Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

It's 10:00 PM, I've slept a total of about 2 hours in the past 40 hours, and I'm here in Port Coquitlam for Christmas. After pulling an all-nighter, (last minute preparations and keeping an eye on the weather), Marty drove me to the airport at 3:30 AM. My flight to Calgary was supposed to go out at 6:00 AM. I sat on the plane for an hour before they announced the flight was cancelled at 9:30 AM. After spending hours (and I do mean being on hold listening to absolutely terrible elevator music for HOURS and HOURS today) on hold with both WestJet and AirCanada, I have a flight to Calgary at 9:00 AM on Boxing Day.

This will be the first Christmas I spend away from all my immediate family. Not that it will be bad being here and seeing the kids open their presents, but I will really miss being with my brother on Christmas day and having Christmas dinner with him, my aunt and our cousins.

Even though I was dead tired today, hungry, had a headache, was stressed out and disappointed, I was reminded when I got home and checked my email that today was merely an inconvenience, not a problem. A real problem is a four year old girl getting hit by a truck while out sledding on Christmas Eve day - oh dear God, please be with her family and give them a Christmas miracle, I beg of You. And forgive me for being so selfish and worried about mere inconveniences.

There are so many real problems in the world and I am so incredibly blessed... my family is all healthy and safe, I will hopefully get to visit my brother for a few days, everyone here is excited to have me for Christmas (despite the HOURS of driving they did today in terrible weather conditions... God bless them!). I pray for all those so much less fortunate than myself... oh God, have mercy on them, redeem their terrible situations, give them hope and peace and joy and strength and comfort this Christmas season and thank You that You are bigger than the most annoying inconveniences and the most devastating problems. Oh Jesus, I entrust this whole world to Your care this Christmas Eve. God bless us every one.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

He Got Me...

It always amazes me, how when I take even a moment to listen, God gets me. While working on the last week of Bible study homework tonight, I read: "Pray that you might be an example from which the people you care about can see God's unlimited patience." Oh, You got me, God.

Lately, I have been so impatient, annoyed, frustrated, and irritated by Marty, Layni, stupid politicians etc. Of course, the person I feel worst about is Layni. Even Jolie noted the other day, "Watch out, Layni. Janis is a hard-ass!" Is it because I'm struggling with depression and I take it out on others? Is it because my standards are too high? I get so annoyed and frustrated by laziness, for example. When Marty wants Jolie or me to do all the work for him - why can't you do it yourself? It's YOUR responsibility! We'd be happy to help, the operative word being HELP. Or Layni does the bare minimum and only with constant nagging from us... when it comes to school, Tae Kwon Do, chores - everything! Don't you care about anything? Don't you want to do well? Do you always have to talk back, whine, complain, argue about every little thing? I just want her to be a good person and do well in life. Or am I being too hard on an almost-eight year old? Too demanding? Whatever my problem is, I need to learn to relax and to be more patient and loving and gracious. Maybe I need more medication ;) I definitely need to lighten up and laugh more. I need to encourage instead of nag, to be an example of unlimited patience... and I know that's only possible by the Holy Spirit in me... and me allowing Jesus to shine through me. I want everyone, but especially the people I love and especially the little ones entrusted to my care, to see and experience the love of God in their lives through me.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends... And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

- 1 Corinthians 13


Oh Lord, help me to love like You, especially the people I love the most! Help me to be patient when people annoy me; help me to be kind especially when I'm irritated; help me to not be arrogant, thinking I always know best; help me not to be rude even when Layni is talking back and giving attitude; help me not to always insist on my own way, even when I'm convinced my way is best; help me not to be so irritable!; help me not to be resentful; help me to believe the best about people - to see the best in them; help me to hope for the best instead of worrying and despairing about the worst case scenario; help me to endure when I'm weary and at the end of my resources. Oh Lord, give me wisdom to know when I need to push and when I need to let go, when I need to be lenient and when I need to enforce the rules, when I need to laugh at the situation or when I need to take a break and calm myself down. Give me wisdom in my words and actions, fill my find with loving thoughts... help me to love like You, because Your way is always best. Oh Lord, I want to be a blessing, an encouragement, not a discouragement. Teach me how to communicate effectively with Marty and Layni especially. Oh Lord, You know my heart, the good and the bad... I pray Psalm 51 - Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me... You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart... Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me... sustain in me a willing spirit... The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Way to Go, Blue Stripe!



CONGRATULATIONS LAYNI, ON ADVANCING TO YOUR BLUE STRIPE BELT!!! Layni was in the Transcending Martial Arts Tae Kwon Do Exhibition tonight and did an excellent job - even if she didn't break her board... even some black belts didn't break their boards, so don't sweat it, Layni - you did an awesome job and I am so proud of you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

BIG NEWS!!!!


MY BEST FRIEND IS HAVING TWINS!!!
From a family of three to a family of five - wow!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Madonna , Halloween and a 22nd Birthday



It was a busy week with three big events - the Madonna concert on Thursday night, Halloween festivities both Thursday and Friday at the girls' school, and a birthday to celebrate on Sunday.

Jolie, Marty, Layni and I arrived at GM Place at 8:00 PM, and waited for one and a half hours for Madonna to finally take the stage. I alternately stewed at having to wait (I hate waiting and people who aren't punctual!) and prayed for Madonna and her family as they're going through this difficult time in their lives. As Marty pointed out, it would have been a lot cheaper and we would have actually seen a lot more if we just bought the concert DVD that will inevitably come out, but nonetheless, it was a memorable experience - thanks, Jolie and Marty! Layni did well (though she was disappointed we were in level three instead of having front row seats!) until finally falling asleep about one and a half hours into the show. I must say, she performed non-stop for almost two hours - that woman has stamina I can only dream about! My favourite parts were her renditions of my favourite song off her new album, She's Not Me, and You Must Love Me from the Evita soundtrack - and when she sang Like A Virgin with the audience... one of the few times she seemed more relaxed and having fun, rather than just relentlessly performing.

Lysa woke up with pink eye on Thursday morning, and so missed the Halloween festivities at school and trick or treating on Friday night. However, we had a great time nonetheless. She dressed up as a 50's rock chick, we handed out candy to the neighbourhood kids, ate chocolate, watched DVDs, cuddled and laughed, while Layni a.k.a. Disco Dracula and Mattias a.k.a. Iron Man, scared up some candy with their friends up at Hampton Park.

Today, I celebrated my 22nd birthday as a Christian. Yes, 22 years ago on a Sunday afternoon in my bedroom in Lincoln, New Brunswick, I decided I believed God was real and that Jesus had died for my sins and so accepted His love and committed my life to Him. Oh, He knows that I have often not been faithful to Him in my laziness and doubts and apathy, but He has been unrelentingly faithful to me, and though I often think I have so little faith, I have always had that mustard seed to keep me hanging onto Him. I don't think I would have survived the last 22 years without Him and I know my life would not be as blessed as it is if He wasn't the centre of it. So thank You, Jesus, for saving me from myself and for all the love You have poured into my life... and for Your neverending faithfulness. I pray that I will grow closer to You every day of my life and that I will shine Your love for all to see. I pray that everyone else (especially my loved ones) will know Your amazing love and grace and faithfulness and joy and peace and goodness in their lives... all that You are and all that You want to be for us!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good Day

You would think I would learn by now that just expressing my feelings helps tremendously... I've got to do it more often, instead of staying inside my head. So after pouring out my heart late last night, I had a good day today. Layni and I went to church, and the service was geared towards the kids who stayed throughout the whole service instead of going up to Kidzone... and for the big kids among us, who love the songs with actions and the funny skits and the pastor dressing up and telling us stories as King David. Afterwards, we went out to lunch with friends and the kids had such a great time together, the goofballs! They made me laugh. I came home and had a quiet, relaxing afternoon to myself. I had a nap, read Gone with the Wind (Jolie just finished it and told me I have to read it quickly so we can watch the movie together - the history involved is fascinating!), watched Sex and the City, and worked on my new dishcloth addiction. My mom is an amazing knitter, but I've only ever mastered dishcloths (and a baby blanket for my best friend's daughter, which took two and a half years and a lot of sweat and tears... and it was nothing fancy!). While I was home this fall, my mom taught me to purl (I told you, I am an amateur!) so it's opened a whole new world of dishcloth patterns. Guess what everyone's getting for Christmas! Put your order in soon, haha. Tonight, we all watched The Amazing Race together and then Jolie and I had our Desperate Housewives fix. It was a good day filled with simple pleasures. I am blessed with friends and family and a faithful God, and I am grateful.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Feelings... What Is Normal?

I was just rereading on the internet about dysthymia. I've struggled with depression since I was about ten years old, with growing intensity through the years, culminating in almost constant suicidal thoughts in college. For me, it was just life... I didn't know anything different. I was filled with self-hatred... "stupid ugly bitch" was a refrain constantly running through my mind, almost 24-7. I remember banging my head on the foot of my bed when I was a kid... to punish myself? to replace the emotional pain with physical pain? When I got older, I would scratch myself in frustration and self-hatred. I am so grateful that God made me a complete wimp, or I might have cut myself or inflicted other physical injuries (or gotten into alcohol and drugs). I might have thought of a pain-free way to kill myself and had the courage to go through with it... oh, I thank God for my wimpiness and my sense of humour, which were the two things (beside His grace of course) that enabled me to survive all those horrible years. After years of ignorance, then self-denial, then fighting the system to get the help I needed, I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and chronic dysthymic disorder. Though I mostly struggled with severe and often suicidal depression, I would occasionally have my "high" times... not as extreme as many cases; in fact, at the time, it felt great. I would have lots of energy, I would feel uninhibited socially - I would also have poorer judgement (which I never realized until afterwards) and would inevitably crash. It's been almost a decade since I was diagnosed (correctly) and started on an anti-depressant that was effective for me. Since then, I've never experienced the highs or suicidal lows of bipolar disorder, but I still struggle with the everyday "low-level" depression.

