Obscure Questions

So I needed some lighter material for this old blog, so I thought I’d dig up one of those silly internet questionnaires that you answer so your friends can find out new things about you. Want to play? Then, TAG, you’re it.

1: What eye color do you find sexiest? Dark, stormy, ocean blue. Just like my husband’s.

2: White, milk, or dark chocolate mocha? Well if it’s a mocha I like a half sweet raspberry mocha.

3: If you could get a Sharpie tattoo on your back, what would it be? I wouldn’t.

4: Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it? A few small towns. Some of them yes (Sicamous!) and some of them no (Clearwater.)

5: Your favorite adult as a child? (and not your parents, if they were your favorite.) My Nana’s sister, Auntie Dee. We didn’t see each other very often but we had a soul connection. She was gentle and very old – a good ten or twelve years older than my Nana I think.

6: What kind of smoothie sounds really good right now? Anything with berries.

7: Most embarrassing moment from your elementary school years? Scoring on my own team’s net in gym class.

8: Most embarrassing moment from your middle school years? Getting caught in a lie about my age.

9: Most embarrassing moment from your high school years? My high school years were one long embarrassing moment.

10: Pirates or ninjas? Why? Pirates. Because they get to spend a lot of time at sea.

11: Have you ever climbed a tree more than twenty feet off the ground? Yes.

12: Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing set? I still swing on swing sets. 🙂 I swing so high the chains lose their tension and you free fall for a second.

13: If you could have any pet in the world, illegal or not, what would you get? Neutron the Cat is pretty much the best pet ever.  I’m not a huge animal lover. I might keep peacocks though. So pretty! Actually I like birds a lot. Never had a bird.

14: What’s your most favorite part of your body? Eyes for sure because I like seeing beauty. And I like to read. And I like to look at people’s faces. And the different tricks that light does. But as far as liking the way a body part looks? My breasts are pretty good, ha ha! They somehow survived the babies just fine. If only it was socially acceptable to hide your thighs and bare your beasts. I’d look waaaaay better in a swimsuit then. That’s life, I guess. I also like having a dimple when I smile. My husband likes my eyebrows of all things.

15: What’s your most favorite part of your personality? My relentless desire to be real.

16: Madonna or Lady Gaga? Neither? Both? Who cares? Who cares. Except if I was forced to choose, I’d pick Madonna because she is more my ‘era.’ Whatever that means.

17: Have you ever watched the Superbowl all the way through? Yes! Lots of times. But only because I was at a party.

18: Have you ever watched any major sporting event drunk? No.

19: What’s the most delicious food you’ve ever eaten in your life? Honey.

20: Margarine or butter? Which did you grow up with? Butter. Butter. Butter butter butter butter butter.

21: Whole, skim, 1%, or 2% milk? (Did you know they make 1 1/2% milk?) 1%

22: Which continents have you been on? North and Central America.

23: Do you get motion sickness? Any horror stories? Nope.

24: Backpacks or satchels? Ummmm. Whatever suits the occasion?

25: Would you wear a rainbow jacket? A neon yellow sweater? Checkered pants? Maybe the first one.

26: What was your favorite cartoon growing up? Looney Tunes. Flinstones.

27: If you had to have a cow or a pig, which would you take? Why? I LOVE cows. Gentle giants they be. If I’m out for a walk and I see one I woo her over to the fence with grass.

28: If you had to look at one city skyline for the rest of your life, which would it be? I like Vancouver and Seattle, but those are pretty much the only ones I’ve seen.

29: Longest plane ride you’ve ever been on? Mexico! Don’t remember how long.

30: The latest you’ve ever slept? *shrug*

31: Would you buy a sweater covered in kitten pictures? Would you wear it if someone gave it you for free? No. No.

32: Do you pick at scabs? Yes. Gross, but yes.

33: Favorite kind of bean? Kidney? Black? Pinto? Black. I cook with them often. Also, chickpeas.

34: How far can you throw a baseball? *shrugs*

35: If you had to move to another country, where would you move? Lots of them! We’ve talked about moving to many places. So many options. Canada is a pretty sweet place to live though.

36: Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? Vietnamese? Korean? Nepalese? How was it? No, yes, yes, no. Delicious!

37: Small, liberal arts school or public university? Why? It doesn’t matter. The quality of the education depends on the student. A lot of it anyways.

38: A relationship with love or one with sex? Um, both.

39: Do you eat enough vegetables? Close, but I could always use some more. Good thing I love ’em.

40: Do you like horror movies? How about thrillers? I outgrew horror movies when I became a mother. But I can still appreciate a good thriller.

41: Would you scratch a crotch itch in public? No.

42: Do you swear in front of your parents? Yes.

43: Coolest thing you’ve ever been for Halloween? Turtle.

44: If you could change your natural hair color, would you? To what? Strawberry blond.

45: Do you want to get married? Have kids? Sounds good. 🙂

46: Do you use a reusable water bottle? If not, you should. Yes, and yes, I know.

47: City or nature person? Both.

48: Have you ever used something other than “makeup” as makeup? (Like paint? Markers?) No.

49: Can you walk well in high heels? Even if you’re a guy? No.

50: Post 5 awesome things about yourself. BRAG AWAY! 1) I think I’m a pretty good friend. Not perfect, but I am very committed. 2) I am a good mom (even, usually, in the moments when I think I’m not.) 3) I am open to new experiences and I am pretty laid back, ie// I don’t freak out. 4) My eyebrows 😉 5) I can cook pretty well, but I am an awesome baker!

