Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Countdown -- Acapella Style

Brilliant! Love everything about this. These guys are super talented and just a whole lot of fun to watch. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Countdown

Well it's not Wednesday, but I can't resist posting another Christmas Countdown video. There are simply not enough weeks in December to get in all these brilliant Christmas videos!

So this one is such a classic. LOVE it. Regardless of the political message in it, the song is genius musically, if you ask me for my non-expert opinion. I'm pretty sure you could sing the phone book to this tune and still feel a tug on your heartstrings.

The best thing about this video from a shallow stand point is going through and seeing how many of the artists' names you still know. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, anyone? :-)

Plus, as I was considering posting this on a Wednesday it was a hoot hearing my daughters ask, repeatedly, "Is that one a girl? Is that one? What about that one?" No, no my dears. This was the 80's when men had seriously pretty hair.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I have in the last week been told to listen to this song 3 times. How I have missed it I don't know! Actually, yes I do. My radio reception in the house is lousy and in the car I have been obsessively listening to my Christmas Eve Choir Practice CD. Haven't really heard a lot of radio Christmas tunes this year yet.

And so I have missed this stellar song. I know, I know. There are some songs that you hear at Christmas that are pretty kitchy, and maybe you find them corny. Oh I really really hope that this song doesn't become one of those. I still get choked up every time I hear "Mary, Did You Know?" when he says "When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God"....doesn't matter how many times I hear it in any given December. It messes me up in the middle of [insert name of crazy busy store full of last minute shoppers] every time.

This song might be like that too. I really like Faith Hill. The little bit of celebrity gossip I've heard about her (not that I listen to gossip *ahem*) has been pretty impressive, actually, and she has a gorgeous voice. When it first started, and tonight was my first listen to it, I thought, "yup. This is pretty." But she had me struggling to swallow by the end of the video. That lump in my throat...I'd better see someone about it. The last few lines will be my undoing....every time. This song is a keeper, and a fabulous addition to our Wow-ful Women Wednesday Christmas Countdown.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

True Confessions

I am not as cranky as I like to give myself credit for. I suppose I like the idea, in a sick, twisted kind of way, of being an old, grumpy, curmudgeon. You know, except with a soft and sweet interior that only certain people can unearth by a touch or a song, or a well-timed box of chocolates and a non-fat, no-whip mocha.

But I digress.

I find I'm smiling a lot lately. And I'm of two minds about why this is: First, I've been practicing. No, I'm not kidding. Our church is putting on a Christmas play, and I'm cast as a happy person. So I need to practice smiling. And making it look natural. I've worked myself up into many a headache this month by oversmiling. Just like on my wedding day, when, had the photographer asked us to pose for one more shot, I would have popped a vein in my forehead. Chris and I both showed up for our dinner asking our guests if anyone had Tylenol in their purses. That was A LOT of smiling.

This December has been much the same.

Now, secondly, I'm smiling a lot because, wait for it, I'm actually a pretty happy person. And why not? There is a lot to be happy about. And even the things that maybe aren't so happyifying are there to give me a chance to practice more smiling. And to find something happy in it.

So try this: Next time you go to the Superstore on a Saturday afternoon 2 weeks before Christmas because you need just a couple of things, for goodness sake don't try to find a parking spot up close. Don't even look. It will stress you out and steal your joy. Just go to the back of the lot, on purpose, find a nice open spot along the back of the property and deeply breathe in the crisp air as you saunter towards the store. And when you walk past 3 spots that are closer, don't chide yourself for not parking there: smile, and be glad that someone else will have the happy moment of finding that good spot.

That's just one little tiny thing you can do to make yourself smile. What about actually asking the girl behind the clothing store counter who has been on her feet in the hot mall listening to canned Christmas music for 72 hours straight, and who has been dealing with cranky curmudgeons, what about asking her how she is doing, and what her plans are for the 25th? You could just do that. And smile at her too, okay? She has not been smiled at enough today.

What about when you see someone in a store, or at work, or at church who looks really pretty, or they are wearing a lovely scarf, TELL THEM!!! Oh please, just tell, even a complete stranger "I really like your scarf. It looks so pretty." You will make their day!

I don't have any empirical data on this next one, but men, I have it on good authority that you like to DO something to feel smiley. Grand. How about returning someone's shopping cart in that crazy busy parking lot for them? Or how about bringing up your neighbours recycling and garbage bins to their garage door. Wouldn't this be nice? It will make you smile, and of course it will make them smile (unless you live next door to a cranky person, but maybe you are the one to coax their inner smiler out!).

What I would love is for all of us to gather at some point and talk about how many headaches we've had this Christmas, not on account of too much stress and not enough sleep, but rather on account of so much smiling!

Try it! And I tell you what; I'll just give up my grumpy facade if you will! Let's show our neighbours and co-workers and family members just how happy we are, and show them that there is always something to smile about, no matter how tricky things seem.

Really, if nothing else, if you really can't think of anything else smile-worthy, you can think of the best smile-making thing of all time: the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and all that that entails. Can you think of anything better? What's making you smile these days?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Shameful, Barbara, shameful! You missed last week as the first Wednesday of December which was supposed to be week one of the (drum roll, please)

Wow-ful Women Christmas Countdown!

I KNOW!! Aren't you so excited? I know I am, and what a hoot looking for a video for our first entrant.

This Wow-ful Woman was the first one I ever posted and she is a doozy. I could post a new video of her every week for the countdown, I'm sure.

Without further ado, one of my favourite Christmas carols of all time, actually.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Today's video is a hoot. I mean, come on now. No one writes music like this any more. Or back combs their hair as much. But I digress....

This is one of those songs that absolutely should be pantomined to by youth groups as a secular song with a sacred message. In fact, I probably thought they were talking about Jesus when I first heard this song. I would have been all of 9 or something crazy and was innocent enough still to not know that he was not being spiritual. Whatever. Go ahead: think about the lyrics from a spiritual standpoint. It kind of works! :-)

This song is a super favourtie of mine from those most excellent '80's. Love these guys. Do you remember The Thompson Twins?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

This is the second time this Canadian chanteuse has made it to the elite and prestigious Wow-ful Women category. She is really and simply, brilliantly talented. She is almost understated in her stage presence, and yet deserves a great big neon sign flashing over her head drawing the attention of the world to her performance.

I really like this lady's voice and style. (and I *really* like her bass player. He is out of this universe!)

And just now, as I'm watching this video again, I am reminded of my sister who introduced me to Holly Cole in her one bedroom apartment that she lovingly shared with me when I was in first year university. And the message of this song is lovely to me too. Sometimes what a friend needs is a friend to just sit with and who says "You can cry if you want to". And I'm reminded, just now, of how miserably I failed my sister in being that kind of friend. And how I wouldn't mind having the chance to try it again.

Holly Cole: Cry (If you want to)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Curse of Organization

How many times have you heard, or said, “A place for everything and everything in its place”? You know as well as I that this is a helpful adage. And getting it ingrained in your kids can certainly facilitate an easier clean-up time. Nothing worse than saying to your children “Please, go clean up the craft area” and then finding that everyone has merely shoved all the craft supplies in to the toy boxes and book shelves because there is no obvious spot for those items to be stored.

However, the problem comes when you get yourself so nicely organized, and you get a place for everything that you free up some shelf or drawer space. Heaven forbid you’d have an empty drawer! Heaven forbid there might be a shelf with nothing on it! Has this happened to you?

We recently moved to a house that had more kitchen cupboards than our previous home. I found that my kitchenware fit nicely into my kitchen with room to spare. Immediately, I found myself looking for more stuff to fill those drawers. Perhaps I ought to go buy some cases of baked beans and bulk spices to fill the pantry? Same situation in the bathroom. The previous owners had installed a lovely vanity with plenty of drawers. We don’t need all these drawers. I found myself wanting to race to the store to stock up on extra hygiene and personal care items just to fill the space. Just how many bottles of shampoo and conditioner does one need to have on hand at all times?

I changed the adage to read: “A thing for everyplace and everyplace full of things.”

Please read the rest of my latest article for Heart of the Matter Online here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The "Part Two" for which you have been waiting...

First off let me say, there is no magic pill for losing weight. There just isn't. You need to eat smart, and move your body. Period. And even still the weight doesn't just fall off. You'd think a gal like me who just added 3 runs a week to her life and a much smarter pattern of eating would be wasting away by now. Not so much. Especially irksome is that there is no way to determine where the weight comes off of first. I mean, don't get me wrong, I *love* that my wedding rings are loose and that my shoes are all too big, but one would assume that the "marmalade jelly" shakin' around my middle might fall off a bit quicker too. (Gold star to whoever can place that quote). Patience, dear Barbara, patience. And of course I'm not *only* running to slim down. No, no....there's all that "self-discipline, goal-setting, being proud of doing something hard" stuff too.


