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...


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.  :)