way across the park to join the woman who prays there, but the huddle of grey haired ladies praying their rosaries call to us, offering us their place on the dryer sidewalk.
There is no chill to ward off, so we don't walk... we stand and pray, and in the holy hush of the city sidewalk... i feel my Father's presence, and can't help but worship my God with the sun and sky painting this house of prayer, and the still small voice bidding me to come.
Minutes tic by... i hear baby coos and sucks as miracle chews on her hand, and nestles into her mama to avoid the bright sunlight. i glance back and my friend's face is upturned, eyes closed in prayer as a tiny pink fist escapes a white blanket and waves in the sunlight.
Two couples stand out for me today - it's the first time that i saw something like this, and it has left me unsettled. A police man stood just at the corner, pulling in speeding motorists, but he didn't stop the small family that j-walked across the street to the abortion clinic. The young mama was falling behind, so the daddy came back to pick up the wee one to hurry her along. He ran ahead of her, calling over his shoulder for her to come... and she seemed to me - to be taking her time. He opened the door, hurrying her in - and followed where we couldn't see them anymore. Soon, he reappeared carrying the little bundled one in his arms and ran back across the street to his waiting vehicle. i didn't see her again. The second one that sticks in my mind... & maybe it was my skewed perspective, but again, i don't think she wanted to go in... A man got out of his vehicle and stood on the walkway in front of their vehicle. He motioned for her to come, and when she didn't, he made an angry gesture with his arms and yelled at her, "COME ON!!" Finally, slowly, her car door opened... and she slouched into the clinic...
& i find myself praying to the Father who isn't restricted by a court ordered bubble zone. His Holy Presence can walk through the code locked doors of that brown building - and tenderly croon to His hurting lambs.
Women, men, families - our country and the world at large... We can do better than abortion. Those women deserve better than our silence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

in the ladies changeroom...

i don't know what a men's change room is like... i imagine burly, hairy men flexing in the mirror, snapping their waistbands and punching each other on the shoulder in macho camaraderie.
i suppose i'll never know...
& out of loyalty to girlhood, the ladies' change room secrets will remain safe with me. Except for this tiny glimpse behind that door marked with the stick figure wearing a blue dress.
We went to the World Waterpark in Edmonton.
Neil & i? We divide & conquer. He took the 2 bigger boys - & i took the 4 girls & the baby. Not so fair, is it? But it's more fair than it used to be when i had to take the 3 girls & the baby... & he'd grin at me as i'd finally arrive grunting and sweating, all askew, "What took you so long?"
On this day, i see girls primping in the mirror before they walk out the door... checking make up, fluffing hair and rearranging the fabric of their bathing suits to it's most flattering position. i notice two girls in their early twenties standing in front of the mirror.
"Look, see? FOUR stretch marks!"
"Nah, i can't see anything unless i put my face right up close... you're good! What about me? i look like an albino next to you!"
i try to walk quickly past them before my eyes get drawn to the enormous mirrors covering the walls. i figure if i don't look - i won't turn to stone like those captured in Medusa's horrifying gaze. This way, i can imagine something better than the reality & walk out those doors with some drummed up confidence.
Suddenly my girls come bounding around the corner. A baby is plopped in my arms... chubby, clad in his little hawaiian print swim trunks. He grins at me and tries to untie the top of my bathing suit.
covered by his plump rolls.

His soft skin rubs against mine - and the sticky residue on his hands is transferred to my shoulders.
"Mama, can you tie my hair up, 'cause otherwise it's gonna be a rats nest... i can't wait to get out there!!" They're fairly vibrating with excitement.
As soon as their hair is up, they fly through the showers and bound out the doors looking for their daddy and brothers.
Life... is so much more fun when you're not focused on yourself. Not just in this silly instance when fun trumps vanity... But in nearly every instance - when pride tries to rob us of the opportunity to *be* and *give* and say, *thank-you*.
i turn on my heel, running to catch up with my girls... leaving those 20-somethings in front of the mirror. The baby giggles as we bounce and jiggle our way to our precious waiting posse, and flaps his perfect arms in the air.

