Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Eulogy

I am so sorry I failed you. You were thriving despite my care - thanks mostly to Jolie's wiser touch, I'm sure. What happened? Where did it all go so wrong? I really believed we were going to make it together... and then you were ravaged by aphids, and thrown to your eternal rest in the garbage bin. Oh, my poor herb garden... I did love you from the moment I planted you at Women's Connections night - was it only a month ago? And apart from Jake feasting on you chives, you seemed to be prospering. Then yesterday, I saw countless little bugs crawling all over you, onto the kitchen table, interrupting breakfast with their rude, and ultimately fatal, presence. Could I have done more to save you? Could I have somehow prevented this tragedy? We'll never know. Forgive me, dear herb garden, and rest in peace.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Note Before Turning Off the Computer

Today, Jolie, Marty and I went for a hike around Buntzen Lake - it is gorgeous there. Lush forest, sparkling lake, creeks everywhere... you don't even notice you're huffing and puffing up and down trails - well, mostly you don't! Incredible views, surrounded by the mountains... it's amazing. It boggles my mind to think I've only seen a miniscule portion of the wonders of God's creation down here on earth (in Western Canada and the Eastern United States and Canada). And this world is just a foretaste of our heavenly home. Wow!

Our family's latest obsession is playing badminton in the backyard. Marty's been patiently working with Layni, and she has improved so much. We can actually hit the birdie back and forth now! And today, I tried out her jumping rope and gave myself whiplash on my leg (but as Layni pointed out, it was in a really cool shape - sort of a cross between a horseshoe and a ribbon). I may be only thirty, but I've already lost a lot of my skills, haha!

My friend Krista introduced me to Chuzzles as payback for introducing her to facebook. I get terribly addicted to these silly computer games!

Well, it's 10:00 PM and I want to soak my feet, work on Bible study, have a snack and maybe read just a few more chapters of Harry Potter... I'm in the Goblet of Fire (my favourite book) right now. Yes, I've embraced my utter geekiness as I've aged. Why fight it? I'll never be cool, but I'm happy and pretty damn fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Relationships and Religion

I really meant to write at least a little bit every day with this new blog - instead of once a month like the old one. But I see it's been over a week since my last post - oops. I've been enjoying the sunshine so much that the first time we got rain after several sunny days, I actually enjoyed the smell of the air and the freshness of it. After all, you can only miss something once it's actually gone!

Saturday, I went to a card-making class with my friend Krista at the Clipper Street Scrapbooking Company. It was so much fun and so inspiring... and I was good and didn't buy anything. Of course, I went to Michaels the next day and got a couple stamps and embellishments... there's just so much fun stuff! It makes me miss my friend Tammy; we would get together and just make cards and eat and talk and laugh... and then she moved back to New Brunswick and abandoned me. Boo hoo!

I've found myself praying more the past week than I have in a long time. I realize I make my faith journey so complicated and difficult - thinking I have to be a certain way or do certain things before I can come before God. When will I ever learn? He just wants me to come before Him, just as I am, and He'll take care of anything that needs taking care of in my life. I don't have to try to fix myself first (which never works anyway!).

I've also been getting out my hymn book and singing - there is so much truth and substance in those old songs - each one is like a prayer. My two favourites are "There's Power in the Blood" and "Standing on the Promises" - though I also love "Be Thou My Vision," "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus," "Amazing Grace," "Take My Life and Let It Be," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "I'd Rather Have Jesus," "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," "O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus," "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less," "More About Jesus Would I Know," "When Peace Like a River," "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "To God Be the Glory" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness." I mean, even the titles are inspiring!

I've been thinking about what makes true Christianity different from other religions, and it's this: that true Christianity is not a religion at all, but a personal relationship with our Creator and with our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Quite frankly, there are plenty of times when I think I'd rather have a religion that's black and white with just a list of rules to follow (which is how many people mistakenly think of Christianity). It's easy to follow (or not follow) rules - they're clear and you know exactly where you stand. You can have your sense of achievement and pride if you follow them or you can have your sense of rebellion and pride in not following them. But to get to know our Creator, the God of the universe, the Jesus that died for us... that's much harder work. It's less clear cut; it's scarier. I always did well in school, without even trying. But I've often felt like a failure in my relationships - whether with my family, friends or members of the opposite sex. Praise God, He's brought me a long way, but relationships are still hard... they're time-consuming, emotions-consuming, life-consuming, and sometimes it just seems like too much bother. I'd rather go back to sleep or read a book or play Chuzzles. Relationships - with God or other people - require self-sacrifice, hard work, often exhausting emotional investment, pain and suffering... is it really worth it? Definitely. Because what you suffer, what you sacrifice, what you invest, you get back so much more - love, joy, intimacy, purpose. Oh, I admit sometimes I still get lazy or fed up with relationships and think I'd rather be a hermit living in the middle of the woods in a cabin full of books. Books can't hurt you, annoy you, frustrate you, disappoint you - but they can't hug you either, they can't cuddle you or tell you they love you. So as much as I will always enjoy solitude and good books, I'm opting to keep working on my relationships... getting to know my loved ones better, loving them better, and letting them love me. I'm choosing to forge ahead on my journey of faith, with whoever God brings into my life. As one of my favourite movies, "Moulin Rouge" says: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Peace and Quiet!

