Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Juliette doesn't eat much.  She never eats breakfast and only has a couple of bites for lunch.  Supper is hit or miss.  But if I serve meat...there's no stopping her.  A vegetarian she is not.

And now, she has her own word for "more" - "meat."  In other words, more meat, please.  She will use it in reference to something she likes, like sweet potatoes.  "Meat, please," means more sweet potato, if that's what I've served.  But generally she just wants meat.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Where moth and rust doth corrupt

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Matthew 6:19-21


Do you know anyone who just seems to have bad luck in life?  If something could go wrong it does?  We seem to be in that category when it comes to home renovations.  With young children, a small house, and neither James nor I with much experience, we have opted to hire contractors to do two major jobs over the past two years: the bathroom renovation, and a new roof.  Neither project were in dire need of being done, but both were good investments to up the value of our house, should we choose to sell.  Both jobs were botched, badly.

Our bathroom floor tiles shift, move and crack.  The plumbing was badly done and resulted in a slow 4 weeks leak that ruined the ceiling on the floor below.  The new roof leaks in four (yes, four!) different rooms in the house.

We spent two years chasing the bathroom contractor.  We compiled our case and went through small claims.  It kept me up at nights as I constantly crafted conversations in my mind of how to state my case.  It was neither helpful nor therapeutic.  In fact, it kept me from sleeping and only built up the anger, frustration and disappointment.  Finally, after two and a half years, the judgment came down on our side and payment was received.  We thought it was over.

Then, two weeks later, the roof happened.  Last year, three days after it was installed, we had a leak that they came to fix (but we had to pay for.)  Now there are three more leaks.  Two of them are near the chimney which means they won't even look at them.  But the worst of them all (which is going to require a whole new ceiling in that room) the company is also trying to avoid.

Two nights ago, I found myself once again lying in bed, rehearsing exactly what I should say to the contractor to try and make him feel bad enough about the job to do something about it.  Once again that pit in my stomach started to form as the poisonous thoughts permeated my spirit.

What can we do?  Going back to court is not an option for James and I.  We are the type of people who can't let things go easily.  If it's looming ahead then it is on our minds.

Then I came across this verse in Daniel, in my study yesterday:

"I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous."

Yes, for the past 11 years, I have been at home, contented and prosperous.  I have found my security in our earthly provision.  While we may not be "rich," we have always lived comfortably with the work James has had.  We have never had to count every dollar spent.  We are naturally conservative with our spending, and both these blessings have resulted in security built upon treasures of the earth.

But that passage in Matthew reminded me that earthly security can be fleeting.  Jobs lost, markets slow, money drain.  I feel strongly that God is teaching me a lesson here.

I can't emphasize this strongly enough: this lesson is about placing my security in God, not earthly comfort.  I am here to witness I am learning this lesson now.  This lesson could have been taught by the collapse of our business.  It could have been taught by a fire that destroyed our home.  It could have been taught by fraud that wiped out all our resources.  Instead, it was taught gently, through these renovation projects.  You see, because of careful planning over the years, we have the ability to simply write off this contractor and pay for a brand new roof.  Yes, it is an expensive option, but it would save the emotional turmoil of the bathroom fiasco.  I believe God is showing me that money is just money.  For all of our careful planning, these two major expenses have cropped up without any fault on our end.

Do you feel that?  That is a peace that is settling on me.  A peace that I didn't feel for two years with the bathroom.  (Shoot - maybe if I'd learned the lesson back then we wouldn't have had to go through this with the roof!)  A "peace that passeth all understanding."  And it truly does.  I am learning each day to value that peace more and more.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Playing "hospital" with Benjamin.

Mom: I have a fever, and my stomach hurts.
Benjamin: Let me see.  (listening with a stethoscope)  Hmm.  You have an ant in your stomach.
Mom: Oh no!  Is it serious?
Benjamin: Yes.  You need to see 12 doctors.

(Benjamin wheels away his medical cart and returns once more.)

Benjamin: I am the second doctor.  I will look into your throat.
Mom: Ahhhhhhhhh. (tongue out)
Benjamin: Ooh, it's really bad.
Mom: Yes, my stomach really hurts.
Benjamin: I will get the next doctor.

