Friday, August 31, 2012

7 quick takes

1. Today i wish that i was like a lot of moms that i know who are so excellent at home decorating and pinterest DIY ideas. Neil (who is much better at this than me) has decided that we're revamping our (very tiny) front office so that it is a better space for homeschooling. It always takes me a couple of weeks to warm up to ideas, but suddenly, i'm thrilled and excited and giddy. This year, we'll have 6 students - and one very fun two year old. When i think of reclaiming some space and using it right up, i get crazy excited... i hope it turns out! (AND i wish it was already finished since we're starting school on Tuesday :)

2. At the end of his 16 day trip, Neil emails me asking what home cooked meal he'll get for dinner when he gets home. He tells me he wants beef and broccoli.
Me: "Is 'dinner' lunch or supper?"
Him: "It's supper, crazy. I am very important now so I don't say supper."
Good to know.

3. Gage asked me this morning if when i die i will wait for him and meet him when he gets there. He told me that he is nervous to be dead, but wondered if maybe it would be fun once he gets there. i assured him that i would wait for him - and then he brightened and said that Grampsie will be there too. Death is such a strange thing to think about - for a four year - and for his mama too.

4. Gage also asked me if when Ephraim turns 15, we'll still call him Ephraim. i told him that since his name is Ephraim, i think we'll still call him that. He replied, "Oh. i just wondered if that was a nickname."

5. i've been so stretched (in every possible way) by 40 Days for Life. It has challenged me in the most interesting ways. It has made me incredibly uncomfortable - (asking other people to get involved makes me feel nauseous), praying on the sidewalk makes me feel conspicuous (for the first couple minutes), being a part of the leadership committee has forced me to learn skills that i don't have naturally. Thinking about abortion from every possible angle and trying to understand the perspectives of others - with compassion and humility has broken me. Being misunderstood and misrepresented has humbled me. Learning about prayer and fasting has begun the process of disciplining me.

6. i've been having a hard time writing lately. Everything comes out wrong. My heart feels strange and unfamiliar in my chest and it has been a bit of a wordless time. i miss being able to capture my blog posts in a quick 5 minutes on my computer. Most of the time now, i sit there for 30 minutes and still end up with a half written draft that i won't ever post. Maybe i took it for granted when i went through a couple of years of writing being so incredibly easy. i'm so glad i wrote so much and that i wrote my book... and i hope that i get that back soon.

7. Peyton spent some time with my mom this summer. When i went (with Cai and Sloan) to pick her up in Banff, my mom bought us all tickets to the Kruger Brothers concert. They were playing for the first time a piece (like a concerto with lots of pieces) called, "The Spirit of the Rockies" that was commissioned for the Banff Centre. Honestly - they are probably most famous for playing bluegrass - and i didn't really know what to expect at this concert. i was stunned by what i heard... How can the *banjo* be breathtaking? It was some of the most exquisite music i have ever heard live in my life; both the more traditional bluegrass that they played first (with their own unique flavour) - and the more classical piece they played second (with the strings, horns and timpani). i'm so glad i got to see that.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not what you do, what you are.

