Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mini blogs...

I feel like every once in awhile I clear my throat & realize that I haven't been using my voice very much... There's a little sting in that because I want to heed that little whisper that reminds me, "let everything that has breath praise the Lord..." & my praise seems to come in mulling over his fingers swirling the colours in my life... So I'll breathe in some grace & breathe out some praise, & share a couple little 'Facebook status' style updates with my people. Here you go... 

1. Lemme tell you, after a dozen years of homeschooling, it's a queer little ache that comes to you in waves as your oldest moves beyond the walls that hold you still... But there's this strange euphoria that chases that ache too. Our little team mate is out in the world, pursuing her education. She's sobbing in classes that are stretching her capacity to empathize, care for and nurse... She's working hard, learning and growing. She's going to be amazing. 
So I pick up that little grade 2 reader & watch a stubby little finger trip over the bold font... I correct math tests, fold laundry and read. We pray, we eat, we school, we live... conscious of both the ache and the euphoria that are inevitable parts of this wonderous wandering.. 

2. (An *actual* Facebook status...)
I'll admit it. 
Doctor Who wrecks me. 
Sloanie & I started watching the series on netflix months ago - & it's not the cheesy science fiction veneer that cuts to my core & exposes my vulnerability... 
It's the little hints sprinkled like faery dust through the lines that linger long after they're spoken. They burrow like seeds into my mind and as this silly show unveils aspects of life and humanity that we're not to speak of, shouldn't even know of, must pretend never happened.. those little seeds start to grow into full fledged ideas. Who am I becoming? What matters? Why does it matter? 

"How long should we wait?"
"The rest of our lives."

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:5 NIV)

Aaaaaand... Now you all know what a nerd I am. 

3. Neil is at a trade show this weekend. I guess he has a "booth" there... I try to picture these trade shows, but all that comes to mind are science fairs. Are there other adults there with better booths than Neil? Did some guy's boss have an unlimited budget & he has a cooler booth than everyone else? Does one person have the equivalent of the volcano booth that erupts every once in while while the guy looks cocky, but the judges are unimpressed cause they see it every year? Did one guy light up his booth with lights powered by a potato? What on earth does Neil's booth look like? I asked him all these questions and more... But he just looked at me sternly and said, "yes. It's like a science fair." 
It's probably not nearly as interesting as I'm imagining. 

(The picture is just a bonus...)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

artsy fartsy

    It's amazing how much of music is intuitive. i don't remember being as blown away by a distinction in any of my babe's musical tastes as i have been with Elmer. We play a game where we'll take turns choosing a piece of music to play over the speakers while he's playing at our feet. His response is usually immediate and definitive. He either likes it and starts to move and react, clapping, bobbing his head and dancing - or he'll ignore it completely and continue what he's doing. His tastes are sometimes different than mine, he'll fling out his arms and turn his face to the sky during a song that doesn't move me or he'll start his wiggly dance while i'm changing a diaper and i hadn't even noticed the song had changed. Sometimes he'll dance and shout happy baby sounds while i play and sing and sometimes he'll just pull on my clothes asking me to stop so that he can have my full attention.

    And then there's Gage. He's six and can sing with more emotion than Barbara Streisand. He was in my room the other day and i stopped outside the door to listen to him sing to himself in my big full length mirror. He was making up a song about going to Kelowna to visit his grandparents and i couldn't help but get caught up in his lyrics. He drew me in with the complex conflict between his desire for the road trip and wondering if he will miss and be missed at home. His little voice trembled as it rose higher and higher, louder and louder.... conflicted and more conflicted. He repeated little melodic phrases, he used syncopation and rhythmical riffs, he repeated lyrical themes and used every dynamic and vocal inflection he could think of. He changed the rhythm as it suited him, some of it rubato, some of it following a stricter meter... He embellished with long anguished notes or quick staccato; haphazardly creating little phrases as he worked his way through his song... and i kind of sat there thinking - he's just experimenting with musical ideas he couldn't even name - to *create* something. It's so similar to a child taking up a paint brush, dancing, making a craft or forming something out of clay... Like, 'what can you do, voice, to express what i'm experiencing in my little six-year-old boy existence?'

    It's kind of weird to me, how much of what i think of as being something you need training for is really just open to everyone to enjoy. How much expression do i shy away from because i think i'm not good enough, that i might make a fool of myself, that the end product trumps the experience of creation?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


    The kids and i have been doing a study called, Love to Pray by Alvin Vandergriend in the mornings lately. It's a 40 day devotional that we've done before (i had scrawled the date of the last time we did it on the front cover - January 2006). In it, i had made notes and prayer requests - praying for baby cousins who were on the way tucked in their mother's wombs, prayers for our daddy to find a job as his was in flux as this was right before we ended up moving to Calgary... It has been an interesting trip down memory lane, but more importantly - it has been another invitation (He is constantly inviting...) to walk, run or even crawl deeper into my prayer journey. 

    The author  made a distinction in this book between petition (praying for ourselves) and intercession (praying for others). As we've read different passages and as we've studied - but ultimately as we've taken the time each morning to put into practice what we're learning and to actually pray... i feel like i've been stretched by this invitation to put my love into action through prayer.

    Sometimes praying feels like walking a tightrope. i want to pray only the things that are in the will of God, i want to pray authentically... i want to bring Him my hurt, my worry, my heart, my adoration and my joy. i want to pray for others for the areas in their lives that are broken. A word i used that maybe i just made up is, `pre-redeemed`... "What does pre-Christmas mean?" i asked my little ones, "We can only use the word, 'pre-Christmas' because Christmas is coming." i want to have the confidence to use the word, 'pre-redeemed' in the same way - redemption of all the the enemy has stolen is coming, beauty from ashes. i might be living in the 'pre' - but that little word only indicates what is coming, and i can't wait.

    Today was beautiful in it's practical applicability. First the question of nagging doubt was tenderly addressed. Do my prayers make any difference at all? If i believe the Bible... if i take God at His word... then i have to believe that through His Great Love for us, God does allow our prayers to make a difference to the history of nations, our family, our communities, our churches... i believe it. i think that belief  is no small thing when God is looks for and calls intercessors. If we don't believe that our prayers matter, or that they've had any consequence at all... prayer won't be precious to us, and i think over time we'd probably cease to make time for it at all because what is relationship with a God who remains disengaged from our lives, from our trials and from our pain? Thankfully this isn't how God truly is... He is engaged, He sees, He hears and He takes action on our behalf. He loves us, and is deeply interested in having a relationship with us. He is worthy of our love.

    Still, prayer is sometimes hard (like anything worth learning or doing). We run out of things to say, we wonder if maybe we're praying for healing when God is going to use sickness. We wonder if our present suffering is possibly not worth mentioning... we pray alone and our mind drifts and we might feel like we're talking to ourselves. Prayer is something we can grow in, we can learn about, we can get better at. It's not just an intangible feeling, "Sending you good vibes!" It's an intentional conversation with the One in control.

