Friday, June 29, 2012

seven quick takes - last week's edition...

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 178)

i wrote these last Friday - but wasn't quite finished when we left for Elmer's funeral... & i know - i haven't blogged about Elmer's funeral... well... i have, but it's sitting in drafts all scattered & unfinished.  So, i thought i'd post these *this* Friday anyway. 

1.  We are going to Elmer's funeral... i found myself thinking just for a fraction of a second the other day, "i wonder if Elmer's gonna call..." & then just this queer ache in my chest that he's not going to call anymore.  Death is so final...

2. As the littles & i were discussing bending our plans, cancelling out of committments, when neil would fly home from Toronto etc... mollen piped up, "Yes, but that's not the REAL question... the real question is, WHAT am i gonna wear to Elmer's funeral?" 
Yes, dolly... what will you wear? ;)

3.  Heeey, my blog got voted for top 25 moms of teens blog.  See my fancy new badge?  Thanks for voting! 

4.  My girls put in a story CD (Silas Marner?) to listen to the other day & when the familiar strains from the Focus on the Family song came on, they said they almost simultaneously burst into tears since they listened to the narnia chronicles every night of their "childhoods".   Makes me smile - they see their childhoods as the distant past - and i see them blazing triumphantly through the thick of them...

5.  Best "Begs Me To Answer" question ever asked:
Neil: Arrrg (yes.  Like a pirate)  What's wrong with you guys??!!  Is everyone in this house dumb, or is it just me? 
(awkward pause with tittering giggles...)

6.  All the exams are over.  The auditions complete.  We're making plans for the next year & it feels good to know that we've tucked another year under our belts. 

7.  i love my Father.  i do.  Lately when i think about blogging - that's all i come up with.  i love Him... He held me this past year & i feel like a child who fell & scraped her knee... He crooned, and picked me up... He examined my wounds and gently cleansed them to keep them free from infection, He comforted me in my anguish and His shoulders absorbed my tears.  Now, He's set me back on my feet - and i find myself still looking towards Him with wet eyes - knowing that i am loved. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

taking up my cross

i've been watching - quietly, safely, thoughtfully - from my home these recent days as others have been attacked and slandered for holding the same beliefs that i have. 
i've been praying for my brothers and sisters as they work valiantly, humbly, brokenly and vulnerably.  Truth is not welcome in every corner of Canada - and to shine truth's light into dark corners requires sacrifice. 
And as i've prayed, i've found that my thoughts keep turning stubbornly... to the One i love... who continues to shape the beliefs that hold me.  He is truth and light and love... For Him, there are no confusing rules about 'loving the sinner and hating the sin' - He holds all in His hands... and sees us clearly - to the very depths of who we are... and He calls us to be reconciled to Him. 
He loves the angry pro-choicer hurtling obscenities... and the indignant, prideful pro-lifer who throws them capably back... He loves the atheist homosexual who mocks Abba Father... and the hypocrite Christian who closes the church doors against those who seek.  He loves me with my lack of grace... just as much as He loves those who laughingly continue in sin so that grace may abound. 
i know this seems like some kind of impossible, hokey post... and maybe in my wrestling through this issue, that's all this is...  But i'm overwhelmed these days with love for a Saviour who breaths truth.  i'm undone by His compassion and the merciful way that He has chosen to use us - mere infants - to rescue each other. 
And no... i can't make anyone else understand my love for Him.  i can't always speak through the hurt that was inflicted in His name, i can't explain the Truth that brings about transforming clarity, i can't show anyone exactly how He's going to ask them to live, see and believe - if they choose to take up their cross and follow Him. Will the alcoholic remain so?  Will the gossiper be freed?  Will the slanderer repent and the vilest offender be drawn into Holiness?  i don't know...
i can only take up my own cross... i can walk humbly with my God, i can act justly - Oh Father!  Make me a lover of mercy...
And i do this because i love Him.  i follow Him because He sees me, has compassion on me - and in His mercy - has drawn me into relationship. The beauty of my Father continues to draw me further in, to seek Him tirelessly, to be held in His gaze and tended as His child.  i'm taking up my cross - (oh easy yoke and light burden to bear!) - and i'm following Him.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