So, that’s the end of that. It was pretty long. And now I realize that it was intended for someone about half my age. And some of the questions were dumb. But oh well. Thanks for reading!

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10 Things I Like About My New House

Alternate Title: Something shorter and less intense than my latest posts. 🙂

We moved into our new place in November, and here we are wrapping up February now. We’re beginning to settle in. We like it here. Here are ten of my favorite things about it.

1) The kitchen. The kitchen and the yard were probably the two things we were the most excited about after we made the purchase but before we made the move. We were so impressed by these two things that we could hardly remember anything else about the place as we anticipated living in our new house. The kitchen introduced a new colour into my life: RED. I love it. It has a nicely sized dining space, with ample room for our dining table, which is something that our last kitchen didn’t have. At Christmas dinner we added another table into the same space and sat 13 people. Comfortably. Amazing.

2) Having fires. When we bought the house the fireplace was mostly just an ugly red brick focal point in the living room that I couldn’t wait to paint or drywall over. I knew we would be able to have fires, but since I’ve never really lived in a house with a real working fireplace before I just didn’t realize how nice it is to have a fire. We do it all the time. It’s so relaxing. And pretty. And romantic. 🙂

3) The neighbours. There are two kids across the street who are the exact same age as our kids. They all play together just about every single day. It. Is. Awesome. The other day my husband said that he would have moved here just for that, regardless of anything to do with the actual house. I agree.

4) The hidden treasures in the backyard. Like I said, we moved here in November, so the yard has been buried under a layer of snow. I can see that there are flowerbeds marked out with pretty round riverstones. I can see that there is a fenced in garden area complete with compost bins up on the second tier. I can see a stone birdbath. I can see various trees including a few lilac bushes (I’ve always wanted a lilac!) But I have no idea what will come up in the spring. I am excited about the discoveries to come.

5) The neighbourhood. It is quiet. It is safe. It is friendly. It feels like we live in a cocoon up here.

6) The downstairs. I don’t spend nearly as much time down there as I do up here. But it has all the downstairs ‘things.’ Like an ugly but somehow cozy t.v. room where you feel comfortable leaving blankets laying around everywhere and the elliptical trainer doen’t look out of place. It has a laundry room with ancient cabinets tacked up which provides tons of extra storage for Costco-sized packs of toilet paper, rarely used cleaners and all the stuff I’m saving to donate to the thrift store. We never had much extra space to put that kind of stuff before. An extra bathroom. A computer room!

7) The kids’ rooms. The kids share a bedroom. Our youngest went through a phase of fascination with natural disasters last fall and consequently was having a lot of fear in the middle of the night. When we moved I suggested they share a bedroom and they went for it. They really seem to like this arrangement. They have their desks and toys in the third upstairs bedroom.

8) Everything is done. Pretty much. Parts of our new house are very dated (the bathrooms are just tragic) but all the important things – the roof, the hot water tank, the heat pump, the kitchen – have been redone in recent years. My friend lived here before us and I knew she kept up with all the maintenance. Everything is in great shape! It is so nice that any changes we need to do are purely cosmetic and are more on a want-to-do instead of a need-to-do basis. I know that things will come up eventually, but it’s a nice way to begin in a house.

9) The proximity to work. We used to be very central, and we moved to the outskirts, but I’m closer to my job, all the amenities are nearby, and the kids can take the school bus (I used to drive them) so I actually spend way less time driving. And less time shopping too. Whenever I ‘go to town’ I get as many errands done as possible so I can get back out of town asap.

10) The way it has changed our family dynamic. We’ve had a lot of big changes in the last few years. But nothing has changed our lives the way this move has. Our schedules are different. They way we spend our spare time. The way we relate to each other. The way relate to our environment. The level of safety and responsibility the kids feel. The tasks we each take on. The way we entertain. The way we feel.

We like it here.

My Birthday Request

Dear Family and Friends,

 

I am writing you this letter today because I wanted to get the word out before my birthday (next Wednesday) in case you were thinking about getting me a gift. I will give you a quick version and a long version, so you can decide for yourself how much information you want to read. 🙂

 

The Quick Version: For my birthday I am asking for money towards a special trip. I need to raise $1000 from friends and family. The trip itself will cost $3000, but the cost is divided into thirds. I paid $1000 as a personal commitment already. I am to raise an additional $1000 through friends and family (or make up the difference myself) and I am raising the last $1000 through fundraising efforts with the group I will be traveling with.

 

I will be going with a group from my church on a two week long short term missions trip to a country called Moldova to witness and assist the work of a ministry called Stella’s House. (You can read more about the situation in Moldova and Stella’s House in the long version below.) Moldova is a small European country sort of squished in between Romania and Ukraine. We will be traveling at the end of June and beginning of July. Don’t worry, I will be back in time for Dan and Chelan’s wedding. 🙂

 

The good news is that even though I am asking for the money as a birthday gift, I don’t need all of it right away (although the sooner the better, just to ease my personal  stress of planning). I will have a ‘Moldova Money Jar’ at my birthday party this Saturday night (if you’d like to come there is a facebook event with info). Or you can give me money later, or a post dated cheque, or whatever works. I can take cash. I can take a cheque (best made out to Gateway City Church). If you would prefer to come into the church, we have a debit machine that you can use. You can even send an e-mail money transfer to me right at the church office, office@gcchurch.ca (that e-mail address goes directly to me, by the way). If you want to receive a tax receipt for this ‘charitable donation’ just let me know and I’ll make sure you get one at tax time next year.

