This wonderful job of parenting continues to be a great experience, as I’m sure God intended it to be. I said to my mom this morning, “why is it that my children can’t just get themselves together and be good all at the same time and bad all at the same time??”. I know it doesn’t actually work like that but it sure would be nice.

Anyway, Jake is such a great kid but a boundary pusher all the way. He’s fun and quirky, crazy, silly and loves to make people laugh but such a basketcase of emotions. Last year I blogged about how he had gotten in trouble at school for peeing on the playground. In that same year he had to have a “chat” with the principal because he was misbehaving in class. Sam was mortified that his younger brother had already gotten sent to the principal’s office in Kindergarten and Sam was in grade 3 and had so far managed to avoid that horrendous experience. Yesterday, Jake came home declaring that he had been sent to the back of the line and had to have his picture taken last because he was goofing off. Then as the story progressed I find he’d had another “chat” with our wonderful principal (this time because she was watching said behaviour and managed to step in before it got too much more crazy). Then today his teacher called me into class at the end of the day saying Jake had been spoken to on the playground for a game he was playing with his friends. The game in and of itself was not the issue but the lack of obedience that ensued was a problem. Then in class the teacher had to separate him from the class and Jake thought it would be appropriate to tell his teacher that was exactly what he wanted.

Now before I go further with my thoughts, I have to interject to say what an amazing freedom I felt walking into that classroom with no guilt as a parent. I know it’s my job to rear my children in a way that glorifies God but I also know that as our children begin to grow they have to learn to take responsibility for their actions. I appreciated the sense of grace I felt in knowing that I am a good parent. I make mistakes, I do have times of immense guilt but in this situation I felt secure in the knowledge that my children will make mistakes too and that does not always reflect negatively on who I am as a parent or as a person.

Anyway, I can be very thankful for the fact that both of my children have wonderful teachers and as a result Jake’s was very understanding of him and encouraged him to come back tomorrow with the Jake she “knows and loves”. It was an encouraging encounter and I know that as James and I trust and rely on God’s strength to raise our children He will give us wisdom and guidance in how best to accomplish this job well!

Am I the only one who gets herself into situations where I begin thinking so deeply that my brain begins to hurt and then I wonder why on earth I would subject myself to that?? If truth be told, I much prefer a child-like faith. I’ve said that before on my blog, that I often live my faith in a manner more comparable to a child than a “mature” grown-up. It’s not to say that my faith is immature but often I find myself saying, “if I think about that really long and hard will it truly change what I believe about God to the point that I don’t believe anymore?” If the answer is, unlikely, than I don’t know why I would bother taking time to think about it beyond a passing moment. Again, I’ll clarify that I do ask myself who God is to me, what he’s done in my life and how my faith has changed over the years. I see it becoming deeper but not necessarily more theological.

HOWEVER, I can say that I am enjoying the banter that happens at the sessions I’ve been taking. We did the third of four sessions last night and even though I had little to contribute verbally, my mind was racing through many different thoughts. Two things that have struck me and I hope continue to impact my daily spiritual living are this:

1.) When I worry about what other people think of me I am not engaging my faith! This can be challenging for most people but some of us struggle more than others to be liked. I have always wanted to be well-liked by everyone. For the most part I don’t think it’s been a detriment to my relationship with Christ, in fact I do think that my flexibility and easy-going personality has allowed me to be more moldable to Christ’s will than anything. However, I know that often times I do worry about what other people think of me. I get a knot in my stomach when I think something is amiss in a situation between my family or with my friends and I immediately want to fix it. I get upset and obsess when I perceive that someone might be upset with me. This new tidbit of knowledge has caused me to rethink when I should feel this sense of upheaval and what it boils down to is that if I think I am doing something that would displease God, then and only then should I feel the pit of despair in my gut.