Since I got back from New Brunswick, I've been struggling with physical tiredness, lack of motivation and focus, feeling overwhelmed and wanting to withdraw. I often think I'd just like to crawl into bed and hibernate for several months. I feel guilty like I'm just being lazy, whiney... that if I was a better person and (oh, the joys of being a Christian and the guilt that comes along with it! ) if I just prayed more or had more faith, I wouldn't struggle like this. I feel overwhelmed by the things I should do and punish myself by not doing any of the things I want to do, and end up doing nothing and feeling even worse. One of the things I struggle with most is my natural tendency to be a loner and my struggle with social anxiety, with the love Jesus has put into my heart for people and wanting to bless them with His love through me. I often think if I wasn't a Christian, I would be a total hermit. Many people (most?) either frustrate me or frighten me (did I mention the social anxiety disorder?)

I'm sure there's a lot of things contributing to these feelings. Leaving my family in New Brunswick and not feeling that I had enough time to spend with them; the darker, colder days of fall; changing relationships at church, which has always provided my foundation of friendships. I belonged to a small group for several years which ended about a year and a half ago. There were about half a dozen of us who attended regularly and they felt like my family. I cried and laughed and learned and prayed and shared with them. I still have Thursday morning Bible study, but it's not the same. It's a bigger group and not as intimate. Our church is growing too, more people coming on Sunday mornings and it just feels bigger and more impersonal to me. I feel disconnected from the people there, and worse, feel like I don't even want to make the effort to be connected anymore.... and feeling guilty for feeling that way.

I'm just feeling... not terrible, but not great... feeling guilty because I know so many other people have far worse trials and challenges than me, so how can I complain or feel bad? Just feeling like crawling into my nice cozy sheets and not coming out for awhile.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where Did the Last Three Weeks Go?

I can't believe in two days I will be flying back to BC. Part of me is excited to see Jolie and the kids and my friends again; part of me is already missing my family and wishing I could see them more often. I have done too much Christmas shopping... I'm going to have to ship myself a parcel because I can't fit it all into my suitcases... oops!

I spent a few days with my best friend and her family. We celebrated an early "Christmas" together - exchanged presents and had a Superstore cake (the best!) and listened to Christmas music. Alisha and Derek got me addicted to Slings and Arrows, a Canadian TV show about a Shakespearean theatre company that I gave her for her birthday, so we spent every night after Ella went to bed watching a couple episodes. Derek, God bless him, made me buckwheat pancakes twice while I was there - my favourite, but which I'm usually too lazy to make myself ;) I sat in on Ella's Montessori homeschool class, which was lots of fun. And we would read bedtime stories and cuddle together every night. We also celebrated Ella's 4th birthday with lots of presents, cake and friends, and enjoyed walks in the woods behind their house. It was so great to be together again!

I also visited with my cousins, who love animals of every sort, and my aunt, who loves books and movies even more than me! Went to dinner and saw Nights in Rodanthe (a tearjerker) with an old friend.

My parents, aunt and I visited Minister's Island - the beautiful (although desperately in need of funding for repairs and upkeep) summer estate of an early 1900's railroad tycoon - I love history! Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera and my dad's both died out halfway through the tour :( We had to drive over a sandbar at low tide to get to the island... good thing, as my mom is not fond of boats :)

Yesterday we drove up to the Miramichi (where my dad has spent lots of time fishing) and stayed in a lovely log cabin. After hitting the local dollar store (you know what mom's and my priority is!), we walked beside the bay just across the road, swung on the hanging porch swing, had barbecued steak, and played 45's. A relaxing, fun evening. Today, we stopped at the Parksville Suspension Bridge, which Dad and I enjoyed walking to take in the view of the Miramichi River surrounded by the gorgeous fall foliage. And I was so proud of my mom, who fears both water and heights... she got 1/6 of the way across before having to turn back... good for her! After we got home, Dad and I did our traditional round of mini-golf. He beat me the first time, but I managed to come back in the second round!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, brother and sister-in-law and aunt and uncle, before my mom goes to work in the evening. My best friend and I are getting together tomorrow night for our last hurrah, and then I have Tuesday to get myself ready to fly home first thing Wednesday morning. It's been wonderful - but I can't believe it's all over! Thank goodness I have so many wonderful people to fly back to, or I would be too sad missing my family!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Running Around

I'm off for a week of running around to visit family and friends. I am really grateful for everyone who is going out of their way to chauffeur me around from one place to the next - especially my best friend and my parents. In Coquitlam, I can pretty much walk everywhere I need to or catch a bus for the occasional longer trip, but here, you really need to know how to drive... or have fabulous friends and family! I am excited to see my cousins, who I missed last year because of a family health crisis; to explore Minister's Island with my parents on Sunday; to visit my best friend and celebrate her daughter's 4th birthday next week; to hang out with my aunt, who loves books and movies as much as I do; and to see my wonderful friends who are driving down from Peticodiac. I am so blessed with so many loved ones, and I am so grateful for this time I get to spend with them... but I will be glad to get back and see my "family" and friends in Coquitlam too!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Tried to be a Good Citizen...

Okay, I will admit right off I am not the most politically savvy person in the world, to say the least. However, I do make the effort to vote as I know we are a privileged country to have that freedom, which I am very thankful for. So, knowing I would still be on vacation on October 14th when the election is held, I made the effort to go to our local electoral office to vote by special ballot the day before I flew out. I even had to go home and get a bank statement with my current address and return, so I could vote. I was ushered behind the little cardboard cubicle on the desk and took out my special ballot and was confused. It said simply, "Write the initials or name of the person you are voting for and put this ballot in the envelope." Usually, they have the names of the candidates and you simply check the box beside the person you are voting for. So in my confusion and ignorance, I wrote the name of the leader of the party I was voting for instead of the municipal candidate (whose name, quite frankly, I did not know.) After telling various people about this strange ballot and being told I probably voted wrong but they didn't know why it was set up like that, I called my local electoral office in BC. I discovered that my vote is "spoiled" as she said, and won't count, due in part to my ignorance and their failure to follow procedure. The official ballots with names were just printed this past Saturday because up until that date people can still put their names in the running. What was supposed to happen before I voted was that I should have been shown a piece of paper with all the candidates up to that point, which I never was shown. She told me, "Good for you for trying though!" Small consolation. Well, now I know for next time, though I wonder how many other ignorant people miscast their vote as well. I'm not sure if I want to think I was the only one that ignorant with a wasted vote or not!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wonderful Weekend

On Friday, I spent the day with my best friend, Alisha, her mom, Sharon and her daughter, Ella. We started our day together by going to The Owl's Nest, which I think is the most amazing second hand bookstore I've ever been in. It is a huge maze of rooms filled floor to ceiling with books on every subject... I could easily spend days in there browsing. After lunch at Pizza Delight (where Ella got the cutest "cat" pizza with a face made out of olives with licorice whiskers), we went to The Lighthouse (another favourite bookstore with a huge clearance section) and Value Village. After a quick supper, we hit Chapters (do we see a theme developing here? Sharon and Alisha love books as much as I do!) and Walmart. I spent a lot of money but got lots of birthday and Christmas presents to leave at home so I am saving money on postage! It was a wonderful day with my dear friends, doing our favourite things - talking, laughing, eating and looking at books!

Saturday, my parents and I were up at 4:30 so we could be at the farmer's market in Fredericton by 6:00 AM. Lots of fresh produce, baked goods and handmade items including jewelery, beautiful wood work, and art. Mom and I supplemented our meager night's sleep with a nap in the afternoon. It is so nice not to have a schedule for awhile, to sleep when you want to (for as long as you want to!) and not always be worrying about rushing to get something done or get somewhere on time. My older brother, Dan, picked me up in the afternoon and we loaded up on movies. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (the first one is the only one worth watching over and over) and an action movie called Crank (I liked the Transporter movies starring the same guy much better) as well as Resurrecting the Champ (I was pleasantly surprised and recommend it!) and Sex and the City (which we watched with Dan's wife, Melissa) and which I loved as much this third time around. Sunday afternoon, Dan and I went to the Fredericton flea market and bowling... fun and good for many laughs on Dan's part as he watched my skill (or rather, lack thereof) in action ;)

Despite the rainy weather the past couple days (vestiges of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Kyle), I've enjoyed seeing the vibrant colours of autumn... this place is so beautiful... my BC friends, I wish you could experience it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Here I Am!

Had a good flight yesterday - the only drawback was that the movie system was experiencing "technical difficulties" so I didn't get to see the end of Prince Caspian, whose accent I found distracting in its inconsistency; otherwise, I was enjoying the movie, despite how it differed from the book, which Layni and I finished on Sunday. I got in at 12:30 AM, visited with my parents for a couple hours (well, my dad went to bed after half an hour) and slept in this morning. This afternoon, mom and I went to one of my favourite stores, Giant Tiger, where I got a whole wardrobe for $40, including a $2.00 pair of jeans, several tops for $1.00 and $2.00, and three pair of shoes that came to $11.00 between them. I love the shopping in New Brunswick! And we didn't even get 1/4 of the way through the store! Tonight, my dad barbecued steak and baby potatoes from his garden and afterward, my brother and his wife came for a visit. It was a great day full of simple pleasures with my family.

