Thursday, October 25, 2012


There's something I've done for years now. It started when I placed my first baby into her crib at night all those years ago, and I wondered if she'd ever wake up again. I put one hand on her warm, gently-heaving back, and the other up towards God. In the dark, I told Him that He could have her.

She was already His, of course. I didn't think her up. I didn't string together her impossibly complex DNA. I didn't knit together tiny bones, and paint that coffee stain under her left eye. But, somewhere along the way, I took ownership of her in my heart. I suppose I made her mine with every muted kick she gave me deep inside, and later, with every needy cry that only I could quiet.

I let myself forget that I'd been honoured by the mere gift of her. She was given to me for a little while by someone who loved her long before, and far, far better than I ever could. I know it. I believe it. And for that reason, I have "no fear for my household." {Prov. 31}Each child is wrapped in blood-red robes of a promise that has stood, and will stand. Always.

I know. I believe. I am not afraid.
"Ever notice how God gets you on a theme?" A woman asked this the other day, and I caught myself nodding. Yes. He does. He pelts me, just like that big oak in the lane way does in the Fall. It makes such a racket that I just have to look up. Looking up is, in fact, the point. And it so happens that I've been in a hail storm of messages, on a theme, for weeks. It was echoed by sixteen tear-thickened voices at a retreat. Then it seeped out of scriptures through a character I hadn't expected. Yesterday, it was spoken out loudly from a screen I couldn't turn away from, reverberating in my ear drums until I cried; OK, God, I hear you. I hear you. I sat there, fists to mouth, rocking to keep in the tears so no one would know that it's true. I'm afraid. So afraid.

Of what? I know what I am not afraid of. But what nameless thing have I been stepping over and around, like a homeless person I'd rather not look in the eye? Yesterday it's name came to me. It's like we shook hands, it and I. It leered, and I wept.

Fear doesn't paint us all with the same brush. It has a sickening ability to customize. To be tailored to each of us like a Versace dress. And my fear fits me too well. So well, in fact that it is the forgotten garment I wear under my other clothes. It comes along with me, undetected until it's too late and I am gripped, constricted, gasping for air.

My fear is not for my children. It isn't for my home. Or my marriage. Or even for my life. What I fear for is nothing I can hold in my hands. And I have been asked to look it in the face over and over again. It has slunk up to me in the shadows and accompanied me as a vague unease. And at other times it has come roaring out of my core, all ice and sharp-edges, leaving me ragged and numb at the same time.
What I've always known, and what was repeated to me yesterday as I hid in my hands is that "courage comes from a heart that is convinced it is loved." The word courage actually comes from the Latin word 'cor'-- heart. So, clearly, my heart has a reservation about what God's perfect love can offer me when that fear comes calling.

And so I am left with only one real option. I will grapple. I may know it's name, but that doesn't mean it'll lie down and die for me. I've had to sit down with this fear of mine and take a good look at it's newly defined contours. It's a truly ugly thing. And I have told it what I know. That I am loved. But it knows that I don't really stand behind that yet. Not where it's concerned. What's worse it knows that it will have the pleasure of showing up again and again until I do. 

So I will be in conversation with God a lot. I'm going to ask Him to teach me that His love doesn't get shored up at the borders of this fear, but passes right through it to reach me. No thing is big enough and dark enough to stop Him from loving me to fearlessness.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

::Blobs, dashes & squiggles::

I went to a workshop at 4cats studio to try my hand at impressionism. It did not come easy. Our instructor asked us to do blobs and dashes and squiggles. And somehow it was supposed to look like a waterlily pond. Half-way through I was in complete despair. Now that it's over, I don't despise it. But I never did embrace the technique. I didn't commit to my blobs and squiggles. And it shows. Try, try again.

