No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. 1st Corinthians 10:13

Nov. 27, 2007

The Difference a Year Makes.....

I was thinking this morning about time; one hour is 60 minutes all the time, yet some hours seem to fly by while others take their time. When I was younger I often heard my elders speak of how quickly time passed; I didn't get it.....now I understand.

We had some pictures taken last year around this time; my thought at the time was that I'd use them as Christmas presents for my family....send some out in the mail. I never did it. On Sunday I picked up some photo cards thinking I'd use the pictures from last year and this year do what I had planned on doing last year. Then I looked at the picture.


Meagan, 19 at the time is holding Rhys, who is just over a year. This was the first full year Meg did not live at home; she went to school in Peterborough and worked at Elmhirst`s Resort over the summer. In September we put her on a plane bound for the Czech Republic where she is doing her 3rd year of University. When she returns in May she`ll be 21, back to work, looking forward to her final year of undergrad. Meg is ours.....always missed, always welcome, but a visitor here.

For most of her 12 years Carleigh was Meg's little sister; the two girls share a close relationship despite the age difference. Carleigh just celebrated her 13th birthday and is now a teenager. She is moving into the position her sister held for a long time and now Carleigh has stepped into those shoes for her younger siblings. She is in her 3rd year of dance, her 2nd of hip hop and has also taken on voice lessons. She is no longer the new kid in her french immersion class; in fact her average in almost every class is above the class. Quite an accomplishment. She is enjoying her final year of elementary school before she`ll take on grade 9 next September.

When this picture was taken, Benjamin (holding Declan) was 17 and in his last year of high school, the "big fish in a small pond" enjoying all of the benefits that come with that. He graduated an Ontario Scholar with top marks in Biology and English. He was single though looking; ALWAYS looking! This year has brought changes for Ben who is working hard in his first year of a pre-med program at Ottawa U; the "small fish in a big pond". For years Ben was involved in Air Cadets and wore his hair short. Now his hair is longer and curly; on his 18th birthday he got his first tattoo and shortly thereafter had his ears pierced. He is no longer single but involved in a relationship with a girl he met through cadets and has known for several years. Ben sleeps at home and commutes daily to the southern limit of the bus system. He is transitioning out which I have to remind myself of every once in a while......

The difference a year makes.

Noah aka the "Smiling One" finally (after 10 months) got his learner's permit. He still is his easy-going self, comfortable in his own skin. This year he is the one enjoying his senior year at the local public high school. Noah cut his hair this year and for a short period of time sported a bald head. He is working part time at the Subway in town and has the same girl friend. Life for Noah is largely the same; kind of like the "calm before the storm" because next year he too will head off to University because the program he wants is not offered locally.

Cam has had many changes. This picture was taken just shortly after his football season was completed; anybody who has read my posts before knows that he had to lose some fairly significant weight and in this picture he is about 6'3" and probably weighs in between 185 and 190. A year later Cam is 6' 5" and weighs 280 - out came the weights last winter and gone were the weight limits! At 15 Cam is living pretty independently in Ogdensburg, NY where he played his first season of US Varsity football. He is enjoying life as a football player; he is greeted in the halls by kids he doesnt know but who know him simply because of what he does. Football is a HUGE deal in the States and the plan is to get one of those lovely american scholarships. He had a 90% average on his first report card and that combined with his size and ability gives him a great opportunity. At $50,000 - 60,000/year I don't know how anybody affords to get an education otherwise.

Then there are our little men.....Declan and Rhys, who are now 3.5 and 2 respectively. Dec and Rhys are buddies - they spend their days together and play well. Rhys is now a "terrible two", testing the boundaries all the time. Declan is a pretty typical older brother, more sedate and serious than his younger counterpart. Neither of them are trained, much to their mother's dismay and this year we learned that Rhys would come to enjoy being a "big brother"; though this one came as more of a surprise than the others, baby #8 is due February 4. Every good book must have an end and THIS will be it! I had come to that decision just weeks before learning that we were expecting again and though a surprise, this one is definately wanted. Children are indeed a gift and a blessing.

Ah, the difference a year makes.

This Christmas will be different for us. It is the first year in 8 that Brad and the boys will not be involved in the Men`s Choir at church on Christmas Eve. With the exception of the year when we moved from Yellowknife to Ottawa and spent Christmas at my mom and dad`s, this is the first time we will not spend Christmas in our home....well, that`s not quite true. We will spend it in a home that we own, but it will be in Ogdensburg, NY; our first Christmas morning spent in the US. I`d have never thought I`d ever see the day! These are pretty minor changes compared to those others will face but all too often it isn`t the big things that are difficult, but the little things that add up to cause a problem. At this point in our lives, I`m happy to think that we`ll all be together.....we have no guaranty of anything else.

