Okay two caveats as I begin this post…

1.) I cannot take credit for coining the term “birthgiver”! Lanae, my beautifully witty 13-year-old has gifted me that term. I found it one day when I was scrolling through her texts and read “birthgiver” as one of the contact names. I chuckled and asked her if that was how she identified me. She responded with, “well yeah, you gave birth to me so that seems the most accurate”! Now when I call her, she often answers with, “hello, birthgiver, what would you like”.

2.) I am a HORRIBLE gift-giver. It is the lowest of my love languages, I have very little creativity when it comes to ideas and I genuinely DESPISE shopping so that makes it tricky to purchase gifts. Having said that, my mother is an exquisite gift-giver and often has wonderfully thought out gifts that are exactly what the receiver loves. SO….my gift today is a gift of words. Something I can do well and hopefully expresses the love and gratitude I feel for her on this day that is hers.

On to the gift.

There are a lot of things I could say about this woman. She is far from perfect, she’ll be the first to admit it. She’s got some glaring weaknesses (I haven’t met a human being yet who doesn’t) but she knows who she is and she continues to work hard to accept herself just as she is. But today I want her to remember all that is amazing about her, the strengths she has and the ways she inspires others. I want her to see herself as I see her, be in awe of the life she has lived and the things she has achieved.

We’ve had more than a few conversations about funerals (I’ll share more about that later and I promise it’s not as morbid as it sounds) and we chuckle at how the stories are always so positive and uplifting, they usually make the person sound like an absolute saint even if they are a REALLY big jerk. In all seriousness, I think it’s important for the people you love to know just how much they mean to you while they are still here. They need to know the impact they have on those around them so they feel loved, valuable, and understand just how meaningful their presence is.

Our story begins 41 years ago. The beginnings are not really mine to tell. What I can say is that I am thankful for the decision my parents made to care for and cherish each other through some very difficult times and tell you that from the very start, my mom and I shared a unique connection.

Over the years that relationship continued to grow and with it my admiration for her. To be clear, I have a pretty great relationship with my dad as well, but he has always honoured and encouraged how close my mom and I have been, not expecting or pushing for his relationship with me to be a mirror image. When I was younger, I remember many of my friends and classmates lamenting how horrible their own moms were. They would say terrible things about how mean they were. I couldn’t quite understand how people could talk about their parents that way. My mom was pretty great and even through the moments of discipline I had no doubt that she loved me and what she did was in my best interest.

As a teenager and into my young adult years we had our fair share of disagreements. Obviously we didn’t see everything eye to eye…remember how much I hate shopping, well that definitely did NOT come from my mother. She is an avid shopper, with great taste and we often clashed when time was spent in the mall together. However, in so many other areas she was my biggest cheerleader. I can’t remember a basketball game that she wasn’t in the stands. My grade 8 coach identified her by her loud whistle. He often commented, “oh, Charlene is in the building, I can hear her whistling”! My own children know when they need to come running based on that whistle, it has served her well.

When I was deciding on which university to attend, she had such big dreams for me but I had my mind made up and it really wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized how much she would have liked me to think bigger. When James and I got engaged at the ripe, “old” age of 19 and prepared to be married 8 months later her and my dad made the choice to celebrate our decision rather than argue that we had so much left to learn before we were ready for marriage. When I was preparing to give birth to my first child she graciously agreed to attend his birth (and then told me she wouldn’t be available for any more births because she couldn’t watch her daughter suffer through that much pain). When I went back to school to finish my undergrad, she kept telling me I could do it and at the same time went back to school to finish her masters. When I went back to school again to finish my teaching certificate, she was the first to say how proud she was of me. She’s always been that way with me, giving advice or an opinion but ultimately quietly encouraging me to choose my path and then journeying it with me. I’ve never heard her say, “I told you so” when things went sideways.

I have not always been the best daughter. I think all children are blind to the sacrifices their parents have made to give them the best life. I’ve said some hurtful things, I made some hurtful choices, I’ve been oblivious to some of her own pain, grief, sorrow, sadness, and struggle. But she has never held that against me. She’s been patient and kind. Ready and willing every single time I come back to her with that moment of “a-ha”, that’s what you were trying to tell me.

In the last 10 years, my respect and admiration for her has grown significantly. Her job has been one of sadness and walking a path with people that many could not handle. She has sat at the bedside of many as they take their last breath, walked beside grieving family members, counselled medical professionals as they care for the sick and dying. It hasn’t been easy on her, she’s taken on some burdens she probably didn’t need to but she’s done it with grace and love, out of service for those who couldn’t do it for themselves. Remember those conversations about funerals? We had to find ways to help her deal with all the death and sometimes it meant a bit of black humour. Not for the faint of heart that’s for sure. But through it all, hearing her heart for the people she serves helps me to know just exactly why all four of her children chose careers in areas of service and why we each chose spouses who feel a deep desire to serve others in various capacities as well.

I am thankful for her continued zest for life, her passion for learning (which I’m 100% sure I inherited from her), her open-mindedness that allows for deep and meaningful conversations, her willingness to try new things, her dedication to relationships, her love of family and the joy she takes in seeing us all succeed. I am thankful for the sacrifices she’s made in order to help us out and her desire to be genuine, honest and truthful even when it’s not easy.

Happy Birthday mom! You are such a gift to me and I hope you know how loved you are on this day and everyday.

