Saturday, December 31, 2011

Open Letter to a Jogger Guy

Originally Posted May 26, 2011

Dear Jogger Guy:

I need to start by apologizing. My sincerest apologies for looking like a terrified deer-in-headlights when you jogged towards me the other night. I don't believe that an apology that blames the other person is a true apology, but in this case, I'm going to totally blame you and hope that it still counts as an apology of sorts.

Here's the deal: I'm not a total scaredy-cat. Really I'm not. But I do have an overactive imagination fueled by horrible novel selections by high school English teachers (who really should have known better) and poorly chosen television viewing habits in my university days. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do sort of expect that there could very well be danger lurking under every bush.

And you weren't under a bush: you were running straight down the sidewalk towards me: menacingly, with an air of malevolence and guilt. Or potential guilt. Maybe you hadn't committed a crime yet, but you sure could have.

You see, if clothes make the man, your clothes made you a bank robber. No word of a lie. You ought to consider things like that when you get dressed for a run. In May. On a warm night.

Why were you wearing a black skull cap covering all your hair? Why were you wearing a black shirt and black shorts and black socks? Why were you wearing a black balaclava?

Well, okay: that was my first mistake. Or maybe not my first, but certainly my biggest. It wasn't a balaclava, but it sure looked like one from a distance. Turns out that what I thought was a black, menacing ski mask was actually,...

*ahem* inordinate amount of facial hair.

Seriously. Dude. What's with the pitch black, thick rimmed glasses, and bushy black eyebrows, and FULL.BLACK.BEARD that covers, essentially, everything but your nose and eyelids? From a distance, all I could see was the whites of your eyes, the tip of your nose and a sliver of your mouth: which wasn't smiling, and that would have helped, just so you know.

So as I walked off the sidewalk and onto the bike path to get out of the way of impeding mugging, please forgive me. I should have expected better of you. And as I, likely audibly, sighed with relief as you passed me, please forgive my prejudice.

But really, give a girl a helping hand and at least wear a t-shirt with a big, yellow smiley face. Or leave the black hat at home. Or trim your beard. Or carry a sign that says, "I am not a crook". Any of those small changes would be considered an act of community-mindedness, and would likely decrease the chances of you experiencing a false arrest sometime in your life.

On a positive note, you have a great stride. And if you had committed a crime, I bet you could have outrun your pursuers. Nicely done.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Deal or No Deal

Originally Posted September 5, 2009

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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Well, At Least He Didn't Hang Himself

Originally Posted June 7, 2008

Our lovely family was to go to homeschool soccer last night, 33 degree temperatures not withstanding. And I, in my new found "let's not be an out-of-shape mom" phase decided that while my incredible husband drove 5 of the children to the field here in town, I would walk with the youngest two in my prized double stroller.

Now let me tell you about this double stroller: I LOVE it. It has been my source of sanity for the last 8 years. My blessed mommy bought it for me the Christmas I was expecting my second child, and I cried with glee. That was also been the Christmas that my blessed mom-in-law bought me the world's greatest breast pump. I cried over that too. I was pretty desperate for the right tools to do my job and a pump and a stroller fit the bill. But I digress. That stroller saved my life. It freed me to leave the house when I was going stir crazy in the spring. It made errands easier by walking instead of buckling and unbuckling children in the car a million times. I used it to hold 3 children actually. When we had our 3rd, our 1st was still only 2 (whoa) and so I could get all 3 of them in and still pound the pavement.

And pound it I did. For two years we had no car at all (except on weekends when we borrowed our fantastic parents' van...and yes I meant the parents are fantastic...the van was too, but the parents take the cake). I would walk EVERY DAY just because I could with 2, 3, and then 4 children all the way from our little house to the nearest grocery store. Looking back to that big city walk from the perspective of a now small town girl, I can't imagine what I was thinking taking such little people across such ridiculously busy corners....however, we survived. I also used that stroller as a means of getting my groceries home from that store. On several occasions I would walk to the store with an empty stroller and come home with it loaded to the brim with 2 weeks' worth of food. Good times.

Then there was the time that we accidentally left the stroller behind at a splash pad. I thought Chris put it in the back of the van. He thought I did. It was left on the wet concrete pad at a very busy place in said big city. I freaked out when I realized it was gone. Chris did too, but only because his WALLET WAS IN IT. I thought "who cares about your wallet. We can replace the cards. I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT THAT STROLLER!!!" Slight overreaction. still.

Thankfully some kindly lady took it to her house and left a note at the park saying that if someone lost a stroller we could retrieve it from her house. So glad we got there first!

And now, after 7 kids, the stroller is getting old. When I put groceries in the storage basket in the bottom it drags on the sidewalk (really annoying). And when I tried to fold it up to fit in the van, it doesn't exactly work as smoothly as it once did. But she's a beauty.

So back to last night. In my energetic frenzy I smartly put the not quite 2 year old in the front as usual and laid the wee baby down in the back. One of the things I love about this stroller is how excellently the back lays down. One hand control, a foot rest that comes up and "locks in place" to hold the baby nice and horizontal, and the very all-covering sunshade ensures that the baby can rest without the sun beating down on his face. Many a nap has been had in that stroller. Our 2nd born even slept in it overnight once in a hotel in Ottawa many moons ago. Love.this.stroller.

I was really truckin' it. I love walking. I love walking fast. It is as close to athletic as I ever get. Suddenly, my boy is crying. Funny, he never cries in the stroller. Heck, he practically never cries at all. Wisely, I stop (once I've finished crossing the train tracks) to check on the boy. Remember: I can't see him due to the all-covering sunshade.

The foot rest, after 7 children and 8 years, apparently had enough last night. It 'unlocked' and there was my wee boy, all of 4 months old today, sitting in the storage basket under the stroller with his head firmly wedged under the front seat where his tender scalp was being, well, scalped. nice. Praise the Lord my other children weren't with me, because 1) this is the kind of thing that just adds fuel to the "look at the freaky family with 7 kids" thing that I am always paranoid about (remember the Tim Hortons/Walmart fiasco?) and 2) I think I said a bad word....out loud.

