Sunday, February 27, 2011

Divine Encounter

 Last night my daughter and I participated in a walk to raise support and awareness for the homeless and poor among us.  We started out from a downtown community centre/church.  Aris and I were doing this by ourselves, and I was a bit nervous.  Mostly because I had committed to walking 5k in the cold and dark.  I should have been nervous because I had committed to walk 5 k with my 7yr old who likes to lie down in the snow...but that's another story.

 We arrived early and had to wait about 40 minutes after registering to begin our walk.  For awhile we just sat there alone, Aris crawling all over me.  It was all I could do not to scream. After about 15 minutes, another mom came over with her little girl.  As the woman sat down, she looked at me as if I was familiar.  Then she started asking questions.  Perhaps I went to the same church, Bible study, no?  All of a sudden a light went on.  She remembered that our children had danced at the same time two years ago.  We both had infants and had struck up a friendship during the couple of months their classes overlapped.  We chatted, catching up, and then agreed to walk together.

 At first, it was a bit rough.  She was with a team.  We tried to keep up, but our girls were being silly so we kept getting farther and farther behind.  Then our conversation took an awkward turn when I asked a question that perhaps I shouldn't have asked.  We kept walking.  We walked through the downtown core, past statues that were walking on the building.  We walked past construction, past old buildings and new.  Then we walked through the park while the snow was gently falling.   As we turned to leave the park, we saw people feeding a crowd of ducks.  It was rather impressive.  The girls wanted to play, but we just wanted to keep going.  Soon we reached our halfway point for hot chocolate and cookies.

 After striking out again, the conversation turned to how we met and how unusual that was.  At the beginning levels, I've noticed that the parents don't often talk together, preferring to stick to themselves or to friends they've made previous.  Sometimes that half an hour can seem awfully long.  My companion mentioned that sometimes the conversation turns to husband-bashing which makes her very uncomfortable.  I agreed, as I tend to speak very favourably about my husband.  I mentioned this and how much of this springs from how wonderful my husband has been to support me during periods of depression, especially during the long, drawn-out period of post-partum depression.

 As soon as I mentioned this, our conversation changed.  My new friend has been there too, dealing with anxiety as well as depression.  We began to share stories, of our struggles and our healing.  After that revelation, we talked and talked and talked some more.  After we finished our walk, we shared dinner together and just kept talking.  We exchanged email addresses and hugs, and then after a tour of the food pantry, finally stopped talking and went home to put our tired daughters to bed.  We both think it was a divine appointment.

 During these times of trials, God keeps bringing people into my path who can understand.  There isn't anyone with the same story, but there are many people with whom I can share bits of understanding.  And each piece, each new(and old) friendship, brings a bit more healing, a bit more of stable ground on which to stand.  I am so very grateful for the web of support that surrounds me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Return of Creativity

 Thoughts of dinner hounded me all day.  I needed to cook, wanted to try my hand at a risotto, but lacked a crucial ingredient.  Not wanting to drag my quarrelling children to a store, I fussed and picked over what to make for dinner.  Eventually, I came up with an idea and then, sullenly began to chop and peel my vegetables.  I didn't want to cook.

 But as I peeled, scooped and chopped, a strange thing happened.  First, my idea modified itself, becoming instead of a bacon and root vegetable combo(somehow...I hadn't quite figured that part out), I reheated leftover meatloaf and roasted parsnips, carrots, onions and butternut squash with butter, salt and pepper.  I had an idea for salad, but before I could get there, my daughter peeled a shallot and then decided to pursue an experiment of her own.  The simple dinner was delicious though my fickle boys had to be bribed to eat the veggies with the meatloaf they had previously shunned.

 But even better than this simple delicious supper, my creativity returned.  As I prepared, recipes both old and new popped into my head,  begging to be tried. Which to make first? I cannot decide between borscht, stuffed squash, fried cabbage and bacon(amazing, but must be eaten at the first sitting as the leftovers are gross), parsnip and carrot soup, beet and pear salad, the list continues.  Suddenly the contents of my fridge have ceased to be boring.  Now they beg to be made into soups, stews, savoury dishes.  I'm thankful for a yummy supper and a full fridge, but I'm even more thankful for the return of my cooking creativity.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Third Birthday Sunshine

 Three years ago today, the weather was remarkably the same.  It was a crisp day, with clear blue sky and bright bright February sunshine.  Am I remiss in thinking that sun shines particularly bright in February?  Perhaps it has something to do with all the snow.  I digress....

