Wednesday, September 29, 2010


My Grandma passed away yesterday afternoon. Some of my first thoughts after I heard the news were, 'I wonder what the first few minutes in heaven are like?'. That was an overwhelming thought to me. What's it like to not have a tired and fatigued body and mind? What's it like not to be bound by the demands of time and space? What's it like to be with God? Does He give you a big hug and say how happy He is that you are there? Does he give you the personal tour? Does He whisper all the secrets of things that you never understood on earth? Does He laugh with you over the funny things that you said or did? Does He show you colors and sounds and foods that your senses on earth could never experience? Do you feel like a foreigner in a strange land or do feel that you have finally come home? What's it like to be at peace? What's it like to know that pain and sadness and heartache will never again keep you up at night? It must be amazing. I think that your mouth would hang open in wonder and awe. I think that your heart would feel like it was going to burst out of your chest.

I read a quote about heaven awhile ago that brought heaven into focus for me. It's from a book called Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. She says, "We cannot know exactly what life will be like in eternity, but the fact that Scripture calls it a new "earth," and tells us we will live there in glorified bodies, means that it will not be a negation of the life we have known here on the old earth. Instead it will be an enhancement, an intensification, a glorification of this life. In the Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis pictures the afterlife as recognizably similar to this world, yet a place where every blade of grass seems somehow more real, more solid, more substantial than anything experienced here on earth."

I can see my Grandma admiring the flowers and smelling them again for the first time. I can see her enjoying the music that floats on the air as she catches up with old friends and loved ones. I can see her breathe in the fragrance of fall, colors becoming an intoxicating perfume. I can see her laughing and it becomes a melody that is carried on the wind bringing smiles to every one's faces. I can see her walking in the shade of towering trees and reaching out her hands to touch the softness of the lion's fur that is walking beside her. I can see her rocking sweet babies that have not yet been born and telling them secrets about what life is like. I can see her eyes light up as she sees the glow and brilliance of the throne room of God, knowing that it's the safest place. I can see the smile on her face as He reaches out His hand and invites her to sit with Him, and taste some of His home cooking.

Maybe I'm out to lunch and I have conjured a picture of heaven that is not anything like how it really is, but I'm willing to be wrong. I know that God is in the business of blowing my mind and my thoughts out of the water.

These are just the pictures that came to me.
They make me smile even though my heart is sad.
They give me a glimpse of the beauty and splendor that accompanies being with God.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If I died today....

Today we are remembering the life of Lisa. Lisa was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher and a mentor. Her desire was to share her life with others and to leave God's scent on all that she encountered.

Lisa was the mom of Elle and Coen. Her children saw Lisa at her best and her worst. She was generally a pretty easy-going mom but at times a little bit of psycho would come to the surface. She rarely spent the amount of time that she would have liked to with her two favorite little people. She often lost her patience and her cool but tried to make up for it with hugs and words of encouragement. She often felt like she was taking one step forward and two steps back. She knew that her greatest influence was the one left on her children and tried to instill character, values and a desire to know who Jesus really is in her kids. She was starting to see the fruit and that brought her so much joy. To Elle she would say, "Elle, you are strong and beautiful. Use your strength to help the weak and keep finding out that love is an action word." To Coen she gives these words, " Coen, you are a world changer. Let your energy and zest for life spur you on towards people. They need someone like you." She will miss impromptu cuddles, uncontrollable giggles and kissing them every night as they sleep.

Jeremy was the love of Lisa's life. They had seven years of marriage together filled with laughter, tears, heartache, misunderstandings, dancing, music, hugs, kisses, dreams, construction, work, mistakes, miracles, joy, learning, kind words, harsh words, and lots of love. Lisa's greatest desire as a wife was to make Jeremy feel like he was important, valued, strong, smart, special and loved. He was all of those things. She often said the opposite from what she really wanted to. She was getting better at recognizing the strengths that Jeremy had and encouraging him to follow his dreams. She would love to see him enjoying the present and putting the future in God's capable hands. She wishes they had more time to discover each other and share that with their kids.