These are just some of the changes our kids have experienced but of course each of their changes effects us as their parents and us as a family. If I chose to spend my time longing for what was, what enjoyment would I get from today or tomorrow? It is in the learning to adapt, to accept challenges and move forward that we can appreciate the past for what it has given us.....great memories, some difficult circumstances and hard lessons perhaps. I want to continue learn to live like that; to appreciate my past (the good, the bad AND the ugly!) and move forward to what lies ahead; to press on and remember to enjoy each day and the making of new memories and experiencing new challenges. THAT is life and THAT is living it.

Nov. 6, 2007

Terrible 2's and Finding Forgiveness





I just caught my youngest hanging from the edge of the crib. Rhys turned two on October 17 and his ventures into ensuring that boundaries still do exist know no bounds. His father has said that he is more of a handful than the other 4 boys put together. When I gave him a swat on his diapered backside, he actually looked…..offended. Hurt and offended. What a boy! I tell him it's a good thing he's cute.....

Heavy sigh.

I have had several times over the past month when I thought that I needed to sit down at the computer to write something; however, I know how this works and what starts out as something simple becomes much larger as I write. A week ago this past Saturday was one such time.

Brad and I had loaded up our two youngest late Friday afternoon to head over to Ogdensburg where we would spend the night and then watch Campbell’s playoff game the following day in Peru, New York. Peru is about a 2.5 hour drive from Ogdensburg. We had been awakened in the night by Rhys and though he didn’t take too long to settle, my sleep had been interrupted enough and I was awake for a while. The weather the following morning was rainy as promised and though the temperature didn’t dip below 13 degree Celcius, it’s tough to feel warm when you’re wet. By half time the boys were soaked from the middle down with the exception of their rubber-booted feet and I was wet through my waterproof jacket. Back at the truck I stripped them down and changed them both. We stayed put until the game was over around 4:30 and then we headed back to Ogdensburg. Stopping for dinner was not an option; the team bus that Cam was travelling on would not stop and we didn’t want to leave him stranded at the school in the rain. The boys were good travellers and though they napped and I had brought snacks for the drive, they were both tired and hungry when we arrived back in Ogdensburg. I figured I’d feed them while Brad waited Cam out and then get them back to their own beds for the night.
It was a good plan I thought. I gave them their choice of two meals (which was perhaps a mistake but not my biggest one of the evening) and then got it ready. When they came to the table they both turned up their noses before even tasting anything, which didn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. After a threat or two made with a raised voice, I tried shoving the food into Rhys’ mouth……which didn’t go over well. I was still damp from the game, hadn’t eaten yet myself and could feel my own temperature rising. Have you ever been in that position? You know the trains a comin (much like a deer caught in the headlights) yet despite the warning lights going off, you really don’t care enough to make the necessary adjustments and get out of the flippin’ way! Well that was me on this night. I could see what was happening but instead of heading the warning signals I gave into the emotion of the moment. I hauled them both out of their seats, gave them each a good spank and sent them into separate bedrooms….I couldn’t even tell you what I said, but it was loud and I’m sure their fear of me at that moment was much more the reason for their sobs then any spanking I’d delivered.

I turned around and quite literally felt my way to the chair; I sat myself down and gave way to the floodgate of tears.

It wasn’t the first time I’d lost control; there have been other times. One was during a parent-teacher interview in Yellowknife; a very embarrassing moment for me but more particularly for my dear husband. We had an issue with this teacher – our boy`s marks had surprised us especially considering this was a very small Christian school and I would have expected to hear prior to report card time that work hadn`t been completed. I’d told my man before we left home that I didn’t want him to lose it with her…..only it wasn’t him I needed to worry about. Further information was provided during the course of the interview – our angel had indeed completed his work however the teacher had lost it. Well, I lost it and left the room after railing at her (again, no memory of what it was I said) in tears. Another time we were in a meeting; things were said that hurt me and I launched up from where I sat, walked across the room to where my friend was and gave him a smack. Again, a very embarrassing moment; one for which I had to apologize and one I felt terrible about for a long time…..and people think I`m so calm, so cool.

But here I was with just my two boys and no witnesses….and I knew I`d crossed that line and lost control. I looked up to see that Rhys had come out of the bedroom where he’d been sent, he was watching me rather tentatively to make sure it was okay for him to be there and when I gestured to him to come, he came. He climbed up on my knee and he gave me a full on body hug, which just made me cry all the harder. I croaked for Declan to come and there we sat, just the three of us. I apologized to my boys and Rhys took my face in his little hands and gave me “tisses” on the mouth and as quickly as that train had come, it was gone. I was forgiven and as far as my boys were concerned, all was forgotten. I made them a grill cheese which they ate with relish and we watched a veggie tales movie.

It was after that I got to thinking about how quickly a child forgives and how with age we learn to hold on to the things that hurt us even when they`re things that we`ve done to hurt ourselves. Jesus told us that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children and unless we become like them, we won’t enter. I have learned much not just from being a mother, but from my kids; forgiveness is one area in which I need to continue to take lessons from, to learn from my `terrible-two-year-old`.

