Saturday, June 26, 2010

In Between the Photo-Ops

Note: This is actually a speech that I wrote for Jarvie's Grad Nine Prom three years ago. The ten kids that I had the privilege of speaking to three years ago are graduating from high school today and I would like to share the same words with them and you today. Happy Graduation! I am so excited to do the Invocation at your ceremonies this afternoon too, what an honor!

Good evening students, teachers, parents, family, friends and honored Grade 9 graduates. I count it a privilege to have the opportunity to speak to you all this evening. I have titled my thoughts, in Between the Photo-ops. Before we get too far, I think I should give a brief definition of the word photo-op. A photo-op is a prime opportunity for pictures to be taken. Photo-ops often center around important events and each of our lives have many opportunities for these moments to take place.

The day that each of us were born was the very first photo-op. If you have a photo album of your life this is always the first picture that you will see. From that moment on, the album is full of other photo-op events such as your first steps, riding a bike for the first time, your first day of school...lunch bag in hand, your first school Christmas concert, piano recitals, hockey team pictures, your grade 9 prom, your first time behind the wheel, your wedding day, the births of your children, family vacations, special birthdays and anniversaries and eventually the retirement party.

If we were to look through the photo album of your life it would be filled with accomplishments and achievements of the things that you have been involved in or have had the chance to do. Theses events are important and worth taking a picture of but I would venture to say that 99% of our lives are lived in between the photo-ops. If this is true, what can we learn about life? If only 1% of our lives make up the special days that are definitely worth noting, the other 99% should be given specific energy and effort and even more notice by us. What I mean by this is that the kind of people that we are and that we practice being everyday may never end up in the photo album but this is a more accurate picture of who we really are. Every person has gifts and abilities that are unique to them. Every person's 99% will look different. We are faced with a choice, will we use our gifts and abilities to our own end or will we create a legacy that can truly change the world around us? At the end of your life will you be remembered for the fancy truck that you drove or that you were kind and lived generously? Will you be remembered for the doctorate degree that you earned or that you shared you life by serving others? Will you be remembered for the super model that you married or that you loved deeply and found joy in your family? The 99% in between the photo-ops is what you will be remembered for, even though there may not be a picture in the album to go with it.

I do not know what your specific future photo-ops will be, graduates, but I have caught glimpses, over the past three years, of the people that you will become if you are committed to continue learning and practicing the gifts and abilities that make you who you are.

Krissy...whenever I see you, the word that comes to my mind is confident. The way that you speak and act displays the fact that you know who you are and what you stand for, and you will not back down without a fight. Use your confidence in a way that will nurture it in others. This is a quality that seems to be lacking in the world we live in today. You can make a difference by modelling confidence to those around you.

Clayton...I have watched you mature and change over the past three years but one quality i see in you that has been a constant is your respect for others. i know that this is something that you have been taught from a young age, but you have turned knowledge into wisdom because you practice it in your life. Thank you for the chance to meet someone that is genuine in their respect for others. Continue sharing this quality with those around you, you can make a difference.

Keeley...I know that life has been full of ups and downs for you, but through everything you have continued to smile and see the world as a place that needs what you have to offer, which is kindness and compassion. Please continue to grow and develop these gifts, the world is full of needy people that are aching for the human touch. You have much to offer.

Damaris...your grace and inner peace have been an example to me that no matter a person's age, you can have an understanding of how things are really supposed to be. I picture you when you are old and grey and I am awed by the woman that you will become because you have figured out what many of us still do not understand. Do not be afraid or timid to share this with those around you. When you share what is in your heart, people will melt!

Shawn...I have never, in all my years working with young people, met someone who wants to be heard as much as you do. I remember Heroes class and the frantic waving that always seemed to come from your corner of the classroom. I consider this quality of great value. You will have a chance to be heard everyday by every person that you come in contact with. What you do with the words that you speak can truly change the course of people's lives. Words are powerful, learn to use them in a way that will encourage and offer life to those around you.

Becca...The official tally is in... no one gives as many quality hugs as you do. You win! You wear your heart on your sleeve and it is a kind that embraces others and makes them feel valued. in the society that we live in there is a grave shortage of people who are not afraid to be vulnerable and show true affection. Love truly can change others, I know that you will continue to shower others with what flows out of you naturally.

Lindsey...Your bubbly spirit and your willingness to try new things are an inspiration to many. You have a zest for life and rarely have I seen you sitting still. I see you as a people carpenter. The things that you have had the opportunity to learn are the tools that can build people up. Use your energy to make a difference in the lives of those around you.

