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

Apr. 5, 2013

A note to my Belle


I was thinking about your phone call, which made me think about you.  So I started to write on your facebook wall.....and decided, hey, I'm a blogging mama.....I'll blog to you!  Perhas one day your children will ask me "Gramma, did they have facebook when you were little" or "what's a blog??" 

You need never apologize for calling me and chattering!  I know I don't pick up a phone and call you very often....but don't think that because I don't, you're not on my mind.  One of the things that I think about, oh almost on a daily basis, is how thankful I am that you are where you are; that you seem to be so content.  I was first going to say you seem happy, but it's more than that. Contentment speaks to your inner health; your soul and most particularly, it speaks to me about your relationship with God. Contentment is not dependant on your circumstances. -- and as a mom, as your mom, that thrills me.  Contentment doesn`t come easily, but, as Paul says, it's learned.....and if it's learned, it does make sense that there are going to be some tough situations we're going to have to grow through.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

We talked last night about how quickly the school year has past, well times that by 100 and you`ll perhaps understand a wee bit of how this mom feels when I look at you; each of you.  Today we are heading out to spend some time with Meg and celebrate her 26th birthday.....her what?  The time really does fly, Belle, so my prayer for you is that you'll continue to grow, as you have been and as Jesus did; in wisdom, in stature and in favour with God and man.

I love you so much; have a fab weekend!


Mar. 29, 2013

I was poked a few days ago by a friend. 

It’s been a while since I sat over a keyboard and she was questioning, challenging and encouraging me, all at the same time.  That's what the people who know us and love us anyway do.  They poke.  Writing, at least writing something I’m going to post here, requires a lot of effort; a lot of blood, sweat and yes, sometimes tears. 
I’ve pondered off and on the whys of writing, particularly blogging.  Why do I do it?  What is my motivation?  I gotta be honest, when I first started this rather sporadic effort at blogging, it was largely cathartic.  I couldn't afford counselling and so this was how I unloaded.  There can be a freedom in writing.....when I'm honest and perhaps that's where I hit a wall.  Being honest is not easy, whether I'm writing or not.  At some point I found a safe place where I could unload; a place where I was in relationship with warm bodies that prayed for and encouraged  me and so....writing hasn't played much of a part in my life in quite a while.  After all, it is only as cathartic as I allow it to be. 
So I've been asking myself questions again.  I'm drawn to people who take their masks off and are honest.  I'm drawn to people who are real and am priviledged to have them share with me of their experiences.  I want to hear their stories, their struggles, their victories.  It's what makes them.....human and relatable and, so it makes sense to me that this is what I want to be.  That seldom easy; hence the aforementioned blood, sweat and tears.  However, I can attest to the fact that there is little of value in this life that comes easyily
And on this Good Friday that has given me pause to remember. 

He came to earth as a baby.  He was a young boy, similar to the boys I have running around here and yet....different.  He was God and he was man.  I'm reminded of his humanity in a simple prayer he prayed:
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…..
Ever prayed it?  Please, oh please oh please....not this God....anything but this!  We're invited into his struggle and the turmoil he must have felt knowing what was about to happen.
....nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”   
He was the sacrificial lamb - the scape goat, for me and for you.  

Born to die so that I may live. 


Jan. 6, 2013

A Fresh Start in a Familiar Place

Though there is a bit of Christmas baking still kickin' around, the tree is long since down, the stockings are put away and the University kids are back home, eagerly awaiting classes tomorrow (am I right Cam? Car?). I always look forward to their arrival and the little ones count down the days......and then the time comes for them to leave, and I'm okay with that too! As a parent of children ranging in age from almost 5 to 25, I have learned that it is great when they come and great when they go, too. They are where they need to be, doing what they need to do and I`m just fine with that. 

