Angels Among Us

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Angels Among Us – Originally written January 29, 2014

 Confession time. I used to listen to country and western music. A lot. {Um, I still do :)…} Oh, and I also had a fascination with the pop rock band Roxette. Their concert was my very first. I felt so grown up. (I was only in grade 8 …. with my friend and without my parents …. can you imagine!???) If you can still sing the words to The Look or Joyride we would probably get along very well :). Oh mercy, ain’t that some hair!!!

But back to C&W music for a moment. Alabama used to sing a song called “Angels Among Us.” Doesn’t that sound nice :)? And the other morning, when we ventured out of our house in between plummeting wind chills and snow storms (we had 3 different storms in 2 days, which doesn’t make for great winter driving!) it’s the first song that came to mind.

It’s hard to tell, because the skies were very cloudy and lighting wasn’t great, but someone visited our driveway, and in the freshly fallen snow, had left us a whole choir of snow angels!

As we tiptoed through the imprints, trying so hard not to disturb them (though you will notice one or two sliced in half because of tire tracks and Jon having to leave for school!!), I thought of all the encouragers God places in our life. In my life. I grew up in a very small community, and it was probably a little easier to hear gossip than grace, criticism rather than compliments. Maybe this wasn’t the case. Maybe people were more open and affirming and positive than I remember.

In fact, I can remember when I was one of those critical people. And I recall distinctly when I was held accountable for it. I was in high school, sitting in the gym at lunch time. There were a few of us girls sitting around watching volleyball inter murals I believe. (I played volleyball. I also did not play volleyball very well!!!!) In jest, I was making critical remarks about some people on the court. Some of the girls were laughing. And that encouraged me to keep making remarks. I don’t think they were cruel words, but certainly not edifying. Gossip over grace is what generated the laugh. Until one girl spoke up to me. Stood up to my words. “Wow. You are a really negative person, aren’t you?” I was stunned. In general I thought I was a pretty POSITIVE person. “Negative” fit in the same category as “angry” or “direct”, and as a “christian” I thought I wasn’t supposed to be those things. Act that way.

Her words caught me off guard. I’m pretty sure she was just super-annoyed with me and spoke up, and had no idea that, even to this day, her words would continue to teach me.

Like hours, breaths, dollars, moments — we have a certain amount of words, actions, prayers that we will be able to fit into our day.
Are my words seasoned with grace?
Are my actions encouraging?
Are my prayers edifying?

There are “angels” in my life that God has used to encourage me over and over again. Honest answers (even when they are tough ones). Surprise notes in the mail. Treasured affirmations.

Angel wings in my driveway.

He has used people that are regularly part of my life.
And He has used people that have no clue how much they have forever influenced me.
God is so good. 🙂

And hopefully, I can share this goodness with others as well.
If gossip over grace generated the laugh in the moment, it’s
…grace that has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” ~ Amazing Grace

 

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When I Grow Up, I Want To Be….

We’ve all been asked that age-old question.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Here are some of my answers in no particular order….

  1. A singer. Well, this is a bit embarrassing. Considering I can neither sing well NOR enjoy being on stage (few things make me as uncomfortable as a spotlight – eek!!!), I am preeeeeetty sure this was short lived. In hindsight, I think the attraction for me was assuming that I would’ve had a great personal stylist and a fantastic wardrobe. Very valid reasons to pursue a singing career :).
  2. A woman carrying a briefcase. I’m not sure where I anticipated carrying my brief case to and from each day, but somehow the thought of looking all polished and feeling very important was a piece of this mysterious puzzle :). And, I think a great pair of comfortable heels was also a part of this dream.
  3. There was a time when I was feeling particularly cheeky :). A few well-intentioned, older relatives had cornered me with this question at a family function, and I whispered to my cousin who was sitting beside me at the time, “I wonder what they’d say if I blurted out truck driver or table top dancer.” We had ourselves a good chuckle. Neither were ambitions of mine personally, but I think I was sick and tired of the question :).
  4. Vet. This was also very short-lived. For one of my high school job shadows I hung out with a vet for a few days. I really respected her work, and had the chance to sit in on a couple of surgeries, but somehow ….. never felt that animals were my personal calling :).
  5. Working with kids. Somehow. As I started to mature {it’s a process; I’m still under construction…..}, different dreams emerged. I always felt like I’d been given so much in my family, and the thought of extending that in some way, shape or form to others was very appealing to me. Over the course of the years, this has stayed with me, but has definitely taken on different directions than what I’d anticipated.
  6. Having a family of my own. I don’t think this was something I so much dreamed of as assumed that it would happen someday. I was in no hurry (ahem….. considering I got married quite young – 21, can you imagine!?!), but anticipated for my life one day.

