Thursday, March 31, 2005

Spring Break

My girls are out of school for the week and we are enjoying the break. I am taking it seriously; what I mean by that is I'm not doing much. I'm "breaking". I went to the library and picked up some magazines and enjoyed an hour of just skimming Martha Stewart, House Beautiful, and am presently working through Mother Earth News. I was just at the part about building a biodegradable casket when I thought "blogging sounds fun".

I am so excited about the "silly questionnaire" that I got last week from Mindi. I sent it to all my sibs and cousins - some that I've not spoken to in years and years. It is turning out to be great fun. Everyone is participating and it is awesome to reconnect. We have to do these things to encourage reconnection. It has been a real delight.

Yesterday was a wonderful play day for the family. Last night we took the girls and their friend from next door to see "Racing Stripes" at the theatre. We had a good time. We went to the Muttart Conservatory and enjoyed the gorgeous flowers. I love the temperate pyramid. I walked in and I smelt the smells of my "homeland". When you grow up and live with certain smells, you don't even realize they are there.

When I first moved to Canada in May of 1993, I didn't notice the absence of smell. But one day in December 1993 I was walking down the aisle of a drug store and smelled something I couldn't place, but was beautifully familiar. I followed my nose and it led me to "white magnolia" soap. Thereafter I used nothing but that soap. Every morning I was awakened by the sweet smells that I grew up with and always took for granted. I never knew it was so special. The same emotion I experienced that day in the drug store, I relive everytime we visit the conservatory. I walk into the temperate pyramid and can't wipe the smile off my face. I am instantly inundated with smells of home. The humidity feels my nose and the smell of that humidity is nothing short of wonderful. As the kids and Gordon walked around, I sat under a tree and looked at the lush green foliage all around me. It was a short time, but it was a wonderful time of thanking God for his creativity and diversity. The other pyramids, - arid, tropical, and the spring themed one - were all so very different, but each brought its own beauty to my senses.

I had a huge blessing yesterday. Gordon loaded up the big leather chair and took it to our friends' house. They were shocked, but very thankful. On Monday night Lisa was over and expressed her love for my new chair. She said over and over, "this is great. Shaun would love it too." Last week as I bemoaned my failed commitment to simplicity, Gordon encouraged me to wait for a sign. As soon as she expressed such an appreciation for it, I knew that was my sign. It felt good, really good, to pass along my good deal to someone who needs it more and will appreciate it more than we do.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I'm not pregnant world

First off, let me get this off my chest. I am not pregnant. It kind of hurt when the doctor's office called to tell me "your lab result was negative." I had worked up a pretty good excitement over the possibility. So that leaves the possibility of Menopause. I thought that was what happened to old women, not young women like me. :-)

I got an interesting letter from a great aunt I've never met today. I had tracked her down and written her to ask her lots of family questions. She turned out to be a goldmine of genealogical information. I've already written her back and am looking so forward to the next letter from her. She is 83 years old and still has a sharp mind.

Yesterday was not such a great day. I sat in the doctor's office for well over an hour. When I walked out I saw my van had been creamed in the side by a young man in a Mustang. Poor fellow, his insurance is about to go through the roof. Gordon took the van for estimates this morning and it will cost around $4000 to fix it. What is irritating is the inconvenience of it all. We put the window down this morning and now can't get it back up. Growl. I don't like driving a van that looks all beat up. It's hard on the pride.

Last night some of my guests got here before I did and that was frustrating too. But it was a good evening. Turned out that my guests took care of me. 2 of them washed the dishes and even mopped the floor. Did I look as tired as I felt? I must have, because that hasn't happened before. We had a good evening, but I was really really tired and went to bed as soon as the last guest left.

I'm still reading Walden and finding it challenging and thought provoking. Henry David Thoreau says: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach...I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so steadily and Sprartan-like as to rout all that was not life... to drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms.... Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be 2 or 3, and not 100 or 1000." I like that. Does anyone else out there?