We celebrated New Year's 2012 in Florida. Eleven of us left Boxing Day and for 2 days in 3 vehicles, made the journey to Kissimmee. We had decided we were not doing Disney, so there was time to enjoy our resort facilities, complete with ice cream sundaes, poolside. We all had a blast at the amusement park in Old Town where we had our pictures done "gangster style". Gatorland was a hit, particularly for Declan and Rhys who loved seeing and hearing about those ugly monsters. Meagan and I took the youngest three to the largest petting zoo EVER, complete with pony, wagon and train rides; Tess and Rhys even had a turn milking a real cow and they each got a stuffed toy when we left.  Meagan, Alex and I enjoyed a day trip to St. Petersburg too. Fun was had by all. A few years ago we added to our Christmas tradition by taking time to stop and to encourage and speak into the lives of one another and our evenings were spent doing just that. I so look forward to these times and as the family grows, so does that time together and that, for me, is better than any gift I may unwrap.  

January was relatively quiet, even in our house. We did celebrate with our friend and daughter-from-another-mother&father, Alex, when she made the decision to be baptized. Little did I know that her mom, Sandy, and brother, Aaron would follow her lead and be spontaneously baptized. It was a beautiful celebration of the decision each had made, and a beautiful memory for them to share together.

We celebrated Tess' birthday in February where dresses were the gift of the day, much to her delight and a week later, on February 11, Noah and Casey announced their engagement which meant TWO weddings for our family in 2012!  We welcomed Buhle to our family when she and Ben married on July 27.  If I had to describe their wedding ceremony in one word, it would be Holy. It was beautiful, she was beautiful, and he was beautiful. Okay, so two words! It was indeed a celebration of love: God's love for them, their love of him and for one another.  

On September 15 Noah and Casey were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony co-officiated by our dear Dan and Doug Stringer, Noah`s best friend`s father.  Cam wasn`t able to join us as he was playing in a football game against Purdue, but Brad and I caught a bit of the game online while getting our wedding duds on. We ought to have won a "best dressed" award! Though the big guy wasn`t there in body, he was in spirit and Casey ensured that the green and white was well represented with the help and great photography skills of our nephew, James. The weddings were as beautiful, unique and individual as the people who were joined and spoke to the creativity of the One who knows each of them intimately.

Of course with two Allison weddings, there were a myriad of showers to attend in the spring and summer, and huge kudos to our Meagan who stood up in both weddings. Not only did she not miss a shower, but she played a role in organizing them as well as engagement parties.  I may be a bit biased, but you`d go a long way to find anyone as selfless as this young woman; she was a huge support and encouragement not only to her future sisters, but also to her brothers as she truly celebrated with them. I'm quite sure she's got her wedding already planned. I recall several years ago someone telling me that Meagan, as the eldest, set the standard for those that followed, and indeed she has set a high one. She has the love and respect of not only her siblings and their spouses, but her parents and those fortunate enough to call her friend. She is a blessing.  

Carleigh packed up and headed to Peterborough this fall to commence another chapter in her life. She is enjoying every aspect of University life and lives just a 10 minute bus ride to Campus. We knew that academics would not be an issue for her, and had encouraged her to make Peterborough home. She found a church on Campus her first Sunday in Peterborough, and has immersed herself in that community. She attends weekly "hub" gatherings and has made some great friends. She also has enjoyed spending time with James, Jen and the boys and we've appreciated the hospitality they've shown her.  Carleigh has adapted very well and has certainly matured during her 3 plus months away, something we all noticed, but it is her spiritual growth that stands out most. The teenager who once struggled with what to say to encourage a sibling does no longer, and it was great to hear her encouraging her siblings. I'm very thankful for all God is doing in her. 

