Monday, December 27, 2010 |

The Jesus Way

We have a bush in our backyard.  It's ugly, messy, and totally out of control.  It's a hideous thorn in our backsides.

We've cut it back countless times, but we know that to really get rid of it for good, we just have to get in there and tear the  hideous beast out by the root.

It's going to be hard.  And it's going to be messy.  And it's going to take a LOT of sweat, and quite possibly some tears (probably on my part, but not necessarily).

But then it will be gone.  Done.  Forever.

Do you ever feel like that bush?  I have.

I used to feel stumped.  Stumped in life, stumped in my faith, stumped in my hopes and dreams.  I felt like I was just pruning my life, only for things to just pop right back up again.  I was playing on the defense, and could never get into the offense.  Just like with that damn bush.

And just like that bush, I needed to take things out by the root.

I love how God's way is so different than the world's way of doing things.  The world tells us that we need to learn how to control ourselves better.  We need to control our emotions and our reactions.  We need to learn to just forgive and let go.  We need to prune.  But, the root remains.  And if the root remains, we just get caught in an exhausting cycle of:  Screw up.  Feel bad.  Get hopeful.  Try harder.  Screw up.  Feel bad.  Get hopeful.  Try harder...  The world says to fix parts of that cycle.  God says, "That cycle's crap.  Let me heal your heart, gently take out that root, and you can leave the cycle altogether."

The interesting thing is that so often the church tells us the same message as the world.  I don't know how many times I have felt guilty, overwhelmed, and clueless as to how to "be more spiritual".  SO many times, I've had the best intentions to pray more, read my Bible more, spend more time with God, evangelize more, forgive more.  I've even been hard on myself because I want to want those things.  Because deep down, I didn't really.  I resented those things, because I felt like I could never do them.  It was a constant uphill battle.  Are you with me?

But God has told me some neat things about that lately.  

Have you ever heard the St. Francis of Assisi quote that goes like this:  "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."?

I finally get what that means.  If I live in the grace, truth, and freedom that Jesus purchased for me on Calvary, I won't ever have to say a word.  Not a word.  I won't have to wrack my brain about how to tell people how great my God is (did I always really believe that myself?), or pray that God will somehow change their hearts.  Why?  Because the grace, truth, and freedom that I am experiencing will emanate from me.  Literally.  And it will draw in others.  I won't have to say a word, because not only do I really believe it, I am living it.  Being set free is intriguing and attractive.  

Worrying about evangelism, while I still have a bush inside of me that needs to be pruned, is about as close an example of "putting the cart before the horse" that I can think of.  

The same goes for reading my Bible, having "devotions", and being "spiritual".  

You know what God told me about those things?  He said, "Don't worry, you'll get there.  Let me bring healing to you, and you'll get there."   Because you can't be there while you're still exhausting yourself on that cycle.  I know.  And I think you do too.   

God has taken some huge roots out of my life.  And wouldn't you know it, I've hopped out of that cycle.  I'm not spiritually exhausted like I used to be.  I actually like God.  I want to pray, because I like spending time with my Dad.  I feel free.  And it's awesome.  I truly believe that's the order God wants things to go.  Just like as parents, we don't require as much from our children when they're ill, God doesn't require much from us when we're spiritually ill.

In the Bible, a huge part of Jesus' ministry was healing.  Physical healing, as well as emotional healing.  He didn't expect people to be in a particularly spiritual place, or even a place of belief.  (And actually, it was usually people that didn't know God that he ministered to primarily.)  He just said, "let me heal you", and through that, you will know God.  Jesus didn't expect people to be having prayer marathons, or to be able to speak in tongues, or to even know God as prerequisites to healing.  Those things came as a result of the healing.  He dealt with the roots, and all those things just fell into place.

It has been grieving me lately that the church teaches something so opposite of that.  I used to believe that version.  And I used to feel constantly defeated, and distant from God.  I used to think that was because I didn't do enough.  But now, I'm starting to like the "Jesus version" much better.  Root first, and the rest will follow.  That was what his ministry looked like.  We certainly aren't always very good about actually doing what Jesus did.  

People don't need, or want, a Roman Road, 4 Spriritual laws, or a sinner's prayer.  People need healing.  People need Jesus.  I needed healing.  I needed Jesus.   I still do.  I always will.  

And that's the truth that has really set me free.

Friday, December 17, 2010 |

My Kitchen Gadget Rant

I generally try to stay away from rants.  I think the main reason is that if I were to get into writing them, that's quite possibly all I'd do.

But I need to get something off of my chest.  Something really big and serious.

I hate kitchen tools.  Mostly the ones that serve just one, very specific purpose.

Rice cookers.  Sandwich makers.  Electric latte whisks.  Chicken pullers.  Melon ballers.  Deep fryers.  Apple cutters.  Electric can openers.  (Okay, the last example is pretty 80s, but it still illustrates my point.)

I can replace each of those things with a tool I already have.  Here goes:

Pot.  Frying pan.  Regular whisk (and a quick hand).  2 forks.  Spoon (and some appropriate wrist action).  Pot filled with hot oil.  Paring knife.  Regular can opener.  (Are you noticing the versatility of a simple pot?!)

I have a very tiny kitchen.  Sometimes it annoys me.  But it forces me to be minimalistic (which I like), and reminds me to be content with what I have, because in some areas of the world, an entire family would live in a space the size if my little kitchen.  So, that being said, I have no room (or time) for specialty kitchen items.

Over time, I have been given many kitchen gadgets.  I have donated almost all of them to the thrift store.  Someone, I'm sure, is thoroughly enjoying my rice cooker.  I, however, am enjoying my pot and lid.  Besides, a pot doesn't have a cord.  (Have I ever told you about the time I burned my slow cooker cord in half?  I think I'll post about that tomorrow.  In fact, I may include a few a lot of examples of how I'm an utter safety hazard in the kitchen.)  

I like things that are multi-functional.  If it serves one purpose, it's gone.