Lisa's parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, nephews and nieces were very special to her. She was far away from them across the miles but spent many hours thinking and praying for them. She loved talking with her Dad on the phone. They often "preached" to each other the things that they were learning. She always had hard time saying goodbye to her Mom and often called her just to cry. It was like having a hug when she needed it the most. Her brothers were amazing. She was so proud of the men that they had become. They always encouraged her to be her best. She hoped that she did the same for them.

Lisa wore her heart on her sleeve. Often tears and laughter filled the same moment. She loved and hated that she felt things deeply. She enjoyed trying new things. It gave her a sense of adventure just to try, whether she failed or triumphed. She was often very harsh in her judgements. The fact that she was also as stubborn as a mule didn't help. If she had a judgement, she often couldn't be swayed from it. She felt that she was learning though what things really had value in life and spent time fighting for those causes. She was a champion of the underdog, which often brought tension. She spoke of things, people, and situations with passion. This passion was often seen as strange or weird. Not a lot of people really knew how to handle this aspect of Lisa. She didn't mean to hurt people but she did mean to rock the boat, make people think, and inspire change. She was learning that sometimes the approach she had for doing this needed some tweaking. Her real desire in all of it was to point people towards Jesus and the freedom that comes from truly understanding who He is and what He's all about. It was something that she was searching for and trying to live out herself.

Something that Lisa valued more than almost anything was investing in people. She felt that it was important to share her stories, lessons (both learned and relearned), trials, and triumphs with people who were often asking questions themselves about how to live. She loved being with people and tried to inspire hope and unlock people's gifts and dreams.

Lisa often felt scattered, weak, scared and inadequate but she always knew that God was not finished with her. He was still working on her, making her more like Himself. She loved playing the piano and making music that she believed was on His Ipod. She enjoyed the creation that He made and spent time taking in the sunsets, stars, wildflowers, fall colors and the amazing people that He placed in her life.

Lisa's wish for those who are remembering her today is to be honest with yourself in the present; right now. Discover your strengths and use them to help others. Look your weaknesses in the eye, stare them down and set goals that turn those weaknesses into opportunities for growth and stretching. She would say to you all, "Try new things, give of yourself to others, love God  and share that love with the world around you. You can change the world. Live."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I met a stranger in McDonald's today while the kids and I were eating lunch. My Mom always said never to talk to strangers, but over the years that saying has lost it's fear. Sorry, Mom. I am a disobedient daughter. I have found throughout my adult life thus far, that some of the most interesting conversations that you have with people are the very first ones. The conversations in which you learn about where people are from, what they do, what their life has been like up until the moment that you meet them. I love hearing people's stories and life experiences. I love asking questions that uncover their valuable history and memories. You can learn so much from what other people have lived through and learned. The sad thing to me, is that I feel more comfortable doing this with complete strangers than I do with people that I've known for years.

Sometimes I look around at the people that I interact with often and realize how little I know about their story. Even with some of my closest friends, I am missing pieces of their stories. Most often conversations start with, "How are you doing?" and that is as far as it goes. Sometimes, out of the blue, I learn something that I never knew. A piece of the story that makes my friend make sense or shines light on to the way that they think and act. And I wonder why I never knew that before.

This blog, for me, tells pieces of my story all the time. A lot of it is my everyday life. Some of it is about people who have impacted me. And still another part of it is my memories. Another part is about what I dream for the future. Telling your story is as important as learning to listen and find out what other people are all about. What I write about tells about me; what's important to me and what I strive to achieve throughout living my story. I find that telling people your story puts it into light sometimes. What I mean by that is that when you share it, it becomes real and then you are accountable to it.