Declan is 8 and has had a love of all things reptilian.  In the Spring he adopted 4 baby, painted turtles that Brad found outside the house in Manotick. Alex set him up with an aquarium and all of the right "stuff". When someone came to the house, he'd take them to see his little turtles and tell them all they wanted to know, and didn't want to know, about painted turtles. Much to Declan's dismay, one of the turtles eventually got sick and died which caused our boy to question whether or not he was a good enough turtle parent. Ultimately he came to his own decision to release the remaining three, so it was with tears in his eyes he took his 'lil buddies to a nearby pond and with the owner's permission, released his friends. He was quiet about it for a long while, but has more recently started mentioning that he'd like another pet. "Maybe a lizard" or some such thing. Declan is an amazing mixture; bright, expressive and loving to those of his choosing; quiet, shy and reserved with newbies. I can't approach the child without him telling me he loves me and giving me a "Declan hug" which is somewhat reminiscent of big brother Ben's hugs when he was his age. Declan's most recent passion is art; he is a self-proclaimed artist. I'll let you know how that goes. 

Rhys, whom we lovingly refer to as "Eeyore" in his absence is the most sensitive of the youngest three.  At times our boy seems to carry the weight of the world on his wee brow, particularly when his desire to play on an electronic device is met with a negative response.  He enjoys theological discussions with his younger siblings and loves to pray.... and he is THE very best pray-er; our very own personal crying prophet!  There have been days when I've tucked the youngest three in and not had words or desire to pray; in those times I've been blown away by the faith and simple trust of this kid. One can learn a thing or two from listening to the prayers of a child.  Rhys gives THE best little-boy kisses, and Carleigh will attest to that. Where Declan is shy among strangers, Rhys loves people and will wave or say hi and talk with anyone. The boys are allowed one hour of xbox every third day and those guidelines have been great for Rhys. He does not need a calendar to tell him when THE day is. If you were to ask Ben, he likely wouldn't tell you that he's been beat by Rhys while playing xbox. 

And then there's our Tess. She's our tom-boy princess who still refers to Declan and Rhys as "her boys". She is never wrong and therefore does not take discipline well and apologizing is a painful thing for her. VERY painful.  She is bold and has been silly enough to take her father on (and the 5 eldest siblings gasp).  She declares her love for almost every boy she meets, though I think Casey's brother Bruce and Thomas Stringer hold top spots there.  We had a service repair guy in the house and when Tess saw him asked "who is that handsome man"?  In 9 years, she's going to live with one of her sisters; they've been warned. She is eager to learn, which is odd for one who knows it all, and has many people fooled into thinking she is just the sweetest little thing.....I could tell you stories. Actually, she is the sweetest little thing, but she's got another side that is not going to be pushed around by anybody, and I will choose to be thankful for that and pray that she learns quickly and is not terribly hurt by her own strength. 

Okay, so birthdays, engagements, weddings....there`s something else. Yes! Football Season! We eagerly await the arrival of football season every year, having forgotten the exhaustion of the year before. This past season we made weekend treks to Michigan, Ohio and Indiana where some combination of our family made it to all but one game. Though it wasn`t a winning year for our beloved Eagles, Cam had his best season yet as a starter on the Offensive Line and this proud Eagle fan and football mom would point out that this year was a much tougher schedule than last. We appreciate, very much, the tough role of a Coach and we also appreciate that Coach English does not just train his young men to play football, but he trains them to be men of character.  Men who don't quit.  Men who value and appreciate one another.  It's difficult to lose, but we all know that there are great lessons that are only learned in the struggle.  Declan, Rhys and Tess made it to several games and always enjoyed meeting the “big boys” when we’d head to the bus to see Cam following an away game.  We enjoyed having our nephew James and his new bride Jen and their family join us as well as Dan and Gerry Courteau.  People taking the time and making the trip to go to a game means a lot to Cam who only gets home a few weeks a year. Being parents to an NCAA football playing son has been....interesting; the culture is so different than anything we see on this side of the border, including hockey. A perk to going to all of these games is getting to know other parents, and though we don`t see one another off-season, I count some of these women among my friends.