everything's ok

Sometimes when he holds my hand and my pale fingers get completely envelopped in his warm brown paw... everything's ok.  Sometimes the aftershocks of a hard year are enough that i'll feel off balance and uncertain in a given moment... i've seen things that i've been afraid of since i was a little girl - and now that i've seen them in the flesh, i can't get the images out of my mind; they're like monsters with big scary teeth - only uglier. 

It's easy to count the strikes against us...
he's stubborn,
she's unrealistic,
he drinks too much,
she's anti-social,
he travels too much,
she wants too many children,
they got married too young,
they don't have enough money,
they're too different...
they'll never make it. 
And yes... on paper... the strikes against us look enormous. 
They do. 
They're enormous and intimidating. 

But then his thumb rubs the back of my hand and something deep inside me wakens.  The thing inside blinks like a tiny vulnerable babe - and i realize that there's always so much more to marriage than what can be counted in enormous, intimidating strikes by an outsider.  The love that wakens is tiny and vulnerable, yes... but it's also deep and strong - it's alive, precious and costly.  It's ours...
And sometimes when he holds my hand - suddenly everything's ok.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

finding grace

My travelin' man was home for a couple of days over the weekend.  i had been crazy anticipating this time since he was gone 12 out of the first 14 days of June. 
But this time, he came home kinda cripply. 
He does that sometimes...  He has a bad back - and the chronic pain over the years has taken it's toll.  We've spent thousands trying different treatments and ideas, different pain killers, physio, chiropractor, doctors... but so far we haven't found any magical solutions. 
And most of the time, i don't notice that he's in pain.  He doesn't whine about it - so sometimes i'll notice because of a little catch in his breath when he rolls over or the rattling of the Advil bottle at 6am or the fact that it takes him several minutes to get in and out of the vehicle. 
And it's easy for me - as the person who is not in pain - to scorn grace.  It's easy to be frustrated with a quieter man, to think that he's growly because *OBVIOUSLY HE HATES ME*, or to get angry when i see the precious hours that we get together flying by - and he's got nothing to give. 
But suddenly - God gave me some fresh eyes.
It's like when my little ones are growly or tearful right before supper because they're hungry.  It's like when my teens get too little sleep and they can't understand why they feel like a grenade with the pin already pulled.  It must be horribly uncomfortable to live with pain constantly hovering...
Oh, Paige - grace, grace and more grace. 
And i could suddenly imagine the Herculean effort it took to take me out for that morning drive.  i could see how much he loved me when he didn't punch me in the face when i leapt on him laughing and grabbing his face - instead, he offered me the kisses he knew i craved.  i could see how home must feel like an oasis where he's not selling anything - and where all we want is him - cripply or not.  He's ours. 
God knows, Neil didn't choose to be in pain. 
And so i peek in forgotten corners, bringing little humbling bits of truth to light, i glance under thick uncomfortable layers... searching, searching, searching... and ultimately...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

father's day

We learned a travelin' man song for our travelin' daddy-man for father's day just for fun. 
& yeh... he's gonna come back. ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

eyes to see...

Uncle Elmer died this morning...
i had something all ready to post about Father's day - but now i find that the thought of Elmer sitting down in heaven - receiving his sight - is all encompassing. 

Elmer - i hope that God will tell you how you deeply and profoundly you impacted my life, and the lives of so many others.  i hope that He will smile at you and say, "Ah, Elmer - you played your part so beautifully - i am so pleased with your faithfulness..."
i hope you enjoy the richness of sight and the fullness of joy... we love you. 

Here is a repost to honour Elmer. 