Oct. 3, 2007

Baby News

Declan, Rhys and I went to Ottawa for yet another ultrasound yesterday.....I think this makes 4. I had a tubal reversal 4 years ago and since then they like to ensure that baby is where baby should be. I had a 2nd one because the dr. couldn't hear the heart beat....I think that was around 12 or 13 weeks, and wanted to check to make sure baby was still "viable". I had to wait 6 days for that one.....longest 6 days of my life. Amazing, too, the battle that went on in my head. #3 was at 19 weeks - the "normal" one, checking on size, taking measurements. They couldn't get a picture of the spine (nor could they see what the baby's sex was) so that resulted in ultrasound #4. It was a short wait at the clinic, thankfully, and the boys were very good; so good, in fact, that mom treated them to ice cream afterwards. I thought that the “baby on the tv” would hold their attention, but Declan was more concerned with the grapes he was eating and Rhys with the tech running “whas that” over mom’s belly. He wanted to get up on the "bed" with me, but had to settle for standing on the stool at my side. He kept hitting my belly saying “baby”. Too cute.

Got some great spine shots! Baby was on its back on my last visit and this time it appeared to be on its belly.....until it changed position and settled on its back again. At the end of the scan the tech told me that she couldn’t say “definitively”, but she thinks this one is a girl. We’ll have a boys name picked, just to be safe.

A little girl would be nice :0) Noah, third born and son #2 tells me I didn’t need a scan ‘cause he already knows it is a girl (he also said if it was another boy, he’d be leaving home but I think he’s kidding!). It’s been a long time since there was a baby girl in the Allison house; Carleigh will be 13 on November 11. She has wanted a baby sister for a few years, but has 2 little brothers instead. Then she told me she wasn't sure she wanted a sister. She didn't want anything to interfere with her relationship with Meagan. I explained to her that having a baby girl certainly would not interfere with that.....love doesn't take from, it adds to and besides, Meagan is coming up on 21 and will never live with this baby. Her relationship with this one will be completely different than what they share. It pleases me to know, thrills my heart, actually, that Carleigh so appreciates her relationship with her big sister enough to want to guard against anything that would hinder it. What more could a mother hope for? Meg has been "gone" for a few years; away throughout the school year, working away this past summer and now in Europe but all of the kids look to her for advice. So cool.


I remember before I was expecting my second child wondering how I could ever love another human being as much as I loved Meg.....then that time came and it wasn't even an issue. The love is there and has expanded to include this other little person. I've been abundantly blessed and have experienced that many times.....it truly is one of life's miracles.










Sep. 28, 2007

Change really IS good

It's been a great week. We're all busier but settling in to the new routine and all in all, I'd say it is going quite well. Our time is precious and this house runs a lot more smoothly when we're all working together.

I've found myself thinking a lot about change and transition. There are times when change is thrust upon us and seems to go against everything we want; other times we make decisions or choices that we know will result in change but either way, adjustments are definately required and attitude plays a big part in how we travel the new leg of our journey.

I found myself thinking about other times of change in my life and there have been many! The most obvious of them for me has been the addition of each baby; definately a happy, expectant time, however not without its difficulties, either! Any woman who has had a baby knows that there is a period of adjustment after having a baby and new moms can often be surprised by just how much adjustment there is! In fact I recall how busy I seemed with one.....and then came another, and another, and anotehr.....It doesn't matter how many babies you have had, there is always a period of adjustment; for myself, this hasn't always been easy.

Declan Hewitt will celebrate his 4th birthday in March, about a month and a half after baby #8 is due! Declan was born on a Tuesday, and during my two day stay in the hospital my husband received an offer from a friend that just couldn't be refused. We had a few days to give Peter an answer, but it was "Yes". I came home on Thursday and Brad had his baby by the weekend. On Monday, just 6 days after having Declan, we were in private practice with a full client load. My pre-delivery dreams of spending idle days resting peacefully with our newest child at my side never came to fruition and I had many, many times when my thoughts were "I can't do this!" A baby brought with it change; for me it was like starting over, like I'd never had a baby. Running an office I could do however the combination of the two of them often seemed too much to bear and for a time I resented the fact that these two answers to prayer had happened at the same time!

A little background - this very busy season with a new and thriving law practice had followed a dry time financially for us; one we wouldn't have survived without the assistance of close friends and the faithfulness of God. Brad had gone to work for a company who ceased paying him and broke their contract just months after he'd started so we were behind on our mortgages, phone bills, utility bills......you name it. We very much lived day to day; there was little in our cupboards in the way of groceries, yet we never missed a meal. We got through the winter by filling 2-10 gallon gas cans with diesel fuel almost daily because we couldn't afford the fuel delivery trucks. As difficult a season as it was, we learned some great lessons during that time and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Now we found ourselves thrust into somebody else's schedule. Brad had clients that he had to meet with and court appearances to prepare for; it was definately a time of sowing for us.

