Saturday, March 31, 2007

Good-bye March!

Wow - the year is 1/4 finished. And only one week and an hour until I can eat chocolate again! I don't know if I will actually stay up until midnight next Saturday... depends on how desperate I am by then, haha! Another beautiful, sunny day - Thank You, Lord!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Beautiful Week

It's amazing what a beautiful, sunny week can do for your spirit - thank You, God! Yesterday, our dear friend Sandra, who is visiting from Saskatchewan, joined our Thursday morning Bible study group again. Sandra is an amazing person, who always has wonderful insights to share about walking in faith. It was so good to see her again. Unfortunately, she had laryngitis, but it was amazing to see our talkative (big-mouthed?) group be quiet enough to listen - haha!

I finished Karen Kingsbury's latest book, Forever, the finale to her second Baxter family series, and I can't wait for the new (and final) series to begin. After ten books, the characters feel like family!

Last night, Jolie, Layni and I went to the little fair by the Coquitlam Centre Mall. We had a great time, playing games, eating cotton candy and going on some of the rides. Layni won a purple stuffed bear by breaking balloons with darts and two pink balls by fishing for frogs. I went on the classic Zero Gravity ride (I think it was called something like Gravitron, when I was a kid) with Layni and we all went on the Ferris Wheel at the end of the night. I liked something Jolie said as we were driving home... one hour at the fair had cost her $65, which might seem like a waste of money. But she said it's like what Charlie's grandfather told him in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when Charlie volunteered to sell his Golden Ticket for money to help his poor family. "There will always be money, Charlie - they make more of it every day. But there will only ever be five Golden Tickets, so hang onto it and treasure it for all its worth." (That's not a direct quote, but the gist of what his grandfather said.) And, Jolie continued, there's only one Layni Mack, and we have to enjoy life and make memories together. But, no, we're not going back again this weekend! Layni has a little problem with always wanting more... We're trying to teach her to be appreciative and grateful for what she's got, but at the moment, it seems to be to no avail. God help us!

Today, Jolie and I went for a hike after dropping the girls off at school and running to Wal-Mart for supplies. The first ten minutes I thought I was going to die (it was uphill) and wondered if going to the gym three days a week for two years had made any difference at all. But then, I reasoned, if I hadn't gone to the gym, I probably would have just collapsed two minutes into it, right?! Anyway, I survived though my legs felt like jelly afterward and we both ended up taking naps after getting the girls settled after school. And it was a beautiful hike (up the trails by the power lines in Coquitlam); we saw and heard all sorts of birds, including our first hummingbird of the season.

After my nap, Layni and I went for a walk to the park and explored the woods, balancing on fallen trees - one of which Layni fell off of backwards, but she sprang up saying, "I'm okay! I didn't hurt myself at all!" It was probably a two or three foot drop, but not one tear. Earlier in the day, however, she had a little tumble off her bike and cried for half an hour. She can be such a weirdo!

Well, Jolie and Marty are at work, the girls are sleeping and I am really looking forward to snuggling in my cozy sheets and having a good night's sleep, so Good Night!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thank God for Sunny Days!

Yesterday, Jolie planted the garden while I hung out with Lysa, who was home again with a fever. We've got a herb garden, as well as planting potatoes, carrots, and beans and some strawberry plants. Jolie also picked up some flowers for our planters on the balcony, and sowed some wildflower seeds. It's beginning to feel like spring!

Jolie and I managed to get in a Scrabble game in between bathing and feeding kids, which I won with my highest score ever - 313 and my highest score for a single word, 80 points for entailed, which was a triple word score and bonus because I used up all my letters. We are such geeks!

We all munched on popcorn and watched Happy Feet, which was not the kind of movie I expected it to be. I'm still not sure if I liked it, though it was very interesting the perspective it took, and I don't think it will be one of the kids' favourites. We'll see. Mattias is presently obsessed with penguins, so he might prove me wrong.

Today, we all pitched in to clean up all the debris from the yard. Our green waste container was quickly filled with pinecones, pine needles, bush prunings, and branches from all those storms we had this winter. It felt good to be out in the sun working, though I could feel the blisters forming on my hands from all the raking. Our neighbour gave us some purple violets from her yard to plant in ours. Purple violets are the provincial flower of New Brunswick and in my experience, are rarely seen out here. One of the times I miss NB the most is in the spring when the lawn is covered with purple and white violets. I remember always looking for the first violets of spring so I could pick a little bouquet for my mom. So it was such an unexpected and wonderful gift to receive today.