Monday, March 28, 2011

975th post

i'm comin' up on my 1000th post right away here...
& as i watch that number creep higher, i find myself wondering what the 1000 posts would have looked like had i started earlier.
i wish i had captured more of the big girl's babyhoods, 'cause man... these days it seems like time is so short - and they're growin' so tall. i've got my battered journals from those first sweet years though - and i guess they'll have to do.
i remember when we lived in Daysland; our sweet little paradise, till we ended up needing to leave because the mill shut down. We only had one vehicle - and Neil took it up to Wanham to the mill to make money while we held down the fort at home.
It was in those days - that Sloanie got sick.
My usual pert little peanut became a limp noodle. Where she used to run around non stop - keeping up to her big sister and ahead of her little one - now she could barely walk the length of our yard. i took her to the doctor and he did some bloodwork that confirmed her iron was really, really low.
i remember still, how she would snuggle her weary downy head into my chest and sigh. Her single honey coloured ringlet trailing down her back as her eyelids fluttered and fell. If my lap was otherwise occupied, she would climb up behind her nursing sister - curling her body around the littler one and get as close to mama as she could. Maybe this... is where her nickname, "softy" originated...
It seemed like a simple enough solution - to get her to take an iron supplement and watch her come back alive, but she hated that stuff...
"You're the mama!" my mama told me when i marvelled that she had gotten Sloanie to take it during a brief reprieve at Granny's house, "You're bigger than her, you gotta make her take it! She needs it!"
& so i'd try - & she'd weakly fight & cry...
'till i felt like giving up the fight & crying too.
i remember my doctor sending her to the hospital for some follow up blood work.
i strapped my hefty baby on my back and pushed Sloanie in a stroller and Cai was supposed to walk. Somehow, after bloodwork, Sloanie was too worked up to be strapped into a stroller - and Cai had missed a nap - & my memory of it is that i carried all three sobbing girlies *and* that darn stroller all the way home.
It must have been at some time in these years that i learned that being a mama means reaching down deep. Deep - like - deeper than you thought you were... Creating a new depth to that shallow teenager that thought her belly wasn't flat enough and that her work ethic was proved by the 72 hour work weeks during the summer between her college years.
So, maybe those earlier thousand posts would have exposed some of that growth... pushed back the soil crowding around those tiny first green shoots of maturity. Maybe they would have captured my bewilderment as i sat in small town after small town - following my husband - yet beginning to wonder, "where's me?"
& i think - it's okay that those thousand posts were never written.
Story opens... scenes begin and end. Some captured, some forgotten - some veiled, some gorily honest. Words fail to capture the reality - or succeed all too well - and it is... as they say... what it is.
So, i'll keep writing - 'till i don't... and the best that i can hope for - is that one day i look back on these one thousand posts - and see my Father's love - in the sunshine and the rain - giving richness to the soil -
that helps me to grow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Life is Love - x3

The view from the corner of that sidewalk is now familiar to me as we stand and stamp our feet to keep the cold at bay.
It's colder today than either of the other days i've gone - like there's a bite in the end of March air.
i got a comment on my blog the other day suggesting i should mind my own business... & i'm sure that's a sentiment that others share- so i'll share my response here -

yeh, i get where you're coming from, anonymous - but the problem is that we do have a responsibility to stand up for the weak and defenseless- in this case - the teeny vulnerable unborn ones. i really believe that the mama's are vulnerable too - & if they were aware that there is a support system for them to choose better; many of them would. To look the other way in their moment of anguish would - in my eyes - be unloving...

i care about women in crisis - hey... i *was* a woman in crisis at one point. Praying for them - on a cold sidewalk in March as they go through what could be the scariest day of their lives is the least i can do.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

come be with me, out of the water

At the last minute, it works out that i can go with him to drop off and pick up our girl from her gig. We'll have a rare hour to ourselves while our girl plays and our boisterous jammy clad crew at home revel in the freedom of a parentless house.
In the warmth of the van, we watch the slushy world in the greying light of evening speed past the windows... & i'm silent.
He lets me swim in my quiet pools for a long stretch of time before breaking in cautiously, "Why are you talking so much?"
"i dunno..." i whisper.
Sometimes the waters are too deep - and he needs to rescue me.
& isn't that what marriage is? A constant rescuing of one by the other - a never ending effort to love & enjoy - finding and giving the safety that we each crave?
i wrap my arms around my body - and follow him.
We wander through Anthropologie - and i touch compact books, pretty glassware and ruffled linens.
Finally - he reaches for my hand.
It covers mine completely - enclosing it in warmth.
He leads, i follow.
And i feel myself, still soaking - raise my head above the waters for a sputtering, gasping breath of life.
He starts to talk - fills the silence: Asian markets, shipping costs, consumers and middle men. Business strategies, profits and losses, direction for the future pulling me further from the comforting depths that separate us.
On our way home - with our girl safely in the backseat checking her email, he cracks a joke, glancing at me to see if it jabs - or if it wakens.
i smile & he drops it.
"Come be with me, out of the water..." he seems to invite.
& i dry off -
breathing freely now -
and accept.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

another vigil

Different friend...
same clinic.
It has snowed & the path we walk is slushy and cold.
Her prayers affirm my spirit - and truth is spoken aloud in the frosty air...

