Monday, 30 March 2015

Blessings and Birthdays

     So much is happening around here that it's getting hard to keep track of everything, but as I'm taking a breather for a few minutes I want to share some of the blessings we've received as of late.  Late last week our house went into high gear and in the space of about 3 days our countertops, lights, and plumbing fixtures were ALL installed.  This also gave us very little reason to not start with the moving.  I have to say, I was procrastinating a wee bit.  The thought was almost too much for my head to handle.  But thanks to friends and family we moved a lot over on Saturday.  It didn't just get moved though, furniture was placed, books were arranged beautifully on bookshelves, DVD's were organized, my cold storage is organized with all my jars (filled and empty), and my kitchen is well under way!  It caught me off guard...it really did.  Ladies who were not scared of my dusty mess.  They simply tackled what overwhelmed me..oh they blessed me!!!

     I have sister-in-laws that went above and beyond anything I could have asked for.  From supplying the workers with delicious soup, buns, donuts and cookies, to another watching children and feeding us all a feast in the evening.  I almost cried from sheer relief.  It is humbling to be given such thought.    It's easier  to do the giving....oh my pride gets me in so much trouble.  No one commented on my mess, or my dust (the shop is crazy for that).  No one judged me for my lack of organization, instead they were such a source of encouragement and helped me more than they realize.  Blessed indeed!

     We have one more move to do, but we delayed it by a few days so that I could get the rooms in the shop cleaned out of clothing and bedding.  Also laundry,  a mountain of it!  The blankets that created a false sense of privacy need to be rid of a layer of dust.  Thankfully everything will be ready to go by tomorrow, so after two years of shop life, we enter yet another phase.  Change is coming, and we are all ready.  The kids have excitedly carried all their belonging into the house and organized their rooms, another blessing.  From organizing their books to hanging clothes, they've got it covered!

     Mixed in with moving, we have had birthdays.  Yesterday Taylor turned 13, and Gord will celebrate a birthday on our final move-in date...I think it's appropriate :) Last week Taylor already decided that he was moving into his room...so he did.  Out of all our kids, he is the most excited for the house.  There is no denying that he is ready for more independence and I am proud and nostalgic at the same time.  We gave him a camping cot for his birthday, and he set it up in his room for 'company.'  Somehow Wyatt got it into his head that he wanted to sleep in the house as well, so last night he stayed on the cot in Taylor's room.  There was much discussion about this among the kids.  One child in particular was questioning the wisdom of it, but Wyatt had a ready response for everything.

      "Won't you be scared Wyatt?"  - Nathan
      "Nope, Taylor is here....and he has a pellet gun." - Wyatt

      "A pellet gun won't stop a bear" - Nathan
      "Oh, he has a machete" - Wyatt

     Taylor has been such a blessing this past month.  He has been my right-hand man when Gord isn't here.  He is maturing in so many ways and I am painfully aware that the early formative years are long gone.  Two years ago he had his 2 best friends move away at the same time.  It was hard on him, yet Gord and I called it a blessing in disguise.  Taylor has become far closer to his dad since then, and has discovered that he has a mutual love for quadding and camping.  I couldn't be happier to see my boy work side by side with his father...learning a Godly work ethic and a commitment to always finish a project.  He is still enough of a kid though to enjoy a box of Lego, and that makes me smile :)

     Taylor, in some ways, was my hardest toddler.  Yet every victory with him has been sweet.  I often wish I could repeat my parenting with him, yet I realize God doesn't require that of me...rather that I make the most of my time with him now.  He is on his way to becoming a responsible young man.  But more than that, I pray that his heart continues to seek Christ.  His sensitivity to my hard days has made me cry more than once.  Just the other day he took a sibling aside and 'encouraged' them to have a better attitude when it came to helping.  I felt so ashamed when I heard this...mostly because my failings are not his responsibility.  Yes, children refine their mothers...and each one has a special way of doing so.

     Happy 13th Birthday Taylor Pete!  You are so quick to forgive, and easy to laugh.  I love your tender heart, and excited personality.  I am blessed indeed to be your mom!

