Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In All of Life's Circumstances, Do You Believe God is Who He Says He Is?

* I've now added a really long comment to this, on how I have been changed by the Smith's story.

In our women's Bible study, we've been learning from Beth Moore's DVDs on 'Believing God.' I have found every moment of this study so impacting - the DVD sessions, the daily study, the way God is speaking through it all. The message is so beautiful, on an issue many of us wrestle with, that it must be shared. But I have struggled with finding the words to share what I'm learning (especially without plagiarising, since I can't possibly say it better than Beth). If you're looking to grow but don't have time for a study group, I'd encourage you to check out the online study (it's only $20).

There is a family that I've been praying for over the past few months. I found them here in bloggyland. Their experience has been speaking right to the heart of this issue of faith... Believing in times of crisis. A bloggy friend posted their story today, and I decided to follow suit.

I can't possibly do justice to their story in my own words, so I really encourage you to take time to watch the video (it's about 20 minutes), or read their blog (they've provided a link to start at the beginning). Basically, Todd and Angie Smith were expecting daughter #4, when their world was rocked. They learned that she had no chance of survival outside the womb. Angie has blogged their journey, and shared her faith ups and downs throughout. They still believe God, though they don't have baby Audrey with them on this earth. I hope that their story will touch you in your heart, in your faith.

I would like to hear how their story impacts you. I'll share mine in a comment... (Go ahead, post as long a comment as you need.)

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Mary's hosting TTT every week at Not Before 7. Yay!

Our family likes to tease. Pat is a smart-alec, so our kids learn at a young age the difference between teasing and being unkind.

Our latest joke is calling Braeden (10) 'the vacuum.' The boy must be growing! He eats, and eats, and eats - clearing off every dish on the table (including his sisters' leftovers).

Yesterday, we were waiting for Braeden to finish his 9th taco so that we could enjoy Meg's birthday cake. Abbey (6) informs me in her most matter-of-fact voice, "I'm ready for cake now, but I guess we have to wait for the vacuum to clean up." I was concerned that Pat might wet his pants, he was laughing so hard.

Then Shea (3), our little parrot pipes in, "vacuum cleaning up!" Giggles.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Growing Up

I am in shock! Every time I turn around it's someone else's birthday around here. How does it go so quickly?! As a child, I remember each birthday taking an ETERNITY to arrive. Now I simply blink, and one of the children is a year older.

Today is Megan's special day. Five years old!

Meg is just about the cutest, giggliest little thing, but she can pack a punch harder than her 10-year-old brother. She's rough and tumble, even a bit aggressive at times (definite understatement) - all while wearing a frilly skirt or glittery top. A glamour girl and tomboy all rolled into one. She's just too darn cute.

And since Meg and Shea had a joint party, which was after Shea's actual birthday, you can now go back to that post to see her party pics.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Always up for a New Experience

We had an opportunity this weekend to make some new friends. These three beautiful African girls - Prisca (9), Christine (almost 11), and Harriet (10), along with their choir director, Auntie Rosette spent the night with us. They are part of the African Children's Choir, who visited our Church and blessed about 1800 Red Deerians with an AMAZING concert. (Rumour has it that over $20,000 was collected in the offering, all of which will be going toward the building of a new Music for Life school in Uganda .)

Ray Barnett founded the choir, and if you click on his name you'll hear the story of why.

This choir group (the 30th) is made up of children from Uganda and Kenya. They are in their 8th month of a 15-month tour. And they are praying that when their tour is complete that the Kenyan children will be able to return, and that they will still have a place to return to. Most of the children have lost one or both parents to violence or disease. They come from the slums. Without the work of Music for Life, most of these children would never have the opportunity to go to school.

And yet, they sing! The girls who stayed in our home were silly, fun, giggling, pre-teens. Their countenance was pure joy. Oh, how they blessed us in a few short hours!

My favorite moment was after breakfast. First Prisca says (in her lovely accent), "thank-you, Auntie, for the breakfast. May God richly bless you. May I please be excused?" I smile, still a bit awkward in responding to this (though I've heard it many times since we drove our van home from the Church last night). I see Abbey (6) look at Prisca in shock surprise confusion. Next Christine pipes up, "Auntie, thank-you for making us the breakfast. God bless you. May I be excused?" Abbey's head jerks to the left. I can practically hear the wheels turning. Then it's darling Harriet's turn, "thank-you for the food, Auntie. God richly bless you please. Please may I be excused from the table?" For the third time, I smile, say "you're welcome" and nod yes. I catch a glimpse of Abbey in my peripheral vision, and her facial expression can only be described as suspicious. I'm hoping she learned something.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Friends

I have theeeee best husband and friends! Ever!

