Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Word

It's late...or maybe it's early. In any case, sleep is not happening.

My word looms over me and asks to be said aloud.

What are you talking about, Girl? You really are tired... Let me explain.

On the cusp of the new year I pick a word, a theme for my life in the upcoming year. It is something that I started doing a few years ago on New Year's Eve while sitting around with some beautiful friends musing about life and the future. Two words that stick out to me from previous years are 'joy' and 'brave'. Joy coming on the tail end of grief and brave biting at the heels of incredible fear. Brave was last year's word. It was fitting. Brave was the shove I needed to start my own coffee roasting business. Brave launched me into a different country and new experiences. Brave faced my fear of dogs and helped me walk the streets of El Salvador which are laden with canines without having a nervous breakdown. Brave has helped me say words that I would have rather kept locked in my own brain. Brave has nourished and boosted my confidence when I felt like I had no leg to stand on. Brave has been quite a ride. Which brings me to my new word and this moment.


I see it written in wispy, filmy silvery threads over a unassuming runty pig named 'Wilbur'. I also see it written over me. My hope for humble is not really for the change that I know that it most certainly will bring in my life; it's more for the freedom that will be unleashed when pride is overturned.

Dang,'s about time!

The freedom that humble brings has no strings attached, no proving myself worthy, no judgment or comparisons to others, no responsibilities to the ambitions of others, no self-righteous anger, no drama-queen antics, no justifications, no point-proving.

Humble is a huge sigh of relief.

Humble is freedom to love and be loved.

Humble is the me that gets to let go.

Welcome 'humble'. Let's get this party started!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wise Guys

During the Advent season this year our family has been doing some daily readings that basically retell the Christmas story. Today's reading was about the star that the wise men saw. I thought about this star and about those wise guys all morning while ironing, making beds, and washing floors. I had thoughts that I had never had before about what all this might mean. (I love time spent inside my brain!! Oh, for the love of manual labor!!))

I also love looking at the stars on a moonless, clear night. I don't believe that stars are random or placed in the sky without thought. I was recently in El Salvador and the stars looked different than the ones I see at home. The planet Venus was featured in the southern sky, bright and beautiful. Back in Canada, Orion, my long time favorite constellation has come to grace the winter nights. That light travels thousands of miles and I can see it with my naked-eye shining in the sky, leaves me speechless.

The wise men that the Bible talks about were star watchers too. The heavens, in all of their splendor, spoke volumes to them. The stars were telling a story of a baby King that would be born in Israel. One star in particular shouted his arrival. These wise men listened and responded to what they saw clearly written in the sky. Their response was to gather some gifts befitting a king and to begin a trek into an unknown land not knowing what lay ahead.

The questions that arose in my mind were: What did the wise men see in the sky? How did they know that the star heralded the birth of a King? Why would God reveal to these men, not likely Jewish, not likely sharing the same race, customs or religion, the birth of His Son? Why did they feel the urge to seek Him? What prompted that seeking?

I came up empty in terms of any solid answers, but my questions did lead to other thoughts... Is the night sky still telling the story of Jesus? Does God use those we may consider on the 'outside' to show us, who think we have a firm grasp of 'the Truth', what joyful worship and seeking truly means? How did the wise men's encounter with a little baby change their lives? Does God want us to seek him and give him gifts instead of waiting for him to show up when we ask? Is faith, is Jesus, available to anyone who would acknowledge him as King?

I am learning more and more that answers are not necessarily faith. Questions leave me with greater awe, greater faith. I love that God is so interesting, not cookie-cutter, not rigid in His creativity, not bound by my finite thinking. I look forward to this Christmas and the astounding, mind-blowing, heart-shattering gift of Christ that is for everyone.
I plan to seek.
I plan to bring Him gifts.
I plan to worship the King.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fight Nice

"Fight nice, kids."

Who didn't hear those words coming from a seemingly calm Mother seated in the front passenger seat of the car, directed to the children duking it out in the back seat? What exactly does fight nice mean? Does it mean no punches in the general face area? Does it mean no kidney shots? Does it really mean that you are allowed to fight but there are certain guidelines in place? Now, years later, coming from a place located in the passenger seat of the car I know that "fight nice" really means "knock it off" and "you know better"!

There's something in us that wants to fight. We feel like if we don't stand up for ourselves we will end up being trampled with our faces shmushed in the dirt. We fight because we feel our points are valid and that we need to be heard. We fight because we believe that we are right and that the people we fight against are wrong. We fight because if we don't, we're not sure how to communicate what we feel. Those feelings may be valid and probably need to be voiced in some way, but we defend and clench our fists instead of communicating our thoughts and emotions in ways that don't tear down. For most of us, we have been socialized to the point that we no longer throw physical punches, but our words can almost have the same affect. Fighting with words, in my humble opinion can have more devastating affects! My question is, is there an alternative to 'The Fight'?