Randy... I believe that you are just beginning to see your potential as a musician. I am married to a drummer. I know that one of Jeremy 's qualities is that he is steady, not only can he pound out a steady beat, but he is loyal and honest and isn't blown by every wind. I see these qualities in you as well. you are cut from a different cloth than most. Your gifts are easily shared through the avenue of music. Don't be afraid to add your heart as well. I look forward to seeing how you will find your way.

Caitlin...Sorrow has given you a maturity beyond your years. You have the gift of being able to read people and their intentions and motives. I have watched as compassion and an awareness of others has blossomed in you. Continue to share everything that you are and are becoming even at the risk of pain and loss. You are a gem that is being buffed and polished, I know that you will continue to shine. possess a quality that people all over the world need to embrace. You are one of the rare individuals that know how to be comfortable in their own skin. You are yourself in every situation. You never try to impress or show off. You do not look for praise or recognition, though you deserve it. I find that people that don't want to be noticed are often the people that I should notice. They quietly live their lives and are willing to help others without getting a medal. Continue to serve and give to others, and people's lives will be changed forever.

On this photo-op day of your graduation from grade 9 (and grade 12), I would like you to take a moment to think about how you will live your life tomorrow, and the days after that until your next photo-op day. Each one of us here this evening has much to offer the world around us through the use of our gifts and abilities. In a world of poverty, war, loss, suffering, greed, terrorism, racism, striving and injustice; we can be the change that we want to see by using our 99% to be generous, make peace, and show mercy. We can be givers of our time, energy and resources. We can stand for justice. We can hope and dream about how our lives can and will be significant in the lives of others. This is the kind of life worth living and that will be honored at the end of our days. I believe in you, graduates. i know that you can and will become world-changers. live your life in between the photo-ops to the fullest; invest it in the lives of others. Thank you.

Another note: This will be my last post for a couple of weeks...I am taking a road trip with the family to soggy Saskatchewan! Oh, happy summer!! Peace!

Monday, June 21, 2010


I spent the better part of my afternoon rouging my lawn of thistles. They are nasty little guys, especially if you're wearing sandals. I actually kind of enjoyed the weeding though, even the prickles that poked through my leather gloves on occasion couldn't get me down. I think that knowing that when I am finished having a thistle free lawn is going to be an improvement. We just planted grass around our house this spring and I have to say that it really isn't a beautiful sight to behold at the present. There are weeds everywhere and I am trying to battle them by my sweat. I know most of you would probably tell me that there are weed killers out there, and that I am wasting my sweat and breaking my back when I could spray them and be done with it. Weeds have always been painted in a bad light. They have got a bad rap and rightly so in most cases. I've been doing some research about organic lawns and they say the trick is to know which ones to battle against with the sweat and which ones can be dealt with by encouraging your grass to choke them out all by themselves! This is an exciting thought to me, the organic lawn grower! There is "possibly" something more beautiful to be seen than the present state of my weed/lawn!

I've had all afternoon to think about weeds and have come to some conclusions. We all have weeds in our lives. Sometimes we can see them lurking around in the corners, hanging out, multiplying, growing, getting bigger, looking ugly. Sometimes the weeds have blended in so well with the grass that we forget about them until our weed causes someone else pain. Some weeds need to be dealt with head on and yanked out, others can be dealt with and choked out by practicing a different, healthy habit. Whatever the weed and whatever way you choose to deal with them at some point you are going to need to face them. When you do, don't give them a chance to grow back. Keep fertilizing your life by practicing things like love, kindness, patience, tolerance, compassion, gratitude, generosity, loyalty, joy, and honesty. Life is about the practicing. This week pick something to practice. I'm choosing gratitude because I've seen the complaining weed poking around lately. Instead of complaining I am going to choose to think and say things out of gratefulness. I'll let you all know how that goes!! I'd love to hear how you battle your weeds too! As Red Green would say "We're all in this together!" Thanks for reading.....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cheering Section

I don't know if any of you have ever had the privilege of being at Taylor Field, home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, during a home game. Being a part of the sea of green is an experience to say the least. The intensity and passion that these fans display is pretty amazing! I believe that if you are not a Roughrider fan, you kind of want to be one after you've been to one of their games in front of their home crowd. Riders fans are known to do crazy things for their team; picture watermelons on heads??!! One thing that Riders fans do best is cheer on their team. They are loud and loyal, travelling all across this country to do it! The past couple seasons have been great for the Riders, but it hasn't always been so. Even when there have been pretty huge disappointments season after season, Taylor field still gets packed out loss after loss. The message this sends is that Rider fans are behind their team no matter what.

