Tuesday, July 31, 2012

mom of teens

i can hardly believe i deserve that title, but awhile ago - someone nominated my blog for circle of mom's, "Best Moms of Teens Blog".  Sojourners somehow landed in the top 25 and so they let me do a little interview for their site.  i can totally remember the week i was having when i composed those responses.  *smile*. 
If you're interested in checking it out, you can find it HERE.  Lemme know what you think. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

digging for treasures

i was looking for something in my blog drafts the other day and i realized that i have half-written about a billion blogs that i never bothered to flesh out and publish.  i wrote about Elmer's funeral, a Tough Topic post, some travelling husband thoughts and a mama moment. 

It's like when a good friend comes over. Little ones are running around, and suddenly needing me more than they have for the past month. i'm being peppered with questions and my permission is required and tiny one needs me to wipe his bum -

And i find that my friend and i hardly got to finish a single thread of conversation - instead it was all tiny bits and pieces - baubles and buttons that are hardly coherent in the state we got to pass them in...

But sometimes... later in the day, before they've faded from my memory, i pull them out and examine them.  i piece them together and learn something new.  i remember what i was saying when she tried to tell me that story and it all suddenly makes sense now that i get the context. 
"Ahh," i choke out - overcome as i realize the richness that comes from buttons and baubles that have the capacity to become treasures...

That's what some of these little drafts are like - tiny baubles and buttons - preserved in a raw way.  Incomplete sentences that only half express the idea i was trying to capture.  Every so often, one of them becomes a treasure - but really - it's so incomplete, so hit and miss, so one dimensional. It would hardly be worth it - unless you had some enjoyment even for the colours and shapes of the buttons and baubles that are more frequently produced.
And i do. 

*self portrait series by ephraim - a selection of 3 of the 127 pictures i found on my iphone. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

seven quick takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 182)

1.  Sometimes we go to Costco.  Usually it's just the two of us - on a hot date to buy lettuce in bulk.  He never eats samples.  Ever. 
And to me, it's strange 'cause i love eating a piece of granola bar followed by a hunk of meat on a cracker with a pomegranate juice chaser.  One day i noticed him with an odd smirk on his face - watching a free sample table. 
"What's so funny?" i asked.
"Look at them... Everyone is the same.  They skulk around, peering nervously around themselves.  They circle past... then look back trying to be discreet.  They all have a goofy excited look on their face as they furtively grab the sample and run away as if they've stolen something." 
"They do?"
"Yeah.  They do."
So i went to the booth and asked loudly, "Can i have one for my husband over there too?  He's too shy to get his own." 
Just kidding... but i should'a.

2.  i'm panicking about homeschool this week.  Just ignore me.  It will pass.  Every so often, i get organized and i worry about the program i'm planning for each little student and then suddenly like Peter who takes his eyes off Jesus when he's walking on water... i sink.  It's a terrifying prospect for me to think of the education of my children... and i know that each one of them will "own" their own accomplishments and failures - but i can't help but taste a little of each win and loss as i watch them grow. 

3.  In light of my panic, i ran out to Neil's office this week during business hours.  i hovered over his desk, vibrating as he finished his phone call and finally looked up at me - all calm and cool, "What's up?"
"Neil!!  i need this certain type of bookshelf.  i need it right now!  i can't do homeschool without it and YOU HAVE TO BUILD IT FOR ME OR OUR CHILDREN WILL NEVER GRADUATE!!!  THEY WILL LEARN TO HATE US (me) FOR THEIR LACK OF QUALITY EDUCATION AND I CAN'T HANDLE THEIR LOATHING!!!!"
"Uh, yeah... i'm kind of busy right now.  Maybe later."
Choking back sobs, "If we all last that long..."
So, yeah... a little over dramatic over here.  You might want to avoid me for a few weeks till this blows over. 

4.  When people are rude or inconsiderate to my kids - i take it waaaaay harder than if it happens to me.  i want to teach them to have grace for adults who don't know how to treat children - because i can't control every moron in the world, but i can gently encourage my little ones to turn the other cheek.  It's still hard. 