As Declan got a little older and a little less dependent, so did the law practice and by the time "they" were a year old I looked back and was reminded of all the times I'd said "I can't" when in fact I had. There had been talk of getting help off and on, but help in a rural bedroom community of Ottawa is hard to find and never arrived. Then we learned we were expecting another baby....

Rhys Daniel arrived October 17, 19 months after his brother and again there were adjustments. It was a more difficult time for me post-pregnancy, as I've shared in an earlier post. There were MANY days spent thinking "I can't do this" but again, time proved me wrong. I have many experiences as I look back over life, my married life especially, that have proven God's grace and his faithfulness time and time again.

As I was pondering these things this week and two of my favourite verses came to mind....again.

Phil. 4:13 says "I CAN do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me". The Message puts it this way: Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

1 Cor. 10:13 say: No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it.

I have at different times hung on to these verses but I got to wondering.....what would my days be like IF instead of once in a while, typically in a time of crisis, but everyday I choose to rely on the truth of God's word rather than how I felt? What if I wake up saying "I Can" instead of "I Can't"? It sounds so simple as I write this but these things usually do. God's word is full of truths, full of promises that are for us and though we know them, it isn't until we put them into practice, until we apply them to our daily lives that they really take on life for and in us.

So, I've been working at removing "I Can't" not only from my vocabulary, but from my thinking and applying I CAN do ALL things, I CAN make it through ANYTHING, all because of the One who knows me, loves me and made me who I am.

Sep. 19, 2007

Expectations

Okay, so I was really tired by Friday night.....weary I believe was the word. I felt somewhat sorry for those who came into contact with me Friday.....I was a bit, um, short. Monday, however was a difficult day emotionally. Yes, there are the ever-present hormones to contend with, but this was more than that. It was a day of realizations. Realizing that this next phase isn't going to be easy; realizing that adapting to the changes around here will take some time and realizing that I need to again adjust my expectations....of others, yes, but particularly those expectations I place on myself.

This is a new season of transition and though I was thinking about it before all the changes actually occurred, I need to continue to re-think and re-sort priorities and my time; as you know some of our responsibilities aren’t forgiving! Though working from home has its benefits, it also requires a lot of discipline, organization and self-control and guess what?? These are areas I struggle with; hmmmmmm. Thank you Lord that you are working all things together for my good; help me to be not only be willing to allow it but help me to work WITH you!

Must go; I'm pretty sure there is a bum that needs changing.....

Sep. 15, 2007

The Challenge


It has been an interesting week; by last evening I was feeling pretty......weary; body, mind and emotions!
Noah and Ben helped load a fridge, table and chairs, microwave and some odds and ends and I took them over to the house in Ogdensburg. Brad went over yesterday afternoon to watch Cam's game - Cam wan't able to play much because he had only been to two practices since school started. They suffered a disappointing loss when they shouldn't have (but between you and I, I prefer them losing when Cam isn't playing!). Today Brad is helping Cam get caught up with his homework; that will go a long way to decreasing his feelings of being overwhelmed. I imagine we'll go back over tomorrow afternoon with more stuff and I'll likely stay the night. This has been quite an adjustment for Cam; for all of us. It is relatively easy for him to have a desire, a passion to play football but the walking out of his dream will require hard work, perseverance and sacrifice on the part of all of us. The kids that are left get stuck with Cam's share of the chores!
I mentioned in my last post that I'd been challenged myself this summer. It wasn't pleasant, when I heard that my actions weren't lining up with my words. I had agreed with my mouth to do what I could to support Cam in making this move, however the closer it came to a reality the more I balked. Not with my words, but with my actions.
Have you ever had someone you love and respect hold up a mirror and confront you with something and it isn't what you want to hear or see? When it happened I of course denied it, I pointed out all I had done, I made all sorts of excuses, I cried (nothing worse than a crying, hormonal pregnant woman).....but it didn't change what I knew to be true in my head. When I was alone, when I got myself to think beyond the hurt I felt and the emotions that arose, I knew in myself that truth was being spoken.