So after rescuing him from the basket that (remember?) drags on the ground when weight is put into it and kissing the scratches on his scalp, I put him in the front seat that reclines slightly with a more sturdy support between his legs and put child #6 in the back where she could just sit and continue sipping her water bottle like nothing had happened.

Now what, you may be asking, was the title to this post all about? I'm thinking that it is a good thing I didn't buckle him in because when he slipped down, I'm envisioning the seatbelt getting quite snuggly wrapped around his neck. So it could have been worse.

sigh. A day in my life. Gotta love a laugh at the "mother of the year"! I'm considering adding a "donate here" button on the side bar of this blog so that you can all contribute to a new stroller for me. Any takers :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Heard at My House - The Existential Edition

Originally Posted January 27, 2011

A: I just don't know what I'd feel like if I wasn't a person.

Me: Sorry. What?

A: I mean, if I wasn't me, and I wasn't someone else, and I wasn't a thing. I just don't know what that would feel like.

Me: Okay. You need to explain that a little more. Do you mean, like if you were some other person?

A: No. Like, I just think there is a person for everybody.

Me: Do you mean, "a soul for every body"?

A: No. I guess...well, I don't know...I mean...

Me: Do you mean, if your dad and I didn't have you would you still be somewhere else?

A: I don't know. I just mean if, I just...Well, I don't know how I'd feel.... Oh, I don't understand what I mean either.

(mental note: I'm not sure which of my university studies would have been more helpful in this conversation: Psych 020 or a reading of Waiting for Godot.)

Monday, December 26, 2011


Originally Posted February 28, 2010
(Update: My mom served my grandma well, just like this post describes, right until she passed away on December 24th, 2011)

My Grandmother is 91. When I was little, she was old. She's always been old. I remember when she would go out on my great-uncle's fishing boat for the day with my Grandpa. I remember thinking, "Someone needs to tell her she's too old to do that. That's not safe." She was in her 60's... I guess that seemed old when I was 8.

She has always had gray hair that my mom would put in rollers for her. Little pokey black rollers with metal brush-hairs to keep her short little hair nicely fluffy. She was super cute. My mom would stand behind her, and Grandma, seated and holding the bag of rollers in her lap, would pass them over her shoulder, one at a time, to my mom.

Grandma loved going shopping with my Grandpa. They would just spend the day tooling around and eating at Bob's Fish and Chips on Hamilton Road. Some days they'd pick up Mary Brown's Chicken to eat at home on TV trays, watching a Blue Jays game.

When my Grandpa was dying of cancer, she cared for him at home, administering many, many pills and cooking several meals a day trying to find something, anything that would taste good to my Grandpa. And when he would fall asleep in his hospital cot they had set up in the guest room, Grandma would sleep on the single guest bed, holding his hand through the hospital bed bars. Then in the morning, Grandpa would say "Mary, I think there's room up here for you if I squeeze over a bit." And so, they'd have a little snuggle before starting another day of pills and no appetite.

When my Grandpa died of his cancer, my Grandma said, "I'll never be as happy again as I was with Ed, but I'll be as happy as I can."

Somewhere during these last 15 years since Grandpa died, Grandma forgot that optimistic outlook. Grandma has forgotten quite a bit, actually.

And so, as she is forgetting where she put her keys ("There, on your wrist on the elastic, Grandma, like they always are."), or when she moved into this new apartment ("19 months ago, Grandma"), or why she can't go home ("Well, you sold the house a decade ago, Grandma"), or even if she ate breakfast, lunch, and supper today, my Mom and Dad, and my aunt and uncle are caring for her and honouring her in the most tireless, loving, compassionate way.

My pastor recently looked at the fifth commandment, as we have been studying the Ten Commandments, in which we are called to Honour our fathers and mothers. My Mom is doing a brilliant job of honouring her mom in these, potentially, last days for my Grandma. She visits almost everyday (except for the days my uncle visits), does her laundry (even though the staff at Grandma's home would do it...Grandma just feels strange letting strangers touch her laundry), answers dozens of phone calls a day some days, and takes homemade cookies and fresh fruit for her to nibble on when she can't remember that she's eaten today. She even still does my Grandma's hair up in rollers, even though now, for the first time in decades, my Grandma is too tired to pass the rollers over her shoulder. She often falls asleep in the chair while my Mom puts her hair up.

What is remarkable to me in all this is not that my Mom is loving her mom so beautifully. That's not surprising. What is surprising is how she is able to consistently serve her with patience and love even when my Grandma gets tired and cranky and ungrateful. And even when my Grandma forgets who my Mom is. Somehow, my Grandma remembers that she has a daughter named Linda. She just can't connect the fact that this lady who comes every day, is her daughter Linda. My Mom just puts on a brave face and reminds her. "I am your Linda, Mom. I am your Linda." And even when Grandma forgets and calls her by another name, or asks my Mom, "When will Linda come and see me?" for the hundredth time, my Mom still honours her, and loves her, and serves her.

When I ask her why she keeps going and how she keeps going, my Mom just smiles and says, "My Mom has taken such good care of me for so long, and put up with me when I was sick, and cranky, and grumpy, and ungrateful, and undeserving of being loved. She is a woman who deserves to be honoured. She's my Mom."

Lord, make me a woman who is humble enough and others-centered enough to honour other women in my life. And make me a mother who is easy for her kids to honour as I age because of how I cared for them in their early years. I pray my daughters and my sons would honour me because I have earned and kept their genuine love and admiration, not merely their biblical duty. And bless my Mom and Dad today in a special way, giving them endurance and longsuffering as they sacrificially care for my Grandma. And for the other women I know who are caring for their elderly parents, Lord I pray for them too, that you would give them an extra measure of mercy and patience as they love those you've entrusted to them.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wow-ful Women Wednesday Christmas Edition

Originally Posted December 15, 2010 (Made it to 3:28 before I cried this time...and that only because I was setting the table for lunch during the first 3 minutes!) :-)

This song was brand new to me last year, and I posted it near Christmas. I do believe it bears re-posting. I still always think I can get through this song dry-eyed, and everytime I'm wrong.