Now, the things that are exempt from this rant are as follows:

  • Waffle makers (because nothing else can make those little squares).
  • Orange peelers (because my husband has tender fingertips and loves this apparatus - plus, it's super small)
  • Coffee maker (because we love our coffee around here, and I like the thermal pot)
What overly-specific kitchen gadget do you hate (or love)?

Sunday, December 12, 2010 |

Miracle on a Monday

My brother-in-law Reg was in a serious car accident last Monday.  He is okay.  (I'm all for suspense, but didn't want you to wait until the end to know that he's fine.)  He is a little sore, and is wearing a sweet neck brace, but he shouldn't even be alive.  And he especially shouldn't be walking.  

Miracles still happen everyday.

It's kind of a wild story.  Kris had the day off, and we were having breakfast with his parents.  Kris had to jet a few minutes early to get to the bank, and right after he left, Ron got a phone call.  Reg had been in an accident.  He confirmed that he was okay, but that the truck was probably a write-off.  I casually asked Ron which of the work vehicles Reg had been driving, just out of curiosity.  Turns out, it was actually Kris and my personal truck.  I could care less.  My sister-in-law is not a widow and their children are not fatherless - that is ALL that matters.  

Reg had been driving through the country to their current job site.  He had been going about 120km/h (we all joke about how you can't not speed in our truck - when I drive it, I'm the jerk who goes 70 all through town) , but all of a sudden he felt the need to slow down to about 90.  He came to a crossroad; he had the right-of-way, and any crossing traffic had a yield sign.  Another truck was coming, and out of the blue, smoked through the yield.  Reg t-boned him.  

There were 2 guys in the other vehicle, which they were driving for work (an operation run by a rather shady character from out in those parts).  The boss/owner showed up minutes later, and then they all told Reg to tell the cops that the other guy had been driving.  Why?  Because the actual driver didn't even have a driver's license (turns out he had lost it from an accumulation of demerits over time).  Reg refused, and called the cops.  The driver of the other vehicle made a phone call, and a woman showed up.  He hopped in her car, and took off.  When the police arrived, the guy's boss gave his employee's address so they could track him down.  Turns out, though, that he had ran back to his place with the woman, completely cleaned out all of his belongings, and fled.  So now, he has more charges than if he had stayed put, AND there is a warrant out for his arrest.  Way to make a bad situation worse.  

We saw Reg the other day, and he showed us some photos of the truck.  The front end hardly exists anymore.  The engine was coming through the glove box.  The hood was standing at a 90 degree angle.  If I had seen the truck without knowing what had happened, I would definitely have thought that the driver didn't make it.  Couldn't have made it.  Everyone who saw the truck said that he should have died, or come out of it in a wheelchair.  

But he didn't.  He's walking, and talking.  He's just sore and has to wear a neck brace (which his 3 little girls so prettily decorated for him).  I love stories that show me so very clearly that God still loves to perform miracles. That's part of why I love Him so much.  

Another cool thing?  It's only a "coincidence" that he was driving our truck. He had borrowed it that weekend before to do some work around their farm, work that he had planned to do a few weeks earlier, and then ended up putting it off.  He wasn't even supposed to have our truck on Monday.  But, if he had been driving their work truck or car (both of which are older and kind of junky), this story would have had a much worse ending.   

I wish I had some photos to post.  We tried to get out to the lot to take some, but we couldn't get in, and there were some horribly ferocious "puppies" guarding the lot.  (They were doing a great job, I might add.)  I wish I could show you how terrible the truck looks.  And how great Reg looks, right afterwards.  I guess you'll just have to use your imagination. 

And I hope your imagination captures how incredible it all is.  How incredible our God is.   
Thursday, December 9, 2010 |

Elf Yourself

If you want to laugh until it hurts, try making one of THESE for yourself:

Saturday, December 4, 2010 |

Fun with the Girls

I'm a really lucky girl.  A couple of my friends who live in the city have been planning a special day out for me, just because they know it can be hard to get out when you have two little guys.

Today's the day.  I can't freakin' wait!  

So, I'll keep you posted and let you know how it was, and what we did (because I have no idea what we're doing... it's all a mystery!).  

To my 2 special friends - THANK YOU.  You girls are amazing to me.  I appreciate you more than you know.    

To my dear husband - You're a champ.  I love being married to a man who parents instead of "babysits".  You are showing our boys what it means to be a good husband and father.  Thanks for giving me some time away.
Sunday, November 28, 2010 |

I think I need cooking lessons...

Last week, as we were trying to get Sam to eat supper, he said this (and imagine his face crinkled in extreme displeasure):

"Supper tastes like weird.  Supper tastes like weird animals, Mom."

Today, we're cleaning our oven.  It's self-cleaning, which is great, but it makes the entire house smell like burning.  Really, really bad burning.  This is what Sam said when we came in the house after some toboganning:

"It smells like meat.  It smells like supper!"

Not good.  
Thursday, November 25, 2010 |

The Problem with Milestones

There's something I've been wanting to talk about for a while:  

Competition.  Milestones.  Feeling crappy or defensive when your child is "behind".  Feeling good and powerful when your child is "ahead".  Being driven by performance.  The parent contest.

Sam didn't walk until he was 15 months old.  He never crawled.  So, up until he walked (and "late", at that) his only movements were rolling.  This was one of the best things that happened to me as a parent.  I started learning (it's always a process, isn't it?) that IT DOESN'T MATTER.  We had our fair share of comments, mostly from well-meaning family members.  We were bombarded with questions like "are you worried?" and advice about how we shouldn't be worried.  The funny thing is, we weren't.  (I'm not sure why, really... I think it's only because the Holy Spirit had already started a work in me back then.)  I quickly learned that those comments usually reflected worry in the very people who were saying them, or indicated that they thought we should be worried.  Sam learned to walk at the exact right time for him.  His later walking didn't indicate poor parenting or defective genetics, and it was absolutely no reflection on Sam or his personality.  It did not mean that Kris and I were bad parents.

