Posts Tagged ‘Birthday’

The Handiwork of God

Good morning baby girl, it’s your birthday.

You were born on a brilliantly sunny and warm spring day, in North Vancouver, the hospital framed by magnolia trees heavy with blossoms.

Your birthday and magnolia blossoms always go together in my mind. 

Speaking of magnolia blossoms, did you know that scientists believe that magnolia trees existed before bees? They believe that pollination occurred with the assistance of beetles. They were first noted in writing in the early 1700s. That is quite a history.

More importantly than their past (I believe) is their present. They are so beautiful, delicate, yet firm. Shades of pinks, purples, pearly whites and even yellows. And a delicate, unique scent that no perfume has yet to duplicate.

You, as well, are beautiful, unique, colourful.

You, as well, were known generations ago, before bees … even before the world began.

In the mind of God every detail of who you are was crafted to be delicate, yet firm. Every detail planned, every quality hand-grafted to your soul.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

Baby girl, YOU are God’s handiwork, not just a cellular mass of the genetic material combination of your dad and I. You are a handcrafted piece of art, formed by the hand of a creator who loves you, a love beyond any human love. A love that has been proved not just by words, but by action, by sacrifice.

You have a purpose, to do good works. Not just a job that pays you money, so that you can survive, but a purpose that goes beyond even your own life. Your purpose is always to love others, as Christ loves, and by doing so you will reflect the image of the one who made you.

So, today, open your presents, eat your cake, celebrate this new year of life and breath. Know that you are so very loved.

Know too, that you have existed in the mind of God since the beginning of time … and He has a plan and purpose for you, beyond anything your dad and I could ever dream.

Love you!



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Happy birthday to our copper-headed baby girl …

I wrote those words on my status, then glanced, for a long time, at the picture of your two-year old self.

In an instant I saw your newborn self, pink like the magnolias in bloom outside our sunlight-filled hospital room.

I saw your chubby six month self, with more chins and rolls and dimples than any one mass of skin has ever held.

I saw your first steps, taken on your first birthday.

I saw your eyes of delight whenever your dad or big sister would come home from work or school.

I saw your eyes of amazement, as you’d sneak into the room your little brother was sleeping, to wonder at his tiny hands.

I saw your elfish preschool grin.

I saw your eyes of delight whenever you spied a living thing, from fish, to birds, to creatures with fur, to our gruff neighbor, whose heart you melted, again, and again, and again.

I saw you jumping on the trampoline, with friends, big as our six foot tenant, small as the slugs that you thought would like to jump.

I saw your eyes of delight when you entered your kindergarten class … so many people to befriend!

I saw your face, smiling at your neighbor friend, over chicken strips in my kitchen.

Then I saw your tears, as elementary school was done, and you did not want to leave that place of memories.

Then I saw your tears … adolescence can be such a tough time of navigating body, mind, soul, family and friendships.

Then I saw the times of giggling, events, firsts, friendships … friendships, never was age, gender, size, color or any other differentiator a barrier for you.

Then I saw your head turn, as a boy passed you by.

Then I saw you drive off in a vehicle, without an adult.

And now, you are eighteen.

time. goes. so. fast.

You are eighteen, no longer my little girl. In a few short months you will conclude your years of high school, graduating on to study that which is a passion in your heart.

But, when I look back at your life, my heart always returns to that seven-year old day … when I saw you dance, between the sunbeams of the giant trees, in your white lace crinoline from the dress-up box … twirling and spinning, with great abandon, dancing to your own music, your own tune.

From birth, you have danced to your own tune.

From your belief that sleep was not essential (for your first two years), to your embracing of friendships from anyone (no matter the difference), to your strong will, you have refused to be anything other than who you feel convicted to be. Though this has, at times, resulted in tears (and this will not change, in this life), I know that you will never have regrets for things you have not done.

My prayer for you, today,
is that your past may give you firm footing,
that today you will feel loved,
and that in your future
you wear the wings God gave to you,



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IMG_1400.JPGYou entered the world, and immediately turned mine up-side-down.

That day, you were handed to my open arms, and you were mine.

Now, at twenty-two, and a Psychology major, hearing that you were born into a possessive relationship might make you want to enter into therapy … as a patient.

I can assure you that our relationship got even more possessive, in the years to come. And now, somehow we have reached the point where you like to refer to me as not having time for you … maybe the possessive qualities of our relationship have altered direction (that ought to give both of us reason for therapy!).

According to our friends at Wikipedia, “Possession is nine-tenths of the law is an expression meaning that ownership is easier to maintain if one has possession of something, or difficult to enforce if one does not.”

