Tuesday, December 18, 2012


"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8

So, what's not required?
You're not required to successfully convince someone that they're wrong.
You're not.

Act justly? Yeh, that's on there...
But are you required to have convinced others that their actions lack justice?
Act justly - speak out on issues of justice, but know that we are required only to... act justly... it's only God who can change hearts and minds and brings others around to a different way of thinking.
Not you.

Love mercy? Oh... just love her to pieces...
That mercy whose scales of justice seem forever skewed in favour of those who deserve destruction. Love her. Make her your sweet pet, your known weakness, your greatest strength... In light of God's great mercy - it's almost impossible not to look at her without a degree of adoration, isn't it?

Walk humbly? Sure... walk that beautiful walk...
But are you required to see the world change through your humility?
Does walking in humility mean that everyone will automatically like you?

And so you'll do and you'll be and you'll love.
And others will twist your intentions, bend your words, misconstrue your actions...
But are you required to convince them?
You're not.

Keep going anyway...

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. hebrews 12:1-3

Monday, December 17, 2012

in the beginning

Another delayed post... but i want to share it now - to tell about His Great Love. :)

Peeking ahead as i creep up to that 16 week mark... i'm still feeling pretty bad - but i'm having good days mixed in with the barfy days, so i think the end is in sight...
i'm hoping to blog more in the New Year - but for whatever reason, i'm whispering blog posts instead of shouting them these days. i'm tip toeing through pregnancy rather than dancing. i'm clinging rather than soaring. i'm changing and i'm aching to be transformed.
So for those few who still read this much quieter place - that's where i'm at - and that's where i'll be till He leads me out.


i was between 4 and 5 weeks pregnant when there was a "pro-choice" explosion on the facebook wall that i look after for 40 Days for Life.  i had only just found out about my wee one... and was a mere 3 months past miscarrying Tiny... and they posted images of a 6 week abortion and angry diatribes attempting to deny the humanity of little ones - just like my little one - because they are "smaller than an m&m" - as if size somehow miraculously decrees our worth.  Some, i had to delete - but most i left - testament to the violent chasm that exists between the side that fights for life... and the side that fights for death.
i felt weak and vulnerable. i didn't feel suited to battle - i felt tired and insecure.
That was the day my Papa stepped in front of me and sheltered me underneath His wings.
Believers began posting on my personal facebook wall, sending me messages, texting and emailing me... (These are actual quotes...)
"i'm praying for you for rest for your spirit."
"i'm praying for you, that He'll lead and give you strength and courage."
"i'm praying for you that you will stand FIRM."
"This scripture is for you, Joshua 1:9..."
"This is the scripture i'm praying for you, Psalm 37:23 and 24..."
"i'm praying for protection - both for you and for your family..."
"Father, I pray for assurance... for protection... for strength... for Your church to be lifting her in prayer... protection in her marriage and in her family life... see that her love for you changes the lives of others... i come against the evil at the Kensington clinic and pray for the protection of the unborn."
People that were on facebook and knew what was happening in that tiny prolife corner reached out to me, but also individuals who weren't and didn't know what had gone on. Nobody but Neil and i knew about the new little life - and yet without my asking, so many messages seemed to speak directly to protection of my family - and i have no doubt that my Papa  was showing me that even the little sparrow in my womb didn't escape His watchful eye...
THIS song ministered to me as i pressed into my Papa's heart - and told Him how i longed to be a beacon that showed His Great Love. i read THIS scripture and realized again and again and again - that i was held, protected, ransomed and claimed.
There's more - but some of it was just so personal and intimately for me that i can't bring myself to share it here...
One of the days i went to the clinic that week, a post abortive - grieving -  friend came with me - and i found i could hardly stand. This hadn't happened to me quite so powerfully ever before. i had always been able to stay, to stand... but that day, i couldn't, and we ended up leaving early.
And the next week - almost as suddenly and strangely as it had begun, the attack ended... (Maybe one day i will blog about that too?)
And i was perplexed in the weeks that followed, *why* that sudden little outburst of spiritual battle, the promptings to pray for protection, the outpouring of prayer from a body of believers who didn't know the whole story. But in it, i saw His hand, and His ability and willingness to step in front of, and protect me in my vulnerability. In it, i heard His instruction and in that week, i taught my reflexes to obey. Through it, i understood that He's got His eye on each one - and that in His Great Love is where i want to be.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

hero worship

i've always been a little prone to hero worship.
i grew up the youngest of three girls - i was born with average smarts to two really brilliant parents.
There was always so much to admire - so much to aspire to - so many beautiful qualities in so many available heroes!
This morning, in church... i was remembering the little girl i was. i had poker straight pale blond hair - cut blunt for most of my childhood. i had enormous glasses and a gap between my front teeth that my mom told me looked glamorous.
Our pastor was talking about how faith is such a necessary part of the Christian walk... He described faith as "choosing the eternal over the temporal..."
And i thought of that little girl - worshipping the temporal, the human, the frail and the sinful. And i wanted to whisper in her ears; "Just a little higher... fix your eyes a little higher up, farther in... The eternal is there.  HE'S the one worthy of your hero worship, HE'S the never-failing, HE'S the consistent, HE'S the one who sees your soul and knows your very being. HE'S the One whose love is real and whose promises never fail."
And i think too, of my own blondie girls and boys - looking to their mama and papa and siblings and maybe finding a hero - an imperfect, fallible hero who instead of absorbing that praise, wants to reflect Him and point continually to the only One worthy...
God, give us the faith to choose the eternal over the temporal! 
And it's not that there aren't qualities in humanity that aren't admirable - it's not that these qualities don't point us to our Father, who bestowed them as gifts on the broken human vessels who bear them... but worshipping the temporal will only bring you pain. Thinking that other human beings are capable of flawless agape love will devastate you when you see that it's not true - that they lie, their promises get broken, their words are true sometimes - and at other times they're empty and false, so it's like you're walking along one of those wooden bridges in movies with half the boards missing. 
And i smiled at God as we talked during the service and i asked Him, "So, what's the point then? i know that relationships are important, *people* are important... How do i reconcile that knowledge with my desire to just give up on all humanity - to shut my eyes and my heart to everyone around me and to only love You?"
And i see myself clinging to my Saviour... starting with just the tiniest threads that i know to be true - and in faith, building from there.  i see myself opening up again, trying again, failing again - because in this life we'll have trouble, and being a believer is a life of sacrifice. i see myself believing with faith that Truth will prove to be better - the the eternal can be chosen over the temporal and that my Papa will continue to grow me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

watching your kids struggle and fail.

Would you believe that watching your kids fail is one of the very best things about being a mama?
i have a hard time believing that sometimes...
Ugh - my horrible pride getting in the way... wanting ease, success, the best, smartest, brightest, most talented, successful kid...
Yes. Believe me. i do.
But then i learn to let go. To let them do, be... to own their own successes... and even their own failures. Being a mama to a big family has been a huge blessing to me in that i have been unable to micromanage my troop. i couldn't do everything for everyone even if i wanted to (which i no longer do). i've watched my kids struggle. Each child has different barriers in their paths - and i watch them climb, scraping hands and getting dirty - putting mind to the task at hand and making every effort to overcome.
But sometimes... they don't... overcome.
Sometimes they fail.
And i feel like kicking and screaming and blaming everyone else under the sun just as much as any other sinfully proud mama. i feel like pointing fingers and, "hush, darling, mama's gonna make everything ok"-ing my kids.
But i don't.
Because miraculously i found out that failure hasn't killed my children. Yeah, it has hurt - and yeah, it gives a little kick in the pants to pride... and yes, yes, yes - it has put a magnifying glass on the areas that i wish we could all do better in.
But sometimes... it has given me an opportunity to sit back and watch grace and humility in action...
And in those moments, instead of failure - i see enormous, towering success.
A child who is able to accept correction without reassigning blame?
A young woman who is able to accept disappointment with poise and maturity?
Parenting WIN!
A little one who begins to recognize that maybe minimal effort won't bring about the beautiful fruit they've been hoping to see?
And so i'm learning (when i can get my pride to shut up and take a back seat - which i'll admit - isn't as often as i'd like)... that watching my kids struggle... and sometimes even fail... hasn't been the end of the world.
It's the beginning...
And what a beautiful beginning it is.