There are a couple themes that have repeated themselves in my mind as I've been pondering what to share, and what not to share. One is "Fresh Start" and as I've shared, we've celebrated several fresh starts this year.  I'm reminded that those of us who follow Christ have an opportunity at a fresh start every day. The second theme is "home". In July we moved from our rented home on the river back to "The Palace" and a "fresh start" there.  Both of these have been common themes not only in this past year, but they've echoed throughout all of our years together as a family. We, like you I've no doubt, have known difficulty, but I have chosen to focus on the life celebrations we've shared as a family. It is far too easy for me to get stuck in the muck and mire of difficult circumstances, so I must remind myself of something a wise man said when answering how he had dealt with a particularly difficult chapter in his life. He shared this: 
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8 ESV
On December 13, Brad sent the family an email with the subject line "Fresh Start". As a family, we'd been discussing for some time a transition that would take us back to the place we'd once called home. Both Cam and Carleigh were born while we lived on Manitoulin; Carleigh was about 16 months old when we left the Island, Yellowknife bound. Brad and I had been in contact with friends and colleagues and had arranged housing; the only thing we hadn't nailed down was a timeline. We had planned a pre-Christmas visit to the Island and on December 14 we packed up Declan Rhys and Tess with the thought that following that trip we'd know more and would be in a position to finalize our plan. Well, we arrived and didn't return.
"After my 'history', home is not as much about a place you belong as people you belong to. I belong here," Cross Roads by William Paul Young

Many of you know our history; some do not, but when homes change for whatever the reason, it is the people who remain.  It would have been great to say goodbye face to face; to have that last visit or that promised coffee....rather than lament what we will miss, we will choose to look at all that has transpired over the past 4 weeks, to be thankful and to think on "all that is worthy of praise". We have much to be thankful for; we are together, in a comfortable home where we are part of a community of people we know and have a history with.  We know that though we've lived here before, we are not the same; we have brought with us all of the experiences, good and bad, and all of the lessons learned along the way and we're anticipating our fresh start and the adventure it is sure to bring.



Oct. 3, 2012

When it seems that there is trouble all around me I all too often rely on my own vain efforts, to the point where I am under such tremendous pressure that I finally break.  Why?  Is it pride?  Oh sure, there are desperate pleas for help.....but more often I am too burdened with my own shame, guilt and just an overwhelming feeling of unworthiness to "go boldly" to Him.  During these times my focus isn't on Him, but on myself.
My problems.
My circumstances.
My feelings.
Me, Me, Me.
There is a tension in being honest about where I am and how I feel with God (He knows all of my stupid thoughts anyway) and counteracting those typically negative thoughts and feelings with truth. 
This morning I read in Psalm 18: 
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
A few years ago the ladies lifegroup I was a part of read The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg.  
"When God really wants to get your attention, he doesn’t just say something once, he echoes. He speaks through a Sunday sermon, a chance conversation with a friend the next day, and even a random email. The same theme, idea, impression, or lesson will repeat itself in surprising and unexpected ways until you realize that maybe, just maybe, God is at work.  As God’s voice echoes to us, we are invited to echo back to him in prayer. We are invited to be persistent and tenacious not only in the things we ask but also in our desire for a relationship with him."
I was reading in Psalm 118
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they went out like a fire among thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard,[a] so that I was falling,
but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
16 the right hand of the Lord exalts,
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”

Isaiah 41:10 says   fear not, for I am with you;
                                  be not dismayed, for I am your God;
                               I will strengthen you, I will help you,
                                  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


There is no "me" in there, except as a receiver of God's help. It is not up to me to fix or to solve; it is up to me to"fear not" and to trust in I AM.   In fact each of the scriture passages I've shared echo that truth.  
I started off this year recognizing a need to transform my thinking. It has not been easy and though there are days when I fail, I recognize that this process of transformation does not come quickly or easily; what refining process does?  That "old man" (or in my case perhaps it should be "old woman") nature needs to be beaten back daily, and there are some days we are on all too familiar grounds. 
Fortunately, when I call upon the Lord, He is there
He does strengthen. 
He does help. 
He does rescue.  
He does delight in me.     