5. This little instagram shot made my morning... it makes me want to keep writing - and to get better at it.  It is such a kindness that so many friends have read and encouraged me to keep going. 

6.  Sometimes i wish Ephraim weren't so consistently a morning person.  The occasional lapse in routine wouldn't hurt my feelings if it meant i could sleep in a bit... but the fact that he's such a happy little duck in the morning makes those early morning hours with just the 2 of us pass a little sweeter. 

7.   i woke up this morning surprised and dismayed that my coffee wasn't made for me. (THAT'S how spoiled i am!!)  Every morning that Neil's home, he makes a pot of coffee that is already simmering by the time i make it down stairs.  July has been a month of having Neil working from home more than away.  It has been a little oasis in the desert of "traveling man-dom". (Yes, i'm just making up words now).  i have been so grateful to have him around more.

Happy Friday :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

purpose and a plan part 2

i'm breaking this up into two posts in an effort to bring a little clarity to the ideas that are bringing me comfort these days.  In part 1, i tried to share how the threshing process fulfills a purpose - and that in His wisdom, He proportions our afflictions to our strength - not making the process heavier than there is need. 
In this post - i want to share the niggling thoughts that keep coming to the surface of my mind about how i want to approach seasons of affliction and pain.  As i've been seeking and trying to understand my Father, the thing that i feel most called to do - is to continue to serve Him.  i know that seems kinda obvious - but i've found that often, in the midst of painful circumstances - circumstances that can even shake my confidence in my own self - my tendency can be to turtle, to try to nurse my own wounds to turn inward and focus on my own pain or insecurity. 
And honestly?  i'm a bit of a coward... if it's up to me, at the first sign of trouble, i'll be howling, "RETREAT!"
i feel Him drawing my eyes upward. 
"Hey, daughter... i'm doing something here.  Follow me, serve me... keep your eyes on me and you'll walk on water..."
Because it's not about the self-centered pride that would have me drown in the hurt and pain, the sorrow and grief - of affliction.  It's about serving God.  And i can serve Him... Even here (no matter where 'here' is). 
As i contemplate my tiny fist full of sorrows - (for which i thank God - because He's doing something with them) - i keep thinking of a book i read about a billion years ago, about Madame Guyon - (i think it was her autobiography?).  Anyway, i remember being struck with the idea that she had written it while she was in prison... the ideas about God, theology, hope and prayer - were all captured while she was stuck in a cell behind bars. 
How easily i despair compared to her!
It's so much bigger than just me!  i read somewhere the other day that humility doesn't mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less... i love that. 
And i totally know, it's easy for me to write this on a day when i'm feeling victorious.  My marriage feels inspired lately, my children bless me by praising Jesus, God has been gently probing and prodding my spirit in real ways to draw me deeper.... It might be much harder for me to read my own words on a different day (my hormones are still vacillating wildly - and my moods are chasing them between despair and happiness, anger and contentment)... but my feelings in reading these words are only evidence of my willingness (or unwillingness) to humble myself and take with gratitude the purpose and plan of the God i serve. 
And so i take it all - and i offer all.  i wanna wear in my heart the symbol i often wear with my outward flesh when i worship - of hands held out to give all - or take all He gives too. 
i want the outer husk that binds me to this world to fall away - leaving only what is useful to bring Him glory.

