Saturday, November 19, 2011

Long, long overdue

Well, my friends.  I'm sorry for the extreme lack of posting.  I realize it's been almost three weeks since my last post, and that is almost inexcusable.  I say "almost" because I think I have a pretty good excuse.

I'm pregnant!

Yay!

How does that equal an excuse for not posting?  Well, as some of you may already know, I am cursed to be one of those women who suffers from something called "morning sickness".  Honestly, I'd like to take the idiot who called it "morning" sickness out back and shoot them because they had no idea what they were talking about.  I think "pregnancy sickness" or "all-day-and-through-the-night sickness" might be more accurate.

I feel extremely nauseous all.the.time, not to mentioned exhausted from making body parts all day, and my lovely friend, Diclectin, my anti-nausea medication, only adds to my drowsiness.  (For those who are unaware, particularly any American readers, Diclectin is a morning sickness medication that is available here in Canada.  Unfortunately, it is not approved in the U.S.)  Said combination of nausea and fatigue have made my desire for posting -- or doing anything other than laying on the couch-- non-existent.  I am woefully behind on even reading any of the blogs I normally follow, sad but true.

I wish I could tell you that the situation will improve, and I'll magically start posting more frequently now that I've come clean regarding my reason for not posting.  However, I don't know if that's going to be the case.  Pregnancy hormones wreak havoc on my mental status, and I haven't been particularly struck with anything inspirational to say.  The Diclectin has taken the edge off the nausea, but I'm not finding it as effective this time around.  I spend most of my days trying to remember to keep eating to prevent the nausea from getting worse, but it is a constant battle, and one that I tire quickly of fighting.  I hate being so obsessed with my stomach.

I wish I could tell you I've been a tower of strength, leaning on my Lord for all my daily needs and relying on Him to carry me through, but that wouldn't entirely be true.  In all honestly, the past week or so, I've done a really good job of wallowing in self-pity and allowing myself to sink down into the mire of feeling miserable.  It's easy to do when you feel crummy all the time, but no more forgivable.  I'm trying to do better at this, and I would appreciate your prayers.

So there you have it.  I will try not to take so long to post again.  Maybe I can get in a better habit of posting at least once a week.  It's not quite the frequency you're all used to from me, but until I start feeling a little better, you'll all just have to make do.  Thank you for your understanding, dear faithful readers.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween is a Horrible Holiday

Yes, I'm going there.  And I'm coming right out and saying it, too.  I've begun to hate Halloween.  I'm not sure what genius thought it would be a good idea to celebrate spookiness and create a day where being scared is supposed to be fun, but I think they ought to be taken out back and saddled with a whole passel-full of preschoolers who are terrified to walk past houses because they've been decorated with ghosts for Halloween.

I can't say I've ever really been one to enjoy being scared.  Horror movies have never been my thing.  I don't watch violent shows while Tim is gone because it makes me too creeped out at night.  And as much as it drives me crazy that Reuben seems to have this pathological fear of the dark, deep down, part of me totally gets where he's coming from.

So forgive me if I don't get all excited about having a whole day out of the year devoted to scary things like witches, ghosts, and vampires.

Don't get me wrong.  The whole concept of everyone handing out candy to any child who knocks on their door is actually an interesting study in generosity.  As a kid, I loved going out and getting my annual haul of chips, chocolates, and random candies.

But I think the world is starting to overdo it a little.  Houses are being decorated weeks in advance with cobwebs, ghosts, tombstones, skeletons, and other things designed to frighten.  For the last week or so, every time I turn on the television for the kids, they are being bombarded with spooky shows, talk of costumes, and commercials advertising said spooky shows.  And thank heavens I didn't take them to Canadian Tire with me last week because the displays they had up of all the decorations they have for sale were enough to make me hurry along and get to a safe department, like housewares.

Reuben keeps walking around yelling "Boo", trying to do anything he can to scare me.  Kaylee covers her eyes and says "Scary" every time she sees a house with a ghost on it.  (For the record, I did not teach her that.)  Both of them have learned to avert their eyes when we pass certain neighborhoods because I've told them I don't want them looking at houses who, in my humble opinion, have just gone completely overboard and will likely give my kids nightmares if they stare too long and look too hard at the various decorations littering those lawns.  (Go figure, one particular house is right beside a stoplight that without fail, we always have to stop for.)

I'm all for handing out candy to kids, but why are we trying to scare them in the process?  Since when is it fun to create fear in little children?  And why in the heck are we spending weeks out of the year preparing for this annoying at best holiday?

Curse commercialism, curse consumerism, and curse the boneheads who think it's a good idea to make scary fun. 

Because it's not.

(Sorry, that got rant-ish at the end.  Can you tell I'm sick of Halloween and SO ready for it to be over?)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

For Reflection

 "1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
   sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
   proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
   his marvelous deeds among all peoples.   
4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
   he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
   but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
   strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations,
   ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
   bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
   tremble before him, all the earth.
 10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
   The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
   he will judge the peoples with equity.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
   let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
 12 let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
 13 they will sing before the LORD, for he comes,
   he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
   and the peoples in his truth." Psalm 96

 Today, let us worship our God, the Creator of all.  He alone is worthy of our praise.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ponderings on dumb drivers

Yesterday, I posed a rhetorical question: why do some drivers think they can ignore the rules of the road and traffic signs that have been posted for a reason?

I won't attempt to answer this question because it would probably need to involve some convoluted psychological drivel using big words that I wouldn't understand anyway because I took sociology, not psychology, so I wouldn't even know what I was talking about.  And besides, the answer to the question isn't really the point.  I'm just venting at certain drivers' idiocy.

Let me explain a bit further.

As some of you may be aware, they've been doing some sewer work in the major intersection near our home for about two months now.  This construction has involved the closing of most of the lanes that make up this intersection so that there is only one two-way lane going through it in either direction.  It has also meant that the left-turning lanes are closed, and the intersection is littered with no left-turn signs because as a major intersection with only one lane going through it, if one person decides to stop and wait for the intersection to clear so they can turn left, well, it creates traffic havoc for everyone waiting behind them.

It might also be worth noting that the construction information signs state that the work will be going on from September to October 31 and to "Expect delays." 

I don't need to tell you that this has created some minor annoyances for us because generally, we have to turn left from the one main road onto the other main road in order to get to our house.  We've had to take detours for the last two months, and it's getting a little old. 

Anyway, back to my frustration at stupid drivers.  You recall I mentioned the no-left turn signs?  Well, it seems that there are a preponderance of drivers out there who think that they don't have to obey said traffic signs.  You can't tell me they didn't see them because when I said the intersection was littered with them, I meant, the intersection is littered with these signs.  They are ev.er.y.where.

And yet, without fail, nearly every single time I come through that intersection, I see at least one person turning left, either in the lane opposite me, directly in front of me, or some moron behind me.  I have laid on the horn for at least two or three turning directly in front of me.

Just yesterday, while on the way home during a particularly busy time of day, (which means traffic gets backed up for over a kilometer just because of the sheer volume of vehicles), I was waiting first in line at the light.  I noticed the driver behind me had his turn signal on, and I watched in disbelief as the light turned green, I proceeded through the intersection, and he/she sat and waited to turn left as everyone else behind him also waited.  Needless to say, I was the only one to make it through that particular green, and I'm sure everyone behind that driver cursed.

But with all the insanity and annoyance at the stupid drivers who get away with their thoughtless misdemeanors, there is some justice in the world.  I got a ridiculous amount of thrill and pleasure the other day as we waited once again in that line to get through the light.  We weren't moving, and I could see that someone was waiting with their turn signal on to turn left.  The light changed, the intersection cleared, and the driver proceeded with their.  Right at that moment, as the car was in the process of going around the corner, the unmarked police car behind them proceeded to turn on his lights and pulled that person over to give them (I hope) a ticket with a hefty fine.

I laughed out loud and applauded that officer.  It made my day to finally see a driver get busted for screwing up traffic.  I wish all those annoying drivers would get tickets.