    I love the distinction between petition and intercession - and i don't remember making it before in my own mind. Honestly? i think we are in desperate need of both - but sometimes i find i need to focus outside of my own self, and God has used intercession to show me His Great Love for those around me, and in those times i think it has helped me catch just a glimpse of the bigger picture. The devotional i mentioned gave us a small tool to try this morning using the word, BLESS to help us to pray for those around us. The B stood for body needs. We prayed for those who are struggling with their physical body - for strength and healing for sickness, brokenness and disease. We prayed by name for people with needs in their physical body and blessed them. L stood for labour - it was easy to remember to pray for our pastor, for our church leadership and for their families, but we also prayed for Cairo, out getting training for her vocation and for Neil who works for our family. We all labour, but using this little tool brought specific people to mind... and we prayed for them by name. The E was for emotional - there are so many with inner hurts that God wants to heal - the pre-redeemed. We prayed for them. The first S stood for social - (relational) needs. We prayed for families for restoration of brokenness and for these relationships that currently bring pain to begin instead to bring joy and hope and strength to their members. We prayed for families to receive blessing, and also for them to bring glory to God. The last S was for spiritual - for people who need Jesus. We prayed for our friends by name but also for our little community, our neighbours and the world.

    And i don't know if it's because Elmer slept in and we had the time and the atmosphere to just *be* before God, to be reminded by Him of the people He loves, to intercede for them and "stand in the gap" between, 'pre-redeemed' and 'redeemed', but even hours later... i'm unable to shake the idea that our prayers from this morning were heard and that their impact will be multi-faceted and generational, because that? That is the kind of God that i serve - and He wastes nothing.

  1. the action of intervening on behalf of another.
    "through the intercession of friends, I was able to obtain her a sinecure"
    synonyms:mediation, intermediation, arbitrationconciliationnegotiationMore
    • the action of saying a prayer on behalf of another person.
      "prayers of intercession"

* Ezekiel 22: 30-31
* Luke 11: 5-8
* Philippians 4: 6-7
* 1 John 5: 14-15
* Hebrews 4:16
* Luke 18: 1
* John 16:24
* 1 John 3:21-22
* Mark 11:22-24
* Psalm 66:18-19
* Hebrews 4:16
* Exodus 17: 9, 11
* Romans 8: 26-27
* 1 Timothy 2:1-4
* 1 Thessalonians 5:17
* John 10:27
* Ephesians 6:18
* Matthew 6:9-13
* Ephesians 3: 14-19
* Colossians 1:9-12
* Ephesians 1:17-19
* 1 Chronicles 4:10
* Mark 1:35
* Luke 5:16
* Luke 6:12
* Romans 1: 9-10
* James 5:16
* Luke 22: 31-32
* Revelation 8: 3-5

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

night feeds

At over 15 months, he's getting a little long in the tooth for night feeds. i've wished so many times over the course of the past year that he would sleep longer stretches, but last night i couldn't fall asleep, and i wished he were up to keep me company. i groaned as the clock slipped past 11 then 12... i kept winking at it, willing myself to sleep, begging my eyes to stay shut. Instead i watched as the numbers on the clock crept past one.. then 1:30. He rarely sleeps that long and i had wasted it.
i didn't let myself look at that mocking clock again until i finally heard his cries at 2:30 in the morning.
He can't possibly need a night feed. He's a nice solid little boy - a far cry from the hungry baby who couldn't get his mama's milk with his funny little tongue tied down. He sits in a high chair at meal times and points to whatever table food he thinks looks like it might have sugar in it.
He is definitely big enough to get through the night without a night feed, but we never do.
No... we never do. And this night is no exception...  his perfect legs curl up against my body and my legs curl underneath him, almost like a yin and yang... he signs to me with his pudgy hand that he wants to nurse and with a contented sigh relaxes into my arms. And it's at times like this where i cannot decide which of us feeds and which of us is fed.
i slept peacefully after that, you know... Soul kind of nourished, doubts quieted for night... comforted by nothing more than a little feed in the night...

Monday, September 22, 2014

speak for me

    i used to think i was a pretty good communicator. i used to think that i was pretty lucky to be able to form my thoughts, feelings and experiences into words and sentences... i could speak them fairly plainly, i thought, and others were usually able to catch my meaning without too many painful mis-communications or misunderstandings (other than the kinds that were intentional - we all know people like that...)

    My biggest fear in communicating (i think) was probably in church - i lead worship lots of times, and i always had a fear that i would say something wrong - that my theology would be skewed and confuse someone or misrepresent my Father. My words in those situations would often come out too quickly and with very little confidence - smothered in disclaimers and apologies. Even then though... i would usually manage to scrape together the words to get across the essence of the thought i carried. Even in my fear, my meaning came through...

    But over the past couple of years, my view of my own self - and my supposed communication abilities has changed so that what i thought about myself then, is almost unrecognizable to me now.

    i obviously can't communicate.

    i've had more people angry with me in the past couple of years than in the past couple of decades. i've seen more precious relationships broken than built, and i've seen my own words put back in front of me with completely different tone and meaning than i ever sent them out with - and honestly - it makes me look at this little blog and go, "No wonder you have gone so silent here..." Words that i hoped would bring healing, brought only misery. When i thought i spoke kindly, honestly and carefully... the opposite was heard - the opposite was felt... and i didn't know how else to speak, how else to be - it was impossible to be heard or understood, so i reacted the only way i knew how... More curling inward, more awkwardness with my own community, more trepidation in exposing my thoughts, my fears, my dreams... Literally, the other day, i listened in on some small talk from a sweet woman sitting next to me. She asked the usual, "So, how have you been?" of an older couple that she came across. "Genius..."i breathed jealously... "how does she know just what to say?" And it makes me laugh now, from inside my house, the opportunity for small-talk long gone, that her casual inquiries seemed so far beyond my ability to formulate and bring forth myself, but the last few years of dealing with broken relationships has brought out an insecurity that i never had before - and that i'm not sure is one that i'm interested in keeping around. 

    You see, i serve a God who loves people. Relationships are so important to Him that He sent His Son to earth to rescue me - so that we could have a relationship where i could bring my heart to Him - and He could speak to it... i love Him, and because i love Him - this communication phobia is just going to have to go. The enemy would love nothing more than to see me silenced - licking wounds and becoming sulky and awkward... But my Father? He has something else in mind.

    On Sunday, our pastor said that God is using our circumstances (including our pasts) to prepare us to accomplish His vision for our lives. Ever heard of redemption? i guess that's what this is gonna feel like... all the brokenness... all the misunderstanding and pain... all of it - is salvageable to my King. i saw Him do it when i was 19, and i had broken my life with disobedience and careless sin... and He gave me a family to love and serve and grow with... That experience taught me that HE IS FAITHFUL. Our pastor's words reminded me... that God is resourceful - He never wastes.

    So, if you see me on the street - and i take some time to wash around the words in my mouth before coming out with something like..."So... how have you been?" Please know - that that communication there? Is Kingdom work. i'm breaking free of this fear and condemnation that has been binding me lately. i love my Father, and i trust that as i press in to His Good Heart - i will learn to become more like Him and ultimately it is my goal that He will speak for me.

    Speak for me, Father - strain out the me.  Even before the thoughts become words - let them be shaped by the fruit of the Spirit that grows in my life. Let my words sprout and take shape from a heart that is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness and gentleness... More surrender of self - less know it all wordsmith. 
    Less broken. More Redemption. 

    Speak for me. 

Friday, September 12, 2014


I open up the kid's computer in the office. My laptop died months ago and blogging has been scarce.
Benedict Cumberbatch is the screen saver and he smiles coyly at me - almost mockingly as I gather threads of thoughts wondering if I have anything coherent at all to say.