2.) I think this is a greek or latin phrase (I could google it but I’m on a roll here so I don’t want to stop) that goes like this: “Coram Deo”. It means “in the face of God”, which essentially reminds us that everything we do is before God or in response to God. I love this because what it gave me was a vivid picture of everything I do! Everytime I get angry with my children, I’m getting angry in God’s presence. Everytime I speak in a sarcastic, disrespectful tone to my husband, I’m speaking that way in God’s presence. Everytime I choose wrongly, I do so in God’s presence. I know I’ve heard it before about how God is with us everywhere and walking beside us. I’ve heard the term “practising God’s presence” but this was so different because what I felt was not someone who was just merely there but God himself standing beside me. Like a real, life friend standing there shaking my shoulders, gently, trying to remind me that berating my child will not make him change his ways, holding my shoulders and comforting me when sorrow fills my heart, speaking words of tenderness and love when I’m frustrated at how my marriage looks at a particular moment. And at the same time looking down on me with a glowing sense of pride and love for this creation that is so imperfect and yet so beautiful to Him.

For some of you this might be old news. I’ve felt that too. I think God teaches us all different things at different times. Something you may have learned already is completely new to me and something I may have learned years ago is like a lightening bold of revelation to you. But that, my friends, is why I LOVE living in community and fellowship with other believers, because we are all a work in progress at various stage of development and each one of us can teach each other something new.

So to my dear friends if you see that I am slightly different (which I hope is true) it’s because I’m living Coram Deo and only to please Him, who has made me, and not man, who could break me!

I’m going to attempt something most people would find absurd…blogging while the kids are still awake!!! I know, I know it’s kind of silly to try but when you feel like you need to just sit down with a cup of tea and write or you might explode it’s probably best to oblige;)

Last night I was privileged to attend the first of four sessions that are meant to help me “dig deeper” in my faith and really think beyond the confines of what I’ve been taught for the past 30 years. Not that there is anything wrong with what I’ve been taught but as one of the attendees said, “you can never learn TOO MUCH about God”! Isn’t it true? Isn’t it amazing that with the small percentage of knowledge we accumulate in our lifetime we don’t even come close to matching the knowledge of God. If I ever have the opportunity to share my blog with those who are not Christ-followers I hope that in this post they see how there is so much that “christians” do not know. We claim to have a lot of inside information but really when you start thinking about it, how much do we really know? We still have a lot of unanswered questions.

The one example that really hit me is found in 1 Corinthians 9&10. It talks about no eye has seen and no ears have heard…but most importantly it says how “no mind can conceive” what He has prepared for us. I think I’ve read that verse more than a dozen times in my life and yet the enormity of that thought just hit a nerve. The truth of the matter is that not even one person here on earth could begin to understand or “conceive” what else there is for us.

If truth be told the evening was a little overwhelming. Despite the fact that it was facilitated by someone whom I deeply respect, it was so much to digest in such a short period of time. I think there were a few times that my brain literally took a leave of absence. But it felt good to exercise my brain and begin thinking outside the proverbial box! I am looking forward to the rest of our interactions as a group and what these new people have to offer my spiritual journey.

I should be going to bed! I was snappy with my husband and am tired from an early morning but I’m finding that the peace and quiet of everyone sleeping is a bit alluring. It’s rare in my house that everything is quiet for more than five minutes. Sure there are times that I am pleasantly surprised by all four of my children reading on the couch to themselves or each occupied with a quiet activity in various, DIFFERENT rooms, but the knowledge that I will not be interrupted, tonight, for several hours is definitely a bit intoxicating.

Anyway, on to the reason that I wanted to post.

The other day I went ahead and did two things…#1. I enrolled my oldest daughter in preschool and #2. I took another step to life outside of mommyhood in my career. My friends know that I have made little secret of my intense desire to allow my own development even as I encourage my children’s. My good friends share that passion with me and for that I cherish them even more. They encourage me as I seek beyond this all-encompassing role of motherhood and push me to see what else God has in store.

As a wave of reality washed over me the tears started to fall. I began afresh, to realize just how short this stage of life is and how soon the bit by bit will be complete release. The tiny steps of freedom I feel I am giving my children now will soon turn me in an about face when the years I thought would never come have slipped away so quickly and quietly I know I will feel I almost missed them. I gave myself the freedom to mourn the loss of the sweet baby snuggles I once gave my precious daughter. Those snuggles that have now turned into quick hugs in the doorway of the school as I leave her in the care of others. I know that I could keep her home for another year, shelter her from the fast moving world around her, but she is ready to begin exploring that world and finding out who she is. She’s ready to open her heart to new friends and share a little of what her world has been up until this moment. As I let go a teeny, tiny bit I trust that it is not really letting go of her into the world but letting go of her into the arms of a loving God who will protect her because He loves her beyond my greatest moments of motherly love.

