Thursday, March 31, 2016

Road 72 North...and the search for hope

It's Easter Monday morning and I'm driving out of Austin to my sister's home, down the familiar 34 highway with it's bumps and the neighbouring yard sites I see in passing. The kids are with me and are unusually quiet, probably the result of a very busy Easter weekend. I'm quiet too; my heart's been quieted by the chill of death, a silence that settled after days of anxious prayers and the diligent searching done by our community in the wake of a missing toddler. I imagine many are feeling this silence after our lost one was found, a relieved thankfulness for closure and yet the finality crushing us all and so so much more for his loved ones.

With my soul quieted and hands on the wheel I begin to notice the silence of countryside. A misty fog is coming in over the land, it settles in the low places, it softly flows over the waters of the Pine Creek. The sun does not pierce, it's light glows gently through the high places of the bushes and trees, hampered by the morning mist. My breath slows and tears form, and I realize the beauty and the sadness of it all. It is as though the land is being laid back to rest. Road 72 North. In a matter of days hundreds of people were familiar with this area of the country, the roads teeming with search and rescue vehicles, news anchors, volunteers with helping hearts and hands bearing food, and passersby with lifted prayers. All of our attention headed to a small homestead only 1 mile west. The fields of frozen mud were awakened to the pressing onward of teams of searchers, neighbouring yard sites combed through over and again, the dense bushes and tree lines mixed with dead fall and brush were sought through high and low, the meandering creek with it's mystery of frozen sheets of ice, and places of spring thaw, the focal point of that first night. It continued for five days, the radius expanding in kilometers. The countryside alive with the anxiousness and desperation for answers. I can imagine the wildlife finding it's own hiding place and the birds retreating back into the high treetops, maybe holding back their spring song. The weather was uncooperative, up and down quickly with its extremes, much like our emotions. All those travelling this road, were also travelling with the hearts of the parents enduring a pain that we could all imagine we'd feel; as we hold our children closer now.

I've travelled Road 72 all of my childhood and teen years. A long, gravelly road connecting the highway to the farmyards in the miles beyond, a main road for most in the area, but generally travelled with everyday purpose and not much pressing on the heart. I've been down it daily on the school bus, to town, church or friends with my folks, of course a little too fast and independently when driving on my own at sixteen, and maybe a little too late when driving with my honey. Only once did I drive it in dread of what's to come, the day I drove my mom to the spot my Dad lay down with his last breath, not knowing how we'd find him. And then coming home down that road to an empty aching spot at home and in my soul. I cannot relate to the pain of losing a child, I'm sure a mother knows no such a heartache as that. The parents of Chase, who's name is known to so many now, will come home after his funeral to a very empty spot, a large gaping hole in their heart. Their lives and grief have been displayed so publicly and yet they have to face a new kind of lonely back at home. Their yard site was laid flat with hundreds of footsteps, more than 30 000 volunteer hours stretched across the land and it is only the small set of rubber boot footprints and the hours spent with a little tot who loved being out in the yard that they will long for.  A hard road to travel.

I left my children with my sister for a few minutes and took a little drive down the road. I needed to take in that silence and listen. I took pictures and and they can't even do justice to the morning air. A couple days ago, on Good Friday, a few of us drove to a yard site that had been heavily searched, close to his home. We felt the fading hope, the air of desperation. And I was reminded of the fact that it was Good Friday and the road of despair that Jesus walked to his death. The hopelessness of it all, but he pressed on for only He knew the closure and awakening that was to come. At the time of his death there was a darkness that covered the land for hours and suns light faded. Jesus cried out "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" After this it was cried out by a centurion " Certainly this man was innocent!"' and it goes on to say that the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, returned home beating their breasts.' We have all returned home too, beating our breasts over a little innocent boy, so young to be gone.  We've prayed, sang songs, beseeched our God, the family and loved ones have beat the drums and committed his spirit to eternity; finding some closure.