Monday, December 3, 2012

miracle at 9 weeks

i wrote this in the first part of November, as this unfolded - but i'm gonna post it now as part of my pregnancy journey with this tiny one who was designed and knit together with a purpose and a plan.


It's 3pm and i haven't been able to form a clear thought all day.
It's Monday now - and this story started last Wednesday... and i don't know how to tell it - because really... mostly people would think it's a story of over active worry and then relief.. (& that's ok!) but it's more than that to me.
So i will post it here for my littles to read even though i don't know what to think myself.
i have been really sick with this little baby - like - wake up in the night sick, roll over waves of nausea 24/7 from week 4 of my pregnancy. Early on - like - at 7 weeks, feeling a fullness in my pelvis, i reached down with my hands and felt the tiny ridge of my fundus peeking up. i thought this was miraculously early since the only time i felt it early was with baby hope and the doctor had suggested that maybe that was an indication that there was something wrong... and that's why i lost baby before the end of my first trimester... (with all my other children, it was around 11-12 weeks).
Every night, i would try to get comfortable in my bed - waking up several times in the night to fight with nausea and discomfort - until last Wednesday... At the end of the day, i started to feel better. i hadn't felt ok for almost a month, and i noticed it right away. i felt quiet and worried and i went and layed in bed - my fingers probed my stomach - but it was perfectly flat - no tiny peeking fundus to be found. No bloat. No nausea.
"Oh, Papa..." i pleaded, "i can't do this again... please don't take this baby too..."
i woke up in the morning, having slept all night - the scale told me that the couple of pounds of early pregnancy bloat were gone and my belly was as flat as a pancake. i showered and dressed and ate - with no nausea, no pregnancy symptoms... nothing.
i wrote to friends who didn't even know i was pregnant - as i had been guarding my treasured secret:

"I'm around 8 weeks pregnant. Suddenly my horrible morning sickness disappeared and all pregnancy symptoms are gone. I feel certain I've lost the baby. The timing is exquisite in its painful obvious extension of 40 days, (finding out I'm pregnant at the start, finding out I'm losing baby at the end)... We have our closing celebration on Sunday and I can't stop crying. I don't know how I will help sing - or speak. My heart is broken... Will you pray that my Papa will meet with me and make straight my path as I finish this 40 days with my wee one still tucked inside?
I'm afraid too because my miscarriage with hope (who was 9-10 weeks) was my hardest one physically. It was really scary, I lost a lot of blood, passed out and needed a d&c months after because I retained a piece of placenta and got infected. Neil has a trip planned to Chicago & I'm afraid that it will happen while he's gone...
There's also a part of me praying for a miracle, 'cause God raised Lazarus, why not my child?
But if not..."

i grieved.
Yes... i prayed for a miracle, but mostly i cried - sobbed at my piano and shrank into Neil's arms. i wish i could explain to you how certain i was. It was the mirror image of my miscarriage with Hope - right down to the disappearing fundus. With Hope, i had gone to the doctor for confirmation - the ultrasound the next day confirmed what my mama heart knew already and 2 weeks later, my body finally managed to let go and i miscarried that much longed for child...
i was afraid.
i went to the doctor on Friday and described my symptoms - and again, was referred for an ultrasound... which they couldn't book until Monday morning.
i didn't care.
i knew what the results would be... and despite my desperate cries to Neil, hiding in his office sobbing that i couldn't wait and do another natural miscarriage - i knew i would try...
In the middle of it all, i wrote this blog post:


The end before the beginning

It's not supposed to go that way... to see the end before the beginning... to be unable to bring your child into the world... to say goodbye before you even got to say hello...
Do i ever know that.
i feel such incredible shame having 2 miscarriages in the period of 4 months... What a dangerous place, my womb... Yes, i brought seven safely into the world, but four were lost.
And it's probably a dumb time to start blogging again - in the middle of this horrifying pain, but the thing is...
i know He's gonna show up.
And so i'll start here because one day i'll look back at where He met me, and point to this despair and be comforted that He didn't leave me here...
But He's not here yet... At least... i don't see Him, feel Him or even hear Him... But maybe He is - watching me from the corner, eyes on my broken heart, whispering love to my wounded spirit...
i've been crying out to Him - begging Him for life, telling Him it's not too late, the bleeding hasn't started yet - i know that the One who called Lazarus out of the tomb has the ability to breathe life into my little one whose form is still nestled deep in the secret place.
Oh, Father - please don't put this road in front of me again.
i read THIS post this morning... and it made me cry in frustration and desperation... even though at my very core, i agree with what she wrote.
And maybe that's all i'll write today... as i try to grasp the truth that this is my Father's world...

This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!


That afternoon, i created a sign to take to the vigil. It was my testimony of God's faithfulness during my first pregnancy at 19, and it read, "i was scared too, she was worth it."

It was freezing cold on that sidewalk, but i found my place. Soon, a little old woman came to stand next to me - and i asked her if she would please pray out loud. She seemed perplexed, but agreed and i faced away from her and let the tears stream down my face as i watched that door open and close - and prayed for Life. Her voice never faltered or wavered as she prayed her rosary - and every time she would get to Our Father, my own trembling voice would join hers and we'd pray - two strangers on a sidewalk - for His Kingdom to come.
Still, i was panicked about our 40 Days for Life closing celebration... i was going to lead two songs of worship - and i didn't think that i would be able to voice my praise without breaking down.
The couple friends that i told, prayed. They sent comfort and love - and they couldn't suppress the idea of hope that refused to take root in my grief stricken heart... until Saturday night... That's when i woke up at 2am... and i remembered that God didn't say, "no".
The next day, i wrote my friend:

"booked an ultrasound for Monday morning. Will you pray with me till then? For life - for a miracle? Last time i lost a baby at this stage - i prayed immediately for God to give that little life back - for Him to breathe life into that little one & i felt certain in that moment that God said 'no'...
i did the same thing this time - because even though i have never seen the dead given life back - the bible talks about it... and i know He is able...
i woke up in the middle of the night last night & realized that God didn't say, "no" - specifically, He has said nothing - i have heard nothing from Him, felt nothing, seen nothing... i have been reading in Hosea and praying and crying out to Him & nothing...
So maybe... He will say yes..
My ultrasound is booked for Monday morning... i feel certain that even though i haven't heard from Him... i want to continue to pray for life until then. The past 2 days, i have been praying a bit... but mostly just grieving and crying. Today i feel different... like i want to pray with faith, believing that God can do what i'm asking Him to..."

And this is the part i don't understand. Because i don't believe that i didn't pray with faith (nice double negative there? *smile* - bear with me) when i lost baby hope - i did. But once again - even though i thought i already knew the outcome, i began to pray.
And i was prayed for.
And that night i knew that i was going to be o.k. at the closing celebration - regardless the outcome for the little one i carried. i woke up in the morning hungry - and not feeling quite myself. After several days of energy and health... i wondered if it was only wishful thinking that made me feel nausea and exhaustion.
i shushed hope.
i got ready and went to church... i felt distracted and thoughtful. Our day was full and busy - and i was grateful i had little time to think about the ultrasound that was waiting for me in the morning.
At the closing celebration, we shared stories of God's LOVE and faithfulness. We sang of His Holiness, and we celebrated what was accomplished in the past 40 days... both seen and unseen. At the vigil, i spilled my confusion to my friend Fawne - and she cocked her eye at me and said thoughtfully, "i'm curious what we will see tomorrow..."
Monday morning - this morning, i guzzled my lemon water. Neil - who hadn't decided if he could come with me or not, blew through the door in time to take me - and my appointment - on time - was suddenly upon us.
i went in by myself, but the lady who ushered me to the change room said, "i'll go get your husband. He can come in with you..." So Neil came in and slouched his large frame in the tiny back corner of that darkened room. His hazel eyes met my wide blue ones and he winked at me, like, 'we'll be ok'... i closed my eyes and turned away.
A kindly man put a jellied wand to my belly and after a moment said, "There's the fetus... nice heartbeat... 176 beats per minute..."
Neil, slowly stood up in the corner, "So... there *is* a heartbeat?"
"Yep. See here? Look at it, just going like crazy... Your baby measures 9 weeks 2 days."
We looked... and there was our baby - our tiny bean- with furiously beating heart. Living.
i couldn't speak.
The kindly ultrasound tech was finished in less than 5 minutes - and Neil expressed our thanks since i was still silent...
And we came home.
And i know... i know... that this is one of those stories that seems like a lot of words for a short message. And sure, maybe i experienced a glitch of morning sickness - and an undeserved, unexpected reprieve in first trimester pregnancy symptoms. Maybe my baby was fine all along - and my worry was misplaced and my reactions to it over the top. Maybe in my eleventh pregnancy it has been made obvious that i sure don't know everything... or much about anything...
Or maybe...
i got to see a miracle.

