Search This Blog

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Getting Old

Ah yes, the signs of aging are beginning to stare back at me in the mirror!  Since our trip to Florida, I have been finding grey hairs... which was met with both intrigue and pride!  (Quickly followed by, "wow... this is the beginning of the end of my brown hair!").

Yep, someday I'll look in that mirror and see a wrinkled, grey-haired woman looking back at me and I will wonder where on earth time has gone!  Or maybe the cataracts will be similar to a soft-lens camera and I'll think I look better than ever!

Regardless, I am living my life and feeling good about what I have experienced thus far.  I can only imagine how I will reflect on my life in those days.

With that preamble, I was sitting on the couch the other afternoon actually indulging in the rarity of reading a book... yes, actually reading a book!  Anika is beginning to outgrow her afternoon naps and sure enough she came tip-toeing down the stairs and stood next to me on the couch as I continued reading an intense part of the book.

After a few more minutes of silence, she asked me "Mom, why do you have a grumpy face?"  I looked away from my book into her questioning eyes and said "What?"  To which she replied, "Mom, do you have a grumpy face because you're getting old?"

At this I burst out laughing!!

It really is fun to see how kids view the world.  So those of you who are grumpy around her, be forewarned she may think it's because you have not come to terms with getting "old"!  Hee hee hee!

Well my dear ones, may you rejoice in every well-earned wrinkle... every exhausted grey hair... every varicose vein that maps your leg out like a well-travelled story... and every migrating hair finding its way to places on your body you never dreamed you'd find hair!  LOL!  May you be timeless in who you are and loved for the time you are here.  God bless!

From sunlight to Son's Light!

The sun is in a slow rise into the sky as though the lazy relaxation of Sabbath is rising with it!  I find this time of year so intriguing... the sun's journey across the sky is so shortened and narrowed that it's almost as though he merely pokes his head up to check in on us and then dips right back down below the horizon again.  While the days are shorter with light, they somehow feel longer in duration.  The only aspect of our lives that seems unchanging is the constant exhaustion that follows our every reluctant step and the relentless interruption of our every move and attempt to accomplish anything...

Already, I have had to stop and feed a few bites of snack to Sivana, answer Ethan's question about which sticker I want, unhook a latch he couldn't figure out, put Sivana down for a nap, wake up Melina, and start Isabel's next episode of Little Bear... all within trying to type three sentences!  No wonder it is a huge accomplishment for me to even GET to the blog, let alone TYPE something on it... sigh.

But even as I type this, I am all too aware of this season passing us much as summer and fall did... and the seasons before them... and before we know it... (hang on, one more interruption....) our children will barely be popping their heads in to check in on us, their light all too quickly leaving the comforts of our home and illuminating somewhere over the horizon.

I try to be careful with my feelings ("try" being the key word here).  I think it is important to acknowledge whatever processes we are experiencing but then moving our perspective outward to the bigger picture.  When successful, I can accept the moment of a "feeling" and then let it go as I choose what significance it will have in the grand scheme of things.

I suppose that is free-will.

No one else gets to dictate what we experience feelings-wise... we get to choose.  I don't know about you, but sometimes when I REACT to a situation, that hurt seems to be a direct result of what the OTHER PERSON said or did.  So once upon a time, I would have agreed with those who claim that outside sources dictate our current emotional state.  And to some extend, perhaps they do.  Bang, we've been hit with something, and for whatever reason we have wired ourselves in such a way that determines what our REACTION will be.  But the truth is, we CHOOSE how we want to wire ourselves and ultimately HOW our immediate reactions will look like.  One step even further than that, we can see what would be our reaction and still choose an alternate outcome.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of people who have a real feeling about something but choose to put up a front that mirrors what they WANT their feeling to be rather than what it really is.  To me, that gets chalked up with deception.  There's a fine line between being civil and diplomatic and being down-right two-faced.  How many times have you personally experienced deep hurt from a situation that after seeking clarification, you found out it was misunderstood from the get go?  All that hurt for no reason at all!