And, as a newborn baby, you were possessed by myself, and your dad.

Now, if possession didn’t confirm ownership, appearance would cover the other one tenth. You were a visual reflection of your parents. To some a mirror image of myself, to others that of your father. I would say you are an image of the two of us.

There was nothing better, when you were first born, than to look at you. The very sight of you struck awe and wonder in my heart.

That first Sunday at church, when you were surrounded by eager arms, I wanted to hold you close and turn my back on those who would force me to share my possession …

but, I shared.

That first date out, after your birth, which your dad had arranged a dear friend to care for you, I just wanted to say no, and keep your snuggles and baby smell all to myself …

but, I shared.

That first time we didn’t know where you were, in a crowded shopping mall, because one of the girls of youth group passed you to another, I wanted to lock you and I up in our house, and never have to face that fear again …

but, I shared.

The day I took you to preschool, because you begged to go to ‘cool’, I really wanted to stay with you, but your teacher walked me to the door, and said the other children were excited to get to know you …

so, I shared.

And the sharing continued, and continues still.

Now, twenty-two years later, I realize so clearly that I really have never possessed you. From before you took your first breath, before even your heart made it’s first thump-thump, you were a child of the breath-giver.

As I look back at your first twenty-two years, as I look forward, at the appointed ones to come, I am reminded that my main job is not to possess you … but to hand you back into the loving care of the One who teaches us to share.

“I will be a father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:8




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20140403-200052.jpgNo, she is NOT getting married! But, it is her birthday, this weekend.

Seventeen years ago I could not wait to be freed from the weight I carried. It slowed me down, interrupted my sleep, and sometimes made me nauseous.

Now, as she is about to turn seventeen, scheduled to do her road test in order to drive independently, I am looking ahead again …

with not a bit of eagerness for the time to fly.

As our second child gets giddy thinking about her birthday, I think of the fact that just over a year from now she will be completing high school.

I was ‘cleaning’ my phone recently and found the photo on the left. I had been sorting through clothes, and she decided to do a fashion show … starting with my wedding dress. My first thoughts, as she ‘bride walked’ down the halls, and into the rooms of the house, was …

man, I can’t believe I thought I needed to lose weight when I got married

this fits too well.

I remembered her trying my wedding dress on when she was six or seven, and absolutely every part of it was excessively too big. She had to hoist more in her arms to walk, than what was covering her body. Now, this dress fit her height as though it were cut for her. The sleeves touched her hand where they had touched mine. Sure there was still excessive fabric here and there, but, overall, her size is no longer premature for such attire.

Now, don’t think I am rushing her youth away! As one who married at twenty, I know the struggles that accompany marrying young. I am simply seeing her now,

as she is.

She is as much a young woman as a teenage girl.

She is able to have control of a motor vehicle (with mom in the passenger seat).

She has the weekly responsibility of a job.

She is able to (gulp) date.

She is contemplating post secondary education, and a career.

She is no longer my baby girl …

Ya right!

SHE will ALWAYS be MY baby girl!

No matter how well adult life fits her!

Happy Birthday Red! Enjoy your childhood song (though I know you soooo prefer it when I sing it to you 😉


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Although he is over 4000 kilometers away, I want to honor the man who has taught me some of the most important things in my life.

As he celebrates, and is celebrated on this 70th birthday, I feel the distance of the miles between us, profoundly.

I come from a birthday, anniversary, holiday, visitor, graduation, etc. celebrating family. Any event that exists, or can be created, is a good excuse to get together for a meal. A seventieth birthday is a huge reason for celebration, for food, for cake, for presents … presence.

Rather than dwell on that which cannot be accomplished, I will share that which has already been accomplished thanks to the man who chose to take me as his own … daughter.

The best gift my dad has given to me starts with his name. When I was two years old. When he was asking my mother to marry him. He had one condition … that he would not just give his name to my mother, but that he would give his name to me. And so, the wedding preparations and the adoption process began. Thank-you for giving me your name.

My dad also gave me the unconditional love of a father. There has never been a day or experience when I have ever felt that I am not fully his daughter. He was naturally able to hug and discipline me … as though it was our shared blood that got under his skin … and into his heart.

He showed me what passion was, and wasn’t. He worked more jobs that paid the bills than fed his soul, but when he was doing something with passion, he did it with every fiber within him. I remember him counting down the years until he could retire, when working at one passionless job, and now he is seventy, and showing no signs of fully giving up the job that he loves.

