Friday, April 30, 2010
This morning I woke up to an email from my mom telling me that my 92 yr old gma was taken to the ER in the middle of the night. They're saying it's a possible mild stroke. Last report said she seems to be okay other than a slight slurring of her speech. Not sure if they're keeping her there or not yet. Please pray for my gma, she does not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and it's my heart's desire that He will save her before she enters into eternity, whenever that may be.
Also this morning, we all woke up to another passing that is making it really hard not to cry right now. She would have turned 11 years old tomorrow, but she was just too tired to make it. Our border collie Dougal, who had been unwell and very tired for a long time, stayed outside in her favorite spot in the grass last night and sometime after she fell asleep, she left us. She'd been staying out there a lot lately and we'd been checking on her and taking her food and water, so when our 11 year old left to catch the school bus this morning she checked on her and discovered she was gone. I had no intentions of digging a grave today, but that is exactly where I'm headed right now. My throat is tight, my nose is stinging and my eyes won't stop watering.
It's going to be a very hard day for all of us who really loved fat old Dougal. She was a really good dog.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sometimes, that's very uncomfortable. Sometimes it's even quite embarassing, or humiliating if it's a secret or a past lifestyle that we'd rather keep hidden.
While I don't have any big, dark secrets that would destroy me if they were revealed (as far as I know, anyway, which is very good since I talk in my sleep and might reveal my double life as a secret agent, or something), there is a part of my past that I'm certainly not very proud of and it bothers me quite often. The part I refer to is the mean-streak I had in me as a kid. It bothers me so much that I actually blogged about one of the examples several years go, in hopes that the people I was mean to might someday see it and realize how sorry I am. It seemed like a real stretch to think that the boy I was really mean to in kindergarten would ever find me, or find that post and read it... until this week, when one of the girls I named in that post (that was in my kindergarten class) actually did find me and befriend me on Facebook. The world is getting smaller every day, so it's not really such a stretch to think kids you knew 40 years ago could easily find you today.
While I may not have all the details exact, I wrote about that above example the best I remember it. See, in my mind, I was the meanest little girl ever to walk the face of the earth. I would certainly hope that isn't how other people saw me, but it's the way I remember some things. The tricky thing about memories is, however, is that they are not always what actually happened, or include the right details about who was there, what was said, etc. I know I've often heard things from younger people about things that were said or done "when they were little" that I know for a fact aren't true or accurate, because I was there. Kids remember events much differently when they experience them as kids, as a grown up will when they were present during the same experience. For some reason, the way a kid remembers it is quite often much more controversial or explosive, than the way the adult will remember the same event. In a way, I honestly hope that my memory of my childhood mean-streak is just far more exaggerated in my own mind, than what it really was in actuality.
So what in the world am I rambling on about, you wonder? It's simple really. My heart grieves for the bratty little girl I used to be. I wish I could take her aside and talk to her and get her to understand that there are better ways to deal with anger and frustration. Of course I can't do that, but I still wish I could. I also wish I could get in contact with the kids who once knew me (and may not have such a fond memory of me) and express to them my genuine apology for being such a little booger. Part of me wishes I could do that, and part of me hopes they either a.) don't share the same memory of me as a kid as I recall or b.) if they do, they find out through some awesome orchestration of God, that the little brat they once knew is not at all the same person.
In our day, it's getting easier all the time to reconnect with people you probably thought you'd never see or hear from again. For the ladies, if you're married and no longer use your maiden name but you have brothers close the same age as you (who knew the same people growing up) or are registered anywhere on a highschool or college reunion site, it's really easy to find you. Just today I saw someone post a link on twitter to a site that reveals a disturbing amount of info on just about any name you can type in. I typed in mine, and learned I was a 30something black lady living in South Carolina. Not very accurate for me, but I did type in some other names and much of the info that came up was eerily accurate. Thing is, it's all public info and/or info that people themselves share online (pics, urls, email addresses, etc.) combined with property tax records, marriage/death/birth certificate records and more. In many places, all you have to have is a tiny bit of accurate info to get a flood of more in depth info on just about anyone.
So I said all that to say this: If anyone from my past shows up and says "hey, you were a real knucklehead!" then I genuinely apologize to you in advance. I wasn't the nicest kid in the world and purely by God's grace, I made it to adulthood and am now quite joyfully and humbly serving the Lord. I am not at all the person I used to be, and for that, I am so thankful.