Can i tell you a secret, blog readers?

i'm shy to go to the clinic...
i feel my cheeks burn just to blog about it.
and yet...
i wanna be...
We pray for the couples arriving, for the women who pull up in taxi's, for the elderly woman driving her daughter. We pray for those who are choosing to abort because of a medical diagnosis - for those who find themselves in difficult unimaginable situations. We pray for the mama's - who must enter alone, for the sake of the privacy of the other patrons. We pray that they could sense - even from the other side of the street - our compassion & the love of Jesus. We pray that somehow... miraculously... the little lives lost today will still be given significance, and will be remembered and grieved in the years to come - giving them what now seems impossible...
A voice.
As our hour ends, three ladies arrive to take our places - and i want to weep with the knowledge that i'm united in purpose with those unknown women shyly standing on a slushy sidewalk holding their rosaries.
i wave at them from the window of my friend's vehicle as we drive away... and they wave back.
The door opens, and closes...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

mr. romantic

We're eating lunch.
The banter is rising in pitch and finally Neil raises his long arms in the air...
"You can talk to ask to have something passed to you, but let's not have any conversations, ok?"
The din decreases in volume just the tiniest bit. He turns to me, "Hey, i have to run to the bank today... wanna come with?"
It's almost like a date.
These years - though busy - have the still new-feeling treasure of big ones to help watch our little ones... we're no longer as house bound as we once were...
"Uh, yeah!" i glance down at my orange pyjama pants, "Should i change first?"
i haven't looked in the mirror since i stumbled out of bed this morning instantly engaged in our homeschool routine... i decide that i'll try to do that before we leave the house.
Suddenly feisty girl starts to giggle...."You guys are just going to sneak out to the van so you can FRENCH KISS! i'm going to sneak out there and WATCH you from the backseat!!"
"No, molls," i sooth, shovelling a forkful of salad into my mouth, "i promise you won't miss anything... we'll likely refrain from even holding hands." i say with a wink.
"Why?" Cairo asks.
"Ask Mr. Romantic over there..." Sloanie mutters gesturing to her father.
"What's that supposed to mean?" He laughs.
& yeh... Mr. Romantic he ain't.
But he's mine... & i'll keep him.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Hey ro...
i'm so proud of you.
You never seem to make emotional decisions - and when you emailed me (yes, emailed me) to tell me that you wanted to be baptized... i knew you were making a decision that was based on the work that God is doing in your life.
When you stood in front of all those people to tell your story - your testimony - it dawned on me that the story you wanted to share was one of God himself speaking to your tender heart... not something that your daddy or i could ever conjure up on your behalf. All those scribbled scraps of paper you had been working on for these weeks - you finally typed it up and sent it to me, whispering in my ear, "is this good enough?"
Oh, good enough. Daughter of my heart... i understand what it means to 'delight in' my children... Your story is tiny - and huge... it's *significant* - and will always be 'good enough'.
You... are not defined as a "crisis pregnancy".
You are a child of God... masterful creation of the Creator...
gracefully learning to walk in obedience.
How many women are lied to - robbed of the opportunity to see the lavish love of a Father - who sees years beyond our shameful or painful circumstances to the merciful plan He would unfold...?

Cai's testimony:
I've always lived in a Christian home and gone to church with my family. When I was four, my parents helped my pray to ask Jesus into my heart. I've always remembered that day as an important one.
Since then, I have learned/realized many things about God.
He loves me and sent his Son to die for me.
He'll take care of me where ever I go.
He wants me to love and obey Him even when it makes me uncomfortable,
and He has a plan for my life that I desperately want to follow.
One of my favourite Bible stories is Luke 7:1-9:

1 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum. 2 At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer[a] was sick and near death. 3 When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. 4 So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, 5 “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”
6 So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. 7 I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 8 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” 10 And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.

I love this story particularly because the officer doesn't have a shadow of a doubt that Jesus will be able to heal his slave, even without Jesus coming to his house.
I want faith like that.
Whenever I read stories like this, or stories about people in other countries who are persecuted for their faith, stories about individuals who trust so completely, my question is always, "Would I have the faith to do that? Would I have the courage to do that?" My answer to myself is also almost always the same: I hope so.

To me, getting baptized is taking a step in faith and obedience. I'm submitting to 'the plan' God has for me. And I hope that in the future, I'll have the faith and courage to continue to do that no matter where life takes me.

Friday, March 18, 2011

peaceful protest

We make our way to the abortion clinic in the light traffic of early afternoon.
My friend fills me in on the 'bubble zone' bylaws that keep us on the other side of the street from the unobtrusive brown building sitting on a busy street corner.

The parking lot is full.

