Friday, September 28, 2012

seven quick takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 189)

1. i *do* have at least one more draft for my series i've been doing this past week... i should have fleshed it out a little more what i wanted to write before i started, but instead i just jumped in.

2. i've been crazy busy this past little while. The travellin' man has been gone a lot, school has been rockin' along, 40 Days for Life has required some sacrifices, we've had some fun company - & life has been so very full and good. That's probably why i haven't finished the series referred to in #1... but i think i will... at least i will try... It's on my mind.

3. i have a kind of a "mentor"... It's not what you think. i don't really know how it happened, but there she is. i can show up at her door - and even cry if i need to. She texts me and prays for me, and offers perspective when i feel like i have none left. 
She texts me last night:
"How are you?"
"Crazy. My (awesome) mother in law is here. My house looks like someone ransacked it and emptied a vacuum canister everywhere. Sloan failed her learners test for the second time, Cai turned 16, Gage lost a tooth and Neil comes home late tonight and i might weep while singing hallelujah. :)"
"Uh oh."
And then she sent me a video of herself dancing gangam style.

4. So Cai really did turn 16. Sixteen.

5. i keep thinking, "tomorrow, i'll get it back together - all these threads of life that are jumping up and running away on me..." but then i never seem to be able to quite catch them all. i missed a very important meeting last night because i forgot about it. i HATE when people do that - it's so rude to miss meetings... but i did. Bah.

6. i'm pretty sure we're going to finish reading the entire bible this year. It will have taken us about two and a half years to read it out loud together as a family. We still have a few tough books to work through (numbers, jeremiah - just to name two) - and even though we've been reading it all these many (16) years of parenthood, it was fun to keep track and make sure we covered the whole thing instead of just jumping around on whims.

7.  i can't believe September is almost over. i know... so cliche to talk about how time moves so quickly. i don't care. i've been having some good talks with a couple of my kids lately about taking advantage of each moment, pulling up our bootstraps and accomplishing MUCH. i needed those talks as much as they did. i can tend to get paralyzed a little bit when i'm intimidated... (like: i'm speaking at my kids' youth group tonight and at another church and youth group on Sunday)... These things make me feel like i can't do laundry or wash floors because *i can't move*. Why is that? Time is short, paige... wash the dang floors and then do the next thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

life - part 3

It takes me three posts to get to the positive pregnancy test.
Coward that i am, this undressing doesn't come easily. i have no idea how many parts there are to this exploration, but you can read part 1 HERE and you can read part 2 HERE.
The day after my scrawled prayer, i confided in a friend who comforted me, but wanted to congratulate me on finding my sexual freedom. i knew it wasn't so - and the congratulations rubbed raw on a heart that knew better. Even though my friend tried to sooth my worry and explain it away by saying the chances were so slim and my guilty conscience was just making me crazy... a part of me wondered. The calendar didn't lie. The day after that, i couldn't take it any more and i begged my friend to buy me a pregnancy test because i was too ashamed to buy one for myself.
i took it in the girl's washroom of the college... i still remember reading the directions - feeling my throat closing in as i realized what i was doing. It was supposed to take three minutes to turn, so i glanced at the directions and glancing back was shocked to see a bright blue line.

That line screamed, "life"...

