Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Angels Among Us

Confession time. I used to listen to country and western music. A lot.

Oh, and I also had a fascination with the pop rock band Roxette. Their concert was my very first. I felt so grown up. (I was only in grade 8 .... with my friend and without my parents .... can you imagine!???) If you can still sing the words to The Look or Joyride we would probably get along very well :). Oh mercy, ain't that some hair!!!

But back to C&W music for a moment. Alabama used to sing a song called "Angels Among Us." Doesn't that sound nice :)? And the other morning, when we ventured out of our house in between plummeting wind chills and snow storms (we had 3 different storms in 2 days, which doesn't make for great winter driving!) it's the first song that came to mind.

It's hard to tell, because the skies were very cloudy and lighting wasn't great, but someone visited our driveway, and in the freshly fallen snow, had left us a whole choir of angels!

As we tiptoed through the imprints, trying so hard not to disturb them (though you will notice one or two sliced in half because of tire tracks and Jon having to leave for school!!), I thought of all the encouragers God places in our life. In my life. I grew up in a very small community, and it was probably a little easier to hear gossip than grace, criticism rather than compliments. Maybe this wasn't the case. Maybe people were more open and affirming and positive than I remember.

In fact, I can remember when I was one of those critical people. And I recall distinctly when I was held accountable for it. I was in high school, sitting in the gym at lunch time. There were a few of us girls sitting around watching volleyball inter murals I believe. (I played volleyball. I also did not play volleyball very well!!!!) In jest, I was making critical remarks about some people on the court. Some of the girls were laughing. And that encouraged me to keep making remarks. I don't think they were cruel words, but certainly not edifying. Gossip over grace is what generated the laugh. Until one girl spoke up to me. Stood up to my words. "Wow. You are a really negative person, aren't you?" I was stunned. In general I thought I was a pretty POSITIVE person. "Negative" fit in the same category as "angry" or "direct", and as a "christian" I thought I wasn't supposed to be those things. Act that way.

Her words caught me off guard. I'm pretty sure she was just super-annoyed with me and spoke up, and had no idea that, even to this day, her words would continue to teach me.

Like hours, breaths, dollars, moments --- we have a certain amount of words, actions, prayers that we will be able to fit into our day.
Are my words seasoned with grace?
Are my actions encouraging?
Are my prayers edifying?

There are "angels" in my life that God has used to encourage me over and over again. Honest answers (even when they are tough ones). Surprise notes in the mail. Treasured affirmations. Angel wings in my driveway.
He has used people that are regularly part of my life.
And He has used people that have no clue how much they have forever influenced me.
God is so good. :)

And hopefully, I can share this goodness with others as well.
If gossip over grace generated the laugh in the moment, it's
"...grace that has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." ~ Amazing Grace

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When in doubt, begin again!

Breathe in, breathe out ---- and welcome to a new year.... a new start.... a new day.

If you promise not to laugh {and even if you don't, I guess!} I will tell you how I celebrated the start to a "new year."
I sat at my kitchen table....
probably with a cup of tea {Jon got me started on loose leaf tea this Christmas, and it is DE-LISH!} my calendar. I am that cool!!

In my defence :) --- we had just returned from a two-night stay in Fargo ON Dec 31, which turned out to be so very restful. Apparently we don't do this very often, and when the Border Crossing Guard guy asked us why, Jon chuckled and said, "because.... we have kids" :). It's not that we don't enjoy a Grand Adventure with our girls - we've had quite a few, actually. But, in the ebb and flow of life, sometimes it feels like it requires so much more energy to spend a day packing every one up and a day cleaning every one up just to enjoy a day away. {And, I confess, we do a bit of camping in the summer, and that also gives us that get-a-way fix!} But this was SO worth it, and we will do it again.

However, it also meant that we didn't have company .... or go away .... or create a fancy home-meal .... or anything "out of the ordinary" for "New Years Eve." Unless, I guess, you count vegetables. Upon returning from our little Family Vacation, L begged me, "Mommmmy, PROMISE ME you'll make vegetables for supper!!" She was tired of restaurant food, no matter how yummy it seems to be! I gave her LOTS of vegetables for supper ;).