My very first blog talked about my dream to become a rock star. By writing that piece of my story I have become accountable to you with what I do to achieve that dream. You can mark my progress, or lack thereof, now because you know part of my story. I think that maybe we don't tell our stories for this very reason sometimes. If we share about our dreams and we don't achieve them or if we fail, we might look idiots. Heaven forbid that our story is not perfect! I have learned a secret, it's often the tension and the struggle that makes for the best kind of story. When you overcome the hard things, there is victory. If you aren't fighting for something or struggling to overcome adversity and challenges, your eulogy is going to be putting people to sleep. (That's going to be my next own eulogy....stay tuned.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

False Advertising

I was reading the label on my shampoo bottle yesterday and I discovered something that I just can't seem to wrap my head around. It said, "For healthy looking hair." What does that mean? Does it mean my hair just looks healthy after using this brand of shampoo, but it really isn't? Is healthy "looking" hair what I want, or do I want hair that is actually healthy? What if the bottle of shampoo said, "For 'clean' looking hair?" What are the slogan people really saying? Here's another one that stumps me.... on a tube of face cream...."Reduces the appearance of fine lines." Does the cream keep fine lines from appearing? Or does it make the fine lines appear smaller? I think what I'm looking for is some clarity. I'm not sure what these products are really trying to sell. Maybe I do know, but I'm playing hard to get until they say what they really mean. Why do we eat up things that are so unclear and nebulous? What are we looking for?

People are advertising all the time too. We want to appear a certain way so, we dress a certain way, we live in a certain neighborhood, we drive a certain car, we buy certain products that really don't promise anything specifically. Somehow we think that the 'appearance' of things trumps the actuality of real life and all it has to offer. We have to look like we have it all together even if we don't. We paint on a facade that covers how we actually feel, think and look.

It's like only showing people pictures that we think we look okay in. We are embarrassed to have people see us without the "perfection" mask in place. (These photos were taken around the dinner table when we were experimenting with crossing our eyes!! They crack me up. What are these pictures saying about us?) Is this what we really want or need out of life? Wouldn't life be more impacting and inspiring if our pursuit was for character rather than the 'appearance' of character based on our material possessions and how we look? Does the product, ourselves, reflect who we truly are? Are we advertising something that is invaluable? Or do we let our facade do the advertising for us?

I have asked more questions than I have answers for, hope you ponder what you are saying to the world...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rubber Boot Trauma

I had to get Elle a new pair of rubber boots today since her feet have been growing like crazy. It's been quite wet here the last couple of weeks and she's been complaining every time she has to put her hand-me-down boots on. They were just too small. So, she now has new, black boots with hearts on them. She's sporting them right now with a bright pink into fashion, my girl.

All this thought about rubber boots reminded me of an episode from my own childhood. It was a rainy day and mom was kicking my brothers and I out of the house for some reason..... Our rubber boots lived in the garage that was attached to the house, saving mom some extra cleaning from the mud and other things that would surely be tracked back through house. In my day, all rubber boots looked the same, black with orange soles. My mom had painted things on our boots so we could come home from school with same ones. Mine had daisies painted on them. (My brother's had lightening bolts on theirs and were dubbed with silly names. They even made up songs to go with their boots!!! I think I will have to tell more stories about my brothers at a different time!!) Well on this particular day, I clearly remember going onto the garage to get my boots and one of them was lying on it's side. I picked them up and carried them into the mat in the entrance. I then proceeded to put my foot into the boot that had been tipped over in the garage. There was something squishy in the toe, so I took my boot off and dumped out the squishy. It turned out to be a salamander. It must have crawled into the garage and found a home in my boot. I screamed and ran in circles around it. (A pretty typical girl thing to do!!) I think mom got the salamander into the dust pan and chucked it out the door while trying to console me. I was scared to put my foot into the other boot!!! To this day, if I have left a shoe or a boot outside, I tip it over first. Just to make sure!!! You never know what could be in there....

I find it funny that I still do that. One bad experience has tainted me somehow. I no longer have boot trust. One squishy salamander has jaded me. Often this is how I react to other situations and people too. If I have a run-in or a negative experience with someone, my memory is like an elephant's. I don't forget how that feels and I'm very wary of entering into the same situations with people again. Some people become taboo for me, because I think they are out to get me.

