Sunday, January 31, 2010

Of Sausage Fingers and Happy Faces

This is my favourite artwork in our home. Thanks to our friends, the Maretzki family, I got this wonderful idea to have Emily draw pictures of the six of us and frame them. I chose her because I'm in love with her pre-school rendition of our body parts. In the past year, her drawings have evolved from a head with sticks coming out of it for arms and legs to full a torso, complete with sausage-like appendages. Each person is never dressed without a big happy face smile. Much nicer than our last family photo shoot for sure :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lacing Up

Blades are beginning to glide now. The girls are learning to stay up on their feet for longer periods of time and are loving it. Our rink is a great way for them to gain confidence and an even better way to get some Daddy time. Today, my husband laced up to join us since we're blessed to have our home and work adjacent to each other.

Oops, did I say they're staying on their feet? She'll get the hang of it, eventually :)

Meg, planning out her next dancing/skating move.
Molly, being her silly self.

And Oliver? Well, he was content just throwing snow at anyone within arms' reach.

Oooh, good one!

Take that!

Right in Meghan's face!

Yeah, he liked that. A true little brother (sigh).

Friday, January 29, 2010


"Angel, you're such an angel..." the song played softly over the speakers as I pushed Oliver in the grocery cart; the girls were close by. We traced the aisles through the maze of shelved food, working on crossing off items on our list. It seems to be tradition that the kids try to sneak something into the cart when I'm not looking only to laugh at me when we get to the cashier and I find the smuggled sugary treats (Stinkers :). But today, Oliver was quiet and thoughtful. I looked down at him, all squeezed between my purse and the bananas. He looked up at me with those big, brown eyes and said, "Someone's calling me Angel!"

Goodbye Grampie

Ten months after releasing balloons to the sky to say goodbye to Mama, we sent up another bunch for our dear Grampie (her husband). My niece had made sure these balloons were colourful since we had each held a white one in 2009. She thought it would make things more cheery.
The service was lovely and we each laid a rose on the casket at the cemetery but when young and old let go of those beautiful, helium-filled mementos, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of peace. To hear the many voices say, "Goodbye, Grampie!" and "Goodbye, Dad!" as the balloons sailed "heavenward", was a powerful experience.
This small gesture seemed to unite us and aid us in our grieving. And so, as I stood with my family and friends and symbolically waved goodbye to a wonderful man, I was so thankful I could whisper, "See you soon."

(Certainly not the greenest thing to do but how often do we lose our grandparents? :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Daddy Discipline

He responds differently to his father. There's something about a relationship that's all about fun and play and tickle tortures that makes discipline more effective. When my husband is disappointed with our son, it really affects him. Some days I feel like I'm disciplining all day but one look of concern from Terry and Oliver melts into a puddle of tears. He wants his Daddy-hero to be pleased with him. Terry is good at gushing with pride and affection and this allows him to have a position of authority with our children.
I just had to take this photo as a memory of these moments of love and chastising so Oliver will always remember to stay sensitive to correction. "...the Lord disciplines those He loves..." (Proverbs 3:12)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bathtub Baptism

I walked by the bathroom this morning with laundry in my arms and overheard a conversation going on between my two middle girls, who were in the tub.
"Emily, do you want to get baptized?"

I paused to hear her response.

Not surprisingly, there was a hesitation from my five year-old. Finally, she agreed and I positioned myself to be on alert for what would happen next. I had a "front row seat" through the crack of the door.
Molly continued, "You need to be baptized and if you don't want to do it at church, you can do it here. The water is MUCH deeper at church, so do you want to?" I stifled my laughter while positioning myself for a rescue.
Oliver came to my side, whining about something and just as I turned to him, I heard coughing and sputtering. I peeked back through the crack to see Emily wiping her dripping face, hair soaked with water. Molly was saying something about what a great job she did and Emily was still wiping but nodding. The two of them took turns dunking their heads and talked about practicing being baptized and how this would also teach them to be good swimmers. As many times as I had told them not to drink or put heads under dirty bath water, I couldn't help but leave them this time. The moment was priceless.