The girls went to visit their grandparents Friday after school and Mattias went camping with his mom this weekend, so it has been blissfully quiet and peaceful... well, for the mostpart. Jolie and Marty do have their moments, haha!

Friday night, I watched "The Second Chance" - a movie about a church in the inner city and its sister church in the rich white suburbs, starring Michael W. Smith. It contrasted how a church can become about money and power and comfort versus a church that struggles along, depending solely on God. My favourite lines in the movie went something like this: "Sometimes I can't stand the Bible. It says I have to love you and right now, I just want to beat the crap out of you." I loved this movie's honesty about what's right and wrong in the church, and how sometimes it's hard to know what God's will is or what Jesus would do.

Yesterday, Jolie and Marty and his parents and I went for the day to the Agassiz/Harrison area. It's really beautiful out there, but I was glad to get home - that little car is squishy with five adults in it, especially with Marty and his dad, who, God bless them, are very LOUD. Last night, I watched "Though None Go With Me", a movie based on the Jerry B. Jenkins book, reminiscent of "The Notebook." It was a good movie, but I couldn't help comparing it to the book, which I loved. I would recommend seeing the movie first, to enjoy it on its own terms, and then reading the book, which is always better. It is the story of a woman who commits her life to God and is overwhelmed by tragedy through the years, but finds that love and faith do triumph in the end.

I've been re-reading the Harry Potter books in anticipation of the coming movie and the last book in the series... I'm going to feel as devastated as when I watched the series finale of Gilmore Girls, I'm sure. Oh, I know I get too emotionally involved in the lives of fictional people - leave me alone! It's part of my charm; I feel deeply about everything. I've just begun "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", which was my favourite book. It's fun to re-read them all together, and now that I'm older; it's funny to see how you view things differently.

Well, it's 11:00 o'clock and I have to make the most of my last night of solitude...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Mom

I honestly can't imagine a better mother than mine. I am so grateful for her. This was the first Mother's Day since I moved out here that I missed her SO much. I cried a little during our church service and Mother's Day Tea, as I thought about how blessed I am and how much I miss her.

My mom sent us to Sunday School as children, where I learned about Jesus, and thus she gave me the greatest gift of all - a Saviour who has sustained me for over twenty years. My greatest prayer is that she will know His love for her and that we will celebrate that love together one day in heaven.

My mom is an example to me of integrity, honesty and generosity. She is the kind of person who will give back the extra change the cashier gave her, who gives generously to everyone and is always willing to help out.

My mom is a very gifted knitter. I can only knit dishcloths and maybe a scarf, but she knits the most beautiful sweaters and mittens. She's an artist!

My mom didn't kill me when I carved I HATE SEWING into her sewing machine during my Grade 9 Home Economics class, because she completely agrees with the sentiment.

My mom is funny. She may have no idea what Saturday Night Live is, but when she first came out to visit me in BC, we went to see "Superstar" starring Molly Shannon as Mary Katherine Gallagher, and she laughed her head off. She's so silly, and I love it! She's always sending me comics or funny things she's read so I get a laugh and lots of love in the mail.

She's supported me, even when she didn't agree with me.

She is possibly the only person I really enjoy shopping with - especially at dollar stores! We both go crazy.

She listens to me go on about anything and everything...

She cares about all the little details of my life.

She's so much fun just to be with. She doesn't really complain, even when I think she should. She's not perfect, but she's the best.

I pray she knows how much I love her and appreciate her. I pray she's around for many more years, because I don't know how I'll ever live without her. I'm scared to even write that, because I feel like I'm tempting fate. But I know God is in control and He loves her far more than I ever could, and He will care for her, as He has always taken care of me.

Mother's Day

I got spoiled this Mother's Day, even if I'm not officially a mother! Layni and I went to church and even though it was cloudy, it didn't rain, which was wonderful since we walked. Mattias' mom picked him up first thing in the morning so they could spend the day together. We had made the traditional hand/footprints and framed them, as well as getting some chocolates, a candle and bath fizzies for her.