A Baby Changes Everything -- Faith Hill

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Countdown

Originally Posted December 13, 2010 (Still gives me chills every time!)

There are some Christmas songs that everyone covers because they are just that good. This is one of them. But there is something about this version, sung by the lyricist himself, that makes it my favourite version of it. Ever. Mark Lowry sings his song slower than most. And he sings it like he's really speaking to Mary, and really just as awed as she must have been to find out just who her son truly was.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Story, Daily Truth

Originally Posted December 23rd, 2006

Whether you recall Linus' recitation in a Charlie Brown Christmas, or whether you numbly listen to it being read again this Christmas Eve service, Luke 2 is probably pretty familiar territory. Maybe it is so familiar, that like me you have come to only think of those precious words in terms of a quiet stable, a quiet sheepfold, and a baby laying silently in a mound of hay.

Last Sunday, my pastor challenged my understanding, and opened my eyes to a spiritual truth in that simple story that I need to meditate on daily; that if I really grasp it, will change my every moment from here on. (You can listen to his sermon here: but finish reading my blog first!)

In case there is anyone actually reading this blog, outside of the 5 close friends and family that I know check in here periodically, allow me to introduce a bit of my personality to you. I am a woman driven by fear: fear of circumstances, fear of failing, fear of people, fear of man's opinions, fear of all the 'what if's' of this life...Fear.

If the fear of man is a snare, then I am a little fox with her poor ankle smashed nearly irreparably in its hinges. (and no, that does not make me a foxy mama).

But the insight I gained on Sunday may have begun the freedom and release from fear that I need. Let me explain.

Luke 2 finds us out in the field with the shepherds watching over their flocks by night. Sound familiar yet? I'm sure you remember that when the angels appeared, the shepherds were "sore afraid". So what do the angels say? Pretty sensibly, and predictably they say "Fear Not, for I bring you good news of Great Joy that is for all people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord.". Okay. I get that. Angels talking to shepherds 2000 years ago about their immediate need. Doesn't really apply to me.

But our pastor read it this way, "I say to you TODAY "Fear not, for I bring YOU good news of Great Joy, that is for ALL PEOPLE (including you and me). For on THAT DAY in the city of David there has been born for YOU a Savior who is Christ the Lord."

Oh. So something about that baby being born way back then has something to do with me not fearing. Well, sure. I know, He is my Savior so on the Last Day when I stand at Judgement I don't need to fear because Christ saved me from my sins. But what about today? What about everyday between now and then?

The Westminster Cathechism says that Christ has three offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. So on that day in the city of David not only was my Savior born but also my Prophet, Priest and King.

The Cathechism says that I need Christ to be Prophet because I am ignorant; Priest, because I am guilty, and King because I am weak and helpless. Sounds like the roots of all my fears.

So Lord, let me meditate, live in, dwell on, hold fast to, love, and soak in the truth that I can Fear Not. You were born not only to be the Savior from my sins and to free me from the condemnation of Judgement at the Last Day, but also to be the Prophet to teach me the Will of God everyday, the Priest to forgive my sins everyday, and the King to rule and defend me everyday.

That should all add up to a very Merry Christmas, and the happiest of all New Years.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Clean Floors

Originally Posted March 29, 2010

How often do you wash your kitchen floor? I mean, really clean them. Not just run-the-Swiffer-over-them clean, or kind-of-sweep-them clean, but on-your-hands-and-knees-hot-and-soapy-water clean?

Rarely, if I'm being honest. But I would like to tell you about how it came about that I washed my floors like that on Christmas Eve morning.

Faithful readers here may recall that months ago I promised a series of blog posts, one inspirational and one funny. The inspirational one has been posted: today's is the funny one. (That was your prompt and licence to laugh at me with great vigor!).

Imagine with me, if you will, what a typical Christmas Eve morning is like. As I see it, there are two options. It can be an idyllic, quiet, contemplative time around the tree, with hot apple cider in one hand, Bible in the other, and good snacks (post-delicious brunch, of course) always in easy reach. The children are contentedly playing, loving on one another with the compassion of Mother Theresa, the housework and gift-making are caught up, and the Roast Beast is simmering in a red wine flavoured broth preparing for a magical, culinary experience. We are patiently, yet breathlessly awaiting the candle-light service at the church. The children all say, "Santa who?" and instead prepare cards and gifts for the birth of Christ the King. All is right with the world.

That is option one. That was not our reality this year.

Christmas Eve was a Thursday in 2009, as you may recall. That is only significant in that my daughter's flyer route needs to be worked on Thursdays. Only. Period. Wednesday or Friday delivery of flyers constitutes grounds for immediate dismissal. Thursday morning it is.

Plus, this was the year that I jumped back into the world of "Church Drama" and was preparing for the second night of Christmas Plays. Let's just sum that up by saying my brain is not as sharp as it was 7 children and 11 years ago! Hello, Memory? Anyone home? Right. Didn't think so.

Plus, this was the year our church jumped back into the world of "Choir", which is such a highlight for me that I may need to do an entire post on choir someday. This required me to go through an intense period of humbling as I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror, hairbrush in hand (to my mouth, of course), repeatedly asking myself if I have any clue how to sing!

Plus, this was the year that I decided to be a mock-athelete and began running for the first time since the boys in the playground were throwing rocks at me.

Plus, this was the year that I thought I should really try to sew some lovely bags for some people I love as gifts. Like my Grandma. Who I would be seeing tomorrow. Whose bag I hadn't started yet. Oops.

And so it was, that I was in a very happy place that Christmas Eve morning doing a lot of things I loved and enjoyed, but found my mind a wee distracted...