 

Thank you thank you thank you!

 

The Long Version: This is for anyone who wants to know a little bit more about the situation in Moldova, the work that Stella’s House does, or how I came to be involved in this trip.

 

Moldova is a very small country, and the poorest in Europe. Moldova is a hopeless place. It is the biggest hub for human trafficking, and particularly for the sex-industry, in all of Europe. 40% of the victims are children. Moldova is full of state-run orphanages, and often times parents who cannot care for their children chose to abandon their kids at the orphanages. The orphanages are over-run and the children are viewed as a drain on a society that is already hard-pressed. Orphans have social stigmas such as being worthless, wasted space, and as they get older, lazy, stupid and unemployable. At the age of 16 they are turned out from the orphanage onto the street to fend for themselves with $20 in their pocket, if they are lucky. They are easy targets for being picked up by people who want to ‘help’ them and who can offer them ‘good jobs’ in other countries. They are fed, clothed and exported. Most don’t know they are being trafficked until they reach their destination. In some cases orphanage directors have business arrangements with the traffickers where the children skip the street and are sold directly into slavery. Most girls are sent into the sex trade, and boys can be trafficked this way as well. Others are also sold into the labour force and are mainly exported to Russia.

 

Stella’s House was opened in 2006 as a refuge home for girls coming out of orphanage. It is 15 km from Moldova’s capital, Chisinau. It was opened by a man named Philip Cameron who had been working with orphans in Romania and Moldova for some time. There are now 3 Stella’s houses and a home for the boys called Simon’s House, and each house about 25 teenagers. The teenagers who live there are loved and assisted as they build strong and healthy lives for themselves. There are strict rules for those that live in the houses. They have to be in school. They are not allowed to use alcohol or drugs. They are not allowed to get involved with men because they are still very vulnerable and often people are trafficked through people that they know, friends or lovers. I found the following excerpt about how the ministry started:

 

Before opening Stella’s House, for many years Philip Cameron raised funds to aid and rebuild government-run orphanages in Moldova. He specifically began raising funds to help a very poorly maintained handicapped orphanage in Hincesti, Moldova, where he met a young girl named Stella. Stella suffered from epilepsy and was paralyzed on the right-hand side of her body. After visiting the orphanage several times, he became friends with Stella and she later called herself “Philip’s assistant”. Later, Philip returned to the orphanage to discover she was no longer there. When she turned 16 she was too old to stay and was forced to leave the orphanage. After searching, Philip learned that Stella was abused and died of AIDS from being sold into human trafficking. This motivated him to build homes called Stella’s Houses for young orphan girls to be protected from sex trafficking predators.

 

Why I want to go (the really long version): When I became a Christian I knew right away that I wanted to go out and do some kind of foreign mission some day. I felt quite intense about it, but looking back, I don’t recall why I felt that way. It just seemed like the right and natural thing to do I guess, although now that I’ve been a Christian for so long I have learned that not very many people are inclined towards that kind of opportunity / work  / adventure until God specifically calls them somewhere. All I know is that I wanted to go right away and have been waiting for this chance for a long time!

 

Having a young family to care for and restricted finances meant that this was one of those ‘one day’ dreams. I thought, ‘maybe this is something I will do when my kids are grown.’ Through reading and learning about the terrible situation in Thailand I became quite horrified and riled up in my spirit regarding the scope of child sex trafficking. Of all the injustices that occur in this world, that just makes my heart break and my blood boil, and I am convinced that God’s heart is also broken by this great darkness. I believe that as His children, Christians are meant to be his helping and healing hands, the ‘light of the world‘ so to speak. If I am to consider myself a child of God or a disciple of Christ, then I cannot just sit back and benefit from all the goodness that comes to my own life because of that relationship (and it is good). I must also go out into the world and do the hard work of taking God’s love into places where there is none. Jesus is love for the loveless and hope for the hopeless. I’ve known for a long time, probably a decade now, that if I ever did any kind of mission work, child sex trafficking would be my field.

 

But I was impatient. I wanted to do something. My desire to do something has pushed me to volunteer for all kinds of things locally, whatever pops up. Over the last five or so years a number of opportunities have come up for other short term missions trips. I made a few efforts to go. The first few fell through, and mostly from seemingly run of the mill reasons, usually for a lack of money and the complications of juggling our crazy school and work schedules and not wanting to leave the kids for too long. I kept hoping that God would supply the resources I needed, because God often does things like that.

 

I remember a lesson I learned one spring, just a couple of years back. My third opportunity to go on a trip came up. I knew that none of the usual things would be a barrier. The trip wasn’t going to be very long. The timeline fit well with our family schedule. And while the financial commitment would still be a stretch for us, it was completely doable. With an incredibly smug attitude, I remember thinking that I didn’t need God to pull any strings – I could make a missions trip happen all on my own. With Matthew’s agreement, I signed up. I don’t even remember where we were going to go, that’s how unimportant the actual trip was at that point. For me, it had all come down to being able to go, and nothing else.

