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

Sep. 7, 2009

Killing me Softly

I really admire those who do these blogs daily and seem to write them with complete honesty. I say seem to because of course I don't know what is going on in their thoughts and lives except for what I see and am told. I've had times when I've sat down to write something and couldn't be that honest; with myself or anybody else. There are times when what I'm dealing with doesn't only concern myself, but others and I have a hard time separating my stuff and the things I'm dealing with from the situation itself. Not sure if that makes sense to anybody, but there it is.

Yesterday we went to church as is our practice on Sundays. There is the hustle and bustle that goes on Sunday mornings with kids; both young and not so young. The little ones are early risers and usually awake around 6....sometimes earlier, sometimes a little later but it is safe to say that we don't need an alarm clock. The little ones wake us up and we wake the big kids up. The service we attend now starts at 9:30 instead of 9:00, so we've got that extra 30 minutes which worked out very well yesterday. Then there is feeding, cleaning, clothing, teeth brushing of the youngest three; everyone pitches in so mom can do the same for herself. Big kids get little kids in their car seats and then we all pile in to a couple vehicles for the 50 minute drive to church. Tess and Rhys usually have a wee nap, which makes it a fairly quiet drive in unless, of course, the sun is in Declan's eyes and I have to explain to him why I can't do anything about it.

We arrive usually right on time and file in to a row. Some days I arrive already overwhelmed and distracted: the busyness of the morning; with my own thoughts, my kids or a myriad of other things. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the knowledge that God is so incredibly faithful and I am intensely human.

Yesterday morning I took Declan and Rhys to their program and signed them in. They love going to church and Rhys will ask almost daily if it's Sunday. For this I am thankful; it makes the busyness of the morning so worth it. I came back to the sanctuary and during the course of one song was left feeling unraveled. My kids will tell you that most Sundays I cry. I listen to the songs but rarely can sing them because I have no voice. The words get stuck somewhere between my chest and throat. I've struggled with understanding my emotions and their expression. There was a time when I thought that meant I had been touched but at this point I'm more interested in being changed and I know that doesn't come easily or without struggle. I think of that old Roberta Flack song "Killing me Softly"

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

Tess got passed down to me and I held her close; another precious distraction. I took her out to the nursery, signed her in and taped her name on her back. I could hear someone saying my name and looked up to see Rhonda. She commented on Tess and how big she was getting. 19 months old this past Friday.....my baby. I waved bye and stepped away. I heard Rhonda ask how I was and I couldn't find words.

The tears came.

I was overwhelmed; unraveled.

I said earlier that I know that God is faithful. When I look back I can see his incredible faithfulness in my life and in the life of my family. He has saved me, loved me, protected me and changed me.....when I've allowed him to. I know his faithfulness and yet there are moments and days when I question it. Days and moments when I am overwhelmed by my circumstance and have to get to the end of myself and those feelings and replace them with his truth. Too often I give in to feeling; good and bad, and find myself in a place where I don't want to be. A place that is far from home, ya know? I have to remind myself that God continues to save me, daily; He loves me when I'm close to him and when I'm far away. He protects me even when I don't know it and yes, He is changing me, a little at a time.

Rhonda asked me what nugget I thought I was learning and I didn't really answer her; at least not very well. Of course there are issues of trust, but I think the further down this road I go, the more I realize my need for God. Not just in the big circumstances of life, but getting through each day; each moment. Without Him, I really am just dust.

Yesterday when I asked Declan what he had learned, he said "we learned about God". This is his typical response; you can almost hear the "duh" at the end of it. It is somewhat lacking in the detail I'm looking for so I questioned him further.

"What about God did you learn, Dec?".

My 5 year old's response: "I learned that I can trust God".

Me too, Dec; I'm learning that too.

Aug. 31, 2009

Another Milestone

Today we celebrate Noah who was welcomed into the world (and our hearts) by Brad, Meagan, Ben and I. It was a lovely day made only brighter by the safe and early arrival of our boy. I'm not sure what has me feeling so melancholy; perhaps it's because our niece was born just a few days ago and I've been ogling her pictures on facebook. Or perhaps it's because it is yet another reminder of how quickly time marches on. It just doesn't seem possible.....