     

Monday, 23 March 2015

Chloe Lynn

   
One of my all-time favourite pictures
     This morning my girl turned 10!  I remember the day I could say my age with all my fingers.  To quote Chloe "It's a once in a lifetime experience."  Although she was referring to a spider we flushed down the toilet.  This girl has a quick, dry wit...I've often said she resembles my sister Mitch more than me.  Yet we are blessed to call her 'ours.'

     The morning she was born I hadn't really expected to have a girl, but she was a lovely surprise.  Born with a good amount of hair, long eyelashes, beautiful puckered lips, and the strangest ears we had ever seen (the tops of her ears were completely flat).  It reminded me of Spock off of Star Trek..not really encouraging.  But within a few days they curled in nicely and I was relieved :)  I know that sounds vain, but I could give you an earful (HAHA) about all the teasing I went through with my large 'Schlamp' ears.



   
    If there is such a thing as a perfect baby, then that would have been Chloe.  She slept, she ate, she burped, and didn't cry.  She was a dream to have, and made moving so much easier.  We packed and moved to Grande Prairie when she was a mere 9 days old.  For the first three months we were somewhat homeless and stayed with family.  When I was feeling overwhelmed with our new life, I would simply hold her and remember what was most important.  She made the transition to 2 children so simple...it also made having a third child 16 months later a reality!

My Grandma Schlamp.  The only picture I have of our children with a Great-GrandParent...it's rather special
    In my world of boys she brings a delightfully feminine touch to our home.  She loves pretty things, knick knacks, cats, and babies.  She is becoming my partner in crime when we go shopping ;)  I am encouraged by the young lady she is becoming, yet still love the fact that she is playing playmobile with her brothers right now.  

2 weeks old 
My favourite by far, despite my hair and attire!
10 years makes a difference
    Chloe woke early this morning and nearly gave me a heart attack.  I was standing in our very dark kitchen (can't turn on a light or the whole shop lights up like a christmas tree) and I just sensed that someone was behind me so I turned around and there she was...smirking.  I about hit the roof because I hadn't heard a thing.  It's rather fitting because she used to do this as a toddler.  I would open my eyes to a little girl with nasty bedhead standing right by my face.  Obviously time doesn't change everything!

     Gord and I have a tradition of giving our kids their presents first thing in the morning before Gord leaves for work.  We love it and so do the kids as it gives them a chance to enjoy a private moment with us.  She has her birthday supper picked out..Somma Borcht (a sausage, potato, and dill soup).  We are holding off on a  party until we are in the house.  I'm glad because I don't think I would do well with planning anything right now, and I really want to be able to make it a special day for her.

     Since there will be no party today I cannot leave you with a picture of her and her cake.  BUT I will leave you with a photo of an innocent, sweet Chloe celebrating her 1st birthday.  It still makes me smile :)






Thursday, 19 March 2015

God controls the crazy

     In keeping with the name of this blog, today was a day of 'crazy.'  I know I have been using that word a lot lately, but it most accurately describes my life these days.  Today I was given a beautiful reminder of how much God controls my crazy.

     This past month I have stayed pretty close to home, except for heading out for church on Sunday morning.  Any trip to the city has been for house purposes.  I haven't shopped groceries in 3 weeks...and my cupboards are starting to resemble those of Old Mother Hubbard.  Well, today was an exception.  I had to do a town run (25 minutes away) before my kids awake...how thankful I am for my almost teenager who can stay at home with them!  I made it home as they were finishing breakfast.  I hurriedly gave them a few instructions and then rushed to the house to stain a piece of nosing for our stairs.  I left it to dry and went back to the shop.

     I had a few hours before I needed to take Chloe to her piano lesson so in that time devotions, laundry, and chores took place...while I kept running to the house to work on the nosing in between drying times.  After a slapped together lunch of KD for the kids, I hurried them out the door so we could be on time for Chloe's lesson, 10 minutes away.

