Monday, August 27, 2012

Queen of Woe

Polite conversation often begins with questions like, “how are you doing?” and “how has your summer been?”  The average person would say “great” or “not bad.” 

I’m not the average person. 

My response is often filled with the list of all that could have or did go wrong.  This summer is a perfect example of a perfect storm.  The endless list continues to grow of why it’s been so hard, so stressful, so awful, so frustrating, so angst ridden and so depleting. 

I might have good reasons to complain.  After all, not everyone has to deal with chronic insomnia, a kitchen torn apart for more than 6 weeks, two very active and transitioning baby boys, and jam packed trips that didn’t go very well.

Here’s the thing: my own negativity is killing me and my relationships.
I’m royally sick of my complaining, my whining, my moaning and groaning.  I’m tired of my circumstances dictating my joy.  It seems to take so little for me to think that ‘today’ will be a disaster, a failure, another ‘worst case scenario.’  This Queen of woe has been catastrophizing for too long.  

So now what?  I’ve confessed.  I’m aware.  I am ready for change.  But how do I go from “look there’s one cloud in the sky it’s going to rain,” to “what a beautiful sunny day“[?] 

I’m sure it begins with gratitude.  I’m sure it begins with praise and thanksgiving.  I’m sure it begins with changing my negative thought processes.  But I’m awfully certain that I cannot change alone.  I need help daily, incrementally, to brick by brick remove this barrier to joy.

The weird thing is that I don’t remember always being this way.  Sure I’ve always been a bit of a worrier and am easily dramatic and prone to riding the waves of my emotions.  But I don’t remember always being so negative.  How did I get this way? 

Maybe it’s been the continuous supply of testing circumstances.  Maybe it’s been my health crises after health crises.  Maybe it’s been this journey into the jungles of motherhood.  No matter where or how this started, I am certain that I cannot continue on my current trajectory.  Even if there are good reasons to be on this path, I don't have good reasons to remain on it.

My relationship with my son is suffering, my heart is growing bitter and cold, and whatever God’s good plans for me are, I am sure that they are not this way.

 I am ready for joy.  To choose it.  To fight for it.  To wrestle with my thoughts and emotions.  To claim truth.  To see blessing.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Remember when a few months back I said I was cleaning out my closets?  I was planning to go through old writings and fine tune them to post on this blog.  Did that happen?  Nope.  But that's okay, I'm starting now. I guess spring cleaning has become late summer cleaning.   

Here's something I wrote back in 2009.  I'll call this a "devotional writing."  They're just my reflections, my thoughts, my ramblings about God and me and the stuff in the middle.  

Critique all you want but I hope you'll be encouraged:

Is the value of most things in their utility?  The canyons and cliffs, the waterways and bright stars, do I appreciate their utility or their beauty?  

Is food [its flavor, the delight of the communion its consumption provides, its various ways of preparation and presentation] worthwhile only in is far as it is useful for my body?  No.  

But yet, that seems to be how I approach my life and God.  Do I value being ‘used by God’ more than my relationship with God himself?  Or do I truly believe that what I am able to accomplish is how my value is measured?  Oh how I need the value of my life to be redeemed from the dust of utility and instead be caught up daily in the love of Christ.

  It is Him alone who can transform my brokenness into wholeness, and it is His love alone that can rescue me from the slavery of worshiping this productivity idol.

I was reading in Isaiah 64 about how my righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags before God anyways, and that I am like the autumn leaves, withering and falling, blown away in the wind.  I also read the well known line that, “I am the clay and you are the potter, I am formed by your hand” and again was reminded that there is little I can do for God.  

How silly of me to think that this life is about my performance.  Why do I measure the success of each day by productivity, or accomplishment?  

I was overwhelmed again by the knowledge of the great cavernous depth of my need for God’s grace.  I am not righteous, I am needy.  I am treacherous and ungodly.  I am a sinner: broken, bleeding, cracked and useless. I am that clay: a lump of hardened, dried, helpless, useless dirt.  

I dream of being a bowl to hold fruit or be a vase and hold flowers.  But the one thing, my perhaps only real accomplishment in this life might be just to hold still and surrender to the warmth of my maker’s hands. 

To remain, on that wheel, while he smoothes my rough edges and works in the oil of 
His love.  

Perhaps the point isn’t even what ‘function’ I will be able to perform after He works on me again.  Perhaps it is simply that He is making me into something beautiful so that His artistry can be revealed.  

After all, isn’t that what glorified really means?  That one day I will reflect the beauty of His redemption, His perfect work, His making this pile of clay into something from nothing? 