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Back to Work

Good Morning. It's around 5 am and I'm alone in this quiet house. The children are on spring break and last night they got to do something they hardly ever do. They spent the night with Gordon's mom. We went over there and had quite a nice visit. We left childless and it felt kind of weird. Gordon has already gone to work, and that leaves me here alone. Well not completely alone. Lucy is at my feet and Lacy sits on the back of the sofa.

I've not felt well over the past few days. Dog tired and still a bit nauseous. I don't know what is wrong. Gordon left a post it note on the computer screen with my ob's phone number. We are still wondering if I might be in the slim 1% of the population that gets pregnant after a tubal. I feel pregnant. Fatigue, nausea and giving up my morning coffee. All the same clues I've always had. I have to admit, the possibility, altho very slim, really excites me. At this point I'll be disappointed if it's not so. I've dreamed all weekend about the possibility.

Today I go back to work after leaving my boss the letter regarding my raise. I'm a little apprehensive, but not too bad.

Tonight our Bible study group has supper here. On supper evenings all the children come as well, so I'll have around 16 people in the house. It's a bit of a jungle on supper nights, but the fellowship is fun.


Saturday, March 26, 2005


Well I got my first visitor, (at least the first to comment) to my blog. My heart noticeably sped up when I saw I had a comment. It's new to me to express my journal type thoughts on such a public forum. I've told no one about my blog except my dear ole aunt, (Hi Auntie). But here I am again, writing, blogging. When I saw I had a comment, I flushed, fretted momentarily, felt excited, embarrassed, and intimidated all at once. I am really not a basket case, I'm just a private type person. I don't share these thoughts easily.

Ron (homeless friend) phoned today to tell us that he has made peace with a family member and that he was moving in with him. I'm happy and sad at the same time. Happy that Ron's life will presumably get better. Sad that my "ministry" has ended. I hope we made a difference in his life. I wanted to keep doing it. I felt it was stretching us out of our comfort zone, mentoring our kids to care for the poor in a practical way. It was such a pragmatic ministry and now, I'm ashamed to admit, I'm sad that it's probably over. I am happy for Ron though. Gordon told him to call us if he got in trouble.

20 years ago today, I gave birth to a little whopper. Stephanie. The moment I laid eyes on her, I fell deeply in love for the first time in my life. I couldn't believe the power of a newborn baby. At that moment, my life changed. For the first time ever, I think my thoughts were unselfish. I thought, "there is more to life and I'm gonna find it. Stephanie deserves more than this." That was the first watershed moment of my life. And thus began my personal spiritual journey. Over the next years, God became a friend and "my God" at the same time. I'm so thankful for the changes her little life made in my life. She continues to give me joy. I spoke with her on the phone a little bit ago. Her new relationship with John Mark continues to grow and mature. She is such a wonderful young lady. They still haven't kissed. I'm so proud of her for her commitment to purity. I wish I had been like her when I was a teenager. I was a stupid one though. But I don't want to go there.

She and John Mark have talked a little about marriage. She says she loves him. Wow!

Stephanie, being a nursing student, might know the answer to this, so I asked her. "Steph, have you learned anything about menopause?" She said she hadn't studied it but she's heard it happens earlier these days. I told her I was 2 weeks late and we both shared sweet thoughts about "just what if I were pregnant" I told her that being a symbolic person, I'd bought a pregnancy test today because I thought it would be so cool to find out I'm pregnant on my oldest child's 20th birthday. Alas the test was negative. It was a very weak negative, but a negative nonetheless.

I looked up pregnancy after a tubal and found out there is a 1% chance of it happening, but a 33% chance of that being a tubal pregnancy. Anyway, I'm probably not, but it is a sweet thought. I'm probably not starting menopause either. This is probably some fluke. I'm 39 if anyone who reads this wants to know.