A while later, they emerged from the tub, wrapped in towels and excitedly chattering on to me about what had just taken place. Molly was mentioning the washing away of sins but that they didn't really do that--it was just practice. I smiled and asked them some more questions to see if they understood what baptism means. We had talked about it before and it amazed me what Molly, in particular, had retained. I love that they're applying what they learn at home and at church in their play.
I love the scripture in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 that says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates." This is how we know the Father better; we practice his commandments.
holy experience

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thank You For Our Work

Thankfulness Monday is here. Today, as I praise God for blessings, my number one on the list is the amazing thought of my grandparents enjoying heaven! (191) My gratitude is overwhelming for the many wonderful messages and actions of love from friends concerning the passing away of Grampie. I love you all (192).
Also, thank you to Heather for a great idea at (193). The kids created chore cans today and had so much fun doing it that they were begging for more chores! Thanks, Lord, for our work (194).

Painting our clothes-pegs and hooking them onto decorated tea cans. We had to improvise on her idea with what we had available at home.
Notice the special chore Oliver must remember to do? Good times around here!
Meghan's finished product.
What the cans should look like at the end of the day :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Funny Pages

I position myself over the nursing home bedrail and rub his long, thin arm.

"Would you like some water, Grampie?" I hold the glass with the straw toward him.
"Is it wet?" he replies. A wide grin spreads across his weathered, stubbly face. I touch the straw to his lips, so he'll know the drink is there.
"Oh, Grampie, you're so funny!"
He doesn't hesitate, "I know! I'll meet you in the funny pages!" That reply takes me back to childhood and I laugh. He has always called the Saturday newspaper comics, "funnies or funny pages".
That was our last conversation.
Today, my dear, sweet, loving Grampie, went to be with Jesus. His once robust and more than six foot body, now frail and bony, has completed its life here. His spirit, the one with the humour, the wit, the desire to talk about all the people whom he and Billy Graham have helped to get saved, has moved on to a place that's beyond our imaginations. I am trapped in time and barely can comprehend the breadth of it all but I'm overwhelmed with the thought that he will have new eyes that see and a new body. He'll join his wife whom he lost less than one year ago, as well as, other family and friends. Most of all, he'll actually behold the One who gave him life in the first place.
Grampie, you were like a father to me and I'm thrilled for you but saddened for me. But, I'm coming, Grampie! I'm right behind you. Throw your arms around Mama for me and tell her I miss her. Give her the special "hiding place kiss" and tell her she can't wash it off. I'll meet you both soon... not in the funny pages, but definitely where there's much laughter--just your style.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bye-Bye Babies

Unless the Lord has other plans for us, our baby days are over. I took this photo of the last of the newborn spoons I'm saving for a friend and we just gave away our highchair. Our children are growing up and it's a beautiful thing to witness but oh, how I miss my babies! The other day I asked Oliver if he would stay my baby for a little while longer and he said, "No, Mommy. I need to be a big boy. Mrs. Hamstra (our friend) will bring you a baby tomorrow." Well, right away, I emailed this dear friend, who has five grown children, and asked what time she would be coming by with my baby. That cracked her up :)
So as I skip the baby aisle at the grocery store and move into the "big boys'" section at the clothing store, I will be thankful for the new era we've entered and be open to all God has for us here.

Just adding something I found after I posted this... it's from one of my favourite sites and I think her words are very true and very inspiring...


Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver and
The other, gold
I love you, dear friends! You know who you are... old and new.

Love, Heather

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Washed My Heart

She was still dripping from her bath when my newly-five-year-old told me, "Mommy, I washed my heart so I can learn more better." She rubbed the towel over her arms and tummy.
I gazed at my dark-haired beauty and remembered a Bible time we had a few days ago when we talked about Jesus making us clean. I tucked a wet strand of hair behind her ear. "What do you need to learn, Emily?"
"Listening," she replied.
I smiled at this sensitive little soul with so much potential gleaming in her eyes.
"Oh, Jesus does that for us, doesn't He? I'm sure He's so proud of you for wanting to be a good listener." I helped her finish dressing and took her over to the window to photograph her. I love to remember my children's simple, yet profound words with a little journaling and a picture. And so, she grinned and cooperated nicely and showed off her beautiful, clean heart.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