One of my absolute favorite television shows is "Parks and Recreation" with Amy Poehler. It's one of those that you either love or hate. I love it because of the dry humor and that I feel like I know the people in it.The issues that the characters face are mostly about relationships. Amy Poehler's character, Leslie Knope, works in public service, the parks and recreation department of her city. For almost any issue regarding parks people have issues, usually that have nothing to do with parks. In every "town hall" meeting there never fails to be these crazy people that stand up and say something that has nothing to do with the real issue at hand. It's good for a laugh, but in reality this is the "fighting spirit" rising to the surface. I find it interesting that  people everywhere are the same. There is history, personal experiences, feelings of nostalgia, and resistance to change that rise up in all of us that create an urge to do something. We want to preserve what we like or prefer and if something is being presented that we don't like or prefer we fight against the death.

Life is full of things that we disagree on. There's a meeting happening in my community today that addresses an issue that has many differing views. No two people will think exactly the same way on it or any other issue. I believe that this fact: our differing opinions, is what makes us unique. I also believe that fighting for our point of view will never draw us close together or help us to solve the problem. In every relationship there are things that come up that we feel strongly about. Is this really an opportunity to put on the gloves and get in our respective corners and have it out? Will that solve it? Will the carnage be worth it? Will relationships still stand when the dust settles? In no way am I saying to avoid the things that need to be talked about, the white elephants are there for everyone to see. What I am proposing is that we see the people that we are disagreeing with as people like us, people with thoughts and ideas and emotions. We need to see these people with value...value that exceeds our opinions, even our brilliant and witty retorts. These people are the people that we work beside. These people are the people that we sit next to at the hockey rink, cheering on our kids. These people are the people that we promised to "love, honor and cherish" and we lay our heads down on the same bed every night. These people are the people poking us in the ribs in the back seat of a 1982 Grand Marquis. These people are the people that cared enough about us tell us, in a roundabout way, that fighting isn't the answer. These people are not our enemies. These people are our community, our family.

Things that I am learning:
Communicate...without attitude or agendas or sarcasm.(No eye rolling!!)
Listen...with understanding (without defending your point of view).
Respond...with kindness and respect, with the true value that you see in that person.
If you are 'disagreeing' with your spouse, talk it out while holding hands.(It's hard to touch someone that you love and let your words come out like daggers!!)

Fighting nice is not about taking the cheap shots that you can technically get away with. Truly fighting nice is about growing up and being able to shake a person's hand, in genuine good will and with a smile on your face knowing that you may never agree. It's gonna be okay...breathe!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Locked In

It's a beautiful day to paint a chicken least that's what I said to myself as I gathered up my paint and supplies and headed out to the coop, Coen trailing behind. With the door open and the window cranked as far as it could go, there was enough of a breeze to make it almost pleasant to be in there. After a morning of blaaa, of just kind of feeling tired and lethargic about life in general, I thought I would do something productive, something to check off of the to-do list, something to get me out of my slump.

All was going fabulous, as far as the painting was concerned, until somehow Coen closed the door of the coop and I was locked in. Apparently being scared of spider makes it impossible to then open the door and let your mother out of the chicken coop. The window doesn't crank open enough to let out an adult...tried that. Consoling a crying 4-year-old petrified of a speck with legs...impossible while locked in a chicken coop. Remaining calm as the paint fumes and the temperature rises in said coop...interesting. So sweating, hyper Mom breathing out of the window tries to instill confidence in her only son: "Coen, the spider is a bad guy and you're a good guy. You need to use the broom and get that guy!" After many failed attempts of throwing the broom from ten feet away, the spider finally takes off. Coen lets me out and saves the little hero! Not sure of the elapsed time of this entire event, but long enough to have become quite drippy and head achy!