 I had a conversation with my Dad awhile back, one that we had never had. Not that I can recall anyway. In the conversation, my Dad told me that he was proud of the woman that I had become. He saw good in me. He saw growth. He saw that what I believed, I lived out. These words were a high point for me. I have remembered this talk this week in particular because I haven't felt that there is much good in me these last few days.

It's been one of those weeks of self-reflection and honest words from others. Just when I was getting used to the idea that my pride had been given a few knocks, it got a few more punches! Isn't that how it goes sometimes? You feel like you're growing and changing and then you are enlightened to truth once again and the facts that say, "Not so fast there, Girl! You still have a long way to go!". Those words were not welcomed! They really stressed me out for a few days while I dealt with the pain and the realization, once again, that I suck and that I need to keep being honest about how I treat others and speak about things. I don't think I would have been able to handle the harsh words though without knowing that there are people in my cheering section. People like my Dad, who know me and my heart. Who celebrate with me when I succeed and encourage me not to give up when things get tough. We all need a cheering section, the go-to people who are faithful to see us through the good and the not so pretty and love us no matter what. We also need to be some one's cheering section too! To be the people who are there and who speak truth with love all over it. It makes the pride pill easier to swallow, trust me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I am not a runner. I guess you could say that I am not a fan. I would rather run after a soccer ball for hours than run down a road. I think another part of my distaste might be that the only time that I could possibly go for a run without children would be at 5:30 in the morning!! I don't see that happening anytime soon. My husband, on the other hand, loves to run. But he also has a pretty major glitch when it comes to actually doing it. It is physically painful to him.

Jeremy lost his right leg to cancer when he was seventeen years old. Running since then has been something that he has longed to do. I remember him telling me that one of the last things he did with two legs was to go for a run. I can't imagine wanting to do something so badly and feeling nothing but pain if I tried to do it. Something that I take for granted and don't even want to do, he would enjoy so much. I think about Terry Fox often and about how every step he took in his journey must have been agony. Every step jarring and bruising because the prosthetic leg that he wore was never meant for running.

This morning I received a phone call from Jeremy's prosthetist telling us that War Amps has approved funding for a running leg for Jeremy. I almost dropped the phone! The running leg is worth thousands of dollars! This is a dream, one that seemed impossible this side of heaven, coming true. Jeremy will get to run, like the wind, again...with freedom and without pain. I am in awe of this gift.

I am glad that I can still feel awe and wonder. I know that as I watch Jeremy disappear down the road, running his little heart out, I will be feeling these things every time. It might even inspire me to join him, even in the middle of the night!!

Friday, June 11, 2010


I have this amazing and beautiful friend, Tatum. From the moment I met her fourteen summers ago, I have been inspired by the beauty that she creates and the way that she lives her life. She embraces it full on with compassion, humor, faith and wit. She writes funny notes, wears unique clothes, loves two little boys (and one big one!), listens to great music, embraces culture, tries to cook (he, he) and expresses her creativity with a camera. She is a photographer, business woman, wife, mother, and friend. Today as I read her blog and looked at her latest photos, I was inspired once again by the way she can capture a person's essence, charm and brilliance.

She has been struggling over the past few weeks to photograph grad students in the rain. Every time she's been scheduled to do a grad session the weather has not been cooperating....very frustrating to a photographer! But you should see what has come out of the struggle! Umbrellas, ominous clouds, breathtaking greenery, and truly unique photos celebrating this milestone in life. One photo in particular struck me. It is of a young man in a suit, standing on the railway tracks with these huge gray clouds hovering on the horizon.

We never really know where life is going to take us or what's in store. Sometimes the horizon looks like it's going to be smooth sailing...calm, peaceful, cloudless blue stretching for miles. The kind of skies that you can only see in the prairies. Other times you can see the approaching thunderheads and you tremble at what that cloud could bring into your life. But what I have realized today is that sometimes the most beautiful part of life, the improvisation and the creativity are brought to the surface when the storms are looming and the rain is soaking. Thank you dear friend for showing me, again, what to do with the mud and the muck that storms bring.... roll up the sleeves, put on the creative cap and make something beautiful in the middle of the mess.

Check out Tatum's blog and her gorgeous photos by clicking on Paper Moon Photography under my list of blogs or click on this link:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Me = Chicken

I am a chicken. I don't have feathers, I don't cluck, and I most definitely am not up with the dawn but I am a chicken. There are times when I am the biggest coward. For me, I think cowardice looks like pride. My chicken likeness rears it's head when I need to admit that I am wrong, don't know everything, or apologize. I had to write an e-mail today that was an apology and I had been putting it off for forever. The knowing that I needed to make amends was lurking around in the back of my mind for at least a couple of months and during a conversation yesterday I felt the urge to finally face it. So, this morning I wrote the email. No excuses included. Heart in throat. Sorry said. Forgiveness asked for. Now I wait.