"I'm grateful..." my heart whispers...

And it's true.

This week has been awesome - school is still getting rolling, my college kid is loving her classes, my baby slept better, my teens are changing every day - but it's the beautiful, welcome kind of change. It's the kind of change that is evidence that there is a Holy God working in their lives, whispering truths, beckoning them to come... and they are heeding that invitation. My "almost teens" are growing too... They're trading childish things for talents and passions that they work on and derive pleasure from. They can do so many things that I could never do... it's fun to watch.

Then my bonus boys...

Oh trust me, I'm grateful. I'm plenty grateful.

Belligerently I stomp my foot, "But God," I whine, "I want him..."

My travelling man has been gone all week - swept up in the vortex of work and meetings and technology blips... I haven't heard more than a few words from him.

The loneliness can be so real...

And it almost makes me howl that I could even use the word "lonely" to describe any aspect of this full life I lead. My arms are so rarely empty and everywhere I turn there is another likable human being willing to share a conversation, a hug, a cookie or a TV show.

But there's sometimes a lonely for just the one person who has seen the very nakedness of your soul - who shares your bed, your body, your memories and your deepest loves... a person to chuckle with in the darkness before sleep comes, the person who seems to have what you lack, and lacks what you have...

Too personal... I backspace, try again, frustrated, flushed, embarrassed - keep it togehter, paige...
In the shower, my finger traces the word in the steam, "invisible".

And my heart, whispering it's gratitude defensively is shushed to silence by the Author's question, "am I enough?"

"Of course you're enough!" I sputter... "Aren't I allowed to want someone? or something? or am I supposed to live in a perpetual state of bliss - desiring nothing but the company of God?"

He's working something out in me... I feel it and the tears sting my eyes and I'm ashamed of the lump in my throat because...


He knows I am.

He knows it.

Defences down, I close my eyes.

"Yes. You're enough."

Haven't You, Father, been the subject of every love song sung at my piano this week? Has not my heart been begging for the Gentleness of my Shepherd to lead?

And it's like He speaks to me...

"I see you."

Seen.  Seen in the darkness after the baby has been tucked in. Seen in the king sized bed that refuses to warm up all the way. Seen drawing and singing... and cleaning and cooking. Not invisible. Seen.

"I hear you."

Not only heard, but understood. Not judged for feelings that aren't sin, aren't wrong, aren't insignificant to me... or to Him. Heard, whispering truthful, biblical prayers. Heard playing and singing till my voice wavers, cracks and breaks. Heard.

"I'm with you."

Not alone in trying to protect the little ones in my care. I'm in His company when I whisper that I want my husband. He seems to nod somberly. He's with me.

And oh... my gratitude breaks from the easy list that I have made in my head... a roof over my head, food to eat, children to love, a husband who will, ultimately, come home, friends who care, music that feeds and humour that kindles and brings warmth like a flame...

All of it fades when my invisibility is proved false and His faithfulness is proved true. My gratitude is real.... and so is my longing. They can co-exist - and in that sweet balance, I'm allowed to feel what I feel.. and for that?

I'm grateful.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Life in Transition

First there was her grade 12 registration.

i remember her grinning over my shoulder as i exclaimed in chagrin that this was my last time registering her for school...
Then, as soon as she was able, she applied for college. They conditionally accepted her. She wrote exams at the end of her first term. She was halfway done. She studied. i encouraged... i cheered. Sometimes i annoyingly reminded, pushed, prodded... i tried to be a good mama - all fumbling like a parent in the passenger side as their child hurtles down the highway for the first time, shouting instructions and pounding that imaginary brake as their child adeptly makes lane changes, weaving capably in and out of traffic.
We planned grad together.
She showed me what colours she liked and she let me put my fingerprints throughout it too. Sometimes she says that in the kitchen, we are like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and it`s true... we work well together - cooking for ten most nights and days. i guess our experience paid off cause her grad was amazing. Over 80 people showed up to honour her... There were thoughtful speeches, yummy desserts, a song, grandparents and a special cousin who travelled, friends who helped and cried and hugged and brought presents, a soft blue dress that fit like a glove. There was also one clear, sweet voice using the humorous guise of, "valedictorian speech" to give her testimony to a room of people she admires.
It was perfect, really.
Neil's cousin's wife took grad pictures, my friend did Cai's hair...
She looked so pretty... So poised and confident. So Cairo.
After two and a half years of working at Dairy Queen and putting her cheques diligently in the bank... After countless babysitting jobs, loving each little one in each family and giving her dad the majority of the money she made over all those hours and hours of toil to put in the bank for her, she scrawled out a budget for her college education. She had more than enough.
"But i get to buy you new boots..." i added unnecessarily.
She doesn't really need me...
Her diploma grades arrived, and i rudely ripped open the envelope while she was at work. i really did. i'm ashamed to admit it, but it's the truth... i justified it by saying i wouldn't want to rush to her work with the envelope if it were bad news, but the news was good. Really good. So i grabbed her sister and my keys and with an idiotic grin on my face, i rushed in and shoved the envelope in her face.
She forgave me.
Her acceptance letter followed, and her diploma followed that.
Summer was in full swing.
She bought herself a new computer.
i tried to find her the kind of backpack she wanted.
She got her course schedule, and spent some time trying to figure out how the public transit was going to work for her 8am classes.
And this week, she works her final shifts at Dairy Queen. Her little apron is worn now... The sticky ice cream spray has been washed off of it a million times... those strings are weary from being wrapped around her tiny waist shift after shift as those blue eyes met the next customer, "What can i get you?"
Another childhood, please. A little girl with platinum cotton candy hair and electric blue eyes. Chicklet teeth that were worn almost in half from chewing on her dollies fingers by the time they came loose. i'll take one of those... please.
i wasn't ready to become a mama when she came.
i couldn't fathom what it was to first make room in your body and then to be the one who woke in the night, cleaned up the vomit, wiped away tears, prayed agonized prayers over feverish bodies, teen angst and exhaustion... i couldn't imagine the next 18 years when i was only 19 when i found out she was coming. i couldn't dream of weighing it all in my head, constantly second guessing myself, 'Is she healthy? Are her eyes ok? Will she be safe on those roads? Should i have put her in more lessons? What gaps did i leave in her education? Is she wrestling out her character flaws? Does she know they're there? Does she love me? Did too much of my own baggage wash over and soil her sweet, tender heart? Does she know i did my best?'
And my "word" for this year... or phrase, i guess, has been learning to "surrender - changing my heart of stone for a heart of flesh".. i have been learning to strive less and surrender more - and how many beautiful opportunities has my Saviour given me during this transitional season to learn that tender lesson? He's such a gentle shepherd... he knows the striving is futile... and breaking me of this futile habit, while painful, will be for my own good...

First there was her grade 12 registration. The beginning of the ending.
But, by tender mercies out of my hands, she's still here for awhile. She'll live at home while she takes her classes at a community college. We'll still traipse and dance around that kitchen as adeptly as we ever have. The donuts will still be made on the first day of snow and the little brothers will still get more time to make some memories as she continues to transition and strengthens her wings to fly...

