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Archive for May, 2014

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Wow! The month of May is almost done!

The gift of summer is just around the corner!

And speaking of gifts, the most viewed post of this week was Diamonds or Days Together.

Also this week were :

Freedom
(spring reminds us of freedom, but do we get it?)

Joy When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
(can we have joy even when life is unfair?)

A Different Learning Environment
(how a field-trip made a learner of me)

Renovations of Summer Past-Part 2
(my pièce de résistance of this renovation)

Blessings on you this day,
Carole

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A few days back I introduced you to my renovation project from last summer.

Today I will introduce my personal favorite part of the bedroom and bathroom (part of our basement suite) that I renovated for our university-aged daughter.

Instead of starting with ‘before’ pics, I thought I’d start with the ‘after’ pic.

20140529-064231-24151920.jpgI had been dreaming of creating this built-in bookcase for over a year, and I am thrilled with how it turned out.

Unfortunately my ‘before’ picture disappeared from my phone, so do your best to imagine that, originally, there was a poorly-painted bi-fold door covering this space. Behind the door was a crawl space that is under our U-shaped staircase.

The upper part backed onto the drywall of the staircase, and was about seven inches deep. I framed up three shelves and installed them (from an old wooden shelf that was falling apart … aka. it was free).

20140529-064233-24153309.jpgThe lower part took a bit more … prayer.

I knew what I wanted to do, but my funds were limited, and my skill level that of a beginner.

Thankfully, it was garbage day while taxiing my son somewhere. Thank goodness for people who put usable items out with their trash (with a ‘free’ sign on them). There, on the side of the road, was a small white bookcase. I slowed, and as soon as I started to turn, my son (who knows me SO well) said, “do you want me to put it in the back for you?” Gotta love a young man who can read your mind!

Once home I was delighted to discover that it was the PERFECT size for my space! I then went to a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (a great place to find usable building materials for cheap) and purchased four wheels (for about $4, total) to attach to the bottom of the shelf.

20140529-064230-24150199.jpgThe only thing I had to scratch my head about was how to cover the unsightly bottom. That was easily fixed by cutting the baseboard to perfectly fit the opening, then add a backing that would cover the space between the baseboard and the shelf, so that it looks like it is part of the shelf (see below and to the right of the shelf).

And that is my pièce de résistance of this renovation.

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20140528-072035-26435100.jpgRecently, one of my daughters was having a conversation with a friend who has autism.

Apparently she had asked him, “do you know what girls like?”

To which he replied, “diamonds, all girls want is diamonds.”

Not a bad generalization, for one whose diagnosis would tell us that this is not a cognitive strength.

It is a generalization that many men make, that many people make. The generalization that what people really want is something expensive, shiny, flashy. But, is that what people really want? need?

To look at life perspective, I often look at the end of life.

With a hubby whose life work is that of pastoring, I hear of deathbed experiences on a regular basis. I hear of what is desired most, what is appreciated most, what is sobbed for the most. Never has hubby come home and shared that someone died dreaming of diamonds, of fancy sports cars or expensive homes.

What they speak of is relationships.

Times spent with loved ones. Memories of vacations and dinners around the table. Memories of working on gardens and homework. Memories of Sunday drives, and a God who didn’t only mean something on the Sabbath.

What do we want to give to those who we love?

What memories do we want most to leave?

Diamonds? or days together?

“We don’t need more things.
We need more meaning.
God. is. here.
The meaning unfolds in the ordinary.
Wow. Thank you. Yes.”
Ann Voskamp

 

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Leaving the school grounds, with students is something I love to do. You see, like their ‘typical’ peers, students with special needs behave so much better off school grounds than on them. It is as though all know that school is not ‘real’, but an artificially-created society which is not reflective of life on the ‘outside’.

So, my colleague and I asked if we could go.

The school said “yes”

The parents said, “yes”

The students said, “yes”

And off we went, riding public transit into the city of Vancouver for the day.

Once out and under the sun, we wandered a bit of the city, purchased tickets and attended an educational presentation, then headed to another area to seek our lunch, wandered a bit more, then started the process back to our suburban-rural school

Our students were fully present in every point of the day.