When you're a Jesus freak - life is pretty much constant wrestling.
i love that story in the bible in Genesis 32 where Jacob literally wrestles with God. When Cai chose the name "Israel" (meaning he who struggles with God) for Mollen's middle name, i loved the idea of her being a child who would wrestle with a Holy Father in ways that would bring her deeper in Truth. (There were other bits and pieces that went into picking that name, but that meaning was a wiggling piece on my conscience that filled me with a deep satisfaction).
And then there's that verse in Philippians that says, "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out (or wrestle out) your salvation with fear and trembling," (and then because i can't quite stop there, verse 13 says, "for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.")
There's also the verses in Ephesians that talk about wrestling not against flesh and blood, "but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
It has always seemed pretty clear to me that in seeing and accepting my Father's utter love for me - and responding to it with even just my tiniest bit of faith - i was inviting a lifetime of wrestling; waging war against darkness - and also wrestling in my own heart. Sometimes that's how i find the Truth He reveals as i refuse to turn away from the questions that seem hard, and i struggle to resist complacency and bitter resentment.
And so i feel like we walk along - (i'm not one of those super confident Christians who can say with certainty how my Wild Father will act; he has never seemed tame to me) - and i never know when, exactly, there's gonna be a tussle.
But i guess i've learned that there is this sameness between the One who seems to crush me on occasion - and the One who beckons softly like a mama.
And so it seems natural that even while i'm gasping for breath, brushing the grass off my pants, heart pounding in a furious 'fight or flight' rhythm - i hear Him whisper gently, "You're mine. This here? This uncertainty and this vulnerability? This never ending feeling of complete inability and failure... That's got an end.  i've got something for you... just watch."
And so timidly - i take some steps forward - waiting for Him to spring out of the bushes (which He might do too... you never know...)
i see a movement up ahead and i cock my head, "Is this it? Is this what we're waiting for?" i ask - full of hopeful trust.
"No. It's not... keep going..."
And so i do. Carefully. Intentionally... never sure where we're headed - but unwaveringly sure of the final outcome.
So i woke up this morning, quite honestly, a little undone. i missed a little sleep, i miss my husband who has been gone for two weeks, and i was feeling unable.
i got dressed in something presentable and choked down a piece of toast with my coffee, all the while allowing my mind to wander and be entertained by my tiny 2 year old buffoon.
Finally - i brushed the crumbs off my dress and pulled out the notes that i had written for my meeting with a pastor at one of those huge city churches - carefully scribing the details i didn't want to forget and printing off a few resources i knew i'd want at my finger tips. Then i crept upstairs and woke my teen and told her she was in charge and i climbed into my car.
i could feel a vaporizing inadequacy seeping from my pores and so i put on some of my favourite music - that soaks me in scripture and truth. Almost immediately i felt Him grab me from behind, and i spoke out loud all the vulnerability that almost incapacitates me in moments like this... We wrestled.
Finally my voice broke, and the sound came out in a cry, "Why do You even want me anyway?"
i let those words stand - as the music swept around me and my little car barrelled down the highway and i worshipped the God who wanted me - even though i couldn't fathom any good reason why.
At reception, i waited. i crossed and uncrossed my legs, pulling my dress down around my knees.Finally, warmly, the pastor invited me into a room so we could talk. i pulled out everything i had so carefully prepared - and she listened thoughtfully as i expressed to her how prayer had been transforming me.  i told her how when we stand and vigil at that abortion clinic - our mission is twofold; first to be a sign of hope for the little ones who have been sentenced to death. Our presence speaks the truth that their little lives have intrinsic value. Secondly, our presence is a sign of mercy to the mothers who are exiting that clinic having followed through with the appointment that brought death. We want to stand there and be the last ones they see before they enter the clinic - and we'll pray earnestly and fervently while they're inside - and then be the first ones they see when they come out out of the clinic too. Hope. Mercy. Book ends that will bring healing to a broken land.
"And what does your sign say?" she asked me.
"My sign? Well... i usually carry one that i made. It says, 'you are loved'. When people ask me why i chose that message, i tell them that i truly believe that if mothers and fathers could really understand their own value as a human person - that they are loved by their creator - then they would be unable to take the life of the little one they carry. Then they'd understand that it's nothing they *do* that makes them valuable... It's what they *are* that has set them apart."
Hey Daughter... i hear His voice... That's why I want you. It's not what you do that has made you valuable to me - it's what you are. You're mine, and I like you.
And i'm undone.
i feel a connection with the little ones i pray for. The words i speak on their behalf - are words of truth that cover me too.
So i'll keep taking steps in this wild adventure - i'll struggle and wrestle... i'll experience joy and sorrow... i'll not conform to the pattern of this world, but i'll be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Then i will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. (romans 12:2)
And then by His grace, i'll follow through and do it.

For more information on 40 Days for Life and to see if there is a campaign near you, click HERE.
To follow along on Calgary's vigil starting on September 26th, find, "like" and share our facebook page HERE. Check out our blog HERE.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

She knew...

She knew enough not to ask if she could come over.  When i threw open the door to let her in, the sun burst into my dark space and made me blink. She stood pretty and fresh on my doorstep.  She clutched a bouquet of flowers in her hands and her dress just barely poked out around the tiny bump on her abdomen that whispered the little life growing there.
i don't think she said anything.
Her brown eyes filled and she wrapped her arms around me - i was still gross with stringy hair in my pajamas but i grabbed her too - and then we cried. 
Just two women in our thirties.
Crying on a doorstep.
She knew how much that Tiny baby meant to me.  She knew how much i would have wanted to mother this little one - and she knew that this loss would sting - because she knows just how much i love children.
i was barely 6 weeks along with Tiny.
And i hate - knowing that her little one was destined to leave too even after she valiantly bore weeks of debilitating morning sickness and rejoiced as she left her first trimester behind her and carried her little one well into her second... i despair sometimes at the fragility and the delicate, temporary nature of created life. My mama heart croons to the babies that i never got to mother - and to the mothers who never got to keep their babies too...
And the Comforter comes.
Swiftly - like a wind that will open a door and slam it against it's frame - and then gently as the air swirls around us. He comes completely - as He leaves no corner of our hearts untouched. He comes mercifully - as we yearn for Him in the night.
Oh Comforter... come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

