Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Birthday Thoughts

     This post my sound superficial to some of you.  If you have never moved away from family, you might not understand....that's okay.  When you move you leave behind family, friends, and traditions.   It took me a long time to understand why my birthday often left me sad.  I watched friends have family get togethers and celebrate each other.  I left that behind when I moved away from home, and though I loved my new life, I missed those times with my own family.  Roots are a blessing to have, but some of us will be transplanted to a new environment.  Everything is different for those who move.  You have to find a new support system.  This became painfully apparent when I had children.  There was no sister coming over to do laundry or mother coming to calm a fussy baby so I could sleep.  From having babies to having birthdays, my life changed.  It affected me more than I realized.   I often felt selfish for wanting to celebrate my birthday, and felt silly for talking to Gord about something so little...so I didn't.  Gord always remembered and would buy me something special, but I missed the getting together with people.  I was missing traditions.

      This past weekend we celebrated my birthday.  Another year starting, another year closer to the end of my 30's.  Guess what?  Age stopped being a factor for me once I turned 30.  30 was a hard one for me, and I kind of played a role in that.  I specifically remember Gord asking me what I wanted to do and if there was something I wanted.  I lied.  My birthday comes exactly one month after Christmas...just about the time you've paid all the December bills!  That year it was a little tight so I (trying to be mature and selfless) said "Oh we don't have to do anything."  Oh be careful what you wish for.  I obviously should have thought about my words a little more carefully.  I was thinking he would still do SOMETHING...but no, he followed my instructions perfectly.  I can't really blame him can I?  Anyway, long story short... I was wrong.  Wrong to expect him to go against my wishes and do something amazing.  Lesson learned!

     I laugh about this with my sisters...they all had a disappointing 30th birthday as well.  Misery loves company :)  I've come to find that many of my friends also cried on their big day.  What is it with us??  I expected Gord to read my mind instead of just telling  him what would be special to me.  I have found my 30's a time of practicing honesty and  (the famous political line) transparency.   As much as I would like Gord to figure everything out on his own, marriage doesn't work that way.  I had high expectations and was often disappointed.  It's humbling for me to go to him and tell him what I need or want, but it works.  Men seem to be able to do this early on in their life...women not so much.  We want them to anticipate our needs before we even realize we have one.  We make it hard for everyone.  I am hoping I have (mostly) overcome this fault and am reading to tackle another one.

     At one point Gord and I talked, again, about what I would like to do on my birthday.  Birthdays were a big deal when I was growing up, and mom always did something special.  It wasn't  expensive or grand, but we felt special.  As I grew older, contributing to someone's birthday was exciting as well.  I wanted to make my mom smile with a specially picked out, unpractical gift.  I finally shared with Gord how important it was to me...and over the last 7 years it's become important to him as well.    He also has 4 incredibly willing helpers who will always remind him that 'The Day' is coming closer and they 'Need' to go to town.  Now this may all sound shallow and selfish to you.  But for me there is a lesson in it that I want our children to learn.  They need to learn to 'Give' in many ways.  Their time, their money, their service..etc.  I want them to love giving..it's a blessing.  A simple way to teach this is with the passing of family birthdays.

     I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday this year.  My sister Maria started it off days before the actual event by planning a supper out with some lovely ladies.  Thai food, laughter,  and the odd grammar lesson filled the evening.  I have thanked God many times for placing these people in my life and am honoured to have their friendship.

     I loved that my kids were excited to celebrate my birthday.  They carefully chose a simple gift and were so proud to give it to me.  The kids also carried on their tradition of picking out a cake for me.   I was humbled when I saw their faces...excitement, anticipation, and much love.  Gord warned me before that he had not interfered at all this year in their gift selection.  I was thrilled to see how each child picked something they thought I would love....and they got it right!  The boys also realize that Homesense is the store to go to ;)

     The only thing that I asked to do was to go bowling with some friends.  That was my wish..and we did.  I will not comment on the fact that I aggravated my pulled muscle...again.  Nor will I boast about beating Gord.  I am after all, 37, and that would be terribly immature.

