Saturday, 21 November 2015


We have yet to figure out a money system that works in our house, in relation to the kids.  They don't yet get a steady allowance (although we keep trying), but now and then they pick up some birthday money or something for a lost tooth, or a small gift from a grandparent just for being a darn cute kid.  At any rate, we are basically a cashless family now, so we never have bills and coins and change just sitting around.  Plus both Ben and Juliette have a penchant for wanting to count and play with money and I'm pretty sure some would go missing, and not necessarily their own.  For a while I tried having a little paper notebook, like the old checking account book I had as a kid (that you put into the green machine and it printed out your balance on it.)  That worked for a while, then we lost the books.

So we basically resorted to an honour/memory system.  Each of the boys just keeps a running tab in their head of what they have and what they spend.  They are astonishingly accurate and honest in their dealings, which is really nice to see.  They probably think I can remember it all, which would never be the case.  So up and down it goes, with an extra birthday check or a new book or toy. When they want to buy something, they inform me how much they have, and how much they will have once they "spend" the money.

With that background, we came to last Thursday.  Benjamin came home from school almost in tears.  His whole class was able to walk around those travelling book sales they bring to schools (overpriced books and encouraging the kids to make a detailed list of everything they want! Argh, I can't stand it!)  Well, he found a book he really wanted.  It was $10.  He knew that because he's five, he received $5 in allowance for September and October, giving him exactly $10.  So he grabbed the book, marched up to the cashier, and informed that person that he had $10 to spend, and that they could take that and he would take the book.  Well, Benjamin was absolutely confounded that the person was asking for paper money.  He knew he had earned the $10, so the person could just have it!

When I heard that story, I realized it's probably time to have a little lesson on how money works and maybe keep a more official record of everything.  Time to take a trip down to the bank and open some bank accounts, I think.

(I did give Ben that $10 to take the next day and buy his book.  Broke my heart and I couldn't refuse! Plus, it wasn't just a book, it was also a french book.  I figure there's not much better to spend their money on!)

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Beth Moore/Travis Cottrell

Last week I was able to attend a weekend conference featuring Beth Moore and Travis Cottrell.  Beth Moore is far and away my favourite bible study teacher right now, and has been for the past eight years or so.  When I watch her teach, she is so engaging and dynamic.  But when I listen to her teach, she reaches my intellectual craving when it comes to bible study.  She's got history, geography, cultural references, etymology.  And she studies things at such a slow pace (like, four or five verses a day) that by the end of a ten week study you know that book of scripture so well it's just saturating everything you do.

Travis Cottrell is the man who leads the worship and music portion of her conferences.  He was an opera singer turned worship leader and his voice and passion reflect that background in music.  From the first note my eyes just wouldn't stop overflowing.

As it happened, I was able to get a front row seat, both days (first come, first serve.)  A group of my friends were coming and sitting in a certain section, but with propensity to be early I was within the first dozen through the doors.  I beelined to the front and found two seats (for a line mate I met) right in the front that were unreserved (most of the first 10 rows were reserved for staff and volunteers.)  Although I missed my friends, God knew I needed to be right up front.  There, I was able to look without distraction, and worship as though God and I were one on one.  Every word from every song saturated my soul, and every word from his Word planted itself in my heart.

Friday night I was staying in a hotel, since Saturday started early.  I lingered at the end of the Friday night session, hoping to speak to Travis and the other musicians.  (Not that I ever know what to say.)  I hovered, unsure of how to step in, until another woman near my expressed her nervousness also.  So I just pushed her up ahead and forced her to break the ice (aren't I nice!)  At the end of her conversation with Travis, she mentioned that now she had to figure out what public transit bus to take to get home.

Immediately the spirit whispered to me "offer her a ride."  She was a middle aged woman relying on a cane, and also perhaps partially deaf. I had an empty van and only a hotel to go to.  I wanted to say something so badly, but the introvert in me froze my mouth and I stood there, saying nothing.  The woman turned and left.  I stepped up to Travis, and, of course, had literally nothing to say.  I mumbled a word or two of appreciation and turned tail, booting it out of the arena.

When I finally eased my pace at the front doors, I felt awful.  I knew I needed to give that woman a ride, but there were 5000 women in the huge stadium.  How would I ever find her?  But as I turned around, there she was, struggling up the stairs.  I approached her, saying that I knew I was a stranger but could I offer her a ride? She gratefully accepted.

The adventure began there: she didn't drive and so didn't know the roads very well.  My phone (and GPS) was giving me a strange error I had never seen before and so wasn't working.  The woman knew the major road she was looking for, so we just headed out.  We made a few wrong turns before finding that road, and then we headed off.  I drove about 20 minutes in the direction, which I knew was in the opposite direction of my hotel.  I dropped her off at her front door and then paused.  I hadn't printed directions for the hotel, as I was relying on my phone's GPS.  But I did know it was right near the airport.  So I just rolled down my window and peeked up into the dark night sky.  Before long I saw a few planes overhead and I was able to track the direction in which they were landing.  That gave me enough bearings to drive toward the airport.  Before long the hotel name appeared in blazoned lights, to my utter relief.

As I finally collapsed in bed after a late night dinner, nearly 3 hours after the conference ended, I was grateful that I was given a second chance to follow the promptings of the spirit.  It was a small effort on my part, but a large blessing to that woman.  And a story I will remember for a while.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Still here...still thinking...just not writing

I couldn't say exactly why I haven't come back here in so long.  Perhaps part of it is that my parents have been visiting for the past couple of months here, so I don't have to keep as diligent a journal for them.  Perhaps it's because I've been knee deep in a screenplay I've been commissioned to write.  Perhaps I just haven't been able to surface or sit down long enough to collect my thoughts and get them out in some form of cohesive thought.

The days seem to slide by.  My three year old tries me most days.  I've been trying to supply teach and prepare a university application (am I really doing that?)  I'm running the primary (children's ministry) of 75 children and 15 teachers/leaders.  I joined a community choir and am learning Handel's Messiah for a Christmas concert.  Six people worth of laundry, three meals a day, and somehow, somehow trying to stay on top of keeping this place clean livable.

Colin has seemingly gone from toddler to grade five in the blink of an eye.  Grade five was my very favourite year in school, and just watching him move from the lower grades into these upper ones has been neat.  At his small school, grade 5/6 is one class, and then 7/8 is one class, both taught by male teachers.  They have a greater discipline and higher expectations.  The leap has been an adjustment but one he's taken in stride.

Caleb was seen by a speech therapist.  We hoped to help correct some misformed sounds.  In a surprise twist, we were told that if he sees a specialist they might be able to actually fix his permanently raspy voice.  There are no guarantees, but he's happy to explore the option.

Benjamin is still trying to find his place.  There are times he and Juliette emit the most beautiful laughter as they play endless imaginative games.  But many times he's causing trouble and then bursts into tears because he can't quite keep up with his big brothers.

Juliette is all of a sudden a real little girl.  She talks a mile a minute, with a thousand things to say.  She speaks with such expression that we break out in smiles listening to her most of the time.  Then she turns on that three year old tantrums and I'm at the end of my wits.  And yet, knowing that I'm off to school next year, and then on to a career, I'm trying (trying) to relish these days home with my children.

I hope to be back here more often.  I'm kicking myself in the rear end to kick a few bad habits (those bad TV ones that just waste so much time!)  I've been doing well for a week, getting lots of things done, so hopefully I can capture a bit more of life here.