Yesterday was a rough day. All I can say is that sometimes life is just plain hard. I was exhausted.

My sweet husband came home with flowers for me, and a card that said, "you are the greatest gal a guy could ask for." And these weren't just any flowers. Nope. Since Pat couldn't remember which I liked more - daisies or tulips - he brought both. Can I hear a nice big, 'awwwwww!'

This morning, a good friend came by for coffee. She loves me (and I love her) so she brought me a french vanilla from Tim Horton's. Time was short b/c I had lots of running around to do, so I figured we'd visit for a short while and go our seperate ways. Leave it to Stacie to surprise me! She sent me on my way and stayed home with the 3 that were here today. She brought food for lunch. She played Memory and War with them. She even baked muffins! I could've cried. (Actually, I did shed a couple tears, but then pulled it together.)

I should also mention Christine, who has emailed and phoned and prayed for me about a dozen times in the past 24 hours. And my mom - ditto to the previous, PLUS she came over to get my organizing butt in gear. (We went through a massive amount of papers! Three garbage bags and three filing boxes worth. Whew!) And my dear friends who emailed me encouragement, prayers, and challenging thoughts throughout my day - April and Peggy.

Seriously, you guys bless me. I'm overwhelmed. And so you know, though I'm still pretty raw, I feel better today. God's doing some tough work in me, but we're getting through it together.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My New Weight-Loss Program

Know someone who needs to lose a few pounds (like myself)? I have discovered an amazing solution! Try out the toddler two-step... (Now, you could be thinking, "what is she talking about, she doesn't have a toddler," and you'd be right - technically. But I do have an unusually active 7-month-old, whom I believe will graduate into the toddler realm in the next month or so. Sigh.)

Here, try out the dance with me...

Mommy tries to do something - anything. It could be productive (cook dinner, sweep, read a story to an older child) or less-than-productive (reading blogs, napping). I promise you, any activity will do. Right foot forward.

Baby disappears from sight, but remains within hearing range. So far, all noise and activity sound, well, noisy. Left foot forward.

Mommy gets engaged in her activity and the world around her disappears. Right foot to the side.

Mommy relishes the sweet sound of silence while she works. Left foot - wait a minute!

Shuffle, shuffle, both feet forward, faster now...

Baby is discovered engaging in a silent but dangerous activity, such as splashing in the toilet, pulling up to stand on objects that are not stationary, reaching for electrical cords with the intent of using them for a teether to bring in tooth #4, etc. Lift and step, back, back, one-two-three.

Baby is placed in a safe location with only baby-safe teething toys within range. Left foot to the side.

Mommy cautiously engages in activity - again. Right foot forward.

This fantastically fun toddler two-step continues throughout the day, keeping Mommy on her toes, limber and flexible. According to all the latest weight-loss gurus, this dance can burn between 500 and 1500 calories per day - probably depending on the gender and age of said toddler.

On a side note, this dance may also be used as an object lesson for teens on the merits of absitnence.

Monday, April 21, 2008

All That I Can Say

You know those times in your life where it's all you can do to function? Where you tell yourself over again, "just do the next thing...keep moving forward...don't stop moving," because if you dare to stop the feeling of what you're going through would simply crush you? Where the best prayer you can offer is simply, "please, God, please" - where more is utterly impossible?

It can be so easy to forget how those times feel. We experience life smoothly for a time, and the pain from the past fades. It's easy to feel frustrated with others who seem to be 'stuck' in a place of pain and heartache. Who seem to be 'losing their faith.' It's hard to remember that the difference between a time of stability and closeness with God and a time of echoing emptiness is one small event.

This is my confession - I have been callous, uncaring, and impatient. I have held pride in my heart, thinking that my faith is strong and I would not go down the path of doubt. I have forgotten that it was only last summer that I could barely pray, where the pain and confusion of what I thought God had promised and my reality were crushing my spirit.

I have not been a good friend. Rather than listening, loving, caring, and praying I have pushed, prodded, challenged, and judged. I told myself that 'iron sharpens iron' to justify my harsh attitude, but God (in His mercy) has reminded me that 'the greatest of these is love.'

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. ~1Corinthians 13:1-3

My friends, I am sorry. Please forgive me. When you needed someone to listen, I preached. When you needed someone to understand, I judged. When you needed someone to pray for your broken heart, I prayed for my own agenda. I hurt you and pushed you away, and I was wrong. I can only hope that you will be willing to give me another chance to be the friend that you need.