I felt a nudge to drive back to that old yard site and go down to the creek. The fog had a hard time laying down in the sheltered area and the sun shone through the trees. The ice on the water sparkled like diamonds and the flow was just a soft rippling. Hard to fathom that these waters claimed the breath of a little boy. The silence was over with a chorus of birds in the trees, I heard cracking in the bush and knew the wildlife was out of hiding. A different feeling from two days ago. Much like the feeling I imagine that the women who went to Jesus' tomb felt when they did not see his body and found angels instead who asked " Why do you seek the living among the dead?He is not here, but has risen.'' There must have been something different in the air as they looked around the place of His death, which had been surrounded by darkness only days before. In the midst of their grieving, they marvel in unbelief at the angel's claims and wonder how it could be so. Jesus met them on the road, spent time with them while their eyes were kept from recognizing  Him, he listened to their hearts and later that evening he revealed Himself when he broke bread with his disciples. They were astonished at his presence and then he vanished from them. "did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?...The Lord has risen indeed!" He appeared again and said to them, "Peace be to you!"They were startled and frightened and He said "why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your hearts?See my hands and feet, that it is I myself. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and said to them" Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations." While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy." (from the book of Luke)

It so hard to find any joy in all of this, for our hearts are blinded by grief and questions and it's hard to recognize Jesus in the fog. When He lifts the fog we see that has been along the road beside us the whole time. He has been searching tirelessly and weeping along side the hurting, given strength for the duty and diligence of our professional patrols and searchers, bonded the hearts of our community as we've loved our neighbours. He hears the unbelief and the criticisms of social media and points us to look at our own selves and the futility of life no matter how hard we try to keep accidents from happening. He takes up life again from the dead and carries the spirit of that precious child safe to his loving arms. He breaks the bread of life with us and nourishes us with healing and strength to carry on, just as the crowd was given nourishment to carry on at the search site. His family may cry why for a long time, there may be no answers for a long time. I hope we all will continue to pray as fervently as was prayed days ago that in time the fog will be lifted, that they can travel a new road, paved with healing and a hope that cannot be lost. The memories of their sweet boy will forever be etched in the road of their heart, there will be reminders, like bumps, that will always surface mingling pain and memory together. The land and the waters will cry out his name for a long time. And in those moments down the road I hear to how the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. Psalm 19:1 And there is hope.

For Easter is celebrated in vain if Jesus had not been resurrected to give us hope. It is a celebration of praise that we do not have to be alone in the pain of death but can rise to a new hope. I heard on Sunday that one can only live four minutes without air and only seconds without hope. Thank our God that death is defeated and that he brings his little ones with love into his sheltered wings. And deal kindly with those suffering the pains on earth and give them hope by continuing to walk along the road beside them. So that they may again hear the birds in the treetops sing their songs.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Ponderings...of Babies, Mangers and More.

It's Christmas Eve morning, early morning that is, with a baby in swaddling clothes who doesn't sleep all that soundly. Her manger bed of comfy flannel, cuddly teddy, lulling aquarium doesn't seem to encourage as much rest as I require. And so, we lay on the couch by the glowing tree, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. She's all eyes at the twinkling lights and the glow of the tree reminds me of the very familiar nativity picture that we all know of. The one with the baby Jesus and his parents encompassed with glowing halos, the light shining around them. I imagine though, that was not the sight in the tiny stable, or cave as it may likely have been. The sight was probably not as elaborate as Christmas cards display. I imagine it to have been dark, a mix of pungent staleness and sweet smelling straw. Perhaps a a chill from the dampness of the animals yet an exuding warmth because of it's safety and shelter from the outside elements. Maybe there was a faint glow cast in by the moon and stars. Hardly a place to imagine a baby being born and yet a relief would've filled them to find a place to lay.The only experience I'm familiar with is that of a hospital room and professional help. What a wondrous fear and trust in the plan of God that it entailed for Joseph and Mary There are so many details to wonder about it all, many we can only imagine. I've heard the story all my life and as much as I can imagine all the details, this year, I took note of a simple fact in the story that held new interest for me.

I was reading in Luke and it stood out to me anew how it is mentioned twice that Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths. Luke 2:7 states 'And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger'.  Maybe it's because I have a baby with whom there's always a blanket carried along that this detail resounds with me this year. It's interesting that that the sign given to the shepherds to identify that the baby Jesus as Messiah was that "you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."Luke 2:12. Those details are obviously so significant, especially from the mouths of angels; details orchestrated by God, and yet they seem so plain and ordinary. It would seem so much more spectacular if the sign would have been to find a baby with glowing halos surrounding the family. So then why are the simple swaddling cloths so significant?