There are many ways to celebrate that fresh start. Parties, friends, family.... or quiet.
A quiet reflection on God's faithfulness this past year. There have been countless evidences of His grace. Thousands of mercies, and fresh starts each day. A zillion times I have fallen, and even more times when He has helped me to my feet again.

A moment to look through the calendar and marvel at all that has happened.
The good (the week we decided to build a brand new house!)...
the bad (difficult doctor appointments, challenging development appointments)...
and the downright ugly (family who required emergency trips to the hospital, those seasons of fatigue when everything feels heavy and tough).

A chance to sit in the quiet, enjoying the lull after a full-of-life season, and take in a deep breath. There are many good things on the horizon.
Our house is scheduled to be finished sometime this spring (March/April).
We will say good bye to this beloved place, and embrace God's n.e.x.t. for us.
There is rhythm and routine on the horizon, something I always enjoy.
There will be times with family and friends, the diversity of seasons of life and the solitude of home-life.
There will be adventures and a lot of laughter, and growth and all those wonderful things.

But it's also a time to take a deep breath for those difficult things too.
This past year we discovered that K has epilepsy. A life-challenging diagnosis that will keep us searching and working toward health and well-being for quite some time.
This year we will say good-bye to our beloved neighbourhood. And even though we'll be in the same town, there will be things that will change. It's been so easy to have kids run back and forth, sharing sunny afternoons and cloudy mornings together. Out of our three girlies, this will affect K the most. I'm nervous about this transition for her.

Starting a new year is like starting a new journal. You never know what mercy, what love, what uphill battle scars will spill across those pages. It's thrilling and challenging and altogether full of life.

Words of wisdom for a new year...
Colossians 3:23, 24:

"Whatever you do, 
work at it with all your heart, 
as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 
since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. 
It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

Welcome to a brand new day!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sometimes it's hard to know where to begin....

Only NINE more sleeps until RIDE DAY.
I am wondering what kind of weather we'll have :)....
whether or not I'll be able to pull of a humble fundraiser that has been on my heart....
and what kind of team will come together.
Our team captain is a beautiful advocate and an inspiration to me :).
Frequently we receive emails.... updates.... reminders of what we are doing.... and why.

Because I admit, it is easy for me to get overwhelmed.
One quick glance at the news, and I wonder where does one even begin....
One drive thru the city (even close by.....) and I wonder how does my one life fit in with theirs....
You've given me so much.... how can I share.... where can I love.... because it's all so much and I will go back into my comfortable little hiding if I don't know where to begin.

And this year, that's why I'm riding.

Not because I know the ins and outs of how I fit into this "Your Kingdom here on earth...." yet. Because I don't. 

I do know that God has saved me for a reason,
     and not for my own comfort,
          my own complacency,
but to give out of His plenty.
Not money.

By supporting those who are already giving Love, doing what they can to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who come into their care, I am supporting what I long to do someday.
What I try to practice today.
Give love.... life.... and hope.
Out of His abundance.
And because He has first given Life and Love and Hope to me.

We can't fix it. That's okay. We're not asked to fix anything.
But we can Love.
I want to honor the work of the CPC and the ways in which they seek to live this out.
Nine more sleeps till Ride Day.

You can read more about the Ride For Refuge....
Ride #1
Ride #2
How can it be....

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pinterest treasures

With some chagrin, I admit that I have become quite fascinated by Pinterest.

I tend to avoid trends like the plague, but my sweet sister (who was also, incidentally, the one [animal lover] who convinced me [not-animal-lover] that my life would never be complete if we didn't have an indoor dog) introduced me to it one day. The girls and I had gone over to her place to visit.

She makes the most amazing food, so I had invited myself to stay for lunch :). 

After we settled the kids with a video, we grabbed a cup of fresh, hot coffee and talked about whatever we could fit into 15 quiet minutes (not that the video was only 15 minutes long, but that's generally the full length of the quiet window of opportunity).

And she, who will always be infinitely cooler than I am, whipped out her laptop and introduced me to the world of Pinterest.
And life has never been the same.

I will admit, Pinterest gets a lot of flack. There's a lot of ick content on there, but if you only search for recipes, kid crafts and christmas decorations, it filters out pretty quickly. Also, there is a bit of a battle, so it seems, between Pinterest moms (moms who do these super amazing crafts with their kids and let them do crazy things like finger paint .... for fun ... I hyperventilate around finger painting....) and moms who aren't as much into those things but feel a terrible sense of guilt because of it. Sigh.

BUT, this summer I found a WINNER.
And it has to do with (...suspense building...) LAUNDRY.
YES. It's fascinating. I know.

I will blog about it soon, but lately the LORD has been working in my heart a matter of simplicity, and how it can begin (or continue, rather) to apply to my life. I've been evaluating everything from cleaners (actually quite trendy, but as usual I'm lagging behind, perhaps my own form of trend-rebellion) to food ... even to blogging ... and well, all of life actually. It's great, and I'm learning tons.... and I'm also learning things that just don't work for me right now too :).

In my travels through this particular topic, I came across a natural laundry cleaner that will remove THE most stubborn stain you'll ever encounter....
stains bleach can't fix it ....
boiling vinegar water can't cure it ....
nothing short of tossing a t-shirt will remedy.
Armpit. stains.

At first I contemplated taking pictures of all this, to document it like the cool bloggers do.
But then I thought again, and somehow posting pictures of airing my dirty laundry (no pun intended) just didn't seem very suave. So. Google it. You'll find scads of pictures of dirty armpit shirts that are magically white and bright and beautiful and smell lovely again.

Try this. Your summer t-shirts will THANK YOU for it.
And you'll minimize that pile of icky clothes that you're not ready to part with.
And you'll re-add a few treasures to your wardrobe.
And you'll have accomplished this in less than 10 minutes, probably less than 10 cents.
See? Simplicity.... if there was ever any doubt.....

Check out THIS PINTEREST LINK for details...
The claim says:

Goodbye to yellow armpit stains! 1 tsp. Dawn, 3-4 tsp. Hydrogen Peroxide, 2 tbsp. baking soda. Mix together, rub in, and be amazed!

One spot said 3-4 tsp one said TBSP. I didn't know that at first and went with tsp. It worked well. Maybe TBSP would be even better???

Oh, and in case this wasn't clear ---- not only white t-shirst, but ANY t-shirts. I've used this on a variety of colours and not noticed any negative effect on the fabric. If you have a $90 t shirt that you're nervous about, try it on a cheaper version first, just to be safe :).

So there you have it. A pinterest treasure.
But, in case you're like me, and need to laugh at pinterest too from time to time..... I had a chuckle over this one ;)....... Pinterest Nailed-It

ps - If you're a Pinterest Mom, bless you. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer love

Seems like there are summer-love blog posts just about everywhere these days :).
And rightly so. There's something so life-giving about the vibrancy of colour, the flip-flop tan lines, the jungle garden forming in the background, the cup of tea on the deck at the end of a full day.

Between the learning and growing and refining moments :), some fun ways we've found to celebrate these hazy days....

During the hot hot days, we pull out the sprinkler!

Poor pooch, as the unofficial "smaller brother" of an almost-all-gal crew around here, he gets signed up for a lot more than he bargained for!

Summer skies --- courtesy of M :).

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS. Since we don't have a local library, a neighboring community offers us out-of-towners a summer rate of TEN BUCKS!!! for a membership. It's fabulous. A trip to the library. A stop at a park for lunch. Home for nap time. Voila. Summer love!

Camping with family - camp fires, smores, crazy cousins and, of course, the karaoke aunties ;).

Living as much as possible on the deck. Crayons and notebooks, snacks, the very rare-but-ever-lovely quiet moment ;)....

And PUZZLES! This has been a winner this year. In June, my heart was looking forward to connecting with M during those afternoon quiet times. I don't do this every day, because frankly, it takes energy and sometimes I just need to go find my own corner for a little while. But another MCC bargain - puzzle mat and 750-piece puzzle. It's perfect because M loves marine life and this is a tropical fish picture. When we need a quiet-wind-down activity, we whip it out. Sometimes we're quiet. Sometimes we giggle. And we're now at the point where one of us asks for the wonky scoopy piece with a little bit of blue and an orange knobby part and the other one knows exactly where she's seen that piece before. If you're a puzzler, you'll know what I mean ;).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Who owns you...

A sweet gift from a friend.
A reminder --- it's not about me, it's about Him. His glory.
A Love, and Life, like no other.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekend Favorites

On the nightstand...
I've read it twice.
In a row. :)

On the iPod....


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