Monday, June 30, 2008

Do a Little Dance, Make a Little Noise, Get Down Tonight

* If you scroll through quickly it's almost a good as a video. :)

I had to do this, just couldn't resist. Even the pure dread of attempting to upload pictures cannot stop me. Remember how I mentioned that the girls like to take pictures of Kai - millions of pictures one right after the other? Well, here's a nice little vignette for you. (What is a vignette, anyway?)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

All work and no play

Looky! We might be getting a new camera. I took a few pictures of the construction zone for ya.

Check out my handsome and hard-working hubby. This whole roof project has been taking a LOT longer than anticipated. We're now onto day 13 or 14. To be honest, I've lost count. I'm exhausted from watching it all, so he must be dead on his feet. See that roof in the background? That's what our shingles were looking like 2 weeks ago (actually, I believe ours were worse).

Here they are now. Much better. You may be wondering about the multi-coloured appearance of our home... Originally, all the trim, soffit, fascia, and eaves were white (as is the siding that is on the front side of the house - this stuff on the back is stucco, which is also on the sides - I can't explain why, but all the houses in the neighbourhood were subject to this horrific trend) and the shingles were black. My vision for the future consists of dark beige siding and shingles (as close to beige as I could find), with black trim, eaves, etc. So we get to have this funky look for a year or two until re-siding the house fits our budget.

Don't you just love this awning on the front?! (Ohmygoodness, please ignore the table with empty slurpee cups.) It's new. Eventually the trees and flowers will go and there will be a veranda underneath the awning. Already, the face of our house is transformed! I really wish I had some before pictures, but the camera was not available when construction began, and who thinks to take a picture of the front of their house in the event that a renovation will occur?

I'm liking this new camera - what do you think?

Old Camera (auto mode),left side: New camera (auto), right side:

Weird. I assure you I was standing in the EXACT same spot. And I did not use the zoom. Though that first picture of Pat up top was zoomed with the new camera. Pretty, good, eh? Sadly, no matter how amazing the camera you use, a poor photographer can still totally screw up the shot (for example, by not noticing the table with junk on it, lol).

Friday, June 27, 2008

When I Grow Up

Do you remember that question from your childhood - "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Today was my brother-in-law's high school graduation. As each young adult was being handed their diploma, one of the teachers told us about their future plans. One was going to work, many had plans to travel, some were honest about their intentions to spend a year partying, others were going to college and/or university. I was struck by a few that clearly had BIG plans about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Medical school, dentistry, optometry, hair school, anthroplogy...

I remember answering the question any number of ways, depending on how I felt on that particular day. I'm sure I told more than one person I was going to be a doctor (I've definitely got the handwriting part down). I foolishly may have told one or two people that I'd like to be a teacher (me, with the patience and attention span of a two-year-old). If memory serves, when they read what I wrote for my graduation, it was something like this, "Tyler will take a year off to work, then attend Red Deer College where she will get her Bachelor of Arts in psychology."

I wonder how many of those nearly 400 graduates today will do what they said they would do. How many will completely change their minds. How many will change their life course due to a change in life circumstances.

I did get my BA in psych. Graduated in 2001. But during my first year at college (1997-1998, yes, after working for a year) my life course changed. Big time. I became a Mom. And the funny thing was, deep inside I knew that this was what I really wanted to be when I grew up. I finished university because, well, I guess I thought I should. But in my heart, all I really wanted was to be a Mom.

I remember walking around the neighbourhood with my childhood friend, Niki. We each had a stroller with a wrapped-up baby doll, and as we walked we talked. How many kids did we want? (I always wanted six.) How old did we want to be when we got married? (Me - no later than 24.) Would we work when we had children? (Of course not! We'd obviously be smart enough to marry guys who made good money.)

It amazes me how God can bring everything full-circle in our lives. Those lazy summer days playing Mommy came back to me today. And all I could do was thank God for giving me the desires of my heart. For bringing me back around - from 'ambition' to just living. Sometimes, just living is exactly what we're supposed to do.

Thank-you, Lord, for letting me frow up to be a Mommy. Help me to remember that this is a gift from You, that they are a gift from You. Teach me to just live.

Fat Be Gone!

Now that I've finally caved and decided to pay for someone else to weigh me each week (God bless you, Weight Watchers), it's a little more dangerous to fall off the wagon. For one, there's the wasted $16.80. I mean, who wants to pay someone nearly twenty bucks to tell them they've gained weight?! Second, there's the shame factor. Because it's really embarassing for a total stranger to weigh you, say, "oh dear, you're up a bit, you'll do better next week." Can you just see my face turning 14 shades of red?!

This week, I watched what I ate. I counted points. Had a couple snacks, but managed to stay within my allotted 23 points. I even exercised - kinda. Okay, well, I was in motion a lot (though I'm not sure you can call walking around the yard a bazillion times, bending and picking up 400 million nails, and walking them over to the dumpster exercise). I'll need to be more intentional this week, because the shingling is finis! and I can guarantee my yard to be nail-free.