 I remember the weather so clearly because it matched the peace that had settled over my soul after a long dark night.  I was 11 days overdue with my third child and heading into the hospital for induction.  I had been terrified, devastated, irrationally convinced that I was going to be pregnant FOREVER.  It had been a rough night.  And then somehow,  hope and peace snuck in while fear and despair weren't looking and kicked them out.  Dear friends had prayed and were praying for me as we dropped off our then-youngest child and headed to the hospital. We drank tea with the midwives and chatted while waiting for the induction to begin.  Soon contractions began in earnest and then, just under four hours later, Kian Tobias made his way into the world.

 The hour or so after his birth was eventful as there had been some concerns and he ended up visiting NICU.  Soon though, he came back and scant hours later we made our way home.  Now my little tiny baby is much bigger.  Last night, he became ill and while Steve remade his bed, I cuddled him in a blanket and recalled his newborn days.  I remembered those first days of holding him on the couch in the middle of the night, exhaustion dragging at my bones.  Now he eats at normal hours and typically sleeps through the night without issue.  Although he is still rather grumpy and contrary, he has words and occasionally deigns to tell us why he is upset.

 Now my youngest thinks he's a big kid too, insisting that he isn't turning three, but five, thirty-five or forty-six.  He asks to drive the van, insisting that I should share.  He's such a little character, this boy who rhymes girl with squirrel, a ball of bright blonde energy who begs to be chased through the house over and over again.  I'm so blessed to have him as part of our family, our visible reminder of God's goodness(Tobias means God is good).  Happy birthday, Kian!

 Joining with Emily and the others as we celebrate God's grace in the midst of brokenness:

Waves and Photos

 Currently, I'm finding it hard to write.  It isn't that the words aren't there because oh, do I ever have a lot of words! Instead it's confidence that is lacking.  Emotional struggles tend to ebb and flow.  I can be doing very well only to be hit with another wave of doubt, grief, insecurity and just plain old pain.  It's hard to write on those days, harder still to cling to truth, but I'm trying.  To be truthful, that's when I call my husband and he speaks words of truth to me whether I want him to or not.  Somehow, we make it through until the wave ebbs and I can breathe again.

 I've been caught again in the swell lately. We had a glorious weekend away, our first time together in Ottawa without the children.  Although both our children and our friends were disappointed, it was quite nice.  We did miss them, but it was amazing how much faster a six hour drive goes when there aren't small people in the vehicle!  We spent time chatting, listening to old-school Petra, praying and just being silent together.  The weather was warm and the sky was spectacular.

 The drive was soothing, even though our rented car smelt like faded cigarette smoke.  While taking my turn driving, I found my palms smelling like smoke as it leeched from the steering wheel into my skin.  But even our frustration couldn't shake our enthusiasm and contentment over a weekend away.  We didn't want to stop much for fear of missing our dinner with my sister, so I practiced taking pictures while we drove.  It was simply wonderful.

 Our weekend was fabulous, with good food, better friends and some time with just the two of us.  I even found some of my favourite chocolate(milk chocolate with hot masala and dark chocolate with pink peppercorns. Bliss!). Between church and a lunch meeting, we snuck off to take pictures of ice.  Unfortunately the warmer weather had melted the canal, so we didn't get to go skating, but we did see some beautiful ice.  I wasn't able to get pictures of the great chunks of ice stacked on top of each other where the ice had melted and bucked.  But we did get to Hogsback, a beautiful site any time of year.

 As Steve took pictures,  I wandered around, basking in the beauty of the ice, snow and rushing water.  It was a treat.  When he was done, we held hands and watched the water briefly until Steve got too cold.  Normally I'm the one that wimps out first, but surprisingly I was quite comfortable.  Not sure why...from there we went out for lunch with friends.  It was a wonderful time together.

 I came back only to be hit with another wave of grief, sadness and confusion.  I wish I could process and be done with it, leaving all these icky emotions behind.  Perhaps I need to take more pictures and chase away this wave with beauty.  I think I can do that. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Superfood

 I must admit, I'm a bit of an odd duck.  There are countless reasons for this, but one of the most compelling would be my food choices when ill.