i had no doubt from the moment i saw it blazing - the ink bleeding into the white circle surrounding it - so dark that it seemed to me there never had been a more positive positive pregnancy test - that i was not alone in that bathroom stall. We were two. And i, the stronger - owed everything to her, the weaker.
But so pressing and crushing were the thoughts that followed. How was i going to tell my mom and dad?  And everyone else in the world?
i stumbled from the bathroom, and in a daze continued my day. i sang at a composition annex, and then performed at the drum ensemble, i hurried to another rehearsal i had scheduled - and then finally home.
When i got home, i phoned Neil and my sisters... Neil's response was to propose marriage. He kept any fear he might have felt from his voice and said gently, "i'm excited to have a baby with you, paige..." and i believed him.  i begged him to keep it a secret between us - i felt naked and vulnerable - and i knew i had made myself so. He told me that he would do anything for me, but please not to ask him to keep it a secret from his parents.
i felt like nothing was in my control. Soon everyone would know. i wanted desperately to hide. i wanted to run. i wanted to wake up and have it be last week, last month, last year... i didn't want everyone looking at me with scorn and disappointment. i didn't want to feel mocked or judged or pitied or condemned... i was afraid - and i watched my secret leak from between my fingers as i forced my voice to say the words that brought the avalanche of dread down around me... i knew that it would spread - and the thought of Neil telling his parents terrified me. i thought of the grief and the shame that i was bringing both my family and his...  i recoiled from the thought of my secret travelling through every circle i have ever been apart of.  i thought i would suffocate in it... and i welcomed the thought. How could i have known then that He would create something beautiful from my pitiful offering of repentance combined with His goodness in restoring what was lost?
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." ps. 51:10

was worm

was worm

swaddled in white.
now tiny queen
in sequin coat

drinks the wind
and feeds
on sweat of the leaves.

is little chinks
of mosaic floating
a scatter
of colored beads

Alighting pokes
with her new black wire
the safron yokes.

on silent hinges
open-folds her wings'
applauding hands.

from coddling white
to lake-deep air,
to blue and green

is queen.

-may swenson






Did you know that 40 Days for Life starts today with over 300 vigil sites world wide? You can follow our blog HERE.
It can be no coincidence that our government is also voting on MOTION 312 today... Will you join me in prayer for a softening of hearts in our nation towards the issue of abortion?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

rescue - part 2

You can read part 1 HERE.  Still not sure if i'll finish - or how many parts this little journey will document, but pressing on with part 2...


i have stars in my eyes. Makes me wonder if they cloud and distort my view or make it clearer. - january 1996
i can read... or maybe remember... the doubt in my words. Pages and pages of oozing love, passionate displays of trumpeting affection - and yet this line jumps out at me. It wasn't my love that i doubted i'm sure - because even now my heart beats slowly - almost painfully in my ears when he calls to tell me he's coming home.  It was doubt over my actions, my lack of wisdom, the careless destruction of my character. i force myself to read from the beginning. On these pages, i find fleeting wide-eyed romanticized awe over a random musician, disappointment over a song that bombed and elation over a performance that rocked... little of substance, other than the one small doubt voiced above.
And then... at the bottom of a page that has no other mention of my Father, these verses...

"But i trust in Your unfailing love. My heart rejoices in Your salvation. i will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me." - psalm 13:5,6

"Don't let anyone think little of you because you are young, be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live; be a pattern for them in your love, your faith and your clean thoughts." 1timothy 4:11-13

And the battle waged.

My Father spoke truth through His word... He didn't abandon me. i have the proof captured in my own handwriting.
Hey, daughter - you're mine. i gave you a framework for love, for marriage, for purity - not as a stern task master - but because i love you so very, very much...
As i read the parts of my journal that are hard for me to read, i see Him reaching out to me; trying to save me from my own weakness, offering me an alternative, a better way, a straight path.
The whisper in the wind was lost on me.
Hey, Papa? i wish i would have heard you. i wish i would have listened. i know now that You were with me - and You never did take Your fingers off of me.
i turn the page, and it brings me to that old distance. The distance between us - from Edmonton, Alberta to Kelowna, BC - may as well have been the distance across the milky way. Phone calls in those days were excruciatingly expensive, and a full time student and a boy still living with his mama and daddy don't have many pennies to spare... (that said, the phone companies made hundreds off of us in those months). i didn't have my own computer - neither did Neil. It was a different world then - and we were hundreds of miles apart.
Eight pages into my journal, there's an entry written in red ink:
i'm scared. i have no one to talk to except Neil and he's so far away and it costs so much money to talk to him... so i will write a letter to God...
And i did. My childlike fear, my contrition, my agony and shame - i brought to Him - along with an aside that i find interesting:
"if only people knew. i'm not telling anyone. That's for sure."
And now i can laugh - just like He must have - as he orchestrated His answer...
"Do you think I'm going to leave you there, Daughter? Agonizing over a secret shame that you're intent on keeping covered, rotting and destroying you from the inside out? I am your Rescuer - and i will teach you to love Truth just like I do... "
Unbeknownst to me, a little life was already created - Truth was going to be acknowledged and my Great Rescue began...