He was always honest with me … whether I wanted to hear it or not. He told me when our cat died, when our dog needed to be put down, when I was wrong, when I wasn’t doing my best at school, when I didn’t call often enough. He told me when he was angry at my mom, my brothers … me. He told me … with not a word, of how lost he felt when his mom, my grandmother died. He told me he loved me.

My dad is who he is … and if you don’t like him, that is not something he will lose sleep over. He does not exist for the purpose of impressing others or becoming who he is not. He is who he is … like it or lump it!

My dad is a good man, and I have many fond childhood memories centered around him …

clams in the pasta meal
dancing with me before heading out to a dance with my mom
buying blue satin shorts for me because I said that everyone would have them walking where you grew up while you told childhood stories
warm from the oven biscuits
keeping score for your minor softball teams
Christmas shopping for mom
allowing me to help install a Gyproc ceiling for my bedroom
teaching me how to make snow angels
Chinese buffets

and so many more lasting memories!

Dad, I wish you a happy birthday. I wish you a day of feeling loved, appreciated, cared for and of thanksgiving.

There is not much more I can say, that goes beyond the words of Moses :

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

Other than, I love you.

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Ten minutes after ten in the morning,

On the tenth day of the tenth month of 1999,

… into this world I pushed, with great excitement and hesitancy, our final child, a son.

I couldn’t wait to hold him in my arms, smother him in kisses, and drink in his baby scent.

But, I dreaded his leaving my body, along with his kicks, his heartbeat …

I dreaded … the loss of his constant presence within me.

Fourteen years ago … and I still feel I am giving birth … with excitement and hesitancy.

The other night, my son came home with his new football pictures, and so I rushed to put it in ‘the frame’ holding the one from last year. I studied the two visions of the same son …

– his teeth have grown into his mouth, providing a grown-up smile

– his face is not so round, more angular, more grown-up

– his shoulders more broad, more like those of a man

Sigh …

The pains of giving birth, of laboring, tore at my momma heart, once again. The visual reminders that my boy is becoming man, that the end of his time in the safety of the womb that is our home is just a handful of football pictures away.

Giving birth really is a tearing, a separating. Without it, there is not life. But, it is not an easy, or pain-free process … it is labor.

As we celebrate our son’s fourteenth birthday today, we celebrate his life, the fruit of our laboring.

He is now in the final trimester of his school years, having been birthed from elementary and middle school years, to this new phase called high school.

He is now a Bantam in football. His five foot nine, 180lb body often facing peers of six feet tall and 250lbs. … a reality that gives me labor pains for a solid two hours every Sunday.

Each and every stage of the life, of this son of mine, is a birthing, complete with labor pains … conceived within my dread of the loss of his constant presence with me. But, it is this giving birth, this giving of life, that allows him to take that first breath of each new day, and live his life.

“We’ve been waiting for you
We’re so glad you came
We’ve been looking forward
To showing you the place
There’s so much in store and
We’ve been waiting for you”
Carolyn Arends
We’ve Been Waiting for You Lyrics/MetroLyrics

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Sweet 16

Today our youngest daughter turns sixteen … wow!

She was a child we never thought we would have, having suffered four miscarriages after her sister. When I was pregnant with her, we understood what it is to pray without ceasing, praying that God would allow us to hold her, to wonder at her form.

And He did.

When she was born with a blue lifeless body, we both thought we had a new road of grief to walk.

What we did not know was how very independent this child was, or would be. When she finally took her first breath, she cried, and didn’t stop for two years! I remember thinking, in those really stressful, late night sessions of crying, “God I love her, but could you please give me a chance to like her.”

And He did.

When most children become more of a challenge as the terrible 2’s roll around, our fiery redhead became a joy. Just in time too, as we were surprised to be expecting again (be careful what you pray for)!

Although that independent streak is still very, very present, she has become a young lady who I truly do like.

Each of our children are unique, and with each I have a unique relationship.

Cris at Nokomis

With Cris, the relationship is all about laughing and giggling. We share a love of silly sitcoms, McDonalds fries (you have to know that started in utero), walking and beauty in nature. We also share a struggle to keep focused, a desire for order, and the phrase, “I changed my mind.”

Cris adds humor unwittingly to most dinner conversations, and we wonder if perhaps redheads are the true blonds. Although that is changing, and wit is becoming a strength for her.

She spent our recent Spring Break whipping our butts each night over Dutch Blitz … something her brother may never get over.

She and her sister share ‘snugs-n-nugs’…  giving the two of them something to share in together.