Okay, so back to the point of the post. My last running post mentioned there was a "part two" to the story and here it is. I've been *swamped* with emails from my devoted readers waiting with baited breath for the 'rest of the story'. (*snort*)

The question for me is this: What do I want to be the end result of this ridiculous 5km run I am attempting? I mean, this should be a no-brainer, right? Of course I want to finish and finish well. I want to have the big high-fives from some people that I love and to wear the groovy jacket knowing I earned it. Right?


What I'm finding is my wacko fears are really out-perfoming this time. Here are the two options I see in my future.

Option One: I can't actually run 5 kilometers with out stopping, regardless of my training, and on the day of I walk three-quarters of the race, showing up at the end like a great big failure, because really, didn't we all know, that Barbara is not an athelete in any stretch of the imagination, and told you so, she failed.

That would stink.

Option Two: I do fabulously. I run the whole thing in 30 minutes or less. I'm surrounded by people who are proud of me and who 'knew I could' and I have this momentary rush of elation that I really did do something that was outside of anything I've done before! And that sounds great, except the problem is that, what if then people (and by "people" I also mean "I") expect me to stay functioning at that level of bravery and hard-work and perseverance, and I can't sustain it? Then my future failure will be greater because I will have seemingly regressed farther than previous.

Does this make sense? A kid who always gets "C's" on his report card isn't going to be shocked by the occassional "D". No one wil be thrilled with a "D", but you know, it isn't too far off what we expect of him. However, if a straight "A" student comes home with a "D", well, "what were you doing? We expect more from you? You can do better than this! Why aren't you living up to your potential?" And the disappointment is that much greater.

Are you following me? I'm so lazy and so fearful of the potential for failure down the road that I hesitate to try to excel in anything.

Remember the story in the Bible of the Ten Talents? The master gave talents (that is coins) to his servants to work with while he was away. One worked well with the five talents he'd been given and ended up doubling it, to return 10 to his master. The servant who was given 2 talents worked them and doubled them to return 4 talents to his master. The third servant was given one talent. And he chickened out, or lazy-ed out and he just buried the talent in the ground to keep it "safe" and returned the same one talent to his master. He said "Well, I didn't want to try to work it and use it in case I lost the one you gave me so instead I just hid it. At least you didn't lose anything, Master."

He was not approved of by the Master, just so you know.

I don't want to be like that. I don't want to not do something for fear of what might happen if maybe down the road somewhere I sort of possibly fall on my face.

So the challenge for me at this point is to not only learn how to run 5 kilometers with out stopping, but also to learn that, as my pastor recently said in a lightning bolt moment for me, "there is such thing as failure with a purpose". Wow. Never thought of it that way. Failure always seemed to just be failure. Just bad. Just disappointing others. Just proving the lies in my head. Not so, slow-learning Barbara, not so. There is a point to trying. And there is a point to sometimes failing. It will be one of those things that the Lord uses to make me more like Him. I may do this race just fine. Or I may be the girl being carried on the stretcher for the last 2 km. Who knows? Either way, I need to give myself the freedom to fail, and the freedom to succeed. Because, presently, both are equally terrifying to me.

And thus, the awkwardly vulnerable and transparent post comes to its end. Thanks for stickin' around :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

For Remembrance Day....

This song is so.much.fun.! Plus, you'll never beat the original of this, no matter how many great artists have tried to redo it (except maybe you, Kris...).

Plus plus, I love that at this time in history, these ladies, in these outfits, with these "dance moves" would have been some hot stuff! Gotta love modesty!

And all I know about bugle boys is what my band teacher said many moons ago: "Don't look at the trumpet section: it only encourages them."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Two things to say, really briefly, about this week's video.

First: The lady in this video is one of my top ten female singers of all time. Just so you know. I really heart Christy Nockels.

Second: I LOVE what starts to happen at 2:30. The most stunning, powerful thing I've seen on stage quite possibly ever (yes, I realize that was a massive, sweeping statement, and likely a real hyperbole. Still, it is breathtaking to me). I can't help but imagine what it would be like to worship inside that. It always makes me feel like "hiding in the shadow of his wings" or being "hidden in the cleft of the rock". Such an invisible, non-distracting, protected place. LOVE it.

Praise the Lord! He is Glorious!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One Small Step for Man....

This morning I did something I've never done before. And I'm a little proud of it. But let me back up...

When my husband and I had been married for almost 4 years, he realized, with an uproarious amount of laughter, that he had never, until one fateful Cell Group social, seen me run. Not even a scamper as a jay-walker. Not even a trot to answer a ringing phone. So when he saw me, at that Cell Group Social while we were playing stupid soccer-baseball, run to first base, he laughed like a man who had never laughed in all his days. As if he had only just in that moment learned the art of the guffah. He may have even shed some tears in that moment.

It's a good thing he's cute :-)

And I recall on 9-11, and in the multitude of talk-show interviews afterward, hearing women who were out-of-shape and overweight confessing that the jumpstart for their new, healthy lifestyle was the realization that, had they been trapped on an upper level floor trying to race down a stairwell or had they been down on the street trying to outrun a cloud of rubble, they would not have been able to.

I get that.

And then I think about the what if of being chased by a villian. Could I get away? Could I actually run away from the armed maniac?

Plus, I'd like to get somewhere near the weight I was when I first started having kids back in the 2nd Millenium.

And so I was walking. I really love walking. And I'm a quick walker. I like to say I walk like I'm being chased. The trick comes when I read things about the best way to boost your metabolism and kick into "high fat-burning mode" is to work some interval bursts in to your walk. Sadly, I came to realize that the only way for me to walk faster was to *cough* jog.


I do not like jogging. I have not liked jogging since the beginning of my wee existence. Any excuse available for avoiding gym class has been utilized by yours truly. Run around the block for gym? Sorry, not gonna happen. Forced to do track and field? Yup. I'll take the 100m dash because I'll be done in 14 seconds, and even *I* can run for 14 seconds without collapsing into a heap.

My childhood activity level consisted of jumping up to get a snack before starting my next chapter of my book.

And so, I stand on my street looking at my happy little 2.7Km walking route realizing that I should jog a couple stretches of it.

Next thing you know, I'm actually doing it. Left, right, left, right. Imagining people being awakened from their slumber by the sound of laboured breathing and heavy foot-falls outside their bedroom windows. I found 100m to still be doable. Walk 500m, jog 100m. Walk 500m, jog 100m. Piece of cake.

Mind you the walking bit became really ugly. My 'recovery time' after the jog part was not so good, and I quickly looked like a woman in end-stage disease mode rather than 'being chased' mode. But I digress.

Slowly but surely I jogged more and walked less. And my friends were cheering me on. And encouraging me to go farther. And even (*gasp*) to consider signing up for a 5km run on New Year's Eve.

Sorry. Not this cowboy.

But then my pastor had the nerve to be doing a really great sermon series on being as bold as a lion, and about not being a slave to the sins that so easily tangle us. Rats. That's yelling right at my weaknesses. I'm a chicken. Like, really really chicken. As in, chicken enough to be the mascot for KFC. (Or Chik-Fil-A because it's holier.) Particularly about what people think about me. Which leads me to run at 5:00am when no one can see me.

I'm also lazy. Like so lazy that I could just stop typing now instead of finishing this blog and leave you all in a cliff hanger!

Anyhow, this sermon series is really getting to me. I want to be free of my fleshly desires (read: sleep and potato chips) so I am learning that freedom means saying no to myself a whole lot more often than I like.

Does jogging make me holy? No, but it sure is teaching me discipline in one area that is spilling over into other areas.

And so this morning, for the first time, I ran my whole route, the whole 2.7km route without walking at all. And really without even hating it totally. And certainly without puking. Or dying. No death over here today.

Now here is the irony. I'm pretty sure that as I was running my 2.7Km (heavy on the "Point") that I have at least one friend who may very well have been running 27Km (notice the lack of a "Point"...pun not intended). And yet, even with my meager little beginnings, I know that same long distance bunch of people I adore are celebrating with me like I won a Gold medal.

I love them.

Also of note is that I'm not very fast. I mean, if the armed maniac really was behind me, he could totally catch me. Likely even if he was walking. Or on a pogo-stick.

But still I am doing it! One giant leap for Barbara! And I *have* signed up for the 5Km run on New Year's Eve. And I actually want to do it now for more than just the nifty jacket you get for registering. (Though, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a really great motivating factor...)