I've been thinking about second chances lately. There are a lot of people that need a second chance from me. There are things that I just need to get over. I would like to trust people. I would like to be forgiving. I would like to not be afraid of what "might" happen. I would like to respond to people without covering up past encounters. I'm starting to think that disappointment is a normal thing. People will let me down. It's how I respond to disappointment that uncovers how much I'm willing to be a friend.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pastor Jones and Me

I don't know if you've been following the headlines much this week and if you heard about the pastor from Florida that was planning to burn the Qur'an today. He was planning to burn the Qur'an in protest of the proposed building of a Muslim mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. Today, the ninth anniversary of the September 11th bombings, was his planned date for the burning. When I first heard about this earlier this week, I got a huge knot in my stomach and I felt this intense sadness and also anger that another stupid thing would happen in the name of "Jesus". Pastor Terry Jones felt led by God in his plans. (Enter eye roll here.) Even faced with the knowledge that innocent people's lives were being placed in danger because of his actions, he persisted in his plans. (Enter punch to the face here.) Even when top government officials, including the President, were urging him to stop, he wasn't listening. (Enter Simeon Rottier tackle here!!!) Only after receiving death threats of his own did he stop to consider that just maybe it wasn't such a great idea to burn the Qur'an. (Enter throwing hands up in despair!!!)

Over the centuries, Christians have been labeled judgmental, arrogant, hypocritical, intolerant, fundamentalist, conservative, racist, exclusive, and the list could go on. I, at times, have not shown that I am any different from what people expect from a "Christian". This week started out like that. I realized that I was thinking about Pastor Jones with judgment, arrogance and intolerance. I was the very things that Christians are famous for. I felt like the enemy was within my own ranks and I had to do something about that. Thus the punches to the face and the Simeon Rottier tackles!! As I took time to ruminate and really think this thing through, I was reminded of Jesus words concerning enemies. He says " your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst." (Matthew 5:44) I was definitely letting the worst come to the surface. It hurt me that someone, calling themselves a Christian, was doing something so crazy and thoughtless. But I was, in my thinking, really angry with Pastor Jones and thinking he deserved to be tackled by a really big football player and somehow I was still able to call myself a Christian. That was a jolt to me. Jesus asks that I LOVE my enemies and pray for them. He wants me to be generous and gracious to others the way that He has shown that to me.

It's so easy to hate. I look at the world and I see it everywhere. It's difficult to love those that hurt you, to be gracious to them, to extend them patience and tolerance. I don't agree with burning the Qur'an at all, but I do believe that I needed to see how my intolerance of Pastor Jones was, in fact smearing the face of Jesus' reputation just the same. So, Pastor Jones and I both need grace and we both need to keep finding out who Jesus is and what He's all about. I'm praying for you, Pastor Jones.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I'm baking bread today. While it's rising I thought I would blog. Baking bread and doing domestic type things always reminds me of my Grandma. She's ninety. She had a stroke about five years ago and has since been in a senior's home where my Grandpa visits everyday to spend time with her and help her eat. I miss being close to them and look forward to the brief visits we get to share together whenever we make the trek to Saskatchewan.
This is my Grandma at our wedding reception, 2003

Growing up I never knew that my Grandma was extraordinary. It never crossed my mind. She was just Grandma. She was just there and I thought that every kid had a grandma like I did. Now I'm not so sure. I'll try and give you a picture of this woman from my childhood. She is tall and big-boned. She has a wide smile and an a defined jaw line. Her hands are work worn yet gentle. Her fingers are often stained from canning fruit and vegetables. Her laugh flows out easily and she loves to tease. She has mischief in her eyes and a quick wit to match. Every Saturday morning she drives downtown to get her hair done. She smells like baked bread, freshly laundered clothes and pickles. She likes to pick her teeth with a toothpick. She is efficient in her work. She is hospitable and always has a feast ready and waiting to be thawed for any visitor that stops by for coffee...think doughnuts and squares and oatmeal-date cookies...oh my. She is an amazing cook, not having to use recipes anymore because she has made kucha, fried chicken, cabbage rolls and perogies hundreds of times. Her house is tidy and organized and always smells like she's just baked something yummy. She takes time for family and friends and gives of herself for her community and church. She is willing to share her knowledge of plants and baking and often takes willing students for tours of her sunroom and flower garden. She likes to tell a good story, especially ones that will get people laughing. Sometimes she has to take her glasses off and wipe her eyes because she is laughing so hard herself from the telling. She goes to recitals and concerts to show her support for grand kids. She invites them for sleepovers at the lake. She loves holding babies and fussing over them. She likes to read, cross stitch and make afghans for every grand kid. She is talented and has excelled at almost everything that she puts her hand to, yet she would never boast. She is serious and humorous. She is kind and firm. She is practical and friendly. She tells it how it is and has a soft spot in her heart. She hugs roughly but honestly. She is some woman.

