THE WORDS OF OUR HEARTS

Ryker's HandIn times of deep sorrow it would seem a wonderful blessing if the tears that fall could speak the words of our heart.  Alas that is not the case and we are left to use mere words to share the moments, thoughts, and memories to explain the pain that settles in the soul.  Today if my tears could speak they would ask questions.  Why?  Why now?  Why at all?  Why this?  The list of “why” questions would be abundant, seemingly never ending.  But in the quiet lack of response our minds grasp that the questions will remain unanswered, that the anguish and loneliness will settle deep in our souls and be a companion for a time.

I share a tiny piece of this story.  The loss of sweet, sweet dreams and a lifetime of “if onlys”.  The bigger story and deeper pain, the reality of lives forever altered and joys ripped away is borne by two individuals that I love deeply.  One who shares the bond of family ties and the other who chose that bond out of love and commitment.  Joel and Meghan have graced the pages of this blog before.  They exchanged their wedding vows on our 11th wedding anniversary and watching their life together take shape has been wonderful.  In so many ways all the things they have planned have come together so flawlessly.  May 20th will be etched on our minds as a day that flawless became flawed.

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This may seem like a silly reflection to some, especially since my grandparents have been dead for many years, but over the last month I’ve had some seriously intense moments of missing my grandma.  For a little family background…my dad’s mom died before I was born so I never met her, my dad’s dad has been in and out of our family life for various reasons over the years so I don’t have a relationship with him, my mom’s dad died when I was quite young, although I remember visiting him in a number of care homes and the day he died, and my mom’s mom, my grandma, died when I was 13.  That left my grandma as the one grandparent I had a lasting, memorable relationship with and still hold those memories dear.

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I was in the car this morning with three, sweet four year olds.  As I drove and listened to their banter I smiled, it was innocent and beautiful, silly and ridiculous but their laughter and joy filled the van.  They were giggly and chatty, as they always are when they first get together.  I love hearing their little voices calling each other by name and catching up on the details of the days they’ve missed.  It never ceases to amaze me how children can spend hours with their friends and the next time they see each other, whether it be hours or days later they have countless details to relay. Continue reading

While we have not yet reached the point of jetting off to some luxurious, tropical vacation during the kids spring break we do try to find a few fun things to entertain ourselves with.  This break so far has been VERY low-key…we’ve basically hung around close to home as both James and I still have regular work schedules to maintain.  Thankfully we’ve been blessed with some sunshine, albeit rather cold sunshine, but sunshine nonetheless, which means the kids have been able to get outside for a few hours a day playing hockey in the driveway, riding bikes and rollerblades or jumping on the trampoline.  I think James and I half expected to have a Saturday full of rain and neither of us brought up plans for the day.

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TED

Hmmm, I am not 100% sure all the time how to begin posts!  I don’t always have a pithy comment or witty statement to really feel like I’ve engaged a reader.  That being said, most of what I write is for my own reflection anyway, so perhaps I shouldn’t try too hard.

In any case I really did enjoy many thought-provoking statements I heard from Bruce Feiler on a recent TED talk he conducted on Parenting.  Let me first clarify that I’m not an avid TED talk “watcher”…James is the one constantly scouring through recent presentations, looking for valuable thoughts and ideas that he can apply to work and life, in general.  I’ll admit that sometimes when he gets super passionate about a specific presentation I roll my eyes.  He knows that and as a result, has become savvy in what he chooses to share with me. Continue reading

I will never say…like my mother did

How many times have I said, “I will never say…like my mother did” or “I will never do…the same way my parents did”?  I’m sure there are countless things about the generations before us that we swore we’d never do.  And yet as we mature, experience life and wisdom begins to invade the deeper recesses of our minds we find ourselves unable to say anything other than that which we’ve heard ringing in our own ears.

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Someone on Facebook shared this picture today.  At first I just scrolled past it as I have MANY shared pictures but I came back to it a few minutes later and actually looked at it and then read the caption and I laughed…

Someone, somewhere captured the essence of AGAPE love in this silly little cartoon.  On Christianity Today Agape is defined as…”Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love”… If you check Wikipedia it says… Thomas Jay Oord has defined agape as “an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being.”

Regardless of exactly which words you use to define AGAPE, the insinuation is the same.  No matter the situation, no matter how you feel at the moment, you intentionally sacrifice something of yourself to put the person you “love” first.  While it’s pretty self-explanatory it just reminded me that this is how I feel about my children, this is how I feel about my husband and thankfully I feel fairly confident that this is how God feels about me.

On a friend’s Facebook page the other day, she started a thread on what people did during the busy holiday season of Christmas to bring things down a little.  Things that helped them to focus on the birth of Christ or on family instead of the “rat-race” that can be December.  In our home we have a number of traditions that help us refocus and reconnect with each other and the birth of Jesus.  Even without these traditions though, Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year.  I love sitting beside a lit Christmas tree and reading a good book or drinking hot chocolate and snuggling one of my kiddos.  While it can be chaotic it can also be one of the most fulfilling times of year.

As a Christ-follower, I feel that somehow I have an inherent sense of peace during this season.  It’s almost as if December 1st hits me with an inexplicable joy and great sense of anticipation.  In all honesty, it has nothing to do with presents.  While I love giving gifts and, of course, receiving them, it’s more the festivities, colour, songs, etc. that sets my heart in a perpetual rhythm of gladness for one full month.

This year hasn’t been any different!  Don’t get me wrong, I have had many moments of being completely frustrated, of being over the top angry and just all around overwhelmed (just ask my husband he’ll have a few stories).  But the sense of quiet and “bubbling, beneath the surface excitement” is always there.  Amidst the chaos of Christmas parties, Christmas baking, Christmas programs, Christmas shopping, Christmas dressing we find so many moments as a family to connect and hang out.  Part of that is purposeful and part of that seems to be a natural inclination that we have as human beings to “need” each other.  I realize that I am blessed to have family, both immediate and extended, that constantly seek out moments to re-connect.  I have siblings that care to know each other, parents that cherish time with each of their children and grandchildren, in-laws that are more than eager to carve out time to spend with us, and a husband and children who actually try to be together and there for each other.  I also have friends that are more than happy to interrupt an already busy season with impromptu gatherings, or scheduled bake-offs, or even just random, deep texts about the realities of life.

A perfect example of seeing this “need” for each other happened the other day when Annie came home reciting one of her many, little pieces for her Christmas program at preschool and the oldest three piped up how they were planning on attending.  “Where else would they be”, they wondered!!  Little did they realize that the program happened during school hours and they would all be in their classes during her performance.  While I was thrilled that they were all planning on being there without question, I had my doubts about pulling them out of school just for a 15 minute program.  A week and a bit rolled by and the weekend before, James and I headed out of town together.  The kids were well taken care of by my brother and sister-in-law.  The Sunday afternoon when we got home, the kids were so happy to see us.  As the evening drew to a close, I realized that Annie’s program was the next morning and I hadn’t really given it too much thought.  I took a moment to think through just how meaningful it was that all the big kids wanted to show their little sister support and be there in her excitement.  We sat down and had a little chat about whether or not they really wanted to miss school, what they’d be missing, if they had projects, homework, etc. that was due and if perhaps they would like to just have a day at home all together afterward.  I was thrilled that a spontaneous day of Christmas cheer turned into a relaxing day with my children.  We saw Annie:

We had a few snacks with her:

And then I dropped the one child off who loves school for the rest of his day and the rest of us headed off to Wal-Mart to do some Christmas shopping.  I was blessed to see my children having a wonderful time picking out gifts for their cousins, thinking of others, happily enjoying themselves, together, as a family.

The rest of the day consisted of homework, cookie baking, Christmas music and finished off with a belated Saint Nicholas Day celebration.  While we couldn’t do everything we’d normally do for this celebration on this particular evening it was well worth the decision to follow through with a portion of it at least.  Listening to Sam pray at the dinner table that we’d all understand that the reasons for why we’ve chosen to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day during the Christmas season as a family was because it would help remind us to be kind, to give to others in need and remember that Jesus asks us to help those in need, was such a huge reminder to me that Christmas does bring a depth of joy that we don’t feel any other time of year.

Later as the kids opened their Saint Nicholas Day stockings and we planned our yearly Angel Tree trip for later in the week, we laughed, we read our Christmas story for the evening, the girls and I sang a carol or two and I was reminded that God is good.  He is good all the time, but we are so able to recognize His goodness during this time of year when we feel the joy of the gift He gave us.  When we feel our families reaching towards each other and finding memories in the moments we share as we join in the traditions that we’ve created, uniquely, as an individual family.