Monday, July 23, 2012

purpose and a plan - part 1

i think i've said it a hundred times and in a hundred ways - that this has been a tough year.  A lot of it, i've blogged - but there are things i've left out too - some of the intimate details that made this a challenging year for me.  Regardless - it's a year that i'll always remember as being a 'tilling' year.  My sister and i were both impressed with that image of farmland being tilled - prepared - turned over and worked in preparation... it felt like *that* is what this year would look like for us. 
And yet, through it all, i have felt my Father's watchful eye and known His tender presence - and there hasn't been a time where i've doubted that even in this mess - of turned up soil, crumbling lumps of dirt, the deep cutting as the earth is separated, worked and brought to the surface... that He has a purpose and a plan.  And so it struck a very tender nerve when my sister sent me a passage from Isaiah the other day - that seemed to speak to my heart that is so ready to hear from my God. 
(Keeping in mind, i'm a nobody - just a stay at home mama who loves Jesus who listened to and read a few bible commentaries from a site recommended by her pastor... i'm not a teacher - but i really want to share some of the things that are rolling around in my mind making me excited to know that He has a purpose and a plan.)
The passage my sister sent me was from Isaiah 28 - the last part of the chapter, starting at verse 23:

23 Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
25 When he has leveled the surface,
does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,[c]
barley in its plot,[d]
and spelt in its field?
26 His God instructs him
and teaches him the right way.
27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
and cumin with a stick.
28 Grain must be ground to make bread;
so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
but one does not use horses to grind grain.
29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
whose plan is wonderful,
whose wisdom is magnificent.

i read it the first time and kind of paused - 'cause i didn't really know what it meant.  i read it a second and a third time, trying to figure it out - reading the bits before and after to try to gain some perspective.  Finally, i went and checked out some commentaries (that our pastor says contain only opinions on the meaning of passages in the bible that can be helpful in getting background or a little understanding if we're feeling stumped). 
My new understanding is what is lifting my chin - to see a little further into the distance.  i'm beginning to see a little beyond the black earth being tilled all around me to see that the earth is tilled for a purpose.  There is a season and a method and a goal to what is being accomplished... and the God who is in charge of it all? His plan is *wonderful* and his wisdom is *magnificent*. 
There's gonna be a threshing process - and yeh... it's painful - and i'm sitting here - thinking as i read this passage - Oh God!  If we're compared to seeds - and some are hard and require heavy threshing before they can be used... and some are softer - and require a gentler approach, so that they don't become ruined in the process...   Can i choose to be a soft seed? 
Who knows... maybe... maybe i can...
If not - i still want to go through the process that allows me to be used.  If afflictions are God's threshing instruments used to loosen us from the world, then i know that He won't make them any heavier than they need to be to accomplish His purpose. i know my Father loves me, and that He carefully measures out all that has been given to me to enable me to bring Him glory.  He's not trying to crush me - He's trying to prepare me!  i can trust Him in the threshing process... i can trust Him when i lose my little baby... and all the rest that has been measured out for me from His hand -  this or any year. 
Because He's good.  
And He's kind. 
And He's wise.
And He's full of mercy.  
And He loves me (and you)... so very, very much.   

Friday, July 20, 2012

just a closer walk with thee

i wish there was a magical way that i could explain my faith in a way that would express the Goodness of my Father. 
i've had circular type conversations about faith where i totally get where the doubter is coming from. 
Isn't it just about being good?  What more is prayer than just a few moments of concentrated thought?  Does reading the bible really amount to anything more than reading any other book?  What does it even mean to have a "relationship" with God?  What difference is there between your conscience and, "God speaking to you"?
And sometimes i think that it's harder for the really "good" people in the world to see the point in surrendering - because they feel like they're pretty capably holding their own without Him.  Maybe is it easier for some - like the woman in Luke 7 - who had much to forgive, to surrender completely? 
Sometimes these conversations happen with people who are Christians too - but their view of God has become so broken - that they are unable to really know His love, and so they see no point in cultivating a worthless relationship with someone they half feel they're imagining most of the time. (mark 9:24)  i liked the way our pastor described his own personal experience with God when he said, "Up till that point, He had been my Saviour, but not my Lord..."

And i know, Father, i know - it's not my job to convince anyone...