Watched Lost tonight with Jolie and Marty - what the heck was that all about? I can't say anything specific because my best friend has to wait for Season 3 to come out on DVD to watch it - in a way I think she's lucky; that's how I saw the first two seasons and it's so hard to have to wait every week and lose that momentum. Anyway... I love the show and I hope the writers have a good plan to explain everything in the end. I don't mind the wait if there's the payoff!

By the way, Lysa woke up today with no fever. Thank God! And Jolie gave both the girls a haircut tonight. Lysa's hair is crazy with her curls - it looks so adorable! Layni looks cute too with her new haircut, though I always think she looks younger with her hair shorter. She is very pleased with herself - she wants to wear her I Make Cute Look Easy T-shirt tomorrow. That child has no problems with her self-esteem, that's for sure!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Wheelchairs and Sushi

Spring Break felt like a flop, with all the rain we had. But looking at the bright side (haha!), we got our garden started and Layni got to visit with her grandparents on the weekend (which made for a much quieter and more peaceful household). Mattias came with me to church on Sunday and surprisingly, played shy. When we were heading upstairs for Kidzone, he told me he was tired and was going to take a nap instead of playing. I guess he changed his mind, though, once he got into the nursery with all the kids and toys. We went to McDonald's afterwards, and he got a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy (can you believe they're back?) so he came home happy. His grandparents (Marty's mom and dad) came for dinner Sunday afternoon. Mattias creeped them out by riding around in Lysa's wheelchair. He and Layni love it; they think it's fabulous fun. It is a little wierd for us adults though, to see them in it. But I have to admit, if it was big enough for me, I'd probably go for a spin too.

Today, Lysa woke up with a fever, so she got another day off from school. Hopefully, she'll be feeling well for tomorrow - she misses her friends and they miss her! Layni was not happy to be going back, but enjoyed seeing everyone once she got there. This afternoon, after Lysa's fever broke, we all went for a walk on the dykes. It was wonderful getting out in the fresh air and sunshine. We saw lots of birds, including a crane, as well as squirrels, dogs walking their owners, and a recently deceased snake. After picking Layni up from school, Marty took her and Mattias grocery shopping, where she begged (for God knows what reason) for sushi. Marty told her if he bought it for her, she had to eat it all up, and she said okay. You should have seen the look on her face after her first bite. She managed to get one and a half pieces down (which quite frankly impressed me!) though she thought she was going to throw up. (She didn't.) I say good for her for trying something new - she's a lot braver than me!

I meant to go to bed early tonight, but as I was checking my email before bed, I discovered my best friend online and we played three games of backgammon - it's very addictive. I barely beat her the first two times, but she kicked my butt the third time. It wasn't pretty. I need to go recover now, haha!

Thank You, Jesus, for sunshine and Your creation and good friends!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Seventeen More Days!

Here's a list of the chocolate I miss the most:

1. Chocolate Insta-Breakfast milkshakes with my Special K in the morning

2. Cadbury creme eggs - that's what Easter is all about - besides Jesus, of course

3. Rolo ice cream (and any other kind of ice cream containing chocolate)

4. Peanut butter cups (or any other chocolate/peanut butter combo)

5. Junior Mints (or any other chocolate/mint combo)

6. Smarties

7. Chocolate chip cookies (also Oreos, even though I don't eat them that often)

8. Cookies 'n' Creme chocolate bars

9. Coffee Crisp, Kit-Kat, Mirage bars

10. Chocolate cake

In conclusion, I MISS IT ALL! I've been substituting sugar cookies, maple cookies and Dunkaroos, but it's not the same. Two and a half more weeks... I can do it! (Just like Bob the Builder - he never gives up!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring Break Is Half Over

Let's see... Monday morning, Layni, Lysa and I cuddled in bed and watched the movie Are We There Yet? which her step-mother's half-sister was in, according to Layni. Since we didn't see her, I'm assuming she was an extra in the birthday party scene and Layni interpreted that as her being a movie star. It was one of those movies were the kids are so awful and bratty, you just think "These kids need a major spanking! What is wrong with the adults in their lives?" Of course, they somewhat reformed by movie's end. That afternoon, Layni and I started to clean out our garden plot, pulling out weeds, when of course it started raining again. Layni told me, "Janis, we can't give up! Bob the Builder never gives up until the job is done!" I looked at her as we stood in the rain, thinking, "Are you kidding me?" Just shows how desperate she was to get outside. I told her, "Well, I'll remind you about that next time you're getting frustrated with spelling or math!" She gave me a look. After we got sufficiently wet and dirty, I convinced her to come inside. That night, we watched the season premiere of Dancing With the Stars - she loves anything to do with dancing (she also loved Skating With Celebrities). She's rooting for the beauty queen (of course, because she wore a tiara) and the speed skater (because she liked his head band). I haven't picked my favourites yet. Is Billy Ray Cyrus trying to channel Keith Urban with his new hairdo? Thank goodness the days of Achy Breaky Heart are over. I was never a fan.

