Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Talk to yourself. Don't allow your self to talk to you.

We all carry our sins like a burden on our backs. Depending on the season of life, different sins make themselves more evident in our hearts. Weighing us down. Demanding to be dealt with. In this season of my life, this sin is burning my heart: Self-indulgence. It's a nasty one. One that weedles it's way into every decision and interaction. One that paves the way for me to spend my day reading a good book, doing something artistic or preparing elaborate meals, rather than reading to my children, doing devotions or praying.

Can you see how slippery this particular sin can be? The world shouts out; Do what pleases you! You owe it to yourself! This seems to be directed, most often, at mom's. Society sees mothers as weary, downtrodden creatures, who are desperate to be freed from the mundane. The perfect captive audience . . . Hence, elaborate efforts to advertise spas and beauty treatments; health and fitness programs, and getaways packages. A sense of entitlement has been nurtured, so that mother's truly believe these diversions are owed to them for all of their labours.

This aside, when it comes down to it, it just feels great to indulge in what provides the most direct pleasure. I love being lost in a book. And I love concocting and savouring good food. I do not find direct gratification in building castles, or slopping paint all over a soggy piece of art paper. And so I prioritize my favourite activities, squeezing in the latter ones, as though they were on a checklist of onerous activities I must dutifully perform.

In my efforts to chip away at this iceburg of a sin, here is a nugget of wisdom I unearthed:
"I say that we must talk ourselves out of allowing "ourselves" to talk to us! Do you realize what that means? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression, in a sense, is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to ourself. Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday. Somebody is talking you. Your self is talking to you- Martin Lloyd-Jones
My self tells me quite frequently that I am entitled to my daily pleasures. But when my mind touches down on the duties of a mother--the challenging job of playing on their level, and nurturing them-- my self also tells me: "La, la, la, la-- I don't want to think about these things right now." So, what would happen if I began to interject. If I began to cut off those thoughts with these: "I am a mother. That is an honour bestowed upon me. By who? By my God. What can I do to give him the glory in it?"

Jones points to the psalmist who wrote: "Why art thou downcast, Oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me?" (Psalm 42) The psalmist is questioning himself. If we would only evaluate our every thought, reign them in, and then slap them into shape, how would our priorities shift? The apostle Paul says it's all possible. I have no choice but to believe him. I know we are no longer slaves to sin. We CAN talk ourselves out of sin and indulgence, and onto a right path by speaking God into our hearts. Jones finishes his thoughts:
Defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say as this man; "I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance."
This is the psalmist's endnote; "I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God." My heart is challenged to begin smacking my thoughts into the right gear, particularily the ones that great me when I wake up. Rather than lying in bed, indulging in the formulation of a list of all the pleasures the day holds for me, I will seek to put forth my God, and all things not-me first. In the healthiest sense do I say, it is time to start "talking to myself."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oooooh! Aaaaaaaah! Snow removal. . .

It only took one enormous orange snow tractor, trailed by 9 multi-coloured dump trucks to do it. Even I was hooked.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Wood Stove

We have a wood stove! No upstairs windows-- but we have a wood stove! More than any other development thus far, this one has made me feel most at home in this place. I feel it is a bit premature for me to wax and wane about something with which I have little experience. But I will gladly let someone else do it:

The wood stove offers much more than warmth. It creates an atmosphere that high-tech gas logs with a press-of-the-button remote control can’t come close to achieving. The welcome smell of wood smoke (sometimes a whole roomful on damp evenings before the chimney starts drawing properly), the snap and pop from dry kindling or a misplaced cedar log, the radiating heat and even the ashes have their place in the whole ambiance of heating with wood.

Boy Scouts and old salts love wood stoves almost as much as whittling on sticks with their pocket knives. Cutting firewood in the forest, sawing logs, splitting, hauling and stacking cut wood, even hauling it from the wood pile or garage to the wood box bring a measure of pleasure.

Tinkering with the damper on the stovepipe and setting the draft control to get a long, hot, efficient burn all add up to a rewarding experience, a real throwback to bygone days of pioneers who kept the fires burning to ward off winter’s chill.

As I turn off the room light and settle back in my easy chair, I quickly get lost in the hypnotic dance of the flames flickering through the isinglass. Thoughts of inflated fuel prices and brutal windchills drift away leaving only the cozy smell of woodsmoke lingering in the air. The stove’s radiant glow warms my feet, my face and the whole room offering comforting reassurance that all is good with the world.

-Tim Sweet- WNR Magazine-

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Heart Day

"What's Valentine's Day?" Caelah asked me, sometime late January.
"It's just another excuse for a party," I replied.

And it is. We don't love one another a little more on Valentine's Day. We just allow our love to be manifested in shades of red and pink for one day, and sweeten the deal with lots of chocolate. I used to love writing up Valentine's for my classmates, thoughtfully assigning each card to the most appropriate person. I can't give Patrick the one that says; I love you Valentine, because then he'll think I do love him. And I do, of course. He just can't know that.

Caelah and I worked as a team on her Valentine's this year. She helped me glue important bits where they belonged, and painstakingly signed her name 25 times. (Good thing she only has six letters to pen---I had 8!) We popped them each into an envolope with a chocolate heart, making sure that her teacher and bus driver each got one too. It was fun. But it was even more fun to look over her own stash when she got home. They were beautiful! I was thrilled to see how many were handmade.