Well I've got to scoot.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday Service

Our Good Friday service wasn't as somber as it's been in the past. Pastor Shaun is very gifted with the ability to set a worshipful tone and today was no different. Before the service the power point projected a picture of three crosses. The sky behind them looked like a phenomenal sunset of oranges, pinks and purples. I was reminded that even in death, "the heavens declare the glory of God." (Ps. 19)

A homemade rough wooden cross stood predominantly on the stage. On it was a lit candle, a draping of purple cloth and a barbed wire wreath (crown). In front of the cross, the same purple clothe weaved among 12 candles symbolizing the 12 disciples. As the scriptures were read of his followers betrayal, the candles were extinguished one by one. Finally all that was left was the candle on the cross. A powerful reminder of Jesus' aloneness in his death. Our last scripture reading was of course of Jesus dying. As the words, "and he breathed his last" were read, the last candle was extinguished. It was a poignant moment.

Our communion was unBaptist like. There was only one cup of juice and we went forward to partake, dipping the bread in the juice. "The flesh and blood of Jesus sustains us. Take unto you the death of Christ," we were told. Afterwards we left the sanctuary, not saying goodbye to our friends or waiting for the others to finish taking communion. I appreciate the seriousness of our Good Friday service.

When we left we brought Ron home with us. Ron is our homeless "friend". We bring him to our house once a week for a shower, lunch, and a nap. He gives me his laundry and puts on clean clothes that I've washed for him during the week. I cannot say that I trust Ron. He could very well rob us blind. I hope he doesn't, but I remind myself that he could. I've read of desert fathers who were robbed and they chased down their robbers and said, "Look, you missed this and it's the most valuable thing I have." I desire to be that kind of person. I'm far from it. But I think it's a noble goal. I want to hold material goods with an open hand, not a clinched fist. (We are hyper vigilant to protect our children from any danger. They are not allowed to be too close to him, not even sit beside him in the van or at the table. This is an area in which we do not gamble.)

Today I learned that Ron was once married. His wife committed suicide in 1993. Another reminder that everyone has a story to tell.

That's it for today. My bed is calling.

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Good Friday

It's 630 on Good Friday. Before I moved to Canada I had never observed Good Friday in any way. It was just another day of the year. Since moving here, I've much appreciated that Christians and churches honor the day. We will go to our church service later in the morning. Pastor Shaun is extraordinarily gifted in the way he prepares for these things. I have never know a pastor who "prepares" the sanctuary for worship. But our pastor does. He sets the tone for worship and it truly makes a difference for me.

Our Good Friday service is of an incredibly somber tone. Whereas there is usually music playing when we enter the sanctuary, today, most likely, we will enter a dark quiet sanctuary with candles lit near the front. The purple cloth that has been on the cross through lent (another season I never observed before moving here) will be replaced with a black cloth. When we sing, if we sing, our songs will be mounful. For example, if we sing songs of the cross and Jesus dying, we will NOT sing the last verses of his resurrection. Today's service is intentionally void of hope, resurrection, joy. When we leave the dark sanctuary we will be acutely aware, even if minimally, of the disciples and followers of Jesus' despair on that first Good Friday. I've observed over the past several years that even after leaving the sanctuary, people hardly speak to one another in the foyer. There is such a somber atmosphere, that it feels incredibly out of place to say, "you want to go for burgers?"

People usually avoid all niceties. We simply go home after the service, hardly even saying hello to our friends. Over the next day and a half, we will remember the sorrow of the early days when the followers of Jesus were without hope. Their Master who was supposed to save them from oppression had died. He turned out to be helplessly void of all power. We contemplate their despair.

BUT on Easter Morning our service will be RADICALLY full of life. There will be bouquets of fresh flowers everywhere. JESUS IS ALIVE will be the joyful theme. It is so far beyond any Easter I ever experienced in my life prior to Canada.

Deborah's Easter party at school was sweet. My girls are in a private Adventist school. It's a wonderful school and I'm so thankful we are able to send them there. It's about a 1 1/2 blocks from our house so that is remarkably convenient. When I got there, the kindergarteners were having a quiet communion service. They had little pieces of pita bread and little glasses of grape juice. The teacher read the Scriptures and explained why adults take communion. It was cute to see these little 5 year olds drink "the wine" and eat the bread.