Friday, November 30, 2012

things that come in threes

Good things come in threes they say...
i've noticed that sometimes nudges from God come in threes too.
The other night i was texting with a friend who lives far away. We got to talking about how God is so funny in that for Him it's so rarely about what we do - or how our actions turn out... It's usually about where our heart is.  We talked about how that tiny shift in perspective (away from success or failure - and focused securely on heart) gives a different twist to our prayer lives.
We finished our conversation and my mentor texted me...and we got talking about the difference between apathy and opening ourselves up to really have relationship with God... She sent me this:

The next morning, over coffee, Neil said to me, "My friend and i got into an interesting discussion about heaven..."
i did a double take 'cause heaven isn't Neil's usual conversation fodder.
"Yeah? What about heaven?"
"Well... we got talking about how certain behaviours might honour God more than others - but i asked him what difference does it make since once we get to heaven it won't mean you get a nicer house or a greener lawn - isn't the point just to get there?"
i was like a third grader that has the right answer - holding my arm up in the air waving it with eyes glowing...
"No! That's not the only point! The point is to build relationship!"
i explained it to him like i've heard it explained before... that making the harder choices to honour God, to build relationship with the One who loves us, to obey when it doesn't seem like an obvious win...? Those choices are building spiritual muscles that we're gonna need in heaven. i told him how in The Great Divorce - CS Lewis imagined that some would find the ground difficult to walk on - or the air hard to breathe - because those spiritual muscles were weak and needing exercise. The beauty of learning to exercise those muscles here and now - is that we're going to want and need them someday - if not here... then there...
So three little conversations - all of them pushing me into a Conversation with Him.

Father? Do you want me? Because i'm here... and i'm yours... i'm ready.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

why wait?

Taking a deep breath & posting a few drafts from the past couple of months... This one is from nearly 6 weeks ago. There are more to come...
As a side note - i have been wanting to blog more, but a little one broke my laptop screen and we just can't stomach the funds to get it fixed right now, so i haven't been able to write as much as i've wanted to. Oh, i've had some good thoughts that have flitted in... & flitted out. i really, really miss my laptop and late night writing sessions when my husband is out of town. But for now - here is a little bit of life to share...


At the time of this writing, i am seven weeks pregnant... and it's a secret.
i've done both - the frantic spilling of beans and the careful holding of news... and i've found that the careful holding of news seems to spare me some anxiety - so despite the heaving volcano inside wanting to jump up and tell the world our news, i'm holding it, examining it, pondering it and keeping it... just for now.
i guess anxiety is to be expected for a mama who has miscarried three times. i know that sometimes my little ones have come to stay - and sometimes their stay has been painfully short. And so in these months - tho i have never been able to hold back the waves of love that lap over the little one growing in the secret place - i hold them with open hands, accepting this gift from the Creator, yet knowing that the Great Giver and Taker of life is sovereign... and i trust Him.
i don't know why i feel less anxious when less people know about my tiny growing one - but i do. It's some psychological blip that makes me feel the comfort of solitude in waiting out these anxious weeks... of course, i'm never completely successful in my secret keeping - my husband is in on it - and as of a day or two ago - so are my big girls... Which brings me to the next reason waiting works for me:
Morning sickness? Is awful. i won't dwell on this topic because goodness knows, i could fill page after page of whining, complaining and self-absorption. i'm so sorry that the first trimester seems to shake everything out of me - leaving me exhausted, nauseated and useless. i needed to let my bigs in on the secret because i owed it to them after my bewildering sudden failure to do and be and cook and teach. But i've found that sometimes - if i talk less, i complain less... i hope it works - even just a little.
When i'm nauseated and tired and hormonal - to the point that it's really hard just to focus on anything other than that tiny, flailing being that is making me feel so rotten, i start to fantasize about telling people. If only to explain myself, to give a real reason to little furrowed brows of little people who wonder why mama is being such a lunk.
i'm counting down in my head - not that many more days - then you can tell, paige... 
But then i imagine the reactions that are going to feel like a kick when i'm down & i start to think that maybe any number of days wouldn't feel like enough.
"i'd kill myself if i were you!!"
"How old are you anyway??!!"
"i thought you weren't having any more?"
and oh my heart, i just know i'm not strong enough to string together coherency amidst my nausea... i know i'm not smart enough to respond with wisdom amidst my first trimester exhaustion...
And so i bite my tongue and think to myself - in a few weeks i'll deal with all that...
But meanwhile, my little one grows.
Tiny son or daughter sprouts arms and legs, and furiously beating heart begins to pound in wee forming chest.
Technically - this little person is still considered an "embryo".
But my baby is blissfully unaware of this title - and is growing, doubling in size, taking what is needed from mama...
In a matter of days - baby will be out of the embryonic period, and enter the fetal period... It will be the same babe created on the very day of conception - the same one who had a tail and paddle hands, the same one who will one day... hopefully... be in my arms pursing pink lips - blinking in the light of day.
And so - i hope that someday i can post this... when i'm not seven weeks pregnant. A little memory of the snivelling, barfing, mess that i was in this first trimester - daily making the choice to trade anxiety for gratitude and sickness for a slower pace - and imagining the little June baby who will make every moment worthwhile.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mama's voice

Baby grows in mama's womb and her voice is the rumbling thrum in baby's underwater ears. Soothing strains become familiar before birth - and after - it's the sound that makes baby turn reaching for the one whose sound is constant, familiar and safe.
Soon, mama's voice is understood to be speaking mama's words - and they are not sifted, they are accepted as truth.
"No, baby. Danger, honey."
"Try this, it's nummy..."
And baby learns to hear and to trust the 'mama-words' from the mama voice that loves and teaches and instructs.
All other voices add to a rumbling distant thunder, but mama's words ring clear in baby's ears as baby grows and becomes child full of wonder..

And then something happens.

Other voices begin to be heard.
Their words are measured against the mama-words that are known truth, and sifted and weighed in a primitive balance of trust and maturity.

But Mama's words weigh the most.

For a time.
i've noticed my words have at last become a mere whisper to my big girls who are all but grown. Sometimes advice comes easier from other voices... wisdom from newer sources... instruction from different leaders.
And it's ok.
i never wanted to be a bull-horn authoritarian to my teens.... i've tried to be gentle and humble as i've mothered - and taken that primary - foundational - role of parent with pleasure, knowing the honour of that title is profound and my influence over those little lives distinctive.
So i write this blogpost to those who are granted that exquisite privilege of taking on a role of influence in my daughters' lives...
O, musician with the soulful voice who captures my daughter's heart... know that my 14 year old hears the strains of heartache and joy in your music. It moves her.
Be worthy of her respect.
O, speaker with the heartfelt YouTube three-minute sermons. My 16 year old is watching you. She is weighing your words against scripture and what she knows to be true about her Father.
Teach truthfully.
O, mentor - you might not even think of yourself as my daughter's mentor.... but trust me, she does. She watches you with your husband, or children if you have them. She follows you on facebook, she reads the links you post, she tries to imitate you in the tiniest ways that maybe only her mama will notice...
Live your life authentically.
And i hope my whisper gets to remain in the chorus of voices that my little ones choose to allow to speak into their lives... but i feel desperate to communicate to every entertainer, pastor, musician, artist, neighbour, friend and acquaintance that enters our lives - "HEY! My girlie is listening to you... could you be careful with that influence? She's awfully precious to me... i do the very best that i can - but my mama-voice is fading..."
And i feel grateful that i've spent all these years speaking truth. i'm glad they saw me struggle and give words to my doubts, fears and triumphs. i feel joy knowing that every day i did my best to point them to Jesus - the voice that i hope is the loudest of all... and i'm curious and pleased to see what influences they're allowing and inviting into their lives...
The teen years are humbling, awe-inspiring ones... We're only a few years in and so there's still a lot of fear and trembling, flying by the seat of our pants, holding on tight and letting go all at the same time... And i'm learning to trust my babies as they make their own paths, discover truth and begin to engage it, wrestle with it and then express it back to the world. i'm learning to sit back and listen, asking more questions, offering less answers... i'm learning that love doesn't micro-manage and that my littles are God's workmanship... not mine.
And so i'll teach my littlest ones Our Father and Jesus Loves Me. i'll present Truth with love and humility while my mama-voice is strongest. i'll keep their trust by staying transparent... and when my mama voice fades, i'll remain a familiar consistent hum in the background whispering my influence over the ones i love.