marriage week

My friend Fawne over at Beauty in Weakness is blogging a week of marriage posts. She asked me to guest post today and so i wrote a little piece called, How to Fight With Your Husband.
You can check it out if you wanna :)
Neil has been on an epic business trip lately - so i emailed him a copy of it before i sent it to her. His response was, "I have tried several times to read it and my mind can't shut off long enough to read the whole thing. I'm sure it's really good. Make it happen."
i emailed him back, "You are the world's biggest slacker."
And then i sent him THIS picture off pinterest and asked if he had enough mental fortitude to follow it.
Then he started blocking my emails.
Just kidding - but i do miss that travelin' man... even if i am forced to fight with him on occasion...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

snips and snails and puppy dog tails

My first son was a little island of manhood in an ocean of sisters.  My two younger sons are having a much different experience.  They have their big brother who they can tag team - and then each other. At two and four, they're getting big enough to find each other the best of company and more often than not, we'll find them rolling around on the floor like a couple of little puppies - red cheeked in their underwear grunting - and i'm half way caught between shrieking, "Gentle with your baby brother!!" and, "C'mon, little e!!  Get 'im, you can do it!!"
Having grown up in a family with three girls, i find them fascinating. 
And maybe it's some gross oversight on my part, but so far they don't understand that mama is off limits.  They'll tackle me from behind, take me down in the kitchen, do a cannon ball from the arm of the couch onto my lap and pummel me in the morning before i get out of bed.
So today - i was climbing up the stairs and sunshine boy leaped on me, forcing me to fall forwards.  Before you could say, "ninja baby", Ephraim had climbed on my back and Gage was laughing at the bottom of the pile. 
"Dog pile!" he shouted.  Ephraim laughed gleefully while he clutched my back... but then Gage added the words that changed everything and convinced me that maybe we would do well to set a few limits - maybe my days of wrestling with my little boys should be nearing their end.  Maybe there are aspects to joining this kingdom of boys that are not quite as charming...
"With farting!!" (Jubilantly)...
Mama out.
In other news, Cai texted me this morning: "I had another dream about my wedding last night, but I still don't know what my future husband looks like :/ hahaha."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

school on the brain

It's mid August and that means that i'm starting to wrap my mind around fall - and the idea of homeschooling grades 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, K and one little tornado baby.
After a decade of homeschooling, i found that this year a lot of my preparation happened by browsing my own bookshelves and pulling out favourite dog-eared resources to use again.  It involved buying costco packs of notebooks and pens - and a couple of online orders of classic books that i'd like to round out their educations with... and then stacking it all neatly on my counter to contemplate with twinges of excitement and anxiety.
This doesn't mean that i've got it all figured out. 
Far from it. 
But at least at this stage it saved me a few bucks that will instead be spent on gymnastics and violin lessons. 
So i'm scrambling with the loose ends that i need to consider - what math curriculum for little Miss who didn't like hers last year?  Will sparkling eyed one keep up with hers?  Or will i need to tweak it?  When will the books arrive for the online courses that my biggies are taking?  Will sunshine boy learn to read?  What read alouds will we do?  Will my bigs be too big and my littles be too little to learn together?  Will we finish reading the bible this year?  Will we have enough quiet areas in our crazy house for learning to happen? How will we fit in my commitment to 40 Days for Life - which i feel my Father laying heavy on my heart - far from releasing me from it as i thought He might... Will i really have to prepare meals on top of it all?  And will my travelling man be gone half time like he was last year?
And in great scooping handfulls, i bring it all to Him. The One who bids me to come.  It runs through my fingers like sand as i bring it - each tiny speck of concerned mama-love, every perceived disadvantage, the less than perfect, the possible mistakes and failures. i can't even carry it as it slips through the cracks and runs in streams from my hands and i stack it in a loose pile at His feet.
Take it, Jesus! 
On the cusp of another homeschool year - i remember why i'm doing this: because i'm supposed to.
And it's enough.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