Monday, April 26, 2010
What we didn't know then (and not from a lack of trying, we did contact Canadian immigration to make sure we had everything in order) was that was that all the trouble we went to in order to document everything and everyone, was in many ways a lot of trouble for nothing. When we arrived at the border, half of the documents we had weren't even looked at for longer than 2 seconds. I'd never moved to a foreign country before, so I did a whole lot of worrying for nothing. Since that time of course 9-11 happened and it changed the world, literally. I'm not so sure it would be as easy to cross the border now, the way we did then (with a u-haul full of furniture and a litter of kittens in the back seat of the car).
Making the decision to pack up my girls and my life and move to another country was not an easy one. Kev and I talked about it, prayed about it and sought the counsel from others for several months before a decision was ever made. Making sure the girls were okay with it (as much as they could understand that they would be, at their young ages) was the most important thing to me. Once the decision was made, it wasn't any less huge. Then came all the preparation to not only move cross country but to start a brand new life in a very unfamiliar place. It was scary, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
Here I am twelve years later, and had anyone told me 13 years ago I would be living in Canada, have a son in law (and 2 more soon-to-be sons in law), have 7 kids, 2 grandkids, 2 dogs, 7 cats and a bird... I would have called for help for such a delusional nutbar person. It really is nothing short of amazing the way life takes it's twists and turns at the orchestration of God's hand.
Since moving here, we've had really good times and really hard times just like any other family. We've been able to go back "home" to WA only once, and I've been desperately homesick more than a few times. But, this is home now and this is where my roots are now, and that's the way it is. I wont lie and pretend that I'm perfectly content where I am right now, because that's not entirely true. Much of the time I am, but only because I'm not from here, I never really feel like I fit in here. I'm an American, I'm from the west, I wither and get weak if I can't smell saltwater on a regular basis. We're planning our next big road trip adventure for next summer to head back out west for a few weeks, so that should keep my western roots happy for a few more years (until I have to do it again).
All in all however, it's been a pretty amazingly awesome 12 years in Canada. I wonder where I'll be in another 12 years?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Our first grade class took a walking field trip from the school to the post office on Callow Avenue, a few blocks away from the school. We were going to tour the post office and find out what happens to a letter when you send it there. We all had our letters we'd written in class, and they all had a stamp on them ready to mail. For a class of 7 yr olds, that was pretty exciting stuff!
While the tour of the post office was sorta neat, it was the walk down there that I remember the most. It was spring time and all the Japanese cherry trees that lined 7th street were in full bloom. It was a sunny, warm day and the smell of those cherry blossoms literally filled the air. At some point in our walk to the post office I remember thinking that it was one of the happiest days of my life. Only being 7 years old I didn't have much of a life to compare it to, but as it turned out it was indeed one of the happiest and most memorable days of my life. All because of a street lined with blossoming cherry trees.
What made me think of this today was looking out my window and noticing that the horse chestnut tree is about to bloom. While the chestnuts are not edible, for about 2 weeks in the spring the blossoms give off such an incredible aroma. The tree is right outside my balcony door so I can smell it nice and strong when I walk into my room. It's hard to describe the way the blossoms smell. It's sort of like a cross between the most subtle perfume you've ever smelled, and the most exquisite bakery smell you can imagine. I love the smell so much, I've snipped a flew of the blooms over the years and brought them inside to decorate with.
It's amazing the power of scent has, really. Animals thrive and survive by it, and us people are so affected by it it can conjure up childhood memories out of nowhere, or even completely alter our moods. One of my favorite flowers to have all over the house in the spring are French Lilacs. Ohhhh... nothing compares to that scent! I'm not sure why I don't have a lilac bush growing here, but when we move eventually, that's definitely one of the first things I'll be planting.
I love spring! :-)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Sitting… at Kev's desk using his computer. He's a trooper for putting up with such horribly outdated technology. We really really really need to fix this up for him and the kids.
Drinking… coffee #3 of the day with french vanilla cream
Loving… the sunshine and blue skies. John Denver nailed it when he said sunshine makes me happy.
Wanting… honestly? Wanting to not want so much. I'm speaking of technology here (external HD, new graphics software, etc.) but the worst thing about that word "wanting" is that when I see it, I can think of a zillion things I want. I don't like wanting what I don't have, it's a yucky feeling.
Enjoyed… taking pics of my 4 week old kittens today. They were unimpressed.
Reveling… I don't do a lot of reveling. I'm fairly low-key. Is that bad?
Thinking… about what a normal daily routine was like before I had a computer. It's been a really long time so I honestly don't recall but I'm pretty sure my house was cleaner. I'm also pretty sure that's a good reason to stay offline even more. Easier said than done, but thankfully with this gorgeous weather beckoning me to open windows and do some spring cleaning, it'll be a bit easier. At least during the day.
Anticipating… getting my pc back today from the pc doctor. Ironic, I know.