Monday, November 12, 2012

one day

i waken to sweet two year old Yum patting my cheek and whispering, "mom..."
i crack open one eye to see his sweet blue eyes gazing into mine hopefully, "It not sleep time anymore?"
i glance at the clock and shake my head, "Nope. It's not sleep time anymore, buddy. We can get up now."
His little make-shift bed is in shambles - a pile of blankets and pillows that exists permanently beside our bed that he claims is his real bed - and we let him claim it since we've been so relieved to kick little writhing boy out from between us.
i'm not getting up though, so little one asks hopefully, "i come snuggle in your bed with you?"
And i throw back the covers to welcome sturdy legs and dandelion fluff bed-head with impossibly fast beating heart into my arms. He can't stay still. He wiggles from side to side as i hold him and soon he's on his knees smiling at me... and i smile at him... and i get up.
Daddy's away on business, and there is coffee to be made. Hopeful sparkling eyed one pulled out frozen pumpkin mush from the freezer - knowing i'll mix up a batch of muffins if i see it there melting on the counter.
And soon there is perpetual motion - a family meeting about the fighting, a little one spraying an entire can of air freshener onto the couch, two and a half dozen muffins consumed, milk spilled, bibles pulled out, slobbery kisses exchanged with my morning boy.
And you know... i feel like i'm failing... amidst all the good smells of hazelnut coffee and pumpkin muffins... amidst the ever threatening messes and the broken, the dishevelled and needing a haircut... amidst the almost, but never quite fully finished school work, and the grades that should have been better but weren't... the teeth that seem to be coming in crooked, the husband that i need to ask forgiveness from... again, the tempers that flare up and the ones that respond in kind...
And it's such a broken pathetic little mess...
But i have felt more peace about this place of not excellent but adequate.
So i wrangle a wiggly boy and chop some of his mop of blonde hair off. It's a little better, i think. We pray for our family - and talk about how we can do this better. i tell my littles to get out some books - and i know that today - even if it doesn't all get done, some of it will. i sweep up some of the crumbs and clear a spot on the counter.
i'm doing my best.
And it's enough.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


She's little and feisty, joy.
She's laden with sopping masses of a Hard Year - and yet she writhes and struggles for freedom.
i cry for her more often than for the other these days, as this most interesting fall season has unfolded around us. Big kids running in the right direction, passions unhindered, relationships unfolding, growth beginning to blossom and bloom, prayer coverings by faithful friends sent by God, tiny boys learning obedience as mama learns to be more consistent, lessons in church, lessons in quiet time, lessons everywhere i turn.
And He's there.
Slipping that feisty little joy into my hands and watching me fumble and grasp until i felt like maybe i had a firm hold on her.
And He's there.
Whispering directions into my ears and gently leading me.
And He's there.
Hearing my desperate prayers to break generational curses - and allowing me to see His Hand as my daughter confides in me that the profound happiness she is experiencing, must be a direct result of the deep and unrelenting knowledge that she is Loved by God.
Oh, Father... You are Good.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

family portrait

We were driving down the highway.
Just me and softie.
"Boanie, you be the dj. Put on Family Portrait first..."
"It's so sad..."
"i know... i just want to hear it..."
And i do - but it makes me cry 'cause why, when i think i've got this whole thing figured out do i find that there's a whole 'nother layer to grief that i didn't know about till now? And i almost ask her to turn it off, this song about a broken family, but instead i remember myself in platinum braids with my gap toothed smile. Puffed sleeves and a bow tied at my neck. Little girl full of confidence who disappeared...
Where did i go?
Just when the mournful song ends, i see sloanie faithfully putting on the next. It's a song of homecoming - of being found - of discovering truth and putting wrongs to right; the broken restored. There will be no sloughing of dj duties in our little car...
Her sharp eyes shine at her mama...
"i like this one."
"i do too."

Friday, October 19, 2012

the microwave door is open

We were sitting and having a very disorganized lunch when suddenly Sloanie piped up, "The microwave door is open and as a result, i must share a childhood memory."
She had the floor.
"When i was little, i left the microwave door open.
Peyton pointed it out, 'Sloanie!!  You left the microwave door open!'
'So?' i responded, 'who cares?' 
Suddenly mom POUNDED her fist on the table and theatrically paused before bellowing in a loud voice, 'I CAAARE!!!'
i was adequately shamed, so the next time Peyton left the microwave door open, i casually pointed it out, 'Hey. Peyton left the microwave door open.'
'So?' Peyton questioned, 'Who cares?'
i looked at mom, expecting a repeat performance, but this time she barely glanced up. 'Mom?' i prompted, 'Peyton left the microwave door open.'
'Meh, i don't really care.'"
At this point in her story we're all rolling around on the floor laughing because even though i have no recollection of these incidents, i'm CERTAIN that they transpired exactly as she is reenacting them.
So, from now until the end of time, every time someone says, "who cares" in our house - there *will* be a dramatic pounding of the fist followed by a bellowed, "I CAAAAAARE!!" Because we're awesome like that and i love my reputation as the world's most inconsistent mama.
Any other inconsistent mama's out there?
i blame hormones.
The End

Monday, October 15, 2012

play it again, sam.

It's strange growing a big family when neither Neil or i ever came from one.  There are just over three years between my oldest sister and me and only 18 months between Neil and his brother.
One of the things that i found with my littles - is that opportunities might come for one child - that never present themselves for another. When Cai and Sloan were little, we lived in a small town and there seemed to be more (inexpensive) opportunities to try things. As a result, they got to try art lessons, swim lessons, gymnastics, baseball, soccer and dance lessons. As we added little people to our crew - and eventually moved to a more expensive location - we found fewer opportunities that we were willing to take advantage of... and there are quite a few things that my littler ones have never had the chance to try.
It bugged Mollen that she never got to try gymnastics.
She got Neil's cousin's wife to teach her to do a cartwheel - but it never satisfied her itch to go in a class. So, she did the smart thing for a fifth born child to do... gently, she would remind me again and again that boy, would she ever love to take gymnastics. As i would take older children to their activities she would softly say how if she could ever choose - she would choose gymnastics in a heart beat.
Finally one day, i think i heard her.
"Mollen, would you like mama to sign you up for gymnastics this fall?"
"Yes. Very badly, i really, really want to take gymnastics."
"Ok then, we'll do it."
And so i did.
That day she began to count down the days until her first class... and finally the day came and she counted down the hours - changing her mind which outfit she should wear at least a half a dozen times.
We got there a few minutes early - and watched the children through the big viewing window.
She held my hand in hers and shyly bit the corner of her lip.
And i cried watching her sail through that door when the hour finally struck - (just like i do every time one of my littles does something that puts them in the spotlight).
It has been a few weeks since that first class... She's still just as thrilled to pick out her gymnastics outfit. She's as star struck as ever by her coaches. She's still tickled that we get alone time driving to and fro...
And i'm glad that i get to do this again...to see the world through 8 year old eyes... for the 5th time. To try something new - because this sweet dolly - is another new person. i'm glad we get a sampling of life - and that by God's grace we get to raise each one of these little ones for their unique purposes which were planned out for them before even one of their days came to be.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear mama - the end - part 6

So i have finally made it to the end of this particular little series. This post is more of a "post script". It is my heart that my story will serve only to bring truth to light, and glory to God. :) i know... pretty high aspirations for one girl's story, but i know my Papa - and He can make feasts out of loaves and fishes, and so i brought Him mine. If you want to read the other pieces, you can find them here:

PART 1 - courage

PART 2 - rescue

PART 3 - life

PART 4 - bereft

PART 5 - truth


Dear parents,
There are a few things my parents did right that are worth expressing here for others to take from what they will. My parents raised me knowing and understanding the intrinsic value of human life. i have no doubt that's why when a friend tried to suggest that i abort my precious baby, i literally felt the vomit rise in my throat and i stopped them before the words could be uttered. i knew that despite my desperate circumstances, my baby had as much a right to her wild and crazy life - as i had to mine.
Parents, raise your sons and daughters to value life.