 I first recall this manifesting when I was five years old.  It was October 31, 1986 when a group of hyper grade sixes bowled over this poor little kindergardener.  This fall resulted in a concussion and I was soon whisked away by ambulance.  Nausea overwhelmed me and I could not keep anything down.  Once it subsided a bit, I was asked if I wanted lunch.  Curious, I looked at the menu and spotted pizza.  "May I have that?" I inquired of the nurse.  Askance, she informed me that soup would be a wiser choice.  So soup was brought and I dutifully ate it, but of course it didn't stay down.  "Might I have some pizza now?" I pressed again.  Perhaps she shrugged or rolled her eyes or maybe I cried, I don't know, but pizza was brought.  I ate it.  It stayed down.  This was the beginning of my love affair with pizza.

 Yesterday I felt quite ill all day long.  I barely ate anything, perhaps a nibble here or there.  This morning I felt much better, but still not quite hardy enough to brave the leftover curry in my fridge.  Being a parent requires much more caloric energy than I had ingested, so I was began to feel rather faint.  With some desperation, I called my mother and requested that she come visit, preferably bearing pizza and applesauce(a certain little one's bottom keeps exploding*).  She obliged.  I ate pizza and felt much better.  Popeye had spinach, I have pizza.

 I have to say that my parents are really rather sensible so I'm not sure how I acquired my strange relationship with pizza nor how they have put up with it all these years.  But I must say that I'm quite grateful for their enabling of it.  Thank you, Mom! (and Dad too!)

*The little one turned his nose up at the applesauce, devoured at least two slices of pizza and has subsequently stopped exploding.  Huh.  He's not anything like his mother, now is he?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Words to Speak

 At random moments, like upon waking or while folding laundry, my mind turns to my friend.  She's in a rough spot and I'm concerned.  But even as I pray for her, words build up inside my head.  There is so much I want to say, but haven't yet.

 The speech that my brain keeps writing and rewriting within the confines of my skull is not full of condemnation or angry words.  Neither is it soft and fluffy, words that seek to soothe a soul regardless of right or wrong.  But what I want to say isn't easy either.  I've been meditating and praying, for months maybe even years now and this is what keeps bubbling up.  But I hold my tongue.

 She is a very dear friend, one who would speak hard words in love to me.  This is the type of friend I long for.  I know she values this as well.  Fear holds me silent.  I keep meaning to go over, but I'm busy or sick or it's cold outside and so I hold my tongue.  Why cannot I just speak?  Is it not yet time or am I disobeying?  Questions bubble up inside, bothering me.

 The words I have to speak aren't urgent, just offering a different point of view, one more in line with Scripture than with culture.  So I will wait prayerfully for the right time and then, with much love and gentleness, I will speak.  I hope.

 Joining with Emily and the rest tonight:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Scripture, Thankfulness and Bravery

 It's been a long day and I'm exhausted.  Earlier, I had to fight to keep my eyes open while driving. Since it was barely 7pm, this was a bit concerning.  Several hours later and I'm still not in bed. *sigh*  But I did finish my book. :)

 Yesterday morning was rough.  Nothing like a bad dream to start the day off wrong.  My dream permeated my self, causing to embark on a rant about how much I didn't want to go to church EVER AGAIN! I pity my poor sick husband who had to listen to it.  He peered out from the under the pillow long enough to inform me that I was going to church and then pulled the pillow back down.  I was not a happy Gracie.  I muttered and scowled my way through morning routines and then caught sight of my Colossians memory work.  As I'm behind on my verses, the mere sight of my papers reminded me to start memorizing.

 As I prepared the boys' toast, I began memorizing verses 11 and 12 of the first chapter of Colossians.  Over and over I repeated "being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you  may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light."  The more I repeated the verses, the lighter my soul-fog became.  I realized that what I lacked was great endurance and patience.  My earlier soul-tantrum had come as a result of my endurance and patience waining.  To then read that we can be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might?  What bliss and encouragement!  We're not talking small potatoes here with phrases like all power and glorious might.  Those are the big guns!

 Since then, I've been clinging to that little verse.  It's gotten me through getting my boys out the door, into the van, all the way to church, and then all the way back home from church when my baby puked just as we arrived in the parking lot.  Through all of this, my peace did not waiver.  I'm so thankful.