Grandma holding Elle, 2005
This woman, of my chilhood disappeared five years ago. I miss the amazing woman that my Grandma was. She was full of life and had a spark of passion for doing simple things in extraordinary ways. I don't think I really ever told my grandma that I thought she was amazing, while I had the chance. I'm not sure I knew how amazing she was until I stopped to think about it. I want to honor my grandma today and recognize the role that she played in my life. Thank you Grandma for who you are and all the things that you have passed on to me. I tell my kids stories about you all the time. I love you and I think you are beautiful. When I take my fresh bread out of the oven today, I will cut off a big slice and put lots of peanut butter and honey on it and dream about the after school snacks at your kitchen table. I'll be thinking of you.....

Take time to think about people in your life who have left an impression and then tell them. Honoring someone is beautiful.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Day

Vacation. Love it. That's where I've been the last week and we had a great time. It was the first time that our family has ever gone on vacation. Destination: Lethbridge, Alberta. Why there you may ask? This was a working vacation. Jeremy played two one-hour sets everyday with his friend Bob at the fair in Lethbridge. The rest of the time was spent just being. I actually felt more normal than I have in a while. I actually played with my kids instead of working at some project. And the best part was that Jeremy was with us. I don't know how things work in a all of your families but I do know that I seem to be alone with the kids a lot of the time. We got to swim, play on a playground, go for rides at the fair, ride a pony, eat scrumptious cupcakes, visit with wonderful friends from long ago, explore an old fort, and watch cartoons....together. Coming home to routine has been hard because this week is bringing something new into our world; Elle's very first day of school.

Do you remember your first day of school? I don't think I really remember mine but it has been forever memorialized with "The First Day of Kindergarten Photo".

Me, bad hair, squinting into the sunlight, great runners, Holly Hobby lunch kit, standing in front of the flower bed by our house.

I tried to duplicate it with Elle this morning, minus the sun shining directly into her eyes!!! She sure is a lot cuter than I ever was!! I don't remember feeling excited or scared or anything, it obviously wasn't as big of a deal to me as it was to my Mom. I've never asked my Mom what my "first day" was like, but I know that I have been dreading this day for quite awhile while Elle could not stop talking about it. I always knew that I would have trouble letting my little "big" girl go out into the great big world. But here I am, doing just that. Watching her step onto the bus this morning and having it drive away into the fog, literally, brought a couple tears to my eyes. What is it with being a parent, more specifically a mom, that brings about all this emotion at the most happy times? I was one of two parents who also went to the school to take some more pictures and of course make sure she was alright, more for my sake than for hers, I think. She's fine, I knew she would be. But, I miss her. I think that Jer thinks I'm a psycho, but it really is a big deal. Life is forever changed in our family. That's huge. I'm excited for all of the things she will learn and experience, all the friends and mentors that she will meet and grow to love, and all the ways that she will make her mark on the world. I just wish that I could see it all unfolding..... I guess that's the letting go part about having kids. There are somethings that they have to navigate in their own, and I have to have faith that the things that Jer and I have taught her in the last five and half years are the start of someone great, Elle! But, you know what, I'm already looking forward to tomorrow when she's back!!