She is the child who seems to me to have the most equal amount of characteristics of both her dad, and myself. It is always a scary thing to look at the beautiful child who you created, and see the same weaknesses staring back at you. Of course she also possess strengths too … often they are within those same weaknesses. I am thankful that she got so many strengths from your dad!

Cris, I still hope you dance.

I hope your carefree spirit will never die, or worse, that it will be smothered out by reason and maturity.

I hope that you always see good within people who are suffering from their own poor choices, those people need someone like you in their lives to show that the mercy and grace of God.

I hope that you always show interest in people much older than you … I know that you love to love them, that you love to learn from them, that you ache for the loneliness that can be part of their days … they need you to be the warm smile, the genuine hug of affection for the God who wants to bring them comfort.

I hope that you continue to have many friends, of different genders, ages, cultures and faiths … continue to love the daughters of Eve and the sons of Adam …


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Today marks the end of an era in our home, as our youngest turns thirteen, and we now have four teenagers in the house (plus one on the East Coast). I am now a mother who looks up to everyone under my roof! I am no longer Mummy or Momma, but Mom or hey you! Or, I am the nameless one, only addressed by request, “I need …” “can you …” “I’m hungry …” etc.

Gone are the days of Thomas the train, picture books and after school snuggles. The era of ‘childhood’ is gone from our abode and has been replaced by zits, excessive sleep, numerous showers, unpredictable vocal octaves, searches for facial hair and empty milk jugs. It might be time to re-enter the world of stock trading … I see a rise coming in dairy, deodorant and Dove body wash!

Thirteen years! How time flies. No longer do his older sisters fight over him, or dress him like a doll, now they give him hair and fashion advise.

I now get a daily glimpse of what his dad might have been like at this age, as they look and act so very much alike. They share a love of football, that provides father-son bonding on the field four times a week (and numerous more in front of the tube). They watch sporting events, share a love of history, politics and SUBWAY.

When I found out we were expecting this (now) teenager, I said it HAD to be a boy, because with two daughters I would need a son who would still talk to me when the teens and excessive estrogen hit our girls, and the mother-daughter relationships were strained. What I didn’t realize was that he would need me too, as the added testosterone coursing through him can make for predictable head-butting with the other man (men) in the house.

Years ago, when Ben (the birthday boy) would come home from school, beaten by the day, I would hold him, and repeat, over and over;

I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you …

Sometimes now, he will wrap his arms (that are too long for his body) around my shoulders, pat my head (I think it is just so as to give him the satisfaction of being that tall) and repeat it back to me.

Ben, you are the gift from God, that I prayed for. I love our conversations about Minecraft, dubstep music, science fiction and fantasy movies, and theology. I love that you have a desire to understand how and why things are as they are, and how they work. I love that you understand that the past plays a role in the future (in your own life, and in history). I love that you care about the souls of those around you. I love that you are unashamed of the God who designed, created and forgives you.

I love too that you are human. Like us all, you fail, you mess up, you blow it … and you feel remorse after the fact. Do not forget that the remorse you feel can lead you back to the place of mercy, grace and forgiveness … every time, no matter how far you fall.

Remember too, the best theme of any story is redemption 😉 .

Love you ‘Yamin.’

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To my Copper Knob,

I remember a dear old Scottish lady (who made the BEST shortbread, in the world, hands down … but I digress) looking at you, the first Sunday after your birth, and saying in her strong Scottish brogue, “oh, look at that beautiful copper knob.” From that moment on, there is rarely a time when I look at your bright copper hair, and do not hear the echo of her voice.

As you awaken today to a new day, to your fifteenth birthday, I will flashback, while you will flash forward.

You, as a brand new fifteen year old, will be thinking of your future. You will be hoping that your parents will fulfill their promise of a cell phone when you are in grade nine, TODAY (no comment on that one). You will be thinking about how it is only one more year until you are old enough for your driving ‘learners’. You will be thinking about three more years until high school graduation (and that means, your own car, IF you have decided not to date in high school … so you will probably also be looking forward to the freedom of having your own car AND the freedom to date … but, I digress). You will be looking forward to the future you desire most (and I will not share here, because that is YOUR hearts desire).

For myself, as the mother of a brand new fifteen year old, I will be thinking of your past. I will be thinking of how I was not with you, last year, for your fourteenth birthday. I will be thinking your thirteenth birthday party, when you CONVINCED me to allow you to invite EVERY GIRL IN YOUR CLASS to your sleepover party (really, you should consider a future as a lawyer). I will remember your emotional struggles through adolescents, relationships, and math (and how I paid you, YES I PAID MY CHILD to have her ‘let’ me help her with her math homework … again, a career in law might be worth considering). I will remember your first day of school, your first steps, your first words. I will remember how you never saw differences in people, and that some of your best friends were fifty years or more older than you (especially that next door neighbor who you loved so much that, if you saw he was outside, you were out of your car seat before our vehicle came to a stop in the driveway). I will remember the day you were born, and what seemed like forever before you took your first breath.