But that's not likely to happen, so I will content myself with honking my horn at them when I can and hoping beyond all hope that they finish with the construction by their October 31st deadline so our driving habits can go back to normal.

A city construction job finish on time?  Is that even possible....?  More rhetorical questions that I'm not even going to get into...  Ever. 

And I feel a little better after venting about this.  Really people.  Just obey the traffic signs.  The world would be a whole lot happier, and the traffic wouldn't be any more screwed up than it already is.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A rhetorical question

So I had an entire post all planned out in my head for this morning, and then life happened, and my kids needed my time and energy, so you all will have to wait until tomorrow.

But I did want to give you at least something because I know it's been a few days since I last posted, so I will leave you with this somewhat rhetorical, just me venting a bit, question:

Why is it that some drivers think they can just ignore the rules of the road and traffic signs that have been posted for a reason?!

More on that tomorrow...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apology to my Morning Coffee

Dear Morning Coffee,

I like you a lot.  You greet me every morning with your caffeinated goodness.  Your warmth snakes it's way through me and gives me energy to face the day.  I don't know what I would do without you.

But I have to apologize today.  I forgot to buy white sugar when I got groceries two weeks ago, and my sugar bowl is completely empty.

So I had to put brown sugar in you this morning.

I know.  I'm so sorry.  I felt like I was committing a sacrilege.

But don't get me wrong.  I still love you, and this is all my fault.  You still taste pretty good, and I find myself wondering why people don't use brown sugar in their coffee more often (because isn't brown sugar supposed to be less refined than white sugar?  Maybe I'm wrong...excuse me while I go perform some Internet research...)

Okay, so I'm wrong.  Turns out brown sugar is just white sugar with a bit of molasses thrown in.  Maybe that's why you, my precious coffee, taste slightly different this morning.  But I think it's a good different, and it certainly doesn't mean I like you less.

So, Morning Coffee, I wish I had better news for you, like that I'm going to get groceries today and will get more white sugar then.  But I'm not.  Grocery day is still two days away.  So you're going to have to make do with brown sugar until that happens.

I think we will be able to survive.

With thankfulness that you really have no say in the matter,
Your faithful coffee consumer

Sunday, October 23, 2011

For Reflection

This week's women's Bible study passages have been from Exodus about Moses.

12 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
 14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”Exodus 33:12-14

May we, like Moses, ask God to teach us His ways so that we may know Him better, and may His presence go with you today, dear friends, that He may give you rest.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Update on "Get Dressed" Challenge

I had in mind to try and find something interesting to say this morning, but once again, I find myself at a loss for words.  Ironically, I've learned that it's not a good idea to say anything about w*riter's b*lock on a blog because there are trolling programs that look for anyone who's having trouble writing blog posts so a certain company can email them to tell them about their company that can provide content for their blog -- hence the reason I'm typing those words a bit funny this time around...*insert eye-rolling*  I can't even imagine how awful it would be to have someone else writing my blog posts for me.  Geez. 

Anyway, so I figured I'd do a little update post on how my week with "Getting Dressed" has gone.  I've done a pretty good job of getting decent clothes on by 6:30/7:00 every day, and I even squeezed in an extra shower!  Also, I found an awesome sale on jeans and picked up two new pairs, so I can officially cut up my old ones for the quilt I'm making.  I've brushed my hair every day, although I haven't figured out any new hairstyles yet, and I think I'll take care of the haircut next week.

I haven't done anything like take pictures of myself dressed up everyday because I'm not wearing anything special like a nice skirt or dress or anything.  It's just jeans and nice shirts, but at least the jeans don't have holes in the knees anymore, and I threw out all my old shirts.

So there you have it.  Goals for next week: wear a skirt at least once and get a haircut.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This trusting thing...

This morning, I am clinging to His truths. This morning, on this day that He has made, I am turning my thoughts toward Him and trusting in His promises, that He never leaves nor forsakes.

May my heart feel the peace I know only He can bring.

Just a simple verse, but when I asked Him for an encouraging word, this is what He brought to mind, "When I am afraid, I will trust in You." Psalm 56:3

I will trust in you.  I will do this.  I will set my mind on Him, and I will cling to His strength, and I will remind myself over and over of His unfailing faithfulness.

Because doesn't His Word also say, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God."

It's that "with thanksgiving" part that's important.  When we come to Him with our anxieties, with our worries, with our worldly cares, we need to lay them at His feet and then thank Him for everything He has done.  It's this thanking that helps us to set aside our fears as we remember all the ways He has come through for us in the past and all the things He is doing for us in the present, and it is in thanking Him that we can know that He will continue to carry us through whatever faces us in the future.

So I set my mind on thanking Him today.  I will turn my fears over to Him, and I will remember His faithfulness.

And I will trust...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The "Get Dressed" Challenge

So I'm giving something new a try.  It's called The "Get Dressed Challenge", and you can check it out by clicking on the cool linky picture here:


The Get Dressed Challenge!


I'm not saying my problem is getting dressed in the morning because, frankly, I don't think I've ever spent all day in my pajamas ever, except once or twice when I've had the flu, nor do I own a pair of comfy sweats that I just love to lounge around in. (Although I do have a couple pairs of jeans with holes in the knees so big I have to navigate my feet around them when I put them on in the morning...)

So for the purposes of this challenge, I'm saying good bye to the hole-y jeans. I found some Christmas money from last year (!!) in an envelope the other day, so I'm going to buy some new pants, hopefully, not jeans, but something like khakis or cords or something.

Also, I will admit, some mornings, I don't actually brush my hair before I put it in a ponytail. This has to end.

And...(cover your ears if you don't want to hear this -- it's slightly shocking)...I probably could stand to shower a little more frequently.

So here's the breakdown of my goals for this challenge:
- get a haircut at some point during the challenge
- stop wearing hole-y jeans/buy new pants
- brush my hair every morning
- shower at least one more time a week than I currently do
- maybe even branch out into wearing (dare I suggest it?) skirts now and then...

There you have it. If you know me in real life, or even just here online, feel free to ask me how it's going. A little accountability goes a long way...

(And for the record, this morning, I got up extra early when Tim and Reuben left to deliver Tim's backhaul, which means not only did I get in that extra shower, but I squeezed in a workout too! Go me!)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

For Reflection

From my readings in Ezekial this week:

"1 In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
 2 On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin— 3 the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the LORD was upon him." Ezekial 1:1-3

And from Isaiah, a verse that started running through my mind as a song this morning:

"1 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.
2 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.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..." Isaiah 42:1-3a

 If you feel like the Israelites in exile, as if God is far away from you, may you know that the hand of the Lord is upon you and may you hear Him whispering in your ear, "Do not fear.  You are mine."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just another Fall morning

The sky outside my window in the mornings is all black now.

When did that happen?

I knew fall was coming, but how did it get here so fast?  The days are a dichotomy of warm temperatures and leaves falling like rain.  There are long stretches of grey days and unending drizzle followed by long stretches of days with pure sunshine that call for shorts and mornings spent planting bulbs in my garden.

I fear those days of warm sunshine will soon be coming to an end, and we'll be left with days of bright sunshine that does little to combat the cold of winter and snow.

My soul feels a little weighed down lately.  The women's Bible study I'm participating in is focusing on revival; this past week's session talked about how easy it is to be asleep in our walk with God, and how the Christian life is not about doing things, participating in the right rituals, serving in the right way.  Instead, it is about a relationship, and without that deep relationship with Christ, it can feel like we're in a desert.

Don't worry.  I'm not in a desert.  But some days it feels like time passes so quickly, and before I know it, I've forgotten to have that quiet time with Him that I so desperately need, and once again, I find myself begging forgiveness for not drawing near to Him when I know full-well that I can't get through this life without Him.

Sometimes, I think He lets us have those days when nothing goes right just so we can be reminded of how desperately we need Him and His marvelous grace.