I'm a little traumatized though, because my parents have decided to replace the siding on the house. It will no longer be the little (pale) yellow house across from the airport... it will be a non-distinctive beige/brown. I've lived in this house all my life (well, visited for the past ten years)... what will I do when they get even more drastic and sell it?! I love the big maple tree in the front yard and the "little" maple tree (which was little when I was little and is now huge) on the right side of the driveway. I love the new squeaky swing my father made this year to replace the old, falling-apart squeaky swing. I love my parents' flower and vegetable gardens and our deck that my dad built, that is lovely for eating out on nice days. I have been really blessed to have had the stability and security of a house that has also been a home all the years of my life... not just because of the house, but the wonderful people in it. I love my parents and my brothers, and I am so blessed that God gave these particular people to be my family - they're not perfect but we're wonderfully imperfect together!

P.S. I do miss our crazy household... someday when we're rich (haha!), I want to bring Jolie and her mom and the girls out to see my beautiful province and all the special places from my growing-up years - and all the special people, of course!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Less Than 24 Hours!

It's 11:06 PM and I'm pretty much packed up... hopefully our scales weigh correctly so I don't have to go through my suitcases at the airport giving stuff away (cause I'm not paying that $75 charge for overweight bags!) Watched the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars with the family tonight, cuddled Lysa while she kicked, and am letting Layni have a sleepover in my bed one last time before I leave. I can't believe this time tomorrow night I will be (hopefully!) sound asleep in my childhood room in New Brunswick. I can't believe it's actually here - that I'll very soon be seeing my family and friends again!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

You Should See My Bed...

One more day (two sleeps) and then I'll be in the air, flying to New Brunswick. My bed is loaded with my suitcase, duffel bag and stuff to take home. They're charging $75 now for each overweight bag, so I'm trying to distribute everything evenly and praying that I'll be under 50 pounds each. I have so much stuff to take back for people, that I'm not sure I'll have room enough for my actual clothes... oh well, Frenchie's here I come! That's one of the best thrift stores on the East Coast. I can't believe it's almost here! Funny, I'm the only one bursting with excitement in this household; otherwise, there's a distinct feeling of dread and impending doom. It's nice to know I'm appreciated - and I'm sure they will survive without me ;) I'm also quite sure they will be very happy to have me back!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mourning...

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
- Romans 12:15

Tonight, I'm mourning with my friend Shelley and her family as they grieve the loss of her stepmom. Please pray for them - that they will find comfort and strength in happy memories and the love of everyone around them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Please Pray

Please pray for my friend Shelley and her family. Her stepmom has been missing since Wednesday - please pray she will be found safe and for strength for her family as they await news.

Keep your eyes out for a 2002 dark blue PT Cruiser with British Columbia licence plate 711 EFB. There is an inverted yellow looped ribbon in the rear window (veterans ribbon). If you see it, call 911 please!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Two Weeks

Yes, I'm still counting down... and freaking out a little. I have a list of things to do before I leave and time just keeps whizzing by. And I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to see everybody in three weeks... especially when most people are working and/or going to school so I have three weekends to fit everyone in. Different people have suggested just having a big barbecue and inviting everyone, but that way I don't really get to visit with anyone. It's hard being so far away from family and friends... but I have "family" (Jolie and the girls) and friends here too... I just wish I was closer or it was cheaper and/or I had more time to fly back and forth. Three weeks will go by so fast (well, for me there, not so much for Jolie here, haha!) Oh well, what gets done, gets done and what doesn't, doesn't.

The girls are finally getting into their classroom tomorrow... but Jolie needs to switch them. They've been put into a classroom with NONE of their friends or support system (which is weird, because especially for Lysa they usually try to make that effort) and they really need it - Layni even more so than Lysa, I think. So hopefully, that will get worked out quickly and easily for everyone's sakes. Layni was actually home with a cold today... what a way to start the school year! Other than that, we're all well and as busy as ever... just trying to keep our sanity in the midst of our usual craziness!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Back to School

Wow. The summer is gone and the kids are back in school. Mattias started kindergarten and the girls are in Grade 3 - unbelievable. It seems time goes faster with every passing year... pretty soon, I won't be able to keep up! Layni got a new Hannah Montana backpack, so life is good for her :) (Good-bye Dora, Good-bye Barbie, Good-bye Disney Princesses... we will miss you!) Lysa has had a very busy couple days. Not only back to school, but she got her Botox injections in her calves so she can get her new leg splints made in a couple weeks and she got her fancy new bath seat, which goes up and down to make getting her in and out easier... I think she just thinks it's a cool carnival ride. She would happily wear the battery out, zooming up and down!

The grown-ups watched "Be Kind, Rewind" last night. I was expecting a glossy, slapstick, stupid comedy, but it was more of a warm-hearted, funny indie type film. Jack Black always makes me laugh.

I'm looking forward to Bible study and scrapbooking starting up again... and of course, vacation in three weeks to see all my family and friends in New Brunswick!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Happy Surprise

A couple of days ago, I got a call from my college friend, Yuriko, who lives in Tokyo. She is visiting Canada for a couple weeks (she lived in Toronto for ten years before moving back to Japan when she married last summer) and wondered if we could get together. So this afternoon, we met at Metrotown, had lunch and visited the dollar store together (some joys are international!). It was so good to see my old friend again - she is such a sweet, loving soul and it was an unexpected blessing in my summer. I am so thankful for the life-long friends I made at Houghton College - they are worth every penny I'm repaying in student loans... yes, indeed, that makes them worth a LOT, haha!

Jolie and I are finding ourselves tremendously distracted by the Olympics, especially the gymnastics and the triathalon... Simon Whitfield pulled off an amazing comeback to win silver... us girls were screaming and cheering him on the last couple minutes of the race. I was beginning to worry that we weren't going to win any medals, but I think that as Canadians we truly celebrate each one we win.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Summer is Speeding Away...

Just over two weeks until school starts up again... I can't believe how fast the summer is going. But I'll be honest, it will be nice to have a break from the kids, and by kids, I mean Layni. I tell you, she's a million times more high-maintenance than Lysa! But we have had some good times this summer...

Today, I took the girls swimming. I was so mad at myself because we got over to the pool, paid, and were in the changing room when I realized I'd forgotten Lysa's bathing suit at home... AGGHHH!!! So we had to walk all the way home and back again in the heat, causing a 45 minute detour. Once we finally got into the pool though, we enjoyed the wave pool and waterslide tremendously for a couple hours.

Layni and I went to my first football game last Friday (she had been once before with Jolie, Marty and Mattias). I know absolutely nothing about football and understand it no better now, but still enjoyed the live experience. We were seven rows up from the field, so it seemed so small to me in real life as compared to seeing it on television... and slow! It took almost four hours for an actual hour of play! The BC Lions beat Edmonton but my favourite part was watching the crazy fans, listening to the non-stop commentary of the guy behind us (which Layni found annoying, but I found amusing), enjoying the ridiculous antics of various mascots playing soccer during half-time, and munching on popcorn. But even I found myself at times yelling, "Come on, come on, COME ON!" when they were making a pivotal play. Layni's favourite part was doing the wave... it's the little things that we enjoy the most!

Jolie's parents came to visit for the weekend. We went for a long walk to Colony Farm Park on Saturday, admiring the community gardens there (I smelled the sweetest rose there - it reminded me of the most delicious pink lemonade; roses aren't my favourite flowers, but that rose was queen of all roses!) and walking the trails. We came home tired and hungry. While we were busy fixing supper, the kids were playing in the living room. Layni comes into the kitchen, crying and freaking out, "I'M SO SORRY! IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!!!" She and Mattias had shattered one of our glass patio doors. Awesome. In all fairness, there must have been a crack or some weakness in the glass already, because all they did was bump it with the corner of Mattias' little plastic toybox... believe me, they've done far worse other times! However, there goes $500 out the window... incredibly frustrating.

Another day, we went for a walk in Mundy Park. Jolie was busy pointing out different plants and trees to Layni and Mattias while I kept Lysa happy by actually walking, instead of stopping every few steps to explore. But my one weakness is hollow tree stumps - I always have to stop and investigate those. So Layni and I poked our heads into one and laughed ourselves silly. There in this hollow tree stump in the middle of Mundy Park, were Jonas Brothers Teen Beat posters hung up inside! We debated whether it was the squirrels or raccoons who were fans. It was just so bizarre! Later, Jolie and I wondered about the people who make the effort to scoop up their dogs' poop and put it in the green plastic bag... and then throw it into the woods! We saw dozens of these poop bags littering this beautiful park - people are so stupid.

Yesterday, Lysa and I had a playdate with a couple of delightful little friends. Usually, Layni is the one who gets to go on all the playdates, but she had Tae Kwon Do yesterday, so Lysa was the lucky one this time. I must admit, I was apprehensive about it. I know how fun and funny and wonderful Lysa is, but in new places with new people, she tends to initially freak out, which freaks a lot of people out and they don't take the time to get to know her in all her goofy glory. But these kids were wonderful... completely accepting her as she was and looking out for her and including her in their games and jokes. Really sweet, fantastic kids. We all had a great time!