 Then today, I did something moderately brave.  A friend was showering out grace upon another and I wanted to support my friend.  However, on the guest list were some people who don't exactly like me.  I was afraid, but decided that coming alongside my friend was more important than my fear.  I went and brought with me a very pretty dessert.  It went extremely well.  I wasn't anxious and none of the people I was afraid of came.  I'm so glad I conquered my fear and went.

 I could keep writing, but I am tired.  So instead I'll just add to my list of thankfulness on the day we celebrate love.

 My thousand gifts 21-37

21. Colossians 1:11
22. Getting all my valentine's baking done on time with little stress
23. All the valentine cards were finished well before bedtime on Sunday
24. Actually having dinner ready tonight when Steve walked in the door(this is amazing for me, especially considering what I was making).
25. Homemade Indian food for dinner, including bhajis
26. Being part of a group showering grace on an individual
27.  Not falling on the very slippery walk to school.
28. A calm heart
29. Little boys in footed sleepers(Kian is refusing to wear his daytime clothes which is fine with me because he's so adorable in his sleepers.)
30.  A surprise Valentine gift of maple-flavoured chocolate, chocolate-covered ginger and chocolate mint rooibos tea.
31. The gift of a clean kitchen.
32. A good book.
33. Interesting conversations with my daughter about animals and hunting.
34. A deep conversation with a rarely-seen friend in the midst of chaos
35. A living room tidied by my boys.
36. A bed to crawl into and a husband to snuggle with.
37. Steve. :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011


 Yesterday morning, we had a LifeGroup social at my in-laws house.  My father-in-law made pancakes(his specialty) and others provided real syrup, stratas, fruit and cinnamon buns.  It was a nice breakfast.  We're the youngest couple in our group which can be interesting.  The older couple invited several people that they hang out with at Tim Hortons.  I really enjoy talking to people, especially those that are quite a bit older than I am.  To give you an idea of the age gap, most of the people there have children older than me.  I enjoyed talking to them, and then after breakfast we played games together.  Dutch Blitz was being played in the dining room and crokinole in the living room.  We had a lot of fun.

 After begging lunch off of my in-laws, we quickly stopped at the mall for Valentine's cards and a present for a baby shower.  The mall was quite crowded, which made our planned short-stay much more desirable.  After running our errands, we headed out to the country.  Living in the city, we're typically protected from the worst of the weather.  We quickly discovered that the snow was blowing outside of the city.  Steve was trying to decide which roads were the safest.  Thankfully we arrived at our destination without any problems.

 A young friend of ours is heading to Sudan for an internship.  To raise support, she and several others put on a fair at a country church.  There was live music, facepainting, a magic show, a carnival, and a bake sale.  Unfortunately, it wasn't well attended.  We enjoyed the chance to catch up with several friends and have our children entertained.  It was really well done and I'm excited about the baked goods from an excellent local bakery.

 In the evening, Steve and I had a couch date.  He picked up nachos and wings which we ate while we watched a movie.  Before the couch date, I made Oreo-type cookies for Valentine's Day.  The batter took longer than anticipated as I couldn't get the texture right, but in the end I succeeded.  We had a lovely evening together to cap off a pretty fun Saturday.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Doing It Over

 This short story grew out of a dream I had the other night. 

My name is Shayna.  I lived, loved, bore children, grew old.  Like my mother and grandmother before me, age touched me gently, leaving my hair black, my eyes bright and my skin unwrinkled. Those unaware of my true age thought me not much older than my full-grown children.  It was a life lived to the full, and it was a good one.

 One day, I opened a door meaning to enter the kitchen.  Instead, I found myself outside.  Tall trees grew up, interspersed between buildings, cars honked at students crossing with no regards to the traffic, and pedestrians wandered slowly among stands bearing produce, flowers, and other commodities.  The scene seemed familiar to my eyes, but I could not place it.  Bewildered, I looked around.  There, inspecting a bouquet of flowers, stood a familiar figure.  I instantly recognized the tall frame, black curly hair, and the colourful flowing clothing that only Kira could pull off.  She glanced casually in my direction, and then dropping the flowers, ran my way.  Catching me in an embrace, she spun me round and round.  I couldn't catch my breath from the embrace, smothered not only by the tears and laugher pouring out me, but also by shock.  This was the Kira I remembered, not the one I saw three months ago.  She was young again, her hair still long and curly, not cut short and practical like it is now.  Where was I?  Did we all die without my knowing?  Why was I here?  How did I get here? And if this was indeed the past, then where was my present self?