 

A few weekends after I made that commitment, Matthew and I were away somewhere. I remember sitting on a hotel bed, reading a Max Lucado book, and the author was talking about the apostle Paul. If you don’t know, the apostle Paul was one of the very first Christians and he was a missionary who traveled all over the middle east teaching about what Jesus had done for us. Paul wrote a decent chunk of what we now call The New Testament (the second half of the Bible) in the form of letters full of teaching and encouragement to the churches he had started, visited, and had friends at. Paul wrote several of these letters from jail cells. He was imprisoned for his faith on a regular basis. So the author of the book I was reading was pointing out how frustrating it must have been for Paul to be stuck in a jail cell when all he wanted to do was go out on missions. Imagine giving your life to God, to want to do nothing more than His work, but to be stuck in a cell like that, wasting precious time, and literally praying to get out so you can get going. Imagine knowing full well that God has the power to get you out of jail, but chooses not to. Can you imagine the doubt? The frustration? You probably can. We all have prayed prayers that haven’t been answered. But as he sat in jail, biding his time, Paul wrote letters that God would eventually use to reach far more people with the gospel message than he could ever reach in person. Paul never knew what God was going to do with those letters while he was still alive on earth, and certainly not while he was sitting in jail writing them. He just knew he was stuck in jail, and that God was in charge.

 

I sat on that hotel bed. I thought, ‘Wow. That’s a really powerful story.’ And then I thought, “Oh, crap.” Was God trying to tell me something? I had a little talk with God that day. I apologized for my attitude, but I also felt a profound sense of peace, that even if I was ‘stuck at home not doing something,’ that God could somehow use what I was doing – in my family, in my social circles, by learning random stuff at school, by serving at the church and in the city – that He could somehow use all of this for His good purposes on the earth, in time, whether I knew it or not. Sure enough, when we arrived home a few days later, there was a bill waiting in our mail box for some uninsured dental work for the exact amount of money that I needed for the trip. I had to cancel my commitment. But I wasn’t disappointed and I even had to laugh because I now knew that God had done it.

 

And that is pretty much the attitude that I have carried on with. So I sort of gave up my little dream, but I also thought that God couldn’t have put this desire in me for nothing. So it’s pretty much been my ongoing prayer to say, “God I trust you. You know what you’re doing. My life is yours to use as you see fit. You know what my family needs. I do want to go on a missions trip sometime, and I think you must want me to go too, otherwise you wouldn’t have given me this desire. I know you have the power to make it happen or to not happen. So I will keep making attempts to go, and I just ask that you either close the door or open it according to what is best. Thank-you Lord!”

 

Almost as if in direct answer to prayer, another opportunity opened up fairly quickly. I okayed it with Matt. I made the commitment. And not too long after, the BC Children’s Hospital called with our first appointment date to see the surgeon for Adora’s scoliosis. We had been on the wait-list for that appointment for over a year. The date of the appointment fell in the exact middle of the dates for the missions trip. Door closed. Thank you Lord. I pretty much laughed out loud.

 

Now I have to interrupt this narrative. (Did you know I was going to send you a whole novel?) (If you know me at all, you probably suspected.)

 

I first heard of Moldova and the human trafficking problem there about three years ago through a blog I followed at the time. I was really impacted by that story and it stayed with me, just sitting there in the back of my mind. Then, about this time last year, we had a speaker at church who works with Next Level International, an organization that we as  support some missionaries through. This speaker comes to our church regularly, but last year he told us about a new ministry they were partnering with in Moldova – Stella’s House. I was just so excited I could hardly contain it. A few months after that, I heard through the grapevine that the leadership of our church was considering sending a team to work with Stella’s House in the future. My ears perked up and I have been praying about it ever since. I kept praying, “God, I know that You and I have this arrangement, and I am trusting you and if you say no I accept that no, but God I really really want to go. There. Moldova. I want to go there!”

 

The rest has come together fairly quickly. Last summer our Lead Pastor, Len, and his teenaged son Mark went to Stella’s House together to sort of scope it out. Upon their return there was suddenly talk that the mission trip would be an opportunity specifically be for the grade 12‘s in our youth group. This is not something our church has done before, although the youth have had opportunities to go with other groups. Coincidentally (oh wait, I don’t believe in coincidences) God had surprisingly gotten me involved with the youth group over the course of the last year. He just made me suddenly fall in love with the teenagers (that was weird) and want to hang out with them whenever I could. And so I have been. When the Youth and Children’s Pastor (my friend Marshall) put out the official announcement for the trip last fall, he included the information that there was only room on the team for two adult leaders – himself and one woman leader since most of the teens going are girls. I sent Marshall an e-mail straight away letting him know of my interest. Unfortunately, although he would love to have me along, he had already said yes to someone else, and had had a number of others ask to go as well. So I was in line, but probably not going. I let him know that I wanted to go, and would get ready to go, fundraise etc, but assume I probably wouldn’t be going. That way, if the opportunity opened up last minute, I wanted to be sure that I had done my due diligence and would be ready, but that the go would have to come from God. I opened a bank account with the intention to start tucking money aside and I started to really pray. Because it just felt right this time. And this trip isn’t the same as the other opportunities. On those ones I was willing to go anywhere, but this time Moldova is the place I want to go. Within just a few weeks I received another message from Marshall. The woman leader who was going to go suddenly dropped out, as did all the other ladies but one – my good friend Tanice. And, another spot opened up, so if we both wanted to go, we could go! And so I paid my first $500, and at the end of this month I’m paying another $500. I checked my passport. Tanice and I have chatted a bit about where our hearts are with it and we’re both pretty excited. I asked Mark if he would teach us some of the Russian and Romanian phrases he learned on his first trip (he is going back with us again). I keep going to God with my trust. I know that we still have several months to go before our departure, and that He could shut it down at any time. I trust Him. I trust His will. I will just keep getting ready to go. And so I’m asking for your financial support.