This song was one of the things God used to show me how wrong I've been. It reminds me of those dark times, and all I can do is pray "please, God, please." My prayer is that it will touch that spot in your soul. (David Crowder actually does a much better job on this song, vocally, but I loved the scripture all wrapped up in this video.)

News of the Day

I was about to phone my mom and tell her all about the mundane news of our day, when I decided it would be more fun to torture my readers with the details.

It is snowing outside! Not giant, fluffy, spring-time snow. Nope. Little hard teeny tiny flakes, blowing in a swirly pattern. It's disgusting! Here's the forecast for today (thank-you Windows Vista)...
Hi: -8°
Lo: -12°
Current temperature with wind chill of -19°C. Snow flurries. Mostly cloudy. Chilly, Blustery. Temperature of -8°C. Winds 38km WNW. Humidity will be 81% with a dewpoint of -12° and comfort level of -18°C. There is a 39% chance of precipitation.
(For you Fahrenheit thinkers,our current temp with wind chill factored in is a yucky -2.2°F.) Now, this probably wasn't something I'd need to tell my mom on the phone, as she lives a short 5-minute drive from me, but hey - a girl's gotta complain!

If you're thinking, "no big deal" (well then, woohoo, I've got a reader from up north) I'll just drive the point home. Pat was supposed to be driving 5 hours north for a meeting today, and he cancelled! My husband is like the postal service, where neither rain nor sleet nor whatever will keep him from his destination. As he often reminds me, the man is a professional driver. He's very comfy driving in some pretty poor road conditions. On a side note, my professional driver husband just attended a driving class last week - a mandatory driving class that his company sends their employees to if they've earned themselves a few too many traffic violation. Teehee.

Braeden's bus is running one hour behind! Now, I already have my complaints about his bizarre school hours - he's in a special ed class with adjusted school hours (9:05am-2:35pm) - so hearing this morning that those hours would be shortened further, and on a day when I can't even boot the kids outside to play. Five kids up since 6:30am + blizzard outside = can I just say, aaaaagggghhhhh!!! So far, I have mediated 3 major altercations involving bodily harm, I have rescinded the privilege of using play-dough, I have granted 4 time-outs, and I have yelled "STOP IT" twice - all before 9am. Now, if you'll excuse me for just a moment while I heat a bottle and put the cranky baby down for a nap...

Phew, that definitely helped turn down the volume.

Speaking of Mr. Fussypants, he's got a cold. Nothing major, just enough snot running and chest rattling to interfere with getting a good sleep (for him and his mommy). We've also discovered a new talent this morning. My freaky, heart-wrenching, exhausting growing up too fast baby Kai is now attempting to pull himself up. He got into the bathroom this morning and discovered that the side of the tub is just the perfect height for him to reach and pull on. You know, I was loving my little fantasy of being at the beach all summer with baby boy just sitting nicely in his one spot on the sand, shoveling it up and munching it down...me lounging beside him (well, okay, more like turning in constant circles counting "1-2-3-4-5, good everyone's still alive"). Farewell, fond dream, farewell.

Well, as riveting as I'm sure my play-by-play has been, I must run and referee another shouting match. Nothing better than a joint birthday party where 2 kids get lots of new toys that they love lord over the other kids with no new toys to bring out the joy in every family!

Friday, April 18, 2008

You're IT!

Ohmygoodness. The most exciting thing happened to me today! I got tagged.

Now, some of you might be thinking I'm a freak. You're probably right. But this is something special - it means that there is a least one person out there (who's not related to me and doesn't attend the same Church as me) who reads my blog. Little ol' me. Shucks. I stand corrected, apparently there are two people who read my blog. Who knew?! Thank-you, Kris. You're too kind. :)

Thank-you to Mary at Not Before 7 for giving me a little bloggy love. I've already told her that she is now my new BFF. :)

So, I'm IT, and here are my answers.

What I was doing doing 10 years ago...

Ten years ago I was a college student - in my first year of studies for my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. We were probably gearing up for finals right around this time. I had a baby on March 16, took about a month off school and did my work from home, then returned for my 40-hour week to study and write exams. My 5-week old baby went to day care from 8:30am-5:00pm 5 days a week.

During this time in my life my mind was being 'opened' by all the big learning at college, I was fairly strong into women's lib, and since I knew I wanted a career putting my child in someone else's care was just something I had to do. You would often hear me saying, "there is no way I'd ever be a stay-at-home mother...it's just not in me...my kids will be better off if I'm pursuing something I love and someone who adores children plays with them all day...really, this will make me a better mom in the long run." I completed my degree in 2001 and joined the workforce, with an 8-month maternity leave during 2002, until 2003 (after the birth of baby #3).