To my boys (and my girls),
i want you to read my pain. Your daddy used to play that Blue Rodeo song, "i never meant to make you cry..." and i know that he regretted the way that the decisions we made together caused us (especially me - as the one carrying the little one) so much sorrow. If you love her, prove it by waiting.

Dear pastor,
My pastor - in his wisdom - asked me to refrain from being in ministry in the church for a while after our wedding. We needed his gentle discipline and rebuke. i am grateful that he talked to us about our sin - rather than ignoring it (which i'm sure would have been easier). He allowed us to bring truth to the surface and begin healing by first cleaning our wounds and putting on fresh dressing, y'know?
Pastors, tend your flocks.

Dear church,
So many women reached out to me as i stumbled from being a girl to a married mother. i thought that every time one did, she needed to see my shame - to see that i wasn't proud of myself - to understand that i knew i was dead wrong. Church, this is a heavy burden for a girl full of repentance to bear. If she misses you in her long line of apologies, have grace for her. If she can't stand to bring it up again... and again, and again, and again... understand that her Father is dealing with her - and your kindnesses won't spoil her. She doesn't need to be beat down. Trust me. She needs your mercy. Be the hands and feet - this is one of those times to just *do*. My sister jess calls it, "the gospel in boots"... Can you be the one wearing them?

Friends and family,
i remember a phone call that i got from my uncle. He chose not to give me a sermon that night (though, believe you me; i got a few really good sermons in that time of my life that were invaluable to me). Instead he spoke in a slow low tone - as though to a wild animal - pretending not to hear that there were only horrible choking sobs on the other end of the line, he kept up the conversation all by himself. He told me how my grandma goose sure loved babies - and it didn't matter how they came into being or under what circumstances - but that she was always excited for a new one. He was sure she would have been excited for mine too, if she had been there. He told me that his wife would have given an arm... or a leg too... if she could have had a child - and that i was sure blessed to be having one. He gently prodded me about neil - telling me we were lucky to have that kind of love....
And i didn't record that conversation in my journal.
But i remember it.
Those types of kindnesses were rare. Honestly? Most people ignored us, unsure how to proceed (this was true both for me and for Neil)- i don't blame them. The awkwardness was of our own making. But to have someone gently reach out - and not even allow the guilty apologies to begin to be spoken, but instead to speak love - was a  balm to my hurting lonely heart at a very difficult time in my life.
Friends? If you can, be kind.

Dear pregnant, scared, single mama -
i know.
i'm crying again even now writing this.
Maybe we can cry together.
i want you to understand that the baby? The baby is not the sin. The baby - your son or daughter - is a gift from God. Yes. A gift. From God. The little one you're carrying - was conceived by the will of God - and was created in His very image. How amazing is that?
The sin? That can be taken care of - washed clean and healed... But you need to begin now - to take away the ugly rotten lies that want to cling to your wounds and make them fester and rot. You need to acknowledge your sin to your Papa. He loves you, precious daughter of the King. There can be sorrow with this repentance... but it won't last forever - just watch what He will do. He has plans for you, and one of those plans is for you to carry this little one. i can't pretend to know where He will take you beyond that - but know that if you allow Him to cleanse your wounds - you can have an intimacy in your relationship with Him that will only grow until you think you could burst. Maybe you've been told that if you carry or keep this baby, your life is over. i want you to know that this bend in the road isn't the end of your life... but it is the very sweet beginning of your child's. Your choices right now affect you both - be wise and compassionate. You won't regret it.
You are a mama.
i don't know if you will choose, like me, to be the best (broken, imperfect) mama to your little one as you can be, or if you will choose adoption for your darling child - but i do know that God has a plan for your little one, and that your loving protection right now is life-saving, life-changing, life-sustaining.
You are a humbled hero.
You have the character to do this hard thing.
You do.
If you need help, or don't know where to turn - contact your local crisis pregnancy care center... even... contact me on this blog - and i will do what i can to help you find the help you need.
You are not alone.
i love you.
And so does your Creator.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Truth - part 5

ok. i'm almost finished. Too many tears and probably too little coherence. i'm worried in a million ways about telling this story wrong, but it will be what it will be. Today is part 5, and the final piece, part 6, is almost ready to go. You can read the other parts here:

PART 1 - courage

PART 2 - rescue

PART 3 - life

PART 4 - bereft


When i was 8 weeks along, i told the program director at the college i was going to that i was pregnant. i was starting to get tired of hiding. Truth began to peek. i don't know why i didn't just pack up and move to Kelowna. There were a million reasons, for one; it felt like i was in the twilight zone - and as much as my loneliness cried out to be with Neil... i needed a moment to catch my breath, to make sure he really wanted me, that we weren't compounding mistakes. i wanted to finish my program - thinking that in some ways it would be the last accomplishment i would ever have. (Little did i know that the accomplishment i was undertaking next would be bigger than any others to date). And then, Neil and i both wanted to prepare ourselves for the other... (i just typed out about a dozen sentences trying to explain what i mean by that and i realize that i'm going to have to leave it out for now because there aren't the right words.) ;)
doesn't everyone keep their diploma in their piano bench?
i wanted the diploma i had been working so hard on - even though all my plans had been changed in an instant. i wasn't going to go to UofA like i thought i might... i wasn't going to gig over the summer... i would go back to Kelowna, marry my 18 year old boyfriend (who i loved) and have a baby in September. 

"Y'know, if i had to try to think of something that'd be harder to go through than this, i don't think i could. It's very lonely because i don't want to talk to people about it. i cry alone. It's strange, but i don't even trust this journal enough. i feel so completely inside of myself." -february 1996

February 16th, i went home for reading week - and despite my protestation that i didn't want or need a ring, Neil felt better putting one on my finger and we found ourselves officially engaged. Everything felt different when i went back. i wanted to be done. i was divided as i prepared for finals and year end. i tried to focus on school, on getting enough fruit and veggies for the tiny one who was changing my body daily, studying and singing - but my heart was gone. It stayed behind in Kelowna with Neil. i remained divided for the rest of the school year. i cringed seeing my maiden name on my medical records - i hated knowing that i had put my tiny daughter in such a precarious position by being careless with my own body. As gross as the comparison is - when i look at my attitude towards that part of my life, i was like an animal scratching dirt over its own mess. i wanted to cover it, leave it behind and disassociate myself from the foolish girl with the tear stained journal.
Neil sent me love notes full of promises and declarations - and i read and re-read them, folding them into that journal that has survived these 16 years...
My mom gently prodded my sorrow - sending me Oscar Wilde and sewing me two summer maternity dresses covered in butterflies.

i worried about my 4th tri jury, exams, my wedding, my husband not liking my quickly changing body, gaining weight, not having any energy, my own lack of maturity.

"i'm not showing at all yet, but i can feel my uterus if i push my belly." March 1996

(It's so strange to see my awed, inexperienced perspective as a first time mama)...
And then more of the same... the aching loneliness - the longing to be loved and the cry to be known - but despairing that anyone other than my neil and God would ever want to bother... and thinking and hoping that these two would be enough.

"i'm sad. i already tried to sleep and that didn't work. Maybe i could just lay here for a while and hope that i'll drop off. G'night vent. Hey, vent is wind in french... now i see why..." March 1996

The next few pages contain little other than the sentiment, "i'm tired." expressed ad nauseum in the same used up sentences scrawled in untidy ink across pages that deserved better. "Wheuf i'm pooped," "Sooooooo tired." "Can barely keep my eyes open." But every so often, i would summon the strength to try harder to express where i found myself:

"My jury is done, but i still have to finish my professionalism paper, an arranging assignment, my jingle, my scale jury and then little things like the annex concert, preparing for the banff trip and a few things in the recording studio... and then prep for the wedding. Ack. i need to be done and over with this section of my life. Know what? i'm tired. Not necessarily physically, but just in every way." March 1996

"i wish sometimes i would die." March 1996

"my life... i've made it suck. i would give anything to change the last few years of my life. There's so much i would take away. i'd sure keep neil. Oh, God, i wish that i could wake up. i wish that i would die or run away or disappear. i wish, i wish, i wish. There's always so much that i wish and want and need." april 1996

"i lied to someone about being pregnant. Someone i don't even know told someone else who told someone at school that i'm pregnant. She asked me and i said no... i panicked... but really i am. i'm sorry. i lied. i feel dumb. i'm going to tell her the truth." April 1996

And i did.