"It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold onto our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God." - Henri Nouwen

Sometimes the waters are so deep and i feel almost embarrassed by my immersion in spiritual things.  My husband will glance at me with one eyebrow cocked and sigh, "Babe - you don't have to take everything in life quite so seriously..."
And i wonder if he's right. 
But then there are other times that i remember the way my Father cradled me during those times of depth - the way that the timbre of His voice was familiarly strong and i miss the passion that coloured my view of each day as i find myself slipping into a period of dryness. i remember the growth, the surrender, the changes brought on by insights He so tenderly revealed... and i want it back... my embarrassing passion. 
i've found the older that i get - the less i take my relationship with God for granted. It's for my own sake that i tend it during periods of dryness - that i allow myself to feel some grief over my lack of discipline - and sluggishly allow Him to continue to speak into my life.
It's amazing to me that these times of dryness are also times of growth.
It's kind of like the hope described in my favourite passage in Romans 8: 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
It's less comfortable - to grow in dryness. It makes us more vulnerable to listen when His voice isn't clear. It's when my need is less obvious - that i realize that He's still there... because He's always there... because He loves me. 
And so - whether immersed - or dry - i'll cling to my Source, and in gratitude allow the intimacy to grow. 
  1. I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
    No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
    • Refrain:
      I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
      Every hour I need Thee;
      Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
      I come to Thee.
  2. I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
    Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.
  3. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
    Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
  4. I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
    And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
  5. I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
    Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
(Annie S. Hawks & Robert Lowry)

Monday, August 13, 2012

love language

Totally unfair that mine is touch. 
He knows it too - he knew it way before i did and has used it to his advantage all these years since we became each other's. 
His is boring - acts of service... blehhhh. 
How to compare that crazed mind blown feeling when he touches me - to scrubbing out a toilet for him so that he feels my love too? 
But it's a give and take this mysterious love - it's an igniting and it's feeding - it's wanting and it's subduing - it's butterflies and chores - all working together to make something uniquely ours. 
And stutteringly i learn his language - just as he became fluent in mine. Carefully i memorize the cadence of the unfamiliar tongue that speaks to him my adoration. It will take me a lifetime to master it - sweet joy that the resulting work turns into a stunning masterpiece. 
And yes - sometimes a word - a touch - an action - is hopelessly mistranslated. Sometimes my faith fails me and i doubt that this pretty picture could really belong to us. Sometimes we choose to speak in our own languages and the beautiful meaning becomes meaningless to the one who finds the message to be indecipherable. 
But then - i pick up where i left off.  i learn the basics, he teaches me his alphabet and i show him mine.  We strip down our language barrier with our bare hands - and love wins. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

whale watching

My sister and i decided to fly out to Victoria to celebrate my mama's 60th birthday with her.  While we were out there, my mom treated us to a three hour whale watching tour... Would you believe we didn't see *one* whale? 
As we tore back to shore, jess turned to me... "Those whales only have to hold their breath for 15 more minutes."
And they did it too. 
And is that how 60 years pass? In three hour increments - tasting the salt spray on your lips and looking for something you might never see - but you know is there?  Laughing with those you love - feeling the rock of the waves beneath you and the sun drying the damp from your hair as you're carried deeper, farther from shore. 
Maybe.  Maybe it is...
Life is such a gift.  He's constantly showing me that... It's so dainty and frail - it's really so terribly brief and perplexing. i'm so grateful for each three hour window - taking me into the unknown and allowing me to grow. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

i would have

Sometimes it takes a minute - or a month - to catch your breath. 
That's how i feel about you, Tiny. 
i thought that maybe since you were so wee - and my husband so unready... i thought that since i was so overwhelmed and my children so unsuspecting - that maybe i just wouldn't have to hurt over your Homecoming... quite so much. 
But there's this queer little ache that refuses to be shushed. 
You lived. 
And i don't care if i'm thought ridiculous anymore. 
i don't care. 
i don't need or want to talk with anyone about it - but it seems i'm incapable of escaping grief altogether... and so in this sojourning place... i'll just whisper the words of this post...
i would have loved you, Tiny. 
i would have defended your existence to your hesitant daddy.  i would have cleared out a tiny spot for you to lay your downy head.  i would have gone though morning sickness, stretch marks, discomfort and illness... in a heartbeat.  i would have taken the disapproving looks of friends and strangers...
i would have protected you with every ounce of strength i have...
if i'd have had the chance. 


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