Anyway, I'm rambling.  The sky outside my window is becoming a shade of midnight blue, and through the trees that line our back fence, I can see the construction workers arriving to begin work for the day. 

I will begin my work for the day soon, too.  Dishes, laundry, dusting, meals to cook...  May I remember to bring Him along with me as I walk through this day that He alone has made.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

I've done a couple letters on here venting frustration to various things around me, like the construction workers in my backyard and the raccoon that eats my garbage.  This letter is not to vent frustration, but rather to apologize for the lack of posting. 

Some bloggers would say I shouldn't feel guilty for not giving you something to read.  And I wouldn't say I feel guilty per se, more just a sense of responsibility to those faithful few who check in here almost daily hoping for something new.

My reason for silence?  I have to admit, it's nothing earth-shattering.  In fact, there isn't even really any good reason at all.  I just haven't had anything particularly interesting to say; I haven't felt overly inspired by anything.  Even today, this letter, is me forcing myself to get back at the keyboard and put forth at least something.

I think I might have writer's block.

Well then...

I'm sure the cure for writer's block is probably something simple like what I'm doing now, forcing one's self to write.  So we'll give it a go.  It might mean there are more days in between posts.  It might mean I make some kind of pledge to write a post every day for the next week.  (I don't actually see that happening -- sorry for getting your hopes up.)  It might mean I have to change the time of day that I do my writing.  Currently, I do my posts first thing in the morning after the kids get up, but their sleep habits have been changing slightly, as in, they wake up slightly later, so I have less time to do what I want before our day gets started.

Anyway, once again, dear readers, I'm sorry for my long stretch of absence.  I am hoping that it won't take me quite so long before I come back again on a more regular basis for you.  But if it does, well, just know that I'm probably fine, and I'm only trying to figure out how to get over the writer's block.

Peace to you,
Your not-so-faithful-lately blogger

Sunday, October 02, 2011

For Reflection

I was doing some reading in Isaiah last night.  Here's a few favourites:

24 “I am the LORD,
who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself..." 44:24b

7 I form the light and create darkness,
   I bring prosperity and create disaster;
   I, the LORD, do all these things.
 8 “You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
   let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
   let salvation spring up,
let righteousness grow with it;
   I, the LORD, have created it." 45:7-8 

3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
   all you who remain of the house of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since you were conceived,
   and have carried since your birth.
4 Even to your old age and gray hairs
   I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
   I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  46:3-4 


May you remember today that One who has known you since before your birth, this One who sustains you and carries you through every trial, He alone has created all things.  My God, He is great and mighty to save.

Peace to you, my friends.

Friday, September 30, 2011

It's His Strength

The morning was not getting off to a good start.  I must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed or something because I was grumpy.  It's not that the kids had gotten me up extra early; in fact, Reuben didn't come in the room till almost 7.  Maybe it was the rain and grey skies...

Whatever the reason, I was not handling myself well.

The kids weren't listening to "No" and "Not now".  I was snapping at them.  They were yelling back.  I felt like tearing out my hair.

I swore if I heard, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" any longer I would completely lose all sense of sanity.

All I could do was sit in front of my computer at the kitchen table with my head in my hands and cry out to God, "I can't do this!"

And then He answered.

Have you ever had it where you wonder what exactly it means when people say that it's not us doing something, but Christ working in us?  Have you ever wondered what it really means to say that it is His strength that allows us to do things, not our own?

I so know what that means now.

There is no other way that I can explain how one minute I am grouchy and snapping at my children, and the next moment I am able to respond calmly, with grace, and feel joy and anticipation for the day ahead.  That little cry for help, "I can't do this!" and suddenly, all is changed.

My God, His power is great.  And He is so faithful to show up when we need Him the most.  In our weakness, He truly is strong.  Thank the Lord!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Robot Cake

This is Reuben's robot cake.  He picked it out from this list that has some pretty cool cake designs for kids on it, and they're generally quite easy to make.

I will concur, although it helped that I didn't have to locate frozen pound cake for this particular design.  The most challenging part of this was getting the icing colour right and then having to put said icing on parts of cake that had been cut out.  Maybe there's a trick to it that I haven't learned, but the cake kept crumbling into the icing.

Anyway, as of the time I'm writing this (which is the day before I'm posting it), we haven't eaten this cake yet, but I anticipate that it will be quite yummy.

I'll admit, I'm a little proud of how well it turned out.  And of course, Reuben was pretty excited when he saw it, too.

UPDATE: We ate the cake last night, and as anticipated, it was delicious, albeit confusing to cut pieces out of.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It spins its web outside my window

There was a big, fat, ugly spider outside my kitchen window last night.  It disturbed my view while I was doing dishes after supper by dropping down right in front of me.

My first reaction was to recoil with an, "Oh, yuck!"

I'm not generally overly afraid of spiders.  I've had to get used to them as we have an abundance of your typical ceiling variety spiders in our house that the kids always make me kill for them.

But this spider is a lot larger than our house spiders, and it's one of those creepy multi-coloured ones with stripes on its legs and funky designs on its body.

[insert *shudder* here]

But then, after I got over my initial horror, I took a closer look because the spider was doing something a bit unusual, (and when I say unusual, I just mean I'd never seen a spider do this before.)  It turns out it was building a web in the corner of my kitchen window.

It was actually pretty neat to watch.  It would drop down really quickly, and then crawl back up, and then start pulling up the piece of web it had dropped, and then drop down again, and go somewhere different, and then attach a piece of web here, and then go over there and attach another piece of web over there.

It's like it knew what it was doing or something.

It's still rather dark outside this morning, so I can't see outside my window really well.  But I can see enough to tell that the web is finished, and it is full of tiny flies that got caught in it overnight.  I hope the spider is hungry today.

And it just goes to show, even if you think something is ugly, it just might show you something cool, like how to catch your food with sticky pieces of string, (not that I'm about to go out and try it myself -- I'm not into eating flies...)

Monday, September 26, 2011

He's in the storm

We had a sermon at church yesterday about when Jesus calmed the storm.  It's a fairly familiar passage where Jesus is asleep in the boat after a long day of teaching, and a storm comes up while he's crossing the lake with his disciples.  The disciples are scared that they're going to drown, so they wake him up, and Jesus makes the storm stop.

The pastor made a point that I've always known, but needed reminding of: just because Jesus is in the boat with us, doesn't mean the storms won't come.  (I know, double negative, confusing sentence, sorry...)

It's not that I expect life to be easy all the time, but I think to a certain extent, there's an expectation as Christians that if we're walking with Jesus, the storms of life shouldn't be quite as bad as they end up being.  Anyway, it was a good reminder for me not to expect life to be perfect.

Then the sermon went on.  (You didn't think that was the whole point, did you?)

I half expected the sermon to be pretty cliche, focusing on how Jesus is with us in the storm, and we just need to trust him to get us through safely, but the pastor ended up taking us in a bit of a different direction.  He pointed out how after Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples were in awe and asked themselves, "Who is this?"

And so he talked about how Jesus is God, and that the disciples were afraid because they forgot that. 

He is God.

We might remember that Jesus is with us in the storm, but we also need to remember that this One who is with us is the All-Mighty Creator.  He has the power to calm any storm -- not that he will magically make all of life's problems go away -- but when we turn to Him and trust that He, the Lord of all, is with us, we don't need to be afraid of the storms.  He brings peace.

I was reminded of an old downhere song I've been listening to lately, "Calmer of the Storm".

"You rebuke the wind and the waves
Once again I find I'm amazed & the power of your will
Cuz I'm a child of little faith
I feel the wind and forget your grace
And you say, "Peace, be still."

There on the storm I am learning to let go
Of the will that I so long to control.
There may I be in your arms eternally
I thank you, Lord, You are the calmer of the storm."

