Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I don't want to be an 'Eve'

    My title leaves me singing the song, 'I don't wanna be a sheep, Baa Baa Baa Baa.'  Anyone else know that one?  It's kind of fitting, but also irritating because now it's running through my head on repeat.

     I used to view Eve (the mate for Adam, mother of all, first woman etc) at a rather shallow level.  As in:
                 "Hey thanks for ruining life for the rest of us here.  If you can't do it right with a perfect husband, perfect body, perfect home, and a stress free life, how am I supposed to do it?"  And of course "Pregnancy is hard, labour is worse.  Periods are not awesome, cramps are not fun, and now I have to buy big boxes of sanitary items which just leads to embarrasing moments."

     I will elaborate on that last one.  It was truly an awkward moment.   I was in **stco and of course that is THE land of bulk.  All 4 of my not so little's were with me.  And it's hard because my oldest two are old enough to ignore certain items in my cart (bless them ), the other two are young enough to notice and then loudly, LOUDLY, ask, "Are those diapers???  Why are you buying diapers??"  And they both felt the need to repeat the question, because once is never enough.  There was a really nice older looking gentleman about two feet away and (shamefully) I thought, "Please be deaf."  My oldest was embarrassed for me and my daughter was smirking.  I know I should be past that phase of dreading those purchases, and nobody really cares....unless kids make a scene,

     Back on track.  Eve, she had it all and lost it all.  God redeemed, He had a plan, and He has made a way for me.  I am thankful, I am grateful, and I am still in the uncomfortable process of being refined.  Eve has left her mark on a far greater legacy than just the superficial area's of life.  I look back at her tempting Adam into sin with her.  I'm sure she must have made a beautiful picture.  Standing in a beautiful garden, in all her perfection, a body of beauty, seducing her husband to...eat fruit?  Yet it wasn't her physical form that did the damage, I believe it was her use of words.  Now the Bible doesn't tell us what she said, but do we really think that perfect Adam would just take without some form of encouragement?  Genesis 3:17 says "....because you have listened to the voice of your wife..."  We know she said SOMETHING, yet he knew the law..God had personally given it to him.  And yet his mate of a short short time was able to entice him to disobey knowing full well that it was wrong.

     It is important to note that Eve herself was first deceived because of the serpent's crafty use of speech, and she bought into it.  This legacy that Eve has handed down is not pretty because it shows that we (women) are easier to deceive than our male counterparts.  Adam blatantly disobeyed, but the serpent had to talk to Eve and play on her emotions and thinking skills in order to deceive her.  And there we have it...the beginning of thinking too much and over-analazying everything to death....literally to death!

     Maybe you are the rare woman who doesn't do this...then I don't know you.  Because the women in my circle think...all the time.  Ask your husband "What are you thinking about?"  What's the answer?  NOTHING.  Obviously not all the time, but they have the remarkable ability to simply sit and just 'Be.'  It's become a joke between Gord and I, so much so that I now ask the more important question, "Are you thinking?"  And then we can go from there.  I'm not say men don't think, but it's a given that woman never stop and it makes our men tired.

     The moments I most regret in my marriage are the times when I used words to get what I wanted.  I didn't yell, or hurl accusations, but I badgered and used words very cleverly.  It's shameful to even write it.  I'm forgiven, but it still makes me cringe to remember those times.

     As women God has gifted us with an ability to speak and to speak well.  I wish I always used it to encourage my family.  To speak truth to others, to share Salvation to those around me, instead of using it for my own agenda or personal vendetta.  Yet like everything, there seems to be an abuse of what should be a gift.  Our words hurt and wound others.  We carelessly use words like 'hate, forgiveness, grace..etc' not realizing or caring that we cause others to stumble around us.  Eve caused Adam to stumble.  He paid dearly for his blatant disobedience and his physical paradise became a harsh environment.  I believe that greater than the physical consequence was the conflict now between the man and the woman.  No longer was there perfect harmony but a battle of wills, and that usually involves words.

     I don't want to be an Eve.  I don't want to control or guide my husband, intentionally or unintentionally with my words.  And as much as my flesh desires to control the world I live in, I have to choose to fight my nature.