They communicated with their mouths as well as their eyes.

They made purchases, politely, without a reminder to do so.

They cleaned their lunch garbage after eating.

They did not lose their transit passes.

They did not lose us! Or we them.

They did not make a scene, say a rude word, or pass gas loudly (not to say they did not pass gas).

The best part of the day was when one young man was making a purchase, and the final price required counting every cent in his wallet. The store owner gave him a discount on the price, to which the student said, “thank-you, that was so kind of you.”

No, the best part was sitting on a bus, two rows ahead of the teens, and hearing the two of them having a typical teen conversation.

No, the best part was hearing the two giggle with abandon.

No, the best part was all four of us running to catch our water taxi.

No, the best part was …

being away from school,

and seeing these teens, with special needs, thriving outside of those learning walls,

so that we could be the learners for a change.

 

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Working in a Christian school means each week begins with a devotional and prayer with my colleagues. There are two that have stood out to me, and their messages quite diverse.

For one, the message included the sharing of stories of really tough, bad and unfair circumstances in the lives of people dear to the one speaking.

I could relate to that devotional! Haven’t we all had times of wondering what on Earth God was thinking in allowing travesties to occur to the innocent, the unaware? Haven’t we all looked heaven-ward with more questions than answers? Haven’t we all had times of wondering where was God?

The other devotional was focused on joy, and how joy is something we can experience, on the inside, even when the circumstances of life are negative. I believe it is what the Bible refers to as “the peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

The two, for me, fit together perfectly.

The first is representative of the reality of living in this sin-filled, imperfect world.

The second is the reminder that, though our circumstances may be bad, Christ offers joy. Not a silly, trite, just put a smile on and be happy sort of joy, but a joy that we can have because God does understand the big picture. We can cry our tears of sorrow, and sadness over unfair circumstances, while still knowing that God’s hand is on every detail of the canvas of our lives.

Henri Nouwen, in his book “Here and Now: Living in the Spirit,” said it well of joy :

“Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing — sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death — can take that love away.

“Joy is not the same as happiness. We can be unhappy about many things, but joy can still be there because it comes from the knowledge of God’s love for us. We are inclined to think that when we are sad we cannot be glad, but in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn’t easy to understand, but when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience. Often we discover the joy in the midst of the sorrow. I remember the most painful times of my life as times in which I became aware of a spiritual reality much larger than myself, a reality that allowed me to live the pain with hope. I dare even to say: ‘My grief was a place where I found joy.’ Still, nothing happens automatically in the spiritual life. Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.”

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I have something to admit …

please don’t read this wrong,

please don’t read into this,

just be patient,

and I’ll explain it fully …

So, here is my admission …

I do not wish for my kids to get married.

(did I just hear music from the movie Psycho?)

Now, here is the explanation …

I am happily married,

I am glad that I married,

I am committed to my marriage,

but I do not believe that one has to be married to be

happy,

joyful,

fulfilled,

or live a life with purpose.

Purpose comes from the one who gave us breath,

gave us life.

And anything that comes after Him

is simply EXTRA icing on the cake of life.

I hope for the ‘princesses’ (and prince) in our home to hold on to the encouragement of the letter below :

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Now, all that said, I do dream that if they marry, one day, it might be to someone who is already dreaming of them.

(music from Psycho yet again)

This guest post is a video (below), and it is directed towards females, though, I hope the same of my son, and for my son. I hope that if my three marry, they would marry someone who has been loving them, anticipating their entry into his or her life from before they met. To love from the position of knowing that God is the Lord of perfect timings, and IF marriage is something in their future lives, that the primary qualifier is a mutual trust in God.

And, if marriage is not in their future, that their future can still be perfect, because every moment, of every day, is still in the hands of God.

 

 

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Truth can hurt, but, truth spoken in love can be therapeutic, healing.

In the most viewed post this week, Words Spoken into my Heart that is what I have shared about.

Also this week were :

The Sheep and the Shepherd
(hiding our burdens rather than bringing them to the light where they can be lightened and healed)

Pushing Through to Finish Well
(as summer is anticipated, we need to keep our focus on finishing what had already been started)

The Holly and the Axe
(who would have guessed that destroying something could be so uniting?)