 

(And finally…) What I’m expecting: I have no idea what to expect! I’ve been thinking of this a lot as the last few weeks have unfolded. I still am not sure exactly what we’ll be doing with our days in Moldova although I heard that we might be helping to put on a kids’ program at an orphanage. Those details are still to come. In terms of what I think God will do with our efforts – well, God only knows! When I consider the scope of the problems and the evil that we want to come up against, I feel very small. Being that we will be there for such a short time, I feel like my role will be mostly that of a witness. This time feels more like a go-and-see trip than a go-and-do trip. I want to see what God is doing there. I just said that I feel small in the face of such great evil, but I also know that such great evil is small compared to an ever greater God. The fact that God has used, is using, and will continue to use such small things as willing human hands to work out His good purposes in the world is a mystery to me. But that’s exactly how He has chosen to do His work, and I just can’t wait to go and see how that’s all playing out. Love. Service. Rescue. And I’m hoping that maybe after I go and see, He’ll give me something more to go and do.

 

Thank you for reading my very long letter. I sat down this afternoon and meant to type out two quick pages or so, but here it is 10:00 pm and I’m finally wrapping it up on page six. If you didn’t feel like reading it all that is okay! I just thought that some people might want more details.

 

 

 

Learning to Honour

After some thought, I have decided against writing a lengthly post about my relationship with my Dad, the way I did about my relationship with my Mom.

My relationship with my Dad is very different. It followed a different timeline. In the years that my Mom failed me my Dad was there. My relationship with my Dad has actually been heading steadily downhill over the last decade. And it’s still not getting any better. What’s worse is that every time I take action to try and become closer to him again, to make up, to take back some of the increasing distance between us, my words and actions are always misconstrued, and end up somehow doing more damage. It’s frustrating as hell.

Maybe I don’t want to write about it because we don’t have a happy ending yet.

Maybe it’s because I know he would hate my writing about it. My Mom would be fine with my last post. We’re very honest with one another and with our feelings and with the world. My Dad would certainly not approve. So maybe by choosing not to flesh out this struggle in type, I can honour my father by my restraint, because that is what I want to do.

Honour. Respect. Your parents.

That’s what the Bible says to do. And that’s what I feel God tugging my heart toward lately. So far, I’m in the thinking phase. I’m examining my own attitudes and letting God, with his gentle way, shed some light on some of my own dark places, my own maliciousness, my own selfishness. I still don’t know the how. The practical, words and actions, concrete how. But it’s in my prayers and my hopes. And I know that God will open up some opportunities and give me the right idea at the right time.

Is it reasonable? Do they deserve it? That’s a question I asked myself all through my 20’s. With a lot of healing and growing still ahead of me, my own answer to that was no. Of course not.

Now, I think, maybe. Maybe yes, or maybe no.

An argument could be made either way. But the argument is moot because I feel God calling me to it, and sometimes when you’re going to follow God you have to leave reason behind you.

Deserve? The kind of love God showed me was undeserved. So if I’m going to follow God with my life ‘deserve’ can’t be a qualifier.

Besides, in many ways they were great parents and they definitely deserve credit for the many things they did right. Credit I have often been slow to give for fear that I would say that my hurts didn’t matter. Because they did matter. Sliding scales of good and bad can be very tricky. Which is why I choose the way of overwhelming love. Of forgiveness and honour and respect. I can do all things through God, who strengthens me. I just pray he shows me the way.

 

Thoughts on Mom

I have been through so many phases in my relationship with my parents, and how I think about my parents. I think that perspective is shifting once again.

When I was a teenager I hated my mom. Yes hate is a strong word. And yes that word crossed my mind frequently. I felt misunderstood all the time, or maybe worse, unheard. Like I didn’t matter at all. I was allowed to do anything I wanted, and I ran wild. I did all the things normal teenagers got in trouble for and I did them freely. At the time I thought it was great. I felt really mature. At home though, it was a lot of coldness and disengagement on one end of the scale or screaming, swearing and outright fist-fights on the other. In grade 12 I got a job and every payday I bought things like frying pans and bedsheets. I moved out when I was 18 and I never looked back. Well, not for the first few years anyway.

I met God and got married, both at the age of 20. My mom helped a lot with wedding stuff, and it was sometimes stressful but mostly fun. When I look back to my relationship with her when I was younger, our best times were always when we had a project to work on. She taught me many kinds of crafts – sewing and embroidery, stained glass. And she encouraged my artistic side, always giving me art books and supplies for my birthdays. She signed me up for a pottery workshop one time because in high school art class I really took to the potter’s wheel. She taught me how to sew and in high school I made a lot of my own dresses. After a couple of years of near silence after I had moved out, the wedding gave us a project to connect over again. We shopped together. She made the bridesmaid dresses. We did some crafting for decorations and stuff. As newlyweds, my husband and I moved to Edmonton for two years and I only saw her once in that time. The weekend that she came to visit us, I discovered that I was pregnant. That is a special memory and I’m glad we got to share it. That time apart allowed for some healing on my part as well, as I grew in my delicate new faith.