Here's another thing: our boys have both slept through the night at an early age.  But can I tell you a secret?  That is not any kind of proof that we're good parents.  It just means that sleep is something that we find important for our children, and we've tried to encourage them to learn how to sleep from infancy.  That's it.  It's just a style of parenting, that is neither right nor wrong.  It's just what we've chosen.  And we've had a lot of set-backs too.  It's not perfect.  

The same rules apply to how you choose to feed your baby, when they crawl or clap or sit up or talk or use the potty, what you put on their bum to catch their feces, how well behaved they are, what weight percentile they are in, when they learn their ABCs, and how well they do in school.  The list goes on.  T
he choices we make for our children don't determine how good of a parent we are or how much we love our children.  And like their parents, children will inevitably soar in some areas, and be "below average" in others. 

What I have learned, am still learning, and will continue to learn, is that it is not my children's job to make me feel good about myself.  That is a huge job to put on such little humans (or any human, for that matter).  And besides, it's a system that's doomed to fail.  Why?  Because some kids don't walk until they're 15 months, some are late talkers, some don't potty train until 3 years old, some have temper tantrums in front of their grandparents and say bad words...  Half of the time it might work out - when all the stars are aligned, and our children look perfect and perform perfectly.  But the other half of the time (or more than half, if you're normal), it doesn't work out.  

The best thing I am learning as a mother is to be filled up by my Father.  He's the only one who can do the job perfectly anyways.  And the best part about that?  It lets my kids off the hook.  It lets my husband off the hook.  It lets me off the hook.  Which all creates a whole lotta freedom for all of us to just be.  It allows my kids to fail.  It allows them to be who God is creating them to be.  And it allows me to allow them to fail.  You get the picture.  (It also allows me to allow myself some failures too.  Because let's face it - I screw this up a LOT.  I need a lot of grace in this area too.)

So - what's the most important milestone for children at any age?  To know they're loved.  To know their worth in God's eyes.  To know that, because their parents get their worth from their Heavenly Father, they have complete freedom to explore and discover and fail and succeed and make mistakes and be the exact person they were meant to be.  Without the huge job of also making us, their parents, feel good.  They should know that we are proud of them, accomplishments aside.  That we love them and like who they are even when they're the only kid in kindergarten who doesn't know how to spell their name.  To know that we love them especially in those situations.  

Those are the milestones that really matter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 |

The Brother Dynamic

Sibling rivalry.  It has already begun.  

It is really one of the funniest things to watch.  Sam is convinced that his brother is out to get him.  Jack has no clue.  None whatsoever.  He's not even 6 months old.  Sam doesn't get this point, though, despite my best efforts to explain.

Jack scratches the leather couch with his little nails.  "Jack!  Quit scratchin'!  Mom, Jack's scratchin' the couch!"

Jack unknowingly grabs Sam's shirt.  "Let go!  Mom, Jack's got my shirt!"

Jack screams.  Sam screams at him to stop.

And today.  Sam was convinced that Jack was jumping and making a lot of noise in his Exersaucer just to irritate him.  "Mom!  Jack's buggin' me!"  I look over at Jack, who's grinning from ear to ear.  I have to admit, he does look a lot like a kid who's gotten the best of his older sibling, and knows it.  Jack, however, does not know it.  He's just smiling, because that's what he does.  I'm sure the smile just bugged Sam all the more.

These boys really do love each other.  And the little bit of rivalry is normal.  I just didn't anticipate it happening so soon.  But it certainly is funny (for everyone but Sam).

Monday, November 22, 2010 |

Letter to the Editor

Here's a letter I recently sent in to the editor of one of our local newspapers (because that's the kind of thing I do).  But first, a little bit of background - the newspaper has been printing ads for the local lounge to advertise strippers, using large photos of... strippers.  In the paper.  Yup.  And then there's La Senza, who puts up a giant-sized poster of a... stripper (essentially) in their exterior window, for all to see.  I'm infuriated about it.  Hence, the letter:

  I would like to express my extreme disappointment at some of the advertisements adorning not only our city buildings, but one of our local newspapers as well.  

  For the past many months, I have opened up your paper only to have my eyes bombarded with images of scantily clad women as an advertisement for dancers at the local lounge.  For the past 4 years, I have trusted and allowed your publication to come into my home, a trust that has now been broken due to the disrespectful and devaluing images you have allowed to print.  As the mother of two young boys, I never thought a day would come when I would have to protect my sons from the inappropriate photos being printed in this newspaper.  I’m shocked that these images have made their way out of the top shelf of the magazine rack, and into your publication, for all to see.    
  Unfortunately, this issue is not one that is kept within the confines of print.  Last week, my husband and I went with our sons to rent a movie - from a video store that happens to be a few doors down from a women’s lingerie shop (which, strangely, also sells young girls’ clothing).  I was shocked by the giant-sized poster of an airbrushed, full-breasted, long-legged woman in only her underwear.  Can I not even go and rent a movie with my family without having to worry about my children being assaulted with suggestive images?  
  Advertising is advertising.  I understand that there is money at stake here.  But we have to ask ourselves, at what cost?  Do we really understand how damaging this is for our children?  These are the images that are shaping the self esteem of our little girls.  We are giving them the message that this is what they should look like, act like, and be like.  And what about our boys?  What is this teaching them about what real femininity looks like, and what it means to respect a woman?
 This is unacceptable, and something needs to change.  These businesses should be held accountable, and they need to know that this isn’t okay.  I want my city to be one that displays respect and tact in all forms of media - because there is something seriously wrong when I can find racier images outside the movie store and in the pages of the newspaper, than in the windows of the local sex shop.

Do you agree or not?  Do you think they will print it?!

It saddens me that this kind of thing has just become acceptable.  We aren't even questioning anymore.  We live in a country where we have a voice - a voice that, if big and loud enough, will be heard.  Why aren't I using this voice, and encouraging other to use theirs, to make a difference?

Let me know, and then read this blog post (in fact, check out a lot of this guy's posts.  You'll be glad you did.).   Interesting, huh?

Thursday, November 18, 2010 |

A Moment Like This

Earlier today, I was sitting on the floor in front of Sam, who was sitting on the toilet taking care of some... *ahem*... business.