I did a bit of research and it seems there are many ideas out there. Explanations of the cloths being the same as burial cloths signifying that the Christ baby was born to die for mankind. Or that it may have been significant to the shepherds because their custom was to take the firstborn lamb from their flock as the sin offering. They would wrap it in swaddling cloths and place it in a manger to keep it safe and without blemish until it was stronger to go to it's mother. Again a foreshadowing of Christ being the sacrificial lamb. Also that it was custom to wrap babies in strips of cloth to bind it tightly so as to keep the baby from injuring itself and it was believed that it help the baby to grow stronger limbs. It would have also been a source of comfort and warmth much as the same reason we still wrap our babies today. However in those days that absence of these cloths would have been a sign of poverty, generally the rich or royalty would have their babies wrapped. This would have been significant to the shepherds, because a baby wrapped in rich man's clothes and lying in a feed trough would have been an incredible irony and sign to them. The cloths signify the royalty of Jesus, coming from the Davidic line and that he was born in the city where David was born. The angels declared 'for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'Luke 2:11. How odd and amazing it would have been for them to search for royal blood in a barn.
And then maybe the mention of swaddling cloths was maybe simply to affirm to the shepherds that they were looking for a BABY. That a baby wrapped in  humble clothes of the world was the Savior come to clothe the world in robes of righteousness. For all those willing to seek him and tell the news as the shepherds did.

As a mom there is an instinct within that when I hold a baby I want to wrap and hold it close. Although my physical circumstances are much more comfortable than Mary's would have been I can relate to the feeling she would have had in wrapping her baby. Even though I can hardly comprehend the awe she would have had in beholding her Holy child, there are so many details to the story that one can't help but be drawn in and feel as though we are all part of the narrative. God's intentions exactly. I love how it's Holy yet humble, angels from high to shepherds so low, the gift of Love come down wrapped up for us to receive.

Luke 2:19, such a poignant verse; But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Isnt' that what we are to do each year at Christmas, why we keep celebrating? We eat, drink and be merry; we prepare for weeks and praise with song. Amidst all that, let's take time to ponder the Baby in our hearts, to rekindle the glow within ourselves. For that is where He really resides; born into the lowliness of ourselves and that His life may shine through us.

This Christmas may you be wrapped in the warmth and  light of His Love.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.” John 8:12


(It took me nearly five days to complete a post, hence the reason for the day started and the day I actually posted. Ponderings come in short spurts amidst the busyness of my household:)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Soul Spending

It's been so long that I feel like a stranger here, really not even sure where to begin. I suppose that waking up on Thanksgiving Monday, the fierce fall wind howling outside and a mutual acceptance with the early baby that the day has now commenced is good motivation. It might also be the fact that I have been kindly reminded in several ways this past weekend that early morning grumbling (or at any time) will not set the tone well for the day, the week, and most certainly not for my soul. So while the wind is shaking up the world outside, stripping the trees bare and shifting the season, I want to work on shaking off the stresses that have been dragging me down. Trying to shift into a season of more gratefulness, less whining and taking moments for that soul thing that inspires hope.

I know that one of the best ways for me to do that is taking time to think about what I'm grateful for and to write it out. I haven't been doing that for a long time, not even in my own personal notes. Sometimes it feels like 'me' has fallen by the wayside in the last couple years. I'm pouring a lot of me into my hubby, children, home, away from home activities; as is what moms do. It seems though that the soul part of me has become the area that I'm too tired to deal with or only when there are a few minutes to spare. The excuse is that it's so hard to find a block of time without fifty interruptions that why bother at all. Months ago I heard Lysa Terkeurst quote this on a Focus on the Family podcast:
"A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule
will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.''

She suggests to be very intentional about finding a few hours a week to spend time doing that thing that makes your soul shine; that gift that God has given us that allows us to pour out and bless others with it. I know people in my life who do that wholeheartedly through their gifts of making food, public speaking/teaching, lending a helping hand, they bless others and are filled themselves.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that I'm a writer or even a blogger due to a lack of consistency, maybe even a lack of confidence. But I am woman with a lot of pent up thoughts and ponderings that pour out through my hands. I've had loved ones urge me to begin blogging again to help deal with the moments of motherhood that are so overwhelming. I struggle with feeling guilty in taking this time for me because maybe I should be waiting until the children are grown up, or I shouldn't sit while house is in upheaval, or maybe it's just selfish ambition. Yet I found grace for those thoughts this morning when I happened upon Wayne's bible open with a devotional he's preparing with the title Using Time Wisely. Interesting how it relates exactly to what I've been feeling.  He shares the verse in Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. He sums up his devotional with the fact that our days are predetermined, we ought to live each day with eternal perspective and purpose. Rather that just letting that soul desire keep slipping away because of excuses and not diligently carving out time; I want to share in the wisdom of God by sharing what He has given me.

It is God honoring being a steward of little ones, keeper of the home, repeating the mundane, everday things and also to carve out space to spend moments on the soul.