East to West

One quality of God I cherish is His ability to throw my sin as far as the east is from the west. He remembers it no more. Talk about grace. Talk about mercy. Sometimes it's difficult for us to imagine this and accept it. Shortly after coming to Him for forgiveness, we fall back into shame and since we can't forgive ourselves, we walk as though He hasn't forgiven us. Another problem with not fully understanding this amazing grace is the inability to release others from their sin, especially if it's sin that's inflicted hurt on us.
I believe change begins with a study of God's holiness and what this grace is all about--and honest prayer. If we're truly humbled and amazed by His mercy toward us, forgiving others will be a natural outpouring of that. Perhaps as humans we don't posses the ability to cast an other's sin as far as the east is from the west in our memories but accepting God's forgiveness for us, requires ours toward others. Why does He require this thing that sometimes seems so difficult? Because He knows that there's no better place, no more peaceful, fulfilling place to be than basking in His forgiveness and having wiped the slate of our minds clean from holding grudges toward others. That's love. Do you want that kind of freedom? Release it to Him today.

holy experience

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Project 365

I've joined Project 365. I came across it on several different blogs and it seems like a goal I just might be able to pull off (at least my friends and family would say so). This project requires you to take a photo every day for one year. The purpose is to capture life as it is in your home and family and to look back at a year in pictures. They're worth a thousand words, you know :)

So, after getting excited about the idea, I perused my January pics so far, with my daughter and we checked the specs on each one to see if I had taken one a day. A couple of times, we got a little nervous as certain sets of photos had the same date but lo and behold, we found that I had indeed taken at least one every day of this new year! Two of the days contained ones in which my children had begged me to pick up the camera and take a shot of them doing something silly. Because this is a regular occurrence around here, I declined, replying that I was too busy. They had persisted and I finally grabbed my camera and took the shot to appease. I'm glad I did. Here is a photo of what a concerted effort in the Project 365 might look like...

Oliver woke up this morning and sat himself on the heat register in the bathroom with all his furry friends--definitely a "day in the life" type of photo for our family.

Then, there's the photo you take at the end of the day when you realize you haven't taken a photo that day and you're failing the project and it's only January...

This is Emily's "princess skirt". This girl has been seen wearing it over pants and even asleep with it over top of her pyjamas. It is a special and lovely thing in her eyes and makes her feel "go-geous". So, even when I've forgotten to take a great photo of my kids or something important, a picture like this still tells a story of life in our family.

I'd love to see some "every day photos" from your home. If you think you might want to join Project 365 as well (which you don't have to sign up for anywhere), drop me a comment and I'll check out your posted pictures! If you've already missed a few days, just fill them in with other pics and continue on from today! Happy photographing!

You can view a Blogger's Project 365 from last year, here...

And this year's photos from a Blogger, here...

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Fallen

It's been one of those days. I am the Fallen. Yes, we all are, but there are some days when I'm keenly aware that I, specifically, suffer as a result of my sin. Oh, when will I learn? I'm also sensing that my gratitude list will heighten my ability to pull out of my "slump" as His word states, "...the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..." (Isaiah 61:3)
I am thankful for:
171. a friend who dropped in unannounced with a word to cheer (not knowing I needed it!)
172. the Lord's chastening (for those He loves!)
173. unexpected mail that reminds me who I am and where I'm going
174. laundry (yes, I've typed that one before, but if I don't keeping being thankful, I might throw it out the window :)
175. my sisters
176. antibiotics
177. sticky-tac (homeschool would not be the same!)
178. children comforting broken family members
179. His protection over the wrongfully imprisoned
180. hyacinths in the middle of winter
181. dynamite shrimp...mmm!
182. navel oranges (praying for you, Florida!)
183. a husband who faithfully takes out the garbage
184. a fixed treadmill (oh no, now I must use it! :)
185. the smell of Ivory Snow (baby detergent)
186. Oliver's tools (he thanks God for them every night so I will too :)
187. Jesus is returning for us! (actually number one on all my lists!)
188. a dear friend I missed this Christmas :(
189. safety of family returning from trips
190. deliverance from fear
Well, I'm beginning to feel better already, regaining perspective. Gratitude certainly forces me to search for things to praise God for instead of lifting so many ill-spoken requests. Thank, You Lord.
holy experience