"How do you want to do this?" We look at each other.
We walk the length of the fence and stop - in view of the back door that swings open - and shut - and open - and shut - as customers... hurting, broken people, file in and out.
We decide to walk the length of the block when our legs get stiff and cold - and while we walk - we talk; but when we reach the end of the fence - we stop - and we pray - until our knees and the chill in the air beg us to walk that length again.
i close my eyes - facing that brown building where enters life - and exits bleeding, empty wombs.
"Mercy, Father..."
We stop no one. There are no signs of protest other than our presence. There are no shouted angry words. There are just two mothers - soon joined by a grandmother - who walk the slushy sidewalks and pray for this generation that sees no better solution.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

silent suppers

For Lent, we filled a little glass jar with little slips of paper. Each morning during Lent we pick one to help us in our observance for that day.
There are "5 minute tidies", or "no TV", or "bake something for someone else", or "plan a special dinner and invite company", or "spend 20 minutes extra on music". i try to talk with the little ones about taking the time to remember how these tiny sacrifices are to help us focus on our Jesus - and to look forward to remembering the Great Sacrifice he made for us...
Yesterday, the slip that was chosen read, "Silent Supper".
We always include several silent suppers because it makes neil so happy.
i figured it would be pretty challenging with a three year old and a one year old in the mix - and we prepped the littles that as soon as we said grace, that we would try to hold our words until the end of the meal.
Ephraim made little baby squeaks and noises - and there were a few insistent thrusting index fingers when people wanted to be passed the bread or needed more water, but for the most part, i was pretty impressed with our tiny fry and their efforts to keep supper silent.
Just as we were finishing, suddenly Gagey pushed his empty plate away and announced in a clear voice, "i don't like this food..." and got up and marched away.
We all burst out laughing - and the supper and the silence were ended.
& maybe to some little ones, this tiny formality is barren.
But maybe to others - there will be a seedling planted - a teeny arrow scratched in a dirt path, "This way, little ones... come this way..."
& then - the softening begins - and the hearts are made ready - to enter into relationship with their Rescuer.
And every effort - has value and worth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Music has always been that intrinsic force for me - that tugging thing that translated my heart and brought the depths to light.
Lately - i have been having a lesson about putting feelings into words.... letting my music become the silent movement of the blinking cursor across the screen as i examine the world around me - and see my Father's fingerprints over it all.
& it's as if for a moment - music has slipped aside - to allow written words to suffice.
Last week i finished the last little dribbles of edits that i could find... (thank you, K for your kind edits too!)
And my mama ordered me a copy of the new - (hopefully final) - proof...
My sister encouraged me to make a facebook page (called "40 weeks - a novel" -if you wanna find it...) to share my progress as this project enters it's final stages.
The first step it asks of you when you finish putting the page together is to 'invite your friends...'
That's where i stopped.
Shyly - tentatively - i clicked on my sisters' names... and my mom... and my dad...
With crimson cheeks - i shared it on my facebook wall....
a teeny offering to people i know well - & those i don't know as well either: "i think life is a precious gift from God... & i wrote a book about that."
& then i realize that this is the part i can't do. i don't wanna tell anyone to read it - or buy it. & that's gotta be ok.
i can write my book - i can shut myself in my house for a month solid - and tell a story and bare my soul - hoping that truth be found.
But God has never asked me yet to try to be marketable.
& so i'll leave my hands open - take or leave.
Come what may - offering my little songbook to the only Audience that really matters.
Yours, Father.

Monday, March 14, 2011

my best friend...

"So how's your best friend? Have you been playing her more?" he asks me... nodding to my ebony plaything.
It had been bugging me for months that she needed tuning - and there was that sticky note that kept causing me grief. Finally, the piano tuner had come and rendered her beautiful once more.
& the thought struck me that i don't care that the velvet is peeling off her music stand.
i don't care that there's a chip in her cover.
i don't care that the whole mess of her is covered in fingerprints of every imaginable size.
i want her to make music... i want the notes to be true and right.
i wanna hear the sweetness in a purer tone.
And the likeness wafts over me like the gentlest spring breeze, how my Father sees past the sagging skin on my belly - and the crease that has begun to form on my brow. 'Cause this body - it's going to age and wear... but o how He gently reminds me about what's inside. What's inside will ever 'sing and make music, always giving thanks to God my Father...' (eph. 5:19&20). & His tools tighten the strings so my pitch is sure... He tears me apart, replacing what's broken and tuning my soul - poor instrument that it is...
"No. i've been too busy..." i say, glancing at my piano - faithful friend. Little boy clings to my pantlegs and Baby boy treats the ground like hot lava, preferring the safety of mama's arms.
& it's hard to find times to play with my best friend...
The gentler clickety clack of the computer keyboard works better for precarious naptimes when moments are easier to steal. "Don't wake the baby..." i shush to any would be music makers. And sometimes, it's true, i can't bear to add one. more. layer... to the wall of sound that exists in my house already.
But then - in a moment found, she calls me to play - inviting me with a slip of misplaced music that falls to the ground.
Sound erupts - simple melodies.
Feisty girl sings, Radar picks up her guitar. Baby holds on to the bench and adds his voice to the din, swinging his diaper clad bottom to the rhythm...
And all...
is an offering...