I just finished my favourite Lucy Maud Montgomery novel today, The Blue Castle - for the millionth time. My ideal romance... even if the hero's name is Barney :)

Well, those are some of our recent adventures. We're all healthy at the moment, enjoying the sunshine and lazy days, though occasionally getting on each other's nerves! But I am looking forward to being in my childhood bedroom in New Brunswick in six weeks' time, catching up with my mom, visiting friends and family, dollar stores and Frenchy's! I miss my East Coast folks and can't wait to catch up for another year.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wanted: Primitive Technology

Does anybody have any old cassette tapes lying around the house, especially children's ones? (Sesame Street and Muppets are my personal faves!) Lysa brought home a Powerlink device from school which enables us to plug in the blender, CD player etc. and she can turn them on and off by smacking a big red button. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it doesn't work with CDs, only tapes... which gave me the opportunity to explain to Mattias what this strange looking thing called a cassette tape is - it makes music! Wow! The look of wonder and disbelief on his face made me feel very, very old :) So if you have any old tapes lying around (preferably not heavy metal), we would love to listen to something other than the five she's been playing over and over and over and over again. (Though Big Bird's Greatest Hits IS awesome! I'm also really enjoying Sharon, Lois and Bram's Dance Tunes.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feeling Better

Well, I think I'm pretty much over my cold and Lysa seems to be feeling much better too, so we'll probably get back to the pool next week. In the meantime, we've been going for walks on the trails by the river, going to the library, drawing pictures, colouring, and practicing in her stander/walker, which we brought home from school for the summer. She's been in it a few times and it's great practice for her to hold her head up, but yesterday I had an epiphany and thought, "Duh! It would probably be easier for her to actually move if she was on a hardwood floor!" We've been doing it on carpeted areas where there's more room, but yesterday we tried it out on the kitchen floor (besides the bathrooms, the only non-carpeted area in the house). At first, she was just moving her left leg, which is her stronger side, and was turning herself in circles (which was fun nonetheless!) but then she got both legs going and was actually pushing herself backwards in the walker! I was cheering, she was laughing and squealing with excitement... but next time, I must be ready with the camera handy! I'm so proud of her!

Oh, and yesterday I saw "Get Smart" with a friend... I love Steve Carrell - he never fails to make me laugh!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stressed Out, Sick, Now Recovering...

A couple of weeks ago was our church's Daily Vacation Bible School. Last year, I did two days of the kindergarten story time before heading home to NB for my vacation and I swore NEVER AGAIN. This year's coordinator called me up, and I told her I would be happy to volunteer, I just didn't want to be a leader or teacher. A couple minutes later, I hung up the phone, wondering what had just happened and how I had ended up saying yes to doing the kindergarten story-time again... I told Jolie next year, I'm just going to have to not answer the phone!

Thankfully, I was sharing story-telling duties with another lady in our church who also wondered how she had ended up saying yes! It was very much out of both of our comfort zones, which was probably really good for us, but I found it incredibly stressful. (Like couldn't sleep, digestive system screwed up, freaking out stressful.) I found it much more stressful than speaking in front of a group of adults (which is also stressful, don't get me wrong!) - maybe because I feel such a responsibility that the kids both have lots of fun and good memories as well as learning about God and His love for them - and I felt completely inadequate to the task! However, I brought in my buddy "Lester" - an orange, very loud squawky bird of DeeDee's, to help me out, and I think the kids really enjoyed him. I told them about how I had learned about Jesus during Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and that He is the best thing that's ever happened to me, and I hope they can say the same thing someday. They were a great group of kids, quite attentive for a group of twenty-five five-year-olds! And quite funny too. When I asked them what they would buy if they had a million dollars, my favourite answers were, "A van for my mom big enough to hold all the kids here... with a hot tub in the back!" and "Two diamonds THIS big..." (about two feet high). And so I survived, and the kids did too! (And can I just say how wonderful - how encouraging and supportive my co-teacher was? God bless her!)

Fifty-five dollars later, I finally got a swimsuit and took Lysa and Layni to the pool for the first time this summer. Lysa loves the wave pool - totally doesn't mind getting smacked in the face with water, while I'm there freaking out... don't splash in my eyes, not the eyes! Of course, later that week, both Lysa and I came down with a nasty cold. I slept for twelve hours straight one night; I was pretty much a zombie for a couple days. Still a bit of a cough and sniffles, but feeling much better!

Marty and Jolie took Layni and Mattias to Merritt to visit her family for a few days, while Lysa and I stayed home and recovered - and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Well, I did, anyway. I think Lysa enjoys the chaos; it's like comforting background noise to her now! I indulged an urge to bake, making blueberry muffins (didn't turn out as good as my mom's) and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting... from scratch, not a mix, people, from scratch. And now that everybody's back, Jolie and Marty have begged me to never bake again as they inhale the goodies and curse their expanding waist lines, haha!

I'm on my last book in the Anne of Green Gables series, Rilla of Ingleside. Perhaps, I'll re-read my favourite L.M. Montgomery novel, The Blue Castle, next... it is in my opinion, the ultimate romantic fantasy - even if his name is Barney!

The last couple of weeks, I've felt stressed out, sick, sad, and homesick (as it was this time last year I was visiting my family in NB, and I still have two more months to wait this year)... and guilty for struggling with depression when people have so much more to deal with in life than I do. But I'm trying to enjoy the sunshine and good books and loving friends and be grateful for all my blessings, and leave the rest to Jesus.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

32...

... is too young to die. Too young to have fought cancer twice and finally lost. Too young to leave behind a husband of ten years and step-son. Sometimes life seems too hard and too wrong. Tiffany, I'm praying for your boys, that they'll find the strength to keep on breathing and living without you... thank you for all the great high school memories. Thank you for blessing my life with your light. I'm praying you're snug in the arms of Jesus tonight, old friend.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Quick Update

Jolie's mom and stepdad came last week for the football game on Friday night and stayed until this morning. We had lots of fun visiting, working in the garden, playing heated games of Mexican Train (dominoes) and eating way too much good food (including a huge turkey dinner on Sunday).

Lysa and I have been taking our walks around Lafarge Lake in the evenings, when it's cooler. Tonight, we went with a new friend I met through Wednesday night Bible study. We had a good talk and got our exercise!

Still haven't got to Wal-mart to hunt for a bathing suit - MUST do that this weekend, before Lysa goes mad with boredom this summer. Layni volunteered to fix my old one with "sterling silver" bobby pins. She is too funny.

I've been re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series... I'm on #6 of eight. It's fun going back in time... to the early 1900's, but also to my childhood days when I first read them. It's funny how I perceive different things in the books now as opposed to then... relating to the adults in the books, rather than the children, for example.

Tonight, I watched No Country for Old Men with Marty. Like There Will Be Blood, it was beautifully acted and shot, but not quite satisfying for me in the end. After those two movies, I need to see a comedy - immediately!

Okay, going to bed now. It's ridiculous that I'm still up!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Sucker

Usually, I have no problems killing bugs in the house (or bugs out of the house that are on me)... but the other day, I was just about to kill a spider on the kitchen floor when I noticed it only had five legs. I couldn't do it. I couldn't kill a disabled spider! I mean whatever it had been through to lose three legs, it survived and I just couldn't be the one to end his perilous journey through life. So I put him on a piece of paper and deposited him outside to whatever fate may befall him... but at least I gave him a chance.

I'm such a sucker for a sob story, even a spider's.

P.S. When Layni and I told Jolie, she said he was probably some gangsta spider who was amputated in the course of his criminal activities and I should have put him out of his misery. For once in my life, I think someone trumped me on the imagination scale.

Sad...

It breaks my heart when my friends hurt each other, either inadvertently or in striking out from their own hurt... when misunderstandings tear them apart. I wish, I pray for peace and reconciliation. I know there is so much love there - that's why the pain is so deep on all sides. Oh Jesus, please work Your wonders and bring healing and hope again. You know all their hearts, their hurts, their love, their betrayals, their wounds that only You can heal. Oh, Jesus, I lift all these dear ones up to You and ask You to infuse all their lives with Your Holy Spirit of love and wisdom and forgiveness and healing in all their hearts. I do believe that one day, Lord, we will all bow together at Your feet, crying in gratefulness for Your mercy and grace to each one of us... I look forward to that day, Lord... please hasten it. Be glorified, Jesus, and heal all these broken hearts. I love You, Lord, and I am so grateful that with You all things are possible - You see all of us, the good, the bad and the ugly and love us anyway, You accept us as we are, but love us so much that You won't accept us staying that way... knowing You, lovingYou, spending time in Your presence changes us, because of who You are - thank You, Jesus, for Your faithfulness, for Your neverending love... satisfy all our needs and wants, for only You can. Help us to forgive by Your grace, help us to live grateful lives of love because of all You've done for us. Oh Jesus, thank You for the hope I have in You... for the hope we all have in You.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It's So Hard to Be...

Layni: "I wish I was handicapped like Lysa, cause she NEVER gets in trouble!!!"

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Canada Day Excitement... EARLY in the Morning!

First of all, I have to say I am really craving cake tonight. I'm going to have to settle for a chocolate bar instead.

Last night, Layni and I went to see Kung Fu Panda and we both loved it! I love Jack Black... he's just so cute in his enthusiasm (even as an animated panda bear) and I love that he's not your typical leading man and that he's not your typical comedian in that he's pretty clean. Shallow Hal is one of my favourite movies; The Holiday; School of Rock... all excellent.

