Sunday, October 04, 2015

Simply Tuesday Book Club

The team over at (in)courage is starting up a book club on October 6. They'll be reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman. I'm going to try to keep up with them. If anyone out there would like to join us/me, please do. I love to read but love to read with people and share thoughts about what we read even more! You can find out more at

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Catching up

So I know that I said back in June that I was back and going to get to writing again and here we are, several months later, with only a post or two to my credit. 

What can I say? It's been busy! 

He seems so little here. Time really does fly! 
The first, and clearly one of the biggest, things that has changed our world was the birth of our son, Benjamin, back in March. He sure is something. I know it sounds cliche but I can't believe how instantly I fell head over heels in love with him. It truly has been love at first sight. Obviously not without its challenges and incredibly tired and stretching moments but, my goodness, is this little man a gift. I want to write out his birth story one day soon as his arrival certainly didn't go as planned but he's here, happy and healthy and learning new things every day. I'm sure that I'll find time to share some of his shenanigans as we go along. Right now Daddy aptly describes him as a roomba. He's not crawling yet but he sure has figured out how to roam a room! So now my days are consumed by frequency and color of "gifts" left in diapers, feeding and sleep schedules, how to encourage and engage an infant, what and when to start solid foods and how to create an environment to inspire faith in one of God's smallest. Such a change from pool chemistry and city wide programming, and, you know what? I love it. I feel like being momma is exactly, EXACTLY, what I'm supposed to be doing right now. 

And then there's his big sisters. Life with them has been an eb and flow similar to that of the ocean. Sometimes peaceful tides rolling in and out and sometimes crashing waves. There have been big changes in that regard too. As of last October, the older Miss has been with us full time and together we all survived grade 12! How crazy is that?! She graduated last May, finished classes and wrote the last exams of her high school career in June and is now figuring out how to navigate the working world. Just when we thought we had things settled into routine, the younger Miss decided that she, too, was wanting to make her full time home with us. I wish I could communicate the answer to prayer that this has been, specifically as we prayed for truth to find its home in our family and for hearts to be softened. She has entered into family life with us with a whole lot of energy and spark and loves on her little brother like nobody's business. Just when we thought we were done with high school, here we go again as she enters grade 10. We are excited for her to branch into some new things as far as classes, to make new friends at school and to find her way in our home. 

Its crazy to think that last August, there were two of us living in our little home and now there's five. We sure are glad we finished the basement now and doubled our square footage. We're using every inch. Every. Single. Inch. I can't say it's been all sunshine and roses. There is so much adjustment and compromise and every ounce of my patience and every last strand of hope has been used up some days. Remember that ocean I mentioned? Some days I feel like I'm drowning in it. Being a step mom is hard, you guys!! Honestly so hard. There are days where it is lonely and I feel like I am lost in the bigness of it all. There are so many stories and habits and histories that I am not a part of and it makes it hard to feel like I'm a part of what's going on moving forward. Like I'm a little bit on the outside looking in and my house is not my home. Does that make sense? 

In it all, I'm trying to give myself grace. When another day has gone by and the house is still a mess (which I swear steals a piece of my soul) and I'm grumpy and tired, I have to remember there's another day. When I haven't been writing here like I really, really want to, I have to know that this is a season and a new one will come. Grace is required for me to be the grown up I need to be when sometimes all I want to do is build a blanket fort and read books. 

And I have read books. Tons of books. Mostly stories that take me far away (and don't make me think too much) and parenting books but tons. Maybe I'll find a few of the top picks to share with you here too. Maybe. Give me grace. Until then, I post keep my goodreads list pretty up to date. You know, if you're curious. 

One of my life rafts in it all has been our church. Seriously, God knew what he was doing when he pushed us in that direction. The timing was perfect and the people are wonderful. They are becoming family and they love on my family in so many beautiful, welcoming, heart-healing ways. Oh, and they have me leading music again too. Music feels good. Using my gifts to lead people in His worship feels good too. Finding His voice speaking to me in songs again is like a balm. 