     I don't know how it works in your home, but here I am the one to plan these things for our family. Just like my mom,  I plan the birthdays, the holidays, and so many more events.  I realize how much my mother set the tone in our family for these special times, and I missed that when I moved away.  God has now given me a family and I get to do the same things.  I am able to start traditions that my children will, I hope, love.  I enjoy doing this so much, and as our children get older I can see that every year they look forward to our own simple traditions.  I am thankful for what my mom did for me, and I am also thankful that for a season in my life, I missed her planning for it made me realize that it's my job as well.

     I hope in this year and with your coming birthday, you are able to make time to celebrate with people you love.  It's not just to benefit you, but to let others bless you.  These times of celebration should not be overlooked; it's a reason to fellowship and show love.  It's not about the years...EVER.



Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Mug

     I have a thing for coffee mugs and pretty cups.  It could be that this came from my mother who would specifically request that if we brought her a cup of water, to bring it in a pretty cup.  It's strange for me to be able to remember the exact cup that was her favourite, since I have the worst memory of all  my siblings.  But (and I know I'm not supposed to start a sentence with a  conjunction!!)  I always chose  a tall, cut-crystal glass, with a thin rim.  To this day I will always chose a feminine cup, if given a choice.  I think it's become a joke among friends and family.  I can also usually tell who drinks coffee in the house.  If it's only the husband,  the cupboard is bound to be stocked with the classic 'Trucker Mug.'  It's big and bulky with  ne'er a thin rim to be found.  "Shapes don't taste" I tell my children, yet in my mind I whisper "But they still feel."  It's all about the feeling.  Honestly I could dive so much deeper into this un-important topic, but I fear you've had enough.  

     So, back to the story.  With this past Christmas season and the purchasing of gifts, I found myself always browsing the pretty mugs in stores.  They weren't expensive, and I could have easily bought myself a new one, but I was holding off.  The reason being I was fairly certain that one of my littles would by me one as a gift.  So instead, I purchased 3 beautiful, thin, elegant coffee/tea mug as presents for various people.  I did my share of drooling, and I'm sure Gord was getting tired of it.  I wrapped them in the bext way I could, in fact, they looked like something off of Pinterest.  Slightly pleased I was.  I was giving a gift that I desperately wanted to keep...but really didn't need.  Anyway, I knew that they would be fun to give away.  And they were!  I even had the faint hope of keeping one since it went into a gift exchange...but my niece kept taking it back...gone it was.

     Christmas morning came, and my kids were so excited to give me their hand-picked presents.  They really did a great job at picking what they thought I would like.  Of course when dealing with a child's mind one should always be prepared for the unexpected.  Like the cute little measuring cups my oldest son thought I could use in the kitchen.  He thought it all out and decided they would be helpful to me...and they are useful.  Although, I use them far differently than the general public since I don't drink.  I still don't have the heart to tell him that he bought me shot glasses!!  

     As expected I did receive my much anticipated cup.  This came from my overtly sensitive and thoughtful son, every momma should have one of these :)  He picked this out because he thought it was pretty and because he knew I would like the colour.  How much better can it get?  Now, if I were to be realistic, it would NOT be what I would pick.  In fact, it's a feminine trucker mug.  That being said, HE picked it out for ME so I will use it until it falls apart.  I love it because I love HIM.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to him, this was beauty.

     It's not ugly, just not how I would define pretty, at least not now.   It's big too...so big my two hands cannot cup around it.  I used to love the clunky look, and now I want elegant and refined?  How fickle and shallow I can be!  It has shown me that my perception of 'Beautiful' changes.  Thankfully My Father stays the same....and He gives me grace to change.   For now, here on this mortal earth, I will continue to confuse my loved one's....and I wonder why they think I'm difficult to shop for??

     This mug has now become my first choice for my coffee...especially if my boy is around.  He's watching me like a Hawk.  One morning I used a different cup and he was worried that I didn't like his gift.  It means so much to him that I use what he, so carefully,  bought me.  How blessed am I? A mother prone to fail him everyday in some way, yet he wants to please me?  The little things sometimes speak the most to people.  This cup is such a little thing, but this boy has a long memory and if I can show him my love by such a simple act, then I will.  So simple.