After getting the kids into bed, the grown-ups watched There Will Be Blood, which Marty has been wanting to see for months. It's a very well-acted and well-shot movie, but I didn't enjoy it. Bizarre is the primary word that comes to mind. Maybe it's because I didn't relate to or care about the people or things in the movie. I'd recommend not wasting your 2 1/2 hours, but Marty and Jolie both seemed to like it. We ended up getting into bed at 2:30 AM (way too late for me!).

Three hours later, we were all awake. Our next-door neighbour woke us up to alert us that our house was about to flood. They already had a foot of water in their basement and their backyard was a lake. The water was flowing past our front door and was creeping up to the house in the backyard. Evidently, thieves had come in the middle of the night and tried to steal (or maybe succeeded, I'm not sure) copper piping from the townhouses being built next to our neighbour's house, and had broken the water main. Finally, after many frantic phone calls on the neighbour's part to the police, fire department, anyone they could think of, someone from the city came and turned off the water... just in time to save our house, THANK GOD!

Afterwards, I was laying in bed, enjoying the early morning sunshine, thanking God that we did not have to deal with the repercussions of a flood, and feeling a little guilty (I must have some Catholic blood in me from somewhere) that we were so blessed but our neighbours weren't. As I prayed for them, I realized that as the Bible says, the rain falls on the just and the unjust, and so do blessings. This was our day for a blessing and I am so grateful. I hope the next time I'm wading through the flood waters, I remember and thank God for all the times I've been spared, and thank Him for all those who were spared, and ask Him for the grace to wade through.

Shopping Frustration

I have been looking for a bathing suit so I can take Lysa to the pool this summer, as she LOVES it there and will happily spend hours in the water. When I went to Tigh-Na-Mara, I realized the elastic in my bathing suit has finally given out - thank goodness there weren't a lot of people around, haha!

I now realize two things in my pursuit of swimwear. Swimsuits are now made solely for people who:

1. Want to wear an itty-bitty string bikini

and

2. Who have big breasts.

I am neither of those people. I just want an affordable swimsuit that fits - is that too much to ask? I find that one-piece swimsuits don't fit me because I don't have the curves to fill them out, especially on top, so I'm looking for a two piece tank top style that is DECENT and I can comfortably wear in public and not have to worry about showing off things I don't want to show off while maneuvering Lysa around. But all I can find anywhere are these ridiculously skimpy bikini tops or one-piece bathing suits that are way too big. The closest I came was a $40 girls' extra, extra large at Sears... but I don't want to pay that much money for a swimsuit that's really too snug... I'm hoping to get to the Lougheed mall soon and have better luck there.

All I want is a bathing suit that fits so I can take Lysa to the pool!!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunshine and Heat

I LOVE finally having sunshine! It makes such a difference in brightening my days... however, the heat, I'm not such a big fan of. I know that's terrible, since I've been complaining endlessly of the cold, but what can I say? I enjoy moderate temperatures! I usually start the day outside with Layni, playing in the backyard or splashing in our itty-bitty wading pool, then I'll come in during the hottest part of the day and hang out with Lysa in the basement. She is NOT a fan of the heat either. Gets very lethargic and doesn't want to eat. Thank God for her G-Tube so we can keep her hydrated and give her nutrition by pumping Pediasure into her. So we cuddle and listen to music or watch her favourite DVDs or read books... it's not that tough having fun with Lysa :) And when it's cooler, we go for nice long walks.

Jolie is at her big jewellery sale downtown, Portobello. I'm praying she is wildly successful and sells tons of pieces. She works so hard and is so talented; she deserves all the best!

So that means I stayed home from church today to be with the kids. It's "Family Sunday" there, which means the kids stay in the service instead of going to Kidzone, so neither Layni nor Mattias wanted to go, and Marty, who gets home from work at 4:00 AM did not feel up to dealing with three crazy kids by himself. I really miss going to church the occasional Sundays I don't get there and I really miss Thursday morning Bible study during the summer. I feel so disconnected; going every week and having that fellowship grounds me for the rest of the week. Okay, I'll stop whining now!

Well, I should go make sure the little hooligans aren't making too much mischief in the backyard (thank You God for a big backyard!) and that Lysa is happy listening to the new CD we got from the library. Send good wishes Jolie's way today!

Monday, June 23, 2008

2 1/2 Days...

... until school is over for the summer. On the one hand, I look forward to a more relaxed schedule and being able to do fun things with the kids, but in another way I dread it. I think partly it is because I'm not going to visit my family in NB until the fall so the summer seems to stretch longer than usual, though I've no doubt it will fly by. But the hardest part is juggling a special needs child with a (or when Mattias is here, two) high energy kids.

In many ways, Lysa is the least high-maintenance of all the kids. She enjoys the simple things in life, she is amazingly patient, and pretty much always joyful and laid-back. However, because of her disabilities, she's a completely hands-on child, especially when we go out anywhere. Mattias is more manageable now that he's older; more likely to do what he's told and is pretty good when we go out, unless Layni is along, causing mischief and mayhem. However, I still like to have my feet free to chase and hands free to grab, just in case - he is still, after all, an energetic and often mischievous kid. So really, it is impossible for me to take all three kids out anywhere by myself.

The challenge is not leaving Lysa out all the time. It can be very easy to just leave her at home, listening to music and kicking along, because she does love it, and she rarely complains. She is more unpredictable when taken new places... although she is infinitely more adaptable than she used to be, we're still unsure of how long it may take her to adapt to a different environment... she can become overstimulated by crowds or loud noises, though she has come so far since beginning school and acclimatizing to school assemblies, for example. Two of her favourite activities are going for walks and going swimming at the pool, which I'm sure will be a regular part of our routine this summer.

I'm sure that we will have a wonderful summer, but the idea of one hands-on and two high-maintenance kids home all day, every day, for two months straight... seems a bit overwhelming!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm Thankful For...

... my cozy warm fleece St. Andrews-by-the-Sea sweater that my aunt gave me two Christmases ago, that has been my faithful friend during this ridiculously cold spring.

... my bed and pile of blankets to snuggle into every night, and a roof over my head, as I know lots of people don't have that privilege.

... the sunshine when it actually comes out to brighten our days and our spirits!

... friends who are always there to encourage and uplift, to have fun with and inspire me just by being themselves.

... the Bible, which I'm learning more every day is full of God's wisdom and love.

... all books, which are the joy of my life!

... kids, who make me laugh and teach me new things every day.

... my family - I appreciate them more with every passing year.

... Jesus, who loves me no matter what, but who is also constantly working to make me more into His beautiful likeness and is infinitely patient with me in the meantime.

... the privilege of freely going to church and Bible study every week.

... things and people who make me laugh - like my brother sending me jokes via email or Lysa's infectious giggle.

... yummy food, and the people who make it (cause you know I hate to!)

... music that inspires or is just plain fun to listen to!

... mail - I always have and always will love getting mail.

... a good night's sleep.

... a remarkably healthy body which enables me to do all the things I do.

... TV on DVD - I love sitting down and being able to watch whenever I want.

... Jake - he has to live forever because I love our fat cat!

... a job that I love - that pays the bills but also allows me to serve and enjoy each day (well, most days!)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Watched Anne of Green Gables tonight with Layni. I LOVE that movie... and I miss the East Coast. September seems too far away. I finished "Before Green Gables" by Budge Wilson and was very pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it immensely - despite the sacrilege of not being written by L.M. Montgomery herself ;)

I can't believe it's June... where is the sun? Where is the warmth? It's depressing - literally.

I've been feeling disconnected. I've been helping out with childcare lately at Thursday morning Bible study and due to working in nursery, kidzone, being away or being at home with the kids, it's been a month and a half since I've gotten to attend an entire church service.

Well, it will probably help me to get to bed and get a good night's sleep. I'm hoping and praying for some sunshine this week to brighten the days and my spirit.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Everyday Miracles

I think when you're with children, experiencing the world through their eyes, you see miracles every day. I remember the moment when Layni first learned to put sounds together to read a Dick and Jane book - that miraculous moment of a whole new world opening up to her. I remember the afternoon she learned to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels - that exhilarating moment when she got it and she was flying along by herself. I remember the moment when Elysa got her first walker and was upright and moved along the floor by kicking her feet all by herself and the utter joy and wonder on her face.

There are those "normal" first moments of excitement that anyone experiences with a child - first step, first word, first day of school... Then with a child like Lysa, every tiny (to other people) milestone is a huge celebration. But for me, it also has planted in me an utter wonder and appreciation and thrill for the normal milestones of childhood development.

Everyone is delighted when their child learns to crawl, but I watch it with joy and amazement, because I know the strength and coordination and intricate movements it involves. I was watching one of our beautiful babies in Bible study today, scurrying across the floor, and it's truly a wonderful sight. Lysa can (and loves to) roll on her belly, she can even pull her legs up under her, but isn't able to get her arms going to crawl because she doesn't have the strength or coordination... and she may not (probably won't) ever be able to do that. And that's okay, because we adore her just as she is, and celebrate whatever she accomplishes. But it does give you a different perspective on the every day miracles of life.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tigh-Na-Mara

Jolie, the girls and I had an excellent three day get-away to Tigh-Na-Mara in Parksville on the island. To celebrate seven years together, Jolie cashed in airmiles so we could have a two night stay at this beautiful seaside resort. After a ridiculously expensive ferry ride ($80 each way), we checked into our lovely room, which had a full kitchen, big screen TV, and ocean front view... wow! Sunday afternoon, Lysa and I enjoyed a walk on the beach, splashing in the warm ocean waters as the tide came in, and then a refreshing nap, while Jolie and Layni ventured out for a trail ride, much to Layni's delight! We took another walk on the beach in front of our room after supper, with Layni and me splashing in the ocean and collecting seashells.