But it's kind of like if you were to hear a nasty rumour about one of your best friends that you knew was not true.  You want to clear their name...
And it's not because i think that it's right - or even possible - to gauge the depth of anyone else's relationship with their Creator... It's just a knowledge that so many are feeling (and articulating); "What's the point?"
And this is the part where i wish for that magical ability to communicate His Goodness. 
My friend Fawne says that one of the best ways to understand if you're delving into a relationship with God or not is if you are seeing change in your life.  i've found this to be true for me too... i find that the more i know Him, the more i want to change. i become aware of my sin and weakness because in His great love, He chooses to reveal them to me.  Sometimes the changes that happen in our lives are ones that seem foolish to the world (the wife standing by the husband who cheated, the victim forgiving the one who wounded them, the guy making minimum wage who gives sacrificially...)  The believer who is in a relationship with God is the one who is allowing Him to shape his decisions, they're the ones who change direction as He bids them to follow, they put aside their own familiar culture and cling instead to the One who hung the stars in the sky.
And i know - it might seem strange - to start that conversation with God.  i know that the thought of what He might ask you to do - if you really took the time to listen - might seem terrifying, or embarrassing or inconvenient.  And i know it seems neither safe nor dignified... to break the silence. 
i know...
i know...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

my friends know who they are

i've always been one of those *horribly annoying* people who thinks nobody likes them.  Since i'm aware of the horrible annoyingness of this personality type, i *try my best* to shut up about it when i'm feeling particularly unlovable. 
Many, many things have contributed to this broken view of my own self - & while i know i'm not the only one who feels like they should apologize profusely for every conversation exchange - i find this timid way of living to be more than a little exhausting. 
Lately though... it feels like my friends won't be explained away. 
They keep trying when i don't respond. 
They wind the roots of our friendships around my heart and bind it together so that it can heal. 
They pray with me... like real prayers - for me, with me, over me...
They encourage me... ask me questions... dig deeper... and believe me...
Their expectations are non existent - and they minister to me tirelessly - without being asked.  They are mostly wives and mama's, older, younger, wiser, funnier, full of kindness - and a welcoming sense of community...
And i can't help but believe that they like me. 
And even if they didn't - i know that i would have more than enough...
So the fact that they do - seems like some crazy, undeserved richness. 
And i think the richness of my friendships is a gift from my Father who whispers to me, "i love my people, Paige... i love you and i love these women too - sharpen each other, extend grace, be gentle and humbly offer truth to each other..."
People are hard.  We're all broken - insecure, proud, incompetent, thoughtless, angry, selfish, insensitive or ultra sensitive...
But people are also precious.  Each one has unique giftings - hilarious quirks, tender mercies, unbelievable strengths - humble offerings that make the vulnerability of true friendship worth it. 
So friends?  i'm so glad that you're in my life... please stay awhile and let's grow together.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

peeking 'round

i love how Hannah in the Old Testament describes her prayer life as, "pouring out my soul to the lord." (1 Samuel 1:15)

i love Him.
And i love what He is doing in me. 
i am convinced that He won't allow anything to separate us. 
The other day - while pouring out my soul to the Lord - i found that my soul lacked words... so i found myself telling Him, "i'm listening, i'm willing, i choose you, i say yes..." And then waiting quietly...
And sometimes prayer feels so stuttering and one sided that i'm tempted not to do it at all.  And after a long silence - or after many wooden, perfunctory prayers offered without any soul pouring - i find myself opening one eye, and peeking 'round for my Creator. 
"Are you really there?"
And He is.
"i want you."
And He knows i do.
"i want to be yours."
And He claims me. 
"i don't want anything else - i just want You."
And He loves me. 
"i love this life - and i don't want to waste it - can you show me how to live?"
And He will. 
And i'm finding that He's got my heart - and i trust Him so completely with it - that there's no where else i'd rather be. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Losing Tiny

i've never had a miscarriage so early that i found out what i lost before i even knew that i had it. 
It's a strange thing to understand you're pregnant and that you're losing the baby - all in the same breath - a feeling of wonder drenched in sorrow and dread. 
And so i will name you Tiny.  Tiny wonder that did me the honour of breaking my body - making sure that i knew you were there - that you lived
i texted my husband in shock - telling him i was miscarrying a baby we never knew i was pregnant with.... and in tenderness, he sent the comfort and the acknowledgement i needed.
And so the loveliness of our time away was touched with the intimate sorrow... of losing Tiny.
And i find my own grief to be strange - there are a million flavours to it... and i'm unable to articulate a single one.
And i don't want to talk.  i don't want to play and sing.  i don't even want to think or cook or clean.   i don't need anything from anyone - & i feel physically fine.  i'm tired of my own flesh and i find i'm most comfortable wrapped around Ephraim waiting for Time to work her magic and make the sting a little less...
Next year will bring fewer moments endured - and more moments enjoyed, right? 
Regardless, i trust Him.  Job 1:21