After communion, all the children wanted to know if it was true that Deborah got to pick out my clothes, shoes, earrings, etc..... Evidently she was so excited that I was coming to her party that she even told them she "dressed me". They were all kind of puzzled. I don't think they believed Deborah when she told them, so they wanted to know. I was proud to vindicate my sweet Deborah.

The girls in Deborah's class adore me, if I must say so myself. They argue over who sits next to me and try to get on my lap. In another setting I'd love to have them on my lap, but Ms Long is a bit of a harsh teacher and I'm afraid that she may be inclined to think that 5 year olds are too big for laps. However they climb on my lap, me feeling any minute we will be rebuked - them for being on my laps, me for treating kindergarteners like babies. The girls would intentionally lose in Musical chairs to run over to me. When the music stopped they would yell at each other that they had to take the chairs. "I was at Deborah's mom first." Once there were 3 empty chairs and I had four girls arguing to stay with me. Again, I was "afraid" of a rebuke from the teacher. Fortunately it never came.

My children are awake now, so I must quit my blog time and make breakfast. May God be glorified in me today.

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

a delightful morning

My morning has been nothing short of delightful. I have basked in the quiet solitude. I just refilled my coffee mug (for the 4th time) and have enjoyed reading my Bible, praying, and writing a few letters. I really wish I had more mornings just like this one. I cannot remember the last time I had the house to myself for this length of time. I lit a candle to remind me of God's peace and presence in my life (and of course I enjoy the scent too).

Since Tuesday I've been bemoaning my recent 10 cent raise. My performance review was "very good" yet I only got a 10 cent raise. I took comfort in Psalm 37 this morning. In His grace, God gave me direction and peace this morning. I'm so thankful to have a God that delights in every detail of my life. (Psalm 37:23)

My trusty sidekick Lucy, a Bassett Hound cross, is sleeping on the living room floor in the sunshine. I love her. I simply can't understand people who don't love dogs. Surely they just haven't been around them enough. Who couldn't love something so faithful and loving?

I've marked Mindi's blog under "favorites". I find her journey exciting and interesting. She is enjoying living vicariously through her children, ie enjoying the kids' activities and enjoying learning with them. She is also exploring and nurturing her underdeveloped artist. Our journeys are similar in that respect. I'm glad she got on this track much earlier in life than I did.

Blogging may end up pretty fun after all.

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good morning

Good Morning. It's 530 in the morning. I'm not used to staring at a computer screen this early - a blank sheet of paper maybe, but not a bright screen. Blogging is still in the experimental phase for me. Can it replace my journal? I haven't figured that out yet. The new "green" me is happy to save the trees (save the paper), but I must admit I'm having a hard time getting past the desire for a hard copy. Of course also, I'm limited with what I can write. I can be brutally honest on paper, but what if someone reads my blog. Yeah, I know that a blog isn't intended to be the most private form of journaling, but if it's to replace my journal, I need to feel free to be honest. I think that may be an ongoing struggle for me.

Today is usually a work day for me, but today I won't be working as I took the day off to attend Deborah's Easter party at school. I'm excited to have the morning alone and to be off work. I was discouraged at work on Tuesday. I got my performance review and ranked "very good" in each category. I wondered why I didn't get "outstanding", but that isn't the part that discouraged me. I got a 10 cent raise. Yes, that was discouraging. I thought that for 10 cents they shouldn't have even told me about it. Telling me that I was getting a meager 10 cent raise was nothing short of insulting. So presently, I have a bad attitude regarding my work.