Slowly over the next weeks, months and years - Truth became my banner. People have often asked me why i am so open about my first pregnancy... Don't i know i'm forgiven? Don't i understand that i'm free? And i feel a little bit like Paul when he boasts about his weaknesses - because when he does so, it shows the glory of God.

God has been so very, very good to me.

Graduation melted into home-going melted into wedding melted into life... and time passed and separated me from the time of my my rescue, but i remained rescued. i would forever be the girl who had been rescued by a Father who loved her so very, very much. Time wouldn't change or soften that truth - it would only make it more precious.
i still remember those months after my wedding - when i found i couldn't sing. i would sit down at the old piano my young husband had bought me - and my voice would break and crack and i would moan my songs of gratitude to God with tears streaming down my face. i soon learned to not even bother standing when we would sing in church. i would just sit- hands circling tender belly - and listen and cry. i remember thinking at one point that i would never be able to sing again. Every song reminded me of my Redeemer - every melodic turn reminded me how i needed Him. Every word pointed to His careful tending of my unworthy heart.
i have never, ever, ever gotten over it. To this day, when i lead worship in my home church - i find i can hold nothing back. My praise is raw - my worship, "unveiled"... It's not pretty - but i know that when i sing, it's something different than it ever was before He rescued me. It's different than it was before He broke down every stronghold so that i could declare Truth victorious in my life.
And i'm still grateful.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012


i blog because i like to write. i'm a stay at home mama with my nest full of chickies and i know this season is so short and so many of my memories are fleeting. My Father's lessons are coming thick and fast - and i want to try to capture some of the journey that He has brought me on... and will bring me through.
But during 40 Days for Life, i do let my little blog slip and slide as i blog over HERE.
During 40 Days for Life - i blog because i want to be obedient - and i feel burdened for my country and this culture that finds abortion acceptable. During 40 Days for Life, i blog for Caleb and Hope and Tiny - because my mama heart refuses to deny their value as tiny human persons who never got to live outside my womb. During 40 Days for Life - i facilitate others sharing their prolife stories on a public blog because i think that our community of prolife believers needs to grow - both in numbers and in courage.
If you have a prolife story to share (or you just want to be encouraged in your prolife journey), i invite you to come check out our Calgary 40 Days for Life blog.
i won't forget about my tiny bit of home turf here... i'll be 'round... :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

bereft - part 4

You can read the first three parts here: PART 1, PART 2 and PART 3. Still not really sure what i'm doing - but here's part 4...


"Baby's code name is Cairo. i love Cairo. i love this little one growing inside me." - January 26, 1996

"In three months and seven days i will be Mrs. Neil Beselt. i can't believe it.  Then five months after that we will have a baby and my life will be so very different from what it is right now."  - January 28, 1996

"no other thoughts even crossed my mind other than that i would love and raise this baby to the very best of my abilities. i miss Neil so much." January 30th, 1996

After a humiliating prenatal physical: "i'm sitting here waiting for my voice teacher to get here and just hoping she won't show 'cause i really, really, REALLY don't feel like singing today." - January 31, 1996

Adding up tiny bits of gig money: "They gave me $30 for three songs, i have $40 in my wallet and i have $50 coming for that benefit gig and another $75 if we do the singing at convocation. i think that's just about enough for Neil's ring..." - February 3rd, 1996

"The smell of the old food in our kitchen was making me nauseous. Neil said it hurts him that i have to go through the first four months of prengnacy by myself so i won't tell him i was sick this morning. He said he already signed us up for prenatal classes." - Feb 4th, 1996

And then suddenly... stealing the words of another to express what i couldn't bear to write in my journal myself:


Where had i heard this wind before
Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
holding open a restive door,
looking downhill to a frothy shore?
Summer was passed and day was passed.
Somber clouds in the west were massed.
out on the porches' sagging floor,
Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
blindly struck at my knee and missed.
Something sinister in his tone
Told my secret must be known:
Word i was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word i was in my life alone,
Word i had no one left but God.
- Robert Frost.

My shame kept me from publicly shouting anything other than love and excitement over upcoming marriage and family... but underneath it all... i felt so horribly lonely in those weeks and months before our wedding as i finished my classes - single and pregnant. The nausea was constant and i felt dizzy and exhausted, but humiliated and guilty if i complained...
i turn pages, remembering... and i read again and again in that little journal every combination of words that convey a message that wasn't... that isn't... true, "they don't love me anymore..." 
My heart broke as i believed that lie. i saw myself as unworthy of love - every flaw magnified, every weakness broadcast to the world at large... Unwanted. Bereft.

"Baby, we want to bring you up right. We want you to be happy and healthy and i want to tell you something else. i want to make a promise to you, no matter what happens in my life or in your life, Neil and i will love you with all our hearts (the word 'daddy' didn't slip easily from my pen yet...) - no matter who you become or what choices you make. i know how it feels to turn around all of a sudden and your team ditched. i know it's hard for my family to deal with the choices i've made and it has nothing to do with you... but i need them now more than i've ever needed them in my life. So through this, i've learned one more kernel of wisdom which i will pass on to you sweet heart. We will love you UNCONDITIONALLY. We want you to become a happy, loving, wise person and if in life you make some bad choices or choices that would be different from ours, don't be scared to talk to us about it, we will love you and encourage you and maybe we'll even be able to help you. Anyways, it's getting late and i'm getting ahead of myself. Do you know what? Right now, you are about as big as a grain of rice. You are teeny, but i love you anyways. So does Neil." ...and so did her Creator. - February 7, 1996


*Disclaimer* These journal entries represent how i felt that winter. My family *far* from ditched. My mom sewed dresses and planned my wedding and my dad paid for it all... Despite their support - *this* is the way that a 19 year old single, selfish pregnant girl might *feel* in her moment of desperate vulnerability. Please don't judge my parents based on these feelings which are really, quite far from the truth. Instead - realize that a girl in the situation i was in might feel like a wild animal trapped in the corner of a room without a friendly face in sight. She might be unimaginably needy. She might be unbelievably selfish. She might be inconsolably sad and lonely. Love her anyway.




Friday, September 28, 2012

seven quick takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 189)

1. i *do* have at least one more draft for my series i've been doing this past week... i should have fleshed it out a little more what i wanted to write before i started, but instead i just jumped in.

2. i've been crazy busy this past little while. The travellin' man has been gone a lot, school has been rockin' along, 40 Days for Life has required some sacrifices, we've had some fun company - & life has been so very full and good. That's probably why i haven't finished the series referred to in #1... but i think i will... at least i will try... It's on my mind.

3. i have a kind of a "mentor"... It's not what you think. i don't really know how it happened, but there she is. i can show up at her door - and even cry if i need to. She texts me and prays for me, and offers perspective when i feel like i have none left. 
She texts me last night:
"How are you?"
"Crazy. My (awesome) mother in law is here. My house looks like someone ransacked it and emptied a vacuum canister everywhere. Sloan failed her learners test for the second time, Cai turned 16, Gage lost a tooth and Neil comes home late tonight and i might weep while singing hallelujah. :)"
"Uh oh."
And then she sent me a video of herself dancing gangam style.

4. So Cai really did turn 16. Sixteen.

5. i keep thinking, "tomorrow, i'll get it back together - all these threads of life that are jumping up and running away on me..." but then i never seem to be able to quite catch them all. i missed a very important meeting last night because i forgot about it. i HATE when people do that - it's so rude to miss meetings... but i did. Bah.