What else? I know there's been more. So much more. Let's see....

My husband, one of his best friend's and my dad finished our basement just in the nick of time. Mere weeks before Ben was born, the carpet went in. Phew. Its great and I'm so proud of my sweet husband for all the time, effort and going beyond what he knew to learn and create for us and so thankful for all the helping hands that made it possible. Its necessary space for us. Now to figure out how to get my library incorporated into it....

Still playing away with my camera and trying to teach myself new skills. I've learned a lot about light and, although I still feel like I have a long way to go and so much to learn, I can see the improvement in what I can capture and it motivates me. It helps to have the cutest little one around for target practice too, I will admit. I don't post a lot to Facebook but instagram, well, you can find me there and #sorrynotsorry for any oversharing that might happen. 

One day I'll have to share about my journey in health and nutrition. It's always been a value to me, good food, as I've been able to see the connection between what we put into our bodies and how they operate. Finding whole, healthy, natural foods to fuel our bodies and understanding the power of good food for immunity and overall health is not just a skill to me but an essential and so I've spent tons of time learning and growing in this area. One of the things that I've had to overcome is a sensitivity to wheat, eggs and milk and so I've almost entirely cut all three out. Cheese. Seriously! And eggs. Delicious, wonderful, protein filled eggs. Learning how to cook all over again has been quite the journey with some failed experiments and some serious wins. 

As a part of that, I've been playing with essential oils. Husband calls it my witch craft but, honestly, I'm thrilled to be able to use natural god given plants turned into oils to do the work of what we'd normally use chemicals for. I'm specifically a fan of Young Living Oils and am sure that I'll refer to them from time to time as I find new fun ways to use them. 

With a new baby comes maternity leave and a whole new way of doing life and seeing oneself. Time with grown ups is not quite so "ready made" as it was when I was at work, even if some of the grown ups then were less than welcome company (honestly, the pool brings out the weirdest of the weird). Sleep is not so readily available but is always welcome. We take naps and go out to places like Spruce Meadows or the Saskatoon farm in the middle of the day. The MIDDLE of the day. Some days heading out for groceries is a win and I'm learning that that's okay, even if it is contrary to my personality. Watch, I'm going to get so good at this pace of life that when it's time to go back to work, I just won't be ready for it! 

Speaking of which, that's something that has really taken over my mind, really since my last day of work before our son arrived. I've thought of it as a bit of a sabbatical to refocus and reshape what my work life will look like. I feel ready for different, for something that uses my skills and abilities and is more honouring to my time with my family. Working nights and weekends is for the birds and doing things the way they've always been done has, well, been done. I want to be able to make my family a priority. I want to create. I want to figure out (again) what gifts and abilities God has given me and use them. Don't get me wrong, the pool was exactly what it needed to be for a season and I am thankful that I had that to fall back on in order to take time to heal and grow while still making an income. I'm thankful that, when my sweet husband was out of work, it provided enough of an income for us. As we've literally been replacing every appliance in the house over the past year, I've been thankful for the continued income of maternity leave and the additional benefits provided in the package. Its been, and will continue to be, an area that I know has stretched my faith, my willingness to be patient and my ability to listen for His still small voice leading in every area of my life. God cares about our work. 

There's so many big and little things filling life. Like hockey. Ben will be a fan, just not a flames fan. If he thinks about it we move. The whole Oiler upper management change leaves me hopeful that things will turn around and he'll make the right choice. Like visits with friends. Like bbq's and visits with family. More projects around the house than we know what to do with. More and full and some days exhausting but ours, none the less. So, in a nutshell, that's the us. That's the comings and goings. Now that we're all caught up, perhaps its time to fill in the gaps, one at a time, as grace allows. 

Learning to Wait: John Ortberg

I didn't write this one but I read it this morning and it hit home. A full on home run, knocked my current state out of the park type read.

So here it is....

Learning to Wait
by John Ortberg, from If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

Meet John Ortberg
What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. — Matthew 14:32

Waiting is the hardest work of hope. ~ Lewis Smedes

Waiting patiently is not a strong suit in American society.