And so I will again invite His tender, firm hands upon me, "would You smooth out my anxieties and fears and saturate my bitter, envious, cracked self with the oil of Your love?  Help me let go of my desire to be functional and useful God, I just want to be loved and to reflect your love."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Picture Overload

Where has this month and a bit gone?  Well, let me show you (not in order...)

1. Power to Change Staff Conference.  Week in a swanky hotel in downtown vancouver! [Sounds exciting right?  It was h-a-r-d.  Staying in a one bedroom hotel room with two kids is not ideal.  Didn't hardly get to the sessions or connect with all the people we wanted to... and Toby ended up projectile vomiting and feverish just before we sat down for the formal banquet with dresses and suits on...  but it came and went.  Not a lot of photos to share as we were busy stressing about kids' naps, meals, childcare and sicknesses but near the end of the conference we did get upgrated to a double suite on the 26th floor.  Look at the view!]

we found out later that our room would have cost us 500 bucks a night?  Wow.  
Got to go on a dinner cruise in Vancouver as part of the conference.  Silas loved the boat:
Silas developed a crush on a particular childcare worker at staff conference and kept running up to dance for her.  What a little hunk!  How do children just know how to flirt? 

We look happy don't we?  We were incredibly sleep deprived...

"Sure Jason, let Silas-run around on the 26th floor patio, it's not giving me a heart-attack or anything..."

2. Kitchen Renos
Kitchen leak = a lot of work.  We have been staring at an empty kitchen for over 3 weeks now.  First they had to pack it up and tear it all out and dry it out, and now we've been waiting for insurance to get their ducks in a row (read: paperwork) so that they can begin to repair it.  We thought about getting new cabinets but decided that it's going to take too long and cost too much.  AND since no one is doing any repair work as of yet, we might as well paint.  Our plan (thanks to a very interior-decorator-saavy friend) is to paint the cabinets cream, walls cream, change out the floor, add butcher block counter tops, put in open shelving and do a feature charcoal wall.  
Oh by the way, we have 3 weeks left this summer to do it.
It started like this:

Upper cabinets complete! See below:
[Amazing what a coat of paint will do!]

All this has meant very frustrating meal preparation, washing dishes in the bathroom sink, lots of time spent outdoors, late nights for Jason and I painting and working and...

3. Back Patio Playing
Lots of it.  Chalk colouring, pine cone collecting, pine cone painting, sand and water play, the works.

Silas' Nana dropped off a water/sand table on the patio and it's been a HUGE blessing (thank you Sally!)

Silas is finally learning how to play a bit more independently.  It's been awesome.  Although...I don't just sit back with a coffee and watch him play, now I'm chasing a little mobile Toby who eats grass, crawls, grabs at all of Silas' toys, stands on anything, climbs...phew.  
Here he is in all his glory:

He's generally a happy kid but when he's not- he's at least still super cute.

4. Trips to the Beach
We've spent a lot of time out of the house due to the kitchen's state and since I'm cooking dinner on the BBQ most nights anyways, we often end up going to a park/beach for picnic style dinners.  Here's us at Sasamat Lake:

At City Park in Lynden- on a day trip with my Mom:
Coolest park I've ever seen

Just cause it's a funny picture: (brothers!)

5. House Sitting
We've taken advantage of those who leave on vacation and have spent time at others' homes to get away from our kitchen chaos.  These are some pictures of us 'house sitting' at our friends place:

(We swapped out their pictures on the wall with the ones of us in their home.  Fun prank! - Thanks to old friends Jeff and Ashlee for the idea when they did it to our own house!)

6. Vacation!
Vacation has come to mean a new thing for me: work!  Packing, loading, driving, trying to get babies to sleep in new places, packing again, laundry....
Oh but the memories we make together!  Thanks to Nana and Papa we got to stay at a cabin on Pinaten lake near Kamloops this last weekend.  It was HOT but oh so much fun:


 Cousins having a juice box break

7. Growing
Lots of change happening around here: Toby is eating solids and going to bed at 7 pm, crawling, standing, sitting, rolling and getting everywhere and into everything.  

Silas is learning how to play a bit by himself and LOVES spending time outside.  He is often found making 'cakes' out of rocks and sticks and trying to wrestle or race us.  He speaks so well that often people think he's older and has a really spunky sense of humor emerging.  Now he says things like "Toby's bugging me mom"  Oh boy. 
He has started to lose his nap (boo) since if he does nap he's up til like 10 pm in his room still talking and moving around.  I tried today for the first time to enforce a quiet time and he played contentedly alone with lego for over an hour before he was like this:
Asleep.  Lego crash.

And a picture for kicks.

I thought the fall was going to be busy but this summer is kicking my butt!
Next up: camping with our life group, tackling the rest of the kitchen, and a trip to Ontario for two weeks (that is, of course, before the crazy busy fall begins).

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