Tuesday, we actually had some sunshine so Jolie and Marty got some gravel for a little path beside the garden and worked cleaning up the yard from all those storms. It looks so much better. We're very excited to start planting our veggies and flowers. I may not like to eat vegetables, but I love to watch them grow (and watch them in entertaining videos!). Layni went to a craft afternoon at the community centre before heading off to Tae Kwon Do. When she got home, we went for a walk with Lysa. The thing is, Layni and Lysa do not have compatible walking styles. When we go for a walk, Lysa actually wants to walk, and if you stop, she gets mad and lets her displeasure be known! Whereas, Layni wants to stop and look at rocks and climb mountains and collect sticks to make a play fort by the lake etc. etc. etc. So of course, neither one ends up being happy. At least Lysa got some fresh air. Later, Layni and I went to Michael's where we got to say hi to our friend Krista, who was teaching a cake-decorating class, and Layni had a nervous breakdown because she didn't want to choose between the half-dozen things she wanted to buy. I ended up being very good and not buying anything, though I almost gave into temptation and bought some stamps that were on sale. I love stamps and I love sales... I should just not go to Michael's, yet I can't help myself. So finally, Layni chose a flower-making craft kit and cried most of the way home because she didn't get the rainbow dry erase board craft kit or the magic set. It's at these times she drives me crazy because she's always wanting more, instead of appreciating what she has. Don't get me wrong - I'm often guilty of the same thing. But I did put the stamps back! I just hope she won't grow up completely spoiled. I don't want her to be one of those kids I hate!

Today, it was raining again so the kids didn't get outside. Of course, Layni slept half the day away... She thinks because it's spring break and she doesn't have school, she can stay up all night and sleep all day. Mom didn't work last night so she did stay up really late; Janis is meaner and makes her go to bed at a semi-reasonable hour. I went to the gym and then Layni coerced me into playing with her at Club Penguin... those stupid little games can be so addictive. And they're about my speed; I'm not really adept at video games. I find the kids' Curious George Playstation game too difficult. God bless us simpletons! I got the kids in bed tonight in time to watch Lost with Marty (Jolie had to work, much to her chagrin). No really big plans for the rest of the week. Layni is going to visit with her grandparents on Friday and Mattias comes tomorrow night to spend the weekend. Hmmm... maybe I should make a little trip to Value Village. You never know what treasures you might find there!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Last Few Days

I've been getting to bed late the last few days, so I've been too sleepy to blog at the end of the day (and couldn't find time anywhere in the middle!) They've mostly been good, except I've been SO tired and Layni's been driving me crazy. She can be amazingly annoying and irritating; thank God for her occasional redeeming moments :)

Thursday night I watched Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (starring Will Ferrell) with Jolie and Marty. Yes, it was ridiculous and silly, but I laughed so hard that I cried. When you get me and Jolie together watching a movie like that, we're hopeless. I think the most entertaining thing for Marty was watching us watch it. Friday night, Jolie had to work, so Marty and I watched (at the opposite end of the spectrum) Babel, a good (what some people would call "artsy-fartsy") movie about how lives are intertwined and we don't always understand other people's sides of the story.

Today, Sunday afternoon, Layni and I went with Maria and her daughter, Alyssa, to the Eagle Ridge theatre to watch Charlotte's Web. I remember my teacher in Grade 2 or 3 reading the book to us; it's always been a favourite. I had a great time gorging myself on popcorn (Layni managed to get a few kernels) and watching the show. I probably enjoyed it more than Layni! (And I'm not just talking about the popcorn, though that's true too.)

Well, it's after 12:00 so technically it's tomorrow already - and this was my night to get to sleep early! Thank God it's spring break and we can sleep in a little bit tomorrow. Jolie and Marty will need it to recover from working St. Patrick's Day weekend in the bar and I'll need it to recover from taking care of their kids while they worked!