There is a part two to this story. However, because I respect you, my humble, loyal reader, I will cut my self off now in this marathon of a post and tell you the other side of this story another day.

(Aren't you completely intrigued by the suspense of it all?) :-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

And Panic Ensues...

What is it about November 1st that makes me feel like I'm already late for Christmas? There is a vague sense of peace on October 31st that there is still "all of November" to be readied for Christmas, and then somehow, as the page turns on the calendar, I get ready to throw up my hands and say "Well, no chance of me squeezing everything in this year...might as well just quit now."

So here I am on November 2nd feeling the creep of panic and realizing that it might just be a smidge overdramatic of me. I don't actually have a lot to do. We don't go overboard with gifts so there isn't a bunch of shopping to do. I know that I can do all the baking I want to do in one day (which will be fun) and if I didn't do baking (like last year) we will all survive and still manage to gain 5 pounds by eating everyone else's baking.

Plus, then there is the "decorating" bit, which we are fairly meager on around here too. It is always a brilliantly fun night, come to think of it. We eat upscale munchies while the kids do all the work (and then Chris and I rearrange a few things once they are in bed). My biggest work of that night is throwing the cloth napkins in the washer and making sure the apple cider doesn't scorch in the pan. Piece of cake.

And then there are the family gatherings to pencil in, the choir practices, the play practices, and did I mention I still need to educate seven kids in there and not entirely abandon my husband for the next 2 months? Oh, ya. And something about my having registered for my first 5Km run...which might mean I should learn how to run in the next month or so. Hmmm...and possibly, just possibly, keeping up with laundry and sweeping may be helpful. Plus three family birthdays...

Tired yet?

As I'm sitting here this morning seeing only about 8 weeks left until "the big day" I have (shockingly!) blogged myself out of my panic, come to think of it. Suddenly I'm finding myself just really really eager for the fun of baking with the kids (or with a girl friend with whom I could spend a day in the kitchen), and the challenge of learning how to act (because, seriously?), and the challenge of remembering how to sing in a choir, and the routine of daily life to keep me grounded. But mostly, I'm looking forward to the fact that no matter what I do or do not accomplish in the next 8 weeks, Christmas will come.

It will come without stockings, it will come without gifts... (think Whoville!)

And with it comes the most freeing message, that peace on earth is an option! That there is a way to live without fear! That we can have a life full of goodwill towards all men. That's what I want. That is a pretty great antedote to panic, yes?

So bring it on, November! I am ready and excited for the busyness you hold, and the promises that await me!

How about you? What does your November hold?

Friday, October 30, 2009


There is something great about having a housefull of under-the-weather but not flat-out-sick kids. You know the days: No one is quite up to snuff enough to do all their school, or to be loud and wild. But no one is quite sick enough to just lay deathly quiet on the couch all day either. Just a mellow, hanging out, reading great books out loud together while snuggling under comfy quilts, and drinking lots of fluids kind of day.

And don't forget the soup.

Mmmmmm...Homemade soup. If you know me at all, you will know that my favourite thing in the world to create in my kitchen is homemade soup. It is so simple, but is so satisfying that you feel like a genius at the end of it all. And it is so comforting, both in the preparation, the waiting, and the eating of it.

My delightful kids even said this morning, "Mom, could you only make us healthy food today?" Love that!

So, into the pot went lentils, celery, carrots, potatoes, kale, corn, green beans, and my own canned tomatoes. And into my home went the most incredible aroma. I think the water was barely simmering when one of the girls said "Oh, this smells so good." We just know that a homey, comforting, satisfying bowl is awaiting us. And it is so hard to wait.

Now the potatoes are softened, the flavours are blended, the tummys are rumbling.

Will this take away all of the coughs and sniffles in our house today? Not likely. But it sure will keep our bellies content while we read the next four chapters in our really great book this afternoon.

And somehow, we'll all feel a little better, and more able to enjoy a peaceful, restful day together.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


For the last several years if you asked me what the Lord was teaching me right now, I would have said "Death to self". Man, that is some lengthy lesson! Except just lately, I'm finding that the key to the lesson (as to most, I would wager) is submission. Submission to the will of God and resting in His plan rather than fighting for "my way". Because, seriously, I've seen how my way works. Not so good.

If you asked me to clarify what I was learning in that massive topic of death to self, I would say that I am learning to do only what the Lord is calling me to, and nothing else. This looks like me with my nose in my journal making lists of the roles I know for certain that I am called to fill, and then making lists with question marks beside for the roles I could fill, but maybe am not really required to fill. For example: I'm married, so I'm clearly supposed to be a wife. I have kids, therefore, I'm called to be a mom. And so on. But then it gets hazy. I sing at church. Does that mean for certain that I'm to be a worship leader? Or I write. Does that mean for certain that I'm to be a writer?

And then the complicating factor to all this is that I want to really serve the Lord. You know, the missionary comes to church and your heart is quickened by the crazy-faith they are asked to live out. Or that guy at church starts some wild outreach that terrifies, yet excites, you and all you want to do is find something "Big For God" to do. And truthfully, being a "writer" seems bigger and more impressive somedays than being "chief dish and bottle washer".

Yes, well, having 7 children and homeschooling them is a big job to be sure. And I have been convinced for some time that the Lord builds his Kingdom through families as much as through overseas missions, for example. There are many ways to build the Kingdom and I am honoured to serve Him in this way.

But sometimes that little "Look at me! I want to be important too!" attitude rears its ugly head and I question the value of the mundane tasks of my role. And the questioning doesn't squelch my doing the mundane, but certainly the enthusiasm with which I do it.

I want to be Peter walking on water! I want to be Stephen stoned for his faith (well, a little less of that, actually). Then I read this:

"Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on water is easy to someone with impulsive boldness, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is something altogether different. Peter walked on water to go to Jesus, but he "followed Him at a distance" on dry land (Mark 14:54). We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises -- human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through the drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God -- but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people -- and this is not learned in five minutes." (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 21)

This is confirmation to me that it is the slow-plodding and small beginnings of being faithful in little before you are trusted with much that builds the Kingdom. And what do I want? A big one time blast of "super-holy-change-the-world" faith? Or a life time of faithful, useful, life-changing (mine and others) faith? Clearly the latter.

And so I continue, changing diapers, making meals, inviting folks over, honouring my husband, loving my kids, serving in the church where needed, and watching to see the Lord make me, and those in my sphere of influence, more like Him. By His strength and for His glory. There is a way to serve at home with the same passion and commitment I would need if I were at the "end of the spear", so to speak. My prayer is that I would approach this Home Mission Field with just that zeal.

This is my marathon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays - Deja Vu

Alright, so I don't know how to type accents on my "e's". Sorry about that.

And truthfully, I am struggling to find blog time lately, which is devastating to me. But I have a few minutes now, and so I thought I would cheat slightly and re-post an older Wow-ful Woman clip about which I was speaking to someone just last night. That little bit of recycling will free up a few more minutes to write a post about the most stunningly confirming word I read in Oswald Chambers today. Then, by the magic of techinology, I will schedule that post for tomorrow, it will post without any time from me on Thursday and it will be as if I blogged two days in a row! Fabulous.

So without further ado, as I find myself neck deep in preparing for Christmas plays and Christmas choirs, here is a very relavant (and possibly my favourite ever) Wow-ful Women Repeat. And do check back tomorrow to see what is going on in my brain!

Click here to relive the moment. (And interestingly, I just realized that my first Wow-ful post was Sept. 2, 2008. I've been doing this feature for more than a year! Shame on me for missing my own anniversary. But really really do go and re-watch this link.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I do believe I have not posted a WWW for 2 weeks. Can that be true? Shocking. Disgraceful. But don't worry! Have no fear! I am back with a doozy today.

My dear friend, Kate, introduced me for the second time to this lovely singer. I say the second time because the first time I heard this lady sing, I had no idea who she was. The only thing I knew was that she was ridiculously fabulous. So Kate suggests a video to me which shows me the name of this girl and now I find my self watching an embarrasing number of videos of her on YouTube.

Previously, I have posted jazz singers here. I have posted more "trained" operatic singers. I have posted Broadway singers. But I have never posted a gal who could do all three....in the same song....from one measure to the next.

Brilliant! Kristin Chenoweth singing 14G.