Sunday, September 23, 2012

courage - part 1

i don't know how these posts will come out. i've got three started in drafts, and i haven't even made it very far into some of what i'd like to explore. i know that i'd like to end with a challenge to unwed mamas, to the churches that surround them and hold them and to the parents, siblings, boyfriends and friends that are in their lives. Maybe these posts will just be lame... and maybe i'll quit part way through... No promises :) But for what it's worth - here is part 1.

i picked up my old journal. The one whose starting date is January 4th 1996. The one that has butterflies and doodles inscribed all inside the front flap. It has quotes drawn around and decorating the broken binding... things like:
"i never wanted to be famous, i only wanted to be great." Ray Charles
"An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit." - pliny the younger
A description of beauty: in the eye of the beholder, self-control, happiness, dainty, gentleness, purity, meekness, honesty, love, fleeting, skin-deep, love, goodness, hope, worker...
It has, written in tidy black ink in the top right hand corner, the address of my first apartment - and a name: miss. retha paige sloan - 1996.
It belonged to a girl i hardly ever think about because my memories are so conflicted. My eyes are tearing up and my cheeks are burning with that smouldering shame just picking it up again.
i don't read it.
A few women have told me about their abortions in the past little while.
Their stories moved me - and even days later, i wonder at their courage in sharing honestly from their hurting chapters. There is beauty in honesty after all - and theirs shakes me from my comfortable middle class mama role - and knocks me back in time to when i was 19 in my second year of music school - and i became a girl who chose not to have an abortion.
Immediately following those days and life altering months that made up the first half of 1996, i attempted as a young woman in my twenties to distance myself from the foolish girl who kept the journal full of confusion, timidity - and just the smallest bit of grit.
Honestly? i've judged that girl... and i've judged her harshly.
And now - i feel the older woman in me murmur comfortingly, "She wasn't so bad... she was young, foolish, hurting, insecure and scared. Don't be afraid of her - she's a part of you - learn from her."
And i crack the cover - the tears spill over - and i'm ready to read ancient unread words. Swirly immature handwriting covers each page - most of it makes me impatient and mortified... but some of it makes me shush the hater inside and title this blog post, "courage"...






Thursday, September 20, 2012

i'm thinking about

i read THIS and THIS this morning and i'm thinking about adding my story.
i'm not crazy proud of a lot of chapters in my life... and this is one of them... i know i've been honest on here about where i've been - and the preciousness of life - but i'd like to share more about what it was like for me with deadlines looming, the future spinning, shame attacking and a diploma on the line...
Those were some crazy soul stretching months...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