But how often do you seek that clarification?  How much hurt do you have that may not even need to be there at all?

I've decided that I would much prefer having someone come up to me and say "Hey, when you said... blah-blah-blah... that really hurt.  Is that really what you meant or did I misunderstand you?"  Wouldn't that be so much better than the person thinking I really meant what I said in the negative aspect they mistook it for?  Yikes!  My mouth rambles off many times... I shudder at the notion of things I may have said that could have easily been misunderstood!  Please allow me the chance to further explain, or clarify rather than think I would wish ill on anyone!

Doesn't everyone feel that way?

To my surprise... no.  Some people just really have no desire to find out where they are wrong.  I suppose it is much easier to live in a lovely world where one makes no mistakes, but the truth is, we do live in a fallen world and that means we are riddled with mistakes... both conscious and unconscious.  So how can fix them if we aren't willing to find them?

How badly do we want to see ourselves as we truly are?

Perhaps some of us much prefer the shortened days of winter where the light being cast on us is minimized and we can better live in the shadows of our own denial.  Some days, even I think I like it there!  Otherwise, I am reminded of my many faults and the long road ahead of me.

And why do we try to hide our faults from each other?  I find that those who try to hide their humanity the most are those who often experience offence.  So ask yourself truly... do you often take offence to what others are saying?  Do you often care more about WHO knows about your life rather than WHAT is in it?

I think that's why this blog is so important to me.  For one thing, it's a time for me to ask myself these questions and really seek out what is going on inside of me... Is this what I am doing in my own life?  It's my processing, so to speak.  But it also keeps me accountable.  It's often a public confession, a big 'ol sign that says "Man o man, I am not perfect... look at me and see WHY God sent Jesus in the first place!"  It knocks me off my pedestal of "best intentions" and reminds me that I have to LIVE my faith through constant growth.  And how can I grow if I am not constantly challenging myself to look beyond my comfort zone?

It also teaches me to be respectful of other people's opinions.  It's a vulnerability that doesn't leave me feeling as though other people's judgments could reach me like arrows... it is a giving of myself to God through witnesses.  While other people's judgments can sting, their opinions have nothing to do with my eternity.  In fact, they themselves will have to be accountable for their judgements... not me.  (Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  So really, I have nothing to lose in being raw and honest... but I have everything to gain... freedom from my sin through accountability!  Jesus cannot atone for my sin if I do not lay it bare before His feet.  That means I need to know exactly what it is... and proclaim it!

As though on cue, a sunbeam has come bursting through the window!

So these are some of the questions that visit me today and the challenges they present me.  Whose opinions matter most to me?  My brethren or God's?  Where do I seek my validation?  My husband?  My friends?  Or God?  Do I keep pointing the finger at those who "hurt" me?  Or do I ask myself where I have played a part in situations of unease?  Am I willing to apologize to someone who has felt hurt by me?  Do I want to find out that I have hurt him or her?

Do I love my brothers and sisters in Christ enough to be lovingly honest and accountable to them?  Or do I fear their opinion and live out a false front?

So many questions to keep me on task!  So what do I CHOOSE?  (I use the present term so as to own the following statements NOW rather than view them as a future goal).

I choose to be accountable.
I choose to be honest and seek clarification even if the potential outcome scares me.
I choose to see the bright side of all situations and to remind myself how things could be much worse.  (Because really, they can!)
I choose to conquer each challenge in my life with triumphant conviction that all can be accomplished through the strength of God... and NOT my own!
I choose to shine with His light, not for my glory but for His!

With those choices in my heart, I can better serve my husband, my children, my family, my friends and even perfect strangers when I step out my front door... which means I can better serve God.  Let's hope I can live those choices and stay accountable to them!  Don't worry, I'll let you all know when I've failed!