Well, okay. One more. This is the first video I ever enjoyed of her: Taylor, the Latte Boy. So excellent!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Irrational Fears 101

Let me tell you, if the Lord handed out extra jewels for our eternal crowns based on number of and sheer irrationality of one’s, well, irrational fears, my crown would be so sparkly and bejeweled that you would need to wear sunglasses to look upon me, and so heavy that I would need a brace to support my neck in order for me to lift my head.

Allow me to list a few of my irrational fears to prove that, in this area of life at the least, I excel.

I am afraid that...

Please read the rest of my latest article for Heart of the Matter Online here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Heard At My House

Note to Self:

You know it may be time to have a more specific "talk" with the kids when one daughter, noticing a picture of a woman wearing a low-cut shirt, says...

"I don't think she is very modest with part of her udder showing."


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I have tried to write an intro to today's video 8 times and it has not been quite right yet. There is a book worth of things I want to say on the topic that this video touches for me. I'm guessing a blog post is not the place for a book...

Here's the nutshell, and I do hope that by being so to the point that I am not belittling the point and the emotion.

I am willing to bet that every one of you reading this has found themselves in a "pit" at some point in there lives. Some of you found yourselves there of your own volition. Some of you found yourselves there at the hand of someone else. Still others have no idea how it came about. Regardless, there was no way for you to get out completely, entirely by yourself.

For me, this song is so helpful this week as I've been really having to fight a pull towards a particular pit that enslaved me for a very long time. The harder I work to steer myself away from it, the closer I come to falling in head first. Then I remember that it is not up to me to do it! I rejoice, and again I will say, REJOICE that I have a Redeemer who purchased my soul. Not only to save me from eternal punishment, but who cares enough about me to redeem me from the temporal pits of this world.

What should my response be? What other response could I possibly have than a life of service to that great King who forgives my sins, who condemns me no more (neither in this life nor the next), who strengthens me for the tasks He gives me, who gives me a hope and a life, who spilled His own blood to purchase my pardon and to wash me clean...

This is the song of the redeemed: that He is Holy, the Glorious One, worthy of my service forever! How could I ever consider serving another?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Heard At My House

Setting: Teaching Geography to the oldest 5 children.

Topic: North America. Really general introduction.

Me: The Capital of U.S.A. is Washington D.C. Who can tell me the capital of Canada?

8 Year Old A: "C"

Everybody else: *giggle* *snort*

8 Year Old A: .....or did you mean something other than letters?

(I LOVE that girl!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Okay. So I really wanted there to be a real video for this song. However, you will need to be okay with the lyrics on a page. The other option was a photo of Natalie Grant. At least this has movement of some kind.

I was in the car and this came on the radio. I love the picture of being changed by simply being in the presence of a perfect God. He doesn't say "Come as you are and stay in the same miserable state". He says "Come as you are and I will make you like Me."

Yes Please. That's what I want.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Deal or No Deal?

Setting: idyllic farmers' market. Bustling early morning crowd. The aroma of freshly picked peaches. Vendors calling out their prices for "the market's best corn". Bushels of colour. Children reaching for the plumpest raspberries.

I am looking at melons.

I notice a lovely barrel full of Cantalope. Beside it an equally lovely barrel full of watermelon. Behind these barrels are two vendors. I approach them, and notice the sign advertising the prices.

Watermelons: $1.99

Excellent. I place 2 in my bag.

Cantalopes: $0.75 each, or 2 for $1.50

I pause. That isn't a deal, I think to myself. That's just the same. Cheap, but the same. Not a deal.

The vendor notices my hesitation. "75 cents a piece, or 2 for a buck 50."

"Yes," I say. "That's right. But, that's the same. That's not a deal."

I put 3 in my bag, wondering whether to get a 4th, or put one back and stick with 2.

"I'll give you 4 for 3 bucks", he says.

"I know you will. Because that's the same," I say, incredulous. "That's not a deal..."

I take the four, knowing that it was a good price, but not a "deal". Confusedly, I walk away, wondering if he knew his error, or if he thought I was just very bad at bargaining at the market.

Mental note: Some things aren't cheaper by the dozen. Sometimes buying in bulk isn't any cheaper at all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I'm breaking my own rules here slightly today. My video is not anything remotely woman-ish, except that I am a woman and that I want to be Wow-fully excellent at making Christ known to a watching world. How is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of 7 supposed to do that?

What do I have to offer? What can I acheive that will make the world see that God is great? When I stand face to face with Him on that day, what will He pat me on the back for?

Will He comment on my children's excellent table manners? The speed at which they learned their 12 times tables? Their ability to name the American states alphabetically?

What about me? Will He commend me for my mothering? My housekeeping? My voice? My writing?

What about you? What do you have to offer to the King of Kings? What makes you worthwhile? What makes you desirable? Valuable? Interesting?

What it is that God the Father, my judge, will comment on is the beautiful covering of Christ over me. Only what He has done in and through me will last. Only the impact He has had on others through my hands and feet will be noteworthy. Only the glory that He gave Himself through what He has done in me is worthy of praise.

That's what I'm thinking about as I watch this video. And suddenly, I feel much more focused, and much less likely to panic about my past, present, and future potential failures. My prayer is that you also will find the refocus necessary through the lyrics of this song. It's not about you. It's not about me. It is always all about Christ. And that is the most freeing, wonderful thought.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heard At My House

Setting: Shopping with my three oldest girls. Purchasing the "first deodorant" for the 2 eldest. (cue trumpet fanfare and pyrotechnics. These girls are EXCITED!!) The third born, 8 years old, is feeling left out.

8 year old A: Mom, can I please have some deodorant too?

Me: No honey, you don't need it yet.

A: Mom, please. I really want some. Why do they get it and not me?

Me: Honey, they are older. They need it, and you don't. One day you'll be older and you can have some too.

A: But Mom, I'm a big girl too. Why don't I need it?

Me: Honey, you don't need it because you don't smell.

A: (suddenly highly indignant) I do SO smell! My nose works just fine. I've been able to smell since I was born!

(mental note: Mom needs to remember to not speak in such a way as to confuse the literalist in the family...)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow....

There you are; sitting as a family in your only-just-enough-seatbelts vehicle. Driving somewhere just longer than anyone wants to go today. And it starts. Nothing major. No hitting. No shoving. No “Dad, she’s BREATHING on me.” Just small little verbal jabs. Just little changes in tone creating a more sarcastic, biting air. No one is fighting, per se. No one is looking to be vindicated by mom. Just tense. Just nit picky, irritated eye-rolling and sighing.

What’s a mom to do?

I’ll tell you what I did today. I thought about how much time the kids spend together. All seven of them. Crammed into the van. Sharing bedrooms. Three meals a day. All the same friends. All the same activities. School together, play together, work together, sleep together. Yikes! That’s a lot of time up close and personal with the same gang!

And I thought, maybe they’d be happier and enjoy one another more if.....

Please read the rest of my latest article here at Heart of the Matter Online.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

This lady, and her songs, and her gift from the Lord have blessed me again in this song. And a big thanks to Kate, an equally wow-ful woman, for introducing me to Brooke Fraser in the first place, and to this song in particular yesterday. I need to sit in this frame of mind today. No matter what, He is to be exalted. He is my God. Nothing else matters.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Disclaimer: this song was not *my* pick for a Wow-ful Woman. I am picking this for my dear husband who was laughing with me about the *grand devastation* all my readers (snort) would feel if I didn't post a Wow-ful Woman tonight.

So, flash back to 1980 something. Get ready for some excellent examples of how a man should never do his hair. Chris says this is a great tune to really crank up. Sounds like good driving music to me. We have air-guitared the intro to this song many a time over the years.

This lady has some moxy to be sure. I certainly like her more when she is rockin' it out than when she is just chatting it up on Canadian Idol (not that I can remember the last time I've seen that show). I am slightly jealous that her male background vocals sing higher than I do. And that all of them have more volume in their flowing locks than I do.

So Hard -- (dare I do this?) Sass Jordan.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hands and Feet

This has been a complicated week in our house. On top of the regular busy of our family, we've added another layer of busy in the health and wellness department. My husband has been laid out with excruciating back pain, resulting from some disc herniation. Suffice it to say, our home life has looked really different for the last week after a few months of building up to an acute climax.

I shared our struggles at our church music team practice on Saturday night. I told them the ins and outs of what was going on in our home. And they prayed for our family. For health, strength, patience, endurance; for the ability to hear the Lord speaking through this time of trial. It was very helpful. Very moving.

That same night, the members of the team gave some good advice from their experience with similar health concerns. They offered to help however they could. I assumed that would be the end of it.

I was wrong.