The second time it was mentioned wasn't any easier to hear than the first. Even though I had known it was true, I refused to admit it out loud. Change does not come easily for many of us most of the time and I knew that if I went to others and explained "my side of the story" I would find sympathy and another opinion. I'd done that before. I also knew that the man that I love, trust and respect, the one who knows and loves me best other than God, was being honest. Brad knows me. He knows how I think, he knows my heart, he knows my desires, he knows I want to grow and change and he knew my reaction before he ever opened his mouth. He knew that it would be hard for me to hear, but he loved me enough to say it anyway and he challanged me to think; to be honest.
It took me about a day and a half of feeling sorry for myself and being completely miserable to everyone to do that; to think and to pray. I realized that I was afraid and that though I'd been saying all the right things, when I was honest with myself my greatest concern was what this was going to cost me and deep inside I really didn't want to make the necessary sacrifices. It was only when I realized that , when I could admit it out loud that I had the desire to change it.
Cam is his mother's son in many ways! We struggle with many of the same things and often when there is tension between us it is because I see myself in him and it frustrates me! His journey has not been easy and he has a tendancy is to think negatively about himself. However, we have watched some of that change for Cam since he got involved in football, and we've allowed him to swagger a bit as he's developed a new sense of who he is. Growing up he wishes desperately to be a "normal" size; now that he is benefiting from the size that God blessed him with he loves being "above normal".
A few days after my "epiphany" Brad and I were going to Cam's football game - the first he was able to play for OFA. I took that opportunity to share with him what I had been thinking and what I'd come to realize, and to thank him. I now see that as difficult as it is to be the receiver of a challenge, it is also difficult to be the deliverer and in the 21 years we've been married Brad has never abused that priviledge. I am thankful for the relationship we share that allows him to speak into my life; to challenge my thinking and, along with the Lord, to help me overcome and change. Then I in turn can be more of a help to Cam.




Sep. 13, 2007

Change



I knew it had been a while, but June 4? That was the date of my last entry.....summer has come and gone and I don't think I even thought once until recently about sitting down to write something. It certainly wasn't for lack of material; the summer was a busy one, full of surprises, unexpected circumstances and challenges. Sounds like life.

Since my last post I learned that we were expecting our eighth child. This was a surprise; I'd just settled in my own mind that we were done. That was easier for Brad; for me there was a fair bit of emotion to work through.....the thought of being "finished" was one that took a while for me to settle. I'd just given away all the baby boy clothes a week or so before (baby girl clothes are LONG gone) and realized I should have had a visit from Aunt Flo. If there is no visit from Aunt Flo, there is only one reason so I bought myself a home pregnancy test and it was positive. My husbands response was.....interesting; he laughed and said "you're kidding".

Nope.
I've shared before of the difficult time I had after my last pregnancies, particularly the last one, so there were thoughts to battle with in terms of that. A good friend reminded me to enjoy the pregnancy and not to worry about the after.....it will take care of itself. Put me in mind of a bible verse. Matthew 6:34 (Msg) says: Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. If it was as easy to live by as it was to say, I'd be all set.

We've lost two kids this week....well, lost may not be the right word. Let me explain.

On Saturday evening family and friends celerated, honoured and blessed Meg; she is doing her 3rd year of undergrad (majoring in Economics) at Tomas Bata University in the Czech Republic. Travelling has always been a passion of Meg's and incorporating it into her studies was her goal. On Monday we took our first born to the airport in Montreal so she could wing her way across the big ditch to study (and travel) til June. There were no big teary goodbyes; I think it will take some time for it all to sink in and she will be home for a short Christmas break. I had wanted to go over there to visit her this year but the baby will hamper that......the doctor doesn't seem anxious to see me winging my way half way around the world. I got word this morning that she arrived in Zlin (pronounced "Zleen")safe and somewhat exhausted. She's feeling a bit overwhelmed which is understandable; I felt that way this morning!

Fourth born, #3 son Campbell has long had a passion to play football. At 8 years of age his dad took him out for football tryouts where he was told that he was "too big" to play football and to bring him back next year. Well, he didn't get any smaller but each year for 3 years Brad took Cam out for football and each year they turned him away. "Bring him back next year". He was, and is, a big boy. 10 lbs 12 oz at birth we heard that he'd slow down at some point; at 15 he's 6' 4.5" and 260 lbs and he hasn't slowed down; in fact, in the past year he's grown close to 3 inches and since last August has put on 80 lbs (he had to get down to 178 last August to get in under the weight limit). When he was 12 he announced to us that he was going to lose weight so he could play football. Brad took him out for football camp and after one look at him they told him if he could make the weight (had to lose close to 40 lbs that year) they'd take him. He made the weight. The next year he had to lose close to 30 lbs and had grown a couple inches but he did it again. It didn't come easily; Cam needed a lot of support and encouragement. There were many times when we as parents questioned his desire; if this is what YOU want, then we're here to help in any way that we can, but it has to be what you want. Its tough sometimes as a parent to know where your hopes and desires for your kids ends and theirs begins. "We", but particularly Brad, has always taught the kids to think, to not put limits on themselves OR God, to dream "in technicolour", to "reach for the stars". We hear that stuff all the time, but what does that mean? What do you do when you have a son who passionately wants to play in the NFL? Do you sit him down and tell him to settle for something less? Do you prepare him for the possibility that he may not make it? Do you discuss with him the severity of the injuries he could sustain IF he makes it "all the way"? Do you remind him that getting into the NFL is the easy part, staying there is where the real work kicks in? OR do you walk alongside him providing encouragment, pushing him when he needs it, supporting him when he's discouraged and yes, sometimes nagging him because he's not only told you what his desire is, but he's shown you - not all the time, he is a kid and self-motivation is hard for adults too. I found myself challenged by Cam many times over the past few years - he is his mother's son in many ways, but this summer was where the rubber hit the road for me; where my words needed to match up with my actions, and they didn't - they fell far short. More about that another time.....this is already too long.
I'm a US Citizen by birth and will establish legal residency in the US so that Cam can pursue his dream. Part of the joy of being in a "team" whether it is family or not is walking alongside one another during the good, the bad and the ugly. Yesterday afternoon Cam entered the US and is now staying at the little house we bought this summer in Ogdensburg, going to school at Ogdensburg Free Academy, attending football practices and playing football. Cam is 15 years old and has been on his own journey, pursuing his own dream.....his success doesn't lay in what he achieves at the end, but in each step that he takes along the way. I am very proud of Cam; his is a true story of the strength of the human spirit.