6. i'm pretty sure we're going to finish reading the entire bible this year. It will have taken us about two and a half years to read it out loud together as a family. We still have a few tough books to work through (numbers, jeremiah - just to name two) - and even though we've been reading it all these many (16) years of parenthood, it was fun to keep track and make sure we covered the whole thing instead of just jumping around on whims.

7.  i can't believe September is almost over. i know... so cliche to talk about how time moves so quickly. i don't care. i've been having some good talks with a couple of my kids lately about taking advantage of each moment, pulling up our bootstraps and accomplishing MUCH. i needed those talks as much as they did. i can tend to get paralyzed a little bit when i'm intimidated... (like: i'm speaking at my kids' youth group tonight and at another church and youth group on Sunday)... These things make me feel like i can't do laundry or wash floors because *i can't move*. Why is that? Time is short, paige... wash the dang floors and then do the next thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

life - part 3

It takes me three posts to get to the positive pregnancy test.
Coward that i am, this undressing doesn't come easily. i have no idea how many parts there are to this exploration, but you can read part 1 HERE and you can read part 2 HERE.
The day after my scrawled prayer, i confided in a friend who comforted me, but wanted to congratulate me on finding my sexual freedom. i knew it wasn't so - and the congratulations rubbed raw on a heart that knew better. Even though my friend tried to sooth my worry and explain it away by saying the chances were so slim and my guilty conscience was just making me crazy... a part of me wondered. The calendar didn't lie. The day after that, i couldn't take it any more and i begged my friend to buy me a pregnancy test because i was too ashamed to buy one for myself.
i took it in the girl's washroom of the college... i still remember reading the directions - feeling my throat closing in as i realized what i was doing. It was supposed to take three minutes to turn, so i glanced at the directions and glancing back was shocked to see a bright blue line.

That line screamed, "life"...

i had no doubt from the moment i saw it blazing - the ink bleeding into the white circle surrounding it - so dark that it seemed to me there never had been a more positive positive pregnancy test - that i was not alone in that bathroom stall. We were two. And i, the stronger - owed everything to her, the weaker.
But so pressing and crushing were the thoughts that followed. How was i going to tell my mom and dad?  And everyone else in the world?
i stumbled from the bathroom, and in a daze continued my day. i sang at a composition annex, and then performed at the drum ensemble, i hurried to another rehearsal i had scheduled - and then finally home.
When i got home, i phoned Neil and my sisters... Neil's response was to propose marriage. He kept any fear he might have felt from his voice and said gently, "i'm excited to have a baby with you, paige..." and i believed him.  i begged him to keep it a secret between us - i felt naked and vulnerable - and i knew i had made myself so. He told me that he would do anything for me, but please not to ask him to keep it a secret from his parents.
i felt like nothing was in my control. Soon everyone would know. i wanted desperately to hide. i wanted to run. i wanted to wake up and have it be last week, last month, last year... i didn't want everyone looking at me with scorn and disappointment. i didn't want to feel mocked or judged or pitied or condemned... i was afraid - and i watched my secret leak from between my fingers as i forced my voice to say the words that brought the avalanche of dread down around me... i knew that it would spread - and the thought of Neil telling his parents terrified me. i thought of the grief and the shame that i was bringing both my family and his...  i recoiled from the thought of my secret travelling through every circle i have ever been apart of.  i thought i would suffocate in it... and i welcomed the thought. How could i have known then that He would create something beautiful from my pitiful offering of repentance combined with His goodness in restoring what was lost?
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." ps. 51:10

was worm

was worm

swaddled in white.
now tiny queen
in sequin coat

drinks the wind
and feeds
on sweat of the leaves.

is little chinks
of mosaic floating
a scatter
of colored beads

Alighting pokes
with her new black wire
the safron yokes.

on silent hinges
open-folds her wings'
applauding hands.

from coddling white
to lake-deep air,
to blue and green

is queen.

-may swenson






Did you know that 40 Days for Life starts today with over 300 vigil sites world wide? You can follow our blog HERE.
It can be no coincidence that our government is also voting on MOTION 312 today... Will you join me in prayer for a softening of hearts in our nation towards the issue of abortion?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

rescue - part 2

You can read part 1 HERE.  Still not sure if i'll finish - or how many parts this little journey will document, but pressing on with part 2...


i have stars in my eyes. Makes me wonder if they cloud and distort my view or make it clearer. - january 1996
i can read... or maybe remember... the doubt in my words. Pages and pages of oozing love, passionate displays of trumpeting affection - and yet this line jumps out at me. It wasn't my love that i doubted i'm sure - because even now my heart beats slowly - almost painfully in my ears when he calls to tell me he's coming home.  It was doubt over my actions, my lack of wisdom, the careless destruction of my character. i force myself to read from the beginning. On these pages, i find fleeting wide-eyed romanticized awe over a random musician, disappointment over a song that bombed and elation over a performance that rocked... little of substance, other than the one small doubt voiced above.
And then... at the bottom of a page that has no other mention of my Father, these verses...

"But i trust in Your unfailing love. My heart rejoices in Your salvation. i will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me." - psalm 13:5,6

"Don't let anyone think little of you because you are young, be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live; be a pattern for them in your love, your faith and your clean thoughts." 1timothy 4:11-13

And the battle waged.

My Father spoke truth through His word... He didn't abandon me. i have the proof captured in my own handwriting.
Hey, daughter - you're mine. i gave you a framework for love, for marriage, for purity - not as a stern task master - but because i love you so very, very much...
As i read the parts of my journal that are hard for me to read, i see Him reaching out to me; trying to save me from my own weakness, offering me an alternative, a better way, a straight path.
The whisper in the wind was lost on me.
Hey, Papa? i wish i would have heard you. i wish i would have listened. i know now that You were with me - and You never did take Your fingers off of me.
i turn the page, and it brings me to that old distance. The distance between us - from Edmonton, Alberta to Kelowna, BC - may as well have been the distance across the milky way. Phone calls in those days were excruciatingly expensive, and a full time student and a boy still living with his mama and daddy don't have many pennies to spare... (that said, the phone companies made hundreds off of us in those months). i didn't have my own computer - neither did Neil. It was a different world then - and we were hundreds of miles apart.
Eight pages into my journal, there's an entry written in red ink:
i'm scared. i have no one to talk to except Neil and he's so far away and it costs so much money to talk to him... so i will write a letter to God...
And i did. My childlike fear, my contrition, my agony and shame - i brought to Him - along with an aside that i find interesting:
"if only people knew. i'm not telling anyone. That's for sure."
And now i can laugh - just like He must have - as he orchestrated His answer...
"Do you think I'm going to leave you there, Daughter? Agonizing over a secret shame that you're intent on keeping covered, rotting and destroying you from the inside out? I am your Rescuer - and i will teach you to love Truth just like I do... "
Unbeknownst to me, a little life was already created - Truth was going to be acknowledged and my Great Rescue began...





Sunday, September 23, 2012

courage - part 1

i don't know how these posts will come out. i've got three started in drafts, and i haven't even made it very far into some of what i'd like to explore. i know that i'd like to end with a challenge to unwed mamas, to the churches that surround them and hold them and to the parents, siblings, boyfriends and friends that are in their lives. Maybe these posts will just be lame... and maybe i'll quit part way through... No promises :) But for what it's worth - here is part 1.

i picked up my old journal. The one whose starting date is January 4th 1996. The one that has butterflies and doodles inscribed all inside the front flap. It has quotes drawn around and decorating the broken binding... things like:
"i never wanted to be famous, i only wanted to be great." Ray Charles
"An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit." - pliny the younger
A description of beauty: in the eye of the beholder, self-control, happiness, dainty, gentleness, purity, meekness, honesty, love, fleeting, skin-deep, love, goodness, hope, worker...
It has, written in tidy black ink in the top right hand corner, the address of my first apartment - and a name: miss. retha paige sloan - 1996.
It belonged to a girl i hardly ever think about because my memories are so conflicted. My eyes are tearing up and my cheeks are burning with that smouldering shame just picking it up again.
i don't read it.
A few women have told me about their abortions in the past little while.
Their stories moved me - and even days later, i wonder at their courage in sharing honestly from their hurting chapters. There is beauty in honesty after all - and theirs shakes me from my comfortable middle class mama role - and knocks me back in time to when i was 19 in my second year of music school - and i became a girl who chose not to have an abortion.
Immediately following those days and life altering months that made up the first half of 1996, i attempted as a young woman in my twenties to distance myself from the foolish girl who kept the journal full of confusion, timidity - and just the smallest bit of grit.
Honestly? i've judged that girl... and i've judged her harshly.
And now - i feel the older woman in me murmur comfortingly, "She wasn't so bad... she was young, foolish, hurting, insecure and scared. Don't be afraid of her - she's a part of you - learn from her."
And i crack the cover - the tears spill over - and i'm ready to read ancient unread words. Swirly immature handwriting covers each page - most of it makes me impatient and mortified... but some of it makes me shush the hater inside and title this blog post, "courage"...