He smiled at me, then stroked my cheek, and said, "You're a good little guy, Mama".

If you've never had a moment like this, I sincerely pray that one day you do.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 |

Shedding the Quills

I don't really know what to say here.  I've thought about and pondered this post for a long time.  I've written and rewritten it numerous times.  And now, I'm just praying that the Holy Spirit gives me words that are not my own, and that these words do what they need to.  (And that God gives me the strength to click "Publish Post" when I'm done.)

I've been grieving lately about something that I've done.  Something that maybe you've done too.  I've set up a system that just isn't working anymore.  A system that never worked, and will never work.  

It's called dishonesty.

Here's the thing.  I struggle.  And I feel alone in my struggles.  You have no idea how many times I've sat here wondering why I'm inadequate, why I don't have it all together, why I feel like I have so few people who I can call and say, "hey, life feels crappy right now.  Here's why."  As I've been wrestling with these things, God has given me the answer - it's because I don't talk about it.  It's because I'm so busy trying to convince everyone around me that it's all good.  That I'm supermom and I have my crap together.  That's dishonest.  And maybe you're in that spot too.  

It's really hard to go to someone in your brokenness when you feel the illusion that they're better than that.  That they don't struggle like you do.  It's really hard to go to someone when you feel like they will listen just long enough to counsel you from their spot above the crap.  It's really hard to go to someone when you feel like they're just going to worry about you, or put a label on what you're going through.

But here's the truth.  I've done this to myself.  How do I know that?  Because I've been the person who has been unapproachable, who has wanted to save the person who comes to me in their weakness, who isn't always willing to share my struggles in return, who has just been filled with concern instead of genuine love and understanding.  That's why I know what it looks like so well.

I'd like to be different.  I'm going to be different.

I know that it's not always the appropriate time or place to share your innermost struggles.  Some relationships don't ever go there, and that's okay.  Some people just really aren't safe to go into that place with.  And some struggles are meant to be kept close to your heart.  

But sometimes, it's a beautiful thing to sit across from a friend, and say, "hey, this is hard".  It's a beautiful thing to hear a friend's struggles, and just say, "I'm sorry, and I understand that.  Please tell me about it".  Even if you've never been there, or you're coming out of it, to just lend an ear.  Without answers.  Without planning an intervention because you're concerned they're losing it.  To say, "I can't help you.  But I can travel this road with you".  To put on your rubber boots and wade through the crap with them.  Heck, to take off your boots and still wade through it with them, unprotected, unafraid of getting dirty.

Isn't that what most of us want?  We don't want help - we want company.

Why are we so scared of each other?  Why are we so scared to ask how someone is really doing?  To probe into some of those messy places? 

Is it because we're scared they will do the same to us?  I know that's probably one of my reasons.  Is it because we're scared to get dirty in relationships?  Probably that too.  A wise friend of mine once told me that the enemy puts fear in front of what God wants for us.  So sometimes, to run in the direction of something scary is a really good start.  

So here's the thing:  I'm sick of staying clean.  Because clean is a lonely place.  Dishonesty is a lonely place.  I'm praying that God will show me who He wants me to get dirty with.  And I finally want to live in honesty.  True honesty.

I don't know if you're with me here, or if this makes no sense to you.  Maybe this resonates really deeply with you, or maybe you think I'm crazy or in a totally different place.  Either way, it's okay.  I am sharing what God has told me to share, in the expectation God is taking me to a better place.  A place with truth and intimacy in relationship.  I want to shed the quills of illusion I have covered my body with.  The quills protect.  But the quills repel too.  I don't want to be a porcupine anymore.  How about you?  

So I'm trusting God to put women in my life (or show me the ones that are already there) who I can be honest and messy with.  I might have to make the first move and be real, truly real, for the first time.  You might have to make that move with people in your life.  But God is good.  He will bless that step of faith. 

And so I wait on my Father...
Monday, November 15, 2010 |

Teen Drama Intervention

Before I begin, I have to tell you how much my husband L-O-V-E-S when I write these things about him.


If you know us well, you will know that we have been watching our fair share (and a few other peoples') of teen dramas. Mostly since the last bit of my pregnancy with Jack, when I could hardly move and Kris was scared to anger the beast. And then after he was born, to pass those evenings of waiting until the last feed of the evening before you can head to bed, sweet bed. We're still watching.

We've made it through Dawson's Creek, and a few others. Now we're working on One Tree Hill. I think this one is our favourite yet. Teen love for me, basketball drama for him. (The basketball, however, is just a hook, and doesn't have much to do with the show, really. But it makes men feel just a little better about watching it.)

Kris' friends have discovered this pasttime of his. One group of his friends here in town consist largely of trades-working, Conservative-voting, gun-toting hunters who would not be caught dead watching anything slightly resembling a teen drama, never mind admitting they like such things. (We wives know the truth. But nice try, guys.) They're nice men. They're just concerned about Kris. Quite concerned. One of his friends told me a little while ago that if it goes much further, they're thinking about a teen drama intervention. It's for Kris' own good, after all.

I can just imagine it. We're watching Dawson's Creek. The guys break in, camera crew in tow. Kris' face displays shock. Then betrayal. He gets hauled off, all the while fighting and screaming, "But I need to find out if Joey and Pacey end up together! NNNOOOOOO!!!!"

Wait until they find out that Kris knits.

I'm such a lucky woman.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 |

Bacon and Potty Training

My 2 (nearly 3!) year old loves bacon. So does my 28 year old. Because this is a love BOTH father and son share, Kris thinks it's totally acceptable for Sam to eat as much bacon as he likes. I harp on both of them about their bacon eating. And I think the reason Kris gives Sam the bacon freedom he does, is so that he can say to himself, "Well, SAM eats that much". As if that makes it okay.