     By the way, my mother now will drink out of a plastic children's cup (shudder), and she no longer cares.  There is hope for me yet ;)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Bare Necessities

     "Something's gotta give" has become my new saying.  In this season of life that I find myself in, I simply cannot do everything that I feel I 'have' to do.  Thankfully, some duties in life have a 'give-n-take' option.  Again, I am really thankful that some things can fall by the wayside for a time.  I would go insane if I really did have to do it all, all the time.  I don't know how it works in your home, but I'm fairly certain that if you had a window into my home and saw only what was being neglected..you may come to the conclusion that (a) I need help  (b) I am a bad parent  (c) that you're in good company ;)

     However, my family has a few basic needs which just cannot, I repeat, CANNOT, be ignored.  Your family may have different priorities, good for you.  If I knew what they were I would probably even envy you...just a little.  In this house/shop/home, it comes down to the bare necessities of life...Food & Clothing (preferably clean).  My people do not do well when food is lacking.  I could pacify my children with a bowl of cereal for supper for a day or maybe two.  But to deliberately serve porridge as a main meal??  It is just not going to happen in the foreseeable future.  One delightful lady at church mentioned that her husband is more that happy with gruel for supper if need be.  Truthfully, my family would be as well...if they were starving.  We are not yet in the depths of despair, so I see no need to resort to porridge for supper.  My cheat meal for my family is pancakes..from a bag.  GASP!!   Yes, yes, I know I could just simply take out the four ingredients and make them myself...but that would not be a cheat meal in my mind.  I do try to save this meal for a time when it really matters, but it's good to have a back-up when I'm sick, the power is off (gas stove), or the day has gone beyond redemption in my mind.  I do not live by restaurants, or my mother, and that's really the same thing isn't it?

     Now clothing isn't as picky, thankfully.  We do live on an acreage so unfashionable play clothes are almost a must, although even I draw the line at pants being too short.  Holes that expose the knee?  No problem.  Holes that expose that the entire lower leg?  Well, surely we can get one more day's use out of them.  We do step into civilization fairly regularly though, so having clean clothing is still a must.  It really is a 'bare' necessity!   I do not have a laundry day though.  That makes no sense to me.  What if it's Wednesday and the shirt I want to wear is dirty and laundry won't happen until Thursday?  As much as I like rules, that borders violently on legalism.  I simply do laundry every 2-3 days, and I  find it much easier to wash 2 loads every few days instead of 8 loads all in one day.  I am all about making things simple and practical in my daily chores.  This mindset has also carried over into the New House.  I wanted the laundry upstairs where I can put in a quick load or two.  My laundry room is small, maybe too small for some people, but I know it will work for me.  I did not want to share the precious space in our home with a room that I spend very little time in.  Obviously not everyone has the same mindset and this gives some interesting conversations.   I know one family who make piles EVERYWHERE in the basement and then very methodically and strategically start doing laundry.  "It takes days"...their words, not mine.  I could not work like that, but that's just me.  However, it made sense when they looked at my laundry room and were puzzled as to how I could do anything in the space we had.  This is also why we see houses with strange proportions.  Ridiculously small kitchens and an excessively large master bedroom.  I would do the exact opposite ;)  Building a house is a blessing in a lot of ways.  You can tailor it to your family's needs and wants.

      On a more serious note, I should include one more area that we do not want to neglect in this whole building project.  People.  God has generously given us children, friends, and family.  They encourage us many times when we are feeling overwhelmed with life.  It would be to our own detriment if we put them on the back burner until we 'had time' to spend with them.  People are why Christ came.  That says a lot as to the priority they should have in our lives.  This can also be done poorly.  We could become 'takers' and use people, yet Christ was a 'giver', literally.  He ultimately gave His life for me; He also gave of Himself to others when He was tired and weak.  He is the prime example of giving to others.  I want to invest in people because they matter, starting at home with our family.  I want to teach our children to give of themselves.  That's hard!  We are naturally a selfish people, but we have been given a mandate in Scripture to "...regard one another as more important than yourselves"..Philippians 2:3.  Imagine if the Church chose to live this way all the time.  Yet, the Church is made up of families, and if we as a family do not practice this then neither will the Church.