Noah was born in the midst of the OKA crisis. We were living on St. Joseph Island, about a 45 minute drive East of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and the General Hospital. In those days, Highway 17 ran through the Garden River Indian Reservation and the highway did get closed. We declined the offer of a friend to take us into the City by boat and opted for an early induction. Nothing like a standoff to add to the excitement of a hospital run!




Noah was a happy baby and was always smiling.







I like Noah. Yes he's my son and I love him, but I enjoy spending time with him. He is easy to be with, has a great sense of humour and makes me smile. Noah has a good heart and is loyal almost to a fault. He is an independent thinker, which is a great quality though to be honest, there have been times when I've been less than thrilled with that quality. Noah takes people as they are.

Bug, I loved you long before I met you. I've watched you experience 19 years of life close up and I am very proud of the young man that you are becoming.

Happy Birthday!

Jul. 2, 2009

Home is......



I started writing this particular post about 2 years ago, but for whatever reason, never posted it; figured I'd do so now.

I try not to focus on the fact that we're not at "home"; most days I'm successful. When we were offered the use of the mobile home, we thought (hoped??) that our stay would be temporary - a couple weeks; sort of like an unplanned vacation. We had a service man in to take a look at the furnace when we first got there just days following the fire and in the course of our conversation he asked whether we'd be here come winter. I pretty quickly responded in the negative. That wasn't the plan...... winter seemed such a long way off in April but what seemed a long way off then, doesn't seem far enough away now.

My prayer and goal is to get back into the south wing of our place before winter and I am hopeful that will happen. However, our plans are largely dependent on circumstances that are beyond our control. In order to avoid future disappointment, I have to manage my expectations now. I have to be content and prepared to stay here for as long as that is required. It's in that regard I can learn a thing or two from my youngest children.

We are told that children are "a heritage, a gift or a blessing" given to us so that we might train them up in the way they should go, and yet we can learn so much from them. At least I do. I've had times when I've thought I was revealing some great truth to my kids only to realize that the message was clearly intended for me. We've not had to deal with tears or tantrums about being in a strange or different place. Dec and Rhys went from having their own beds to sharing a mattress on the floor without complaint. We weren't here very long when I heard Rhys refer to the trailer as "home". Though that didn't make me feel all warm and tingly, I realized that my kids are safe and secure when their family is together, wherever that is.


Yesterday Tess was playing in the kitchen, looking through the cupboards yattering away at me. She doesn't care about where she plays or sleeps as long as she is with her family. Her actions reminded me that home isn't as much about where we live, but who we live with; Home is less about a building and more about the people who inhabit it.



An update: I started writing this around the end of June, 2009 and here we are in July of 2011. We transitioned....again....from the mobile to the "house on the river" last August to make room for kids returning home. Here the three youngest share a bigger mattress on the floor....Tess likes sleeping with "her boys" and before we just let her do it, we would find here there anyway. You learn after the 6th or 7th not to sweat the small stuff. A day or two ago I shared about our home Brad and I were first married; we were blissfully happy for the four weeks that we were there but we never returned following the accident. While Brad was fairly immobile, friends offered us the use of their basement apartment and then we sub-let an apartment from a lady who went south for the winter. When I was 6 months pregnant, I was diagnosed with Toxemia, which I believe they now call pre-eclampsia. I was put on strict bed rest and my sister moved in with us to take care of me and cook and clean. A month or so before Meagan arrived, we moved into my parents' home....this was all in our first year of wedded bliss! Though it isn't the dream of any newlywed couple, we lived happily there til Meagan was 9 months when we bought a wee house in Richards Landing. The family grew and pretty soon we needed more space, so we bought a bigger place just down the road......A change in Brad's employment took us to Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island; we also called Kagawong home for a while. From Manitoulin we ventured north to the Northwest Territories and enjoyed 3 years in Yellowknife. From there to Hatfield Crescent in Orleans, to "the Palace" just south of Kemptville.....we've called them all home.

The buildings have changed, but we've made each of them home, and have had the privilege of having others make them their home too.