Saturday, March 12, 2011


i'm underwater a lot in my dreams lately.
i think the horrifying insecurity of finishing my book is making me stay there - safe - hidden...
i guess... it would be easy to stay there forever.
But i don't think i'm supposed to. i think i see His fingerprints in my consistent state of discomfort.
Where to next, Father?

Friday, March 11, 2011


Neil: Paige, i'm so excited that...
(my heart starts pounding - he's going to acknowledge all my hard work in finishing my book. He's going to tell me how proud he is that i finished and ask if he can read it now... )
Neil:... that you said you're going to clean the house this afternoon!!
He smiles proudly and encouragingly at me and i burst out laughing.
He has no idea what's so funny.
But i got the dang house clean.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


His... not mine that is...
i got my book yesterday. Funny how that little event coincided with Ash Wednesday; the beginning of a Catholic holiday that has proved beneficial to me over the past several years.
i believe that the observance of lent can serve as a tenderizer to the heart - and do i ever want to be soft.
40 days - 40 weeks.

(*not the real cover - but very similar to the one we ended up choosing :)

The whole day seemed full of "40" - i got an email from a sweet friend, inviting me to look at the website and was encouraged to pray fervently for the wounded and the hurting, the ones impacted by abortion in our country - and our world during this season of lent.
That same day, my mama posted a picture of the teeny memorial plaques that my parents placed for Caleb and Hope (and wee Charis too)... We have been waiting years- and this is the day i first got to see their little names inscribed with the words so carefully chosen.

And maybe i'm reading into the coincidences surrounding the timing of the arrival of that brown parcel - with my skinny novel inside - but i feel the whisper in the wind to keep giving all i have for His glory - and to continue to proclaim truth gently.
My sister said to me, "Sometimes God's timing is just so gentle and obvious of a reminder that He *is* concerned with what concerns us most. love..."
i love that too...
ps - still going through the little painstaking process to finish off tiny bits of edits before i make my book available... i think it might be ready by May?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

four words

A list i'm on offered the following challenge - to choose four things you love/enjoy/admire about each member of your family. Here goes... this post took me WAY longer than the average post... try it.

Radar - just, obedient, intelligent, leader
Softie - loyal, humorous, dreamer, helpful
Sparkly eyed one - humble, servant, quirky, compassionate
Chewman - positive, gentle, tenacious, thorough
MisB - quick witted, understanding, friendly, curious
Sunshine - playful, confident, grateful, ardent
babE - determined communicator, attached, persistent, comradely
Bess - generous, honest, grounded, practical

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

just before three

i took this picture a week or so ago as i sat checking my phone to see if Neil messaged me.
i think that one day, i'll forget the intricacies of how these days were put together. i wonder if i'll ever forget the amount of work that went into every single day? That seems to be the theme of my days lately: working... hard.
Will i remember the days where there were no breaks - combined with the nights where there was little sleep? Will i remember the way my muscles ached at the end of a good day - & the happy feeling that comes from a tidy house as i turn off the lights to head upstairs to bed, chores completed - having spent the day with my favourite seven people? Will i forget one day what it was like to have everyone under the same roof? Our house brimming with life and energy? i remember when i was little, my mom had a note taped to the thermostat, "if you're cold, vacuum." i guess i'm not cold much anymore... except maybe on a day like this:

i'm sitting 'cause i miss neil so i am sad. i'm wearing shoes 'cause it was -36C with windchill outside and i couldn't get warm... no matter how much vacuuming i did (that doesn't explain my son who is wearing a hoodie but no pants...) i'm wearing green socks 'cause they're awesome.
So, this is a typical afternoon. Sloanie working in her room, Ephraim finishing off his nap, Gagey trying to wreck Moll's book that she left out, Charter in his tortoisesque way finishing his LA, Cai practicing violin and Peyts phoning her bff...
See? Seven isn't so crowded... it's kinda nice - having all these sweet little friends.
Aren't you all glad Neil bought me a blackberry so i can snap pics for my blog?? i really should use my nice camera more...