But it wasn’t all good. In my early 20’s I also began to deal with some of the spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical fallout from the sexual abuse I had experienced at the hands of my stepdad when I was pre-teen. It affected every part of me. My young husband and I were unprepared for the pervasiveness of the effects of that time. When I left home at 18 I thought I left all of that behind me, but the full force of what had happened to me and how it had broken me was never really evident until I was trying to re-build a healthy, happy and whole life for myself. I felt powerless against the brokenness. I saw how much the fallout was hurting my husband too and then guilt got all mixed up in my pain as well. Of course I looked for someone to blame, and the heft of it landed not on my abuser but on my mother who stood by and knowingly let it happen. As I looked back through the space of distance and time and maturity, I just could not comprehend how a mother could put her children in the path of danger, stand by and watch as evil devoured them, and then act as though nothing had happened. Mostly, I tried not to think about it, but when I did, feelings of horror and disgust rose up. I was glad that we were no longer close.

When I was in my mid 20’s I went through a whole slurry of emotions and thoughts about our relationship, but it was increasingly positive and healthy battle and we came out the other side friends. The first catalyst was becoming a mother myself. After having my second child, the post-partum sadness hit hard. I found myself having suicidal thoughts, which had been a regular occurrence for me as an anguished teenager, but that had disappeared for a few years. I had been though so much growth as a new Christian, and I felt a huge sense of failure at the arrival of these thoughts. I felt I couldn’t confide in any of my Christian family or friends because, first of all, I thought they wouldn’t understand – they all seemed so happy. Secondly, I felt like my own faith was not good enough. I had a relationship with God! I was saved and I had already been healed of so many hurts. In other areas I was still undergoing a healing processes but I could feel God in it. So much was so good, and I knew I was not supposed to be wishing for death, or imagining abandoning my family, which were the main fantasies I allowed to swirl through my mind in the long hours that I sat alone and breastfed. One day I actually caught myself calculating how much breast-milk I would need to pump and have stored away to get my family through the initial shock and confusion of my disappearance. For one clear moment I snapped out of it, realized I needed help now, and I called my mother. I knew she would drop everything and come immediately, and she did. I knew I could tell her everything and receive absolutely no judgement. I knew she knew how depression felt,  and had experienced what it felt like to want to die. I knew that in spite of our imperfect relationship, she would accept me in any condition, that nothing I could say would shock or horrify her, that she loved me and would help me. And when she got me though my crisis, she delivered me back into the hands of the family that I had chosen over her.

That was my last depressive crisis. I still get a touch of melancholy now and then but I haven’t experienced anything like that since. And I don’t think I will. No matter how bad I feel, I love my family too much to leave them alone. I know I am important to them and if I abandoned them it would be a horrible experience that would affect them for the rest of their lives. I simply refuse to go there. Not only that but I have learned a lot about depression and the sickness that it is. I know what to is to be happy. God has given me some understanding of my value to Him, and the enemy’s hate for all that God loves and his intent to destroy. I’ve also come to know that brokenness is not something unique to me. That we’re all broken in some form or another and experience pain. I know that the whole reason that Christ came down and became a human being was to rescue us from all of that. He – God himself – innocent, good and full of love and power, allowed himself to experience rejection, humiliation, betrayal, misunderstanding, and the physical torture of being stripped, whipped, mocked, and nailed to that cross to free us from all that mixed up pain and shame and guilt from our own wrongs and the wrongs that have been committed against us. I allow myself to rest inside of this truth.

I have learned some of the physiological processes of depression. I avoid drugs as much as I can and I try to deal with the roots of my issues instead of ignoring them and just treating the symptoms. I try and control my emotions by giving my body and mind what it needs on any given day, be it sunshine or quiet time or worship or hugs or time with friends. But I also know that drugs are there if I need them, that that if my own attempts fail, there are other things that can help. And if I ever get really bad again, to the point that I can’t help myself, then yes, I will get the treatment I need.

Being a young mother and going through the exasperations of dealing with toddlers and the stresses of young family life fed my newfound appreciation of my mom and all the things she had done for me that I had never given much heed to. I grew to see her as something other than just my mother, a woman in her own right, hungry for love, with a unique set of skills, strengths and abilities, a victim of abuse herself. When I look back over her life I see her fighting to get better, and to make better decisions. I see her efforts and unfortunately I see her fail again and again. I see her gradual giving up. I see her trapped in her own depression and how closed in she was (and still can be) and how she just couldn’t take care of herself, let alone her struggling, rebellious, hormonal, out of control, hateful teenagers. I see her attempts at helping my sisters and I handle the abuse that we experienced instead of escaping it, not because she didn’t care, but because she came from a legacy of abuse, saw abuse everywhere she looked, and accepted it as a normal part of life. The more I understand her as her own person, and know what she has gone through, the easier and more natural it has become to forgive her. My hate has died. Love has flooded in. We have a friendship now. We’re two women who understand each other. I ache for my friend, who needs not just my love, and my sisters’ love, and not just the ever-elusive love of a man, but who so desperately needs the love of Christ, and who can’t seem to understand her own need. God has given me his own eyes for my mother and I know how much he wants to love her and heal her and make her feel valuable and hold her in his hand and protect her and show her the meaning that he has for her life – but she says no. It’s hard to watch her stay in it. I wonder if she’ll stay there forever. I can’t save my mother. Only God can do that. But she has to let him.