     The lesson being over I drove the kids back home and managed to stay home for all of 1 hour until I had to leave AGAIN to go BACK to the city (25 minutes)!!  People,  I don't go away this much in 1 week, never mind 1 day.  Of course by the time I got home I was thankful all the running around was done, and I said as much to Gord.  He was patiently waiting for me to come home so he could take the van to the shop to prep and clean it for our trip to Edmonton tomorrow.  (While he was waiting he folded the mountain of laundry and washed my dishes...I was pretty thrilled!)

     30 minutes after he had left, he called me and the conversation went along these lines..."I don't know how we haven't gotten into an accident with our tires!  There is a massive gash all around the tire..it's amazing it didn't blow.  I have NEVER seen a tire in this bad of shape!"

     Aaaannnnd, I knew I needed to make another trip.  Thankfully Gord has a rather impressive stash of tires and rims...it's a long story, though I won't be making fun of them for a while.  I was able to find the right ones and load them onto the truck for the drive to his workplace.  He showed me the tire...it's a miracle that it hadn't blown yet!!  Thinking back, Gord had commented that the van was vibrating but we thought it was due to the Alberta mud that makes it's appearance every year about this time.  That's the reason Gord took the van to the shop, to wash out the rims.  Had he not done that we would very likely have been stranded on our trip.  I had also heard a strange humming sound on my last trip from town...so it's very safe to say that God had His hand on my van.

     My day was crazy from the moment I got up, but God was still controlling every event.  He does that every day, but usually I'm too blind to see His touch.  Instead I am more likely to be irritated at the little delays, like hitting all the red lights.  Yet maybe those pesky lights keep me from getting into an accident.

     God Is in control of all things at all time.  I do not need to acknowledge this for it to be so...it simply IS.  However MY soul is much more at peace when I recognize that He IS in my chaos...in fact the 'crazy' drives me to Him.  I see my need for Him on the hard days much more than on the days that feel like a holiday.

     I never would have thought that God would use a tire to show me His goodness!!  In what way is He revealing Himself to you?  Look for it in the little things...or check your tires ;)

   


   

   

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Patience...and this has nothing to do with the house

     A few weeks ago I was reminded of just how patient our Heavenly Father is with me, with His people.  My view of God the Father was always a harsh one.  I always felt that He was waiting for me to fall, to make a mistake so that He could then punish me sufficiently.  Without meaning to I was very much living a 'Works Salvation' theology.  If I did enough, prayed enough, read enough, then I would be acceptable.  I obeyed out of fear of the consequences, but not necessarily out of love.  It's been hard for me to get past this thinking, and some days I still struggle.

     Over the past 15 years God has been beyond patient with me in my walk.  Little by little He has gently shown me areas of life that I need to let go of.  Sometimes He has been more bold, but always it has started with a tender nudge...not lighting and thunder.   How much more joy (not to be confused with happiness) would I have if I learned to listen right away?  And yet, He lets me choose...and I suffer for it.  He wants me to choose obedience because I love Him.  A Holy Fear should be there as well, but most of all LOVE.  The greatest commandment is to Love Him with my whole heart

     God led us to a small, rural church about 4 years ago.  I have heard messages on love and grace before, but either I wasn't ready for them, OR I have just not seen it done so gently and full of love.  I believe God knew that we needed gentleness...and God is using this local body to teach and grow us. I can honestly say that this is the first church that we have chosen to attend without the pull of family, friends, or familiarity.  It has been so good for us.  To examine for ourselves what we believe and why we believe it.  To allow old ideas to be challenged; not for the sake of abandoning them (although sometimes we have to) but so that we don't hold on to thoughts for traditions' sake.

     Back to a few weeks ago, the topic was 'Worship.'  The example given was of David and the Ark of the Covenant...from II Samuel.  The Ark was misplaced for a time and David, full of enthusiasm for God, wanted to restore it to it's rightful place.  His motives were good and his joy was contagious for the people went out with music and singing.  BUT, there was a problem.  David, in his zeal, did NOT do his homework.  If he had, he would not have made the mistake of putting the Ark on a cart...yes it was a new cart, but this is not how God said it was to be carried.