A woman’s car stalls in traffic. She looks in vain under the hood to identify the cause, while the driver behind her leans relentlessly on his horn. Finally she has had enough. She walks back to his car and offers sweetly, “I don’t know what the matter is with my car. But if you want to go look under the hood, I’ll be glad to stay here and honk for you.”

We are not a patient people. We tend to be in a horn-honking, microwaving, Fed-Ex mailing, fast-food eating, express-lane shopping hurry. People don’t like to wait in traffic, on the phone, in the store, or at the post office.

Robert Levine, in a wonderful book called A Geography of Time, suggests the creation of a new unit of time called the honko-second — “the time between when the light changes and the person behind you honks his horn.” He claims it is the smallest measure of time known to science.

Most of us do not like waiting very much, so we like the fact that Matthew shows Jesus to be the Lord of urgent action. Three times in just a few sentences Matthew uses the word immediately — always of Jesus: Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and go on ahead of Him “immediately.” When the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost and cried out in fear, Jesus answered them “immediately.” When Peter began to sink and cried out for help, Jesus “immediately” reached out his hand and caught him.

Jesus’ actions are swift, discerning, and decisive. He doesn’t waste a honko-second. And yet, this is also a story about waiting. Matthew tells us that Jesus comes to the disciples “during the fourth watch of the night.”

The Romans divided the night into four shifts: 6:00–9:00; 9:00-midnight; midnight–3:00; and 3:00–6:00. So Jesus came to the disciples sometime after 3 o’clock. But they had been in the boat since before sundown the previous day. Why the long delay? If I were one of the disciples, I think I would prefer Jesus to show up at the same time or even slightly ahead of the storm. I’d like Him there in a honko-second.

But Matthew has good reasons for noting the time. A. E. J. Rawlinson notes that early Christians suffering their own storm of persecution may have taken great comfort in this delay:

Faint hearts may even have begun to wonder whether the Lord Himself had not abandoned them to their fate, or to doubt the reality of Christ. They are to learn from this story that they are not forsaken, that the Lord watches over them unseen… [that] the Living One, Master of wind and waves, will surely come quickly for their salvation, even though it be in the “fourth watch of the night.”

Matthew wanted his readers to learn to wait.

Another moment of waiting involves Peter’s decision to leave the boat. He cannot do this on the strength of his own impulse; he must ask Jesus’ permission first, then wait for an answer — for the light to turn green. I wonder if another type of waiting was involved for Peter. What do you suppose his very first steps on the water looked like? I expect that Jesus was an accomplished water-walker. But for Peter, I wonder if there wasn’t a learning curve involved. Maybe, like the Bill Murray character in the movie What About Bob?, he had to start with baby steps.

Learning to walk always requires patience.

It was not until the whole episode was over that the disciples got what they wanted — “the wind died down.” Why couldn’t Jesus have made the wind die down “immediately” — as soon as He saw the disciples’ fear? It would have made Peter’s walk easier. But apparently Jesus felt they would gain something by waiting.

Consider the activity that Peter and the other disciples had to engage in right up to the very end: waiting.

Let’s say you decide to get out of the boat. You trust God. You take a step of faith — you courageously choose to leave a comfortable job to devote yourself to God’s calling; you will use a gift you believe God has given you even though you are scared to death; you will take relational risks even though you hate rejection; you will go back to school even though people tell you it makes no sense financially; you decide to trust God and get out of the boat. What happens next?

Well, maybe you will experience a tremendous, nonstop rush of excitement. Maybe there will be an immediate confirmation of your decision — circumstances will click, every risk will pay off, your efforts will be crowned with success, your spiritual life will thrive, your faith will double, and your friends will marvel, all in the space of a honko-second. Maybe. But not always. For good reasons, God does not always move at our frantic pace. We are too often double espresso followers of a decaf Sovereign.