Considering… the paradox between strongly desiring to be done with this life and be home with Christ for all eternity - and - loving so much about this life and specifically this season of life. While nothing here can compare to the joy that I know I'll experience in eternity, there are some really great things in my life right now.
Realizing… that wrinkle creams, under eye dark circle remedies, lifters, revitalizers and such do not work. I hate looking 20 years older than I really am but after trying so many different (and ridiculously expensive) creams and such, I am left convinced they do NOT work. I give up. From now on I'm telling everyone I meet I'm 65. I look pretty good for 65, eh?
Thankful… that the people I love the most (and love me back) couldn't care less if I looked 40 years older than what I really am.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
So once again, my pc died. The last time was nearly 2 years ago when the hard drive went pfft on me. I know, I know, I have Mac Cultist friends and I already know what they'll say. Silly Mac Cultists :-) I'll take it into the puter shop tomorrow to find out what's wrong with it, and hopefully it's not an expensive fix. For now I have to use the family computer and wowzers-bowzers it's a huge difference. It's old (7 yrs, to be precise) it's slow (256MB of RAM, lol!) and it still has a goofy old bubble monitor. Soon, we really need to upgrade this ole beast but I am just glad we have it and it still runs.
So what have I been up to this week? All sorts of goodies:
• I finally got myself off dial up (or DaiLup as one of my Mac Cultist friends likes to call it). After a bit of homework I learned that the usb modems do in fact work in our area, so we settled on a plan and went and got one. I cannot tell you high speed users how much you've been taking for granted! It is nothing short of incredible how much faster high speed is, than dial up. Most folks don't really remember how miserably frustrating dial up was, but I assure you it's a full-scale pain in the neck 99.99% of the time. For now, we only have the one modem stick (which is fine, it's totally portable so it can be used on either pc) but Kev and the kids want their own on the family pc so we don't have to share. That'll be our next step (along with upgrading the rest of the Family PC Beastie).
• I bought a Swiffer Wet Jet this week, and I'm mixed on whether I really like it or not. I know, who blogs about mops?! Well, I do. So the good things about it are really good, such as it's very light and easy to use, has a great swivel mop head that works quite well, utilizes a bottle of spray cleaner at the very light touch of one button. The one thing about it that I don't really like is that the mop pads themselves are disposable and not re-usable (washable). I suppose disposable is good in some cases, but I'd really like some that are washable and reusable. It would be easy enough to make some myself with some terry cloth, so I think I may need to do that. Terrycloth, nylon mesh and some velcro and boom - reusable swiffer wet jet mop pads. I'm sure that will save a lot of money since I mop nearly every day and could just toss it right into the wash with the whites.
• I've been busy at work on my Reflections zazzle shop adding all sorts of new and fun merchandise. One down side about having my computer on the fritz is that I don't have access to my graphics program and I had a bazillion new ideas to work on this week for several new lines. One of the newest lines is the Wedding Shop. Wedding invitations, save the date magnets, wedding photo binders and even save the date wedding postage. You can see all the newest products all across the store right here.
• And now on a completely different note...
Are you one of those people that has a cool "so and so found me on FB and it was so awesome, we hadn't connected in years!" stories? I'm pretty sure we've all heard them, and maybe you even have one. I never did until today. An old friend of mine searching for HS grads found my brother, then saw my name and added me. The funny thing is, just recently my #3 daughter scanned a bunch of old pics and this particular friend was in one of the pics she scanned, so I'd recently thought about him and that "old life" I once had. From the time I was in my teens until well into my late 20s, there was a group of us that remained friends. All through the miserable highschool years, the break ups of boyfriends and girlfriends, deaths of classmates, moving, growing up and having kids of our own, we all stayed in touch. Sadly, over the last 15 years or so none of us have really kept in touch as much so it was really good to hear from Tony today. :-) I've told Kev all about some of the crazy things we all did as younger folks, so when I told him Tony found me on FB he was all "oh how cool!" All through making dinner tonight I told (or re-told) Kev some of the funniest and most memorable things we all did together. Ah, memory lane. The bizarre thing about it is, Kev's stories of his group of friends when he was younger are so much like my own, that we're convinced if we grew up in the same place we would have had the same circle of friends and did some of the same crazy things.
• I can't believe it really, but my youngest grandbabymuffindolly turns a year old this week. Jessica and Joost are having her party on Friday, and we'll all be there to celebrate with her just like we were the day she entered this world and our hearts. Time is going by way too fast. Hailey is a year old this week, and my oldest grandbabymuffindolly is FOUR in August. I wish I could slow the world down just for a little while so I could enjoy it longer.