Thursday Morning Bible Study: Peace in Philippians

Thursday morning was Bible study and we looked at one of those great passages of Scripture in Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4:4-9)

Do not be anxious about anything - haha! Does God know what He's asking of us here? What would my life look like if I actually stopped worrying about everything? What would I do with my days? (Sheepish grin.) I have to say, though, God has brought me a LONG way when it comes to this. When I was younger, I worried about every detail of every day. Fear ruled my life. It was not fun. So if God can bring me as far as He's brought me, I guess He can bring me even farther than I can imagine.

Jesus says: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) and "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Here Jesus points out reality: in this world, you will have trouble. But He also hands out hope: I have overcome the world. In Me, you can have peace. Jesus offers hope, peace, joy, love - all these fantastic things - but we have to accept them or it doesn't do us any good, does it?

Back to the Philippians passage and "the peace that passes all understanding" - which we can have when we 1) stop worrying, 2) talk to God about the things that burden us, and 3) give thanks. I reread a quote by C.H. Spurgeon last night that I love: When we praise God for mercies - we prolong them. When we praise God for miseries - we usually end them. And tonight, the end of the passage in Philippians struck me... "and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus."

The Greek word is phroureo, which means "to guard, hold in custody, preserve, protect." In 2 Corinthians 11:32, it refers to a city being guarded; in Galatians 3:23 it says, "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed"; and in 1 Peter 1:5, it is translated "Through faith you are shielded by God's power..." So if I stop looking at my troubles and instead look at Jesus (Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace - great hymn!), His amazing peace will guard, shield, protect, keep my heart and mind in Him. Wow - imagine the life that would be.

Oh Jesus, You know how I worry about the people I love, how I focus too much on the things of this world instead of my heavenly home, and how I so often forget to turn to You. Thank You that You are faithful and loving and patiently waiting for me to turn to You, and that You are so generous and want to give the gifts of joy and peace and comfort. Remind me moment by moment, one day at a time, to give my burdens up to You that You may hold my heart and mind captive in Your perfect peace. How can I ever thank You enough, Jesus? Thank You that I am always Yours and You will never let me go.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Better Day

Today was a much better day. Yesterday I finished Diana Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn - it was excellent, as are all her books. I started reading her book An Outlandish Companion, which has all sort of interesting tidbits about the novels, characters, how she does research and came to write the books etc. I got to sleep in again this morning, and the sun shone brightly all day. I submitted an exam for my writing course and went to the gym. Layni and I stopped by the "treat store" as she calls it, and visited the ducks at Garbage Lake. We haven't gotten out for a walk together in a long time. I was so physically tired afterwards (I don't know if it was from working out at the gym or what) but I let Layni watch a movie she got from the church library while Lysa and I napped. (Marty and Jolie had gone for their night courses.) I had to force myself to get up at 7:00 and get the supper and bathtime routine going. Just felt completely zonked. (Isn't that a great word?) We started the latest Junie B. Jones book tonight - Dumb Bunny. They are hilarious - I highly recommend them. Layni and I only have four more to read and then I don't know what we'll do. Maybe I'll try the Narnia series with her. But she loves the humour in the Junie B. books - and so do I! Jolie and Marty got home just in time for Lost - our shared addiction. What is up with Jack? Hopefully tomorrow will be as good as today - or better!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's 12:08 AM and I Don't Want to Write This

It's funny, I started this new blog to keep myself accountable and be honest about how I'm feeling, but I really don't like sharing when I'm not feeling well. I am so used to just getting through it by myself. The last few days have been hard. I've been crying A LOT. Part of that is my happy time of month (sarcasm there, in case you didn't catch it) and being stuck with all three kids while Jolie worked day shifts this weekend. So physically I've been tired and achey, aside from all the crying. I haven't cried this much in a long time. At least I'm getting in touch with my emotions, haha. It's hard to pray at times like these, because I'm pretty inarticulate - just "Help me, help us all." I do believe, help my unbelief. How do people without Jesus do it? Because I know Jesus loves me and He's in control, and I'm still a mess! On the bright side, I had my two year eye checkup on Friday, and my vision hasn't gotten any worse and I have no horrible eye diseases. I am reading an awesome, I-can't-put-it-down book - Drums of Autumn - by Diana Gabaldon. I met a friend for coffee (orange juice and a doughnut for me) at Tim Horton's today. And it was sunny today - so nice to get a break from the rain. It's late and I need my sleep; Marty's getting up tomorrow to help Jolie get the kids ready for school so I get to sleep in. That's going to be nice. Maybe I'll be a more articulate blogger tomorrow. Until next time, good night!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Spring Is Coming!