We can bear the storms of life when we trust Him to bring us peace.  May you know that peace today, friends.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

For Reflection

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

(inspired by the runner I saw go by on the road this morning)

When the mornings are cold and dark and the road of life seems long, may we never forget those heros of the faith who have gone before us, and may the brightness of the dawn always fill our hearts with joy and hope for the coming day.

Peace to you, my friends.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yesterday, four years ago

Yesterday, four years ago, I was 41 weeks pregnant.  My midwife came for a home visit and gave me some tips for helping labour along.  Contractions had been starting and then stopping every day for about a week. 

Yesterday, four years ago, Tim and I took our last (really long) walk as a married couple with no children.

Yesterday, four years ago, we had some friends over for supper, and we had tacos with apple pie for dessert.  Then we spent the evening watching TV, and I sat in the rocking chair, counting the contractions that finally didn't quit, and then everyone went home, and we called the midwife and went to the hospital.

And on this morning four years ago, at 1:30 AM, a beautiful baby boy was born, and we called him Reuben.

And today, on his fourth birthday, this boy-child crawled into my bed and snuggled in close, and I held my son, this man-in-training, and treasured the moment of lost sleep, thinking to myself that there won't be many more moments like these, so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Happy Birthday, Reuben!

Friday, September 23, 2011

*grumble* (Letter to a raccoon)

Dear Mr. (or Mrs.) Raccoon:

I saw you eating my garbage last night.  I was laying in my bed, ready to go to sleep, when I heard the crash of my garbage can hitting the ground as you knocked it over in search of sustenance.  I knew I hadn't heard the sound of a car door, and I know you've been in my garbage before, so I snuck over to the window to investigate.

There you were.  Eating my garbage.  You in all your masked garbage-eating glory.

I tried not to think about the mess that I would now have to clean up in the morning.  I tried not to feel like a horrible neighbour for not buying a garbage can with a lid that ties down, (although in all fairness, the garbage can came with the house).  I tried to hope that the bag of cat poop I scooped from my furball's litter box tonight and put at the top of the can would deter you just a little from the actual garbage underneath.

Apparently you didn't care about the cat poop because there is quite the array of garbage all over the street that I now have to clean up before the garbage man gets here.  You are really, REALLY lucky it hasn't started raining yet or I would be even more annoyed than I already am.

So be warned, Mr. (or Mrs.) Raccoon.  Your garbage-eating days are coming to an end.  I've decided that from now on, until we get a garbage can with a lid that ties down, I won't be putting my garbage at the road until the morning before the garbage man comes.  I will keep it in my garage where it will be safe from your garbage-thieving paws.  So.  Ha.

Sincerely,
The very unimpressed owner of the garbage can you robbed last night

Monday, September 19, 2011

Easy Chicken Parmesan

I found this recipe in my Fall 2011 edition of Kraft's What's Cooking magazine, and I love it.  We've had it twice now, and I think it's going to have a permanent place among my menu options.

Easy Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
2 1/2 cups pasta sauce
Parmesan grated cheese
mozzarella cheese, shredded
spaghetti noodles

Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Pour the pasta sauce into a 13x9 inch baking dish.  Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and add the chicken breasts, turning them to coat them in the sauce.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti.  In the photo here, I actually used linguine, and it worked fine, except that Reuben wouldn't eat it because the noodles were different.  *insert eye-rolling here*

When the chicken has finished baking, top with 1 1/2 cups of shredded Mozzerella cheese and some additional Parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered for about five minutes.  Serve as shown.

Seriously, this is one of the easiest recipes I've come across yet, and it was delicious.  It's also really easy to halve the recipe if you're not cooking for lots of people.  If you try it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

For Reflection

"11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
   yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will meditate on all your works
   and consider all your mighty deeds.
13 Your ways, O God, are holy.
   What god is so great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
   you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
   the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
 16 The waters saw you, O God,
   the waters saw you and writhed;
   the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
   the skies resounded with thunder;
   your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
   your lightning lit up the world;
   the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
   your way through the mighty waters,
   though your footprints were not seen." Psalm 77: 11-19

May you, dear friends, take time today to remember the things, both great and small, that the Lord has done for you, and may you never forget that this God who loves us is capable of so much more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Peace to you...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Things I've learned to do as a Trucker's Wife

As the wife of a long-haul trucker, I've had to learn how to do a few things.  I thought I'd share a few of those new-found skills with you all today, not that these are all skills you will necessarily need to learn, unless you're also married to a trucker.  Anyway...

Skill #1: I have created a system of doing the dishes whereby I can fit two meals worth into one drying rack.  Actually, this might be a helpful skill to learn if you happen to have to do dishes by yourself on a regular basis.  In doing this, I save myself much time and effort in having to both wash and dry all the dishes.  If I fit them all into one rack, they can sit there and drip-dry overnight, and I can put them away in the morning without once picking up a dish towel.

Skill #2: I can find the fuel pump reset switch on a Ford Tempo.  In all fairness, my husband is the one who showed me how to do this, but believe it or not, I actually had to use this skill once when I was all by myself and he was gone on the road.  We don't have the Tempo anymore, but I'm pretty proud to say I could do this again if I had to.  :)  (And we won't go into many details about why I needed to use this skill...let's just say it involved coming around a corner to see a very unavoidable and large pothole and the jolt being such that the car actually shut off...)

Skill #3: I can check the PARS number on a shipment to determine if it's cleared customs yet or not.  Don't ask me what a PARS number actually is though.  All I know is that it's a bar code that goes on customs paperwork for a shipment crossing the border, and if it hasn't cleared yet when I check, it generally means Tim has to make a call to the load broker.  Also, if I remember the number when he tells it to me, I can later use it to find out what time he crossed the border, and I can have a better idea of what time to expect him home.  :)

Skill #4: How to not panic when I get a phone call saying, "I'm in a tornado!"  Okay, so I'm not so good at this skill yet.  However, I am pretty good at searching the Internet frantically to find out any and all weather reports for any given location.

Skill #5: How to drive near tractor trailers.  Some people could use a lesson or two on this.  Yes, they're bigger.  Yes, in Ontario, they're also limited to a certain speed, and depending on how heavy the load is, they take a lot longer to stop than the average passenger vehicle.  That said, I've learned never to cut off a truck, how to leave enough space for them to merge into traffic, and that sometimes following them in a snowstorm is a good idea.

So there you have it, a few semi-useful skills to have as a Trucker's Wife.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Two things I like about Fall

So I have come to realize that although I am generally very anti-Fall, there are two things about it that I don't mind.

One, I can have the fireplace on again. 

When we originally started looking for houses, I would never have put a fireplace down as a "must-have".  We found this house, and even though it already had one, it didn't really factor into our decision.  Now that I've been living with one for almost a year, I don't think I could ever go back to not having one.  It's that nice.  And I love that with the onset of cooler evenings and mornings, I can have it on again. 

Don't get me wrong.  I still hate being cold.  But at least I have a fireplace to warm up the house.  :)

The second thing I don't mind about Fall is tea.  Yes, I know, you can drink tea in the summer.  But for some reason, I don't, at least not on any sort of regular basis.  To my mind, it's too hot in the summer to really be able to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea.

However, now that Fall is coming and nights are cooler, I can once again enjoy my cup of tea in the evening before bed.  I'm not a tea snob.  I don't get into arguments about whether bags or loose-leaf is better.  In fact, I have both in my cupboard and dare say there are good and bad things about either option.  At one point this summer, I made some tea using fresh peppermint leaves from my garden.  Let me tell you, that was cool. 

My only reservation regarding teas is that I'm not really into the fruity ones, as in, anything berry-ish.  I will on occasion drink a lemon or pomegranate tea, but that's pretty much my limit.  I do love a good vanilla tea, but have yet to find one at the grocery store where I usually buy my tea.

So there you have it.  I don't totally hate the coming of the cooler seasons.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In the early morning light...

And God is faithful.  He brings me out of the dark places and covers me with the light of His grace.