Some forms of waiting — on expressways and in doctor’s offices — are fairly trivial in the overall scheme of things. But there are more serious and difficult kinds of waiting:

  • The waiting of a single person who hopes God might have marriage in store but is beginning to despair
  • The waiting of a childless couple who desperately want to start a family
  • The waiting of Nelson Mandela as he sits in a prison cell for twenty-seven years and wonders if he will ever be free or if his country will ever know justice
  • The waiting of someone who longs to have work that is meaningful and significant and yet cannot seem to find it
  • The waiting of a deeply depressed person for a morning when she will wake up wanting to live
  • The waiting of a child who feels awkward and clumsy and longs for the day when he gets picked first on the playground
  • The waiting of persons of color for the day when everyone’s children will be judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”
  • The waiting of an elderly senior citizen in a nursing home — alone, seriously ill, just waiting to die
Every one of us, at some junctures of our lives, will have to learn to wait.

Waiting may be the hardest single thing we are called to do. So it is frustrating when we turn to the Bible and find that God Himself, who is all-powerful and all-wise, keeps saying to his people, Wait.

Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for Him… Wait for the LORD, and keep to His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land.

God comes to Abraham when he is seventy-five and tells him he is going to be a father, the ancestor of a great nation. How long was it before that promise was fulfilled? Twenty-four years. Abraham had to wait.

God told the Israelites that they would leave their slavery in Egypt and become a nation. But the people had to wait four hundred years.

God told Moses he would lead the people to the Promised Land. But they had to wait forty years in the wilderness.

In the Bible, waiting is so closely associated with faith that sometimes the two words are used interchangeably. The great promise of the Old Testament was that a Messiah would come. But Israel had to wait — generation after generation, century after century. And when the Messiah came, He was recognized only by those who had their eyes fixed on his coming — like Simeon. He was an old man who “was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”

But even the arrival of Jesus did not mean that the waiting was over. Jesus lived, taught, was crucified, was resurrected, and was about to ascend when His friends asked Him, “Lord, will you restore the kingdom now?” That is, “Can we stop waiting?”

And Jesus had one more command:

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised.

And the Holy Spirit came — but that still did not mean that the time of waiting was over.

Paul wrote,

We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Forty-three times in the Old Testament alone, the people are commanded,

Wait. Wait on the LORD.

The last words in the Bible are about waiting:

The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’

It may not seem like it, but in light of eternity, it is soon. Hang on. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” All right, we’ll hang on. But come! We’re waiting for You.

Why? Why does God make us wait? If He can do anything, why doesn’t He bring us relief and help and answers now?

At least in part, to paraphrase Ben Patterson, what God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.

* * *
Excerpted with permission If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg, copyright Zondervan. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Love you, Grandma

Grief is a funny thing. Sometimes it rolls over you like waves. Sometimes it hits hard and fast like a cold bucket of water tossed and splashed around. Sometimes its nearly silent, the tide rolling out and in again. Sometimes its shared, like you're all in the boat together, and sometimes its isolating, like you're out on a life raft, waiting out the storm, until help comes along.

I don't know why it's been this week specifically, but I've been missing my Grandma. She passed away in March, just 10 days before my baby boy was born. She was so excited to meet him and loved him him from the minute she knew he was coming. Makes me sad to think that she missed holding his sweet hands and seeing his ridiculously big grin. He would have loved her like I do, I'm sure. I would have enjoyed calling her and sharing stories or asking for her advice. She was always so full of wisdom. I miss my grandma.

Because I was so close to my due date when she passed away, we made the decision to not go to her funeral. It was the wise decision. She would have kicked my bottom if she knew that I'd traveled at that point in my pregnancy. She really would have.

While I wasn't able to be there, I was able to write down some thoughts that were shared at her funeral. Dad had asked for a paragraph. I went a little bit over. It's how it goes. How do you sum up one of your favourite people in the world in just one paragraph? You don't. That's all there is to it. You don't.

This week, missing her again, still, I reread what I wrote and thought that perhaps I could share it here. Maybe by sharing her in this way, she'll feel a little closer today.