Say Yes
(the blessing of saying yes to the opportunities that come our way)

Blessings to you this day,
Carole

 

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This is a post from almost three years ago, when I was asked if I would like to go on an overnight hike with my daughter’s Outdoor Education class. Since she left yesterday on an overnight canoe and hike trip (without me this time) I thought I would do a bit of reflecting on this memory.

Do you ever say ‘yes’ to to a request, and then say to yourself “what the … heck was I thinking?” (pretty much the theme of MY life). Well, that is where this blog post is going …

A few weeks ago, I said, “yes” to my daughter, when she asked if I could go on a hike with her Outdoor Education class. My calendar looked like it would be a possibility (if I could get one day off), and I love walking, so the challenge of hiking and camping sounded splendid!

Then, after not hearing any more about it, I discovered they NEEDED me, as there was no other ‘female’ adult available … Yikes, talk about feel a combination of important and … last straw drawn. And they needed me so badly that they were willing to get a sub for me. When they put their money where their needs are, you know it’s not really you, it’s your availability!

So, Tuesday, enroute to our destination, I learned the POA (Plan Of Action), for the next two days …

Drive to Chilliwack (a little over an hours drive, in the handy, dandy school bus).

Hike for one hour (no sweat!).

Set up camp, on platforms (sounds civilized enough).

Hike for another three to four hours (okay, I am up for the challenge).

Cook dinner (best part of the trip … with all those calories burned, I can eat anything).

Play games, have a camp fire, toast marshmallows, make s’mores (who wouldn’t want to say ‘yes’ to all this?).

Sleep in tent (okay, this is the … ‘iffy’ part for me … genetically. You see, way back, in the dark ages … when I was a kid, my family went camping … once! We borrowed all the equipment, drove to the campsite, set up tent, roasted our weenies, swam in the lake, got ready for bed, and … were packed up, drove home, and in our own beds, by midnight! (But, I digress …)

Wake up, eat breaky, pack up, hike for an hour and drive back to the school.

Easy peasy!

Okay, let me just say, after the fact, that when you get your ‘POA’ … ALWAYS take into account who it is (ie. their reference point) that is delivering your POA …YOU might see things a little differently … Mr. Outdoor Ed. loves hiking, and does so whenever possible … he’s planning on doing the West Coast Trail, in a few years … 75km!

So, the bus drive was great! I love to be the proverbial ‘fly on the wall’ and listen as fourteen year-olds discuss their lives, their friends, their parents (and yes, for a fee, I might be willing to share what I’ve learned), their teachers (same cost applies), and each other.

The first one hour hike … hum, to quote one website … the trail climbs 300m in elevation … NOT easy peasy! But I did it (with the tenacity of Rocky Balboa)!

The lake (Lindeman Lake), where we pitched our tents was like a miniature of Lake Louise … The water so clear, so aqua green, so cold (as a few teens discovered when they, or their tootsies, got a little too close … made for interesting campfire times).

And, speaking of campfire times … notice the sign to the far left … now notice the picture to the right of it … enough said 😉

Back to the campsite … it was here that I discovered, to my shock, and amazement, that a shovel was a needed tool to go potty! Yikes, and this news coming into the ears of a girl who is scared of outhouses!

Then we parted for hike number two of the day. It started pretty mellow … along the lake, beautiful mountain views, a few spots where one had to watch where one was stepping so as not to wet their tootsies … and … then … it … changed … ALOT! See the picture to the right, we hiked all along this area, and, as I look at it now … this picture does not do the rocky trail justice! It was a harrowing hike (I was so mentally and physically challenged by it, I forgot to keep looking around for snakes, cougars and bears). After this part, we ended up in the forest, via a few logs carelessly floating in the water (and thanks to the tree limbs that helped to balance us). Then … we … took … the … same … path … back ! And not one aged, out of shape, saggy momma was lost in the hiking of this trail!

The dinner part went great! The games went great! The campfire went great! And the s’mores … a m a z i n g !