     I guess I never got around to what I've had to let go of these last few months.  I will save that for another post.  Your imagination doesn't have to get too wild though.  Notice I did NOT mention housekeeping, homeschooling, exercising.....etc.  It's an almost endless list.  I hope this has made you feel a little better about your home life :)  Until I see you again, I hope you at least put laundry on your 'to do' list.  It would be awkward if I came for coffee...



Monday, 12 January 2015

Turtle in the fast lane

     These days my thought are a mess.  I cannot possibly even think of writing a coherent  post.  We have much happening in almost every area of our lives, so maybe the best way to get caught up is to do a quick point form list of what's going on these days.  I really am feeling like a turtle caught in the fast lane.

  1.    Christmas came and went.  It was lovely and was over too quickly.  Everyone stayed healthy and many good cups of coffee were consumed over visits with family and friends.  My boys are also  proud owners of new pellet guns, while Chloe received her long awaited moccasins.
  2.  We took a quick trip up north to visit Gord's family.  We were blessed to stay at the home of sweet friends...they even let us park our snowy vehicle in their garage to thaw.  Taylor made a wise crack about being treated like the Prime Minister.  By the time we left, I felt thoroughly pampered.  And it only got better.  We also stayed with one of Gord's sisters.  If I could pick any other place, other than my own, that would feel as warm, welcoming, and safe, it would be her home.  Not much sleep was had...but again, there was coffee.
  3. Coming home meant back to work...so we delayed coming home for a day.  But still, the work was waiting.  Paint is going on my walls!!  It's exciting, and a lot of work.  Plus the concern that I picked the wrong colour.  Although, this time I was wise and asked a fashion savvy friend for help.  I'm loving the colours so far.  I would post pics, but I'm starting in the basement and there's not the much to see down there.  We have to spray all our doors and trim upstairs, so I get to practice in the basement with my painting technique....on a side note, my body hurts.  My sister-in-law does this for a living  and is amazing.  But she abandoned us for greener pastures in BC.  Ironically they have had a massive dump of snow in southern BC :)  Ah well, she's been getting frantic  texts from me, and she's been more than willing to give me pointers so all is well
  4. Conflict.  It seems as if no season in life is complete without it.  Lately there has been no shortage of it in our lives.   It's hard....just plain hard.  Oh to be 'real' with each other at all times and bear each other's burdens.  Wisdom is essential and is provided from The Lord IF we ask.  I am learning though.  Learning to give grace when I would rather be angry.  Learning to love people when I do not feel like it.  Learning to trust God in all things.  Learning to let go of what I have always known.  Learning that God is enough, and if I feel HE is not....I am learning to  search for the sin in my life that keeps me from His peace.
  5.  Grace.  I am so thankful for it.  It's easy to sit in condemnation of those I don't agree with....yet daily God gives me grace when I do not deserve it.  Grace is not the same as compromise.  I have failed here miserably.  I used to be so afraid of compromise that I did not show grace where I should have.  Anytime we fail as a Believer, we damage our testimony.... God forgives...sometimes people don't.  We have to live with the consequences of our sin.   Yet regardless of how often I fail, God gives and gives.  No matter the offence done to me, my sin is just as awful in the eyes of God.  So why would I withhold what is freely given to me?
  6. Death.  I have yet to be personally affected by the loss of someone.  I watch friends and family suffer, but the time will come when they will stand by me when I am there.  Lately I am reading a blog called "Mundane Faithfulness."  Kara Tippets is the author, a pastor's wife, a mom to four young children, and she is dying.   Cancer is the culprit, and though it is destroying her physical body she is determined to give Big Love to those around her.  Her children know what is happening, but the love she gives them simply pours out in the words she writes.  It is beautiful, and for her children to be so lavished upon in her last days is a precious thing.  What a testimony she will leave behind.  What an example of rejoicing in all things.  

  I told you this post was everywhere...but so are my thoughts these days.  I am thankful that God can make sense of what goes on upstairs.  I am thankful He holds today AND my hand.  Blessings to you in this new week in all the crazy that's bound to happen.  If you see me this week and notice grey hair...I'm painting remember? ;)