May 28, 2009

I know He Watches Me


Music for me is such a comfort and I find that when I'm struggling with something, whether it's a situation or just my own negative thinking, a verse of one song or another will come to mind. Often it's a few words of an old hymn. This morning it was "His Eye is on the Sparrow". As with many of the old hymns, there is a story behind this song.

Early in the spring of 1905, Civilla Martin and her hus­band were sojourning (great word meaning "to stay as a temporary resident") in El­mi­ra, New York. They began a friend­ship with a cou­ple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doo­lit­tle. Mrs. Doo­lit­tle had been bed­rid­den for close to twen­ty years and her hus­band was crippled and got around in a wheel chair. De­spite this (there is a lot said in those two words), they were hap­py, and brought in­spir­a­tion and com­fort to all who knew them.

One day while the Martins were vi­sit­ing with the Doo­lit­tles, Dr. Martin com­ment­ed on their hope­ful­ness and asked them for the se­cret of it. Mrs. Doo­lit­tle’s re­ply was sim­ple: “His eye is on the spar­row, and I know He watch­es me.” The beau­ty of this sim­ple ex­press­ion of faith gripped the hearts and fired the imag­in­a­tion of Dr. Mar­tin and his wife and this hymn was the out­come of that ex­per­i­ence.

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.


Psalm 84:3 Even the sparrow has found a home,and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar,O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

May 20, 2009

Waiting.....


Here we are, May 20; 1 month and 3 days post fire and we continue to wait.

Fast Eddies started out as their name described, but have definitely slowed as time has gone on!! The second story has been removed, but the rear storage area and the kitchen have not been cleaned out. We continue to wait for a wall to be put up at the end of the south wing and power restored to that area so that we can get it cleaned. At that point the offices would be usable again and Dan and Noah could move back in....if they wish to. Brad has been in discussions with the adjuster about a temporary roof, but their idea of temporary involves hiring an engineer who who will take 3 - 4 weeks to provide his report....gah!

For now we continue to live and work out of the mobile. Most days it's just fine, but on "those" days (particularly rainy ones) the walls seem to close in on an already much smaller space than we are accustomed to! Maintaining a positive outlook is certainly key though I have had moments over the past couple weeks when I felt anything BUT positive. I have to work at keeping my expectations in check; this will be home for a while. The silver lining??? Thank you Lord that it's not winter!!

In this fast paced, microwave culture we live in where you can be in touch with anybody at the speed of a text or a twitter, watch television from your blackberry or iphone and shop without leaving the comfort of your living room, waiting isn't convenient. It is disruptive and can leave me feeling.....how shall I say it...out of control.

And therein lies the rub.

The lack of control and not knowing "how long" can bring me pretty close to those limits. In the moments when I find myself there I have to still the voices in my head that demand to be satisfied NOW.....and focus again on what's truly important. More of your grace, Lord, so that I can continue not only to wait, but wait well.
If life's circumstances are God's opportunities to assist us in realizing our deep need for him, then it really is him that I wait for. Isaiah 40:31 says "Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."

I don't write 'cause I have all the answers but I do tend to write when I'm looking for one. Something happens in the process and once again I am reminded of God's continued faithfulness in my life.

Ever find yourself in a place of waiting?

May 3, 2009

Two weeks, two days.....and counting.


A couple days ago I was trying to think of a scripture passage but couldn't quite grasp it. I was sure it was in Psalms, but it seemed to lie just beyond the edge of my memory....Have you every tried to hunt down a scripture without a concordance? Thank heaven for Google and online Bibles!!

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord,who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Psalm 121: 1-3
I didn't go to bible college and I don't know why the books of the bible are arranged in the order that we find them, but I have always found it interesting and incredibly cool that the Psalms follow the book of Job....coincidence? I think not!