 We laughed and embraced wildly, overjoyed to see each other as always.  I had missed my dear friend of my youth who now lives far away.  But why was she so happy to see me?  Questions raced through my mind, piling up, trying to spill through my mouth.   Then all thought stopped as a familiar voice called Kira's name.

 I knew that voice and knew it well.  For forty years that voice had whispered goodnight and good morning, prayed over supper, children and bed each day, told me jokes, murmured soft words when I was upset.  Then one day, mere months ago, that voice stopped.  He wasn't coming back.  I played back old videos desperate to hear his voice just one more time.  Now in this strange place, I heard his voice again.

 He walked up to Kira distracted, not noticing our joyous dance.  Then suddenly, he saw me.  His mouth gaped, whispering my name as if in prayer.  Our eyes locked, both filled with tears and we stepped slowly towards each other.  He was young again, hair brown and full, though still short.  I knew that whenever I was, it was before our marriage for he sported only a mustache, not the full beard he grew later.  Tears poured down my face, my eyes locked to his, our fingertips touching.  Oblivious to the world around us, we stood there staring.  Then with a jolt, we came back to ourselves.

 They picked up their parcels and we began to walk.  The longer we walked, the more I recognized, until at last I saw the house we had all lived in as students.  As we climbed the steps to the big wooden door, I wondered at both their joy in my arrival and their lack of questions.  I had lived with them, so why were they so excited to see me? And why didn't they pepper me with questions?  The contradictions were bewildering.  But wary of touchy topics and/or creating a time paradox, I kept my mouth shut.

 The house was as I remembered it, my room the same as it had been. It looked much more tidy than normal, as if it had been untouched for months.  I settled into a routine, working as an assistant at a bakery, a dream job of mine.  Shortly after I arrived, he proposed and we began to plan our wedding.  Life proceeded much as it had done the first time round.  I did make some changes though with all the wisdom of hindsight.  I kept my wedding vows the same, but ordered a cake, something I had always regretted not having.  Fear gripped me less and being much older than my assumed age of twenty-something, I made wiser choices.  The longer I stayed in this time, the younger I began to look and feel.  It was a strange, but welcome change. My body had not liked being old.

 My love graduated from university and got a job, just like last time.  We said goodbye to Kira and the lovely house we had shared.  We started a family, this time I decided to have one more child than last time.  By now, I had given up worrying about altering history and just had fun remaking choices.  Some things I did the same, others not so much.  I think I was a much better wife and mother this time round, although I'm sure I made some new mistakes too.  Whatever I was, whenever I was, perfect was not part of the description.  But love was.  Our house was filled with love and there was much less fear this time around.

 We grew old again, my love and I. It was a grand adventure for I treasured every minute spent with him. Losing him once gave me new insight and care for my dear one.  I regretted my harsh words to him previously and strove to make up for it.  We laughed more, and spent more time investing in meaningful relationships than just trying to scrape by like before.  It was better. Not perfect, but better.  I was joyful.

 Then one cold wintry day while washing dishes, he breathed his last.  I had known the time was soon, but it was still hard.  I mourned my dearly beloved even more deeply this time than the last.  I took to my bed until spring and then slowly returned to life.  At least this time I had a better idea of what to do, where to find help.  After taking part in grief counselling, I began to bake again and invite over neighbours for tea.  Investing in people helped.  My grandchildren were a great comfort to me and I poured much into them. Although I missed him every day,  the grief lost its sting.  Life took on colour and vibrancy again.

 One day, while making cookies, I walked into the walk-in pantry meaning to fetch some flour.  Instead, I found myself outside.

Joining my prose with the rest

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Named Year

  Outside my window, fat and fluffy snowflakes drift lazily down.  Shimmering icicles adorn my eaves.  Children's art is strewn across my kitchen table, still more covers every inch of a bulletin board.  As I type, soft splashes sound from the kitchen as my youngest attempts to wash dishes.  There is much beauty, much to be thankful for.