     The Ark was to be carried by the Levites, with poles.  Yet if you read the story, God did not strike the people down as soon as the people made a mistake... He let them continue.  That is until someone made the dreaded error of reaching out to steady the Ark when the oxen stumbled.  This is the part that I have always struggled with.  Yes, it was wrong to touch the Ark, but he did it for a good reason...right?  Why would God punish a man for keeping something so important from falling and being damaged?

     David and the Israelites neglected to follow the specific instructions that God had given them.  They didn't intend to sin, but they still sinned and eventually that bore a grave consequence.  David, full of fear, was not willing to take the Ark any further.  The Ark was put into the safekeeping of a man, who was in turn, greatly blessed by the presence of the Ark.   David became aware of the blessing upon the man, and that was all the encouragement he needed to realize that the Ark needed to come back Jerusalem.  So again, there was singing and dancing.  However this time they did things properly...and the Ark was carried on poles.  Every six steps, David sacrificed to The Lord...out of joy  ...and maybe relief that everyone was still alive!

     I find it amazing that God would let them get as far as they did.  He didn't punish them when they loaded the Ark onto the cart, or when they started on their journey.  The consequence came down the road...and at first glance it seems harsh.  If David had inquired of the Lord first, a death would have been avoided.  His eagerness was his downfall in this case...and another paid the price for it.

     How often have I, in my impatience, made a decision without bringing it to the Lord first?  Bringing all my thoughts, concerns, fears...is part of daily worship.  Worship is so much more than lifting hands and singing a song.  It's more than prayer and Bible reading.  Worship is giving my body, soul, and mind over to the Lord all the time..not just in a quiet moment or Sunday morning.

     I fail.  Everyday.  I fail to worship God as He deserves to be worshipped.  And He is patient with me.  There are times I cross that boundary and I 'touch the Ark.'  He corrects me and if I am sensible I will respond quickly.  And though I will face a consequence for my foolishness, He STILL wants me.

     There are also times when I truly believe that I am serving Christ, yet I am deceived by my own sinful nature.  It's not hard to twist scripture to give an interpretation that I like better than the one you give me.  Yet God is faithful and if I truly desire Him then He will ALWAYS reveal the sin in my heart to me.  It may take time, but it will happen.  When it does, He is there with forgiveness I do not deserve.

     As Christians it is important not to take over the role of the Holy Spirit to those struggling, but who aren't yet aware of their sin.  God can and does use people to reveal sin, so please don't misunderstand.  I am talking of extending grace to someone who is ignorant, not willfully committing a sin.  I have been far too quick to form an opinion as soon as I see someone stumble.  Shame on me. God is patient with me, and I am thankful....should I not follow His example?

     I wish I could adequately describe the light bulb moment I had while sitting in church when the pastor was speaking on this topic.

    The patience our Lord has for us is unbelievable.  How else could David be called 'A man after God's own heart?'  David longed to serve God, but he made some awful choices.  There is hope for me.  I will fail...that is inevitable.  Thank God my salvation is not dependant on MY behaviour, but rather on the amazing gift given to me.

   


Monday, 9 March 2015

Today I....

     Today I was a mean teacher and a bossy mom (they two don't always go together but today they were the dream team).

     Today I finally figured out how to use the new math curriculum that I have had sitting in storage for longer than I want to admit.  It's computer based and I am hoping it's a hit with the kids.  They sat willingly, for fun today, so I think we are off to a good start.

     Today I tackled my mounds of laundry AND my bedding.  It's never a good sign when the 5 year old walks into the laundry room and gasps because it's "a disaster."  But at the end of the day the best perk is crawling into a clean bed ;)

     Today I managed to get the kids through a full day of school...it's rare since I never know exactly what will be on the schedule.

     Today I was able to sit and read to my kiddos...so good.

     Today I ordered my children outside..multiple times.  As a result the winter boots are sopping wet because we have had amazing weather lately!  The snow is melting and the water is running.  It's worth the wet boots.  Plastic bag inserts here we come!

    Today I played a referee at least a dozen times.  I think a new crisis management system is in order...mine's broken.

      Today I was a shoulder for one overwhelmed child...this project is getting in the way of sleep and a much needed schedule.