This past week the ladies in the lifegroup that I'm a part of blew me away with their graciousness. The encouragement they provided was right on:

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Yet the righteous holds to his way, and he who has clean hands grows stronger and stronger. Job 17:9
Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them. Isaiah 42:9
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7
In the midst of our present circumstances, life certainly does go on. Carleigh is back with us and Meagan and her friend Alex left yesterday morning for Halifax. Alex is there for two months, and Meg hopes the new job will work into some management experience for her so that she can go back to school for her MBA. Halifax is such a beautiful city; I`m sure they will have a great summer and I can`t wait to go visit (and eat some great seafood!). We`ve set up a temporary office in the mobile; we`ve gone from about 7,000 or 8,000 square feet where everybody had their own room and office as well as a weight and exercise room to approx 1,200 square feet. There are certainly moments of frustration (running an office with 3 under the age of 5 in close proximity is fun), this is a great location for us and we are thankful for the use of it. We had our first family dinner here Friday and fed 14....most of them ate outside!

The demolition of the centre portion of our place is scheduled to begin Monday. A barrier wall will be put up at the end of the south wing and an electrician will get hydro service back up and running. My understanding is that at that point we`ll be able to get the south end (bedrooms and offices) cleaned so that we can use that space. Brad continues to deal with the insurance adjuster. We`ve enjoyed a good laugh when people have shared with us their lawyer jokes.....some of them are actually funny. They are usually jokes where the profession is interchangable with car or insurance salesmen; you know what I mean. I think insurance adjusters could be added to that list as well. *Heavy sigh

I think for the most part we are keeping an upbeat attitude...there have been times when I`ve had to ask God for more of his grace; it`s a good thing he has a bountiful supply.

Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Apr. 27, 2009

Post-fire Update


Brad and I, along with Declan, Rhys, Tess and Meagan are currently staying in the mobile home park right by our place. Friends of ours had moved out before Christmas and offered it to us; we are thankful that we can be close to our place so we can keep an eye and oversee the work that gets done. Meagan heads out Friday for Halifax and her new job! Noah and Dan are staying with the Kelly's, Carleigh has a room at a friend's house just minutes away and Ben boards with Donnie and Lauren and will continue to do that while he works with Ray this summer.

Many have asked what they can do to help but until we finalize things with the insurance company, there really is little to be done! Brad, Dan and the older kids spent Saturday moving our belongings out of the main area of our place where the significant damage was done. Our offices and bedrooms were located in the south wing of our building and only sustained smoke damage, and fairly minor damage at that. In fact, we are using two of the beds that were taken from that wing here at the trailer, and they don't smell at all. The furniture from the main living room and tv area has been tossed; furnishings haven't been a big priority in the Allison household and simply were not worth cleaning. Friends of friends provided a pull out couch and a love seat; Dan brought over one of the chairs from his room that has no smoky smell and Noah and Casey cleaned one of the tables that had survived so we have room to sit and eat. Our large dining table was broken, but its days were numbered. I'm holding out for one of those big harvest tables!!

The trailer is equipped with fridge, stove, washer and dryer. It has satellite still hooked up, so we didn't lose treehouse t.v. (thank the Lord) and Brad has been enjoying the playoffs in the evenings. There are air conditioners at either end of the trailer for our added comfort, though we only had one on for a short time on Saturday evening. We've set Brad's computer up here and brought the printer/copier over so that we can run the office and we're able to retrieve messages from our office phones despite the fact that there is no hydro over there. Not sure how that works!

Our greatest need at this point to reach a settlement with the adjuster. We would like to be dealt with reasonably and fairly, but for the first week after the fire all we heard from the adjuster was what our policy did not cover. That gets a little frustrating after a while, so we'd appreciate prayer in that regard. Once a settlement is reached, we will then have decisions to make, and help may well be needed at that point. We have options and that is great. I will continue to post here when there is something to share.

We appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers. We see this as an opportunity for a real good Spring cleaning! I walked the building and property yesterday and when I was outside I coudn't help but notice that the fire took out all of the old dead grass and revealed the new green grass that was underneath. I love analogies, and that spoke to me. Just like you can't put new wine in old wineskins, it had been impossible to see that new growth when the old stuff was there.

We lost some stuff, but stuff is replacable; nothing of any value to us was lost. I am sooooo thankful that Declan not only smelled smoke, but was smart enough to realize there was something not right and alert me to it. He's my hero.