Monday, March 7, 2011

paddling out to sea

Do you ever think about what it means to be 'wrestling out your faith with fear and trembling'?
i wrote this post recently when neil was away - (don't worry, gramma - i'm trying not to tell the world exactly when he's gone...)
i almost didn't post it because it was such a strange, seemingly unprovoked post, but i'm gonna post it anyway. Sometimes i think my subconscious longs for my Father in ways that my conscious mind would be likely to turn off... and it leaves me hungry for Truth - and aching for Home. i don't often understand my dreams - and i dream every. single. night... But, my dreams usually leave me with an inkling - it's like an aftertaste - or a waft of a familiar scent - that leaves me puzzling.
i'm in a dangerous mood.
Have you ever felt your insecurities catch up to you - finding you undefended, and unprepared?
When this happens to me, i often have one of several recurring dreams... Last night i felt the dream coming on, even before my mind was fully asleep. i was alone, at dusk, paddling out into a vast body of water before immersing myself and swimming down to the dark depths where there is peace. In my dreams, i don't lack oxygen - and all around the ocean floor are small tornado like funnels reaching up all the way to the surface of the water. One time, in a dream, i took a sip of air from one of them - but it would almost rip your face off, the force of that funnel - it's like sticking your head out the window of the vehicle as you speed down the highway... so i don't sip breaths from them anymore. i paddled benignly around seeking the darkest, quietest - deepest places and felt familiarity at every turn and was comforted in my solitude.

Suddenly i was torn from my safe place - and i landed in the middle of a farmer's field. i wasn't alone any longer - and my carefree swim gave way to back breaking labour. i was wearing jeans and rubber boots and i was sweating through my t-shirt as i worked with other women to free a giant tractor that was stuck in the muck. i put all my body weight into the task, and felt my boots slip in the mud underneath me. The rubber from the tires seemed to bite into my shoulders as i pushed, and only felt myself move. My friends all around me, found places to lean their bodies against the beast and pushed with me. Suddenly - i wondered if i felt - just the slightest bit of movement - did we somehow gain some traction in this sea of wet earth?

In that moment, it was like a camera panned out - and i could see the tractor for it's true size - and i shuttered at the pointlessness. The tire was so huge that i was like a pebble sitting almost underneath it - shadowed completely by it's enormity...

Could it be that we had moved that behemoth... in any perceptible measure?

i awoke this morning in a dangerous mood.

i feel emotional - but too tired to wrestle it out with fear and trembling. i feel too tired to pick a fight - but unwilling to give in to complacency... even my wonderings are non specific, pictures of what i believe - and what i can't believe... sifting what i've been told with truth and finding differences...

i wish neil were home... my grounding force.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

and they'll know we are christians by our...

My daughter has this CD with a song on it, _Tears of the Saints_ by Leeland.
The first time i heard it, i pricked up my ears - such a sorrowful chord progression and delicate melody... but i couldn't put my finger on the meaning of the words that seemed to acknowledge something i had long believed.
Lately, i have been listening to it again - & i think i have discovered what it is about the song that resonates with me...
From what i hear in popular culture - the media - and most social circles, Christians are known for their judgemental natures. They're known for their lack of compassion and their anger. Christians have reputations for fighting each other for the opportunity to cast the first stone - and for their arrogant hypocrisy.
i know that this isn't a true picture of the followers of Jesus...
What resonated with me about this song - was the quality of mercy. The forgiven gently offering an invitation to meet the Redeemer...
What if Christians became known for their mercy? What if Christians gained a reputation for defending the weak and the fatherless? What if through the acknowledgement of our own brokenness, our authenticity drew others Homeward... to the only One who can heal, restore and Redeem?
What if... one day... they know we are Christians by our love?
Claim me, Father - let me be a part of a generation that longs to reflect your compassionate heart...

Friday, March 4, 2011


It's dark in the tiny hut where they wake before dawn and he gathers what he needs in a small leather sack. The soft tones of their pre-dawn voices don't wake the wee ones sprawled on the floor throughout the one tiny room. Her fingers, still tight with sleep, pack his food and necessities quickly and efficiently. The comforts of home wrapped neatly in strips of cloth and tucked away in his bag.

He grabs a stick, and jabs it into the fire - watching a tiny flame leap up and claim a dry piece of wood. He has split and stacked an ample supply neatly beside the fireplace. The winter has been long, harsh and wet - and yet his forethought kept them warm and dry. They are provided for. He could be gone for days... weeks even... depending on what game he can find.

So many little mouths...

The door opens - letting in a blast of arctic air and an angry lash of snow - and then shuts softly behind him. The little ones murmur in their sleep, voicing complaints over this slap of cold. Their mama shushes them and pulls their blankets up around their ears before settling herself back - determinedly in front of the Homefire.

Morning will come - days followed by nights... hours long with labour and toil and care, but the burning embers will never cease to be fed. The wood he faithfully stacked will be used in his absence as she tends to the little ones... and keeps the Homefire burning.

As the flames ebb, and threaten to die - she will gently add fuel, poking the embers and watching them lick the bark, tasting, growing in a hungry dance, before finally consuming - nourishing - the Homefires.

Neighbours stop by, letting in the frigid air... "You should be more grateful," they admonish, "His toil is all for your benefit - his labour keeps you in this comfort..." they say waving their hands in broad strokes around her home.