I lost nicely this week and am really proud. Get this - two pounds! Yay! If I lose even 1.1 next week I get to kick that nasty '5' out from the middle of my weight. Which will be a bittersweet moment, because that also means my daily points drop to 22.

It helps to be a part of a challenge (with prizes, yipee) where I know there are a bunch of other women working toward the same goal. Thanks for getting our butts in gear, Baby Tea Leaves!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Photo Montage

This is my Tante (holding my Abbey). That's German for Auntie, and is what I called her when I was little. You might recognize her as my ever-faithful encourager and commenter, Lucille. She and my Uncle Barry came here (Alberta) from two provinces east in March. Just for the weekend. To join us at our women's retreat. And get this - she worked all weekend! You know how a heritage of faith beings in a family? With just one person who loves Jesus, faithfully praying and living it.

This is my goal weight (though I'd be willing to take 5-10 lbs less, too). I reached this weight in November of 2006, with the help of Weight Watchers. It wasn't too difficult, because I had an important goal in mind - you see, this picture was taken in the Domincan Republic! Our first (and only) exotic vacation. And yes, that probably is a beer in Pat's hand. We drink occasionally. Gasp! You'll get over it. Besides, it was all included. I especially enjoyed the slushy pina coladas. Probably why I gained back 5 lbs before we even made it home.

This is Malakai. He's spoiled. And darn cute. He likes to put he finds in his mouth. Did I mention how darn cute he is?!

This is Meg. As you can tell, she's a wee bit camera-shy. And Malakai looks nothing like her. (Kinda freakish, isn't it?)

There are a few more cuties in this brood, but I'll save them for another day. Uploading pictures on blogger can be a seriously aggravating experience! See ya tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A New Message

Ever read these verses from 2 Corinthians and been a bit confused? I know I have. I mean, what exactly is a thorn in my flesh? And how exactly is it that a thorn in my flesh will keep me from being conceited?

For the first time today, I encountered this passage of scripture as written in The Message.

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
"My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness."
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Sometimes all it takes is another interpretation. I just love this, "what he in fact did was push me to my danger then of walking around high and mighty." Nope, if I'm on my knees the only way to look is UP to the One I'm serving. Thorn in the flesh, handicap, struggle, accident, bad break - whatever you call it - it's the gift that keeps us from trying to climb our wee little selves up into the throne belonging to the Almighty.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Just a Note

I have re-ordered my posts. So if you come here and you're totally confused (well, join the club), at least you know aliens haven't taken over my blog.

In my efforts to leave the bloggy carnival up top for a few extra days, I had to put my new posts below it. Now, since I'm prepared to let the carnival go (I consider it a grand success that there were 3 blogging participants and one non-blog participant - so much better than the ZERO I was anticipating, lol) you will find the posts in the order that they were created.

So, if you're one of those people who has a life besides blogging and you only check in every few days...I suggest you scroll down to the "R.E.S.P.E.C.T." carnival post and work your way up. Then you won't have missed any of my totally captivating posts! And get this - no, wait for it... let the anticipation build - I have posted EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. since (and including) Thursday! Can I get an 'amen'?!

By the way, just to give it one final 'hurrah' before I release it completely - Mr. Linky is still going strong if you want to join in and post about how you show respect to your man! Come on, I know there's a couple of you out there...thinking you should have, but now it's too's never too late, I tell ya! Join in.

I'm a Bad Mommy...

I received a card today - from another mom, while we were attending "Kindergrad" (apparently we must have a ceremony to commemorate the passing from no grade to first grade, but I'll save my opinion on such matters for another day).

The card said "thank-you for coming to [child's name will remain top secret]'s birthday party and for your generosity." Inserted in this card was a picture of said birthday child. Both mom and child signed the card.

Um, I have NEVER given a thank-you card for birthday parties/gifts or Christmas gifts - my fingers and toes tell me that I have officially missed 49 possible card-giving opportunities in the past 10 years! (I DID, however, remember to send out cards of thanks following our wedding and following baby showers and/or new baby gifts. So I'm not a complete failure!)

Oh, wait, did I mention that the birthday party was exactly 3 - that's THREE - days ago?! And...the entire kindergarten class was invited. And...I didn't stay (though I noticed a few of the good moms did).

By the way, I left our camera sitting on top of the microwave as we all ran out the door for Kindergrad. Which we arrived to...late.

Oh well, no one's perfect. Except for birthday girl's mom. Sheesh!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Got Faith?

If you have never done a Bible study by Beth Moore, I would encourage you to do so! She doesn't write 'frou-frou' studies with cheesy homework. Nu-uh. Beth is one tough cookie, and she is not satisfied unless she's got her women digging deep.

We just completed "Believing God: Experiencing a Fresh Explosion of Faith" in our women's study at our Church. Words can never accurately express the life-changing qualities of this study. My good friend Christine is currently working through the book, and she is telling me that I HAVE to read it this summer. We participated in the DVD and study guide version, and I've been telling Christine that she simply MUST watch the DVDs. I'm telling you people, this is powerful stuff!

Here are some truths I learned about faith through Beth's inspired teaching.
- Faith is more than just believing in God, faith is the decision to believe God - to trust His Word and His promises and His power in our lives, no matter what our circumstances. (I liken it to the concept of love in marriage - sometimes love is much more a decision than it is a feeling. Ditto for faith - believing God is a choice we make regardless of our emotions.)
- The #1 hindrance to our calling becoming our reality is unbelief. Belief is the only thing that will bring our theology into alignment with our reality (it is the thing that makes our walk match our talk).
- To be righteous (clean in the eyes of God), He requires our active belief. Romans 4:3 says What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Believing can't just be something we say, it is something we do. Abraham believed through his actions, even when it didn't make sense. (Remember when God asked him to sacrifice his long-awaited for son, Isaac???)

This begs the question - how does a person get this kind of faith? Beth gives us 5 pointers:
1. Because faith is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV), we are given the gift of faith when we allow ourselves to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, we must be yielded to His authority. In the NIV the term faithfulness is used, which can be described as serving and obeying God. So, to get faith, we should be yielded to the Spirit and obey the Lord.
2. Our faith is built by hearing the Word of God. This builds relationship with Him, thus making it 'easier' to trust Him. Come on, people, let's read it!
3. We can simply ask God to increase our faith (John 14:14).
4. Scripture (Mark 9:14-25) tells us that we need to confess our unbelief. If we can't be honest with God about those times we struggle in faith, who can we trust? Pour it out to Him, and ask Him to change it.
5. We can GROW in our faith. As with every ability, practice makes perfect (well, we'll never truly be perfect this side of Heaven, but you get what I mean). Psalm 37:3 tells us to feed on God's faithfulness. In other words, watch for those times where He's provided, record them, and read them to remind yourself (and your children) of who God is in your life. The more you see God's work in your life, the more you will believe Him - the greater your faith will grow.

I can't wait to share more with you, in hopes that the synopsis you read here will encourage you to pick up the study and learn it directly from Beth! There are so many ways to participate - you can do the DVD series with the study guide, you can read the book, you can listen to the audio series, you can do the online study... Whichever you choose, I suggest you do it with other women (if you don't have anyone around to work through the study with, the online study is a great option for you - there's a whole community on there!). It's important to have someone to discuss some of the concepts with, someone to keep you going when you want to give up, someone to pray for you, someone to pray for. Us girls, we need each other!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How NOT to Show Respect

I have another contribution to my bloggy carnival, so I figured - hey, why not put up another post?!

First, I must say that I'm already wiser! Bobbie taught me that I can show respect by cooking something special for my sweetheart. Or by doing a job that I might consider his, if he's busy doing an activity that's important to him (note: important to him, not me). Mary taught me that I can show respect by going to my husband for advice and help FIRST (even if he's not the family 'expert' on that topic). You girls rock! And I sure hope a few more awesome women join in with their suggestions. HINT HINT

A while ago, we added yet another baby to our family. Time passed and life got busy. Suddenly I realized that we were missing the ever-important 6-week old picture! The one I get done of all the kids. Oh dear! Whoa, hang on...this is sounding familiar. I'll be right back. Found it! I did post this story before. Click here to view it (you can scroll down to the final 2 paragraphs, right by the picture of said baby, and save yourself the time of reading the whole post). Interesting, though, that my 11th post ever is on the same topic as I'm on now...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Racing Boy

In case you've been wondering how we like to spend our spare time...

Braeden's newest activity is soapbox racing. Basically, you build a car with no engine, fixed steering (or close to), and a good brake, you squeeze a kid into it, and you push him down a big hill. Put a couple kids side-by-side and you've got yourself a good ol' fashioned race! It may sound simple, but don't be fooled - the process of the big boys (Dad and the Papas) building, prepping, and decorating (I don't know the proper term for 'putting decals on') the car and the trailer - because who can haul a racecar without a trailer? - was many, many hours over several weeks. I assure you, Braeden did have a bit of a hand in the process, too!

That's Braeden on the right, ready for his first run down the hill.

Left to right, top to bottom - Karrie (my brother's girlfriend) & my brother Rob (and their 'baby' Kamo), my Uncle Shon, Mom (Frieda) & Dad (Lee), my hubby (Pat), my brother-in-law Blaine; my sister Jen, Melissa (Shon's girlfriend), Malakai, moi; Megan (tucked in behind her sisters), Shea, Braeden; and out front is Abbey.

The whole family was out for his first race (sans Papa Dan who was in Saskatchewan). Even some extended family came out. It was an AMAZING day! Our kids were all so good, and there was never any shortage of grown-ups for them to hang out with. Not a single one of our family just 'hung out' - everyone pitched in and helped the derby run smoothly. It blessed my heart to see our family connecting in this way!

Pat and my Dad hauled the bales that were set up around the track (to prevent any out-of-control cars from running away) - they were out Friday night picking them up, Saturday morning (at 6am no less) setting them up, and Saturday afternoon taking them back to the farmer (the return trip was made with the help of Uncle Shon). My mom and Karrie helped me wrangle kids (which was especially helpful since I was up and down the hill a few hundred times). Rob and his buddy, Joe brought in their Rhinos (which are kinda like super-fancy quads, but more like little Hummers) to pull the racers and cars back up the hill - up and down all day long. Jen and Blaine arrived and quickly donned the green tees so they could help drivers down by the finish line. Uncle Blaine even managed to get off work early to take in the races! Even Shon and Melissa were working, keeping score at the finish line.

I have to tell you about some of the cool stuff that went on for this derby...

- My Dad told everyone he met about this derby, fundraising along the way. His mechanic even handed him a $100 from his own pocket to sponsor the program!

- Pat's work paid some nice coin for those totally awesome lightning bolt decals on the sides (thank-you Eveready Industrial Services, Inc.), and one of his co-workers did the painting.

- Uncle Shon got so excited about Braeden's new passion (and his love of NASCAR) that he got a bunch of super cool NASCAR stuff sent to Braeden - Kevin Harvick even autographed the little figurine!). A B-I-G thanks to Shell Canada, who sent these items directly to Braeden (with a personal letter for "Mr. Braeden Rowan")! Wowsers.

- We awoke on race morning to a massive thunderstorm. I started praying. There were about to be 20-some kids very disappointed if the weather didn't take a dramatic turn. Mom brought the girls and baby to the race (as I had to bring Braeden early for his car's safety inspection), and they prayed, too. We did not have a single drop of rain all day! Lest you think this is an interesting coincidence - let me tell you how very big the God we serve is... A number of friends told me it rained in Red Deer ALL DAY LONG, and even hailed at one point. It also rained in Lacombe ALL DAY LONG! And we were in the little town of Blackfalds, just halfway between the two - 10 minutes from either of them. God really does care about the smallest details of our lives!

We had t-shirts made for our 'racing team,' because what's a pit crew without uniforms?! They say "BTR Racing" for Braeden's initials.

Initially, Braeden had a tough time getting the whole 'stopping' thing down pat. It was caught on tape. Click here to see the video footage.

Well, that about says it all, doesn't it?

Friday, June 20, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. - weekend (or longer) blog carnival

I promised a blog carnival on the 20th, and darn it - I'm going to deliver!

Let's start with the rules (because I'm a rule following kind-of gal).
1. Write a post on your blog about how you show respect to your husband (see below for some questions you can answer if you're stuck for material).
2. Link your blog to Mr. Linky down below by clicking on the Mr. Linky box (please link directly to that specific post rather than your blog main page, so that it's easy for everyone to find). Don't forget to leave me a comment, so I know you're participating!
3. Somewhere in your blog post, link back to this post (so people know where to find the carnival). And, send your friends over - the more the merrier!
4. If you don't blog, feel free to participate by posting a nice lengthy comment. :)
5. Men can participate, too! Just post about what your wife does that makes you feel respected.
6. Even if you're not married, you can join in. It's about the difference in communication for men and women - everyone has experienced this! (Share some wisdom from co-workers, a couple you've observed, kids, and so on.)

If you want some background on the concept, visit this post or this one. The purpose is to learn from one another; glean some wisdom. To find ways to honour our hubbies without being cheesy. To learn from the mistakes of our sisters. To offer and find some good, concrete ideas. Mr. Linky will stick around all weekend. Maybe longer if I (sadly) get no participants.

What do you do or say that shows your man that he's the thang in your life?
How do you make him feel special, valued, necessary, even heroic?
What mistakes have you made that made your loved one feel crummy, unimportant, and disrespected?

So here's my contribution for ya...
In the book (mentioned previously), they coin the term 'The Crazy Cycle.' I'm sure I don't need to elaborate, but for the sake of completing this post... She (or I) feels unloved --> she reacts by acting disrespectful --> he feels disrespected --> he reacts by acting unloving --> and so on. We've all been there. The tricky part is getting out of the crazy cycle. Years ago, when our arguing could go on for hours, with each of us prepared to fight to the death in order to prove a point and be right, Pat and I came up with a silly idea (perhaps the idea really originated in some book somewhere, but whatever). Why not break up the moment with a humorous code word? We chose "pickle." Even now, if we're bickering and feel as if it's going nowhere but round and round, one of us will say (or holler) "PICKLE!" And bump - we're off the crazy cycle once again. Phew.

1. Bobbie
2. Mary@notbefore7
3. ME (heehee)
4. Snakes,Snails, and Puppydog Tails
5. Lucille (in comments)
6. Pegsy@Sharing Life With Peggy

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Little Busy

Sorry. Not posting this week. Hubby re-shingling roof. Me busy keeping kids safe from harm and feeding men. Pictures to come. Many posts this weekend. Over and out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back on Track

I made it to my WW meeting today. Well, not the meeting (I seldom stay for those), but to weigh in. Nothing says commitment like paying $16.80 to be weighed on someone else's scale!

I wasn't sure I would post for LWW this week, but since I'm feeling inspired and encouraged...

I had an amazing weekend in the mountains, but was concerned about how all that eating out would affect my goals. I have to be honest, when I'm at a resteraunt and someone else is paying, I'm less than likely to order the garden salad with low fat dressing. We enjoyed spinach dip (twice), a delectable brownie sundae, pasta and garlic toast, and many many Timmies.

BUT - I was very proud of myself because I did not completely binge! At each meal, I ate until I was full. I didn't once - really, not even once - eat to the point where I felt I needed to unbutton my pants and have a siesta. Even that amazing chocolate caramel brownie delight was abandoned, not even half eaten. Sigh. That was tough. Also, I guzzled my water (something about the altitude makes a girl thirsty). That had to help.

I was really hoping that the scale would simply remain unchanged. Please, please, don't let me have gained. To my surprise, I actually LOST! I am down by 0.6 of a pound from last Wednesday. Yay!

So I came home with renewed commitment. So far today, I have consumed 11 of my 23 points. I plan to eat BBQed chicken breast and salad for supper, in hopes of saving a few points for a small slice of rhubarb cake this evening. Mmmmmmm.

I can do this. I know it. I've done it before - 4 times! (Yes, I am aware that it would be better to avoid the excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Apparently I just don't care.) Ah, feels good to be back on track.

Click for more Live Well Wednesday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Memory Lane...

Do you ever hear a song that brings you back in time? When you listen to the lyrics, you actually FEEL the emotions?

I used to have a song. It was my teenage angst, broken-hearted, bitter and angry, belt-it-out-loud song. Nothing was more cathartic than singing it will all my heart and soul, all the while sobbing and hiccuping. This song carried me through many dumpings and ditchings. I remember the first time it took on this purpose for me...DP, my grade 7 sweetheart. We 'went out' for about 5 weeks. Wait, maybe it was 3 weeks. Whatever - it was a serious, long-term commitment. We slowed danced and he put his hand in the back pocket of my jeans - nothing says true love quite like that!

This song has endured the test of time, carrying me through explosive arguments with Pat during the early years of our 'courtship.' (Don't worry, we're way better at being subtle and cutting when we fight nowadays. Kidding. We're good. Usually. Most of the time. Today. *wink*)

Take a listen. I can feel the tears and anger welling just reading those angst-filled lyrics...

I thought I should paste the actual lyrics down here, because I was pretty certain as a teen that she was saying "drive the women eff-in wild" - thought it would be good to clarify that, lol!

You're struttin' into town like you're slingin' a gun
Just a small town dude with a big city attitude
Honey are ya lookin' for some trouble tonight
Well all right

You think you're so bad, drive the women folk wild
Shoot 'em all down with the flash of your pearly smile
Honey but you met your match tonight
Oh, that's right

You think you'll knock me off my feet 'til I'm flat on the floor
'Til my heart is cryin' Indian and I'm beggin for more
So come on baby
Come on baby show me what that loaded gun is for

If you can give it I can take it
'Cause if this heart is gonna break it's gonna take a lot to break it I know tonight
Somebody's gonna win the fight
So if you're so tough
Come on and prove it
You heart is down for the count and you know you're gonna lose it
Tonight you're gonna go down in flames
Just like Jesse James

You're an outlaw lover and I'm after your hide
Well you ain't so strong, won't be long 'til your hands are tied
Tonight I'm gonna take you in dead or alive
That's right

You break the laws of love in the name of desire
Take ten steps back cause I'm ready baby
Aim and fire
Baby there's nowhere you gonna run tonight
Ooh that's right

Well you've had your way with love but it's the end of the day
Now a team of wild horses couldn't drag your heart away
So come on baby
Come on baby
Come on baby you know there ain't nothing left to say


You think you'll knock me off my feet 'til I'm flat on the floor
'Til my heart is cryin' Indian and I'm beggin for more
So come on baby
Come on baby, come on


Tonight you're gonna go down in flames
Just like Jesse James
Tonight you're gonna go down in flames
Just like Jesse James

I'm gonna shoot you down Jesse James

Always one to give credit where credit is due, my inspiration for this post was stolen borrowed from Big Mama.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I received an amazing gift today...

There are times when I'm struck with the dirty state of my heart, surprised by it. Today was one of those days. I received a blessing, only to realize how truly undeserving I am.

You may recall that I lead the women's ministry at our Church. Generally, I love it. Love the women. Love doing what I know God has called me to do. Love serving. Love being busy. LOVE IT!

But sometimes... Well, there are days when I heave a big sigh before answering the phone for a ministry related call. My plate got quite a bit fuller over the past few months and a part of me resented that. I grumbled about how much I was doing, and I wasn't serving joyfully. All I could think about was how I just needed a break.

Looking back, I can see that I've had a complaining attitude for quite a while. I was never really vocal about complaining, but the grumbling was lingering in my heart and my mind. I'm too busy. No one sees how much I do - around the house, with the kids, at the Church. Why can't the kids just be good? I can't believe I need to be parent helper again. I'm so tired after the ministry meeting last night. All I want is to have a night out with my husband, is that too much to ask? On and on it went round my head. I launched myself head-first into martyr mode.

At our women's Bible study, we all jot down our prayer needs each week, and our leader compiles them in an email sent to everyone. Last week I wrote, "pray that I will find rest for my soul." After all, I deserve a break (insert sarcasm). It's funny, because God spoke to me about that right away - literally. The DVD began and the lesson was entitled Believing God When Victory Demands Your All. In case I was thick-headed, though, God backed up the first message through a couple friends telling me that some people aren't called to rest, or sabbatical, or whatever term you'd like to insert - rather, certain people are called to persevere through the times when they feel overwhelmed. Hmmmm...

It has really only been within the past few days that I've softened my heart to God's ways and resisted this complaining spirit. My eyes were opened to the fact that I haven't been too busy at all. Sure, I've been busy. Yet somehow (praises to my Abba) everything is in order. My house is clean. The laundry is done (and almost all put away). Our planning meetings for Friendship Factor (our outreach to women) is flowing so smoothly - and with a record-breaking team of 11 women! We had the most amazing family day ever last weekend (I'll tell you about that later). God is so good! Even as I selfishly complained in my mind, He continued to fill my life with His provision. This is my first undeserved gift - His grace and mercy. It really is new every morning.

My second undeserved gift has humbled me. I am so blessed. I don't always deserve it, especially not lately, but I received the beautiful honour of appreciation.

Two pastors showed up at my door - Stu, my supervising pastor and Jordan, our executive pastor (who is also a friend and mentor). They brought me a gift! Stu handed me a big bouquet of flowers. At that moment I was practically (not totally, you know me) speechless. I couldn't believe that they came out of their way to my home to say thanks. Wow, that is so beautiful. I don't deserve this.

I was in the process of inviting them in for an iced tea, when Jordan handed me a gift bag. I started rummaging through the pile of gift cards and big envelope with some sort of papers in it...then I realized I should be a good girl and read the card (smile). I read the card, looked again at the gift cards, re-read the papers in the envelope. I don't understand. What is this? Why are they giving me this? Where did it come from?

Finally, I look at Jordan and tell him that I'm confused. He tells me that they wanted to do something special to show me that they appreciate me, and that the hours I work do not go unnoticed. But Lord, I've been so grouchy. I haven't been serving You with my whole heart. They are sending Pat and I away for a weekend. This weekend. To Canmore, in the majestic Rocky Mountains. In a luxurious hotel. With gift cards for dinners and gas. And a gift card so my sitter can go to dinner after her exhausting weekend (thanks Mom - I can't believe you got suckered into two weekends with 5 kids, one only a few weeks after the last).

I am so undeserving. But isn't that just like God? He just looks for opportunities to be merciful to us! He could have punished me for my complaining attitude. He could have let me burn out, or allowed women's ministry to flop, or sent someone to tell me that I wasn't doing the job He called me to. He could have placed His conviction over me to humble me. To bring me back to my knees so that I would be in the proper position to look up at Him. Instead, He showered me with gifts. Beautiful, precious gifts. The very things I've been selfishly complaining that I couldn't find - rest for my soul, time with my husband, a break. Father, forgive me. I have such a black heart! I deserve shame and guilt, condemnation. Thank-you, Lord, for being merciful to me. I accept Your gift, humble and undeserving, but oh so grateful.

Thank-you, Jordan and Stu, for being instruments of the Almighty. He used you to bless my heart. He also used you to show me, once again, how badly He wants to forgive me every time I mess up. Beth Moore says that God is so desperate to show us His love and mercy that He will go to any means. He went so far as to send His very own baby Son to die, so that we would understand His deep love and grace. Wow, God. Wow. Thank-you, Jesus.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Living Well?

As I said last week, my weight-loss goals are renewed. I'm hoping that a bit of accountability and encouragement from other women trying to live a healthy lifestyle will help me to stay up here (you know, on the wagon), so I'm joining back up with Live Well Wednesday.

For my LWW buddies, I have a question... WHY IS THIS SO HARD?! Oh. my. goodness. I am pathetic! It seems that my maximum time period for self-control is about two days. On day three - I throw my hands up (toward my mouth as I stuff in potato chips and chocolate, Tim Horton's french vanillas and bread products of all sorts). Ack!

I decided not to weigh-in this week. Not that I think I'm way up, but I certainly can't have lost. And not that it's all about losing weight, except that it kinda is (grin).

Today, I am thinking of spending a good chunk of money. I am simply not well motivated on my own at home. I don't exercise. I eat well only when it's convenient. If I get right down to basics with it, I'm lazy! I'm too lazy to do it on my own. So I need to get to the gym (hopefully with a girlfriend - Kendra, are you still going strong?). And I need to get to weight watchers meetings, rather than just tracking my points and weight at home. I need to see others doing well to keep me trying (and I think I need to put some cash out to prevent the lazy temptation from taking over).

So here we go, me and my dear friend cheque book.

Gym Membership for one month - $38
Child-minding for up to 5 kids, 4 days per week, for one month - $150
Membership fee plus first monthly fee for Weight Watchers - $60
Total - $248
One month of hard-core, guilt-induced, don't spend all this money for nothing, fitness and healthy eating motivation - priceless.

Now accepting donations. :)

Monday, June 9, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (post 2)

To see the first post on this topic, click here.

Don't forget about the blog carnival, coming up on June 20 and through the weekend. Put a link to the first post in your sidebar and encourage others to pour out their wisdom for the benefit of us all!