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thinking on the lovely...

Neil has been gone all week, but he'll be home late tonight. 
He sent me a text midweek that said, "Don't ask questions.  Pack a little overnight bag & be ready to leave Saturday noonish..."
(i had a dream that the text meant he was dropping me off at a stranger's house for a bbq while he went golfing.  Surely not?) 
i have to admit that there has been a lot of day dreaming going on since i got that text.  i find myself thinking on the lovely that this weekend will bring. 
Little ephraim has been sleeping with his mama this week.  He pats my cheek in the morning and asks for toast.  He's going through that whole 2 year old vocabulary explosion thing - and it's kind of awe inspiring to imagine that kind of growth is even possible.  Gagey is full of thoughtful, loving kindness - my sunshine boy - and the contrast between him and his stubborn, bossy little brother is hilarious.  It's beautiful to know even now, that their strengths will serve them in life; and that their weaknesses too - have opportunity to bring glory to God. 
Oh my little bonus boys... you make me think on the lovely. 
My little ones' prayers this morning;
"keep us safe."
"let it be fun."
"help me be good."
"thank you for mama."
And then we read about Solomon building a temple for the Name... His prayer of dedication,
"Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth - you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way."
Love is such a strangely described state of heart in this day and age... My Father shows me - tenderly, gently, violently - what it really means. 
Oh, the lovely, the lovely, the lovely. 
And the sun warms up the earth and i smell the moisture being sucked from the ground i talk to my little ones about those verses in Isaiah:

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

And i want to feel the rain of His words - accomplishing in me what He desires - achieving the purpose for which He sent them.  
And i find myself tripping over little minefields of important moments to convey - i gather them in my hands like a bouquet of wild flowers.  
He's whispering, "this is the lovely, daughter... think on these things." 
And i do - i do, i do, i do. 

Philippians 4:8

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

i want to

i want to jump in a lake and swim to the bottom where it's the coldest and stay down there until i feel like my lungs will explode. 
i want to learn to knit, and create interesting little woolen works of art for my children to wear. 
i want to go for a hike in a canyon, and then up a mountain... one with a view that takes my breath away. 
i want to jump in the vehicle and drive - with only Neil and a credit card and a map...
i want to sleep outside on the beach and wake up to the sound of the water lapping on the shore. 
i want to eat healthy wholesome foods and feed them to my children - things that i've watched grow out of the earth in my own yard.
i want to go biking when it's raining hard - and let the mud splash up my legs and back. 
i want to have friends that i've had for years - that really know me, love me and remember me when... i want them to come to my house and sprawl on my couch and talk real, challenge me, tell when i'm being an idiot. 
i want them to be married to men who feel the same way about Neil. 
i want their kids to love my kids. 
i want to wear long flowing dresses sometimes - without worrying about being practical.
i want to create an artwork of words.
i want to sing and play with a band that wants to sing and play with me... i want the music to be stuff that moves me...
i want to change the world - but i want to be content changing diapers... and i want to be content if there are no more diapers to change. 
i want to love foolishly, obey fearlessly, follow courageously and even lead when He asks me to. 