  Yet my eyes are often closed to the beauty around me.  Instead of priceless art, I see more paper to clutter up my already messy house.  Instead of fragile beauty in snowflakes and ice, I see danger, cold, and nuisance.  The child washing dishes could easily bring frustration as I know soaking of the floor, counter and the dishwasher himself will result.  In so much of life it is easier to see the brokenness than to see the beauty.  This is especially true during this season of personal winter.  I doubt God, doubt His sovereignty, question His goodness and run from His plan.  Others around me point out the beauty in this season, but often my eyes are too clouded over with pain to take note.

  At the end of last year, I read several posts wherein people were naming the year.  After reading, I pondered and a word jumped into my head.  But I am cautious now, not sure that I truly can hear from God, so I played it safe.  Without telling my husband my word, I filled him in and then asked if he had any ideas.  Without hesitation, he responded with the same word I had chosen.


 It would be tempting to decide that this was a sign from God that the broken relationships in my life will be restored this year.  Neither Steve nor I think that is quite it.  Instead, I see this as a year of personal restoration, a restoring of the years the locusts have eaten.  There has been much darkness, much hurt in this life of mine.  I have deep questions that spring from that pain, deep doubts about God.  Depression and anxiety have stolen much from me.  For 2011, we claim restoration in those areas of pain, doubt, depression and anxiety.

 Restoration does not occur on its own.  This will be a process, a journey and one that involves work.  To begin with, I have decided to join Ann's gratitude community.  Pain is blinding.  Hurt closes my eyes to the beauty around me, to God's glorious workings.  But when I begin to count, the blessings just keep adding up.  Suddenly my focus shifts from the broken to the beautiful.  Both surround me, it's my choice in how I see it.  So here I am, taking a new step towards restoration and trust.

My thousand gifts:
1.  My wonderful husband who got up with the sicky all night long.
2. The sick child who is blessing me with her presence today.
3. Tender words of apology, forgiveness and the ever important reconciliation hug and kiss.
4. Rice and applesauce for tender tummies.
5. Leftover rice that turns into yummy, delicious rice pudding.
6. No guilt in eating all the rice pudding before Steve gets home because he doesn't like it.
7. Rescuing the items close to the heater before they caught on fire. (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, GOD!!!!!)
8. The beautiful artwork adorning my bulletin board.
9. Original cards that my mother makes celebrating each of us.
10. The card my dad wrote to my husband thanking him for his steadfastness and love for us. *tear*
11. My husband and family that support me as I become a doula.
12. Family that prays.
13. Little Big Planet
14. Shelves filled with books that line my bedroom and
15. gorgeous photos on the wall that my husband took
16. His many skills that extend from photography to computers to handymanery.
17. Family and friends that brought meals when my arm was broken.
18. Neighbours that walked my children to and from school.
19. An arm that is almost completely healed!
20. The little blond boy who is using a cracker sleeve as a sock puppet.

 Now that I've started, it is so hard to stop!  I am so thankful for this ever-abundant supply of blessings.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Girls Night Out

 Snow was falling thickly as I headed out into the evening twilight.  It came unexpected as I had been cocooned indoors oblivious to the world outside.  Away from books and games, I headed out, my footsteps muffled by the snow beneath.  The world was quieter, glowing in the dusk and snow, with few cars braving the roadways.  But we were on a mission, so off we went into the still-falling snow.

 I gather the snow was unexpected because the plows had not been out.  We left tracks through the ever-deepening snow and tread carefully.  Then, brushing off our snowy outer garments, we gathered for an evening of good food and friends.  We are all moms, all connected(mostly) through school or hockey.  Our children range from not-quite-three to on-the-cusp-of-leaving-home.  Conversations were mostly light, but important matters like dating and diet were discussed.  We laughed, not as uproariously as sometimes,  but even in more serious discussions, we had fun.

 This discussing, being together, a meeting of women who are all in different stages, with different ideas, values and life stories is so crucial to making it through.  The responsibilities of wife and mother can way heavy at times.  To sit, share, listen and gain wisdom is how we can make it through.

 We didn't solve the problems of the world tonight, but we did share our burdens a bit.  Now we return through the snow to our homes to reclaim our twin mantles.  And soon, we will meet again for a break, a reconvening, a discussion of books, children and spouses on what we call Girls Night Out.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Five Minute Friday-Mail

 This week Lisa-Jo picked mail as the topic for Five Minute Friday.  Here goes...