The whole gang of us piled in to the van first thing in the morning, and delivered my eldest's 95 flyers, in record time, glad for the nice weather. Then we came home to realize the basement was about to be declared a national emergency site due to the unusually large amount of toys strewn around. So here I am in the kitchen, beginning lunch, barking orders for the basement to be cleaned, kissing my husband who just came home from his morning at the office, putting the baby down for his nap, and thinking the breakfast dishes should be washed, and then thinking I should go and check on the cleaning efforts in the basement.

As I go down to check on the basement overhaul, I realize that my physical presence there with them may be the thing to speed their endeavor, and so I sit and check email. It is in the email that my fate was sealed, I believe. My lovely friend, Kristina who I love, sent me a link to a stunning video of Celtic Woman singing "O Holy Night". Stunning. I sat spell-bound for the 5 minutes of vocal bliss. My bliss was radically, sharply, disasterously ended by my 8 year old's cherubic voice, innocently asking me, "Mommy, what is that water?"

Water? What water? And so I look in to the (praise the Lord) unfinished part of our basement to see water, no sheets of water, falling, pouring, gushing out of my duct work. Did I say gushing? I meant flooding. Rapidly. And spreading fast. Now there is a leak over our freezer. Now it is coming out over the laundry area.

My dear husband is wondering if a pipe froze and burst. "Where is this water coming from?" he cries? "Go make sure everything is off while I shut of the main!"

And my dear oldest daughter says, "Mom! I saw you turn on the kitchen sink!" She flies up the stairs to turn off the kitchen sink, but before she can reach the faucet she falls squarely on her heiny. The water has flooded the counter, and spilled, hot and soapy, all over the kitchen floor. Should I remind the gentle reader here that we have porcelain tiles in our kitchen? Mental note to self: porcelain tiles + hot, soapy water = ice rink.

So as 7 children are screaming "GET MORE TOWELS!!" and "EMPTY THE GARBAGE PAILS TO CATCH THE WATER!!!" I am trying to remember when exactly I turned the sink on. Clearly, somewhere in the "I thought I should wash the breakfast dishes" moment, I actually plugged the sink, squirted in the soap, and turned the tap on full hot.

And now I am sitting on the floor, sopping up water from the inside of my cabinets, and the drawers and the entire kitchen counter, trying really hard not to say out loud any of the names I'm calling myself in my head because there are 14 little eyes and ears watching and listeing to see how mom reacts in a crisis.

At one point, my 8 year old who is notorious for saying the funniest things without trying to be funny, is in a full out fit worrying about how this is going to play out, says with great fervor, "And Mom, this better not become a Facebook Status, because this is *NOT* funny!"

Soon, the basement is dried up, the kitchen is dried up, my husband is reassuring the 8 year old that the house is fine, and sound, and no damage done. I am hiding in the garage, giving full vent to all the pent up rage and self-disgust I previously held inside. I hear my husband's loving voice ask one of the girls, "Where's your mom?" and I get the courage to come in and dry my eyes on his shirt collar. He is half laughing at me, half consoling me. I need both to get through this.

I figured I had ruined Christmas Eve. What happened instead was my kids saw that even "the best mom in the world" makes stupid mistakes, which gives them the freedom to try and fail too. And my kitchen floor got "on-your-hands-and-knees-hot-and-soapy-water clean".

All in all, it was the perfect Christmas Eve morning.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

True Confessions

Originally Posted December 15, 2009 (Let's have a few Christmas related posts now, shall we?)

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?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hands And Feet

Originally Posted August 4, 2009 (this one still makes me cry tears of gratefulness as I remember)

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.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clearly I Didn't Pray Hard Enough for "Travelling Mercies".

Originally Posted July 14, 2008

I don't know about you, but I serve the funniest God ever. I mean, His sense of humour is priceless and His timing is spot on. The trick is He is one of those smart funny people who make jokes that I *know* are funny so I laugh right out loud, but I hope He doesn't say "Do you get it?" because I'll have to admit that I really have no clue what the joke was about but I didn't want Him to think I was severely delayed in my mental capacity.

That's what my Thursday was all about. This was kind of right up there with the WalMart fiasco in my books in terms of "frustration factor" but remarkably I did not lose it this time. I might actually be able to say that I was calm and pleasant all by the grace of God. So here goes:

Thursday July 10 from 11-3, the Ramada Inn was going to be hosting an Abeka Book Display. I was all pumped to go and order our math and, for the first time, language curriculum for our next school year. You get free shipping if you go in person and I'm all about saving, and not wasting, time and money. (ha ha. That will be ironically funny later.)

So I load the van with 7 fantastic children all who have gone to the bathroom and the baby having been fed. We are ready for the hour drive and looking forward to the promise of a Great Canadian Bagel after we do our shopping. I'm a happy momma.

The tunes are playing my songs (as opposed to Veggie Tales Campfire Songs), the kids are giggling in the backseat, the sun is shining. It is a good day to be on the 402. But hark, what red light from yonder dashboard breaks? It is the battery warning light....hmmmm. I'll have to tell my hubby when I get home.

Funny thing, that. That little light sure had my attention, as did the arrow on the 'battery level gage' (if that's what you call it). The arrow started slipping from half/normal to less than normal....kind of quick like. I turn off my happy tunes and my happy a/c. The arrow continues to dip. I turn off my lights. The arrow continues to dip. I notice we are approaching the turn off to get to my inlaws and I start praying that we would get that far and forget about Abeka and yummy bagels. The arrow dips faster. I pray harder.

I notice, my accelerator ain't acceleratin' so much. And my steering wheel is a lot more "arm strong" than "power"....


"Hey kids! Guess what? We're going to have a bit of an adventure today...and not necessarily a great one."

The car stalls completely, I put on my hazards, and we slowly make our way to the shoulder. Stuck. On the side of a major highway with 7 kids in the car, one water bottle, no cell phone, and 1 kilometre to go to the exit to my inlaws.