Layni had written a note to herself at breakfast: "Today will be a good day without Mattias." (They have a love/hate relationship.) She brought a notebook to church with her and wrote another note during the service: "OK, I was wrong. It is kind of boring without Mattias. I am just sitting here. If Mattias was here we could talk and have fun and go to McDonalds." (Her spelling was a lot funnier though.) She cracks me up. She got a pink carnation for her mom from church, and managed to survive the service without Mattias to entertain her.

Then she treated me to McDonalds as a Mother's Day treat. Strangely enough, it was pretty quiet - almost like most people take their moms to fancier places for lunch... I was perfectly happy with my 10 pack nugget meal (yes, she totally spoiled me!) though.

On the way home, we stopped at Value Village, where she begged for various stuffed animals to add to her prolific collection... I said, NO! But got her a plastic mermaid for $1 to shut her up - well worth the investment :) I bought two Smurfs albums, Anne Murray, Barbra Streisand and John Denver & The Muppets Christmas albums, and the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Having a record player is too much fun! Jolie was thrilled with the additions to our collection and we listened to the kids' albums that night before bed.

Jolie opened her presents after we got home and nearly set the house on fire! She had a candle lit on the kitchen table and accidentally threw some wrapping paper on top of it; we had a merry little blaze for a few seconds and then we had ashes all over the kitchen :) Always making memories... She liked the new stuffed singing bird for her collection, the first season of Fraggle Rock on DVD (one of her favourite shows as a kid), candle, notepad, and mirror that Layni bought with her own money. Marty had gotten her 14 roses in various hues of pink and red, and to my surprise, he got me 14 yellow roses! Jolie had written on the little card, to the effect of "Thanks for all you do for us, we love and appreciate you" and I thought, that's so nice, smelled the roses and went to say hi to Lysa, when Jolie yelled at me, "Look closer, it's a gift certificate!" So I get to go shopping at Wal-Mart, and that's always fun! I'm thinking, new summer shoes...

We had a barbecue for supper - steaks... so delicious. A great end to a great day.

But Mother's Day fun was not over, oh no! Monday night at church, we had a Mother's Day tea. Layni and I went with my friend Krista and her daughters Hailee and Maegan. We had tea and juice in real china tea cups (ironically, I had juice, while Layni actually had a cup of tea...) and strawberry shortcake. God answered my prayers and neither I nor any of the children broke any of our hostess's lovely china. There was a video of interviews with five ladies in our church about their journeys as mothers, wives and children of God. They were all such great testimonies... we all have a story, and it's so encouraging to hear how God works in each of our lives. There was also a Sears fashion show, which was fabulous fun, and lots of door prizes. I had to laugh, because they were modelling Sears skirts for "only" $40 or $50... but I got lots of compliments on my $8 Value Village skirt! It was a great evening... even though we missed the semi-finals of Dancing With the Stars. Okay, so I got up today and watched all the performances on Youtube. I have no idea who will win next week, but I'm voting for Apolo or Joey... Laila's good, but the other two are so entertaining and fun.

I hope everyone else had as great a weekend as I did!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Quick Note

I'm planning on writing a Mother's Day entry; I'm just being slow about it, as I am about everything else! Changed my blog template today. When I started this blog, I was feeling very dark, but with spring coming and all the sunshine of the past week, I'm feeling lighter again, and it feels good! It's 11:20 pm and I want to get a good night's sleep so I can write a proper entry tomorrow ;)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Facebook, Chocolate and Michael's - My Vices Today!

Okay, I'm spending way too much time on facebook. But it's so much fun! For somebody who's always been obsessed with getting mail, it's like getting mail (or pokes or wall comments) every day - instant gratification! And it's really cool to see how people that I went to elementary, junior high and high school with are doing - or extended family or other old friends... it's a total addiction.

Today I went to my friend Krista's house and we watched (or at least it was playing in the background) the first two Harry Potter movies as we ate her amazing, decadent, delightful chocolate cake... and ice cream and chicken fingers and fries... all my favourite things! We also worked on the programs for the Mother's Day tea at our church next week - and I got through half the clothes I brought over to dry. I know we're so spoiled with our modern appliances - but with kids, especially, I am so grateful for our washer and dryer (and will be even more grateful when the dryer is working again!). We had a great time hanging out and actually got a little work done! Oh, and we got in a game of backgammon too, as MSN games has been down the past couple days (at least on my computer). Her daughter Maegan, who is such a cutie, showed me all her Care Bears and her movies, when we had our "private talking time" - while Mommy checked facebook. She is far more addicted than me, even.