Jun. 4, 2007

The Get-away - Part 3

I've been home for 10 days and during that time I've been wondering what, if anything, I should share about my time away, other than it was great; everything went off without a hitch, including adjusting to the time difference! It was a time of relaxation, renewing and reconnecting.

I spent a day with Larry and Barb Warkentin. Larry was our pastor while we were in Yellowknife and Barb is the woman who was diagnosed a few years ago with MS and is currently scheduled for her second open heart surgery on August 8th. Her hope and prayer is that with her heart repaired, she'll be able to put away her walker and wheelchair for a while and lead a somewhat more normal life. I didn't know what to expect when I arrived there, but Barb looks great. Her sense of humour has not left her and I enjoyed my time with them both.

I also had an opportunity to spend Sunday and Monday of the May holiday weekend at a farm just north of Lloydminster, Alberta. The Belshiems own approx. 5,000 acres of land there with 900 head of cattle. Gillian Belsheim was an RCMP officer stationed in Yellowknife when we were there. We got to know her, John and Ariel through the little Christian school that our kids attended, and Brad and I both worked with her in our perspective jobs. Before we left YK, Gil did a stint in the Communications Centre with me (I worked for the RCMP for 2 years answering the emergency lines). We spent a lot of time catching up, sharing the good times and the bad. Gil took me for a tour of the land, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The farm is operated by Gil's three brothers and is the local drop in for the neighbouring farms. The coffee pot is always on; their life is family and the land and they do a great job of both. They've known some hard times, with several years of drought and then the mad cow fiasco, but they have persevered and despite the hard years, they look ahead to better ones. The busyness of the "big house" with people coming and going at all hours reminded me of home, minus the cows of course. After my time with Gil, I was reminded that there is great benefit in sharing. Whether we're sharing good times or bad, we're drawn together, unified; helps us to realize that we aren't alone (or crazy)and I believe that is part of God’s plan.

The day after we returned from the farm, I journeyed to Banff. It was about a 4.5 hour drive from Edmonton, and I love to drive so I took my time and enjoyed the scenery. Alberta is in the midst of a huge real estate boom, so there are subdivisions going up everywhere. Alberta is also experiencing a higher level of homelessness as a result, and for a province so rich in many things it is more than sad to see folks living in tents and picking through garbage bins.
There was a particular moment during the drive to Banff that really left me feeling overwhelmed and I don't know if I can do it justice here, but I've decided to give it a try. I'd left Calgary and was heading west toward Banff; it wasn't too long before the mountains came into view off in the distance and I was struck by their beauty. I could see places where it was dark and raining, and others where the sun shone brightly on the snow-capped peaks. I'm sure they each have their own story to tell. The closer I got, the more my emotions were affected and eventually I was crying. All I could think of was "Majesty" and so I took a few moments to tell God how beautiful his mountains were; how majestic was his creation. It was just a moment later when I thought "Debbie, it's just rock" and fresh tears fell. This may sound really simple to whoever is reading this, but it meant a great deal to me. We see such beauty in the mountains, but it's just rock; what does God see when he looks at me, his most loved creation?


He is overwhelmed and finds me breathtaking.












Apr. 28, 2007

The Get-away - Part 2


After Christmas I sent out a Winter Greetings newsletter; I sent it out to all sorts of people and the wife of our pastor while we were in Yellowknife emailed back with a report of her own. She was diagnosed with MS a few years back; 3 years ago she walked 5km a day and within 4 months was in a wheelchair and that is where she has spent the last 2½ years of her life. In September 2006 she underwent open heart surgery for a valve repair. It was unsuccessful and her health status is not much improve and as a result of the surgery, her cholesterol is up which limits her diet.