     Gord and I were in the vehicle and I was angry, hurt, (not at him) and voicing my frustrations.  When I finally just said "You know, right now I'm actually trying to get you upset so you will do what I want so don't listen to what I'm saying."  It was true and I knew it, I admitted it we laughed about it. He was calm and heard me out, but I also saw the truth of why I was venting and it was enough to calm me down.  I fight this nature of mine everyday.  I'm a wife and a mom.  I use words a lot.

       I have found that arguing is useless and a waste of energy.  Besides some things are just too hard too change, and I can prove it.  We've been together for 16 years and I cannot make him drink coffee or eat cilantro.  No amount of pleading or coercing has worked.  So maybe Eve should have tried the coffee tree.


   

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Hello September

     Apparently August flew past me and I never posted, not even once.  I'm not sure that anything grand happened, although everyone here is still alive, healthy, and wearing clean clothes..always a plus.  July was our month of crazy, August was calmer in that we stayed home on the week-ends, but VBS, swimming lessons, and one awesome day of chicken butchering (yes, awesome & chickens CAN be used together) made it a productive month.  And just like that September is upon us.

     The Homeschool order has been placed, schedules are in the process of being planned, and I am trying not to hyperventilate over a few things.

1. I have 4 in 'school' this year.
2. I have to teach Math to 4 kids..with a smile.
3. My schedule...it's time to start teaching guitar again.

     I have long realized that structure is my friend, and I do well in a setting that has expectations.  Over the past few years our lives haven't had much consistency and we survived, but I am longing to get back into a well-planned, organized form of chaos.  I don't want a solider-like home, just a plan.  My kids need it, and I am craving it.  Structure is something that comes with the territory of sending your child away to school.  Structure is expected in the work world, and this year, we will be working towards a much more planned week.  It will help that I no longer need to run to hardware stores every other day :)

     Seasons.  God realized that we need changes in our physical settings and voila, we have 4 seasons.  I don't despise any of them.  I love what each one brings.  Not just the eye candy they provide, but what they do for our soul.  Spring; a time of newness.  Green after months of white and cold.  New life everywhere from plants to animals.  Summer; longs days, gardens, living outside.  Fall; the mad dash to prepare for winter, harvest, a sense of accomplishment.  Winter; the forced slowing-down of life.  I love it.  Each season demands a different physical reaction.  I know many hate the thought of winter coming, but I never do.  I love that the physical home in which we live becomes a safe haven of warmth.  And maybe this winter I will finally be able to learn to quilt..and drink gallons of tea.

     I had to remind myself for the past 3 years that we were in a different season of life.  One filled with building and moving and all the side effects that come with it.  I often struggled with my attitude because it seemed as if so much was falling by the wayside.  One week would be completely different from the next and that was okay...or so I would tell myself.  Now with the thought of actually being able to truly plan, I find myself overwhelmed at what that means.  But growing pains are inevitable, just like the first frost of the season sends all the crazy drivers into the ditch.  September is our month most likely to be filled with a few 'accidents' in finding our groove.  It's okay.

     Last night I was with a group of friends celebrating a birthday and we were all discussing life.  Kids, marriage, homeschool, pressures...etc.  Each of us is in a season unique to our families, but we can learn and encourage each other.  Dessert helps.  We are all entering the new school season with a bit of trepidation, we're not alone.  And I am always thankful for the encouragement friends give.  No judgment, but an ear to listen and share ideas.  And while we were laughing and dining?  Our men had all decided to go quadding with the kids.  5 men, 10 quads, and 20 kids....from age 2-13. I couldn't believe that ALL the men went because of the age of some of the littles.   Gord said they only covered 6 kilometres, and I understand why.  Apparently distance is not a requirement for fun, and my crew said it was awesome.  If there was an award to be given for a 'hands-on dad' those men are well deserving!  With men like these, we shouldn't be too worried about changing seasons...and that makes me very, very thankful!

   

   

   

   

Friday, 31 July 2015

Silver Linings

     I have been absent as of late, probably because I have also been absent from home these past 5 weeks.  When your offspring start lamenting about leaving, you know it's been too much.  We are generally 'home' people.  We do like to travel, but as a rule we are home over the summer.  I suppose that has been due to the fact that we build, then move...etc etc.  This July has been an exceptionally busy time.  I would like to say that I have mastered the art of packing, leaving, and un-packing, but it still seems to be a nemesis of mine.  I am trying to do it nicely, as in patiently.  Trying...