Now, I would probably be more okay with the bacon eating if it were good farm bacon we were eating. A lot of the food in our house, especially lately, is farm fresh and local. I feel good about that. But I HATE FARM BACON. Hate. Loathe. Can't stand. When I first started dating Kris, I remember being served farm bacon at their house. My mouth was offended. I told Kris that I thought it tasted "gamey". He asked if I knew what that even meant. I've tried it a few times since, and I still hate it. I like bacon that has a bar code and preservatives. And because of that, I'd like to at least limit the amount of sodium and preservatives that go into my child's body. Kris, apparently, has no such goal.

Anyways, I became aware of the propensity of the bacon issue a few weeks ago. Sam is potty trained, but still asks for treats after he goes. I usually give him one, or hope he forgets and then I'm off the hook. At this particular point in time, we had some left over bacon in the fridge. Sam knew about it, and had snuck a piece a time or two already. I think you may see where this is headed. Sam went pee on the potty. Then he came out, and said to me,

"Mom, can I have piece of bacon for going pee on the potty?"

There is a serious problem when your child wants bacon as a potty-training treat. Kris was there, and he was lovin' it. And he gave Sam the bacon. ("What?! Positive reinforcement!")

We are so weird.


And as a bit of a tangent, while looking for a photo of bacon, I found something FAR weirder than potty training with bacon. Who does this stuff? Who are these people? Whoever they are, they make me feel a heck of a lot more normal.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 |

About Obedience and Mittens

I struggle with being obedient. With trusting that still small voice that runs so deep in me. I struggle with listening to - no, following through with - those gentle prompts from my Father. I hear Him. I know what He tells me. I just don't always do it.

I think a lot of us know how the cycle works. You feel something rising up in you, a little stir in your belly. You know what you're supposed to do. Go talk to that lady, and tell her she's beautiful. Invite that homeless man into a coffee shop and fellowship with him. Call a friend you've lost touch with. Love someone who's "unlovable".

And then the flesh kicks in. They're going to think I'm weird. That's just silly. But who might see me? What are they going to say? What if I'm rejected? I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences this rigamarole when God lays something on my heart.

Some wise words I recently heard come to mind: Be obedient in the private, and God takes care of the public.

I'm learning to stop listening to those silly voices in my head, and instead obey the one voice that I know speaks truth. I'm learning to be obedient and faithful to what God is prompting me to do, and to trust that God has a plan with it. Even if I never see the ripples.

And wouldn't you know it, but neat things start happening.

I can't hardly count the number of times God has blessed my obedience with little signs that I did what I needed to do. Words confirming the timing of a phone call, hearing much-needed words from a mentor I finally called, stepping into someone's life at just the right time.

And this. This blessed my heart more than I can say. God, you are so good. Tears filled my eyes as I read such kind words. And a confirmation from God that I did what I was supposed to do. Isn't it amazing how if we do what we need to, God takes care of the rest?

To know how God orchestrated it all AMAZES me. I felt like I should make mittens. I have to admit, I did feel a bit silly in a way for sending a gift to such a new friend. I thought she might think I was overbearing. Or trying too hard. But I ignored those messages, and I made the mittens. Then I sent them. And God took it from there. He didn't ask that I make sure they arrive on a certain day. He didn't ask me to figure out all the details. He just wanted obedience in that small area.

And then to read the rest of story - words can't begin to describe how much awe I have for our Father. I think Tonia's words were as much a blessing to me as the mittens were to her. It's all part of the story. God was blessing both of us, and showing us his extravagant love. In His perfect timing.

I'm not perfect in this, and I will still make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. I'm learning so much - about God, and who He wants to be for me, and how there's SO much grace in this journey. And I'm learning how much God blesses obedience and faithfulness. I love Him for that.

Saturday, November 6, 2010 |

A Story about Grace

Kris and I have a really neat story to share. (It's a long one - you might want to make some tea...)

It began happening almost exactly a year ago now. I've held this story close to my heart, and until now, have only told people close to me, or told it in bits and pieces. But I feel like I want to share it now, and I want to give all the glory to my Heavenly Father, who has (again) proved Himself to be so, so good.

Early last summer, Kris and I decided it was time to have another child. We quickly got pregnant, and we were really excited. Not quite 2 weeks after we found out about this little person, we ended up having a miscarriage. We were both devastated. It was awful, and hard, and even though I knew many people who had had a miscarriage and how common they are, I don't think I ever thought I would be there myself. It was very, very tough. We still remember and wonder who that little person would have been, but know that he/she is being held by the best Father ever.

Because our miscarriage happened fairly early on, the doctor had told us that we could start trying again whenever we felt ready. Of course, at that time, neither of us felt like we could even think about trusting again, or being at a place where we were okay. However, it wasn't long before we started feeling like it was okay to try again, and we really appreciated the words of a respected pastor in our life who told us that trying again, even so soon, was NOT a dishonour to the child we had lost. We hung on to that truth, and to the memory of our little one, and decided to carry on with the plans we had for our family. To our surprise, we ended up getting pregnant again on the first round. We were thrilled, and though we were a bit scared, we both decided we would not live in fear.

One morning, when I was about 12 weeks along, I went to the washroom and found that I had some spotting. The devastation hit me immediately. Because I had been there once before, all the thoughts of "it could be nothing" and "this doesn't necessarily mean anything" were gone. I instantly was convinced we were losing another baby. And I couldn't do it. I was scared, and angry, and just plain terrified. I immediately called Kris at work, who rushed home to take me in to the hospital.

The doctor came in, and after some questions, began searching for our baby's heartbeat. And searched. And searched. 10 heart-wrenching minutes passed as the doctor tried and tried to find something distinguishable on the Doppler. Nothing. She said she would have to send me for an ultrasound to see what was really going on. She also said that my cervix was a little bit open, which was a bit of a concern, but also can be normal if it's not a first baby. As we were getting ready to go, she apologized, and told us that miscarriages are really common and that it wasn't our fault. I knew what she was thinking. I left with a requisition for an ultrasound the following day, my eyes filled with tears, and my heart filled with fear for my child.