Pride is a facade. It lets me remain smug in the face of conviction. It covers the hurts inflicted by others with the appearance of strength. Even while my own heart breaks. It puts a smile on my face and words in my mouth that I don't really feel or even want to say. It allows me to think, if only for awhile, that I can avoid owning up to the pain that I cause others. This wall of pride needs to crumble a lot more often. It is easy to hide behind it. It is hard to break the wall down and be real with people. It's difficult to admit that I am wrong. It's humbling to ask for forgiveness. But I don't want pride to be what people see when they see me.

People who are truly great are servants.
People that leave an imprint in our lives are givers.
People that impact the world are humble.
People that are worth following know how to admit weakness.
People that are truly famous never sought fame.
These people live life without pride.
These people are not chickens.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Two Thumbs Up

I am a rater. If you ask my husband, he would tell you that I am heartless and cruel in my rants of things that I detest and that I am a gusher about things that I adore. I rate everything. My children's behavior on any given day. How my sleep was last night. If I thought the cashier was friendly at the grocery store. The play list on the radio. How supper turned out. The sermon at church. How clean the bathroom was at the gas station. How comfortable my shoes are. Who's the smartest, most talented, most gorgeous? How my hair looks. How other people's hair looks. How the garden is growing. How people drive. How people talk. How people walk. And so on and so forth, ad nauseum. This is my self-imposed exhaustion. Why have I taken it upon myself to determine and comment on EVERYTHING? Who cares that I think about the weather, or that outfit, or that book? Is it really what I think anyway?

I have been taught to rate by watching American Idol. I am prompted to rate other people's comments on facebook with the little word "like" that I can click on with my mouse. I can rate this very blog by adding how many stars I think it deserves. I almost can't help's so fun to share my opinion with the world! How much is my opinion of things based on what I really love or what I have been trained to believe about things. Here's the scenario... standards of what is acceptable and excellent have already been set by the world that we live in. If I watch TV, read a magazine, look at advertisements, flip through a newspaper or listen to the radio I have a picture of what my relationships should be like, what I should wear, what I should buy, what I should read, what I should listen to, what activities I should do, who I should vote for, what my bank account should look like, where I should travel and what I should eat. Is any of this really coming from people who give a rip about who I am? Why do whoever "they" are want me to become a robot clone? Doing, thinking, and acting how they propose as the most beneficial? For whom?

I have decided that all this evaluating is robbing me of the enjoyment of the little things and has isolated me from truly understanding other people's perspectives. Rating has taken away my ability to achieve or underachieve at my leisure. It has stolen my freedom to create something that others may think sucks, but means something to me. It has hindered me from seeing past the exterior to see what really matters; character. It has stolen my courage to try things and fail miserably.

I give breaking this habit of rating things two thumbs up.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


There are some things that I loved doing as a kid that, now since I have children of my own, I get to do again. Things like swinging as high as I possibly can, coloring in a coloring book, cutting out a paper snowflake, reading the Bobbsey Twins, driving cars in the sandbox, jumping in a puddle, watching Charlie Brown cartoons, looking for "special " rocks and flying a kite. I get to relive those memories of my childhood with a spin on them... my own kids love the same kinds of things that I did (and still do!). Elle really loves flying kites. This is one of the activities that she will ask to do because she knows that we will all go and stand in the field by our house and play together.

Kites are funny things. Maybe your kite flying skills are better than mine, but I can rarely get the kite up into the breeze without someone throwing it up and me running like mad, tightening the slack on the string, hoping that the wind cooperates at that exact moment. It's a tricky sequence to master, especially by yourself. Meanwhile, the five-year-old is tapping her little foot, hands on hips, waiting for Mom to finally get it together!

Kites are kind of like life.
Sometimes your kite soars.
Sometimes your kite dips and dives.
Sometimes your kite holds steady, proud and flapping in the gale.
Sometimes your kite dramatically crashes.
Sometimes your kite's string gets tangled around someone elses kite string.
Sometimes your kite is so high you can barely see it.
Sometimes your kite just won't fly at all, no matter how hard you try.
Sometimes you lose your kite and have to go find it.
Sometimes your kite gets caught in trees.
Sometimes your kite breaks.
But flying your kite is always an adventure, no matter what happens, because you get to share the experience with people you love.