The essence behind all the thoughts and dreams of what I anticipated it would be like when I was “grown up” was this ….. security. I think there was a piece of me that thought when you were older, you would finally outgrow the insecurities that can plague you when you are younger. Like shedding the bubble gum jeans and the tie-die t-shirts of the 80’s, the uncertainties and anxieties of youth would simply fade away. Feelings about fitting in and bad hair days {years….}. Of knowing who your friends are … and the friend that you want to be. Of narrowing the bazillion options in life down to the few that fit you the best.

Sometimes we grow discouraged. Our present days may look nothing like the dreams of our youth {thankfully, in my case, there is no stage :)…}. Our course took a different direction, and maybe we feel like we’ve missed something essential along the way.

Or did we?

As long as we are breathing and have a heart beating, maybe there’s still time and opportunity to ask ourselves “what do I want to be as I grow up?” Maybe we can take all we’ve learned to this point and apply it to the next step. Through our experiences, our families, our successes and failures, there is so much we have gleaned, and much we can offer, along the way.

 

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tran·si·tion

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tran·si·tion
tranˈziSH(ə)n,tranˈsiSH(ə)n/Submit
noun
1.
the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
“students in transition from one program to another”
synonyms: change, passage, move, transformation, conversion, metamorphosis, alteration, handover, changeover; More
verb
verb: transition; 3rd person present: transitions; past tense: transitioned; past participle: transitioned; gerund or present participle: transitioning
1.
undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition.
Thank you, Google Dictionary :).
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This is fall.
And it wasn’t until this morning that I felt like our segue back into The Routine was settling. In fact, as I took that first sip of coffee when the house was quiet after the hum of the morning had passed, I just breathed it all in.
No rushing. No problem-solving. No emails or check-ins. No phone calls.
Just breathing a prayer of gratitude, “thank you Jesus.”
Every year, there are changes. This year our changes included having our youngest, who has really relied on her middle sister for connection at school, had to get used to being on her own. She came home those first few days, and said, “I still miss you, mommy, but I’m having fun too.” Ahhhh, motherhood. I hope that they will always miss me just enough to come and connect, but feel confident and independent enough to embrace the adventures that await them.
Kezia started a new school. New staff, new routine, new friends. New files. New. Everything new. Every part of me likes what is familiar and comfortable, and this was a challenge for both of us! But with the new, comes new opportunities, new responsibilities, new confidences. New relationships and connections. Yes, there are challenges, and those of us who have children with disabilities recognize that the need for clear communication never ends.
Our oldest entered “junior high” — don’t we all remember those turbulent tween years :)????  Oh my. It is challenging to navigate the press for independence with the need to stay so very connected.
But, admittedly, one thing I’ve grown to love about this season (aside from the plethora of school supplies; I do LOVE me a good notebook, personal planner and special pen :)!!!) is that there is room to hear my heart again. The hum and heyday of summer has passed, and in it’s quiet wake there are cool-weather walks, my thrift-store favourite sweater, a badly needed catch-up visit with a friend. There is a bit more space to be … me … again.
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When I am tempted to look ahead….

Ack. I could feel it stirring. Again.

That inner angst that comes from looking too far ahead into the future…. questions without answers, possibilities without perspective, problems without a game plan.

Most days there is so much flurry in the here-and-now that I have no time or energy to think much further than the menu plan for the week or who is going where and when I need to have them there. But, in reality, if I let myself dwell on these thoughts, I could really get myself worked up into a dither. Who will care for Kezia when we can’t? What if government support is not enough – how will she be cared for financially? What if we can’t find a suitable housing arrangement for her? What if we enrol her in a program that slowly erodes her life and energy rather than building her up? Who will be her companions?  So many questions.

When I am tempted to look ahead….

…. I look to the past.

When I see these pictures, I can still feel the anxiety that lurked beneath my smile. Oh,  if only I could go back and tell myself one thing, ONE THING, so that I could enjoy those days more, waste less time in stress, sleep better at night ;), it would be this:

God has got this – it’s going to be okay.

Breathing. That doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges, or heartaches or things we need to press through. Those things will come …. but those things won’t define us, won’t steal from us the joy and blessing of this journey. Because of God’s grace and His promise of wisdom and perspective when we need it, we will learn and grow through these things.