I am learning to see the gifts He sends me daily, such small things, like bringing a friend into work at the crack of dawn and the glorious drive home -- so quiet -- this chance to watch the sun greet the day, creating long shadows on the road in front of me, warming my face with its blinding light.  Would that I could go through each day blinded in such a way by the great love of my heavenly Father! 

And this chance to praise Him, with the radio blaring loud and my heart pouring out thankfulness to feel such inexplicable joy.  Moments like these should never be taken for granted, and I find myself beginning to understand how some people can be morning people -- not that I see myself joining their ranks any time soon -- but the overwhelming beauty of the early morning begs to be seen and enjoyed.

And certainly, it provides plenty of time and opportunity to think of blog ideas...  :)

"But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for He has been good to me." Psalm 13:5-6

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two Pet Peeves

There's two things that bug me.  Okay, not just two things.  But two things that I'm going to share with you lucky people today.

First thing that drives me crazy: when I go to the grocery store, and they are completely out of stock of something on my list.  As in, there's not even an alternate brand of said item to purchase.  (Although I am pretty frustrated that my grocery store hasn't had any knock-off brand tomato paste in about a month, but at least I can still get the name brand kind...)  Like on Monday, when I went to buy peanut butter, and there wasn't any left because, of course, it was on sale, and everyone else wanted some, too.  Or like yesterday, when I did my bi-weekly "stock up the house" trip, and I had planned to make shepherd's pie next week, but they were completely out of shepherd's pie seasoning mixes.

So now, I have to do one of three things: A) Make something else and hope I have everything I need.  B) Make shepherd's pie from scratch, as in the seasoning in the meat part, which from experience, doesn't always work (tried making my own sloppy joes and it failed miserably), and again, I don't know if I have everything I need.  Or C) I can go back to the store later in the week and hope they've stocked up.

None of these options really appeals to me.  *sigh* 

The second thing that drives me crazy has to do with my absolutely favorite past-time: reading.  I hate it when a book doesn't have a little blurby on the back telling me a synopsis of what the book is about.  I'm not saying I need pages of spoilers; I just want a little hint of what I'm getting myself into beyond what the title or location in the bookstore can give me.  A book without a synopsis on the back drives me so crazy, I might actually do the unthinkable - flip to the back of the book and read the ending first.

*gasp*

I know.  Sacrilege, right?  So unless the author is someone I already know I enjoy reading, if a book doesn't come with a synopsis, I will do the one other thing that prevents me from committing such travesty, I put it back on the shelf, and I don't read the book.  Someone else can borrow it.  Someone else can buy it.  But I will let it rest, and a book that might be the greatest book in history will go unread by my humble self, just because some publisher decided it wasn't worth it to give readers a little taste of what hides inside those pages.

And yes, this also means that I'm the kind of person who has to read the back of the DVD case before I watch a movie.  That probably says something about me, but I don't feel like analyzing exactly what that might be.  My coffee hasn't kicked in enough yet.

So there you go, my two pet peeves for the day, missing grocery store items and books without synopses. 

P.S. We put grass seed down in our backyard last week, and now we are starting to see green!  Super excited!  I'll post about that some other time when I get some good pictures...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Today's Gift

(thoughts from yesterday that I didn't get a chance to write then)

The late summer sunshine peeks through the branches of the birch tree outside my kitchen window creating streaks of light across the counter as I do dishes once again.  I have watched this tree blossom through spring and share it's branches with various birds throughout the summer.  Now it's leaves are beginning to turn brown and wrinkly, that disease of Fall that inevitably strikes every leaf-bearing tree.  I do not look forward to the day those leaves start leaving those branches to cover my lawn with hours of raking and bagging.

I consider this gorgeous day a gift.  After a week of gray and rainy, the chance to get outside and spend some time at a park by the lake with my children is a chance for my heart to heal just a little more.

Friends, don't under-estimate the pain caused by a miscarriage.  I hadn't meant to go this way today, but here we are.  It takes time to heal from this loss, and bit by bit, I am getting there.  Slowly, day by day, God provides gifts of light to ease the hurt in my heart.

My children, so precious, are two of those gifts.  To see the two of them playing along the beach, picking up stones and sticks and tossing them into the water, so innocent and free of worldly cares, a reminder of how to have child-like faith.  The lake breeze blows the waves hard onto the stony shore.  I sit with my face to the sun and just breathe, soaking in the last precious moments of summer.

(And back to today...)

It appears that yesterday's sunshine continues today, and maybe we'll have yet one more chance to enjoy the last days of summer.  Somehow, it's easier to cherish the sunny days when I know that they'll soon be ending.

And today's gift:  I've had the flowers for a while now, but the morning sun sneaked through the window in our front entrance-way and peeked around the corner to shine beams of light into the dining room and straight onto these flowers, a gift from Tim and the kids, and now a further gift of glowing warmth and beauty.

May you, dear readers, take the time to see God's love for you today in the gifts of light around you.

"You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light." Psalm 18:28

Sunday, September 04, 2011

It's Chicken Pox?

So we think Kaylee has chicken pox.  It started with what we thought was a pimple on her forehead, and then she had a spot on her leg, and then two on her arm, and then another one on her arm, and two on her ankle, and one on her stomach.  I started to think maybe it was bug bites, but they didn't look like any bug bites I'd ever seen before, and a thorough search of our house has not revealed anything that might be biting her anyway.

Then I thought, "Maybe it's chicken pox?"  So I called Telehealth, which was less than helpful, but what did I expect by trying to get someone to diagnose spots over the phone?  Apparently the nurse thought that Kaylee should have more symptoms other than just spots, but if it's such a mild case, would the other symptoms really be that obvious?  Anyway...

Then my parents came over, and their immediate reaction is that it is, in fact, chicken pox.  So I think that's what we'll go with at this point.  I may bring her in to see our doctor on Tuesday (go figure it's a long weekend), especially if it gets worse, but we'll see if I bother or not.  Maybe I'll post pictures on Facebook and get some more opinions...

So moral of the story, I'm stuck here at home with her this morning instead of heading to church, which is ironic, because the only place I can figure that she caught it from was at church.  Assuming Reuben also catches it at some point, we could be stuck here at home for quite some time.  Joy. 

Oh, and if there's anyone in the Hamilton area that really wants your kids to catch chicken pox, you are more than welcome to come visit.  I don't know if her case is severe enough to be that catching anymore, but feel free to give it a go.  The door is always open, and I'm told I make good coffee.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Be Strong

The morning sun shines its light and warmth off the leaves of the trees behind my house.  The sun itself is still hidden behind the homes across the street from ours, but I can see it's rising glory reflecting off wind-blown boughs.

The constancy of the dawn is a healing balm to my soul this morning.

And I cling to His promises in a verse I memorized in childhood:

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you are." Joshua 1:9

He is with me, and so I can be strong and courageous to face each new day, to face whatever new pain may come my way and to embrace whatever new joy He grants to my life.

May He also grant you, dear readers, the strength to face whatever trials you may face today, and may He also grant you the grace to see His joy in the gifts of life around you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Turning off the autopilot

The drive home from my parents is about two hours, and it follows a stretch of highway not known for being particularly interesting.  I have driven that road countless times in my life, and I can't really say that I've ever felt particularly struck by the beautiful scenery or elegant fields that form the landscape of southwestern Ontario.

Except today.

I hit that cruise control button, and I prepared for the long drive ahead, and it came to me, how many times have I ridden this stretch of highway with my mind also on autopilot?  Today, for the first time I can remember, I found myself looking up at the blue sky and watching as tiny white clouds formed from the morning mist and free-flying hawks soared on the breeze far above the coffee-drinking travelers on the road beneath them.

Today, I took the time to look around at the fields of corn and soy beans, at the random trees that line the fences between those fields, at the occasional stretches of forest with their solid walls of green -- but not just one kind of green mind you, all the shades of green that you can possibly think of are found in the thousands of leaves that make up those trees.

And I realized just how much I love the color green.  I looked around, and my soul drank in the view.  My lungs inhaled the smell of summer as it flowed through the air vents of my van.