Sep. 1, 2012

Sweet, Sweet Summer

It happened again.....I blinked and the summer slipped away.  Summer:  the slightly irresponsible younger sibling to Spring who gets away with more than he ought and melts hearts with his warmth.  It's the take-me-as-I-am, schedule-free, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants season.  I love it! 

Since I was a kid, this time of year has always brought with it a bit of melancholy and recently I`ve taken a look back at all this summer held for us; man, it`s  been a full one and quite a roller coaster ride.  By the end of the first week of July, we'd packed up and left our rented home-along-the-river and moved back to "The Palace".  After being away for three plus years, it was good to be ome where I`ve been reminded of the MANY little things we take for granted:  toilets that flush, water that is hot, lights that turn on......  It's been interesting to say the least. 

There isn't anything that has gone on around here that Meagan hasn't been in the midst of.  Whether it was readying the Palace for the move while keeping clients happy, being a bridesmaid in one wedding while a maid of honour in another yet to come.  In the midst of it all she managed to squeeze a trip to Spain in there to witness the nupitals of friends she met while in the Czech Republic.  She has been...correction, she IS invaluable.  I don't just speak of what she does, but as I pause and take a look back I see that it was in the midst of it all that she has lived out who she:  one who gives of herself and puts others needs before her own.  She sets a standard for all of us.  I admire her. 

On July 27 Brad and I celebrated the arrival of another beautiful daughter and our kids, a sister when Ben wed his lovely Buhle.  Though I may be a bit biased, it was a spectacularly beautiful day, perfect in every way.  In the days leading up to the wedding, I would picture my Benjamin as he once was, my beautiful, blond- haired, brown-eyed boy.  I watched this young man end his single life when he made a covenant before many witnesses and God to love, honour and cherish the woman whom he has chosen.  Ben's journey in finding his bride was not an easy one, but I greatly admire how he allowed God to refine him in throughout the process in order to prepare him to be the man Buhle would need.  I believe she is his reward for some tough but well made choices.  

Carleigh graduated from highschool in June and completed her high school career.  She worked hard and received her first year tuition free at Trent University, which is a huge blessing!  I know this summer has been bitter-sweet for her.  I understand the emotions that she feels as she says goodbye to friends.  I see the look in her eyes when she leans in to speak to Tess, Rhys and Declan and grabs a kiss or a hug.  She's the only one of the original 5 that has lived continuously with her younger siblings.  When Declan was a baby, Carleigh took on bathtime....and she's done it ever since.  I admire her discipline and steadfastness.  It's the end of an era, but a new adventure awaits and today we loaded up her belongings and sent her on her way.  

Noah turned 22 yesterday and in two weeks our family will celebrate yet again when he marries his "high school sweetheart" and he and Casey will begin their journey together as husband and wife.  Though we already consider Casey to be one of ours, on September 15 she will officially become an Allison and will be another welcome addition to our ever-expanding family.  The excitment around here is building as the final plans are being put into place.  I've watched these two over many years as their relationship has matured.  I admire Noah's loyalty; his love for people is genuine.

Brad and I just returned last evening from the aproximately 2400 km trip to Muncie, Indiana (not the end of the world, but I think you could see it from there).  Following a disappointing first game loss (it would appear that our defence didn't get on the bus) we spent 5 cherished minutes with Cam. I can see the maturity he has gained from the tough lessons he has learned.  Cam has inspired me on many an occasion.  Though to look at him no one would be surprised to learn he plays football, that  doesn't mean there haven't been challenges along the way.  In spite of them, Cam holds fast to what he knows is God's plan for him.  I admire his courage and perseverance.  Football is not just a game to Cam but he's come to view it as his worship to God.  What an amazing place to be!