So I say to the kids "Let's just pray for a minute" and we ask that the Father will send the right person to help us at just the right time, and that we will be safe here on the side of the road (I couldn't get the van off the road quite as far as I might have liked).

I hop out and pop the hood (this much I can do) and then I wait for someone to notice that we are broken down and not just letting a little kid "water the weeds" if you know what I'm saying. As I wait and notice that no one is coming, I dig deep into my acting skills. I stand right by the driver's side corner of the hood where the oncoming traffic can see me and put one hand on my hip and one on my head, scratching my forehead in a confused manner, saying out loud (like they could hear me) "Wow, my car died. What should I do?"

For future reference: That doesn't work.

By the providence of God I was even wearing a skirt that day (wouldn't you if you were going to buy homeschool curriculum?) and I was not afraid to use it to my advantage should we get that desperate.

More acting. More flagging down of cars. More being looked at and ignored (yes, I saw you Mr. Business man and Friend in your pretty BMW on your cell phones and Blackberries. I saw you look at me, rubber neck, and then carry on. Nice. Don't worry. It is way cooler for a girl in a WHITE ANKLE LENGTH SKIRT to try to fix a car than for you to get your metrosexual selves all greasy. I get that. You may have even damaged your Manly manicure by dialing 911 for me. It's all good.) More sitting in the car making sure the kids are still not going mental. They are busily writing "Car Broke. Please Help Us" signs. Very industrious. Then I think the unthinkable: Also by the providence of God, I have my double stroller in the back and I know we are only 1km to the off ramp. Really? I'm going to try to walk to Strathroy? In sandals? Alongside the 402? With 7 kids in tow? Oh my word.

So I pull out the stroller and set it up on the remarkably loose gravel. I give 'er a push to see how plausible this is (not very) and try to mentally envision how close the nearest building is to the exit. I know the OPP office is somewhere around there but how far off the exit and what else is over there and SERIOUSLY!!!! and Oh Lord could someone just.pull.over.

But fret not. I'm not so self-centered as you might think. In that moment I thought of you. I did! I said, out loud even, "If I need to walk down the side of this stinkin' highway with my freakishly large family, it will make one awesome blog post."

But the walk of death was not meant to be. At just at that moment, I tried one more mime action. I waved with my left hand and made a "phone to the ear" move with the right all the while saying (in case someone could hear me *this* time) "Do you have a cell phone? I just need to call a tow truck".

Lo, and behold, a man had pity on my plight and pulled over.

A great big, 18-wheeler, Freightliner truck, pulls over and backs up to my van. As the door of the cab popped open I heard angels singing and I prit'near skipped over to this man saying "Hurray and thank you for stopping".

Yahoo for Mike from Poland who works for Freightliner. He saved the day. He told me about his little grandson. He even tried to fix the car for me and then told me in his charming accent that "GMC makes no-think but junk". He let me use his cell and even offered to put all of us into his sleeper cab and drive us into Strathroy if we needed (looking back I should have TOTALLY taken him up on that offer. The kids would have had a blast, and talk about good blog stories).

He was the perfect guy to pull over at just the right time. God is good.

Then while we were waiting for Father-in-Law to come to my aid, our friendly neighbourhood OPP officer pulled up behind us wondering if we needed help and if he could call someone for us. Seems that someone saw "a woman on the side of the road with the hood up and a stroller" and thought that maybe the cop would want to come check it out.....ya think? (maybe it was you who made the call, Metrosexual Business Guy. I should give you the benefit of the doubt, yes?)

All in all it went well. We were happily on our way to my in-laws place after one and a half hours of sitting on the side of the road. It could have been worse.

But here is the ironic part: remember how I was going to this thing to "save money on shipping"? Okay. So Dad lovingly says "why don't you use my van and go in to buy the books anyway so at least the day isn't a total waste". Excellent idea. We get there with half an hour to spare before they close shop. I ask the beautiful woman at the Ramada counter which room Abeka is set up in. She looks at me like I'm speaking Greek. Clearly the display is not there today. She most graciously calls 10 other hotels in the area to see if I just had the wrong location. nope. nope nope nope. nope nope. nope. nadda. zip.


So to console myself I take the 5 kids I had brought with me to Tim Horton's for a cookie because, well, we needed it.

When I returned home to my lovely abode later that night (having driven dad's van home and leaving mine in Strathroy to get fixed) I log on to dear Abeka's website where they have apparently canceled EVERY.STINKIN'.DISPLAY for the rest of the summer....I think. There is no notice saying that, but the display locations are no longer anywhere near me. Nor near my friend halfpint in August as previously advertised.

Ah yes. So in my attempt to save some cashola on shipping, I used my gas tank, my alternator, a remarkably small tow truck fee, Dad's gas tank in the van (3ce), and then one more trip there and back when Mom and Dad lovingly drove our fixed van out to us....all at $1.35 a litre....

and I still don't have my books.

BUT, and this is big, I NEVER got angry, frustrated, ticked, concerned, worried, freaked, mental, .... I was just waiting, and laughing, and being blown away by my Brilliantly amazing kids who (baby and 2 year old included) just hung out in the van, buckled up for an hour and a half with out any wailing, gnashing of teeth, or tearing of clothes.

The Lord is working in our hearts making us more and more like Him. I've been trying to figure out what that day was all about. Maybe that's it. Just a test to show me what is in my heart normally, and what He is beginning to put there instead. Of course the girls were trying to convince me it is a sign from the Lord that we ought not to do Abeka math, or really any math at all, next year.