Thursday, September 20, 2012

i'm thinking about

i read THIS and THIS this morning and i'm thinking about adding my story.
i'm not crazy proud of a lot of chapters in my life... and this is one of them... i know i've been honest on here about where i've been - and the preciousness of life - but i'd like to share more about what it was like for me with deadlines looming, the future spinning, shame attacking and a diploma on the line...
Those were some crazy soul stretching months...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

some days i miss him more than others

  Some days i'm so busy; and the joy of my little crew and the bustling of my house keep the ache a little farther away. But there are other days - the days that i bemoan my travelling man's travelling - and i miss him more. The floor can hardly bear to be swept, i get the stares, meals are left-over's left-overs... 'cause i'm lonesome for the man who makes it feel like home.
  i've never been the type of woman who cherishes her independence. i've always been a kinda high maintenance girl - but my Father seems to want to stretch me in ways that bring about the most intense kinds of discomfort, and so my independence grows too. And it seems funny to me that when my protector is on the road, that's often when my Father calls me out to "tussle" (as my friend Rita puts it). When i feel the most vulnerable and solitary in my stance as parent, when my bed is shared with a tiny needy two year old, rather than a big strong man, when i have to find the courage to stand - rather than to stand behind - my Papa brings me more opportunities to show the world that i'm His.
  And i try and i fail - and my reflexes are poor and i miss opportunities and completely flub others. A friend told me that the only failure is if you don't learn from those lessons, and i guess that's true - but man, i'd like to have neil around when i'm down and lickin' my wounds. He's pragmatic, unemotional... and good. We're such an odd-ball match, but i can see how God saved us by putting us together and making us one.
  But what helps most of all is that i know that God has a hand - even in the comings and goings of a travelling salesman, and his little wife left at home. i know that my Father will use the circumstances of my life and that they'll allow me to grow, if i let them.
  So keep taking, Father, scrape away my security blankets, my comfort, my desire to be served. Do Your good work - and help me to be wise enough not to hinder it.

My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming." psalm 27:8 NLT

Monday, September 17, 2012

soul speak

i was listening to a song on the radio the other day - and i decided i wanted to learn the rap. Imitation is honestly a good way to learn, and sometimes some of the raw emotion expressed in rap is truer than any pretty melodic line... So i thought, "Why not give it a go, mama?"
i listened and printed the lyrics off the internet - but they rang hollow and phony in my own ears - even though it was their authenticity that caught my attention in the first place. i hadn't had any of the life experiences that the writer of that song had... and even though the song resonated with me, it felt weak to imitate his inflections and pauses - let alone the words he stretched and bounced artistically across the beat.
So i sighed... and decided to write my own.
Honestly? It's not my first time trying to rap... (and don't get a strange picture in your head of a white 36 year old woman trying to be young and hip... that's not what it's about - it's more about finding my own voice - no matter the genre.)
And so i wrote. i scrawled lyrics across the note pad, crossed out bits and crowded others in tiny letters. i was gentle with rules - and generous with heart. i used my piano and sang a simple melodic hook. i didn't write about apartheid or abuse... i wrote about how we've been lied to and taught to believe things about God that just aren't true.
Neil can hardly look at me without smirking... Cai stopped me as i attempted to show her the fruit of my afternoon labour, "No, mom. i don't need to hear you rap..."
But i don't care.
Art is like that - begging to be attempted... and yeh - i think i probably made a big mess out of it - and i should have probably followed a few rules a little closer - counted syllables with a little more care, paid attention to the lyrics of the hook rather than just the melody... or maybe i should have put my pencil away and cleaned the toilets or scrubbed baseboards - but i didn't.
And there it is...
It's kind of like this pathetic little blog that i keep up. i'll keep trying to find my voice - and speaking the little bits of truth i discover - with my eyes open to see Him in every tiny bit of life i capture.

Friday, September 14, 2012

meet with me

Lunch was almost finished in the oven... but suddenly - i needed my piano.
There were little ones running around, kids doing school on computers, laundry that needed doing and a hungry husband to feed...
But i sat down... 'cause lately, music has called me less often, and i couldn't bear to turn her down.
i found the music that i've pulled out for the next time i lead worship at our church - and as my fingers began gently - and then not so gently to play... i felt my insides just break and burst.
And is that choking sob a sweet sound of worship, My King?
And i laugh to Him, "How can i lead if all you'll let me do is cry?"
And it feels like He's beside me on that black bench - and i sing my love to the Only One who is worthy of worship - notes just warbled whispers and face caught between tears and one of those open mouthed smiles that shows you that i still have three of my wisdom teeth.
Alone in my living room - with the light streaming in my back window - in my jeans with my hair still damp from a late shower...
Is this how You choose to meet with me?
i find myself straying from the music fitted together in an organized display - my fingers stumble as i no longer have the notes and words scrawled in front of me. My memory fails, but my praise continues... i'm lost in wonder that He lets me approach Him - that He sees me as His daughter - that He hears and takes action on my behalf...
i hear a popping sizzle from the kitchen and i fly to my oven - lunch is saved - and the sweet ones in my care gather to eat - not knowing their mama has already been fed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

the two step

i'm not a dancer. i wish i was... one time i remember watching dancers on youtube and being so incredibly moved by the sheer artistry and grace.
i'm more of a wiggle my bum and poke my index fingers in the air type dancer... it's not very inspiring.
This morning i got to thinking about the two steps that i want to take - in my longing to dance for Him... and how the power of one underscores the beauty of the other. The steps weave together constantly in our choices, our lifestyle, our responses and even ultimately in our desires... and so i thought i would write about the stumbling dance i am attempting.
i love the book of Romans - and the tongue twister that Paul included in chapter 7... "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing."
And it seems so complex - this being a daughter of the King... how can i choose to do right, when wrong is constantly looming? And He takes me by the tips of my fingers and leads in a simple dance - a simple dance that is life and peace. 
With a deep breath, i take that first step - i want to choose not to do the things that are wrong. Not in a stubborn, prideful legalistic glut - but in humility, recognizing that i am my Papa's child - and that in His Great Love, He speaks only truth. So a husband refrains from beating his wife. The thief doesn't steal. The liar doesn't lie. The killer doesn't kill. Evil is kept at bay by simple restraint, because the impulse to sin is not acted upon... because my bonds to my Creator - the bonds that allow me to call Him Father - are greater than the bondage that would hold me in sin. And tentatively - one foot leaves the ground... the music swells around us - and our delicate dance has begun. It will feel different to be the one choosing - not - to do the things that are wrong. It requires acting on information that is different than our emotionally charged feelings, and instead trusting a Faithful Father who leads. This first step might bring difficult conversations as restraint is sometimes seen as judgement, but i've learned that i don't need to be afraid of difficult conversations - they're often learning experiences for me; teaching me to speak with gentleness and humility because my own ignorance is overwhelming - but He never fails to be right and just.
And the power of choosing not to... so gently leads me to the second step; the beauty of choosing to do what is good. And sometimes in exhaustion we snap to the ones we love, "Isn't it enough that i'm not like so and so? i don't do this - and i've stayed away from that..." But the sweetness of the trustful two-step comes  not only from the man refraining from beating his wife - it requires him taking the second step to do good to her.  The thief doesn't steal, he gives. The liar doesn't lie, he tells the truth. The killer doesn't kill, he speaks out on behalf of the vulnerable.
And one step just seems strange without the other. Those who do good without refraining from evil aren't trustworthy - and those who refrain from evil without doing good have missed out by only having gone half way too.
And so i'll try to teach my little ones - dancer though i'm not - to take both steps in this breathtaking two-step, listening to His whisper in our ears, and following where He leads.  


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