Sunday morning, I was commiserating with the wife of one of the team members about needing to go home and make lunch. I wish I had a magic fairy to wave a wand and make it for me, I said. We laughed. Then I went to Remark to find a fantastic loaf of bread to stretch my salad that I was making. I comtemplated buying a rotisserie chicken there too, but didn't. Tempting; also expensive, long line up, kids waiting in the car. *sigh* maybe I can figure out the bbq when I get home and cook the kabobs in the freezer.

As I am approaching my house, I notice I am being followed by a familiar van. She pulls right into my drive way behind me. It is the lady I was speaking to about lunch. "We knew how difficult things must be in your house when there is a parent down and , and we both really wanted to do something to help out in a small way, so would you let us serve you today by giving you this." And she hands me a steaming hot bag from Swiss Chalet. Buns, baked potatoes, french fries, 6 pieces of chicken, and of course, my favourite, the dipping sauce. "It might not be enough to feed your whole crew but add it to your bread and see if the Lord will multiply your loaves and chicken", she smiles.

I weep.

Unable to even a little bit compose myself, we hug and I squeeze a thank you out between tears. She smiles and says your welcome.

As we are eating this feast, there is a knock on the door. A man from our team and his wife have come with another surprise: "When I was having back problems I used this inversion table to relieve some of the pressure. I thought I'd bring it by and if your husband can use it great. If not, give me a call and I'll pick it up again."

Really? Very kind. I'm having a hard time letting this all soak in.

At the end of the day, I check my email. Another team member volunteering to mow our lawn. He comes, on his day off, on a holiday, and mows the lawn, and uses the trimmer to do the edging and whack all those weeds. "Chris should not be doing this for several weeks, so I'll come back in two weeks or so and do it again. Okay?"

And the tears again.

Sheer gratitude for the love of Christ being displayed in the people we do church life with. Maybe to them these were small sacrifices. Maybe it "was nothing". To us, it was a world of help and a picture of how the Body of Christ can function.

It is also a lesson to me in how I am notoriously bad for admitting I need help and being willing to take it without guilt.

It is a further lesson on my inadequate service to others. How often do I go above and beyond to help someone in need? Do I watch for places I can serve? Am I willing to inconvenience myself for others?

And so I challenge myself, and you, if you've read this far, to be the servant this week. Be the hands that do and the feet that go to show the compassion of Jesus to someone this week. Who will it be? Who could you help this week? Who can you serve and bless with a meal, an errand, a note of encouragement, a gift, a task? Will it be your co-worker? Your neighbour? Your spouse? A stranger on the street? Your child?

Lord, open my eyes to the needs of those around me, and show me how I can serve them. And thank you for this church family who have loved us so well this week. Bless them for their generousity.

Friday, July 31, 2009

VBS: an Encouragement to Homeschool

There are a few questions that, if I had been paid a dollar for each time I was asked them, would have made me very rich by now. I’m sure you’ve heard the same: “Are you certified to teach?” “What about socialization?” “What about Physics?” “You’ll send them to real school at some point, right?” and if you have a larger family “Are they ALL yours?”

But the real money-makers for me would be “You must be so organized” and “You must have the patience of a saint”.


Now, you are welcome to come to my house someday and see my snazzy bookshelves where the books are ordered by subject. You can see my attractive baskets, one holding all things adhesive, one holding all things that cut, and one holding all things that mom isn’t sure what to do with or how to categorize. We live by what we call “a flexible schedule” which means our days have a rhythm and an order, but with the freedom to stop for the diaper changes, the runny noses, and the unexpected friend dropping in for tea.

Sounds pretty organized to me.

Then comes VBS. You know, really, this is my worst nightmare. I have to allow myself to see my kids enjoy being taught by someone way cooler, significantly younger, doing messy paint-water-glitter-glue-sand-and-playdough crafts that, clearly, have no place in my home. To feel the pressure to live up to all that fun and frivolity come September is, in a word or two, painfully humbling. And totally unrealistic, but I digress.

But that ain’t the worst part, sister......

Please read the rest of my article here at Heart of the Matter Online, a great magazine/blog/brilliant amount of information site for homeschoolers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

It is WAY past my bedtime but I do want to post this before Wednesday is over. So, here is this week's video.

Not much needs to say about it really except that when I first heard this song as a young girl I remember thinking she was SO BRAVE to do a song like this. Her voice is really pretty fantastic, and anyone who is willing to stick herself out so bare and vulnerable vocally like this gets a big thumbs up in my books.

Love this song. Love this original better than the remix (although it was great too).

Suzanne Vega (remember her?)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy New Year!

I don't know about you, but September is so much more the beginning of the year than January in my books. And August is the time to be planning on New Year's Resolutions. Mind you it is only July, so let's just take a moment to sit in awe of my outstanding ability to set goals and plan ahead.


Now that I've wiped the tears out of my eyes and stopped laughing, let me continue.

Every school year in our home, as it approaches, is carefully considered and planned. I typically use June to plan for September, but this year was a little cluttered in May and June, so now we are planning for September in August. Which makes me feel a bit behind the eight ball. But it also means all my enthusiasm for planning (which I truly really love doing) will be immediately realized as I get to act on my grand intentions sooner than later.

And don't we homeschoolers all have grand intentions for the fall? I'm sure this is universal, but let me speak about what I know right now. Here's what I imagine my 2009-2010 school year to look like:

Each morning I will wake at 5am to exercise and have time for Bible reading and prayer. I will dress and do hair and makeup as if I were going out with friends so that I feel like a 'real teacher' with a 'real job' (and then hopefully act like it!). Our schedule will keep us running like a well-oiled machine, completing 7 subjects everyday, in addition to some outside play time, out-loud reading with mom, and some messy crafts.

Each night I will put a Crock Pot of soup on for lunch the next day, and I'll involve the kids in supper meal prep and menu selection.

And all of this will magically fit around regular housework, spontaneous visits with friends, children who may not be feeling well some days, toilet training, and errands to run.

Plus, I'll be constantly at peace and full of gracious speech and patient demeaner, because I started my day with prayer.


Ya. Right.

Wow. So seriously, how do we not feel like a colossal pile of failure when we set that kind of beautiful, appropriate, worthwhile, godly goal sheet ahead of us and find that we really can't do it, just like that, ev.er.y.day.?

Step 1: Go into September with High Goals and Big Plans (that have come out of some serious time of listening and praying). There is nothing wrong with shooting high and hoping for the Ultimate Best. God has big, beautiful plans for my family. I need to seek those out and as He shows me, have the faith to walk in them. He never calls us to more than we can handle, and He always give us enough time in the day to do what HE calls us to do (there will be a post specifically on that soon. Something I need to continually remind myself of).

Step 2: Stop Being a Lazy Pessimist (okay, talking to myself now). I have a fairly bad case of Eeyore Syndrome (or Puddleglum if you prefer Narnia to Winnie the Pooh). You know what I mean right? "Well, I guess we can try it. I'm sure it won't work and we'll probably look like fools trying, but we can use our abyssmal failure to teach us a lesson about keeping our heads out of the clouds. In fact, the fear of that kind of train wreck of a day makes me want to pour a tea and just sit with a baby on my lap all day. Let's do that instead." Ya. Barbara, stop doing that.

Step 3: Realize you probably can't do the new Goal totally perfectly (but that isn't lazy pessimism, that's just realism in a fallen world; and being ready to give myself the freedom to fail).

Step 4: Enjoy not only the Successful End Result, but also the Trying along the way, seeing that sometimes Plan A (as good as it was) needs to give way to Plan B (which is sometimes better anyway).

All in all I intend this coming school year to be fabulous. I love homeschooling my kids. I love planning and preparing and teaching. I love being here to watch them learn and grow. I love seeing them struggle with something until one day that light goes on and it is smooth sailing in that subject again. Love my job. And I do intend to be more committed to my schedule and routine. I plan on having a whole lot more done the night before so that tomorrow is smoother. This is all really good stuff.

I do also pray that the Lord would give me the grace for myself that He has given me for my kids. Do I expect they get long division the first time? What about spelling rules? Do I freak out and label them failures because they forget to double the consonants before the suffix? No, of course not. They have time and freedom to get it right and to work it out. Same with me. This year, mom gets to give herself a little space. Just because we have a few days of messed up scheduling doesn't mean I'm a total write-off in the homemaking department.

So my New Year's Resolution? Look to Jesus.