The next day, we went to Coombs to see the famous Old Country Market, where we admired the goats munching away on the roof, and bought cookies to munch on and wooden toys for the kids, before heading to the Parrot Refuge. As Jolie had visited a couple years ago with Marty, she and Lysa enjoyed a snack outside, while Layni and I enjoyed meeting the hundreds of rescued parrots from all over the world. Such beautiful and entertaining creatures, some of them in heart-breaking condition from being abused or neglected, but blessed enough to find a loving home in this refuge. That evening, we watched Veggie Tales: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - which I think Jolie and I enjoyed more than the girls (as usual). My favourite line was something to the effect of: "Nothing seems impossible after swimming 96 nautical miles without hands or feet!"

Tuesday morning, I went for a soak in the grotto spa after breakfast. It was a luxurious experience. They provided a fluffy robe, towel, and sandals to lounge in poolside before enjoying the mineral-infused waters, hot tub and cooling waterfalls. Afterwards, they provided orange-grapefruit-ylang body wash, shampoo and conditioner for your steaming shower and then hairdryers, curling irons, hair spray, lotions... anything you could think of to need. Once again, wow! I can see how people could get used to living in the lap of luxury :)

When I returned, we went for one last walk on the beach - this time the tide was out, so we walked and walked until finally meeting the ocean waves again. We delighted in the sea life... sand dollars, crabs, fish, and sea snails playing in the surf as well as the birds preying on them. The wonders of God's creation delight me every day! We headed home on the Coastal Renaissance, and it was a roomy, comfortable ride (though wildly windy outside).

We had sunshine and lukewarm weather for our trip and the rain held off until we headed home, so I can't complain. The only downside - and is this because I'm getting old? Because it's never been a problem for me in my life! - was that the beds in the hotel killed my back. I was stiff and sore on Monday, but pretty much any movement was difficult and painful on Tuesday, and I was beginning to panic that something was seriously wrong. (What if I can't move normally? How will I handle Lysa? What if I lose my job? How will I live with this horrible pain every day? Yes, I tend to panic/worry/imagine the worst!) Thankfully, I woke up Wednesday able to move freely and with only a twinge left over, and today I'm fine - thank You, God! I have so much more empathy for anyone who's experienced back pain now... and I pray (selfishly?) that I never experience it again!

It was lovely and refreshing to get away for a few days, to enjoy different experiences, savour the beauty of God's creation, and delight in peace and quiet for awhile. We had a wonderful time, and I'm so grateful for the getaway... thanks, Jolie!

Evil Streak

I don't like massages, but I love to have my back scratched. While Layni was in the tub tonight, I was telling her about my imaginary future when I become rich, I'm going to hire someone to scratch my back whenever I ring my little bell. So she came up with a business proposition - I pay her five dollars a year, and she will scratch my back whenever I ask. I gave her $5 and when Marty heard about this arrangement, he shook his head and told Layni, "You really need a business manager to negotiate your contracts." So tonight, she scratched my back half a dozen times when I asked.

When I told Jolie that I'd actually taken the $5 from Layni's wallet, she said, "That's so rude!" Marty's reply was, "You're evil, Janis!"

Maybe I am, but I thought it was funny...

and I did confess to Layni later in the evening. She gave me a funny look and then laughed. Good thing she's got a sense of humour... of course, I've probably emotionally maimed her for life with my wicked ways... hee hee!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Girl Vacation!

Jolie, the girls and I are heading to the island for three days of rest and relaxation... without boys... yay!!! No offense, Marty ;) Okay, gotta go get the monsters ready... we're leaving in an hour!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'M GOING TO SEE MADONNA!!!

You know, I wasn't the biggest Madonna fan in junior high or high school; I enjoyed some of her songs, but not enough to buy an album. And her in-your-face-look-at-me-I'm-so-sexually-rebellious persona never appealed to me. It was after I saw Evita in college (she truly did an a amazing job in that role!) and she embraced motherhood and started to tone down her obsession with sex that the tide started to turn for me. When I started working for Jolie seven years ago, I listened to the Music album a lot, as that was what the girls listened to in utero and would calm them down when they were infants. Since Jolie is such a huge fan, I've gotten to listen to her albums and I've grown to love a lot of her music... it's fun! And all the songs on the Immaculate Collection bring back all those memories of the growing-up years... it's funny how hearing an old song will bring a memory back. So for my seven year anniversary with the family (today!), Jolie bought tickets to the Madonna concert in the fall. My last concert was ten years ago... dc talk, before they broke up... remember, Alisha? Generally, I'm not a concert person... too loud (I'm so old!)... I'd rather just watch the concert DVD in the comfort of my living room - plus, it's a lot cheaper! But I think this concert will be a once-in-a-lifetime event... THANKS, JOLIE!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh God...

Jesus, this is another time that we think, "WHY?!" How could You let this happen? How can anything good come out of this? Oh Lord, I lift this family up to You and beg You to help them get through the days and months and years ahead. Only with You, could someone survive such tragedy. Oh Jesus, I know this beautiful little girl is safe and sound and eternally happy in Your arms at this very moment, but her parents and siblings, especially her brother, must feel so utterly heartbroken and maybe they feel abandoned by You. Oh Jesus, I pray especially for her brother... a horrible accident that will haunt him the rest of his life. Oh Jesus, don't let him be destroyed by guilt and self-hatred... give him a hope and a future in You. Somehow use this horrible thing for Your glory... to draw each member of this family closer to You and to each other. Comfort them, Jesus, give them the strength to keep on breathing and to hang on tight to each other. Oh Lord, there are no words, but my heart cries out to You on their behalf... pour out Your mercy and grace on them. Help them, Jesus, as only You can. Help us all, Jesus, to see You in the midst of the darkness of this world, in the midst of hopelessness and despair, help us to hang onto You for dear life. Oh Jesus, thank You for being our hope, thank You that You are bigger than all of this, and someday, we will all be Home with You and it will finally all be okay.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Innocence Lost... Again

"To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure."

Titus 1:15

Tonight, I was feeding Lysa supper while Marty did the dishes (God bless him!) and he was goofing around, spraying Lysa with the hose from the sink, which made her giggle insanely (and got the floor all wet, but once again, making Lysa laugh trumps all common sense!). I laughed and called him and Lysa a couple of goofs, to which Marty and Jolie promptly informed me that the word is now a very derogatory term that would get me beat up if I used it in public. Seriously? Goof is now worse than a swear word? I feel like that day in college, when walking with my best friend, she informed me that fairy no longer refers to the woodland sprites of our childhood imaginings, but is now a homosexual term. Why? Why do people take my precious language from me and pollute it to mean terrible things it was never intended to mean? And I, in my innocence, am completely ignorant until some wiser soul educates me in the hope that I won't inadvertently get pummelled someday.

It's a good thing my citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), because sometimes I just can't handle this world anymore!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Best Kind of Friend...

The best kind of friend is someone who even when one or both of you feel like complete crap, you can still just be together and enjoy each other's company. My best friend is like that... no matter how much life sucks, it's still fun just to be together... and we've been through it all together!

Today, I had lots of stuff I should be doing... preparing for Bible study tomorrow and finishing the thank you notes for our Ladies' Spring Tea being at the top of the list... but last night, I was talking to a friend whose family is going through all kinds of stuff and she just doesn't feel like getting out of bed in the morning - I well know that feeling! I suggested we get together to watch an Audrey Hepburn movie. We ended up watching two Jimmy Stewart movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel... The Glen Miller Story and Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. She was in her pj's, and me in my comfy blue fleece sweatshirt and jeans, and we just snacked and watched and occasionally giggled and marvelled about how great old movies are. Sometimes there's nothing you can do to make a situation better, but you can always just be there... and often, that's enough. I know from experience. I'm honoured to have that kind of friend, and to be that kind of friend... the very best kind.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Loving the Sunshine!

Today was a great day. I slept in for the first time in a long time and enjoyed the rest too much to wallow in guilt about wasting half of such a beautiful day. After a late breakfast, Layni and I cleaned out and filled our little wading pool in the backyard. She, DeeDee and I all squished in for some splashing, kicking fun in the hot sun. While Lysa was napping later, Layni and I laid out on a blanket, doing puzzle books together, then played badminton and tag until supper time. Us girls are heading to Merritt tomorrow for an overnight visit to Jolie's mom and stepdad's, while Marty stays home and enjoys some peace and quiet. I wonder if it will make him miss us? Or just wish we were all gone more often? Haha!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why Do I Blog?

I was introduced to blogging about two years ago by my friend Krista. You have to know I am the MOST computer illiterate person on the planet... I'm able to check my email and google things and that's about it! The first year or so, I ended up posting about once a month, an update on the month's activities. Then about a year ago, I started a new blog in a fit of desperation and depression late one night and titled it "What's Wrong With Me?"

Why do I blog? For one thing, it's a practical way to keep in touch with long-distance friends and family who want to know what I'm up to... they can click onto my blog and get an idea of what's happening in my life.