I can't say that all thoughts of career have been abandoned, or that I don't occasionally explore what I'd need to do to get back in the work force - thankfully, though, the decision is not left totally up to me. I've got a great God who speaks into my life daily, and when I get too caught up in what I want He gently reminds me of what He wants. There is nothing I'd rather be doing in this world than honouring Him, and He keeps telling me to start right here at home with my 5 little monkeys. It's not easy, it's not always beautiful, but it is most definitely blessed.

5 things on my 'to do' list for today...

- clean bathrooms
- vacuum
- make supper
- respond to a couple ministry emails
- write a blog post --- check!
(The housework is vital, though you might notice that it's 2pm and I've yet to start, because Pat is getting home after a week away and nothing says "I love you, honey" like a nice clean house! I finally finished this post, it's now 2:39, that took way longer than I expected. Now I've only got an hour to do the housework, and everyone's going to be waking up from nap - yikes!)

5 snacks I enjoy...

- chips (rip-l, salt and vinegar, dill pickle, Doritos zesty)
- chocolate (Cadbury Creme Eggs, Aero, Coffee Crisp)
- sour candies
- all types of sweet desserts
- heated appetizers
(I think that about covers it all, don't you?!)

5 things I would do if I were a billionaire...

- pay off all our debts and those of our parents
- drill water wells in Africa
- build a maternity home right here in Red Deer, Alberta
- adopt children, oodles of them, from all over the world
- hire nannies to help me care for my zillions of children

5 bad habits...

- biting my nails
- junk food
- always playing 'devil's advocate' in conversations
- procrastinating
- procrastinating (this one's really serious, lol)

5 places I've lived...

- Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Morden, Manitoba
- Kindersley, Saskatchewan
- Red Deer, Alberta
- Calgary, Alberta
(Between these 5 locations, which I believe covers all of them - mom?, I would guess that there have been at least 25 different houses/apartments. We moved a lot when I was a kid, and it kinda carried into adulthood.)

5 jobs I've had...

(Ooooh, this will be fun!)
- Gas Station Attendant
- Bus Girl, Hostess, Waitress (I moved up the ranks, ya know.)
- Beer Tub Girl, Shooter Girl, Waitress (Ditto. Thankfully, this phase was only a few months. Good money, yucky job.)
- Group Home Worker - adults with schizophrenia; youth under government care
- Treatment Foster Care Coordinator (I think this was their fancy term for saying I was the middle man for foster parents with severe needs foster kids and social workers.)
Okay, I know it asks for five, but my current unpaid job is by far the most important one (and most difficult) that I've ever had - MOMMY!

Okay, now you're IT! I don't know how many I'm supposed to tag, but since I'm seeing a theme here...

Kris at a doulas heart (Because I feel like we know each other.)
Darlene at Have You Seen My Keys? (Because she's a super-thin weight-loss inspiration guru!)
Judith at My life with five children (Because, hello, we both have 5 kids - but I'll understand if Judith chooses not to run with this one, she's taking a bloggy break.)
Nadine at Daughter of the King (Because I know her in real life but don't know nuthin' about her.)
Cindy at Still His Girl (Because I'm stalking her until she loves me, mwahaahahahaaha! But, seeing as I'm stalking her I also know that Cindy already answered this one. Bummer. So I'll also tag someone else.)
Heidi and Louise at Polka Dots and Hiccups (Because I know them in real life, too. And their interesting girls - a bit weird, but very interesting. LOL.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Send. Help. Now.

*Disclaimer: All thoughts, opinions, requests for prayer, so forth and such are intended as 'tongue-in-cheek.' No alarm bells need to begin ringing in your head (mom).

I have fallen deep into the mire of a major family crisis! I need help, people, and a whole lotta prayer.

You may recall from this post a certain photo situation. Oh, my friends, it is much worse than I ever imagined.

Note the plethora of unused photo albums and baby books about to topple from the aforementioned (not today, in that other post) upper closet shelf. The designer of said shelf must be so devastated by my misuse. I'm certain the upper shelf was intended for sweatshirts and other such fashionable items. (I am so sorry, Stacy and Clinton, for disregarding your teachings. I know that sweatshirts are most definitely on the list of 'what not to wear.' Truly, I am sorry. But if you offer me $5000 to change my wicked ways, I'm certain I can reform!)

Here are some of the little gems I uncovered beneath the two-inch layer of dust atop this box (which, fyi, was also jammed on the poor, misused upper shelf). These are in no particular order - just the way I found them!