As I contemplated that I realized where that left me. At home for two mornings a week with MY BABY! Just me and this sweet last child that will one day follow her sister out the door. I didn’t for a moment wish that I had more children to come but I recognized that the years of saying, “I only have ‘x’ amount of years until I have to decide what I want to do with my life,” have finally arrived. I can no longer push off the decisions of what I want to do when I grow up, I’ve arrived…I’m a grown up with dreams still unmet, goals still to attain and a whole lot of years left to live.

For the moment I will, of course, enjoy those quiet hours of my sweet youngest child and cherish this time I have with her. I will endeavor to play, sing, be silly, and love on her as much as possible to allow her the attention she sometimes lacks with a houseful of attention-seekers. I will focus on being the best mom possible for the other three munchkins when they arrive home tired, overwhelmed and zoned out from a long day of instruction. I will not regret the mistakes I’ve made along the way but trust that God will use each and every one of them as a reminder that I must rely on Him for my daily strength.

And then I will continue to walk the path He has set for me as Elise, just Elise, not mom, not wife, not daughter, not sister, not friend but Elise Susanne. The one He gave dreams of teaching, dreams of traveling, dreams of drawing closer to Him each day. I know that discovering that will help me be better at all the roles in my life but most importantly it will help me see that He has a great purpose for my life that must be filled as a servant to Him first and foremost.

Some would say that rainy afternoons are so frustrating and depressing, especially at the end of summer. I would agree some days but other times I find the drizzle leads to a quiet, relaxed afternoon. Today is definitely one of those.

We did brave the weather this morning to spend two hours on the sidelines of the football field cheering Sam’s team on. Most of you know that Sam is an avid athlete and that he has tried his hand at football before. The first year he played he was 7, they practiced three times a week for three months and then for the season (which is 2-3 months long) they practiced twice a week and played one game a week. We were ALL overwhelmed to say the least. Sam was done by the end of the season and a little disillusioned with the prospect of doing that again. As his parents we felt he needed the freedom to choose his sport and as a result he decided he wanted to take a break from sport for the following fall. We agreed but with the knowledge that he would take up some sport again fall of this year. Originally we registered him for roller hockey with a group of several good friends. Unfortunately the amount of interest was limited and was therefore cancelled. We briefly discussed other options and Sam came to the conclusion that football was the best opportunity for him. He did miss most of the preseason conditioning which is good and bad…good because it’s a lot for these young boys but unfortunate because he would have to accept that he would likely not play much the first part of the season to “earn” his spot on the team!

Fast-foward to Saturday…Sam has transitioned to offensive line (not exactly sure what you would call his position but it’s basically a running back) and kicker. His first game of the season he managed to kick 5 of 6 conversion kicks (for those who are not football savvy this is a kick through the uprights after a touchdown) which in this league are scored at 2 points each because it’s apparently more difficult than running a conversion through the endzone. Then this morning he managed 7 of 8 conversion kicks AND he scored a touchdown. Most of my friends know that I’m not a loud, aggressive mom, although I do cheer for him and the rest of his teammates, mostly I sit back and watch as many other parents wonder who this kid is! I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the sidelines hearing comments about the abilities of my son (all of which have been gifted to him from our amazing Creator). My heart is filled with pride (not the kind that leads to our downfall, but the kind I imagine my God feels for me when I achieve great things that he created me for) as I watch him work hard to do his best and have fun. However, what I feel the most inspiration from is seeing him walk of the field without pretense or boastfulness. His main concern being welcoming his many supporters (namely me, his siblings, his grandparents and a variety of uncles and aunts that manage to attend) and thanking them for coming. It doesn’t always come out in so many words but always in the attitude he displays after his game. I know that pridefulness can creep in at any moment and I do not pretend to assume that we will never have to deal with this but I do appreciate that at least we have a foundation to work from. That his heart is not already full of boastfulness and pride will hopefully make our job, as his parents, that much easier as we seek to fulfill the desire of our hearts to raise godly, humble children whom achieve because they know they want to do their best and use the skills they’ve been given in an honorable manner!