Kris stayed home the rest of that day. I remember just thinking and pleading, over and over, that I couldn't do this again. It had been too hard, and I couldn't do it all over. That evening, after Sam had gone to bed, we decided to spend some time praying. Kris started praying for the life of our child. And then I was filled with the feeling that we were supposed to pray for a name for this little one. Kris agreed, and we both fell silent as we asked God to lay a name, the same name, on both of our hearts. After a few moments, Kris said, "So?" With a shaky voice, I said, "Grace". I was scared that Kris was not going to say the same name. But he looked at me with huge eyes and said, "me too". That was just the beginning of God showing us how good He is.

After some more prayer, God gave Kris and I peace, and the confidence that everything was going to be fine. Our baby was okay. More than okay. And we came away thinking and dreaming about this little girl who God named "Grace".

But then the next morning hit. We were flooded with doubt, worry, and fear yet again. We started questioning what God has told and shown us. We even wondered if "Grace" was a name for a future child, instead, and that maybe this child was not going to make it.

A few hours before our ultrasound, Kris took Sam out to do a few errands. When he got home, he told me about how he had ended up at our church's office, and had told our pastor about what was going on. Kris explained about our prayer time, but how we didn't really know what it all meant. That maybe it didn't mean our baby was okay. But our pastor said to Kris, "God gave you the name for THIS child, right?" Kris said that He had. "So then why in the world would you think it was for another child?!" So true! Kris told me about how we needed to stand firm on the truths that God had given us, and to discredit anything that was a contradiction to that. We knew what God had told us.

We went to our ultrasound. Prior to getting there, and having been through the process with Sam, I was ready and waiting for a fight when they would inevitably ask Kris to wait in the waiting room until they called him. Earlier, I had imagined myself tearing into the nurse, and demanding that my husband be with me when I find out if my child is alive or not. However, with the peace I had in my heart, I knew I didn't need him. Kris waited in the waiting room, and I walked confidently into the room with the nurse. By myself. (But not really.)

I waited while the nurse rolled the ultrasound tool around on my abdomen. If you've ever been to an ultrasound before, you'll know how insanely nerve-wracking it is - they roll around, and type stuff while they stare at the screen. And they DON'T SAY A THING. It was completely silent for many minutes. Then finally she said some of the sweetest words I have ever heard:

The baby has a heartbeat of 140. Everything's looking great!

I cried. Then Kris came in and together we watched our little person dance around in there. It was amazing. Truly, truly amazing.

Life carried on, and so did my pregnancy. Because God had given us a female name, we felt very sure that we were having a girl. We (okay, it was just me) felt the temptation to find out the baby's sex at our 20 week ultrasound, just to see, but decided not to. I remember both of us (I finally came around) feeling that we didn't need to, because we had faith in God's words to us. I even had a cool experience when I stumbled across a book all about a little girl named "Grace". I felt like God was just giving me more and more signs about this little person.

The day to have our baby arrived. We were so excited and we just felt bathed in God's blessing - to think that we were ready to deliver our child, whose life we were so scared for not so many months before.

After a pretty quick labour, it was time for our baby to make its appearance. After a bit of pushing, out came our little... BOY! I remember the mix of excitement and shock! It's funny, because at NO point was there any feeling of disappointment, even though we had been so sure he was a girl. The last few weeks of my pregnancy, however, I had really been feeling like it was a boy. For some reason, I just felt like a boy made sense for us. I really wanted another little boy. I was thrilled when we saw our little Jack.

Jack Robert was a name we had picked for our baby, if he was boy, from early on in the pregnancy. At the end of our pregnancy, Kris and I chatted again about boys' names, "just in case". Another name that we liked was "Daniel". So after Jack was born, the nurses asked what his name was. We didn't know. We hadn't really felt like it was necessary to decide, because we were sure we were having a little "Grace"! We thought about it for a while. A few hours passed. We knew we needed to decide, so that we could call people with our wonderful news (we had only told our parents so far). I thought for a few minutes, and said, "I really think his name should be Jack. It just feels right." Kris said that he had been thinking the same thing. So, Jack it was!

Those first few hours and days, as I was thinking and pondering about Jack, I started asking God about why we had felt so strongly that our baby was a girl, and why he had told us that "Grace" should be her name. Kris and I were both confused. We knew that we would eventually know (at least some of) the reasons. To this day, we're still discovering little things that God is showing us about that.

The day we came home from the hospital, I realized that we didn't even know what the meaning of Jack's name was. We just liked it without really researching it. I knew it was another form of the name "John", but didn't know anything beyond that. So while Kris ran out with Sam to go pick up some lunch for us, I looked it up. Tears filled my eyes as I read the meaning of my little boy's name:

"God is gracious."

It all made perfect sense.

Since Jack has been born, God has been showing me more and more about what it means to live in His grace. Experiencing God's grace, in some ways for the first time in my life, has allowed me to have more grace for myself, and more grace for others. My baby boy is a constant reminder to me of how, indeed, God is so, SO gracious. That's what he was telling Kris and I a year ago when he told us that he would be "Grace". God sent me His "grace" through my little boy.

So that's the story of our little Jack, our precious little boy who (with his awesome older brother, of course!) fills this house with love and joy. And who reminds us on a daily basis to experience God's grace.
Friday, November 5, 2010 |

Grade 2 fashion

So I've only worn my not-so-new-anymore skinny jeans out in public once. And that was when Kris and I went up to the city on a date - to a different city where no one knows me. I hardly consider that a victory.

I think I've figured out that they are just too tight on my legs. A little TOO skinny, if you know what I mean.

I ended up at the second hand store last weekend. I seriously LOVE thrift storing. I think it's the thrill I get when I find something perfect. There is just no challenge to finding a shirt you like, and then just sifting through to find your size. Anyways, I discovered something amazing while there:

Royal Blue skinny jeans.

I just kind of thought they were funny, and decided to bring them home just to try. Again, to see how ridiculous they might look. But here's the thing: I love them. I love the way they feel, and the way they fit. They are the most amazing cut of jean I think I have ever worn. Really. And I feel really cutting-edge wearing coloured jeans. (I think those are "in", aren't they?! Sure hope so!)

