Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Great Purge

There is great loss and fantastic relief all wrapped up in one push into the donation bin. It's the purge of clutter and stuff and piles of things so unnecessary to the well-being of my family. I suppose that makes it not such a great loss. My sister and I are holding each other accountable this month in a 21 bags in 21 days purge of our homes. Why 21 days? The number simply derived from the fast I do every January to begin my year. I told my sister that along with food this month, I desired to fast "stuff" too. It's like a cleansing on the inside and out. So far, the Lord has taught me a few lessons concerning entitlement and hoarding any material items. They might seem like big bad words but He and I know exactly where those issues lie. Just as He is moving in me and through me, my home is going to reflect the cleansing. So far, about 16 bags have left my house and my school shelves are de-cluttered and organized. This is a monumental task, my friends. Ah, January is so good for getting rid of the old and on with the new. So thankful God's grace covers all the junk... but then reveals it for a good clean-up in His timing--and, when I'm most receptive.  
The kids' schoolwork bins (bottom right) are back in regular use. You can see clearly that "chucking" books into their bins is so much easier than lining things up nicely. Neat doesn't always last but I'm learning that "less" makes it simpler to deal with! This may look like a lot of books but I did remove about half of them. Yep, took me nearly nine years of homeschooling to get the concept :)
 
While my sister and I both entered into the Great Purge, I was met each morning by an encouraging email reminder to stick with it... along with a little update on how her removal of junk was coming along. Below is one of my favourites. Is it any wonder why I chose her as my accountability partner? :)
 


 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Eight-ness

This eight year-old boy is not unlike other little guys out there in that he is full of spunk and sport. However, this kid of ours is the one I held in my belly and prayed for while he squirmed inside. He does not pass by the armchair in the living room without jumping from the back of it into a handstand. And, he does not slip into bed at night without a kiss to his mommy. He won't relent on a good argument with his sisters, when he feels justified, but give him the opportunity and he will cheerfully cook them eggs for breakfast. He wants recess more than spelling, but craves art above all subjects. This boy can erect any Lego set and carries around his bucket of tools, begging me to find him things to fix. He has many friends and approaches kids on the fringe and asks if they want to play.
 
This sensitive, energetic boy is mine and he is a gift for all my birthdays and Christmases. His eight-ness will be greatness as he learns and grows this year. The Lord knew exactly what we needed when He gave us Oliver.
 
braving the -8 degrees Celsius weather at his birthday party!
double cousin hug
 
 hockey party 
another year under his belt!
 
Happy Birthday, our creative, lovable boy. May God grow you to be a mighty warrior for Him. May you always respond to His voice as He speaks to you.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happiest of New Years

May the Lord bless you richly in 2015 as you look to Him to guide your life.
Thank you for reading :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Girls' Weekend

She sent the "Save-the-Date" invitation many months ago to be sure all ten of her friends and sister could fly and drive the distance (enormous for a couple of them). She had set up a girlfriends' weekend at her cottage that none of us would forget. Tara created an itinerary for dinner in town, spa time, shopping, church with guest, Dan Macaulay leading worship, kayaking, hanging out on the dock, hikes, gift unwrapping (from her to us) and lots of eating and cooking and more eating.
 
What an unforgettable trip!

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Few Favourite Moments From the Fall

Just a few favourite moments that I didn't get a chance to blog since September...
at the beach
Valerie's Immigrant Women's Short Film screening
Nancy, who runs the maternity home so lovingly
Congratulations, Valerie, on your short film that made your few hundred attendees think long and hard about the struggles and blessings women face when they enter a new country. Praying God's will for you in 2015 as you find out if you will stay in Canada.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

In-law Love

My cup runneth over with laughter when I'm with my in-laws. We just like to be together and all six siblings, five spouses, Mom and Dad and twenty grandchildren (with boyfriends and a fiancé), make a whole lot of noise at a family gathering. But when we spend a weekend together, it's just a rip-roaring good time!
Ed and Kim's 25th wedding anniversary (their kids)
Dad gets a little carried away :)
Sooo thankful Kim is in remission. Praise God!
Ed and Kim's family  
weekend at a resort and boat tour with Mom and Dad for their 50th anniversary (and Dad's birthday)
although, it was cool and wet, some of us still ventured up to the fly bridge of their boat
Kevin, the linesman
peek-a-boo

the local variety store hats--cheap fun

lovebirds

Terry's crazy jumps are always entertaining

yes, these guys sneaked into the hot tub at the next hotel since we didn't have one

chatting and enjoying the sun on the porch
the whole fam-jam  
laughing hysterically over the birthday gifts
 
There were so many fantastic memories from this weekend, such as, Linda being well-enough to join us, treats and great conversations at night, eating together, the guys using the hot tub in the adjacent hotel, and the wrestling match between siblings to throw each other into the lake. But the best moment was when Rob, Kevin and Mike sat down at the lengthened restaurant breakfast table each wearing the dress-shirts we were giving Dad as gifts for his birthday. He finally noticed there were tags hanging out on the fronts of these guys and pointed it out in bewilderment. We burst out laughing and he finally figured it out. They stood and unbuttoned and handed the shirts over right there. Beats wrapping :)
  
 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Keep Calm, Eh?