Uncle Elmer called tonight.
He calls quite a bit - usually at supper time & i find myself frequently getting the children to talk to him as i go about getting the meal on the table & quieting a noisy babe.
Uncle Elmer is Neil's uncle. He played a starring role in the play that is the beginning of our marriage. i credit uncle Elmer a lot for the tender man my husband is. Children, those with special needs & the elderly all feel at ease with my husband- he initiates conversation & draws them out, into comfortable territory. Uncle Elmer & i are kindred musical spirits - when we lived in Manitoba, i would go to play at the Care Center and Elmer would bring his harmonica & play on every song. When i would go home, he would phone & we would play over the phone. He would be disgusted when i didn't know a specific hymn- it seemed he knew them all.
When Neil's Gramma - who was still so needed by Elmer - had a stroke and moved into the personal care home, we had fun filling in a little tiny bit of the absence that was so keenly felt by Elmer. We got to go for supper at the Manor, i learned how to cut his hair & trim his eyebrows. We went for coffee & Cai would practice all her new vocabulary on him - much to his delight. He still remembers the time someone asked her her name & she answered, "Pancake". We found something worthwhile doing, in visiting & getting to know Neil's amazing family (& i'm not using the word amazing lightly) - while just learning to be a family ourselves.
Uncle Elmer has an uncanny memory. He remembers hundreds of birthdays - & loves to be tested on his knowledge. But, when i first lost Caleb - it made every conversation with him painful. i dreaded the moment when he would say, "But, Paige, your baby just died. Didn't your baby die? You should have another baby, but he went and died..."
i fought fury, pain & tears - i begged him not to talk about Caleb, i got Neil to talk to him about it too- but to no avail. Invariably the next time we visited he would bring up our little one whose absence tore my heart in two - my little one who i couldn't talk to anyone about - hardly even Neil - for years after his loss. Casually he would mention him - and his death - and another woman who he knew had lost a baby. Sometimes when i was expecting Sloanie, he would say, "And now maybe this one won't die on you... Maybe now, you will have 2 babies."
And with each darling child we added to our little brood, he would remind me, now you have 3, 4 or 5... but there should be 1 more, shouldn't there?
Over years... many, many, many years - my memories of Caleb became a little less painful. i learned how to open that little part of my heart & not feel like i hated the person who mentioned his name. i learned that he was a gift - & i learned to cherish his memory & the gift that God gave me when He gave me those 16 short weeks. Slowly i learned to forgive myself for all the regrets i had surrounding his birth - & my wish to be able to somehow go back in time and magically have the knowledge i needed to save him gradually became acceptance - that my son was with God - & he was safe there.
So tonight Elmer called.
We had a nice long talk.
Finally he said, "Paige, you have 4 girls and 2 boys, but you should have one more."
"Two more, Elmer," i corrected him, "i have 2 babies in heaven now."
It didn't hurt that he remembered. Suddenly, he was my best friend - remembering my tender child with me. What joy that someone else remembered with me.
"i guess you don't have to worry about those two anymore."
"No, Elmer. i don't have to worry about those precious two anymore."
"They say when i sit down in heaven i won't be blind anymore."
"No, won't that be neat?"
"Ya - ...& i guess you'll have your babies again."


Friday, June 15, 2012


When i first started my blog, a friend encouraged me to start a website.  He set it up & it became a very primitive place for me to gather some links, thoughts and ideas about prolife.  Over the years, my blog has remained a better fit for me.  It's more casual, and a little less intimidating for me to use, as a lot of my posts are only tentative graspings for truth and my letters are shamefully, poorly written (it's all about the loaves and fishes, isn't it?)  All this to say, i never really got in the swing of the website thing and so, it remained a very primitive gathering of links, letters and ideas.   
In light of being so little used, we're going to shut it down.
If you want to go have a peek & save some of the links or posts that may have been helpful to you in wrestling through some of these important life issues, you can still do so for the next couple of weeks.  i think i'll bring some of my favourite pieces over here - (& some of them are already over here tucked away in the very early beginnings of my blog archives).
If you see something over there that you think is very helpful, let me know and i'll make sure to transfer those things to the blog and label them 'sojourners'. 
Thanks for sojourning with me :)