I try to be patient with my mother. I do feel like I have a healthy distance right now, although I wish it were possible for us to be closer. My sisters don’t have the distance that I do, and in their struggles with her unreasonableness they often come to me for help. I give them the best advice that I can, because I know how she can be, but I also try and give her as much credit as I can. I try and get them to see why she is the way she is and encourage them to show her some grace. We all have a lot of room to grow, but I hope for continued health in all our relationships with each other.

This is where I’ve been at with my mother for a few years. But God has been calling me to a new way of seeing lately. But first I need to talk about my Dad.

Next time.

Detox Recap

I left off on my last post 3/4 of the way through the first day of a 3 day detox plan. And I felt great! Unfortunately, it went downhill fast.

There are three smoothies: breakfast, lunch and dinner. For an afternoon snack, you choose your favorite smoothie and have it again to total 4 smoothies in a day. On day one I had breakfast, lunch, breakfast again…. and then the dinner smoothie was nasty! All the things in it are pretty good, but all mixed together? No.

This is what was in it: flax seeds, mango, blueberries, coconut water (so far, so good right) kale (still ok) lemon, avocado (uhhhh) and CAYENNE pepper. I gagged my way through the first half but had to pour the rest down the sink.

Then I had the detox bath. That was pretty good.

On day 2, I came down with a touch of the flu. I skipped the snack smoothie altogether because I was asleep on the couch, and I made some minor adjustments to the dinner smoothie, like eating the kale on its own and omitting the cayenne pepper altogether. I’m sure it served some good healthy purpose but I just couldn’t handle it. The dinner smoothie was very tasty after I tweaked it.

But then I got my period. So I was a big, bloated, sick, headachy, gut-achy, whiny mess. My detox buddy texted me to see how I felt. She was feeling great! I was glad for her. I really, really, really was. Really.

And then, around dinner time, my eye started getting all swollen and sore to the touch. It felt like pinkeye coming on. This morning I woke up and it still hurt so I figured if I was already home sick from work I might as well go see the doctor about my eye today rather than put it off until it got bad. Luckily, I only had a blocked tear duct. My flu seems to have abated, but I still have mad cramps.

As far as today’s detoxing went, it seems the third day was the charm. Since I had so much success with tweaking the dinner smoothie last night, I tweaked all of the smoothies today. I prefer the celery and kale on the side. It is hard to say if I feel any better, because of all the other issues. I’ve always been a veggie lover but was absolutely amazed by how full I felt. Those smoothies had so much food in them! I didn’t actually get it all in to my belly on any of the three days.

I might try it again someday. I feel healthy-eating inspired, and am not craving any junk at all (the first day I was really craving a burger of all things) but I got tired of smoothies really quickly, and I’m looking forward to eating other foods tomorrow.

That’s my quick update. Headed to the couch to watch a movie. Night all!

The Healthy Train

I’ve clambered aboard.

So yesterday I was out for the first day of our after-church Run Club and as we rounded the corner on our way back to the church parking lot my friend mentioned that she was heading up to Nature’s Fare next. She had to pick up a few ingredients for the 3-day detox she was starting the next morning.

Do tell, I said.

And she did. She was doing it in solidarity with some friends from work.  I said I’d hop on that train. 3 days is completely do-able. And after yesterday morning’s post, my health was definitely on my mind. So I ran into the church, looked up Dr. Oz’s 3 Day Detox on the internets and printed off the one-page instruction sheet and shopping list. The two of us carpooled to the store and purchased everything we needed. Well, I actually already had a lot of it on hand.

fruits

The detox is basically 4 smoothies per day for three days, as well as green tea with lemon and a nice relaxing soak in a detox bath (epsom salts and lavender essential oil) at the end of each day. You also take a multi, pro-biotic and Omega 3.

I am currently 3 smoothies into the first day. Here is my experience so far:

  • It’s easy. The single sheet lays it all out, and the shopping list is already made up. No thinking necessary.
  • Hunger is not an issue. Those smoothies pack in a lot of food!

    I’m lucky that I have a fully outfitted kitchen at work. Actually, the blender at work is much better than mine at home. If you can’t zip up a smoothie at work, I suppose you could mix it up in the morning, pack it to work in a container and stir it up.

    I am missing coffee. I drink green tea on occasion because I know it’s good for me, but it’s never been my favorite. I would love a latte, but I wouldn’t kill for a latte. I feel pretty good.

Let’s Get Physical

This year, I’m setting a different resolution each month. In February, it’s going to be all about my physical body.

Over the last six months my lifestyle and schedule have changed dramatically and I’ve put on ten pounds. I’ve got to nip that trend in the bud. I’ve also been experiencing SAD and I know from years of experience that even though I feel the effects of the winter blues in my mind, the  best place to do battle with it is in the body. I need more exercise and I need more exposure to sunlight so I’m going to get outside more.

If you’ve known me for very long you probably know that I spend too much time in my own head. I overthink. I waffle. In fact I waffled about my February  goal for too long – it is already February 3rd! I spend so much time in my mental space that I tend to forget that I have a body at all. After I had children I pretty much spent the rest of my twenties completely disregarding my physical body. That process had its benefits. I had a lot of heart-healing and mind-growing to do at that time. But at some point along the way I woke up to the fact that all the parts of my person are connected and I need to take care of this body in order to have a healthy and whole self.