What? Where did that come from? Well, He is the One who has written my life story so He knows what is coming up this year. I should maybe ask Him to guide me through what is around the corner, don't you think? Plus, the Bible says that I can do all things through HIM who gives me strength. Not through the perfectly written schedule. Not through sheer determination and self-talk junk. Nope. Through Him, and His Spirit living in me. And when I make a mess of my day and have not enough grace for the kids or for myself, He is the one who makes restoration possible between any relationship that has been wounded. And finally, any successes I do have, if they aren't done to further His Kingdom, and to make me and others more like Him, then I have missed the point and it is all for naught.

So, I'm going to Look to Jesus. That's my plan for 2009-2010. How about you?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I love the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance". Sad for me, I don't have cable. Nor do I have rabbit ears, so I only live vicariously through people who tell me what happened, or I search it on YouTube when I'm feeling really pathetic. My dear friend Melissa sent me a link to an unbelievable recent dance. It left me in tears. Stunning. But even if the dance had been mediocre, I likely would have been moved because of the song choice. Man alive. This woman can SING. She can write lyric too. Wow. On her iTunes bio it says that she is a self-taught singer songwriter. I'm taking that at face value and assuming she has never had a lesson or a degree or a whatever in voice. Not sure if that is a comfort because then even a hack like me has potential with alot of effort, or if it is a real devastation because, seriously, who is just naturally born with that much talent? (now that, my friends, was a run on sentence. Go try and parse it if you like, but I assure you, it is bad grammar. As is this paranthetical interjection....I digress).

So without further ado: Sara Bareilles singing Gravity.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

True Love

What a song of rejoicing! What a song of hope!

I am blessed and moved by this song each time I hear it. Especially this paired down version with the Body of Christ joining in with one voice to celebrate the one, True Love that Christ poured out for us.

Phil Wickham (an artist you should really go listen to a whole lot of) singing True Love.

Come close listen to the story
About a love more faithful than the morning
The Father gave His only Son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Father's Broken Heart
Tears were filling Heaven's Eyes
The day that True Love died, the day that True Love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Search your heart you know you can't deny it
Come on, lose your life just so you can find it
The Father gave His only Son just to save us

The Earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt The Fathers broken heart
Tears were filling Heaven's Eyes
The day that True Love died, the day that True Love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Now, Jesus is alive

Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Oh, He is alive
He rose again

When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Come close listen to the story

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Really really cannot get this song out of my head. She is such a stunning vocalist. Her slight accent just kills me. And the lyric is lovely. This is from a movie that I highly recommend (for those of you who can handle a fair chunk of cursing). "Once" is the title of the film and I found it highly encouraging and inspiring. If for no other reason than to find out that music like this exists. I first watched it nearly 6 months ago and still have a few of the tracks rolling around in my head and passing through my lips while I wash the dishes after supper. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Who knew that Pixar could bring me to my knees in prayer and thanksgiving, speaking a Word of reminder and purpose and encouragement to my weary heart?

We took the kids to see "Up" on Canada Day. Yes, that's right. All 7. I'm sure the folks near by wondered if they would survive the film when we walked in, or if they'd be able to hear anything over the noise of our raucous bunch. Little do they know that when you don't give your kids a whole lot of Tube Time, when you do sit them in front of something, they sit. And listen.

Except of course for the 6 year old who at one point nearly screamed "I'm scared because this is scary!" That was a bit distracting.

Regardless, despite my friend Bethany saying that she welled up with tears in "Up", I came unprepared. I, too, found myself with lump in throat within minutes of the opening scenes. And several times in the middle too.

I did mention this is by Pixar, right? Animation? Yup. Real tear-jerky. Or at least, you wouldn't expect it to be. But they told a story. A real, moral tale. Quite lovely.

Without wrecking the whole movie for those of you who have yet to see it, let me just say this: it is a movie about following dreams and pursuing adventure.

Now hear me: I am not one to say "follow your heart" or "be true to yourself" or "listen to your feelings" because I know the heart is deceitful above all else (Jer.17) and have found that to be true in many cases in my life, as I have followed after what "felt right" and been nearly irreversibly damaged by it.

Still, we all will agree that at times there burns in our soul a dream or a desire to do something of import. Something memorable. Something that will make a difference.

We know, when we are being reasonable, that we cannot all be gold medal olympians. We cannot all be Nobel Prize winning scientists. We cannot all be Billy Graham. And yet we want our lives to count for something.

Here is what I walked away with from "Up" on that note: sometimes our 'dreams' get absolutely in the way of the most important thing that we have been called to do. Our perceptions of what makes a life count are often wrapped up in all the wrong things. Things that are not of lasting worth. Things that are not truly beneficial after all.

Here is what great landscape the Lord has for me to conquer: 7 children whose hearts are malliable and still humble enough to learn from my husband and I. Will I waste this time chasing some other "big dream" or will I take this most precious, generation, world changing opportunity while it is right in front of me?

And with that comes a mountain to scale: my own selfishness as I seek my own desire and comfort above the joy of serving others by doing the menial tasks of my day. Does laundry and meal making seem like grand Kingdom work? No? Then my heart is in the wrong place and my attitude is one of despising the "least of these".

I want to carefully seek out what tasks the Lord has for me. I may never be a name that generations remember outside of my own family photo albums. I may never be someone noted in history books for making a difference. But I can, today, make a difference in the lives of 7 children and one wonderful husband, and in whatever opportunities to serve in my church and community may come up.

Lord, I pray that you would make me faithful in the little things before I expect to be used in the "great" things, knowing that the little things often are the great things in your eyes. And help me to remember that these busy years of parenting will vanish far quicker than I know, and then I will have years of "retirement" to work for You and to serve Your kingdom in ways I am unable now.

I wish I could find a video to go with this, but for now I hope these lyrics speak to you about what I am fumbling to express.

Kingdom Comes
by Sara Groves
When anger fills your heart
When in your pain and hurt
You find the strength to stop
You bless instead of curse

When doubting floods your soul
Though all things feel unjust
You open up your heart
You find a way to trust

That's a little stone that's a little mortar
That's a little seed that's a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom's coming

When fear engulfs your mind
Says you protect your own
You still extend your hand
You open up your home

When sorrow fills your life
When in your grief and pain
You choose again to rise
You choose to bless the name

That's a little stone that's a little mortar
That's a little seed that's a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom's coming

In the mundane tasks of living
In the pouring out and giving
In the waking up and trying
In the laying down and dying

That's a little stone that's a little mortar
That's a little seed that's a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom's coming

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Happy Dominion Day! Let's celebrate some Wow-ful Canadian Women today shall we?

Let's start off patriotic and emotional and overwhelmed with happy happy. Gotta love a Gold Medal Olympic Moment.

And this Wow-ful woman is highlighting her wow-ful man. Do you remember this from CBC TV commercials? Seriously, instantly takes me back to my days in Selkirk, Manitoba.

But on a more "Dominion" note, I will end here. This is my prayer for our cities, and our nation. Happy Canada Day! (I know they aren't Canadian, but Commonwealth counts, right?)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Could Have Been Rich!

Who knew that it was so easy to make a pile of cash? And I mean a fairly decent pile of cash. Look at these financial incentives that are being offered to kids today.

If you can stay in school, smoke free, you can earn $5K. That's $5,000. Seriously? Wow. I could handle that. I never smoked in high school. I could have had $5 Easy Grand. Sweet. Direct from the link above, this is how the program works:

In order to be eligible for a financial REWARD each youth must:

1) Stay Smoke Free

2) Graduate High School

3) Sign up sponsors who will commit to donating about $25 a month to the REWARDS Foundation.

If you are a youth and you want a chance to earn some money towards college, university then sign up and put in the effort of finding sponsors. The world is a competitive place. We give you the tools, and you put them to work. This is the first lesson in how to create a successful life.

Oh, so the money doesn't grow off trees. I have to find sponsors who will pay $25 a month to the program to pay me not to do something I should be smart enough not to do anyway, especially since purchasing cigarettes at a high school age is ILLEGAL. Getting paid to not break the law. Nice. I can do that.

Then there is this option: Money for Nothing

The article sites that there are school boards who pay students more than minimum wage to attend "Learn and Earn" Workshops after school (formerly called "detention"? or "Extra Credit"?) and that other school boards were handing out $100 or Flat Screen TV's for passing grades. Let me tell you, outside of OAC Algebra and OAC Calculus, I was a straight A student. I even rocked Phys. Ed because I could write a wicked awesome test which balanced out the fact that I couldn't dribble worth nothin' (unless you are talking about trying to drink out of a pop can while walking. I ace *that* kind of dribbling to this day).

And finally, one more Take the Money and Run option for students: Just Don't Do It

This program pays girls ages 12-18 $1 a day to, wait for it, not get pregnant. Say what? So abstinence teaching is a bad thing, but paying them a dollar to be "smart" about their, um... "extracurricular activites" is a good thing? Some girls have earned $2000. Really? Wow.