ps - i'm still in the running for top 25 moms of teens - you can vote for me HERE till june 25th. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

how to give a first hair cut

He begged me for a hair cut.
i had just trimmed a teeny bit off the fringes of Sloanie's mane and watching, he suddenly he felt like he was missing out. i have been under surveillance for months now, both my teens threatening bloodshed if i cut one hair from his dandelion fluff head. So, dutifully, i held the scissors upside down and let him hear the snip snip of the scissors as they cut harmlessly through the air while he smirked with a self-satisfied smirk in the mirror. 
Finally, i declared triumphantly, "DONE!!"
"Oh Ephraim!!" Sloanie gushed, "It's just awesome - what a handsome hair-do for a haandsome boy!!"
Ephraim grinned, pleased with himself, and ran to show his 4 year old hero Gage. Sloan warned Gage with thickly laid winks over baby brother's head, "Gage, don't you love Ephraim's hair cut?"
Barely glancing up, Gage replied, "Ephraim didn't get his hair cut."
"But Gage!" Sloan insisted with even more dramatic winks, "Yes he did, and it is soooooo handsome, don't you think?"
Then sunshine boy looked kindly at his little brother, softened his sweet little expression and winked imperceptibly at Sloan. "Oh, yes. You did get a hair cut Ephraim, and it makes you look like a ninja."
And Sampson lives to see another day...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


It's been an interesting month...  Neil has been travelling like crazy and the little ones have had so much going on.  It has been a serving sorta month...
Sometimes amidst feelings of smallness and insignificance, i forget why i've kept this blog in the first place - but then i look down at the tender little ones in my care and i realize that i've tended this little garden of a blogspot to whisper some of the truths that i've found like gems, scattered throughout these mama years. 
This year brought on the perfect storm - circumstances beyond my control that threatened to capsize my teeny vessel... but now...
Morning is breaking over the deep and this gratitude that has sprung up in the wake of the storm holds me fast and sustains me.  i know He's not finished with what He's begun in me... the aching wounds brought on by the storm will heal; in time and with careful tending to root out any tendrils of anger, bitterness, malice and strife... 
But underneath it all, over, under and surrounding the angry beating chaos  brought on by the wind and the rain... the thrum of truth that i've heard - and i hear still, ringing in my ears like the joyful sound of victory - in my heart - in my very soul...
is that i am claimed. 
i hear that truth proclaimed with a gentle assurance, "your ransom has been paid..."
And for some reason - that assurance - is giving me the grace to just be
And yes, little ones - the storms will come, and life will seem unfair and you'll think you're entitled to things that break and tear... But can you hear Him claiming you? 
"This one is mine."
And as you bear your heart to your rescuer, He'll ask you to do hard things - to love when you're hurt, to embrace humility and reject bitterness, to defend others, leaving yourself defenceless.  He'll ask you to serve when you're tired, give comfort when you're cold or to speak out when you're tongue tied.  He may even ask you to remain soft and vulnerable when you'd like to hide - because even in this, He has a purpose and a plan. 
As i look at each one of you - i can only imagine what will happen in those Holy moments between you and your Creator... but i do know this, and can speak with confidence from this place of broken 'being':
He has claimed you. 
Be His.

Friday, June 8, 2012

7 quick takes - dozenth edition

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 172)

1. "i tried everything to get him to go to bed and nothing worked... i tried guilt, threats, snuggles, ignoring him... & nothing worked, not even when i told him he was making Jesus sad." - 13 year old girl.