Friday, October 12, 2012

::Eleven Questions::

I was asked eleven questions this week by my wise and wonderful Aunty B. Here is my reply:

1. What is your cultural background?
I am a waspy blend of everything the British isles has to offer: scones, bagpipes, sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. But I call myself simply Canadian.
2. What are a few words that would describe your family of origin?
If by that we're referring to my parents and siblings: Affectionate. Communicative. Quick to laugh. Always striving, never resting. If by that we're referring to those who hail from the land of scones, bagpipes and lots and lots of sheep, well then I haven't a clue.
3. In a few words, what is your first memory?
I remember moving day when I was two. The big truck was crammed with all of our furniture, little room to spare. But my Uncle Danny wanted to squeeze in the back for the short 4-block trip. He knew I'd be thrilled be the novelty of riding in the back of a truck with all of the objects that were familiar to me crowded topsy-turvy all around me. So he reached down to scoop me up onto his lap. I can see his open arms. And I can see mine stretched up to him. I don't remember the ride. But I remember his reaching hands. (He died not long after that.)
4. What did you enjoy most about school?
I loved completing tasks, and receiving a grade. I was genuinely eager to find out what value was placed on my labours. That hasn't changed much. I love to see results. Unfortunately, the work of a mother isn't tidily quantified. No latter-grades with stickers pasted beside.
5. Where did you meet your spouse?
I married the man who moved into the house next door. And when I say next door, I mean that we shared the wall of a duplex. He could hear me belting out songs while I was at my parents computer.
6. How would you spend next Saturday if you had no responsibilities?
My favourite days are ones where my husband and I take all the kids out into the beautiful world and watch them run and holler and play. And we get to hold hands and seep in the richness of our blessings.The best way to end a day like that would be to welcome people into our home for a meal.
7. Which historical character would you most like to meet?
I think we all know what the average Christian would say. And I would be no different. But, for the sake of not stating the obvious, I'd say that my current studies in Esther have me deeply curious about her. I would love to ask her about the struggle to live for her God in the hotbed of secular culture. Oh, and I would like to ask Akenhaten if his 'One God,' was my one God. Oh, and I would have loved to hand Singer Sargent his brushes when he painted Carnation, Lili, Lily Rose. Oh, and I would also love to give Spurgeon a big hug and tell him thank you for speaking poetry every time he preached. Although, I'm not sure he was the hugging type.
8. Which historical character would you most like to delete?
Again, there are very obvious answers that seem instinctual: Hitler, Stalin, those guys in the Congo making soldiers out of tiny kids-- is Morgentaler still alive? That said, is far as I know, God's never hit delete on any of us. So, he must know something I don't.
9. Which fictional character would you most like to meet?
Impossible to choose who I'd like to meet most. But I did love my sojourn through the world of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And I would gladly hang out with those folk for awhile. And I would help Devin fight for Tigana-- until it got too scary. And I would sit for tea with Bilbo, but only if Gandalf was visiting. And I would be Jane Eyre-- but only before she finds out there is a crazy lady in the attack. And I would love to have tagged along with Oskar from Extremely Loud & Incredibly close when he visited all of those people. And I wish I could taste Vivienne's chocolates. And Margaret George's Cleopatra is probably not even remotely like the real woman, but I'd have liked her as a friend. . .
10. If you could choose any country to live in for a year, which would it be?
I think that it would be a healthy choice to go north to Alaska. Let me explain. Choosing to go South to a paradise like Seychelles, or to eat my way across Europe would appeal to my body, taste bud, specifically. But it would probably not feed my soul. At would actually distract and clutter, I think. But going north. . .  Vast emptiness. Dancing streaks of light in a strange sky. Echoing cracks of icebergs that would make me feel so small. Time. I think I would see God's face there, more than anywhere else. And I would come home to the warmth and business of my life gladly. Stronger for having been somewhere where I could wait and listen. 
11. If you could choose any century to live in for a year, which would it be?
I am far too comfortable right here and right now to imagine committing to a hundred years sometime else. Especially as a woman, and especially as someone who'd love to live past the age of 40.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

::Rose Garden Photoshoot::

his annual photo shoot meant more to us this year than it usually does. Normally, we are freeze-framing moments as benchmarks. Images to mark changes that we'll have a whole life to watch unfold. But there is a certain little girl who is only ours for a short time. And we thought that we were saying goodbye to her this week. So when he took her photo, we were capturing last moments. Forever the toddler with the huge moon-eyed smile. Our sixth little girl, just for awhile.
 It turns out we'll have a bit more time with this little girl. So these weren't goodbye shots after all.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

::Apple Day 2012::