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

Feb. 18, 2012

Life....a Spectator Sport?

On Boxing Day this year, we began our adventure to Florida.  We don't fly, we drove; as a large family who enjoys going places, it's what we've always done.  Our mantra:  "part of the journey is in the getting there".  True in road trips and true in life.

11 people (3 under the age of 8), 3 vehicles, 2 days.

You may not believe me if I tell you it was fun and I don't know that everyone who took part would agree, but for me there is something about the getting there that I enjoy.  There's a mindset, a groove....and on this trip we had several vehicles and many drivers which provided us with lots of mobility. 

Though the resort we were at shared one of Disney's boundaries, we didn't "do Disney".  We wanted flexibility; wanted to enjoy what the resort offered, enjoy some family time as well as leave time and room for people to do their own thing.  Brad and I sacrificed a morning and sat through one of those high pressure sales things....the reward?  4 free passes to Gatorland and the balance at a reduced cost.  Kids had great fun. 

One afternoon Meg and I took Declan, Rhys and Tess to a petting zoo.  I's a long way to go to a petting zoo, but this one was on steroids.  Lots of animals, some familiar and some not-so-much.  They offered a hay ride, train ride and pony rides.....the kids even had an opportunity to milk a dairy cow and on our way out Declan, Rhys and Tess got to choose a stuffed toy!  Tess and Rhys took advantage of any opportunity to go into the pens.  Declan, however, wasn't as eager.  He went with me into the sheep pen and he held a baby chick, but he wasn't near as excited as his younger siblings to meet the goats or chase chickens and ducks around despite encouragement from Meg and I.  He told me he enjoyed watching and eventually we stopped suggesting he take part.  He's got a quick mind and a wicked imagination, but when it comes to some things, he seems content to be a spectator.  It bugged me.

I've done that.....not all the time, but all too often I've been content to observe as others live out their dreams, despite huge encouragement to the contrary.  For a long time I, myself and I.....that my role in life was to encourage and support others and though I want to be that person, it should not exclude me from pursuing my own dreams and passions. 
Life is definately NOT a spectator sport.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10 ESV) 



Feb. 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Perhaps it's 'cause Valentine's Day was approaching.....or maybe it's 'cause of all the relationship conversation at church....or maybe it's because I have two boys getting married this summer!!  Whatever the reason, I've been bombarded recently with memories of my own lovely, albeit brief, engagement and courtship to my sweetheart.  We had met at the office; Brad was an associate at the law firm where I got my first job after graduating.  I can remember the very first time I saw him.  It was hunting season and he'd been off but came in one day for whatever reason and we were introduced.  A few months later when his secretary went on mat leave, I took her place.  Brad was easy and fun to work with and we got along very well; a great working relationship quickly became a friendship that equally as quickly was something.....more.  We started dating in November of 1985 and it wasn't long before we knew that we would be married.  Outside of work we spent hours sharing our dreams; talking about family and how many kids there would be (8 wasn't one of the numbers discussed) and in April of 1986, Brad proposed and I happily accepted.  And the wedding date?  June 21, just two months later.   Ah, the joys of "small town", (Island) life!  Wedding co-ordinators didn't exist.  We were married in the church I'd grown up in, surrounded by our family and friends.  

It was a beautiful day; one I'll never forget.
Brad and I had enjoyed writing to one another in those early days of discovering that we were in love.  On the morning of the wedding, while we girls were having photos taken at our home, a wee parcel arrived for me from my beloved, with a letter:

And he's been there everyday since.  Our life together has not always been romance and love letters, but the good times....the good times have far outweighed the difficult times and the difficult times (there were a few), have only served to bind us together, and to provide us with some great stories!  True stories of God's forgiveness, his grace, his faithfulness and yes his favour in our lives.  That's an ongoing story and as I recall what lies behind us, I look forward with great excitement to see what comes next!


Feb. 11, 2012

What the Grinch and I have in Common

It's Saturday.

My house is a bit of a mess and I'm still in my pjs; aside from feeding people and going through pictures and memories, I haven't accomplished much at all.  I've things in my head and on my heart.  
Noah was here early this morning; it is rare that we see him without Casey but he was running an errand and didn't want her along......he had to pick up a surprise!  This afternoon they arrived, together and engaged to be married!  It's been quite a journey for them but they, and we, are ready for this next step and are celebrating with them. 
Brad and I skyped with Cam this morning; so cool to be able to reach across the miles that separate us using technology!  To see his face; to hear his was good.  His siblings all took the opportunity to chat and to tell him he is loved.....most definitely loved.  We're looking forward to having him home for a break in a couple weeks.

I had coffee with a friend on Wednesday; a new friend!  We met at a Second Cup in the east end of Ottawa but it was packed so down the road to Starbucks we went.  Not only did I get to spend time with a new friend over coffee, but Ben was working and when his shift was over I drove him home.  He has a lot going on right now:  waiting to hear from med schools and planning a's hard for him to wait, but he's waiting well.  Despite our best laid plans, this life offers many unknowns and as his mom I have to remind myself that the best thing I can do is to continue to entrust him and his beautiful Buhle to God.  Not always easy, but God is ever faithful.