Monday, July 28, 2014

why write

i don't know what it is about writing that i find so interesting. Grammar and rules mean little to me... it's something else entirely that i find captivating.
i see emerging writers grappling with ever expanding vocabulary standing in front of a wall of words that are like a wall of paint chip samples in varying shades of white - picking painstakingly the one that most closely matches their heart. They take a phrase and bend it; using punctuation and sentence structure - like an artist creating a sculpture - till it pleases their eye and the rhythm and cadence makes the words roll off their tongue, just so.
And i have felt that same call that beckons a new writer to write.
"Hear me, hear me..."
Finally with something to say - an offering - and at times the very heart of praise as truth is proclaimed and etched for all eyes to see.
Little Elmer is barely one. He stumbles on fat legs that still wobble and collapse. His words are few - most of his articulations are shrill - little commands and reports of displeasure or pleasure or desire.
Will he one day sit before a glowing box - fingers clickety clacking over a keyboard, slavishly putting the magic of his mind into sentences and paragraphs that make his mama laugh and cry and puzzle over the complexity of God's creation - a little boy woven together in my womb - and now having the ability to weave words that have the potential to change a heart - a mind - a life...
i don't know..
i re-read the words i just wrote now.  They look kind of lame - all trying too hard, and falling too short.
I tweak one here - pull a sentence out there. Change the intensity, adding a blush of colour...
i want them to see me wrestling. i want them to see me falling short... i want them to know that you don't ever arrive, there is only growing, learning and change.
So, write little ones... ignore the perfectionism that would steal your words and silence the truths you're learning.  Every battle you engage in to get your ideas down will make you more a more proficient, adept communicator. You'll find more clarity in your thoughts and more grace in capturing them.
You'll get better.
Let me peek into the workings of your mind - and make myself and home among your musings...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

for my mom on mother's day

My mom was 23 when she had me - her third daughter.
When I was little, I would sometimes sneak into her bed in the mornings and she would be watching David Mainse on 100 Huntley Street. i can still feel the soft stretched skin of her stomach. I'd be fingering the silvery marks under my index finger and feeling the wonder in knowing that i helped put them there.
I still have some faint memories from the time that I got to spend at home after both my big sisters were in school. I remember one time, them coming home, and i ran up to them, clinging to them, smelling deeply that unfamiliar smell - school. I still got to stay home and bake with mom... she let me eat the leftover pieces from the gingerbread house she made at Christmas time while i hid behind the couch. I got to tag along on grocery shopping. I got to play with my dollies and go to her ladies bible study - and i don't remember minding.
I remember when I enrolled in kindergarten. We lived close enough that I could walk to school. I remember coming home and getting tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. My mom loved to hear my stories from kindergarten - and I loved to perform. Still to this day, she's always saying how my retelling of the story "Little Miss Helpful" was remarkable. i was five. I'm pretty sure it wasn't remarkable - but it was to her.
i remember how i studied her face and found it unreadable when we would tease and beg for a baby brother... i begged as hard as my sisters did... but deep down, i always wondered how it would feel to lose my "baby of the family" status... i never got to find out.
I remember in grade three, coming out of the school. I didn't say a word - and maybe that's how she knew, but she pressed me and I could hardly choke out in gasping sobs how my teacher had humiliated me in front of the class.
"Wait here for a minute... " She said as she slipped out of the vehicle and through the doors of the school.
She wasn't furious - but I knew that she had my back.
I remember one time my mom came to school to drop something off. She was wearing a new white spring jacket, and all my friends thought she was pretty... and I did too.
And weaving itself between little individual memories are the innumerable memories of the hours spent learning harmonies, blending parts and stumbling piano. There was always a half empty forgotten cup of coffee resting on the side of the piano in those years. After I'd go to bed, i would hear her play The Homecoming - often stopping and starting - a lifelong work in progress. Neil and i heard it come on the speakers in a restaurant when we were out for breakfast one time and i had to bow my head to hide the tears... There is a soundtrack to my childhood, and that song is on it.
One time, my mom and i were waiting in the sanctuary of the church for something. i was just a little girl and my mom opened a hymnal. "Do you know this one?" She asked as she started to play... She played song after song after song... and i remember not knowing so many of them. And so she taught me - she took us to seniors homes and we sang the hymns - she whispered the alto lines in my ear during church and so many of those songs became precious to me as they soaked in trough the fabric of my being into my heart, nourishing my very soul.
I remember when my sisters got "ghetto blasters" and they would record on tapes the rock music off of 630Ched; Peter Cetera, Glass Tiger, George Michael, Van Halen. I was just a little too far behind, a little too young, a little less cool...  I snuck out to the yard and my mom was gardening. She likes growing things... she went and got us each a fudgesicle and we sat on those cedar house steps, and as the sun beat down on the top of my head, that memory stored itself deep inside my mind with the silence punctuated only by the sounds of chirping birds and whispering grass...
I remember moving in grade 6... and watching her car out the back window of the bus as she followed me to my new school on my first day.
I remember her olive green bikini and how brown her skin would get... how much she loved the water and her willingness to get her hair wet.
In high school, we hiked. Often in silence... or maybe we talked, but i don't remember talking a lot... i loved hiking Kalamoir. It made my lungs hurt - and the view made my heart explode. i would always delay lifting my eyes from the hill that was freckled with brown eyed susans. i would wait till we were at the top... and then let the beauty of the sun on the lake shatter me in a million ways as i drank it in, in great thirsty draughts.
Later, we biked. i wonder how many miles we biked together around the Okanagan valley?
i remember going to school in grade 11 to write my physics exam and then the freedom of skipping out early, meeting her in the parking lot and heading out on a bike trip. Both my sisters had moved out - and i missed them. Those trips distracted me from the things i needed distracting from, and gave me memories to carry when i experienced a premature baptism into adulthood, finding myself a pregnant, unmarried 19 year old.
My parents were reeling - how could they not reel?
But i could tell she didn't want to be a part of any destruction of these sacred memories of engagement, matrimony and first child...
So, she worked to bring out the sweetness - coaxing it like a flame from a damp log. Embossing butterflies on my reply post cards, beautifying each little detail that i was too sick or busy to attend to, sewing me a dress...
i remember feeling like maybe i wasn't supposed to talk about my pregnancy. i did talk about how miserable i felt, but was talking about the baby off limits until the wedding was over? i didn't know what was allowed...
One afternoon, i was at her house so she could see how the dress fit me; my body kept changing...
It was that afternoon that i felt Cairo's first kick... Timidly, i told my mom - and she smiled as we talked about it. She didn't shush me,  she wasn't over the top - but she just let me be... and share that little piece of wonder with her.
It was a similar feeling - one of not knowing the rules - when i lost my first son a year later. i remember she came to me even though she lived two provinces away. i sobbed to her that i didn't know how to grieve. i didn't know what i was supposed to feel - how i should act. What were the rules??
She told me to feel what i feel.
And that was that.
My parents did so many things right.
i think so often, I've had a personality that has trouble remembering exactly how things were. My memories are whispers rather than shouts. Lately, I've seen the value in shuffling through those memories and pulling out the ones that are worth preserving... putting a little effort into exploring that dusty, cobwebby past - and making discoveries that climb up my limbs and whisper in my ears that i have been loved.
Mama, i know this isn't pretty or well organized - but I'm so grateful to you for having me. I'm grateful that you love beauty. I'm grateful that even now, you're constantly changing growing and learning.
I'm grateful that you're my mom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

motherhood - it's not what you think

It's almost mother's day.
I've been sitting here thinking of some of the moms that I know - or even the ones that I don't know. Moms who aren't in the thick of the curly toddler locks, the teething babies, the laboriously printed block letters...
Motherhood goes beyond all the things that are physically hard and sweet and poignant. All the things that the internet highlights as motherhood?  They're our very best side.
The side that we hardly dare to speak of - let alone post it on the internet... that's the side that has been on my mind. The gut churning days where adolescent lives are wept over. The adult child who is full of seething hatred. The families struggling with mental illness and begging social services for a hand.