Friday, January 8, 2010

Twelve Becomes Her

Our sweet friend, Sydney turned twelve and we celebrated with a tea party. When you're homeschooled, some of your friends are short and some are tall, some are mature and inspiring and others, you must carry and inspire. Beautiful Sydney welcomed us, her bumbling crowd of all shapes and sizes, with grace and we dined at her banquet of new recipes. We read letters of advice and scripture we had written to help mark her way. It was a lovely afternoon, filled with hopeful prayers and thoughts for this, our first girl entering young womanhood.
May the Lord bless you richly, Sydney, as you continue to allow Him to mold you into the woman He desires you to be!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Proud New Owners

After weeks of flooding and tenderly caring for this box of water, my husband excitedly announced one evening that the ice finally froze. We were the proud new owners of an "indoor" rink under our seasonal house at the nursery. We suddenly also became proud owners of skates and hockey sticks and all the paraphernalia that goes with the whole project! With only half of us ever donning a pair of skates, we carefully held one another up and slid gingerly upon our beloved masterpiece. A few bumps, falls, pouting lips and rests along the benches were to be expected. However, we all thoroughly enjoyed our first of many frigid excursions. After some hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, we were ready to pack it in for the day.
Come sweet winter; we can find joy in your frozen depths as much as any balmy day.

Monday, January 4, 2010

In Abundance

Oliver burst out of his room, ready for church and with a fistful of Hot Wheels. He announced that he was bringing them all in the van. My husband told him that one car would be fine, but not three (a lot of "stuff" tends to get left in our van). He immediately redirected the question to me and I firmly told him that Daddy had already given him an answer. He hesitated for a moment and then held them up and cried,
"GOD!? I NEED them!"
He's learning how to appeal to the Highest Power, even if he does have things a little mixed up :) There's definitely humour in abundance around here. Happy Birthday, Little Blessing! We love you so much!

It's with gratitude that once again, I begin to write my blessings. 2010 commences with an overwhelming amount already.
142. thankful for my son's third birthday!
143. for the health of our family

144. for an amazing staff at our church

145. for inspiring child-rearing books

146. for time with family over the holidays

147. for another Christmas with Grampie (93 yrs.) and Oma (96 yrs.)

148. for squash soup

149. for saying goodbye to sugar (did I really just write that?)

150. for saying goodbye to Christmas decorations (ah, the space again!)

151. for my children who adore their babysitters

152. for my children who still call our cell phones, missing us :)

153. for fruit shakes

154. for a husband who's giving up sugar too

155. for the beginning of routine

156. for purging closets

157. for our skating rink ice that finally froze!

158. for little boys who know how to call on a Higher Power

159. for that Higher Power!

160. for tiny hand prints on my bathroom mirror (won't last long)

161. for guidance in finding lost items (HE knows where it all is!)

162. for service people who fix all the broken things around our home

163. for dog-eared old books we read again and again

164. for inspirational friends who are on a similar journey

165. for Advil (I'm serious)

166. for our fireplace, which has been burning almost every night this winter

167. for quiet, evening reading times with my husband in our reading chairs

168. for being able to function with limited cell phone use, no call display or call-waiting

169. for the fun of 6 people all brushing our teeth in the bathroom at once!

170. for a powerful, healing, moving service this past Sunday

Saturday, January 2, 2010

God Bless Your New Year

My word for 2010 is "closure" (believe it or not!). My scripture is Psalm 16. My dream is to trust His word for my future and my hope is in His mercies which are new every morning. With that hope, I can get back on the proverbial horse when the goals I've set for this new year are unmet one day or I've failed to live up to the standards the Lord and I have set together. It's inevitable in my humanness that this will happen... however, He already knows this about me and He's willing to work with me anyway. What a God we serve!
From our family to yours, may God bless your new year and may you know His mercies when you fail and His joy in you when you are victorious!
If you're looking for inspiration for change in 2010, read this beautiful article by Ann Voskamp: