Monday, October 31, 2011

What I Have Learned About Winter

I am speaking this weekend at a Women's Wellness Day at my home church in Winnipeg.  The theme is Winter Wonderland, and I get to speak about how to deal with and get through the winter seasons of life.  Yes, there will be kleenex handy - I hope I can get through it without using a whole box.  :)

I am sitting here this morning going over my notes, and I'm looking at something I wrote and shared in church as a living sermon illustration for a message on suffering.  This was 5 years ago - 3 years after Neil passed away.  I thought I would share it with you today, and for those of you who will be at the Women's Wellness Day, this might be a bit of a sneak peek.

What Have I Learned

...About Myself?
I have learned that I can do anything.  It’s only through God who gives me the strength, but he does, and I can.
I have learned that the faith I have held onto my whole life is real, and with every testing that it faces it gets deeper.
I have learned that I am not in control of my own life, that God is, and that He knows what He’s doing.  He’s got plans that I need to fit into, and He keeps shaping me through everything I go through so that He can use me for the next thing, and the next thing.
I have learned that my job is the same as it’s always been – to keep my eyes on Him and obey.
I have learned that God has plans for me.  He has directed and shaped me, my whole life, for who I am now, and who I am going to be.  I had always thought that I would go to Bible College and get a degree, but I never had any real career goals (I still don’t!).  I took what interested me and ended up with a BA in Christian Ministry, figuring whatever I did with my life, I would be involved in a church somewhere and could use that education.  I have used it in many ways, and now I even have a real job that is directly related to that training.  I firmly believe that God gave me the interests He did because He sees the big picture, and knows where we will be and what He will want from us then.
I have learned that who I am did not end three years ago.  Tragedy shapes and changes you, but it should not define you.
I have learned that relationships matter.  I value my alone time, but God keeps telling me that I’m not allowed to be a hermit.  I have to let people in to help me and minister to me, so that God can bless them, and I need to be involved with people so that I can minister to them and show God’s love.

…About Life,
I have learned that it’s ok not to understand the reasons behind things.
I have learned that everyone dies.  That everyone will lose someone close to them.  That grief and loss are a part of living.  That death doesn’t have to be feared.
I have learned that there is always someone else who has gone through the same thing.
I have learned that you don’t have to have gone through the same thing to be able to comfort someone.
I have learned that death doesn’t define life – there will still be things to make you laugh.
I have learned that there is always balance between grief and joy, good circumstances and bad circumstances – sometimes we swing more one way or the other, but we never stay there.

And what have I learned about God?
 I have learned that that our faith is founded on something, someone, that is real and solid that can handle anything that we are asked to go through.
I have learned that He is faithful to what He has promised. He is unchanging and that means reliable.  We’ve heard His promises and they don’t always get tested until we face something hard.  But when you do, they prove to be solid.
I have learned that He comforts.
I have learned that He heals.
I have learned that He provides.  I never once wondered how we’d make it.
I have learned that although we’ve been taught that He is invisible, if we open our eyes in a new way, we can see Him very clearly in His body.  We the church are his body, and He has cared for me in very real ways using His body – the church.  Using you.  I needed help with things around the house, and He did them, looking a lot like some of the men in this room.  I needed to eat, and He fed us from your kitchens.  I needed hugs, and His arms felt a lot like yours.
I have learned that He uses times of tragedy to build community.  People are generous and sympathetic and think of something other then themselves – tragedies bring out the good in people.  He also uses them to cause people to think deeply about their own lives.
I have learned that he never gives you more than you can bear – He gives you the strength as you need it.
I have learned that he is gentle.  He gives you little bits to deal with as you are able, and doesn’t expect you to go through it all at once.  It’s aggravating in a way, because you think you’re doing so well, and then something else hits you, but it’s God’s way of spacing it out so you’re not overwhelmed.  People say time heals, but God made time, and it’s one of the tools He uses as He helps you get through the next thing.
I have learned that God is patient.  He knows that we are just human; He’s the One that made us the way we are.

Those are some of the things I have learned as I’ve experienced God’s sustaining grace.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Note from the Trenches

... or from a room full of scrapbookers and all their stuff!

We're out at the Mainstay Inn at Riverhurst SK and more than half done our weekend of non-stop scrapbooking.  I've got 7 pages done and a couple of cards, and another 6 pages that need finishing touches at home.  Watch for a post of those in a day or two... for now, it's back to work!

What are you doing with your weekend?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dressing Up

Wednesday was 'Neon Day' at M's school, so while we were at prenatal on Tuesday night, she went shopping with a friend and her mom for some bright stuff.  The colored braid extensions, purple feather earrings and outrageous false eyelashes together with the yellow sweatshirt and bright blue sweatpants certainly fit the bill.  They eyelashes only lasted until math class at 9:45 am, thankfully.

And tonight, she's off at a costume party.  Dressed in an awesome minion costume.  Here's a glimpse of the real things, in case you haven't seen the movie Despicable Me:

What a fun costume.  I could only find overall shorts at Value Village, so she's wearing her jeans over top of the shorts - I hope it's not too noticeable.  She picked the easy hairstyle, thankfully!  Here's some more shots... She's such a ham.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Six Month Bump

Happy now?  Here's a couple of shots of the bump and some of my new clothes...  The sweatshirt kind of reminds me of one I wore pretty much every day in junior high.  (Remember that, Mom?)

Happy news from today - I'm going to the scrapbooking retreat next weekend!  This is the same one I've gone on with the girls for the last two years, that I had planned on NOT going to this year for a number of reasons.  It kept coming to mind, though, and the reasons for not going got less important, so today I checked into a few things and it's a go!  Looking forward to hanging out with Carla, Suzanne, Holly, Kathy and Brandie all weekend.  Now I have a week and a half to get pictures printed and some idea of what I want to work on.

This is what I accomplished at last year's retreat.

And these are from 2009.

One of these days I'll update the scrapbook on the sidebar there...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simple Cards

I got a new heart punch with my Michael's 40% off coupon... I've seen lots of cards / crafts that use little hearts and it's been in the back of my mind for a while to pick one up.  These are punched from a paint chip (thank you, Home Depot!) and sewn onto a piece of cardstock, which I then inked and stuck to a card base.  This one is going in Sean's lunch box tomorrow if I'm awake enough in the morning to remember to hide it in there after he packs his lunch.


I needed a congratulations card for a friend, and found a vase I had cut before in with the pack of colored card bases.  I pulled out these flowers, added some green marker stems, a baker's twine bow, and voila - done.


I also needed to make a sympathy card - with the cards and flowers out, I got on a bit of a roll...  Complimentary colored flowers with a simple message and line border, and voila - done!

 And, while I had them out, I prepped a couple more.  Now, the next time I need a card, I can add a Happy Birthday / Happy Anniversary / Congratulations or whatever, and voila - done!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Ultimate Feast... Polished Off!

... and now I look like I'm six months pregnant!  Oh, wait, maybe that's because I AM six months pregnant.  Twenty six and a half weeks, to be precise.  I remember the first weeks of being pregnant - how every week seemed like a major milestone; now they run together and I don't remember exactly how far along I am.  We're due January 18, so I'm going to call October 18 six months, November 18 (our 5th anniversary!) seven months, December 18 eight months, and January 18... don't know what I'll call January 18.  Baby's birthday, maybe? That works.

The ultimate feast was at Red Lobster.  We were heading for the Keg when Sean mentioned crab, so we turned the car around and ended up with an ultimate feast for each of us - lobster, snow crab legs and two kinds of shrimp.  Plus Caesar salad and yummy buns to start.  So good.  And I ate so much.  So happy.  The reason, if we need one, was that I wanted to take Sean out to thank him for all the good work and hard work he puts in around the house.  It might get done quicker if he wasn't such a perfectionist, but then he wouldn't get down to the studs and see the bad wiring that needs fixing... I feel safer now!  Notice all the new outlets right at my counter top level... :)  My next job is picking stain and paint colors.

Another reason to treat him to a great dinner was that this week I tried not to shop and just use up stuff in the freezer - it worked great, but there were a few not so inspiring meals in there.  I was ready for something delicious, so I guessed he might feel the same way.  Plus, M is out at the lake for a youth retreat this weekend, so we were child-free and date ready!  (The little one I'm carrying got in the way physically - not much stomach space in there! - but doesn't really cramp our dates just yet.)


I raked the yard today - half the yard.  I like raking - being outside & doing something physical...  I'm kinda glad it started to rain, though, because it gave me another excuse to go in.  I was at my limit after half the front yard, sad to say.  Can't quite do all that I used to.  Guess M will have to finish the job tomorrow when she gets home.

Congrats to Jess and Dave on 16 years of marriage - my sister and her husband have a great marriage and a great family and are a fantastic example to all who know them.  Thanks, you guys!!  Love you all.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thankful for my Handiman!

I put up photos recently of our bathroom reno; on Saturday, the man of the hour put a new back door on the house.  What a hero.  While he was doing that, I finished chopping down my caragana bushes that had grown into unruly trees, hoping that next spring I might get a nice new start to a hedge between us and the house to the west.  We took a little trip to the dump to get rid of the old door, the branches and M's old box spring, and when we got back, Mr. Fixit fixed M's squeaky bed frame, too.

Today we went on a tour of the hardware stores and came home with some subfloor, another box of flooring, an 8 foot length of countertop, two base cabinets and some lighting... all for my NEW STUDIO.  Did I mention that he's a hero?  I would honestly have been content with just my desk and a couple of shelves, but no, I get a 7x8" corner.  The base cabs and my desk are both unfinished, so I'll have to pick a stain color, and a paint for the outside bits, but oh, is it going to be nice.

Drums moved to the corner; my desk will go along that far wall.
Countertop, two cabinets, subfloor... oh, and a pile of magic bags!

 I'll keep the pictures coming as we get to it.  :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Just Another Sunny Day

A little bit of bad, but mostly all good today:

I found a dead bird on my porch.  I heard a thump and though the mail had come (and that the letter carrier had slammed the lid harder than usual).  Then later I heard the mail come and figured the first thump was a bird.  It was - and when I went to get the mail, there was a perfectly beautiful (other than the lifeless factor) specimen.  I used a plastic bag to gather it up without touching it and took it out back to the ferryman (aka the dumpster).  I wondered, though, after, if the bird's family and friends will be looking for it - will they wonder where it's gone?  Should I have left it there for a while so they would know and have closure?  Hard to know how deep birdbrains go.

Tonight is our 5th pre-natal class.  Half done.  If you live in Regina and plan to have a baby sometime, I'd recommend taking those through the Y - Sally Elliot is educational and entertaining.  Baby has been moving lots lately - it has been hugely fun to feel and watch, especially playing games with him/her.  When we push in, (s)he nudges back in the same spot.  We generally all hang out on the couch after supper and play with my belly.  I made a trip out to Thyme this morning to do an exchange - I will be happy to have another pair of pants to wear!  I have a coupon for there for next week (spend $100, get $50 off) - I'm looking forward to getting a pair of jeans and some t-shirts.  Basic everyday stuff.  I got a bag of maternity clothes from a friend, which has helped; if anyone else has an item or two to share to get me through the next three and a half months, I would be glad to borrow.

Today I went on auto pilot twice and made the wrong turn - on my way to get M for piano I turned to go to work.  On my way to pick up M from piano, coming from a different direction, I turned to go to work.  You'd think I missed it today or something!  I took the day off, partly to use up the vacation days that I never end up taking, and partly so I could camp out at a coffee shop and write my talk for the Women's Wellness Day in Winnipeg on November 5.  If you live in Winnipeg, call Maranatha Evangelical Free Church to get tickets for that.  It sounds like a fun day, (don't worry, it's way more than just me talking), and it would be great to hang out with you!

We had our first small group last night.  We enjoyed the group we were in last year, but because of scheduling changes, we ended up joining a group with some of our other friends.  One couple we know quite well, one couple we know half of really well, and one couple has just been acquaintances till now.  We are looking forward to hanging out with them this year.

You know what I am looking forward to??  Like, a LOT?  Pumpkin pie.  My own homemade pumpkin pie.  I think I might make that tomorrow.  I have pastry ready because I made Sean a birthday apple pie last week (it was so-so - I used ready made filling from the Bulk Barn and it's not near as good as my made from scratch pie, in my opinion), and I got all the ingredients, so now it's just a matter of getting it made.  We've got two family dinners this week, and I'm taking the potatoes (the yummy make ahead cheesy ones) to Carla's, and a lazy perogie casserole to the Ward's.  That means I can make a pie and we can eat it all ourselves.  :)