Aw, look, Braeden's first day of Kindergarten - 4 years ago!

I must say, I find it odd that I look so....fake...in this lovely family photo (thank-you Wal Mart) - taken nearly 5 years ago.
How sweet! We're celebrating Abbey's first birthday - yup, 5 years past. You will notice my great restraint in not photoshopping away the blush of pregnancy that can be faintly seen all over my face if you look very closely (not for lack of trying, people, but there's only so much you can do with a trial version and zero skill!).

Didn't Megan make an adorable little butterfly for Halloween? Sigh, it seems so long ago. Oh that's right, it was 2004.

The day night very early morning Shea was born, 2005.

Lest we forget, there is a multitude of digital photos taking up memory on our computer. It would seem that we purchased our first digital camera somewhere before Christmas of '05 (or perhaps I haven't dug far enough into the depths of the great cardboard box). Poor little Kai was not found in the box, all evidence of his existence is hidden deep within the recesses of this hard drive.

You see these? Sadly, they are not baby books. No, the baby books are resting empty and neglected (you guessed it, on the upper shelf). These are my wall calendars from the past 4 years, saved so that I might go through each one, searching out the giant circled notations of developmental milestones. The path to hades is paved with good intentions...and I truly have intended (for 4 years or so) to transfer each of those notations into each of 4 naked baby books. Suffice it to say that I have successfully paved my way to the gates of 'important memory neglectfulness hades.' Oh, woe is me!

I have friends who do this new-fangled art called scrapbooking. Every time they paste a new photo of their loved ones on a beautifully adorned home-made page, I hear a tiny bell ring and an angel gets its wings. I strongly dislike you people! How dare you be so dedicated in the face of my blatant neglect? Perhaps one of you could rescue me from this pit of unpreserved memorabilia?! Maybe if I take back the part about strongly disliking you...
* edited to add

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tiny Talk Tuesday

I'm joining in at Not Before 7 again this week, for my favorite bloggy carnival. If you want to read more tiny talk stories, or if you'd like to join in, just click the picture to the left.

TTT is a place for us to share the cute, brilliant, funny, and wise-beyond their years things that our kids say throughout the week. This week (Mary, forgive my departure from tradition), rather than sharing the JOYS of parenting 5 adorable rugrats, I am looking for some tips in dealing with the not-so-cute things they sometimes say. Comments much appreciated!!!

Here's what I have heard an awful lot of this week...
"I hate you!"
"I don't like you!"
"You're stupid!"
"You're a mean lady!"

No, this isn't the first time I've heard such things shouted (directed to one another AND/OR to me). And no, we didn't have a terrible, horrible, no good, really bad week. Overall, our last week was actually quite fun. Except when certain people got angry, then things were not so much fun.

I have, of course, attempted my own feeble methods of nipping this in the bud. And if I'm consistent, perhaps it will work. That being said, I'd really like to have a back-up plan or six. So please - share your Mommy wisdom! What would you do if your kiddos were talking this way? Or what have you done to deal with it in the past (please tell me that I'm not the only one)?

Thanks, girls. God bless you all.

Aw, I couldn't end on such a bummer. So here's a cute little tidbit for ya...
Our littlest one is 7 months old now - today, actually (and crawling like a maniac, yikes!), and his big brother is still pretty darn pleased that he finally got another boy in the family. So pleased, in fact, that he only refers to him by the name "Little Brother." I realized today, listening in on big boy entertaining little boy, that I cannot think of a single occasion in the past 7 months where Braeden has referred to the baby (Malakai, or Kai) as anything other than Little Brother. Oh, and he's already making plans to give Little Brother his race car bed as soon as he's big enough for it. Phew, what a relief for me because I was concerned that he'd still be sleeping in that silly race car at the age of 20! And if you were wondering, it's a twin sized race car, not one of those itty-bitty toddler ones - it would be really funny to see a 10-year-old squish himself into one of those, lol.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Understanding Jesus, the Conclusion

* Don't stop reading here, I've been making up for lost time! Two new posts below...

If you missed some of my earlier thoughts on the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), you will find a link under the heading 'Labels' on my sidebar that will bring up all 5. Or, maybe you got to read them, but it's been so blasted long that you need to review. My bad. :P

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Seriously? I am supposed to consider it a blessing to be insulted? To be persecuted? It's hard to imagine, isn't it? Praying as Paul did, praising God during times of trial and attack - praising Him not in spite of our circumstances, but actually because of them...thanking Him for those circumstances. If it's in the Word, I believe it to be true, so somehow it really can be done. We really can give God praise and glory FOR those times we are persecuted. But how?!