     We have thoroughly enjoyed each trip though.  Boring is not a word that I would attach to our month.  Our week-ends have been filled with travelling, family, fellowship, friends, mild panic, berries, and way to much food.  Each trip has been different from the next in circumstance and location, but ALL have added to the memory bank.

     TRIP #1
     
     We met up with friends at Shaw's Point, around 2.5 hours from our home.  The weather wasn't great but our friends spoiled us terribly with boat rentals and fishing.  Our kids have been waiting to catch fish for years already and this time each and every child caught plenty of them!  I'm not sure what was more fun, watching the kids or watching the dad's try to keep up with them!  We came home exhausted, but it was worth it.

     TRIP #2

     The Church we attend holds an annual 'Church In The Park' event at a beautiful campground 40 minutes away.  We decided to camp that week-end which made Sunday morning much more relaxed. To make it even better, a sister and her family came and camped with us from Thursday to Sunday.  We could hardly believe how easy camping has become (once you are packed) with our families.  The kids are all old enough to bike around and take the younger ones to the park...what a treat!  The trip did start out a little stressful.  Just as we were getting ready to pull off our yard, my overactive nose smelled an odd smell.  Like burning electrical stuff, important stuff.  Within seconds smoke was billowing into the truck cab and the kids and I bailed out while Gord unhooked everything and pulled the truck away from the buildings...in case the truck caught fire.  Not re-assuring.  In the end, it was something relatively minor.  One speed on our AC went, but thankfully we have 4 speeds left :)

     TRIP #3

     This was a such a beautiful trip, although un-planned as most funerals are.  We were privileged to attend the Homegoing of a dear man whom I have known for years.  The emphasis was on Hope and Salvation and it was beautifully presented.  His family honoured him well and we were blessed to be a part of it.  I have always viewed their family as an extension of my own, and was disappointed to learn that we weren't related.  But it never mattered, they felt like 'Home' to me and Gord was finally able to meet most of them, which is almost funny because they are his relatives.  I have long tried to explain my sentiment for the family to Gord, and after we left for home, I asked him "Do you know what I mean now, why they feel like family?"  He got it.  Some people are gifted that way.  It's wonderful when your family and extended family gives you that strong connection, and it's an added wonder when you get it from from others simply because of our ties in Christ.

     TRIP #4

      And then things got stressful.  I had a hard time prepping for my family's camping trip, mainly because we were headed in the same direction that we had the following week, except this was only 7.5 hours one  way.  We weren't able to leave until after Gord finished work so we knew it would be a long night.  Also, we were going to be 'roughing' it with my family in a tent.  It's been years since we used a tent, but I was adamant that we would not freeze.  One thing made it easier, because of the distance and the fact that we couldn't take our trailer, my mom volunteered to take care of all the meals.  Oh yes, we gladly accepted!
     We were on schedule to pull in at midnight and were only 30 minutes from the camp when we lost all the oil in our van.  Thankfully we were able to pull over just as we were coming into Vanderhoof, but there we stood, stranded on the side of the road at 11:30pm.  An officer drove by and called a tow truck for us, which was painful because we only needed to tow it to a dealership which was in our sights...$$$.  My brother-in-law hadn't reached the camp yet so he turned around and picked us and all our camping gear up.  We arrived at 12:30 and I'm ashamed to say that I wasn't in a chipper mood and my attitude was less than stellar.  Here we have the silver linings.    (a) The week-end before when we were passing through, we left our tent, and mattresses with my parents and my sisters were kind enough to set everything up for us.  (b) We WERE thankful that we didn't break down in the Pine Pass which would have been hours from our destination, and no cell service.  (c) My sister, in an attempt to lighten my mood, told me that now I could go pick the treasured Huckleberries!!  It worked.
      Gord had to get a ride home with my sister while I stayed in Prince George waiting for my vehicle to be repaired.    Thankfully it was covered under a recall notice and we will be reimbursed for the towing bill.
     I was also humbled by the willingness of people to help.  From a brother towing it to a T***** dealership an hour away, to a friend lending us a dolly to help the process along.  At one point I had 3 men, all former truckers, looking at my vehicle and assessing everything.  Between the three of them there was close to 100 years experience...that helps.
     The icing on the cake was the extra time spent with my family and the fact that my mom took me huckleberry picking.  What a treat, what a thrill!  I would have loved to go again, but I needed to get home by Wednesday so that we could prepare to leave again on Friday.  And that is where I find myself now.  The loading and packing is finished, and I find myself with a few spare minutes to write out this months happenings.
   