You know the smell I mean, the one that you breathe in as you first pull into that campground where you've decided to take a few measly days of break from the fast-pace of life, that smell of campfires, and trees, and grass, and dirt, and lake water, the one you get only glimpses of when you return to the city, like when you're at a park or in your backyard and your neighbour decides to have a fire in his backyard firepit, and then you silently curse him for reminding you of how badly you'd love to be back tucked away in that forest again, spending long days in the sun on the beach and long evenings around the campfire with marshmallows and pie irons and glasses of wine and great conversations with beloved family and friends.

But at the same time, my lungs are grateful for the chance to take in a deep breath of that calming scent, to breath in that gentle reminder of more peaceful locales, and relive for a few brief minutes those moments I find myself waiting all year for.

Oh, I am so not looking forward to Fall.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

As the smell of breakfast sausages fills the air...

My morning view has changed somewhat for the last few days.  I get to see lush grass, colorful gardens, and reflections of the sunrise in the window beside me, while Veggie Tales sing their pithy songs in the background.

As much as I wish I could say my backyard has undergone a radical transformation, in truth, the kids and I are visiting my parents while Tim has a crazy work week.

It is always a pleasure to come back to my childhood home.  The kids love their grandparents, and the change of scenery and new-to-them toys mean they're slightly better at keeping themselves on good behavior for a little while.

I love that there's a dishwasher here.

And for some reason that I REALLY need to determine, Reuben has been finally sleeping through the night again, so I can get a full night of uninterrupted sleep.  I'd forgotten how good that feels.

So anyway, part of my lack of inspiration for posting is mostly just because I'm taking a few days to relax. 

The other part is that it's really hard to think of anything good to write when Veggie Tales are blaring away, driving their biblical, albeit distracting messages deep into the creative centers of my brain.  Your loss, my gain?  Maybe we all need to go back and be reminded of these simple truths now and then...  But that's perhaps a post for another day.  When I'm not humming along to songs from my childhood...

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Changing Seasons

I find myself with mixed feelings about the coming of Fall this year.  Generally speaking, I hate Fall.  I don't like being cold, and summer is always filled with such great memories of camping and visits to the park and fresh fruits like strawberries.

But for some reason, this year, I am finding something comforting about the changing of the seasons.  The nights are getting colder and longer.  The trees, while still green, are beginning to look like they're thinking about dropping their leaves, and in the case of the maple in our front yard, even starting to let a few go in anticipation of the long months of raking ahead.

Don't get me wrong.  I still hate Fall.  As pretty as all the colors are and as refreshing as the cool nights are after the heat of the summer, Fall means that Winter is coming, and I hate Winter even more than Fall.  Snow is great and all, and I love Christmas, but I'd be much happier if we had about one month of Fall, one month of Winter, and the rest of the year could be divided between Spring and Summer.

(That being said, I don't judge anyone for liking whichever season you choose.  If you love Fall, you go right ahead and do that.  Just don't expect me to love it with you.)

This year at least, I'm finding reassurance in the knowledge that our change-less God is the one controlling our ever-changing seasons.  Not that I didn't know this before.  But for some reason unknown to me, this year, however unwelcome, the coming of Fall is bringing me a sense of comfort to know that whatever crummy things we (I) may face in life, the world hasn't ended.  God is still in control, and the seasons still continue to change.

"Praise be to the name of God forever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes time and seasons..." Daniel 2:20-21a

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Letter to the workmen behind my house

Dear Construction Man,

You don't know me.  I don't really know you.  But I feel you working every day.  That's right.  FEEL.  I don't know what machine you're driving.  I am not well-versed in the names of all the different kinds of construction equipment that are out there.  But whatever that beast is that you climb into every single day, it makes my house vibrate All.Day.Long.

And I'm getting a little tired of it.

I know you're working for a noble cause: some day next spring the community center with three pools will open, and we in this household will rejoice that we are in walking distance of this grand new awesomeness.  But for right now, it's getting old.  The constant beeping of reversing vehicles, the dust that lines the tops of my shelves and cupboards, the random cement trucks that keep getting lost and turning around in front of our house, and let's not forget how I can't even get through my morning coffee sitting at my kitchen table without my chair vibrating in an unnatural, low-droning in the background kind of way.

Anyway, you and I both know that neither of us really gets much say in the matter.  You have your job to do, and in the end, I'll get a new community center.  So we find ourselves at a standoff, and I just have to say that I'm extremely thankful to have a child who wakes me up at 6:30AM because if I didn't, I would be rather annoyed to be woken up by you starting work at 7:30 on a Saturday morning.

I hope my neighbours are forgiving.

Well, that's all for now, Mr. Construction Man.  I really hope you finish your job soon or I just might go crazy if I have to put up with this droning and vibrations for much longer.

With significant lack of seriousness, but just a touch of annoyance,
A Rattled and Vibrated to the Edge of Craziness Homeowner

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The busy-ness

It's been a busy week.  Tim's sister got married last weekend, and with Reuben as ring-bearer, it meant some extra busy days fitting in rehearsals and skipping naps.  We left the day after the wedding to go camping at Pinery with my family and had a few more busy days of skipping naps.

Now we're back home, and that first night back I headed over to my sister's house to say goodbye to our other sister who is heading off to a new life of graduate school in Edmonton, Alberta.  They left yesterday.  And I miss her already. 

And of course, there's always the post-camping mountain of laundry to tackle and the necessary trip to the grocery store after cleaning out the cupboards to pack the cooler.

So life continues on.  And I struggle to find a way to heal the ache in my heart, and deep down, I know that only my faithful Father can take care of that for me, and so I thirst to drink deeply of His living water while making do with mere sips of moments in time.

"As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God." Psalm 42:1

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ode to Coffee

It is dawn, and I stumble down the stairs after my blond-haired early-rising son.  I settle him on the couch in front of the TV with some apple juice and goldfish crackers and make my way to the kitchen.

It's waiting for me there.  That black, stainless steel appliance with the glass carafe.  That bringer of my coveted caffeine jolt.  My friend, the coffee maker.

I lift the lid and dump out yesterday's grinds.  I open the cupboard door and fiddle with the stack of filters until I manage to get a single one off, and I carefully place it in the center of the basket.

My coffee maker has a temper.  It's finicky.  If you don't place the filter in just so, it will fold in on itself while the coffee is brewing, and I will end up with grinds in my cup.  And I don't just mean a few.  The coffee will be ruined, and I'll have to start the process all over.

I carefully measure out the coffee grinds, my special blend.  I use a mix of regular coffee and flavored coffee.  I pour the water into the reservoir, and I push the little black button to start the brewing process.

Then I sit down at the kitchen table to wait.

I can hear the grumblings of water making it's way through the insides of that black machine.  It makes its way to the basket where it percolates through the grinds and the filter and begins dripping into the glass carafe.  Delicious smells begin to fill the air, tantalizing me with the anticipation of that hot liquid soon to fill my cup.

I wait for it.  In mere moments, I hear it.  The beeps come, and I know that my coffee is finished brewing.  Yes, that's right.  My coffee maker beeps to tell me when it's finished.  I love that feature.  :)

I take out a mug, and I lift the carafe.  I pour that rich, deep-brown brew into my cup.  I confess, I ruin it a bit by adding milk to take the edge off the bitterness, but I've gotten used to the taste of it versus cream, and I add some sugar to sweeten it.

I sit down.  I lift the cup.  I smell that coffee goodness. 

I take that first sip.  And sigh. 

Life is good with coffee.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Mornings at the kitchen table

My sister gave me her old laptop.  I love having it.

But my mornings will never be the same.

See, I'm not limited to spending my computer time in the office anymore.  Which, this past week, has been a good thing as our office is also our spare bedroom, and it seems to be getting used quite a lot lately.  As in, last week alone, we had people sleeping there on three separate occasions, one of them for two nights in a row.