Yesterday, the Weather Channel was reporting two straight weeks of rain, so imagine my happy surprise to find sunshine and clear skies today! And not just that, but incredibly warm temperatures. I was walking around in a tank top and light sweater. I also noticed purple flowers popping up all over the front yard - there is hope! And I'll hang on to it as I'm holding my umbrella, which I'll no doubt need for awhile yet. But spring is coming! Hooray!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blessings in the Burdens

I want to know Christ and power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Phillipians 3:10-11

I am both attracted to and repelled by passages in the Bible that talk about suffering. The Bible has a different take on suffering than most of us. We think suffering, pain, discomfort = BAD, but the Bible says that there are benefits to suffering - like building character and growing closer to Jesus. I agree, but it's never something I would choose. I am the wimpiest wimp imaginable.

But I can honestly say that I am thankful for my pretty much life-long battle with depression. I would never choose it, of course, but it has brought me many blessings. It has taught me my desperate need for Jesus, every moment of every day. If I was "well" and had my life all "together" I'm sure I wouldn't feel the need for a Saviour, but I am faced with my need daily. It has allowed me to relate to and appreciate the suffering Jesus endured in His life. It has drawn me closer to Him through my weakness; His light shines all the more brightly in my darkness. It has given me incredible compassion and empathy for others who are broken and weak and suffering, and allows me to be comfortable in their presence. It has given me perspective on what is really important in life - people, not possessions; health, not wealth; endurance, not immediate "victory."

So thank You, Jesus, for blessing me with this burden, as difficult as it is to bear sometimes, and for enabling me to carry it by Your grace, and for carrying me when I cannot anymore. I pray for my loved ones, that they might find the blessings in their burdens as well.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Martin Luther Made Me Stay Up Late!

The girls didn't get to sleep until almost 11:30 tonight and I probably should have gone to bed then too, but I needed some grown-up time and wanted to watch Luther, a movie about Martin Luther, that I got from the church library. I highly recommend it. It is tragic and must break Jesus' heart, the killing done in His name by those who profess to be following Him (even against others who are His followers). What is wrong with us human beings? Even us Christians - especially us Christians, because we should know better!

Well, I could rant about that for awhile but I need to get to bed. You know, there are just so many interesting things in the world that I want to learn about but don't have time. Here are some things on my list to read about: church history, the Middle East, Rwanda, the prime ministers of Canada and Canadian history, the popes, the differences in theology of denominations, as well as a pile of fiction that I have in my room. If only I could get paid to sit and read all day. Oh well, I'll have eternity to catch up! And Jesus can solve all those mysteries we wonder about. There's a lot to look forward to in heaven. Until then, I'll just have to do the best I can!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cats, Kids and Craziness

I'm lying in bed this morning, trying to summon the willpower to get up and get going, when I notice that it smells strongly of cat bum in my room. "That's funny, " I think, "I know Jolie just cleaned Jake's litter box out yesterday." Later, when the kids were off to school and I went to make my bed, I discovered a sizeable piece of poop on the pillow next to where my head was laying. Awesome. Now there have been some stray tiny poop balls left around that I figure he just forgot to shake off, but this was a good-sized piece of excrement. Now I'm wondering: Is Jake losing control of his faculties, or does he just hate me? Because I live downstairs where we keep his litter box and food and water bowls, Jake usually sleeps on his special cushion at the foot of my bed and we hang out a lot. I've been the recipient of dead birds, cat puke and the aforementioned miniscule poop balls. But this is pushing the limits of my endurance! I may have to banish him from my room. It's funny though; I've never been an animal person - of course, I was never a kid person either and look how that turned out - but they get to me on a one-to-one basis. Jake is getting older - he's eleven and a half - but as much of a pain in the butt as he can be, he's not allowed to die, because we'd be missing a part of the family. He's not just a cat; he's Jake. And that's why I forgive him for episodes like this. And it is kind of a funny story to tell. As long as it doesn't happen again!

Tonight, Layni somehow managed to scrape her knee while having her bath, so she went to get a Band-Aid from Marty's drawer in the bathroom. She comes to me, giggling and waving her fingers at me and at first, I think she's got on one of those gloves from the first aid kit, but I realize her whole hand isn't covered - just each one of her fingers. I almost died laughing when I figured out what they were, and told Layni to take them off and put them in the garbage and not touch those again. She thought they were "finger protectors"; I told her to ask Marty or Mommy what they were. There are some questions I am not paid enough to answer!

It's amazing how I just keep putting myself in the path of temptation time and time again, without even realizing it until I stop to think about it - for example, tonight when I suggested to Layni we watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's a great movie but really, couldn't I have waited until after Easter? I'm not always the brightest crayon in the box!