In those moments we find release and are ready to soar again and to new heights.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. and them I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Philippians 2: 14 -17


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wrapping Up and Opening Anew

It is already a new year but alas I've have yet to catch up on the end of last year. That's that the story of my life though, always have some catching up to do. Everyday things like laundry and dishes, procrastinating on projects with deadlines and then trying to make up on lost time. Thinking about finishing projects I've set aside but never seeming to get to them. Let's not even go there. The good thing is though most of those things don't disappear( although I wouldn't mind if the dishes did) and there isn't some New Year's deadline that erases the months before.
So let's go back a bit to November. You know that month where the cold and the hustle and bustle of Christmas start to set in. I don't always like November that much. I think it's because going from October, a very meaningful and thankful month for me, leaves me with not knowing quite where to start with Christmas just around the corner. Well this November a plan was all in place! The first week we welcomed baby Kade into our home while his Mommy would be working in the office next door for a few afternoons a week. Kade is only just over a week younger than Peter so both babies are pretty much at the same stage, it's a taste of having twins! They have taken to each other so well and I'm pretty sure they'll become good buddies. Jake and Hanna just love Kade too and keep the little boys entertained. Peter gives Kade his big toothy grin at first sight and makes a beeline for Kades soother. It's been a bit more challenging to get nap time to coordinate but there have even been some days where I get a little snooze in  before they wake up for snack time. They can hardly stand to watch each other eat, it's almost as if I should put the spoons in both mouths at the same time.  The other good thing about babysitting is it makes me stay home more and plan my week out a little more efficiently!
We fit in some special days in November; A morning helping my friend Dora pack up her basement for an upcoming move,  a whole Saturday spent scrapbooking at a school fundraiser (without kids, without interruptions, I was giddy!), birthday parties for Hanna's friends Mikayla and Chase. I was also busy with plans for our upcoming Church Christmas Dinner. At the end of November we left everything behind, except the kids and clothes, and headed to the city for two nights at a hotel. Hanna and Jake were so excited and counted down the sleeps the week of. So Thursday evening I finally gave into Hanna's begging to pack up. Well the picture below shows everything she lined up along the porch wall. Both suitcases full of clothes and two purses with doll clothes, stuffed dog and accessories and other miscellaneous items that she would have so much time to play with right? Oh yeah and a tractor for Jake, can't forget that!  After they were in bed I purged several items and narrowed down to one suitcase and one purse!
We stayed at the VicInn with the Dino Splashpark. The kiddos loved every hour of being in the water while I felt sorry for myself every hour spent awake at night with a baby who was a little out of his comfort zone in a playpen next to his siblings. It was definitely tiring for me and Wayne but so worth to see the joy of adventure for our children. My family came for the weekend too, so the kids loved running to Grandma's room or aunties room and using the elevator was the biggest thrill. We didn't go out shopping much but Saturday evening I took my nieces to the mall. It was fun connecting with them and just being a little silly. It was a good two hours of being reminded what it's like being a young teen.
The kids even caught sight of Santa Clause at the Hotel and we chased him down for a photo!
Dressed for School! It's been a couple months since school started and so far Hanna very eagerly gets dressed to go to school. I hope it keeps up because that's one of the school morning routines that I dreaded the most. For the most part she gets her winter gear on herself when I say it's time to get ready; mom does the finishing touches and out she goes. The cats follow her to the lane and keep her company till the bus arrives. Lately before she leaves she will ask me if I've remembered her stuff and she'll list off each particular thing like Did you put milk in my lunch? Is my home reading bag in there? Is my sweater in there?  Several years down the road and it will be me asking her if she's remembered all her stuff and pushing her out the door to make it to the bus on time. For now she has it covered with her child like eagerness.
Mornings where Jake wakes up after Hanna has left don't go so well because he missed his ritual of leaning over the rocker recliner and watching out the window till the bus has come and gone.  Children are definitely creatures of habit and they let you know when something is out of turn. 
Here's a familiar scene. Peter gets his space invaded quite frequently. I can just imagine how shocking it must be for him to be lying there and then all of a sudden two big kids come lumbering over the side of the crib. Those wide eyes probably get a little wider. Of course I should probably be keeping them out of the crib (not sure what the weight limit is) but they sit there and crank the volume on the aquarium and usually start singing to Peter boy. Sometimes it's not so appreciated when he's supposed to be falling asleep and they get him all excited again. Or there's the times Jake is determined to go kiss Peter after he's already asleep and I'm chasing him down the hall to keep him from bursting into babies' room!

Some of the kids' Lego creations. I love that Lego is so entertaining and encourages kids to be creative. Hanna keeps busy with her house and Lego girl while Jake gets me to make him a truck while he tries to figure out how to make a trailer with many random pieces that is supposed to hitch to the truck. This results in many angry outbursts if it doesn't hitch just so. He doesn't give up so it's quite a fiasco till it's all hitched and the wheels are all turning!