Here are a few pictures taken by one of the other football moms of Sam doing what he does.

I know it’s been so long since I’ve updated my blog but we’ve been busy with summer! Taking holidays, doing day trips and just generally enjoying the freedom summer brings from the regular routine of life.

Now that’s not to say that we abandon the required aspects of everyday living…it just means it looks different than what it normally would. In an effort to refresh some of my parenting and endeavor to continue teaching my children the important aspects of our faith, James and I have incorporated some new material. We’re not rigid about it or even daily in our interaction with it but we try to find some time a few times in the week to engage and discuss some of the curriculum provided. If you’re interested check out

Anyway, we’ve done some bible memory and some scripture reading as well as interactive stories and behavior enforcing activities. I think that because we aren’t rigid about it the kids really enjoy it. What I really appreciate is seeing how different my children are through these activities. For example, Jake is completely amazing at the memorization of passages. He gets them within a day and remembers them almost as soon as I ask him to repeat it. On the other hand, Sam has a difficult time remembering the verses but gets them with some significant practise but he is definitely interested in discussing some of the scripture reading and what it means.

Tonight after we’d gone over our memory verse and then read a passage of scripture Sam started talking about a conversation he’d had with a friend. Over the last few days we’ve had to revisit some of the attitude issues and comments he’s made have led to interesting ideas of what heaven might be like. After a particularly difficult run-in that we had he was certain that he would rather be finished with his life here on earth and get straight to heaven. I informed him that although heaven will be great there is still consequence to his bad choices here on earth once he gets to heaven. In the moment that was lost on him and of course he didn’t believe me but tonight the comment came back and discussion ensued. “What do you mean there will be a consequence in heaven, so and so says there are no consequences in heaven”. Of course our earthly idea of consequence doesn’t begin to encapsulate what that looks like but it occurred to me that perhaps I had mislead him or that I had misused a word or two in the english language. So I began to try to find passages that would help explain what I meant.

Eventually I believe I got my point across. On earth, as parents, James and I discipline for wrong choices as well as the fact that there are natural consequences for wrong choices. However there is a reality that we will be judged for our wrong choices made on earth by a gracious, yet all-knowing God once we reach the mercy seat. It is clear to me in many of the passages that I’ve read over the last while that living righteously is rewarded in some capacity while living contrary to God’s word is met with some sort of consequence. I would never presume to know what those consequences are but I have no doubt that they will apply in some capacity. The conversation was very positive and I was grateful to see that Sam has clearly begun thinking through many of these ideas on his own. It gives me hope that we are doing something right when our children begin weighing the comments we make and asking questions about what they mean.

I had to fight off the tears this afternoon as I listened to my sweet daughter belting out the tune by Francesca Battistelli.  She sang…”Someday falling in love with, Holding your hand, Making our plans all come true.  Someday under a sky so blue, I’ll give you my heart, Our story will start, someday soon”.

So many emotions flooded my heart at once, joy, anticipation, fear, uncertainty, happiness, sadness.

In a little over a week we will celebrate the someday soon my baby brother has so eagerly anticipated for many years.  Of course he didn’t know Meghan would be the woman in his life the whole time he waited but thankfully she has graced his life with a fresh start and something so wonderful to look forward to.  She will be everything he needs in a wife and best friend and I know that they will see many happy years together.  The emotions flooded my mind for him in the things I gain in another sister, a new road for the journey our family is embarking on and the new experiences we can now share as siblings.

In the same breathe I could see the day I will give away my precious child to her “someday”.  She is a princess, a little girl who loves all things beautiful and starts the morning with a quest for the best dress to wear for the day.  She helped me set up for a wedding with Meghan not that long ago and her constant buzz about the “married dress” and the “married chairs” (we were putting chair covers and sashes on banquet chairs for a reception) and the “married day of Uncle Joely and Auntie Meghan” was a delight to hear.  But in the moment when I heard her sing a song that will one day hopefully be for the man God has chosen for her I was brought up short.  I know I have so many years to prepare for this and I thank God that he gives us time to prepare our hearts and minds for those days.  But it also reminded me of the need to begin praying for the people my children choose.  To lift those, who are as of yet unknown to me, up to our Saviour, give him the burden of protecting my children’s hearts and bringing people into their lives that will encourage, uplift, inspire, cherish and honor these precious jewels!  It’s a lesson I will likely need to be reminded of again and again but hopefully God will honor the prayer of this day that my little girl will find someone worthy of her “someday”.