With that, the sun is well in the sky beaming with his own triumphant glow!  May the very warmth of His light pour forth and find you at this very moment.  May you be freed not just by asking yourselves these questions, but by accepting the answers... even if they are not what you want them to be.  May you feel my hand on yours as I look humbly into your eyes to remind you that you do not walk this humbling journey alone... and that I cannot think any less of you for your mistakes for I cannot even see yours past my own!  May we find each other in the darkness and seek His light for the sake of illuminating what it is we need to see about ourselves... so that we can change it.  And through this season of Winter in your lives, may you find His warmth and comfort as he embraces you as His sacred child... filled with the breath of His will.  I love you all out there!  Thanks for loving me, too, just as I am!  God bless!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Double-Chocolate Crumb Cake Recipe

My sister, Linda, found a recipe that allowed Ethan to partake of his very first Birthday cake last year.  For those of you interested in making it, you can either buy the recipe book entitled, BABY CAKES by Erin Makenna or you can click on this LINK to take you to a slighted adapted version.

It is a very delicious cake with a moist, brownie texture.  Probably one of the most delicious gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan recipes I have tried thus far!


Rita's Coconut Sunbutter Bar Recipe

After feeling so bad that Ethan could not partake of any "desserts" I was determined to find him one that would also fill him with protein goodness of Sunbutter (sunflower seed paste) and the benefits of coconut oil.  Eventually I created this recipe which Ethan absolutely loves... and so do we, for that matter!

Some of you have partaken in this with us and have asked for the recipe so here it is:

Rita's Coconut Sunbutter Bars

1 cup Sunbutter
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
1 cup shredded coconut, sulphite-free
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Allergen-free brand)
3-4 cups coarsely crushed organic corn flakes (fruit juice sweetened)

Cream together sunbutter, coconut oil and agave nectar.
Fold in coconut, chococolate chips and corn flakes.
Press into 9X9 square pan or a cookie sheet for thinner treats.
Refrigerate 1 hour before cutting and serving.

Keep refrigerated!  And by all means... ENJOY!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The WHOLE Spirit!

This morning was greeted bright and early (as usual) thanks to our morning dove, Sivana, who likes to wake up around 6:00 a.m. (and sometimes even BEFORE that).  Duane was wrapping up a night shift at the firehall so the darkness of the morning was interrupted only by the sound of the rocking chair as I gave Sivana her bottle and the occasional time she would sit up and say "Oooooo Wassat?"  (Which I have come to assume means "ooooh what's that... as this is a highly repeated sentence for me when teaching the kids about their surroundings).

There is a syndrome that comes with being the wife of someone who works night shifts... apparently it is not restricted only to me as I have discussed this with other firefighter wives or those whose husbands work the occasional night shift.  I am not sure WHAT to call this syndrome... what-the-heck-was-I-thinking Syndrome?  Where-Did-I-Leave-My-Common-Sense Syndrome?  Or better yet What-On-Earth-Am-I-Doing-Still-UP Syndrome!  You guessed it... when our husbands are out working for a night, us wives have a tendency to delay going to bed to an empty bed... even if it means staying up watching the dumbest things ever, reading books or magazines or aimlessly surfing the web.

So when Duane works his night shifts, despite telling myself "okay, Rita, you know how you feel in the morning when Sivana is chiming away "AH DONE!" (all done) so NO STAYING UP TONIGHT!  Despite this repeated conversation and what appears to be renewed resolve to overcome this syndrome, it seems to win each and every time.

Needless to say, sitting in the rocking chair with Sivana shortly after six this morning included the usual knocking myself over the head for being responsible for my own exhaustion!

Regardless, the promise of Sabbath together refuelled me and a surprising amount of energy began to rise with the sun!  Praise be to God.

I found joy in my heart as I played with Sivana, I found creative conversation when Ethan came down and I sat with him as he ate his breakfast.  We had to pretend that his spoon was an excavator trying to dump his load into the dump truck (his mouth).  Ethan's "excavator" kept slowing down and stopped scooping and Ethan would exclaim he was out of fuel again... so I would pretend to pump him up with fuel and the excavator could continue "shovelling" his load in!  After the sixth refuelling, I exclaimed "I think your excavator's tank has a leak, Ethan... here, let's use MY excavator."  As I reached out my hand to grab his spoon to help finish feeding him, he gently took my hand, rested it on the table, put his overtop of mine with great sympathy and said "No Mom... you can't do that kind of work."