I'll wait for a burning bush on that one.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Impressing God

Originally Posted August 5, 2010

How long have I sat thinking about this post? How long have I had a weight on my heart about this post? *sigh*

My first stirrings and musings on this matter came some 6 years ago when I read "An Unstoppable Force" by Erwin McManus. The whole book kind of got under my skin. And if I'm being honest, I felt sort of annoyed by the premise and presumption in the book. I don't own a copy of the book, so forgive me as I paraphrase, as best as I can, a recurring theme in his writing that got my goat. He would talk about how praying for our children to be safe was a poor thing to pray for. That our goal for ourselves and our children and our churches should be to live dangerous lives for Christ. God wasn't calling us to lives of safety, but to lives of danger, and risk, and doing big things for God.

Now, I agree that the Word promises that we will have trial. We will have tribulations. There is no denying that saints throughout history, and even to today, are suffering for the dangerous righteousness they are living out. And there is no denying that Christ himself did not choose an easy life of safety during his time on earth.

I agree that we need to live lives that are full of action. James says, "Faith without works is dead" and "Be not merely hearers of the word but doers also". We need to act. Jesus acted. I get that. I know the Parable of the Talents. I know how displeased the Manager was with the worker who merely buried his talents, folding his hands and twiddling his thumbs in safety and ease. And I know how pleased he was with the workers who used and developed and risked the talents for a greater reward. I know these truths.

And don't get me wrong: I know myself well enough to know that at heart I am lazy and selfish, and prone to justify my laziness and selfishness under the guise of "being cautious" or "being reasonable". I am also prone to worry, and so the easy thing for me would be to bubble wrap my children and say it was "just being a good steward of the gifts God has given to me".

And also don't get me wrong: The last thing I want is for the church to be a bunch of complacent, comfortable, casserole-loving, isolated, irrelevant, nice guys.

So I struggle with this. I don't want to live a meaningless life of ease and inactivity. I don't want to displease God by wasting the days he has given to me. And yet I look at the life he has given me and wonder how a mom of 7 is supposed to "go and do some big thing to impress God"? I mean, after all, I'm *just* a stay at home mom.

And then I see a video like this...

...and I don't disagree. I think he's right. On many, many levels, he is absolutely right.


Will someone please say that being a mom *is* doing a big thing for God?

Will someone please say that choosing to quit your job, live on one income, and stay home and homeschool is living a scary, crazy, unsafe life for some of us?

Will someone please say that being a mom or a dad who works all day, shining the light of Christ to his or her co-workers, and then coming home and making supper, reading stories, praying with the kids, and selflessly spending even more weary hours shining the light at home, and ushering your children into the kingdom of Christ through faith *is* doing a 'big thing for God'?

Will someone please say that working joyfully day in and day out on the factory assembly line,

and honouring your parents,

and loving the saints,

and serving in the local church,

and tithing,

and living your whole life--every second of every day--as a living sacrifice of worship to Christ is just as much a "big thing for God" as anything else you can dream up?

For some wholehearted Christ-seekers, the call will, in fact, be to pick up and spread the gospel to the far-reaching, life-threatening corners of the globe, and to them I say, "Thank you for going, and thank you for making those sacrifices, and thank you for being faithful. May the Lord bless you for your courage and faithful obedience." Truly.

But for the rest of us wholehearted Christ-seekers, who, for the time at least, are being called to stay home and just shine for Christ here, let me say to you, "Thank you for staying, and thank you for making these sacrifices, and thank you for being faithful. May the Lord bless you for your courage and faithful obedience, too."

We need to remember, *I* need to remember, that God is self-sufficient. He doesn't need me or you to dream up something wonderful to do. He doesn't need our service, he doesn't need our "staying" or our "going". However, He does invite us. And when and where and how he invites us better stir our hearts to specific obedience, no matter how different our invitation looks from that of the person next to us.

"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much." "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand more." (Luke 16:10, Luke 12:48)

Lord, you have entrusted me with much here. Let me be faithful in this before I venture off to do anything else. Help me to hear your voice, and your call on my life so I can obey the things you've called me to do, and not try to respond to someone else's call. Help me to remain content in this big thing you've called me to instead of longingly looking for some other way to "impress" you. Thank you for this call, and for this mission. I pray that you will find me to be a faithful servant. And I do pray that you will embolden your church to do the things that please you, starting with the small acts of obedience and faithfulness right in front of our faces.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Could've Been Worse (otherwise known as "The Wal-Mart Fiasco")

Originally Posted January 17, 2008

It was the 15th which meant that my fridge was really not impressively stocked with groceries any more. Typically we shop on the 1st and 15th, but that is tricky when the 15th is a week day and hubby has the car and I have the kids. However, we thought it would be a great idea to go straight into the city after work and take the gang to Tim Hortons for soup and a bagel (thanks Mom and Dad P for the gift card!) and then I’d grocery shop with some of the younguns while Chris went to Home Depot to pick up some basement reno stuff. This sounds blissfully wonderful. The baby had even been napping well so she should be fine while we’re out. What a nice night we had in store.

The first harbinger of things to come was when I cut my finger while emptying the dishwasher….ON A BUTTER KNIFE. (I’m not kidding. Who can do this?)

Yet, we continue on in our plans for Family Night Extraordinaire.

We get to the restaurant (although as my speech-impeded daughter once said "Momma, this is not a westawant: it’s a Tip Howrtons" ….it was funnier in person) and 3 of the children want chili (shocking actually), 1 wants veggie and 1 wants chicken noodle. The baby will share mine so she doesn’t get a choice. Up to the counter: sorry. No chili left. Hmmmm.

Okay re-order. Now the littles are saying 3 veggies, 2 chickens. (plus my chicken and Chris’ mushroom).

Up to the counter: Sorry. only enough for 1 chicken.


Okay executive decision: Make it 5 veggie and I’ll take the chicken (because that way no one fights over it) and 1 mushroom. All 12 grain bagels. (that would be 7).

Sorry. Only 6 12 grain bagels

Okay: make it 6 12 grain and 1 whole wheat (I really don’t care at this point).

She gets the drinks and I pay, using my handy dandy gift card plus some of the kids’ Christmas money (I’m sure they won’t mind).

Now I’m waiting for the soup and bagels. Guy beside me says: Wow. Are they all yours?