 So this year, I feel challenged to recognize each day a moment or two, when I feel the closeness of my Creator and to bask in it.  To savour that moment so that when the rest of the year traipses on I’ll remember the peace I could rest in during this particular season.

So a new year begins and everyone is making resolutions, promises, brainstorming ways to make this year better, etc. Although I’ve succumbed to a bit of that, mainly the desire to get back to my regular routine of exercising which helps me feel healthy and more energetic, the truth is I’ve been a bit shocked at the fact that this past year flew by. As any year before, it’s been full of ups and downs, memory making activities, soul searching moments and all around fun but I can’t believe it’s over.

To be honest I’m looking forward to a fresh start…a new attempt at deepening my friendships, strengthening my marriage, becoming more adept at understanding my children, exploring more of what makes me tick, and generally just allowing God to continue molding me. These are not so much resolutions as extensions of on-going personal betterment that flows through each year.

Christmas was a great time of rest. It was busy as I’m sure most people found their time over the holidays. But it was filled with laughter, joy, sleep, pajamas, gifts, family, friends, fun (a few tears but they were tears that led to deeper understanding and therefore good), and all good things that the season usually brings. My iPhone camera stayed tucked away for the most part (my only regret to this season) but the snapshots of important moments are tucked away in my mind’s eye! We had the opportunity to spend some time with all extended family on both sides at various times through the two weeks of “vacation” and then rang in the New Year with family and a few visits with dear friends. It was a great way to end one year and begin another.

As we have headed into another year of “normal” life I am EXCITED! I’m not 100% sure why I feel this anticipation but it’s a good feeling. I think that whether or not this year is just a year like any other or holds something new and different, it’s going to be special. Perhaps it’s perspective…perhaps it’s the joy of the Holy Spirit…perhaps it’s a bit of both! Whatever the case I’m going to enjoy this feeling of contented expectation.

I pray the same for those who are reading this and look forward to hearing how life in 2012 pans out!!!

A great picture of my beautiful kiddos as they wait to open their gifts Christmas morning. They were so excited but patient and attentive! A moment I will always cherish.

Since my wonderful husband has decided to purchase us both a new iPhone I am back on track with taking photos. Of course, they are not quite as good as with a real camera but they definitely capture the memories I want to have of time spent with my kids.

The many faces of my sweet youngest girl! Monday mornings I get to spend a few hours with just her and we have a blast just hanging out or heading on a few random errands (errands that I would not dare do with all four of my kids).

Annie had her very first dentist appointment. It was so cute watching her put on the glasses like her older brothers and sister and open her mouth wide for the dentist. She did so well even though she didn’t actually get to have her teeth cleaned in the end.

Of course who can resist a cute little girl in her undies and yellow rain boots. Too cute!

A short jaunt to the zoo. James called me a few weeks ago desperate for a family shot for his a project at work. We ended up heading out with three of the four kids to have a picture taken for one of the product boxes. James, Sam and Lanae and I got in on the photo and then on the way out we took a look at the animals that we hadn’t seen for quite awhile. The shoot was at the Vancouver Zoo!

Our Thanksgiving weekend involved a great deal of sports, as is the norm for our family. We ended up watching Sam play a great football game, scoring 5 of 5 conversion kicks. Then James opted to join my three brothers in a game of recreational rugby. Two things are wrong with that last sentence, first my husband has never played rugby in his life and that is really kind of dangerous, second there is no such thing as recreational rugby. The sport is intense, rough and crazy weird. Regardless James opted to join them again on Sunday and despite one nasty bruise and a few sore muscles he actually enjoyed himself. All in all it was a great weekend spent relaxing with family and eating a lot of very good food.

A walk on the river finished up our weekend. The day started with a nice, relaxing morning and not much to accomplish. A playdate for Jake, pajamas for the rest of us and then a walk with my parents along the Fraser River. It got a little chilly and the raindrops came sporadically but we enjoyed ourselves and the kids loved hanging out with their grandparents. Annie specifically loves her gama and gampa (although she usually calls him gama too) but all the kids enjoyed just being together.