Oh, and I love me some baby love.

Who has loved motherhood like I have? Blogging the precious night wakings and the nursling, juggling the sweet elementary homeschoolers with gap toothed grins and scraped up knees... oh, I love it, I love it, I love it...
But mercy...
There are mothers who are spending their lives humbling themselves yet again in the face of extraordinary circumstances beyond anything that a sane human being would willingly sign up for. Loving beyond broken relationships, physical ability, beyond the gates of heaven that welcomed children before the parents who never stop longing for them.
I was thinking that maybe we should just scrap this whole divisive mother's day thing... So many women pained by infertility, singleness - and a callous culture that undervalues women in almost any life circumstance and pits us against each other in the most unfathomable ways.
But then I couldn't help but think of the women who are mothering through the darkest of days. The ones who reject any honour that might try to land on them on mother's day. The ones who grimace through the airy compliments from others who know nothing of their struggle - because the story isn't theirs to tell, it belongs to their suffering children - and amazing mother that she is... she'd cut off her own arm before she'd spill the howling pain she's in as she goes about her days praying for respite.
So this mother's day, I want to honour *that* mother.
The mother walking in the dark.
The mother trying to find an empty room so she can scream into a pillow.
The mother who looks like she has it all.
The mother who is being faithful.
The mother who is a lifeline to the human souls entrusted to her.
The mother who personifies hope.
The mother who needs some herself...

Happy mother's day.

Keep on, precious woman... one foot in front of the other...
You are doing Kingdom work - and it is not in vain.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (phil 3)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

under the label

"We kissed, so we're married." He claims his spot on my lap and smashes our faces together. He's four. The days of wanting his mama for a wife are definitely numbered. His eyes are a dazzling blue. They're striking to me lately since I spend so much time gazing into his baby brother's eyes... Elmer's are different - kind of a blue/green with a ring of brown around the inside...
A whole passel of little boys we have, and in these days it seems i eat, drink and breath motherhood. Gage is full of empathy and protective maturity for the younger set. Ephraim is the class clown - his face, like a magical chameleon capable of every impossible expression. Elmer is growing into his personality, trying it on like a costume - now his eyes glinting with humour that a ten month old begins to grasp, now communicating with confusing body language his desires, now furiously misunderstood.
They wrestle like a litter of puppies wiggling over each other, guttural growls and terrifying, careless leaps.
This is a part of the work I'm doing in my thirties.
And it's the same as it ever was a dozen years ago when I had three girls instead of these three little boys... And I wonder if I've grown at all when I've kept on doing the same thing instead of wrapping up one phase of life and moving on to the next...
I'm still changing diapers. I'm still breastfeeding. A dozen years after stumbling through grade 1 with my firstborn, I'm still stumbling through grade one with my sixth born, this time while watching my first complete the requirements for graduation.
And so many would use my extended season of motherhood to label me.
"She's the one with eight kids..."
And if I'm honest... I do it myself. Oh, how I dearly love these little people.... Even the ones who have grown taller than me. Even the three that went Home before me. Each one tearing me as they stretched me so that I'm not even the same person I was before they came...
But even so...


Strips me of my beloved label of "mother".


Strips me of the sweet label of "wife".


Looks deeper... past my outward appearance.
Way past it.
He. Sees. Me.
And as I'm seen, I'm scrambling for covering... used to hiding behind, cheering from the stands, sitting in a shadow.
Not Neil's wife, or Ephraim's mama...
No, under the label, I'm His.

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’    Acts. 17:28

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Ends

It was a dreary morning for the middle of April. We woke up to more snow, and honestly? It affected me more than I want to admit.
We opened the book of Romans and studied chapter 14, exploring the greys in life - all those areas that make us uncomfortable or are a matter of conscience. Romans has been kind of heavy - and some of the questions i asked were met with silence. i didn't blame them... i was tired too, and sometimes when the world is covered with grey, we ache for less grey... more light...
We prayed together... and that's when it happened.
"We still haven't picked a new book!" Charter moaned.
We had finished _Where the River Begins_ by Patricia St. John last week and we still hadn't picked our next read aloud.
I had been meaning to scour the bookshelves to see what we haven't read out loud yet, or to find an old favourite that we'd want to read again, but these past couple months have just been killer and each day seems to dribble over tasks left undone into the next until the days are too full and so much seems left undone, unfinished or forgotten.
i looked around the room, and my eye tripped on my first born.
Her blond hair was tied up in a bun with a few wisps framing her pixie face with those impossibly huge eyes and Neil's familiar forehead.
"Hey Cai..." i said without thinking, "You should pick. It'll be one of the last books we read while you're in our school..."
She barely hesitated.
"i pick the Narnia Chronicles. Might as well end with what we started with..."
i remember buying the series before she ever started school... i don't know how many times I've read those books to our little home academy in these past 12 years, but i know that by now, the covers bend easily into place, and that when i get to a familiar passage, there is more than one child who is able to mouth the words and mimic my voice and inflection... i know that they laugh at me for crying, but that they cry too. Imperfect allegory that it may be, it has been a vehicle that has opened up our hearts to Truth and to ideas about faith, relationships and heaven...
i smiled. It was perfect.
Someone ran to grab The Magician's Nephew.
"We'll have time for at least one or two before i graduate, right?"  I do the math in my head.
Her last exam looms just over 2 months away...
Surely we have time for at least one or two, don't we?
i tried to laugh past the lump in my throat...  "Maybe you'll still do devotions with us in the mornings before you head off to college next year..?"
i cleared my throat and pretended to read the first line, purposefully saying the words all wrong...
"This is a story... about a girl named Dori and now my story's begun..."
"That's not how it starts!"
They know when I'm bluffing, stalling...
i started again, and this time, i continued. i ignored the squeaking baby and the fidgeting little ones and i read - like i do every morning - like i'll continue to do... after she graduates... when this little school is just a part of a jumbled mess of her memories from childhood...

"This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began..."

Gagey, at only six years old, is unfamiliar with the story line. His blue eyes threatened to glaze over, but i stopped and the older ones animatedly explained and gave context... i kept glancing up as i read to see his reaction to Digory, Polly... and the terrifying Uncle Andrew. I tried not to lose him.
And i vow never to lose her.

It's a fine beginning to his schooling....

And it will make a fine ending to hers.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Sloan is participating in 5 minute Fridays, hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker, so I decided to join her today. 5 minutes is just a teeny tiny snippet of time.  Today's word was *paint*.


Paint - Go

I had a dream. I often dream, but the other night I had kind of a strange dream about a painting. It was a children's painting on black paper. Colorful smears were all across the page and the colour blocked out the black of the back ground. There was a sky and streaks across it that were meant to be birds, and water and the sand of a shore.

I was in the painting.