some days i miss him more than others

  Some days i'm so busy; and the joy of my little crew and the bustling of my house keep the ache a little farther away. But there are other days - the days that i bemoan my travelling man's travelling - and i miss him more. The floor can hardly bear to be swept, i get the stares, meals are left-over's left-overs... 'cause i'm lonesome for the man who makes it feel like home.
  i've never been the type of woman who cherishes her independence. i've always been a kinda high maintenance girl - but my Father seems to want to stretch me in ways that bring about the most intense kinds of discomfort, and so my independence grows too. And it seems funny to me that when my protector is on the road, that's often when my Father calls me out to "tussle" (as my friend Rita puts it). When i feel the most vulnerable and solitary in my stance as parent, when my bed is shared with a tiny needy two year old, rather than a big strong man, when i have to find the courage to stand - rather than to stand behind - my Papa brings me more opportunities to show the world that i'm His.
  And i try and i fail - and my reflexes are poor and i miss opportunities and completely flub others. A friend told me that the only failure is if you don't learn from those lessons, and i guess that's true - but man, i'd like to have neil around when i'm down and lickin' my wounds. He's pragmatic, unemotional... and good. We're such an odd-ball match, but i can see how God saved us by putting us together and making us one.
  But what helps most of all is that i know that God has a hand - even in the comings and goings of a travelling salesman, and his little wife left at home. i know that my Father will use the circumstances of my life and that they'll allow me to grow, if i let them.
  So keep taking, Father, scrape away my security blankets, my comfort, my desire to be served. Do Your good work - and help me to be wise enough not to hinder it.

My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming." psalm 27:8 NLT

Monday, September 17, 2012

soul speak

i was listening to a song on the radio the other day - and i decided i wanted to learn the rap. Imitation is honestly a good way to learn, and sometimes some of the raw emotion expressed in rap is truer than any pretty melodic line... So i thought, "Why not give it a go, mama?"
i listened and printed the lyrics off the internet - but they rang hollow and phony in my own ears - even though it was their authenticity that caught my attention in the first place. i hadn't had any of the life experiences that the writer of that song had... and even though the song resonated with me, it felt weak to imitate his inflections and pauses - let alone the words he stretched and bounced artistically across the beat.
So i sighed... and decided to write my own.
Honestly? It's not my first time trying to rap... (and don't get a strange picture in your head of a white 36 year old woman trying to be young and hip... that's not what it's about - it's more about finding my own voice - no matter the genre.)
And so i wrote. i scrawled lyrics across the note pad, crossed out bits and crowded others in tiny letters. i was gentle with rules - and generous with heart. i used my piano and sang a simple melodic hook. i didn't write about apartheid or abuse... i wrote about how we've been lied to and taught to believe things about God that just aren't true.
Neil can hardly look at me without smirking... Cai stopped me as i attempted to show her the fruit of my afternoon labour, "No, mom. i don't need to hear you rap..."
But i don't care.
Art is like that - begging to be attempted... and yeh - i think i probably made a big mess out of it - and i should have probably followed a few rules a little closer - counted syllables with a little more care, paid attention to the lyrics of the hook rather than just the melody... or maybe i should have put my pencil away and cleaned the toilets or scrubbed baseboards - but i didn't.
And there it is...
It's kind of like this pathetic little blog that i keep up. i'll keep trying to find my voice - and speaking the little bits of truth i discover - with my eyes open to see Him in every tiny bit of life i capture.

Friday, September 14, 2012

meet with me

Lunch was almost finished in the oven... but suddenly - i needed my piano.
There were little ones running around, kids doing school on computers, laundry that needed doing and a hungry husband to feed...
But i sat down... 'cause lately, music has called me less often, and i couldn't bear to turn her down.
i found the music that i've pulled out for the next time i lead worship at our church - and as my fingers began gently - and then not so gently to play... i felt my insides just break and burst.
And is that choking sob a sweet sound of worship, My King?
And i laugh to Him, "How can i lead if all you'll let me do is cry?"
And it feels like He's beside me on that black bench - and i sing my love to the Only One who is worthy of worship - notes just warbled whispers and face caught between tears and one of those open mouthed smiles that shows you that i still have three of my wisdom teeth.
Alone in my living room - with the light streaming in my back window - in my jeans with my hair still damp from a late shower...
Is this how You choose to meet with me?
i find myself straying from the music fitted together in an organized display - my fingers stumble as i no longer have the notes and words scrawled in front of me. My memory fails, but my praise continues... i'm lost in wonder that He lets me approach Him - that He sees me as His daughter - that He hears and takes action on my behalf...
i hear a popping sizzle from the kitchen and i fly to my oven - lunch is saved - and the sweet ones in my care gather to eat - not knowing their mama has already been fed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