     Today I started cleaning the basement of the house.  Baseboards need to be wiped, windows cleaned, and floors washed.  Only 2 rooms are done, but it's a start and a positive happening.  Nail hole filling will commence tomorrow.

     Today I was humbled by the maturity I saw in my oldest when he saw me struggling with conflict and emotions.  To know that he was willing to help wherever he could was indeed a blessing.

     Today I learned the art of pulling out a badly stuck bobcat.  In the process, and it's a long story, I may have smelled mildly of sewage...gag.  Of all the places to get stuck, our septic field system is really the worst spot.

     Tomorrow I.....will do laundry again!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Best Medicine #2

     Having just turned 37 I feel that I should be, at least on some level, mature.  By nature I am not the pensive, contemplating kind of person that is usually seen as wise.  I am learning....I think.  My 30's have definitely challenged my happy-go-lucky attitude, and I'm not the perky optimist that I used to be.  Building, babies, sub-dividing (weird I know), churches, and family have all gone through some rough patches which have left me slower to speak, quicker to think.  It's a good thing.

     I used to be the person that went to bed at 1am and hopped out of bed at 7am...wide awake, sparky, and according to a sister...irritating.  For a few years I was a house cleaner for a small business that my dad bought.  It was a decent first time job, and I got to work with two of my sisters off and on.  My younger sister Kari and I were always close.  We shared a room, a bed, and a job so we spent a lot of time together.  From perfume fights (ugh) to jumping in glacier run-off in march, we made memories...and no matter how angry we were at each other, we always said 'I love you' before going to bed.  Sisters...they come right after my husband and children.

     Maria was the quiet, studious, stinkin' smart, piano-blessed, sister.  The one that put you to shame in piano practice...the one that aced her tests, and for a short season she and I worked together.  Oh My!!  How I bugged her...kind of on purpose.  Maria was not a chatty morning person, I, on the other hand, talked too much (I pray that has tempered somewhat).  It  occurred to Mitch (in this house she is only know as 'Mitch')  that if we were going to work together, there had to be a boundary put in place.  She decide that 'boundary' would involve silence...complete silence for an entire hour after I picked her up.  Her golden hour started at 8am and ended promptly at 9am....I would watch the clock and try to have something ridiculous to say at precisely 9...immature I know.  I do remember her laughing about it then, I know I sure did, and even now I smile.  Memories and sisters go hand in hand.

     Where is all this going?  Well, in a nutshell,  I know I have aged and matured, but a part of me still wants to laugh and be the eternal optimist.  My sisters were the first people in my life who put up with me...that has transferred to my children...poor dears.  Because I still love to pull a prank or hide behind a corner just to see them laugh.  I have 1 boy that falls to the floor upon surprising him...and 1 boy that is incredibly easy to prank.

     Last night the carpet started going in the house, and of course the underlay went in first.  I was surprised when I took a look at it, bright red, fit for royalty all the way down the stairs.  Anyway, at some point Taylor wandered into the house, and in a split second of inspiration I told him to look at the rug on our stairs. (the back story is that Taylor is disgusted with my colour choices in the house..it's too light and white)  Well, you should have heard the excitement coming from that child.  He thought it was "AWESOME" and "Finally, some colour in here!!"  Then he saw the unfinished edges and nails,  did a 180 turnabout,  and bolted from the house.  And his 'wise' mother burst into fits of laughter. (I'm 37 people, not 87)  Obviously I am going to need to put colour in his room somewhere.

     A merry heart is good medicine, and laughter is good for the soul.  In the daily grind of life, it's easier to frown instead of smile.  But when I do reach 87, I want laugh lines on my face.  I want my children to remember their mom smiling and laughing with them...not complaining about all the things that didn't go well.  Now if I only I could figure out how to make this apply to our Math lessons ;)

   

   

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Snippets of the last week

     We are in the last stretch of our house project and with that comes chaos.  Trying to get everything done in the house and the shop is proving to be impossible, so the picking and choosing of chores has begun.  Laundry and food are essentials so that gets to stay (yay!!), but dusting?  Vacuuming corners?  Those days are gone.  My cupboards  have needed to be cleaned for the past few months, and my appliances are multi-layered with fingerprints.  Besides, I know that in a week or two I get to clean the new house from top to bottom, and I'm conserving my cleaning attitude for that time :)