I know.  I love that we finally have a bed to offer people when they need a place to sleep.

I'm also extremely thankful that I have this laptop because it means I can still check my morning blogs while I attempt to keep Reuben quiet long enough to let said people sleep a little longer than his customary 6AM wakeup time.

And I have to admit, I'm kind of enjoying being able to sit at my kitchen table in the mornings where I can look out the window to the backyard and see the beautiful trees and all the progress we've been making on the yard.  (That's a post for another day when I can finally take some pictures for you.) 

Also, I am that much closer to my coffee maker for the caffeine hit I so desperately need every morning...

Saturday, August 06, 2011

As they eat...

Shhhh...

Do you hear that?

That, my friends, is the sound of quiet children because they are occupied with chewing...

...the sound of a meal being enjoyed...

...the sound of watermelon, and yogurt, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches providing sustenance to hungry bodies.

It is glorious, and for five whole minutes, I stand in my kitchen and enjoy the peace of this moment.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Herbed Garlic Butter

Now that we've been getting rain on a more regular basis, my herb garden has taken off, the basil in particular.  I've got so much basil, I don't know what to do with it all, so I've been madly searching the Internet for recipes that call for fresh basil.  Most recipes include tomatoes or all kinds of weird ingredients that I don't have on hand, like pine nuts to make pesto.  Who knew that pesto had pine nuts in it?  Well, I didn't at any rate.

Finally, I found this great recipe for herbed butter.  The idea is to use it on a French baguette, but I just put it on some rolls, as seen here.  I also used it on a couple of hamburger buns that I had in the freezer, and that worked fine too.

Here's how to make this yummy deliciousness...

Ingredients: margarine or butter, parsley, basil, green onion, a clove of garlic, black pepper

Soften 6 tablespoons of butter or margarine.  I used margarine, and it worked just fine.  I suspect the deliciousness of this recipe would be heightened if I used butter, but I didn't have any in the house at the time of making this recipe.  6 tablespoons of butter also equals 3/8 of a cup if that's easier for anyone.  It was easier for me because I actually have a set of measuring bowls that has a 3/8 cup measure.

Chop up two green onions.


Add two tablespoons of minced parsley.  (When I say "minced", I mean "finely chopped".)  Then add two teaspoons of minced basil and a clove of minced garlic.  And finally, add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir it all together to get this delicious herbed butter.  It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week.

Spread the butter on a roll or baguette or some other sort of fancy bread.  The original recipe said to broil for 4-6 minutes with the bread about 2-3 inches away from the broiler.  I just put it in my toaster oven and toasted it for about 6 minutes.

And voila!
Absolutely delicious...




Monday, August 01, 2011

A bright moment among the grey

And sometimes, all you need is...

a chick flick

a glass of white wine

nachos with salsa, cinnamon powdered donuts, and chocolate-covered almonds

two hours of laughter

unforgettable moments with a loved one who's about to move away for two whole years

I love my sister.  :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Processing the sadness...

It's been a slow week for inspiration, my friends.  In my heart, there is a need to explain this post, but I don't know if I have the right words to make myself understood.

I was pregnant, and I had a miscarriage at four weeks and four days. 

So early.  This little life that didn't even get a chance to know life.

The doctor called it a "chemical pregnancy" and said to not even treat it as a miscarriage.  As if that can take away the fact that I had four positive pregnancy tests.  A line is a line is a line is a line.  His levity was meant to lessen my grief, and in hindsight, it's only added to the difficulty of processing my sadness.

I've never hidden that I've already lost one baby.  In fact, just a few weeks ago I remembered the child that would have been four years old this year.  So many years have passed since the sharpness of that loss and grief that I've almost forgotten what that experience was like.  But that time, we'd had time to share our excitement and thus were also forced to share our grief.

This time has not been quite the same, and words cannot quite express just how confusing and difficult the emotions have been for me.  Reuben and Kaylee keep my life so busy that I barely have time to spend alone with my thoughts, and those few moments when I am allowed to feel the depth of my hurt, the pain that wells up is so great that I find I need to distract myself so not to be swallowed up in it.

And God has been faithful to provide such comfort, but if I take my gaze off of Him for even a second, it is so easy to slide back down into that great valley of darkness.

In some twist of irony, when I had found out I was pregnant, my greatest concern was how tired I would be for the next nine months, and 2 Corinthians 9:12 became my mantra, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  It seems that I'm now looking at this verse in a completely different light and relying on His strength in a completely different way.

I continue to covet your prayers.  I don't know if this post has at all explained what I need it to.  In a small way, it has helped to write it. 

Peace to you...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Easy Tomato & Cucumber Salad

So I wanted something yummy with my garlic bread for lunch yesterday, and since I had the ingredients, I threw this salad together.  I think I first saw the recipe in a Kraft What's Cooking magazine, but I did it totally off the top of my head this time.  *grin*

Ingredients:
cucumber
tomato
red onion
feta cheese
feta & oregano salad dressing

Start by chopping up the cucumber and putting it into a bowl.  I used about 1/3 of a cucumber, and I ended up with enough for two servings.

Chop the tomato and put in the bowl with the cucumber.  I used about 2/3 of a medium-sized tomato.

Chop up some red onion and feta cheese and add to the tomato and cucumber.  In hindsight, I could have just sliced up the red onion, but I was using the end of an onion, so I don't know how well it would have worked.  And yes, when you buy real feta cheese that comes in a block, you chop it up to make it crumbly.

Add some salad dressing and toss to coat.  This recipe works best if you can let it sit for a few hours in the fridge so all the flavors have a chance to blend together.  It tasted okay when I ate it for lunch after a few minutes, but it tasted even better at supper when it had the chance to sit.  It would have tasted even better if I'd been able to let it sit overnight, but I wasn't about to eat it for breakfast.

And there you have it, easy summer salad.  I'm looking forward to trying it again when I have fresh tomatoes from the garden to use.  Mmmm...

And I just have to say this in response to the glorious thunderstorm and driving rain on my roof that woke me up last night at 2am:
"God's voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,'
and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'" Job 37:5-6

"Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills." Psalm 147:7-8

Saturday, July 23, 2011

That Moment

I love it when my kids blow me away.

Reuben likes playing games and watching kids' videos on the Internet.  I'll be the first to admit he probably spends too much time doing said activities, but that's an issue for another day.  This particular story happened one day as I was helping him to get started with one of his videos, and he asked me to sit with him and watch one for a little while.  So I shoved aside all thoughts of getting dishes done before the kids went to bed and sat with him.

My first impression of the video wasn't a great one, and even though it was supposed to be geared towards kids, the story line was about a ghost train, and it had some pretty spooky music.  So I told Reuben I didn't think he should be watching that video and that we should find a different one to watch because I thought it was too scary for him.

He proceeded to tell me the following:  "It's okay, Mommy.  I won't be scared.  I have God in my heart."

Yeah.  It was that moment.

And I have to admit, it was tinged with just a little bit of guilt that he hadn't heard of the idea of having God in his heart from me.  I haven't figured out yet how to teach my kids this concept.  So I had to ask him how he knew about having God in his heart, and eventually, through some strategic question asking, figured that he must have heard it at church.

Isn't God's grace amazing?

As much as I felt that twinge of guilt, I also felt so humbled and then so extremely thankful to know that God truly can work in my kids' lives, even as often as I screw up as a mother.  And I am also extremely thankful to have found a church that takes such an interest in kids, because although I know they need to hear about God from me, it helps to take the pressure off when I know they're also hearing it from other places.

"You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever." Psalm 30:11-12

Friday, July 22, 2011

Open the fridge

I don't know if it's the ridiculous heat, or feeling extra tired, or maybe both, but I just have not felt this inspiration to post this week.  I've wanted to, but I just haven't had anything to say. 

Until last night.