This is what I wrote:

I wish so much that we could have been there today to celebrate Grandma with you all but I know, too, the scolding I would have gotten from her if we did anything to risk the life of the little one we’re waiting for so this will have to do. 
I know that at 35, I’m probably lucky to have had my Grandma in my life as long as I have and yet still it doesn’t seem like long enough. Just a little bit longer. Just a few days more. One more hug. One more phone call. The chance for her to meet the baby we’ve both prayed for. One more “I love you.” Still, I know it would never be enough. I’m so thankful she’s at Jesus’ side – she’s probably up to some mischief there – but I sure do miss her here. 
As I was sitting last night and crocheting for our little one, I began making a mental list of all the ways that Grandma is with me still. Things that she taught me and ways that she has shaped me. 
  • Perogies taste better when boiled with garlic. 
  • If you find the right spot for a plant, you really don’t have to have a green thumb.
  • Sometimes equal doesn’t mean fair but equal is important too. What you do for one you do for the other. 
  • Life is more fun with a bit of mischief and some sharp wit. I will always remember, the raised eyebrow, the twinkle in her eye and the laugh when she was up to no good. 
  • Recipes are a guidelines and measuring cups matter sometimes…but not always. A bit of this and a bit of that often works. If all else fails, taste. Did you ever see a skinny chef? 
  • Oh, and don’t ignore spices. There’s no need for boring food. 
  • Handmade gifts are best. They come with the deep love. 
  • There’s always room at the table for one more. 
  • Family is family and family comes first. Sometimes, I think Grandma loved us so deep she was blind to our flaws (thank goodness) but you will never find a better cheerleader or more fierce defender. 
  • You will never know unless you try…from foods to new skills to new endeavors and adventures. You never know unless you try.
  • Smile. And stand up straight. Being tall is a gift. 
  • Always say “I love you.” You never know when it’ll be your last chance. 
  • Marriage can and should be forever. It’s work, but it’s good work. 
  • One stitch at a time. And if it doesn’t work, just back up and start again. 
  • You are lovely. And loved. 
  • Family, life, happens around the table. 
  • Hard work matters. 
  • Its ok to be a little sentimental about things from time to time. 
  • Stories are meant to be shared and savored. I loved listening to Grandma tell stories.
  • There are things worth getting upset over and there are things that aren’t. Choose wisely. 
  • Messes can be cleaned up. 
  • Family isn’t just by blood. There’s always room to adopt a few more. 
  • Laugh. 
  • Pray about everything. God hears and God answers.
  • Each day is a gift. There was never a day that I asked her how she was that she didn’t respond with “thankful that the good Lord has given me another day” or “nothing to complain about. No one wants to hear an old lady complain anyway.” 
Most importantly, she modeled for me how to love God and love people. In every conversation I had with her, our shared faith in our creator came up in some way. She prayed for all her kids, grandkids and great grandkids to know His great love for them in a real and personal way. And she loved deeply, because her love came from Him. 
Her legacy and her life is in each one of us. We carry her lessons and her love with us every day. Love you, Grandma. 

Love Stacey (Colin, Marissa, Jenae and wee baby Miller)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I'm back

I'm back. I want to be. Perhaps I even need to be.
I have no excuse for my hiatus. I let fear get in the way. I was afraid of a certain situation and a certain someone and so I took a break. This place has never been about added stress for myself or those around me but about expression and peace. When I felt like it had become something different, something other than what it was intended for, I was afraid of where it would go and so I took a pause to examine. I wrote and erased, I wrote and saved for later, but I always paused before pressing "publish."  And, like any other habit, once you pause, sometimes it's hard to get going again and it becomes easier to not. Ever tried going to the gym after being gone for a while? Ug. Same principle has applied here for me. 

Now, though, I find I'm being drawn to it. Compelled to write down what's going on in my mind and heart. It helps me process and its good for me to create. Words on paper, black on white, thoughts contained and captured. I need a space to string words and thoughts together. If you choose to join me, welcome. If not, I'm okay with that too.