(leaves and returns.)

Benjamin: I am the third doctor.  I will take your temperature. (does so)
Mom: Do I still have a fever?
Benjamin: Yes.  It's six thousand.  (His favourite number.)
Mom: Yikes!
Benjamin: I will get the next doctor.

(leaves and returns.)

Benjamin: I am doctor number 12.
Mom: What happened to the others?
Benjamin: Doctors 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11?  They're dead.
Mom: Dead!  What happened?
Benjamin: They had ants in their stomachs.

Monday, 17 February 2014


A lesson in perseverance.  From my son to me.

A local park offered free cross country skiing on Family Day.  Colin has never been, but I thought he and I would enjoy the afternoon out.  We were fitted for boots and skis and poles and were on our way in the glorious winter sun.

The trails through the forest were groomed and ski tracks provided to help along the way.  Our first run around the starting loop went surprisingly smoothly, considering Colin had never skied and I haven't in too many years to count.  We were ready to make our way into the forest, on a quest for hot apple cider and fire roasted hot dogs (at a bonfire deep in the woods.)

We hadn't gone more than ten minutes when we came to a fork in the road.  I immediately wished I had at least glanced at the maps of the trails before leaving the lodge.  I figured we would all be heading in the same direction.  To the right, the trail was flat, but it was obviously going the long way around the park.  To the left stood a looming upward hill.  Not knowing how long Colin would last on skis (and it's hard to do anything but keep going when you are deep in the forest), I opted for the shorter trail.  Which meant conquering the hill.

We paused at the bottom, and I instructed Colin to observe those more skilled going ahead.  We watched the placement of their skis and poles, the angle of the blade, the shape of the V, the lean of their body.  And then when a gap came, we inched our way forward.

I placed myself behind Colin.  He took a few steps up and slid back.  A few more steps and slid again.  I held him from behind, trying to keep him from losing progress.  A group of 10 year old girls were having no better luck.  After a few minutes we paused, barely a few feet up.  I told Colin to watch the other skiers again.  Somebody advised us "quick steps" so that our skis didn't have time to slide back down.  We tried again.  And again.  And again.  I was tiring physically of trying to balance myself and Colin.  I held him, steadied him, balanced him.  The progress was painstakingly slow at best, and nothing but sliding back and losing ground at its worst.  10 minutes passed.  25 minutes.  I offered to Colin that we take off our skis and walk up.  His response was firm.  No.  He worked and worked and worked at it.  I offered four more times to take off the skis.  Each time he was emphatic in his refusal.

At long last, someone came by with a new technique - side stepping.  She put herself perpendicular to the hill and walked up sideways.  We tried this new method, and finally found success.  The skier stayed beside us, cheering Colin on.  It was still another 4 or 5 minutes to get up the hill, but finally, finally, we conquered it.  Colin was rewarded by honest praise from our friendly skier, and he beamed from both the accomplishment and the accolades.

Interestingly, when we came to the next hill, Colin needed no help at all, and he didn't use the sidestep - he shaped his skis in a V and up he ran.  He had an odd way of using his poles in front of him instead of behind, but I could see that during his half our challenge on the hill he had truly come to understand the mechanics of skiing.  It wasn't a wasted time at all; it was a time of discovery, of trial and error, of coming to learn this new skill and the new equipment.  We flew through the rest of the course.  At the bonfire, we once again found our friendly skier.  She recognized us, and announced to the small crowd what perseverance Colin had, and that if anyone deserved a hot dog, he did.

I felt sorry that I had encouraged Colin to give up on that hill.  It was evident to me the weakness we have as mothers, wanting success for our children but finding it difficult to watch them struggle.  I am grateful for small lessons like this, early in life, that will serve as reminders to myself when my children must struggle with greater mountains.