Welcome to the play-do bakery. What would you like to order?

Jake has the stockings filled already while Peter attempts to strip the tree of it's finery!

The Austin Christmas Celebration was a much anticipated day for the kids. Hanna had been practicing for several weeks for her part in the concert at school. So the morning of, with songs of Jingle Bells and Away in a Manger in her head, she excitedly went off to school in her party dress and curls. Meanwhile we made caramel popcorn and got dressed to go out to the parade in town. We made our way to the side of the street when we saw the parade coming. I was just going to hold Peter on my hip, and then the window rolled down in the vehicle next to us and there was my Aunt. She insisted I give her Peter to sit on her lap so that I didn't need to hold him. And so, he never even made shy and contentedly sat with his great Aunty watching the parade or more than likely playing with her steering wheel. I'm sure moments like those can only happen in a small town.  Jake was thrilled with all the 'Mighty Machines' and seeing Santa Claus.  The candy was a big hit too, even for mom!  After the parade we rushed home for lunch and back to the school for the concert. Peter was definitely tired by this time but he was a trooper through all the festivities. It was so special to see Hanna's first school performance but silly me, I didn't get a great picture and I should've recorded the songs with my phone. She came home later that day so thrilled with all the Christmas events and candy!
Outdoor skating party at Aunty Trudy's'. It was COLD but that didn't stop anyone from enjoying some old fashioned fun on a homemade skating rink. Jake enjoyed being slid around the ice on a chair but I had forgot my skates so it didn't take long for Jake and I to head back where it was warm.

 Wayne promised Hanna that he would sleep with them in a tent one Saturday night and Hanna did not let Daddy forget that. So here they are, with their makeshift tent in the dining room and glow sticks to wave around in the dark. I preferred the comfort of my bed rather than interrupting the cozy nest when Peter would be up in the night so I sprawled out in my bed as much as I wanted. Great night for all!!
And let the Christmas festivities begin. We started with Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's where we enjoyed a very warm and comforting brunch of waffles, cinnamon buns, bacon, fruit and family around the table. Wayne and Sonya provided the entertainment as they played instruments together for the first time ever. Children playing and eagerly awaiting the presents.

Typical poser for the camera, bringing out some new style while playing Christmas songs.
Some gag laughs for the siblings. I've never been very good with buying gag gifts or really taken part in that kind of thing but it turned out to be fun and funny. Wayne came home with a musical toothbrush and a dishcloth eensy weensy teeny bikini for moi!
The kids so happy with their special gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. Lego creativity for Hanna, Jon Deere style for Jake and Peter happy with his barking puppy and even more excited about all the wrapping paper.
Next was one of those two gatherings in one day kind of a day plus a Sunday school concert in the morning. I had a hard time gearing up for the day because nap times are thrown way off and a go-go-go kind of day is so tiring. However, it turned out to go pretty smoothly after all and the kids (and mom) did alright and we enjoyed our time with the extended families. I was happy to get in some photos with the great Grandmas.

Christmas morning at the Doerksens. Hanna and Jake weren't even up very early, although I had an interrupted night with Peter-boy. Sleeping in like the rest would've been so good but some hot coffee washed away the sleepy eyes and gave me some quiet time before the excitement began. It wasn't long before the living room floor had paper tossed about, the kiddos wearing their new housecoats and busy setting up their new toys to play with.

Here's me excited to have received a Christmas card from my Honey. He's not the card buying type so I was very pleasantly surprised with such a special card.
We enjoyed being able to have Christmas Day to spend all day at home. Brunch and a rest, Christmas movie and supper preparations; Mom and Dad and Brian joined us for supper. It was a cold, cold Christmas season and we were happy to spend more time at home where it was warm and restful.

Boxing day was Christmas at my mom's. I was looking so forward to one of the best meals she makes; deep fried chicken with lemon sauce and shrimp. That was such a favorite of Dad's and we certainly love it too, although I still can't get Wayne to touch the shrimp and lemon sauce. We had such a fun time playing games with my nieces and nephews, feasting on Christmas goodies and thankful to have day together with mom.