While at the second hand store, I also found a really great long-shirt-y thing. So I went and bought some leggings. Yup. Leggings. An article of clothing I have not donned since my grade 2 days. (Although I think the ones I wore back then had stirrups - remember those?!) I also got some great black boots. I tried on this outfit, and Kris told me I looked like I was straight out of 1986.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 |

Apparently my husband knits

The other night, one of the weirdest things happened to me. Let me set the stage.

I am a knitter. I have been knitting for about 9 years now, about the same amount of time that I have been with Kris. (And no, the wonder of how TWO of my greatest loves entered my life at the same time is not lost on me.) In those 9 years, I have repeatedly attempted to have Kris let me teach him how to knit. And I have repeatedly failed. Until the other night. Kind of.

We were sitting together, and I was knitting a toque for our godson for his 2nd birthday. I asked Kris if I could teach him how to knit. Real quick. And just one stitch. So that he could say he helped. Because wouldn't that be neat? Pleeeeeaaaase? (See how I like to make it sound like the greatest idea ever?!)

Preparing for yet another failed attempt to add to my list, I just about jumped off of the couch Tom-Cruise-style when Kris rolled his eyes, and said, "Fine".


"Really?!" I said. He confirmed his prior response, and told me to make it quick. So I cuddled up close to him, and then started my explanation. I put the needles in his hands, and started to tell him where in the next stitch he needed to insert the needle. But as I began, he said this:

"I know, I know. You put it right in here like this, wrap the yarn around back and between the two needles like this, and then pull it down and slip that stitch off."

Pardon me?!

Like I said, the weirdest thing ever. MY HUSBAND KNOWS HOW TO KNIT.

I quickly assumed that he had learned to knit as a child, was actually quite an adept knitter, and had been hiding it all these years. I asked him how he knew, wondering if he would confirm my suspicions or not. He said this:

"Sarah, I've been watching you knit for years. Don't you think I've ever paid enough attention to actually know how it works?"

No, Kris, I didn't.

Reason #93 why I love this man and think he's the cutest ever.
Saturday, October 23, 2010 |

Chicken Pox and Mr. (Kris) Bean

The craziness around here never seems to end.

Sam has chicken pox. Yup. He's got the pox. A few weird spots multiplied into MANY spots. Now he's covered. The funny thing is that he's been immunized against it. Apparently, some kids can still catch it, but it's generally a lot milder. We have no idea where it came from, but I suppose that doesn't much matter NOW. Sam thinks that having chicken pox means that he's been bit by chickens. And a few times, he's referred to them as "chicken legs". Works for me.

I have no idea what is going on around here. I guess we're just gross. We're that family. You'll know who we are - we're the ones with coughs, snotty noses, rashes, and spots. (How's that for a pity party?!)

Okay, so I don't really think we're disgusting. But I certainly hope this is it for the cold and flu season. Or someone's going to pay. I don't know who, but someone's going to get the brunt of Mama C's disease-angst. (Let's face it: 1. It will probably be Kris; and 2. It sounds like I'm talking about my mother-in-law when I say "Mama C"... kind of like how I still find it weird when they say "Thanks Mrs. Chetney" to me at Safeway. I have to look behind me to see if Kris' mom is there. Oh wait, that's me they're talking about. Riiiiight.)

On a totally different note, we've been watching "One Tree Hill" lately. We both love it. The other night, Kris said, "I totally didn't anticipate how much I was going to enjoy this show". (Reason #138 of why I love that man and think he's the cutest ever.) We've come to the end of the seasons we have on DVD, which means that now we have to resort to finding them online, which is a HUGE step down for us. For most of the episodes we've found, the audio doesn't quite line up with the video. This is insanely annoying, especially to Kris. It's not so bad for me, because most of the time I'm knitting and not always looking up anyways. (Apparently I don't learn from my mistakes.) The other problem is our internet connection. It's not always great, and Kris is convinced that if he sits on the floor in front of the coffee table, with his legs underneath it, then the internet is more reliable. I'm not sure I'm convinced either way. But it's funny, and reminds me of a certain Mr. Bean episode. I'll leave you with the video, which I highly recommend watching if you have a few (nine) minutes. (And you have to love the lady with the crazy laugh in the audience - there's always one, isn't there?)

Kris hasn't resorted to nakedness. Yet.
Monday, October 18, 2010 |

Mystery Rash

I'm pretty sure that blog posts with such topics should be avoided altogether.

But here I go anyways,

We've all had colds around here the last week and a bit, and we're just starting to feel a lot better. Sam had tonsillitis, which included big, spotty tonsils and sores in his mouth. And apparently, Hand Foot and Mouth Disease is going around. I had the thought that maybe Sam had this, but ruled it out when I realized that his hands and feet seem to be fine. Then, I started noticing that my hands were really irritated feeling since last evening. Itchy, sore, and even a bit rashy looking. But only my hands were like this. As a recovering (ish) hypochondriac, I was convinced I had HFMD, and that the rash just hadn't spread to my mouth or feet yet.

Earlier today, I picked up my knitting. I'm knitting a great wool toque - a cool pattern that's a bit tricky, and NOT friendly to mistakes. Which means I've ripped it up and started it again about 9 or 10 times already. No joke. I'm persistent. And just can't admit defeat. Anyways, as I started running the wool through my hands, a lightbulb went off when I realized how much it bothered my hands. The rash, the irritation, the red spots. The wool is the culprit. Dang it all anyways. I'm really into this pattern. I think I'd rather it had been HFMD. But not really. I can't decide.

And just as a side note, while I was writing this post, Sam came out of the bathroom with his potty in his hand, saying, "Mom! Look at this sucker!" Perhaps that's the thing that should never make it into a blog post. I think I've broken 2 rules already. Well, 3, if you include the fact that my son doesn't use the correct terms for his elimination, and finds it funny.


Thursday, October 7, 2010 |

Back with my tail between my legs...

Okay. So it turns out I miss blogging. I have really been on this anti-technology kick lately, and have almost gotten to the end of the spectrum where I'd soon be protesting at the Apple store with signs stating "Technology = Satan" and burning iPads in a field with other extremists. Woah. Time for a blogging intervention.