I probably shouldn't have been eating so much chocolate the day after going to the dentist - but I didn't have any cavities, so I was celebrating, right?! Oh, how I justify the things I want to.

Billy Ray FINALLY got kicked off "Dancing with the Stars"! There IS some justice in the world after all! But tonight was the second to the last Gilmore Girls episode EVER, so it was a hollow victory. What do you mean, I need to get a life?!

I read a sweet, funny and short Christmas story yesterday at the gym - shut up! It's never a wrong time of year to read a Christmas story! - called "The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog" by Dave Barry. (Yes, THAT Dave Barry.) It will take half an hour of your day, and you will laugh and wax nostalgic, I'm sure.

Tonight, Layni wanted to go for a walk after Lysa woke up from her nap and had supper, since the sun was actually shining. I assumed she would want to go the park, but she wanted to go to Michael's - I swear, she's as bad as me. Well, I wasn't going to say no to that, so she picked out a Mother's Day present and got a sand necklace craft to make for her and Lysa. I discovered a bunch of new clear stamps in the $1.50 section - the bane of my existence! See, I'm pretty cheap, but when I see something cool for "only $1.50", I can't resist. But those $1.50's add up... to $20 today. I'm not allowed to "just look" anymore.

Lysa came down with a fever before bed tonight, and Layni started hacking up a lung... just when I think we're done passing bugs around. But Mattias had a cold this weekend so maybe that's where it came from. I hope I don't get it... again! I still have some sniffles from last time.

Okay, I'm going to go to bed now. And not even check facebook again first. (No boxes popped up informing me I got a new email from facebook so it's safe, haha! So bad. And I make fun of Krista...)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tidbits From the Last Week

Sunday actually was sunny, so Layni and I got to wear our skirts to church (we walk half an hour to church, so that's why it has to be not-pouring-rain-and-cold). I wore a pair of Jolie's beautifully designed and created earrings and bracelet (yep, I'm plugging her - as my employer, if she does well, I do well!). Marty said, "Janis, you actually look really nice!" in a semi-shocked voice, which made me laugh..."I'm just not used to seeing you dressed up!" Yeah, I'm usually in jeans, and have food or paint or some other indication of my nanny status decorating me :) After church, Layni and I went to our last show of the season at the Evergreen Cultural Centre - "Family Portrait" performed by the Sursault Dance Company. The tap dancing part was good... otherwise, it was a bit too abstract, modern-artish for me, especially in my sleepy state. (I'm always exhausted after getting up and getting myself and the kids ready for church, and then usually going for lunch after, and usually they've kept me up late the night before - where do they get their stamina?!)

Monday, I cancelled two of my five credit cards. I know, I can't believe I had five credit cards either! I got my Visa, the one I usually use, which has a $500 limit (which keeps me living within my means!) when I went away to college. Then a few years ago, I got a Sears card when I went shopping with my friend Debbie, because I got 20% off my purchase - and because I didn't think they'd actually give me one. I only used it that one time. Then the same day, shopping with Debbie (she's such a bad influence - but I love her!), I got a Victoria's Secret credit card (I was shopping for Alisha's shower before her wedding) because they promised me all this free stuff... of course, the fine print said I had to spend a bundle first, so I didn't end up using that one ever. (Those are the two I cancelled.) I got my HBC-Zellers credit card so I could save on my initial purchase (am I a cheapskate or frugal?) and never used that one again. The last one is my Wal-Mart credit card, which I got because it's just really cool to have a credit card with a happy face on it - how could I resist? I've actually used that one a couple times, because I do most of my shopping at Wal-Mart or Army & Navy. Anyway...

WHY hasn't Billy Ray been kicked off "Dancing With the Stars"? If he's not kicked off this week, there is no justice in this world.

Layni and her friend Erica begged their principal to do a "talent show" in front of the whole school. Layni's not shy, that's for sure! She told them they could do "an educational demonstration" of Tae Kwon Do and karate at the Recognition Assembly on Wednesday. I went to watch... I don't know how educational it was, but it was definitely entertaining. At one point, Layni did this little dance around Erica, who was actually performing some karate moves. She's crazy, but you've got to love her chutzpah!

Oh, the tragedy... Gilmore Girls has been cancelled, and Scrubs probably will be too. Why, WHY, do they take away everything I love? Maybe I should get a life...

It's now Friday night, the kids are all in bed, and I'm hoping to head there soon myself. But first I'm going to indulge in my latest addiction... Facebook. It's been so cool to reconnect with friends from high school and that I worked with at Circle Square Ranch many years ago. Even Jolie and Marty have become hooked. Pretty soon, the kids may have to fend for themselves, haha!