We're talking about how men and women are different (men really are from Mars, I'm sure of it), and how God created us with these amazing differences. Because He created us, He knows the desires of our hearts and tells us the secret to meeting those desires in our spouses.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. ~Ephesians 5:33

In the same way that we need to feel loved unconditionally - that is, no matter how we look or what we do, but simply for who we are - our men need to feel respected unconditionally (yes, no matter how they look or what they do, or don't do) just for who they are. This is a tough one to wrap my mind around because I've always learned that 'you have to earn respect.' I just want to translate that concept into girl language for a moment...

Imagine being told that you had to earn love. If you do a good job, keep the house nice and clean, make healthy and hearty meals, dote on your children (who, by the way, are perfectly-behaved little gems), never lose your temper - if you do all of these things, then you are worthy of being loved. But if you are lazy, if you gain weight, if you lose your temper and say things you don't mean - well, you don't deserve to be loved. Imagine your husband saying to you, "Are you kidding?! I don't LOVE you. You don't do anything to deserve my love. After all, love is EARNED!"

Now, to save my fingers, re-read that portion (but imagine manly-type duties in there and pretend it's you speaking to him, and change the word love for respect). How many of us have ever told our husbands that they don't deserve our respect? Just read the part in quotation marks one more time - he's saying this to you - feel what that does to your heart. Anyone else falling under some heavy conviction for past hurtful words of disrespect we've dumped on our men? OUCH.

In addition to finding creative ways to show our husbands that we respect them, we also need to know what kinds of things (that we do or say) communicate disrespect to them - so that we can stop making those mistakes!

I've said it before, but this is where my understanding hits a snag. Again, this is why I so desperately need YOU! We wives need to be there for each other, learn from one another's mistakes. I really believe that God can use this internet world for GOOD in our lives - He's already given us each other for fellowship, love, and support. So let's be intentional about our internet friendships and help one another in our everyday stuff! Are you in, or what?!

Okay, so here's where you all come in! I want good, concrete ideas. What do you do or say that shows your man that he's the thang in your life? How do you make him feel special, valued, necessary, even heroic? Also, what mistakes have you made that made your loved one feel crummy, unimportant, and disrespected? (Please, if you can save my husband from the same heartache, I beg you - as I'm sure he does - to share your wisdom.) So start thinking about it now...I'll post a couple more times on this concept in the meantime...and I'll put Mr. Linky up on the 20th so we can all glean wisdom from one another's experience.

(Though I only know of 2 men who blog, if any men want to participate - feel free! Just post on the things you do to show your sweetheart that she's LOVED.) And if you're not a blogger, you can still participate by commenting on the carnival post, okay?

FYI - I know I'm speaking about this in reference to how it applies to marriage, but I believe that this information can change the way we communicate with our children, our co-workers, and so on.

If you think you'd like to participate in this (or even if you probably won't but you think it's a good idea and you know someone else who might need help - like me - in this area), would you consider putting a link to this post in your sidebar?

Friday, June 6, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (blog carnival coming up)

* Read this one through to get to 'the point' - I'll be hosting a blog carnival on this topic in 2 weeks (Mr. Linky will be up on Friday, June 20 and stay up over the weekend).

I'm one of those people who doesn't really learn a concept until I've taught it to someone else. Take math, for example. You know all of those 'solve for x' equations? Not to toot my own horn, but I'm awesome at them! The reason - I give all the credit to my grade 10 girlfriend, Chrissie. She didn't get it. Trying to find 'x' made her crazy and frustrated, and brought tears on more than one occasion. So we hung out in the back row of math class and I showed her how to do it. Now it's stuck in my brain. More years later than I will ever admit, I can solve algebraic equations (much to the amazement of my nephew, whom I helped home/cyber school when he was in grade 8-9).

There's a new concept I was introduced to a while back, and though I 'get it,' I'm just not getting it. Know what I mean? While it makes total sense, I cannot seem to master the concept. So if you'll humour me while I teach this concept to you, I will be eternally grateful. (As will my loving husband.)

Not long ago, Pat and I joined a group of couples at our Church and worked through the 'Love and Respect' conference on DVD by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (click here to watch a trailer for the conference). Throughout the video sessions, Eggerichs kept returning to this scripture.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. ~ Ephesians 5:33

It's interesting that (through Paul) God gave husbands the directive to LOVE and gave wives the directive to RESPECT. We all know that men and women speak totally different languages, right? So it makes sense that we would find our value through different means. We women understand the language of love: hugs, kisses, tender words, thoughtful gestures, small (or large) gifts. Feeling loved by our husbands makes us feel needed in our marriages. Because these acts of love speak to our hearts, we naturally try to communicate this same love to our husbands. But this does not make him feel needed! Nope. I guess that's why God figured He'd better put it right there in scripture for us. In order to communicate our love to our husbands, we need to use the language of respect.

Am I making sense so far? (I'm hoping that my synopsis of what Eggerichs spent 6 hours teaching is enough to do it justice.) I totally GET that my man needs respect, that when I show him that I respect him he will thrive. Honestly, it makes sense. If Pat showers me with little romantic gestures, I positively glow! But here is where I get all tangled up...what speaks unconditional respect to my man? I'm sure I could say "honey, I respect you" in the same way I warm up to hear him tell me he loves me. But really, could we find a way to communicate respect that is a little less, um, cheesy?!