Christmas went by so fast as it always does every year and then dawns a New Year. Now I'm much more an idealist than a rational thinker and so my ideal beginning to a new year would, well, seem new; somehow different from the last day of the old year. New attitude, New motivation, Newer fresh faced person looking back at me in the mirror. New resolution for the new me. Better this, better that, better mom, better friend, better wife, better me. However, faced with reality, the first week of January really didn't look any different in our household than the week before. I felt a little bit let down. The only thing that's new is that I'm little bit older. So January still holds interrupted nights, the need for coffee to perk me up, dishes to be done and floors to be swept continuously, days where I've scolded louder than I care to admit and grumbled not so silently under my breath, still the same me feeling like I too often make the same mistakes again. Last Sunday a line from a song really caught my attention: Turn all my strivings into works of grace and my humanness cries out why? Why would God bother with transforming toil, purging the pride that drives me to getting everything right? Seems like a tough question but the answer is so simple...because of Love. This passage from a devotional by Max Lucado had me flipping back to it several times during the Christmas season: He humbled himself. He went from commanding angels to sleeping in straw. From holding stars to clutching Mary's finger. The palm that held the universe took the nail of a soldier. Why? Because that's what love does. It puts the beloved before itself.  When I feel like I've failed or come up short, God doesn't push me aside because I've missed a mark of divine expectation. Instead He graciously encourages me to keep going despite my shortcomings, straightening my crooked paths with his hand. I learned two words recently that really encourage me in the path of being the woman God calls me to be by learning to Fail Forward.  Maybe that's what will be new about this year. Letting God show me that I'm a work in progress and that though I may stumble daily in my walk as a wife, mom and daughter of Christ I will not fall in defeat but fail forward in mercy. Thankful for  last years trials and triumphs and take delight in today and tomorrows story of life.
Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet - Anne of Green Gables
Psalm 37:23-24 The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fall's Final Sigh

September began with a new beginning for our family. A certain blond and sparkling blue eyed five year old was very eagerly awaiting her first day of school. Her back pack moved around the house with her as she would take everything out and pack it all back in and contemplate what else she may need to go to school. (Hanna tends to think she needs to take everything along everywhere, doesn't get that from her mom at all!) She counted down the sleeps and could hardly wait until Aunty Trudy would roll the big yellow bus onto the driveway. I asked her if mommy should drive her to school the first day but she protested heavily against that!  And so on her first morning of school she bounded out of bed and got her herself dressed and washed up more quickly and willingly than ever before. I think I was just as excited as her. Poor Jake just followed her lead and kept on saying that he was going to school too. Happy goodbyes for Hanna turned into a very sad little brother who couldn't understand why he wasn't going on the bus too and with Aunty as the driver of all people. I consoled him with telling him we would drive to the school and meet Hanna to take her to her classroom. That sufficed. 
A few minutes later there we were, the Kindergarten mom paparazzi with our cameras in hand waiting for backpacks and ponytails to come bounding off the buses. The funniest thing was in class, once the children were all settled at their spots, it got really quiet. We moms just stood there like we didn't know what to do next and the children kind of looked frozen with uncertainty in their new surroundings. It seemed no mother wanted to take the first move to leave the room until we were gently reminded by the teacher that it was best to just say goodbye and leave so that she could take it from there. And out we filed, me kind of feeling like I needed to go to a class and learn how to be ' the Kindergarten mom'  No tears for me though, I was so happy for Hanna and also looking forward to this new phase of letting go a little bit and letting Hanna learn. Just a feeling of de ja vu as I remember being that five year old girl walking down the driveway with my niece, Cara, as we embarked on our Kindergarten journey. I remember so clearly as we'd go to school with matching outfits and nutella sandwiches, playing  games and singing songs with the bus driver. Little low german speaking girls in a new world of learning.  And so, twenty and several years later I watch my own little girl create her own school pathway of memories.