And then there's the "expansion pack"....some days I wonder what will be left of Brad and I by the time these 3 start University and get married!  Oh dear.....though we see glimpses of each of the older kids in them, they are each uniquely themselves.  Declan is his father's son; a thinker with a quick tongue and a dry wit.  I think if I had to compare him to a bible character, he'd be Paul.  He is not fond of crowds but values his relationships.  Rhys is his opposite - a boy with a sensitive soul who whispers his love and gives the best kisses despite bearing the weight of the world on his brow.  Fortunately for him he is developing a great prayer life!  I think he's like David.  Tess....I don't know how to put her into a few words.  She has many people fooled with her seemingly quiet, tiny self but don't let that exterior fool you.  She's a fireball who isn't afraid of anyone or anything that we can see.  Remember Jael?  She was the woman who drove the tent peg through Sisera's temple?  That's my girl.   When she's 12, if we survive til then, I'll start farming her out to her older siblings!  I'm kidding.....we'll play it by ear.

Jul. 21, 2012

Wha'dya do when Hope slips? You give it a hand up.

Hebrew 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

We’ve been back home for two weeks now.  Alex first coined it “5 star camping” and I’ve been using that term ever since.  We’ve got all we need; our power is by generator and intermittent; our hot water is courtesy of a kettle or the black tubing Brad has put on the roof.....we're thankful it's summer!  Bathing is “a la sponge bath” or, for some who’ve been able to take advantage of it, via the said black tubing on the roof…..or via the goodness of a kind friend.  In the evening during our down time, we run the generator so we can watch a movie; no cable, no satellite but we’ve survived!  Actually I would say we’ve done more than just survive.  Hydro, we’re told, will be hooked up on Monday and though I will welcome the regularity it will bring, there is something that’s been thoroughly enjoyable about "roughing it" these past couple weeks.  This is a summer we will never forget; not just for the wonderful events we will be celebrating as a family with Ben and Noah’s upcoming nuptials (no, they aren't marrying each other.....there are girls), but the memories we are making together as we work side by side, through the frustrations that come when working together on a challenging task.  We do it pretty well; we've had some practice!

10 years.  In April of 2002 we purchased this place we call home.  It’s not an ordinary home, but then again, we’re not your ordinary family.  We moved in just in time to celebrate Canada Day when  our first guests come to stay with us.  I’m not sure if we actually had our beds moved in as yet but we had lots of mattresses that did the job just fine, thankyouverymuch.  "We had a dream"......and moved here with all of the excitement that a new adventure brings.  Of course, new adventures come with all sorts of other things, too; they rarely, if ever, go according to plan and you fairly quickly learn that the dream that so inspired you at the beginning can become much less enchanting as time wears on.....   

We fairly quickly learned that this place was much larger than we could handle on our own.  That point was brought home when the cheques from the “new job with the promise of big money” starting bouncing.  This was something new and the beginning of a season that brought with it a lot of conflicting feelings and yes, excitement.  The everyday miracles…….the many little things that happened daily and showed us that though we felt out of control, God was very much in control.  Tires that went flat in the driveway after driving to and from Ottawa to pick up the kids after school, rather than on the side of the 416 while doing 120.  Gas tanks that ran far below empty and groceries that showed up at the door.  Winning concert tickets for Noah’s birthday and watching him get to meet Steven Curtis Chapman was amazing!  Experiencing the generosity of a church family at Christmastime… well as on other days was great and huge boosts for us.  There were other things, though, that showed a deeper change as a result of the journey.  My children showed themselves to be givers; though they had little, they gave abundantly of what they had.  I’ll never forget Cam coming home from school and making a bee line for his room, lugging back his favourite stuffed tiger and his much loved bed cover.  They had received a challenge at school and he took it seriously.  Meagan actually said that she wished her friends could experience what we had.  For my part, I enjoyed the best Thanksgiving that year and at Christmas, Brad had an idea and we threw the doors wide open, invited everyone in and had a spectacular time making some of our greatest memories as a family.  