And these days, I try to remember that. If I could go back and tell myself this one thing…. I can remind myself of that now. And sometimes, when I have a hard time remembering, God places precious people in my life, right here and now, to whisper to me:

God has got this – it’s going to be okay.

…. I look to the future.

Resting in God now does not mean we neglect to plan for the future. We do. I am married to a fantastic, conscientious man who is all things thorough and practical. Planning ahead and thinking things through is hard-wired into his DNA. And AGAIN, just this week, I told him how much I appreciate and learn from his attention to detail.

Just as it is with any one of our kids, there is no way we can write their story for them. But that doesn’t mean we just sit back and let it all unfold. As parents, we do our best to train their hearts and teach their minds and strengthen their soul for the life ahead. And we do some very practical planning.

For Kezia, we have thought ahead a bit. What are some of the challenges she might face? What can we build into our lives now to make those situations easier?

We have started an RDSP for her. There is no way of knowing what financial support will be available as she needs it. This is one way we can start to save for her future – and with the programs that are available at this time, saving gets a little easier!

We have thought about where she might live. We considered this a lot when we had our home built. We decided on a floor plan that had all our bedrooms on one floor. We felt like it would be a long time before Kezia was ready to move into a basement bedroom, and rather than being separated from her sisters (who would probably love a basement bedroom eventually :)…) we opted to have bedrooms close together. (It also saves on how much running I have to do in the night, and eventually they will probably outgrow that too, but not too sure when!!) We also had a living space roughed into our basement. Maybe it will be necessary, maybe not. But the floor plan we had drafted would accommodate a basement suite if that was the best option.

We have spent many hours invested in therapy. Just because learning doesn’t come easily is not an indication that in can’t be learned. I have spent hours researching learning strategies – some have been helpful, some we have not seen the desired results yet. Always we are learning together.

And we invest in long-term relationships. What could be more life-giving then spending time together with people who have known you since you were born and accept you as you are? Spending time together now refreshes us and teaches us the value of maintaining relationships even when it takes time or effort to do so.

most important, I look up.

God has got this – it’s going to be okay.

Their Heavenly Father loves these children even more than we do! And when the hard things happen, and it is so very tempting to feel discouraged and defeated, remembering this Love is what keeps me grounded.

 

There are still times when I am tempted to fret about what is to come. And yet, slowly, I am learning to let that go.

When I hold other people’s babies…..

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I have always thought of myself as a “kid person.” I did a lot of baby sitting as a teenager, I taught Sunday School for years, and I even had the opportunity to work as a live-in nanny for one spunky little 5-year-old. Jonathan & I met while working at a bible camp. {For the most part 🙂 } I enjoyed working with kids.

I assumed, one day, when the timing was right, we would have a family. I enjoyed my pregnancies. They were not always comfortable :), and I was so very thankful when I could take a deep breath again, see my toes again :), sleep better again … well, that didn’t come for several years, actually … but I always felt like pregnancy was a gift.

And then, suddenly, I wasn’t sure I would ever experience it again.

Kezia was our second baby, and she was born slightly early – only by about 10 days or so. But, as silly as it seems, I wasn’t ready to be finished with pregnancy yet. And in the days and months of fear and grief that followed, there was a deeper, underlying pain….

…. What if we never go on to have any more children.

After that, holding other people’s babies was hard. HARD. Celebrating other joyous arrivals brought times of preparation for myself – wrapping a gift, preparing a meal – in tears. After, I would chide myself, whispering …  Just be grateful for what you have. What you have is good. It is enough. Get over it already.

Ah. But grief. It requires honesty before it can move forward.

When things like this turn out in ways other than what we have dreamed, whether it’s a lost baby, babies that we never held, family life that looks significantly different than anticipated, it can be as – or even more so – challenging than dealing with a specific diagnosis. Navigating the thoughts and feelings and even relationships, especially with your spouse or close connections that seem to be receiving what you are longing for, can feel crazy. And it is good to have a safe place to go to help process it all.

And yes, we did go on to have another child. The journey toward Baby #3, Lexi, is a story in and of itself. A beautiful story of healing and redemption, complicated conversations and a whole lot of waiting! Her pregnancy was not without its own worries and I was relieved when that part was done.

But if we hadn’t — would that have been hard? Yes. It would have been. Very hard. But, before we moved toward a third baby, a significant healing had already taken place. I knew, without a doubt, that we would be okay no matter what. One morning while reading from the psalms, this gem stood out to me….