You look ahead.

I look back.

Each day of your life, my influence on you decreases. Each day of your life, you grow up, and apart from me (and your father). Each day of your life, you become more independent in your thoughts, your actions and your choices and plans for the future. That is how it is supposed to be. And, it IS good … even if sometimes it feels as though a limb is being torn from MY being.

There is a portion of a wedding ceremony, that your dad reads when he is performing a marriage that states, “you are giving your children to life’s adventure, and not merely away from yourselves. This is what you raise your children for, to let them go their way. And in their going they come back again to share their discoveries.” It is this that gives me joy in anticipating the future with you, that you come back to us, to share your discoveries and joys, with us.

I am proud of who you are choosing to become. Do not forget that who you become is YOUR choosing. The most important choices in your life are ones that your father and I cannot make for you. There are many that I wish for you, but they, and how you choose to life your life, are in your hands.

I love you, my Copper Knob, my favorite red-haired daughter. Continue to put your life in the hand of your Creator, and you will never walk this life alone.

Your favorite mom.

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As my two week Spring Break comes to a close, I feel refreshed and ready to return to work, and schedules, and earlier mornings (after all there ARE only nine more work days until a four day weekend … but, whose counting? 😉 ). When the break began, all I desired was a weekend away with hubby, regular walks on my favorite trail, and time with each of my kids.

It began slow, well no, it began busy, with a weekend full of activity for both hubby and I (church related). Once hubby’s time off began, four days into mine (really his time off began with him doing a full day of work-related paperwork 😦 ), I finally had time to get much needed groceries. To me, time off is not really time off until we are all off!

I had a delightful luncheon with a dozen lovely ladies, and three coffee dates with some of the sweetest women I know. Moments that refuel and encourage me, as a woman struggling to understand life.

There was the morning (oh yes, the entire morning) of ironing … it had not been done since September … sigh). There was the search for fabric for my daughter, that led to a five hour storage closet cleaning, ten bags of goods to the thrift store, and many giggles by my daughter over the photos of yours truly and hubby way back in the days leading to our wedding. Giggles that led to conversations about life, and hopes, and dreams.

There was a haircut, and lunch with my eldest daughter. There was a lunch and thrift store shopping day with my younger daughter. There was a movie date with my son. Moments with each of my kids, with no other disruptions, refills my momma heart like no other.

There were the deaths of two co-workers moms. There was the death of the fifty year old husband and father of six, two of his daughters are friends of my daughters. Moments that make you thankful for the mercy of another day.

There was more cleaning, and more purging, and more trips to the thrift store to dump another load. Another reminder of how much we have that we do not use, do not need … what I really NEED in my life should last longer than a trend?.

There were walks on my favorite trail. Walks in the sun, the rain, the snow and the hail (and that was just one day!). There were walks with hubby, with our Chinese son, with a daughter, and always with my beastie. Walks that refresh me from the inside out, walks that remind me of my Creator, and how fine His handiwork is.

There was the day of culinary therapy … something that my household was thrilled with the results of! How wonderful to create something(s) that I can watch others take delight in!

Then there was the Passion (Passion 268) concert featuring two great musicians, who led a sold out Rogers Arena in worship to God, and a calling to end human trafficking. Although I am a generation beyond their organizers intended attendee, I was reminded again, that we are all responsible for what we do, or do not do, to end such a horrific thing as use and abuse of fellow human beings.

And then there was my birthday, a delightful day when the sun was bright, and I was celebrated for my thirty-nine (with, now, four years experience) years, by family and friends, near and far.

Somehow, when when hubby and I are busy we function like a well oiled machine, but once the calendar is more cleared, the cracks in our relationship show a need for more oil, more attention, and a going deeper than “what does your day hold?” conversation. This resulted in a beautiful twenty-four hours away, to a beautiful, waterfront Hotel, where we watched the sun set at night, and the horizon lighten in the morning. A good reminder of what we already knew, but life can keep you from if you succumb to it’s demands, that time spent alone, as husband and wife, is the best thing you can do for your kids, for your health, and even for your ability to do your daily work. Lesson learned, and our next getaway is in the planning stages!

It has been a wonderful break. One that has refreshed my body, mind and spirit, refueled me for the days to come, and one that has given me much needed variety and options each and every day.

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