Given the extreme heat over the last few days, we've had various family and friends come over to visit our air-conditioning, and my sister has actually been staying over in our spare bedroom so she can actually get some sleep as her apartment, alas, does not have A/C.  This, of course, has led to some great evenings of fun and conversations enjoyed over some cool drinks.

Last night, my husband was getting up to grab himself and his friend another drink, and he asked me if I wanted anything.  I couldn't decide what, if anything, I wanted, so I said not to get me anything.  A few minutes later, I got up, went to the fridge, and picked out a drink.

Naturally, conversation ensued around why I couldn't just have told him what I wanted, and he could have gotten it for me, thus sparing me the trip to the refrigerator.  I pointed out that I didn't know what I wanted, so I had to go and see for myself.  He then noted that I knew what the choices were, so why didn't I just decide without looking?

We determined that sometimes, you just need to open the fridge.

And for about 30 seconds, we all felt deep and philosophical about how life is like that when it comes to choices.  Sometimes, you just need to open the fridge and check out your options.  Even though you know what your choices are, there's something about seeing them laid out in front of you that makes it easier to know which one you want.

And either way, when you're trying to beat the heat, sometimes it's just nice to stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open and enjoy the cool air.

(Not to mention, isn't it great how the most random things can lead to a blog post?)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why I Write

It's morning again.  I sit with my coffee, reading my morning blogs and listening to quiet music and trying to figure out what I can say that sounds half as inspiring as the things they say.

And then I remind myself that I don't have to say what they say or sound like they sound.

Because I'm not them.

This is my blog, my writing, my place to remember the feelings, my place to bring Him glory.

It's still sometimes hard not to envy the following these wonderful blogging women have, seeing the many comments they receive and the many subscribers they have waiting on their every word.  But I remind myself: it's not about glory for me.  Why do I want those things?  I don't need to have many people reading what I say.  What matters is the One.  What matters is that He sees and that He is glorified.

I could write as beautifully as the wind and have thousands upon thousands of readers with hundreds of comments daily, but if my heart isn't focused on the real reason for why I write, it is all for nothing.

I write to use up words.  :)  I write because I spend a lot of time alone or with just my kids, and if I don't write, I will explode.  I write because if I don't, I am not being true to me, and if I am not true to me, I am not true to the One who made me.

And so I will continue to write, and I will remember Who I am writing for, and one day, I hope I can look into His face and hear Him say, "Well done."

Friday, July 15, 2011

His compassions never fail

And God is faithful to provide bright spots of joy to move me through the days, and I can count myself blessed...

seeing the beautiful face of this blue-eyed girl, laughing as she clings to my hands as I tip her down to the ground, ever trusting that I won't let her fall, and then asking for "More, more!" that the game might never end...

for good old-fashioned retail therapy, and actually having some significant success, too...

for long hugs from the man I love...

this monkey boy who loves to dangle from my neck and gets so excited when I ask him to help me take out the recycling...

beautiful summer days with the windows wide open and feeling the breeze ruffle my hair...

and looking forward to loved ones returning home...

an encouraging voice mail message from a friend...

long, hot showers...

for finally returning  to an old friend, who's been sitting in my garage since we moved in last October and sat unused in my living room for months before that, to dust off the keys and pull up a chair and find that some things you never forget, even if you get a bit rusty...

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And I cling to His love...

My dear readers, I'm sorry for such lack of posting lately.  I'm finding it hard to put into words a description of this newest storm of life -- I've lost track of how many times I've started a post only to delete it because nothing is coming out right.  Even this is a pathetic attempt at giving you something -- anything -- at the very least, a request for prayer, because I so need His strength and comfort right now.

To praise Him in the storm, to bless His name while feeling the searing pain of loss.  It is bittersweet to experience the joy of knowing a loving Father while my heart bleeds with sorrow.  Such an odd thing to go from singing His praises in one breath to overflowing with tears the next.  How can I feel so empty and mere seconds later feel so full of His grace?

I don't bother with all the "why" questions.  Why me?  Why now?  Why again?  It's simple: we live in a world full of sin and evil, and we are still waiting for Christ's return to make all things new.

I cling to the hope of the joy we will feel on that day -- such joy -- to see the loved ones waiting for us on the other side.

And to see the face of our Lord, the great Comforter, who daily grants me the grace to look to Him for strength, who daily binds the wounds on my heart -- not just daily, but hourly -- this one whose love for me goes deeper than anything I could imagine.

How to praise Him in the storm?  The answer to this is also simple: He loves me.  No matter what life throws my way, this will always be true.  I will always have the love of my heavenly Father, and so I praise Him.  I can find rest and comfort in knowing that I am surrounded by His powerful arms of love, now and always.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21 (NKJV)

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" 2 Cor 12:9a

Monday, July 11, 2011

[untitled]

To somehow say what my heart feels, but words cannot seem to express...

"Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and my body with grief." Psalm 31:9

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?" Psalm 13:2

"My heart and my flesh may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

"For I am the Lord, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, 'Do not fear;
I will help you.'" Isaiah 41:13

"It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect." Psalm 18:32

And I pray that I maybe be able to say with full confidence:
"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21 (NKJV)

May the light of His love shine on you all today.

Friday, July 08, 2011

How to Get Deodorant off the Wall

Yes, you read that right.  During naptime earlier this week, while the rest of the house was sleeping, my precious son decided to take my stick of deodorant from my bedroom and smear it in several different places in his bedroom.  In his words, they were drawings of "dinosaurs".  Some were just practice ones because they didn't turn out, and then one or two were "good ones".

For me, it meant several really sticky, greasy messes to clean up.  His locations of choice included two places on the wall, the headboard of his bed, the side of his dresser, and the wicker ottoman that sits beside his bed.  Yes, wicker.  So of course, the deodorant was also embedded in the little cracks between the fibre weaves.

How I cleaned it up:

1. Having never had to clean deodorant off of anything before, my immediate reaction was to head to my trusty friend, Google.  Believe it or not, apparently this kind of thing hasn't happened before, or at least, it hasn't happened to anybody who's thought to write about it and share their wisdom with the rest of the world.  The best I could come up with was how to get deodorant stains out of clothing...not really all that helpful.

2. Since Google failed me (*sob* I can't believe it...), and I was left to my own devices, I decided to attempt to tackle the problem using the old tried and true method of vinegar and hot water.  I made sure the water was as hot as I could stand, and I added a significant splash of vinegar to the bucket to make the solution as effective as I possibly could.

3. Then I took a regular kitchen cloth, and Reuben and I went off to the bedroom to do some serious scrubbing.  (His punishment was that he had to stay inside and help me clean up while Daddy and Kaylee went out to play in the sprinkler.  One of these days, he's going to learn he's not allowed to take Mommy's things from Mommy's bedroom.)  So we set to scrubbing with less than stellar results.  Deodorant is extremely greasy, and it didn't take long before my cloth was coated in it.  It was very difficult to rinse off, so that by the time I got to the last and worst section of deodorant-covered wall, it took me quite some time to get it cleaned enough to call our job done.  In the end, it felt like all I was doing was smearing the deodorant around more, and you could still see the greasy outline of my son's "dinosaur" drawing.

4. Talking to my Mum later, she suggested dish soap as a way to cut the grease, so I went back for a second shot at the residue I just couldn't get off with the vinegar and water mixture.  The dish soap seemed to work well, although it took quite a lot of rinsing to get the soap off the wall.  Unfortunately, I think I waited too long to try it because after the wall dried, you can still see a grease stain on the wall, but I couldn't feel anymore residue on my fingers.  It really doesn't help that the paint someone used in that room is the non-glossy stuff, so everything just soaks right down into it right away.  Whoever THAT genius was clearly wasn't thinking when they painted a potential child's bedroom with that kind of paint...

In conclusion, I think dish soap is the answer for getting deodorant off the wall...or any other surface it might happen to have been rubbed on.  Heck, it may even be the solution for getting it out of clothes, although the Google searches generally conclude the vinegar and baking soda option works best. 

I think from now on I'm going to keep my deodorant under lock and key...