She says nothing - her gratitude is her hidden treasure that she won't allow to be tarnished and needlessly defended to those who don't know any better. She's glad when they're done counting her blessings for her, because what they see is so minuscule compared to the lavishness of the blessings she counts in the night as sleep threatens to overtake her and she wrestles against it. Sleep must wait - and be measured out carefully between the feedings of her precious occupation. Wearily, she doggedly tends the Homefire.

Over time, the stacks of wood dwindle. She sweeps clean the floor beneath them, and dumps the splinters of wood and bark that remain into the waning blaze... The little ones sleep in the comfort and warmth of a home that is still heated with the flames of the Homefire, until finally -there is a light step at the door... arms laden with enough to replenish their stocks, he steps inside - carefully shutting the door against the winter that never ceases to rage outdoors. He stamps his feet, and the snow falls and melts where it lands. She lifts his burdens and helps him unpack his nearly gone provisions. He reaches his hands, red with cold, towards the glowing embers.

His eyes meet hers... grateful to come home to find the Homefire still burning.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

writing samples part 1

Writing... one of the hardest things for me to teach as a homeschool mom. It seems each child will grow at their own pace, and learn- eventually - to put words together in coherent sentences on a piece of paper... but it's hard to explain how, exactly, to get from point A to point B.
Each year, our facilitator visits us about 3 times. Each time, she asks for writing samples. This year, i started a folder where i keep all their little writing samples between visits. i make them write me a page of *something, anything* every day. (After the visit, i staple them together and store them elsewhere... i'll probably purge most of it at the end of the year). She likes to have something more 'polished' to look at too - a writing sample that has been edited and reworked to represent the child's best work. Now, i'll be honest - this is usually a big headache for me. BUT, this past week, as i was helping the littles put together their writing samples for our upcoming facilitator visit, i opened up my inbox to find this little gem from my reluctant writer, Peyton.
Brilliant job, sparkling eyed one.
She was inspired by these 2 little figurines she got at the AWANA store that can look different depending on how you look at them.
Earlier this week, i posted an essay that my 9th grader wrote on facebook - we got so many positive comments that i was a little embarrassed - haha - but the topic of her essay was, "Why Home schooling Was the Right Choice For Me" or something like that & it was such an encouraging little paper.
Maybe i'll try to preserve a couple of samples here - to remember the hard work that went into this funny little crevice of our home school journey.
***Edited for clarity and spelling.

Two Friends - by Peyton Beselt, grade 5
I'm going to tell you a tale about a former. Maybe you don't know what a former is. A former is a person who can snap their fingers and become an animal, and then snap their paws and become a human again! The one I will tell you about today was rich, big, and wrinkly. Can you guess what kind of a former he was? He was an elephant prince.
The elephant prince was walking in his garden one day when he saw something in his pine cones. He ran over and looked, and to his surprise, he found a hedgehog; a big, prickly, hedgehog! As the elephant prince watched, from behind his rosebushes, the hedgehog snapped his paws and turned into a dwarf! The elephant prince was astonished and he snapped his paws and turned into a big fat guy. He said, “What are you doing in my pine cones, Sir? I’m phoning the cops!”
“No! Please no! Please don’t phone them! I won’t trespass ever again, please!”
“So what am I supposed do with you now smarty pants? Are you a former?... Answer my question!”
“What do you mean?” The dwarf asked, trying to pretend he didn't know what the prince was talking about.
“Are you a former like me?“ The prince demanded again.
The hedgehog finally gave in, “Yes, but you can’t tell anyone, ok?”
Ok. But only if you don’t tell anyone about me.”
The two agreed not to tell anyone about the other for fear the scientists would take them in for testing like they had done with any formers found in the past.
So the rich prince took the dwarf inside for some real food and something to drink. They talked and talked and soon became good friends. They played every day for weeks, finally feeling like someone else understood them. Neither one told the other former’s secret to anyone. They loved each other so much that one day, the elephant prince invited the hedgehog to come live in his castle for life. The hedgehog agreed to stay and they shared the castle and their friendship grew, until one day there was news of a former discovered in the country - a dwarf that could turn into a hedgehog! The news said that an elephant had informed them about this former who was still in hiding. The hedgehog was watching T.V. in his room when he saw it, and he was certain that his friend, the elephant prince, had betrayed him. He was so sad his tears flooded his house. When the elephant prince came to his quarters on Best Friend Friday to play as they had made a habit of doing, the hedgehog would not let him in or speak to him. The elephant did not know what to say or do, so he just stood outside the door. He started to cry. He didn’t even know what he had done. Then he heard something. It was the dwarf, “I heard that you reported me on T.V... you promised you wouldn't!” he said.
“What? I haven’t even been on T.V. for months!” the elephant said, confused.
“You don’t have to lie, I know what I saw ok? Nobody else knows about me. You're the only one! Just, just leave me alone.” And the hedgehog started to cry again.
“No! I promise I didn’t do anything! Please just listen to me. I promise, I did nothing to hurt your feelings or put you in danger! At least let me see the video.”
Finally the dwarf agreed to watch the video with the prince. As the dwarf watched it a second time, he wondered if he could have been wrong...“But then how did they know about me, Prince?” said the dwarf.
“I don’t know, but I am going to find out. Whoever is responsible will be sorry for what he did to you! Just wait until I find him! But for now, we will have to hide you to keep you safe. They will be looking all over the country for both hedgehogs and dwarves. You will have to be very careful until this all dies down.”
The next day, the dwarf found out that his favourite stuffy was gone! In that moment, he knew that it was his stuffy, Mr. Poopants that had betrayed him! He decided to stay up and see what would happen. Finally, at one in the morning, he saw an elephant sneaking around the corner. As he was about to come in the door, he formed into Mr. Poopants! The dwarf was so mad he grabbed Mr. Poopants and chained him up in his closet. He locked the doors and ran to the palace as fast as he could. He slammed open the door and started screaming, "Elephant!!!!" until the elephant came running down the stairs as fast as he could. When he reached the landing, he found the dwarf in a corner curled up in a little ball crying. The dwarf spilled out everything and started to cry again. The elephant comforted his friend and said that it was ok, he didn’t have to apologize for his accusations.
Suddenly, the dwarf realized that Mr. Poopants was still locked up in the closet. They ran back to the dwarf's room and found him just as he was trying to escape. The elephant kicked him so hard, he landed in the next country. They knew he would never try to tell on them again now that they knew he was a former too! They were safe again!
The friends lived in the castle and spent every Best Friends Friday together forever.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