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Source: akmayes.com

What we were already given was more than enough. And somehow, if things were different than we had initially anticipated, that was a part of life that we would learn to embrace.

Now … I do love to hold other people’s babies. I can snuggle them … and rock them …. and then hand them back and go home and sleep through the night :). HA! And this past weekend, we celebrated the arrival of a nephew – my sister’s son. And I marvelled.

As I held him, and saw life, I was also deeply thankful. No more tears.

The LORD has healed.

Sometimes we still get asked if we are “done” having babies :). Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be “done.” Is it something I anticipate? No. Not exactly. Life is full and good. But you never know what blessings lay around the next bend :).

 

While We’re On The Topic Of Inclusion…

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This is just so beautiful, I couldn’t help but share.

After reading her book Bloom, I started following Kelle Hampton’s blog. She posted this video based on an awareness campaign that she is involved with. Grab a few tissues :).

 

One of my favourite quotes from the video:

When Matt was born, we had no idea what to expect as he became an adult. We are amazed that he is who is is today. Having the opportunities that he’s had…. it’s just so different than what we thought it was going to be like. So much more. So, as a young mom with a new baby, just have those expectations that he’s going to have a good life. And give them all the opportunities that he can have. ~ Sheila Moore

It’s one thing to have a younger child with special needs. There are so many opportunities and supports available. It’s not perfect yet ;), but there is so much more awareness …. and compassion … I think. However, as your youngster with disabilities grows and that gap grows too, there are new challenges to face, new heartaches to contend with and new victories to celebrate.

This video touches on an American program available to adults who have special needs. However, it is important to note that such supportive services are beginning in Canada too. Close by, the Red River College Campus (Winnipeg, MB) offers educational assistance to individuals with learning disabilities. Once an individual has been accepted into a program (they do need to meet the entrance criteria for those programs), learning support, accommodation considerations and other assistance is available through their disabilities support network.

Making Space Around The Table – A conversation about inclusion

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So… this is a pretty broad topic. And it applies to many people and circumstances, not just those with “special needs.” However, I think conversations and reflections like this are important because they help us to think, evaluate, encourage and engage in making the difference we would like to see.

How are we — parents, leaders, teachers, friends, professionals, workers — working towards a safe and affirming space for those with disabilities?

A quick search for the word inclusion generates a host of possible applications. For this discussion, Wikipedia’s concise description fits well:

Inclusion is a term used by people with disabilities and other disability rights advocates for the idea that all people should freely, openly and without pity accommodate any person with a disability without restrictions or limitations of any kind. Although disability rights has historically existed as a relatively cohesive movement, the movement centered on inclusion has only recently begun to take shape and to position itself in the eye of the general public.

Meaningful Connections. How are we fostering significant relationships? In our individualized and self-centric culture, how are we intentionally and thoughtfully cultivating healthy, well-rounded people? Regardless of ability or intellect, how are we providing opportunities for positive attachments within family, friendship/peer circles, education systems, and church and community programs? Are we supporting families with on going care for persons with disabilities?

As a mother of a daughter with life-long learning disabilities and some physical challenges, the most powerful encouragement has come from those who didn’t have all the right words to say, or all the right ways to “fix it,” but have simply been present. They have listened as I’ve processed all of life’s possibilities (after doctor appointments, this is particularly challenging). It has been the friend who showed up spontaneously the night before Kezia’s infant MRI to say “You can do this!” (And, somehow, she just knows, because she is walking this road too.) It was the neighbour that offered me a shoulder and a cup of coffee while I freaked out about Kezia going to school. It has been the family member that let me call incessantly when anxiety was at it’s highest. It is the person who asks, “how are things going?” and listens to the response ;). It is hearing a doctor say, “We need to talk this out because you, as the parent, need to be confident and comfortable with a treatment plan of action. Call me when you think of more questions.”

For a beautiful article on sitting with a friend going through a hard time, read “Motherhood Is The Strongest Bond.” I still can’t get through it without grabbing a kleenex.

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Rain or Shine, I’ll always be there for you. Steve Osborne

For Kezia, it has been the chance to be included in a ball hockey game, for someone to slow down and walk with her at her own pace. It was the birthday party invite and for me, the chance to get to know parents of the girls in her class. It is knowing that those working with Kezia respect her and want what is best for her.

Meaningful Contributions. Are we providing meaningful work for those with disabilities?

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil — this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:13.