There were moments of doubt.  Times when I thought we should “go back”; everything would be ok if we just went back.  For the Hebrew children, there was safety and a sense of comfort in the familiar, even though it was thebondage and slavery they had cried to be delivered from.  I'm not so different; I could relate. 

One day in particular I was struggling.  I felt stretched beyond my comfort and my mind was racing.  I was visiting with a friend who was encouraging me to "go back" and when she left the room to answer the phone my thoughts turned to what had brought us to where we were.  As I recalled the steps we’d taken my mind stopped racing.  The confusion was gone and I was overwhelmed with peace and knew we were exactly where we needed to be.  We didn’t go back; we chose to cross our own “Red Sea”and go forward, despite what was oftentimes uncomfortable.  That was many years ago.  I’ve certainly not walked in constant peace since then, but I've never forgotten that afternoon.  There have been other times I’ve had to deal with doubt; times when Hope slipped and Faith seemed nowhere to be found……they were still there, though.  Some days they get buried beneath the stuff of life and I have to give them a hand up, wipe the dust off and be reminded again.
This morning I was sweeping up the nails, staples and insulation in the center block.  The fire of April, 2009 did some damage there, however much of it is just surface colour and is salvageable.  The kitchen and back entrance took the worst hit.  Our plan is to put up a second story and a new roof.  This rebuilding, renovation, restoration; whatever you want to call it…..well, it isn't quick and doesn't always go according to the plan, but as I swept up those nails and staples and insulation, I found myself reminded that this place; this Palace, is far larger a job than what we are able to accomplish on our own.  The difference now compared to 10 years ago?  My hope isn’t in the Palace or the dream of what it could or will be.  It's certainly not in the new job with the promise of big money or the mortgage broker or the insurance company.  My Hope is  in God, 'cause my hope is from Him.     

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is IN you.  Psalm 39:7
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is FROM him.  Psalm 62:5    

It’s not gone the way we planned, but we can still see what could be.   It’s not going to be easy, but it IS worth it. 

Apr. 30, 2012

When Desire meets Difficulty

It was 10 years ago today the deal to purchase what we have affectionately come to call "the palace" closed and we took a step in what has turned out to be quite an adventure! I can recall the anticipation and excitement we as a family felt.  The building wasn't pretty, but we saw beyond the ugliness to the potential.  We saw what others either didn't or couldn't see; we had ideas and dreams.....we saw the potential.  As we proceeded to jump through the necessary hoops to make the 11,000 square foot building ours, we were met with challenges along the way, but our dreams outweighed them.  When the listing agent advised that he was expecting an Offer from another buyer, we gathered the kids together to pray as a family and left the outcome to God.  I don't know if the offer was ever made, but we never heard about it again.

We moved to Kemptville just prior to the Canada Day in 2002; I remember because my dad, sister Dawn and her kids were coming to spend the long weekend with us and the kids and I wanted to host them at the new place.  Though I'm sure they thought we were crazy, they were gracious.  I think dad said that there was a lot of work to do and Dawn was quiet as I toured them through room after room after room.....she was likely thinking "better Deb than me"!  I on the other hand was flying high; I was excited and envisioning what would be rather than what was.  It definitely marked the beginning of a faith journey for me; one that is far from over. 

This past friday, April 27, marked the 3rd anniversary of the fire that started in the grass behind our palace on a warm, windy day.  By the time the boys alerted me to it, there was nothing to do but call 911 and grab baby Tess from her crib.  We've learned some things in the 10 years since we bought our palace.....things about ourselves and things about one another.  I can't say that in the intervening time that has passed that I've never had a doubt or wished I were in a more comfortable place, but what I can say is that despite the difficulties and I would dare to say that because of the difficulties, we continue to choose to see beyond the ugliness to the potential that lies within our diamond in the rough.