The night went of forever. It rained … fast, hard, slow, intermittently … all night long (if you’ve read many of my previous posts, you’ll know that I hate rain when I am snug and cozy in my house … so, in a tent …). In the morning, it stopped 🙂

And we had breakfast 🙂

And we packed up, lickety split 🙂

And we put out our last fantastic fire 🙂

And … I used the shovel 😦

And then we began our descent to our waiting bus. And, let me tell you, if I communicated that up was challenging, down makes up look like a walk in the park! I only fell once, and the skin will re-grow over that area of my knee in no time.

In the end, I got to spend about thirty hours with fantastic, well behaved, energetic, musical (LOUD), entertaining, teens. They shared their food, their camping goods, their clothes and their toilet paper with anyone with a need. They all took part in ensuring that the bus was spic and span clean. They all said good-bye, and thanks to their teacher, and even to this mom.

And not one teacher, student, or mom was lost in this hiking and camping adventure.

I’m so glad I said, “yes.”

And, in the immortal words, sung to music (and by all thirteen teens in the bus heading back to the school), by Nellie Furtado …

“Come to an end, come to an

Why do all good things come to an end?”

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I love when truth about myself is revealed to me. I am talking the good, the bad and the ugly, and let me tell you there is ample material in my life of all three.

This sort of truth is especially poignant to me when it is revealed to me through indirect means … someone speaking of their own life, reading a verse in the Bible, or, as in this case, a FaceBook status of someone on my feed.

The words that spoke truth about me came from co-host of the 700 Club Canada, author and speaker, Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson,

“Believing there is a God
and giving virtually no thought
to Him or His will for your life
is like being married
and never speaking to your spouse.”

Though I claim that I believe in God, in His perfect plan for my life. Though I claim to have given my heart wholly and fully to Him. Though I claim to be living with and for Him …

I am often guilty of not giving any thought to Him or to His will for my life.

I am guilty of not practicing what I preach.

I allow life to get too busy.

I allow priorities to be skewed.

I allow myself to worry about things that are not mine to worry about.

I forget to pray, to petition, to lay my days at the feet of the One who hears my voice before a word is on my tongue.

Yet, He is the faithful One, who waits for me to remember His presence in my life.

And like a scorched plant in the driest soil of the garden, when His truth rains down on us, He will remind us that He was and is our first love, and He will restore our strength.

“The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Isaiah 58:11

 

 

 

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For our household (and by household I mean hubby and I, with periodic personal appearances by our kids) the recent long weekend meant yard work.

The grass was, literally, knee deep.

The leaves that had fallen last fall, had become bonded to whatever they had landed on.

The weeds were growing significantly each day the sun shone.

And, there were plants, bushes and trees that were not thriving or had outgrown their current locales, so they needed a fresh start in a new corner of the property.

One of the tasks for the weekend was to remove a bush that had been in it’s location since before we purchased the property.

It was one that may have been in it’s location since the beginning of time. When we were building a supportive wall with planter boxes we decided to simply build around the beast of a bush. The thing is, it was ugly! It did not have a nice form, and it’s holly-shaped leaves dangerous to clean up once fallen and dried, as the sharp edges poke through every gardening glove I’ve ever owned. I believe it is called a grape holly bush.

And it was time for it to go!

So I trimmed it down, branch by branch, as far as I could do with my clippers, then the hand saw, until all that was left was it’s trunk and roots. At this point, it was time to call in the big boys …

aka. hubby and our son, along with their tool of choice …

the axe.

What a delight it was to hear them discussing what to do, and how to do it.

Then there were the initial strikes with the axe, complete with grunts and other guttural utterances.

It was at that point I knew that was no place for :

a. a mother of a teen yielding an axe
b. a wife of a man yielding an axe
c. a woman whose estrogen was no match for testosterone times two

This activity was male bonding at it’s best.

As I excused myself to another part of the property to work on another project, I am certain they did not notice me walking away, but I smiles as I turned, and left them to do that which can bond men like little else …

dangerous tools, and the need to destroy.

As a mom and wife, there are few things sweeter than that kind of father-son bonding.

 

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