So I'm back. And I'm okay with that. There are just too many things that go on here that make me think "I should blog about that".

Like how my baby had pink eye last week. Yup. Terrible sleeping turned out to be pink eye. We found out just a few days ago that it's not contagious - it's due to the clogged tear ducts he's had since birth. When we flew to Vancouver a month ago, the flight attendant looked at him, saw his goopy little eyes, and said, "awww.... Pink eye, huh?" I politely, but assertively told her that it was NOT pink eye, but merely clogged tear ducts. I have ranted about her a few times since, especially about how I didn't want everyone around us thinking we were those people with communicable diseases on the plane. Turns out, Ms. Flight Attendant should quit her day job and open up her own practice. And yes, I will take a slice of that humble pie, thank you very much. The only thing that made this a bit easier was watching Kris freak out about having pink eye. Turns out he didn't. I'm surprised. But not really.

Also, we've been asked to have Jack take part in the Roots of Empathy program. I had heard of it a few years back, and when Sam was a baby, I really wanted to take part. Turns out, they want June/July/August babies, so that they're a certain age when the year starts. Sam's first rejection. Haha... Anyways, I had forgotten all about it, when the Family Resource center (where I take the boys to the Indoor Playground every so often) called to say that Jack was the perfect age and asked if we'd be interested. We're going to be in a grade 1 classroom at a school close to our house. Apparently, Jack is going to pretty much be a rock star for the year. So, I guess I should find him some leather pants and grow his hair long and greasy.

These days, Sam is making sense of the world through anatomically correct farm animals. And he has found it rather confusing (I don't blame him) that like the Mommy pig, he has nipples, but unlike the mommy pig, he does not make milk. Try explaining that one to an emphatic 2 year old who insists that he lactates.

In other Sam news - he thinks he's a puppy named Rover. It's wonderful. 1) Because it's cute, and most importantly: 2) Because Rover will do things that Sam sometimes won't. Like using the potty. And going to bed. Some nights, Sam will not go to bed. But Rover will. I'm wondering how long we can use this one.

It's started being REALLY fun watching these 2 boys interacting. Sam can get giggles out of Jack like no one else can even come close too. Sometimes he does it by doing things that look a bit rough at first, but when I realize that Jack is laughing and not crying, I relax and go with it. Sam is really good with him. But I still have to keep a pretty close eye, because Sam is only 2, and doesn't always know what is okay to do with Jack. Tickling him is okay. Coughing directly into his mouth? Not okay. Making funny faces at him? Okay! Waving his bum in Jack's face? Not okay! You get the idea.

Anyways, here's the little boy:

And here's the big boy, pretending he's the little boy:

Sure do love these two!
Sunday, September 26, 2010 |

Goodbye to blogging!

I'm going to take a little break from blogging.

Right now, it's just a time in life where I feel like this isn't a good fit for me. I've realized that I struggle a lot with not knowing what to write about, and feeling some weird pressure to write something funny, or meaningful, or deep. But I hardly ever write about what's really on my heart. And the way I see it, this isn't really the appropriate venue to share my heart anyways. I think that should be left for phone calls, or better yet, in person over coffee.

It takes a lot of my focus off what really matters - my family, pouring into my husband and sons, and being intentional with relationships. And it feels a lot like FB to me sometimes - when people "know" what's going on in my life because they read about it here. And not because we shared a conversation, or invested in our relationship. You know?

So let's have coffee sometime instead.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 |

Truth and Beauty

Lately, Kris has really been into the band Rise Against*. At first, it was just some band that I had heard mentioned on Sonic here and there, and kind of wrote it off as something I'd have little interest in. Then, Kris started telling me about some of their songs and lyrics, and we both discovered how they touch on some really interesting social issues. One of Kris' favourite Rise Against songs is "Hero of War", which does a fantastic job of poking criticism at the issues of war - how it takes advantage of young men and their desire to make others proud and do something meaningful, as well as the injustice of violent acts done in the name of one's country. (Check out the lyrics here, and the video above.)

It's got me thinking a lot about one of the sections in Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis. (I don't have the book around right now, or else I'd love to type out the section. I guess you'll have to check it out for yourself if you're interested. And I highly recommend that course of action.) Rob talks about the word "Christian", and that in the Bible, that word is only ever used as a noun. A Christian was a person. A person who followed Christ. But now, we've morphed the word to become an adjective, and we've been tacking it on to anything that we deem worthy - books, music, even candy. I love when he gets to the part where he talks about truth and beauty, and how so many things dubbed "Christian" sometimes contain very little truth, and no real beauty. Yet something that doesn't necessarily have the label can contain an abundant amount of truth and beauty. Like some of Rise Against's songs. Yet, they definitely aren't getting any air time on Shine FM...

Another song that, to me, contains a huge amount of truth and beauty (despite the odd F-bomb), is Everlast's "What It's Like". I remember this song being hugely popular when I was in high school, but I've only recently been really appreciating it for what a great song it really is. Check it out sometime, if you don't know it. And if you do, check it out again with a new set of eyes and see what you think. (The lyrics are here and the video is here.)

Along the same lines, one of the most worshipful experiences I've ever had was at U2's 360 concert in Vancouver last October. Although U2 doesn't market their music under a Christian label, it's hard to miss the spiritual undertones of a lot of their music. Not to mention Bono's obvious love for his Lord, and his role as a social activist. I clearly remember feeling SO in awe of who our God is, that He could so completely capture a man, a ROCKSTAR, like Bono. Truth and beauty, right there in BC Place. I'm tellin' ya...

What unlikely places have you found truth and beauty lately?


*And just as an interesting side note (and because I like using asterisks and making you come all the way down here), all of the band members of Rise Against are vegetarians and active members of PETA, abstain from alcohol and recreational drugs, and are conscious of human rights issues in clothing and footwear production. I haven't told Kris about this research I've done yet. I'm pretty sure their PETA involvement might be a deal breaker... :) I'll keep you posted on his reaction...