My brother Tim borrowed this great little sailboat from his in-laws and the two of us took off with the five kids to Cultus for a little bit of “sailing”.  Tim was a bit disappointed because this was only his second try with the little boat and the first time they got no wind at all.  This time there wasn’t much of a breeze but plenty of dribbles.  Thankfully it picked up a little bit…enough to make a couple of short trips out past the dock and back again.  The boys had an absolute blast in the boat and will definitely be eager to give it another try in the near future.  Lanae tried once and was a bit scared but enjoyed it enough to talk about it for the next few days.  Meeka and Annie spent the two or three hours chewing sand and getting soaking wet in the very chilly water.  The sun peeked out enough to warm us up a bit and then we headed home full of fresh air.  A great memory for the kids and a very enjoyable time spent for me and my brother chatting and playing with our kids. 

I had a wonderful day yesterday celebrating being a mom that started on Friday afternoon and continued well into Monday!  So really I would rather refer to it this year as Mother’s weekend!

Friday afternoon I was invited by Jake’s teacher to a Mother’s day tea.  She asked if I would be willing to help her out a little before the rest of the moms arrived and I was more than glad to accomodate her request.  I got out my fine china with the full intention of spoiling the moms of Jake’s friends.  We had a great time drinking tea and eating strawberry shortcake and watching our enthusiastic five and six year olds singing the “Cricket Can-can” and a few other well rehearsed songs.  Every child was so happy to show their mom (or Grandma) just how special they were.  Jake gave me a little card with a tea bag inside and a great painting he’d done.  It was a very special time for me to share with just him.

Saturday continued with an evening out with a few of my other mommy friends.  It was such a joy to have us all together again for a time of fun and laughter.  It was hard to believe that we hadn’t done a girls night out since September as we picked up as if we’d never left off.  Basking in the sun at Stanley park, checking out funny cards at Chapters and partaking of a fun feast of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate (oh, and a little bit of wine).

Our plans for Sunday had originally involved church, home for lunch and naps and then another family trip to Stanley park with James’ family but plans changed a little…I headed to church early to take care of a few details I’d missed during the week and when church was over was told to get changed and hope in the van because we were ready to go.  James had packed a picnic lunch, a change of clothes for all the girls and was ready to head straight in.  We ended up finding a wonderful place to picnic just the six of us and then met up with James’ family at Second beach to let the kids play.  We finished by walking back to Drew’s place (James’ brother) and then heading home in time to listen to the Canucks win the game on the radio (not really a big deal for me but the men in my life appreciated it)!

Today I figured we’d had such a good weekend and I really didn’t want it to end so I gave the kids a “mental health day”.  My mom did this for me when I was little and I believe it made all the difference for me in my schooling years as I really never had the desire to skip school because I knew if I really needed a break all I had to do was ask and it would be figured out.  So as a treat I declared it play-day for me and the kids and I abandoned all my regular monday chores for a day of fun.  No laundry, house-cleaning, etc.  The kids still had a few chores they had to take care of before heading out but nothing major.  We headed to Mill Lake park for 2 1/2 hours in the morning to discover bull frogs, tree climbing, ducklings, goslings, a new playground and a lot of beautiful sunshine.  Then we went to the library for some new reading material, then to the grocery store for a few necessities and a cookie from the bakery, then home to have lunch, play games and quiet time.  We finished off our day with dinner and cheering Sam on at baseball.

I really couldn’t have been blessed with a more enjoyable, relaxing, encouraging weekend than what I experienced.  In the moments when I questions my sanity and really debate with myself why I wanted this life of chaos I can look back at the last four days and recognize that the treasures I have in this life are unbelievably abundant and God has richly blessed me in every area of my life!