     The details of TRIP #5 are yet to be determined, but I am sincerely hoping that nothing will go wrong with our vehicle this time.  TRIP #4 had other challenges for some of my family.  One sister reached camp with a flat tire, and when I arrived at my parents home, it was to a basement partially under water from a busted water line in the washroom.  Thankfully the damage was minimal.

     Of course nothing is without it's lighter moments.  My son, one who should be old enough to know better, learned the importance of 'Never Cry Wolf' when we were picking berries.  He is constantly trying to trick me, but this time he did...and I was not impressed.  Huckleberries grow well at a higher elevation so we were picking on a mountain side, deep in bear territory.  Every now and then I would have to rest my achy back, and would scan the hillside for signs of animals..well aware of the fact that we could run into bears.  At one point, my child  (love him) yelled "BEAR!"  Pretty sure I shot up like a rocket with fear on my face, to which he responded "Kidding."  I will not elaborate on the conversation that took place, but in a nutshell, it was made very clear that one does not yell 'bear' in bear country unless there actually is one.

     And just like that we are ready to hit the road.....hopefully I will have nothing but good things to report on Monday :)

   




Monday, 15 June 2015

Proof we took a holiday





     We took a vote, it was unanimous...Kelowna has been a win/win for our family.  It was more than we had hoped for.  Booking an 'unknown to us' resort online could have been dangerous for us.  We don't tend to have the best of luck with hotels and it's not because we stay in dives.   From fire alarms to loud/cussing/obnoxious neighbours, we've had it all so we tend to be a bit nervous.

     It was a pleasant surprise to drive to the resort and see what awaited us.  We had a cute little cottage, completely furnished and within a short walk to one of the swimming pools.  Everything was well-maintained and clean...I really love clean!  We had the smallest of the houses, but it was more than adequate for our family.  I was relieved, Gord was impressed, and the kids....well, they really liked the awful hotel we stayed in a few years ago so their opinion doesn't carry too much weight.

     The kids took to the water like fish.  I think the most rewarding part of the trip was to see one of my boys overcome his fear of water.  He was in swimming lessons, but couldn't even bring himself to dunk his head under the water.  Today he jumps in, floats on his belly, can swim short distances, and basically just stays under the water.  It was awesome to see him change over the span of a week.  Our daily routine was breakfast, swim, lunch, swim, super...etc.   Get the picture?  The pools were heated, but that didn't really matter to the kids.  They jumped in the lake too, whereas Gord and I tended to slowly enter...very slowly.  The kids were so played out by the end of the day that they crashed and slept and slept some more.  Mission accomplished!

     I am so glad we had to change our holiday plans.  This has truly been a holiday for everyone.  Cooking has been simple and quick,  and I forget how clean a place can stay when there's no dirt or mud to track in.  Nothing had been scheduled.  We simply woke up and planned the day.  Yes, it has been relaxing and refreshing.  I'm sorry it's over so soon, but good memories were made.

     A few simple highlights include :

  1. Swimming in the lake
  2. Swimming in the pool
  3. Visiting Kangaroo Creek Farm and holding baby Walabies
  4. Touring the historic O'Keefe Ranch
  5. Meeting up with a long lost cousin and his family...beautiful people with a super cute home
     I could probably go on and on, but eventually that would bore you and me, so I will leave you with a montage of unprofessional photos, but you'll get the picture...hehehe...no pun intended.


The 'Cottage'


We spent a lot of time on this deck

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Almost Gone

     It has been more than 10 years since Gord has taken 2 weeks holiday...in a row.  Our holiday time is scarce, rare, and precious.  Last summer his 1 week off went to helping frame the house.  Thankfully we can now use his holiday time for real holidays :)  He was determined to take his full two weeks off and I wasn't about to change his mind.

     We had great plans and intentions to pack our trailer and drive/camp our way around southern Alberta.  Beautiful campgrounds, The Calgary Zoo, and Calaway Park were calling our name.  The kids would have a blast, and we could feel slightly backwoods-y camping.  Camping with a warm bed, hot shower, and flushing toilet.  'Glamping' is the technical term they tell me.