December looked a little like this photo for me. I so desired to blog and catch up on recording our lives (it's a place I like to dump at the end of a day). But, alas, the busyness did get the better of me. The Lord and I have had some talks lately about how I let the Christmas season sweep away my joy for awhile. I ached for the Truth to flood our holiday time, for quiet Advent readings and children who willingly set aside their bickering and offered to lovingly pack the Christmas boxes for kids in need. When that wasn't happening perfectly, when the rehearsals and obligations and shopping robbed our time, I begged God to fast forward me to January. Sound negative? I'm ashamed to admit I didn't learn from last year and my attitude was often less than festive... less than godly. In reality, the Truth could have calmed my spirit and changed the atmosphere of my heart and home. I didn't allow it. I preferred the inner tantrum and complaining. It felt good to rant now and then. Kind of good. Not really.
 
Oh, but there were some glorious moments, like the laughter at the in-laws' dinner, the warmth of an open invitation for anyone to come to my mom's, the precious tiny person entrusted to us who relentlessly causes us to evaluate ourselves--and giggle hysterically. I aim to add the photos of some of those gifted moments below, but, I want to be clear to myself and to any reader, that our amazing Jesus, who came as a baby, lived, loved, healed, died and rose again for our eternal life is more than able to redeem lost Christmases. He alone can wipe away the icky humbug feeling and draw us again to His perfect peace.
 
I bought my Canadian friend, who lives in the U.S., a candle with the label, "Keep Calm, Eh?" She loved it since she's sprinkling her cottage in Canadian décor. It certainly made me think how simple the message truly is for the Believer: keep calm! Jesus offers peace to those who sit and ask and receive it without running off and absorbing all the demands and negativity and then wondering why He hasn't delivered. I'm stopping the crazy now and resting in Him. A little late for Christmas, but never too late for my life.
 
Gratitude (because thankfulness always results in joy):
  
1686. for nativity reminders like this camel and other animals at our nursery during the Christmas season
1687. for toddlers who are learning to share
1688. the way she loves the last of our Barbies
1689. the pancake audience
1690. for first snowballs
1691. finding lost items :)
1692. when the weather report says it'll all be gone tomorrow... we must build!
1693. for this book's inspiration
1694. the way she walks and walks, to keep up her strength, even if it hurts
1695. glorious snow!
1696. how she tries on every outfit, costume, tu-tu we own
1697. squeezing into one chair together
1698. impromptu selfies--constantly around here :)
1699. making winter memories for this tiny being
1700. weekly library visits
1701. how she thought I needed a new tea mug and took it into her own hands :)
1702. actually attaining that biggest of icicles
1703. new Sunday dress and her saying, "Oh! Tangtoo!" (thank you)
1704. bringing home other people's kids nearly every Sunday after church
1705. how she thinks she's so hysterically funny--she's right!
1706. giving her every little moment my own children enjoyed
1707. various ways for keeping little hands busy
1708. slumber parties with cousins
1709. the way they lovingly care for her and give me a break
1710. swimming lessons for homeschoolers during the day (Oliver's level using vests for rescue practice)
1711. how he takes pleasure in calming her with a bedtime story
1712. visit with Julie to growing Ali and her new little brother, Jonathan
1713. reunions with Mommy
1714. dinner out with my oldest girls
1715. how these three play hard, cry hard and love deeply
1716. how she loves to carry this little "sister" everywhere
 1717. peeking at big sister's dance class through the window and how she tries to copy what she's seen
1718. smiles simply due to mutual love
1719. going many more times around when no one's there because you're the owner's son :) 
 1720. how she's waited for this moment since riding in the summer
 1721. yelling to our girls as they happily jumped and danced in the parade for two hours
1722. how she found him--when I had no intention of finding him--and leaped into his arms
 1723. how I returned to this after taking a break from looking for that perfect item
 1724. the way we snuggle more when we're all sick (and that face behind)
 1725. dropping her off for the youth retreat and how excited she was 
1726. for future staff :) 
 1727. for great youtube videos in dealing with this crazy, beautiful hair
 1728. for this concert that made it feel a little bit like Christmas
 1728. how he fell off the couch and stayed asleep
 1730. the way she delicately placed the ornaments rather than the usual toddler way
 1731. finally getting the tree up (later than usual)
 1732. attending her short film premiere downtown
 1733. another year of the great-aunts' and uncles' reading The Night Before Christmas and signing their name to the inside cover
1734. finding pics like this one on my phone 
 1735. Meg's guy friends from church and their respectful, helpful, worshipful qualities
 1736. Meg's girlfriends from church and their fun-loving, loyal, encouraging qualities 
 1737. how he still wraps up homemade things and how she's still excited to receive them
 1738. windy December walks
1739. how this one is growing up quickly after a lovely late blooming time (both gifts)
 1740. building together
 1741. how he brought home gifts for all of us after his trip 
 1742. and how she carried hers around for a long time and shoved everything she could fit in there  
 1743. yearly photo holding stockings knit by Great-Mama
 1744. soon-to-be sisters-in-law and how our nephew proposed by her dad's grave, recording him asking for her hand (all of us in tears during the story) 
 1745. helping her momma with her first tree
 1746. for meeting these two--God's hand in it all
 1747. the joy of toddler play all over again
 1748. gym time with some homeschool families
 1749. how she pretends she doesn't like it but then continues to lick the bubbles
 1750. how Grandma and Grandpa took a whole load of grandkids to see the Snow White play (with dwarves here) 
1751. third Christmas with this momma
1752. how her partner went on a trip and she was brave enough to sing alone 
 1753. clown cartwheels from a natural
 1754. how the little ones never fail to entertain
1755. for her sweet, soft voice and how she's never nervous
1756. catching up on Advent reading through the busyness (so worth it, even if it's off schedule)
 
Hmmm... with all this gratitude, I'm beginning to think it was a fabulous Christmas season after all.