I think that it starts with our perspective. First, I just want to consider the concept of persecution. I have always thought of persecution as other people being cruel to me because of my love for Jesus. I remember once being called a "Bible thumper" - that's pretty straightforward as far as persecution goes. Then there's the situation in schools and courts - no more prayer in public schools, no more giving an oath on the Bible (whatever book that's special to you will be sufficient) - again, pretty clear persecution of the Christian faith and of those of us who believe.

What about those times in our lives when we are getting beaten down by our circumstances? Losing our friends. Terminal illness. Divorce. In the past I've seen these as 'really bad things' that happen. These really bad things wield enough pain to cause many a strong believer to doubt, question, and even walk away from what they believe. Often, I believe that these really bad things are not simply 'bad luck,' but rather spiritual attack. Satan, the devil, the evil one - whatever you choose to call him, he's an insecure guy. He can't stand it when people are loving God and believing Him. He hates faith, and he will rally up a whole dominion of evil forces to help him wreck even one person's faith. He attacks us because of what we believe and Who we believe in - the essence of persecution. Here's where perspective comes in...

So when I feel insulted, attacked, beat down because of my faith...the first thing I do is take a deep breath and ask, "why is this happening to me?" (Don't we all ask this question?) The answer is often the same - this is happening to me because I love Jesus and the enemy of Christ hates that. And even if the enemy may not have initiated this attack against me, he most certainly will take advantage of it in order to ruin my faith. How do I have vicory of the enemy? How do I make sure he won't win and beat my faith out of me? There's only one way - praising God! "God's power is unleashed through the praises of His people!" (From Spirtual Warfare for Every Christian, Dean Sherman.) I praise God because I know He is faithful and will use even the worst circumstances for good in His kingdom. I praise God because I know He is good even if life isn't feeling so good. I praise God because I know He is more powerful than any insult or attack. I praise God, even when it feels like I should mourn and weep, becase I KNOW that taking this action will bring blessing. I know it, because Christ Himself promised it -

Rejoice and be glad, beacause great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another Special Day

Yes, yes, you can believe your eyes! This is my third birthday post in the past 3 months. And there's one more to come in a couple weeks. You see, early in our married years my hubby worked away a LOT. (We think it averaged to about 250 days of the year.) I seldom saw him from October to May, but got spend oodles of time together all summer. Hence, 4 babies with spring birthdays, lol.

Enough dirty talk, let me introduce you to the birthday girl: Shea Makenna, 3 years old!

This is her typical expression - giggling. Well, besides the other standard look and sound - hysterical shrieking accompanied by gigantic crocodile tears because her siblings ran ahead of her, leading Shea to the inevitable conclusion that they're "not my friend, waaaaaaaaaaa!" LOL, we really do love her, drama and all. After all, she's somewhat of a miracle girl.

Pat and I had decided it was time to be done birthing children after our third, Megan. We were worn out, Pat was still working away lots, and I was struggling with post-partum depression. On October 31, 2003, Pat took a little trip to the doctor for a 'procedure.' Not long after that, I was on medication for the depression and coping with life much better. Oh, the regret! I just kept thinking to myself, "what have we done?" I begged the Lord for forgiveness for taking things into our own hands and not trusting Him, I pleaded with Him to heal our mistake, believing that He totally could, but knowing that didn't necessarily mean He would.

Needless to say, in August of 2004, I was not particularly surprised to see 2 blue lines. Pat, on the other hand, nearly keeled over in shock! I have to tell you, this man of mine is something special. Friends and family joked around (some less joking than others), teasing that the baby might look like the mail man. But my man, he NEVER questioned, hinted, or pondered anything but the truth - he was going to be a Daddy to 4! (Once he picked his jaw up off the ground, he was pretty darn excited, too.)

April 13, 2005 - right on her due date, our beatiful Shea arrived. BTW, her name means blessing (how perfect is that?). Once I was really in labour - did you know that the more children you have the stupider you become about labour - it took no time at all. Pat joked that the only reason I made him take me to the hospital was so we could show them how fast it could be done, lol. Home again in less than 12 hours. I have a very sad confession to make - it took me 30 minutes to find a baby picture of Shea, found it in a big box in my bedroom closet. Sadly, I found a zillion other pictures, dating back to Christmas 2002. I need help, people!

Shea is such an engaging little girl. She looks at you with those great big baby blues, cracks a giant dimpled smile, and lets out with a hearty and contagious giggle! It's the greatest thing. Ever.

Sigh. I can't believe that my baby girl will be starting playschool in September. It's not a cliche if it's true (is it?) - they really do grow up so fast.