Me: yup.
Guy: wow, I thought it was a birthday party.
Me: (thinking things I wouldn’t say out loud) Oh that’s funny! (idiot)
Guy: So how old is the oldest and youngest?
Me: (thinking "that’s right, let’s just see HOW MUCH of a side show freaky family we are") 9 down to 18 months (and then for shock factor) and I’m expecting in 5 weeks. Guy: Wow, don’t you know when to stop?
Me: Ha ha ha. Guess not!

And then I slink to my table hoping to disappear only to realize she only gave us 6 meals not 7 in total. Great. Now to go back up and let her know that our family is SO BIG we need more food.

Lady waiting at the counter: Wow, so they are all yours?
Me: yup.
Lady: Boy. Well, *good luck*
Me: Thanks! :-) (rolling eyes as I walk away)

So now here we are trying to eat in peace and my precious dear son knocks his bottle of OJ off the table where it smashes onto the floor (glass bottles….nice) and spills its entire contents all over everything, including his sister. I can’t just sit there letting the whole restaurant see the evidence of our freakiness so I begin to pick up the broken glass and mop up the juice with a wad of napkins. Chris begs me to just sit down because 1) they pay the girls to clean this stuff up (remember, it used to be my job) and 2) the longer the big pregnant woman squats on her haunches cleaning up, the more people are looking. Right. Good point. Besides, I already cut myself on the broken glass because I am just that stupid.

Suddenly we realize that the children are not eating their soups because 1) they somehow all magically have to go the bathroom RIGHT NOW and 2) they all thought it would be fun to use the little salt packets they gave with our meal, forgetting that since their mom hardly cooks with salt at all their taste buds are not accustomed to the canned/dehydrated/overprocessed/highly salted Tim Hortons soup. Still, they add the WHOLE PACKAGE and find the soup inedible. So they ate bagels and juice and a few bites of soup to be polite.

At which point Chris says "Let’s just go". So we go. Now the grocery store I like (Food Basics) is no where near Home Depot so for sake of time and gas and convenience I say I’ll go to the Price Chopper nearby, even though their produce stinks. Chris says, "Well, you could try (shudder) WalMart"…..

You need to know that we kind of hate WalMart. But I have heard good things about the grocery store so we thought we’d try it out. I would take the 6 year old, the 5 year old and the 18 month old. All is well. These kids are GREAT shoppers (and that wasn’t even being sarcastic).

Now here was a bright point of the day. The Stuffmart grocery was fairly well laid out, not very busy, and for the most part not outrageously priced (not as cheap as Food Basics, but not bad).

However, did you know that the StuffMart Superstore is about a million square feet big? Keep that in mind as you read along.

Miss 5 year old suddenly discovers about half way through the million square feet that she has to go to the bathroom. You just went at Tim’s, I remind her. I know, she says, but I have to go again. BAD. Okay, I will look for a bathroom while we shop.

Now she is crossing her legs and hopping down the aisles and her eyes are welling up with tears (I imagine her teeth were floating too, but I couldn’t see that part). I’m frantically looking for something that resembles a washroom sign, but alas, no luck. Seeing my daughter’s agony I now abandon my shopping in search of an employee. Apparently StuffMart has only 6 employees to cover those million square feet.

Ah yes, here she is now. A girl in a blue vest.
Me: Could you tell me where the closest bathroom is for my little girl?
Walmart Lady: Up by customer service.
Me: (incredulously) There isn’t a bathroom in the grocery section?
Walmart Lady: No.
Me: I have to walk all the way to the front entry area?
Walmart Lady: Well, not the entry, the Customer service.
Me: Right, That’s actually FARTHER THAN THE FRONT ENTRY (at which point 5 year old starts to actually cry instead of just whine and tear).
Me: Can I at least take my cart to that part of the store?
Walmart Lady: Oh yes, of course (suddenly trying to be helpful).
Me: Fantastic.

Running like Donovan Bailey to the stinkin’ customer service area, I push the cart full of groceries while my 18mo is wondering what is going on. We arrive to see a happy sign saying "No unpaid for merchandise past this point" and as I abandon my cart full of groceries out side the bathroom door I say "So help me if someone steals this cart I will sue Stinking Stuff Mart". By which point, I hear from inside the stall, to where my daughters have run ahead of me:"Mommy I couldn’t get here fast enough and the pee went all over my tights and my shoes" (note: and underwear and skirt and floor….)

So big Prego, now holding the 18 month old baby on hip, and purse on arm, slightly out of breath from the sprint half way across a million square feet of store is squatting again, cleaning up a mess off another store floor and throwing out said undies and tights, because I am not so desperate for cash that I have to stick wet, peed on things in to my purse to wash at home.

And now we have the pleasure of going back to the outer limits of WalMart to finish shopping….

At which point I begin to think it would have just been easier to stay home and fast until the weekend when I could have shopped when and where and how I wanted.

But then at the check out the lady who was serving us (now granted she didn’t realize our family was ‘freakishly large’ because she only saw me with 3 kids) kept praising my children for their manners and patience and obedience and beauty. And then praised me for feeding them well with all this produce, and for obviously trying to raise them well, and how blessed and what a ‘lucky family’ we were and how she hopes we just have a real great evening now, and see you again, and take care, and bye bye sweet baby……


So on the whole, the night really stunk. But it ended so much better and about so much better things. As I push the cart out to the car (telling my daughter of course her legs are cold in the parking lot. Bare, damp legs tend to feel cold outside in January in Canada) my six year old pipes up and says "There’s Daddy in the van. I love how he is so sweet to always park where we can find him and he always helps you by loading the groceries in to the car. He’s so great."

The Bible never promises that the world is going to get our Godly choices: in fact quite the opposite. We should expect to be laughed at and questioned and persecuted when we care about our children's modesty, or innocence, or family size, or getting out of debt, or a million other "weird" things that Christians sometimes do. We get the shame.