     One week before our scheduled departure we realized it was NOT going to work so we had to come up with a back-up plan.  We are not 'spur of the moment' people...not even a bit.  But we really had no choice but to re-think and plan everything.  And somehow the conversation went like this, "Hey, lets go to Kelowna!"

     That's it.  One sentence and I was off to google every possibility I could think of.  Somehow or other I came across a resort close to Kelowna that sounded marvellous.  By the next day I had booked a 7 day stay and was virtually bouncing off the walls with excitement.  7 days by a beautiful lake and mountains, what's not to love?

     The morning of our departure went smoothly.  Everything was packed, kids were clean, and I was still bouncing off walls.  Or I was until 15 minutes down the road and Gord started talking about what he thought were small side effects of a minor surgery he had done a few days prior to leaving.   Somewhere between hearing about shortness of breath, tight chest, and achy arms/legs I had awful visions of our nightmarish trip 6 years ago...y'know the time I locked him in a cargo trailer and dropped him off at a hospital.  Being stranded by the side of the road with a sick man and van full of kids was not really what I had pictured for a fabulous family vacation.

   
   A few minutes of discussion led us to the conclusion that it was probably nothing, but we didn't want to risk travelling if we weren't certain.  So off to the city hospital.  We walked in, looked at the line and promptly walked back out and called a small hospital 1 hour directly opposite of the direction we had just travelled.  Needless to say our kids were slightly confused and rather concerned that our holiday plans were in for another change.

     A small town hospital really is the way to go.  Generally they don't have a lot going on and they are friendlier and more willing to listen to all the questions I usually have.  Within minutes of walking in Gord was hooked up to machines and they were running tests.  I was relieved that they ruled out a heart condition but a blood test tested 'mildly positive' for blood clots.  That ruling was enough to earn him an ambulance ride back to the city for a more in-depth test.  Again, small-town hospitals take time to...say..give your kids an ambulance tour before their dad gets carted off ;)

     With Gord gone for a few hours, the kids and I headed home to re-group and plan the rest of the day.  They were bordering on disappointment and worry.  The older two vividly remember our last bad experience and tried hard to understand.  I felt for them; torn between two valid feelings.  But they did me proud and controlled their disappointment.

     Hours later Gord was free to go.  Why the initial tests were positive we don't know, BUT I believe that all our family's and friend's prayers had a great deal to do with the changed diagnosis.  It was with relief and thankfulness that I could let everyone know that all was well.  As for our trip?  Well, we got off to a late start but we ended up going to the little cabin we had previously booked.  The cabin wasn't quite what I had hoped it would be.  But it was clean and came with an amazing view of mountains, trees, and free range turkeys.  After a bit of morning exploring we were back on the road..passing landmarks that I hadn't seen since Taylor was a baby.

     I've forgotten how diverse the beauty of BC is.  From rough jagged mountains to rounder tree-covered sloops.  And I was thrilled when I spotted the beautiful Cedar trees.  The trip went so smoothly, and there were repeated comments made about how thankful we all were to be heading in the right direction...with Gord in the vehicle.  No trailer this time ;)

   

   


Monday, 11 May 2015

Awkward Moment #3

     I would like to think that I have a lot of common sense.  I believe I am practical and a 'no nonsense' kind of girl.  I pay attention to my surroundings and notice details, the little things.  I can tell you if something is crooked to 1/8th of an inch...and this drives Gord and I BOTH crazy.  So that's why I am still embarrassed/annoyed at my ridiculous guffaw on the week-end.

     Every year Sexsmith has a town garage sale, and I love getting up early and browsing through everyone's treasure/junk.  I usually go by myself, but this year I took the older 3 with and inevitably we came home with a few steals.  I found 3 lovely cast iron pans for $4...I can't not (double negative I know) buy them!!  I know someone will want them, so I always pick them up for friends.

     This is not Gord's thing, at all.  We have a deal though, I'm always on the lookout for things he's talked about purchasing.  It usually works out well and every now and then he reaps the rewards of my scavenger hunts.  My hopes were high when I went to an older home that had a large 8hp tiller out front.  I knew Gord had been on the lookout for one and this was in good shape and considerably larger than the 5hp tiller we had looked at before.