Poor Jakey-boy has had many tearful mornings watching Hanna leave for school, but he's adapted and now cheerfully waves good bye and watches the bus each morning from the window. Sometimes throughout the day he asks "Where's Hanna?" He definitely misses her even though they fight half the time they are together. So these mornings it's just me and the boys and I have to admit that right now I'm enjoying these much quieter mornings when I'm not constantly refereeing and being able to catch a nap after lunch while both boys are napping. Jake and I have been able to spend some one on one time doing things like feeding the chickens and playing catch. He enjoys playing quietly with his trucks and tractors too and tries to hitch up to everything or he gets to watch 'Mighty Machines'  while I work or look after baby. Jake just melts my heart with his big brown eyes and dimples and has smoke coming out of my ears with his whining and screaming. He's in a very typical two to three year old stage as he's learning more and more to exert his will and want things his way. Hanna used to be able to do everything first of herself and now she has competition from a little boy who picks up on everything and now wants to do those things himself. From opening the door first, turning off the light or TV first, going up the stairs first or letting the water out of the tub first. It makes my head so tired with the constant arguing, most of the time it just feels like I join the argument and nobody wins. The sweetest thing is though once the air is calmed I can hear Jake go up to Hanna and say I'm sorry Hanna and they'll hug each other. In those moments I'm reminded that after the storm when I feel like nothing good is happening God sends me these reminders that there is fruit in the labour of parenting and that these little hearts are learning and loving as we go. At the end of the day when Jake fires his slap shot and yells 'Check that out!' or Hanna sits and sings song after song that she makes up about Jesus, I'm reminded to be thankful for the gift of these children.
Then there's Peter. He's also got something new going on this fall and that is figuring out that he can sit. The nice thing is that he has so much chub around the middle to give him balance that he's hardly had any falls. So he just sits, leans as far forward as his belly allows and then leans back into sitting position. Once in awhile its too far to the side and then he ends up on his back, but this little dude just likes to sit and reach for toys. Even better than that is eating, anything I chop up and put on his tray puts his little fingers and mouth to use. Oh yeah, and the mess. I forgot how much of a mess babies make when they start eating themselves. He has a little addiction going on with those baby Num-Num crackers, keeps him entertained in the chair for a while. He loves to giggle at the kids when they act silly in front of him. Jake has been such a pest to him already though that as soon as he gets to close Peter starts screeching already. Once he is of the right size I think Jake will have it handed back to him. Nights are a bit better but I keep wishing for him to sleep through that early morning hour that he can't stay asleep through. Someday. It's so much fun to see his personality starting to shine through although the attitude is forming too. Hopefully the attitude won't match his red hair. Lucky kid though, I always wanted red hair!
Random shot of Samson. He's still the king of the castle. Lost a few fair feathered friends to the neighborhood fox this summer and some ended up in the soup pot. Last winter I was so tired of my chickens after trudging out there eevery day through pregnancy. I still can't get rid of them though and lately I have a new appreciation for my walks out to the chicken house. After the craziness of the day is over, I enjoy going out after it's dark and breathing in the cold air. The stillness and quiet and opening the hen house door to the soft shuffling of the flock is relaxing and clears my head.  I used to be so afraid of the dark and there's been several times Ive raced back to the house just like I'd do as a child. That fear has been replaced by just enjoying the simplicity of listening to the night sounds and having some moments of quiet prayer.
The apple dumpling gang! We made many pies from these wonderful apples. Finally got a good harvest from the Goodlands tree that Wayne planted five years ago when Hanna was born.
Wayne celebrated his bitrthday the first week of October and then several days later suffered an injury to his leg. The first Saturday of October he went out with his Dad to his Grandma's place where they were going to cut down a tree. It never even dawned on me to think about Wayne's safety as he's been cutting wood all summer but around three in the afternoon Wayne phoned as told me 'I cut myself with a chainsaw'. Him and his Dad moved fast and got into the truck to get to a hospital. Amidst confusion of where to go to I decided to call 911 and an ambulance met them on the way and took Wayne into Portage. He texted me a few times telling me he was okay but it was hard to imagine a chainsaw cut being okay! Along the way the ambulance stopped at the scene of a fatal car accident to offer their help while Wayne waited in the ambulance. At this point he was feeling very little pain possibly because of the shock to his nerves. He told me that sitting there watching the paramedics work at the deadly scene before him made his situation seem much more bearable. When I got to the hospital the ER was frantically busy as the ambulances all came in at once. I had to wait an hour and a half before I was able to see Wayne. When they let me in I instantly tried to avoid looking at his wound, not being sure I would be able to handle it and Wayne was the one who assured me that it was okay. They were just washing and beginning the stitching. I couldn't imagine how that torn flesh could be tightly stitched together again. After the procedure was done and x rays were taken Wayne felt intense pain that morphine couldn't ease. It was my turn to assure but you feel so helpless seeing someone you love in so much pain. during this time we were also receiving news that the accident had involved local boys and two of them had lost their lives. Meanwhile one of the boys was on the other side of the curtain from us and asking continuously about his friends. it was all a lot to take in and my regard for emergency medical staff certainly deepened as I watched everyone juggle between the situations. I'm not so sure I would do well emotionally as a nurse in an emergency ward. We were just so thankful that Wayne's injury was not worse and that he was alive. We were able to leave around ten that night afer Wayne finally received pain relief from stronger medication and he hobbled out on a pair of crutches. 
The next two weeks were certainly a change of pace and pattern for our family as Wayne was on the couch and putting up his leg. Each day was kind of up and down with pain, rest and attitudes. After several days infection set in due to it being a dirty wounds and several pieces of wood still working their way out. That meant many days driving in for IV  anitbiotics and check ups. We became quite familiar with the ER waiting room and ate a little too much McDonald's that week! We fit in a couple of Thanksgiving outings but it became obvious that healing needed much rest for his leg.
Through this time is was good to be reminded by this quote that : When some things go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for the many things that are still going right.
He was cut in a very awkward spot over his knee yet fortunate to have missed his knee cap and major muscle. Looking back now it's amazing how the body heals and knits back together. After the infection, each day brought much improvement and less swelling. Ater two weeks Wayne went back on the truck and adjusted to moving as his leg would allow. Not long after that he was back to woodcutting a little to my dismay, but not without protective gear!
Here's Peter giving Daddy some love while on the couch together.
It was great to have some extra Daddy time at home although I'm sure there have been many moments where Wayne would liked to have escaped for a bit from the craziness. I love this picture of Jake listening to Wayne play guitar. It reminds me so much of when I used to sit at my Dad's feet while he would strum many different Hank Williams' tunes.
Thanksgiving at Grandma Friesen's house. This one makes me laugh. Bradley busy on his phone and Jake checking out the farm and ranch magazine. I think Bradley should take a lesson from Jake and put the phone down, haha!
Ladies from the Friesen family although missing one gal from the pic. Looking at this pic reminds me of when I was a teenage girl and the gap was starting to close with my sisters as I began to connect with them. Now I see my teenage nieces coming down that same road and the gaps are beginning to close between us. We often joke at gatherings about the ones that are finally allowed to join the adult table. The rest are banished to the island. So thankful for all of our families and the many memories we create.
October 20 came around again marking the ninth year since Dad's passing and each year I dig back into my storehouse of memories. I have found that the years that I have given birth are the times I feel a renewed sense of grief and wishing that Dad could've been there for these milestones in life. This year I've had many moments of missing. One Saturday morning in particular I was baking buns and just put on a pot of coffee. This sense of nostalgia just swept over me maybe because that was just a familiar Saturday morning scene growing up. I looked to the door and felt such a sense of longing to have my pap walk in the door, pour him a cup of coffee and watch my kiddos climb on his lap. A tender moment not meant to be, but just imagining it was somehow comforting. Hanna asked me many time this fall to tell stories of my life as a kid and about my dad. That's meant so much to me and I enjoy passing my memories along. That's what leaving legacies is about. To be able to breathe memories and history into the next generations.  Every so often she will tell me that she loves and misses her Grandpa Friesen who went to Heaven.
Me and my mom at Thanksgiving. So thankful to see the joy that her grandchildren bring to her life. I'll admit, there were times I'd lament that I'd been born so late in my mother's life and that I had to grow up with 'old' parents. It didn't seem fair when I watched cousins and friends grow up with several siblings and their parents seemed funner because they were younger. However I'm the kind of girl that seems to learn life's lessons and reasons through hindsight. Looking back I'm so thankful my mom had me to be with her during the first  hard and lonely year and half after Dad passed. Also so thankful that she has been able to enjoy a new wave of little ones these last six years, grandchildren that have brought her much happiness and peace again.