In the days before Jonathan & I were married, I was a live-in nanny. (MAN that feels like eons ago!) Not having my own children, the whole “parenting” thing felt like a bit of a mystery. I will never, ever forget the delight in in this little fella’s face when I gave him his very own work job to do — his weekly responsibility was to vacuum the den. He couldn’t wait to show me “the surprise” when it was done. He couldn’t wait to tell his mom (her and I did end up having a helpful conversation about this too!). He was satisfied with a job  well done. Even now, our own girls have daily/weekly work jobs that they do. (They are not always thrilled and willing :), mind you, but somehow it gets done.) The point is — meaningful work is rewarding. It builds skill and confidence. It helps prevent us from wasting our God-given, precious time. A job well done offers the thrill of satisfaction that few other things can. It is not about becoming successful or valuable based on what we can produce, but encouraged and empowered through the act of contributing to society and the lives in others in a positive and productive way.

That’s why I love stories like the man who opened a teaching hotel for folks that have disabilities. One Dad’s Dream

“As a disability movement, we must move forward on innovation to increase education that leads to employment options and independence—not just more services.”

Meaningful Communities. I think, at the core of it, is the human desire of belonging. You know the old Cheers song….

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

I think most of us can relate to that feeling of not fitting in, of not knowing our place, of not feeling comfortable; unsure of whether or not our contributions are considered worthy and acceptable. For those with disabilities, this struggle can be even more pronounced. Who will sit with the child who cannot run, or work through communication issues with the one who can’t speak? How are we modelling this for our children?

This is just one opportunity for belonging: the University Participant (UP) Program at Western Carolina University. It seeks to provide a university experience, with suitable education expectations, for those who would not otherwise have the chance to engage in this growth and independence.

The students designed what became the University Participant (UP) Program, a fully inclusive 2-year program–full residence, dorms, classes, work, support, communication, goals, accountability–and soon found one student with special needs who wanted to come. “We were building the airplane as we were flying it,” Dr. Kelly Kelley remembers.


 

So. How are we doing? I hope that we’ve come a long way from viewing some lives as more worthy or successful or important than others. That we’ve moved away from shutting people up and away, out of sight, out of mind. That we are taking steps in the direction that makes space for everyone, not just the elite few.

But, really, how are we doing with this? How do our social networks – our schools, our churches, our families, our communities reflect this?

What could we be doing differently?

Better?

What should we continue?

Or what could we stop doing altogether?

 

Surviving the holidays with Special Needs

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This is my last post on holidays for a long {long} while. I promise ;).

However, this one is near and dear to my heart, and since we just moved through it, here are a few thoughts while it is still fresh…..

Several years ago, I was standing in the baby toy section at Toys R Us. And it took everything within me not to sit there and cry. In hindsight, maybe I should have just had myself a good, long bawl right there in aisle 4, while holiday strollers, sipping lattes from their Tim Hortons holiday take-out cups, eyed me with a strange sense of curiosity and pity. Giving me a little extra space as they found some toy-treasure in the next aisle.

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Image source: BigDaddyKreative

 

It is funny, the things that will transport us knee-deep into grief.

I was standing in the baby section, but I wasn’t buying toys for a baby. I was trying to select something meaningful for a past-toddler-age child that was still developmentally closer to “baby-ish.” And it was making me a little crazy. I was wrestling with “Do I buy something that is developmentally challenging or something that is just plain and simple?” “What can I get her that we don’t already have?” “D*** it sucks to be buying baby things for my girl, when her younger sister has already developmentally passed her and all these toys.”

That’s when I started to look at things as age vs. stage appropriate. Kezia’s age may indicate one thing, but her stage is likely at a totally different level. This has helped me immensely to put things like toy-buying, setting expectations for work jobs around the house, or independence skills into perspective. She may appear to be eight and a half (she actually looks older, considering she is quite tall!) but what could I reasonably anticipate from someone much younger? That helps me cope with the frustration and the wrestling.

Also new to me this year (it has very likely been published before, but I can be a little slow on the up-take and haven’t noticed it…) was this catalogue from Toys R Us.

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It is full of good ideas and points out areas of development that each toy targets. Even if you don’t shop at Toys R Us, it can still fuel inspiration as you search for that special something.

I would like to say I’ve set aside all pressure to pick out toys that are developmentally challenging. My natural tendency is a love for all things education-related, and so the gifts we pick for our kids tend to reflect that. (Thank goodness the girls have an awesome dad who lovingly selected remote control monster trucks for each one of his girls this year!!! He keeps things fun :P). She still hasn’t touched the alphabet magnet letter board we picked out for her :).