post inspired by Cai's bff Alisha at Mercy's Miracle - what do you want? 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

mama's little baby

i was the baby of my family growing up. 
The song that i remember most distinctly my mama crooning into my ears during my growing years was, "mama's little baby". 
i probably took advantage of my 'littlest girl' status & climbed into her arms when i was too big to be doing so - big enough that i can still remember doing it now that i'm a mama myself.  i still remember my favourite of her dresses - it was red and plaid and had three quarter length sleeves.  It was made of shimery, slippery fabric and she wore it with red heels.  i thought she looked pretty in it, but mostly it felt like the softest dress ever when i'd snuggle up beside her in church.  My mom has a low voice - kind of like mine - and at night, her lips would fairly brush my earlobes as she sang so softly and slowly and lowly that inevitably i'd find my sleepy eyes weighted and my body limp and sagging. 
i loved that song. 
The way she always sang it like a lullaby...
And then one day, i remember climbing into her arms. 
"Sing me, 'mama's little baby'..."
And maybe my mom was in a goofy mood, but she wrapped her arms around me and sang a raucous upbeat version of my lullaby.  She swung me back and forth in her arms, and growled on the line about the coffee too. 
It was all wrong. 
"No.  Sing it slowly..."
And she laughed at me, "Don't you like it that way?"
"No.  i like it slow. Sing it slow."
And so she did. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

times seven

Cai's getting to be a good little driver. 
i find i'm less apt to be clenching my seat, trying to cover that quick intake of breath, or pounding that imaginary brake with both feet on the passenger side that i sometimes found myself desperately wishing for. 
She's more confident now, (& that's saying something considering she's a tiny girl driving a 12 passenger van). In a couple more months, she'll be ready to take her drivers test... and even though i'm so pleased for her and thrilled that she's doing so well, i have to say that *this* part of motherhood has terrified me!  i can hardly believe that we're going to go through this 6 more times!  It's not just the skills that my precious girl is still in the process of mastering - it's the lack of courtesy from other drivers on the road, the carelessness of others who don't know that my very heart is behind the wheel of that big rig, it's the swiftness with which an accident can occur that is turning me into an old fuddy duddy. 
i know every stage of motherhood comes with a measure of this letting go... It starts with giving birth and having to let others paw on your fresh newborn who used to be tucked safely inside.  Then, there's the stage where they learn to walk and they fall and bonk those big baldie heads on all sorts of hard things.  There's also the stage where they're old enough to play at the park by themselves, or where they learn to ride a bike or swim independently.  And honestly? It makes me ache this constant state of letting go - this running beside the bike while my wobbly child is hollering, "You can let go now, mama!!" 
And i pry my fingers off - because this is what it's all about - the constant letting go - it's the secret heartbreak of motherhood
A couple of weeks ago, Cai auditioned for the Calgary Fiddlers.  It was a huge audition requiring months of practice.  She had crazy hard scales to learn, songs that needed to be performed at breakneck speed - and their harmony parts needed to be learned off by heart too.  She showed so much persistant maturity - finding the time to practice, stripping each piece down to it's hardest bars and nit picking until she had each piece of music learned.  She has been looking forward to this audition for years - and the day of her audition, i stood in the hallway listening to her nail it... trying not to cry - so incredibly proud and hopeful all at the same time. 
Within a few days, we learned that she didn't get in.  The auditions were crazy competitive this year & they just didn't have a spot for her. 
She walked up to me & showed me the email - & my eyes scanned it quickly & then turned to my girl.  i tried to figure out the curve of her eyebrow, the expression on her face, the emotion in her eyes. 
"i'm ok." She said simply. 
And she was. 
i let go. 
During the next couple of days, i watched for heartbreak, for anger, for bitterness - and i found none.  There was genuine disappointment - but over & above the disappointment, there was peace.  She wrote the most beautiful letters to the directors, thanking them for investing in her these past years - and telling them how much their investment has paid off.  She told them that she's leaving on a high note & that she couldn't be happier with the memories made & the life long skills she has acquired.
She let me read them and i cried. 
i let go. 
And the beauty with which she soared in grace and humility was breathtaking to me. 
& so i'll let go, i'll let go, i'll let go. 
They'll fly & fail, they'll surprise me, they'll surpass me, they'll grow...
i just gotta let go.
Times seven.


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