Taking in the season's last bonfire. We've enjoyed so many evenings out and about on our yard and yet now it feels good have everything laid to rest outside till spring. The work didn't all get finished but the cat and chickens have a warm spot, the boiler and wood pile set for winter and rest will get covered by winter's snow. The week of the first snow I couldn't help myself and bought some clearance bulbs. Found a spot that wasn't frozen alongside the house and planted a bunch of alliums. It 'll be nice to those to look forward to in Spring!
This vine has never looked so pretty as it did this fall. One super windy day and everything was bare!

In the season of Autumn I'm drawn to the verse in Galatians 6:9   Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Some days, I'll admit, I'm just plain tired. Physically tired from the sleepless nights and the constant demands of running a household and raising a family. Mentally tired from trying to keep up with it all and feeling like I'm running in circles and falling short.  Sometimes spiritually tired because I let my time with God fall to the bottom of the list. Sometimes it's days that feel like this, some seasons seem to feel like this more than others. However it's the not giving up part and knowing there is a God who understands me in all things that encourages me to see the next moment, the next day in a different way. When I look back over my days through renewed vision I can see that it takes toil mixed with the raining down of love, sometimes pain and the light from above to grow the seeds of thankfulness. And in thankfulness lies the harvest. That's why I love looking back over a season of family snapshots. None of the craziness is frozen in time. I see that it's been good, really good.