Somewhat taken aback, I said "Oh?  Why not?"

"Because you're a girl."

GULP!!!  Where on earth did THAT come from???  Trying to make the most of the moment I said "What do you mean by that, Ethan?"

"Well, only boys go and do the hard work."

"Hmmmm, well, when mommy is cooking all the food for everyone to eat, do you think mommy is working hard?"

"Uh... "

"And when we drive Isabel to school, Melina to voice lessons, Anika to preschool... when mommy takes you and Anika to swim lessons, cleans up your accidents, changes Sivana's diapers, Izzy's diapers, gives you guys bath time, washes all of your clothes and puts them away, cleans up after your toys, cleans up after a meal, does homeschooling with you.... do you think mommy is doing 'hard work'?"

"Uh... YEAH!"

"And did you know that some girls also drive excavators and dump trucks?  There are even some girls who are firefighters, just like Daddy!  Hard work is found everywhere and is for anyone who is willing to give it their best!"


Now THAT was interesting!  I had to reflect on that one and wonder where on earth he got the concept that only boys worked hard.  Hopefully the message delivered was honourable, truthful and fruitful.

When his breakfast was finally done, Anika came and sat at the table with her breakfast.  We sat together as she said "Mom, I LOVE the bible."

"Oh, well that is very nice to hear.  It is a great way to learn more about God and His love for us as His children!"

"Mommy, He is God our Father, God the Son and the Whooooooooooooole Spirit!"

I chucked at that one, particularly because the choice of word may very well be more appropriate than I can fully imagine!

"Mommy, we have to learn to listen to God."

"Yes, Anika, you are right.  How do we learn to listen to God?"

"Well, we have to be good and listen to Him."

"Yes, but how do we find out WHAT is good and WHAT He wants for us?"

"Um... Hmmm... I don't know!"

"You just said you love the Bible and that is the best place to find out WHAT God tells us is good and WHAT His rules are.  You know that God is everyone's Father, right?"

"Yes, Mommy."

"So if He is EVERYONE's Father... that means He chose to make each and every one of us, right?"


"Do you think God really wants us if He chose to make us?  Do you think God loved you and wanted you when He chose to make you, Anika?"

With that, a beautiful smile spread across her face as she sat up straight as if proud of a new realization.  Or perhaps she was proud for already knowing this in her own heart.

"Yes, Mommy... He wanted me."

"That must mean that your life is very special, Anika... because He wanted you to have it.  So if God is everyone's Father, do you think He knows what is best for us?"

"Oh yes!"

"Just like when Mommy and Daddy tell you not to play on the road, or to wear your hat and mitts when it's cold outside, to share your toys with Ethan and Sivana... do you think we give you these rules because we know what is best for you?"

"Uh hunh"

"If mommy and daddy can figure out what is best for you, and give you rules to keep your body and your heart safe, then surely the Father of EVERYONE knows what the best rules are, right?"


"Anika, that's why we read the bible... so we can learn what God's rules are... so we can believe in Him and TRUST Him.  And so we can truly KNOW His love for us."

The morning was proving to be far more of a gift than I had known to anticipate!  I love that these precious children seem to have a genuine desire to LISTEN and to LEARN.  I honestly believe with my whole being that humility is essential in one's spiritual journey... my fear is that if I am TOO certain of something, I have removed the part of me that is willing to find out I might be wrong!

And wouldn't it be better to find out you are wrong so you can fix it, then continue to live in error?

So I teach my children what I understand and remind them that what I teach them is ONLY that... my limited understanding of TRUTH.  In the end, they will be responsible to take that and choose for themselves what to do with that understanding... grow from it, question it, or down right throw it in the garbage!

I have no idea what they will choose and I do my best not to fret over that.  In the end, it has to be their own life story inscribed with THEIR choices, THEIR mistakes, THEIR outlived sorrow and wisdom gained.