2. Grandparent names are interesting.  We have a granny, gramps, gam, gamp, ancient one and gg (short for great-gramma).  The name, "Ancient One" still makes me laugh when i think about it too much.  Driving home from my girls' violin recital, they informed me that when i become a great grandparent that they are going to call me, "OP" short for "oldie-poldie".  Nice.  Needless to say, when they asked me to buy them pizza 2 minutes later, i declined. 

3.  i accompanied 8 students at the recital & i only stunk up one song.  Those songs are getting tough!!  i'm thinking a surcharge for any 7/8 time signatures is in order...  It's fun for me though to stretch this way & good for me to play music with my girlies. 

4.  It was probably the best either one of my girls has ever played at a recital... That's probably the way it should be eh?  It's exciting for me to watch them blossom as little musicians.  They audition next week for their fiddle groups & then we can all give a little cheer for the freedom of summer.  If you want a little teaser of Cai's recital piece you can watch it HERE.  Ignore me... i learned the piece the day before - & ignore the little boys creating havoc... (or don't... they're awfully cute).

5.  Neil's home for 3.5 days.  It's amazing how those days just slip through our fingers.  He always has so much work to catch up on when he is home... but it's a season & my prayer for these past 5 months of heavy traveling has been that God would help our marriage to become the beautiful reflection that it was designed to be... Love that. 

6.  Our food situation has been brutal lately - mostly because i have been so busy that a full grocery shopping trip hasn't happened in awhile, just the furtive, "Ahh!!  We're out of milk!!" "Eeep!! Need tomatoes for that!!"  "Arg - no peanut butter?"  tiny shopping trips.  That's not cutting it for a family with 7 little ones (with a couple hungry teens)... i gotta get back on that one & find some good, healthy, filling meals for when daddy's gone this time... i think a Costco run is in order :)  i love their 3 bean medley, brown rice & quinoa - nice fillers to go with whatever i make! 

7.Someone nominated me for the Top 25 Moms of Teens blog.  When i told Cai, i accidentally said, Top Teen Blog & she laughed at me cause i am one million years old. You can vote for me here - i'm currently somewhere in the top 25:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

six minutes

i wish him here to grab his face and speak expressively into his ears...
It had been a crazy week... my husband called it, "an impossible week"... One of those weeks where you don't want to whine about it because people would say, "oh, just cancel out... pull your kids..." Not realizing that in our house, if we pulled our kids every time daddy was out of town and it would make for a tough go for mama, they'd never get the chance to do anything. 
So we bent and stretched for each other - we accepted the love and kindness of friends who loved my little ones for me and we made it work... as Neil says, "like we always do..."
But suddenly - on this Monday - as we start fresh and watch the appointments, laundry, grocery list, add up... i feel my mind just glaze over.  Blank. 
That's when i wish him here so strongly that i pick up my phone and laboriously type an email - all thumbs on that tiny phone keyboard...
"Ever feel like you're just done?  i feel like this weekend i was surfing and somehow, i fell off my surfboard and i'm stuck underwater and i don't know which way is up..."
Six minutes later he emails me back...
"i do get that way, yes.  Those are the days when you think i am pissed off.  It is actually 'cause i'm fried, done... It's not you."
i grin at our little kinship - i feel seen... He hears me and i love the man that never coddles.  i had this dream once of Neil and i dressed in full out warrior gear.  We were like characters off of Conan the Barbarian or something.  We each held a massive sword and our backs were to each other as we circled, prepared for an enemy attack.  That was the whole dream... just circling with Neil (in awesome clothes) back to back... i feel that way again.  Like a kind of crazed warrior... knowing that he's got my back and i'm gonna have his too. 
i feel the pounding of the surf overhead - i see a glimmer of light... the sound of the crashing waves overhead is dulled by the serenity of the water underneath the tumult.  If i swim that direction, then maybe...
Suddenly i break the surface of the water - lungs exploding, the cacophony of noise bursting in my ears and the roar of the waves crashing around me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bed Time