The new brown leather albatross (new chair) is sitting beside me screaming repeatedly "you screwed up". I told Gordon about my regret about my purchase yesterday. He encouraged me to give it a week before I do anything like give it away or try to sale it. What a lunatic I can be. When we brought it inside yesterday, it looked incredibly out of place and I reworked the furniture repeatedly trying to find an acceptable place for it. I have settled on the spot beside my desk. I doesn't look great, nor does it look terrible. It is growing on me though. Yesterday I sat in it and stared out the window. I was discouraged about my own folly and was just staring into space. Then I noticed some birds in the elm in the front yard foraging for hidden treasures in the bark. It brought a smile to my face. There is still a backdrop of white snow outside, but this was clearly a "harbinger of spring" moment. That moment changed my attitude. I realized that just because I screwed up doesn't mean I have to be perpetually discouraged with myself. I am still surrounded with good.

Deborah is so excited about me going to her party. For the first several months of school I didn't go on her field trips or attend her school parties because I work on Tuesdays and Thursdays which are Deborah's school days. Several weeks ago she expressed that she wanted me along for these things. Since then I've taken off work for them. I'm so glad that I heard her desire. She was giddy with excitement when we went to Bee Maid Honey factory. I'm glad I had that time with her. Yesterday she wanted to lay out my clothes for today's party. She chose a black skirt and light blue sweater. I'm not excited about wearing a skirt, but I will wear it because it's her wish. When she brought them into the living room to show me what she'd chosen, she excitedly said, "I haven't picked out your panties yet." Yep, she's covering all the bases. What a sweetie.

I'm so proud of Hannah and Rachael for the way they defend Stephen (next door) at school He is literally a near genius child, therefore kind of different. Furthermore he is incredibly tiny. Both the girls look after him. And they admire his creativity, imagination, and intelligence. I have to respect that. They are such good kids. I'm thankful beyond words.

Today my cousin Cindy gets her latest test results back. She has been experiencing a bloated feeling and some stomach pain. I think they may be preparing for the worst news. She has fought and fought this battle. I am continually amazed at her fighting spirit. I feel confident that I wouldn't be as much of a fighter. May God give them His peace and comfort today.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

the simple life compromised

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Alberta. The bright sunshine really magnifies the ice crystals in the air. We have about 18 inches of snow. It's clean and bright. Until this week, it seemed like spring was here. All the snow had melted and we were going outside without jackets on. The birds were singing and everytime I went walking I would hear melt rushing into the grates in the streets. Oh the sounds of spring melt in the city. Having lived here 12 years, it's a sound I've come to love.

My neice is my inspiration for the blog. She is a delightful young mom enjoying her new life in Mexico. Her blog is so sweet and inspirational to me. The Simple Life is the name of her blog. It is precisely the title I wanted. I've been embracing the simple life more and more over the past several years. Matter of fact I'm reading Henry David Thoreau's Walden right now. Several weeks ago I was reading whatever I could find on the Franciscans. Finally it seems like the simple life is what I'm living, not just what I'm aspiring to live.

I love my life. I have a wonderful family. A husband who is good to me, 5 children who are great kids. Stephanie is 20, a nursing student, who refreshes my spirit. Christopher is 16. He is driving now, a "hippy van" that he bought himself. Rachael, Hannah and Deborah are 9, 8, and 5 respectively. The last 3 are my Canadian kids. The first 2 are my American kids. They are all "above average" in bringing their mother delight. Yes, God has dealt bountifully with me.

Yesterday I slipped up on "the simple life." I work in a nice furniture store. I've been amazed that my simple life commitment hasn't been terribly disrupted by this. It hasn't been that tough continuing to live simply while being submerged in materialistic environment. Until yesterday I stayed true to my convictions. Yesterday my manager marked down a beautiful chocolate brown leather chair. As soon as I saw the price, I thought it was too good a deal to pass up. I bought it. Last night I laid in bed regretting it. I thought of how many people I could help if I'd have used that money for charity rather than for my own self indulgence. The chair is still in my van. I have no joy in it and am not overly anxious to bring it in. The reality is, I don't even know where I will put it. My pastor could use a nice chair so I'm toying with giving it away. I'm disappointed with myself. A couple months ago I was ready to take the Franciscan vows for the Third Order -- that's the vows someone already married would take. Yesterday I spent money on something that will mean nothing in eternity and is contradictory to the life I say I want to lead. May God help my double mindedness.

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