And the Bible never promises that just because we love the Lord that the bottle won’t break, our kid's bladders will be huge and strong, and the soup will be plentiful. That’s just stuff. We get the frustration.

But sometimes….just sometimes….the Light of the Lord shines so brightly through our children that the lady at StuffMart comments. And He gets the glory.

Lord, I’m so sorry for my reactions to frustrations like Tuesday night. I’m so sorry that my head is on such trivial things that I care more about how it looks on me that a 4 year old broke a glass bottle by accident than how I respond to the questions and criticisms of the world. What should have shamed me was the number of cuss words that popped into my head over the course of the night not the fact that my precious daughter had an accident in the bathroom. Lord, renew my mind, transform my heart, and conform my will to line up with You. And for Your sake let my children take after their Father and not their mother.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Odius Tasks

Originally Posted May 11, 2009

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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Heard at My House

Originally Posted September 22, 2009

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, December 14, 2011

Open Letter to Some of my Daughters

Originally posted October 26, 2010

Dear precious, lovely girls:

I have a couple of things to say to you today. They've been on my heart for a while but have been more like "groans too deep for words" that only the Spirit can interpret until now. Finally I feel like maybe, just maybe, I know what some of these words on the tip of my tongue are, and how to get them out. Maybe.

First, let me say that of all our girls you are most like me. I know you know that. You hear it all the time from me, from the grandparents, from folks at church. Here's what you may not know: for years I've been praying that you would be nothing like me at all.

I know that sounds backwards. Most moms love to hear that their daughters take after them. "Oh, she has your eyes", we love to hear. But some of the ways you are like me are things about myself that I have prayed against and struggled with for years.

I have prayed earnestly that the Lord would make you take after your father more than after me. I've prayed that you would be spared the frustration I've worked through struggling over specific sin issues that linger decade after decade.

What I want is for you to have an easier time than I've had in certain areas of life. I want for you to not have to take so many thoughts captive in your head as these lies creep in, shaking your faith. I want for you to know that you know that you know that you are loved by Jesus. I want for you to experience less temptation, less fear, less guilt, less laziness, less pride. I want for you to be like Christ right now, not after a life-long, sometimes slow process of sanctification.

But here is what I have just realized:

If the Lord didn't bless you with weakness, you would never look to him for strength.
If the Lord didn't bless you with pain, you would never look to him for comfort.
If the Lord didn't bless you with sorrow, you would never look to him for joy.
If the Lord didn't bless you with guilt, you would never look to him for forgiveness.
If the Lord didn't bless you with sickness, you would never look to him for healing.

The things that I have hated about myself have thrown me to my knees in prayer, and have kept my eyes fixed on Christ. That is what I want for you. So if that means the Lord needs to make you like me in order to turn you to Christ, then so be it. I'll be on my knees beside you.

Praying for you daily,
Your Mom

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Good Enough To Eat

Originally posted on March 6, 2007

The other morning, as my family was dashing out the door to a homeschool event, my dear son said the most remarkable thing to me. I was feeling a little frumpy that morning (can anyone relate?) so to perk up a bit, I spritzed on some of my perfume ("Obsession" for those of you who want to know).

As I was buckling the baby into her car seat and doing up my son's shoes, he leans in and says, "You smell good, Mommy. So good I think I want to bite your neck and eat you! Why do you smell so good?"

And so began a conversation on perfume. However, if I had really been on the ball, I would have made it an object lesson and said, "Well, Thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2 Cor. 2:15)" Well, that might have been a bit much.

Still, the fact remains that when Christ is dwelling in us we exude an aroma, a fragrance, that is pleasing to Him and to those who are being saved around us. And the Word challenges us to "Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Ps.34:8)" If we are open to enjoying the fragrance of His presence, maybe we will be bold enough to 'take a bite' and experience Him fully. That is true satisfaction! And hopefully that fragrance will be a better fix for the 'frumpy' days when they come.

Lord, let us be like that garland of grace that is made of Your fragrance. Let us be noticeably beautiful to those around us, both those being saved and those perishing. And let us seek You for the fulfillment we desire. And in the meantime, thank you for precious sons who love their mommas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Back from the World of Silence

Hello world, it is me: Barbara the Delinquent Blogger! Honestly, who knew that the last time I would have blogged would have been July 13th? Seriously, I did not see the blog hiatus coming. Didn't plan it. And yet, there it was. In all its quiet glory.

Truthfully, I was shocked by how long it had been since I last blogged. It didn't feel like it had been that long. And I didn't really think people would notice. But you did! And that is humbling and sweet. So, thank you for giving me the nudge needed to get back up on my writing horse, as it were.

Are there any good reasons for the blog silence? Well, not really. Life is busy, but that's nothing new. I've been working on other writing projects, but that also is nothing new.

I suppose I just fell out of the habit. And that is something I can fix.

In fact, I am very intentionally planning on re-forming the habit of blogging regularly, but at a new address! Woot! Who doesn't like moving? Okay. Actually, don't answer that. No one likes moving. But everyone likes the new digs when they are still new, right? A new coat of paint; pictures hung on different walls; more space to move around: that all adds up to a great deal of happysighingness. And so, the move will happen.

My incredible husband (who has his own stellar blog these days is working on reading my mind and interpreting my indecision in order to make my blog as pretty as I want it. The official launch of the new digs will be January 1st. Aren't you so excited?!

In the meantime, I want to give you a bit of a Merry Christmas countdown leading up to the big move (and all the new content) by reposting some of my most favourite blog posts that I've written since I started the blog in November 2006. Some are funny, some nostalgic, some inspirational (I hope?).

I hope you enjoy reading some of my favourites, and do feel free to suggest favourites of yours (if it isn't too pompous of me to think that you might have remembered a post or two!)

In the meantime, I'm going to post a new Christmas video (ooh. New content already!) that I think is pretty adorable. Enjoy! And see you back here tomorrow when the countdown begins!