the two step

i'm not a dancer. i wish i was... one time i remember watching dancers on youtube and being so incredibly moved by the sheer artistry and grace.
i'm more of a wiggle my bum and poke my index fingers in the air type dancer... it's not very inspiring.
This morning i got to thinking about the two steps that i want to take - in my longing to dance for Him... and how the power of one underscores the beauty of the other. The steps weave together constantly in our choices, our lifestyle, our responses and even ultimately in our desires... and so i thought i would write about the stumbling dance i am attempting.
i love the book of Romans - and the tongue twister that Paul included in chapter 7... "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing."
And it seems so complex - this being a daughter of the King... how can i choose to do right, when wrong is constantly looming? And He takes me by the tips of my fingers and leads in a simple dance - a simple dance that is life and peace. 
With a deep breath, i take that first step - i want to choose not to do the things that are wrong. Not in a stubborn, prideful legalistic glut - but in humility, recognizing that i am my Papa's child - and that in His Great Love, He speaks only truth. So a husband refrains from beating his wife. The thief doesn't steal. The liar doesn't lie. The killer doesn't kill. Evil is kept at bay by simple restraint, because the impulse to sin is not acted upon... because my bonds to my Creator - the bonds that allow me to call Him Father - are greater than the bondage that would hold me in sin. And tentatively - one foot leaves the ground... the music swells around us - and our delicate dance has begun. It will feel different to be the one choosing - not - to do the things that are wrong. It requires acting on information that is different than our emotionally charged feelings, and instead trusting a Faithful Father who leads. This first step might bring difficult conversations as restraint is sometimes seen as judgement, but i've learned that i don't need to be afraid of difficult conversations - they're often learning experiences for me; teaching me to speak with gentleness and humility because my own ignorance is overwhelming - but He never fails to be right and just.
And the power of choosing not to... so gently leads me to the second step; the beauty of choosing to do what is good. And sometimes in exhaustion we snap to the ones we love, "Isn't it enough that i'm not like so and so? i don't do this - and i've stayed away from that..." But the sweetness of the trustful two-step comes  not only from the man refraining from beating his wife - it requires him taking the second step to do good to her.  The thief doesn't steal, he gives. The liar doesn't lie, he tells the truth. The killer doesn't kill, he speaks out on behalf of the vulnerable.
And one step just seems strange without the other. Those who do good without refraining from evil aren't trustworthy - and those who refrain from evil without doing good have missed out by only having gone half way too.
And so i'll try to teach my little ones - dancer though i'm not - to take both steps in this breathtaking two-step, listening to His whisper in our ears, and following where He leads.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

inching back

After a day in bed it feels strange to stand on my two feet, holding hands with my morning boy and tip toeing downstairs to find breakfast.
He seems thrilled to see me up and about - it's such a strange thing for him to have mama unavailable for a whole day... he spent much of his Sunday snuggled up beside me patting my cheeks and murmuring in his baby tones, "Mama sick? Mama better now? Mama still sick? Mama better now, ok?"
He couldn't get close enough and needed to climb on top of me, and would wail brokenheartedly when i would shove him off.
Sweet son.
Our fingers are still intertwined as i survey a kitchen that i didn't get to say goodnight to - the popcorn maker is out and there are cups and bowls on the counters. i start the coffee, get my little one a bowl of the sugary cereal his daddy bought when he pulled grocery duty for me because he knew he was leaving bright and early for another business trip, and i begin to clear counters.
My little one dances around me.
He still has marker all over his tummy and his hair is a rat's nest of white fluff. Never in the history of human kind has someone been more of a morning person than my boy. Before long, i hear the shower running and little feet plodding either up or down stairs to meet me on the main level. i love this job.
At 8am sharp, we meet on the couch... and our school day begins.
It's such an achy inching start - stumbling readers stuttering through II Chronicles. Little baby, who prays for, "Daddy be nice to me and he loves mama." Squabbles erupting and being silenced as we plod through poetry and history. A special word being given to my four year old to memorize out of all the latin and greek cards; i tell him, "bonus is your special word, Gagey... it means 'good'.  i want you to memorize that one, k?"
"You call me your bonus, mama..." He guesses my pleasure in giving him this word.
"Yes. i do." i wink at him.
And it feels so good to start another week.
It's such a fresh start - so many new mercies to unwrap as the sun rises.
i'll wash my sheets, i'll clean the bathrooms, i'll make it outside and blink in the sunshine.
So, thank you Father - for this fresh start... and for your Great Love that allows it to be...