But I think, for me, the most important thing it does, ironically - because I know this is not true of all blogs - is keep me accountable. I'm the kind of person who it's not easy for me to say things out loud, especially if it's anything personal or painful. Writing has always been my strongest form of communication. When I'm not doing well with my depression, that's when I'm most unable to reach out to other people and yet, when I most need it.

The past couple weeks have been hard... a dear friend died, which just gets your mind going in all sorts of directions, good and bad, aside from the grief and loss; and something else happened that broke my heart. It's been hard to get out of bed in the morning, to summon the willpower to do the things that need doing, to reach out and say hey, I just need someone to hang out with. Because when you're depressed, the self-destructive behavioural defenses kick in... I'm not going to let anyone see me weak, I'm not going to ask for help, I deserve all the pain I feel, etc. I tend to take anything negative in my life - circumstances, feelings, conflicts - and turn it inward against myself as a weapon.

Thankfully, I have a solid foundation of hope and faith in Jesus. I have resources in Him. Granted, I don't always use them, but I am getting better. I don't wallow in the pit of self-hatred and self-destruction that I used to... now I only stick my toe in sometimes ;)

So, I want to get back to using this blog to keep myself accountable in my struggles... to say when I'm having a hard time... because when you bring things out of the darkness and into the light, they're never as bad as you think they are, and only then can you work on healing. So, I want to take even five minutes at the end of each day, maybe just to say, today was hard, or today was good, or this is what I want to work on, or this is what I hope is better tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

The kids are in bed, Marty is at work and Jolie and I are hanging out downstairs, listening to records; she's working while I check my email. I just got up to flip over the record and tripped over the laundry basket and flew halfway across the room. No, I'm not hurt, thank you for asking. Jolie asked about ten minutes after the incident, when she had stopped laughing long enough to form words. It reminds me of the time we all dressed up as ghosts for Halloween because we thought it would be such an easy costume. Layni tripped on her bedsheet and fell down. I tried to comfort the crying, hysterical child while Jolie rolled around on the sidewalk, hysterical herself, with laughter. She says people falling down is just funny. So note to all of you, if you fall down and seriously hurt yourself, you better pray there's someone other than Jolie around to help you!

Layni woke me up at 1:30 this morning with some crazy story about Lysa... finally I said, "Is Lysa awake? Is she whining?" After staring at me for a few moments, Layni replied, "Yes." I think she was half-asleep and dreaming. When I went upstairs, I found Lysa screaming and crying. Funny how they can be fine one day, and wake up sick the next. I think she has a bit of a cold, so I gave her a syringe of Pediasure, some water and cold medicine and brought her into my bed to snuggle. We ended up listening to a CD of silly songs all night (thank God for the "Repeat All" button on CD players!) and sleeping in this morning. I was just telling a friend yesterday that my hours are unpredictable!

Marty and Jolie took Layni and Mattias out to Langley to have dinner with Marty's mom and brother. Lysa and I stayed home and went out for a long walk, enjoyed the fresh air and got some CDs from the library. Tonight, after tucking the kids into bed, Jolie and I sat down to Desperate Housewives, our recent Sunday night tradition.

I called my mom to wish her a happy Mother's day, of course. I love my mom... she is so much fun, funny, generous, kind, honest, loving... the absolute best. I am SO grateful to have her in my life, and can't wait to see her in the fall!

Well, I'm going to get off the computer and get to bed at a reasonable hour, hopefully. I've been re-reading Anne of Green Gables... my mother's copy from when she was a girl... and I'm almost done. Such a classic!

And oh yes, the best Mother's Day present of all... Jolie had her last shift at the Foggy Dew last night... she's FREE!!! She may fill in occasionally when needed, but now it's up to her, she can say no if she wants to... now the jewelery business just needs to take off and make a profit, and we'll be set!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Confession and Thanksgiving

I have a confession to make. Today, I stole a Reader's Digest from the dentist's office. I justified it to myself because it didn't have a sticker on it saying "Property of the Dentist's Office" - but that's no excuse. I confess to my criminal activity, and I'm sorry. But I'd probably do it again.

What caused this lapse of moral judgement? I was holding Dee Dee, who had passed her dental exam with flying colours (and none of her usual screaming or whining - way to go, kid!), when I glanced over to the table next to the couch we were sitting on. The cover said, "Guess Who's Most Polite: Reader's Digest Tests Canadians' Courtesy." Nothing that earth-shattering or exciting, but I was curious to see if the Maritimes would score higher than the West Coast. (Moncton was the city with the highest score - way to go NB! - with Calgary and Vancouver tied for second.) As I was looking at the table of contents to find the pertinent page, I saw an article titled "Finding Baby Jessica... Again." All I saw were the words Baby Jessica and I thought, "Oh, the baby that fell down the well in Texas... I wonder how she's doing!" But when I turned to page 64 after looking at the results of the courtesy survey, I found a very different story... one I'd never heard before.

It told the story of three teenage boys heading home after school one spring day in 1986 in a rural community outside Victoria. They heard a strange sound coming from the ditch across the road and when they went to investigate, they found a gym bag sitting in the stream of water. Inside they found a soaking wet newborn baby girl. In a time before cell phones or even 911 in rural areas, they flagged down a passing car who went for help. When rescue personnel showed up twenty minutes later, the boys were told the infant was 2 or 3 hours old and may have been in the ditch for an hour or more. If she had been found ten or twenty minutes later, she likely would have died of exposure or drowned. She was dubbed "Baby Jessica."

The boys grew up, married and had families of their own. But every April 14th, they would raise a beer in her memory and wonder how she was doing.

Twenty years later, they received a phone call and heard a voice saying, "Hello. I'm Baby Jessica. Thank you for saving me." A week later they and their families got to meet her in person. She had been adopted into a loving family with a brother and sister, loved horseback riding, gymnastics, basketball and snowboarding, and was now training to be a paramedic.

I couldn't believe this story... that someone would leave their child in a cold, wet stream to die... that the boys would be at the exact right place at the exact right time to save a little life...

To me, it shows how depraved human beings can be in our selfishness... no doubt, this was a very broken mother to have abandoned her child like that... what had happened to her to make her take such an action? It also shows me how good God is, that He would arrange for those boys to find that innocent little girl and save her life, and provide her a loving family to nurture her and provide what her birth parents could or would not.

And I want to shout to the world how good God is, tell everyone the good news...

because that beautiful girl is my cousin.

Bad Influence?

Jolie just said to me, "Elayna's going to be a performing nun! All she wants to do is perform in front of the school and listen to Christian music and pray! What have you done to my daughter?!"

I guess while I was at Bible study tonight, she told Jolie she wants to go to Catholic school. "What seven-year-old wants to go to Catholic school?" I blame that on Jolie, however, telling her how much she enjoyed being taught by the nuns. I really don't see Layni being a nun, but who knows?!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

My Best Friend's Husband...

... is an amazing man, and I am so grateful that God brought him into her life. He's not perfect, but he is perfect for her. And it is a great comfort to me to know that though I'm far away and unable to be Jesus' hands and feet in her life, he is there, doing his best, doing an extraordinary job... an everyday hero... thanks, Derek. I love you and admire you and respect you and appreciate you so much, though I don't say it often enough... thank you for taking care of my best friend. Thank you for being you, for being a reflection of Jesus' extraordinary love in our lives... you may not feel like it, but you truly are.

*Again, click on the title for the link.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Crazy...

I've been watching video and looking at pictures from the flooding in New Brunswick... places I know are underwater, businesses are flooded, schools are closed, some people's homes have literally floated away (though no one I know personally). So far all my family and friends are safe, though it's hard to get around as numerous roads are underwater, and my dad's automotive shop may be flooded. He went fishing this weekend nonetheless... after all, worrying about it is not going to help, so might as well fish! That's my dad's philosophy of life, God bless him. And it's true. My mom and I, on the other hand, are more the worrying type ;) My mom, who works at the airport, says people getting off flights remark on how bizarre it is to fly over, because everything is covered in water. So far, there have been no deaths reported, thank God, but I can't even imagine the cost of damage to homes and businesses, and New Brunswick is not the richest province to start off... well, not financially. In spirit and kindness, we are second to none!

*I'm still working on my skills, but if you click on the title, you can see pictures of the flooding.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Layni's Philosophy of God

Layni and I were walking home from the mall this afternoon after running an errand for Jolie (buying the new Madonna CD) and of course, Layni wants to play that game that all kids play... don't step on the cracks or those rocks, only on these lines, or whatever the rules happen to be...

Me: "What am I supposed to do, float over the rocky part?" (It would have been impossible to not step on some of the parts she said were out of bounds.)

Layni: "Don't be silly, people can't do that!"

Me: "Jesus can!"

Layni: "Jesus doesn't count, He can do anything!"

Me: "Like what?"

Layni: "Like make people blind."

Me: "Pardon me? Don't you mean make blind people see?"

Layni: "No, He can make people blind, like Paul in the Bible."

Me: "Oh yeah... I guess He can do anything. Can He even do bad things?" (What do you mean, do I like to bait the little children? Okay, yeah, I do.)

Layni: "Nooooooo..."

Me: (Still baiting) "But I thought He could do anything."

Layni: "He could do bad things, but He's good, so He wouldn't, so He can't."

Me: "You're smarter than most theologians."