The air and the breeze post lock-up was incredible. It felt so good to be free. To know that I wasn't going to be stuck there for hours was such a relief. My life seems a little clausterphobic to me at times. I long for change. I don't always see it happen. Sometimes it gets me down, like this morning. (I even called my Mom to have a cry) I crave freedom. Not only for me, but for others too. I want to see people full of joy and peace. I want that too. Being locked in the chicken coop was a reminder that although I feel locked in sometimes in the circumstances of my life that there is always fresh air out there, there will be relief, and that this time of seeming hopelessness doesn't last forever. It also reminded me that soemtimes you need a Hero to get you out of hopelessness. Someone who lets you breathe...who is breath itself...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Friend

Day Thirty - Well, today is the last day of June and the last day of my photo challenge. It has been fun. This photo is a favorite for me this month. I think it may be my favorite because this is my favorite person. He told me this morning as I was taking the picture that he didn't want to be in my blog. I told him he didn't have a choice. He's my best friend and the person that I wanted to capture. He really is an incredible guy. I can say that cause it's true and I know that he'll never read this and won't know that I'm all gushy and stuff. He often knows what I need before I do. He calls me on things that I need to be called on. He encourages me when I'm down. He says, "I got you" when I'm sad. He has seen me cry more than any other person in the whole world. He has made me laugh until the tears stream down my face and I can't breathe. He doesn't give up on me. He cares about me and he practices really hard to be the friend that I need. I am so thankful for my friend, Jeremy. He is my lifetime friend.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Day Twenty-nine - Wow. Today has been a whirlwind. Elle and I went to the city with our friends Lydia and Corinne to celebrate the end of school. We saw the movie, Brave. It was really nice to have a day with friends, they are very special people. Then when I got home there was a phone call from a cousin from Saskatchewan that was passing through and wanted to stop by. What  an awesome surprise! So they are here, sleeping in their camper for the night before they continue on their journey. We just pulled the kids off the trampoline and put them  into bed and here I am getting my blog in for today just under the wire. I actually knew that today was going to be one of those days and I kinda cheated with my photo. I took this picture yesterday. My brother and sister-in-law's rabbit had babies a few weeks ago. Here's one of them. He looks big, but he's not. You should see his mama! (And no that is not a "your Mama" joke!) He is the epitome of soft. I think if you looked up soft in the dictionary you would find baby bunny's fur listed there. Too cute. Anyway....Good night. I'm done....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

On the Shelf

Day Twenty-eight - I love reading. I love books. When I was going over today's photo topic, I was stumped for a bit trying to think of what I would shoot. And then I had my 'duh' moment and knew exactly what I would take a picture of. Here it of the book shelves in our house. I thought that to go along with this post today I would offer some suggestions for summer reading a variety of categories. Here we go...

Fiction (fun and light):
1. Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness Mystery Series - It's hilarious. Set in the 1920's, a distant relative of the queen of England, 28th in line to the throne, gets into all kinds of mischief trying to keep up appearances while living on nothing. The queen, from time to time, asks her for special favors which usually involve a murder going down. I always laugh.
2. Anything written by Cecilia Ahern. She wrote P.S. I Love You. Her stories are kind of like modern day fairy tales. Again, funny but always with a twist.

3. Alan Bradley's Flavia DeLuce Mysteries - A fiesty eleven year old chemistry whiz that solves mysteries. Not children's books, though it may seem so. Very entertaining.

Fiction (great stories)
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - If you have not read it and only seen the movie, you really should read the book. It is fabulous.
2. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway - read it.
3. Anything written by Adriana Trigiani. She's great. Real characters. Good stuff.
4. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
5. Little Bee - Chris Cleve
6. One Day - David Nicholls
7. Juliet - Anne Fortier
8. The Fisherman - Larry Huntsperger
9. The Orchard - Jeffrey Stepakoff
10. The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Fiction (Classics)
2. Oscar Wilde is also a riot. Start with "An Ideal Husband" or "Lady Windemere's Fan". He definitely has society pegged, nothing has changed in over a hundred years...really!
3. The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery (still one of my favorite authors)
4. Jane Eyre - Charolotte Bronte

Fiction (to read aloud to children)
1. Kate DiCammilo's Mercy Watson Series - I always read these to Elle in my very best southern accent. They are about a pig and her very out-of-touch-with-reality owners. Very fun!
2. Anything written by Dr. Seuss. (Fox in Socks really does hurt my tongue!)
3. Ramona and Beezus - Beverly Cleary
4. Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones Series - Oh my these are so funny. These books chronicle the school days of a little girl named Junie B. Kindergarten and grade one would be really something if she was your student!!!

1. Little Princes - Connor Grennan
2. The Glass Castle - Jeanette Walls (cannot believe this is true!!!)
3. Interrupted - Jen Hatmaker
4. Sacrilege - Hugh Halter
5. Crazy Love - Francis Chan
6. An Irresistable Revolution - Shane Claiborne
7. Searching for God Knows What - Donald Miller

Really, I could go on and on and on. There are so many great books out there. Hope you get a chance to do some summer reading...hit the library and grab a stack!!! Happy reading...