Okay, so here's where you all come in! I want good, concrete ideas. What do you do or say that shows your man that he's the thang in your life? How do you make him feel special, valued, necessary, even heroic? So start thinking about it now...I'll post a couple more times on this concept in the meantime...and I'll put Mr. Linky up on the 20th so we can all glean wisdom from one another's experience. (Though I only know of 2 men who blog, if any men want to participate - feel free! Just post on the things you do to show your sweetheart that she's LOVED.) And if you're not a blogger, you can still participate by commenting on the carnival post, okay?

FYI - I know I'm speaking about this in reference to how it applies to marriage, but I believe that this information can change the way we communicate with our children, our co-workers, and so on.

If you think you'd like to participate in this (or even if you probably won't but you think it's a good idea and you know someone else who might need help - like me - in this area), would you consider putting a link to this post in your sidebar? (I'd love to have a nice graphic button for you to put there, but I'm technically impaired. Maybe my web design girlfriend Louise can make me a button this weekend? LOL.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Flab Update

For those of you who have been raptly following my weight-loss journey...

I just noticed on my sidebar, a lovely little widget that says (rudely, I might add), "11 days to lose 15.6 lbs." Call me crazy, but I suspect that there is no Dr. Phil, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Rev pill that can bring forth such a miracle.

So what does one do when one's goals are (evidently) unattainable? To quote my loving (and funny) husband, "if something's hard to do, just give up and watch TV." LOL! Somehow, though, deep in the recesses of my mind, I am aware that trying the 'give up' solution will not do much for my self-esteem. Bah, self-esteem, what a stupid word! This has nothing to do with self-esteem, it has to do with reality! Eat all the junk you want + be lazy and don't exercise = be chubby and jiggly. Period. Reality tells me that I'm heavier than I should be, and frankly, I shouldn't feel good about that. I still like who I am as a person, I just don't like the muffin top. Okay?

Here's what I'm gonna do - I will set NEW GOALS! And I'll try again, goshdarnit!!! My goal weight hasn't changed, I'd still like to see 140 on that scale, or even slightly less if possible. But let's alter the deadline a bit (clearly 11 days isn't going to be enough time - though I will tell you that it's no longer 15.6 to get there, it's steps, people, baby steps). So let's just switch up the date a bit to something more realistic, okay? Thanks.

I find that my best motivation comes from deadlines, something to look forward to. Initially, you may recall, my goal was to not look like a fat slob when we visit Pat's brother and family. I think that's still a pretty keen motivating factor for me, so I think it makes sense to switch up our holiday. Sound fair? Kidding, we actually changed our holiday dates long ago due to some conflicting important events (it wouldn't do to be away when Pat's youngest brother is graduating from high school). How about six weeks? So, by July 17. Oh, I can hear you now - 'healthy weight loss is between 1-2 lbs per week' blah, blah, blah. Work with me, people!

In order to reach said goal of 13.8 pounds lost in 6 weeks, methinks a couple other goals will be necessary. Like eating well and exercising, drinking lots of water, and the like. Here we go - back on the Weight Watchers wagon! (Really, it works, I assure you. If you are not like me - on one week, off the next - it really, truly works.)

Just to really bring it all home (humour me, I'm a list girl), here's my 4 new goals - starting NOW!
1. achieve a weight of 140 lbs or less
2. commit to working hard at it for the next 6 weeks
3. follow weight watchers, diligently
4. exercise at least 4 times per week (for me, I'm not so worried whether it's cardio or what, so much as getting my butt off this office chair intentionally - and I've decided that housework doesn't count).

Here it is, for the world to see (or at least my 3 readers - you'll notice I've moved up in the world, heehee). Now keep me accountable people! If I fail, it rests on your shoulders... Kidding, well - kinda. *wink

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Would you pray?

I don't want to violate anyone's privacy, so I'm going to keep this post rather vague and obscure, but I trust that God will direct.

There's a young person I know who has been on a long road of struggle with substance abuse, criminal behavior, and such. This person is currently homeless and on a wait list for a government funded treatment program.

I have discovered (thank-you, internet! and God, definitely You led me here) a faith-based summer camp that is geared for youth with these issues. As are all programs around here, it is totally voluntary.

My summary is this - rehab programs just don't work if you don't got Jesus! He is the ultimate life-changer! But to convince a rebellious teen that going to a 'Church' camp is going to be a good idea - that's most definitely a God-sized task. Especially if said youth has in mind that the government program is the best, and is afraid to give up the wait-list spot that has been secured (apparently one cannot apply to more than one program at a time).

Please pray that this young person's heart will be softened towards the summer camp idea. Pray that the God of the universe will intervene and interrupt this bad path and put said youth back on the path that leads to HIM. Pray for God's will in this situation, and that His peace will be over the many concerned family members.


The prayer of a righteous man [or woman] is powerful and effective. ~James 5:16b