Friday, 14 February 2014

A little valentines note

Marriage is not 50-50.  It is 100-100.  It is not two people each measuring out the load to an exact split down the middle. It is each person giving everything of themselves to the other person. It is being more when your partner is faltering. It is not keeping score. It is selfless service to the one you vowed to walk this life with.  It is waking up each morning and giving of yourself 100%.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Think a little smaller

I sometimes have a problem with thinking things must be big.  They must be thought out beforehand, planned, and executed according to the plan.  They must be outside the realm of daily life.  They must take a good amount of time to accomplish.

The problem with thinking big is that sometimes it paralyzes me.  I don't have that much time to put into it, and so I choose not to begin.  Instead of getting something small done, I do nothing at all.

I first noticed this when it came to Colin and his cub badges.  As we flipped through his book, he would point out things he had done recently and ask if he could check them off.  No, I replied.  You must choose a badge, read the requirements, plan carefully, and execute them specifically in relation to earning a cub badge.  My friend laughed and said I was missing the forest for the trees.  The point of the badges is to help the kids be exposed to a wide variety of things.  If that happens naturally through other experiences, at home, at school, or with friends, then we can mark it off.  I still encourage Colin to make goals and set out to achieve them (also an important skill) but I'm learning to lay off a little.

I also noticed my tendency to put things in boxes this week during a discussion with other moms about chores.  I have felt like I have never really succeeded in this area yet.  It was reassuring to hear from a mom whose children are all about 5 years ahead of mine that teaching chores must change and evolve constantly.  One method never works for long.  But then, as I listened to what other moms were having their children do as chores, I realized that my kids were already required to do most of that.

In my mind, chores had to be an assigned task, completed at a specific time, and something that took a good amount of time to complete (about 30 minutes.)  Those chores are few and far between here.  They are involved, and usually mean I have to get supplies and keep other children out of the way (slippery floors or toilet splashing.)  Three children x 30 minutes each is an hour and a half that is really difficult to carve out of our days.

What I heard from my friends, however, is that most of their chores were things like:

- get dressed
- put clothes in hamper
- brush hair and teeth
- pack/unpack school bag
- clear dishes
- tidy room
- tidy toy room
- make bed

This list is already a daily requirement of my boys.  I just didn't associate it with a list of chores.  So, win for me!  It was nice to breathe a sigh of relief and think that it was one thing I didn't have to fret about.

That being said, I read a great portion of a book this week that talked about Saturday chores/family time. In the author's family, the family members worked together to do a clean of the house on Saturday morning.  Everyone was assigned a chore and everyone worked together to complete it.  Then, after lunch, the family did an activity together (hiking, biking, board games, the park, etc.)  While this idea doesn't work well just yet (napping babies in the afternoon and working Dad on many Saturdays), in a few years I see this being a great way to work and play together as a family.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Sanitized faith

A thought hit me this week like a ton of bricks and has been sitting on my chest, holding me down ever since.  For my entire life, I have been trying to sanitize my faith, and my life (which, for me, are one and the same.)

I have sheltered myself, living in a picturesque little town surrounded by "good" friends with similar values.  I study scripture and pray and go to church and try to improve myself a little each day.  I keep that which might sully my purified mind fenced out.  I see my journey toward heaven as a climb upwards, each day trying to heed the biblical call to be "perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect."

Suddenly, that life is repulsive to me.

Half of this world, or more, are living in deplorable conditions.  They struggle to stay alive another day.  They face starvation and war and terror and kidnapping and trafficking and illness and poverty the likes I cannot fathom.  And in our rich, first world country people face depression and sorrow and sadness that weighs as heavy on them emotionally as those terrible physical conditions elsewhere.

What good is my sanitized faith?  What purpose of trying to eliminate all that is dirty and sinful from my surroundings?  Even if this clay jar is clean both inside and out, how can I close my eyes to the suffering?  It is a mockery, these little clean jars sitting in the middle of stinking landfills.

Jesus did not sit with the Pharisees day in and day out (men striving to live out their faith in every way they could.)  Instead he crouched beside a prostitute and touched a leper and spoke hope into weary workers and cried with a mourner.

Even if I am not making a big show of my beliefs, even if my beliefs are genuine and my desires and motives pure, I am still a Pharisee.  I still prefer to sit with believers, surround myself with only the good.  The thought of sitting with the scary things of this world scares me.