Monday, April 5, 2010
This family practice of ours explains why we watched the Kid's Choice Awards together as a family the other night. To be perfectly honest, it's exactly the kind of thing I would have wanted to watch as a kid to see all my favorite kid-stars in one place! Not all that exciting for an adult (especially if it means you have to
Justin Bieber, slime and kid stuff aside, watching kid-entertainment always proves to be an interesting source for discussions later on for Kev and I that as parents, we need to be having. It was during one of those discussions where it came up that what is produced for kid sized entertainment in our modern day is nothing at all like what was produced 35 years ago when Kev and I were 10 years old. Likewise, what qualifies as perfectly okay and/or acceptable (or at the very least "no big deal") for kids in our day, would be thought of as (at best) out of line, in our day. A couple of examples of that would be the supposed pole-dance performed by Miley Cyrus at the recent Teen Choice Awards (which our family did not watch, thankfully) and the uber-suggestive lyrics performed in songs on kid's shows. When I was 10, my fellow 10 year old kids never saw or heard anything like that so it would be seriously weird to say the least. In our modern day however, kids are so accustomed to seeing and hearing so much that really is inappropriate, that they have become desensitized to it really, and don't react at all the way I would have at that age.
Becoming desensitized to such things is really a lot easier than you might think. When I was in my teens and 20s "slasher" movies were a new thing and of course being the unsaved knucklehead that I was, I saw all the most popular ones. I had seen so many of them that by the time I viewed a documentary about true-life crime cases (in my mid 20s) the victims shown in the actual police footage just didn't look real to me. They didn't shock me, they didn't gross me out and they didn't have the affect on me I thought they would, because I'd seen so much Hollywood style overkill (no pun intended) that reality seemed fake, and not all that disturbing. Interestingly enough it was that aspect of the whole experience that struck me the most after watching the documentary. It actually made me a little sad that watching it didn't bother me. It should have bothered me and it just didn't, because I'd already polluted my head with junk. It's exactly the same for kids today and the kinds of music they listen to and things they see. We're living in a time where so many boundary lines have been trampled, bad isn't necessarily bad, good doesn't really mean what you think it does, and do whatever you feel like doing and it'll all be good... is the message of the day. The bizarre thing about that is, that was essentially the hippie message of the 60s when everyone singing that same song was so stoned out of their minds they wouldn't know up from down if their life depended on it. In our day however, the people singing that same song aren't even intoxicated with any kind of mind altering chemical. Stone cold sober, this is the new era type of hippie song for our modern culture and we all seem to swallow it and ask for more.
The thing is, just writing that is my admission that I am in fact over-the-hill, irrelevent, out of touch with modern culture and totally uncool. I have in fact finally reached the age where I can look at what's trendy, acceptable, expected or common and say to myself "no, that goes well beyond the line I am willing to cross". In part, it's because of the culture I was raised in that was by far morally superior than the modern era. I do not say that to sound arrogant, I say it because it's true. Growing up in the 60s and 70s our society was in a different moral place than we are now, and everyone knows it. Likewise, those who grew up in the 40s and 50s could say the same thing about their genration and it would be a true statement for them as well. While I have not studied modern cultural trends to any great depth, I know from just reading and listening that the way culture has changed with each decade it becomes worse, and worse, and worse. While those decades most certainly had plenty of wretched, awful and sinful things taking place, there was an acceptable/unacceptable boundary line within society that was in fact set much higher than it is now. With each passing decade that line falls lower and lower, and I often wonder what North American culture will look like by the time my youngest is the age I am now. Ruth will be my age in the year 2049. Assuming I live that long, I'll be 85 years old and will have lived long enough to see massive cultural change the same way my almost 92 year old grandma has. I have listened to her over the years talk about what an astounding amount of change has taken place, and it's almost unthinkable for me to imagine how hard it must have been for people of her generation to adapt as the years have gone by. I say "almost unthinkable" because I believe I'm finally beginning to really get a good idea of how hard it will be. Change isn't easy for most people, but when it's a moral barometer shift from what is good and right to what is wicked and improper it's even harder to deal with unless you're willing and eager to jump on the self-indulgent, self-pleasing bandwagon and ride the wave of change.