Sometimes when I would move, it would crack the paint that had hardened to provide the colour - and sometimes the cracked paint would chip, and come off the painting and all that would be left would be the black of the background. It was dissatisfying to have every mistake expose the fragility of the colour... and the darkness of the background.
Suddenly I moved backwards, out of the painting - (so hard to explain a dream in words) - but in that moment, I was no longer in and a part of the painting, I was in front of it, looking at it as it crumpled and fell to the ground. The imitator made way for the imitated, and the gentle watercolour of a real sea sky filled my eyes with reality rather than the thick plastic texture of children's paint. The birds moved across the sky, synchronized slivers gracefully balancing in the air that made the painted birds unrecognizable as any kind of reproduction of the original.
And my dream reminded me of heaven.

It's as though we see through clouded glass. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

It's almost as though we live in a children's painting. Gaudy colours slathered on black construction paper, echoing something that is yet to come.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)


Thursday, April 10, 2014


I still remember the first time I prayed for reflexes.
Maybe I was praying for discernment, maybe spontaneity, maybe Christ-likeness...
But the word that came out spoken in the darkness was reflexes.
I was in my early twenties. I had been out with friends during a season of life when my home life was so consuming and physically exhausting that I hated going out. Every once in a blue moon, Neil would gently nudge & my conscience would remind me that I should make an effort to make friends and I would grudgingly leave the house and my babies and go out with a bunch of girls.
That's how it was - I wasn't very friendly or gracious or lovely or loving...
But I went - and I found that I was no good at conversation. Small talk grated, and big issues ignited a passion that made others uncomfortable.
I wasn't fun.
So I would sit red faced, trying to jump in to conversations that either didn't interest me - or interested me too much...
And my reflexes were poor.
Sometimes I would say too much and my words sounded like they were harsh and lacking love. Sometimes I would say nothing when the situation begged for a few words of mercy - or truth. How many conversations was I a part of when truth rang clear and unspoken in my mind... because it was awkward or heavy or altogether impossible to lovingly put forth?*
Every time, ('every time' is generous - these outings were so sparsely sprinkled over those years that they probably only happened a handful of times) I would go home to a silent house... I would tip toe to my room and my bed would be full with my huge husband and any number of bedraggled blond heads attached to soft little bodies. I would transport each little friend to their bed before climbing in beside Neil... and in the dark as condemnation loomed, reminding me of my failure to 'wear Christ' (Romans 13:14) I would beg God for better reflexes.
Reflexes... like when sin is exposed between friends and love is the first emotion witnessed rather than revulsion.
Reflexes... like when you wrap arms around open wounds - recklessly refusing to 'think through' anything - ministering as the Holy Spirit prompts.
Reflexes... like when you don't have to think WWJD because your reflex - your first instinctive reaction - shows the world that you're related to Him.
Like Father, like daughter became my prayer.
These are the types of reflexes that are formed when we, "put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (ephesians 4:22-24)

Reflexes! Gimme reflexes!
I want to be like You, Father...

And as I learned to listen, my reflexes have improved. He has whispered truth to me in my dreams, as I've read His word, as I've met with Him in worship and prayer again and again as the years passed by- and He  has proved Himself a faithful teacher.

And He saves me... He calls me to a holy life. Not because of anything I've done, but because of His own purpose and grace. (2 Timothy 1:9) He calls me His girl. He lavishes me with love. (1 John 3:1)

And it makes me smile that in response, my reflex is to feel gratitude.


*disclaimer - I still struggle with this in conversations... :) Still wrestling to find my way and what God wants from me...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

River Baby

At the end of my pregnancy with Elmer, when I would pray for him - for God's glory to be revealed through the life of my little son, for protection, for anointing, for Abba's hand to claim my little one as His...
I had a picture in my head for Elmer.
I still remember - being painfully swollen, but dropping to my knees - acknowledging the sovereignty of God in every area of my life- including as mother of Elmer, precious life in my womb. So much had been stripped away. My body was tender in those very last weeks. My joints were loose, preparing early for birth, my husband travelled more than usual, I relied heavily (without shame) on the kindnesses of friends - who carried me daily in prayer and in practical ways by feeding us, helping us and loving us.
So often when we're stripped bare, it's our best opportunity for communion with our Father... and I took that opportunity - with every dip of my eyelids, I found Him there - and I could agree with the Holy Spirit that the tiny son in my womb was created by God - knit together, fearfully and wonderfully made. All of his days ordained for the purposes of a Holy God, before one of them even came to be. Even though his form was hidden from me, he wasn't hidden from God. He wasn't created by the will of an earthly father - no... there was a bigger purpose even than that...
And then, I had that picture in my head.
The picture was a river.
The story of Moses' mother sending her son - surrendering him - down the river - would wreck me. And it was all I could do to imagine my fingers pried one by one off my precious one, understanding that His ways are better than mine.


There was another little life, 18 years ago growing in my womb. I was 19 and scared. My love for her was a gift from God and I would have fought to the death for her fragile life... I still would.
Last night, a pastor picked her out of a crowded room and spoke words of truth and blessing over her life. He asked those around her to lay their hands on her and he prayed for her life - for her influence... He spoke Matthew 5:14-16* over her, my precious girl - a light in this world... He spoke of her entering a new era of leadership as she becomes an adult in this next year -

and there's that river again...

And maybe most mothers understand that picture that I have in my head of a river. Maybe all of us choose to surrender our own will to God's in a mighty way when He sends these little ones to reside in our bodies, and we raise them to live their lives as living sacrifices (all of Romans 12) - holy and pleasing to God...

Sometimes I feel like my heart will burst with the magnitude of this holy work that He has given me in being wife to Neil and mama to these children...
And I send my own self down the river too - surrendering my all to Him.

*“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Monday, April 7, 2014

on compassion

I'm in the tiny change room at the chiropractor's office.
They have a full length mirror and I notice that my stomach is not nearly as flat as it was before I got pregnant with Elmer...
I turn around and examine the blue bruises on my back.
I feel like an idiot - I slipped on our top step leaving our house, and landed on the stairs on my back and it hurts.
It hurt so bad I lay there and panted trying to catch my breath for a full minute watching the snowflakes melt under my fingertips.
It hurt so bad that I could only lay in one position all night and if I accidentally shifted, it felt like I was being beaten with baseball bats.
It hurt so bad that I went to the doctor, and a week later when it still hurt so bad, I went to the chiropractor.
Surely something must be out of place for it to hurt so constantly and consistently?
Both told me I had just badly bruised my ribs and that there is still quite a bit of swelling and that it will get better, I just need to give it time...
And maybe I'm just tired from tenderly trying to nurse the baby in the night without moving and curling my body around his little frame.
But when I closed the door and took off the gown to pull my sweatshirt over my head, I could feel that tears wanted to fall and I asked myself, "What's up with these tears, little heart? Surely you've felt worse pain (I have) and you'll just have to be tough for a couple of weeks as your body heals. It could have been worse, couldn't it (it could)?"
And my heart acknowledged that my mind spoke truth, but the lump in my throat refused to be swallowed.
In that moment, I felt like I could understand Elmer's longing, reaching, reaching in the night. I felt like I could feel just how it felt to be Ephraim and sneak into our room to find us at three in the morning. I felt like the child who has fallen off their bike, scraped their knee and doesn't cry till they make eye contact with their mama.
I felt like sympathy and compassion are qualities like grace and hope that make the world a sweeter place to live in...
We don't have time to hear about suffering anymore. It makes us uncomfortable. "Talk about that later when I'm not around..." "Quit whining!" "Ugh, Suck it up..."
And instead of alleviating suffering, we alienate the sufferer...
Instead of comforting, we demand strength...
Instead of grace, we vent annoyance...
I know so many times I've been impatient with those who are suffering - not having ears to listen, or eyes to see a need. I've so often given my own discomfort or my own inconvenience over another person's suffering a higher priority.
I want to be a tender mama - a gracious friend - one generous with compassion and full of selfless love...
And if a tumble down my front steps is what it took to teach me this lesson, then I'm grateful for each bruise.