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A great Kezia-Gift. We stocked it with white board markers, a roll of paper and stickers!  A second IKEA white board around here works very well ;). Thank you IKEA! The girls spend hours playing school (hence Lexi’s new “School Time” set), drawing, making games, etc. I just wish it was also magnetic. The magnetic plastic easels are usually quite a bit shorter.

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Kezia expressed a love of horses this summer. She couldn’t get enough of them on our summer holiday. These beautiful horses are Schleich – great price, great quality. And a sticker book is always a hit!

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Ah. Tactile toys. I love shopping with Mikayla because she was on the hunt for something special for her sisters. In all honesty these things drive me  crazy because they get covered in fuzz and the little pink flickering LED bear is enough to send anyone into a seizure. However. Kezia LOVES these things. Squishy Bob (the purple guy – a gift from a sweet little friend) goes everywhere. And… since we love Kezia…. we will allow fuzz-collecting, bouncy toys into the home :).

Honestly, the best thing we can get for her is anything she can do with her sisters. She won’t typically go play with toys. She will play with people. It’s relationships, not things, that means the most to her. A good life lesson.

Book Worm – Reading Challenge

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I love to read. I read fiction and non-fiction, great stories and great insights into life and learning. Some that are deeply absorbing, some that are way over my head :).  However, I’ve never done a reading challenge before! So when this popped up on Pinterest, I felt the nudge to give it a try.

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The biggest challenge? Probably reading something that was banned at some point. That one might take a little research!

The easiest? Hmmmm… probably the recommended read. I have a few “readers” excellent readers in my life. Thankfully, they can probably suggest something meaningful :).

Any other reading challengers out there :)? Any great book suggestions!? 🙂

To see a list of books, check out the BOOKS tab at the top of the page.

Welcome here, New Year

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Wow. You take real-lived life, add “December” with all of its fun and festivity, sprinkle in a wee bit of expectation and anticipation annnnnd ……

Voila. Holiday mode.

It took a full week of hermit-mode just to recover :).

Yet, here we are.  We survived. Rhythm and routine have settled in once again, and though I’m not totally accustomed to writing 2016 in my morning journal just yet, we are ready to embrace the coming year.

When I reflect on 2015, I think of “settling in.” New space, new routines, settling in to this stage of family life (which is different then The Baby Stage :)….). This was very lovely, considering it followed 2014, The Year Of Transition. In the space of a year, we moved. Jonathan’s parents moved. My parents sold their farm, retired and moved. Several of our siblings moved. There was a whole lot of moving going on, and we swapped boxes and new addresses there for a quite a while!

2015 was a season of sorting and purging, literally as we unpacked boxes and decided what to keep and what had to go, as well as mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It included a shift to having all three girls in school, which gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own identity, work and worth as a stay at home parent, and to evaluate what ways God might be inviting me to invest my time and energy. It was a time to sift through accumulated habits, and evaluate what was working and what wasn’t anymore. And to ask myself, where to go from here?

Welcome here, New Year

Well… I’m not much into resolutions. But if I were, I know what would be hovering at the top of the list….

  1. Put an e.n.d. to counter space clutter. Seriously, if the kitchen is the “heart of the home,” it is probably wise to have it as organized and tidy as possible. However, no matter how hard I try, there is always some remnants of every day life left strewn about.
  2. Kick guilt to the curb. I’ve always struggled with guilt. (It’s actually a standing family joke. Seriously.) Without warning, guilt can come crashing in – disappointing someone, not handling a situation as well as I feel I should have, spending money on things that don’t, in the long run, really matter all that much. And while guilt may be a powerful motivator, it is not necessarily a positive one.
  3. Embrace each moment for what it’s worth. A long, long while ago, someone once said to me, “Every so often, stop. Look all around you. Take a deep breath. You will never have this moment again.” Especially as the days seem to fly by, and it feels like someone has pressed the “fast-forward” button on life, and the girls are growing up so quickly, I feel like this habit is important. It’s hard for me, always thinking of the next thing that needs to be done, the next project to tackle, to calm that restlessness and just …. rest. And, in reality, there are many many many moments I am glad we don’t have to repeat. Some hard things that I hope we don’t have to go through again. In the midst of the good, and the hard, I can say, “This is it! This is l.i.f.e. And sometimes it is messy. And this moment will not come again. Embrace it.”

I’m not sure where the path of 2016 will lead, what adventures it will include, or the people I will get to share it with. But I know the One who walks it with us, and somehow, that is more than enough.

Psalm 1611