     Much has been accomplished in the last few weeks, and the next few weeks should be just as rewarding, so listed below are snippets of house stuff and our life....in no particular order


  • Gord's nephew finished his course and his stay with us....that homeschooled young man finished at the top of his class (encouragement for this mother to continue)
  • our vinyl floor is installed...and it looks even better upstairs in the sunlight :)
  • carpet is coming in tomorrow in our bedroom and the family room downstairs so a major cleaning of the house is happening tonight (also why my shop is neglected)
  • I am almost done painting and re-painting our plank walls.  4 COATS of paint...at least..on those walls.  Worth every drop.
  • the trim will be finished this week...which is great because moving trim around from room to room is getting old
  • my 5 year old is becoming quite the cowboy...I watched him try to teach a 4 year old the concept of a pistol duel...It looked like something out of a Don Knotts and Tim Conway movie
  • yes, our boys play with guns....we have rules ;)
  • I spent an entire day in town, as in 9:00am to 9:00pm....did you know that was possible?  I didn't even have time to get to the mall as the hardware stores were calling my name.  
  • our shower is tiled and it looks lovely...the hardware has yet to be installed, but it's ordered and on it's way
  • pretty sure my 12 year old is my height now
  • I fell off a chair.  Correction, the chair that I was standing on while painting cracked and sent me flying across my newly installed floor...with a container of paint in my hand.  Paint went flying, I went sprawling.   Thankfully the injuries are minor...and with a lot of scrubbing the paint came off.  Not my most graceful moment ever.
  • a Bible passage that I had been wrestling with became clear as day to me....I should really post about that next.  I love when a passage I have read over and over suddenly takes hold and has a meaning for me.  
  • a bit of stress has eased in my life with a phone call.  I know that sounds cryptic, but a situation that I have been struggling with has turned a good corner.
  • one of my boys has taken to wearing a badly buttoned dress shirt and pistol at all times
  • I have started putting together my cabinets...the base cabinets are done, and I hope to finish the uppers this week as well.  
  • I am trying not to dwell on the 1million nail holes that need to be filled...anybody interested in coming for coffee??
  • I have talked my sister Mitch into coming over on friday to help me keep my sanity, although they are in the middle of extensive renovations so it might be a lost cause....bahahaha
     Well, that gives you a picture of life around here lately.  One thing I didn't mention is what a great network of friends God has placed in my life.  Whether it's for encouragement, or an unexpected pail of brownies, God is sustaining me.  Some of you know that the house has only been part of the chaos, but rarely does anyone have only one source of frustration.  Relationships are so important; possibly why the enemy works  hard to destroy them.  Not all our ties with people are pleasant, but God is still to be glorified in our handling of each situation.  I long for Godly ties with people....relationships built on Christ.  Often I have found that my pride has gotten in the way, or sometimes it's a simple case of misinterpretation.  Whatever the case, if the goal is Christ, and if my hope is in Him, then I can trust that He will direct MY footsteps in the way I should go.   I really have to stop waiting for God to start leading everyone else on their path!  Have you done that too?  "If she would just get her act together, then things would be good."

     Ah, yes.  Too often I don't want to be the person who makes the effort to seek those who wound me.  I want them to recognize the hurt they have caused on their own.  Why?  Pride, that's all..just pride.  It's hard for me to admit when I have been wounded, yet biblically it's the right thing to do.  Often we hurt others without any knowledge of the pain we caused...we are an ignorant people.  However, if we are truly seeking Christ, shouldn't we want to know if we have given offence?  And shouldn't the correct response be to ask forgiveness even if it was not our intention to wound?  God knows our heart but others do not, and that is the problem.  God meant for us to be able to clearly communicate our hurts and needs....pride keeps us from doing so.  Correction, pride keeps ME from doing so.

    I pray your week is blessed and full of joy.  Whatever situation, crisis, child-training, house-keeping, baby feeding moment you find yourself in, know that HE does sustain you.  Our hope is in Him, not the moments we find ourselves in.