Happy birthday, baby girl!

Promises, Promises...

Yay! Pat solved the picture mystery! He got them downloaded to the computer, figured out where the heck the computer was saving them to, compressed them from the HUGE format they were saving in, and they now successfully upload to my page. Let's hear it for Pat, "hip-hip-hooray!"

To check out the pictures of Braeden's 10th birthday, go here.

To see Shea's 'I do it my OWN self' outfit, go here.

To see a ridiculous number of pictures from our weekend at West Edmonton Mall, go here.

One more time now, "hip-hip-hooray!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Megan (almost 5) is a fan of big words. If she hears me use a big word on some occasion, you can be guaranteed she'll try it out, too. Overheard as she was playing with her sisters this week: "Oh my, it is simply gorgeous!" (She pronouced the word with a lovely 'fancy lady' voice, so it came out more like gohahgeous.)

Shea (almost 3) is the 4th of 5 children. I am beginning to suspect that she has no ability to play alone. The other day, everyone was a school and the baby was napping, but I could hear Shea talking away. In fact, she was bossing (something she never gets to do with her big sisters), "You get over here, NOW!" A while later as we load into the van I hear her saying, "You sit here, and you sit here." When asked who she was talking to (also asked on another occasion by Grandma) she replied, "I'm talkin' to my girlfriends" (her emphasis made it sound more like GIRLfriends). Through further investigation I have discovered that there are 2 girlfriends who remain unnamed. At least we don't need to worry about Shea being bored or lonely next year when Meg goes to kindergarten - she'll just fabricate her own playmates!

One thing that I've never mentioned here because it's so normal to hear is one of Braeden's (10) favorite things to say. It occurred to me that it really is quite funny. Braeden is famous for getting distracted. If he has to walk past the television in order to complete a task, you can expect that the task will get overlooked or abandoned. As we often do, we hollered down the stairs for him to 'turn off the TV and do his job' (his room is downstairs, through the family room). He comes rushing up carrying an odd assortment of clothes that clearly won't work as an outfit for the next day. We asked what he was thinking... Braeden's reply, "My brain is soooo lazy! I can't control it!" Goofball!

TTT is a blog carnival hosted by Mary @ Not Before 7. Visit her page to see all the participants, or even link up yourself!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Losing It?

I have a confession to make...

It's Monday morning, about 7am. I just posted my Tiny Talk Tuesday blog. I linked over to Mary's (she hosts the blog), and wondered why she didn't have the post up yet.

Then I grabbed my coffee and opened my Bible, hoping to finish my little series on the beatitudes for posting tomorrow.

I'm reading, starting to type, got about half my cup of coffee downed. Mmmmmmm, love my morning coffee. When it hits me...

Today is Monday!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

On Friendship

What do you do when a treasured friendship changes shape?

Do you cling and pray with all your might? Risk seeming stupid, pathetic, desperate even, to try to retore what is fading into the mist?

Do you allow the distance to grow, slowly spreading you further apart, making conversations more superficial, until neither of you bothers to try conversing any longer?

How do you deal with it when it feels like one friend is pulling (or pushing) away? Do you simply accept it and move on? But how is that even possible? How can you just 'move on' from a relationship that has been a part of your very being for as long as you can remember?

If it ends, or is forever changed, how do you survive? Is it possible to ever find true, real, deep, and normal again?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Serious Business

I believe that the issue outlined in these 2 video clips is very serious, and we (the Christian Church) need to be diligently praying about it - praying that people's eyes will be open to the TRUTH, and that believers will not be deceived and confused by this message. Thanks to my cyber-friend, Angela for posting it and to my real-life friend Stacie for emailing it.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. ~Matthew 7:15

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~1 John 4:1

Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. ~1 John 2:22

Video #1

Video #2

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Untitled Blatherings

With a new opener like that, how can anyone resist this post?!

Sadly, I was unable to come up with something exciting, funny, or inspiring for today. Blame it on brain overload. I've heard that sometimes it helps to talk about things, so here's what I've been up to lately (obviously, not blogging)...

- I got a call from a lovely woman asking if I was available to do some contract administrative work; I said yes. (Feeling introspective, I pondered why I responded this way - when I clearly don't have time. Several incidents over the past year came to mind, where I've felt driven to apply for - and interview for - various jobs that I thought I'd like. I'm beginning to suspect that I suffer from 'fear of losing all your skills and abilities while being a stay-at-home mother' syndrome - also known as FOLAYSAAWBASAHMS.)