Okay so clearly these days I would not be making much cashola on this program. In fact in the last 10 years I'd have only made $1690 out of a possible $3650. Man. Talk about sacrifice. But in High school, between these 3 programs I could have walked away with enough to pay for my full 4 year degree. Sweet. Forget getting a job and being taught financial responsibility and a good work ethic and some measure of moral standard. Let's just bribe kids to good behaviour with some serious coin. (and yes, this may slightly strengthen my determination to continue homeschooling)

As a wise sage once sang "I got change in my pocket goin' jing-a-ling-a-ling". Maybe if I had have been born later in human history I could have had some stocks and bonds instead.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Alright. So I'm feeling increasingly inadequate as a blogger as everytime I log in I realize that the last time I blogged was last Wednesday. I'm beginning to wonder if I ought to change the whole name of this blog to "Barbara's Wednesday Blog". Less pressure.

But, as usual, I digress.

Let's assume that today is a new start. Let's assume that starting today, I will blog x times per week. See? I can set goals. I bet I can even keep that one.


Truthfully though, I feel like I have an inadequate little bit of opinion on many topics that I would like to hash through in greater detail. Lucky you, you get to read my dissertations as I solidify my beliefs. *snort* Plus I'd like to get back into the habit of writing, a past-time I adore and find highly beneficial to the ol'mental burden. Now to do it for real! Now to get to know my own opinions by putting them to virtual paper, and to get to know you by reading your comments (hint.hint)where you should feel free to suggest topics or questions or scriptures or poetry to discuss in this very forum. Oooh. Almost like I'm an intellectual or something. I'll stir up my 12 remaining brain cells and see if I can remember the meter pattern of a haiku. Or a Petrarchan Sonnet. (did she just name drop an obscure poetry form? Yes, yes she did. Bonus points!)

Next! Okay, so a song for today that lines up with my new and improved Bounteous Blogging. Plus it has to be really good, because my friend Tim told me that sometimes he doesn't get what I find wow-ful about some of my picks. Shameful, that.

Surely today he can't complain. And neither can you. This is longish, which sounds like a disclaimer or an apology, but it is actually a gift to you as she is so.so.good that, long or not, you really ought to listen to it twice! It ties in thematically with my prologue today, and with the need for a really talented, wow-ful woman. There is nothing funny about Diana Krall. That lady is just golden. Stunning really.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Today we celebrate a birthday in our home. My little wild card is 8 years old. She was born on Father's Day at 8:58 am. We quickly called the church and they announced her birth a mere 17 minutes after she arrived. How neat is that?

Her birth has a special place in my heart. When I was expecting her, the original ultrasound told me that she would possibly have Down's Syndrome. Now this was not something I was hoping for, clearly. What I really was not hoping for was the "suggested option" of a follow up ultrasound, an amniocentisis, and the option to terminate the pregnancy. My midwives knew this would never be a consideration of ours and so with us, they prayed that all would go well and that no matter the health of our baby, we would be prepared to love her and care for her as she needed.

And so we prayed. We prayed for healing. We prayed for a miracle. We prayed for peace of mind and strength of character to face the future with grace and boldness.

At one point, my husband had a dream. In it, he walked into a hospital room, and picked up the chart belonging to our unborn child. He opened it up to find one word written across it: resolved. We prayed that this was an answer to our prayers, and continued on in faith asking for the Lord's will to be done.

Then on June 17th our wee girl was born. Perfectly healthy. Perfectly gorgeous. One thing remained: A third fontanelle. I did not know what that meant, but my midwife informed me that it is associated as a marker for Down's. But in her ever reassuring words "But your daughter clearly does not have Down's". She was perfectly healthy and yet with this reminder of what could have been. Or perhaps what was but was healed and resolved. We will not know this side of heaven, yet we remain ever grateful for our daughter who came as she did.

She is my wowful woman-in-training today. This was a song that the Lord used to comfort and strengthen her and I both in those early weeks of sleeplessness and sadness. He was carrying me. He is carrying me. He always will carry me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Have you missed this feature? I'm pretty sure I've skipped at least one week, maybe two. But hold on...this is worth the wait. Kind of...

Weeks ago we were at a family wedding and my cousin and friend Katie was wondering how in the name of all things musical have I not highlighted this icon of musical brilliance yet...Okay. Those weren't her exact words...

And since I've made her wait for this long to see this video, I'm posting two equally retro videos today.

First: Tiffany. I Think We're Alone Now. So weird that I used to think that the harmonies and layering in this song were so.fab.u.lous... And yes, that is pretty much just how I danced at school dances...when I wasn't being Janet Jackson of course.

Alright: now kind of saving best for last is my other favourite 'girl' from those days...I'm not ashamed to admit that I used to cry listening to this song. If you know me, you know it often doesn't take much to make me water. Imagine me being, like, twelve and heartbroken by some boy named Brad...or Jason...or my music teacher... Ya. That's messed up.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Talking to Myself

Three of my daughters apparently take after their mother in the most unfortunate of ways.

Our family had the neat opportunity to attend a neighbourhood 3 on 3 basketball tourney today. What was truly remarkable was the vast array of different responses to this invitation.

My first born was ready to play. She figured out which of her brand new friends would join a team with her, they picked a name for their team, made a logo and matching t-shirts, taught the younger sisters some cheers to do on the side lines and then waited to go stomp the competition. She was not detered in the least by the reality that she didn't actually know the rules to basketball. "I can learn. We'll figure it out. I bet we can still really do well."

That's one response.

Then there was daughter 2. "I'm not playing. I don't think anyone will want to be on a team with me. I'll just cheer. If they don't mind me doing that."


Then there was daughter 3. "I can't wait to be a cheerleader! I'm so excited! I'll practice and get it memorized and do it the whole time they are playing." Except then today while the games are going on, despite her mastery and excellence in these cheers, she dissolves into tears of fear because "There are alot of people here I don't know and if I do the cheers now, what if someone sees me and laughs at me. I want to be a cheerleader but I'm just so scared."


Then there was daughter 4. She was too busy being the adorable cheerleader doing all the actions, all the routines, while flashing her brilliant smile to care if anyone was watching her or not.


Then there was daughter 5. She found the chip bowls and stayed there for a couple hours.

Ah yes.

So out of my 5 lovely daughters, can you guess which ones were like me? And which ones were not like me?

Oh yes, I recognized my mother's voice speaking to a 9 year old me when I was telling daughter #2 "Of course they want you to be here. You are an amazing girl. Just have fun and hang out with them. Of course they want to be your friend."

And yes, I felt the stab of irony when I was telling daughter #3 "You don't need to be afraid. Go out there and give it your best. Do the cheers. No one will laugh at you. And who cares if they do? You'll know that I'm proud of you and that you've done your best. No one is even watching you. It is a little self-centered to think the whole neighbourhood will be watching you and you only in the middle of a basketball game. Just go for it. Have fun trying to be brave."

And yes, I sucked my gut in a little tighter when I was telling daughter #5 to use a little more self-control at the snack table.

Some day I'll get it. Some day I will bust out of all the lies and elementary school insecurities that cling on. I seem to recall telling my friends Kate T. and Catherine earlier this year that this would be the year for challenging my self and being brave to do the things the Lord is calling me too. And yet, here I am, kind of still not really pushing myself too hard. I want to be the girl willing to jump in with great enthusiasm and zeal to try the new thing and push my comfort limits a bit. And I want to be the girl who does what she knows she can do full out, regardless of what people might think or say.

I don't want to be a fool, jumping into arenas where I don't belong. And I don't want to be so 'care less' about people's opinions that I stop listening to wise counsel. But I do want, first and foremost, to listen to the Lord, and to do His will, unfettered by fear of man, and unenslaved to weak masters.

But now that I've put this down on virtual paper, and now that you've read it, I'm kind of committed to being brave and trying to obey the Lord in those potentially embarassing areas no matter what.

So, my prayer for this week -- a real small first step: Lord, show me one thing to do that would typically scare me silly that you want me to do for your glory. Then give me the strength to do it. And if we could start with a small thing, I'd be very grateful.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

There is a benediction that makes me well up with tears every time it is spoken over the church: "Now may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Wow. The God of hope. Filling me with more of His Spirit so I can abound in His Hope. I wonder about that. Why is it easy to believe in Christ's victory on the cross, but not so easy to cling to hope? And how do you define hope? Did you know that a survey of people said that "hope" is wanting something you are pretty sure you are not going to get? I heard that on the CBC so it can't be wrong. That is worldly hope, not Biblical hope. When it comes to the God of all hope there is a surety and a promise and an absolute there. Not that we will get everything we want, but that He will do everything He says. And what more could you possibly want than that?

Addison Road -- Hope Now.

If everything comes down to love
Then just what am I afraid of
When I call out Your name
Something inside awakes in my soul
How quickly I forget I'm Yours

I'm not my own
I've been carried by You
All my life

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

When my life is like a storm
Rising waters all I want is the shore
You say I'll be ok and
Make it through the rain
You are my shelter from the storm

You've become my hearts desire
I will sing Your praises higher
Cause Your love sets me free
Your love sets me free
Your love sets me free

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Nothing to add. This is really where I am this week. Especially after the call we received on Sunday from Pastor Mike to remember that God is in control. Of everything. Always. Forever. And we need to praise Him for that, not complain and strive and stress. He is good. He is good. He is good.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Loving the Little Things

In our previous house, there were several flowers in my garden that I did not plant that I really loved. When we were preparing to move, I considered digging up a bunch of them. But seriously. Did not have time. One of my lovely neighbours actually dug up 3 of my mostest favourites, but there were still others.

That little green one with the little white flowers whose name I never discovered.

The False Solomon's Seal that I loved watching slowly take over a larger part of the garden.

Then there were the ferns I always saw at DeGroot's and always wanted to buy but never did, leaving a space where they were "supposed" to go.

And of course I had always wanted to have something in the garden with a really deep burgandy leaf. A shade plant that would just pop in the indirect light.

Of course, I had also wanted to try out some big ornamental grasses, but we just could never find the place to put them.

Oh, and then the bunnies. Now, clearly not a plant, the bunnies were part of our garden, and our backyard. Especially the days just before we moved. There were 4 little bunnies who had a daily game of tag that carried on all through our backyard and then would spill onto the neighbours' yards.

As we were pulling out of the driveway for the last time, we all sighed a bit at the beginning of a garden we had going, the plants we were leaving behind, and the bunnies that we would surely never have in the middle of the city.

Well, imagine my surprise. As I finally walked around the exterior of my new house tonight, wasn't I shocked to find the little green plant with white flowers, the painted fern I always wanted, some burgandy leafy thing that just "pops", true Solomon Seal, a row of ornamental grasses reaching half way up our back fence, and a momma rabbit, with 5 bunnies, nesting in our little garden.

I know, I know, when I go to plant lettuce I'll rue those little bunnies, but for now, right this moment, they are all reminders to me that the Lord knows how to encourage me with even the littlest of things. Things easily overlooked by others because it just isn't what they need at that moment. But tonight, He knew that I really needed it. And I'm loving it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I'm almost embarrassed to post this video today. But it is all this gal's fault. She was all talkin' NKOTB memories, which made me think of this 5 minute bit of brilliance from my youth.

So now that I've alluded to the fact that I too loved NKOTB way back when, let me also confess that I totally loved (ahem) Janet Jackson. Not "wardrobe malfunction" Janet. Janet when she was so good everyone forgot who her brother was. I'm talking about her mini-movie "Rhythm Nation". Yes I owned it...on VHS. Yes I regret throwing it out. But hurray for youtube! Now I can share one of my favourite grade nine memories with you.

My friend Crystal and I spent countless hours pausing and rewinding and playing in 'slow speed' this song to get all the dance moves. We tried. Really we did. The highly pitiful truth is that while I was playing this video today, I still remembered some of the moves. Crystal and I actually had a fair bit of it down and, while a crowd gathered spontaneously in a circle around us, we would do it at school dances. Or die trying. Die laughing trying.

We were so dedicated we even did the chair bit at the end of the song. Oh if only my parents hadn't insisted on buying solid wood chairs we could have got it. None of our chairs were light enough to flip around like they do on the video.

Now you all know that deep down inside I have always wanted to be a dancer. Not like ballet, but one of those cool "I dance behind a famous person in a video" kind of dancers.

Yes, my hair used to be that big.

No, I will not bust any of these moves on the platform at church.

Yes, I will be pausing youtube and trying to learn these steps all over.

No, you cannot come and watch. Unless you want to join me. Then that would be thoroughly life altering.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Odious Tasks

I don't know about you, but there are some parts of being who I am, called to do what I am doing, that are really stinkin' excellent. On the flip side, there are a couple of things that are significantly less excellent. I'd like to mention a few of those things here today. I hope this isn't 'grumbling and complaining'. Perhaps it is just enough 'realness' for you to finish your week knowing that someone else is in the trenches beside ya.


Okay, so first, I really hate going to bed knowing my husband isn't coming home. If I know he'll be home at 3am because of work? No problem. I'm in the happy land of Snooze by 9:15pm. But he's not coming home all night? He's travelling? Sorry. I'll be up til the little birdies sing their happy morning song. Do you know why I hate this? Yes, partially because I'm a sappy, hopeless romantic, but really because I think this might just be the night that some ne'er-do-well rapscallion is going to break into my house and steal something. Nothing strikes fear into the heart so much as the phrase "home invasion". This goes beyond the hassle and severe heebie-jeebie-ness of 'break and enter'. No one wants to know that someone has broken in and rummaged through all your unmentionables, but while I'm at home? sleeping? Um. No thanks.

Next on my list, is making the beds. I'm not talking pulling up the sheets in the morning and arranging the pillows ever so jauntily. No, I mean, I just spent all day haulin' 62% of my body weight in sheets and comforters up and down from the laundry room, only to have to now climb all over some rectangular "funhouse" trying to pin down an elastic edged sheet that doesn't feel like co-operating. And you do realize that at present we have one bunk bed set in our house. We have 3 more sets a comin'. Nothing like whacking my head whilst doing the bottom bunk and then suffering from vertigo from the top bunk to make my night. In fact, I have, in moments of weakness, prayed, whilst up on said top bunk, for that ne'er-do-well rapscallion to come at that exact moment. And I would beseech him to have the decency to help make that top bunk before robbing me blind. Pathetic.

This next one might surprise you. At first it doesn't sound so odious, but if you are a homeschooling mom you may just relate. Sharpening pencils. OH! how I hate sharpening pencils. I really do *heart* a nice sharp HB, but when there are 6 children at the table, all wanting a pointing thing with which to colour or print, and you are trying to sharpen as quickly as possible, it becomes an odios task. Especially when just as you are nearing pencil point perfection, the stupid lead breaks off several millimetres below. It is at that point that I wish I was not such a stupid cheapskate, because the leads likely break so easily because I bought a box of 24 pencils for 10 cents at Target. Why do I think they mark them down to 10 cents? Ah yes, the greatness of the 'deal' is losing its lustre right about now.

Toilet training? Anyone? Ya. Thought so. Moving on....

Picking tomatoes. I know, I know, garden fresh and back to nature and all that. Believe me, I love tomatoes right out of the garden. Nothing tastes better. All hot from the sun and juicy and perfect and YUM! I know. And I realize that *someone* needs to be out there picking them. Just please let me pick the basil that will taste like heaven with the tomatoes. Or let me gather some green beans. Picking in and of itself is not the problem. It is tomatoes specifically. The vines are the problem. They have a smell that makes me gag. Even "on the vine tomatoes" at the grocery store creep me out. Yes they taste better, but only if I plug my nose when I pull them off the vine.

Now this one is obscure, but it trumps the rest: Getting jalepeno pepper juice in the eye. I know, how often does this happen? Not often, but only once in a life makes it the most odious of all tasks. Except possibly making the top bunk. But I digress. It is like a little "do it yourself, at home pepper spray" kit. Man alive, you have to really like guacamole to put up with that pain. It happened to me in a really horrific way once and I was so incapacitated with pain that I left my (at the time) 3 youngest children alone in the living room to fend for themselves while I stood in the shower, fully clothed, trying to pry my eyes open and rinse them out with cold water. This after I had tried to pry my eyes open to get my contacts out (which of course were nicely rubbing that capascin juice right back into my cornea). The thing is, with pepper juice, your eyes don't tear. Your nose runs like a faucet, but there ain't a drip of tear to wash this stuff out. My hubby came home an hour after it had happened and thought that I'd been crying my eyes were still so red and swollen. I told him I would rather be in labour than have my eyes pepper sprayed. Seriously.

This is a long post. Are you still here? Maybe I just gave you an odious task of note: Reading Barbara's rambling blog. Painful.

Here's to hoping that none of us have to do any of those things in the next several days. Especially the jalepeno bit. Maybe keep one on hand though in case of home invasion.