It's evening of day 6 of daddy being gone & i'm failing miserably at getting my littlest boys to sleep.  i've got them sprawled out in my room.  One is humming to himself in a little makeshift nest on the floor where i can keep an eye on him & the other is blinking furiously to keep the sleep he so desperately needs at bay.  i'm trying to sit as still as possible.  My mom always told me that the best way to put babies to bed is to be a boring lump & so i sit like a little statue shushing and murmuring every few moments, "no, lie down, close your eyes... "
i'm impossibly tired & even though i'm usually pretty patient, i've lost my temper already tonight - just like i did last night... and i sigh 'cause that's not the kind of mama i want to be.  They're finally on the cusp of sleep - & i hear my teen arrive home. 
i can hear her giggling in the kitchen, talking to her sisters - & even though her voice is soft, tiny blinking boy locks eyes with me as if to say, "Do you hear that?  Our girl is home..."
i hear her gentle tread up the stairs & i'm hardly breathing - hoping that those little dopey eyes will close & that i can be off duty for a bit before i head to bed myself... but softly my doorknob turns and a smiling face peeks into my room. 
"i had a great time..." She whispers.  She glances at her tiny brothers - and tries to speak quietly - but little blinking boy turns into bright eyed boy all the same. She's all glowing with tousled blonde hair flying around her grinning face.  She exudes beauty and joy - an aura of youthful energy - and even though i could wave her away and hope to get the boys asleep before hearing about her day - i don't. 
She flops down on my bed.  She's 15... she's funny, engaging, warm... and she's mine.  She fills the room with her presence, sharing all the little hilarities of her day - stifling her laughter and easing my bedtime tension... we catch up & then like a little flitting sprite, she twists out my door, shutting it gently behind her.  Tiny blinking boy climbs onto my lap 'cause he thinks he's just not close enough to find sleep, sprawled out beside me.  Humming boy on the floor begins to beg loudly for, 'One more chance in my own room... i promise i will be a good boy this time!'
i give my 4 year old another chance that i'm sure i'll regret and i curl my arms slowly around my little one's body.  i am struck with his smallness.  Patience, mama... he's still so wee. 
i sigh 'cause yeh... maybe i stink at bedtime... & maybe sometimes i'll even stink at motherhood... but this?  These relationships - ones bringing nurturing contentment to tiny infuriating boys who need their mama - ones being a sounding board for spritely teens - this is what it's all about.  It's about being there - opening my arms when i think i've got nothing left - but all they ever wanted is for my arms to be open...
My little ones are my riches, and on nights like this - i feel impossibly blessed.

Friday, June 1, 2012


A friend told me this illustration...
A woman is walking along a beach... she is smelling the sea salt air - and drinking in the beauty of the rippling waves on the water's surface.  There's just the barest breeze - and she decides - on a whim - to take out her row boat - escaping the confines of land to explore the vastness of the ocean. 
Out she rows from shore - until the trees swaying on the land are mere specks.  She leans back to enjoy the warmth of the sun - stretching her muscles after her long row and settling in to enjoy the fruit of her labour. 
That's when she first hears the baby cry. 
She's shocked to see the tiny pink corner of a baby blanket under the wooden seat.  How could she not have noticed that there's a baby on her boat?  The baby's whimper turns into a cry and the woman - in stunned amazement - picks up the child to comfort it.  But what is she to do?  She had planned on staying out in the row boat.  She owns the boat, and the hours of sunlight are limited.  The child has no claim on her - or her boat. 
She didn't ask for this responsibility. 
The land is so far away that it takes her a few minutes to pick out the outline of the dock that she left hours ago now...
She realizes in that moment that though the child has no claim on her... she has a responsibility to the child.  Even though her muscles ache, she must return the child to shore before she can continue her trip.  The thought of tossing the child over the side of the boat doesn't even occur to her - and if someone suggested it to her... the idea would revolt her. 
She realizes that the location of the baby doesn't impact the value of it's life.
& so


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