     Not seeing a price on the machine I found the owner.  "How much for the tiller?"  His reply? "Um, that's a snowblower."  At that point my head whipped around to take a 'closer' look.  Sure enough, right on top, was the snow chute.....well done Susie.  To the man's credit, he did an excellent job on maintaining his composure, and I had nothing intelligent to say after the fact.  Sometimes you just have to admit defeat and walk away...which I did with 2 cast iron pans ;)

     To add to my shame, I saw at least half a dozen more 'tillers' that day....and you can bet that I looked them over VERY well!

     Have a great Monday :)

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Ugly Dust

     God often uses the simplest things to reveal my ugliness to me.  I may as well call it ugly, because that's what it is.  Sin is always ugly when you get to the root of it.  As for the use of simple things?  He knows my head doesn't do well with the complicated.

     One month ago we were getting ready to do the move.  I had been dreading it.  I know it sounds ridiculous, (we were moving 50 feet away) but this move wore me out.  Usually I am organized and every single box is labelled on two sides.  This time there was no packing involved.  We simply used 6 empty containers, loaded them up, carried them across the muddy (ick ick ick) yard, and put everything away in the house.  It made it simpler in the long run....it was just A LOT of work.  Thankfully Gord rigged up a sidewalk of sorts because both of our moving days included rain.

     Almost everything that we moved needed to be wiped down.  I knew the dust was bad...but I was still horrified at the layers of it everywhere.   I finally realized that I needed some help, and yet my stubborn, mennonite mentality kicked in.  I have a hard time asking for help...and an even harder time admitting that I need it.  But I didn't have much choice.  Family was coming from out of town to help us move and, ready or not (dust and all) they were going to move things that were disgustingly dirty.  Oh my pride.  Some people could care less, but I care...very much.

     Two ladies kindly took rags and water, and proceeded to wipe down every single jar full of food...and I can a lot.  They wiped the filthy shelves, and my inner self was filled with shame that they would see my lack of cleanliness.  I cringed when I gave them a new chore to tackle, knowing very well what they would find when they started cleaning.  I tried so very hard not to apologize for the state of the shop...and failed.  I really did these woman a dis-service.  My actions said that they judge the value of our friendship, based on  how well I manage my home.   Yet, I know these ladies love me for who I am....not for what I can do.  I was, and always have been, far too concerned as to how people perceive me.  I do not like to fail, and I was taught not to.  I always had the impression as a child, that appearances DO matter.  Unfortunately I have carried that viewpoint with me into adulthood.

     This isn't the first time I've been aware of this.  I'm starting to think I should be given a sign to wear with a capital 'L', like they do in BC for the student drivers.  Contrary to what my friends and I said, the 'L' stands for 'Learner'......not 'Loser.'   Although those days when I'm in a battle, I usually feel like a loser.   And so comes the vital part.  Separating truth from fiction.  I AM learning and I will not lose a battle that God has already won for me.  I've come along way from where I used to be...a 'people pleaser' by nature.  But every now and then God continues to refine that area, and every time I cringe at the intrusion.  The sad truth is that if I crave the approval of man more than the approval of God, then I have  a serious problem with Idolatry.   And since Misery loves company, I am greatly relieved that I am not alone in this camp.

     It is easy to place my identity in everything, EXCEPT Christ.  And yet, that is the only thing that should truly define me as a being.   I am a Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, and a Friend, BUT one day I will stand before Christ.  It will not matter if I was not a sister on earth, or if I wasn't a mother.  What WILL matter is whether or not I am HIS Child.

     The titles I hold now are a blessing.  God requires that I be a good steward of them.  They help me grow in my relationship to God, but they should not define me.  Think about it.  In Heaven I will not be a mother...not even a wife.  My earthly flesh struggles with this concept, but (and I am paraphrasing  Kara Tippets) all the relationships here on earth (especially marriage) are a crumb compared to what we will have when we reach Eternity.

     When I truly look at who I am in Christ, everything else should fall away.  "In Christ Alone" should be my daily prayer.  Thank God that He uses simple ways to bring me back.  He used dust this time, it could be envy or fear next time.  Regardless of His methods, He will always reach me in a way I can understand....and He's pretty creative :)