It has been an incredibly long time since I blogged and honestly it’s not for lack of thoughts or happenings in my life but really more about time, not really feeling much like sharing and maybe just giving the whole blog thing a break when more important things need to be focused on.  However, this week has been interesting.  Full of inner turmoil and so many thoughts in my head.  If you are reading this, I guess I did decide to share it but there is a small part of me that wants to keep it for myself because not everything has be shared publicly right and it’s an unfinished, unanswered part of my life journey?!  But we share so we can learn, share so we can support each other, share so others may know they are not alone in how they feel, or share for the sake of making a difference.

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Okay so it’s been way too long since I updated my blog!  A few things have happened along the way, probably two of the most significant events include starting school and becoming an auntie again!  Funny thing is that both happened on the same day…weird to say the least.  Over the last two weeks both of these events have given me opportunity for a great deal of reflection and added an element of emotion to my life.

At this point I don’t think I’ll have time or energy to get into too much detail but there are a few things I would love to share…


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Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”!  For those who do not believe in God or the bible and for those who are struggling in their faith right now those words probably feel like a slap-in-the-face.  I acknowledge that because as a believer who feels growth in my relationship with God I too feel like this passage is immensely hard to grasp.

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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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I’ve been giving Valentines a lot of thought over the last week. It’s kind of ironic since I’m generally one who prefers to just let it pass as another day. Not because of some great aversion or post-traumatic Valentines disorder but because I’d rather not encourage my husband or my children to save their expressions of affection for one day of the year. I’d like them to know that all the nice things people tend to do on February 14th can be done at any time during the year.

However, this year I spent some time writing out little Valentines notes for the kids in my ministry area at church and thoroughly enjoyed having one time of the year to share with them how much I care about each of them individually. It gave me pause to realize that children perceive this day with almost as much excitement as Christmas because it’s a moment to celebrate love! They don’t need to do anything to earn it, it just happens and it always involves cards and little gifts. It’s the anticipation of opening something special just for them.

As I was preparing to write the cards I read through the teacher devotional for the lesson and it focused on St. Valentine. He lived during the time of Emperor Claudius and was apparently arrested for not worshiping Roman gods. Some say he was also performing Christian marriage ceremonies)…but the story says that Valentine prayed and witnessed to his jailer and through this all the jailer’s family (totally 46 people) came to know Christ. February 14th was the day that Valentine was martyred for his witness and worship of God. The devotional goes on to point out the passage in John 15:13 that no has greater love than he who will “lay down his life for his friends”. This reminder is a blessing to us and a good way to be reminded of Christ’s love for us. As part of the cards I wrote the children I found the most loving passage to put on the cards for the kids at church, but it served as a reminder to me of my significance and value…Isaiah 43: 1,2 &4:

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.

What an amazing reminder of just how much God loves us and how we can in turn love others.

This morning dawned bright and early with no particular sense of anticipation in my heart, and just to be clear no bitterness either, but a clear sense of excitement from my 7 year old and 5 year old (both of whom are great lovers of all things sentimental)…I was surprised by a wonderful man who had fabricated an early morning breakfast meeting in order to pick up a fresh cut, long-stemmed rose, a box of nice chocolates and a bag of cheap chocolates (my one indulgence)! I was blessed by the thought and the surprise. And what I loved most was that it was both for the sake of acknowledging how much I mean to him but also an intentional way of showing our children how to express love.

This day has given me a fresh perspective and although I wouldn’t classify myself as a Valetines scrooge, I will definitely acknowledge that I may have been less than enthusiastic about celebrating February 14th. From now on I will choose to be a little more thoughtful and aware of those who DO value this day as an opportunity to share unconditional love.

Now off to pick out something nice for my kiddos who WERE perhaps a little bitter that there was nothing for them to celebrate the day!

How many times have you heard the phrase that being a mother is natural and your instinct will kick in??? I love this chapter of Fields book, “Parenting is your highest calling…”

She has so many poignant ideas that strike a chord deep in my mothering soul. In this chapter she talks about how parenting is actual quite the opposite especially if we consider our human nature. As Christians we know that we have a sinful nature that is selfish and not at all capable of constantly loving unconditionally. She starts the chapter with a moment I’ve had numerous times in my mothering years. A day starts with the intention of being loving, kind, generous and loving unconditionally but one thing leads to another…I fight with my son, I get irritated with my daughter, food gets spilled, toys are strewn everywhere and bedtime is a battle. She sums it up exactly how I feel…”By the time we were done my heart was cold. I had lost my appetite for sweet affirmations of love and I no longer felt like praying…My life with this son did not begin this way.”(p38) How many times in a day have I cried these same words.

She proceeds to explain that as we check scripture against this idea that loving is natural and instinctive we will find exactly the opposite. I love how she pulls scripture after scripture out of the old testament of God’s disappointment in his chosen people for their lack of obedience and faith. His desire to give them so much more but their lack of interest and often turning their backs on the one who loves them most. Yet he continually disciplines them and then gives them another chance. He communes with them despite his holy anger at their disobedience and wayward ways. The challenge she presents is how are we measuring this “natural” love we have for our children.

“I want to measure love not by what I receive but by the orientation of my own heart and my actions towards others.” (p. 52) If I chose to recognize that I will not naturally love my children unconditionally because I simply can’t do that on my own but to find freedom in the fact that in God’s grace he will give me what I need to love my children and long for communion with them despite the things they do.