Can't Sleep

It's 12:50 AM and my heart is grieving for a friend who has thrown away God's love, and the love of her husband and friends... I'm praying the prodigal will return home... I love her and miss her so much. It haunts me night and day. Oh God, bring her home to us, please.

There are so many heartaches, troubles, sorrows, trials in this world... people I love and care about... sometimes it's overwhelming. But I cling to my hope in God, for when everything else passes away, He remains.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tidbits on the Last Week

Vancouver Fashion Week went well for Jolie. There were "living models" who modeled her jewelery on Wednesday and Thursday, she had a vintage style exhibit that attracted a lot of attention, she made lots of contacts in the industry, did her first interview, learned tons, and felt good about the results. She has a meeting tomorrow in Yaletown with a store interested in selling her designs. Hopefully, it will all translate into sales, because she is so close to quitting the bar - they keep scheduling her for days they KNOW she can't work... it's so ridiculous and frustrating.

It was a quiet weekend with the girls gone to visit their dad's side of the family. It was nice to spend some one-on-one time with Mattias... he's such a good kid when Layni's not around! We watched Brother Bear and its sequel on Friday and Saturday night, went to our church's open house on Saturday, which featured... A BOUNCY CASTLE!!! I don't think Mattias will ever get over the excitement! He asked the poor face painters to make him a Spiderman mask to cover his face (quelle surprise!) but happily settled for a bicycle instead. He was quite thrilled when Layni got home early enough on Sunday for them to play together before he went back to his mom's (as was Layni) - such a love/fighting relationship with those two!

Mattias decided to stay home from church to be with his dad, as there was no Kids Church on Sunday morning. I felt kind of bereft without kids to chase after; luckily, my buddy Maegan came that Sunday and kept me company. We chatted and drew pictures and had a good time (while totally paying attention to the service of course, haha!). It reminded me of after ladies' Thursday morning Bible study when I first got to know her, and she would teach me dance moves or we would play hide 'n' seek. For someone who used to only half-jokingly say of kids, "I hate the little buggers!" I get quite attached to all my little buddies. Thanks, Maegan, for sitting with me and helping me not be lonely on Sunday morning! I love you!

EXCITING BREAKTHROUGH!!! Lysa listened to her earphones - ON her ears! - for 15 minutes two days in a row! This is so exciting because (like Warren in There's Something About Mary) she HATES having anything around or on her ears. My mom suggested that it's maybe because her hearing is her strongest sense and she might fear being cut off from the outside world, which makes sense. I am so proud of her!!!

Tuesday was Earth Day, and Layni read her poem and performed a song with her class at the school assembly. At a couple points, we could totally hear her little voice belting it out over everyone else. Lysa too performed with her class, ringing her bells as they sang a song. I am one of those "parents" that doesn't pay attention to anyone else's kids, because I'm so focused on my little cuties. They do have their adorable moments! After the assembly, the school went on a nature walk through the woods. Jolie and I went with Lysa and her special needs buddies, Leanne and Ella and their SEAs, on quite challenging terrain. I'd forgotten what a good workout those trails are... my heart was really pumping! At a few places, Jolie and I had to "portage" - lift up the stroller and carry it over big rocks - which Lysa finds hilarious, the pampered little princess! We used to do a lot of strenuous hiking like that, but the last couple years have gotten so busy - we really miss it. The gym does not compare at all to that real-life cardiac workout - and yet, you enjoy the beauty of God's creation so much, it's worth it.

Layni and her friend have started a club - that's her new thing, starting clubs at school - first it was the skipping club and now it's the picking up litter club. I love her passion for helping the environment.

We are three weeks into Beth Moore's "Breaking Free" Bible study on Wednesday nights (which I'm also doing with a couple friends on Friday mornings, so I should really know my stuff by the end of the study!) and we had a great discussion tonight about the benefits of our relationship with God...

1. Knowing God and believing Him
2. Glorifying God
3. Finding satisfaction in God
4. Experiencing the peace of God
5. Enjoying God's presence

See, I am learning something! There's so much to think about - it's really challenging me, "Do I really believe what I say I believe, and if I really do, how is that going to affect my life? Because if I really believe, these are life-changing truths!"

And when I got home, Marty had a delicious steak waiting for me... yummy! Yes, he has his good points ;)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oh God...

I cry out to You, Lord. I just got the email that Sandra is home with You. Oh Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief. I know she is in perfect peace and health, no more pain or suffering, that her faith has become sight, that she is rejoicing in Your arms right now, and I am so happy for her, Lord. But so, so sad for us. Oh God, I thought she would pull through this time like so many others... I guess no matter what I knew in my head might or probably would happen, my heart couldn't conceive that she would actually leave us. Oh Jesus, help her husband and her sons... give them a hope and a future, which I'm sure they cannot fathom without her in their lives. The world just seems emptier now. Oh God, help them to keep breathing, to survive this loss, this pain... I can't even imagine. Oh Lord, hold them in Your arms... they need you so much, we all do. I don't have any words, Jesus, I don't know what to say, except help us all survive this, help us carry on in a way that honours who Sandra is, which hasn't changed at all even though she doesn't walk this earth anymore. Help us remember our dear beautiful friend as we worship and praise You as she did through the good, the bad and the ugly. Help us to love and to give and to embrace life completely like her. Help us to be just a little bit like this amazing wonderful lady, and the world, though emptier, will be a better place. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for blessing my life with her presence... for her love, encouragement, faith; she taught me so much, just by being herself. Oh God, thank You that we have hope in You - and help us to hold onto our faith until one day, our faith too, becomes sight, when we stand in Your glorious presence and all our hurts are healed and we become fully ourselves, everything You created us to be. Oh Jesus, my tears cry out to You for all of us who loved Sandra... they say what words never could. To You, Jesus, be all honour, glory and praise, for You alone are worthy. Give Sandra a hug from me, Jesus. In Your precious name I pray, amen.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Will-Powered Faith

This post was written by Beth Moore's son-in-law, Curtis Jones. If I was a little computer savvier, I would just post the link, but I'm not, so I copied and pasted instead :) It really spoke to me of how trying to do things without the power of the Holy Spirit is going to end in disaster, one way or the other.

"I’m the king of commitments. My specialty is spiritual commitments. I’m going to read through the Bible in one year. I’m going to share my faith every day. I’m going pray with my wife every night. You name the commitment and I guarantee I have made it. And broken it. Each time I come with good intentions, a pure heart, and an intense desire to do what is right, but rarely does it work.

Will-powered faith is the worst kind of faith. A relationship with God that is rooted in our ability or strength is doomed to fail for two reasons. First, a will-powered faith will result in self-loathing. We make commitments, try our hardest, give it our all, and fail. So we try again…and fail. And the only person we have to blame is ourselves. Some of us suffer from a spiritual depression because we have lived in a cycle between trying and failing for so long. Second, if our will-powered faith doesn’t end in self-loathing it is because it ended in self-righteousness. We make commitments, try our hardest, and we succeed. We congratulate ourselves on a job well done. Then we look around and notice that other people are not experiencing the same success we are. Why don’t they try as hard as me? Maybe they are just not as godly. Self-loathing or self-righteousness—God hates both.

That’s why he sent us a Helper. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17, ESV). Jesus said it was to our advantage that He went away so He could send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7) to rescue us from the inevitable cycle of human strength-centered living. He will give us the help that we cannot give ourselves. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21, ESV). The Holy Spirit’s power at work within you, the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11), is able to do for you supernaturally what you could not do naturally: live for Jesus and resist fast food."

Kid Stories

Since Layni has gone with me to church for several years, she incorporated prayer time after our story into the bedtime routine a couple years ago. Well, I guess Mattias has heard us pray and wants to get in on the action now too. I've never asked him if he wanted to pray, because Marty is very non-religious, and I think his mom is too, and I'm not about to start anything that would offend either of them. But the last few weeks he has asked me if we can pray as I'm tucking him in after story time and I can't say no. My prayer usually goes something like, "Thank You, God, for today and (whatever fun things we did) and help us all get a good night's sleep." (Simple, honest, and non-offensive, I think.) Then Mattias prays and it's always something like, "Thank You, God, for everything. I wish I could play Spiderman but I can't because it's bedtime. (Big sigh) Amen." That kid cracks me up all the time!

The power of peer influence... for her birthday, Layni got a Geronimo Stilton book from one of her school friends, and has been obsessed ever since... which is fine with me, as I quite enjoy them too! She also got a Hannah Montana board game from one of her friends. I'd never heard of Hannah Montana before and neither had Layni, but she's since discovered the show on TV and is similarly infatuated. Tonight, she and Mattias were playing with their imaginary friends, Spidey and Miley. I guess there are worse things she could be interested in - and she's quite impressed because one of her school friends told her that the real Miley is a Christian... wow, she sings, dances and loves Jesus - Layni's new superhero! I think Mattias is going to stick with Spiderman though, even though Layni's trying to convert him!

Lysa has been healthy and happy all week, super excited to be back at school with all her friends. Layni and I discovered today that she likes to be "Dust-busted" - Layni was cleaning up a mess on the living room floor and pretended to vacuum Lysa up too. Instead of freaking out like I expected, she burst into uncontrollable giggles. Crazy kid! Her laughter is such a blessing to us all.

The girls are going to visit their grandparents this weekend, so Mattias and I will find some adventures, I'm sure. We might go to the Open House at our church on Saturday afternoon... I hear there's a bouncy castle, and really, what more could a kid ask for? Janis, on the other hand, could definitely ask for cake... always obsessed, haha!