Lamentations 3:22-23

New International Version (NIV)
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Neil and i went on a date the night before and i felt awesome, but at 4am - i woke up and my body was miserable.
When my alarm went off in the morning, i felt guilty for feeling awful - i was supposed to set up our 40 Days for Life table at church and i was ready to explain what we're doing *again and again and again* as many times as was necessary to get people to see that every single day in Calgary there are around 15 children whose lives are taken in their own mama's wombs. i wanted to tell them how our presence vigilling at the clinic is imperative because that's where abortions are happening. i wanted to tell them how we know we are a sign of hope for those little ones who are scheduled for death - and a sign of mercy to their mamas who are blinded by a moment of crisis. i wanted to point out the current trend in our culture to devalue all human life - and i wanted the chance to tell them that if we began to see value in the vulnerable - there would be a great awakening towards the Creator who so lovingly fashioned us all. i knew today was important, but i couldn't stand up without feeling violently dizzy. i tried to have a shower and ended up on the floor. i crawled to my closet and got on a skirt and top - and then collapsed on my bed and texted my friend who was doing the table with me and told her i couldn't make it.
The rest of the day is a blur - i slept, i drank apple cider vinegar, i drank water, took advil for my pounding head and didn't stand upright at all.
And i hate days like that... where i'm unable. Those days when i feel like i failed the important. The ones where i didn't even have one good mama conversation with one child, didn't make the bed, didn't clean anything other than my own sick. It feels wasted.
And at the end of the day - i still feel rotten.
But i know - that as frustrated as i am to be sidelined... that this battle against injustice isn't mine alone. My friends stood in my place and gave out information.
A meagre three - but still THREE - signed up to take time praying at the vigil.
God wasn't stuck sick in bed... only i was.
And that makes all the difference in the world.
He's got this and i trust Him.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Cai's hair used to be like cotton candy. The only time it was ever smooth was when she was fresh out of the bath - we'd brush it down in broad strokes - right down to the tiny lip at the bottom that threatened to curl - and the next morning it would be a tiny seething mess of cotton, unwilling to remain tamed.
She had enormous blue eyes framed with thick lashes. Her forehead came with a dent across it, just like her daddy's. Her fingernails and toe nails were always chewed right down to the nub, and she wore her baby teeth out chewing on every hard plastic object she could find. She was smart... like crazy smart. She could memorize long passages - and was willing to perform them on demand. Yet even though she seemed to thrive on performance, she was intensely shy. People exhausted her and she was six before i saw her voluntarily make eye contact with an adult. She listened - and remembered what she heard. She understood nuances in adult conversation and implications beyond her years.
She was unique, my firstborn.
And now... on the very cusp of 16, she twists her neck elegantly to smile at her daddy as she works in the kitchen.
"Are you proud of me, dad? Are you proud that i'm in my second last year of highschool?"
And she catches him off guard - this gruff daddy-man. He suddenly wraps his arms around her thin frame and i wonder if i am the only one to catch the undercurrent in his tone as he tries to laugh, "Let's not talk about that right now..." (or ever... his voice implies).
And it scares us - to feel like children yet - while our children grow.
It scares me this wild fierce pride that comes in pounding waves of love and hope and surrender.
And her cotton hair is tamed, her nail beds repaired... Adulthood beckons.


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