Meagan is heading out shortly to attend a bachelorette party; not only does she have two brothers getting married, but two friends as well, which has kept her busy with pre-wedding parties for weeks now!  I longed for her before I ever knew I was expecting her and loved her before we met; she is beautiful, both inside and out.  It will take a very special man to capture her attention and heart.  She is quiet and strong; adventurous, yet prefers to be behind the scenes.  She gives of herself daily to God, her family and her work.  She is beautiful, both inside and out.

Carleigh is in her last semester of highschool and actually home today!  She too is waiting to hear back from Universities and, I expect, will be off to the school of her choice come September.  As Meagan was to her, so she is to her younger siblings and Declan and Rhys will miss her, but the one she fondly refers to as "mini me" will especially. 

It wasn't that long ago........

I remember awaiting the arrival of our first baby; such anticipation!  We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl, but long before Meagan Rae arrived we were in love.....and have been ever since. 
As a new mom, it was hard to imagine ever loving another human being as it turned out, Brad and I didn't have to wait terribly long to find out if we could, 'cause before we celebrated Meagan's 2nd birthday, we welcomed Benjamin James into our hearts.  When my gran was still with us, Meagan and Ben couldn`t be in the same room without her telling whoever was within ear shot about how Meagan had been such a beautiful baby.....and her concern about how this next one was ever going to hold a candle to his or her big sister!  When she saw Benjamin she knew that boy would have no problem holding his own. Benjamin was not only a beautiful baby, but he was as close to perfect as any baby ever was and with his arrival I learned that I didn't have to share my love; there was just.....more.
Just under 18 months later, along came our Noah with his cherubic face and twinkling, mischievous eyes.  Once he started smiling, he never stopped.  He would smile through most anything, which  is incredibly annoying when you're disciplining him, but there were other times.....more than I can remember, when his smile made his mama's day better.

Campbell came next, all 10lb 12oz of him.  He was big and beautiful and exuberant, yet had an "old soul" and the most generous heart.  After the birth of #4 was the first time I wondered if our family was complete, but I didn't feel done.  It wasn't until I learned we were expecting #5 that I knew this baby would be our last.  

Carleigh MacKenzie arrived on Remembrance Day, 1994; another beautiful baby girl to help balance out all that testosterone and the long-awaited, much prayed-for sister for Meagan.  The family was complete; we were a "millionaire's" family a couple times over and I was done.   Though we were still living on Manitoulin, we had Carleigh in the Sault 'cause mama was having a 'lil post-birth surgery.  Our home, and hearts, were full. 

Well anybody who knows us knows I changed my mind; it is, after all, a woman's perogative.  That is an entirely different story, one better left to another day.  I will say, though, that God heard not only my prayer for more, but Carleigh's, and He answered.....abundantly.


Love, real love, doesn't subtract or divide; it adds and multiplies and makes room for more; for so much more......and so I say I'm like the grinch 'cause I'm sure my heart is AT LEAST three times what it used to be.

Alex and Marissa aren't mine biologically, but they are a special part of our lives and I love them. 


Feb. 6, 2012

Grumpy mom and grace

This past weekend was one of celebration for us; Saturday was Ben and Buhle's engagement party as well as Tess' 4th birthday, which we all gathered to celebrate on Sunday.  I was happy to crawl into bed a bit early and awoke around 4 a.m., sweating. It could have been the hormones, but more likely it was because the little blonde one had crawled inbetween her dad and I and we were jammed.   I carried her back to her bed.....and after a couple more visits didn't see her again until morning.....which was later than usual for me 'cause of the interuption!  So I had a late start, did the breakfast thing and then  went directly into school stuff with the boys in the moning followed by office stuff in the afternoon. I spent most of my day in my pjs waiting for enough hot water to shower and had a good grump on by bed time. Mostly tired, but I was dragging around some stuff too.  I tried to pawn off tucking the kids in and realized it was 'cause I didn't want to pray with them.  Well it didn't work.
Oh snap.
I was a wee bit watery-eyed when I went in. I got down on my knees beside the bottom bunk and laid my head on Tess' tummy....Dec was quiet; he figured mom was mad at them. Rhys asked what was wrong and I told him I was just tired and grumpy. Tess rubbed my head and told me how much she loved me....and then Rhyser prayed; he prays in a whisper voice to "God, Jesus and Holy Spirit". I love listening to him; he told them each much he loved them.....and his mom. 
The love of a child....there is little else on this earth that comes closer to the unconditional love that God shows us.  They don't count the number of times I raised my voice today.  They didn't have to agonize over whether or not they were gonna forgive me, they just do.
When I grow up, I wanna be just like them.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14