I tried to draft a response back to her; but found myself unable to say anything. I wanted to say “just the right thing”; I wanted to encourage her......but that email just sat in draft.
At Easter, I sent an ecard and a picture of our family and again, she emailed back. The valve leakage was severe now and another heart surgery was required, however just prior to Easter she had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy, and the removal of her fallopian tube. The heart surgery would be delayed until June or August.
I felt much the same as I had when I'd read her first email. I wanted to encourage her but I didn't know what to say.....anything that came to mind sounded trite and shallow. As I thought about her, I realized that though I've not struggled with health issues (thank you Lord), I have struggled. I have felt hopeless and helpless and I could so relate to something she'd said: "Things aren’t always as we anticipate or expect and I have come to learn that life can change rather quickly."
Rabbit trial. One of my greatest desires growing up was to marry and have a family. When I met and got to know Brad, I discovered that we shared this desire for family......a large family. Before we got married we discussed the options and whether we should wait before we started having babies. Ultimately we decided not to. Little did we know that when we returned home from beautiful BC I was carrying a 'lil something extra!
Four weeks later, my new husband, father and sister were involved in a head-on car accident on highway 17 just east of Sault Ste. Marie. It was a miracle that they survived, along with the young man who was driving the other vehicle. It was during the days following the emergency surgeries that I learned we were expecting. I remember dad being in ICU, unable to speak and watching his eyes as I told him he was going to be a grampa. That was lesson number 1 in learning that we are not in control of what happens and things aren’t always as we anticipate or expect and can change rather quickly.
Back to that email. I looked to a couple people for their insight and wisdom; I'm so thankful for the counsel of others in my life! One of those individuals shared with me that his response to situations like these is often face-to-face time with the individual. Given this sort of situation, a personal visit is often called for and would greatly appreciated. Knowing that I was planning a get away, he he asked me if I would spend time out west if Brad couldn’t go with me?
Me? Go out there....alone? I didn't say anything out loud, but I sure was coming up with lots of excuses as to why I couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't be able to do that. As the day wore on I couldn't NOT think about it, quite a bit, actually, and I became more and more enchanted I guess you could say, with the idea.
I can go;
I can be a friend;
I can listen;
I can cry;
I can share from my own experiences;
I can pray with her.....
and not only can I go, but I realized that I needed to go and I needed to go alone; as much for me as for her. She was what God used to get me to think beyond myself and the limitations I place on myself. Once I made that realization, I was so excited and I still am! Plans have continued to come together and the timing of it all couldn't be better. Almost like it was taken completely out of my hands and somebody else had planned it all!
Once this was settled, I was able to find the words to share with my friend. The only real omfort that I’ve found during those difficult times comes from knowing deep down that He loves me and that He is ultimately in control and no matter how I feel or what is going on, I can trust Him. As hard as the circumstances of this life might be and as much as I may not understand the whys of it all, it has been in and through those difficult times that I’ve learned more about God and who He is, and wants to be, for me.

Mar. 8, 2007

Celebrating Meagan



Jeremiah 29:11 I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.


I got a call from Meg earlier this evening; she's a 2nd year University student majoring in economics and had went through an application process to do her 3rd year in Europe....today she found out she was accepted and will be heading to the Czech Republic in August! She's been talking about this since before she went to University.
She is SO excited, and we are for her. She'll be home tomorrow afternoon for Ben's birthday celebration.....now we can make it a double header!
Woo hoo!
1. Meg's discharge picture (dob Apr 9, 1987)
2. Meg's highschool grad picture
3. Meg was involved in Cadets for 5 years and spent 7 weeks in the Summer of 2005 in Gatineau, Quebec at Power Camp and obtained her private pilot's license. She has always wanted to fly and has her sights set on owning her own plane.
4. Meg and a very pregnant me. We had taken the labour day weekend before she started University and got away together; it was great.
















Mar. 7, 2007

Addictions







So was anybody else slightly addicted to this when they first started, or is it just me??














Boys to Men



















No, not the singing group; our Ben is 18 today.
I can't remember not wanting a Ben. Any of the Ben's I knew growing up were great guys and there seemed to be something special about a man named Ben...."Gentle Bens". My pregnancy with Ben was great, as was the delivery. I remember sitting up in bed in the recovery area, making phone calls to let everybody know that we'd had a boy. He was beautiful, and as he grew he became more so to me. He had curly blonde hair, dark brown eyes and a smile that would light up a room. I remember my dad telling me before Ben's 2nd birthday that I needed to have his picture taken so I could capture his smile. "He's a charmer", dad would say.
And he was. Benjamin was, and is, a sensitive soul. It didn't always work for him, though. As a little boy he could come across overly-so; he was so particular about everything from his looks to his school work to his room. You could always tell what side of the room was Ben's. The kids love to hear stories about themselves, and we love to tell them....Brad shares the story of the time when he heard Ben long before he saw him coming with his arm help up at an awkward angle, finger pointing towards his wrist. Brad thought he must have fallen and sprained it or something (it would certainly explain the animal-like howl that he was hearing) but soon saw that Ben was pointing at a string hanging from the cuff of his immaculately buttoned (up-to-the-neck) shirt.
Ben still likes to look good; his academics achievements are many and his room......is probably the cleanest of anybody's around here. Ben has had some struggles and will have some more, but his sensitive side works better for him now and will continue to as he matures and will serve him well as he pursues his dreams. I didn't want today to pass without acknowleding his birthday.
Benjamin, I love you and am proud of you; Happy Birthday, my son.