The other part of the reason I say I am at the place where I can say "that line I will not cross" is due to my Christian worldview. I'm fully aware that such a conservative, moral, upright attitude is mocked and laughed at in our day, and I'm okay with that. Usually. Sometimes that mockery and laughter (and disdain) comes from the most unusual places, and makes you cringe just a little more than it does at other times. Either way, we are most certainly living in a time when being a Christian isn't nearly as easy as it once was in our culture. In the 60s and 70s there was a higher population in our society of people who identified and would nod in affirmation of strong Christian principle (even if they didn't actually live it themselves) than there is today. In 2010, it is far more common to run into arrogant, in-your-face atheists than it ever was in our culture before now. Add to the mix the variety of postmodernists, humanists, agnostics, spiritualists and all sorts of other isms and ists that come from an entire generation of kids who's parents stopped taking them to church on Sundays, and the Christian worldview is no longer the common one in most sections of society. I know a lot of the national polls still tell us all sorts of people claim to be Christians, but I think we all know in our day to day dealings with people that these polls are totally messed up.
I said all that to say this: it's not nearly as easy to live a genuine, convicted, determined Christain life in our society as it once was, and I believe from all indications, it's going to get much, much harder. While most Christians in North America have certainly never seen genuine persecution for their faith (and no, getting cut off in traffic or having your call to tech support in India does not count), I have experienced a rather obvious change in our culture just in the last 16 years I've been a Christian. I would be surprised if anyone reading has not also seen the change in such a short time. For this reason, we truly need one another. Christian parents need to be around other Christian parents for support and encouragement in the face of a decidedly anti-Christian culture we're raising our kids in. Christian wives, Christian husbands, Christian college students, all need the same support and encouragement through regular fellowship for the very same reasons. I know when I'm having a particularly rough day or dealing with a specific issue (as a wife or mom) there is a Christian lady friend of mine who I know will always give me wise counsel and pray for me. That means the world to me, even if I never tell her often enough how much I really do appreciate her. Having that is invaluable to me and it also inspires me to be that kind of person in return for others.
Hebrews 10:25 becomes more and more understandable and tangible all the time.
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Friday, April 2, 2010
I recently read about a pastor who in his usual style set himself and his activities up as the standard for other Christian men to follow after. Again in his usual style he implied that if you (as a man) do not like what he likes, have kids as great as his, have a wife as "hot" as his, and do what he does, then you're just not measuring up as a man.
This reminded me of another man I ran into some years ago that used to say flat out that if you're not going out into the streets and evangelizing the way he does then you're a lousy excuse for a Christian.
I'm going to be brutally honest here and just admit that this line of thinking completely ticks me off. My first reaction when I hear something like this (and I hear it often enough - and maybe you do too?) is to think to myself "who exactly gave these men the authority to set themselves up as the standard for anyone?" Now to be fair, sometimes when people inadvertantly do this, they're doing it in a pleading way and not an arrogant way, i.e., "you should be doing this because it's the right thing to do". Yet even that can come across as pure arrogance if the person doesn't make it clear that they don't think of themselves as the standard, but points to our Christian duty as detailed in Scripture.
I believe in God's sovereign orchestration of life events. In the simplest terms, I believe if you're a janitor, horse stall pooper scooper, bank teller or daycare worker, you are there because that's where He wants you. If you're a stay at home mom, Bible study leader, freelance graphic designer, college student or cab driver, you are there because for the divine purposes of God, this is exactly where He wants you.
In that context, I think there is much to be said for not only being content with your current station in life (whatever it happens to be) but to use that position in whatever way you can for God's glory. Instead of trying to be the next superstar blogger or homeschooling expert because someone said you should be or could be, why not just assess where you really are and go from there? If you scoop horse poop from stalls all day with other scoopers, why not strike up conversations with them about eternal things? If you're serving trays of coffees out the drive-thru window all day why not brighten someone else's day by serving each one with a genuine smile and wishing them a fantastic day/evening? Why are we so quick to ignore the opportunities right in front of us to be a good witness for Christ where we are and pine away for some kind of loftier, more prestigious, important role in life? Greed? Malcontent? Envy? Yes, yes and yes, and every single one of us is guilty of it at some point, myself included. It's just as wrong as it is when someone else comes along and feeds that by telling you you're not "it" if you're not doing X, Y or Z. Now if you're truly not doing what you ought to be doing with your time (and we all know where we are slackers in our own lives) then take that advice to heart and get about doing what you should. However, never listen to someone who feeds your ego about grand things because if you do it's entirely possible you will begin to justify in your own mind, why it's okay to negelect the every day things.
Look around you today. Where are you in life? What could you be doing in that situation to bring a little joy, a little grace to others? Do you have opportunity to discuss eternal things? Do it! You may be surprised at how many people actually do want to talk about these things.
You may not be "happy" where you are (truth is, most of us aren't, life can be pretty hard sometimes) where you are, but you certainly can be useful, for God's glory. You don't need to dash off to the other side of the hill where you think the grass is greener, you've got plenty to keep you busy where you are if you just take a closer look.