My oldest is only 14... so it's a little early for this flavour of a post...
but some thoughts are starting to take shape in my mind regarding the tender shoots of womanhood that are starting to sprout in our house... so here it is:
i abhor the idea of my girls dating before they're finished high school. Call me naive, call me over protective, tell me knowingly, "you'll see..." & maybe i will - but i can't change the way i feel.
This doesn't have everything to do with my history (though, i'm sure my personal experiences must come into play a little...) it has everything to do with trying to remove from my house & our family the societal pressure to cave to whatever the masses have deemed normal.
So, you can imagine that despite the fact that we haven't come to any hard & fast conclusions as far as dating goes for our small fry, alarm bells went off for me when my oldest informed me as she slipped on her jacket to head out the door, "Aaron (the youth pastor) is giving us the 'dating talk' tonight, mom."
i stopped what i was doing.
i felt a fierce, animal protection for my little girls & i almost didn't want to let them go to youth. Honestly - if they hadn't been so looking forward to being a part of the music for the night, i probably would have suggested keeping them home. That line from Song of Solomon about not arousing or awakening love until it so desires came to mind - & i felt like my girls were still too young and fresh for this particular topic.
i wasn't at their ages.
And this is no disrespect to my mom & dad - or to whatever youth program was happening at the church we went to when i was a girl... but i wished, often, as a young woman that i had been more sheltered, protected, defended - as a child... because at 12 & 14? They're still children... Believe me - i'm not saying this to cast any blame for my bad choices on anyone else, but this feeling of regret has resulted in a fierceness in my desire to protect the children i have... and maybe it's part of what made homeschooling so appealing to me. i didn't want others to offer their opinions or to shape my little one's views of what's acceptable, normal and right. The voices out there in the world? Those voices are loud... they're loud & brash & ignorant of the value of each little person. There are so many of these voices vying for their attention & i'll say it: i wanna shelter them a bit... give them a fighting chance to hear that Still Small Voice above the din, because who better? Who loves them more - who knows the weaknesses and the strengths that each one has?
i told Cai that they could go, listen to the dating talk, but then when she came home, we'd talk some more about what she'd heard.
When we did get the chance to talk about it, i was surprised that i agreed with far more of what she had heard than i disagreed with... i realized too - as she talked a whole lot more than i did in our little debriefing session, that she's a more secure, determined and confident girl than i was at her age & that even though my protectiveness is a God given instinct... my fears aren't.
So speak, Still Small Voice... guide my girls - and my little boys too - in your paths everlasting... & give them ears to hear & tender little hearts that obey.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

watching the mailbox...

They all know by now - that mama is watching that old mailbox.
My son comes in with puffs of frigid air and slams the door shut, "Sorry mom!" he calls, setting the mail key back in it's spot.
Neil grins at me, "How many days since it shipped?"
"It was a week on Thursday..." i reply.
"Yeh, but we had a long weekend in there... it'll come this week for sure..."
& i feel a little silly - that my tiny brood is watching with me for the proof copy of that little bound book with 168 pages of my words typed in black ink to arrive. They're watching me do something a little crazy - just the tiniest bit like King David's passionate dance...


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