Our church missionaries are revolutionizing the way they spend their two year missions.  They are trading in their traditional suits and ties for jeans.  The old way of knocking on doors and preaching a message is dead.  Instead, they are now going to get into the cities in which they serve.  They are going to mentor youth and run sports programs and provide education and make hot lunches and pick up garbage and work.  They might have a moment while they are working to share what it is that brings such joy into their lives, but that is no longer the goal.

I saw an episode of the show "Call the Midwives" this week.  It is based on the memoir of a woman who served as a midwife alongside a group of nuns.  The nuns held fast to their Catholic faith while they rolled up their sleeves and helped those most in need.  I felt as though I was walking with the lead character as she experienced for the first time the result of the poverty around her: abuse and disease and simple joys and heartache and heavy work loads and resignment. I saw what her eyes saw and felt what her heart felt.  I felt the revulsion at sickness and choked back tears at the conditions.  I saw the little work the nuns were doing, little in the grand scheme of the world and yet so much to those whose lives they touched.

I'm tired of trying to improve my faith through sanitization.  I want to grow it by getting it dirty.

(And yet something in me hates this analogy, as though spending time walking beside those who are hurting insinuates they are less clean than me.  It is an analogy of my life so far, and even this I must work hard to break.  If you feel inclined to censure, please extend any grace you might feel.  Change is hard yet necessary.)

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


I got a call from my mom (from Australia) last week because I hadn't posted in a while and she was worried.  I'm just sleep deprived, which makes it difficult to put thoughts together.

To my children, when you have children:

None of you were good sleepers.  I spent 8+ years running on almost no sleep.  Currently I'm getting four 30 minutes "naps" during the night, and maybe one hour long nap in the afternoon.  I shouldn't even be able to stand upright, but I am being upheld by a power greater than I.

I have read all the books and tried all the techniques.  None of them worked.  I asked advice of everyone I met, and found no answers.  The truth is, every single baby and every single mother and every single situation are so different.  I find myself frustrated (due to exhaustion) that you won't sleep.

The answer, I believe, is that I must endure.  This, too, shall pass.  I wake in the mornings and take a few minutes to orient myself, but then I am able to prepare meals and clean the house and cuddle with you and smile with friends and run a house and work a business and volunteer at church.  My life moves forward each day and I am blessed with patience that grows each day and a clarity of mind that defies the amount of sleep I am giving it.

Not everything has a solution.  I imagine that each of you will face a challenge, like this, that must be endured.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites took 40 years to journey to the promised land, that was a direct trip of about 6-8 weeks.  Sometimes we must take the long road.

I hope your babies sleep for you.  If they don't, take heart in knowing I have been there, and survived.  If they do sleep, then know that you will face some challenge or another that won't have a solution.  You, too, will read and research and talk and question and pray, and still you will come up empty.  But if you take a moment to examine the challenge and find that you are somehow endowed with superhuman strength to endure, then there is a good chance God is taking you the long way around.  It is strengthening you, teaching you, and shaping you into a better human being.  Embrace the challenge and face it head on, and when it nearly beats you, then do what it takes to just get through the day.  One day you will wake up and it will have passed, and in time you will look back and wonder if it really was as hard as you once thought.  The memory of the hardship will ebb away and you will stand at the edge and it won't seem the great challenge it once was.  Others will wonder how you endured, and you will shrug your shoulders and say it wasn't such a great thing, that others have challenges that you couldn't imagine having to go through.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Naming of a home

Does your home have a name?

I think "Green Gables" "Anne of Green Gables" was the first home I remember having a name.  Then there was "Orchard House" in Little Women and "Tara" in "Gone with the Wind."  What a quaint idea, I thought, naming one's house.  Four walls suddenly become a part of a family history, a building come alive, containing the love and memories of those who dwelled within.

Our home doesn't have a name, but I've always wanted to christen it.  Somehow our plain white vinyl siding and fenced in grass haven't inspired anything yet.  I imagine that if one day we get our little home in the country that the stretching trees and rolling land will lend itself to creativity much easier.

I still hope to ponder a little and find a name for this place, even though we are already six years here.