That evening, true to my word, we had a party. Some friends and their three little munchkins arrived from across town, despite the snow blizzard and traffic, bearing beautiful tulips and chocolate cake. We all piled around our tiny kitchen table in our tiny kitchen, improvising where we had to, (we had more bums than seats, thus, temporarily employed an old wooden chest). We munched on fajitas. Chatted over the noise. And then . . . we went skating. "We are hardy folk," is the way Melissa put it. Or crazy. That's up for debate.

Four adults; two teeter-tottery girls on teeny tiny skates; two little boys, non-skaters, and disgruntled about it; and two tired toddlers were to be bundled and strapped into three different strollers. At the last minute Aidan and I decided to take remove Gabriel from the equation, after having begged a favour of my sister, who promised to keep an ear out for him while he slept. One down, 9 to go.

The skate was surprisingly smooth and comfortable heading South. The girls skittered along, Janika more gracefully than Caelah, and the stroller-bound bambinos didn't rebel. But then we turned around. The snow came at us horizontally. Right into our eyes. The children began to lose some of their cooperative spirit, and the going was slow. But we made it. And were rewarded.

Back home, there was hot cider on the stove, and chocolate cake on the table. The noise level was markedly lower upon returning, now that the kiddoes bellies were full, and their energy dampened. It was so nice to end the day warm, well fed, and in good company. A good good day. Good for the belly. Good for the heart.

Look like a full table? Now add three more adults and one more baby.

My Valentine's gift from Aidan: A hardcover book full of our wedding photos!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I just wanted to invite any of you who cook to have a look at a new blog I started:
I am hoping to have many, many contributors who will join me in swapping recipes, and reporting back about successes and failures. Any suggested creative culinary twists, are also welcome.
Any of you who would like to post recipes, just give me permission to add you as a contributor.

Friday, February 09, 2007


It looks like our little guy is on the road to tonsil removal. Apparently the high fevers are an unhappy symptom of strep throat. And Gabriel seems to be having chronic infections. The doctor said that what we are likely in for is a year of this: Fevers, antibiotics and general misery, until CHEO deems it serious enough to operate.
So, boo for the misery ahead. But yeah for a textbook illness, rather than a mysterious ailment.
Oh, motherhood . . .
Thank you, thank you, and thank you all for the love.


We need prayer.
Gabriel is a ball of fire. We have been trying to beat back his fevers for days now, and even medicine doesn't seem to be doing it. At 2:00 a.m. I ran a cool bath, and Gabriel and I tried to bathe away the worst of the fever, but it crept back up in no time. And then the hullucinations... If any of you have ever witnessed someone in the grip of a night terror, you can attest to the unsettling nature of them. Gabriel had finally settled beside our bed, and we all drifted off. Suddenly I heard whimpering and saw him on all fours scuttling backwards across the floor. He was frantic, looking up and down and behind him. Even once we held him, he would spasm and look all around joltingly with huge eyes. I was half expecting to see something hovering in the air. We just prayed and prayed and prayed that it was only a nightmare. Eventually I had to hold him in my arms until we both fell asleep.

This would be less worrisome if it had not been re-occuring every few weeks. But it has, since Christmas. Fever and fever after fever. And having a child on fire is heart wounding. How much longer can his little brain be overheated until he suffers brain damage? Has he already? How much can a little body take? I have absolutely no faith in the medical system. We have had one clueless doctor after another stuff him with antibiotics, and refer to their prescriptions as "fishing" for a cure to his ailments. At times like these I overflow with rejoicing for a faith beyond Man.

Please pray that we can get to the bottom of this. That a competent doctor would come our way. And if not, that his body would heal on it's own. And most importantly, pray that our faith in the Great Physician would remain ever steady.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Snow days

Happy days. Cold enough for ice and snow, but not cold enough for frostbite and human hybernation. Yeah! Yesterday morning, Aidan and I got the entire brood dressed for the snow and headed outside, all before the ripe hour of 8:00 a.m. Caelah burrowed (...into an elaborate "fort" co-built during bus waits by she and daddy.) Elijah shoveled. And Gabriel sat. He seemed pleased just to be there.
We went out under the guise of "seeing Caelah off." But really, we had big plans. The moment we saw her little pink hat disappear from view on the big yellow bus, we strapped the boys into the stroller and headed to the canal for our first skate together of the season. Had Caelah known we were going skating, she never would have stepped onto that bus. These tactics will grow stale soon. She's too bright.

Perfect skating conditions: warm enough for light dressing, few people sharing the ice with us, smooth ice, and big fat snowflakes falling from the sky. The kind that land in perfect condition--tiny little ice stars clinging to our clothes. It also marked an initiation-- Gabriel's first "skate." Just another link in the chain of our canal saga. Aidan and I LOVE the place.

We courted on the ice. At the beginning, we skated hand-in-hand over and over and over again. Often, Aidan would skate backwards for ten minutes at a time so he could look me in the face as we skated, and it felt like we were dancing. We would speak about our plans and hopes between glides, and continue the chats over beer at a pub nearby, our cheeks rosy, and our hair all amess.

The canal was to be the site of our engagement. Aidan had wanted to lead me to Patterson Creek-- a tiny alcove of ice off the main canal. A perfect place. But I, not knowing his intentions, and deeply upset by the day's events, obstinately refused to go skating that evening. So he settled for a bench across from the Parliament buildings. No putting him off.

Since then, we have not lived more than four blocks from the canal. Caelah was bundled into a stroller at two weeks of age and taken onto the ice. Then came Elijah, and the push to buy a double stroller so that he too could join our skates. And now, with Gabriel, we must be more creative.
Soon, we will move away. Far beyond our comfortable four block canal radius. But we'll be back. And our little fledglings will be skating on their own, discovering the joys of ice for themselves.