Time and again, God has made it clear that my #1 job is to raise these 5 children He's sent my way to know and love Him. But, being the slow learner that I am, I needed to try out His 'theory' for myself a few times. Guess what - God really does know best! That being said, I cannot wait for this project to be done, so I can get back to bloggin'!

- Ministry life has been B-U-S-Y! I'm sure you've noticed me mention our women's retreat once or twice. ;) There's also a women's coffee morning that I've been working pretty hard at. To define 'hard' for you, here are a few examples - spending all Tuesday afternoon at my computer, on the phone, and/or in prayer preparing...spending Wednesday morning running around slightly harried but smiling (I hope I'm remembering to smile) setting up this and that, troubleshooting the other, meeting with such-and-such and so-and-so...spending ALL Wednesday afternoon on the phone debriefing and troubleshooting, encouraging and mentoring - round and round it goes!

The funny thing is, as much as I dreaded the 'duty' of taking on this role, I am finding joy in it. And more so, I have noticed excitement growing within me about what we can do for next year, and the team that will work together for the next year. Which is a really GOoD thing, because I have felt (and been affirmed by my team) that I am supposed to continue leading this particular area next year, mentoring the new group of girls in how to 'do ministry' in a big Church while still ensuring that the focus is less on doing ministry than on honoring God.

- Our family took off to West Edmonton Mall for the weekend to finish off our spring break. We had a super-duper fun and exhausting adventure! I took lots of pictures (which are finally here!).

On Saturday we went to the waterpark (a relative of mine, well if we were getting technical I guess she'd be an ex-step-cousin, gave us a family pass that she had purchased at an auction but couldn't use b/c they live waaaay over in Manitoba). The waterpark experience was worth the $14 we spent for the additional family member, but would never have been worth the full $100! Our kids are still too young and requiring too much supervision - the one time we decided to take a break from supervising the lifeguard had to rescue 3 of them from the waves (totally kidding, I wish we could've taken a break)! My entire body ached by the end of the day from carrying around an 18-pound squirmy mass of grumpiness who hates the water. And what in the world?! Our family loves the water! What is with that kid? (Three times swimming, three times screaming. Sigh.)

They sure are a cute bunch of cold, wet urchins, aren't they?

We stayed in a hotel, which I'll tell you about in a separate post (it's worthy of it's own post), and ate dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Edmonton. I don't know which was the greater adventure, attempting to dine out with five utterly exhausted and LOUD children or navigating our way for 1/4 block of homeless men (which probably wouldn't have been too scary, with the exception of the angry man who spoke to himself and shouted profanities our way a few times - yikes!). As I re-read this, it sounds like I am terrified of homeless people and have never really seen any before - not the case at all! But I can't recall a time when my children would have seen such a person up close, and new experiences can always be a little frightening. And the guy yelling at us was a tiny bit terrifying.

Surprisingly, everyone was asleep by 9:30pm, including the grown-ups! Though the night was not without incident. At 4am, responding to Shea's crying from the fold-out sofa, I went running and stubbed my toe on our luggage - twice. The cause of the trauma - apparently Shea was putting her feet on Megan while they slept (this clearly falls into the category of 'unacceptable intrusion into Meg's personal space'), so Meg punched the sleeping 2-year-old in the gut! Aw, what a sweetie.

Sunday, we planned to shop a bit at the mall, watch the sea lion show, and head home. But, plans change. Someone got suckered into buying passes to Galaxyland (note: mom never gets suckered in by big doe eyed children). So we rode, and we rode, and we rode. My own bed never felt so good as when I crawled into it at 8:05pm that night!

Wheee! "This boat tickles in my tummy!"

Phew. See, this is why I temporarily disappeared. It's exhausting just to type it all out!

BTW, in case you were wondering, I have NOT been spending my time losing weight. Oh no! Why lose weight when it's so much more fun to gain back every flippin' pound you've lost in the past 3 months (over the course of only 3 weeks)! Why not, right?! Yuck.

Here's a bunch more photos for ya!

Here we are waiting for our (very expensive) lunch in the waterpark. Next we're hanging out in the mouth of a big whale. Weird, I know. A whale in the mall....

All tuckered out.

This exact car was driven by this exact boy for exactly 8 turns in a row.

That's a pretty big smile for a girl who thinks the merry-go-round is for babies.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I am Still Alive, Really...

I am going to post something fun, interesting, and wonderful tomorrow! Well, I'm going to post something, anyway. :P

(Sorry, I've been trying to manage my time well with a few projects on the go...unfortunately that meant that blogging, and checking my friends' blogs, and generally anything done for my own enjoyment got bumped temporarily. I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel today...)

Love you all and miss you oodles!