What I DO fret about is whether or not I am providing them with the very tools they need to LIVE life and its challenges in such a way that it SHAPES them without destroying them.  I want their sense of value to come from within and not from external praise or outside values.  Even I have found myself struggling with this these days!

My darling Duane is not one to offer up compliments and this is a continued lesson for me NOT to look for them!  But I did tell him early on in the marriage "Duane, think of me like your crops in the field... you are constantly worried about the amount of water they are getting, the nutrients, the soil conditions and you are out there regularly doing your best to ensure top quality in all these areas... I need you to touch base with me in a similar way.  If you show me the same amount of concern about our marriage, our communication, saying positive things when they come to our mind, then it is like you are watering me and strengthening my root system!"

"Yeah, but I don't want to insult your intelligence by saying something more than once."

"But Duane, by that logic, why would we insult God's intelligence by thanking Him repeatedly for each and every meal?"

He genuinely looked surprised at that association, and I think even I blinked at the words that came out of me!  But it was true!

It is insulting if the words are empty.  No differently than I think our prayers are insulting to God if they are mere words, empty of their meaning.  But if we can renew our thankfulness each time we pray and give thanks for our food, then we safeguard the genuineness that COULD risk being lost through repetition.

But still, when the weeks go by and Duane and I seldom have moments of sitting together and reconnecting, it is hard to face the emptiness that can grow... the distance that can threaten even the strongest love!  And as I seek validation from him and cannot find it because he is too busy, or too tired (the poor guy is genuinely exhausted at this stage in our lives), I am digging my own grave in feeding that distance through my own hurt.

This is where mastering the lesson for myself will allow me to be a more fruitful wife... If I could seek my validation in being precious to God and to God alone, then any moment with Duane, even if weeks or months apart, can be as precious and significant as if they happened daily... they would not be expectations... they would simply be "gifts".

So while the morning was filled with opportunities to teach the children about hard work, God's love and His truly WANTING each and every one of us, I find myself humbly looking at where I fail to live my very own words!  There is no man on this earth that I have ever loved nor will ever love as much as I love my darling Duane.  He is my King, in all his glory and in all his humanity.  I am failing him these days and humbly ask for your prayers as I remember my true purpose as laid out from the beginning of time... to be HIS helpmate!

I want to uplift him.  I want to offer HIM understanding rather than demand it of him.  I want to love HIM without condition rather than point out where he is being conditional with me or where I arrogantly believe that I am deserving of more love!  I want to seek his forgiveness rather than point out the justification of my actions.  I want him to feel validated by God, led by His spirit, and respected by me!

I want to stop thinking only of my needs and be a servant unto his.  Not because he has earned it through his own actions but because he has earned it as my husband and life partner and as the father of our precious children.

I wish I could come before you and proclaim that I am always honourable and respectful.  I wish I could declare that the very spirit of God exudes from my every being at all times but the truth is, I have been one big grumpalump since August now and I am really tired of it.

More often than not, I find it easy to confess my sins to God but ironically, I find it harder to profess my sins to my fellow brethren.  Hopefully this public confession will motivate me to make some serious changes in my heart with a sincere desire to be accountable.  I am wrong here... and I want to fix it.

Join me in prayer as I send this out to find you... that you may feel freed from your own limitations and mistakes... that you are willing to see where you have truly wronged someone else no matter how hard it is to admit it... so that you can finally be free of its burden.  No one deserves to be poisoned by their own guilt whether conscious or subconscious.  No one.  And most importantly, I want you to know you are not alone in your mistakes.  I am your fellow sinner... your sister-in-error, if you will.  But I hope and pray that we can encourage each other, pray for one another, and genuinely desire for each other to rise above our challenges to become better people... better mothers, better wives, better sisters or daughters.... better children of God.

Afterall... He breathed His sacred breath into us.  He loved us so much that He WANTED us and even sent His only Son to die so that not even our sins could keep us from being with Him.  So let us love one another WHOLLY so that not even our sins (whether publicly professed or hidden) could keep us from truly loving each other unconditionally!  God bless you all and know that this is the very place I come from when I say to you all, stranger or not... I love you!