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy oer your head
Know that tomorrow brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fearGladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When what youve done keeps you from moving on
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart
Know that forgiveness brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fearGladness for mourning
Peace for despair

I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound Ive been set free
Ive been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fearGladness for mourning
Peace for despair

Feb. 15, 2009

Modern Day Parables

Yesterday, after being found by an older brother, my 3 year old (who is not yet potty trained) came down the hall wearing a shirt, a slight grin and a bare and very dirty bottom. In one hand he held a dirty wipe.

I can't say that I completely appreciated his effort; fortunately the mess didn't go beyond his body or the wipe he held.

After voicing my lack of appreciation, I took the dirty wipe and disposed of it and ushered him into the bathroom where I continued to voice my motherly concerns and plunked him in the tub. I used the hand held shower head to clean the poop from his hands and the rest of him, and then cleaned the tub. As I ran him a bath, I continued to remind him that when he poops, he needs to come and tell mommy so I can help him.

I'm a mom to 8. Though I don't have to remind 6 of them to come and let me help them clean themselves (they are all trained....well, for the most part) sometimes I do have to remind them of other things.

No matter how much you love and support a friend, you are not responsible for the choices they make.

You are not alone, but are a part of something bigger.

You are destined for greatness.

...and sometimes, when I am frustrated and angry, I remind them that I love them...no matter what. That one is tough and one I need to do with more regularity.

There are times when I wish I could hear God like Rhys heard me....well, perhaps not. God often uses my kids to speak to me and at some point after the clean up was finished, my thoughts turned to myself. When I am dealing with my own stuff, I feel dirty and often alone. Sometimes I think of one or two others who I could go to and there have been times when I have reached out to ask for help. Most often, however, I stuggle with the stuff until I reach a point where there is no where else to go but to the One who made me; the one who knows me and yet loves me....even when I'm covered in filth.

Yesterday, God used Rhyser to get my attention....and I was listening. I need to keep that mental picture of Rhys as a reminder of where I need to go for help first.

Jan. 8, 2009

Ending 2008 with a New Tradition

We started a new tradition here this Christmas.

Meg, our eldest, shared her thougths this past fall about how she had grown frustrated with how Christmas, particularly the gift aspect of this blessed holiday, was being done in our home. By way of an explanation, the year we had Declan the kids started doing the shopping. I would do the stockings, but they each were given the same amount of money and with those funds, they had to buy something for everybody. They could choose to go together with another sibling or two, or they could do it on their own. Some of the kids added their own funds as well; that was up to them. Everybody did a list so that they each had an idea of what the others wanted.

Meg shared that she had grown weary of the "list" thing because over time the lists had become less of a guide line and more of a shopping list and that it didn't leave room for expression. She believed gifts should be meaningful rather than "items from someone's prioritized, categorized list" and she wanted to separate the idea of shopping from giving. She really explained herself well.

So after some thought, Brad came up with an idea. It was his hope that it would give us a way for Christmas to be more meaningful to us all, while still respecting the notion of giving and receiving gifts.

The proposal related to Brad and I and the older 5. Prior to Christmas, other than stocking stuffers and gifts for the little ones, there would be no shopping; instead, each of us would prepare for Christmas Day by pondering what it is that we could see in each of the others that we really admired or respected, and what we could see that each person had accomplished in the last year. By doing this, we could celebrate each other's character and accomplishments together. We would also speak into one another's future, about what each person's dreams and passions are all about and what we see as the longer term future of each other.

So, on Christmas day, after the little ones were done their unwrapping, we all sat together and did just that. We did have to take a few breaks; there are, after all, 7 of us. There were many laughs and tears; there were moments during that day that I know we will always remember, yet I'd have to think about it if you asked me what I got last year for Christmas. It was shortly after 10 p.m. when we finished the last person; it had been a very full day, indeed, but one that I believe drew us much closer to each other. It was truly inspiring to hear what those closest to me had to say; my children know me very well.

So this will be how we share Christmas Day together in the future.

By the way, we didn't totally abandon the buying of gifts. We did sit together on a second appointed day and thought about what sort of gift, be it sympolic or pragmatic, we could give to each one that would remind them of what was said or assist them in the pursuit of their dreams. The gift suggested for me was a room; a place where I can go to be alone to think and write. The border around the room will read

.....Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and will not fail, though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.

.....one of my favourites!