Friday, April 4, 2014

5 minute Friday - Writer

Sloan is participating in 5 minute Fridays, hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker, so I decided to join her today. 5 minutes is just a teeny tiny snippet of time.  Today's word was *writer*.


i never thought of myself as a "real" writer.
i had a blog and i loved the idea of capturing - like a photograph of words - parts of my life, their childhoods, our marriage. 
But then one day, i decided i wanted to write a book. i wanted to capture - for my little ones, and their little ones - some of my thoughts on prolife. And so, i stumblingly found a story line that i could use as a vehicle for these ideas, (borrowed generously from my life and anything, everything i could see around me) - and i started to write. Shoving those words aboard, creating space for ideas, for story, for characters that i want to remember from my real life, melted together and poured into new molds. 
Just a little book came out of this exercise. 
It's not fancy - it's self published, and is so sparingly edited that there remain typos and errors that i'll not likely ever go back to change. i sold a few copies and i still have a couple on my shelf... 
But i have them - those thousands of words bent and sprinkled and sometimes forced and awkward - on pages of paper that represent my heart for life - for the unborn and the born - for the dying, the unwanted, the unplanned. 
And i'm shy of it's lack of greatness. It makes me feel a little odd to put out there something that has probably been said in a million (better) ways. My book is a pretty humble little offering - created out of time stolen from dishes and laundry - from a woman who was (and remains) a sleep deprived stay at home mama, wife to a travelling man. 
It's not amazing or great. 
But it's written... 
So, this morning, when i saw the word was "writer"- honestly? i felt a little shame, thinking of that little blue, self-published book.... 
But what silly pride to let my own smallness take away my voice. 
i'm a writer.


Friday, March 28, 2014

mighty - 5 minute Friday

Sloan is participating in 5 minute Fridays, hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker, so I decided to join her today. 5 minutes is just a teeny tiny snippet of time.  Today's word was *mighty*.


How can a song be mighty?
I listen and can feel the heave in my chest - as irresistible as the pull of the tide... 
Tender lyric, gentle melody...
Strains that give my mind wings to soar past my circumstances, broadening my understanding, making me grow...
And the mighty, soulful melody brings me to my knees, evokes emotion, my legs and my arms moving - my mind alert, anticipating...
I feel a babyish gurgle of laughter bubble up... music coaxes my joy, invites me to praise...
And it's such a sweet vehicle - these sounds that paired together with rhythm and patterns and harmonies - that is mighty enough to transport me where otherwise I might have struggled to go.


Friday, March 21, 2014

joy - 5 minute friday

Sloan is participating in 5 minute Fridays, hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker, so I decided to join her today. 5 minutes is just a teeny tiny snippet of time.  Today's word was *joy*.


As soon as I saw that the word of the week was joy, I knew I wanted to write about her.
We gave her the middle name Joy after her Gammie, and it suits her.
Her lips are always twitching with some sort of unrepentant naughty hilarity... her eyes - the ones that are the closest to her daddy's magical hazel colour are constantly dancing...
I'm glad we gave her the name joy - as I've watched her wrestle with the cares beyond her understanding... it has seemed a providential gift to my third born...

Daughter, your Father anointed you with joy.

She's thirteen and I know that she's on the cusp of those years I'm not supposed to blog about. Her legs are longer than mine - and if she lets me hold her, she can rest her chin on the top of my head. And I've seen her at her loveliest. I've seen her throw her long arms in the air. She opens that perfect, sweet mouth and words of praise burst forth unrestrained. Oh, and in her woman-child way, she waffles and wavers - torn between empathy and a wild desire to protect herself with a borrowed hardness. But I've seen her at peace. I've seen her at peace.
Her eyes tease, at times even mock. She sometimes uses those arms to hold me away from her. She tests and pushes and my whispered prayer - one that is more unrelenting than she can ever know or imagine - is for His hand to sweep away anything that would hinder...
And let the joy linger on...


Saturday, February 22, 2014

5 minute Friday - Small

Sloan is participating in 5 minute Fridays, hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker, so I decided to join her today. 5 minutes is just a teeny tiny snippet of time.  Today's (yesterday's) word was *small*.


I’ve always been of small stature. I’m 5’2” & my husband stands a full foot taller than me. I have small feet, small hands, small bones… and sometimes I feel like I could just shrink into the back ground and avoid being seen altogether.

I had a dream the other night.

I was walking through a stone city – it was big – but also felt maybe a little desolate. I was walking beside an angel. The angel was huge – way bigger than me – head and shoulders taller than my husband Neil who towers over me. I took my eyes off the angel to look around, and my whole perspective changed when I noticed there were more angels. Some were as tall as my house – some as huge as a sky scraper – some were even bigger than a mountain. They were wandering around the stone city. I gazed at them in amazement and then turned to my companion and remarked, “You’re small for an angel… why?”
The angel looked at me and said, “I'm supposed to be this size so that I can see you.”
And it made sense to have an angel on eye level, rather than one who would see me as from a great distance like a person watching an ant hill… there was more to be seen, more to be understood – when one can truly be seen.
And it reminds me of a song which often becomes my breath of a prayer when I meet with my Father and bring all manner of life and heart and longing to Him.
“Oh Great God, be small enough to hear me now….”

And He hears. 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


i read a blogpost that someone had posted to facebook about it being harder (impossible) to blog the teen years as intensely as you can blog the baby/toddler years. That comforts me a bit as these last couple of years have seen a lot more quiet in this place that has brought me so much joy over my journey through motherhood.
It's true that circumstances are sometimes completely unbloggable... sometimes unsharable or unspeakable. That's when you just exhale - surrender - and trust that He is shaping you in the midst of the desert time.

That said, every so often, I realize that I do want to raise my hand in the crowded room and offer a small piece to record here - as my children seem to grow before my eyes and time mercilessly marches ever forward... So here's a small breath of praise to the One who continues to draw me "further up and further in!"*

At the beginning of this year, I kept seeing people post their "word for the year" - and I searched my mind and heart for a word that might fit for me to meditate on and grow from, but instead of a word, there were two phrases that have kept coming back to me these first two months into 2014.
The first is that I am learning to see the value, less in 'trying harder' and more in surrendering.
It has been spoken aloud in a million different ways - almost on a daily basis as I've been listening for His still small voice in conversations with other believers, in my bible reading, in my quiet time with Him. Surrender is a whole different ache than "trying hard". And I've loved the picture that He has given me - that surrender makes it His - and He will faithfully take, and make beautiful, what no amount of my own effort ever could...
i guess an example of this type of surrender would be in the area of self control. i know sometimes my little ones will have a burst of fury and as i try to talk them down, "Chill out, relax...", i get the standard indignant response, "I'm TRYING!!"
What a funny little twist in our own thinking to think of surrendering our fury, our sadness, our broken relationships, our lack of self control - instead of constantly "trying harder..."  I've had to laugh at myself too as I'm the queen of over thinking - and sometimes i find myself, "trying harder to surrender..." That's when I've missed the point  - and i need to take a step back and take my mind out of the situation completely...
The second is more of an image - another trading of one thing for something better - but it's the daily decision to (by the miracle of grace) trade my heart of stone for a heart of flesh. **
What a scary decision that can seem to be when flesh seems so vulnerably unprotected; we experience flesh's suffering rather than a stone's coldness, tenderness rather than hardness, painful growth rather than deadness... It's His precious gift to me - to strip away my stony humanness - and give me a gift of a heart that beats for Him.
And I think that these two ideas are connected for me. I've run up against so many situations that are out of my control - He's allowing me to see, that I can try and try and try... until I'm exhausted and spent - but if I could just surrender - it might be painful, but through surrender, He'll take me places i could never get to on my own. A heart of flesh that is living and beating can do things that a dead heart could never do. A heart of stone can't soften itself, it can't warm itself, it can't make itself come alive...
But through surrender, the stone can be made flesh - all things are possible.