Mar. 5, 2007

Get-away

Yesterday my husband blessed me by telling me it was my turn to get away.

Woot! Woot!

I don't get away on my own (sans Brad or any number of children) often .....in fact the only time I can think of being away on my own in recent years was a couple weeks ago when I had to return to St. Joe Island for a family funeral.....not exactly the sort of get away one looks forward to. When you work for yourself, there are no paid vacations. You pay for the vacation before you go and then you pay for it again when you return in time.

Big family + self-employment = fewer vacations. I'm not complaining, it's the choice we've made.

But I'm excited....I've invited a friend along and we don't know where we're going yet but the anticipation and planning is half the fun.

When Brad worked for the Federal Justice Department and we lived in Yellowknife we had 3 great family vacations well, I missed the 1st one 'cause I started working for the Mounties and whey wouldn't give me the time. Brad drove back to Ontario with 5 kids.....that's a great story, but I digress. We took the entire month of January (Yellowknife = very cold + very dark) and hit the road.....it was awesome (and I don't use that word often). There wasn't "a" destination, but several: the one I most enjoyed was a circuitous route that included stops in Calgary, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Disney Land....well, you get the idea. We had no end of trouble on that particular trip with the vehicle we drove. It was a big white suburban with polar bear license plates.....we looked like a moving snow bank. The rear heater stopped working as we were driving out of the territories (in - 30 degree weather); the radiator went when we were driving through the desert; a belt broke in one of the front tires as we were driving through the red woods of BC and we lost power driving through the rockies. Add to that a problem that no garage seemed able to fix (even a chev specialist in Vegas); the burb would keep going slower and slower until Brad would just pull over, shut off the vehicle and wait......10 minutes, 20 minutes......whatever; eventually it would start fine and off we'd go again. But ya' know, it didn't ruin the journey but added to the flavour of what was already a great journey and provided us with some great memories and stories to tell!

A good trip reminds me our spiritual journey....it isn't just about the destination (though it's gonna be fabulous) but about enjoying the ride, "the journey" and even those hard things add to the flavour of our lives and leave us better off than we were.

So cool......

Where to go, where to go... Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Boston (love Boston), New York City.....I've always wanted to go to New York City but Brad has no desire to go there......I don't know but I don't care. It's gonna be fun 'cause I'm bringing a friend along for the ride.

Oh yeah.....the big old white suburban ran like a top for the final 2 hours of our month long trek. In fact, Brad's ankle got sore from holding his foot off the gas!

Go figure.

I'm stealing an idea I got from Tracy's blog (thanks Trace).....what great get-aways have you enjoyed? Did you encounter any problems along the way and, if so, did the problems add to your enjoyment or take away from it?

Anybody got an idea as to where we should go??

Mar. 4, 2007

Babies, hormones and discovering God in their midst

Rhys Daniel, (beautiful, isn't he?) born on October 17, 2005 when I was 40 years old. He arrived 17 months after his much anticipated big brother, Declan Hewitt. Having babies at 39 and 41 has sure been a whole lot different than having 'em in my 20's.....

About 3 months after Rhys' birth, I found myself struggling and wasn't sure what was happening. For a time I thought perhaps I was losing my mind and the battle some days was overwhelming.....I cried buckets. I didn't want to acknowledge the thought that I was depressed and I didn't know enough about post partum to realize that it was largely hormonal. I believed that as a Christian it wasn't right for me to feel this way so I continued on my own to try to push those thoughts out of my mind. I did that for a while until I was so down, so desperate that I found myself searching the internet for information realting to post partum depression and finally acknowledged what my body was screaming at me. It was a step, a beginning. I did share my struggle with Brad who was supportive and a willing listener (like he had a choice! ) It was during that very difficult time that I was surprised by the birth of a new friendship.

A lady I had known for a few years offered to bring dinner out once a week (in lieu of yet another teeny-weeny outfit). Give me a night when I know dinner is covered and the world looks a whole lot brighter. I looked forward to those days the meal was great 'cause it filled a need in my house but the female companionship filled a need in me. It was during one of those visits I opened my mouth and blurted out "I think I need to see my doctor" and proceeded to haltingly explain how and what I was feeling. All of my fears were laid to rest when my graceless announcement was met with understanding and support. It was good. The amazing part was that exchange that takes place when you step outside your comfort zone; I was greatly encouraged and so was she.....and out of the muck and mire of life a new friendship was born. I can recall the excitement I felt as I ran downstairs to tell Brad through my tears of all that had happened and how much God cared. He'd shown up in the midst of my mess, on a dark day .....and he brought a friend.