Even though I know that I need to pay attention to and care for my body it tends to be the thing that slips when I get busy, or even when I get depressed for that matter. So for the next month I am going to really focus. In fact I hope to let myself off the intellectual and emotional hook for the month of February.

I would like to lose 5 pounds in February. I am not going to count on exercise to get me there. I know that weight loss begins in the kitchen. I like the free Lose It app and website for calorie tracking. I’ve used them before.

I would like to exercise more as well. I’m beginning Run Club with a group of people from my church after the service today. I really need to spend more time outside, during daylight hours, and one of my favorite activities in all the world are long solitary walks. So I’m going to try and get out for walks 4 afternoons per week. It can’t be in the morning or evening while it is dark. I need light. I think this might be the trickiest one because taking a block of time out of the afternoon is going to be the biggest disruption to my daily pattern of living. Everything else is a tweak.

I’d also like to “be more sexy”. I still need to hash out the details of that. I have some ideas. But you probably don’t need to know those. 😉

There is not a clear outline of specific measurable goals here, but I need to get ready for church, so I’ll come back and work this out later. After Run Club.

Paradigm Shift

This morning I read the parable of the sower for probably the zillionth time. I think it’s probably among the most famous of Jesus’ parables, but I will write it here in case you don’t know it.

Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted and grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. -Mark 4:3-8

For years I’ve been reading that little story, hoping that I am the good soil, and the faith that God planted in me would grow and grow. Sometimes I was worried I was wilting in the heat of the sun, and sometimes I thought I would be choked out by weeds. I prayed and begged that I would be the fertile soil, and my little plant would flourish and grow and never die.

This morning, as I read the parable, my prayer changed.

I want to be the farmer.

Tuesday’s List is Full of Grace

As there is no cohesive post in my head today, have a list!

1. At the beginning of January I said that so far this winter had been pretty mild for me in terms of getting the blues. Well, in the last week or two, the SAD has hit full force. I’ve had a general sense of blah even when things are, by all reasonable standards, good. I’ve been easily overwhelmed when life throws me little annoyances. And I’ve even had a couple of full-on ugly crying jags because of the heaviness in my soul even as my mind searches but can’t find anything to blame.

2. Coping mechanisms: Friends. Reminding myself that it IS January, that I often feel like this in January, and that a lot of other people feel like this in January too. Lifting others up; brightening someone else’s day. Prayer. Watching movies. My husband, who has been going the extra mile to be nice because he knows how January is for me. Listening to music. This morning I considered taking a mental health day, but I knew I had a lot to do at the office, so instead of the whole day, I took a mental health half hour instead. I texted my boss that I would be 30 min late, and resorted to the good old go-for-a-drive-and-listen-to-a-new-album trick. And it did the trick. I’ve considered medication for the first time in my life. But that feels a little bit like giving up, so I have resisted the temptation. The idea of tanning (haven’t actually made it in there yet, although I did find a great tanning salon a block away from my workplace).

3. This could fit under coping mechanisms because it has been helping too. But it needs it’s own paragraph. I’m not usually the type to follow a daily devotional, but in December I decided to order Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word devotional. It has been incredible. I keep it at work and I spend the first few minutes of the day while my computer fires up. Each day has a theme and takes you through praying scripture along the same lines. Some of the days, a lot of the days actually, have been bang-on what I need to hear in terms of meditating on the scriptures, but praying them has thrown in this whole other  element that I didn’t anticipate and that I can’t exactly describe either. I highly recommend this little book. You don’t have to wait until next year. Start is February, It looks like this:

Praying-God-s-Word-Day-by-Day-9781594151804

4. My favorite household chore lately is laundry. My second favorite is vacuuming. I have not been loving any of the kitchen related stuff though. I used to revel in the planning / shopping / cooking / cleaning / organizing the kitchen part of household maintenance. But now I don’t. Which is weird, because my new kitchen is fantastic. I’ve never enjoyed cleaning the bathrooms though. Yuck.

5. I’ve been considering hiring someone to do the bathrooms and the floors. But I’m cheap. So I just keep thinking about it.

6. In the fall, I didn’t really get my kids involved in too many extra-curricular activities. I thought we’d take a bit of a break from the crazy this year. So they just did their usual ballet class that they’ve been doing every Friday afternoon since Adora was 4. In January, my Mother in law started them up with their piano lessons again. They had taken a break while she wrapped up her master’s degree. So now she’s teaching them piano and voice. Adora picked up a second ballet class. Basketball season started for her as well, with a game and a practice every week. Grace starts musical theatre next Saturday, and whammo! Tuesday is the only day of the week when they don’t have activities.

7. It smells amazing in here! Apple crisp in the oven. Boo yah!

8. Also amazing: Fiction Family’s new album, Fiction Family Reunion, just released this morning. I had pre-purchased it on iTunes. Worth the wait!

9. So I sort of let my blogging resolution for January slide. Considering the way I’ve been feeling, I was trying to not give myself too much of a hard time about it. I can never seem to decide between self-improvement and self-acceptance.

10. Oddly enough, I think I have used my elliptical trainer more times than I have blogged. That is odd because I love to write, hate to exercise and made a blogging resolution and did not make a fitness resolution.

11. But I still blogged more than I have in a long, long time. It makes me happy.

12. Well, the timer on the oven went off, and I’m not going to take the time to re-read and edit this, so forgive me my typos and the sentences that don’t flow so well. Thanks for reading!