  When I was younger, I had many pen pals.  Many I didn't know, but a few, especially during the summer months, I did.  While I worked at camp, my best friends and I wrote many letters back and forth.  Stamps were much cheaper then, the internet something that we had only vaguely heard of.  So we wrote, letters crisscrossing Ontario and out to Nova Scotia.  How I loved mail days and letters from my best friends.

 Last week I pulled a handwritten envelope out of the mail with a very familiar return address.  But it wasn't addressed to me!  I felt vaguely saddened, but then joyful when I realized what was inside.  My best friend had written my three small children letters.  Aris, the oldest, received a card.  She wrote the boys both postcards, Kian's complete with scribbled "writing" since he can't read yet.  These letters were such a precious blessing to my little ones.

 Although I can lament the lack of personal mail for me, I am so blessed by the thoughtfulness and love on the part of my friend.  Not only has she stood by me through some very challenging times(oh the joys of finding ourselves in high school), she is truly an aunt to my children, loving, caring, praying and challenging them.  We are all very blessed!


On further recollection, I think I should start writing more letters. Those were the days. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Light on Snow

 The sunlight caught my eye this morning as it illuminated the snow and woods, bringing to light patches of glory.  But if I shared my pictures with you, would you see it too?

Can you see the early morning light, the snow so fresh and white it looks blue, the rough beauty of my sleeping trees?

 This, my urban forest home, shelters and sustains wildlife right outside my door.  Can you see the beauty here, or is it marred by the chair in the woods, the homes seen through the trees?

 Beauty reigns here, but it must be sought, distractions pushed aside.  It may not be easily seen and yet, it peeks through whenever I focus my eyes and heart properly.  I grab camera again, now that the sun is higher, but wary of disturbing the birds, shoot through the screen door.  I love the colours, the textures.  I have many similar pictures because I can't stop falling in love with the light on bark, snow and needles.

 Among the branches perches a small bird, who pecks at tree and then darts away to the feeder. It is hard to follow with my zoom so high and frustrating, so I balance not-quite-healed elbow against doorframe, hold steady and shoot.  My lips can't stop smiling for the beauty of this cold and snowy sunlit day.

 I shoot several frames, but the camera refuses to focus on the bird instead capturing the exquisite texture of the bark.  How can it be that the roughness captures my heart and I fall in love with bark over and over again?  The texture of my trees catches me whenever I take the time to look.  What is this beauty in front of me?  And which is odder; my love of bark or my ignorance of it in my everyday haste?

 I switch to the feeder, but struggle to get a good shot.  Birds are flighty, liking variety, wanting to move back and forth to keep warm in this cold.  The branches provide perfect opportunities for little jaunts, especially between them and the replenished source of food.

 How I love brillant February days!  Cold is not my friend, but this beauty of crisp snow, stark trees and winter-fluffed birds under the bright sun causes my heart to sing.   The bird flies back to the shelter of the trees, nestled between branches, backdropped by the brillant sky.

 Can you see my bird hiding there?  He continues to fly back and forth, the sun continues to shine rendering my yard ever more beautiful, but my fingers begin to turn blue, so I shut the door to this front yard wonderland.  But it lingers still, waiting for those rare moments in which I will stop, open my eyes and appreciate this splendor that God has made.

 Joining with Imperfect Prose

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baking Then and Now

 On Sunday afternoons, while my parents napped, one of my favourite pastimes was to experiment.  I used to attempt to wrap slices of apples in a mixture of butter and sugar and then bake them.  Or my sister and I worked together to come up with very cheesy popcorn.  Playing around in the kitchen was something I really enjoyed until my father banned me from experimenting after I made a crustless quiche.  I'm still not quite sure why he was so upset about the crunchy potatoes...

 It has become quite clear that my daughter has my same love of baking.  Since she was quite small, she has been very involved when I bake.

Now my big girl is busy baking (almost) all by herself.  This evening she made gingerbread flowers from her new (and very first) baking cookbook.  They turned out very well, although she ended up staying up past her bedtime.  As tomorrow is a P.D day and quite likely a snow day as well, we shall decorate them then.  My little girl is growing up!