* a little Narnia love... ;)
** check out Spurgeon's sermon The Stony Heart Removed.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


i've blogged about prayer before - HERE, or HERE.
But i think it's a part of my growth that will never have an "arrival" point.
Prayer is kind of like a language - in that it is a form of communication that requires me to learn it, practice it and use it.
Since prayer is a language between me and God... my desire to learn is strong.
We've been trying something new in our morning devotion time. We've been taking pieces of scripture and praying them. We can take our current situations too - and pray that piece of scripture over them... but I want my littles to learn - like I am learning - that there is power when we bring God's words back to Him.
The other day, I read from Titus during our morning devotions. (Lately, we have been reading Sarah Young's Jesus Calling - which includes scripture references at the end of every snippet that we can use. But for the month of January, we took a break from that as I was reading the New Testament in one month, so in the mornings, I would just read the kids a chapter or two from wherever I was at in my reading.)
The piece of scripture I read included this:

As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.
Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.[a] Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes,[b] to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.
In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.

So we took those verses and prayed them over our lives:
"Oh Father, help me to live wisely, and to do good." 
"Let my life reflect the integrity of the Christian walk." 
"Help me to be an example." 

And on and on - around our little circle - stumbling and reading and praying the words that struck our hearts; awkwardly breaking free from our memorized speeches and safe prayers.

It was harder to pull our minds out of the familiar grooves that our prayers had often taken... but at the same time, it was also harder to sermonize to siblings. It was easier to pray wisely. Part of it too, is just agreeing with God...

"Hey, God? I see here that it says you want me to live in a way that honours you. I agree with that. I want it too..."

And yes... we can pray these things without scripture - and we often do, don't we? But what a beautiful thing to let the word of God be our guide in our communication with Him. More listening... less ranting. More answers... less rabbit trails. More humility... less pointing fingers and tattling.
I can imagine every situation, brought to God through praying scripture.
My heart for the unborn can be brought to God praying Psalm 139...
My desire for restoring relationships can be brought to God praying Ephesians 4.
My longing for awakening or revival can be prayed through Acts 2...

And I know that my Father hears, sees and acts on my behalf...
because He has proven Himself faithful.

Psalm 91:3-6
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Thank you, Father, for being faithful.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

5 minute Friday - visit

Sloan is participating in 5 minute Fridays, hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker, so I decided to join her today. 5 minutes is just a teeny tiny snippet of time.  Today's word was *visit*.


It was probably the most volatile season in my whole life. Poor Neil was unable to be the older woman i needed - and he watched me ache; needing, and him unable to fill the void.
She called me up one day and asked me to coffee. i was scared to go because she didn't know me very well, and now she had caught me in this season where i was so undone and i wondered what she would think of me in my confused, hurting state. i was afraid to trust her. i'm not usually afraid to trust, but circumstances had shaken a lot of what i thought i knew - and it made me nervous to reveal myself to her.
But i did.
i prayed about it first... and then i took a deep breath and lifted the cover off of the ugliness that was happening in my life - and i invited her... hesitatingly... apologetically... in.
In she came.
She was like sun and wind and rain all at once.
She took a broom and swept away untruths that had been spoken over me. She prayed for me, checked on me, visited me in my grief...
She proved trustworthy.
And so at the word, visit... i think of her - sweeping into chaos and speaking truth and loving with macaroni and cheese casseroles. Full of confidence in God's word and ready to seek His promises to proclaim over my life.
Others should be so lucky as to experience a visitor like her...


Friday, January 24, 2014

i won't regret this

i'm sure i've written this post before. Somewhere in the archives of this blog, similar words will have been tapped into my computer and saved as they poured warm and fresh from my fingers...
And so, i hesitated to write this post yet again...
But i did... and it sat a couple of weeks marinating... like most posts do these days.

It's 3am.
Elmer, at six and a half months, still rises frequently in the night - maybe a little remnant of his early nursing problems that he still needs to eat often... and it takes him quite a long time to finish. He was up at midnight, and i know i'll be up again before the other children rise from their beds. His weight is familiar in my arms - his sombre eyes meeting mine... softening into a smile as we connect in the semi-darkness.
"You won't regret this..." my voice rumbles audibly in the quietness of the very early morning as i hold him tenderly - and, as has become my habit, i kiss his forehead gently three times as he begins to nurse.
i won't regret treating this tiny son kindly - i won't regret waking to his call and tending to his needs. i won't regret smiling with bleary eyes half opened and shushing and patting that sweet raised bum as he drifts off again. i won't regret the days and nights i was a patient mama and i let myself soak in his babyhood.
There are plenty of things i regret about motherhood. i was so young and entitled as a young bride and mother... and it's a habit that is hard ended. i want to sleep, i want my house tidy, i want to eat my own food off my own plate...
But over these sweet decades, rising in the night... i've been forced to hand over sleep, my house and my food... so to learn to give it, freely, unbegrudgingly - even happily - for Elmer's sake - seems like some kind of miracle. Each one of these eight kids taught me to surrender - just a little bit more.
Elmer. Is it strange that when i say his name, my mind is drawn to my almighty God, El Shaddai... The One who saw fit to weave his little form together, The One who saw fit to sustain his little life when i was sure i was having another miscarriage... El Shaddai, the all sufficient God, is The One who continues to give and to take and whose plan for my tiny son was formed before Elmer's little life even began.
i was sitting in a pew in a church holding Elmer in my arms. Music swelled around me as i grappled with God over another child -the small woman - who earlier in the day, refused to let me hold her. Tears spilled over cheeks as i surrendered it all to my Father. My mind reached for scripture to pray over her in these tempestuous years and inwardly i sighed, "But what does God know of motherhood anyway?"
Immediately the scripture sprang to mind, "how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."
He knew.
He knew exactly how i felt - and how i longed for her to find solace in the safety of my arms. And He knows... my Shepherd - my all sufficient El Shaddai... the heart of a mother- the sleepless nights, the tending of needs, the comforting, cradling hold...
And - oh, could there be a more delicious relief than the knowledge i carry; that  i can surrender each one of my little ones to be sheltered under His wings as i myself find my refuge there as well.
And i shush and i pat... i nurse and i grow and stretch to meet another little set of needs.
i'm seen by God - as He croons to me in the night.
And i won't regret this.


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